should I bring my (expert) mom to work, we have to re-interview for our jobs, and more

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

1. Should I take my (expert) mom to work?

I am a first-time duty manager in my mid 20s, one year into my job at a small museum, with everyone at my level at least 10 years my senior, and most of my staff 10-20 years older too. As part of my side duties as a manager, I’ve taken up the position of Health and Safety Officer to represent on behalf of staff to senior management. This has meant a lot of work during the shutdown, including re-designing the layout of exhibits and introducing new ticket times to cap our capacity, as well as installing shielding, sourcing PPE, and devising back-to-work safety training for our staff.

My mother is a medical expert, part of the COVID emergency advisory council to our government. She has offered to come in on her day off to do a safety walk-through of our exhibition, to provide an expert voice on re-opening procedures. I’ve been lucky to have her advice regarding my work leading up to re-opening, but obviously she hasn’t seen the space or the set-up and it would be really beneficial to have her cast an eye. She thinks it would go a long way to instill confidence in our staff, but I am worried about extending her offer to our CEO, as it might look unprofessional to be following my mom around the place!

We’re a close-knit team, and most staff regularly have their spouses/children come in for a visit and tour the museum, but I expect it might feel different to have “the boss” bring her mother to work. Do you think I’m overreacting to turn down her help, or would it “baby” me a little to my coworkers?

This isn’t like bringing in your mom to check over your Excel calculations or something else you or someone in your office should be able to do! Your mom has very specific, impressive credentials in an area that most people don’t, and I suspect your coworkers would appreciate having this type of expert assess the office right now.

That said, when you’re young and managing people older than you, I understand why you’re concerned about doing anything that would make you seem like less than a full-fledged adult or like someone who brings a parent in to help with work! But I do think that given the situation and her credentials, this is an exception. Just make sure that you keep things professional when she’s there — introduce her as “Lucinda Mulberry, a COVID advisor to the government,” not “my mom” (you can still acknowledge she’s your mom, just don’t lead with it), don’t fall into parent/child dynamics while she’s there, and basically treat her like you would any other colleague) and ask her to do the same.

But I think your coworkers will be grateful for the expert help.

2. Should my company have warned us about triggering content in a meeting?

Once a month, my company has meetings that the whole company is invited to. Some are meetings to update everyone on company strategy, and some are panel discussions on a variety of subjects (previous months have been about empathy training, career development, etc.).

Last month was mental health awareness month, and the most recent meeting was centered around mental health in the workplace. An outside speaker started the meeting and was speaking very openly about his personal experience with mental illness and his own suicide attempt. While it was very brave for him to be so open with us, it was actually quite triggering to me, having experienced my own mental health struggles in the past. I would have appreciated a content warning before the meeting started in order to assess my own mental well-being and decide if it was a good idea to attend this meeting. I looked back in all the communications advertising the meeting, and there was no mention that potentially distressing things may be discussed. Am I wrong in thinking that should have been communicated ahead of time by the meeting organizer? And should I say something to the meeting organizer or just let it go?

Yeah, ideally they should have let people know ahead of time that the topic was mental health and would include discussion of suicide. You can’t always know ahead of time what might be triggering to people, but suicide is a pretty common one — and isn’t a topic someone would otherwise figure they should expect at a work meeting. I don’t think it’s outrageous that they didn’t realize that, but it would be helpful for you to say something that nudges them to think about content warnings in the future. It doesn’t have to be framed as trigger warnings specifically — it could just be about letting people know what to expect in these meetings, since some of them are on fairly personal topics.

You could frame it as, “Mental health and suicide can be difficult topics for a lot of people, whether because of their own experiences or experiences with loved ones. Would you consider announcing ahead of time when meetings will be focused around potentially difficult or sensitive topics so people aren’t surprised and can decide whether to opt out?”

3. My company is making everyone re-interview for their jobs

My employer is reopening in July with a new manager and assistant manager. The new manager told an employee that they will have an open interview day and all the former employees can come to that to see about getting our jobs back. Is this legal?

Yes, it’s legal. It’s crappy, but it’s legal.

To be clear, I’m not saying it’s crappy for employers to decide they don’t want to bring everyone back — it’s their prerogative to decide some people won’t be returning. But if that’s the case, they should decide that and let each person know their status. Making everyone interview for their position again — in the middle of a situation that’s already highly stressful and upsetting — is a jerk move, and it pretty much guarantees people won’t feel any loyalty to this company.

4. Can I give myself a better title on my resume?

I was laid off from the mobile app start-up where I worked in March. It’s been tough particularly because the job was not only challenging but gave me the opportunity to take on projects that I never expected. I was hired as the social media manager but anyone who has worked for a start-ups knows that you end up wearing many different hats. The work was actually in line with that of a brand manager since it extended far beyond social media. I had planned to ask my boss for a title change during my one-year evaluation but unfortunately I was laid off after only being there eight months.

The brand manager title in my area means more money and career opportunity. Since the duties I performed were in line with that of a brand manager, I thought it made sense for my resume and LinkedIn profile to accurately display what I believed my job to be. My former boss was always very supportive of me and the rest of the marketing team. When I was laid off, she had said she’d help with references, etc. I discussed changing my title with her — I wanted to be honest so she wasn’t caught off guard (another team member who was laid off with me did the same). She agreed that I was doing the work of a brand manager and understood why I wanted to change it. She said it was fine if I called myself that but if anyone called her she wouldn’t lie. I’m not lying about the work that I did, I just want my title to accurately reflect my job so that I can compete for better paid opportunities. Is it wrong to be annoyed that my former boss is being inflexible about this? Or is it a bad idea for me to change my title?

It’s a bad idea. You can’t just decide on your own to change your title and you shouldn’t be annoyed that your boss won’t lie about it — and it will look really bad to reference-checkers if you give yourself a higher-level title that your employer says you didn’t have.

I do get that you want the title to accurately reflect the work you did. But you can’t lie about the title. If you performed the responsibilities of a brand manager, you can make that clear with the accomplishments that you list. You can even have one of your bullet points for that job say something like, “Responsible for brand management, including X, Y, and Z.”

In cases where your title is something confusing or misleading, it’s okay to give a more accurate title in parentheses (next to the official title) for the purpose of clarity. But in your case it’s more about wanting a higher-level, broader title than the one your company gave you. You’d be sort of … promoting yourself on your resume. You really can’t do that.

5. Do I need exact dates for my resume?

Now that lockdown is being reduced, I am dusting off my resume. With two of my previous jobs, although I remember the month I started, I don’t know the day. I don’t think my employers remember either because originally I was just helping out when they were short-staffed and I was asked to help out on other occasions and ended up as a zero-hours contract employee. Would employers accept if I just put the month and year I started and ended those jobs rather than the actual date?

Just the month and year are fine. No one cares about the exact day of the month you started! In fact, even if you knew the exact date, it doesn’t belong on your resume. Just the month and year.

Separate from your resume, some applications will ask for exact dates — but it’s fine to just put the first of the month or the 15th or so forth. Employers just want to know the basic timeframe, which the month and year provide.

{ 281 comments… read them below }

  1. Lunita*

    LW #4- I agree, changing your job title after the fact would be misleading. But I would be sure to mention your duties-including acting as a de facto brand manager-in your cover letter. Perfect spot.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      For someone job-hunting while in a job that has a lower title than the work they are doing, this also answers the standard question of why you’re looking for a new position.

      1. OP4*

        I was laid off, hence the job search. Yes, while it was frustrating to have a title that didn’t accurately reflect my work while I worked there, I’d planned to address it for my one-year evaluation. I enjoy the fast pace of start-ups but they can be a bit weird about titles; a lot of them act like they don’t matter at all when that’s not true at all particularly when you are looking for a new position.

    2. Keymaster of Gozer*

      I’ve held some job titles that really don’t reflect what I actually did (worst one on my CV is 5 words long. Seriously. I still have some of my old business cards) so I put as the first bit under them exactly what the key tasks were.

      I know UK CVs are different to US resumes though, so definitely put that information in the correct spot.

      1. chalk bag*

        I once had an INCREDIBLY specific and lengthy job title – so niche I can’t share it exactly without doxxing myself, but it was roughly “Special Teapot Manager and Buyer of Specific Special Teapots for the Wakeen Wobblesworth Memorial Big Fancy Teapot Shop at the Even Fancier Teapot Shop in Wakanda”

        My email signature was three lines long for just my title!

          1. chalk bag*

            Most mail to me was addressed to “Chalk Bag, Wobblesworth Shop, Wakanda Shop” or sometimes “Chalk Bag, c/o Wakanda Shop” and thankfully we were a small enough shop the mailroom knew to get it to me. The business cards I handed out at events were a pain though! Also doesn’t help I have an uncommon and unusually spelled name. Honestly shocking anything made it to me ever, ha.

      2. ThatGirl*

        My previous position’s title was “Consumer Digital Communication Specialist” which made sense in the specific context of what I did but I got a lot of random people seeing my title on LinkedIn and assuming I was in digital marketing or something similarly adjacent. In fact my job was focused on things like “answering consumer questions posted on Amazon and our website” and was a customer service job.

    3. NYWeasel*

      Definitely don’t change it. I lost a job offer because my company randomly changed my title from Llama Grooming Specialist (the title I was hired at and descriptive of my role) to Llama Assistant (no mention of grooming responsibilities) during a mass layoff. Everything on my resume was about my experience as a Grooming Specialist. This new company was super excited about my unusual background but then they completely ghosted me. I didn’t put the puzzle pieces together until a month or two later when I was looking over some layoff paperwork and saw the discrepancy. The new company had called to confirm my employment and was told that no, I wasn’t a Grooming Specialist, I was an assistant. It made my entire resume seem fabricated.

      In the long run it was better that I didn’t get that role anyway, but in the moment it was super frustrating that it got torpedoed by the company who was already laying me off!

      1. JM in England*

        Completely agree with your last sentence. If a company can be that picky about job titles, what must they be like to work for? In a similar vein, when I got the offer letter for OldJob, the job title on the paperwork said “Technician” even though I had interviewed for the job of “Scientist”; however, all it took was a phone call to get the title changed and a small starting pay bump to boot!

        1. Lil*

          I don’t think they were picky with job titles. I think they saw this one “lie” on the resume and felt they couldn’t trust that anything on there was truthful, including the “unusual background”.

    4. JSPA*

      If you want to boost Brand Management into the top level / bold type, there are ways to do that, without hiding the fact that your title was something different.

      1. Social Media (inclusive, Brand Management)
      2. Social Media Coordinator (acting Brand Manager)
      3. Brand Manager (official title: Social Media)

      #1 is factually correct and not misleading.

      #2: The “acting” is pushing it slightly (as “acting” can be, in itself, part of a title, rather than merely a descriptor) but if you’re scrupulous about the capitalization, and ready to explain, it’s not an automatic mark against you, if people notice the discrepancy.

      #3: It’ll look a bit pushy and self-market-y. Some people will put it on the discard pile, but the people who’ll appreciate your thinking and style may say, “yes, this is the sort of self-confidence and problem solving we want.” Especially in brand management and social media. (If you were in R&D or accounting or regulatory compliance, this Would Be Bad.) And better pushy, than being caught in a lie.

        1. JSPA*

          Caveat: I’m not, however, in Brand Management, or any other primarily title-driven field. I’m in a field where this would 100% not fly (but where one’s judged by product rather than title).

          But this has come up before, when titles are opaque or fey or span a huge range of very different positions, like “Specialist 2 (llama breeding)” or “Happiness Adjustor (HR feedback response & worker retention)” or “Administrator Type 3 (Departmental Manager).”

          Often it’s better to let your bullet pointed accomplishments carry the heavy lifting, or (even better) summarize the situation in your cover letter. (That’s actually the best answer here, unless you need to get through an automated submission process, or your field just doesn’t use substantive cover letters).

          Remember, too, that what you’re worth now is not conditional on what you were last paid; and what you’re hired for is not conditional on your past title. It may take a mental shift to let go of the promotion that never came, and focus on what you bring to the job you’re applying for.

      1. Caitlin*

        As someone who’s worked for start-ups (including a social media role that ended up being a lot more than social media) and done a bunch of freelancing that would take up too much space on my resume, my solution was formatting. I basically made each bullet point a section with the role in bold, and then followed with descriptions of specific duties/accomplishments. You could do something like:

        Teapots & Co. – Social Media Manager
        – Social media account management: Created original content for each of Teapot & Co.’s social media accounts. Monitored account analytics…
        – Brand management: Conducted research on Teapot customer demographics. Developed Q2 brand strategy…
        – Customer service: Responded to customer comments on social media posts…

    5. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      I’ve addressed this kind of thing in my cover letter. I had a contract a while ago where for various reasons I ended up doing many of the duties of an assistant supervisor, even though there was no chance of being promoted or having a title change. I’ve described it as “acting” or “de facto” or similar, with the short blurb about what I was doing. Maybe something like that could also work?

    6. Lauren*

      I’d say OP is more worried about her resume being tossed immediately, when her competition already have the title. This is a legit concern for women who have to already have the title to get the same title somewhere else. No one has time to train anymore, so they want people who have the experience already.

      OP’s resume can say the following, and before references are called – she can explain that the title is X, but the work is Y and that they are sticklers for exact titles so be warned that she might hear the words ‘OP was not a brand manager’ and they must ask about the work vs. the title she had held.

      Brand Management (Teapot Specialist Level 2)
      May 2015 – June 2020
      – In change of all brand reputation for XYZ including …

      1. OP4*

        I think it’s just tough because I have the experience but there are so few jobs right now that my worry is not being considered for jobs that I’m qualified for because of a title. But, rather than getting hung up on the title it sounds like I should show them what I’ve done that makes me qualified for that Brand Manager title in my resume, cover letter, and interviews (if I get to that point). If they call my boss for a reference, she would back up what I did. Appreciate the suggestions.

