my mom’s advice is ruining my sister’s job search, explaining I’m quitting because of COVID, and more

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

1. My mom’s advice is ruining my sister’s job prospects

My younger sister has been unemployed or under-employed her entire professional life. She graduated into the Great Recession with astronomical student debt and serious medical conditions that make daily tasks difficult, even with accommodation. She’s been repeatedly denied for disability, and she wants to work. She has a degree in science and is passionate about research.

Our mom was a retail manager who hired hundreds of people. She believes herself to be an unparalleled authority on how to get a job. My sister trusts her advice and follows it religiously.

You probably saw this coming, but it’s bad advice. Over the years, Mom’s provided my sister with such gems as “Always deliver a hard copy of your resume in person” and “Never take no for an answer; call them every day and make the case for why you deserve the job.” Combine this with my sister’s own determination to be completely transparent about the details of her medical conditions and “not play any games” with potential employers, and I don’t see the situation improving on its own.

This is my problem because 1) I love my sister and don’t want her in a position where she’ll be treated badly, and 2) I’m financially responsible for her. It would improve both of our lives if she found a job that enabled her to be truly independent.

I think I can help. I routinely conduct interviews and make hiring decisions as part of my job. But I’ve held my tongue when it comes to my sister. A white collar job is very different from a research position is very different from retail. It’s possible my job hunting advice is just as misguided as Mom’s. I don’t want to hurt Mom’s feelings. I don’t want to damage their relationship. I don’t want to make my sister feel like a burden. But she just turned 31. This isn’t a post-grad slump anymore. Something has to change. Is there ever a situation in which it’s a good idea to wade into someone else’s job search? And if you do wade in, how deep do you go? Is it better to convince my sister that Mom’s advice is bad and that mine is good, or to convince my sister she’s better off not listening to anyone’s advice?

Eeeek, yes, speak up! Your mom’s advice is almost certainly holding your sister back from finding a job. Let your sister know her this advice would actively hurt candidates in your field and most others, that retail has very different hiring norms than other sectors, and that your mom’s advice doesn’t translate to the jobs your sister is applying to— and will likely harm her. Point out that you regularly conduct interviews and make hiring decisions as part of your job, and that the stuff you mom is recommending would be deal-breakers for you and your colleagues. Offer her some back-up like this and this and this. And maybe this. Ask that she at least experiment with a different approach to see if it produces different results.

You’d be doing her no favors by staying quiet to be respectful of your mom, when your mom’s guidance is causing real harm. This would be true even if you weren’t financially responsible for her — just because she’s your sister and you love her — but you have additional standing to speak up because it does affect you.

You might also consider talking to your mom: explain that her experience in hiring is wildly different from yours, suggest she might be relying on norms that don’t apply to the fields your sister is targeting, and be up-front that the advice she’s dispensing would get your sister removed from consideration in your field. If your mom is closed off to hearing that, so be it — but it’s not rude to let her know that retail norms are not universal norms.

2. Should I tell people I’m quitting because my company isn’t following COVID precautions?

A lot of my coworkers and some management aren’t wearing masks or distancing at work, even after one of us tested positive. I don’t think there’s anything that can change their minds — even though the company president has been encouraging preventive measures for months, there’s enough misinformation circulating here that it’s not going to happen.

I’m high-risk and I’ve decided to quit. Should I say that in my resignation letter? I’m not expecting this to cause any behavior changes, but my supervisor has been great and I don’t want them to think it’s anything they’ve done.

I also don’t know if I should tell coworkers I’m leaving or why. I’ve been harping on masks for a while, so it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, but I don’t want to sound rude about why I’m leaving. What do you suggest?

A resignation letter really should only confirm that you’re resigning and note what date that’s effective. It’s just two or three lines (that info and perhaps one sentence of “I’ve appreciated my time here” fluff if you feel like it). It’s not the place to get into your reasons for departing. It’s literally just documentation so the company has confirmation in their files that you did in fact resign.

The place to get into your reasons, if you want to, is in the conversation you have with your manager to let her know you’re quitting (that comes first, and then the letter comes afterwards to confirm). And yes, it’s worth letting her know that you’re leaving because your office isn’t taking safety seriously, because (a) who knows, it’s possible it could have an impact down the line, especially if someone else later leaves for the same reason, and (b) there’s no point in letting her wonder what happened when there’s an easy explanation.

Personally, I’d tell your coworkers too. If they’re really dug into delusion, they might think you’re overreacting, but it’s still worth people hearing, “My doctor has told me I’m at high risk of serious complications or even death if I contract COVID-19. Since the company isn’t enforcing the CDC guidelines on masks and distancing, I’m at too much risk if I stay.” That’s not rude; it’s just direct, and there’s value in spelling it out.

3. Asking for vacation after three months of getting paid while not working

While I have been able to work from home as normal, my husband’s job deals with the public and he has not been able to go into his office since March. His company did end up furloughing or laying off most of his colleagues but kept him on and continued to pay him (he, along with others still employed, did get a small pay cut). He’s going to start going back into the office next week.

Now that it’s finally summer, I’d like to take some PTO but I’m not sure how it will be looked at if he asks for time off, after he just spent three months getting paid for not working. I’m also not sure what his coverage would look due to the layoffs (I don’t think they have hired back everyone as they don’t expect the same volume of customers). I don’t even know what would happen if he got sick and needed to take days off for that, but I hope to not have to cross that bridge.

Would it be off-base for him to ask for vacation (a maximum of five days versus two weeks) closer to September? I am not sure if we’d even be able to go anywhere but it would be nice to be able to spend time together even if we were at home and watching more movies. I will take some time off myself this summer without him, but probably not a whole week.

Yeah, he shouldn’t ask for a week of vacation right after three paid months off, while others weren’t paid or lost their jobs. His manager is likely to think, “We just stretched to give you three months off, with pay” … and the request is likely to look strangely oblivious to that or like he’s taking advantage in some way.

Sick time is different, because if he’s sick, he’s sick. Vacation is different.

He could maybe do it in the fall, if and only if he sees other people doing the same thing and it seems fine, but I’d assume this is a lost summer in terms of joint vacations for the two of you.

4. I’m spending too much time making videos for internal use

I handle state-specific public policy for a major national nonprofit. Our higher-ups frequently ask us to create video clips of ourselves or our volunteers for internal videos, often with only a few days’ notice. Organizing my piece for the videos is an added stress to my workload, and setting the time aside to watch the finished compiled video as directed takes up time I’d prefer to spend on my public policy work. It also seems strange that we are asked to make a video for which we are the only audience. I get the sense these internal videos are meant to excite us somehow, or make us feel recognized and appreciated — but we are the ones who make them.

Should I organize a group of employees to push back on the next request? Or is there another benefit to these internal videos that I am not recognizing?

Yes, push back. It might be as simple as telling your boss the video work is taking time you need for higher priorities and asking to be exempted. But if there are a bunch of people in the same boat, it could make sense to approach it as a group.

My hunch is that they think the videos will boost morale and camaraderie, as well as expose people in the organization to what colleagues in different areas are working on … but that’s something to do a couple of times a year, not with such frequency, and always with more than a few days’ notice. You’re doing public policy work, which is often time-sensitive and deadline-driven. It’s more than reasonable to point out this is getting in the way of the goals of your job.

5. Responding to requests for job leads when I don’t have any

I am one of the lucky few who have not been greatly affected by COVID. While I am working from home, I am still working. I work in an industry that is fairly well insulated, considering the circumstances.

I have a friend who has been laid off from their job in a very different field This friend emailed me the other day asking me if I had any leads on jobs that they could apply to. The only person I know in a field anywhere close to theirs is in the same position, laying off and furloughing workers. I have no idea what to say to this person in response. Can you help?

It’s okay to be honest! They know you might not be able to help; they’re asking in case you can. You could say, “I wish I could help! The only person I know in (field) is in the same position. But I’ll definitely let you know if I do come across any leads that could help.” If you’re willing, you could also add, “If there’s ever anyone in my network on LinkedIn or more broadly who you’d like a connection to, I’d be glad to see about making the introduction.” (But only add that if you trust the person to use that sensibly; don’t offer it if they’re someone who would then want to contact everyone in your network indiscriminately.)

{ 323 comments… read them below }

  1. Dust Bunny*

    OMG, LW1, please say something!

    Let me guess, your mom has always been kind of overbearing and you and your sister have been well-trained not to push back. Well, it’s time to push back. You’re adults and one of the biggest and weirdest parts of being an adult is realizing that your parents are fallible just like everyone else. Either help your sister, or help her find the advice she needs.

    1. Heidi*

      Also, does this mean that mom has hired someone who called her every day to make a case for why they should get a job in retail? The possibility that this was ever a successful strategy is blowing my mind a little.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        Yeah, that sounds like a great way to hire a pushy, egomaniac, boundary-stomping nightmare. The phrase “won’t take no for an answer,” the people it describes, and the entire mentality it glorifies make me shudder.

        1. LGC*

          To be fair, LW1’s mom is 1) at least 20 years older than LW1 and her sister, most likely and 2) a former retail manager. So things were probably pretty different for her!

          Mom’s advice might genuinely be good advice if LW1’s sister was trying to get hired at a Spencer’s in 2000, but that’s not the case here.

          1. JSPA*

            If sis is 31, and has a number of medical challenges, mom could be 65+, and may have been out of the workforce for much of sis’s life (on the assumption that someone had to scale back, as support for sis in childhood). That could put mom’s hiring experience in the 1990’s, where paper copies and showing up casually but repeatedly at a retail store to demonstrate follow-though and interest were definitely a thing.

        2. snowglobe*

          Retail is a different world. For one thing, they are often hiring sales associates, and in some retail businesses, a person with the ability to ‘hard sell’ could be seen as a positive.

          1. Syfygeek*

            As a former (and hopefully never again) retail manager, I needed a potential employee to bring me the application, filled out correctly, resume optional. Or sending it in and following up in person was good too. It gave me the chance to see if the applicant could dress appropriately, could talk to strangers face to face, and if they kept calling to follow up it showed that they A) really wanted/needed the job, and B) they probably wouldn’t call off as much.

            Following OP1’s moms advice is not going to get sister an interview, but will get her remembered, not in a good way.

        3. RecentAAMfan*

          I’ve encountered salespeople like that! Maybe they do make lots of sales but I just tend to avoid the store because of them.

          1. Kelly L.*

            This! There *are* lots of pushy nightmares working in retail, and they’ve put me off a number of stores. And I used to work with some too. I think this kind of pushiness just perpetuates itself, because pushy people hire more pushy people because “that’s the way we’ve always done it,” without realizing it probably alienates as many customers as it ensnares.

          2. Tidewater 4-1009*

            Seconding! I’ve never liked pushy sales people and always avoided them and their companies.
            I had gotten the impression retail stores noticed and dialed back on the pushiness.

      2. Richard Hershberger*

        Among my idiosyncratic vices is reading early 20th century juvenile novels. These often involve Our Young Hero going out into the world to make his fortune. The Gumption theme plays strongly. Our Hero might present himself to a business owner asking for a job for which he has no obvious qualifications, the but owner is so impressed by his attitude that he takes a flyer on Our Hero. I don’t know how much this reflected reality. Rather poorly, I suspect. But I can see where the idealized principle of Gumption comes from.

        1. pancakes*

          Those don’t reflect reality, no. My 10th grade history teacher assigned us a couple of Horatio Alger stories along those lines, with other reading to put them in context as gilded age fables.

          1. Ginger Baker*

            To be fair, a not dissimilar approach worked for my grandfather…but it was more like this: In the Depression, go to get a job as a dishwasher. Lie about having experience. Get fired within the day. Go ask for another job as a dishwasher. Lie about experience, but this time “stretching the truth” because he now has (less than one day) experience. Get fired in a couple of days. Repeat until it’s less lies and mostly truth and eventually a job sticks. (And eventually go work at ConEdison.)

            1. straws*

              Yup – my grandfather got his first computer job by enrolling in a night class at a local college, applying for the job saying he was in college (thus prompting them to assume he had a high school diploma – which he did not), then quit college after he was hired. I would never recommend that someone else try that though!

              1. Richard Hershberger*

                This sort of thing happened early on with the electronics industry. I remember in the 1980s there were computer engineers who had never had a day of college. They were self-taught in their garages and kept up with progress. Even in the 1980s, this was presented as something not likely to work anymore, so suck it up and get your degree.

                1. Curmudgeon in California*

                  Hahaha! It’s now 2020, and I work as a system administrator. I do not have a degree. (There are very few degrees for systems work; most are just for programmers.)

                  I am self taught, and I teach people with Masters degrees how to be sysadmins.

                  OTOH, I don’t claim degrees I don’t have. I claim experience that I do have – 20 years worth.

            2. JohannaCabal*

              Sadly, some people still do these types of things and they do sometimes work such as lying about working for a friend’s business and said friend acts as a reference or showing that they’re still presently employed.

              As a poor liar and someone who tries to be ethical, it’s so frustrating to see these strategies work…

              1. Gazebo Slayer*

                Yep. I have a sorta-friend who works a big fancy job at a very big fancy company (presumably for a lot more money than I will ever make) and he has admitted he lies on his resume.

            3. Barefoot Librarian*

              Crazily enough my brother did this to learn welding about 20 years ago. I was horrified when he told me that he basically took a welding job by lying about having experience until he actually had experience. I don’t talk to that brother very often anymore (he’s aggressively libertarian and sexist), but I hear he did the same thing to break into IT. I guess if you can be charming and charismatic enough of a liar you can still pull that kind of thing off.

            4. Tidewater 4-1009*

              In the late 90’s I had a job supporting a floor of programmers. Remember Y2k? They were hiring programmers non-stop.
              Sometimes I would set up a new programmer and then he was gone two days later. He had lied about being able to code.
              Lying about experience usually doesn’t work. The times I’ve heard about that it worked, the person had some experience and exaggerated. It’s not going to work with no experience, especially with something as specific as coding.

            5. pancakes*

              It probably still does work now & then! Earlier today I read a New Yorker article about a couple that built their consignment shop business partly around new & wildly expensive dresses one of the co-owners would charge at Berdorf Goodman and hang in the window just to catch the eyes of people passing by and draw them into their first shop. If someone wanted to spend thousands on the dress, fine; if not it would be returned. A brilliant technique! But heavily dependent on luck, a good eye, foot traffic, and who knows what else.

          2. Richard Hershberger*

            I can see how the Gumption strategy would work with a small business owner in a pre-electronic world where everything is very, very local. The owner hires the kid as a clerk at an obscenely low wage. There is no paperwork or added costs here. The kid is paid from the till and that is that. If it doesn’t work out, the owner fires the kid. The risks of this hire are low.

            The key with the Alger stories and the like (I tend toward the sports version, but the outline is the same) is that the kid combines talent, sticktoitiveness, and lots and lots of luck. The luck part is what the author doesn’t tell you. Also, an outdated cultural model. In the early 19th century there really were many instances of the apprentice who marries the boss’s daughter and is made a partner, eventually inheriting the business. That sort of thing was very rare later in the century.

            1. Kelly L.*

              And also, in small towns, the chance that this kid was a relative or a neighbor or something was really high. “I got my job with gumption” was probably really “I got my job with nepotism,” but the kid didn’t even necessarily know it! Kid grows up thinking they were just that awesome, but really, boss and kid’s dad are old golf buddies.

              1. Gazebo Slayer*

                Yup. Luck, nepotism, and what we’d now call privilege (the kid is always white and male, isn’t he?)

              2. Quill*

                Or even “I know a guy who knows the kid / their family” because hey, networking, nepotism, same thing just one’s less formal.

                This sort of thing works really well to get one-off jobs in high school (the amount of people hiring me to tutor their kids, sight unseen, because my mom was a teacher…) if you have other privileges going for you (usually being white, middle class, not visibly queer or disabled…) and when it comes to the working world, not so much anymore.

