managing a difficult volunteer, putting a short-term job you were fired from on your resume, and more

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

1. I manage a difficult volunteer who’s also a friend

I work for a nonprofit organization. I manage a team of five, all volunteers and all at varying degrees of experience when it comes to professional communication, time management, and problem solving. One volunteer in particular has trouble with follow-through. They’ll be asked to do something, then either do it incorrectly or not fully complete the work. I normally would not have problem spelling out what needs to be done differently, except this person cannot accept criticism of any kind. They will editorialize why something wasn’t completed in detail, but the work itself will remain undone.

Complicating matters is this person is a friend of mine. I’m struggling to balance friendship with the needs of the organization, along with the knowledge this is a volunteer gig and not a “real” job. The director and I are at a loss over how to handle this. We want to help our volunteer get better at their work, but we don’t want to constantly soft-pedal and hold their hand. Would it be best to ask this person to step down?

Yes. Or at least, yes after you tell them clearly what needs to change and it doesn’t change. If you haven’t had that conversation yet, you owe them that. But you also owe it to your organization not to continue to invest time and resources in managing around someone who isn’t doing the work you need and is causing so much disruption. So one clear conversation, and then part ways if that doesn’t resolve it.

You can frame it as, “I want to be up-front with you that if you want to keep volunteering here, we need you to make some changes to how we’re working together. The needs of our work mean that I need you to fully complete projects on the timelines we talk about, and I’ve got to be able to give you feedback on the work you do without push-back. If this role isn’t right for you right now, I completely understand, but we can’t continue on as we have been. Knowing our requirements, what makes sense for you?”

2. My employee was left out of a team thank-you

I had a recent experience I was hoping to get your thoughts on. I work on a team of six people – myself, three peers, my direct report/the team admin, and our manager. We heavily support our sales team, and my three peers and I were recently invited to a blank agenda meeting during end-of-year sales days. There was some good-nature speculation that this meeting would be a thank-you, going away recognition for a peer, or general celebration of hitting sales goals. When the sales coordinator emailed to confirm that my team could be there, I asked that they include my direct report in the invite as she is also part of our team and I knew should to be included in any general thank-you or have the chance to say goodbye to the departing team member.

Turns out it was a bit of a check-in on sales goals, but mostly a thank-you to my team. But they handed out personal cards and bottles of wine to each person on my team, except my employee. I get that she’s in a more administrative role, but she manages our department email account and her 1-2 minute response acknowledging and assigning to my team the 30-40 email requests per day from the sales team is integral to the fact that the rest of my team is so responsive. The sales team sees her name on every one of these emails.

It was super awkward. I didn’t feel comfortable speaking up during the meeting, especially as the host was the head of sales who is several levels above me in the company, but should I have said something afterwards? Is there a polite way to criticize a gift?

I also don’t know what to say to my employee. I went up to her after, offered her my bottle of wine, and was very clear that she’s been a tremendous help to the internal team and to sales at this busy juncture. She seemed a little down, but fine. Should I follow up with her? Should I follow with the sales team to advocate on her behalf for something no one on my team is entitled to?

Yep, you can say to someone with some authority on the sales team, “Is there a way to ensure that we include Jane in any future recognition of our team? She plays a really key role, does great work, and I don’t want her to feel overlooked.” This isn’t you demanding a gift for someone; this is you, as a manager, flagging something that could cause a morale issue for someone you manage, and asking that they be included in the future.

You can also make sure that your own team is recognizing Jane (although be sure not to do it in the condescending way that admins sometimes get recognized).

3. My brother-in-law wants me to be his info source

In the last year, I started working for the administrative branch of a major religion in the U.S. My brother-in-law pointed me at this job and had worked in the same place, though he left just before I started. I’m enjoying the work and am very grateful that he pointed me in the right direction.

Recently, he got a new job as a fundraiser for a non-religious organization. Today he’s contacted me twice to get information about a former clergy-person, so he can have “more info in his back pocket” when going to contact the clergy-person’s widow. There wasn’t any info to give this time, but I’m concerned he’s going to see me as a source, and I don’t feel right about it at all. How do I discourage any further requests and stand firm in the face of the wheedling I know will be coming?

If it happens again, you can say, “I’m not allowed to share that kind of info on our clergy outside of the organization. I’m sorry I can’t help!” If he pushes you by saying it’s okay because he used to work there, you can say, “I could get in trouble for doing it — I’m sorry.” Or you could say, “I’d need to check with my manager first — do you want me to do that?”

You’re not obligated to do something your organization would frown on just because he helped you get this job, and he’s putting you in an awkward position by asking you to. If it’ll make you feel better about turning him down for this, consider taking him to lunch or sending him a thank-you gift for his help with the job — but don’t feel pressured into bending rules for him.

4. My company is offering me a different job but I’m wondering about severance

I’ve been with my company for almost seven years. There have been layoffs this year, due to our company not performing as well as forecasted. For weeks I’ve felt like I’m next on the chopping block. The other day, my HR director came to me to offer employment with a sister company. I would be paid the same salary, have a cubicle in the same office, and receive pay for single medical insurance. I am very thankful that my employer would extend this type of help to me instead of just laying me off, but I can’t help but feel I am missing out on something. I know that not all employers offer severance, but I would have expected a severance package from my company, if they had laid me off. Am I selfish for thinking that I am somewhat owed? Or should I just be thankful that my company even thought as far ahead as making sure I still have a job?

You’re not selfish, but you’re not being realistic. Companies offer severance when they are laying you off and don’t have another job to offer you; the idea is to cushion you so that you’re not immediately without income while you look for another job. This isn’t that situation; they’re offering you a different position at the same salary, so it wouldn’t make sense for them to offer you severance.

If you don’t want to take the other role, you could certainly ask if they’d consider severance instead — but there’s no way to get the other job and a severance offer. It’s severance and unemployment, or no severance.

5. Should I include a job I was fired from after 11 weeks on my resume?

I recently was let go from a position after 11 weeks on the job, and I’m wondering if I should include the experience on my resume. I’ve seen a lot of mixed responses on the internet to people in my situation, so I’m not sure which way to go. It was a senior position, which was a promotion for me. It was a great opportunity, so I left a position I was in for just three months to take the senior role. I think “Senior Business Analyst” would look great, but I am concerned about possible employers and recruiters passing me by because it may look like I was doing some job-hopping.

Don’t include it. Not because it looks like job hopping, but because three months isn’t long enough to have resume-worthy (or interview-worthy) accomplishments, and because there’s no way you won’t be asked why you left so quickly, which means you’re going to end up talking about being fired. And it’s not that talking about being fired is a kiss of death in an interview, but in this case there’s any benefit from including the job is so small that it’s not worth it. It will hurt you more than it will help you. (I also probably wouldn’t include the prior three-month position, unfortunately; unless it was a temp role or something else designed from the start to be that short-term, you weren’t there long enough for it to be helpful to include.)

{ 228 comments… read them below }

  1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#4, if you’re seriously considering taking the new job, then you have to give up on severance (and you should definitely not mention it!). As Alison notes, severance is a form of transitional support when someone is laid off and will be unemployed, not when they’ve been moved to a comparable job. The fact that your company is trying to retain you is a good sign of their investment in your role/skills.

    If you bring up severance, your employer is going to think you’re declining the offer of a new position. If that’s what you truly want to do, then you should go for it. It’s ok to take a severance, be unemployed, and hunt for your next job. But it’s going to be a bit poisonous to take a newly created position and then also try to argue that you should receive severance.

    1. CupcakeCounter*

      It could also be important to find out if by turning down the offer you would be giving up the possibility of severance and unemployment since it would be essentially the same as quitting. Obviously this wouldn’t count if the new job was so significantly different from your old position that accepting it would be a hardship (i.e. required to relocate, massive cut to your salary, etc…) but from what OP wrote it doesn’t appear that way.
      Definitely worth an ask if you really don’t want this other job but you absolutely aren’t “leaving anything on the table” or being shorted by the company in any way.

      1. LKW*

        This is what I came to advise. Most companies for whom I’ve worked, made the policy clear: If you were offered another position with the company and declined it, you gave up your severance. The severance package was strictly for people who could not remain with the company. An employment offer negated that condition.

      2. kittymommy*

        I’m not sure the effect on unemployment (since you’re still being laid off) but I cannot imagine severance still being on the table.

        1. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

          I think if the company offers a comparable job, unemployment may be off the table as well. I had a friend that was in a sales position making commission, offered a non-sales/no commission job as part of a restructure. She declined the change because the loss of commission, and then her unemployment claim was denied because she quit. She had to prove that the income difference was so great that it was in essence a constructive dismissal or something. I don’t think she succeeded in her appeal, or maybe she just found another job and decided not to pursue it further.

        2. Jen S. 2.0*

          Severance comes when you will be *without* a job, not when you’ll be changing jobs at the request/behest of your employer. Severance is supposed to help tide you over while you find a job. Instead, they offered you a job.

          That is, LW1 is tying severance to the disappearance of their specific position. Severance, however, is tied to the disappearance of your employment. There’s a major distinction there.

          1. Mr. Shark*

            In OldJob, they closed down the office, so people were offered a newjob at different location or severance. Even though the newjob was identical, because it was a new location, it was not considered the same job, and therefore the offer of severance.

            I do agree that in this case, since the person would sit at the same desk, it’s probably an either newjob or severance, not both.

    2. sparty07*

      Make sure that if you accept the offer from the sister company that your years of service and subsequent vacation time, 401k match vesting, and all those other time sensitive benefits are the same.

      1. Mr. Shark*

        Yes, this. Years of service is very important to maintain through the transition, for all of the issues mentioned.

    3. Fiberpunk*

      My question was, do they mean they’ll be losing accumulated vacation time through the move? I can see why they think that should be paid out, if so.

  2. What’s your damage, Heather?*

    #5 I’m afraid that for a job to look great on your resume, you need to have succeeded in it and to have done it for longer than 11 weeks.

    I’m confused though – the heading says fired but the letter says let go, which isn’t the same thing?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I assumed that by “let go” she meant fired, because that’s usually how the term is used in the U.S. In theory it could also mean laid off, but most people will say laid off if that’s the case. (And if you were laid off and saying you were let go, stop doing that! It’s making some people think you were fired.)

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Deleted a very long off-topic discussion about language here. Feel free to have it on the Friday open thread though! (And to head off some of the debate: As I say above, “let go” can mean laid off, but it’s most often understood to mean fired.)

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Ha! All I can say is that was over a decade ago, and I got the nuance wrong. (The nuance being “people do sometimes use it that way but it will mislead a lot of people who hear it.”)