  2. Ping*

    #2 – these kinds of things can be problematic for more than one group. As OP said, she was triggered. Others would be people that have lost family members and close friends to suicide
    So the affected people are actually a larger group than they may think.

    1. Waving not Drowning (no longer Drowning not Waving)*

      I thought I was coping with a close family members suicide attempt (luckily unsuccessful and he is in a much better headspace now), and attended a talk on suicide awareness at work about 12 months after the attempt. Turns out I wasn’t coping at all, and I found the talk very confronting and full of what ifs, and what could have been. I was visibly distressed, I had people coming up to me afterwards asking if I was all ok. It was a turning point to seek help for my mental health too.

      I knew going in that the talk would be on suicide awareness/signs/aftermath, it was a voluntary event, and we didn’t have to attend.

      I thought I had mentally prepared myself. If I didn’t know what the talk was going to be on, it would have been so much worse.

    2. Avasarala*

      I’m really surprised the speaker didn’t say something or encourage the company to share a warning. Even if the people organizing the training aren’t informed (hence the training), someone running something like this should know that content warnings are kind of mental health sensitivity 101.

      1. Batty Twerp*

        I rather think this is on the outside speaker. Unless the meeting organiser knew specifically ahead of time that [triggering topic] was on the agenda to be discussed. I’ve attended meetings with external speakers who have gone off on tangents that the meeting organiser could not have planned for. I’ve even *been* the organiser and had to give uncomfortable feedback to a highly respected (by the C-suite) external speaker for something they said that triggered a number of people I was responsible for training.

        1. Batty Twerp*

          To be clear, I had given trigger warnings for the content that I knew was going to come up – but the external speaker went off-script from what we had agreed he would talk about.

      2. Traffic_Spiral*

        Yeah, how do you consider yourself qualified to run a mental health seminar and not get that Surprise Suicide references aren’t ok with everyone?

        1. Thankful for AAM*

          I am wondering if the speaker did provide the info and recommend sharing the content but the workplace did not follow the advice?

        2. Observer*

          Because there is actually not consensus among mental health experts on the efficacy of trigger warnings.

          I do think that with subjects like this in the workplace, these kinds of meetings should be opt out, though, and enough information should be provided to give people the information needed to make a decision.

          1. Altair*

            I dunno. All trigger warnings really are is information. They have bad connotations due to people mocking the “special snowflakes” who request them, but I think those bad connotations are unwarranted. I am not ANy Kind Of Expert but I do find that a trigger warning is very helpful to me in giving me a chance to prepare to deal with a subject, rather than having it evoke surprise and panic in me in the moment.

            1. JSPA*

              I understand their purpose, and they clearly are helpful when done by a protocol that both sides are conversant with and prepared for. For example, if a particular institution has rules around what sorts of things constitute triggers, and what level of warning is warranted by a particular level of trigger.

              However, when I see a bare-bones trigger warning out of context, my mind often goes to something that’s the extreme of the descriptor…only to find out that the current usage is much paler, in comparison. Needless discomfort for me (though of course, I may not be the essential audience, and I’m cognizant of that).

              I have recently seen more detailed warnings, e.g.”Trigger Warning: verbal and written suggestion of topic X (not depicted or directly named).” Or, “Trigger warning: line drawing depiction of X.”

              But at that point, the trigger warning itself has (at least potentially) waded deeper in than the details it was meant to warn against. Especially if the warning lists what the trigger isn’t…you’ve then brought in (and brought up) all of those things.

              The assumption seems to be that because the warning is “meta,” it’s processed less viscerally than the item itself. As I don’t have PTSD, I can’t add any anecdata on whether that’s true.

              But the sinking feeling of “Ah, heck, what am I about to deal with, or worse, know is going on while I’m elsewhere, not dealing with it, and wondering whether it was worth not dealing” can definitely be out of proportion.

              Especially when (as in one case) the offending image turns out to be, say, a particularly gross add campaign from the 1070’s, which I saw, at a more tender age, when it came out, without any discernible damage.

              Or something that’s NSFW and “heavy,” but frankly looks entirely consensual (and I’m being invited to be offended by it, which is grosser to me than the depiction itself), but because the offense is in the gestalt, it basically happens outside the scope of the topic (and isn’t up for discussion).

              But honestly, most things requiring trigger warnings probably should not be brought up, in person, with a “trapped” audience of inadequately informed, not-really-freely-consenting people, in a fricking workplace.

          2. Quill*

            The lack of consensus, iirc, is not about whether or not trigger warnings help or are appropriate for use, but how they should be best handled and / or conveyed. Obviously if there’s no way to make the space safe for you to opt out of the discussion or take protective measures, they aren’t, alone, going to help.

            1. Observer*

              No, there is also some discussion of whether they are even useful. Of course, context matters in evaluating this so it’s actually fairly complicated.

              The problem in a case like this, though, is that the issue is not a trigger warning in the usual sense, but the information needed for people to be able to make reasonable decisions AND the genuine ability to opt out.

              That’s why it’s not necessarily an issue of the competence of the presenter. Unless the presenter actually assured the organizer(s) that this is not a topic that people should be able to opt out of. But at really falls into the realm of wild speculation at this point.

              1. Altair*

                I want to talk to some of the people studying this. I definitely know I find trigger warnings useful and that I’m not the only person who does. I’d be really interested in knowing if we are a tiny minority, a plurality, or what.

                1. Observer*

                  From what I have seen, a lot depends on multiple factors, like how often the warnings come up, what choices the recipient gets, how far in advance of the topic the warning comes up, etc.

                  I think that a lot more research, with a lot more nuance is necessary.

                2. Show Me the Money*

                  Altair, I find them useful also. You’re not a tiny minority at all, and even if just a few people are helped, so what? I would rather a trigger warning be present and not needed rather than needed and not present.

              2. Tidewater 4-1009*

                I hope they don’t do what most of the American medical establishment does – keep refusing to accept what’s known or to move forward for decades, while people aren’t being helped.
                IMHO if trigger warnings help anyone, they should be used. Obviously.

          3. KB*

            There might not be agreement on trigger warnings, but there IS agreement on safe messaging for suicide prevention. Being careful about the way we talk about suicidality is a research-backed risk reduction method and something everybody can take part in. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention even has a bunch of best-practice guidelines for telling your own story to minimize risk of triggering yourself and others.

            Safe messaging guidelines are generally not super common knowledge outside the field of suicide prevention, though we really want them to be! Highly recommend a google search for “SPRC safe messaging” and “AFSP telling your story.”

            1. Observer*

              That’s really interesting. OP, I think that this would be a really useful type of resource to present to whoever you talk to.

          4. Curmudgeon in California*

            Trigger, shmigger. While such things are triggering to some, they can also cause not quite “triggered” reactions in others. It’s still bad. Content warnings are just common courtesy.

            The way to look at it is this:

            IF sensitive subjects will be discussed (eg suicide, murder, rape, reproductive health care, blatant discrimination, etc.)
            THEN attendees should be informed ahead of time so they can judge for themselves if they are in a headspace to deal with it.

            It’s not coddling people, like the anti-trigger-warning people allege, it’s simple consideration.

            (The first few months after my dad’s death from cancer I wasn’t up for random cancer death discussions.)

            TL; DR: I’m arguing against calling it “trigger” warnings.

            1. Red Light Specialist*

              I like “content warning” or “content notes”. It doesn’t assume any responses people might have, just provides information, and is less loaded than “trigger” has become.

          5. Avasarala*

            “Content warnings” and “trigger warnings” are newer terms, but there has always been a consensus that you warn your audience before discussing graphic or heavy material. Have you ever had a teacher who warned you before showing you graphic photos of a historical event in class? Or think about ratings in movies, or warnings on podcasts and radio shows that might have rough language for children.

            And it goes against established guidance for discussing suicide, as pointed out below. This is all stuff I would expect a qualified speaker to know about better than me.

    3. tommy*

      i lost my husband to suicide. it was decades ago, and i did hard grieving for two years and a ton of healing since then. but if i had gone into a meeting at work, even recently, that turned out to be about suicide and i hadn’t known? i would definitely have been triggered.

    4. Jenny*

      There are media guidelines for this thing and this presentation violates these guidelines.

      At a place I worked a coworker committed suicide and so management decided to do a presentation on suicide. It did absolutely everything you are NOT supposed to do in a suicide prevention talk (it went on and on and was all this weird statistical information, including a slide on methods of committing suicide). We were horrified. There are guidelines available online for this situation and anyone considering a presentation should consult them.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Oh my actual….

        That’s beyond horrific. That’s ‘washing a wound with triflic acid’ levels of Should Not Do Ever. I hope you and your coworkers were offered proper support after.

        1. Jenny*

          Sadly, no. A coworker and I explained why the presentation was inappropriate and they got defensive. I at least know that the EAP program at my work is useless on mental health issues.

      2. KoiFeeder*

        Oh, was the external speaker a blond man? You might’ve gotten the same dude my school got to do their Very Special Presentation.

    5. Koala dreams*

      Yes, health in general is a very personal topic. I think most people have at least one health issue they wouldn’t want as a surprise topic at work.

    6. Keymaster of Gozer*

      I know my husband would walk out, and he’s a very non confrontational man. He’s also had to deal with a suicidal wife more than once.

      Definitely feed the information back that massively triggering things shouldn’t be discussed at work without appropriate warnings and no negative repercussions should occur to people who feel the need to skip the topic.

      (Second bit v important. I got an absolute bollocking from one boss for not staying to watch a whole video on fatal car accidents even after explaining it’s triggering as hell to me)

      1. Observer*

        Totally – people should absolutely be able to skip these types of presentations. And they should be able to do so without negative repercussions.

      2. Arbynka*

        My friend once led a walk out and she is about the most non- confrontational person I know.

        There is this book I loved, it’s fairly old, I got it from the library and read it frequently as a teenager. I forgot the name and author, I just remember he is Polish. It’s a satire on etiquette books and it has very, very, dark humor. It has speeches for a pilot who’s plane is going down, or has been hijacked. Speeches for a captain who’s ship is sinking. It also has a chapter on “how to properly fake suicide for attention” Its about as dark humor as it can get. It’s both hilarious and horrible at the same time.

        Now you are probably thinking this possibly can’t be going where you think its going. But it is. Head of HR department in my friends office thought it was a great idea to read from this book, suicide chapter, “to lighten the mood a bit” during suicide prevention talk. They had the talk because one of their co-workers committed suicide.

        And I can’t even. I admit I have somewhat twisted mind with the love of dark, messed up humor. And I would never, ever thought something like this was appropriate. I mean even when a teenager and my friends asked me about this book I would tell them :”yes, I think it’s funny but it jokes about death, suicide and murder so definitely not for everyone.

        So, anyways, my friend stood up, turned around and left. Most of the room followed her. Not sure what exactly followed but she left that job not long after.

        1. Observer*

          Head of HR has the empathy of a rock. And about as much intelligence as well, I would say.

          How do people like that get into their positions?!

          1. Wired Wolf*

            Capable of severely puffing up their credentials, and/or the person hiring them is too dim to realize they’re being had.

        2. Keymaster of Gozer*

          “How to fake suicide for attention”


          Never mind walking out, I’d be trying to set fire to the book first.

          1. Arbynka*

            See, I wouldnt. I had pretty bad PPD after each time I gave birth and it turned hellish after the youngest kid. I battled horrible suicidal thoughts. Couple years later I lost a dear friend to suicide. Then another friend was murdered while traveling on vacation. It was very rough, and that’s putting it mildly. The rough patches keep hitting, it’s just that spacing between them gets longer and it hurts differently.

            Yet, I still love that book and in a weird way, I find that kind of humor therapeutic. But then again, I understand why someone else would want to burn it and I would never, ever just spring something like that on people, especially in specific situations that are by design mean to be supportive.

            1. JSPA*

              It’s the difference between reading the bleak jokes made in the warsaw ghetto, military prisons and concentration camps (which are a testament to human spirit and the power of humor to subvert and sustain, or at least a deep sting in the conscience to remind you that you’re alive) vs (so-called) humor about those topics (which, besides being odious, are generally surface / facile / stupid / cheap).

              Regardless: Not At Work.

  3. Mid*

    I hate when online application systems require an exact date of employment—I don’t think anyone really remembers their exact start date, and different employers could count things differently (eg date of contract signed, date training started, date training ended, date probation ended, etc.) I also ran into one system that wouldn’t allow overlapping jobs—so even though I was working multiple jobs at the same time, it only allowed for one in each time frame. I quit the application process right there.

    1. 2horseygirls*

      I have a master resume, with all the minute details, including the exact dates, start and finish salaries (pre-AAMof course), address, phone numbers, emails, etc. so I can refer to it as necessary. Once a year, I review to note if a company was acquired by another, etc.

      1. That Girl From Quinn's House*

        You still need the start-and-finish salaries in some states. It is not illegal to ask, and it’s a mandatory field on the form.

      2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        I have never been organized enough to do this. More recently I’ve been keeping better track, but my old jobs? Nah. I barely remember when they were, and I have merged several of them in my mind, especially when I was working for two temp agencies at the same time. Most of that is irrelevant now so I leave it off, but if I ever had a job where I needed to provide exact dates for every job I’ve ever had I’d be SOL. Fortunately this is not likely to be an issue for me.

        1. Quill*

          God I have terrible memory for literally everything I did before… 2018? So that’s four years of work history and a bunch of college stuff that just does not exist in my brain anymore.

