new job while going through a break-up, thanking husband’s boss for a bonus, and more

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

1. I’m grieving a break-up and just started a new job

I ended a long-term relationship last week, and I’m feeling all the things you would expect: grief, stress, distraction, and more.

I work remotely, so I thought I would be able to keep my regular schedule, but I overestimated how much I’d be able to focus on work. I guess I wanted the distraction, but I’m spacey and finding it hard to focus. I haven’t had any egregious issues, but today I missed an email invitation to join a standing meeting and didn’t check with my boss if I should join in time. In fairness, he didn’t say anything about it to me either.

I would like to reach out to him to explain the situation and ask for a little understanding, maybe even time off, but I’ve only been in this role for two weeks and discovered my boss is very impatient and can be short, borderline rude. He has already complained that I spent my first two weeks “planning things” and that there haven’t been enough results — I’m still getting on-boarded! Not to mention that the goals he sets for me are not achievable, and he is displeased when I push back to adjust them to be more reachable.

Now with this missed meeting invitation, I feel like any explanation or request for time off will look like I’m making excuses, or make him more upset. I really don’t want to lose this job because the break-up of course has affected my financial situation. And I really don’t want to face any mean or cold comments from him while I’m so sensitive.

Based on what you’ve said about your boss, I think you’re right to be wary, especially since you’re so new. Given that he’s already pressing to see more from you, asking for a few days off after only two weeks is … risky. That’s unfair, since people can get sick / have family emergencies / etc. in the first two weeks of a new job just like they can at any other time, and reasonable bosses know that … but it sounds like this guy might not be in that category. I’m not sure asking him for understanding this early on is likely to go well either.

So I wouldn’t do it, unfortunately. But if you decide to anyway, frame it as “had some bad personal news this week” or something else similarly vague, since it sounds like he might not have any patience for break-ups either. (In fact, if you mention anything, I might just say you’ve been under the weather and are trying to work through it, rather than specifying it’s heartbreak.)

I’m sorry about your break-up.

2. Can I thank my husband’s boss for his bonus?

I have a slightly different take on the “can I contact my spouse’s boss…” question. My husband has always worked hard, and does his difficult job well. For the past six months, and partly because of the pandemic, he has been working extraordinarily hard, and his workload has at least doubled. He oversees two large client projects and the teams working on them, and regularly works 12 hour days. This is not sustainable for the long-term, and he has been putting in yet more time to work on the structure of his organization to more reasonably handle workloads with their available resources. He likes his job and his company, and has a great relationship with his boss.

His compensation includes a 20% bonus, paid in two installments per year. This July, his boss surprised him with an additional 20% in his bonus payment. This meant a lot to my husband, not just because of the money, but to know that his work is recognized and appreciated. It meant a lot to me as well, because I see how hard my husband has been working, and how much he cares about the success of his teams and his company.

I was wondering if it is ever appropriate to contact a spouse’s boss about something like this, just a short note to say thank you? I’m not sure if it makes a difference, but I have met his boss on several social occasions, and at one point was considering joining their company on the other side of the organization.

Nope, don’t do it. Your husband’s compensation is between him and his company; it’s not appropriate for you to get involved, even to say something positive, and is highly likely to feel a little weird / awkward / boundary-stepping.

It’s also worth noting that the additional bonus is compensation for work done well, not a gift! Your husband can certainly express appreciation for the recognition, but a spouse reaching out to thank the boss sends weird “thanks for this kind gift to our family” vibes about something that truly isn’t a gift. That doesn’t mean you can’t be privately appreciative, of course, but don’t contact his boss.

3. Was it a faux pas to message a recruiter on LinkedIn?

I am job searching in the education field, and I recently received a connection request on LinkedIn from a recruiter at a school I would really like to work for. I had recently applied for two separate jobs with them, so I sent a message thanking him for connecting, sharing that I had applied for X and Y positions with his organization, and stating that, if he was open to it, I’d welcome the chance to talk about those roles or any other opportunities he felt I might be a good candidate for.

I haven’t heard back (either from the recruiter or from the school about the jobs). Admittedly, it’s only been a few days, but I’m wondering if I made a major faux pas in messaging the recruiter. I definitely tried not to sound pushy in my message. I’m also not accustomed to receiving connection requests from recruiters on LinkedIn, so I’m not sure of the etiquette. Did I torpedo my chances with this recruiter and/or this school?

Nah, you’re fine. He may not respond to you because recruiters are busy and get a ton of messages like that, and plus you already applied so he figures they’ll decide if it makes sense to talk as they move through their normal hiring process, but you didn’t commit a major faux pas.

Plus he connected with you beforehand! Sometimes candidates send this kind of message when the recruiter or hiring manager wasn’t the one to initiate the connection and that’s annoying (at least on the hiring manager side; it comes with the territory more on the recruiter side) but still not a massive faux pas. And in this case he initiated the connection; you just responded.

Don’t follow up with him since the ball is in his court now, but you’re fine.

4. I found out though the grapevine that I didn’t get a promotion

I’m reaching out about a “hiccup” within my upline and I’m unsure of how to react as I have not had my follow-up meeting yet within the organization regarding a job posting.

I’m confident that multiple people applied for the same job within our company but a peer (rightfully so) was chosen as the candidate for the promotion. I found this out through the grapevine and have not had the follow-up meeting as of yet (so it has not been officially shared that I was not chosen). It saddens me that I found out through the grapevine first and not from the hiring manager. What would you do when you have your follow-up meeting with the hiring managers? Would you say anything?

You could say, “Could I give you some feedback about the process? I ended up hearing about the decision though the grapevine before I heard it from you, and ideally I would have much preferred to hear it from you first!” That’s all you really need to say — you don’t need to spell out why that was upsetting; they’ll get it.

5. Indicating a change in company ownership on a resume

A few years ago, I worked for a small start-up company that was eventually acquired by a much larger company. When we moved, my position and title stayed the same. How should I list this on my resume?

Like this:

Stew Stirrer
Stews Inc. (formerly Soups of Idaho), Aug. 2015 – Jan. 2019

{ 202 comments… read them below }

  1. Taylor*

    LW2: As per usual I agree with Alison, and would also stress that you shouldn’t mention it at all, ever, even if (vaccine willing) you run across your husband’s boss in person or chat at the company holiday party.