              3. Curmudgeon in California*

                I literally got my first job as a lab assistant (washing glassware) while in college through a neighbor. This was in a bigger city.

        2. Sister Michael*

          That genre is one of my favorite guilty pleasures!! But yeah, Oliver Optic and Horatio Alger were hardly career counselors :)

        3. Aquawoman*

          I’m starting to think the gumption mythology is a gaslighting technique of toxic capitalism. The subtext is that if you don’t have a good job, it’s nobody’s fault but your own!

        4. Gazebo Slayer*

          (CW: pedophilia)

          I seem to remember reading once that Horatio Alger was actually a pedophile, who idealized adult men taking boys under their wings and grooming them. Which is why in his stories it’s not really so much the boy’s gumption that gets him ahead as his finding a wealthy benefactor….

          1. Eukomos*

            He’s believed to have been gay. I’d be pretty uncomfortable trusting accusations that a gay man in the 19th century was a pedophile unless there was stronger evidence for it than subjective interpretation of his fiction, given the prejudices people had at the time (and for like, a century afterwards, if not to this day).

      3. Person from the Resume*

        It can also mean that the first day the applicant showed up and filled out the application Mom hired her and said you can start tomorrow/next week/whatever.

      4. Junior Assistant Peon*

        If her experience was in a place where the bad hires usually stop showing up on their own and seldom need to be fired, the gumptiony stuff makes sense.

      5. Hillary*

        My friend who’s a massage therapist just got a new job using close to this strategy – she dropped off her application in person, then called a couple times to follow up. The spa manager was so busy she hadn’t gotten around to looking at the application yet, she screened my friend when she called and then scheduled an interview on the spot. My friend started the next week.

        It’s insane to me as someone who’s worked in an office for my entire career, but hey, know your industry.

        1. Tidewater 4-1009*

          That’s how you got jobs – including office – when I was young, before the internet. You would send your resume or drop off your application if it was a retail store or restaurant, then call the manager to follow up.
          You did NOT keep calling and pestering every day if they told you no or said call back next week. You called once or twice to make sure the manager had seen your resume/app and see if they wanted to interview you.

        2. Probably Taking This Too Seriously*

          This is how my 17 year old got his first retail job. I told him to apply online and wait…ha! Gumption was indeed required to get a job as a cashier.

          1. Richard Hershberger*

            I am curious. Was this with a small local business, or a big chain? I find it entirely plausible that this will get you a got at Mom ‘N’ Pops. WalMart? Not so much. Though frankly, my girls are going to be of an age in the near future, and my advice will be to go for the Mom ‘N’ Pops. They might be terrible places to work, but the odds of them being great places is better than in the big chains.

    2. allathian*

      Yes, this. I’d go further and say that unless your mom stops sabotaging your sister’s chances of ever getting a job, you refuse to be financially responsible for her. This is an unfair burden on you. Your mom should be financially responsible for her daughter until she can be more independent.
      Work with your sister to help her tune out your mom’s “advice”.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Yeah, I wondered about that dynamic, too. Let Mom be responsible if she’s going to take charge of the sister’s job opportunities!

        1. JM in England*

          I too am wondering how and why the OP is financially responsible for her sister.

          1. JJ Bittenbinder*

            If mom WAS a retail manager, OP just might be the only one who has a reliable income to contribute. Not saying that it’s right or fair, but needs must.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Oh this so jumped at me.
        OP, it’s a fact of life that the person who controls the purse strings gets to have the most say in a situation. This is how things go.

        Is your sister a dependent on your taxes? I am just wondering just how deep this financial commitment runs.

        What I would do here is say, “This is not a sustainable plan. I cannot support Sis indefinitely. We must set an end date for this support. With this in mind, I think I can help Sis with her job hunting.” (A copy of Alison’s book might be a good idea here.) You can explain that different arenas handle things differently. What is appropriate in one arena can cause a resume to hit the garbage can in a different arena. You can discuss modern job hunting and what people are doing now. You can explain in order to be in the running for openings sis needs to tweak what she is doing. (Notice the wild understatement here. You want to keep them listening to you.) You can encourage sis to read AAM daily. Let her know that this is not painful, she might actually enjoy reading here. And she can ask questions in the open forums.

        Then go back to picking an end date for your support- 6 months? a year? I don’t know what would make sense here. I really doubt much will change until the money flow stops. There’s no real incentive to actually get a job if all the bills are paid in full. Perhaps this feels harsh, so maybe consider something like a 50% reduction in support by X date, with the remaining 50% expiring somewhere in the future. You can also point out that there could be tax implications for Sis, if you guys do not change what you are doing.

        I am concerned that you are so concerned about mom and sis but you did not put your oxygen mask on first. If we fail to take care of ourselves (physically, financially, etc) then we have set up a house of cards. What would Sis do if something (heaven forbid) happened to you or your income? Things need to change here, and I mean desperately need to change. This is too much for one person to shoulder.

        1. Green great dragon*

          This seems a bit harsh? Sis is trying to get a job, Mom is trying to help, however misguidedly, and LW says it would help to have an extra income, not that she’s desperate for more money. Your advice would seem appropriate if someone in the picture wasn’t doing their best, but I don’t see that here.

        2. Jaybeetee*

          Yeah this seems to imply more like sister is taking advantage, rather than unable to get work/better work. And does “dependent on taxes” refer to, say, EI/welfare/disability? Framing it that way isn’t helpful. Those programs exist to be used, people who use those programs still pay taxes in some form or another, and LW’s personal tax burden isn’t going to go down by sister getting another job. (Plus, it sounds like sister isn’t using any of those anyway).

          I do think LW needs to figure out how much she’s willing to support sister. Continue to live together, with sister contributing financially? Or not living together?

          1. LW1*

            LW 1 here. Thank you all for weighing in; I really didn’t expect this intense of a reaction!

            It’s been a good sanity check to see so many other people saying that my mom’s advice isn’t just bad, it’s jaw-droppingly awful.

            Let me give some background information about the family situation. When I say that I’m “financially responsible” for my sister, I mean that if there’s a month she can’t afford rent, health insurance, student loan payments and groceries, I make up the difference. She’s on my cell phone plan. If there’s a major one-off expense, like a car repair, I cover it. She doesn’t live with me. I don’t (and couldn’t) claim her as a dependant. Her health issues are also serious and expensive. There’s probably never going to be a time I’m not supplementing her income.

            I’m financially responsible for her because I’m the only person in our family who has the money. I also help our mom make ends meet. I own her house. And I’m the one who put our youngest sister through college.

            When No So NewReader says whoever holds the purse strings has the most say, they’re right. When that person isn’t who you would expect, things get really tense really quickly. I haven’t said more because I worry about inflaming an already precarious personal situation.

            1. Jaybeetee*

              Thank you for replying, LW1, and providing some clarity on the living situations. I can understand the delicate dynamics you might be in with both your sister and mother, and how well-meaning advice can be misconstrued when it’s coming from someone on whom you’re dependent.

              You know the dynamics best, but I still think it’s not great for sister to be kept in the dark as to what might be going wrong in her job search. If you have advice that could be useful, I think you’re better off putting it out there. It’s up to sister after that.

            2. Anonys*

              Just one thing I think hasn’t been addressed in much detail by Alison or the readers: Please also talk to your sister about her attitude that she needs to lay all the cards on the table about her medical condition from the get-go.

              Unless she needs accommodations at the interview stage, I think its best to only mention her condition(s) after she is hired and even then she doesn’t have to go into detail, but mainly should request appropriate accommodation and provide corresponding documentation.

              My understanding is that the ADA prohibits employers from asking about disability in interviews, so you could frame it to her in the: “You are protecting the employer from legal liability by not telling them something that might influence their hiring decision in a way that is against the law”.

              It’s great that she wants to be honest, and in an ideal word her honestly would never affect a hiring decision, but that’s simply not the reality and she also has a right to her medical privacy.

              Tbh, I suspect your mother’s advice is harming her way more than her openness but it’s still important that she is properly informed about her rights as a disabled employee.

              Wishing you both all the best!

              1. JJ Bittenbinder*

                I came here to say exactly the same thing. Disclosure is a personal decision, of course, but helping the sister see the potential implications of disclosing at different stages in in varying amounts of information (i.e., the difference between “I need an afternoon per week for medical appointments” after acceptng an offer vs. full description of their diagnoses, prognosis and interventions…and everything in between) is again a kindness.

                Even an employer who would never dream of discriminating on the basis of disability may have concerns about her professional judgment if she shares every single detail right in the first conversation. Again, not saying that is right or fair, but it is a reality.

            3. LadyofLasers*

              You sound very caring and companionate, and your family is lucky to have you.

              I could see it being hard for your sister to take your advice, especially if she feels dependent on you. I have executive function issues, and the thing I hate most in the world is feeling like I need to depend on others to get things done because it brings all the feelings of shame from previous failures. But I have to keep reminding myself no one goes through the world alone, and sometimes I’m holding myself to too high a standard.

              I guess I’m saying don’t take it personal if your sister doesn’t respond to your advice gracefully, she’s probably bringing a lot that’s not about you.

            4. Bree*

              Hi LW1, just want to say you’re doing a great job, in what’s clearly a very complex situation.

              Apologies if you have already done so, but you could look for supports in your local community – sometimes there are specific programs to support people with disabilities finding employment, or support groups for your sister (or you or your mom, as caregivers). Social service agencies might also be able to provide support with any care your sister requires, or food. As your mom ages, and especially if she has financial needs, there may be programs for seniors she might be eligible for. Basically, I just wish you didn’t have to do this all alone, and in my area there would be organizations that could help (albeit in a patchwork, imperfect kind of way).

        3. CJM*

          I’m not sure what you mean about “is your sister dependent on your taxes”? If somebody is receiving public support, they are dependent on ALL taxpayers, as that is where the money comes from.

          Also, what tax implications would there be for the OP’s sister? Even if OP gave the sister an amount over the give limit, the OP would pay the gift tax, not tax sister. Since it is a combined gift and estate tax exemption of $11.4 million for an individual for 2019, it would be extremely, extremely unlikely that the OP would owe any gift/tax.

          What would Sis do if something happened to OP? Sis is only 31, so if the OP is also close to that age (if it’s in there, I missed it), term life insurance is cheap. My first google search came up with a $1 million 30 year term policy for a female for $66.04/mo (smokers would be much higher, though). OP’s disability of long-term umployment, however, could be a real problem, especially if she didn’t have disability insurance.

          I don’t understand why, or think it’s fair, that the OP supports her sister. But I don’t understand some of the comments, especially regarding taxes.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            NSNR said “Is your sister a dependent on your taxes,” emphasis added. As in, does the OP provide enough financial support to sister that sister qualifies as a dependent when OP files their tax paperwork, I think.

        4. Eukomos*

          “No real incentive to actually get a job”? That makes no sense, we work for a ton of reasons other than money. We work for respect from ourselves and others, for a place in society, to feel (and be) useful to the world. OP said their sister wants to work and is passionate about research. It doesn’t sound like some cash to keep her current on her bills is having much of an impact on her desire for a job, and I don’t know why you’re accusing her of it.

      3. GreyjoyGardens*

        It’s possible that it’s a cultural thing. There are cultures where family members are much much more responsible for one another than in more individualistic ones (like the US, western Europe, etc.). I’m thinking OP1 might be from one of these cultures, in which case, she can’t turn off the obligation easily.

        Of course she could be from an individualistic culture and just be enmeshed, in which case, time for an ultimatum all around.

    3. Lyonite*

      And since one of your concerns is that your sister is a scientist and you are not, let me offer as someone who has been working in the sciences (biotech research) for 20ish years, your concerns are absolutely justified. She should submit a resume and cover letter through whatever portal the employer indicates, and then wait to be contacted, like in any other field. No reason to volunteer information before it’s necessary, just focus on what she can bring to the role.

      1. EPLawyer*

        The last bit. I think this kinda got lost in the horror of Mom’s job search advice. IF by some miracle sister still got a job interview after following Mom’s advice, going in full bore negative is not going to get you the job. The employer wants to know what YOU can do to help them accomplish their goals. If the first thing they hear is “I can’t” you just torpedoed your chances. Or even if its not I can’t but a long list of limitations, that’s going to put you out of the running. Yes refusing to hire someone with a disability is discrmination, but in this case they can plausibly say that wans’t why, it’s that this person couldn’t talk about the job and how they were the best person for it.

      2. juliebulie*

        Yup. There is a reason that it’s hard to figure out where to send a paper resume, or find the name/phone number of the head of personnel. It’s because they don’t want you showing up at their door and calling them every day or heaven forbid, tracking them down on social media. It seems clear to me that most of the business world has had its fill of gumption.

        1. GreyjoyGardens*

          I still remember the letter from the person who worked at a real unicorn company (great pay, terrific benefits, wonderful bosses and coworkers, in a field that a lot of people want to work in) – and gumptioneers would harass the LW’s *husband* where he worked, in order to get a job at LW’s company! Especially if you work in a niche or saturated field, gumptioneers can make life h-e-double-toothpicks for receptionists and HR people. Of course they don’t want to disclose who is hiring or where to walk in – they’d be overrun with gumptioneers like ants to a cat food dish.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      How have we gotten this far with no one suggesting OP1 sends her sister Alison’s book? Maybe both of them.

      1. Bree*

        This is a great idea – and esp. as the LW’s sister is a researcher, framing gathering current, context-specific information on job search best practices in her own field as a research project could help dodge the issue of mom’s bad advice.

    5. SMH*

      I remember when my husband was interviewing for a different field than my sister and one that she has never worked in. She wanted him to state that he would make sure everything was covered but that he wouldn’t work weekends. His industry requires some weekends, not every weekend or even both Sat and Sun most weeks but still if you say no weekends you are not getting the job. My sister wouldn’t let it go and kept saying he needed to set the expectations all the while she is constantly taking calls after hours and on weekends, changing her schedule to meet her job’s demands even though others in her position do not. My husband just shook his head, interviewed and landed the job no problem.

      1. Mina*

        Also in biotech, OP1. Agree with the above, please do intervene. Also, if your sister won’t listen to you, there is typically a fairly robust mentorship ethos in higher Ed/ sciences- encourage her to set up a meeting with past mentors or teachers or even see if there is a local branch of AWIS. there are likely people in her field who would be happy to help her navigate this process.

        1. LW1*

          LW 1 here, this is a great idea! She had a really good relationship with a professor who I think would be happy to act as a mentor. I’ll definitely suggest she ask for his advice.

      2. The Voice of Reason*

        Why was your sister even involved in your husband’s job search to begin with?

    6. ToS*

      I’ve had this conversation with international graduate students when time allows (academia) reminding them to follow the process in the job posting. If they do it twice, we have a more frank discussion of Potential success when following Instructions does not seem to be a strength. This is accounting for language (they must pass the TOEFL a decent level to even be considered for grad school) and reminding them of local hiring practices that are based on practices that support equal opportunity, not charm and persistence.

      1. Lora*

        I feel like some of the grad students grew up hearing about (famous Nobel laureate) from their country writing letters to (famous Western scientist) and that Gumption letter writing campaign getting them into Oxbridge where they were able to prove that (home country) is not some backwater fourth-world poophole, but instead chock full of unacknowledged brilliance the West is too racist to acknowledge, sort of thing. And if you just THROW IT IN THEIR FACES how AMAZING you are with your genius letters that shall of course be preserved for posterity someday after you have your Nobel, you will be winning like Charlie Sheen.

        It was the 1930s, people. Writing letters was all they did all day. Now we can all barely get through our spam folders. Use the HR Careers portal.