      2. LadyByTheLake*

        I definitely think of “let go” and “fired” as the same thing. Laid off is something different although it feels the same from the receiving end.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Interesting distinctions here.
          What would you use for my past history? Happily so long ago it doesn’t belong on my resume, but I can see it happening to others in “exciting” small companies.
          My near-toxic boss hired two people at one time for a junior position, because no one had stayed in that position more than 2 months. This time, the two of us made a good team, hit it off with senior staff, and shared a sense of the absurd that let us put up with his unpleasantness. But he couldn’t make payroll for two people for long…so as technically the second hired (even though the other started later!) he “let me go”. It wasn’t a performance issue, it wasn’t a formal layoff… it was just “oops”.
          So…what would that be?

          1. EditAnd EditOr*

            I think this would be considered a layoff, technically speaking. Your role was eliminated for financial reasons – they didn’t fire you and then parcel out your duties or replace you, they just…. didn’t need two.

            /Terrible/ thing to do though ! What a sucky story!

          2. Shark Whisperer*

            I agree with EditAnd EditOr. It doesn’t really matter if it was a “formal” layoff, if you were let go for financial reasons, it was a layoff. You can also steal the British phrase for a layoff and say that you were made redundant, which is true because there was another person doing the same job. I was once let go from a very small company because they couldn’t financially support a full time staff member for the program I was supposed to be running (they honestly should have known that before hiring me, but thats a different story.) There was no formal process, I was just told I no longer worked there as of that day, but because it wasn’t a performance issue, it was a business issue, I think layoff is an accurate description.

          3. Aunt Vixen*

            That was a layoff, formal or otherwise. If there’s no performance issue but there aren’t funds to keep paying someone for the position, the position is eliminated and the person in it is laid off.

          4. kittymommy*

            I would think of this as laid-off vs. being let go (which I’ve always used interchangeably with “fired”). You are not separating from your company due to poor performance it’s more due to forces out side of your control: redundancy, financial issues for the company, etc.

        2. Pilcrow*

          Definitely do not mention this job on a resume. 11 weeks is being dismissed at the end of the probationary period (typically 3 months).

          If you do have to mention it (say in an interview), then you need some framing around it like, “the role wasn’t a good fit so we agreed to part ways.”

      3. londonedit*

        In the UK if someone says ‘let go’ you’d assume they mean ‘fired’. ‘Laid off’ isn’t really a term you hear much here – you’d say you were ‘made redundant’, which everyone understands isn’t anything to do with your job performance. Firing is more difficult to do here than in the USA, so it’s quite A Thing if you hear someone’s been fired.

        1. Lance*

          ‘Different’ isn’t the point in this case; londonedit was just extrapolating further.

      4. Psyche*

        That’s what I always thought. “Let go” indicates that you no longer work there and it was your employers decision without indicating why. But I think most people who are laid off tend to want there to be no ambiguity about the fact that they were not fired, so in practice the people who say they were “let go” tend to be people who were fired.

      5. Fortitude Jones*

        That’s how I’ve always interpreted that phrase. I was “let go” from a job, the first one after college, and they made it clear I wasn’t being fired – they even gave me two weeks severance in addition to the paycheck I was owed for the time I had already worked – but they did end up hiring someone else for my role. It was very confusing and, thankfully, this happened long enough ago that it never comes up again. I don’t even have it on my resume anymore.

    2. Mr. Shark*

      Off-topic, but “What’s your damage, Heather?” is best username, EVER!

      Let go always means fired to me. Laid off is specific and is about no longer having a position for an employee, for whatever reason.

  3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#1, I think your cleanest path is to discontinue your organization’s relationship with her as a volunteer. In addition to Alison’s script (which is excellent), it may be helpful to offer a menu of other options she can take to stay involved. For example, could she make thank you calls to donors? Could she host an event? Could she become a monthly donor? It may be that there really isn’t a role for her given her lack of follow through, but it’s worth thinking through other ways to keep her plugged in.

    That said, it’s also ok to fire a volunteer without trying to retain them in another capacity. It may even be a relief to her, as she probably knows she’s been dropping the ball and may be in a shame spiral.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yes, this is true. If the problems are severe enough (and they sound like they might be), it’s fine to just decide it’s not working and let her know that you can’t continue giving her work.

    2. What’s your damage, Heather?*

      Someone who can’t take direction is not going to be a wise choice for speaking directly to donors.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I think it depends on the volunteer’s deficits and on the organization’s needs. But my primary point isn’t that the volunteer should call donors. It’s that if the volunteer is otherwise not an office nightmare, there are often low-stakes, low-time-commitment, and low-discretion tasks that volunteers can complete successfully.

        It may be that there’s nothing she can complete successfully, that she’s fundamentally unreliable (OP’s described very serious problems that would make me distrustful), or that it’s not worth OP’s or the org’s time to oversee her performance in those low-stakes tasks. I defer to OP on whether the volunteer is horrible at her current role but otherwise redeemable, or whether it’s better for the organization to commit its resources to something other than overseeing a flaky volunteer.

        1. What’s your damage, Heather?*

          Contacting donors isn’t a low-stakes activity, that was my point.

          1. LGC*

            To be fair, though, I think PCBH wasn’t suggesting that directly, but as a set of other options.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I think the biggest problem for OP1 is that the problematic volunteer is a friend. I’m reading between the lines and suspect that a non-friend volunteer would have been asked to step aside already. The reasons are so clear — and the director is “at odds” with OP1 over this.
      OP1 may be in the unfortunate reality of needing to do something that might be hard on the friend in order to NOT damage OP’s reputation with the director. I *hope* it’s not job vs friendship, but it could become that if the director sees OP1 letting personal relationships get in the way of the organization’s needs.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Popping back over with a thought … there’s a chance that friend is bored with this volunteer gig or overwhelmed with her real life, and simply not dropping it because of the fear they’d “let down” their friend who works for the nfp.
        So find out.
        “You know, you’ve been talking a lot about the Llama Rescue Society where your fiance volunteers. You know we’ll be OK if you want to spend time there instead of here. It’s your free time — do something you love, don’t feel obligated because I asked you to help out last year. Director & I know that volunteers sometimes need to do something new.”

        1. fposte*

          I’d marry that to Alison’s talk, though, and include information about volunteering not going well there and needing changes. Otherwise it’s just too evasive to be all “It’s okay if you want to be somewhere else!” when what you’re really saying is “We’d like you to be somewhere else.”

        2. Auntie Social*

          I wondered that, if the friend/vol was bored. Give them an out—“let’s give you a well-deserved vacation, then come back and tell me what you do best. I know you have problems with follow-through—you didn’t finish the xyz, so bear that in mind.” Not what she wants to do, but what she does best. And if she comes back and says she wants to be something you know she can’t do? Sorry! But when she comes back maybe they can drop her into different roles to see if she’s a better fit with A than with B.

        3. Kendra*

          Along these lines, some advice I’ve been given on managing volunteers is to set definite term lengths (usually 3-6 months), and then if they want to “re-volunteer,” they’re very welcome to do that. You’ll still get the usual mix of some people who volunteer for 10+ years, and others who do their 3 months and then take off, but you avoid making them feel guilty or embarrassed about leaving, and make it more likely they might wander back in a year or two later and do another few months, rather than completely ghosting you.

          Aside from that, a lot of people find it easier to commit to volunteer work in the first place if they know it’s short-term; feeling like there’s no foreseeable end can seem really daunting (or flat-out impossible) to a lot of people, particularly anyone with family or other work commitments that they also have to juggle.

      2. WellRed*

        She and the director are “at a loss” so it sounds like the director could take a stronger stance here instead of wringing her hands over a volunteer who otherwise should have been let go already.

      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Absolutely! This is a sucky situation for OP, and to be honest, the friend-volunteer is making it worse for their friend. OP is going to have to be really kind in telling their friend they’re no longer needed, or she can ask her director to do it for her (normally I wouldn’t advise this approach, but it may make more sense in this context).

        Ultimately, though, the friend cannot stay on if they’re not reliable. OP can have a “hey, this isn’t like you,” discussion if it would help on the friend side in addition to Alison’s script, but ultimately, they’re going to have to convey that this isn’t personal. The important thing is to be firm, direct, and not to waffle when communicating the decision to ask the volunteer to step down.

    4. Samwise*

      I’m guessing that the friendship is at risk, however — can’t see being able to be more than a nodding acquaintance with someone who fired me from a volunteer position. Even if I knew it was justified, I would find it waaaaaaay too awkward. And OP’s friend is not taking feedback, so that doesn’t bode well.

      1. Linzava*

        On the other hand, this can be a good thing for OP, my past friends who didn’t take criticism well also turned out to be really controlling in the friendship. When I finally told one the truth, she started screaming at me and I never saw her again. Turned out to be well worth it, I don’t miss her a bit and it turns out my other friends only tolerated her because she was my friend.

        1. AKchic*

          This right here.
          Usually if there is a problem with someone’s work, and you are dealing with them in multiple capacities, you can guarantee that there are similar problems in their personal relationships.

          I try really hard not to mix business and pleasure, but I have the “small town” issue to deal with, and many of my passion projects happen to overlap with a lot of my friends/acquaintances. Sometimes, the only way to get things done is to partner with some of my friends. I then have to be very careful about who I let into the different levels of “help”. Some are just fine for general volunteering. Not much information is needed other than “I’ll need you here on X date and ready to do Z task with Y materials (supplied by us)”. Others I would trust with more information and would partner with them in actual leadership roles.

    5. Cartographical*

      As a former volunteer with a couple different orgs, I vigorously second this. I have always considered my volunteer work to be a “real job” and, as it’s a volunteer position, it’s even more important for me not to make more work for the organization by requiring excess management, because that excess time and effort needed to direct me would be a genuine loss to the system that’s providing an important service to the community.

      The only exception would be in situations like one in which, as a volunteer, I provided support to other volunteers with intellectual or mental health disabilities whose needs quite literally made work that had to be covered — and even then the goal was to train/coach/accommodate until they were established in a role appropriate to their skills and capacity and I could move on to the next person to be incorporated into the workplace.

      It’s very easy to be sucked into supporting or accommodating someone who isn’t at all suited for a position (simply because it’s a volunteer position and that often means making allowances the work world would never entertain) but I’d question what is being lost to the lack of attention given to other volunteers as well as the demoralizing impact on them (and you) of throwing one’s weight into the work only to watch as someone essentially riding the brakes was allowed to hamper the progress of the whole group. I would feel this deeply, especially if it was an organization dedicated to something in which I was invested for personal/moral/ethical reasons.

    6. The other Louis*

      That first letter made me cringe. I’ve been that volunteer. The problem is that I kept taking on volunteer tasks that required exactly the same skills as my full-time job, and I was burning out. It took a while for me to catch because I wasn’t volunteering *that* much, and it seemed as though it should be easy for me to just add on eight hours or so a week of additional work. Since I struggle to keep my full-time job from taking over my life, this was not a good plan.