    1. MK*

      I don’t think it would be wrong to mention it in person, as long as you sound more appreciative than grateful, though I wouldn’t do it months in the future, this comes more natural if the bonus is recent. Or, better yet, the OP could convey in more general terms that their family is pleased with how the company is treating her spouse.

      1. Courtney*

        Could you please differentiate between appreciative and grateful in this situation? I feel they would read similarly? :)

        1. MK*

          A good point. I am not sure I can put it into words, so maybe it would be best to avoid it alltogether, but in practise I feel there is a distinct difference. Perhaps it’s a matter of tone.

          1. The*

            It could be the difference in saying, casually, “It seems like you all recognize husband’s hard work. It’s great that he works for a company that takes care of him as an employee.” vs “Oh man, that bonus was really awesome. I can’t tell you how much we appreciate that.” You can subtly show your appreciation without specifically pointing to an event.

            1. Luke G*

              Agree here. If one of my team’s SO said “The money is great!” I’d be a little weirded out. If one of them said “She loves working for you, you really make her feel valuable on the team” I’d take it as a good sign.

        2. Traffic_Spiral*

          Well, semantically, appreciation is simply noticing and enjoying something. You can appreciate a sunset. “Grateful” implies that someone has personally done you a favor. In this context I think it’s more “I’m aware and pleased that my hard work for the company has been noticed and compensated,” vs. “thank you for your kindness in paying me what I’m worth.”

          But frankly, I don’t think either is appropriate for LW, as they do not truly know how useful the spouse is to the company (hard work=/= as value), nor did the boss give the raise as a personal favor to the LW.

          So… yeah. I’d go with just being nice to the boss if they ever meet, and maybe making some comments about how much spouse likes working there, works hard, respects the boss, etc. if LW wants to go that extra mile.

        3. Yorick*

          “Thanks for recognizing Husband’s hard work by giving the extra bonus” would sound more appreciative of the bonus because of what it represents (recognition). “Thanks for the extra $500” would sound grateful for the money.

          Probably shouldn’t do either. But the former would be better than the latter, anyway.

      2. Taniwha Girl*

        I would encourage OP to not feel too “grateful” or “appreciative” for a bonus that comes after months of stressful 12-hour days and a more-than-doubled workload. Your husband has already gone above and beyond on his side of the labor contract, and now the company is compensating him fairly for it. This is a smart business decision and a fair assessment of his value and output as a worker, not a generous or kind gift! Your husband has already earned it, so there’s no need for effusive thanks from you!

        1. MK*

          People express appreciation for others doing things that they are contractualy or even legally obligated to do because almost everyone values being recognised for their effort. Effusive thanks would be out of place, but, given that this was a discretionary bonus and not part of the husband’s agreed-upon compensation, some appreciation is hardly so.

          1. General Manager*

            It’s still inappropriate from a spouse. I’d find it extraordinarily weird if an employee’s spouse expressed their appreciation for the money I pay my employee. I’d think they were being inappropriate and making things far Kris personal then they should be. And I’d be concerned that this would impact how I saw the employee, even though I know that would be unfair and wouldn’t want it to.

            1. Hare under the moon with a silver spoon*

              +1 to this

              It’s also like adding a layer of unpredictable behaviour to what should be a predictable relationship between an employer/employee – although a partner maybe thinking I’ve only said thanks, it introduces uncertainty on the employer’s side – what else is partner going to decide to comment on (hours, vacation, working conditions)? where there are no norms or a relationship to discuss these (aside from data protection). It raises the spectre for an employer of another work stress of having to potentially create a boundary with a partner before anything additional has even been said.

              Staying generally warm and cordial on general always is easy to deal and will be more helpful all round in the long term – it is enough as its a business relationship not family/friends.

          2. WellRed*

            Nope. You don’t discuss salary, benefits, workloads or anything else of the like with your spouse’s company.

          3. Mediamaven*

            I completely agree. When a boss does something out of the norm I can tell you they want to know it’s appreciated. Let them know how much it meant to you and there’s a greater chance it will happen again.

        2. Hey Karma, Over Here*

          I agree.
          Trying to say, if this bonus came after working the same way in 2019 that husband worked in 2020, I think LW would be more “darn right he should get paid for all the work he did and all the sacrifices to the family life he made.”
          I think if it weren’t the pandemic and instead life as usual, LW would feel the 12 hour days more. Husband wouldn’t be home/available. OP would have been doing things alone (outings/date night).
          So yes, bonus money is great. I always say thanks, because no, they didn’t have to do it. But they did. Because I earned it.

      3. Tilly*

        I’m torn here. Any difference for small business? I could see this being appropriate in some situations.

        1. BRR*

          I can see it being more likely a boss would expect or appreciate thanks from an employee’s spouse, but the answer is the same. This wasn’t a gift. It was pay for going far above and beyond.

        2. General Manager*

          Can you elaborate? I run a small business and I would find this awkward and inappropriate at best!

          What makes you think it could be appropriate?

          1. Oh No She Di'int*

            Can’t speak for Tilly, but I’m guessing that perhaps the difference is that in many small businesses, bosses get to know employees’ families a lot more directly than in some bigger businesses. This is obviously not an ironclad rule. Nor is it an excuse to deviate from business norms. But I can see how the question might come up in someone’s head if you’re used to a relationship in which an employee’s spouse is in some sense “one of the family”

        3. WellRed*

          Which highlights some of the inherent problems with a small biz, the blurring of boundaries.

        4. Bagpuss*

          I don’t think it is any differnet for a small business.

          Firstly, and most importantly, the writer has no relationship with the business so it is not for her to say anything at all.
          Secondly, the bonus was a recognition of the husband’s extra work. HE can say to his boss that he appreciates the business recognizing his extra work but it would b tone-deaf and come over as really weird for a spouse to do so.

          IF they know boss socially then if it came up in general conversation the I think a spouse could say that they know one of the things Husband likes about working for the company is that it recognizes and rewards employees who go above and beyond for the company, but even in those circumstances I would not explicitly mention the bonus and certainly wouldn’t thank them for it. And if you mention anything at all if should be in a ‘oh yes, H has said this’ not ‘this is what I think’

          1. schnauzerfan*

            I could see spouse thanking the boss for a gift. i.e. Thanks for the Thanksgiving turkey. Thanks for the fruit basket. Thanks for the trip to Amusement Park or Baseball game for the whole family. Thanks for the flowers you sent went spouse was hospitalized… But pay raise, bonus, time off? No.

