am I asking too much of job applicants?

A reader writes:

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

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

I answer this question — and four others — over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

Other questions I’m answering there today include:

  • Is my employee taking too much sick leave?
  • My company said they’d help me find another job after my layoff — what should I expect?
  • I keep being told “we need you to be flexible”
  • When a good employee resigns

{ 252 comments… read them below }

  1. Jedi Squirrel*

    OP1: If you just need standard information, ask for a resume. If there’s something specific you need, ask for an application.

    But don’t do both. It’s overkill, and applicants resent doing it, especially for a part-time job. It’s a waste of their time and yours.

    Are you really looking at both documents, after all? Just ask for the one you end up looking at.

    1. SufjanFan*

      Yeah, as someone who is currently hard job searching & applying right now, it crushes my soul when I’m asked to upload a resume then fill out an application where the questions are…………. my entire work history……. which is…….. on the resume…….

      1. Quill*

        And it’s always in a deeply terrible online format. Sometimes one where if you hit enter on accident instead of tab the whole thing gets sent as-is. (Did that this weekend.)

    2. Cody's Dad*

      I totally agree! Nothing is more frustrating than having to do an online application that usually asks for the same information found on a resume. To be truthful, I usually avoid applying for these jobs because of the amount of time it takes and if I do, it’s the last one I apply for as it can take close to an hour to retype everything that is already listed in my resume! Don’t even get me started on why they ask for which high school I went to over 20 years ago when applying for jobs that require a degree.

    3. BRR*

      Something specific is a good point. I think if the LW needs something specific, still only ask for that with the application and not require their entire work history. I don’t even like copying it over from my resume, it’s very tedious (and applications that require the exact day for start/end dates and not just month and year, oy).

        1. Quill*

          Like I KNOW the exact day I started a job in 2010, as a high school graduate trying to make some money before college.

          10 year work history.

          1. TardyTardis*

            I remember when I started one job, because it was my daughter’s birthday and the reason I looked for ut was to put her through the college she wanted, Both worked out well.

            However, I also learned never to start a new job and new medication at the same time…

    4. thatoneoverthere*

      Many companies require an actual application be filled out for their records. My organization does this. I am not sure why its a requirement but it is. It is not the first place I have run into either. I would love an explanation for why!

      1. MassMatt*

        The main rationale I have heard is that a resume is not a signed document, you can put whatever you want there, whereas most applications require a signature making it “official”. As Alison points out, during the hiring process you could simply require applicants sign a form saying “my resume is correct”. And I don’t imagine there’d be a problem firing someone who lied on their resume, regardless of whether they signed anything or not.

        I hate duplicate effort also, and question whether anything is gained by requiring an application in addition to a resume. My resume provides achievements and accomplishments, applications usually only dates and job titles. What’s the point?

        1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          That sounds like a really lame excuse to either avoid saying what they really want it for, or (more likely) to cover for not having thought about why they ask for both. The notion that an application form puts comparable information in a standard format is much more sensible to me, although it’s still annoying to have to fill out redundant forms. In the UK at least many places use a very systematic method of rating applicants against a set of essential and desirable requirements, so having a form that asks for each thing in the same order could make that a little easier. But then I’ve applied for several jobs that use this system and also specify that you should not submit a resume/CV.

        2. BeesKneeReplacement*

          That’s not a thing (in the US). Signing an application doesn’t carry any more weight than sending a resume. Both are making specific representations about your experience.

      2. MusicWithRocksIn*

        If you have to have one for records, you should only ask people to fill it out that you invite in for an interview. At that point at least they know you are investing time in THEM, so they will be more willing to invest time in you. Its still frustrating to have to re-enter information you have on your resume, but at least you aren’t sending it off into the void where you never know if anyone will even look at it.

        1. Nanani*

          This. Or even wait until they’re hired. I can’t imagine why the work history of someone you didn’t hire would need to b on file.

          1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

            If you have a separate diversity review and approval process, you do need it for comparative review.

        2. BB*

          Yup! Or better yet – have employees fill it out after they’ve been hired! At my current employer we have an internal website where we fill out our work experience, education etc. etc. and it’s used both for their records, and so the parent company can more easily evaluate individuals for potentially filling needs in other divisions (there’s also a section where we can say if we are willing to relocate, if so where, etc. etc.). It works well!

      3. Fikly*

        If this is a legit requirement, then they should not be requesting a resume, because there is nothing on the resume that should not be covered by the application.

        They need to pick one or the other.

        1. allathian*

          This, exactly.
          My worry is that applications often require listing both relevant and non-relevant work experience. The whole point of resumes is to emphasize relevant work experience.
          Because I work for the government (in northern Europe), my employer keeps my CV with info about all of my work experience starting with my first job in HS. As long as I stay in the public sector, that should be all I need if I ever decide to apply for a new job. (Just as well, since I’ve lost all my proofs of employment and my HS and Master’s diplomas in a move since starting there, which would be a bit embarrassing to admit in an interview…)

        2. Quill*

          And evaluate if their online application sucks or not, because an overwhelming majority of them do.

      4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        I ran into this somewhere and it was because there was a total misconception on applications are important because it’s a signed document and “binding”. Which is absurd…[spoiler, the person who thought this wasn’t from the US and was from a country with contract workers.]

        But since we’re in an at-will world, all you have to do is have them sign other paperwork saying that they confirm that the resume is true and complete.

        The other reason is a resume is tailored to the present job you’re applying to. It is NOT a work-history. So they want to know when you worked at McDonald’s or at Disney as a character etc.

      5. fhqwhgads*

        I’ve experienced this a couple of times where to apply to the job, it was resume and cover letter, went through the whole process. Then when they had given me a verbal offer and were prepping the written, they gave me their application form and had me fill it out. So they could have that for their records.
        While I still think it’s kind of dumb if it just repeats stuff they already have received otherwise, if an employer is going to have a “we need this form for our records”, I think that’s a preferable way to do it: the last step in the process.

    5. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome*

      Agreed. When I’m simply applying, I’m not going to fill out an application and give my birthday and SSN and all the other stuff an application wants. If you decide to hire me, I will happily complete an application but don’t ask me to do that in the initial submission, let’s find out if we are going to work together first.

      1. Tidewater 4-1009*

        I would never put my SSN on anything until I’m hired and filling out the W2. Way too risky!
        The few times I’ve been confronted with forms that demanded it, I put a dash and the last 4. I have decided not to apply to employers who expect this in the initial application because they are either very clueless or extremely arrogant.

    6. Curmudgeon in California*


      It makes me grumble that I have to upload a resume, write a cover letter specific to your company and job description, then fill out ALL THE SAME INFORMATION on an application. This is for full time jobs. For part time? No, just… no.

      Making people jump through hoops just because you can says bad things about you as a manager.

      If you want people with no starch who are extreme people-pleasers, or otherwise desperate, go ahead, ask for resume, cover letter, application, skills test, psychometric “aptitude” test, personality test, etc.

    7. applicant guy*

      I have high-level academic credentials and specialized skills, so in that sense I am sometimes a strong candidate for hard-to-fill roles, and to echo what many others have said, I will not do these applications unless I am as confident as one can be without interviewing that I want the job. It’s just not worth it to put the time in when these systems are often set up so rigidly and poorly that they automatically toss highly qualified people for extremely questionable reasons. My assumption is that organizations that do this are organizations where incompetence is tolerated and I have to be REALLY interested in a role to be willing to overlook that.

    8. Admiral Thrawn Is Still Blue*

      Count me in as #NoApplication. Resume and cover letter should be sufficient. Besides, people who are truly highly skilled will probably balk at filling out one. Kind of feels like a high school retail job thing to do.

  2. What Day Is It?*

    Resume, cover letter and application, for a part time job? It’s overkill. It’s possible that the application is being used by a hiring system, and certain information needs to be in certain places for it to be identified, but pick and choose, especially for a part time job.

    1. Sleepy*

      I ask for a resume, cover letter, and application for part-time jobs, but the application is incredibly short and only has one question: are you available at XYZ times? We’ve had people apply for jobs with us thinking they could renegotiate the schedule, which is non-negotiable with us. I find it wastes less time to have people affirm it up front. If it weeds out people who are not available, then all the better for both of us.

      1. Katrinka*

        What prevents the candidates from lying on the application though? I don’t see that the application step is necessary. If the schedule is important, put it in the job posting and reiterate it at every step.

        1. Sleepy*

          I’ve tried that and it doesn’t work as well. I’ve never had anyone lie, at least not who got to the final hiring stage.

        2. Guacamole Bob*

          Wasn’t there a story here about someone who hired file clerks, and had an application separate from the resume that only consisted of the question “Are you willing to do filing?” and it weeded out tons of applicants?

          People don’t read job postings very thoroughly or pay attention to some of the details. Forcing them to focus on it can cause at least a few people to actually think about it.

            1. WellRed*

              But they were hiring for someone to do the filing so it weeded out applicants that hated filing. I believe they were getting applications from people who wanted to do everything but filing.

              1. Guacamole Bob*

                Exactly. The job was 100% filing, and they kept getting to the interview stage only to have candidates tell them they didn’t want a job that included lots of filing. If you’re applying to be a llama groomer and you can’t figure out that you should check “yes” on the box that asks “are you willing to work with llamas?” then maybe you’re not the ideal candidate.

                1. Tabby*

                  You’d be surprised at how many people applied at my dog daycare who don’t know how to clean. And it isn’t any different than what you’d do at your home: sweep, mop, wash dishes and laundry. Granted, our brooms are more like rubber squeezes with a bristly side (works to get fur off the floor better than a regular broom). I was actually told about one during the working interview and died laughing. Really? You can’t sweep, mop, and wipe surfaces? Dafug?

                  These are people who assume they’re just going to be in the playrooms playing with dogs — which is harder than you’d imagine, since fights spring up in the blink of an eye if you aren’t watching carefully, and separate troublemakers from their annoyed victims.