      I needed to realize that I shouldn’t volunteer for tasks that were essentially my doing my full-time job even more.

      1. LGC*

        On THAT note…to combine both, maybe I’m reading into the letter (okay, I definitely am), but with the mentions of “professional communication, time management, and problem solving,” this sounds like a fairly involved volunteer gig – and she just might NOT be able to handle that. (Especially if she’s already doing similar stuff as her job.)

    7. TootsNYC*

      One other thing–I think it might be important to find a way to say that some gifts (which is what volunteer time is) end up being more of a burden than a help.
      That’s kind of harsh, so I don’t know how you say it.

      Maybe be specific about the tasks that this person is dropping and the impact that has on you and on the organization.

      “The time spent coaching you through is actually more time than we’d spend doing it ourselves, so it’s simply not a good use of our time anymore.”

      “When we have to remind you to finish, we end up scattered and unable to complete our own tasks, so we’re going to assign all these things to someone else whose work style doesn’t need quite so much of our assistance.”

      “When a project gets started and stalls, or is disorganized, it makes the organization look really bad to donors/clients. It would be better to not offer the service/program at all than to do it in a less-complete manner, so we’re simply going to eliminate it.”

    8. Malarkey01*

      I manage a large group of volunteers in a very large organization with volunteers of various levels of commitment. Managing volunteers is very tricky balance. I agree with others that having a frank heart to heart conversation is important to a) let the volunteer know that if they don’t have the time/will to continue that’s okay b) to communicate the importance of proper expectations. Maybe volunteer can only give 5 hours a week reasonably and they and you need to realize that and come up with tasks that are a good fit for that time and her skill and really look at what you’re asking unpaid volunteers- your list of skills make this sound very involved and maybe you are piling too much on volunteers and expecting full time salaries level work and c) lay out exactly what isn’t working (for example if you can’t get x done I need y notice or you really can’t send out donor letters that are incomplete.)

      The only caution about having volunteers step down is that it CAN have a negative ripple through the rest of the volunteers if they think they aren’t appreciated, undervalued, or treated harshly. There’s no other motivation outside of goodwill (no salary, no requirement unless court ordered) and most volunteers do rely on gratitude and thanks as their currency. If volunteers think you are treating them like paid staff without the pay it can lead to them giving less and it can be very difficult to replace volunteers quickly.

  4. Koko*

    Severance often isn’t a pile of money, for those who do get it. (Unless I’m totally confused.) I do know that there are sometimes well-publicized buyouts (like in media jobs), but even the most generous of that is barely more than the equivalent of half a year of pay (24-36 weeks).

    1. Coverallyourbases*

      When I was laid off I got a whopping 2 weeks severance. So generous!

      Kidding aside, it was my first job out of college and I didn’t know any better. I should have insisted on (or at least asked for) more, but I was 25 and dumb (about job-related stuff!).

      1. MK*

        Ask for more, sure. But unless you are in a country that legally requires severance to be given upon termination of employment, you don’t really have much negotiating power at that point. And if you had only been working there for a short time, like a year, two weeks aren’t that unreasonable.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Short time? I calculate it 3-4 years. Coverallyourbases was 25 when laid off… and many college grads get a bachelors at 21/22.

          1. MK*

            And others graduate at 24; notice I said if. My point was severance is usually not some fabulous sum and, unless it’s legal mandatory, it’s a gesture of good will from the employer: you can ask for more, but except in rare cases where they want something from you, you haveno negotiating power. As for the amount, in many EU countries, where severance is mandatory, you aren’t owed any if you worked less than a year, and then it’s 2 weeks if you worked 2-3 years, a month for more years, etc. 2 weeks severance for 1-2 years of employment is ok, for 3 years a bit on the stingy side but not horrible. It also matters how much advance warning you had of he lay off.

          2. Coverallyourbases*

            Exactly – good call! I was there for a little over 3 years. They were just cheap. Fun company (as far as law firms go!), but cheap

      2. Managed Chaos*

        You can’t really “insist” on more (at least in the US) and even asking more would likely not get you anything additional. Unless it’s spelled out in a contract, they don’t have to offer anything.

      3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        You can certainly ask for more but when you’re being offered any severance, you shouldn’t act indignant about it. That’s a great way to just get walked out and the severance offer ripped up in some cases. Unless it’s a contact, you’re not entitled to any severance, you’re just then thrown to unemployment with their 60-70% of your weekly wages, so two weeks isn’t much but it’s at full pay at least.

    2. AcademiaNut*

      Yes, it’s usually intended as a buffer while finding a new job, or an incentive to stay on until the business actually closes. But unless you’re getting one of those golden parachute executive deals, going straight to a new job is almost always better than the severance package.

      In Canada, I think the mandated severance for being laid off is one week pay for each year the employee has worked for the employer.

      1. Yida Mala*

        Where I live, severance for layoffs is required by law, and in proportion to the period of time worked. In a situation such as this I believe that the second company would take on the first company’s obligations regarding the number of years worked, i.e. it would be regarded as a continuation of the existing employment relationship. At least that’s what happened to me when my department became a separate company to which I was moved (and when they gave up on that and moved me back).
        I hope that a sensible policy like that exists where OP#4 is (so that if potential future severance is still limited but contingent on a certain duration of employment, that that condition will already be considered satisfied). They shouldn’t lose out as a “new employee” if laid off from the second company after one week…

        1. TechWorker*

          This is a very good point and worth checking if LW moves to the sister company. Do any benefits predicted on time on service count that as original start date?

        2. AcademiaNut*

          As far as I know, in the US there is no requirement for severance pay, although there can be a requirement of 60 days notice in the case of mass layoffs from large companies.

          1. KRM*

            Yes, that’s what just happened to me. We got paid normally for 60 days (didn’t have to be in the office), and then got our (generous AF, to be honest) severance payout. And if we found a job in that 60 day period, the money we normally would have gotten paid would just have been rolled into the severance.
            The package is VERY unusual though. Normally it’s a week of severance for every year worked, and it’s not an obligation from the company, so YMMV.

          2. ThursdaysGeek*

            Which is why some companies try to keep their layoffs smaller, so they don’t have to provide notice or severance. That’s what I got the last time – nothing with no warning.

            I was obliquely offered a different job a few weeks before – and my acting manager told me I should take it. But it was vastly different (all the bad parts of my current job and none of the geeky stuff), at the exact same pay (which was low), with other aspects that detracted as well. I didn’t know there was going to be a layoff, nor that they would lay off someone who was the only one supporting some customers (who were also very unpleasantly surprised).

    3. The Limey*

      UK is different. I’ve been waiting for my golden sho… golden handshake for a while now.

      ”Being made redundant” is the magic word. But to be made redundant, your job/role needs to go. And if the company at the same time is hiring nevermind sponsoring work permits, all kinds of rules apply on how you need to acommodate existing workers by offering them another job etc etc. Which is a royal pain, so you usually get ”a package” as a bribe to take ”voluntary redundacy” = quit.

      ”Getting dimissed” = fired, means you’ve done some gross misconduct, and that needs to be watertight as the industrial tribunal can be quite damaging.

      Not saying that clever employers won’t pull a fast one, but everything is very regulated, and in some cases unionized as well.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      I’ve known people laid off with a generous pile of money (3-6 months’ pay) BUT only if they did not take another job in that time. If you got hired 2 weeks or 2 months out you had to forego the rest of the severance.

    5. Not Me*

      When I worked in the corporate world we would give 2 weeks per year of service maxing out at 52 weeks as the standard, there were plenty of times we gave more than the standard. I worked for one of the big banks during the housing bubble break and we laid off tons of people.

      1. Lucette Kensack*

        Yep, this is what my husband’s company does. 2 weeks per service year, but I believe the minimum they offer is 6-8 weeks of pay.

      2. Fortitude Jones*

        A long time ago, I got two weeks severance at 100% of my salary after being let go, and I’d only worked at this school for four months – I thought that was pretty decent coming from an otherwise indecent company.

    6. LKW*

      Depends on the company. During one layoff the deal was 13 weeks severance plus 2 weeks severance per every year of service + 1 full year of existing medical as long as you paid the monthly fee that was typically deducted in your paycheck. One of my colleagues had been with the company for 23 years. She was not the exception. Many who had been with the company more than 15 years were begging to be put on the list.

    7. ThatGirl*

      When I got laid off two years ago the company’s severance package was basically, two weeks of pay for every (full) year you’d been at the company. It was reasonable but – the kicker was they had a lot of permatemps and I’d been a contractor for five years before being officially hired, so they only “owed” me for three years instead of 8.

      But yeah, I’d say that’s somewhere close to the average for big corps, and more than that is considered generous.

    8. The Other Dawn*

      When the bank I previously worked for was sold, we got two weeks for every year of employment. Great for those that had been there for years, not so great for people who had only been there a couple years.

    9. TootsNYC*

      and the last time my DH got laid off, severance ended the minute he got a job, or freelance work. (when I was getting laid off, I’d get a lump sum–one year I got 6 weeks of severance, 2 weeks of unemployment, a new job in 2 weeks–I made money!)

      DH’s last severance wasn’t a payout; it came on the payroll schedule and was simply his ending salary for a period that was 2 weeks for every year he’d been employed there.

      It was a bridge–nothing more.

      The company determines its own severance policy, and this “bridge” policy is becoming more popular.

    10. MOAS*

      HALF A YEAR?
      If my annual salary is $70k, half a year’s pay is $35k. Idk about most of yall here but that’s a HUGE amount to get as a lump sum.

      1. Maeve Ritt*

        It is, but you also take a huge tax hit because if your company insists on a lump sum payment (as mine did), they take out as much as a third of it before you get it, while it also artificially inflates your reported income on your next tax return.

        I was laid off a couple of years ago and received one week severance for every service year (happened right at my 13-year anniversary, along with 8 other women over 45, hmmmmm) plus I had seven weeks of vacation in the bank. 20 weeks’ pay all at once in November bumped me up a few levels the next April and my return was actually less than usual.

  5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    Oh, OP#2 I have such intense fremdschamen for the head of sales. What an awful situation and experience for your employee.

    I think it’s important and appropriate to raise the oversight with the head of sales (or whoever organized the meeting). In addition to the oversight causing morale issues, it also doesn’t speak well of the head of sales. Your employee is unlikely to speak up. But I’m sure both she and your team saw that she was excluded, and that circumstance can significantly affect how people view one another, including how they view the head of sales. One of the benefits of managers talking to one another is being able to identify when management creates an avoidable, but awful, outcome that affects rank-and-file, as well as how to fix it now and going forward.