        5. Zuzu*

          My husband works for a small business, and is basically the second in charge. His boss came to our wedding, has met our kids, we’ve gone to baseball games with him and his wife, and generally have a cordial, semi-social relationship. I think that the boss wouldn’t find it weird if I said something about my husband’s pay (in a positive way) but I would never do it. Compensation is part of a business relationship, and I’m not in that relationship with the company. Which is also why I’ve also never answered my husband’s cell phone when his boss is calling at 10pm even though I’d like to give him a piece of my mind about respecting other people’s time. Not my circus! I’m just a spectator.

      4. Cambridge Comma*

        I think you would have to avoid any dynamic of thanking for the money, as it is earned and not a gift. At the hypothetical office party you could perhaps mention how great it is to see a company that understands how to motivate their employees by recognising their efforts.
        The husband could always put up a glowing Glassdoor review if they feel the need to do something now.

      5. Susana*

        Agree – or maybe not even mention the money specifically, but if you’re at a social setting, can say, oh I know how much it means to hubby that company is so appreciative of his work, especially in these difficult times. That way, it’s not like you’re saying his compensation is a gift to the family (it’s not). More like a compliment by proxy. One time, I was with partner at a work-social event and he said to one of my bosses, oh, Susana loves her job – she really feels valued. I know it meant a lot to boss.

    2. Wintermute*

      I wouldn’t mention it DIRECTLY, but I think it’s not amiss to say, as long as it’s true in general “You take such good care of Mark” or something like that. Not specifically about pay. There’s weird cultural stuff around money that just make it come off odd.

      1. EPLawyer*

        It’s still commenting on working conditions of your spouse.

        This is the simple way to understand it — it’s your spouse’s job, you don’t comment on any aspect of it to the boss — period. Size of business does not matter. This goes for your children’s jobs too. The only person whose job you talk to the boss about is your own — job and boss.

    3. insertusernamehere*

      The only situation I could possibly see it in is if it were for a long-term contract type position, in something like professional sports, where coaches and execs are used to moving their families from new city to new city every few years. If someone signs like a 5 year contract to actually be in one place for the first time, know their kids are going to be able to stay in the same school, put some roots down, I could perhaps see a spouse expressing appreciation to an owner. Not so much for the financial aspect, but for the stability and certainty the long-term contract offers for the whole family. Still, it’s probably the employee’s job to express that thanks/appreciation on behalf of his family. I have seen that in professional sports (my background), but it’s also pretty standard to have the wife/husband and kids at a press conference introducing the new hire/contract extension etc, which may not be the case in other industries. In that case, I could see the spouse expressing thanks/gratitude for the contract, but staying away from the financial part of it, if that makes sense.

    4. This is LW2*

      This is LW2 –

      Thank-you for all of the great comments! I’m convinced by this consensus that thanking spouse’s boss is a Bad Idea, so thank-you all for weighing in!

      As some of you suggested, my motivation was definitely more of “thank-you for showing husband that you appreciate his hard work” rather than “thanks for the money”. But you’ve all convinced me that it would still be weird, so I’ll stick with telling husband that I think his boss is a good guy :)

      Hey Karma’s comment about probably not feeling quite the same in 2019 as I do in 2020 really struck me – I would definitely be feeling the pain a lot more, and there would probably be tons of travel involved. A year ago, I think I would definitely be at the point of encouraging my husband to explore his options, whereas this year, its tolerable, for all of the reasons Karma mentioned. But I dont think this situation would have played out the same in 2019 either, which is why it feels more like he’s doing what he can to get through a rough time.

      1. Hey Karma, Over Here*

        Oh, cool!
        But yeah, the playing field has changed across the board. Your husband’s company realizes that and rewards its staff. And that is awesome. Because it isn’t always the way (even though it should be)
        I also wonder if my answer would be different if I hadn’t read so many horror stories here about managers and business owners who expect not only the same level, but more during this time, without acknowledging the pandemic…

  2. Megan*

    On letter 5, what if the company name changed (due to acquisition, merger, etc.) after you left?

    1. nonee*

      I would list it under the name for which I worked for it, but include the current name in brackets:

      Stew Stirrer
      Irish Stew (now Stews Plus)


      Stew Stirrer
      Irish Stew (known as Stews Plus since 2016)

        1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

          Huh. Is it expected by hiring managers that you should know and keep track of this sort of thing? I’ve never bothered to keep track of what happens to any of my previous employers after I’ve left (as opposed to my references, who I do keep an eye on) – and I kind of assumed it would be something the hiring manager looked into, if they found the employer no longer existed.

          Should applicants be looking up the companies to see if they’ve gone through an acquisition each time they apply for a job, or is it just a nice thing when we do it?

          And does that standard change when you get asked for something like “provide all employment in the last 10 years” while filling out an application?

          1. Raea*

            I would also be interested in hearing Alison’s response to this question. One of my previous employers I do look up every time I update my resume / LI, or provide references – but solely because it tends to change hands every few years, and consistently enough that I worry it will be difficult to verify my employment there if I don’t identify the flavor-of-the-week parent co. at that time.

            1. Kyrielle*

              I left a previous company when they were bought, only to learn a couple years later that the company that bought them had merged into another company by another name. So far that one hasn’t changed, but I admit I look it up periodically just to keep track of whether it’s changed again. That’s a large part of my work history, and who knows what records they still have of me….

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Yeah — I don’t think you have to do it — the question is about if you happen to know — but if something is a large part of your work history, as you say, it’s useful to be at least slightly aware of whether they’re still around, etc.

          2. Deliliah*

            I’m also in this situation. One of my companies has changed hands like four times (twice after I left). I have no idea what company owns them now. All the people I talk to who used to work there have moved on, so I don’t have any inside connections.

          3. Khatul Madame*

            Hiring often is contingent on a successful completion of a background check and/or verification of candidate’s employment or education history. By helping the company or the verifying body do their job faster you are helping yourself. Yes, the background checker should be savvy enough to dig deeper if a company is not found on the first page of Google results, but not all of them are (ask me how I know).

          4. BethDH*

            I do it only when I’m using a reference from there and it tends to happen naturally when I’m checking in with my references about availability.
            I don’t know if that’s correct but it is manageable. I would probably also do it in for a very similar company to the one I’m applying at, where the hiring manager might be familiar with the new company name and it might give them a better sense of how my experience would translate but I’ve never been in that situation.