                2. Sleepy*

                  Yes. Although to be fair, it is not easy to tell from some job descriptions what is a core duty and what is peripheral to the job. I applied for a job as a “Llama Processing Manager” and was told during the first round of interviews that there were no management duties involved, even though supervising Llama Processors was actually listed on the job description. So yeah, job candidates do not read carefully and it’s compounded by the fact that job descriptions are poorly written! I write mine very carefully, but how are applicants supposed to know that ?

                3. Quill*

                  There are a lot of poorly written job descriptions out there, I’m not surprised if people skimmed for keywords and “filing” wasn’t one.

            2. Oof*

              But that’s not all that bad, when you have a large applicant pool of people who could do the job.

          1. dragocucina*

            At old place we had a cleaning person who never mentioned that she was allergic to all commercial cleaning products. It turned out she expected to just be able to use dish soap and water. Not sufficient in a public building. We already provided mask and gloves for cleaning.

            It became an application question.

            Then there was the cleaning person who was extremely afraid of spiders. I never thought to mention that the outside trashcans housed spiders until I told him one day to make sure the pest control people sprayed the trash cans.

            1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

              Oh no, this reminds me of the girl I worked with at a museum who managed to get the task of checking all the bug traps (historic building + bugs love to chew on stuff like wool and leather objects). She never mentioned that she was extremely afraid of bugs of all sorts but one day the curator saw her throwing away a pair of kitchen tongs and asked her about it. Turns out she was buying tongs at the dollar store, using them to pick up the traps, and then throwing them away at the end of the shift because she couldn’t stand to touch them after they had touched dead bugs.

              I took over the bug trap duty for her. I suppose it never occurred to anyone to specify that monitoring the collections might also involve insects.

              1. Oldster but a goody*

                The small insurance company I worked for in the ’70s hired a temp for a statistical typist needed to prepare the annual regulatory reports. This was back when computer printouts were massive and not legal for the purpose. The agency sent over a nice young woman with a high recommendation but, as I recall, she did not last until lunch. When they sat her down with an accounting statement at typewriter with an extra long carriage to accommodate the wide ledger paper then used, she balked at the work, saying that she did not know what to do. The boss said “What do you mean. You’re supposed to be a statistical typist. ” Legend has it that she replied, “I am a statistical typist but I don’t do numbers.”

                1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

                  Absolutely! It was very inventive and determined. But I could have saved her a few months’ worth of kitchen tongs if she’d said that she really hated bugs.

        3. LunaLena*

          Yeah, wasn’t there a letter recently where the employer confirmed with an applicant several times during the application and interview process that they could work X schedule, but once she was hired, she refused to accept that schedule because she knows how newbies always get stuck with the worst shifts and she wasn’t going to be shafted like that? I tried to find it, but a quick search so far hasn’t brought it up.

      2. Stormy Weather*

        That’s a case where you’re asking for information not on the resume and is (IMO) reasonable. I’ve started to apply for jobs where the online app is basically a cut & paste of my resume, and just stopped.

        1. Tidewater 4-1009*

          The thing is, almost all good-sized employers have this system where you upload your resume and the system attempts to extract your experience and plug it into their form… and usually gets it all or mostly wrong so you have to spend ~an hour fixing it. On top of the hour or more trying to write a good cover letter. It’s redundant – they already have the resume, so why do they need the form? – and disrespectful of our time.
          Only once or twice in ~3 months of job searching have I seen a system that’s happy with just my resume and doesn’t require the damned form.
          I know why they want the form though. It’s necessary to their (stupid, clunky, outdated) system and they’re not willing to pay people to extract it from the resumes and enter it, so they make us do it.

          1. Another freelancer*

            Agreed with the above. I have filled out countless applications like that, where my resume gets dropped in random fields. No, my title at my former place of work was not the company’s name. And my responsibilities were not the company’s address. UGH

            I filled out an application last week that I actually kind of liked. After I filled out my work history, I had to answer a few questions about the job, such as my familiarity with a certain system, how I would problem-solve in a certain scenario and so on. It wasn’t just a regurgitation of my resume.

            1. Tidewater 4-1009*

              I applied for one last week that took my resume and asked me one question. Made me feel so good I would accept an offer instantly! :)

      3. Fikly*

        Why aren’t you simply instructing them to include that information in the cover letter?

    2. Another worker bee*

      Yeah, it clearly is excessive. We are very quick to tell employees about how the market determines what they are worth and what they can ask for, etc. Well the reverse applies to this employer – the market is saying that what you are doing is excessive for this position. If it weren’t, you’d find qualified applicants willing to jump through the hoops.

  3. theelephantintheroom*

    The sick leave question is confusing to me. Do they think she should be able to predict when she’ll suddenly fall ill?

    1. Beth*

      It sounds to me that: first, the department is understaffed; second, they aren’t offering enough PTO. Neither of these things is in any way Jane’s problem.

      In Jane’s position, I just might be making sure I used up all my PTO as it accrued, in case could be taken away if I didn’t use it.

      1. Jedi Squirrel*

        No, the issue is that she calls out at the last minute. If she called out earlier, they wouldn’t have to scramble to cover for her.

          1. Dust Bunny*

            And possibly understaffing if they’re having a hard time just finding *anyone* to take the shift.

            I used to work for a place like this–sometimes it was that I couldn’t find the right person, but often it was that I couldn’t find anyone at all who was available because they really only had enough people on staff to keep the place going if nobody was out. They didn’t have any spares. Furthermore, we weren’t allowed to get overtime without prior approval (which they never gave) so if somebody took a shift now they’d have to give one up later, which meant we’d be short-staffed again later in the week.

            It was BS. I stayed less than a year.

        1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

          So are you supposed to know today that you will wake up sick tomorrow? The nature of having sick leave is to be able to call out at the last minute. I agree with Beth. The letter mentions that she’s called out once every other month, and blown through her accrued sick leave. That’s 6 times a year. And if the OP has to scramble to find coverage, she’s understaffed. You need to be prepared for people to be out for any number of reasons.

          1. Marillenbaum*

            Exactly–the employee is using her sick leave appropriately and isn’t using more of it than she is allotted. When your budget doesn’t allow for your employees to use the sick time you allotted upon hiring, the problem isn’t your employee–it’s your budget.

            1. Sparrow*

              This is exactly what I was thinking. Surely your coverage budget should match up with the sick days available to employees in that role.

          2. Green Mug*

            At my former job, we were allowed to use sick days for doctor appointments. The new grandboss loved paperwork. If you gave notice that you would be out, you were required to fill out a form. Your supervisor had to sign it and in theory could deny your sick day. After the new paperwork requirement, no one gave advance notice anymore.

          3. Oldster but a goody*

            This is a perfect situation for intermittent FMLA if the both the employer and the employee are eligible. If the employer is covered under the law and it is observed that an employee is absent periodically over time for a medical condition, FMLA is supposed to be triggered; the employee does not need to ask. FMLA administration can be very complicated but it can be done sensitively and with absolute privacy for the employee. The certification process with the employee’s health care provider will sort out if the absences qualify for protection under the law. I did FMLA administration for several mid-size employers and the diagnosis of the condition does not need to be disclosed. One certification form I recall distinctly met all the criteria for FMLA approval gave no indication whatsoever of the nature of the employee’s illness (no diagnosis, no mention of the provider’s specialization, etc.). The interesting thing about this form was that it was for my boss. She only told us that she would be out for medical reasons. Her other report and I hoped that she was finally going in to get a heart.

            1. A*

              I don’t like the idea of needing to resort to FMLA (let alone as a ‘perfect’ solution to this scenario) for using six sick days over the course of a year. The usage OP mentions is not excessive.

              1. Oldster but a goody*

                FMLA is not a bad thing when used properly and administered correctly. There is a perception by at least one manager in this situation that the absences are excessive and the suggestion that the employee be disciplined for using her sick leave. Before beginning discipline, the employer should make an effort to determine if the situation could fall under FMLA. This inquiry can be done with proper respect to the employee’s privacy. If the absences are related to an ongoing or chronic medical condition and are certified as such during the FMLA process, the employee cannot be disciplined for absences up to twelve weeks in twelve months AND the employer has avoided problems (like lawsuits) resulting from wrongly disciplining the employee.

                1. Quill*

                  Six days though, that’s one every two months.

                  Come down with one flu and you’ve gone through them all. The idea that that’s excessive, especially when the policy allows them, is insane.

        2. fposte*

          But that’s how sick days tend to work, and the OP would have to bring in a temp whether Jane called in the night before or at 8:55. I also think if Jane can blow through her sick leave calling out “at least every other month” there’s probably not a big sick leave allowance.

          I think the OP absolutely can say to Jane “Hey, we’d really like to get a temp here by 9 if possible when you’re out; could you try to let me know by 8 in future?” But it sounds like the OP just gets flustered by sick callouts for a position that requires coverage. The solutions there are to have somebody on-site who can step in, or just to understand that having to find coverage is part of the system and not an extra burden.

        3. Katrinka*

          No, that’s not the issue. The issue is the amount of time total which, as Alison says, should be OK as long as she has the PTO to use. It doesn’t matter when she calls out, the manager still has to pay a replacement. They also wouldhave to do that for any vacation time. That pay has not been budgeted properly. If Jane gets 10 PTO days per fiscal year, then the budget for replacements should be (wage x 10). But many managers underbudget that line item, counting on the employee to not use all their time. There are many places that give you generous PTO and then penalize you for taking more than x days within a certain time frame (like more than 3 sick days in a 3 month period. In a school. During flu season.).

          1. Anonapots*

            The OP also gave the frequency of call outs as once every other month. That’s not…unreasonable.

            1. Clorinda*

              It’s six times a year. Perfectly reasonable. I think that as states “re-open” with he virus still circulating, companies are going to find themselves having to be a LOT more flexible with sick time.

            2. Snow globe*

              The number of days is perfectly reasonable. If it’s happening at a regular cadence, then that could indicate that either these are regular medical appointments, which she could provide more notice for, or maybe she’s just using up sick days as they accrue, which could be an indication that they are just being used as vacation days. Although I’m not clear if there really is some sort of regularity with the days out, or OP was just estimating how frequently they occurred.