  2. StrikingFalcon*

    OP#1, you mentioned accommodations but your sister might benefit from looking into your state’s Vocational Services office. They provide a range of assistance to help people with disabilities find and keep work. I know it’s not exactly what you asked about, but I didn’t know they existed until recently, so I thought I’d flag it as a possible resource.

    1. Just a PM*

      I second the Vocational Services. They were helpful and had a lot of advice for me. Also, depending on what your sister’s medical conditions are and whether they qualify her for having a disability, she could be eligible for Schedule A, which is a non-competitive hiring authority for the federal government. To qualify for the program, she would need a letter from her doctor or Vocational Services confirming she has a disability and she can work. (Google “Schedule A Hiring Authority” if you’d like to learn more.)

      1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

        Civil service positions can be a good resource for job leads. A little more protected sometimes than non-civil service, especially where there are unions. And plenty of lab type work in governmental agencies.

        It’s definitely NOT a gumption strategy of hiring, though.

        The Job Accommodation Network (askjan.org) is a great resource for wrangling job search with a disability.

    2. BethDH*

      I think this and the suggestion above to send Alison’s books are both good. It helps direct sister to help outside the family, which can reduce the OP vs Mom dynamic and still achieve the same effect.
      FWIW, I disagree with the statement above that sister won’t find a job until the money is pulled. It sounds like she’s trying but is worried about being unethical. Hearing from someone third party about when and how to disclose a need for accommodation could help a lot!

      1. LW1*

        LW 1 here. I agree that the best advice my sister is most likely to take is going to come from outside the family. I thought we’d exhausted every sort of government assistance, but Vocational Services are new to me. I’ll look into that. Thank you!

  3. LVR*

    OP#3, if I was your husband’s manager, it would strike me as extremely tone deaf if he asked to take annual leave in the next few months. I think if you had wanted to go on a holiday together, unfortunately your chance was when he was not able to go into the office. He could maybe ask for a single day off (and you two could have a long weekend), but I really think asking for any more over the summer would come across very poorly.

    1. I can only speak Japanese*

      Except that due to the current situation, they didn’t really have a chance to go anywhere. I agree that he shouldn’t ask for time off, but it’s not like he deliberately slept on booking a vacation.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        The OP is saying they still might not go anywhere — she talks about a week at home watching movies. The time to do that was during the husband’s three months away from work, unfortunately.

        1. Daisy*

          I’m amazed there’s anyone longing for more time at home watching movies. Everyone I know who’s been stuck at home for three months is bored to death of sitting in front of the TV.

          1. Alex*

            Sitting at home whilst you’re on furlough and worried about whether you’ve got a job to go back to is exhausting, especially if you’re having to work around your partner who is already working from home. Being able to take a couple of days for the both of you to relax knowing that your job is (relatively) safe is a lot different, imo.

            1. Dave*

              Plus once you are back in the swing of things sometimes you need a break. I know I need a day or two every 3-4 months to keep up my productivity.

              1. Artemesia*

                So after 3 or 4 months see what it looks like. After a 3 mos paid vacation. it is going to seem tone deaf to want another week. If I were the boss, it would put this person on the ‘not promotable’ list.

          2. BRR*

            I agree people are tired of sitting in front of the tv but the preference largely isn’t to work (other than hoping one has work/a job). The preference is to be able to go about doing non-work activities.

          3. Matilda Jefferies*

            It sounds like they’ve both been working this entire time, which means they probably could use a vacation at this point! Even if it is just sitting at home watching movies, it’s still an opportunity for them to spend time together, disengaged from work.

            1. Nevercomments*

              What? No the husband was still being paid- with a small pay cut- but was NOT working

              1. Matilda Jefferies*

                Yeah, I missed that on the first read. Shows what I get for commenting before coffee!

            2. Matilda Jefferies*

              Never mind, I misunderstood the letter. I read the first paragraph as “they laid off a bunch of people but kept him on *and working,* but the second paragraph does say they paid him for not working.

              In that case, OP, I think you’re out of luck on the joint vacation. They’ve already paid him for three months of not working when there was no work to do – I think they would be pretty annoyed by a request for more time now that the work has come back. Sorry, I know that’s not the answer you were hoping for!

          4. Person from the Resume*

            This letter is written by the wife who has been working the whole time. I have not stopped working from home as I did before the pandemic. My go-to is not laying around watching TV (it’s reading books and bicycling), but I’d love a break and am planning one especially since my planned vacations got cancelled and I have extra leave.

            I wonder why she’s writing instead of him. Maybe she’s the planner in the couple, but maybe she’s the one that wants him to take vacation with her and he’s against it because he’s finally back at work.

            I was envious of all those people at the beginning of the pandemic talking about all their free time and all the home projects people were working on. I can’t imagine what it was like with someone in the house off and being paid while she worked.

            1. A*

              “I can’t imagine what it was like with someone in the house off and being paid while she worked.”

              Challenging, I assume. This happened to my best friend – her husband was not working but with full pay for three months, while she was still working throughout (out of the home as a nurse). It definitely presented some challenges. Initially they thought it would solve their child care challenge when day cares shut down, but husband quickly discovered that as much as he always said he wanted to be a stay at home dad – the reality was not as expected. He started to fall to pieces within a few weeks, and ultimately I ended up joining their quarantine bubble to help out with the kiddo so he could still have some time for himself. It was really hard to watch, and was incredibly difficult on all parties involved. Understandably, my friend was extremely upset and disappointed – because he has all that time on his hands! How can he not handle this?

              I was really proud of them for working through it. I can only imagine.

              1. Marny*

                You are a lovely friend and how incredibly disappointing for your friend to learn this about her spouse.

              2. Artemesia*

                Men get to ‘fall apart’ and expect people to come to the rescue, while women cope. This would infuriate me about my husband and make me wonder how much worse life would be without him altogether.

                1. MayLou*

                  I have heard a version of this story so many times in this pandemic, it makes me despair. And also makes me glad that I’m a) gay and b) planning to be a single parent by choice.

                2. Unpopular view*

                  “…he always said he wanted to be a stay at home dad” <– personally, I can't think of anything more stupifying and boring in my life.

                3. allathian*

                  Yeah, this, absolutely! In your friend’s shoes, A, I would seriously consider not having any more kids with her current husband. He’s obviously completely useless as a father unless it’s a bit in the evening and on the weekend and never when there are any of the less pleasant parenting things to do, like changing a soiled diaper or dealing with a total meltdown.

          5. A*

            In my case it’s due to the dreaded ‘use it or lose it’ policy for PTO. I still haven’t used much, but I’ve resigned myself to the fact that it will just be more at-home time. Not thrilled by it, but also not annoyed by it enough to…. not take the time off.

        2. Person from the Resume*

          Absolutely. That is what jumped out at me too.

          Maybe she was holding out hope for an actual vacation if thing got better (instead of worse) and maybe they didn’t know when to expect his return to work until they got the notice, but this ship has sailed. He didn’t work (at all it sounds like); they kept paying him. So he did did enjoy a long vacation from work. It wasn’t necessarily as relaxing as he’d like and it wasn’t with his wife, but it is tone deaf to ask for vacation right after his paid vacation/furlough (neither are quite right in his case) ends. Maybe after he’s been back in the office for 3-4 months.

      2. Observer*

        Yeah. But they could have just as easily done the staycation the OP is asking about anyway.

      3. NoviceManagerGuy*

        Yes, there’s a lot that’s short of ideal right now. Nobody promised us global pandemics were fun…

      4. Annony*

        They really shouldn’t be traveling now either. If they do plan to travel, that could come across even worse to the employer because of the increased chance he will get sick.

      5. juliebulie*

        I’m also thinking that taking PTO now takes some liability off the books. If there isn’t too much going on at work, they might be happy to reduce the accounts payable.

    2. LifeBeforeCorona*

      Back in March when this pandemic took serious hold almost everyone at my BF’s workplace was told to take their 2 week (paid) vacation because the owners had no idea if they would even be in business by the summer. Fortunately for them, work slowly picked back up and now they are busy again and no one is regretting the lost summer time vacation. Everything is still tenuous and evolving so forgoing the vacation is a reality of today.

    3. ItsAllFunAndGamesUntil*

      It also might depend on their leave policy, if there is any sort of “use or lose” the whole office can’t burn thru all their vacation days in November and December most likely. We have been warned here about not to sit on our leave and expect to all get 2 weeks off between Thanksgiving and the end of the year, that we should start using some of it now.

      So I would say instead of asking for time off , ask what their general thoughts about leave are going to be over the rest of the year, since I am sure just as it might look bad taking time off so soon after coming back to work, they also might not want 3/4 of the department trying to take off the same week later in the year.

  4. PNW Jenn*

    lw4, I work in marketing and communications. I bet that your supervisors have no idea of the time retirements to produce these internal videos. Document and say something!

    “Hey boss, these ‘quick’ videos are taking about 3 hours to produce and distribute weekly, and getting about 17 views each. I believe that my time would be more useful to the company if I spent it making teapots. I can keep up with the videos but the Acme project
    deadline would need to be renegotiated.”

    1. Shortstuff*

      And also, I suspect that if you’ve been willing to do them before you’ll get asked more than other people, because internal comms people will always go to the person who they know is willing to do this. If the organisation is large enough that video is a good way of sharing round the business, then there will be other people that they can use. In principle, it’s also ok to also ask for more notice of these things. There should be a plan for when they want to use people and if you have more notice it might be less of an imposition.

      Good internal comms will measure its metrics. Don’t watch the videos so much if you don’t value them.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I have been in equivalent situations.
      I predict the next reaction will be just give me access to the files and I will make the videos. I suggest giving the read-only access so they can’t accidentally delete/move/overwrite your files or add something extra. Better still, hand them copies on a USB stick or external hard drive. Be prepared for many phone calls while they do that, “I can take a X minute before getting back to $Deadline’…and then really cutting them off after that. Be prepared for many quality issues with the video. Be prepared for them to be inordinately proud and expect praise. Also be prepared for them to get that praise where you didn’t.

    3. Richard Hershberger*

      Emphasis on the 17 views. These seem not to be substantive information videos, but Rah! Rah! morale videos. I wouldn’t waste my time watching one of those unless it was mandatory. For that matter, watching information videos would annoy me as a waste of my time unless the subject was one that really benefited from the visuals. Otherwise it is simply an inefficient way to convey information that should have been in a memo. Doubly so, since if there is in fact any information that I need and therefore might need to refer to later, I would have to transcribe it from the video.

      1. AMT*

        Can we put a permanent moratorium on asking people to do morale stuff for their coworkers? I’m saying this as someone who just had to do an unmasked, non-socially-distanced group photo (in a healthcare setting!) that took forever and came with ill-fitting t-shirts that the organization somehow had money for. If they want to raise my morale, they can pay me more, offer me more PTO, or make the conditions of my job better. Anything else is neutral. Making *me* generate supposedly-morale-boosting stuff for other people is damaging to my morale.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          This is controversial, and undoubtedly I benefit here from my white maleness, but make me the office morale officer and I will show you just how badly it could be done. There are parts of the job that I hate, but which need to be done. For those, I suck it up and do them to the best of my ability. But BS stuff like this? My goal is to produce results so painful that they leave me alone after that.

    4. juliebulie*

      My employer (not the same as lw4’s, not for the state) also produces a lot of videos for internal consumption (and also external). They have professional video production studios for the purpose and at one point even made a video of empl0yees dueling with light sabers, I kid you not. Every time they tell us that we need to do a better job of controlling costs, I wonder how much it costs to produce those slick videos.

      They produce videos rather than issue memos. Maybe that’s better in some ways, but in other ways it stinks. I hate videos. I can read a memo so much faster than watch a video, even when I adjust the playback speed. Plus, there is the issue of comprehension: some of the speakers have heavy accents whereas I usually watch TV with captions on even for English by native speakers. Most of all, I would just like for them to put something in writing once in a while.

      If the company wants to communicate something important, or if they want you to communicate something important, it is so much faster and easier to write it down, and it’s faster and easier for everyone else to read it. A short video once in a while can be a good thing, but that doesn’t mean that making unnecessary videos justifies the time and money of having a studio and equipment.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        “it is so much faster and easier to write it down, and it’s faster and easier for everyone else to read it”

        This assumes functional literacy. Writing a coherent memo is a skill that many otherwise functional adults never learn. Writing a good one takes time and thought. Easier to call a meeting or talk into a camera, where you can ramble aimlessly for a while. Then there is the question of whether the person receiving the memo is literate. The irony is that sit me down in one of these informational meetings with the speaker rambling aimlessly and my eyes will glaze over and I will be off in my happy space. Traditionally, I ask a co-worker afterwards if there was anything I need to know. The answer rarely takes more than a couple of minutes, even when it starts with “Yes.”

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, it’s a sad state of the world that there are so many functionally illiterate people in the workforce.
          I’m sympathetic to the fact that some accommodation is necessary for people with severe dyslexia. I can understand that for them, it’s a more efficient use of their time to watch a 10-minute video than to spend 30 minutes reading a memo about the same thing. For me, when I could read and internalize that memo in 5 minutes or less, not so much.

          So if you do publish stuff on video, please provide a script of the same material so those who prefer to read can do that and skip the stupid videos.

          I’m just waiting for the day when AI is advanced enough that I can just feed a crappy video into a voice-to-text app and get it in writing.

  5. Gaia*

    OP1, unless retail has changed since I worked in it, your mom’s advice isn’t universal there either. None of my retail bosses would have hired someone that called daily to make their case. Aaah.

    OP3, your husband will look super out of touch asking for vacation after he just got paid for 3 months to not work when so many others at his organization were furloughed or laid off.

    1. Former call centre worker*

      I work in the retail sector. All applications need to be made online and calling every day would definitely harm your chances. I don’t know what planet OP1’s mother is on but it wouldn’t surprise me if she’s giving advice that wouldn’t even work at her own company.

      1. Malty*

        Thirding this – from ten years ago to now in various retail jobs an in person CV has not been the way to go

        1. SarahKay*

          I was hiring in retail, about 18 years ago. At that time paper CV’s – or just coming into the store and asking for an application form and filling it out then and there – were still the way to go. But I still wouldn’t have hired someone who then called every day to see if there was an opening yet.
          I’m in the UK, so maybe some of it is us being more reserved than US folks, but I still think OP#1 Mom’s advice is very much a case of YMMV – at best!

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Yeah, this advice worked in the 70s maybe on into the 80s. But it’s really old advice. Retail managers are way, way too busy for this type of stuff. Calling every day would probably cause most managers to take a pass on the application.

        2. Dust Bunny*

          Yeah, I had two brief (summer) retail jobs 25-ish years ago and I had to apply in person but calling every day still would have been obnoxious and bizarre.

    2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      #1 – yeah I think mom’s advice is coming from the 1980s, it has nothing to do with retail. Times have changed and mom’s advice is stuck in a time warp.

  6. nnn*

    #3: maybe, maybe, maybe it could be presented as something along the lines of “does the company prefer for us to use up any remaining vacation time, or do they want us all working now even if it means leaving some vacation time on the books?”

    My thinking here is that some organizations, for account-related reasons I don’t fully understand, want their employees to use up their vacation time by a given deadline and it’s some kind of accounting-related financial liability if they don’t. If your husband’s organization works this way, he might maybe possibly be able to float the idea by acknowledging the operational reality that the organization wants vacation time to be used up.

    Also, if asked why now when he’s just had three months off, he could say something like “My spouse is finally able to take a break after working straight through the pandemic, and they were hoping I could join them.”

    But, as ever, this is very much a “read the room” situation.

    (Also, just to be clear: normally I wouldn’t be suggesting that your vacation timing should be based on what’s most convenient for the company’s accounting, and normally I wouldn’t be suggesting “blaming” your spouse, but these are not normal circumstances.)