        2. Bubarina*

          How would you list it if your workplace both changed names and then later closed down entirely?

          Stew Stirrer
          Irish Stew (known as Stews Plus since 2016, now closed)?????

          It’s the “now closed” part that seems clunky. And I can’t say “now out of business” because it was a school that closed down.

    2. SaraV*

      I’m not sure what exactly the correct way is, but I’ve been putting “Current Name, Inc. [Name When I Was There Co.]” on my resume. The reasoning being that if they happen to Google the company, they use the current (and correct) name.

    3. Kiitemso*

      A lot of companies have been acquired with my current company so we get a lot of calls like this. “Hey I tried calling Steel-Cut Oats but it connected to your switchboard?” “Yes, they merged with us a couple of years back. How can I help you?”

      As such, even my own CV looks like this:

      Oatmeal Pushers Inc (formerly Coates Oatmeal) 2019-current
      Maryville Oats Co (subsidiary of Coates Oatmeal) 2018-2019

      I am open to suggestions on how to make that less confusing if anybody has any.

      1. Mockingjay*

        I think most people are accustomed to business mergers and the associated name changes. These are commonplace since the leveraged buyouts of the 80s. I’ve got one on my resume.

        1. Lynn*

          I had one (now old enough not to be on my resume anymore, unless I am applying for a job banking). I worked for Joe’s Savings Bank, which got bought out by Sarah’s Savings and Loan while I still worked then and since they have gone through two other banks and is now Big Bank Incorporated.

          I usually went with Sarah’s Savings and Loan (formerly Joe’s Savings Bank, currently Big Bank Incorporated).

          It isn’t the most graceful thing, but it is common enough that I think it is pretty clear. And that way when they asked one of my references about it, whatever she said about the bank where we worked was consistent with what I was telling them.

        2. Brooks Brothers Stan*

          Especially the older it goes on a resume, the more likely it is in some industries that the companies simply don’t exist anymore—or the company that bought them out was merged into a different company which was then absorbed into another one. Or, as in the case of some contractors in the Beltway area, there’s the official name of the company (often as a result of mergers) and the one that most people know them by (because that’s the name they became famous under).

          Thus people are more likely to list that they work/worked for Triple Banana Peels (the well known name, that people reading a resume are likely to key in on) rather than Constellation (the official name who most people don’t even realize is the name).

        3. Mill Miker*

          Two of my former employers just announced that they’re merging, so my resume is about to get just a little more confusing.

    4. Firecat*

      I just write it as:
      Current name (f.k.a Name When I worked there)

      It’s short, simple, and to the point. I don’t see the need to spell out all the mergers and acquisitions. As long as you are confident HR can verify your years of service.

    5. Startup fan*

      All of this advice (regrettably including Alison’s) is inconsistent with standards within the startup community.

      If you’ve worked for a startup that has had an exit, you should indicate the nature of the exit, not simply say “formerly.” For example:

      Acme, Inc. (NASDAQ:Acme, IPO 2018)
      Vice-President, Marketing, 2014-current

      Acme, Inc. (acq. by Widget Corporation, 2018)
      Vice-President, Marketing, 2014-current

      If you downplay the exit, you’re shooting yourself in the foot.

      1. Brooks Brothers Stan*

        This is incredibly helpful and something I’m going to keep in mind to recommend to people. Having zero experience in the startup industry I never would have thought how important this would be. Thanks!

      2. gone anon*

        Yes, thank you for saying this!! It’s not the same as a name change, or a small business change of ownership – the exit is the goal for a startup. Having a work history with a startup that’s been acquired is something you absolutely want to highlight. It makes it clear to the hiring manager that you were part of a team that generated enough value for a successful exit! That’s key, and if you don’t style it this way, a hiring manager could very reasonably assume your work history is a string of unsuccessful ventures – not the most flattering presentation on a resume.

    6. NoviceManagerGuy*

      How do I show that my role changed at the same time as the acquisition, but that it was a promotion within the organization?

      So at Stews Inc, I was a Stew Stirrer, and at acquiring company Global Stew Industries, I was a Stew Stirring Manager.

    7. Mama Bear*

      I worked for a company that became an ESOP and changed its name. I listed the first position under the old name and then added a new line with the new company. In the description of duties, I included “remained with company after ESOP transition…”

  3. LizzE*

    I can commiserate with LW4. I applied for an internal position earlier this year, even making it to the final round. I didn’t get the job and my way of finding out, before before the hiring manager talked to me, was quite the oversight. I manage a unique function, so I am part of a small group of staff who get notified via an HR software that a new hire is starting in the next 4-8 weeks and to prepare for their arrival (e.g. get them computers, workspace, access to software related to their job, etc). These notifications include the full details of their name, title, department and supervisor, so I knew the moment I read the notification that this person was filling the job I applied for. Oof, that was jarring to deal with!

    1. Aggretsuko*

      Oh, I’ve got a related one! One of our temps found out she didn’t get hired for the permanent job to replace a retiring coworker because in a birthday party meeting the big boss started talking about getting the retiree’s computer back to pass it on to the winning person.

      Even worse: right after this meeting my boss and grandboss (I HIGHLY think this was grandboss’s idea) called her on Zoom afterwards. Grandboss decided she haaaaaaaated the temp during her interview and since boss wanted to hire her, we’re pretty sure this was all grandboss. And grandboss decided to take the opportunity to critique her interviewing until the girl started crying.

      1. allathian*

        That’s awful! Especially for the temp, but I expect it was awkward to witness as well.

    2. Beatrice*

      I found out I didn’t get the promotion I applied for, while attending a work happy hour, organized specifically for my team to let loose because we’d been working 60-hour 6-day weeks to wrap up a huge project. One of my coworkers mentioned something over drinks about the mutual acquaintance who did get the job starting soon. The manager who didn’t hire me never did set up a meeting with me to tell me I didn’t get it. It was a crazy time in general, and I understood how it happened, but still, it was a crappy blow.

      1. Time_TravelR*

        That is a crappy blow. Your boss should have spoken to you as soon as the other person accepted. I know it’s a hard discussion to have, but it’s a lot worse to hear it through the grapevine. I’m sorry!