    1. MK*

      This will be unpopular, butI have to say I am dubious about this, as well as Alison’s response. On the one hand, I see how excliding the admin reeks of classism and continues the grand tradition of undervalueing suppost staff and their work.

      On the other hand, from the OP’s description of what the admin does it’s pretty clear that she doesn’t support the sales team, she supports the OP’s team to do their job more efficiently. And, yes, her work is imprtant in getting the sales team the support they need, but something similar could probably be said for plenty of other roles who indirectly affect how well the OP’s team responds. The head of sales could very well have thought along the lines of “we want to show appreciation to X, Y and Z, who get us direct support” and so didn’t invite their X, Y and Z’s director or their admin. If told they should have included the admin, they might well think that, you know, it’s on the OP’s department to show appreciation to their own admin.

      Quite apart from that, I think this requires more careful handling that Alison’s somewhat cencosrious tone. It sounds as if the OP has already tried to get the admin invited prior to the meeting and it didn’t happen. Also, she says that the head of sales is many levels above her and that this was a completely voluntary “thank you” from the sales team. Dilivering a “you didn’t handle your appreciation of our department well” talk might not go over well and might be more likely to nix similar gestures in the future (which may be prefereable to omitting the admin, I don’t know). I think it would be better if the OP’s manager did it and used more soft language.

      1. TassieTiger*

        I kinda agree. If it was an appreciation specifically for the sales team, and the (very skilled and valuable!) admin is not part of that team specifically, I think it’s reasonable for her thanks to come from OP/OP’s manager

        1. zora*

          No, it was a thank you FROM the sales team to a team that supports them. If that support team is only a few people, just include the admin in the thank you!!

      2. Lynca*

        I don’t see it that way at all. Gifts shouldn’t flow up. Not gifting the director makes a lot of sense. But not including the admin (who is a direct report of the OP) is pretty rude considering they support the team you are praising. It would be like another office head praising and gifting only the supervisors here and none of the direct reports that make the work happen.

        I don’t see that it’s going to cause any friction with the head of sales unless they are just a colossal jerk. They may not include her, but by advocating for her they know where to go from there to make sure she feels included. But the admin is the OP’s direct report so she has standing to advocate for her inclusion.

        1. MK*

          The director is not “up” in relation to the sales team, in fact apparently the director is one step up from the OP but still several steps down from the head of sales. I don’t actually think they should have been included, but not because gifts shouldn’t flow up, but because it seems to me that the sales team wasn’t intending to reward the OP’s department as a whole (in which case they should have invited everyone, including the director), but the four specific people (the OP and his peers) who did the work of directly supporting them. It would have been nice to include the admin, I just don’t think it’s particularly odd or nasty of them that they didn’t.

          As for talking to the head of sales about this, I don’t know. To me it would feel (perhaps unreasonably) like criticizing the terms of a gift. I also would like to know what answer the OP received when she asked for the admin to be invited to the meeting beforehand. Was she just ignored? If she was told specifically that they didn’t want to do it, insisting would be really tone-deaf.

          1. Works in IT*

            Perhaps, but…. if you invite literally every single non manager member of a team to a meeting to show them appreciation, and leave one out, admin or not, it looks very, very weird. This is a six person department, including the manager, and the only people left out were the manager and the admin, and the admin is heavily involved in reaching out to the sales department, so she’s obviously also helping support them. Gifts don’t flow uphill, which is why the manager wasn’t invited…. but recognizing the rest of a department, and leaving the admin out, is kind of icky.

          2. Busy*

            Hm you made me think about this, so I went back and re-read it. I wouldn’t normally disagree with you in regards to this if it wasn’t for the specific structure of this team. When you look at the structure, OP has three peers and one admin. The admin reports to the OP, but supports the work that the team does. There are no other employees on this team other than their direct manager. Because of that, the optics of not including the admin is not good. It wouldn’t be good if they had 15 people each underneath them. When you recognize a manager, you are recognizing their team – and their team needs to be included. It is really sad that they didn’t consider the admin at all. Like her work doesn’t matter when she is doing work of the team!!!!!

            1. MK*

              I agree that the optics aren’t good. But I disagree that it’s reasonable to read a “the admin’s work doesn’t matter” message there. It sounds to me that the admin didn’t do any work for the sales team, she did work for the OP’s team and it’s mainly on them to recognise her work.

              1. Le Sigh*

                I think that makes more sense if there were two or three admins and they weren’t included. But in this case, the sales team went out of their way–invited them to a meeting ahead of time, planned this–to recognize every member of this team and and the one solitary person who didn’t get props is the admin. And given how often admin work is overlooked, I think it has the (probably unintended) effect of feeding into that narrative and saying “eh, your work wasn’t important here.”

                I think if there were a handful of admins or similar support roles that didn’t get recognized, it wouldn’t be so glaring, but to leave one person out of this big recognition, esp. a person who the OP states was important to the work….esp. a person in a role frequently overlooked…doesn’t send a great message.

                1. CupcakeCounter*

                  Actually the admin was left off of the initial invite and OP asked to have them added so the head of sales is off the hook for that. I’m guessing (based on personal experience of being added to meetings) when OP asked to include admin they copied both the sales guy and the admin so sales had no way to gracefully say “that isn’t going to work for the intent of the meeting”.

              2. smoke tree*

                It sounds like the admin may be in more direct contact with the sales team than anyone else on the LW’s team, though, so I disagree that she’s really that far removed from their work. Also, if they’re trying to show appreciation to another team, it doesn’t really reflect well on them to come up with this kind of rationale to exclude certain team members. How much would it have cost them to just buy an extra bottle of wine?

              3. Abby*

                The admin runs the email account for the department being thanked. The admin responds to emails from sales and assigns the 30-40 requests from sales to the rest of the team. The admin is the connection between the sales team and her team so I don’t see how you think she didn’t do any work for the sales team.

              4. Arts Akimbo*

                “But I disagree that it’s reasonable to read a “the admin’s work doesn’t matter” message there.”

                I think it’s clear from the letter that the admin in question *did* read exactly that message, though.

          3. Lynca*

            The OP says it was a thank you to the ‘team’ and in my experience other departments don’t get to dictate who your team is. In my experience they ask who’s on the team so they include everyone. You might have an argument if they were specifically giving a gift to a member that solely worked on something for them or those four specifically worked on a project without support from the admin.

            Omitting a member of the team in a thank you is always rude, whether or not there is a gift involved. And I stand by that they are jerks if they intentionally continue to leave the admin out.

            1. Agent J*

              Agreed, and to add to that thought:

              Once OP requested the admin be included in the meeting, that should have clued the head of sales to get the admin a gift as well. Even if you think it’s reasonable the admine didn’t get a gift, the head of sales knew she would be at the meeting and singled out without a gift.

            2. MK*

              It’s obvious the OP thinks this was a thank you to the team, but I think they might be wrong about that. Since, apparently the team was not invited, specific person were.

              1. Agent J*

                But they handed out personal cards and bottles of wine to each person on my team, except my employee.

                I don’t want to get picky with the details but this line is what makes the distinction between select people being thanked and everyone but the admin being thanked. Especially since it’s a 6 person team. But if the sales team were just thanking individual people, the optics of this (as someone else mentioned) may not be perceived the way they intended.

      3. BottleBlonde*

        I tend to agree with this. If I were the sales team, I would probably default to giving the admin a gift once she was invited to the thank-you meeting, but I don’t think the initial idea was necessarily rude. It probably makes the most sense if everyone makes sure they appreciate the individuals who directly help them – if I were to try to think of everyone who indirectly supported my work, it would be a long list and I’d surely forget someone.

        1. Abby*

          The admin directly supports the sales team’s work. She is the one they email with requests. She is the one who then assigns the requests to the rest of the team. How is she not directly supporting them?

      4. Samwise*

        Doesn’t really matter, I think? OP specifically asked that the admin be included. It would not have hurt the sales team one bit to have acknowledged the admin and would have created (or reaffirmed) goodwill between the teams. Now, however, OP is in the situation where she asked the sales team (which the OP’s team works hard to assist) to do something very easy for her team, and they either didn’t do it on purpose or they forgot — neither of these is a good look.

        “you didn’t handle your appreciation of our department well” talk might not go over well — except that the way they handled it slighted one of the team members, made members of OP’s team feel awkward, and disregarded an easy ask by the OP. I think it’s possible to bring it up without it sounding like “you guys are terrible!”

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, I think that even if there are structural reasons to justify the admin’s exclusion, you gain so much more from including her and lose so much by excluding her that the decision they made just wasn’t cost-effective. It was a card and a bottle of wine. Did they really save so much money that pissing off and demoralizing a team was worth it?

        2. MK*

          I still think it’s problematic when the “easy ask” is coming on top of a completely voluntary gesture of thanks. When someone is proposing to do something nice for you that they don’t have to, making additional demands, no matter how minor, fells weird to me. And insisting after being told no or ignored, doubly odd. If the OP’s first request to include the admin was rejected or ignored, I don’t see that they have standing to escalate. If you think that makes the sales team classist jerks, ok, file that information in your head; but since you are not their boss, you are in a dicey position trying to dictate their behaviour. That’s why I think this requires soft treading.

          1. fposte*

            You and Samwise are saying that the OP had a request denied or ignored, and I’m not sure that’s the case. She asked for the admin to get an invite to this occasion, and the admin was at the occasion, so I’m presuming they issued an invite.

            That’s not going to immediately translate, in a hierarchy like that, to “let’s make sure that the team admin gets a reward too.” So I think it’s quite possible that they’d be fine with adding Jane to the recognition list, and it’s an acceptable thing to inquire about.

            1. Jamey*

              I agree with your interpretation, but additionally – if someone is treating your direct report badly, and you say something about it and it’s ignored, that’s a sign that you should never bring it up again? Complete dysfunction.

              1. MK*

                Never bring it up again, no. But going in with a “let’s ensure…” speech, as if of course they should be doing the thing you asked them, even though they pretty much told they don’t think it’s necessary for them to do it? That’s clueless, in my opinion. At that point you are pushing back and you need to be aware of that.

                1. Jamey*

                  No, she shouldn’t have to beg for permission for her direct report to be treated fairly. She should be able to confidently lay out what she thinks is reasonable. Advocating for your reports is part of your job if you have reports.

                2. Abby*

                  I think the sales team is clueless if they don’t think responding to all their emails and assigning all their requests to ensure they get done isn’t worthy of being recognized.

          2. Jamey*

            I just couldn’t disagree more with this. A “voluntary gesture of thanks” doesn’t make you immune to all criticism. They’re thanking some people who contributed towards the thing being thanked for, but not everybody. What if they thanked all the men involved in a project, but none of the women? That’s a pretty extreme example, but ultimately it’s the same theme of “thanking some people but not everybody” – and saying “well they didnt have to thank anybody so we can’t criticize them for thanking just the men” obviously would not fly in that case, so why is it okay to pointedly leave out someone in this case?