    1. Bilateralrope*

      I know why my employer treats unused vacation time as a liability. Its accrued as hours owed, not a cash amount. So when my wage goes up, so does the amount they will pay me in leave. And they will pay me. It doesn’t expire, it doesn’t get capped and any remaining is paid out when my job ends.

      But thats mainly due to the laws here. I cant speak for other countries.

    2. Beth Jacobs*

      I am very surprised some of that leave-with-pay was not charged as vacation time. As I understand, that was the case for many people who stayed at home because of the lockdown, but had jobs that couldn’t be done from home. It sucks, because house arrest is not a vacation, but it beats being unemployed in this crisis.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        This was the case for a lot of employees in France. Legally we have to use up accrued leave by end of May (after which it is no longer available for taking breaks and is paid up only when you leave), so everyone had to use up their leave. I agree that it sucks to take leave when you can’t go away anyway nice, but it’s better than losing your job.

      2. snowglobe*

        Yes, I also would expect that the company would have charged the husband PTO for the time he wasn’t working, at least until PTO was used up. Every person I know who has been in that situation used up their PTO while they were out.

      3. justabot*

        All the salaried people at my work, even if the type of jobs could not be done at home, were paid their full salaries and did not have to use vacation time. It’s a smaller staff though. It really depends on the employer.

        1. doreen*

          Everybody at my employer was paid- although some of never stopped working at our regular location, some of us worked from home, and the rest were paid even they could not do their jobs from home. I would say that it was because I work for a government agency – but my husband’s employer ( a private business ) did the same thing.

    3. Tuckerman*

      Many companies pay out unused vacation time upon separation, so if people do not take their vacation and then leave, that could be costly to the company.

    1. Data Bear*

      Good idea! OP1, you can tell your sister this from somebody who works at a research lab:

      1) It’s not even physically possible for you to drop off a hard copy of your resume at my lab. You can’t get in the building. That’s under normal circumstances; right now my entire organization is working from home, so there’s nobody in the building, either.

      2) When we post a job, it has to be up for a set amount of time before we can close it and start looking at resumes. That’s required by law because our funding comes from public agencies. If you called me up every day trying to subvert that process, it would absolutely remove you from consideration.

      Your mother’s advice is 100% wrong for the research world. Don’t listen to it!

      1. emmelemm*

        See, this is good, concrete advice/information. She should show her sister this post and the answers.

      2. CamJansen*

        Heartily agree with this, Data Bear.

        I’ve worked in drug and device research for several years. A well written resume and cover letter through the proper submission portal is the only way you have a fighting chance at getting an interview – and that CV/resume needs to directly connect to the requirements in the job description. There’s often not even a way to find out who the manager is – you’d just be hounding the HR rep who screens for a match to the qualifications. Occasionally, having a network connection can help get your resume seen; but you have to stand on your own merit to land the job. While most research groups from biotech to academia are well poised to accommodate needs, above and beyond the provisions in the law, you have to show what you bring to the table first!

        Research needs people who have the right technical skills and the right training. It’s been my observation (for better or for worse) hiring in research is less about personality (or persistence) and much more about those technical skills/training.

        You also have to show you can understand, interpret, and apply processes and procedures. Research is chock full of SOPs and regulations that become high stakes very quickly. If a company has an established pathway for applicants and you completely disregard it, it tells anyone managing the applicant pool that you can’t follow the established guidance at a low-stakes level. This would be a huge red flag!

        1. LW1*

          LW 1 here.

          I also like this comment. I don’t think it’s going to be a fun conversation, but showing her responses from people who are working in her field feels like it might actually move the needle.

    2. Doctor Schmoctor*

      ! There’s no “Like” button, so here I am, saying I like this comment

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Very cool idea, especially if we hear from more and more people who actually work in the arena.

    4. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Good idea!

      I’ve worked in academic science research and white collar/private non-research; I’ve also participated in hiring committees in both settings, but not retail. From what I can tell, the hiring processes of academia and private entities are closer to one another than either is to retail.

  7. Observer*

    #3 – Allison was quite gentle with you. In reality there is no way your husband can ask for 5 days and not pay a price.

    Most managers would REALLY be questioning his judgement and basic reciprocity here. I mean they just gave him three months of pay for no work. He doesn’t need to give up his first born, or even say thank you each day for his job. Just come in and do his job well. But actually COME IN. Don’t ask for vacation! Even an unpaid one.

    And, if any coworkers were to hear about it, they would not react too well. If they are professional and well behaved they won’t say anything nasty to him, but people ARE going to look at him differently. And people who were furloughed are going to be especially turned off. If your husband is in a small industry, that could have long term effects as well.

    I don’t think you realize just how out of touch and tone deaf the question seems. You seem to think that taking “only” 5 days instead of two weeks is a nice concession, whereas everyone else is going to see 5 days as a HUGE ask, NOT a concession. Do yourself a favor. Don’t bring it up. It’s not like he’s likely to be given the time anyway.

    1. Marny*

      This. I’ve been trying to figure out how to say this politely. The boss had to lay off a bunch of employees, which she likely didn’t want to have to do, but her business was suffering. Somehow, she was able to save your husband’s job and pay him to not work for a 3-month period. Then, once he finally is able to return to work, he immediately asks for some vacation time. As the boss, frankly, I’d be questioning my own judgment in keeping an employee who thinks that’s appropriate. I’m sorry if this sounds harsh. I know that you’ve been working hard and you would like a vacation. But unfortunately, this year, a lot of us are finding ourselves in work situations that we didn’t sign on for and are having to make some unfortunate sacrifices. This might mean time off without your husband.

      1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

        “I’d be questioning my own judgment in keeping an employee who thinks that’s appropriate.”

        This.

        1. schnauzerfan*

          I don’t think it’s out of the question to ask for a day or two off… for a good reason. “they’re finally allowing visitors to see my Dad after his bout of Covid” But for a stay-cation? No.

      2. No Longer Working*

        If I were his boss, my first thought would be “You just had 3 months paid vacation!” LW3 should have taken a week off while he was home, if she wanted to spend time with him.

    2. NoviceManagerGuy*

      I can only imagine there’s a lot of work for him to do after three months away, too!

    3. 100 Red Swedish Fish*

      It’s very hard not to be harsh with this OP. The question is tone deaf on OP and the husbands part. The OPS husband was sent home with pay while most of the workforce was laid off and left to worry about their job. Now they want 5 more paid off days to either go on vacation or stay at home together. If I was the OP’s husband’s manager and they asked off this year I would think I should have laid off the husband and not brought him back.

      While I have been able to work from home and saw no difference in my pay during the main pandemic, my brother in law was laid off and spend 7 weeks without a paycheck. The state has done a poor job processing unemployment claims, and many people have struggled tremendously. This OP and the husband I have no words for just how out of place the letter and the thought behind it is.

      1. Observer*

        Good point about unemployment. It’s been a disaster. And the fact that most people will *eventually* get that money doesn’t help the fact that people did not have the cash to pay basic bills.

      2. JJ Bittenbinder*

        The only thing I maybe, maybe disagree with is judging the OP’s husband at this point. There’s no indication that he even knows that this is what she wants and that he’s OK with it. For all we know, she wrote to Alison first, to get some perspective (which I truly hope she has gained!) before speaking to him about it.

        Itherwise, yeah. Major side eye, which I am fairly certain his boss AND his coworkers would share.

    4. Georgina Fredrika*

      I largely agree… my eyebrows went up.

      I think an okayyy concession would be taking a Friday off much later in the summer – make it a long weekend and go to the shore or whatever your city’s equivalent is. You can have a good time off in three days. It’s not as egregious as taking an entire, legitimate vacation and you could fudge it as a sick day if you really needed to.

      I’m hoping OP’s husband pushed back on this idea and she just came here as a last resort to try and get support

      1. A*

        Agreed. I think a long weekend at the end of summer (at the absolute earliest) is the best they can hope for. And given the circumstances, fair enough.

  8. So long and thanks for all the fish*

    OP #1- does your sister have a graduate degree? Not that there aren’t jobs you can get in research without one, but if she’s underemployed anyway, this might be one of the cases where it really might make sense for her to go back to school if not. PhD (and some masters) students in the sciences get paid a small but generally livable stipend, and even if she winds up not finishing or leaving with a masters, that’s still research experience for her resume. Good luck to you both!

    1. AcademiaNut*

      I’d recommend fairly strongly against that approach. A terminal Master’s doesn’t really provide much benefit in STEM research – you generally need a PhD to get access to the more advanced jobs – although it can make sense in some non-university teaching jobs. The academic market is also generally pretty terrible, even without pandemics and a global financial meltdown. If she’s not strongly interested in an academic position, she’d be better off trying to get a job now than going back to school.

      There’s also the time issue. For a PhD she’d be applying for the Fall 2021 semester at the earliest. An American PhD generally takes about five years, if you’re fully funded and it goes smoothly, but it can take longer. So it’ll be six or seven years of, at best, just enough money to keep from going into debt, assuming cheap student housing with roommates. Then she’d be hitting the job market in her late 30s, with no savings and minimal work experience.

      1. Mary Connell*

        However, if she doesn’t do it, the time will still pass and at the end of the five to seven years she won’t have a PhD.

        1. anonymous 5*

          But even that isn’t automatically a bad thing. Even in the sciences, where the process of earning the degree at least isn’t guaranteed to put you into student loan debt, you should not go to grad school unless you REALLY know why you’re doing it. That calculus depends on a lot of factors: the field, the nature of the work done by BS-level versus PhD-level (and, where applicable, MS-level) scientists, the availability of jobs at those levels, the potential for advancement, etc. Now is probably a perfect time to look into that; as AcademiaNut pointed out, the application window for the coming fall is closed, so there’s time to investigate and see whether it’s worth pulling an application together for fall ’21.

          If OP’s sister is a member of any professional organizations, I *strongly* recommend checking out what career services they offer. If she isn’t a member, it’s probably worth joining–especially now, when a lot of organizations are offering reduced membership fees for people who are currently unemployed. The organizations of which I’m a member have really stepped up their offerings lately, since so many people are involuntarily un- or under-employed.

          1. Amy Sly*

            Amen. Those people are actually good networking contacts with job boards and job hunting advice.

            Grad school? Aren’t we always talking about how completely useless college career counselors are? She gets tons more debt, not necessarily any improved job skills, little help finding a job that can sustain her debt load, and wastes more of her life.

            Life is short. Don’t spend it borrowing money and working like a dog for credentials that won’t help you. The actual education can be acquired without massive debt if that’s what you want.

            1. LadyofLasers*

              In the sciences, she has a good chance of not getting into more debt, as PhD programs in particular cover tuition and offer a stipend as well. Not a lot, but something to live off of.

              I don’t think this is the worst idea, particularly if she is committed to staying in research. It’s difficult to get a research position with just a bachelors, and 10 years is a looooong gap if she hasn’t been working in the field. Not to mention, the best ways to get jobs is to network.

              But it’s also true that it’s a long slog of not making much, and if she doesn’t have a clear end goal in sight, she may be just as lost at the end as at the beginning.

              I think she needs help in job searching, but I also think she could really use a mentor or counselor to help her find her path.

            2. LW1*

              LW 1 here.

              This is a conversation/fight we’ve had a lot. The original plan was for her to go straight from undergrad to grad school and keep working until she had a PhD. Her financial situation, the job market and her health prevented it. And by now, she’s made her peace with the fact that it doesn’t really make sense anymore.

              So while she’d love to have a job in her field, she’s open to other opportunities.

              1. So long and thanks for all the fish*

                LW1, I finished my PhD in chemistry a couple of years ago, and it’s really not uncommon for PhD students to be around your sister’s age or older (there was one guy in my program who started after his kids started college!). While people are absolutely right that she should know what she wants out of a program before beginning, if she’s passionate about doing research, it’s worth considering. I’d also like to point out that Amy Sly is incorrect in this field. Most people don’t get more debt going into a PhD program in the sciences, and undergraduate student loan payments are put on hold while you’re getting it (though of course interest is a bitch). If she has non-student loan financial obligations that mean she can’t live on $25-38K/year (depending on the school) for 5 years or if she thinks her health will prevent her from ever being able to do the work, that’s one thing, but I don’t think most people know (and this comment thread seems to be evidence of this) how different research-based graduate programs, particularly in the sciences, are from course-based masters/med school/law school, and I don’t think she should dismiss it out of hand if it’s something she might still want to do.

              2. Gumby*

                It truly might not make sense for your sister.

                But also, as an anecdote, one of my co-workers recently earned his PhD in a STEM field. He’s older than 65. His situation was different as he was working an an engineer before he started the PhD program, but still. If she is seeing age a drawback – it doesn’t have to be!

      2. blackcat*

        Yeah OP says ber graduated during the great recession, so 2008 or 2009. The go to grad school advice might have been helpful 5 or 10 years ago, but I think that ship has sailed if she has a lot of debt.

        1. A*

          Just a note that I graduated in 2010 and it was still very much part of the great recession.

      3. College Career Counselor*

        OP #1:

        There are some scientific/lab research jobs available (I’m thinking lab tech, clinical research type things–don’t know exactly what your sister’s degree is in) through temporary agencies. Kelly Scientific Resources/Services is one of them, at least in the U.S. Perhaps this might be something that would be useful for your sister to look into to gain some more current experience and “refresh” her degree a bit (and some of these might even be temp to hire opportunities). Good luck!

    2. Jaybeetee*

      I do know of people with science jobs in Canada with “just” a Masters – I think positions do occasionally come up that only need a bach, but less commonly. I find it asinine that a bachelor in most fields is now considered insufficient, but that seems to be the credential-creep reality.

      1. KRM*

        Degree depends on what you want out of your career and how fast you want to get there. I have a masters and I’m not interested in running a whole project and managing people. If I did want that, I could work my way up, but if that’s your career goal a PhD is preferable because you start higher. Bachelors degrees are perfectly acceptable for research techs, especially those who think they want to eventually go back for a PhD (great hands on experience). In truth, many of the masters degree requirements are based on the lab needing to get someone in who needs minimal hands on training in the techniques the lab uses–if I’m trying to get funding in the next six months, the reality is that I don’t have the time for someone with less experience to come in here, because I can’t train them adequately. If I’m well funded, I can take on more people who need more training and spend more time with them.

      2. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

        Speaking as a Canadian who works in higher ed, yup, in Canada that’s doable. Here the “just” a Master’s thing doesn’t hold up like in the US because getting a research-based Master’s is a standard step rather than a fall-back option in the pursuit of a PhD.

        For the Americans: a Master’s in Canada usually has a different and more positive connotation than in the US, because most of our doctoral programs don’t admit students directly from a baccalaureate degree. In the US, people with a Master’s either wound up with one in the course of being enrolled in a doctoral program (a Master’s-in-passing), dropped out of grad school with a Master’s-in-passing after finishing their comps but not their dissertation, or enrolled in a “terminal” masters because they weren’t able to get into a PhD program.

        In most disciplines* in Canada, basically everyone here enrolled in an actual Master’s program at some point before entering a PhD program. We don’t quite have the same concept of a “terminal” masters here in research-based fields. You can peruse a Master’s that culminates in a thesis or one that is MRP/course-based, with the latter being a bit closer to a terminal degree because some doctoral programs won’t admit you without a thesis. (Also our thesis-based Master’s are usually well-funded, which doesn’t really happen to the same extent in the US.) Even though our education systems are superficially similar things are really different at the Master’s level.

        You’re right, here it’s really common for people to have a “terminal” Master’s and said Master’s to have a fair bit of labour market value. It is kind of frustrating, though, because the fact that Master’s degrees don’t have a huge barrier to entry or opportunity cost compared to a PhD has made credential creep happen pretty seamlessly here.