      2. Anon For This*

        Some organizations just don’t get it. At a toxic job about a decade ago, I found out that *I* was being transferred to another department (basically a demotion in everything but pay) from the employee and his boss they were switching me out with. My soon-to-be-former boss knew nothing about it, so I stormed into my grandboss’s office demanding answers. Grandboss confirmed it and assured me that I’d get the same salary as before even though my job title would change. I said, “I really wish I had heard this from you rather than [other employee” and grandboss shrugged and said that “leaks about personnnel changes” weren’t her problem.

    3. Time_TravelR*

      I hate this! People need to learn to be discreet! And you are the first person, after the other person accepted, to have been told!

    4. RabbitRabbit*

      I found out at a meeting that was called to actually get everyone out of the office so that someone who was being let go could pack their desk. My boss, who this new job was directly reporting to, started talking about other office-related things to pass the time and make it less awkward, and got to the topic of this open manager position. And that’s when I found out the job – which would have been a huge boost in salary and ranking – was being pulled and reworked. So I had to sit there and listen to a very impersonal “you didn’t get the job (and it’s being reworked to get better candidates)” talk in front of the whole office, given by someone who knew I was gunning for it, while trying to act in front of my colleagues like this was nothing that pertained to me and completely irrelevant.

      1. Quiltrrr*

        My manager was let go in late May. I told the director I now reported directly to that I was interested in his position (I was qualified for it) after a week or so. She told me that I should definitely apply when it was posted.

        Then, I found out the position was eliminated and I reported now to someone with no experience in what we do, and no managerial experience. And I found out a couple of hours before I had to talk to the new manager. I’m literally the only person who can do what I do, with no backup now, for the whole company. I covered for my former manager for months when he was out last year.

        It would have been more money, and I would have finally become bonus-eligible as a manager. I can’t even describe how disappointed I am.

    5. Can’t*

      I’m so sorry you all learned disappointing news in such clunky way! That must really hurt to not be told privately, face to face.Even though it likely wasn’t meant to be announced to you this way, it’s still thoughtless.

      I used to work for a boss who would tell just about everyone else that someone was being let go just before the poor person was told themselves. It was the weirdest thing and made everyone uncomfortable. Some people just shouldn’t handle sensitive news that affects people’s livelihood.

    6. Rusty Shackelford*

      I applied for an internal promotion that was basically promised to me, as in, “it’s yours if you want to apply for it.” I found out I didn’t get it when someone left the new org chart on the copier. No one ever bothered to tell me. (And then that person, who had been a “family friend of the great grandboss” hire, turned out to be awful and I was asked to do the work anyway.)

    7. Shortstuff*

      LW4 I also had this kind of experience a couple of years ago. They’d said that they would contact everyone individually about whether they were successful or not and overlooked me. I found out when another unsuccessful applicant I’d compared notes with called me up to commiserate. I fedback to HR that the org really shouldn’t commit to individually contacting internal applicants if they weren’t going to be able to deliver that for everyone. I also asked for some developmental feedback on my interview from the hiring director. I got an apology on the process from him and some really insightful and helpful feedback, which I’ve taken onboard for other interviews (and now have a new and more senior job).

    8. CupcakeCounter*

      That’s not great but better than how I found out. The hiring manager of an internal position called all 3 candidates into a large meeting (including the entire current team and HR who I later discovered had NO IDEA what was going to happen) and started the meeting by congratulating the person who got the job before quickly moving into multiple pages of notes about why the other 2 candidates (myself included) didn’t get it and his recommendations for what we can do better next time. These had nothing to do with interview skills or anything relevant but were essentially a personal attack on working mothers since we had both taken time off for snow days and sick kids and that showed “a lack of dedication” to the job. Wardrobe choices were also mentioned.
      HR shut him down but they were in shock by what was happening so it took a hot minute. He was eventually demoted once they realized that the person who left had really run the department and under his watch they failed 2 financial audits because he really didn’t know what he was talking about.

    9. NRG*

      I found out I didn’t get an internal position when I found an ADD IN THE NEWSPAPER advertising the position. They had trouble finding anyone “young and fit” for SOME REASON. When I left there for a better job they were all “see you didn’t really want it”. Not any more, now that I’m going to work for a modern company, with better pay and compliance with labor laws. That place had all kinds of issues.

  4. Lyonite*

    OP5: The longest job on my resume is actually FOUR companies (company 1 went through some rough times and split into company 2, which was acquired by mega-company 3, which followed industry trends and split, sending me into company 4). I just list them all in reverse chronological order, with the dates for each, and hope for the best.

    1. Courtney*

      Something similar happened to my old work. It was so confusing! Company A split into Company B & C, while one of the owners from Company A moved to Company D. Company C (the one I worked for) was sold back to Company B, and I lost my job in the sale. I started at Company D, which is where I now work – technically has nothing to do with Company B, but everyone knows everyone at both businesses, because of Previous Owner

    2. Amaranth*

      Wouldn’t it be just as informative to put Current Name (originally established as Antique Teapots, Inc.)? Or are some of the interim corporate names more prestigious?

      1. RB*

        Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. I was part of Major Beverage Company X for many years but it was really just the local franchise and no one would have recognized that name. Then they got bought up a couple times by larger franchises which also had less-recognizable names and finally those franchises were swallowed up by the parent company, which is the name everyone recognizes. So that’s the name I listed all my jobs under.

      2. Lyonite*

        It would be weird, because the current company didn’t exist when I started working there, and the place I did start at still does, in a very different form. I think the way I have it listed works okay; this sort of thing is pretty common for my industry.

    3. with a comma after dearest*

      I have a crazy one too. I worked for a law firm “Alton Bates” for a year. During the final months of my time there, they merged with 2 firms, first “Carter Dennis” so the emails went out that the firm be henceforth known as Alton Bates Carter Dennis, and a month later, the international firm “Europa, Inc.” – cue another round of emails that the firm’s official name is Alton Bates Carter Dennis Europa Inc! I am not joking. Today the ABCDE jockeying is gone and they are known as Europa Alton.
      And to make things crazier, I worked for them through a temp agency, who was my true employer, but I haven’t made a resume in so long, I can’t remember their name!

    4. Spicy Tuna*

      My brother has worked for the same company for nearly 30 years. It’s been purchased or acquired 4 times!

  5. Janet*

    LW1: I’m so sorry you’re going through this, especially at the start of a new job. Wishing you well and hoping you can trick yourself into throwing yourself into the job. It might be a way to keep the sadness at bay at least until after hours. If it were me, I would think about online therapy, because who couldn’t use it a time like this? Reward yourself for getting through each day. Please update us when a little time has passed.