          3. Fortitude Jones*

            When someone is proposing to do something nice for you that they don’t have to, making additional demands, no matter how minor, fells weird to me.

            I would agree with you if this was merely in a social context, but it’s not, it’s a work context. OP’s admin organizes the sales emails in such a way that the rest of OP’s team can assist the sales team in a timely fashion; therefore, she should have been included in any thank-you celebration. Omitting the admin because she’s “just an admin,” which is how it looks to outsiders, is a crap thing to do to someone you know handles all of your requests and makes sure they get to the correct team member to address so the sales team can meet their goals.

          4. cmcinnyc*

            Yes, in personal life, but I disagree in professional life. It’s not like getting someone a birthday gift, it’s a specific professional acknowledgement, and I think the manager has standing to say, “Hey, you overlooked someone who is key.”

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Exactly — these aren’t social rules where you can’t ask someone to give extra gifts. This is work, and these gifts are being given for work reasons; ultimately this isn’t that different than saying “hey, make sure Jane’s computer is fixed too when you come in to do the salespeople’s computers.”

        3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I agree with fposte on this, as well with folks who are pointing to the small number of team members. The admin is part of the sales team, her work made their work more successful, and it’s important to recognize people who provide administrative support to folks who do the “sales” work.

          The admin’s role isn’t as indirect as it’s being made out to be. This is a dedicated staff person who works closely with this team to ensure their success by facilitating communication, coordinating their efforts, and taking administrative tasks off their table so they can use their specialized skills more effectively. I have a legal secretary on my team, and we would not be able to perform our jobs as quickly or as well without her, despite the fact that she’s not practicing law. If my boss wanted to recognize our team’s efforts, I would never consider her role to be so “indirect” that it’s ok to fail to recognize her with the rest of the team. Everyone has a role within the team that makes us work, and that includes having a really talented ALS.

          Also, because this is a professional exchange, and the appreciation is related to a business purpose, it’s not the same as a “completely voluntary gesture of thanks.” Because the thanks had a business purpose and the lack of recognition also has a business effect, OP has standing to run it up the line. This is, to me, a purely business issue and not about a personal gesture.

      5. Kelly L.*

        I feel like the sales coordinator should have thought of the admin from the beginning, since she’s in on all the email chains and such, but that once OP asked for an invite for her, my opinion depends on how much time there was between the request and the meeting. As in, if it was a few days, the sales coordinator had time to go get another card and bottle of wine, but if it was more like a few hours, maybe not. OP should probably give the admin some kind of token of appreciation herself at this point–I know she gave her her own gift from the meeting, but something intentionally meant for her.

      6. LKW*

        But the admin, like a lot of support roles, get no acknowledgement of the work they perform. And in this case, we don’t know that this colleague didn’t directly support sales. There’s all types of activities that would be value-added to a sales process including creating meeting materials, presentations, setting up events and meetings, filling out forms, databases and contact information. And by supporting the sales team, that person made it possible for the sales team to prioritize key tasks thereby winning the work.

        1. MK*

          Actually the OP describes what the admin did, and it doesn’t sound they supported the sales team at all.

          1. Fortitude Jones*

            How was she not supporting the sales team when she was organizing the incoming sales emails to OP and her peers and then sending those emails to the correct people for a response? She absolutely was helping the sales team – if no one was sorting those emails, OP and her peers probably would not have responded timely to the sales teams’ requests.

            1. Abby*

              I don’t understand how anyone thinks the admin doesn’t support the sales team when she is the person they have to email with their requests.

      7. fhqwhgads*

        I think I read the situation differently than what you’re describing but I may have misunderstood. I thought what happened was the admin was at this meeting, and literally every other person in the room got the thank-you and thank-you-gift. To me that’s a problem. If the situation were this was only intended for the Sales folks and the admin may support sales folks but isn’t a sales folk, then either admin shouldn’t have been at this meeting or the sales-only gifts shouldn’t have been done at this meeting. I think there is a factor of “you didn’t appreciate people correctly” when you put people in a situation where there is literally one person in the room left out.

    2. Cartographical*

      I was in a similar “facilitating” position when I was quite young, my first job out of high school (they needed someone asap, the director was a family friend, and I had just enough experience and a police check from volunteering elsewhere so I could jump in) and I was perpetually overlooked for my efforts even though I was the initial point of contact for literally everyone interacting with this brand new program — I even had to create the filing system from scratch when I arrived to find empty cabinets, empty folders, and reams of paper stacked on people’s desks.

      Being ignored was the worst part of a minimum wage job that required me to herd a bevy of highly skilled specialists on one hand, support and schedule an intellectually disabled client base on the other, and on a third hand (which I wish I’d had) report everything coming out of the interaction of those two groups back to the agencies that funded the specialists or supported the clients. I remember with great satisfaction the day the program director finally, belatedly, took a strip out of the specialists for never including me in anything (not even coffee!) because I was effectively “the help”, as I had no “real education”.

      I left, even though the director even offered to find money for me to go to college part-time so I could move up in the program, because I hated feeling like nothing but a switchboard/dictaphone on legs — I would have worked there indefinitely if I’d felt appreciated because I loved the program so much. Replacing me did not go well. It’s a good move for the manager in this case to go to bat for this employee, it’s an investment, and from what they’re saying it may be essential to their team’s continued success.

      1. MK*

        Ok, but the people who should have included you were the director and the specialists, not the program’s clients. The admin obviously deserves appreciation, I am simply saying that the people who should be doing this are the OP and her colleagues and her director. It would be nice from the sales team, but not essential.

        I began my career as an assistant to lawyers who something tried to include me to similar gestures from clients. Now I always appreciated when they gave me credit for my work in front of the clients, but if the client hadn’t spontaneously wanted to include me to a celebratory lunch or bring a gift for me too, I would prefer that they let it go and do their own work of appreciateing me. Now, it’s not the same situation, but I hope that the OP is doing more to ensure the admin’s job satisfaction than trying to get other departments to include her in thanks. Like a bonus or a raise for contributing to the team’s success.

        1. M. Albertine*

          I think you’re seriously underestimating the optics of this. This is a significant department in the company not recognizing the value of your job. Starts making you feel a little less confident in your job security – it’s nice that your immediate team goes to bat for you, but would they really have the power in a budget cut situation?

          1. MK*

            Eh, in a budget cut situation, a sales team that is supported by the team you support is not very likely to have more influence in whether you keep your job that your actual team. Or to be able to spend their capital in your favour.

            1. Arts Akimbo*

              A $6 bottle of wine and a card is literally all it would take to recognize the work the admin did to facilitate the team’s functioning. Is saving that $10 really worth all the bad will and bad optics?

    3. TootsNYC*

      Our OP also asked, “should I have said anything at the time,” and my answer is yes–not something negative about the oversight, but something positive about the support person.

      Take your “thank you for the thanks” speech and make it all about your admin. Praise her skills, praise her role, point out to people who might not normally see how her quick and careful works makes it possible for you to earn their praise.

      Ask everyone to give her a round of applause.

      That goes a long way.

      Too late now for our OP, of course, but for next time (and for any of the rest of us…)

      1. valentine*

        Take your “thank you for the thanks” speech and make it all about your admin. […] Ask everyone to give her a round of applause.
        This seems like a ham-handed attempt to shame sales.

  6. Dan*


    Specifically in relation to titles: I think they’re overrated. And TBH, for a title to mean anything, the person would have to be familiar with the org’s structure. I work in technical fields, and “senior” is handed out like candy to people with relatively little experience. I was recently promoted at my org, and at my *previous* level, I was “senior”. Now I’m “lead” which is funny because I don’t lead anything.

    1. Zombeyonce*

      This is incredibly workplace-dependent. I work at a very large company and am a member of a union (and I’m also in the tech field). There are very strict requirements to be met in order to get a “senior” added to your title including either a high-level degree or equivalent years of experience. As an internal candidate, a senior title would go a very long way.

      We also have very specific definitions for “senior” and “lead” and they are not related in any way to each other. I recommend looking at all the position titles you can for a company when applying to see if you want to tailor the titles on your resume to be similar in structure. You can include a couple of versions to match your exact HR title and one that is more descriptive. My current job is listed as Operations Lead/Senior Analyst. One is what my manager would recognize and the other what HR would recognize.

      1. Dan*

        My response was to the OP, who was wondering about the significance of the title “Senior”. I was trying to say that the title in and of itself wasn’t worth much without knowing anything about the company, and definitely not enough to overcome getting fired.

      2. BRR*

        It is going to be industry dependent. For this LW though, I can’t imagine any industry though where it would help with being in a position for 11 weeks. Being in the previous position for 3 months isn’t that great either and can’t be negated with a title.

    2. Fortitude Jones*

      Yup, titles mean very little. I was a proposal manager at my last job where I wrote proposals start to finish and managed the process itself. I’m now a proposal writer, which at a lot of companies is a step below a PM, but I’m leading proposal content training initiatives at my new company (in addition to serving as the main technical editor/writer for our submissions) and sitting on strategic planning committees, overseeing and implementing a lot of high level departmental and organizational changes. It’s only clear from looking at my actual job duties/accomplishments in both positions that my new role is a step up from what it was at my last company.

      1. (Former) HR Expat*

        I agree completely that titles mean very little company to company. In OldJob, I was a “Senior HR Generalist.” In NewJob, I’m a “Director.” And yet I had 10x more responsibility, workload, projects, etc in OldJob than NewJob. NewJob is actually a step down for me.

    3. Coverallyourbases*

      Totally! I used to think each company had ONE Vice President, ONE Director, ONE Manager, etc. Then I worked at a huge Hollywood studio where my department alone had about 20 Vice President roles (99% of whom seemed unnecessary and quite clueless) and 25 Directions, etc etc etc.

      Some companies have 4 people employed there so the receptionist is the Managing Director, the office manager is the Operations Director, the sales person is the Vice President, and the more senior sales person is the Executive VP. Meanwhile, at another company down the street with 200 employees, those same people would be the receptionist, Office Manager, Sales Guy, and other Sales guy. Lol.

      1. Busy*

        Omg where I work, there are directors of everything and nothing. We are trying to implement a quality management system, and we cannot honestly even figure out what most of the directors are doing with their time all day? It was like every time there was a reorg, they would just let each other make new roles for themselves to do absolutely nothing?

    4. ThinMint*

      Yes, where I work senior just literally means “has been here the longest” which I *think* is not usually the case. Doesn’t it typically mean additional responsibility or leadership in the area of expertise?

    5. WellRed*

      I work at a company with 10 people. A few years ago, anyone that was remotely mamaging anything named themselves as director, though we’re relatively flat.