              1. Rabbit*

                It _could_ indicate either of those things, or she might just get sick every eight weeks. It’s not that crazy of a time frame.

        4. Salyan*

          How does someone not call 0ut sick at the last minute? It’s the nature of getting sick. If someone called in advance, they’d be suspected of abusing the sick leave.

          1. doreen*

            As Alison mentioned in her response, sometimes it’s permissible to use sick leave for medical appointments. I’ve encountered more than one person who called in sick “day of” for medical appointments where arrangements could have been made in advance. There was on-site coverage- but those people were entitled to take days off , too and I don’t think it was unreasonable for supervisors to get annoyed when someone called in at 8am for an appointment they made two weeks ago. After all, if I knew two weeks ago that someone was taking off today for a doctor’s appointment, I might not have approved the day off for the person who covers when she requested it last week.

            1. Wendy*

              I started a bit of a brouhaha last year by trying to preplan a mental health day and was told they aren’t allow to pre-approve sick time. I was just trying to be considerate by making sure my coverage had notice. I got told I should just text the morning of and say I was sick. I asked them what I should do if I ever needed time off for a medical appointment – wait for the day to come and announce I was leaving for the day or just call in sick that morning. They told me I should put in a vacation request for those hours.

              1. Quill*

                Which is fairly unreasonable, and a main reason why people err on the side of never disclosing that a sick day gave them any advance notice.

        5. Clisby*

          I’m not sure what they mean by “the last minute.” Thinking back to before I retired, if I woke up sick in the middle of the night, I’d call in as soon as there was someone to call in to. (I never had sick leave that covered doctor’s appointments, unless they were appointments because I was actively sick. If I wanted to take off for my annual physical, or a routine dental checkup, that came out of PTO or flex-time).

        6. Yvette*

          Did the letter writer define last minute? As in early that morning or at 8:59 am for a 9:00 am start time? That to me is last minute. But leaving a voice mail at 6:00 am that day or late the night before is normal. I mean, unless the person was feeling unwell the day before, and felt it would worsen, most people don’t know far in advance that they would be sick the next day. Also people can wake up feeling not so hot and fully intend to go in until they realize that they just can’t. Unless the LW thinks that sick days are for scheduled Dr. appointments? I honestly would be suspicious of too much notice unless it was for a Dr. appointment.

          1. A*

            Even then… not everyone gets up several hours before they go to work. I think the only fair cut off in this sense would be at the point where OP would typically start their commute (whatever that might be). Even if they are up, they could be trying to rally the troops prior to realizing how bad it is. This happened to me a lot when I was in a work environment with only 5 sick days a year (blech). It’s a self fulfilling prophecy.

            1. Rabbit*

              Yup. My mom never ever let us sleep in to skip school. We always had to get out of bed, get dressed, and eat our toast, and if we still felt really sick… usually she told us to suck it up but occasionally we’d stay home. She was right, often that early morning sore throat and headache dissipate quickly.

              I wake up at 8, get dressed, showered, and mascara on by 8:35, grab a coffee, drive to work, and I’m in by 9. My old boss would get annoyed at me calling in at 8:15. Sorry, but if I feel like crap I’m not waking up early. That’s when you need sleep.

              I recently had to fire someone and one of the things my predecessor had written in his files multiple times was he called in sick for the next day too early the night before. She was convinced this indicated he wasn’t trying hard enough to make it in (we had combined, generous sick and vacation time and he had taken everything allotted plus one unpaid week of sick days) and mentioned it a PIP too.

        7. Observer*

          That’s actually not the only issue – the OP is explicit that they don’t have the budget to cover for her appropriately.

          Which is TOTALLY their problem, not Jane’s. If you need coverage for a position, you BUDGET FOR IT. You do NOT base your coverage budget on the idea that the person in the role is not going to use their time.

          1. Marillenbaum*

            A plan that relies on your employees taking the blow for your business is not a plan. It’s a delusion.

          2. Rabbit*

            Thank you!! This letter was unreal to me.

            “My excellent employee keeps using the time off that is part of her benefits and my budget doesn’t cover that. Should I bring it up with her?”

            Umm… no. You should bring it up with whomever made your budget. How is this a question?

            1. fhqwhgads*

              Yeah “my budget only works if no one is ever sick or on vacation” means the budget is broken.

        8. Salsa Your Face*

          Okay, but it’s sick time. You use it when you’re sick. I wake up with a debilitating migraine about once every 2-3 months–there’s no way for me to know in advance that I’m going to have one. (And, frankly, the nature of my migraines is such that even for the first hour I’m awake, I don’t know if it’s going to be a migraine that knocks me flat on my back for the day or just a run of the mill headache that I can work through.)

          Without the benefit of a crystal ball, I don’t know how I’m supposed to call out any earlier than the “last minute.”

          1. Rabbit*

            Ugh I’ve taken sick days where I literally stayed at work in a fetal position all day because I was fine at 9 but by 9:30 had a migraine so bad I was unable to drive myself home. Luckily I worked at a very trendy tech company with super high backed couches you could nap in and not get caught.

        9. MassMatt*

          …But that’s the way illnesses usually work, you wake up feeling sick and call to say you can’t come in.

          And the letter doesn’t say the issue is scrambling for coverage, rather that it’s the budget.

          1. Jedi Squirrel*

            Yes, but there’s a difference between calling in when you wake up vs. calling in five minutes before your shift starts.

            1. fposte*

              That wouldn’t change the OP’s need to provide coverage and to do so at short notice, which are her main gripes. I’m not sure how literally she even means “last minute” given that she’s thrown by providing coverage, period.

        10. Fikly*

          But…the majority of the time, the first day of sick time you use for any given occasion, you don’t know if you will need it until less than 24 hours before you need it. Or do your illnesses sent you an ETA?

          It’s not a planned thing, unless it’s a doctor’s appointment or procedure.

          If the company hired an adequate number of staff, they wouldn’t have this problem. They either need to have enough coverage, or not have sick days as a benefit. Or be up front and say you need x amount of notice to use a sick day, but that’s so outside of the norm that they’re going to have a real problem, not to mention sick day use would probably go up because people would have to guess in advance if they will need them.

        11. Ted Mosby*

          It’s sick leave. You have to call out at the last minute. What’s she going to do, schedule her colds?

    2. another Hero*

      She’s taking sick leave once every couple months! If she gets ten days, she’s not using them up! Sick leave is part of her compensation, boss, you can’t provide it and be mad she takes it

    3. I'm just here for the cats*

      I was confused too. LW says : “if somebody calls out sick, I have to pay an additional person to cover that desk. My budget for that is quite limited.”
      To me this sounds like they don’t have another person who is currently on for that day so they have a Temp or something like that to come, so LW is paying the PTO and this other person. Couldn’t they have someone, or even a few people, who are cross trained and could possibly do both the desk and the their other work?

      1. A*

        Yup. It also sounds like they don’t automatically assume the budget for a temp (if truly unavoidable) in relation to sick days available. If coverage is an issue, the employer needs to preplan and budget accordingly for however many days of PTO (sick + vaca) the individual needing coverage has. Sounds almost like they are assuming/hoping they won’t use all of their sick days, which is not good business practice.

      2. AcademiaNut*

        Hiring a temp is a perfectly fine way to provide coverage. It can be better than pulling another employee off of their regular tasks, particularly if the first job requires skills that don’t match well with the other employee’s skills.

        It’s just that the employer has to budget the money to do it. If your plan is for your employees to not use the sick leave that’s part of their compensation package, that’s a bad plan, particularly when the sick leave is so little.

        (If an employee give 5 weeks paid sick leave a year, it’s reasonable to expect that using it up will be an unusual situation – if they give five days, they should budget for all employees to use it up.)

  4. That Girl From Quinn's House*

    Yes, it is too much, because you say right here, “after training, this new hire will be on many shifts without direct supervision.”

    So it is not a skilled professional position, if the person will 1. require a training period to 2. work in a shift-based environment where 3. no direct supervision is a unique and special responsibility. If it was a genuinely skilled, professional position, you would not mention those things as unique and special: they would be implied by the type of job it is.

    1. AnotherAlison*

      OP didn’t say it was a “professional” position, just a skilled position. A skilled maintenance mechanic job could meet 1-3 AND be a genuinely skilled position. Back when my husband did that type of work, most of the department worked days and worked under the maintenance supervisor directly, but some worked nights or weekends alone. The non-daytime shifts are also more likely to not have a direct supervisor from their own functional department.

      Even in my engineering job, while I’ve always worked normal hours for an engineering firm, I could have gone into manufacturing and had shift work. . .as a “professional”. Nurses and ER docs also work shifts, and probably are more likely to be indirectly supervised on odd-hour part-time shifts.

    2. Annony*

      Most jobs I’ve had have a training period, even if the training is just to learn the procedure of how to do things at this company that I have done elsewhere or where to find everything. Working shifts really isn’t that weird for a skilled position. Most likely it means that this isn’t an office job, not that it isn’t a skilled job.

    3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I have a professional skilled part time job – and my employer spent two weeks on training. That training includes getting all my log-ins set up, how to use their software, where to find the inter web help site. I don’t necessarily think that a professional job will include no training – just less training than when you bring in someone who is unskilled.

      1. Quill*

        It takes 2 weeks, in my experience, for any new hire to chase down IT and make them ensure that all the logins are set up correctly.

    4. Rabbit*

      Every professional job I’ve ever worked in has a training period. If it’s professional there’s no possible way you can do it with 0 training.

      Almost none of the “non-professional” jobs I had when I’ve had required any training. At the coffee shop, someone showed me the register and which one was decaf and that was it. At the farmers market, same thing but they told me the names of the apple types. Summer camp they told me to memorize the kids names in the first ten minutes and not let anyone break any bones. There’s a reason they call it unskilled labor.