    1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

      That’s what I was going to say. Online therapy is a godsend- I also went through a horrible break up and was even in a foreign country and really couldn’t focus on work. Having a professional to help get me through those rough first days. Don’t give up on your job yet- and yeah, just attribute any hiccups to onboarding at this point. Also, it might be a good idea to talk to him about the results he wants to see but isn’t seeing, to show him you care about his frustrations and are making an effort to get things done for him. It sounds like he expected you to hit the ground running. What would it take for you to get to where he’s expecting you to be? Maybe focus some extra hours on that, on proving yourself to the old grouch, and see if doing so doesn’t make you feel at least more successful in one key area of your life. You need a win!

      1. Cassidy*

        Chiming in to suggest therapy (but not to recommend, as I am not a professional).

        Years ago, I was kind of in the same boat: a somewhat difficult boss (though not as bad as what yours sounds like, OP) AND a very sad and painful breakup. Looking back, I should have gotten therapy, as I wound up in a depressed state for about five years, and, while I’ve regained my normal happiness and optimism, I will always wonder if I’d be in even a better place had I gotten professional help for coping strategies. I oriented myself around my pain and it did me no good.

        Feel what you must, OP, but I do suggest professional input. It really could make things a whole lot easier to bear, including your grouch of a boss, and shorten the time in which you do so. I know I am a complete stranger, but I truly am sorry for what you’re going through. Take it day by day – hour by hour if you need to – but there is a light at the end of this tunnel. Really.

    2. insertusernamehere*

      So sorry, LW1. It just sucks. I’m not sure if this would help to focus on (and definitely do not want to minimize), but one upside of remote work is that you can be a little less “on” – meaning you don’t have to force a smile, do your hair, look polished and act perky, drag yourself to the office on time. It might be even harder to keep up the charade if you had to be in person. Do your very best to be kind to yourself and try to self care – and focus on the things you can control – getting enough sleep, fueling your body with healthy things, hydrate, and exercise if you can. Sometimes you can’t and that’s okay too. Try to look at the job as a way to keep your finances in order and do what you can to get the work done. All you can do is the best you can do. Don’t beat yourself up for it. Breakups can feel horrific and often don’t get the same kind of support as a divorce, death, etc – even though your world and future has just been shattered. Compartmentalize as best as you can to get the work done and the things that will. make the boss the happiest. That’s not sustainable long-term, but hopefully you can find ways to just get through the roughest patch of this. It will get better.

    3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I was definitely going to suggest self-care/coping techniques. I used a CBT therapist once and that helped too.

      I had a bad year 7 years ago, when first my dad passed away (and I didn’t even have time to grieve, as I was the only English-speaking adult in the immediate family, so it fell to me to organize the funeral, notify places like his bank and the SS office and so on), then I started a new job six weeks later, and then my boyfriend of two years decided to break up with me out of the blue another two months later! (We’d met for our normal weekly after-work picnic+hike date, he brought a picnic dinner, we ate, then hiked, then out of nowhere came two large bags with all my stuff from his apartment, he gave them to me, broke up, and left. And I still had a 40 mile drive home from the hiking spot.) I’d been at that job for a couple of months by then, and had worked with most of my teammates at my previous job, which did make things easier. But I was also training a new hire, and participating in training calls with another company that we’d wanted to take over their software from. I could not think straight in the first few weeks after the breakup, but tried to power through it anyway as if nothing had happened. It did not work. I kept making mistakes that I wouldn’t in normal times. Made the other company’s owner so angry that he hung up on me and the new hire 5 minutes into a training call. Made an IM comment about Other Company to a work friend, who was at the moment sharing his screen with all of them. That type of thing. If I hadn’t worked with most of my teammates for years by then, I could’ve seriously jeopardized my job. Sharing this to say that, while the boss and grandboss don’t need to know, I would definitely recommend respecting the grieving process and taking care of yourself. Based on the update below though, looks like OP1 is already doing that, and is feeling better, which is great news!

  6. Lena Clare*

    Stew stirrer, LOL.
    There was another great job title a few weeks ago, but I can’t remember what it was… Cake tester maybe? Or beverage tester?

      1. The Rural Juror*

        Flour sifter. I love sifting flour with my little contraption with a spring-loaded handle. I’d do that all day!

    1. Senor Montoya*

      When we were very small, my dad told us, with a completely straight face, that he had been a Dog Biscuit Taster.

      I was disappointed when I discovered that this was not exactly true…

  7. Chocolate Teapot*

    I would do the same, as one of my previous companies has gone through several mergers then been spun off, so it might not be obvious that Irish Stew is now Coq au Vin sommes nous.

  8. not always right*

    LW1: Your grand boss sounds just like an a-hole boss I once had. If you want to keep your job (I wouldn’t but with Covid…) Do.Not.Ask.For.Time.Off. He will not grant it and he will hold it against you. He will not have any sympathy towards your breakup and he will hold it against you.
    Missing an email invitation is a mistake, but not the end of the world. If he does make it A BIG DEAL and gives you grief over it, please try not to take it personally and just know that sooner or later, he will hold it against you.
    My second best advice to you is to try to distance yourself emotionally when you have to deal with him. Just realize that he is an A-hole and he will always be that way and he will always be difficult and to just not let yourself take it personally. My first best advice to you is to find another job ASAP

    1. Taniwha Girl*

      I also think LW should keep an eye out for this boss… I know financially you need the job but this one doesn’t sound like you will be able to succeed and be happy there long-term, regardless of your personal life.

      1. Kiki*

        Yes, I’d also like to bring up that for most professional jobs, a boss who is complaining about a lack of results and setting unreachable goals within the first two weeks is likely disconnected from the reality of work and doesn’t bode well for the future. There are jobs that are exceptions to this and maybe the situation will improve with time and I truly hope they do, but I wouldn’t stop applying to other jobs that seem interesting/better.

    2. WellRed*

      Agreed to all this. The breakup sucks and the timing is awful but I suspect this is the tip of the boss iceberg. Usually people are on their best behavior, with more understanding and patience in the first few weeks. This guy isn’t. op do what you need to do to care for yourself but not on “company” time. Get some air and exercise, get s therapist, call a friend, wallow this weekend, but don’t ask for time off.

    3. Workerbee*

      Agreeing wholeheartedly. LW, you probably don’t want to have to add the weight of job searching again so soon. This boss is, alas, an ass. Nothing you can do will change that and nothing about you is causing it. There is better for you out there!