    6. Fancy PM*

      yup, I’m a Director in an organization that has only CEO, Director x2, admin.

      My title is so meaningless, but given because we are outward facing and it is important that other people think I’m important even though I’m not.

      Speaking of titles being meaningless. I’m in the process of job switching (I’ve got in writing that they want me, it’s just a high-paperwork industry), and since it’s a new position, I *might* have room to negotiate title. Basically, they are taking on a huge project that they have no infrastructure for. I’m coming in as a Project Manager to build out the infrastructure and guide the project to completion. I think, therefore, that I should at least ask for something fancier sounding than “Project Manager” What say ye?

      1. EEK! The Manager*

        Senior Project Manager? I kid, I kid . . .
        Special Projects Director
        Chief Project Officer

  7. WoodswomanWrites*

    OP #3, good for you for drawing a line at your brother-in-law’s requests for information about donors to your organization. I work in nonprofit fundraising, and the gospel in this field is Donor Information Is Confidential and stays within your organization only. Period. Always. You can only release this information with the donor’s permission.

    It doesn’t matter if the person asking is a member of your family. Since your brother-in-law is a fundraiser himself, I imagine that he already knows about confidentiality, and is hoping to sneak a request past you because of your personal relationship and the fact that he told you about the job. Use Alison’s suggested language and you’re good.

    1. WoodswomanWrites*

      To clarify, there are organizations that swap mailing lists. That kind of broad-scale sharing is different, although even then there are rules about that (not my area of expertise but there are legal things governing that).

      I know of a case where someone manually downloaded an entire list of thousands of donors before departing their position, and then took that list to their next organization to use, publicly announcing that they had done this. The person was fired for being unethical.

    2. Jasnah*

      Yes, why not lean on that family connection a bit, but in the opposite way?
      “Oh BIL, you know that stuff is confidential! Are you trying to get me in trouble with [higher up you both know]?” said with a grin and an elbow nudge (or text equivalent) should convey the message warmly.

    3. Clementine*

      In many organizations, and of course government and police agencies, looking up confidential information on someone when you don’t have a strong business-related reason can mean getting fired. It’s so clear this is an unethical request, to me at least.

    4. Emily K*

      Small point of clarity – the BIL wanted information about a deceased former employee (clergy), not a donor.

      1. Observer*

        In some ways that’s worse.

        He’s looking for personal information he can use to hook the *widow*.

        What he’s doing is wrong and he must know it.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Yes, that’s quite squicky. He wants her to be a donor, and figures her husband’s private history working for the FSM ministry is going to be his ticket into her checkbook? Dude, no.

          I like Alison’s advice to do something like take him out to dinner as a thank you, which makes it easier to say that ongoing backdoor access will not be the thank you.

          1. valentine*

            He’s looking for personal information he can use to hook the *widow*
            This is so gross. Far from thanking him, I’d be distancing myself.

            1. SWF*

              OP here. Yeah, it did not make me feel particularly comfortable when he explained what he needed the info for. He messaged me later that day with the text of the clergy-person’s obituary, which he was able to find online, as “proof he can track down information.” So, on the one hand, the information he ended up with was publicly available if you were willing to spend the time; on the other hand, ick.

              1. Observer*

                You are not responsible for public information. You ARE responsible for the information in your databases which may not be public.

  8. Jo*

    My initial impression from OP4’s letter was that they would have liked to have been given the choice of either taking severance OR taking the new position, not both. On re-reading it though, I’m not so sure. OP, if you’d be happy to take severance instead of the new job then you could certainly ask, but if you did mean you wanted both, I’d have to agree with Alison that that’s not feasible. Hope it works out for you though, whatever you decide.

    1. Sam Sepiol*

      In my experience if you’re offered an equivalent job they wouldn’t give you severance because why should they? You’re effectively resigning at that point.

      Presuming the new job is pretty close to the old one; if it’s significantly different this may not be true.

      1. MK*

        I don’t think it matters whether it’s a similar job, what matters is that the employee isn’t out of work for any amount of time. Severance started out as “severance in lieu of notice”: the employer who laid off an employee had to give them X weeks/months (usually depending on how long they were at that job) notice, so that they could find another job (ideally) or at least prepare for unemployement. Some employers didn’t want to keep the employee at work for that period, so they just paid them the X weeks/months salary and let them off working immediatelly. Severance isn’t compensation for losing that particular job, it’s a relief measure to partly tide you over till you find another one.

      2. TPS Cover Sheet*

        That ”sister company” sounds like shenanigans though.

        Cynical me remembers a time when I joined a company that merged with another company, then it split into 4 companies along ”business lines”… People went to work one morning and found out they worked now for a different company in the same job… fine, but all the switches weren’t exactly logical as you might have 2 guys that used to be in the same department working for a different company…. until the 4th company folded and everyone there got the sack. Then the 3 viable business lines merged back into one company…

        1. hbc*

          I guess it’s possible, but it’s pretty unlikely. They’ve been fine laying people off before the OP, so why would they play a shell game in this circumstance?

          I had a pretty similar situation. Notified of layoff (of my whole group), given an end point a couple of months out and promise of severance if I didn’t find a job. But there was an opening in another division for someone like me, I interviewed, transferred, and then stayed there for 7 more years.

  9. Crystalized*

    #2, ask your admin what she wants, maybe even make up a fun menu card so she can’t demure, like
    _ lunch with team at restaurant of your choice
    _half day off
    _amazon gift card
    and have your team chip in and get it. I wouldn’t expect the sales team to include her in something like this, she reports to you.

    1. CupcakeCounter*

      I agree with this – the OP’s team should show appreciation for their admin for the work she does for them. Still not cool of the sales guy though – he should have given the OP a heads up that “we got some TY gifts for your team but not admin as she supports you not us”. That would have given the OP the option to either get something for admin to also be given out at that same time or ensure that admin isn’t at the meeting.

    2. Psyche*

      I am not a fan of volunteering other people to chip in on a gift at work. Defiantly make sure they are on board before moving forward and be clear about expected cost per person. I think it would be better for the OP to pay for it herself if it is something she wants to do.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Only if they do recognition that way for other people though. Too often admins get stuff like this while other people get bonuses or more substantial recognition. You don’t want to treat her differently than other colleagues with this stuff. (Also, the org needs to pay for it, not her coworkers.)

    4. TootsNYC*

      but I do think that the OP should have recognized the admin at the big group thank-you.

      That’s also an opportunity to educate the sales folks on exactly how valuable her role his, and also how valuable she, specifically, is because of her skill.

      Plus it always looks good when the person getting praised turns around and thanks the people who made it possible (Oscars speeches, anyone?)

    5. Ann Nonymous*

      Picking nits here: “lunch with team” is very much a reward for the other non-admin people so not special for the rewardee. One not-great boss of mine rewarded me by taking *us* out for mani-pedis. I would have been happy to receive a gift certificate for that, but did not like that 1) I had to spend time with her at my treat and 2) she would have been going anyway and kind of just had me tag along.

  10. KeysToTheKingdom*

    #5 – in regards to this, I agree that 11 weeks isn’t long enough to put on a resume, but I’m keen to hear what people think is a standard amount of time to put on a resume. As an example, I was let go after a fairly long probationary period, October to May, and achieved quite a lot during that short time, but it comes up a LOT during interviews.

    What do we think?

    1. Lucy*

      I think it depends mostly on the kind of job. I guess I would think of it in cycles: a developer can run the entire life cycle of a project in a few months, so short fixed-term contracts are common and unremarkable; a teacher delivers a curriculum over an entire school year, or in the UK two- to four-year exam syllabus programmes, so leaving when you haven’t seen a cycle through would seem premature.

      For any kind of management role the cycle is likely to be at least seasonal if not annual, and eleven weeks is still within the “getting to know you” period. Although it can be a sign of maturity and professionalism to recognise a bad fit within three months, a prospective employer would be forgiven for being twitchy about someone who was such a bad fit in her first leadership position.

      For that reason, I think LW is well advised to leave this position off the resume if possible, because I think it risks looking worse than a gap.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        Not only this, but the OP was only in her previous position for three months as well. So she took an external promotion after three months and then was fired – unless OP has other long-term positions before this, putting both of these jobs on her resume is problematic. Doing so would raise too many questions about OP’s reliability and her judgment in accepting a position she clearly wasn’t ready for.

        1. KT*

          Prior to the two short term jobs, I was in my role for 5 years ( laid off after re-org) then another role for 1.5 years (contract ended). My manager for the contract position wanted to keep me on permanently but there was a hiring freeze.

          1. Fortitude Jones*

            Well that certainly helps! Good luck on finding something that’s a better fit.

      2. Dahlia*

        Not to derail but I have a relevant question actually. I’m currently working a summer position with potential for it to continue in the fall as part of a goverment programt that gives grants to increase work experience for young people.

        (That’s a mouthful.)

        Soooo how would y’all recommend listing that?

    2. TPS Cover Sheet*

      I was contracting and doing part-time for several agencies at the same time. I just list these under the umbrella company that did the payroll as otherwise my CV would be 5 pages.

    3. WellRed*

      If you were let go, not sure that shows much achievement? I guess depends on the role.

      1. Lance*

        I’m not sure if that’s really fair. It’s still a 7-month period; that’s a decent amount of time to at least gain some resume-worthy accomplishments.

        1. hbc*

          The problem is, an outsider is not going to be really sold on how much you learned if the overall message is “They didn’t think I learned it well enough.” Unless you have some mitigating circumstances that dilutes that message (ex: “They said I was awesome at X and Y, but they realized too late that they needed someone who could do Z”), it’s almost always negative for your candidacy, even if that’s not entirely fair.

          1. Emily K*

            Yeah, the only scenario I could see this being useful is if you were applying for a different type of role entirely that used the same specializes piece of equipment or software, and being able to say you had been trained on that specialized tool would be a significant advantage without your shortcomings in that role necessarily reflecting poorly on your ability to do the other one. Like if you learned a database software in a sales or HR role and now you’re applying for a database admin role and can point to experience with the software, and your shortcomings as a salesperson or HR rep were unrelated to your database skill.

            1. Fortitude Jones*

              I could also see this not being a problem if the job loss after seven months was due to budget cuts or the company closing altogether.

              As to the broader question, I also agree that it’s dependent on the role and seniority of the person in question. For example, I’m in the eighth week of my new job and sit on a couple of strategic planning committees where many of my ideas have either already been implemented or are in the process of being implemented across multiple teams within our company. I’ve also greatly improved the written output that goes out to clients and potential clients. I anticipate that in five months, I’ll have more of these examples so that if I were laid off or let go at the end of the seventh month, I would still add the position to my resume because I have quantifiable and provable accomplishments I could point to, and I have a solid work history behind me having been in my last related role 17 months and the company before that, four years (with nearly three years at the company before that).