  5. TK*

    Letter writer #2 said “she calls out at the last minute at least once every other month.” Once every other month would be 6 days a year. That’s… not a lot. Even without a chronic illness someone might get a bad cold in January, an allergy attack in March, a stomach bug in May… it’s not such an insane number. It’s hard to know what “at least” means from the context- is it usually every month, but at least every other? Usually multiple days, every other month, but at least one? Anyway, it’s worth asking/examining how many sick days there are and if taking them all is really a lot, or if the company is just stingy with sick with time.

      1. Tessa Ryan*

        Agreed! 6 days isn’t a lot. People can’t exactly plan when they get sick, or how bad it is! The last time I had the flu, it hit me overnight. I only had two days of sick time left, and I seriously felt like I was going to faint every time I stood up. I either had the choice of coming into work sick and infecting everyone else, or taking vacation time. I chose the vacation days. And this was before the pandemic! Would you rather she come in sick because she felt like she would be berated for taking the days off, and have other people get sick, meaning your staff would be stretched even thinner?

        And also, you said yourself that she’s an exemplary employee. It’s not like she’s doing it to harm the company. This is either an issue of not enough sick time, or not enough staff able to cover for completely normal and often unexpected sick days.

      2. sfdgf tr*

        I took it as the “last minute” call out was every other month, not that she only takes 6 sick day. It sounds like she takes more, in total. Some “at the last minute” and some with more notice. Now, I do agree the definition of “at the last minute” needs to be known – is it 5 minutes before shift start or 2 hours?

    1. Third or Nothing!*

      I have a chronic illness that pops up about 10 times a year, on average. I need at least one sick day every flare up, unless the worst day happens to be on a weekend. My boss knows I have a chronic illness, and it’s probably covered by the ADA, but I’ve never needed to utilize any official accommodations because my company thinks 10 sick days a year is quite reasonable and expected.

    2. Michelle*

      We only get 3 sick days per year. We also get 2 personal days and depending on how long you have been there, anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks of vacation. You have to use all of your vacation and personal days, but sick leave can roll over/accrue indefinitely. The kicker is you can use sick time in hour increments, so if you have a doctor’s appointment or just need a hour for whatever reason (get your pet from groomers/vet, run medicine to sick parent, etc.), you can take the hour and not loose a chunk of time. Personal and vacation time must be taken in half-day or whole day blocks so you have to use a chunk of time even if you only need an hour or so.

      For our company, I think all the time should be called “PTO” and use as many or as few as you need. But if I’m going to lose 22 days* of PAID time if I don’t use it, then yeah, I’m going use it.

      *I get 4 weeks of vacation and 2 personal days.

    3. eshrai*

      Yeah, 6 days isn’t a lot. I feel really lucky in my job. I work for a state gov’t and we have generous leave policies and are encouraged to use them. I have several chronic issues and in bad years (before I had things under control) I was out so much I ended up using all my leave and having to dock pay to make it up…but no one was upset with me. Now that one of my chronic issues is under control I get colds/flu/infections way less often…but still have other chronic issues and am out sometimes multiple times a month.

    4. voluptuousfire*

      I’ve found that its usually larger companies that use ATS systems like Taleo and Brassring, those have the interminably long applications you need to fill out. It’s likely a guarantee with any ATS that requires you to create a password and log in.

      The newer ATS systems like Greenhouse and Lever are pretty much plug and play, maybe answer a few questions.

    5. Roja*

      Yeah, that caught my eye too. 6 days/year isn’t unusual at all. Heck, you can get the flu in February and a stomach bug in November and boom, there’s your six days.

      Regardless, the big issue for me is that the boss is expecting his employee to bear the brunt of his budget issue. If you give sick leave (which you obviously should), it’s on you as the company to figure out how to afford the replacement. You have to assume that your employees are human and might be out sometimes just from normal run-of-the-mill type illnesses, and that’s not even getting into anything chronic.

  6. jm*

    I would love a justification for those interminable online applications where you have to painstakingly reinput your resume. Do they include those just to keep their applicant pool low?

    1. Katrinka*

      Usually it’s because they use a program that weeds the applicant pool down by scanning for certain things. But they want the resume because it’s easier for a human to look at. It is unnecessarily onerous for everyone involved. Except maybe the algorithm.

    2. irene adler*

      It’s a test.

      If you are patient enough to enter in your resume and then reinput it for the application, then there’s a good chance you’ll put up with whatever foolishness their management doles out to their employees.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        It’s really not a test. It’s just a poorly thought out system that in some cases makes things easier for them internally (and in other cases doesn’t). There’s incompetence everywhere.

        1. Guacamole Bob*

          It’s not a test in the sense that the hiring manager is not setting up this way with the intention of testing candidates. But it can be a test of whether an employer is overall a good culture fit, because employers that do this sort of thing are likely to have other aspects of working there that are poorly thought out, or where the user experience is not prioritized.

          I work for a government agency that has a super annoying application system. And the super annoying systems don’t stop once you get hired, so in that sense it’s a pretty decent test.

          1. AnotherAlison*

            Eh, if you’re applying to a large company, there’s a good chance that you’ll have to go through one of those systems. You could be the executive assistant for Mr. Easy Going and your job isn’t annoying at all, or you could be the grunt IT guy who has to deal with the horrible help desk ticketing system, and you both must apply the same way. I’m not sure it indicates what you will encounter in the company.

        2. Anon Anon*

          This. And many places are just very particular and/or they’ve made a poor decision on the type of application software they have purchased. But, I have applied and been interviewed (and been offered jobs) at good organizations that require their application be complete. It’s the only way to get into the applicant pool. It stinks and it’s a pain in the neck, but to me it’s not reflection of the organization as a whole. You never know if someone signed a long-term contract with a vendor and they can’t get out of it, or if the other options they have will cause a lot of other issues in their systems.

        3. Oldster but a goody*

          I used to work for a couple of firms whose line of business was to be contractors to the U.S. government. There are a lot of hoops for such firms to jump through on hiring. From what I was told, one of those hoops pretty much requires that an on-line system is used as evidence that fair hiring practices are followed. The algorithms do the screening in most cases. One such employer found me from an on line resume, interviewed me twice, and made a tentative offer but until I loaded my info into their hiring bot, they could not extend a formal offer.

    3. Le Sigh*

      There are a lot of states that require this for public-sector jobs and the people hiring have to include it no matter what. When I applied to several state-funded universities, and a few state agencies, I had do these tedious applications over and over and over again. The kicker was it was the 08 recession so every one of those jobs was frozen like, 2 weeks later.

      1. doreen*

        When I’m looking for a promotion at my state agency, I have to submit a cover letter and a resume and then at the time of the interview , complete the same application as new hires. Which by now I’ve completed at least 4 times. I almost think they’re trying to catch me in a discrepancy.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I haaaate these (and I realize I am far from alone). I had a great experience with a job application today, though, that picked up everything from my resume really well and only asked me a few additional questions. I swear, if I get a phone screen for this job, I will probably give that feedback. Just makes me kind of sad, because I know that it CAN be done well, it just… isn’t.

    5. schnauzerfan*

      We are a state agency. The state requires the application. We can add “dis qualifiers” to the app… in our case we use willingness to work some evenings or weekends, or willingness to work exclusively evenings/weekends. Answer wrong and we never see your ap. If we ask for 5 years experience and you don’t have at least 5 years work experience or education we never see your ap. If we ask for high school or GED … So yeah you need to fill out the ap. In our case you may ad a resume and/or cover letter. In our office we put a lot of emphasis on both. When we were getting 50-100 applications for part time work, you were pretty much doomed if you didn’t give us one or the other and if the didn’t sparkle. In better times we’ve been know to offer student workers part time employment and help them fill out the ap. So, is it overkill to ask. Probably. But. If you want the job, each piece can be a deal maker, or a deal breaker.

      1. Persephone Underground*

        Please tell us you don’t over-use those disqualifiers the way it sounds like from your example. E.g. 5 years of specific experience or specific degrees etc. Your ideal candidate might have 4.5 years of experience, or might calculate it as 4 years when you would have counted it as 5, etc. I get having some lower bound makes sense, like at least 2 yeard experience before you consider someone for a Senior level role (that should ideally have more like 5) to weed out resume-bombers, but algorithms lack nuance and therefore *really* shouldn’t be overused. That sort of arbitrary divide also tends to perpetuate inequality gaps that the structured state systems are trying to reduce – if you make an overly rigid cookie cutter you cut out people who could be awesome but you didn’t see coming and might have a different, even a better, skill-set than you envisioned for the role. (EG a field-switcher from a related field with additional skills you need way more than the industry-specific knowledge she can get on the job. Etc.) Alison has written a lot about this so I urge you to check out her stuff about rigid job requirements etc.

  7. GiantPanda*

    If Jane has the sick leave but you don’t have the budget to cover her absence that budget is too small and needs to be increased. Either that or find coverage without paying an additional person, e.g. by someone already there taking over.

  8. Jennifer*

    I do agree that they should be able to follow basic instructions but I must say it’s really annoying to be asked to send a resume AND an application. Why isn’t just a resume and cover letter enough? The online applications are usually glitchy and tedious to fill out. In the Before Times, I probably wouldn’t have applied at all.

    1. Sleepy*

      Also, the ones where you have to list your references when you apply. It’s just obnoxious. Wait until the interview stage.

      1. Jennifer*

        Exactly. It’s annoying to spend so much time on something when you don’t even know if you’ll get a reply.

    2. The Original K.*

      Yep. “Submit your resume.” Cool, cool. “Now input every position from your resume, with dates and duties.” I just did that!

      1. Katrinka*

        Also see: “List Your Skills,” then 3 pages later, “Check which of these skills you have.”

      2. Quill*

        “Please list exact dates of employment for all positions going back 10 years.”

        I only have… 6 years of relevant employment history? Because before that I was in college? Please don’t tell me you need me to remember what date I started work at the college newspaper… or make me explain “gaps” in employment that coincided with me being a full time student when your application stated that I only need 5 years experience…

    3. Cambridge Comma*

      I recently applied for somewhere where you uploaded your CV and it populated your application with its details. You just had to check that everything landed in the right place. I hope all systems will be like that in the future.