    4. Mediamaven*

      I think we need to be open to the fact that there are two sides to every situation here. Missing a meeting invitation in the first two weeks is something that would bother me.

      1. Anya Last Nerve*

        I agree, Mediamaven. Looking at what OP wrote from a manager’s viewpoint, you have a brand new employee who is distracted, saying she can’t achieve the goals you have set out for her, and missed a meeting invitation. I would be very concerned, as a manager. I have never had a new hire start off badly and then drastically improve – rather, I find that people are typically the best they are going to be the first 3 months, so I would be wondering if OP was a bad fit for the role. I feel awful for OP, because I’ve had work suffer through a break-up years ago and it was not pretty, but I don’t think she can ask for time off right now given how new she is. I would co-sign the suggestions that she consider therapy and take good care of herself to try and recover.

      2. LITJess*

        Yes, that’s where I am too. I’m sorry for LW1 situation, but she needs to think of the optics of the situation. This is your last chance for a first impression, and in a new job you want it to be a good one. Unfortunately, your boos/co-workers don’t know what you’re struggling with in your personal life right now (NOTE: nor do I advise telling them!) and as you’re so new, you don’t really know what makes them tick yet either.

        Some other commenters have suggested online/phone therapy if that’s an option. If you can put your head down and plow through at least during working hours, maybe you can treat it like a distraction? I know that’s a big ask – I’m not sure I’d be able to do it. And I think this would be a different situation if you were more established at your job, but you’re still an unknown. Who’s made some, while understandable, missteps that make you appear flakey to your boss.

        Please, for your own job security and happiness, try to figure out a path forward to get through the day.

  9. Julia*

    LW1 – I’d change the advice slightly. Alison seems to have been answering the narrow question “should I ask for time off?” whereas I interpreted your question as the broader “how do I explain my misstep to my boss and ask for what I need?”

    I’d recommend you reach out ASAP to apologize for missing the meeting and let him know briefly what you’re changing in order to ensure it doesn’t happen again. I would not recommend letting him know anything about your personal life or asking for lenience, not until you’ve built a track record of good work. You say you’re worried an explanation will sound like an excuse, so instead of “I’m sorry, I’m going through a breakup and feeling spacey”, try “I’m sorry, I missed the email because I didn’t have desktop email notifications set up, but now I have enabled those and will also make sure to check my phone if I’m briefly away from my desk”.

    I’m really sorry about your breakup. That sucks a lot, especially right now. Hugs.

    1. yup yup*

      This is good advice. OP is still making a first impression and that impression should definitely not be “too heartbroken to work” because that will NOT serve her well at that job. Terrible timing for a breakup, but OP is going to have to gut it out a bit at this job if she wants to succeed.

  10. Invisible Fish*

    Talk to me about Soups of Idaho … this sounds like my kind of place! ;) Anyone got a link to a menu? (If anyone plans to start a soup restaurant, they have to name it that, regardless of where it is.)

    1. Time_TravelR*

      Because I have never been to Idaho, that name would make me think it’s all potato soups! (Not a bad thing!!)

  11. lydon*

    re: LW2 – I was trying to think whether there are *any* scenarios where I, a manager, want to hear from someone’s spouse in anything other than a social chit-chat capacity, other than telling me they’re sick that day and incapable of telling me themselves. There was one example I could think of where I did really appreciate it.
    One of my team had been exhibiting odd behaviour – was clearly very stressed while under no pressure, unnecessarily focussed on detail to the point of aggression towards colleagues – and generally clearly in poor mental health. I needed them not to be at work at that point, so I sat them down, and without getting into any detail about their health, told them they didn’t seem okay to me (which they apparently had no awareness of), and to take some time off to figure things out, whatever that looked like (not US, so we have ample paid sick leave).
    They did so, came back much improved after a month and ultimately left the industry shortly thereafter as it clearly wasn’t a good environment for them.
    I don’t think you ever know if you’re doing the right thing as a manager in those situations so in that one instance, I really did appreciate their spouse contacting me to thank me and tell me I’d done the right thing.

    1. The Rural Juror*

      I work for a small company (5 employees) and we have a Christmas dinner every year at the boss’s house that includes spouses/significant others. I overheard the wife of the newest team member mention to the boss that she noticed her husband was much happier working for our company than he had been at his last. She didn’t talk about anything specific, didn’t trash talk his old job, just mentioned his overall demeanor had been better, then moved on. I could tell the boss appreciated that, so I really don’t think it was inappropriate for her to say it.

    2. Anya Last Nerve*

      One year when I gave a direct report a title promotion, her husband send me flowers…at work!!! It was so awkward and weird. I think it would really be a very one-off and unique situation where contact from a spouse would be appreciated (like you mention, lydon).

    3. Bryeny*

      So Lydon, are you saying you did hear from your employee’s spouse about the odd behavior, or that you would have welcomed hearing something?

  12. Beatrice*

    Letter 5: My company is a huge parent corporation that owns several distinct brands (think Frito-Lay). I started working for one brand and got promoted to a corporate role, but moved to a different brand to get my first management role, then got promoted to a corporate position again. I list them all like separate companies on LinkedIn and my resume now, but would probably combine them under the corporate name if I job hunted again.

  13. Time_TravelR*

    I wish people would learn and understand the need for discretion. OP should not have found out through the grapevine about anything to do with the promotion. Even if you somehow happen to have this information legitimately, if it’s not your place to share, please don’t!

  14. Beth Jacobs*

    # 1 I am going to be painfully honest – I think telling your boss about a break up and asking for time off to recover from it is a bad idea in any new job. Since you don’t have a proven track record, this will be how you make your first impression. Though unfair, the first impression might be “unreliable, dramatic and labile”.
    And that’s just speaking *generally*. Since your boss also seems to suck, it’s even more true!
    I’m sorry OP, I really am. Break ups suck, new jobs are stressful, the pandemic is stressful and involuntary WFH can be hell. Dealing with all that at once must be really hard!

    1. Lily Rowan*

      I totally agree with this. I would only have said “breakup” out loud to my best and longest-standing bosses, honestly. Even with decent bosses, I would probably just say “personal day” or whatever.

      I am sorry, OP.