        2. JustaTech*

          I’ve had job applications (usually at hospitals, where they have one application system for the medical people and the science people), that want to know the name of all previous managers.
          I don’t remember the name of that manager I didn’t like at that temp job back 15 years ago at a company that no longer exists. And who knows if I would be eligible for re-hire, the company is gone!
          I’ve tried to be better about writing all that stuff down, but what’s gone is gone.

    2. Kate*

      For better or for worse, whenever I see jobs ads like that, if I decide to proceed, I just put the first date of the month I remember.

      1. Thankful for AAM*

        I agree with Mid that tjese are annoying and I do what Kate does, I just put the first of the month.

        I love 2HG’s suggestion but I have never remembered to track the exact date, even for my current job!

  4. Ping*

    #3 – my old company did this. They made several people reinterview for jobs they had successfully been doing for years.
    Two people were so insulted they retired. And guess what – HR had no idea how to replace them.

    1. allathian*

      Yeah, it’s one thing when it’s expected. In my government org all C-suite executives are on five-year contracts and have to reinterview for their own jobs every five years, but they know that going in. To be fair, usually the incumbent gets the job back if they apply for it, but it’s also an opportunity to choose to do something else.

    2. MK*

      I don’t blame them. When someone has been working for you for years, you should have all the information about whether you want them back; making them interview is little more than a power play. It would be more decent to just fire/ not rehire the people you don’t want back.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        I wonder if the new manager and assistant manager are also new to the employer. If that’s the case, and they have no personal knowledge of the employees, they may not actually have much information when it comes to deciding who to bring back.

        Some employers might have useful records of yearly evaluations, PIPs, disciplinary measures, but a lot of employers don’t, and the OP doesn’t say what type of job it is. If the new managers are basically looking at a list of unfamiliar names and nothing else, they don’t have a lot of good options. They could do it randomly and flip a coin. They could go by seniority (take back the more experienced people). They could bring everyone back for a couple of weeks on short shifts and then lay off the lower performing ones, this time permanently. Or they can interview people to help them decide.

        1. hbc*

          Yeah, I think the details here make it the most sympathetic “interview for your job” story I’ve heard. It still sucks, and the framing could be a heck of a lot better, but the circumstances are pretty unique.

        2. WellRed*

          But this is true of new managers everywhere. They go into jobs where they don’t the employees. There are better ways to handle this than making people interview for their jobs.

          1. So they all rolled over and one fell out*

            What’s unique about this case is that they have to make decisions about these new-to-them employees, right up front. They can’t come in and get the lay of the land for a few weeks or months before making the decisions.

        3. EPLawyer*

          Then you bring everyone back. It doesn’t sound like they don’t have enough jobs to go around or they are cutting back. Because EVERYONE is free to apply for their old job.

          This is a sign that the new manager has no clue what he is doing. If he doesn’t have enough information about people but does have enough jobs, then you bring everyone back until you DO have information. Then you go through the new hiring process. If people left for new jobs while furloughed you hire for those jobs. But you don’t declare a restart for everyone just because.

          1. Colette*

            That would be a terrible approach.

            First of all, if you don’t have the money to pay everyone, you can’t bring everyone back. But even if you can afford it for, say, a month, you’re unlikely to get a great view of who your true strong employees are in a short timeframe – and in the meantime, everyone has stopped job hunting because they have a job, only to be let go again at the end of whatever your “test” period is.

            1. EPLawyer*

              If they have enough money to bring everyone back — there was no indication in the letter that only SOME jobs are open and the rest eliminated — then you are prepared to pay salaries for everyone to work for some time at the company. Nothing in the letter says there is only enough money for a little while.

              Everyone is interviewing for every job. WHY?

              1. Colette*

                I agree that having everyone interview is odd, assuming that there are people still working there who have experience working with the people who have been laid off. But bringing everyone back isn’t a better option.

              2. KayDeeAye*

                Because they want to (at least appear to) give everyone a shot at keeping their job.

                I know the OP doesn’t say this, but this is almost certainly a money-saving measure. It’s a very poor and sloppy money-saving measure that’s unnecessarily hard on employees, but a money-saving measure almost certainly what it is. The company doesn’t think it can afford its former payroll, so some people are going to lose their jobs, be demoted or receive less pay. I guess it’s possible they’re just doing this for no good reason, but it’s so much trouble that, honestly, that seems unlikely.

                I know someone will probably come on here with an example of a time that a company did this and gave everybody his or her job back, but that’s pretty rare, just because it’s so much trouble, and few companies aren’t going to do it unless they have a pretty compelling reason.

          2. reelist1*

            Agree with Colette here. If a new manager is coming in with less spots than employees, IN THIS SITUATION, they can’t and shouldn’t bring everyone back. Covid has some unique features.
            It is actually better for the employees that won’t get jobs long term to stay on unemployment. The systems are so behind, that once you’re on, you don’t want to get off and potentially get back on. In addition there is only one more month of enhanced unemployment, and if I were in this situation, I would not want to give that up for a ‘chance’ at a job.

        4. LizM*

          If this is the case, at a minimum, it’s terrible transition planning. The company should have a better system in place (or senior leadership should have a better idea of what manager and assistant manager are doing) to help guide a new manager through decisions like this.

          At a minimum, don’t frame it as “you have to interview so we can decide whether to bring you back.” Set up a series of discussions for the new manager to understand individual’s functions and roles on the team, and then sit down with senior leadership to figure out what functions are essential to carrying forward. But don’t call it an interview, that’s insulting to people who have been doing their job for years.

          1. JSPA*

            You’re assuming the transition was planned at all, which includes the prior bosses being alive, well, and able to play a role in the transition planning. They don’t have to be on a ventilator, of course; they could have been hired away to a competitor, first week of the shutdown, and be unavailable due to conflict of interest.

        5. JSPA*

          Yep. Special circumstance. Depending what happened to the prior people in the managerial jobs, there may de facto be no institutional memory. You can’t decide on the basis of information you don’t have.

    3. Beatrice*

      I’m wondering if this company even knows for sure how many of their employees are interested and available to come back. It’s a crappy move, but if they’ve been shut down for several months and aren’t sure of everyone’s status, and they’re starting over with new management, maybe this is their way of sorting through the rubble?

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Define good.
          If a company has any inkling that an outgoing manager had discriminatory hiring practices I can’t see any other way around it. But if that’s the case, it might be worth saying explicitly to the employees.
          ( to be couched in business terms, something like “we’re trying to rationalize experience, responsibilities, and job titles across different franchises.”)

      1. MK*

        Given the high unemployment rates and the strained economy, my guess is they are assuming everyone will want to come back. Even if they aren’t, an open interview is a weirdly convoluted way of finding out, when they can just ask people to confirm their interest in returning via email.

      2. Paulina*

        My interpretation of the wording — an open interview day, and former employees are welcome to interview — is that they’re hiring from scratch, and are trying to see who else they can get (in this time of high unemployment), instead of first deciding who to keep. I’d expect job restructuring and lower pay, too.

    4. Batty Twerp*

      Yup, same thing at hubby’s company – with their IT department. Only the numbers are reversed. Only two people decided it was worth staying. The rest all decided loyalty was worth squat and moved on. The company was on its knees almost immediately and got through the rough patch by the expensive route of temps and outsourcing.
      Even better, hubby is in the IT department but was excluded from the (accidental) job cull because his role was considered to be even more business critical than the CTO. He was the only one and it didn’t exactly win him many friends, even though it was outside his control.

      1. T2*

        As an employee, the reasons to do this escape me. The manager already should have plenty of understanding of who I am and what my capabilities are from my performance reviews.

        As an employer, it still escapes me. If I now have 3 positions instead of 5, I am going to just pick the three most suitable people and move on. It’s a tough call, but it is a call.

        I don’t know what is accomplished by going through this process. It smacks as if the manager doesn’t know what those team does.

        I think this virus is going to be used by some companies as an opportunity to reset their job situations. Like going through layoffs without the bad publicity.

        1. Boomerang Girl*

          I wonder if this has to do with severance in some way. Maybe if people interview and don’t get a job they don’t get $$, but if they are cut from jobs automatically the payout is less or nil. Still a terrible move in the part of the employer, but perhaps that’s the logic.

      2. Keymaster of Gozer*

        I was one of 15 IT workers who decided ‘eff this’ when a former firm introduced a new rule that everyone would have to reapply for their jobs each year. Left behind 1 manager and 4 juniors. I still get that firm trying to contact me for ‘free advice’ regarding systems I solely maintained over 9 years ago.

        If you want your staff to show trust in the company and give their absolute best and have well skilled professionals then you need to show the company has the same qualities.

        Sadly though, it’s a truth that unless you do have skills in high demand or that you’re very good at what you there are times when you have to put up with ridiculous management choices in order to have a job. The world shouldn’t be like that. But sometimes it is.

        1. Observer*

          It’s obvious that management there was not only a bunch of jerks, but also incompetent. The overhead of the whole re-application rigamarole is staggering with a department that size. And what does it get you? Absolutely nothing.

          1. Paulina*

            It gets them employees who have up-to-date resumes and interview skills. Shortly thereafter it likely gets them vacancies instead of their best staff.

        2. Quill*

          Free advice after NINE YEARS? I keep my old employer’s number in my phone so I remember to never answer that number, but I only kept getting questions about “where is part X, what is the wifi password,” for a few weeks after they fired me.

        3. Kes*

          Each year??? that’s nuts, and even more likely to drive people away (your best people, who have better options). Not to mention the overhead like Observer mentioned. Also, the way to ensure you have the best people every year is to… do ongoing performance management as needed, not make people reapply for their jobs.

    5. Caroline Bowman*

      I get that it’s legal, but think it’s an awful thing to do. For a start, the person’s work and personality and all of their relevant details are known to the company, so it’s not a ”meet and get an understanding of the skills of” exercise. It’s more like ”beg for your job and we’ll carefully pick through all that you may or may not have accomplished in your time here. Ooh, remember that time you forgot to hand in the sales report? Was that 2012 or 2013? I forget, but THAT was bad, didn’t you get a written warning??”. Either let people go or hire them back.

      1. Wired Wolf*

        Yes. I was hired under a manager who knew my neurodiverse status and knew how to best interview in that situation; he was on the spectrum himself so it worked out well and I became his and the store’s best worker.

        Since he left/was forced out my department has had two managers who were trying their damndest to get rid of anyone who knew more than they did (and me in particular)…one of those managers tagged me with a completely false “needs to focus on tasks” label that our current team manager and supervisor buy into (and two attempted disciplinary actions that I was able to quash). Not sure I’d be able to navigate a ‘new’ interview if they’d be coming in with the preconception that I can’t do the job…especially with the new GM (none of the hourly workers like her).

    6. Vina*

      I really wonder why they are doing this. It seems like a complete waste of time and resources if they know they are hiring most people back.

      Maybe they are trying to get people to voluntarily quit, they are trying to get people to accept reduced pay and benefits, or they are trying to get employees to accept something else hinky.

      the point of interviewing outsiders is to get to know them and see if their persona matches the resume and fits with the culture. It’s also to ask questions that you can’t get on a resume. Etc.

      The point of interviewing someone for another position is to get to see other sides of them.

      Those reasons don’t exist for someone already in a job. You know if they are capable of it or not.

      Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. And I don’t think it’s the fish.

      Unless I could figure out some reason that made sense and justified the hassle, I would bug out if at all possible.

      If I were LW, I’d ask what the reason for it was. The company’s response will tell her a lot about whether it’s a red flag.

      1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        My first thought was that they want to clean house, and instead of just letting go of those they no longer want to employ, they’re interviewing everyone to make it seem “fair”. But they’re just shooting themselves in the foot. As Alison mentioned, there will be no loyalty and those re-hired will only stay until they find something better.

        1. Vina*

          I think it’s either that or trying to reset compensation.

          And you are absolutely correct. This kills any loyalty anyone has.

        2. Batty Twerp*

          Oh, oh, oh!
          I was discussing this with Hubby Twerp after posting my first comment. His situation was long before the virus, but he actually confirmed that it was a New Broom non-exec director who *did* want to get rid of about four people who were, in his eyes, underperforming, but because they’d been there for years and weren’t on PIPs and never got less than a “Met Expectations” on their appraisals, he couldn’t engineer a way to do it apart from a “restructure”.
          And yes, he clearly shot himself in the foot, since only three of the four “targets” took the immediate hint and left straight away; when the rest of the department handed their notice in as well, the remaining “target” was one of the two who wanted to stay and New Broom *had* to keep him because there was clearly a job opening he could do, and there needed to be some business continuity while the company fixed this almighty screw-up.
          New Broom barely had time to get his bristles dirty – this was a big mistake and he was forced out long after. Remaining “target” still ended up leaving, but only after the next new boss brought in a whole team to fill in the gaps in a restructure that was curiously similar to the old structure – our last man standing had been through so much associated stress and decided to switch careers. Hubby Twerp said that after New Broom left it felt like a totally different company, much more stable, and two of the original team had even been re-hired because they knew New Broom was no longer a risk to their jobs.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Maybe they are trying to get people to voluntarily quit.
        The thread is already awash in examples where your best people take it as a sign to go elsewhere.

        1. Vina*

          One thing companies don’t understand: employees with skills, options, and charisma jump ship. The ones that stay in situations like this stay because they don’t have a choice. Sometimes those employees are “good” and just need the benefits. Often, they are the problem employees who have no where else to go.

          1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

            Most times yes. But searching, interviewing and obtaining a new job is like a full time job itself. And sometimes you’re just not in the right frame of mind to start the process of moving on. I stayed in my last job for far too long, but glad I did because it ended up leading to better things.