              OP’s problem is that she has two short term stints of three months or less on her resume back to back – I’m skeptical that she what she was able to accomplish in both roles would be impressive enough to a hiring manager to mitigate the concern that she’s a flight risk or potentially misguided about the level of her skill set. Unless both roles were temporary and were intended to be such, I’d leave them off the resume.

      2. KeysToTheKingdom*

        Well, I say let go, but it was a mutual agreement, but I phrase it as such so as to not get in to too many details.

        I did, however, achieve quite a lot, thank you very much :)

    4. Close Bracket*

      Eight months is a short time to be at a job or a long time to be unemployed*. It will raise either questions of why you were there for such a short time if you include it or of what you were doing during that time if you leave it off.

      Whether you leave it on depends on what story you can spin. If you left the job before to take this job, it’s probably best to leave it on the resume and come up with a story that owns why you didn’t pass the probabtionary period and why you will do better in the job you are applying for. OTOH, if you were laid off from the previous job, just leave this job off entirely and say you’ve been applying.

      *lol, for some people. 8 months of job hunting is a flash in the pan for others, but most people will see it a long time.

      1. Close Bracket*

        oh, and in response to what you actually wanted to hear:

        what people think is a standard amount of time to put on a resume.

        A year is a solid stay at a job. Longer than about a year, put it on. Less than a year, it depends on what kind of story you can tell that doesn’t make you look flakey or incompetent.

  11. HappySnoopy*

    Letter #5 looks like they’ve had 2 jobs of 3 month tenure, the one they left to get the job with the cool title, and the one they were fired from. Doesn’t that make the resume a bit stickier? Leaving both off causes a 6 mth gap. Using the first job raises the question of why did you leave…which is where the cool title/fired job comes in.

    1. jaded*

      Agreed. What advice would someone have for getting around this issue? This doesn’t apply to me, but it seems like a lose-lose in this situation given all the standard advice. The more I read about the world of work and the hurdles the more it just seems like what’s the point of even trying to get more than a minimum wage job.

    2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Agreed. I think the biggest issue here is that she either has to include both jobs (the one she was just let go from and the one before), or neither. If she leaves them both off of her resume as Alison suggested, she will need to explain what she’s been doing for the last 6 months. So I actually think it would be better to add both jobs and be honest. She could explain that she left the first job for what she thought was a better opportunity, and it didn’t work out. I think it would look better to do that than leave them both off the resume and try to explain why they’re not there (or worse yet, lie about it). There are plenty of people who go for a senior or management position and find out they’re not cut out for it. Recognize it and move forward, and a reasonable person won’t count it against you.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        I’m not sure that if hiring managers bypass OP’s resume they would be unreasonable though. Saying, “I left a job I was only in for three months because I saw a better opportunity elsewhere, but then I was fired from that position 11 weeks later” is still going to raise eyebrows. If I’m the hiring manager, I’d appreciate the honesty, but I’d be concerned OP wouldn’t be 100% focused on the job I’m hiring for, but would instead spend her time thinking up ways to move up and out of that role.

        1. Fancy PM*

          Yeah, I’m also in the camp of definitely not hiring OP. However, my very limited hiring experience was in the context of easy to fill roles at a very small org, so we have a lot of applicants and can, unfortunately, discard any resumes that raise questions. We also cannot afford to hire often, we need people to stay.

        2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

          Then what do you suggest? If she leaves either job off of her resume they’ll ask her what she’s been doing for the last 6 months. OP either lies, (which is never a good idea) or tells them the truth and then they’re wondering why she was being shady by leaving them off the resume.

          1. Fancy PM*

            She can tell a version of the truth, something like: I had to devote my attention elsewhere for a limited period of time, I can assure you it was a one-time situation.

          2. Fortitude Jones*

            She could say she was exploring opportunities after her previous contract was non-renewed and is looking for something that’s the right fit. She should also try to pivot and talk about any professional development she may have undertaken after being unemployed like any online trainings or reading books in her industry, etc. Or OP can try temping and building up her resume that way until she can find something long-term and permanent – a lot of temp agencies don’t care about why you were fired unless it was for cause. They can even help her spin her story in a way that’s more flattering to her circumstances.

    3. KT*

      Exactly…so a 6 month gap in employment is better? I guess an employment gap is the lesser of the two evils?

  12. Confused*

    Regarding the 11 weeks point- internships are often around that length. Why are they (and their accomplishments) worth putting on a resume then?

    1. Lance*

      Simply put: because it’s expected that they’ll often be short periods, generally early in one’s career that they can still gain something out of.

    2. CupcakeCounter*

      Internships and contract/temp work are an entirely different animal than traditional employment that is anticipated to be longer-term.
      Internships are usually for students and new grad to get exposure and many times are the only items they can put in their job history.
      Contract/temp work is intended to be for a fixed amount of time and usually shorter term. Same with the title of “interim” – it usually isn’t expected that you will stay in a position like that for a year or more since it is intended to be a stop gap for the business.

      1. Antilles*

        “Internships are usually for students and new grad to get exposure and many times are the only items they can put in their job history.
        This is a key point. 2-3 months is an eternity compared to a resume with no other industry-specific work experience.
        Whereas once you’re out of school and have a few years’ experience, a couple months is effectively a rounding error – if your resume says you worked at your last company from August 2016 to June 2018, most people will mentally think of that as “oh, so he worked there for about three years”.

    3. Works in IT*

      Probably because internships are designed to last that long. While, if you’re hired to be a senior anything, unless it’s for an explicitly short term contract, if you’re let go 11 weeks in to something most people would be in for years, you probably spent those 11 weeks settling into the position, rather than mastering new skills.

    4. Cartographical*

      Internships, at least the ones my partner has overseen in his industry (insurance/actuarial), tend to be structured and have specific learning goals to be achieved. So his interns really have accomplished something, like acquired a new skill, in that short time.

      I think of it like the nursery school effect (in which every kid “graduating” is a hilarious know-it-all) — kids know twice as much at the end as they did going in, so they really did accomplish a lot even though we often think of it as nothing but cutting and gluing and juice and cookies. The relative change in knowledge and ability is significant, even in the short term, when you’re in the learning stages. Skills an intern acquires are ones they didn’t have before. A person working in that field would have accomplished nothing new in that 11 weeks because they already knew all that going in — just like you and I are pretty proficient with glue and scissors and we know how to wait our turn at snack time. An intern, on the other hand, has not only gained a new (small) skill set but shown their ability to acquire said skills outside a formal learning environment by taking instruction, fitting into the hierarchy, and working with a more diverse community of co-workers in a new environment — while being evaluated by at least one or two people specifically looking at their abilities. That’s significant. Taking on a job as a professional, if (as an example) my partner or I were to do so, eleven weeks is not enough time to advance a skill set and show personal efficacy and ability to contribute, especially if we were not able to do so to a degree that led to us being retained as an asset to the employer.

    5. ContemporaryIssued*

      I think the same reason you put summer jobs on early resumes: because a) they were intended as short-term employment and because b) your resume as a younger person is empty or sparse without them. I would also personally put down temp work if it was meant to lead to switching fields or something. Or even a “proper” job if you were only brought in for a specific project.

      This job was not intended to be only 3 months, if it’s 3 months because you got fired, then that’s not a great look for a resume.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      Three months until you were fired, or three months until you quit in frustration, is quite different from three months at which point the project you were hired for was complete.

      As people have noted, you’d tend to leave short-term work off resumes as you gained more experience to put in its place. The exception would be if you had a short-term contract to do something that aligns well with the position you are seeking. So as a freelancer, rather than a skills resume that says “I work for a variety of clients, doing tasks A-J” your resume would highlight that your work for Alpacas Amalgamated for 2 months one year earlier was exactly what this company want to hire you to do over 2 months.

    7. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It’s all about the expectations and perspective of what the job was about in the first place.

      Interns and contract work is on a project basis most often. So not being hired afterwards often just means there were no perm positions available, it was just for a project/short term from the start.

      A temp or an intern is usually fast-trained and fast-tracked to get a job/project done. Whereas if you’re expected to stay at the firm for(ever)/a few years, your accomplishments are going to be more spread out and timed differently as well. You’re just finishing learning the very basics around 3 months. So if you’re let go at that time, you’re viewed as someone who struggles with the basics. Whereas you were only hired to do a basic job to begin with, it’s a different lens to look through.

  13. Spreadsheets and Books*

    #2 – I was in a similar situation recently. After a big board meeting, the CFO sent our SVP and two other senior people on the team nice bottles of wine and heartfelt thank you cards. Which was nice… but the team actually had four people on it, and the two of us who weren’t recognized put just as much effort into preparation as the two who were. I’m the kind of person to just stew silently, but my coworker isn’t, and she brought it up snidely more than once because it felt like no one gave a crap about all of the late hours and weekends we worked to support the corporate goals. This is also not the first time this happened – the CFO hosted a thank you lunch for the team, again omitting me and my coworker, and the SVP had to specifically mention that the invitation should include the whole team, not just part of it before we were added to the invite.

    To make up for the most recent incident, the SVP bought us bottles of wine and gave us thank you cards herself. Jane should definitely receive a similar gesture so that she knows she’s also appreciated for how hard she works.

    1. [A Cool Name Here]*

      THIS. I worked as an admin assistant to a small team of a manager and an administrator in a very large company. While most of the work I did was administrative, I handled a very large project that required an audit of our company’s hundreds of thousands of products to comply with California’s Prop 65 rules. Not only did I manage the product list of what was subject to and compliant with Prop 65, I worked with our overseas manufacturers to source the reports needed and managed everything in our company database in a manner that made it easy for the team to see what was left to do. It required some judgment on my part. It took us over a year to complete the project.

      At a business unit meeting, where about a hundred of us gathered, the Senior VP recognized my team for our work on this project and he called us by name – my manager and then the administrator. I waited anxiously for my name and he did not call me down. I was devastated and fought back tears. After that the meeting ended, I quickly hiked back to my desk three buildings over by myself, trying my hardest not to cry. It was only 3pm and I was scheduled to work until 5pm, but I was so upset that I considered not even returning to my desk and just going home.

      Shortly after I returned to my desk, my manager returned and recognized me for my contribution to the project. I will always remember him for that kindness.

      1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        Yeah, your manager PRIVATELY recognized you – but you were thrown under the bus / conspicuous by your absence from the honors at the business unit meeting.

        I’m sure no one made any attempt to address that egregious “oversight”????

        1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

          I might add – there is where E-mail comes into play – how difficult would it be for the SVP to send an e-mail out to the employees praising the team (again) and adding “oh yeah in all the recognition we forgot to say that (A Cool Name Here) was part of the team and should have been mentioned!”

          Two minutes – problem resolved – etc.