        *IIRC, clinical psych usually admits direct from undergrad. So do some of the hard sciences at some universities, but only for exceptional candidates and not as a matter of course.

        1. Bree*

          Thanks for this – I’m Canadian and was really confused reading some of the comments!

        2. allathian*

          When I got my Master’s degree in economics and business administration, that was the degree I signed up for (but it’s not an MBA, which is a postgraduate degree). I got a bachelor’s in passing only because I needed it to qualify for a student exchange with a Master’s program in France.

          Now they’ve changed the system and people do a Bachelor’s degree first and if they want to and have a good enough GPA to qualify, they can apply to do a Master’s degree later.

          In engineering and in the sciences in general, the standard is still to go for the Master’s degree right away.
          This works, because public universities here don’t charge for tuition up to and including Master’s degrees, although they do for Licentiate degrees and PhDs.

          Ironically, I need “an applicable Master’s degree” in my current job, even if it’s nothing to do with finance or business administration…

    3. Annony*

      I think it very much depends on what degree she has and what she ultimately wants to do. I do not think a PhD just to refresh her degree is a good idea. It is way too much time and it can be extremely hard to find a job because she will be overqualified for some positions. Is she wanted a PhD, she probably would have looked into that sometime in the last 10 years. Good programs are competitive. They will. want some recent research experience.

      A masters can be a good idea if it is specialized. From what I have seen a masters in a basic science like biology or chemistry has much less benefit than a masters in bioinformatics, statistics, regulatory science or translational medicine. If she wants to transition more to a computer based job, these may be a very good idea and open some doors so that she can be involved in research without doing bench work. But if what she wants is to be a lab tech, it really won’t help.

  9. Jane Plough*

    OP1 – Is it better to convince my sister that Mom’s advice is bad and that mine is good, or to convince my sister she’s better off not listening to anyone’s advice?

    There is a third option you’ve not mentioned which will likely help your sister more in the long run – tell your sister that your mom’s advice is bad, and encourage her to seek out her own job advice on getting research jobs (as well as AAM, many professional associations and learned societies provide careers advice and guidance, and if she’s eligible to become a member of these organizations then she may also be able to access 1-1 career consultations).

    You can be on hand to help her on this journey and act as a sounding board or coach, but it sounds to me like your sister is in a bit of a learned helplessness mode (she sounds overly dependent on your mom’s advice), and I think a longer term solution is for her to gain a bit of independence and agency in her job search, versus becoming overly dependent on *your* advice (or thinking that she can’t trust anyone – it’s not all or nothing).

    1. Koala dreams*

      Yes, that’s my idea too. There are a lot of good advice in the archives of AAM, and it could also be helpful to look for advice from professional associations and interest groups for people with the same disability. Not all people are experts on hiring, but it’s still helpful to share experiences and learn from others. Recent hires can give tips on interview preparation, more experienced people can tell you how a career can look in your field, people who share your disability can have good ideas on possible accomodations. Networking is looked on with suspicion sometimes, but at its core it’s really a good thing to learn from as many people as possible.

    2. AnonToo*

      This is great advice. I have an aunt in her 60s who has some disabilities that are limiting but not remotely debilitating. Looking back as an adult, I’ve realized her parents (with passive support of her siblings) really established that “learned helplessness mode.” It came from a place of wanting to protect – but ignored the reality that a) someday she will have to be on her own, and b) she absolutely has the ability to be independent. It’s much harder to build ownership and self-reliance in her after 60 years of being taught to let others do stuff for her than it would have been to be a coach/support network as she built those mindsets in her 20s or 30s. I really wish her sisters had stepped in like OP can do now to give her the gift of self-confidence and self-reliance.

      OP – I wish you and your sister the very best!

      1. LW1*

        LW 1 here, thank you all. One of the big challenges when it comes to my sister has always been finding the line between helping and enablement.

        I’d love for her to get involved in some professional organizations. I think it would help her not just professionally but socially as well. But it’s something she’s been really resistant to in the past.

  10. Badgerboy*

    Op #1 I can relate to your sister, I’ve worked in science for 10+ years now and research is especially difficult to break into, but not impossible. Your mothers advice is some of the worst you can get, these people are super busy and do not want to be fielding calls.

    I don’t know your sister’s work history but some advice I usually give people who want to get into research – Experience is key, take any science job you can, food testing microbiologist, school technician etc. Skills are super transferable. Make contacts, people love to talk about there research and finally try to get into wherever you want to work, if it’s a university try to get into a technician job.
    Just keep plugging away and follow Allison’s advice it has worked for me many times.
    Best of luck!

    1. KRM*

      Yes!! You can work in a cancer lab for 20 years, but if you go to move to a blood disorder lab, they’re looking at your skills to hire you. Skills are transferable.
      I second the above advice to reach out to contracting companies. Research often needs people to cover maternity leaves, to bring in extra hands to push a molecule to drug status, to cover a project that’s ramping up. This will give her good resume experience for a full time job!

  11. Drag0nfly*

    OP 1, you asked, “Is there ever a situation in which it’s a good idea to wade into someone else’s job search?”

    Yes. When the person is clearly doing it wrong, and you have the credibility to tell them so. Is there some sacred rule that says its best to let your sister touch a hot stove when you know the stove is hot? Why is it better to let her get burned? I don’t hold with etiquette rules that are neither useful nor kind in a given situation. Speak up when you see someone doing something you know is hurting them. It’s not “rude,” or whatever notion is holding you back.

    Your sister is a research scientist? Perhaps put your concerns in a language she understands. She should have some notion of how to conduct “empirical research.” She should be familiar with the concepts of “variables” and “constants,” and apply those concepts to her analyses of her job search techniques. If she doesn’t believe your critique of her methods, point out that she’s tried “Mother’s method,” and her own method, and she hasn’t achieved the results she sought. Those methods have been tested, tried, and found wanting. She might consider those methods “the constant,” as she’s consistently used them. Time for some new variables on her end.

    If your sister is cut out to be a research scientist, she shouldn’t be resistant to the idea of doing a new experiment. An experiment where she *doesn’t* do what Mother says, but *does* do what people with more relevant knowledge advise. Encourage her to seek out such advice.

    Also, tell her to do research on how to do a job search when one is disabled. From what I’ve read, the ADA has led to fewer disabled people being hired, because people have a natural fear of those who can’t be held accountable for their actions. Specifically, most people believe “disabled” means “can’t be fired,” and employers fear getting a dysfunctional dead weight they can’t get rid of. Think of all the sitcom jokes you’ve heard about the unfirable “black lesbian in a wheelchair.” The assumption behind the joke is never that the hypothetical personage is *competent,* only that she’s bulletproof if *incompetent.*

    And if your sister has what’s called an “invisible disability” to boot? Prepare to be stereotyped as a “dysfunctional dead weight” who is *faking* a disability. Being legally required to put up with such people is a very widespread public interpretation (or misinterpretation) of the ADA, which is why it’s likely not a good idea for your sister to disclose her disabilities before she’s proven herself as a candidate. She’ll know she’s proven herself when a company makes an offer. Using discretion isn’t the same thing as “playing games,” another lesson she needs to learn.

    I’m so sad that your sister has gone over a decade without being able to do what she’s always wanted to do. What she’s trained and spent time and money learning to do. And you’re closer to her situation, so I can only imagine what it’s like for you to watch her be in this position. I hope she understands that what you’re telling her is coming from a place of love.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Using discretion: Companies fail to tell new hires many, many things and they do not worry about what they have failed to mention. There is an expression, “honest to a fault”. And this expression exists because of people who were excessively honest and hurt themselves in the process. What she is doing now is causing her to be unemployable. She can change what she is doing or she can remain unemployed, one or the other.

      I feel very badly for Sis as her own mother is holding her back in life. If nothing changes, OP could end up supporting Sis for the rest of their lives.

    2. Reba*

      Discretion, yes!

      The workplace is just not the place for radical honesty.

      I don’t know if the sister’s philosophy is more “take me as I am” or like testing the company’s reaction to her disclosure or something else again…

      But in any case giving lots of information is not the way to protect yourself here. There are nuances to being honest.

      This letter also reminded of some discussion on here about making one’s application “stand out” or be memorable, but for the wrong reasons (i.e. reasons other than your skills and fit for the job).

    3. Gazebo Slayer*

      “The ADA has led to fewer disabled people being hired” is not a great way to frame this problem. The problem is the public *misconception* that disabled people can’t be fired, not antidiscrimination law in itself.

      The sort of people who oppose the existence of antidiscrimination laws (=awful people) love to spread this misconception… or spread the idea that such laws actually hurt the people they’re meant to help *because* of this misconception. But either way, the agenda behind it is basically the same.

  12. Diatryma*

    Letter Writer 1, I was pretty much your sister for years– I had a master’s but no interest, everyone told me things that either didn’t work or didn’t work for my particular situation (it doesn’t help to be told to network by the only person who has connections… and won’t use them), years of being underemployed and frustrated– and please be compassionate and prepared for some emotions. You’re going to run into the feeling that if she changes something and it works, she ‘should’ have changed it years ago, so her current situation is all her own fault. You’ll also have the issues other commenters have brought up, but the sunk cost fallacy is real and pernicious.

    I wish your sister the best of luck.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I would like to suggest that when we are younger and really have no orientation as to how things work, we tend to rely on the advice of our elders who seem to have experience. This does not make Sis wrong, it just makes her … well … NORMAL. It’s pretty normal to go with what others around us are saying, especially if they sound knowledgeable.

      OP, if you can get her to start looking at AAM, doors may fly open for her. I can tell you first hand, that I am a different and better person in many ways because of reading here. OP, I am 60 this year. Please encourage your sis that this has nothing to do with age- we all can learn at any age. Please encourage her that it is okay this type of knowledge wasn’t in her genes at birth, we all are constantly learning.

    2. Gazebo Slayer*

      Yes. I am pretty similar to your sister. I eventually gave up on ever getting a “real job,” after years of floundering that gave me an utterly unsalvageable job history, and now do only low-paid, low-level freelance/gig stuff.

  13. FriendlyCommunityBasedSocialWorker*

    LW1-

    Can you see if your state has a Vocational Rehab program? I work for my state in the agency that also does Voc Rehab. They assist anyone with a disability who is looking to return to work/ enter the workforce with any sort of disability (they don’t need to be receiving SSDI to qualify for the program). They do everything from training and education access, helping create resumes, interview practice and support, internships, and supported employment and advocacy. It might be really helpful for your sister to work with people who’s whole job is to get people into the workforce.

    1. MCL*

      Out of curiosity, would someone who has been denied repeatedly for disability, as OP describes her sister, be able to access this resource?

    2. schnauzerfan*

      Yes. VocRehab is a wonderful resource. They had great suggestions for adaptive equipment, they helped me with tuition. A friend of mine suffered a TBI and they helped him evaluate the possibility of regaining his driver’s license. Paid for sessions with a Driver Evaluator and helped him test out some adaptive equipment for his car. Ultimately he came to the conclusion that his disability made him an unsafe driver… a conclusion I don’t think he’d have come to on his own. I think he’d have been out there being unsafe on the road. But anyway, yes check with VocRehab.

  14. Alex*

    OP3 – I’m not based in the US so take this with a grain/bunch of salt, but it might be worth your husband putting feelers out about the vacation. In the UK, many employers have encouraged/mandated employees to take their annual leave even whilst working from home/in lockdown, so that they’re not swamped with requests when the country opens back up and people can actually go on holiday. It may be the case your husband’s employer sees a chunk of PTO that’s built up and would welcome some employees taking days off now, rather than risk being inundated with requests later down the line.

    Of course, his employer can always say no, and it likely depends on how much PTO your husband has built up, whether he accrued PTO whilst on furlough etc etc. I’d also try to limit the request to a couple of days rather than a full 5-day week (maybe try to wrap the days off around a weekend/non-working days). But I think it’s worth gently asking about the possibility, framing it as a way to lower the company’s liability for PTO requests in the future and heavily stressing that it’s OK if the request is denied.

    1. Grace*

      Yep, my company’s rule was that if we hadn’t already taken ten days (including bank holidays) by the end of June, we had to make sure we’d done that. Ten days out of twenty-eight (plus any roll-over and in lieu) isn’t that much of a hardship, but they still required it of us. Then again, no-one at my tech company was furloughed, so there’s different rules in play.

      1. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

        Yes to the different rules if no one’s getting furloughed. I’m in Canada, so a bit different, but most people I know here across all sectors is being forced to spend down their vacation by the end of their fiscal or calendar year, or being told that their usual roll-over will be reduced. Like your company, these are places where no one’s been furloughed (yet), and shrinking the vacation liability is a way to reduce that.

    2. Observer*

      Normally I’m a fan of “it doesn’t hurt to ask.” But the situation here is such that just the request is likely to look bad.

      1. Annony*

        Yeah. If someone else brings it up then go ahead and ask about how they want to handle PTO this year. But if no one else brings it up, wait until August to ask about it and maybe request off the Friday before Labor Day for a nice 4 day weekend.

    3. LQ*

      There were/are a lot of US companies doing this as well, but I guess I’d be surprised if the company hadn’t forced the husband to burn through at least some/most of the PTO during the paid but not working 3 months. If he has actual time (not “unlimited”) that is a use it or lose it, that they didn’t force a burndown of then I think the liability comes into play again. Especially if the OP is in a state that requires payout on separation.

      1. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

        Yes, this is that part that’s completely whack. Like what, did OP’s company expect to not have revenue/cash flow issues after the three months was up? The only way I can see this making sense is that OP is in a state that doesn’t require vacation payouts at separation, or OP’s company expected his leave to continue until his use-it-or-lose-it date.

    4. juliebulie*

      We were REQUIRED to take 50% of our annual PTO by the end of June. REQUIRED. Because they needed to clear that off their books.

      It might not at all be a problem for hub to take a week off, as long as workload doesn’t suffer. The employer might even require it at some point.

  15. George*

    OP#1, AAM is not going to o advise this, she’s too classy, but you can also get a few of AAM’s books as a present for your sister. Pass it along with a comment like, “I’ve found this advice helpful and I’ve noticed these approaches really working for candidates when I hire and for successful employees at work.”. This keeps it as ‘general professional advice’ and makes it less confrontational… It’s just you passing on stuff that can help.

  16. babblemouth*

    #4 – I work in a midsize company in which internal comms has increasingly moved towards doing video updates. Not only does that take longer than a text update, I frankly find them more annoying. I used to be able to check in quickly on our internal news by scrolling through our intranet while waiting in the coffee line, or quickly between meetings. Now following our internal news and announcements is way more involved, and I pay less attention. The videos aren’t very good quality, the people speaking in them often aren’t great on camera and look uncomfortable. On top of it, they don’t always add closed caption, making it less accessible for our deaf and hard-of-hearing colleagues. So more time and money is spent on news updates that fewer people read or access.
    I don’t know if this is similar to your situation, but it could be an extra argument to bring to your leadership.

    1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      Yeah. I very seldom click on a link to see a video, I much prefer reading. You can go at your own pace (mine being quicker than that of your average video, which I often find infantilising)

      1. Picard*

        I DESPISE video updates/information distribution with the fire of a thousand suns. Whoever came up with this idea needs to have a hot poker stuck in their eye. I simply do not retain information that way.

        1. Amethystmoon*

          I also hate video updates. For one, you can’t listen to them in an office setting without headphones. Two, it’s always faster to read things.

          1. One of the Spreadsheet Horde*

            My MegaCorp is large enough that the video updates are superior quality and I still don’t like them.

          2. Curmudgeon in California*

            This. I read much faster than people can talk. Don’t make me watch a video to get an update.

            If you *really* feel compelled to waste time making a video, also include a transcript so I can just read it and avoid listening to you drone on.

            I’m not into video everything. I got over that when I gave up TV.