    7. Retail not Retail*

      My mom was in a similar spot a few years ago – the company running the site changed into something new so everyone at the site had to reapply and re interview and naturally lose any seniority. Or you could go to another site run by old company and lose nothing.

      She picked the old company and got sent to a site closer to home.

      1. Shirley Keeldar*

        Yeah, I would worry that maybe they’re trying to renegotiate not only pay but also PTO and other earned benefits. If you get your job back, will you be starting as a brand-new employee? The company could save a lot in matching retirement accounts contributions, say.

        1. Ping*

          If you remember, that story was on here last week. They had reduced the letter writers PTO etc.

        2. Curmudgeon in California*

          Hey, that’s a great way to save money! /s

          You’ll save even more when the economy picks back up and the employees you screwed out of seniority and benefits leave for greener pastures, their loyalty being reset to match yours…

          Seriously, if my current university gig did that to me I would crank up my job search to overdrive.

      2. Mama Bear*

        The only time it would make sense is when there’s a contract change. For example, if you are on a contract with an agency and the job still exists but your company lost the contract renewal. Sometimes the new company just interviews the current staff to see who they can hire/keep and then fills in where needed. I declined the job offer and took something elsewhere in my old company, much like your mom did.

    8. So they all rolled over and one fell out*

      So I always new this “interview for your own job” concept was insulting, obviously. But now that I have done over a hundred interviews from the other side of the table, I realize it is completely pointless (*). Interviews are a terrible way to figure out how someone will perform in the actual job. The best way to see how someone performs in a job is to have them do the actual job (for instance, hiring them as a contractor and then converting them to full time later). In these “interview for your own job” situations, management should completely ignore whatever they “learn” in the interviews since it is completely superseded by the on-the-job data.

      (*) Unless the “point” is not to figure out which employees are the good ones, but rather, do something nefarious like reset pay and benefits or work around bureaucracy. But it’s still probably pointless, it seems would cause less resentment to just hand out pay decreases.

    9. Mama Bear*

      Happened to a friend of mine a few years ago. As an example, all the EAs from across the whole company had to be interviewed and they only kept a few of them. Friend knew they were directly up against their coworker/friend/teammate. Even though friend kept their job, it was terrible for company morale. The survivor’s guilt was fierce. Some people later left, figuring that the company had shown its true colors.

  5. Liberty*

    #3 – Was it announced that the topic was mental health? Unclear from what you wrote if the topic itself wasn’t mentioned or just the specifics of suicide etc. If the topic of mental health announced, I think its pretty fair to assume there might be some triggering (jf you have a history of mental health issues) content and you might want to opt-out or ask for more information. However, I imagine if a company is putting this much effort into mental health content (speaker, etc) they will be receptive to feedback.

    1. I can only speak Japanese*

      I don’t know. If I got invited to a seminar on mental health at work, I’d mostly imagine something like managing stress, maybe anxiety or burnout, sleep issues, interpersonal conflict… but not necessarily suicide.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, this. I attended a webinar on mental health at work quite recently. It was mainly on stress management during mandatory WFH and included all of the above. Very professional and to the point, and it was also reasonably short. The main reason I attended was that it was only 45 minutes, because I tend to lose focus easily during webinars.

      2. anon anon anon anon*

        I really think a discussion/session touching on someone’s suicide attempt does not belong at work unless you specifically work in the mental health field. You do not know what other people have on their plates or in their past.

        1. I can only speak Japanese*

          I don’t want to shut down people who want to talk about their suicide attempts, but I do think people who are not okay with it need advance warning to so everyone can opt in/out.

          1. tommy*

            “An outside speaker started the meeting and was speaking very openly about his personal experience with mental illness and his own suicide attempt.”

            the thing is, though, it wasn’t an individual speaking about his suicide attempt *because* of his own desire to do so. it was a presentation. i’m not saying he didn’t have a desire to do so, but the context of a presentation isn’t a place where his own needs to talk are a priority.

            there are many other places where that speaker’s needs can be met (if indeed he feels a need to talk about it; i don’t assume either way). therapy; groups; friends or family with consent. the reason for him to talk about it here is only if it’s best for the meeting’s goals. so his desire to speak needn’t be a criterion.

            1. I can only speak Japanese*

              That’s true. That said, it is possible that the context was the speaker telling the audience about themselves to make them feel more at ease with him, as an “I’ve been there, I won’t judge you” kind of talk.
              I think we can all agree that no matter what the intent, they listeners deserved a warning.

        2. Avasarala*

          I agree for most workplaces and situations. I don’t work anywhere near the mental health field and don’t think it should be brought up unless it’s in the context of “I need accommodations/understanding because of this” or “This is important context for this work-related thing I need to communicate.”

          It’s just such a serious and heavy and deeply personal subject that shouldn’t be sprung on people or casually discussed at the water cooler. Not that it should be hidden or concealed, but there are some things that should be saved for lunch or drinks. And I prefer to keep most coworkers at a length where details of health struggles would be too intimate to share. I don’t want to be trusted with that knowledge, it weighs very heavily on me.

        3. Case of the Mondays*

          I’m far from an expert but I thought one of the reasons people speak more openly now about their own experiences and family/friend’s experience with suicide attempts or death by suicide is because they want people considering the same to know that they are not alone, to reduce the stigma from seeking help and show that it is okay to have those thoughts and still come through the other side.

          When it is a super taboo subject, people feel like they are the only one to ever feel that way and if they seek help, they are going to get locked away when that is not usually the case.

          1. anon anon anon anon*

            I just don’t think that the workplace is the place for that, though — a workplace is full of power dynamics, and if someone is already dealing with mental health issues, they may very well not want this kind of solicitude from people who control their salary. I know I don’t. I’m less interested in “removing stigma” and more interested in having some privacy.

            1. TechWorker*

              Right but people are allowed to have other priorities. Workplaces are where a lot of people, like it or not, spend an awful lot of time. For some people, especially those who are isolated, it’s their main source of human interaction. I respect your need for privacy but also the motivations of companies who put the topic up for discussion (preferably with trigger warnings/led by mental health professionals, etc). Just because you don’t welcome it doesn’t mean no-one does or that it should fundamentally be a no-go topic at work.

              1. anon anon anon anon*

                OK, but it shouldn’t be *required.* I have a specific trauma history for which meditation is
                counterindicated, but I’ve been forced to sit through a mandatory meditation exercise with higher ups present. That’s not OK, because my options there are to be badly triggered or to disclose. People need to be able to discreetly opt out, for whatever reason. Work *is* a source of interaction for me, but my ED doesn’t need to know my trauma history.

              2. Observer*

                Except that because of the power dynamics in play, workplaces do NOT have the right to prioritize “removing stigma” over people’s immediate health needs. Thus, people need to be able to opt out. Anything else is really unethical.

              3. Avasarala*

                Um, no. Just because we spend a lot of time at work, and some workers don’t have any other friends, doesn’t mean that coworkers should become sources of emotional comfort and social support for these heavy, personal topics.

                If you happen to become friends with someone at work and want to broach it, sure, do so privately with them.
                But companies should be engaged in the business ventures they pursue and enabling their employees to have fulfilling lives outside of work, not substituting those lives with time on the clock.

    2. Koala dreams*

      Mental health, just like physical health, is such a broad topic that it’s almost meaningless as a description of a talk. It could be about how to create a healthy social environment in the workplace, workplace bullying, fighting discrimination, healthy habits and self-care, combining work and being a caregiver, specific illnesses (depression, anxiety, schizophrenia…) and so on and so forth. Sure, any health topic could be triggering for someone, but that’s also an argument for the organizers to be more clear about the topic.

    3. Lynca*

      Where I work the mental health seminars are specifically about how to manage workplace stress. Think burnout or managing stress in general. These deal with coping strategies, information about help you can receive if you need it, and reinforcing that you need to have a work/life balance.

      Having a speaker introduce the seminar with serious topics like their specific mental health struggle and suicide really feels out of place for a workplace. A content warning would be good but I would push for them to evaluate what they want this seminar to do.

    4. HannahS*

      I disagree. If I’m invited to a seminar on general mental health at work, I’d expect it to be about wellness and burnout. I wouldn’t expect it to be a person sharing details about their severe illness and near-death by suicide.

    5. Observer*

      think its pretty fair to assume there might be some triggering

      Really? Considering how many totally mundane and utterly NON triggering topics are typically discussed in workplace mental health presentations, that’s a pretty odd assumption. Certainly, expecting people to make that assumption and essentially blaming them for not guessing is a bit far fetched.

  6. Bubbles McPherson*

    After a year or two, I changed my title while on the job when it didn’t actually reflect the job I was doing. I was hired as something like “Duke of Resource Management,” where “Duke” was a very pompous-sounding word and “Resource Management” was a vague phrase that didn’t at all reflect the work I was doing. It was confusing to the many outside groups I worked with because no one really knew what I did. When I also took on leadership of a related but separate department, I unilaterally dropped that HR-created word salad mess and began using a functional title – like “Manager of Education and Business Development” where my role in the organization and duties were instantly understandable and recognizable. I made sure my boss was good with it and just started using it, but if anyone were to do a formal check with the HR office, I would be identified as Duke of Resource Management.

    1. GoneBirding*

      I did something similar, at my first job out of college at a very dysfunctional office. My office job title was absurd “Chief Happiness Creator” (this isn’t a joke – that was the title for my mostly admin with some event logistics job). I couldn’t bear to give out the equally ridiculous business cards with that title so I had my own printed up from one of those design your own websites with a “events coordinator and admin” type of title.

      No one noticed. When we hired more people, I just ordered them cards that matched mine. I’m many years and roles away from that job and it’s never come up since. (I’m not recommending this approach. It only worked the way it did because of how unmanaged and generally dysfunctional the place was. Relatedly, it’s now closed.)

      1. Marthooh*

        Well, if changing your title made you happy, then you were just doing your job, weren’t you?

    2. Batty Twerp*

      Hubby once worked at a place with no HR department (too small – there were 11 people in the office when he started), but the Owner-Boss really didn’t care about titles. He’s on record as saying “Sure, you can call yourself IT Director if you like – it doesn’t come with a pay rise!” It was such a dysfunctional workplace that by the time hubby left they had expanded to 16 people, 9 of whom had “Director” on their desk plates (including an HR Director – she did payroll). And only 4 of *those* were earning over £35k. I can’t imagine what their job searches were like.

      1. T2*

        Job titles are weird. Companies want people who think fast on their feet, and are ready to take on challenges. Yet then insist on rigid Job titles that segment you into a specific role.

        I would just say that officially the job title was X, but I also performed the responsibilities of Y and Z.

      2. Turquoisecow*

        Ha, this reminds me of my husband’s startup. They had people titled as managers who managed no one and one guy was called a “Sales CTO” who was basically a glorified salesman. They were bought out by a larger company and one of the first things they did was standardize people’s titles so they lined up with what Big Company was doing. Sales CTO guy became marketing manager, and a few people who were VPs in the small company became Directors in the big company because they had like 5 people under them and in the Big Company VPs usually managed a few hundred.

        For the most part people accepted this; though there was some grumbling, I haven’t heard of anyone quitting in frustration over a perceived “demotion.”

      3. char*

        This reminds me of my first professional job, also at a small company, where they promoted me to Senior Teapot Analyst almost immediately. I actually left the “senior” off my resume for a while because I knew it would look ridiculous to call myself “senior” with only a few months’ experience in the field.

    3. T2*

      The real jerk move was someone who will only confirm date of employment as a reference.

      We once looked at a person who had worked at their previous job for 22 years. They gave us 7 references including her company HR. When we checked, we got 7 variations of this “So and so worked with us from x date to y date. Due to company policy we are only able to confirm employment dates.”

      22 years, and essentially no references. I really felt bad for them.

      1. legalchef*

        You’d think that after 22 years they would know what the company policy is, and would have listed some former coworkers who had left the company.

        1. Environmental Compliance*

          Yeah, I’ve worked at those places before. They made it very clear that anyone currently working for Agency could only verify employment. So you found people who left, or contractors you worked with.

          Maybe the policy had changed and that person wasn’t aware?

          1. T2*

            The problem was that this “policy” was wholly invented and not really publicized.

            I had a similar situation about 10 years ago. Company got bought and new owners refused to allow anyone to provide references. I had two good clients who helped me out. Plus I said at the Interview to the hiring manager “you will be my reference 2 weeks from now.”

            10 years later I am his business partner. Lol. 3 cheers for chutzpah

    4. Thankful for AAM*

      My job title is so entry level and “unprofessional” that when I publish or present outside my workplace, half the time the org I am presenting at or publishing with will change what I tell them and will use the professional title. I think they assume that bc i have the advanced degree and bc I am publishing and presenting, I have the professional title. I don’t have the title bc my workplace has few lines with that title. Its like my title is file clerk but I am really an executive assistant or like the OP, social media manager but doing the work of brand manager.

      It is awkward.

      1. TardyTardis*

        That reminds me of when I was Teapot Accounts Payable but was also doing Teapot Asset Management for several companies at the same time, but the title was the title, eh. I eventually wanted to become Assistant Asset Queen for the whole building, but the real Queen ended up retiring after I left.

    5. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      Yeah, I have done this too. A lot of the places I’ve worked have had disorganized HR, especially once we switched to an ADP system that no one seemed to know how to operate correctly, and frankly I cannot confirm what any of my job titles were.

      It was super common for someone to be working as a Llama Coordinator in Porridgeville and find out that they were actually in the computer as an Aquarium Assistant in Fergustown. Or for a Llama Trainer to get drafted to teach Llama First Aid to the other Llama Trainers but be told to punch in as a Private Llama Trainer because “well the pay rate’s about the same for the two and Tangerina won’t approve a sixth paycode for you.”