      1. MassMatt*

        Maybe things have improved in this respect but when I was applying for jobs several years ago I don’t recall any of those uploads working, at all. I even had a very plain text and simply formatted version of my resume exactly for this purpose and invariably square pegs would get crammed into round holes.

      2. Jennifer*

        I have tried that and it didn’t go as smoothly. Education was listed in the past employment area. The dates were wrong. I just gave up. Nowadays I would have fixed it because the job market is horrible but when there are lots of jobs available, and you already have a decent job, it’s just not worth it.

      3. Nanani*

        This is easiest when your work and/or school history is in the same country (or even the same region) as the place you’re applying.
        Ever worked abroad? Good luck with getting that to work.

    4. Marillenbaum*

      This is a good point. If you genuinely need a cover letter, resume, and application (doubtful, tbh), then the application should only include the things you absolutely cannot get from the first two items: things like shift availability, or whatever.

    5. Curmudgeon in California*

      I guess if the application only asks stuff that isn’t in a resume, like:
      * What shifts are you available to work (checkboxes)
      * Are you over 18? Are you over 21?
      * Do you have a drivers license and clean driving record?
      * Do you have a vehicle?
      * Have you been convicted of a felony involving theft?
      * Are you willing to have a background check/security clearance screening/fingerprinting?

      But for those kind of job, you usually wouldn’t need a cover letter, and the resume might be short.

  9. Picard*

    Hmmm. As I am in the midst of hiring right now, when I read the first letter, I was shaking my head in complete agreement. Part of what I need in my new hire is the ability to follow directions. And yes, people who dont follow the directions as outlined in the job posting, usually dont get much further with me.

    HOWEVER, agreed that what is being requested for a part time position seems a bit much.

    Do we have any more information about the type of position this is?

    1. fposte*

      I also think that the OP’s results are telling her something: the position isn’t advertised right, or it’s not paid as well as she thinks, or she’s pulling from a pool of people who can afford to be choosy and her hiring approach makes them choose something else. It’s also worth looking at the applicants she did get to see if any of them sound like people she’d otherwise consider and ask them for the other parts of the application. Yes, it would be great if people did exactly what you ask, but the application isn’t an infallible proxy for behavior, and you don’t want to stubbornly wait years for the applicant who applies exactly the way you describe while overlooking candidates who could have done the job just fine.

    2. AuroraLight37*

      Maybe I’m just coming at it from a different angle, but as someone who just got a part-time job in my county as a librarian, I had to send all three, so this seems pretty standard to me. Maybe it’s different in the private sector? I don’t know. Most of my work has been at a university or a government.

      1. Important Moi*

        I think it depends on the type of job you are applying for. I am inferring shift work that requires the use of specific machinery. I see no reason I should I have to provide all 3 to do that type of work. I don’t see LW hiring the person who would deign to ask the question of why so much was required in the application process.

        But at the end of the day, I try to be pragmatic. LW is not getting the results she wants, so change the process. Do the reasons really matter?

      2. Anon Anon*

        I think it really depends on what the OP’s definition of “skilled” is. There are many part-time positions that are highly skills and it’s definitely not too much to expect a resume, cover letter, and application. I work with many people who work on a part-time basis who work independently, manage their own projects, and typically make as much part-time as many people do full-time.

        But, I also think the field matters. For example, we don’t have the same expectations for candidates in some departments than others (IT is usually the department where we don’t bother to ask for a cover letter anymore, because we never get them).

        1. Ranon*

          My husband is a software engineer and as a fresh not even out of school yet engineer only applied to one company (for whom he worked for many years to both his and the company’s benefit) because they reposted the job he was interested in without the cover letter requirement. You can want what you want as an employer but you get what you get in an applicant pool.

        2. Gumby*

          The more skilled the applicant is the less likely they will be to jump through hoops like re-entering info from their resume into an online application.

          I associate applications with part-time jobs at the mall / fast food place. Something where you walk in, ask for an application, fill it out in pen sitting in the walkway, and then turn it in. Definitely entry-level. And generally not needed alongside a resume and cover letter. I have seen them requested for mid-career job postings, but almost always just decide I don’t care that much about the job if one is required and move along w/o applying.

      3. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

        Many, if not most of the jobs I’ve applied to have been either in higher ed or government settings; the former has been about 50/50 on requiring application forms above and beyond what you’d see in the private sector. Most colleges around here have the kinds of ATS stuff typical to any other industry, but YMMV.

      4. dragocucina*

        This has been my experience. Many cities and counties have cookie cutter applications that must be filled out by all applicants. The resume and cover letter are what addressed the specifics of the positions.

        I have a friend who in December earned all his federal points for retirement. He “retired” and then applied and received a part-time position as a rocket scientist with a private company. It was cover letter, resume, and company application.

    3. HigherEdAnon*

      At my please of employment (higher ed) , everything is done through an ERP system. The application has to be completed in the system in order for the candidate to be considered in the pool. Resumes are also required to be submitted, often cover letters too.

      Each position requisition is tracked. Each group of finalists that are selected for interview (and interviewed) are also reviewed, including all of their materials, by HR. There have been instances of finalists rejected by HR even though they were selected to hire by the hiring manager.

      This is due to a previous review by the Department of Labor & the Department of Education to ensure that proper hiring practices are being followed. It’s onerous and a lot of work. However, being fined/sued/sanctioned by the government is also not in any employer’s best interests.

      When hiring, I review everything. If I find inconsistencies or missing (required) items, that person doesn’t move along in the hiring process.

  10. foolofgrace*

    I consider myself a highly marketable applicant, and I used to fill out those online applications in addition to my resume and cover letter, but after a while of never getting a response when I put so much repetitive work in, I just stopped. If a company asked for all three, I just assumed they’re going to ignore my effort and moved on to the next opportunity. In my opinion, making people fill out those repetitive apps is an insult. Especially as they always seem to insist on a salary range! I take umbrage.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      That’s what I find, too. If I have to repeat myself over and over I probably won’t get any response. It’s interesting to me that the applications are to help the company save time, but the company has absolutely NO concern about the amount of time I have spent applying. I could have spent time applying to a company who took my application seriously rather than a company that deleted my application because a certain non-consequential box wasn’t checked.

    2. Foila*

      Yeah, I don’t find them, like, personally insulting, but I’ve never gotten any kind of return on investment – my experience has been that the longer and more onerous the application, the less likely I am to get a call back. Maybe I’m just bad at filling them out.

      1. Wheezy Weasel*

        Same experience here. I’ve gone through 5 jobs in the last 10 years….more than I had expected as a mid-career professional…and if I’m going to send resumes into a black hole of ghostiness, I’d rather do it with a few clicks instead of an hourslong copy/paste process. 3 out of those 5 jobs were resume submits, the other two had less onerous processes with better designed talent management systems. As voluptuousfire said, if I see a 2000’s era interface, I just close the browser window. It’s truly a shame, because I have worked for great companies with a burdensome application process and told them what a barrier it is. Some blame organizational intertia, or a need for compliance, but I don’t think the executives of the company really have visibility into how it’s affecting their talent pipeline.

  11. Alianora*

    I could see the application replacing the cover letter in some cases. A couple jobs I applied to asked me to answer a set of specific questions instead of submitting a traditional cover letter. I actually think it was really helpful both for me and for the interviewers, because it was more directed and specific to the information the interviewers wanted to know.

    1. Kelly L.*

      Or the email message they used to send the resume and application.

      It feels weird to send a nearly empty email with a cover-letter-as-document attached to it. It feels redundant to write a thoughtful, detailed cover email and then also attach a cover letter document. Is it possible that they’re writing their emails as cover letters and then this is getting stripped out before it gets to you?

  12. Akcipitrokulo*

    Are you asking too much in expecting them to follow directions? No.

    Are you asking too much by asking for resume AND application form? Yes.

    It’s unreasonable to ask for both.

    1. Annony*

      I agree, unless the application is very very short. If you want to check for just a few key things like: Do you speak Spanish? Have you used progam XYZ? or something like that I think it isn’t too arduous. But it should be quick to answer, not necessarily on their resume and really kept to a minimum.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I applied to a place that did exactly this a while ago. The questions on the application were particular to the job and its setting. The answers could not be found on my resume, no one would think to include this input on a resume. I was very impressed. It took just a few minutes to answer and then attach a resume. Nice job on that one, Employer!

  13. Anonymous because reasons*

    How much is too much sick leave do you think?
    I’ve been off a lot lately due to covid-19… and before that I had some bug at Christmas. We’re talking a good 3-4 weeks over the last 12 months. I’d that too much?
    My employees have been pretty good about the covid-19 stuff.

    1. fposte*

      There’s no hard and fast answer, and this year all bets are off. Your COVID-19 leave should be covered by the FFCRA and therefore handled differently; if you’ve stayed within your allotted sick leave without it you really should be okay in any decent workplace.

    2. Anon Anon*

      I think that employers definition of what is “too much” has to change.

      Because now it’s COVID-19. In 10 or 20 years it could be something else.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      In the past, I noticed many employers considered two days a year excessive. One place I worked gave a week’s pay to anyone who took two days or less a year. (This created managers who went into serious meltdown if anyone took ONE day off for sick time.) I did it for a few years, I only took one or two sick days. Then my give-a-damn broke and I started taking the time I needed. We were allowed to accrue sick time. I had massive amounts of sick time. This is when I decided it’s really not wrong to take a mental health day if someone needs one. Mental health is also under the umbrella of “health”, so why not.
      Unfortunately, others did this and spent the day at the mall, etc and they were seen. I usually stayed home, napped and read. I did not have any problems.

      1. Anonymous because reasons*

        Staying home, napping, and reading is basically what I’m doing, especially right now.
        Thanks! I do feel a bit better hearing this. I need the time off.

    4. Nanani*

      No such thing.
      Sick leave should be unlimited in every job. Sick people should be able to stay home, avoid infecting their office, and go see doctors without worrying about losing their jobs over it.