            What are videos useful for? Here are a few things:
            * Demonstrations: Physically doing something and narrating what you are doing and why
            * Instruction: Similar to demonstrations, this is for talk, show and do type of instruction where people need to see what is being done.
            * News reports: Images plus voice over about current events that are visual. Still replaceable with text and pictures.
            * Personal messages: This is where you want people to see and hear your tone and body language. This is for serious matters, not updates.

            IMO, if text will convey the message adequately, use it. Don’t waste people’s time listening to you read out status.

            1. allathian*

              Yes, this. I retain information much better when I read it, especially critical information. I’m also a fast reader and retain what I read pretty well.

              In my head, the association that written stuff is serious and videos are frivolous is very strong, although I’m trying to overcome it. It’s not absolute, because I do watch the news, but the vast majority of my visual media consumption is for entertainment, which is, at heart, frivolous. Don’t get me wrong, I do read a lot for pleasure, too, but because I’m essentially reading and writing all day at work, it’s definitely my preferred mode of acquiring information.

              The different learning styles theory has been pretty much debunked, but even so, people have their preferences when it comes to how they want information to be presented to them.

      2. Ama*

        Yes I have a stronger visual memory than auditory memory, and video updates fall into the auditory category for me(unless you have really great and memorable slides, which hardly anyone does). It’s also much more useful on those days when I’m overwhelmed with info to know I can do a text search for what I need if I miss it or forget it.

        1. babblemouth*

          Search is definitely a big problem. I’ll sometimes need to refer back to an internal update from a few months ago and it takes me ages to find it because the search function doesn’t work with videos. It would if there was a transcript, but 9 times out of 10 they don’t do them.

          1. allathian*

            If there is a transcript, I’ll definitely read that and skip the video entirely. I can read at least 5 times as fast as I can speak.

      3. juliebulie*

        Same – as I babbled on about in another comment above. Just write it down. I will read it. Done! If my CEO loves videos so much, he can do them at home with the kids or something.

    2. LQ*

      I feel like one of the biggest things I’ve learned during this pandemic is my hearing is much MUCH worse than I think. I rely on lip-reading and closed captions a huge amount and prefer a straightforward text update every single time. Every single time. It’s so hard to find the time and then I need headphones and a quiet space to do the video versions, and then about a third of the time I get interrupted, and when you get interrupted in a video you have to go back, you can’t skim (or at least I can’t) to catch back up. I’ve been pushing back pretty hard on this on an accessibility angle which works well where I work and I recommend it for others too.

      1. allathian*

        I’m working in the public sector in the EU, so the EU accessibility directive/act applies. Any videos that are posted for 14 days or longer need subtitles or a transcript for accessibility, and this also applies to internal videos, whether or not you employ anyone who actually needs that accessibility (hard of hearing or deaf). So I’m really hoping that the video fad will be just that, a fad… Everyone in my org basically writes for a living, so I know for a fact we don’t have any functionally illiterate people working for us. There simply aren’t any jobs available that such people could handle. We do have several people that I know of who are hard of hearing. I have some hearing loss, but I’m not in the HOH category yet.

    3. Corporate Lawyer*

      Ugh, yes, videos are The Worst. If you want to guarantee that I will never see your update or announcement, put it in a video.

    4. I read my briefings*

      Chiming in here to say I too hate video for knowledge transmission. Unless it is something like “you have to hold your hand at exactly this angle, and insert tab A and tab B into slots D and E simultaneously, like this”, then text is my preference.

      Plus I can easily skim again if I need that info at some point in the future (usually cause I didn’t pay much attention when it first came out because I wasn’t doing that process, or involved in that project, but whoops, now I am and need a refresher).

  17. Ginger Snap*

    Very surprised to see so many people telling LW3 that taking vacation is a bad idea. Honestly, it never would have even occurred to me not to request vacation.

    If the company doesn’t want employees to use their vacation before a specific date, they can make that policy. Otherwise, I’m going to request the vacation that is part of my compensation.

    1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

      “Otherwise, I’m going to request the vacation that is part of my compensation.”

      And the manager is going to think WTF. Really.

    2. Oryx*

      The husband has been at home for three months not working but still being paid. He’s essentially been on vacation this entire time.

      1. Mx*

        That’s not a vacation. This is to be forced to stay at home in a pandemic. This is very stressful for many people, not a relaxing time.
        Maybe OP’s husband should wait a bit, not asking as soon as he returns.
        Taking a vacation isn’t a favour, it’s part of his compensation package (and statutory in some places.) The manager can always ask him to postpone if it’s not a good time.

        1. Georgina Fredrika*

          I don’t think anyone is arguing that his vacation was less relaxing than it would have been, had it not been a pandemic.

          I think there’s an assumption here that most people want to keep their jobs and have good standing at their jobs – otherwise, this wouldn’t even be a question asked. Because if it is statutory for him, and if his time off wasn’t counted as vacation time, then he can go and be judged/hated/let go afterward, but that isn’t really what they’re asking.

          It was a completely unpredictable event on BOTH sides, and it sounds like the company went above and beyond for this employee to keep paying him this whole time. So I definitely think this is the wrong question for him to be asking just a couple weeks after returning.

        2. Amy*

          It may not be a vacation but it is paid time off. It certainly wasn’t enjoyable for many people but compared to those needing to work during the pandemic as many grocery workers, health care workers, teachers etc did, it was likely preferable.

          Also I wouldn’t get too far into the “but it wasn’t the fun type of PTO” reasoning. I took 2 weeks vacation last year to deal with my mother’s house after she died suddenly. 2 weeks in Mexico would have been much more fun than sorting through papers a dusty attic but all paid absences looks similar on my employer’s end, no matter what it looks like on mine.

        3. Annony*

          I think the key factor here is that most of his coworkers were furloughed and many were laid off rather than brought back and he either just started back or is starting next week (not sure when the letter was written). So he essentially had three months of PTO. The first thing he does shouldn’t be to ask for more PTO. It is better to wait a bit. Use that time to judge coverage issues and what request would be the least disruptive and then make a reasonable request like a three day weekend rather than a whole week off when they are understaffed and possibly considering whether they need another round of layoffs.

        4. Oryx*

          You’re right, this time is stressful for many people and paid time off is a lot more than most people got. Because regardless of whether or not it was “relaxing” it was still paid time off and coming off three months of that and asking for MORE paid time off is not going to come across well to a manager who had to lay off employees who weren’t the OP’s husband.

      2. Koala dreams*

        That’s more like being on call than on vacation. The company presumably didn’t pay him as a favour, they did it as a business decision because they need him available for their operations. That doesn’t necessarily change the advice, probably there’s a lot of work to do for the husband right now and any vacation request will be denied, but I wanted to protest against the deceptive description of the recent months as “on vacation”.

    3. Amy*

      It’s very unlikely the 3 months paid leave were part of the compensation package in the first place.

      Perhaps this is an okay time to take leave and you could discuss it with your manager. My company has been encouraging us to take vacation on the assumption that things will ramp up and become busy again in the fall. But I certainly wouldn’t phrase it as something I’m owed since I’ve personally already had 5 weeks paid off work and another 6 working from home with no childcare.

    4. hbc*

      He just got a paid 3 month vacation, which I’m sure is over and above his compensation. I know it wasn’t relaxing or exactly when he wanted it, but…Three. Months.

      I think he can inquire carefully (maybe they’re kind of overstaffed anyway, who knows), but if there’s any attitude of “this is part of my compensation,” he won’t recover from it.

    5. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      You are within your rights to do this, but unless you’re in Montana, you’re also subject to At Will Employment.

    6. Observer*

      Getting that hung up on taking every single dingle thing that is part of your compensation package is not a great look when your employer just gave you three months of pay that was NOT part of your compensation package. No one was required to keep people on the payroll.

      1. RestroomTimeExtraordinaire*

        single dingle thing is hereby added to my personal lexicon; thank you so much for introducing the phrase to me.

    7. Malarkey01*

      The company is in a situation where they are actively laying people off, furloughing them without pay, and keeping a small handful (which they paid even when they didn’t need to), as they decide who to bring back, who to lay off permanently, who to reduce hours- asking for paid vacation puts a huge spotlight on you. If you just got “more than most” at your company, it’s not the time to take more.

  18. chellieroo*

    For LW #1: Take this with several grains of salt, because it may not be applicable where you are. A possible resource is Vocational Rehab. It’s often terrible. And, it has a lot of (potential) flexibility about who it helps because disability is defined functionally rather than diagnostically. It sometimes has employer contacts that are open to hiring workers with disabilities, which might be helpful if your sister won’t back down from excessive openness about her limitations.

    1. Coco*

      I don’t mean to nitpick about language but just wanted to verify if you meant that it is often terrible?
      The rest of your comment makes Vocational Rehab sound like a good idea and I was thinking of mentioning it to a friend. (Not the OP but knows someone who knows someone in a similar situation ). Thanks

      1. schnauzerfan*

        Vocational Rehab is like anything else that is staffed by people… It can be a great resource, it has been for me. But like academic career centers, the quality of the aid varies. A friend asked for assistance and got nothing but a run around. Weekly meetings, with all sorts of noise about nothing that ever came to pass. But definitely worth a look.

  19. Alice*

    Should OP2 contact the company president with too? I mean, if I were the president, and I’d been encouraging risk reduction, I’d want to know that it wasn’t happening. If there are people in middle management who are not implementing the president’s safety directives, I am guessing that the info won’t get from OP2’s manager through the chain of command to the top.

    1. LW 2 / OP 2*

      Thank you Alice, that’s a good point and I’ll bring it up with them!
      I apologize for answering so late.

  20. Mel_05*

    Would the vacation advice change if the person hadn’t been paid by their company, but had been layed off and was now returning?

    I don’t really want vacation until I can go somewhere, but I expect they’ll want me to take some of it this year, since we can only accrue so much.

    1. doreen*

      If they want you to take it this year, or if there’s some sort of deadline coming up where you will lose the vacation, that’s one thing. But even then, taking vacation in August when you just returned to work in late June or July is not going to be a good look unless the deadline is Sept 1.

    2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      Wouldn’t they have paid up any accrued leave when laying off though?

      1. Yeah_I know*

        They didn’t. I could have taken a pay out when they layed me off, but it was with the expectation that I was coming back as soon as they could afford me again, so I didn’t do that. I didn’t really expect things to still be so bad at this point and I thought I’d take a nice trip in the fall.

      2. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

        Depending on where you live, a company may not have to pay out accrued leave if it’s a temporary layoff.

    3. Quinalla*

      Yes, instead of don’t even think about asking for vacation, I’d advise having a conversation with the manager about when it would be appropriate to start taking vacation time again, especially with a use it or lose it type policy. But even then, I’d probably wait a couple weeks to have the conversation and frame it as not wanting to have everyone wait until the end of the year and then everyone is trying to take it all at once or maybe they’ll allow some roll over this year, etc.

  21. Not Australian*

    Surely for LW3 there is a happy medium between asking for vacation time and *not* asking for it, which would be sounding out the manager as to what official policy regarding vacation time is going to be in future. “How are vacations going to work from now on?” is not a question that will get anyone into trouble, and nor is “How soon will it be possible for me to request a vacation?” That way you’re indicating a willingness to meet the employer’s needs rather than prioritising your own, but also making the point that you would appreciate time off when the opportunity arises.

    1. Sabrina Spellman*

      Possibly, but it might depend on how the company banks vacation time. My institution doesn’t allow you to roll over any unused vacation days into the new year, so if you lose them if they go unused. It’s not a bad idea to put a feeler out for how general policies are being affected by the return to work.

    2. anonymous slug*

      Thank you, this was a great piece of advice! I am sure my husband isn’t itching to take a vacation right away after this time at home, but at some point I’d want to take some days off together. He also doesn’t get a ton of days (10, which to me is scandalously low) but I have also been with my company for 10 years so I get 6+ weeks – I know we can’t always take time off together, but if there is any possibility to do so this year, I would like to.

    3. tangerineRose*

      It’s probably a good idea to wait at least a few weeks before sounding out the manager about vacation time.

  22. NotJennifer*

    LW1, Ugh, let me tell you that when I was on unemployment we were required to attend seminars on the job search process at the unemployment office. They gave us the same shitty, outdated advice that your mom is giving your sister. And to some extent actually required that we act like that as job seekers to qualify for benefits. Living in a small town in a rural area (not reasonable commuting distance to an urban center with more opportunities) with very limited job opportunities I was still expected to be making “potential employer contacts” several times a week. And was advised that this included checking in with employers to whom I’d applied. If I wanted unemployment I basically had to screw myself over by annoying the heck out of employers, and logging those interactions. Some weeks there were literally no reasonable jobs for me to apply for, so to collect I had to email and call employers who didn’t want to hear from me.

    Sorry, that is a rant tangent. tl;dr – it’s amazing how common that bad advice is. To the point where in some places it’s institutionalized.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      This is why some people apply for throw away jobs that they know they will not get. (This causes other problems as it goes along, as companies get applications that are not relevant to their arena.)

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        What we need is a throwaway employer to apply to when numbers need padded!

    2. Amy Sly*

      Lord, I got so annoyed at these people when I worked retail. Some would be quite upfront about it: “Yeah, I’m only applying for my unemployment numbers.” Meanwhile, since I hadn’t had a job since graduating law school, I was unable to collect unemployment and play that game. Nothing like people telling a licensed attorney that they were too good to work alongside her in the mall to make that attorney really pissed off.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, I totally get that.
        Besides, these days you can’t just waltz into a store and get hired, retail outlets can be selective too.

    3. LW1*

      LW 1 here, and this is where we run straight into my rage with the “social safety net.” This sounds like a nightmare. I hope you’re in a better place today.

  23. History Geek*

    OP 1# if you and your sister haven’t already considering talking to a disability lawyer.

  24. Chubbs*

    LW1, I highly recommend therapy to provide a support system for yourself! You’ve got a heavy load on your shoulders and it will take some time to see your sister really launch. Take care of yourself!

    1. Not So NewReader*

      OP, what I see is mom’s expectation for you to continue to support sis indefinitely is not a realistic or fair expectation. AT ALL. And mom comes in from another angle by giving Sis advice that sets her up to fail. Unfortunately, this means you are the only one who can make this situation change.

      1. Archaeopteryx*

        Yes, I would also examine why you’re worried that it would be disrespectful to disagree out loud with your mom, or to provide your own contradictory experience to what she’s saying. I realize there are plenty of parents out there who would get touchy at their adult children acting like adults, or knowing more than they do about something, but it’s not super healthy.

  25. Lucia*

    If your sister has a bachelor’s degree but not a masters and is a US citizen, she would be eligible for a post-bac (also called PREP) training program. I was involved in directing such programs at one university for the past 15 years. Most major research universities have such programs, which are federally funded. She would need to disclose her disability in order to be eligible. These programs are for recent (less than 3 years) college graduates who are members of under-represented ethnic/racial minorities and/or have a life-altering disability; some programs also take trainees who are from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds. Post-bac programs provide trainees with 1-2 years of mentored, full-time, paid (approx. $28K/year), biomedical laboratory research experience, plus career development programs and opportunities to take graduate level coursework for credit. The goal of thse programs is to provide trainees with a chance to try out biomedical research, and to provide the necessary credentials for them to afterwards get admitted into doctoral programs such as biomedical PhD or medical school.

  26. Aurora Leigh*

    OP #3 — I think it depends on how his vacation time is set up — ours doesn’t roll over (it’s use it or lose it) so even though we’ve all just come back in after 10 weeks off people in my office have still been taking time off. My company just deducted one week from everyone’s vacation for the time off. I’m in customer service for a company that mainly works with schools so summer has always been our slow season. I’m honestly not sure we’ll survive as education budgets will be affected.