    6. Curmudgeon in California*

      My “official” title is “Software Developer”. I actually “develop” very little software, and none of it is compiled. What I do is systems engineering, owning an entire service based on open source software that someone else maintains. I corrected my title in our directory to “DevOps Engineer”, because I do both dev and ops.

  7. Bob*

    LW1: When i first read the title i was going to say nope. After reading your post i agree with Alison. Keep it professional, introduce her by her official title and at the end explain that she is your mom. But don’t go into detail if she is brought in with management’s blessing. Keep it professional and don’t apologize for her presence or advice or work.

    LW2: They meant well but screwed up. Do speak to them, but first if you feel comfortable see if anyone else you know felt thrown off by what happened. There is strength in numbers but you don’t want to hurt other people either. So tread carefully and use your best judgement, if you feel you can ask and get some more people who agree (even if they didn’t have personal experience, just being blindsided by what happened is enough) then its a good idea to have several people backing you up.

    LW3: You should all dust off your resumes and assume your not going to be rehired. If you are its a bonus. And as Alison says loyalty is going to drop it and it should, they are treating you not very well.

    LW4: I agree with Alison. But you might talk to your former boss and see if they would back you up that you were on the path for Brand Manager. If your former boss agrees to confirm this then explain it as so on your resume along with the duties you were doing in that capacity and how you were on track for it (and other duties you may have been training for if applicable).

    LW5: Month/year is sufficient. But try to get dates if you can but if you can’t don’t worry about it. You might have pay stubs or bank records or e-mails kicking around but if even the employer can’t remember then they can’t hold you to account for misremembering though they probably have it somewhere in their dungeon of records but don’t see any real reason to spend work hours hunting down an number that means nothing to them.

      1. Bob*

        Former boss said “She said it was fine if I called myself that but if anyone called her she wouldn’t lie.”
        Which makes perfect sense.

        But if the former boss agrees that OP was doing tasks of a Brand Manager and was potentially in line to be upgraded to that title, that would not be lying since that is the case here.

      2. MK*

        The former boss said no, rightly, to confirming an inaccurate title. Since she admits that the OP did perform brand manager duties, it’s not inappropriate to ask her to stress that in her reference.

        1. Just J.*

          Agree. If OP’s boss said no, then don’t risk a bad reference by using that job title in your resume. DO list all of the tasks you’ve done and responsibilities you have managed. DO highlight that you are seeking a Brand Manager position in your cover letter. A good hiring manager will see what your role has entailed and not be concerned with your current title.

  8. WS*

    LW1: My mother and I both work in healthcare. Later in her career she was on the board responsible for assessing workplaces. While it would have been a conflict of interest for her to assess mine, she was still responsible for certain workplace education topics for exactly half the state geographically – and I’m in that half. I though it was going to be very awkward but actually it was fine! We were both in the workplace as professionals and then we got to go have lunch together afterwards. And I know your situation isn’t quite the same, but I think any workplace is going to be grateful for access to a COVID-19 specialist right now.

    1. MK*

      There is a difference between crossing paths with family members, which is something that happens, and bringing a family member to help you at work by your own initiative. I agree that the OP’s situation is exceptional and probably it will be fine, but it’s still not the best optics (especially because it’s a parent, I feel having a sibling or a cousin, even an uncle/aunt, would less uncomfortable).

      1. T2*


        I don’t see an optics problem. LW1’s mom is a subject matter expert with subject matter expertise. It is not like anyone else’s mom has those qualifications. So there is no favoritism or nepotism.

        As long as the person is being presented as Dr LW1, a noted infectious disease specialist, it doesn’t matter to me that the good doctor once changed her diapers.

        1. hbc*

          I think the optics risk isn’t so much nepotism as the personal favor from a parent. If the area was a little more in the realm of OP’s core job, I’d be thinking, “Could OP do her job without help from Mommy?” Since it’s a bit of a temporary issue and not a core job requirement, it should be fine, but they should still keep it 100% professional.

        2. Mockingjay*

          I agree. This is a one-time special case in which OP #1 is bringing an outside specialist to provide valuable information in a business setting. Most of us have a relative or two or an old college friend who is an expert in something. It’s natural to leverage that connection once in special circumstances.
          (And it’s probably easier to get a relative in quickly.)

          1. Quill*

            Yes. This sounds more akin to the time that my mom (a teacher) brought my grandfather (a beekeeper) in to give a talk about bees, safety, and how pollination works than an ongoing situation that will impact OP’s work.

            (Though professional norms are a little looser in education considering how often there are multiple generations of teachers in a family, who are, by necessity, part of the same district and sometimes same school.)

        3. Herding Butterflies*

          I don’t see the optics issue either. My sister is a noted subject matter expert in her field. Although she and I are in very different fields, there are times when her expertise overlaps my work. When we have called upon her to consult, I have always presented her as a Business Associate or a Noted Colleague. I never mention that she is my sister.

      2. Thankful for AAM*

        My optics are that if I knew a coworker’s parent had COVID related skills and did not bring them into our workplace I would be pretty upset. I don’t know that my workplace is getting it right and I would very much value a professional evaluation.

        1. MK*

          Ok, to begin with, your coworkers have no obligation to conscript their parents’ services and/or expertise to your company, so I don’t get being “upset”. If a professional evaluation is needed, the company should contract and pay for it.

          1. JSPA*

            The general point is pretty clear, though.

            “If I knew someone had access to a top specialist; and furthermore, didn’t even need to justify it on the budget or go through problems scheduling; and they refused because it might remind people that they have a parent (thus prioritizing a theoretical, minor hit to their professional style and status points over our health) I’d be upset about their misplaced priorities and the needless extra risk to life and health.”

            1. MK*

              The general point is still unreasonable, though. Your parents are not professional resources that you have an obligation to use, and saying that one has the wrong priorities if they don’t want to involve them in their professional life is not appropriate. Also, there is no “needless extra risk to life and health”, as if the OP is irresponsibly risking her coworkers’ health by not roping in her mother to assess her workplace. The absense of this extra educated assessment (that almost all workplaces have to do without) is not risking other people’s health, and “You should be prepared to take a minor hit (which might not be so minor) for our HEALTH” is an incredibly inappropriate sentiment.

              1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

                I agree. The OP’s employer isn’t entitled to her mother’s time, and it would not witholding vital safety services if the OP decided not to do it. It’s just a nice-to-have bonus that the OP is able to suggest because they happen to have mother with relevant expertise in this one thing, who is willing to come in and (presumably) use their own time to do it. It would be a problem if the OP had been asked to hire an expert to come and have a look and refused, but that is not the issue here.

              2. T2*

                No one is suggesting that somehow there is an obligation on the mother’s time.

                The point is that in this climate, having the public in anyway inside your building could present a liability that non medical professionals don’t understand. So engaging medical advice is simply smart.

                You have an infectious disease specialist in your immediate family who is happy to look over our plans? Outstanding.

                Occasionally I will have an issue which I don’t understand. To solve that issue, I would bring a subject matter expertise. To accomplish that, I would bring in your mother, my mother really anyone necessary to accomplish the goal. Period.

              3. JSPA*

                So, you don’t see a moral obligation to use ANY (willing, freely offered, available AND highly-qualified) resource, when it comes to saving lives?

                “We’re not more dangerous in our half-assed attempts to follow ever-shifting protocol than other workplaces (whose workers are getting sick and dying even as we speak)” is a crap attitude.

                Good management isn’t just limiting legal liability and getting promotions; it’s doing what you can to make your workplace better for your workers.

                Considering the outbreaks that continue to surge through slaughterhouses/meatpackers in the Carolinas, Iowa, Georgia, Kentucky, Nebraska, North Dakota etc, and now field farmworkers and produce packers in Washington State, California, Florida, it’s incredibly difficult to argue that the combination of guidance, adherence to guidance and punishment for failing to adhere to guidance have been within shouting distance of adequate (or ethical).

                And that’s for the food supply; surely the bar must be far, far higher for what OP describes as a small museum.

                Much as they’re loved–much as I love them–it’s both immoral and really stupid for a small museum to try to open without extreme measures to control Covid. It should go without saying, but a museum (as a nonprofit) can muddle through on donations for some time; in contrast, it will not get many (or any) visitors if its disease control measures are not exceptional, and it will shut down permanently if it manages to become a point of community spread. Even from pure institutional self-interest, OP should be looking for ways to go above and beyond, not to merely be “no worse” than some other local clothing shop, bakery, architectural planning firm, temp agency, or what-have-you. Not to mention, the patron demographics, patron usage patterns and possible loss of situational awareness while in contemplation are very distinctive. “I’ll do what the drugstore is doing” just isn’t going to translate directly.

                1. JSPA*

                  It’s not working…


                  It’s not working…

                  It’s not working…


                  Our experience with designated-essential jobs tells us is that we do a (sometimes willfully, sometimes self-delusionally) poor job of keeping those employees safe.

                  We (as a society who regulate and consume the products of said companies) have treated those particular workers (and their families and their contacts in the surrounding community) as expendable. Their jobs are essential; they are replaceable.

                  When we notice how that mindset is allowed to persist and metastasize, it becomes everyone’s job to push back doubly-hard against the idea that, “whatever people are comfortable with is roughly good enough.” Because, clearly, some people have gotten way too comfortable with other people dying.

                  (Nor is that unique to Covid, or the present moment…but for now, I’ll leave it there.)

          2. Observer*

            You’re missing the core point here. The point is not that the OP is going to be derelict in their duty if they don’t conscript their mother. *IF* people are going to wonder, they are far, far more likely to wonder why someone didn’t try to tap access to a specialist than wonder why they did.

            The organization does not have any claim to the time / resources of family members of employees, so I would not be upset that someone’s parent did not come in to help out. But if I heard from someone that “My >family member< was happy to come in an provide the very valuable service, but I said no because it’s not professional to let my family member show up to my work THAT would get me upset.

            >Family memberFamily member< volunteered, but staff member refused because "optics"? Very bad idea.

          3. T2*

            The co workers simply don’t get a vote. If the employer cares then fine. If the employer approves of the arrangement, then everyone else can take a seat.

      3. Observer*

        I don’t see an optics problem here at all. This is totally NOT “I’m bringing in Mommy to help me do my job”. It is absolutely “I am luck enough to have access to someone with valuable and hard to find credentials to help us in a difficult and unexpected situation.”

        Any one who is going to see if as the former is someone who doesn’t see the OP as a competent manager, and won’t no matter what they do.

  9. Language Lover*

    LW 2, I do think a warning is a reasonable expectation in this instance but you said this was an outside speaker. It’s possible your company wasn’t aware the speaker would kick off his speech the way he did. I think it’s worth talking to the organizer about it so they do a little more diligence when bringing in outside speakers about sensitive topics.

  10. CoralGirl*

    #4 – I would be annoyed also but if your reference won’t back you up, then definitely don’t change your title. But no reason you can’t call it out in your cover letter or resume that your role shifted into more than just social media management. However I disagree with Alison and don’t see why you couldn’t put Brand Manager in parentheses next to your official title. It sounds like you just want the most accurate title to explain your duties, not actually give yourself a promotion. In your letter you even specified you were going to request a title change rather than promotion… I think it would be different if you were a Brand Manager, but doing the duties of a Marketing Manager (more senior level) and wanted to call yourself a Marketing Manager in your CV. In your field, is a Brand Manager actually a more senior role than Social Media Manager or is the pay better just because of the skills required? I am a Customer Success Manager but my duties are really more Account Manager focused compared to traditional CSM roles, on my CV, I write Account Manager in parentheses if I am applying for Account Manager roles. Seniority level, they would be the same (depending on the company) and it better reflects my skills. I would reach out to your manager again and see what she thinks of the parentheses idea.

    1. MK*

      Annoyance because someone won’t lie for you is misplaced, to say the least. And putting a title in parentheses is more likely to cause confusion, in my opinion; the same result can be achieved by listing your duties, without bestowing on yourself a title your employer didn’t give to you, for better or worse. Also, it might not be a good idea to keep pestering the past manager about this, when she already said no. What the OP can do is ask her to make the real scope of her duties clear in her reference.

      1. CoralGirl*

        Annoyance is not dependant on whether something is right or wrong. You can still be annoyed even if someone is doing the right thing (like OP’s manager is in this case) For example, it’s annoying when I get a speeding ticket, yes I broke the law and the officer did the right thing by giving me the ticket. Are there more important things to be concerned about in this situation, like other’s people safety etc? Of course but I am probably still going to be annoyed at the situation even if I am in the wrong.
        I think the 2 roles overlap enough it wouldn’t be that confusing. I think without the context of the other job in parentheses, it would be confusing as to why there are so many references to brand manager duties for someone with a social media manager title.
        Also, the manager is going to be a reference, makes sense to keep her in the loop of her job search, I wouldn’t consider that “pestering” plus, OP needs to know if the manager is still happy to be a reference if she adds more brand manager references. Manager may not be comfortable and OP will need to find a new reference.

        1. MK*

          The manager has already said that, while the OP can call herself what she likes, she will not confirm that she was brand manager. Getting back to her and asking her about putting the title in parentheses, well, what are you even asking? All she can do is repeat that she isn’t bothered, but she will not confirm that the OP had the title in parentheses. It’s pestering.

          I don’t really see what putting a title you didn’t have in parentheses will achieve for you, that cannot be made clear by listing relevant duties below the accurate title. And it can backfire if the hiring manager is a stickler for this sort of thing.