      A business that can’t handle the reality that humans get sick sometimes is a business that should not be able stay afloat on the backs of their employees’ suffering health.

      1. Original Sally*

        And trust employees to only use sick time when they are sick (mentally or physically).

    5. Keymaster of Gozer*

      I got canned from a job in the UK because I had a total of a month taken off as sick leave one year (I was in a serious accident, like fractured my spine serious), but I’ve just heard the same firm has announced that any time staff have to take off for Covid won’t be counted against them.

      So, I’d imagine things are going to be different regarding any sick leave in 2020. Ex coworker of mine has been off for 2 months recovering from Covid (he still can’t breathe properly) and the firm is fine with it.

  14. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    #1 – yes it’s overkill. I hate filling out applications for a job when there’s little guarantee that I’ll get any type of response. If I’ve moved into the interview stage, then sure I’ll fill it out. But having to reiterate what is on my resume is a major pain and unnecessary at that stage IMO.

    But with all that being said, if they can’t follow simple directions to apply for a job, they’d go into the no pile.

  15. SheLooksFamiliar*

    OP 2, your employee ‘calls out at the last minute’ because that’s usually how it goes when you’re sick. I’ve gone to bed feeling fine, maybe a little congested, but woke up with a 101-degree temp. Or I went to bed feeling a pressure headache but woke up with one that blossomed into a full-bore migraine – the kind where any movement brings on waves of nausea and pain.

    If she called in sick every Monday morning, that’s a different story. Don’t make this more than it is, which is an adult using her benefit package as she sees fit and still doing an exemplary job.

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      Yes, but did you call in when you woke up, or five minutes before your shift started?

      You see, someone who’s supposed to be there at eight, but calls in at six when they wake up: I wouldn’t consider that last minute. That is the nature of illness.

      But if you call in at 7:55, that’s another story. I get that it happens occasionally because sometimes you oversleep when you are sick, but to do it consistently is a bad thing.

      1. Kelly L.*

        But if I’m sick at 6am, there’s nobody to call until 7:55. Unless I either wake my boss up by calling her cell at 6am, which seems a bit rude, or I leave a voice mail, which I’ve had drummed into me since the Bronze Age that you DO.NOT.DO. I know white-collar environments are sometimes more easygoing on this, but back in my burgers and retail days, you had to talk to a human if you called in sick. And the human’s not going to get there until 7:55.

        1. Jedi Squirrel*

          OP called it “a public-facing desk” so I’m assuming it’s more of a professional services than retail or burger joint.

          1. Swiftly Tilting Planet*

            My husband works in a warehouse for a huge multinational conglomerate and only in the last maybe 3 years has their policy for calling in sick gone from: “you must speak to a human” to “you can text/leave a voicemail”

        2. Willis*

          This. Plus even if you leave a voicemail on an office line at 6, it’s likely people won’t see it until the office opens anyway. I suppose OP could ask her employee to text her when she knows she won’t be coming in so she could get a bit more notice, but it sounds like budget is more of the issue. So, increase the budget to get adequate coverage so the employee can use her sick time or train another employee to cover the desk. But expecting to be notified by 6 for an 8 am start is silly, especially since some people don’t even get up 2 hours before they’d be at work.

    2. Julia*

      I’ve actually tried to tell my office things like, “I have a scratchy throat, so I might be sick tomorrow and you might wanna consider giving that early morning coverage to someone else just in case” and was met with “we really need you to be working”, so I stopped trying to give advance warning.

  16. Akcipitrokulo*

    On “more flexible” – it sounds like you are feeling hurt and criticised for being the good guy. It’s understandable but probably not accurate?

    Once when I was on interview panel, we decided against someone *because* they emphasised their strengths in sticking to procedures, etc – sounding very much like the OP. When pressed on how they would deal with a situation that was unexpected or outwith procedures, they seemed uncomfortable, and spoke about finding out what procedure would be.

    They would have been miserable in our environment which, by its nature, had to be flexible and that role in particular required judgment of when and where to deviate from the done thing if necessary.

    Also I’d note that “liking to be systematic” and “having a desire to follow rules and procedures” are not strengths. They are preferences. And in many jobs, could be a bad fit.

    Which doesn’t mean you are bad at whatever! It just means that some jobs are not a good fit, and it’s to your advantage you find out becore you accept it.

    It may be worth doing a quick internal audit though, starting without the premise that sticking to procedure is always good, and see if there are places where you could adjust?

    1. Temp Anon*

      Often when companies ask for flexibility they really mean “you will not have a regular schedule, we want you to be available to come in for work at the last minute or put in overtime when we require it but we will not commit to anything re: your schedule” but that doesn’t seem to be the case here.

      My industry, finance, is constantly changing. IRS rules change, regulations change, companies are bought, sold, and merge. Technology changes, systems are upgraded, customer expectations change. Yes, you need to have procedures and standards for how to treat customers well and adhere to the regulations, but overall you need to be able to adapt and continue learning or you will not be successful. And the pace of change is only going to accelerate. Alison is right that you should consider whether this is the right environment for you.

  17. Green Goose*

    The question about flexibility. I work at a nonprofit, and I know that we want applicants who are “flexible”. What that means at our company:

    Things do change a lot at my org, we have policies that can get scrapped and changed quite quickly, while other policies go through a long vetting process. Sometimes the manner of a job will change, for example, maybe the job was marketed as 50% training, 25% research and 25% clerical but then it ends up being 25% training, 20% research and 55% clerical. This can be frustrating for people that like more structure and consistency.

    My role ended up being very different than the original job description, but I just sort of rolled with it and it ended up being a good thing. I’ve noticed that at our specific non-profit, people that are okay with constant change tend to do better and get promoted whereas people who aren’t as comfortable with a lot of change end up phasing out either on their own or by the company.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Then say it just the way you said it here.
      I was at an NPO and this is how it went. Years later I had a vastly different job than what I signed on for. This happens for many reasons not just one.

      Some jobs within the organization changed more than other jobs. Often times it was expected that you would learn the boundaries of your job and you could redo your workflow/setup as long as you stayed in your boundaries.

      It’s good to talk about these things with a potential employee.

      I do think there is merit to controlling who talks to the interviewee:
      I was told on my interview that X never happened, I would never have to deal with X.
      Reality was that X happened all the time and was probably 50% of my day.
      I was told I would be doing Y work.
      I ended up doing totally unrelated ABC work. I told myself to just press onward.
      There were a few other things that went wrong on the interview but the saddest one is that the department head gave me the wrong hours for my shift. The times he stated only added up to 35. I said, “So I work a 35 hour week?” and he said YES.
      At the supposed quitting time, I wondered why everyone else wasn’t leaving also. It was a 40 hour week. At the end of my first day, I learned not to ask my department head for anything, ever. They explained we’d leave in another hour and they explained that Boss had NO idea what we do. (Months later he was fired.)

      Overall, there was no one person to explain the job on my interview and no organized statement or description of what I would be doing. I figured out I needed to be doing X because of the glares I got. So I jumped in and started doing X with NO training. I did not get training to do it for years. That probably had something to do with running through 5 bosses in my first 9 months of work. There’s constant change and then there is insanity.

  18. Katrinka*

    Manager of the resigning employee, you could ask her some questions in a casual conversation, not a formal interview. Things that might be good for you to know, in addition to task/transition-related items would be “what do you wish you’d known about the job before you started?” and “are there any specific/additional skills you think we should look for in your replacement?” A good employee often has some very good advice/observations to pass along for the hiring process.

  19. My2Cents*

    #4, if doesn’t sound like the interviewer was saying being systematic was a weekness. The strength just did not align with what the role required, and honestly, it sounds like you wouldn’t have enjoyed that work environment anyway. There are definitely some industries where what you described is exactly what they’re looking for.

  20. Guacamole Bob*

    For the OP asking about flexibility – I work with some very rigid people, and in some kinds of positions (regulatory reporting, for example) it can be a real asset. But sometimes I’ve worked with people who are so caught up in the rules and procedures that they aren’t able to see the big picture and aren’t able to change when it’s required. I’ve worked with people who can’t adapt to migrating to a new database, or aren’t able to figure out what to do when a system goes down or a specific person is unavailable or an unusual event happens. They are sometimes the same people who really resist having their duties modified as business needs change. Presenting yourself as liking policies and procedures may also make interviewers wonder if you’re going to be that employee tracking everyone else’s arrival times in the office or reporting someone else for making three personal copies on the office printer.

    It’s not bad to like structure and procedures. But maybe think about how you’re talking about it. Do you come across as unable to handle change or act independently when it’s required? Or as so rigid you’ll be the problem employee dredging up a fight over job description because someone asked you to do them a favor or who is never willing to do even basic new tasks without a full formal training program? Or, on the other side, do you come across as someone who will cross i’s and dot t’s and make sure the company stays out of trouble with the regulators?

    1. pieces_of_flair*

      Exactly. Rules, procedures, and systems are important in my job, but it’s also important to keep the bigger picture in mind and think creatively when needed. Procedures are tools for reaching a certain outcome; they are not themselves the outcome. Effective problem solving requires flexibility.

      1. emmelemm*

        “Procedures are tools for reaching a certain outcome; they are not themselves the outcome.”

        I like that!

  21. New Jack Karyn*

    I don’t know much about it, but it strikes me as odd that people in the health insurance industry are saying that you need to be flexible, and that policies and procedures change all the time.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      That depends a lot on the job function, though. I’m not in insurance, but I can picture things changing in marketing/advertising or corporate communications. And it’s not necessarily that laws and regulations change, more that a company’s policies might change fairly often.

    2. Observer*

      Not at all. I’ve recently been batting heads with some of our fiscal people. As you realize, fiscal management in a non-profit is one of those places where being a “free spirit” is a BAD THING. But even there, some flexibility is important because not everything has a procedure. So when my contact tells me that “we are not going to develop a procedure for exceptional cases because then people will ask to use that process.” I just want to bang my head against a wall because I have a couple of people who have been severely limited in their ability to do their jobs because the standard process for acquiring their equipment won’t work.