        2. [A Cool Name Here]*

          To my knowledge, nothing was done, but knowing my boss, he asked his boss to pass the word up that I need to be included in future recognition. This was an international company with 3,000 employees in my building and roughly 10,000 employees at headquarters (not including field employees and foreign offices). It doesn’t excuse the SVP’s oversight, but he wouldn’t know me from Eve.

    2. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      That’s good – the SVP went to bat for you. That’s rather unusual. Most execs will never admit a mistake has been made….

  14. missannethrope*

    LW#5, there are some fields (healthcare, for example) and some licensing agencies (again, those that license healthcare professionals) that frown very heavily on omitting employers from job applications/resumes. They see it as falsifying an application by omitting potentially negative information. From an employer’s perspective, wouldn’t you want to know whether and why an applicant was fired from their last position?

    1. fposte*

      I think that’s commoner with applications than with resumes, and usually it’s explicitly stated to be complete in those applications. Since generally resumes aren’t supposed to be complete, I think unless the OP knows to the contrary she should follow the usual practice of including the main elements of her work history on them rather than being exhaustive–and this wasn’t a main element of her history.

      If they’re interested in whether or not she’s been fired, they can ask; that’s a pretty common question to applicants in its own right.

    2. Psyche*

      I think omitting it from an application and omitting it from a resume are two different things. A resume is a carefully curated marketing document basically. You are trying to sell yourself to the company. An application is them telling you what information they need in order to vet you. So if the application asks you to list all former employers, you shouldn’t leave any out. You can definitely leave employers off your resume though and many people do, either because they are not relevant to the current job, because the resume is too long or because they don’t want the first thing they talk about to be why they were only at Company B for 3 months.

    3. Observer*

      “job applications/resumes”

      That’s a false equivalence. Nothing on your resume should ever be false, of course, but you are never legally or morally required but put anything on there that you don’t want to. With an application, you have answer the question asked, like it or not.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Also note that applications list this as “job history” and yes, they want to know you worked at McDonald’s during school as well. However resumes you leave that off because it’s unnecessary.

      And honestly, I’ve seen a lot of people who were fired for no “good” reason, so I don’t care and don’t really dive into that anyways. Lots of hiring managers don’t check references or confirm employment either.

      1. Who Plays Backgammon?*

        It’s so refreshing to hear a manager acknowledge in plain English that sometimes people get fired for no good reason. It’s true and we all know it, but one still has to dance around it in the job search process. I once freelanced at a small family-owned publishing co., and the thing about the owner was that he only kept people about 3 years regardless of their job performance. The secretary was fired just before I started so they were hiring a new one, and my boss got the ax halfway through my contract. I spoke to her afterward and she’d been prepared for it, although hoping it wouldn’t happen, and suggested the marketing director would probably be next as she was coming up on 3 years. Editors and typesetters came and went during the production cycle. I was astounded a few years ago to see online that the co. was still actually in operation.

    5. A nony cat*

      This is one thing that worries me as well. I’d add to your list of fields any field where there is a lot of rotation of staff between donors/clients and their implementing partners/contractors or where short term assignments are common. I get that applications and resumes are different, but I imagine that if it is commonly required to provide all jobs (or all jobs in the past X years), even when it’s not required it might be expected. Especially for more recent and more relevant positions. (It’s one thing to omit that you worked at your universities coffee shop 8 years ago, it’s another to omit a professional job from 2 years ago).

  15. SunnyD*

    We all do the best we can to assess how trustworthy others are. Showing integrity in small matters is important, because it shows you are likelier to have integrity in bigger matters, even if you could get away with it. Casual unethical behavior and cheating lets you know they don’t have that internalized moral code, but are more about what they can get away with.

    This guy would get a permanent ‘maybe don’t trust him too far’ little marker inside my mind.

    (And to be clear, this is not actually a small matter, it’s more of a med-high to high matter, he wants very private, legally protected inside info for his financial gain.)

  16. Observer*

    # – You’ve gotten some good advice. One thing that might be useful is to find out what the policies around your data is. In our case, for instance, we are not even allowed to share the fact that someone gets services from us. And PII, as it’s called, about staff is totally confidential, and is not to be released absent either written consent or a subpoena.

    And if they don’t already have a policy, see if you can nudge them to create one.

    1. SWF*

      OP here. A lot of information I may have is (in theory) either publicly available or available to other members of the denomination – it just takes a lot of work to find and it might not be accurate when you do. Because it’s community-based (taking the overall area’s churches as a whole), management is a little less comfortable with making firm lines about who gets access to what.

      Prior to this, I worked in the legal department for a very large retailer – the difference in data management is beyond night and day. More like night and a cantaloupe.

      1. Observer*

        As long as 100% is not easily publicly available, you should treat anything you have as private unless specifically told otherwise.

        Especially when the request is for sales or fundraising purposes outside of the denomination. I would be willing to bet the your bosses would NOT be happy.

      2. Arts Akimbo*

        “Beyond night and day. More like night and a cantaloupe” joins Niels Bohr’s “That’s not right. That’s not even wrong” up in the constellation of awesome metaphors for messed-up stuff!

  17. fhqwhgads*

    Let go = fired = dismissed
    Laid off = made redundant = left due to RIF = downsized

  18. Former Admin*

    OP #2 – I am a former admin and was in a similar situation at my previous job. I was left out of a recognition for my department and it really stung and made me feel less valuable to my organization. Thank you for checking in with your admin afterwards as I am sure she did not feel great about being excluded. Can your team get her a card from all of you? I received a handful of thank you cards during my time at my last job and I always appreciated them.

    1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      Better yet – your management should have taken corrective action.

  19. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    #5 Especially since this was a senior role that you were let go from, I would not use it. If you’re looking for other senior positions, that will set off alarm bells of “So they didn’t succeed in that senior role, why would they succeed in ours?” Which of course isn’t very fair, since every job in every organization is different but it’s still something that crosses a hiring manager’s mind when sorting resumes.

  20. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    #2) I could write a book full of “dinner table stories” on this.

    The last place I worked, they regularly gave out quarterly awards for achievements/goals. The thing is, when they announced the roll of winners, they did not announce all the winners.

    One quarter, I won – but was not on the list. I asked “gee will there be a correction” and management said “that would be admittin’ we made a mistake! We can’t do that!” Sure you can, but that’s beside the point. I explained that the other two team members were named, why was my name left off if I won?

    It was explained later – “well, gee whiz. Look. Betty’s team only had one person who won the award. I had five. Betty would be embarrassed or feel bad. Doesn’t that make sense?”

    Uh – no. You just undermined me. I was highly conspicuous by my absence on the list. Yeah I’ll get the $100 gift card but a correction would be nice.

    I even got a subsequent congratulatory letter from the VP but I would have felt better if they had said “we inadvertently omitted” in an e-mail.

    Some 20 years ago at a former employer I was called in to rescue a project and did so. And then my name was left off the list of task force members. My manager at first criticized me for an over-reaction but then took the group’s leader under pressure to do SOMETHING because one of his guys was just thrown under the bus. And HE now had to deal with the reaction.

    Again, I could write a book of “Dinner Table Stories” on this topic. But the point is – when you slight someone like this – and exclude them from honors or recognition THAT THEY EARNED – or whatever – you run a severe risk of destroying that employee’s morale and productivity. He/she’s gonna wonder “why should I go that extra mile anymore?” Or worse – not feel like his / her work is of any value.

    When something like this happens – it’s probably best to eat a little humble pie and perform corrective action – OPENLY – rather then allow it to fester. And it’s better than digging a hole by coming up with crazy rationalization excuses.

    1. LQ*

      You seem to feel pretty strongly about this and I’m all the way on the other side. I have been left out over and over on these things. (The latest was I’ve been off our org chart entirely for …like a year? And finally pushed to get back on only when I had another person reporting to me and wanted to make sure she was on the chart (and a little because folks were asking if I was working for another agency)). I’ve been left out of wide recognition. I’ve been forgotten (the person on the back side of the card), and been intentionally left off because other people would feel bad.

      But it’s never bothered me (people thinking I worked for the other agency bothered me but of all the things that’s it).

      Why should it bother me? What is it about it that feels so bad for you? I mean this seriously, I’m not being facetious, but if my boss and his boss know I’m doing my job…I don’t really worry too much. And even with all the being left off of things my name still manages to get more attention than I’m comfortable with.

      (I’d also say that part of this is ask the person in question. If someone sent out like an all staff email saying, “Whoops, LQ did great and we forgot to include her in the Fancy Award Ceremony. So again congratulations to XY, AB, and LQ on Fancy Award.” I’d want to hide myself away for a week.)

      1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        “Why should it bother me? What is it about it that feels so bad for you? I mean this seriously, I’m not being facetious, but if my boss and his boss know I’m doing my job…I don’t really worry too much. And even with all the being left off of things my name still manages to get more attention than I’m comfortable with.”

        Because if you’re intentionally left out or off honors lists, it can make YOU look bad in front of others. The term “conspicuous by (your) absence” …

        If YOU don’t mind, OK. But it does bother and adversely affect others people – and – can hurt them professionally as well. Obviously when someone goes back to their desk crying, or is angry – that “Whoops” message can go a long way to fixing the problem.

        1. Who Plays Backgammon?*

          Yes. Honors and recognitions can also affect how you are viewed by others in your organization, and if you earn it and don’t receive it, yes, you’ve been slighted. These are the things that can also raise your positive profile in an organization. True, you get your paycheck, but even so, it can be painful to bust you britches for your firm and find that you’re invisible. Why bother going the extra mile if know one even knows you’re there?

      2. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        And one more thought – if upper management is made aware of these actions, and takes action to correct themselves, they are less likely to commit such breaches in the future.

  21. KT*

    Commenting on: 5. Should I include a job I was fired from after 11 weeks on my resume?
    Alison, thank you for responding to my question, I really appreciate it! I am going to take those last two positions off of my resume right now. This leads me to a new question: if I take those last two jobs off of my resume, there will be a large gap of time unaccounted for (January 2019-the present). Is that ok? Thanks!

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It should be fine, six months to find a job is not that big of a deal in most situations. Most people will assume you probably had some gigs in between or took a sabbatical perhaps.

      Depending on your area, the economy isn’t really in an employers favor if they want to be that picky either. So that works for you as well.

    2. Fortitude Jones*

      I agree that six months shouldn’t be a huge problem. I think you should even reach out to any temp agencies in your area to see if they have some positions you can try out until you find something full-time/permanent. That way, you can honestly say you’re temping while trying to find the right fit.

  22. WonderCootie*

    #2-Been there, done that, worn out that t-shirt. There’s nothing quite so demoralizing as being told (either directly or indirectly) that you aren’t considered part of the team because you’re “just the admin” by the group you’re supporting.

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