        2. Emilia Bedelia*

          If the OP is accurately listing the duties of the job that she did, what is the manager going to be uncomfortable about?
          This is another great example of why a cover letter can be so useful. If OP is concerned that people will not understand why her title doesn’t seem to match the duties listed, that’s something that can very easily be explained in a cover letter. There are so many solutions to this problem – lying is the least good option.

          1. OP4*

            Appreciate the perspectives here. You’re correct that I can absolutely focus my resume and cover letter on the duties performed to show that I was actually doing the work of a brand manager.

            MK, I’m not sure where the idea I was pestering my former manager came from but that wasn’t the case. We have a good relationship, and she checks in about once a month. We had one conversation about the title after I was first laid off in March. Any subsequent conversations have been touching base about my job search or discussing what’s happening with my former company.

    2. hbc*

      I don’t know about other hiring managers, but having worked in small businesses, it comes off as naive to me when people claim the highest possible title (or the most specialized) of all the hats they wore. It usually speaks to a lack of understanding of what those full-time roles actually entail. A Social Media Manager who says they got to do a little brand managing like X and Y is much more likely to come off well than someone who says they were a Brand Manager but it turns out they only did X and Y and spent most of their time managing social media.

      1. MissGirl*

        Thank you! Something has been bothering me about this letter, and I couldn’t put my finger on why. The OP has been working as a social media manager for eight months for a small company. Some of her responsibilities may have crossed into brand manager purvey, but that doesn’t qualify her to be called a brand manager.

        If she’s applying at larger corporations, where you’re far more likely to see a brand manager position, this is going to come off as naive at best and laughable at worst.

        1. A*

          Very true. Heck, in my line of work our Brand Managers have literally nothing to do with social media. Even our social media people don’t have control over our in-house brand image – that’s decided by the top dogs in the marketing dept.

          Seems like OP is under the impression that most Brand Manager positions are in relation to managing the in-house brand, but I’d venture to guess that is a small minority. On my project teams, our Brand Managers – same as all function leads – represents their department, but they are not the ultimate decision makers.

          I would take one look at OP’s resume and assume they have never worked in a larger setting and are so unaware of the difference, they didn’t even feel the need to research. I would potentially look at them for an entry level Brand dept role, but never a Brand Manager position right off the bat.

          1. OP4*

            Hi, I absolutely understand where you are coming from. I do know what Brand Managers do, and my work did reflect the role. Apologies if my letter wasn’t clear. I have years of digital brand marketing and social media experience under my belt. I try to be very careful when applying to brand positions because I don’t want to waste my time or an interviewers time on a potential bad fit. I guess for me, I saw it as, the duties that I performed were not accurately reflected by my title. I had seen myself working for a few years at my old company before being laid-off, and title changes would have been something that I would have been able to negotiate in-house.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        It usually speaks to a lack of understanding of what those full-time roles actually entail.
        This is a good point.

      3. A*

        Agreed. While I have no doubt there are some people out there that juggle multiple hats AND are fully aware of what those hats would look like if in their sole-focused form…. I have yet to meet them. In my experience, it mostly comes up with employees early on in their careers that are so eager to prove that they were ‘more than just XYZ’, that they miss the forest for the trees. Mostly coming from non-profits and start ups just due to the ‘multiple hats’ nature of the work.

        We’ve come up against this several times recently in our Brand dept (not trying to pick on them, just so happens to overlap with OP!), and unfortunately it has always ended in us having to cut the individual loose, or have them reapply for a lower level position. We have yet to be able to ‘bridge the gap’ so to speak – but I think it’s because the individuals who are more likely to try and ‘pull this off’ or find it acceptable, are the ones who truly do not know what they do not know.

        My sister used to do this constantly across several employers (she works in social media, also used to swear up and down her work was sooooo much more than that etc. etc. etc.). Then she finally landed an actual Brand Manager job… and got fired within three weeks because it turns out… *surprise*.. she wasn’t actually qualified, and actually had very little (or zero) experience in the higher level portions of the job. Luckily, she’s since recognized that she had no clue what that job actually fully entails outside of a start up where she’s filling that role in a minor form, along with 5 other functions.

        1. OP4*

          I completely understand where your experience with people who go onto more challenging roles and realize that they’re out of their depth. My experience working with brand management has been built with years of experience in digital marketing and social media. I tend to be very careful about the Brand Manager jobs that I do apply for because I agree some of them don’t match my skills at all and I’d rather not find out 3 months in that I’m a good fit. I fall into the more creative / digital side of Brand so that’s where I’ve been applying. Appreciate the perspective on this, it can be easy to get lost when you’re sending out dozens of resumes a day.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      A resume that lists title changes one expected to ask for in the future strikes me as one of the textbook definitions of weak. Like resumes that list that you got to the interview stage with another company.

      The brief explanation of job duties can make it clear they included what someone looking for a brand manager would value. Or not.

  11. Wisteria*

    Re: brand management role

    I do not use my job title on my resume — partly because some of my very early jobs I don’t remember my exact title and partly because my most recent job did not use job titles. What I do instead is list the various roles that I played/projects that I worked on. So for example maybe I was a llama groomer or whatever and I can’t remember if I was senior llama groomer or llama groomer III. Maybe I had dat to day llama grooming duties but also worked on special projects like dying matched sets chestnut or braiding their fur. On my resume, under Llamas R US, it would say,
    -Llama dyeing
    ( bulleted list of duties)

    -Llama fur braiding
    (bulleted list of duties)

    – Sustaining llama grooming
    (bulleted list of duties)

    Is that something that would work for you?

    1. quirkypants*

      Most social media manager roles I’ve encountered don’t overlap much with brand manager roles I’ve encountered. As a hiring manager with 20 years experience in the field (since before social media manager was really a title) I’d be confused.

      1. OP4*

        It depends. Social Media roles have expanded particularly if you work in digital or tech and there can be a lot of cross-over with those roles.

  12. MommyMD*

    I’m not sitting through a group meeting about suicide. I’d leave. But I have that prerogative. Company should have been upfront about the meeting and made attendance optional. This is more than the generic mental health meeting. There are other, more personal and discreet ways to convey their message than in a room packed with coworkers.

  13. Kiitemso*

    #3 gosh my sympathies, that really stinks. They may think they are doing a good job in re-evaluating what everybody is doing but what they are doing is making people resent the new managers and also consider job-hunting if they haven’t started already.

    1. caps22*

      I was just thinking that what’s the point of making everyone interview for their jobs because if they don’t know how they are performing by now, an interview by now won’t help. But you reminded me that there are new managers involved who don’t know the employees yet, so I guess that could factor into it. Most of the time I’ve seen this has been due to a restructuring where the leadership didn’t change, but they just wanted to downsize the staff, so interviewing made no real sense and felt insulting.

  14. MommyMD*

    Please don’t be annoyed with your previous Boss for not changing your job title after the fact. It’s kind of an unreasonable request. Just highlight your tasks. Write a great cover letter. But don’t make things up.

  15. dawbs*

    Does your museum have volunteers? Because 1-you want to follow those rules and 2-it’s a great chance to make the introduction of ‘an INCREDIBLY qualified individual who is generously donating her time” AND “mom” at the same time.

    If you worked at my small nonprofit, you’d just contact the vol. coord (that’s me!) and I’d get a little info and do a background check–and give them the badge and the OK to be on site and doing stuff.
    (it also lets us track the hours volunteered–which we NEED for things like grant applications. And it lets mom have a record, in case she wants to note that she volunteered. Basically it makes it all official and on the up and up–and I can process volunteers during lockdown.)

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Yes, I think the optics are slightly different if Mom comes in as a volunteer, rather than a paid consultant.

      Most moms want their children’s workplaces to be safe – having the expertise to KNOW what that means would make a checking visit almost irresistible, in which case you wouldn’t need paying.

      1. MK*

        I don’t think there is any question of Mom coming in as a paid consultant (if she is an actual goverment employee, it might not even be allowed for her); if I understand correctly she is volunteering her expertise, and dawbs* says it would be better for that to be handled through the usual volunteer channels of the org, rather than an informal arrangement with the OP.

        And frankly, Mom being hired as a one-time consultant would be a non-issue compared to the infantilising concept of OP’s mom volynteering because she wants her child’s workplace to be safe.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          I don’t think that’s why she’s doing it, I just think that’s an additional factor for why she would be interested in doing so as a volunteer rather than a consultant.

    2. TCO*

      Yes, in a nonprofit with a volunteer program I don’t think anyone would blink at having OP’s mom provide a bit of expert consulting. I’ve worked in several nonprofits, and even in high-functioning ones, it’s pretty common for the staff to get bits of consulting or other help from family and friends from time to time. It’s really normal and I’ve never seen it undermine a leader if done well.

      If I worked for OP, I’d be really grateful that she was able to use her connections to get us an important service we might not otherwise have. And especially at a time like this, I imagine most employees would be more concerned with having an expert review the safety of their workplace than who the expert was related to.

    3. Early Career Museum Gal*

      OP here and that is great advice! We don’t have volunteers but “volunteering her time” is a great way to frame it, instead of “doing us a favour”! Thank you so much – and here’s to tourism (hopefully) coming back strong!

      1. Alexander Graham Yell*

        Just want to chime in here and say that as a worker, I would love knowing that we have had an actual expert take a look at our set up and offer advice/point out possible issues. It would be a huge benefit to your team, and I think they’d really appreciate your mom lending her expertise.

        (Personally, I wouldn’t care if you called her “Mommy” the entire time if it meant getting advice from somebody with her level of expertise.)

      2. Dawbs*

        Yay, glad it works.
        Both of my parents and my husband and a sibling and an almost-aunt have, at different points in my educational nonprofit career, been people who volunteered time as a favor to me.
        (in all the cases they were people w/ expertise in the field. Except my sainted husband who has, more than once, been the ‘responsible adult human being who can be left in charge of a room full of children’, because heaven knows at some events we are short responsible adult human beings)

        And please yes for the strong success of edu-tainment tourism for all of us! (and I wish I had your expert!.)

      3. Robin*

        I’m pretty early in my career at a museum and art gallery too, but if I’ve learned anything, it’s that people who work in culture get their families involved as volunteers all the time.

        1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          yeah, there’s so little pay, everyone and their dog has to chip in or things just don’t move forward. My daughter is an artist, she’s always helping friends out. Last week she was painting a fresco, next week she’ll be helping to set up an exhibition etc. All of it free of charge, but those friends will be there for her when she needs them.

  16. Lady Heather*

    LW1, I’d advice you to consider your mother’s character/personality as well, and perhaps discuss with her what you need from her in that regard. Is she the type to whip out your baby pictures, ask your manager how you’re performing, and stay for another three cups of coffee because she wants to get to know her child’s colleagues? If so, can you ask her not to do that (and is it likely she’ll follow through?)?

    1. Mary Richards*

      I agree, except that I am going to guess that (given the circumstances of her visit) Mom will be pretty busy and focused on the job at hand. In normal times, who knows, but she’s a health expert and this is a pandemic.

    2. Early Career Museum Gal*

      OP here – unfortunately my staff are much more likely to make her the three cups of coffee and interview her rather than the other way around! It’s a very cordial atmosphere, but you’re right – she would have to be reminded not to call me my family nickname alright… Thanks for advice!

  17. Green great dragon*

    #1 – one of our fairly senior managers did a presentation on his team’s innovative new work. And about half way through describing the process he got to ‘and I asked my mum. Who is a Professor of [subject].’

    Don’t think anyone saw it as infantilising, we just wanted to ask Jerome’s mum our questions too.

    1. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

      My mother had to take my brother to the emergency room when he was about three. The ER doc took a good look at my brother’s injured cheek and said, “I have to call my dad.” My mother was a bit surprised, but it turned out the ER doc’s dad was a plastic surgeon who did an excellent job sewing up my brother’s face.

  18. Audrey Puffins*

    LW1, is it worth dancing a dainty dance here? When first suggesting the idea, phrasing it as “I have a family member who is a super expert with all these qualifiers to back that up”, not lying about the fact she’s your mother, being totally candid if it comes up, but downplaying it on the grounds that you’re a professional and this is a professional context?

  19. pcake*

    LW#4 – I know someone who did that in a very similar situation. They got a better, better-paying job, then at around six months on that job, they were called to the office where her grand boss, a lawyer and an HR rep waited, she was fired for lying on her resume and perp-walked by security out of the building. They were very clear they wouldn’t give her any sort of good reference and had specifically asked her immediate boss not to be involved as a work reference, plus she couldn’t get unemployment, so it didn’t end up well.

    1. EPLawyer*

      THIS. It’s not worth taking a great job over a job title. Employers are hiring based on skills not title. So just make sure your accomplishments listed are more in line with what you want to do.

      Titles are meaningless, some places use them, some don’t, some have strict rules, some give title bumps rather than pay raises. It means nothing. What did you DO not what where you called matters.

      1. pcake*

        Titles can help get you more money and get you more respect, and I definitely know of employers who hire based on title, but what happened to my relative who lied about job title cost their job, their unemployment, and the word got out in their industry, which held them back for a few years.

        1. OP4*

          Wow. Yikes. I think it’s clear I need to be less hung up on titles and rely on my experience and strong body of work. Thanks for sharing that.

  20. Mannheim Steamroller*


    Is the company using the reopening as an “opportunity” (i.e. excuse) to reduce pay scales as well?

    1. Retail not Retail*

      Ooooh if you get rehired, do you lose seniority and have to wait X days for health insurance?

      Also, ugh what a mess for the ol job history on a resume if you do get “rehired”

    2. EPLawyer*

      Betting dollars to donuts this is it exactly. Oooh, the economy is tanking, lots of people out of work. we will find SOMEONE willing to work at below market rate with really crappy benefits.