      On the other hand, we have a policy that our CFO just allowed us to suspend due to Covid19. That is very much appreciated – and may have even been legally required. The bottom line is that if the CFO (who almost by definition needs to be a process, procedures and policies person) didn’t have some flexibility, we would be up a creek.

    3. MissGirl*

      You’d be surprised. I work in healthcare. The laws and procedures do actually change. For instance, knee and hip replacements had to be done inpatient for Medicare. Then that law changed and all the pricing we did around knees and hips had to be adjusted. Then other insurers decided they’d change their standards to align, and everyone’s contracts had to be adjusted.

      Healthcare is also very complicated. There are many, many if/then rules that can flummox the best of us. If the OP wants perfect systems in place to follow every time, it could be frustrating. Each time you enter in a new type of care, there are different things to consider. Also, like with any industry, priorities change, contracts change, etc.

    4. Ranon*

      Any field that is subject to rules made by lawmakers (such as health insurance) is going to be dealing with all sorts of rules that change all the time. Not only due to the laws themselves, but judicial interpretations of those laws, in house legal interpretation of the legal landscape, etc. Rules are made by people and people change their minds all the time.

    5. Anon Anon*

      I think what many people refer to as flexible is more about being willing to accept and adapt to change. Rules change, and you have to be able to willing to make adjustments in your processes to follow the new rule. Versus I think some people interpret flexible to mean lack of rules and regulations.

      1. Djuna*

        This was my take too – in my job we are often the people tasked with implementing change and going through change management with other departments as a result.

        Our job descriptions are clear about this and about how we may not be a good fit for people who like to do things the same way, always – because a lot of what we do is figuring out how to kill broken processes with fire and build something better instead. For us, someone who is overly attached to how things are may not be great at seeing how they could be if we start from a blank page. If they’re too attached to rules, they may not question why the rule even is a rule, which is something we often need to do.

        That said, I am really glad we put so much work into our job descriptions because someone like LW4 reading them would be in no doubt about whether they would enjoy the work we do.

    6. Fikly*

      I don’t know, I can speak to three different people at my health insurance and get 5 different answers to the same question…seems like that requires some flexible thinking on their end.

  22. fposte*

    4 on flexibility interests me, because the LW is using it in contrast to following the rules and being systematic. I do not think I will be the only one to say they’re not contradictory, and thinking them as such may be part of the problem.

    I absolutely need staff to be systematic and follow the rules. But I also need them to be able to shift and adjust those systems as the situation demands, and also at short notice be able to move between different systems and projects without getting thrown. A lot of jobs, even a lot of fields are like that.

    I’m a rules person myself, and I understand valuing them and finding security in them. But most people talking about flexibility aren’t asking you to say “Screw the rules”; they’re talking about being able to deal when your computer breaks and you have to work on a laptop or they need your help with Project B on short notice or, you know, there’s a pandemic and you have to figure out how to work remotely. Now, maybe those really aren’t things that you respond well to, and you’re presenting yourself accurately; in that case you do have a limitation, and you’ll do best to be selective in your job search for positions that really want strict regularity all day. And if you’re fine with adjusting to those changes, be aware that focusing on your love of systematic work makes it sound like you’d struggle with those, so maybe treat rules and systems with some broader perspective.

    1. BRR*

      I really want to know more about the LW’s situation. I’ve had coworkers in the past whose work was pretty regimented and and they were unable to exercise any independent judgement when an anomaly popped up. Like if you’re driving and a road is closed and there are detour signs. Do you follow the detour signs, continue driving through road closed sign, or throw in the towel and go back? (My former coworkers would just plow the road closed signs FWIW.)

      I also find it really interesting the two examples they give: in response to requests for training and in interviews. To me those are two drastically different scenarios and both are concerning.

      1. Guacamole Bob*

        I think I’ve worked with people who would just sit in the car in the middle of the road in front of the “closed” sign and just wait to be told what to do. Without even calling back to the office for instructions.

      2. doreen*

        I remember interviewing a number of people for a supervisory position , and one of the details of this assignment was that there would be times when there was no management in the building and the supervisors would have to handle any emergencies on their own. There was one question about a bomb threat being called into the building. Nobody could quote the procedure in their answer and no one expected them to – but we learned something about two people through their answers. One said his first step would be to call the manager for instructions and the other’s first step would be to check the policy manual. We didn’t want people so regimented that they fell back on “follow policy/ask for directions” in a stressful situation.

        1. Observer*

          Yeesh! That reminds me of the Korea Air accident a couple of years back. The plane had an emergency landing and the crew waited over 4 minutes to start evacuating the plane because they had not gotten orders from the captain. When they saw smoke coming from the fuselage they sent a message up front and ASKED PERMISSION.

        2. Allonge*

          And that shows how different requirements can be for this – in my company, as long as there is a policy manual for emergencies, checking what it says would definitely be the best first step. Otherwise why have a manual?

          Of course this is stuff you can delegate if you have better things to do, as is ‘call the manager’.

          But I fully agree with your main point, as mine is just another example of flexibility being a moving target.

          1. doreen*

            Even if there are there are written policies that doesn’t mean there’s an expectation that you will be able to check in the moment . It’s fine to check the policies first in non-emergency situations such as to check the procedure for requesting time off, or to see who should be copied on a report . And it’s fine to check the manual to see what to do when the immediate emergency is over and everyone is safe. But we don’t want people to die/get hurt because someone’s first step was to search through a manual looking for a policy regarding bomb threats/fires/other emergencies or trying to reach a manager thus delaying getting everyone out of the building and calling 911. Sure, the manager needs to be notified- but that can wait until everyone is safe. I kind of feel like we must be misunderstanding each other somehow – because I really can’t believe your company would prefer that someone check the policy first before emptying the building or calling 911.

  23. Generalistless*

    Nobody wants your part time job that much. Decide if the position would be better served by application or resume. Front line jobs are often better hired from applications. Anything above front line management, especially anything that requires a degree, communication skill and computer literacy are better hired by resumes and cover letters.

  24. Johanna*

    If you can avoid having a tedious application process, do. You might also consider if there are many people in this field that are highly skilled and want a part-time job. In my field I see pie in the sky wish list job positions all the time. Things like: speak fluent Norwegian, master’s degree, 5 years experience, relocate to small town, for a short term part-time position…

    1. Quill*

      Even for fields that they think there’s a wide pool for, like… no one is going to move cross country for $12 / hour with a two month contract, regardless of what field it’s in.

  25. General von Klinkerhoffen*

    I suspect that “prefers procedures” isn’t a problem in itself, but rather that it’s what people say who refuse to use any initiative whatsoever. A bit like how “nice guy” is no longer to be taken at face value.

    In some fields being happy to stick rigidly to procedures is essential, never mind preferable, but still an employee needs to show that they can think on their feet (“hmm, this looks like an alpaca-llama cross; I’d better go look in the manual”). A person who can only turn the handle is a potential liability.

  26. White Peonies*

    For a position in Health Insurance being systematic is not really a good thing unless your going into coding, or claims processing. Health Insurance over the past 8 years has been like working in the wild west where at any minute the government changes things up and the company has to change as a whole and all of our practices change. Being flexible and big picture oriented are things that we look for in new employees.

    1. Sled Dog Mama*

      I can only imagine what it’s like over there. I work in healthcare and just figuring out what I’m allowed to bill for is mind boggling some days. I do the exact same thing for every patient plan that comes across my desk but for plan A I’m only allowed to bill for doing X but with plan B that is actually less complicated that A I’m allowed to bill for X, Y and Z and sometimes D, but I have to do them all every single time!!!!!!

  27. jojjer*

    wtf – sick once every other month…wow, that’s nothing and yeah, it’s part of comp. not taking it is giving back part of your compensation. op #2 sounds like a real POS. “strain on my budget” probably meaning it lowers their annual bonus. amazing.

    1. Swiftly Tilting Planet*

      “ “strain on my budget” probably meaning it lowers their annual bonus.”

      My thoughts exactly. An ex-big manager at my husband’s job worked that way, and it really was to the detriment of not just the workers, but the business itself.

  28. Reality Check*

    I work in insurance. It is chock full of rules, regs, ethical considerations, etc. I have worked in places that followed them well and others that just flew by the seat of their pants. The latter are the agents that end up getting sued because of their inconsistency.
    That said, insurance can change quite a bit (laws, technology, etc)but overall ethics & procedures shouldn’t. I wonder if OP and the company had different ideas of “flexibility” here.

  29. Roscoe*

    #1. Too much is a relative term. But, I’ve been working full time for years, and I fully admit if I end up trying to apply to one of those jobs only to have to go through a taleo or other system that requires me to retype everything in my resume, 95% of the time I just don’t bother. So, I do think you are asking a lot for just a part time job, even it is is well paying.

    As far as the question about sick time, I totally agree. she has the days to use, its not cool to tell her she can’t use something that is one of her benefits because it makes your job harder. If you can’t afford it, don’t offer that benefit

  30. Bookworm*

    If you MUST have both the resume AND application–please have a system that allows the system to “pull” information from the resume. As an applicant it’s really frustrating. I knew it was a risk to write “SEE RESUME” but I really resented having to re-enter everything into an application when it’s on my resume. It’s a hassle and was never worth the effort (as in, it never resulted in an interview, let alone the job).

    For accessibility reasons it may be easier for an applicant to click and send a resume rather than navigating some of the truly awful application systems out there and having to re-type everything they already have…in a resume.

    I can understand from a hiring perspective why you’d need both, if only to have PT people in the “system” the same way full-time employees are and all that. But it’s so obnoxious.

  31. Workfromhome*

    #4 I agree that it would seem tone deaf to have a 2nd separate interview. A valued employee is leaving and that’s tough. But it can be a valuable lesson. If you have open and honest communications (especially with your best employees) all the time about their job what they want and need then you wont need an exit interview even if they do leave.

    Too many times we hear ” If I had know you were unhappy we could have addressed it or is there anything we can do to keep you?” Well if you are only asking me this now that I’m leaving that’s probably a big part of why I’m going.