  27. JohannaCabal*

    LW1, I’m a little concerned that your sister has been unemployed or underemployed for close to a decade. This may mean she has to find an area tangential to the sciences such as technical editing of documents, marketing for a biotech company, etc. And she’s still going to have to compete against people who’ve been doing these types of jobs for years.

    No easy answers but I sympathize. As others have mentioned, your mother’s job search advice is just as bad for retail in most cases, especially chain stores.

    1. Random commenter*

      LW#3
      Since you’re high risk, do you live somewhere that you could either request wiring from home as an accommodation, or take advantage of government benefits for people who can’t work because they are high risk? This way, you could look for work while still getting paid.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      That’s what I was wondering. Is she even qualified for any kind of job in her field at this point?

    3. Em*

      Agreed, 10 years of not working in the field will unfortunately be a big red flag, since many of the skills/techniques can be forgotten over time if not used

      1. LW1*

        LW 1 here, she worries about that too. She’s done some research work over the years, but it’s always been temp work.

        For what it’s worth, she’s open to opportunities in other fields.

  28. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    #5 – is there a reason you’re afraid to be honest with your friend? It’s not that you don’t WANT to help, it’s that you CAN’T help. If your friend is someone who would fly off the handle because you’re unable to help them, then they’re not really your friend.

  29. Amy*

    I’ve been a volunteer at a non-profit mentorship organization for job seekers and have worked with my college’s Alumni Career Services job club. Both did fantastic work.

    The former was a 12 week / 3 hour per week program where each week focused on a specific component of job seeking – narrowing the search, the resume etc. On “Mock Interview Day,” you went through 4 rounds of interviews with interviewers pretending to be a hiring manager, a peer informational interview, a CEO (most of the interviewers were very experienced in their professional lives)

    For the college, there was a weekly club where job seekers could meet and talk about triumphs and fails of the week and had guest speakers from a variety of industries.

    I wouldn’t frame this to the sister as “you need to choose – my advice or mom’s.” But help her gain access to a wider world of job seeking skills and experiences.

    1. Jaybeetee*

      Something like this would have been so helpful when I was struggling. There were other factors too, but I eventually surmised I was having *some issue* with interviewing, but couldn’t figure out what. It was beyond frustrating, and no one around me could give any real feedback. Finally, an acquaintance of mine who’d done some hiring asked me some mock interview questions and was able to winnow out the problem and put me on the right track within about 10 minutes. I remember *searching* for programs like the ones you describe, but all I could find were either for marginalized groups (immigrants, those trying to come off welfare, etc) or just seemed like really sketchy life-coach type businesses. It’s maddening when you know you’re doing something wrong, but not sure quite what, and it impacts your life in such a significant way.

    2. dragocucina*

      I like this approach. Someplace neutral that will help give good advice that doesn’t carry family baggage. My church has a job club that’s open to everyone. It began in 2008 with a specialization in engineers and other tech folk who were caught with downsizing. They also deal with a lot of folks transitioning from one type of employment to another. There’s another church that does something similar for those leaving the military and transitioning to work in tech firms. They both also offer, “How do you compete with the 24 year old new grad?” sessions. Also, “This is the vocabulary to know.”

      The last one caught me up when I transitioned to a new job this year. The contractor/government lingo left me stumped until I figured out how to translate it to library vocabulary.

  30. Green great dragon*

    LW3 – I think it would make a difference if it was an ‘away’ vacation, especially if there was a good reason. I mean don’t ask your first week back, but in these circs another week to relax at home sounds different to ‘we haven’t been able to get out to see our folks nearly a year – would I be able to get some time off in fall’, with ‘we are desparate to be somewhere that isn’t our house’ falling somewhere in the middle.

  31. OrigCassandra*

    LW1, what is your — and your sister’s — sense of the universe of jobs your sister can and would want to do? Given her work history, how realistic is that universe?

    I ask because I was in your shoes with my sister, and part of the problem was my mother insisting that excellent, high-prestige jobs “weren’t good enough” for her. This wasn’t the only problem happening, to be sure — my sister was sending three-line cover letters! — but it surely didn’t help any.

    There’s a chance your sister may have to be what you consider underemployed for a while, to build up her work history and recommender list.

  32. foolofgrace*

    This is my problem because … I’m financially responsible for her.

    Maybe this is crazy to say, but given that the sister is over 30 and “has been unemployed or under-employed her entire professional life”, and that OP is responsible for her financially and can’t keep that up forever, why can’t the sister expand her job search to non-research positions, such as office work? I would think it would look good on her resume that she’s able to keep a job despite her disabilities. And it would definitely help with living expenses. She could still pursue research positions, but I’m thinking those are few and far between, and something in the interim might not be a bad way to go. She’s apparently intelligent given her college experience and could learn new things relatively quickly.

    1. Jaybeetee*

      In fairness, “underemployed” could include office work. If sister is working as a receptionist or similar, she’d certainly be underemployed, and probably not making enough to live independently. (As an aside, I hope LW is herself clear on what’s realistic for sister – in a lot of cities, there’s a fairly high income bar to actually living alone. Does she want sister 100% self-sufficient, or living with her and contributing financially, or out of her home and with roommates, etc.?)

    2. K*

      Yes, unfortunately unless the sister has a very desirable background/skill set (which she probably doesn’t, if her education is a Bachelors degree from a long time ago and she hasn’t been seriously employed in the meantime) she may struggle to find a desirable research position even with perfect job-seeking etiquette. Expanding the range of jobs she’s applying to should be part of her strategy if it isn’t already.

    3. GreyjoyGardens*

      It’s possibly cultural – there are more collectivistic cultures where family members’ lives and finances are so much more entwined than those of us from individualistic cultures expect.

      Though I agree Sister needs to do her part and not be too picky about jobs, and consider taking one that is not in her field. It depends on what her disabilities are – if she has one of those “invisible, pain and fatigue, and fluctuates from day to day” ones, clerical work is not always as do-able as one might think – though if she finished a science degree I would think she could do a sedentary clerical job.

    4. LW1*

      LW 1 here, “underemployed” has meant office work and temping. She’s actually done more office work in the last ten years than research work. And she knows that that might be the most realistic path forward. It’s not that she can’t find a job in research, it’s that she can’t find any stable, full-time job with benefits.

      1. A*

        I know this might not be ideal, but I would recommend she try and work her way up in an office setting. She has at least some experience over the years, and it doesn’t necessarily need to mean the end of her hunt for a more desirable career path.

        I also graduated in the great recession, and it devastated a lot of dreams. I graduated a financial orphan, no student debt – but going into the red from day one, hour one. It took my nine months just to get to the top of the wait list so I could take the basic tests just to get INTO a temp agency – but luckily I got a temp offer as a receptionist shortly thereafter. It was in an industry I actively disliked, but it was a job. I did everything I could to go above and beyond, and when they offered to buy out my temp contract after 12 weeks and told me to pick a dept – I chose the only one that I had even a hope at enjoying.

        Ten years later, I still don’t *love* my line of work, nor is it anything I ever thought I’d end up doing – but I was able to use that experience to move into an industry I DO like, which makes all the difference. I might not be passionate about my job function in the way I had once hoped I would be, but it allowed me to climb the corporate ladder, and become financially independent (not just from parents, but in its true definition).

        In my case, I never ended up circling back to my original career choice, but I certainly could if I wanted to. I just hope your sister knows that moving forward with one path, doesn’t necessarily permanently close off the other (and in this case, it sounds like that path might already be closed anyways).

        Has she considered lab work? I have a few friends that graduated at the same time as me, that for financial reasons were not able to pursue higher degrees in science as they had intended and have ended up working their way up in labs instead. One is with a national chain, the other with a pharmaceutical company.

        1. JohannaCabal*

          This. My situation was a little different in the Great Recession. I was laid off from my “career job” (the one I took after college that was in my field) in January 2009. I could not find a job in my area, not even in the government. Eventually, after a failed three month stint as a paralegal in all but name (a nightmare in itself), I got a “tail in seat job” in market research and was surprisingly good at it, enough to be promoted.

          Eventually, I worked my way back into my field based on my successes in market research. And now I’m moving into a role that draws on both my market research and career experience. You just never know sometimes what a job can lead to…

      2. I read my briefings*

        LW1, I am wondering how long you and your sister would consider ‘long enough’ to have pursued goal of working full-time in research before re-evaluating things?

        I have a lot of sympathy for your whole family, I have been in your shoes in a very similar situation, and it is very hard.

        If your sister has been un/underemployed in her chosen field since graduating at B.Sc. level, 1) are her research skills still current (science moves fast!), and 2) do you, as the financial backup envision this as a sustainable, long term situation? For example, are you able to make reasonable provisions for yourself and YOUR future while supporting them both? And, not to be too pessimistic, but we are all getting older, so the longer your sister is in this situation, the less she can prepare to support herself once she is no longer able to work, or retires.

        If your answer to either question is no, can you see yourself having a frank discussion with your sister about not sacrificing your own future to support her? Has there been any consideration on your sisters part as to updating skills in her field, if needed (not another graduate degree, but specialized training, if appropriate) and/or looking for a career in another field she has interest in, but which would be easier to get an entry level job in (possibly with some fairly short term training/education)?

        No, that is likely not how she wants things to go, but being un/under employed since graduating is not the ideal situation either. Does she need to have a good hard look at what she has as a goal and compare it realistically to what she can actually accomplish? Could she find another field that she could train into that would be satisfying to her?

        Best of luck with this.

      3. Curmudgeon in California*

        So, I am disabled. I was a chemist before I became disabled.

        It was not realistic for me to look for lab or field work. It was also not realistic to apply for low paid, unskilled jobs. I was either “overqualified”, or the job was a humiliating mess. I already paid my dues in entry level in my field (lab assistant washing glassware is the laboratory equivalent to a bus help in restaurants.)

        What I did was pivot into adjacent office work that made use of my computer skills that I had developed while working in
        chemistry. It took me two years, and a lot of humiliating “make work” job referrals from well meaning but clueless (and ableist) agencies. I didn’t lose my experience when I became disabled, but that is how I was treated – like I never had worked and needed entry level and ‘supported’ work. They were trying to erase my past.

        I would suggest that your sister take her STEM degree, and her office experience, and focus on office work in a research adjacent field. She needs to not let people discount her education just because she’s disabled (some folks will try, because of ableism.) Examples: If her degree included coursework on research statistics, she might look into data analyst or statistician work. If it included writing up research papers or reports, technical writing might be a good fit.

        She has office experience, even if it’s “just” contract work. As long as she didn’t fail spectacularly at it, it’s good resume fodder. There is so much from a STEM degree that is transferable to a wide range of areas that all it requires is the ability to map the STEM concept to a real world job description. That’s where the cover letter comes in.

        As far as disclosure during the interview is concerned, I have one thing to say: Don’t. If she’s physically disabled, people can see. Don’t make it central to your working identity: IE, you’re a chemist (who happens to be disabled), not a disabled chemist. Yes, I understand how disability ends up being really, really central to your identity and self image. I’m still wearing that t-shirt. But I don’t make it part of my work identity: I’m a sysadmin, not a disabled sysadmin.

        Research often needs office support in number crunching and tech writing. These are places where understanding the research process is a plus in a candidate.

        TL;DR: I would advice your sister to seek “research adjacent” office work and not focus on her disability in the interview.

    5. The Voice of Reason*

      I’m financially responsible for her.

      This is the heart of the problem. Why are you financially responsible for your sister? She’s an adult. She may have a medical condition, but it doesn’t sound like she’s an invalid. Even if she were, that doesn’t make you financially responsible for her. You’re *choosing* to be responsible for her. It’s time for some tough love.

      Tell her that if she keeps following Mom’s advice, it’s time for her to take responsibility for herself, or to have Mom take responsibility for her. You won’t be doing it any longer. And tell your mother the same thing.

  33. Employment Lawyer*

    1. My mom’s advice is ruining my sister’s job prospects
    Honestly, I would speak up but only to your sister. And I would try to steer her to a competent third party (something like a consultation with AAM or equivalent) rather than taking this on yourself. Then you have the insulation of “expert idea” and not “you disagreeing w/ your mom.”

    2. Should I tell people I’m quitting because my company isn’t following COVID precautions?
    WARNING!
    A simple “quit” DOES NOT allow you to collect unemployment (as a general rule.) However, a properly documented CV-health-related quit may change that. It’s worth making sure before you act–this can be a really life changing issue!

    So I would call a lawyer. For example, you might have better luck saying “hey folks, you’re not following guidelines; rather than reporting you and making a fuss, why don’t you just lay me off?” Again: Get a lawyer.

    1. LW 2 / OP 2*

      I hadn’t planned even to try for unemployment because I didn’t think I had a case but you’re right, I should at least check. I’ll look into it, thank you, and I apologize for answering so late.

  34. LQ*

    #2 I have 2 things that I disagree with here.
    1 -This is specifically about potentially qualifying for unemployment – I wouldn’t just put in an “I quit, thanks for the time here.” letter, I would either actually make a written statement asking for sufficient accommodation, or at least in the letter say it. If you apply for unemployment (yes even now, it varies by state, even still, mostly because humans and politics) you could find yourself not eligible because you quit without asking for anything and giving the employer the chance to fix it. I think in most places if you’ve got a doctor willing to say and sufficient evidence on your side (not following CDC guidelines would be a good line here) you’ll likely get benefits, but it may take longer. So just throwing this out as an additional element.

    2 – If there’s only been 1 person diagnosed and (IF!) if you are in a place with sufficient testing resources, I do actually think it’s working. The person picked it up outside the workplace (or there would be more than 1) and did not transmit it to anyone in the workplace (again, or there would be more than 1). That might not be working to your safety level, but it is not interoffice transmission.

    1. Grbtw*

      Hi LQ, can you speak more on your second point? I’m not OP, but I’m in a similar situation. My office is not following guidelines at all, I have hypochondria, in treatment and my partner is the breadwinner and also high risk. He works from home. I’m not looking for unemployment, but I can’t find any info on office transmission without running into 50 click bait fear “news,” and I don’t know if I should or shouldn’t quit. I don’t need the money, I’m just trying to work through my hypochondria, but I’m failing and I don’t trust anyone in my office anymore.

      My situation has become non-stop obsessing over loosing everything on top of the love of my life, physical pain from non-stop stress and my cognative abilities are deteriorating so quickly, it literally took me over a minute to remember the word, “deteriorating,” for this sentence.

      1. Dave*

        COVID is definitely something that brings out my anxiety so I can sympathize. I think at some point you need to consider how bad are cases in your area at large, do you trust your company to report a case if it comes up, and how badly do you need to work and can you be unemployed long term? Getting back into the job market could be extremely difficult. At least as you are able I would start looking for work from home work if at all possible … it is the only thing keeping me sane right now. I can’t imagine functioning in an office of people who treat dying of COVID like people dying in a car crash or comparing it to more people die of cancer. (My co-workers have stopped talking to me about it because I bring up inconvenient things like facts and how this is contagious disease and what the word contagious means.)

        1. Grbtw*

          Thank you, this is great advice. I actually don’t need to work anymore, and planned to stop working and switch to full time school at the end of the year. I just feel so guilty about quitting right now, like I’d be hurting my employer. I know that’s unhealthy, normal, mental self-managed me wouldn’t even care, but now I’m so deep in, I can’t think straight anymore. I believe logically, it’s getting harder to tell the difference between logic and emotion right now, my pay isn’t worth the risk, my partner makes 7 times my salary, so if he got sick over my tiny salary, it could hurt us a lot. And now after typing this, I feel like an entitled jerk. Feel free to call me that.

          1. The Voice of Reason*

            Do not quit your job because your partner makes 7 times your salary. This is the way women become financially dependent on men.