  21. Koala dreams*

    #2 Unfortunately, many people are uncomfortable talking about mental health and choose this kind of general wording instead of a more accurate description. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a workplace talk on suicide, it could be helpful to many people, but it’s sad that people aren’t direct about the topic and use a vague title. If the workplace have similar talks about physical health topics, such as surviving a heart attack or cancer, or a course in first aid, I would also want them to give a better description than “The topic is physical health”. Mental health topics should be afforded the same treatment.

    It’s great that you want to speak up to the organizers. I think most people simple don’t know how to speak about mental health in a respectful way and would appreciate a tip like that. Your wording is fine, but personally I would ask for a more accurate description of the topic/topics covered for future health talks. However, I don’t like surprise talks (especially in the workplace) in general, and that might not be a concern for you.

  22. Gilmore67*

    #4 –
    When I got laid off a job I kept the official title which was ” Sales Clerk ” on my resume. But Sales Clerk sounds more like I am selling, like in a retail job.

    The job was actually in a medical company that sold medical software. Job duties were literally duties that an office assistant did like ordering supplies and major computer work. Nothing to do with me selling anything.

    I added the title of ” Marketing Office Assistant” next to my official title for more clarity. My duties were so obviously not ” Clerkish ” that adding that that name made sense.

    I had no issues at all getting interviews or when interviewing.

    1. MK*

      I don’t think anyone is suggesting it will surely lead to ruin, but it is still a risk if you come across a hiring manager who is a stickler for accuracy. Also, it sounds to me as if the change the OP wants to make is assigning herself the title of a more senior or more specialised position, which is much more likely to backfire than if the title was for a more junior one. I don’t know how it is in English (or your specific context), but in my language “clerk” is usually a more senior position than “assistant”, so at least no one would think you are trying to pad your resume by adding it.

      1. Gilmore67*

        A sales clerk would be considered a sales person in a retail setting. I believe the only reason they called it ” Sales Clerk” was to pay the position a less wage. It was called something else at one point and then changed to clerk.
        I was in the Sales and Marketing Dept. So that is why they got the title ” Sales Clerk”.

        So, yes, at least in my area ” Sales Clerk” would not have reflected what I was a actually doing. I believe my resume might have been passed over for the jobs I was applying to if I had only had that title.

  23. Retail not Retail*

    LW2 – we had a mandatory meeting on “respect” and “diversity” led by our EAP. Thankfully they did not get into mental health but if they did I would have raised hell. (I treat these mandatory huge meetings as like school and ask pointed questions.)

    The only mental health came in the mixed message of “stand up to bullies” but “only you can control your emotions so if someone is being terrible ignore it”.

    We also had the screamingly tone deaf message at a meeting about the employee satisfaction survey – “most of you feel underpaid but you have unlimited free therapy think of what that would cost out of pocket”

    1. Thankful for AAM*

      Retail not Retail,
      I’m having fantasies of all the employees holding a secret mtg and agreeing to go to the free therapy constantly, during work hours, and all to discuss how undervalued and underappreciated they feel due to low salaries. This would be so disruptive that the employer would cut the unlimited counseling and pay everyone better.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Lol free therapy. That’s cheeky considering how awful free therapy sessions are. I get better therapy sessions with my cat and facebook friends than “free therapy”. Bless their hearts.

  24. Princess of Power*

    LW 4 – I agree that this is frustrating but also not a great idea to promote yourself in your resume. You’ve gotten some good advice already (using cover letters and options for resume language), but here’s something I haven’t seen mentioned yet:

    If you’re working on your LinkedIn profile, consider adding Brand Management | Digital Marketing (or whatever higher level title/skills would be appropriate) to your headline. It’s one of the first things people see about you and might help set the tone and expectation for people checking out your profile. Good luck!

    1. OP4*

      Thank you! I do have Brand Management in my header. I appreciate all of the advice. I have the work experience and strong body of work to back me up. I think that’s what I need to focus on.

  25. Delta Delta*

    #4 – Adding this – you also can’t change the title if the new title more accurately reflects a different job. Here’s an example. I worked in a small law firm where we had a few people working in administrative support roles. One person was hired as a legal secretary. But she decided she didn’t like the word “secretary” so she changed it to “legal assistant.” This didn’t seem like a huge deal. However, when she was looking for jobs, she started saying she was a paralegal, which really wasn’t what she did. She reasoned that her legal assistant tasks were a bit beyond normal assistant tasks, so she could make it sound different than it was. It wasn’t until references were checked that it came out she wasn’t really a paralegal. So, yeah. Don’t do that.

  26. The Cosmic Avenger*

    Re: #5, am I the only one who has years only for positions 15-20 years ago? Part of the problem is that they were internal promotions, so it’s not like I remember quitting and then onboarding at a new job, plus for the ones in the 90s I didn’t save a lot of files back then, like we do now, because a few MB of data was expensive back then! I now have all possible versions of my resume from the last 10 years, even though I haven’t done much job searching in longer than that, until now. And while I might normally leave off my earlier jobs from more than 20 years ago, some of them were in a field that is adjacent to what I do now, and that direct lab and patient contact experience might be more pertinent to some of the jobs for which I’m now applying.

    And I probably have my personnel action forms in a file drawer….in my office, which is closed.

    1. Zanzibar Buck-Buck McFate*

      I think it’s only an issue if a hiring manager would feel misled upon learning you had only worked December of first year listed to February of second year listed. So if it was Dec. 2001 – Feb. 2005 that’s not an issue, if it was Dec. 2001 – Feb. 2003 that might be, and if it were Feb. 2002 it’s definitely off.

    2. Carolyn*

      I had to list a job where the company had a merger an acquisition and two moves since it was listed. I still know coworkers from then, but I have no idea if my employment is even recorded anywhere official anymore. I was told it didn’t matter nearly as much beyond 7 years.

  27. Helena1*

    This may just be an example of how work cultures vary, but it is absolutely the norm to have to interview for your own job during layoffs in the UK. It’s supposed to mean that the decisions about who is laid off are objective and transparent, and prevent people from unconsciously sacking all the women or black people, or people the boss has never really liked. My mum works in local government and has interviewed for her own job about three times now.

    The process is usually: announce redundancies are coming, and ask who wants to take voluntary redundancy (people approaching pensions age, or who were planning to leave for other reasons, may happily take redundancy if the package is good enough). Then reinterview the remaining staff at that grade, and fill the new quota of posts. People without a job are either redeployed (if there is somewhere suitable for them to go), or they are made redundant.

    UK/EU employment law is generally a lot stronger than US employment law – we aren’t “at will”, and once you pass probation you can’t be fired without good reason, or without due process being followed.

    1. Bobina*

      This. The responses here are wild to me, sometimes the cultural differences on what people here consider unacceptable are *not* what I expect.

    2. londonedit*

      Yep, I definitely agree. This has happened to me twice in my career (also UK). Once because the company I worked for was bought out by a bigger company, and they announced that while they hoped not to make any redundancies, they were going to conduct a staffing review, and we all had to effectively interview for our own jobs so that they could figure out what we all did and if there were any instances where there were surplus people, in which case they then consulted on redundancies. And the second time there was a formal redundancy process because the company couldn’t afford the staff it had – we knew from the start that there was a consultation on redundancies, we each had an interview, and everyone at the same level doing the same job was ranked by a points system. That was designed to make sure it wasn’t just ‘last in, first out’ and that the process was as fair as possible.

  28. Falling Diphthong*

    Is it wrong to be annoyed that my former boss is being inflexible about this?
    Yes, it is wrong to be annoyed that someone won’t lie to back up your lie. This has come up in various hats, and it is never good to lash your own reputation to someone else’s lie.

  29. QQ*

    #4) How should you communicate you’ve been working in a new field for 2 years even if your title has remained the same? Similar to LW 4, I have been a social media manager for 4 years and 2 years ago I was tasked with taking on the role of a Media Program Lead. I have managed a team of media coordinators and my responsibilities have changed in range greatly. After receiving advice at a resume workshop I listed both titles with the overlapping dates

    Media Program lead (2018 to present)
    Social Media Manager (2016 to present)
    * Accomplishment 1
    * Accomplishment 2

    1. QQ*

      Some more color: my boss had assigned the Media program lead role to me and the organization refers me as this title internally. My official title has just never changed as I am technically fulfilling this role in my current Social Media Manager title.

      1. just another librarian on AAM*

        This seems roughly comparable to the way academic librarianship often works. we’re often given an “official” HR job title that is woefully generic but denote seniority and a title that’s super specific to what we do, and internal promotions / lateral moves without leaving the institution aren’t uncommon.

        The general way I’ve seen it when on hiring committees / have filled out my own:

        Librarian III / Big University / 2000–present
        +[implied “serving as”] First Year Experience Librarian 2000-2004
        ++Accomplishments, etc.
        +Director of Student Experience, 2004-present
        ++Accomplishments, etc.

  30. Vondella*

    LW#2, I’ve seen a lot of comments talking about suicide as it pertains to the mental health of those who struggle with it and people connected to those that struggle. This is not my case, but I did nearly die a couple of years ago. A factual, “these are the signs to watch out for, here are numbers for help” type seminar I could do. What the speaker did…..I couldn’t. To be honest, I probably would have had to leave during it. A warning would have let me completely opt out, or at least be able to gauge how I was doing that day and if I thought I could try

  31. TheTomatoInUrFruitSalad*

    #5, be careful of exact dates on non-resume applications you’re asked to fill out. I filled one out for a consulting company I was (eventually) hired at, and didn’t know at the time that the application would be used to for an extensive background check – I filled out the application, then after interviews, signed off on the extensive background check, and didn’t think to ask what information would have been needed.

    ANYTHING that wasn’t an EXACT match we had to account for with their security team – gaps in jobs, job titles, job locations, supervisor names, dates worked – even things as off as missing the start/end date by more than 3 days. Which I did, on several jobs, because I just put the 1st/15th on jobs I didn’t know an exact date for. “Oh, I started working for Company B on May 6th, 2007, not the 1st! Good to know!”

    The one that put my job offer in jeopardy was the job I’d had at our local state house and it was a session-only job, meaning we only worked when the legislature was in session. I put my start date as my correct start date, and my end date one week after session ended. Apparently payroll at the state house leaves you on the books until they know for certain you’re not returning the following session, so my end date on the application was in March, when session ended, but the system termed me out fully in July, one month before the new session started. THAT was fun to explain. I had to contact HR at the state house to get a schedule of the legislative sessions and email it to the security team along with the agenda on the day we adjourned sine die showing that there was literally no more job for me to have had past that date.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      This is really an outlier though, most places are not doing this kind of in depth background search. You really should just be aware that yes, there are these outliers who are this strict. Most of us aren’t going for some kind of high security jobs.

      1. TheTomatoInUrFruitSalad*

        This wasn’t a high security job at all. That’s why I said to be careful. I wasn’t expecting to have such a deep background check done for the type of position I was applying for, or the type of clients I wound up working with. I learned the hard way, but it’s always a good idea to ask if the information in the application is going to be used for anything.

  32. Employment Lawyer*

    1. Should I take my (expert) mom to work?
    Sure, if you insist. Identify it like “calling in a favor through a personal connection, which will benefit the business” and less like “bringing your mom to work.” Run is past Boss first, plan your presentation. Personally, I would make sure to use the word “favor,” to be sure everyone understands that the firm is getting a benefit and not giving one.

    But… why involve your mom at all? She can’t be the only one with this expertise. If you think this is something your business needs, why not hire someone to do it using business funds, and move on?

    If every single qualified expert is busy or costs $2000/hour THEN you can call your mom, but the aspect of “try to get money and approval first” is an important step. It will either reveal the fact that your boss doesn’t care (in which case leave your mom out of it) or that it’s something the business really wants but can’t afford (in which case you’ll get more credit for solving the issue.)

    3. My company is making everyone re-interview for their jobs
    Makes sense to me.
    Many companies end up in a situation where one or more of these things apply:
    a) people are not in the right position;
    b) some people should perhaps be replaced;
    c) some people should perhaps be promoted.

    This is especially true at companies who don’t generally like to fire people. Institutional drag can make these problems impossible to solve. If you don’t identify your worst employees and replace them with better ones, the company can stagnate: Lots of municipal offices and services, for example, can be like that.

    Interviewing everyone allows them to fire (or refuse to hire) a lot of problem people all at once, while seeming more fair about it, and potentially reshuffling. It’s frankly a sensible move, and almost certianly a wise one if thier company wasn’t firing enough in the first place.

    4. Can I give myself a better title on my resume?
    Only if you want to get fired later (or not-hired when they check your resume) for lying about it.

    5. Do I need exact dates for my resume?
    No. General dates are fine.

  33. PB*

    #1, yes, please do this! I work in a public facing job. As we start working on reopening, I would feel so much better knowing that an expert had reviewed everything and made recommendations. This is very much an exception to bringing your parents to work. This is a chance to make your environment safer for everyone.

  34. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    Re: Triggering topics

    Please bring it up to the organizers.

    Honestly a large number of people actually just don’t understand or even know what a trigger even is, let alone that they should issue warnings when there’s a common topic that can be one like this. So I give them the benefit of the doubt here.

    Many would appreciate the feedback. The plan was to be aware of these issues and backfired on them for not approaching it well. This feedback may help them avoid harming their staff that they’re trying to assist.

  35. Pomegranate*

    I never used to put exact dates on my resume, month and year. However, I recently learned that at my current employer (‘state’-level government, not in US), the exact dates might be to your advantage, especially early on in your career. That’s because of how HR calculates your years of experience. So if you say you worked somewhere Sep 2018-Aug 2019, you are implying one year of experience. But without the exact dates, HR would read this Sep 30, 2018 – Aug 1, 2019 and really give you 10 months + 2 days experience on the record. That in turn can affect your pay brackets.