    At the very least with your best performers if you have ongoing conversations that you want to do what you can to keep them you’ll either be able to keep them or understand why you cant. They may want things you simply cant provide but if you understand this then you can at least have more of a plan understanding they will probably leave at some point unless things change. But you have to build that trust. Otherwise you end up with exit interviews that tell you little to nothing other than “it was a great opportunity I could not pass up”

  32. Sled Dog Mama*

    I’ve never had a job that didn’t require the cover letter, resume and application. The key with all my positions has been that request the cover letter and resume up front before the hiring process, then only the selected candidate fills out an application, and every application has included stuff I’d balk at as a candidate like my emergency contacts.
    I asked once was told that the HR application system (one of those upload a resume and we’ll parse it into our form types) didn’t talk to the HR employee record system so they requested only the cover letter and resume and ignored everything parsed into the system then when someone was hired they did an application that went into the employee records system and they needed it formatted a certain way to get the info in easily.

    1. I'm just here for the cats*

      A form with your emergency contacts isn’t the same as an application though. It’s just paperwork that employees need to fill out. Just like your direct deposit and tax forms.
      I’ve never seen an application have much of anything different than what’s on the resume. Sometimes they are way more details, too detailed. Like give me the exact start and end date, complete address, managers name, & phone numbers for every job you’ve had for the past 10 years and explain any overlaps or gaps.

      1. Jdc*

        Oh ya love that. Let me spend hours googling my work address from 15 years ago. Nope I just don’t apply.

  33. Mimmy*

    Hearing “we need you to be flexible” scares me a little because I’m having trouble figuring out where on “flexible” scale I fall. I’m in a job where I’m always thanked for my flexibility, but I think there is such a thing as requiring TOO MUCH flexibility.

    I may ask about this on the Friday thread because it is really troubling me but I don’t want to derail the topic.

    1. 1idea*

      I am starting to be troubled too! My old boss used to tell me he wanted me to be more flexible, but when I tried to figure out what he meant (I was doing document control for aerospace, which I thought her wanted me to be strict about so he could keep his certifications!) he would never tell me anything – he’d usually just be quiet for a little while, then say something like, you’re right, carry on… And eventually he stopped saying it. But I am very strict with requirements, so maybe there are things I should be more flexible about? LOL. Or, reading some of the comments above, maybe I shouldn’t emphasize it too much for positions in fields that are less strict. I also feel like I’m definitely flexible in some ways though, but as you said, now concerned and confused as to where I am on the scale – maybe not flexible enough and Old Boss just didn’t want to explain it to me for some reason.

      1. CircleBack*

        Some bosses say “flexible” but what they’re really saying is “I want you to always say yes and jump to do things, also without me having to explain anything or do any of the work.”
        I got told to be more flexible by one boss because he would tell me “let’s do this” and my response would be “OK, but how would we address Concern A & B, and how would you want me to handle Contradiction With Other Process/Event…?” He of course rarely had answers and we often had to scrap his big impromptu ideas because they just didn’t make sense. But the problem he saw was me being “inflexible” because I wanted to think things through instead of just making it happen for him (and throwing our entire office into chaos and causing more problems down the line).
        Meanwhile my current boss said in her most recent evaluation with me that she appreciates how quickly I adapt to new initiatives, take on new projects, and problem solve when faced with roadblocks and industry requirements. So I get high marks on “flexibility” with her (because she’s more reasonable than the old boss).

  34. I'm just here for the cats*

    For LW 2. I’m confused by this; If somebody calls out sick, I have to pay an additional person to cover that desk. My budget for that is quite limited.
    Are they paying for a temp? For 1 day? That’s odd to me. Wouldnt a solution be to have other employees sit at the desk. That’s what’s done at my job. If the main front desk person is out, and I’m not able to cover the entire shift, other workers cover the desk.
    Now the minimum may get done at the front desk. For example maybe the workers just answer phone and direct people who come in because they work on their own work while covering the desk. I think the answer to this question is to find a few people in your office who could cover the desk when the front desk person is gone.

    1. LGC*

      I think my read on this was that they have to get a temp because for whatever reason they can’t have a person from the office fill in. (Either that, or LW2 was myopic enough to not see that solution and jumped straight to hiring temps.)

      The letter itself has a lot of problems, though! Starting with the fact that calling out sick once every two months is considered highly unusual. (Granted, there are fields where this is considered excessive, but it doesn’t sound like the employee is in one of those.)

    2. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      Jane is absent and taking paid leave. So the LW is paying Jane 8 hours for that day. LW also has to pay someone 8 hours to staff the desk. That means it’s costing LW’s budget 16 hours of staff pay to cover an 8 hour desk shift.

      This is 100% the company/org’s fault and not at all Jane’s, but it’s also likely beyond the LW’s pay grade to fix it, so all LW can do is nitpick at Jane until she feels uncomfortable taking her paid sick time.

      1. I'm just here for the cats*

        Yes but if someone else who is already working could staff the desk it wouldn’t be an extra 8 hours because they already would be working. So like have a back up is all I’m saying. A backup that’s already going to be working those days.

    3. Thankful for AAM*

      A lot of libraries use subs to keep staffing levels very low. They need to cover service desks and give staff time off the desk. So if they have 3 service desks and 6 people, they are each spending 4 hours on the desk (which can be a lot of time and they have to do other tasks off desk, like getting books checked in, back on the shelves, running programs, etc).

      So they might not have enough staff in the building to get it all done and hire from a pool of subs. Its a way to keep staffing levels low and salaries low too.

    4. Cheerfully Polite Grey Rock*

      This happens at my work. I work the front desk, and if I am going to be out for more than half a day then they get someone external in to cover for me. If I called in sick with late notice then they would probably spread the essentials across the rest of the staff, but that situation has not arisen yet (I am very fortunate with my health and tend to use sick leave for regular appointments booked well in advance).
      Not once have I heard or felt anything to suggest that they are upset about this arrangement, it’s simply the process. If this is also the process at OP’s work, then the budget should reflect that. 6 days per year really shouldn’t be outside the realms of reasonable coverage.

  35. Dagny*

    OP1: you’re asking the wrong question. You have a hiring process that you know is outside of the norms of the market, are not getting applicants who meet your capricious criteria, and thus, are leaving the position unfilled.

    Instead of asking the rest of the world to conform to your ideals, change what you’re doing.

  36. I'm just here for the cats*

    Yeah, like maybe they mean more like flexible on shifts or flexible on where you work. Like oh, we need to shift to x project and leave y. If someone is too systematic they might not be able to be flexible to changing project or focus when something else isn’t done. I would have like the LW to ask what the interviewer meant

  37. Richard*

    The biggest issue can be if the application is required for institutional reasons. If you work for something connected to government/public funding, they may require an application for every position. I’ve recently hired in this situation, and I just tell people who ask to fill in the minimum on the application and that I’ll only look at the resume and cover letter.

  38. Jdc*

    Ugh stop doing this. Why do you need my resume then need me to fill out a form with the exact same information? Why would I want to work for a company that makes me so redundant work and doesn’t value my time? Also a resume may include limited info in terms of address and many application sites don’t let it submit unless you fill this out (required field). My address isn’t your business. Nor is my social security number until you hire me. I won’t provide my social until I am asked for a background check or offered a job. You don’t need it and frankly I shouldn’t be handing it out to anyone who asks.

  39. MissDisplaced*

    Resume, cover letter and application for a part time job. Yes, this seems a bit much, especially if this is entry-level early career. Fresh out of school applicants might not have a resume yet (my niece didn’t even know what it was!)
    So, I think you ask for whichever makes most sense: either the resume or the application. For the cover letter, eh, it’s nice but I wouldn’t be too judgmental if they don’t send a formal letter separate from the email.

  40. LGC*

    Scanned the responses earlier, but…did anyone else read this differently from Alison’s response? For lack of a better word, I feel like LW1 might been hiring for a non-“knowledge economy” position. It might be the type of position where an application is more normal, but a resume and cover letter are less so. (And yes, I know she said it was well-paying, was skilled, and requires good communication. All of this can be true.)

    LW1 might be filtering out people who don’t want to be bothered by rewriting their resumes in the application. But the process might also be filtering out people who are strong candidates for the position, but aren’t familiar with writing a resume or a cover letter (let alone with Ask A Manager)! I’d almost ask if the resume and cover letter are necessary – and if either (or both) can be folded into the application.

  41. Emma*

    OP4: I’ve worked in insurance for 19 years (3 years in life and the rest in health). Things absolutely 100% do NOT change every day and adherence to policies and procedures is crucial to complying with any applicable regulations. Any insurance company who would say that following procedure makes you “not a good fit” is a train wreck waiting to happen and you dodged a bullet.

  42. Quill*

    OP: it’s a part time position. A resume and a cover letter together would seem like overkill, especially if there’s not a lot of information available about the position, but a resume, a cover letter, and an application?

    In the end, there are a LOT of jobs out there and when you’re encouraging people to throw their hat into the ring at a part time job, don’t make it difficult for people to submit their candidacy.

  43. Persephone Underground*

    OP1- I haven’t seen anyone mention this yet, so wanted to add: Are you making it easy to add the application (direct link, not “on the company website at careers”), and are you sure there isn’t something technical happening that’s preventing people from submitting all 3 things? Ideally you’d have an attachment upload for the cover letter and resume as part of the application if you want all 3 things.

    Actually, it’s odd that the procedure you mentioned actually requires two separate points of contact, so it could be that people assume you meant “email cover letter and resume” OR “fill out application at link”, and are picking one or the other since asking for both is so unusual and redundant. Most places want your materials once, in one place, so they don’t have to match up your materials to each other.

    I agree with Alison that you should drop the application if you can anyway, but it may also be a simple misunderstanding since you seem to be getting either email or application, but not both. So your instructions might be so out of the norm that even good applicants misread them, assuming you wouldn’t want them to send materials twice.

    1. Persephone Underground*

      Or if the application is a PDF you download or something, it could be running into technical problems, so people just give up and submit their cover letter and resume only.

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