            What happens if your partner leaves you, cheats on you, decides to relocate to a new city that you dislike for a jobs that pays 8 times your salary, etc.? Then you have no job prospects and no cushy salary to fall back on. Women need to forge their own career paths.

      2. LQ*

        I mean it’s not great because it’s not just a test. But having someone in the office who is infected who does not infect others shows that you don’t have a high interoffice transmission rate.

        Case: 1 person in the office is infected from outside source, that person comes in, and within the next couple weeks there are several more people infected. That’s interoffice transmission.

        Case: 1 person in the office is infected from outside source, that person comes in and no one else gets infected. Low/no interoffice transmission potentially, but you don’t have a lot of data.

        Case: multiple people on different occasions within the office (office used to mean any kind of workspace) and no transmissions from person to person inside the office. Low/no interoffice transmission rate (this means whatever they are doing is working).

        Case: no one is infected from outside source, unknown interoffice transmission. (This could be everyone is doing a really good job outside work, but theoretically could be doing a horrible job INSIDE the office, that would be dangerous, but it would seem ok)

        I hope that makes sense?

    2. LW 2 / OP 2*

      Thank you LQ, those are good points and I’ll look into getting something in writing. I just found out we’ve had a second positive test so I’ll see if people start taking it a little more seriously! Thanks again and sorry for answering you so late.

  35. Jaybeetee*

    LW1: I have so much empathy for your sister. I’m a couple years older than her and also graduated into the Recession with (sigh) a liberal arts degree. Over about 8 years I went from “can’t get any kind of job for the life of me” to “terrible customer service jobs paying a dollar over minimum wage” to “endless temping, also usually around minimum wage” to, finally, landing in a good job that lead to my present career. With a couple toxic jobs sprinkled in that took all the more toll on my mental health for the conviction that I truly wouldn’t be able to get out of those situations and into anything else. I considered going back to school for various programs, but I kept hearing there were no jobs in those fields either.

    I also heard what turned out to be outdated job advice from my mother (harmful as I was trying to get into an adjacent field to hers), exasperated “why aren’t you getting better jobs?” from my father. And my ex-FIL, who had actually managed to gumption his way into a software company in the 80s before retiring a millionaire in his 40s, gave very similar advice to the sorts of things your mom says (because it actually *worked* for him, my ex really got stuck on “gumption”, which probably affected both our job searches adversely). He was another of those “call them everyday til they hire you just to get them off their backs!” people.

    LW, please do tell your sister what you know about present-day job-hunting. It’s unclear if she’s working in her field at all right now – if she’s been out for years, she might need to take some courses and refresh herself. But if she’s actually trying to job-hunt with such outdated/irrelevant advice, of course she’s going to keep hitting a wall. Also encourage her to read professional blogs/articles in her target field, and seek out advice relevant to that field if she can. Apart from you, if she can hear from multiple sources that your mother’s advice is no good, that’ll help it sink in and redirect her to better uses of her efforts. But no, being quiet at this point isn’t doing her any favours.

  36. SLAS*

    LW2: I think it’s better if we all take “My doctor has told me I have a higher risk for complications” out of our explanation toolbox for higher caution levels. I think that this self-deprecation is easier than just saying “No, I’m not comfortable with this,” but it’s part of what’s led to the attitude divide for people who now think they’re invincible and is part of why cases among young people are spiking. People without prior complications aren’t invincible, and we should take it out of the equation. Simply saying that you’re uncomfortable with the current level of caution, without making a case for your complicating factors, strengthens the message to everyone in the office that *everyone* should be concerned about the current level of caution.

    1. juliebulie*

      I agree. You don’t personally have to be at higher risk to justify wanting to work in a safer environment. Hell, I wish it were that simple. You can have other people in your life, or even strangers, who you want to protect as well.

    2. JJ Bittenbinder*

      Yes, this is exactly what I was coming to comment. One should not have to be of elevated risk for their coworkers to follow established rules and guidelines. Everybody should be following them regardless of whether they know anyone in a ‘high risk’ category, because we are a society and because we travel to and from work and go to supermarkets and pharmacies and whatnot with people whose risk factors we have no idea of.

      It’s like universal precautions in healthcare. Treat everyone as the same, highest level of risk and proceed accordingly.

    3. LW 2 / OP 2*

      Thank you SLAS that is an excellent point! It’s actually what I hear most from my coworkers when they’re scoffing at prevention efforts-this idea that they don’t need to worry because they don’t have any complications. Thanks again and I apologize for answering so late.

  37. AndersonDarling*

    #2 I have to disagree with letters of resignation just being a formality. If you are quitting because of questionable activity then it should be put it in the resignation letter. I hope no one ever has to write that kind of letter, but if you just say “I’m leaving next Friday, thanks for the job!” then it can be held against you if you come back later and say there was discrimination or other illegal practices that forces you to quit. Even if there isn’t something blatantly illegal, such as in this case, it helps to leave a paper trail for those who follow. Ignoring safety measures could turn into an outbreak at the company, and having a single line in the resignation letter can help future investigations.

    1. LW 2 / OP 2*

      Good point AndersonDarling, thank you and I’m sorry for answering so late.

  38. Koala dreams*

    #3 I want to send my sympathy to you. I agree with the advice, but not for the same reasons, and I feel the situation is very hard on you. This has been a tough half a year for many people, and just as it’s stressful to work, it’s also stressful to sit at home, still paid, but with no idea when you will be called into work again, or if you will be laid off instead for that matter.

    It’s good that you have the opportunity to take a few vacation days and get some rest. A movie marathon sounds fun. Maybe I’ll steal that idea for my own vacation.

    1. Observer*

      Most of us realize that it’s stressful. But let’s get real. There is NO COMPARISON to people who actually did not get paid! Not even close. And on the other hand, the company did go above and beyond to keep paying even with a small pay cut. Sure, they probably did this as a business decision. But still.

      1. 100 Red Swedish Fish*

        This, pretending that being paid to stay home is the same amount of stress as being laid off during a pandemic is so wrong.

        1. Koala dreams*

          ? I think you posted this comment in the wrong place, nobody here has done that.

          1. JJ Bittenbinder*

            I believe that many people, myself included, thought that you were doing that when you said: just as it’s stressful to work, it’s also stressful to sit at home, still paid, but with no idea when you will be called into work again, or if you will be laid off instead for that matter.

            That might not have been your intent, but that is how it landed.

            1. Koala dreams*

              ? I clearly wrote that it is as stressful to WORK as it is to sit home. I’m not sure how you all could have interpreted “WORK” as “to be unemployed”. I hope this clears this matter up!

          2. 100 Red Swedish Fish*

            I didn’t post this in the wrong place you wrote ” just as it’s stressful to work, it’s also stressful to sit at home, still paid, but with no idea when you will be called into work again, or if you will be laid off instead for that matter.” you lumped them together they are not the same amount of stress.

            1. Koala dreams*

              Yes, it’s as stressful as it is to WORK during the pandemic. I didn’t compare it to being unemployed.

      2. Koala dreams*

        No, what I can see you are the first person to make that comparison. It’s not a misery competition, please stop pretending it is.

        And no, the company didn’t go “above and beyond” in keeping a few employees on the payroll. They were free to lay people off, but they were also required to keep paying the employees they kept. That’s the minimum requirements for any employer. It’s quite bizarre to pretend otherwise.

        1. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

          “they were also required to keep paying the employees they kept”

          Not really, though – that’s the bare minimum for employees who are working, which OP’s husband wasn’t. Lots of companies would legally exercise their right to furlough employees in that situation, so no, they’re not truly required to keep paying employees they’re keeping during a work stoppage.

          1. Koala dreams*

            Yes, and if they furlough the person, that person is then unemployed and free to pursue other job opportunities. The company could have done that, and in fact did do that to other employees. However, they still need to pay the employees they chose to keep.

  39. Fancy Skillz*

    OP1: I’m the same age as your sister. I graduated into the Great Recession with a science degree with the intention of going to grad school. Long story short, my undergrad research experience wasn’t sufficient for grad school, and I didn’t get an interview for ANY science-related job I applied to because the market was brutal.

    I ended up cold-calling (cold-emailing?) a professor at the large research university in my city (which I had not attended) about volunteering in her lab. I lucked out on my first try- the PI agreed, I volunteered for 20 hours a week for 6 months, was given increasingly more responsibility as I proved I was competent, learned a ton of skills that looked fancy on my resume, and, most significantly, discovered a network that could get me an actual job.

    My PI would get emails from other PIs that were hiring lab members and wanted recommendations. At the time, most labs only hired former student workers or people that were recommended to them. Often they would already know who they wanted to hire before the job was posted and would tailor the posting accordingly. I saw several volunteers get hired into other labs this way.

    At the time, I had decided to apply to grad school instead of to long-term jobs. Then I got distracted by an exciting opportunity at my part-time job in a totally different industry. I stopped pursuing grad school or a research job, but I am 99% sure I would have found a job through the PI if I’d tried.

    Anyway, no one ever told me that volunteering in a lab was a thing- it’s not advertised anywhere. It’s something I’d look into if I were your sister. Of course, this was 10 years ago and Covid might have changed everything. But it’s worth a try.

  40. blackcatlady*

    For LW#1: I work in research. I am a dinosaur – I’m a tech (BS degree) but have over 30 years experience. In this day and age, it is very hard to find jobs with just a BS. Lab heads just don’t want to hire technicians when they can get students instead. I don’t know what kind of science work your sister wants to do but bench work can be physically demanding. Not lifting 50 pound bags all day demanding but on your feet, moving from station to station demanding. There are science jobs that are computer desk work, like Bioinformatics, but I don’t know if she has those qualifications. Someone above suggested looking into PostBac positions and that would be a great idea, they last 1-2 years and give bench experience. This would give your sister an idea if she likes bench research and can do the work. I have seen summer students come in for 10 weeks and at the end realize bench work is not for them. Don’t think getting a PhD will open the job market – I’ve seen many PostDocs struggle to find full time jobs. I would not waste time and money on an advanced degree unless your sister is sure she wants life in the lab. She is going to have a tough time. It’s too bad she didn’t get summer internships while getting her degree.

    1. LW1*

      LW 1 here, everything I’ve heard is that research is a tough field to break into. She did actually do a couple of internships while she was at school. She volunteered in a lap after graduating. And she’s had a handful of temp/part time research positions over the years, but nothing has turned into a full time job.

      1. blackcatlady*

        Oh dear, so sorry. Research science is a very tough field to get into at any level. There is a glut on the job market and employers can pick and chose the top candidates. Is she limiting her job search to her current area or is she willing to move? I hesitate to suggest the university career service because it’s been years and they can be bad. But, they might help. She may have to go sideways – not work in a lab but see if she can find a job using her science knowledge to tutor, teach or write. Best of luck!

  41. WHAT does one do with an English degree?*

    Bouncing off LW2- is it a good idea to tell new companies going forward that you left because of how a company responded to COVID-19? My company is doing things that I’m not comfortable with (but not worth quitting with no new job), and I’m debating if I should say that’s why or just that it was time for me to move on.

  42. anonymous slug*

    OP3 here….
    I don’t think I expected quite the outsize response from everyone else. I wasn’t suggesting we take a vacation 2 weeks from now, but I was hoping to take some time together much later in the summer. I didn’t think it was such a monsterous request.
    A few clarifications:
    1. While he didn’t go to the office, he HAS had daily check-ins and trainings over the three months. So not entirely a vacation.
    2. Sure it would have been more ideal to take a vacation up to this point but we just learned when he’d be going back to the office last week. If I had known, I would have arranged to take time around this July 4th holiday so we could do something together. This was more of where I was coming from – if I had KNOWN there was a date earlier, I could have planned better. Since I didn’t, that’s why I asked.
    3. Sitting around watching TV was just a filler for whatever else we could be doing locally (biking/hiking/enjoying the outdoors). I didn’t think people would take that quite so literally.
    4. I am pretty sure he can bank vacation but only up to a certain point so I do want to make sure he doesn’t lose any days later this year. We are not in a state where it can be paid out if you quit or are fired.
    5. It is a large, international corporation, not a small business so it’s not as if they are keeping him on for goodwill or doing him a favor. I am going to assume he was kept on because he has a key skill that no one else on his team or managers have and is not easily/quickly learned.
    6. No work has piled up and he will definitely not be super busy coming back to the office due to the nature of the business he is employed in.
    7. I actually hadn’t run this past him at all, it was just something on my mind and wanted to get a pulse check on how this might be looked on.

    1. Gaia*

      I still say it is going to look really bad to ask to take a week off this summer. His co-workers were furloughed and laid off while he continued to be paid for only daily check-ins and trainings (unless that was 40 hours a week, it wasn’t regular work).

      Maybe a long weekend at the end of August would be okay. But not a week.

    2. Koala dreams*

      Well, I feel with you. I didn’t expect the comments to go in that direction either. In my case it’s a cultural difference, as in my country it would be just as weird to give back your already earned vacation days to your company, as it would to suggest a retroactive pay cut to your boss. Good luck!

    3. Epsilon Delta*

      The things we jump on letter writers for on this site! I thought some of the comments were quite harsh, and I don’t think your question was terribly entitled or unreasonable. It’s a fair thing to wonder, even if the timing is not great. And I’m sure others are in a similar situation wondering the same thing, so thank you for asking.

      I liked the suggestion about asking, in a few weeks, what the plan for PTO will be for the rest of the year. I think that will give him a sense of when it will be ok to take time off, and how much, which will allow you to plan and look forward to that date.

  43. Syirah*

    Dear Lord. Never let me lose my love/hatred of out-of-touch Boomer job-search advice for Millennials. I got the same.

    “Pound the pavement! If the person you ask for an application says ‘All our applications are online’, they’re just lazy and don’t want to give you one. Ask someone else there.”

    “Call back every single day so they know you really want the job!”

    “If after three days or so of calling, they still haven’t given you ‘yes’ as an answer, go there in person and ask what’s going on and make your case.”

    And that’s why I, too, was trapped in miserable, low-paying, unlikeable jobs for literally decades.

    1. Ray Gillette*

      I suspect this was impressed upon them more by the media they consumed than their actual life experiences, as touched on in the comment thread at the top. My dad gave me this same terrible advice for many years even though he got all of his own professional jobs (at least after the first one) by networking.

    2. Curmudgeon in California*

      Hell, that job advice was and is bad for Boomers and Gen X too. I never got a job by being a pest, and I have 40 years and two careers under my belt, including some *very* lean times.

    3. Luna*

      Advice #3 sounds so familiar! My mom asked me if I had called back the place I had applied to three days ago, to show that I am still interested. I never did because, in my opinion, I have done my part and gave them my CV and contact information. The ball for the next serve is in their court.

      But she has stopped telling me this several years ago. Maybe because she herself ended up changing jobs over the last decade, so she knows how things work nowadays.

  44. DollarStoreParty*

    LW1 the biggest favor you can do your sister is to direct her to this site, though she may recognize herself in your letter. Buy her the book!

  45. Luna*

    LW1: I’m assuming mom doesn’t work anymore. Things have vastly changed in how job search is done nowadays. Back when I first started out working in my late teens, which was more than a decade ago, it was still okay to hand over a physical copy of your resume.
    Nowadays, majority of things are digital.
    It’s simpler, it tends to be faster, and it’s a backup of every candidate’s data, in case something happens – papers get misplaced, for example.

    Your sister needs to stop listening to mom, and mom needs to stop giving outdated advice.
    Yes, she has experience in ‘this field’ of hiring people. But that was years ago, and things don’t work that way anymore. Especially now with the pandemic, people prefer digital stuff overall because it’s also safer. Plus, maybe point out to mom that her field was hiring for retail, whereas your sister is applying for science stuff.

    And just saying, I doubt your mom would be very happy about anyone calling her every day, asking if they have the job now, regardless of what her advice might claim.

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