  36. Lauren*

    #1 – I am really surprised that no one that I can tell has brought up if the mom finds some gaping whole in the system that requires complete rearranging everything. What if the museum is hell bent on doing the absolute bare minimum required by law or what if they are choosing to skirt the law. It all sounds fine, but my employer is one of those that is making a show of covid back to office stuff that is literally just for show – since no one is required to wear a mask at all.

    1. Early Career Museum Gal*

      Hi Lauren, OP here – I’m in charge of H&S on-site as part of a committee with my CEO and our training co-ordinator, so have been working very closely to guidelines and making sure we are doing the utmost to protect our employees, knowing full well that flexibility is the key to that. I’ve worked in places in the past like yours and goodness gracious wouldn’t stir the pot by offering actual advice to people not ready to hear it. Sorry you’re in that situation, hope you stay safe :(

  37. Colorado*

    LW #1: I’d feel proud to bring my mother in as an SME. You sound very professional, you say your team is tight knit and family members do come around so I really don’t see the big deal. I am sure your mother is professional too considering the seriousness of her expertise. I wouldn’t make it a big deal. Introduce her by her name and title, add in a few credentials, and slip in that she is also your mother and is willingly offering her time (day off!) to share her knowledge. I’d be very interested to hear what she has to say if I were one of the employees.

  38. SomebodyElse*

    I’m confused about the reactions for #1 here today.

    The OP absolutely should have her mom in to consult. This kind of thing happens all the time and there is nothing wrong with it. Let you boss know you have a contact with X, Y, and Z credentials who would be willing to do a walk through and offer suggestions or advice at no charge… oh and btw she’s your mother. Would that be ok? Any concerns… ok great.

    I mean, it’s not like a professional woman is likely to start showing off baby bathtub pictures to your coworkers. And really how many coworkers are you likely to run into if you aren’t open yet. If you are worried, arrange to have her walk through after hours.

    If your mother had no credentials and you brought her in to consult on something she had absolutely no knowledge on, then it would look weird (remember the thread about the guy who ran all of his work by his unaffiliated wife?) This doesn’t sound like your situation at all.

  39. Ray Gillette*

    I introduced my dad to a coworker once! The coworker, who worked in a different department from me, had recently started using a new data modeling software and was planning to visit the company that made that software at their office. My dad worked at the company at the time and had built large portions of the product that the coworker was using. I introduced them via LinkedIn and they met up and talked about use cases.

    Even though my situation is entirely different from LW1, I would say the rule is as long as you’re introducing your parent in a professional capacity first, you’re good to go.

  40. JR*

    Did we ever get an update on the post linked from the answer to #1, about the employee who kept CCing his mom?

  41. Hard working Panda*

    to OP4, the risk of sounding like you are self aggrandizing your role is too high. It sucks though, I get it.
    As a side note, we had a new hire at my company, coming in with the title of “marketing assistant”. She requested to connect on LinkedIn, and surprise, she gave herself the title of “Marketing and Communication coordinator” on there. Less than 2 months after her start date. She is not a coordinator, nor does she do any communications. I wonder what her resume looks like…

  42. foolofgrace*

    Re: dates of employment, if they insist on days, I just use the first of the month along with the year. This reminded me of yet another ridiculous application form field — they wanted the exact day and date of when I started and ended HIGH SCHOOL. I don’t have to tell you how many years ago that was (and I have a college degree, which implies I finished high school). And this was for a technical writer position, not a fast food joint. I hate those online applications, you put in so much time and effort and then get nothing in return, not even a “thanks but no thanks”.

    1. Steveo*

      At least with high school I remember the year I graduated and can just extrapolate “May X of that year” from that info. It’s my masters degree that I did while working full-time I can never remember the exact dates of.

  43. Betty (the other betty)*

    1. Should I take my (expert) mom to work?

    Yes, she is an expert. I don’t think the mom should be coming in on her day off without pay, though. Ms Expert (aka Mom) should charge a consulting fee for the work, if she is allowed to do side-consulting by her other employer.

    Th questions are, “Can we hire an expert consultant to review the precautions we are taking?” and “My mother happens to be an expert in this area. Here are her credentials. Is there a conflict if we hire her as a consultant for this project?”

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It’s a museum and many are non-profits. So I don’t know that it’s at inappropriate for her mother to do the consulting for free though.

      They’re a museum trying to reopen after a pandemic, I get the feeling there’s no budget for a paid consultant.

  44. Long-time Struggler with Depression*

    Re LW#2, I had a similar situation happen to me. I signed up for a mental-health first-aid course, offered at my city’s mental-health hospital. The attendees were quite mixed. Some were RNs who wanted to learn more about the subject; others were like me, people who struggle themselves and want to learn more about how others can help them, as well as how they can help others. On the second day of the course, they showed a video re-enaction of two women helping a man struggling with depression and suicidal ideation. The video was *extremely* triggering for me, to the point where I had to breathe deeply and seriously considered leaving the room. After the video, at the break, I commented about this to the organizers. Shockingly, they had never thought about this possibility. It is important to let people know about these triggering episodes, so they can plan accordingly. The organizers were grateful that I informed them.

    1. Atalanta0jess*

      Wow. That is NOT in line with how certified mental health first aid instructors should be teaching. The course materials, to which certified instructors are meant to stick very closely, are quite clear that you should discuss the possibility of upsetting topics at the start of the class, that you should keep an eye out for folks who may be in distress and be prepared to talk with them one on one if need be, that folks can step out if needed – and then again at the beginning of the suicide conversation, mention that this is one of the more difficult sections and that folks should engage in whatever self care is needed, including leaving the room or asking a presenter to process with them.

      I wonder if this was an official Mental Health First Aid course or not. The official materials don’t have a video of that nature.

      None of which is extraordinarily relevant, except to say that the official MHFA courses are quite good, and that this shouldn’t happen in them. I’m sorry it happened to you.

  45. Probably Taking This Too Seriously*

    I would format the resume like this—
    Company Name — Branding and Social Media
    Social Media Manager, 2017- present
    Then bullets explaining what you did

  46. Jen Gregory*

    I have a bit of a twist on #4, and wouldn’t be interested to hear thoughts on it. I had a job earlier in my career where manager titles were very common and didn’t necessarily mean you actually managed *people.* Basically, if you managed a process/program/thing with a budget attached to it, you had a manager title. I’ve always been uncomfortable with that on my resume because it looks like I have experience managing people, which I don’t. I am very much an individual contributor/subject matter expert. Instead of listing “Teapot Design Manager” on my resume, I’ve using “Teapot Design Lead” which is reflective of the work I did and commonly understood by people in the industry. Am I ethically in the clear on this?

  47. Steveo*

    I somewhat disagree with the job title stuff. Mainly because I find it difficult to decipher when people use their official title’s on LinkedIn – ones that have no frame of reference to the world. For example: “Software Engineer II”. That has a specific and direct meaning, but only internally at the current job. If you are doing work that the rest of the world would call “Brand Manager” then that’s what I would put down, even if internally they called you “Marketing Analyst II”

  48. Emma*

    LW 1: My department has staff who go out to meet with members of the public, and we had the family member of a teammate (who is also a nurse) give a talk on proper PPE use, handwashing, etc. Everyone was thankful to her for the advice and it wasn’t a problem at all. Just make sure that your management is OK with it first.

    LW 5: I interviewed 2 people last week, both of whom had only the year listed on their work history (not even the month!). My own resume just shows month and year, because who can remember all those dates? As I have seen people at my former corporate employer fail the background check because the dates they put on their resume did not match what the former employers had exactly (due to the background check firm being ridiculously pedantic), I would advise on a “less is more” approach!

  49. Early Career Museum Gal*

    LW1 OP here,
    Thanks for your responses!
    Just to clarify – my mam was going to come in for a recreational visit sooner or later, but since the shutdown has seen that I’ve been working hard and called to offer her eye and her expertise since she’s been dying to come in anyway. I told her that if she came in to do H&S, it would most definitely be a separate visit, to keep professional apart from personal and also so that I could give her a fun day out :)

    She offered, and I didn’t ask.

    I’m seeing a lot of comments that say “[we] should pay her”, but she is qualified as an emergency doc as well as her jobs on advisory boards/councils and in my country this prohibits her from doing paid private work. In Ireland, it would also be seen as extremely rude of us to offer or of her to accept payment! (Which is a whole other issue…)
    My museum also doesn’t have volunteers, rather we do train people in through a back-to-work scheme which essentially has them work in a volunteer docent capacity for a year while they complete training, while the govt provides work allowance. I will also look in to seeing if it could count toward volunteer hours though, so thanks to the person who suggested this!
    A good few people have also asked about upper management, but our org is actually so tiny my only boss is the CEO! So by passing my mom’s offer to the org, it would be direct to the CEO.

    1. Rock Prof*

      It really sounds like your mom volunteering her time (whether offically or not) is going to be a net positive.
      I’m in the US, so things are going to be different. But I know lots of faculty members married to people who work at small, and not so small, museums. (I think it’s a consequence of married PhDs trying to find jobs in one location) At these museums, it doesn’t seem uncommon to have their academic spouses, or even friends, come in to the museum as some sort of expert, maybe giving a public lecture or something (generally these are all volunteer/unpaid). To me, your mom going in as a professional context isn’t really that different, particularly since she wouldn’t be in a position to make an official report or require certain steps.
      In fact, I know of a couple museums, that cover natural science or something related, that are incorporating some of the coronavirus response into their programming, like public lectures, ask an expert forums, etc. This probably doesn’t work as easily if your museum is focused on textiles or the history of llama husbandry or something.

  50. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    When acting as a reference, I’ve rarely ever been asked to confirm title. That’s always in the employment verification stage. But I still wouldn’t risk it.

    Believe me, if you were more of a Brand Manager than a Social Media Manager, they will read it clearly in your resume. I’ve been called some stupid crap over the years and nobody has flinched about it. Titles are so subjective and change, it’s not as serious as you may feel it is. But I do agree having a title that’s not on step with what you actually do, is something to address with a manager at some point. I’m sorry you didn’t get a chance to have the official change in title while working there.

  51. LizM*

    One of my first positions in government, I had an official title that didn’t really match my duties. That’s because that was the open slot on our table of organization, and at the time, our HR was a mess, and my boss figured it was more important to hire someone to do the duties than to wait 9-12 months for HR to change the box. Originally the plan was to change it once I was in the position, but, as I mentioned, our HR was a mess and it didn’t happen by the time I’d moved on to another position. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter, because it’s in the same series as my current position, so the experience counts as time in service for my career path.

    On my resume, I have it listed as Llama Grooming Specialist (duties equivalent to a Llama Grooming Policy Analyst). That way my resume will make it through HR, which verifies qualifications and confirms that the resumes match federal service records, but a hiring manager will understand that I do have 2 years of policy analysis experience, which is important for the jobs I’m applying for now.

  52. Agile Phalanges*

    LW4, I know the feeling. I used to work in accounting, and still had the title “Accounts Payable Specialist” (they may have added “Senior” in there somewhere when I begged for a title change enough) while doing work much more like a staff accountant would do–GL reconciliations, month-end close, accruals, budget work, as well as helping train and hire people in payables. I’d also gotten my degree in accounting during my tenure there. I have my real title on my resume so it can be confirmed by either HR or my former manager, but followed by “(equivalent to Staff Accountant)” just to point it out in case they can’t also tell from my accomplishments and responsibilities (and ultimately the reference check if it gets that far). That feels not-lying enough to stay out of trouble, but also points it out to someone just glancing down the experience section and not actually reading and internalizing the bullet points of accomplishments to me. No one’s called me out on it, and I got my current job with my resume reading like that, so I think it’s okay. Anyone else is welcome to chime in here, though!

  53. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

    OP5 (exact dates on a resume) I agree that the exact day-of-the-month (and sometimes month is irrelevant if it’s far enough in the past — e.g. does someone care when in 2001 I started my old-old-old-old company which lasted for 8 years!? probably not) doesn’t belong on a resume… but I have been asked to provide an exact start and end date of previous jobs on some background checks in the past.

    1. Carolyn*

      I actually asked when they were doing my last background check – the company told me they only wanted exact dates it to make it easier to verify, find the right record etc

  54. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

    OP1 (mom offering to consult about return to opening safety) I thought for a while about writing this, because of past experiences here, but I think it’s a valid viewpoint so I’m going to put it out there… re-opening policy, health and safety reviews of workplaces etc will only work if they are done systemically across all businesses, because even if your particular place can benefit from your mom’s expertise on a “free consulting” basis, there’s still eleventy other companies out there who need to put their own guidelines in place… the process of re-opening safely needs to be a coordinated effort across society, not just piecemeal here and there because “somebody knows somebody”.

    1. Observer*

      Your point?

      Should the OP’s museum not take advantage of the best information they can get because some (ok, many) people are being stupid?

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

        No, not exactly, but my fear is that any measures introduced/suggested “small scale” at this one institution by OPs mom won’t be effective anyway because of “baseline” (I’m not sure of the real terminology) person-to-person transmission when museum people come into contact with people in other places who are presumably less well advised. My point was that in order to be successful it needs to be a coordinated effort all round, rather than small pockets of places who just fortuitously ‘happen to have an expert on hand’.

  55. Rosa Rouge*

    #4- what if our former title is ridiculous? In a former position, my actual job title on my actual paperwork was “Director of First Impressions”. I was a receptionist!

Comments are closed.