    2. breakups*

      Have to agree here, sadly. Breakups are hard enough when you do have support. When your boss is like this on top of everything else, it makes it that much harder. Even a supportive boss wouldn’t likely want this much information at the outset of your professional relationship. Some people have very close bonds with their bosses, but it’s the kind of thing formed over time, and is not always the best thing business-wise in the longterm. I think focusing your efforts on finding a job with a kinder boss would give you something to take your focus away from the breakup. But, please don’t go into a job search thinking even a kind boss would want to hear about a breakup right away.

    3. Escapee from Corporate Management*

      I agree. Breakups suck, but as a manager, I would have been concerned if a new employee started sharing that level of detail about their personal life. This is particularly true if there were already tensions between the employee and myself after two weeks on the job. It doesn’t matter if your boss is causing the tensions; they still will impact how he views the request.

      That leads to an important point: the expectations gap. You want to plan and he wants results. You see unachievable goals and he sees pushback. From your phrasing, you are assigning all of the blame to him. Before doing that, I recommend you take a step back and analyze the situation. What results can you deliver during your on-boarding stage? What is the best way to discuss goals (e.g., does your pushing back take into account why he has set these goals)? Why did he set these goals?

      That doesn’t mean your boss isn’t a jerk. However, he is your boss and you need to be able to work with him if you want to succeed at this job.

      1. Anya Last Nerve*

        Very well-said. I don’t necessarily see the things that OP said about her manager to make him a “jerk.” He wants a new employee to achieve certain goals – isn’t that what managers do?

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      This is my response as well. I’ve personally seen this unravel for someone new to a job right on the heels of not just a breakup, a nasty one at that. It ended up in termination of employment because there was no overcoming fast enough in the end.

      People often have very little sympathy for those they don’t know, some people simply have no compassion for even people they know. I always assume someone is one without compassion until I know otherwise because it’s easier to guide myself through the “stranger danger” zone of a new business or personal relationship.

      This sucks for the OP and my heart hurts for them because it’s an unfair reality.

      1. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

        Yup. Another part of this that’s even more work-specific is that people often have less sympathy for someone who isn’t otherwise a solid performer, which is even more challenging when someone hasn’t had much time at all to establish a record of performance. Disclosing a situation like the OP’s can easily be misinterpreted as an excuse in light of how they’ve been at their job so far, which doesn’t help matters.

  15. Anon for this*

    #4 Where I work, as the hiring manager I am not allowed to tell candidates whether they were selected or not. I pick my selection, identify an alternate, and send it off to HR. They do all the notifying – which often takes a long time. There have been cases where the selected person declines the job, or there is an error in the (sometimes labyrinthine) hiring process and they have to start over. In all cases HR maintains control. If asked directly by a candidate, I will give them the bad news, but I do not reach out – it is very bad to get on the wrong side of HR. It is unfortunate that people find out through the grapevine.

  16. Granger Chase*

    LW #1: I’m sorry you’re having to deal with a breakup, especially on top of starting a new job! The end of a long term relationship is always difficult, but more so when it has added a financial strain on you, as you mentioned in your letter.
    Your boss at this new job sounds…wholly unreasonable. I agree that it’s not wise to ask for any time off because you’re so new. But I also think that you may want to consider if this job is really the right fit. It sounds like your boss is setting you up for failure if he’s already setting unrealistic goals and expecting you to meet them before you’ve even been fully on-boarded. And when you’re working remotely, no less (as I feel remote on-boarding likely takes more time than if it was done in person). My recommendation would be to start applying for other jobs while working here. If it is this clear only two weeks in that it’s not a great fit because of your boss, I think it’s worth it to at least try to find something else if you can, although I understand how difficult that can be right now. And applying for jobs + interview prep can be a great distraction to keep your mind off of the breakup and the stressors at your current job.
    Again, I’m sorry you have to deal with all of this right now. I’m wishing you the best of luck & hopefully each day starts getting easier for you!

    1. Quiet Liberal*

      I agree. I’m sorry your new boss isn’t letting you at least complete the onboarding process before expecting you to perform like someone who has been there a while. That right there is pretty unreasonable. Plus having to deal with a painful, private issue during all of this really sucks. I have no advice to add, just feel badly for you.

  17. Hiring Mgr*

    On #4, it sounds like you’re pretty confident that the info is accurate, but something to keep in mind is that the “grapevine” can be wrong, or just rumor, speculation, etc.

    Years ago I was interviewing for an internal promotion myself, and according to the grapevine I had been chosen, people were congratulating me etc… You can guess what happened was just talk and of course I wasn;t selected, so just saying sometimes you really do need to wait for the official announcement

  18. Eve*

    I was a temp for a company for months and my manager encouraged me to apply for other permanent positions around the company. The first one I interviewed for I found out I didn’t get because the hiring manager for that position brought the person around to meet me and everyone else. I excused myself to cry in the bathroom. My current temp manager was horrified and in retrospect I’m glad I wasn’t hired. Who wants to work for someone who would do that?

    1. Fabulous*

      Wow! Unfortunately that’s still better than one of the temp jobs I worked before… It was about 3pm on a Friday and I had just gotten the call from HR about a permanent position I’d interviewed for. I didn’t get it – which I understood, it seemed like they wanted someone with different aspirations than I had – and we ended the call on a decent note. At the end of the day, I had to leave our (locked) suite to pick up my lunchbox from the kitchen and when I returned my badge didn’t work on the door. Thankfully someone was there to let me back in to get my purse and car keys, and I went home for the day per normal. I got a call a few hours later from my boss that they’d terminated my contract immediately following that call! Like, WTF, I still had a bunch of personal things I’d left in the office! They wouldn’t even let me come back to collect my things, I had to coordinate it with a coworker. Assholes.

  19. Mockingjay*

    #3, you’re fine. The job of a recruiter is literally to connect with people! And LinkedIn is a tool to do just that.

    The phrasing in your message was apt; he reached out, you connected, and you followed up with a brief invite to discuss further. Professional and to the point. Good luck on your applications!

    1. Hey Karma, Over Here*

      The recruiter is doing you a favor, OP. S/he is not muddying the waters about your application. You applied independently and the recruiter is respecting that, for the benefit of you both.
      Even meeting with you could change that.

    2. I was never given a name*

      My understanding of the way recruiting operates is that recruiters get credit (get paid) if they’re the first point of contact between you and the application process. It’s entirely possible that once the recruiter learned (from you) that you’d already applied, they shifted their focus to other potential candidates. You did everything right, OP.

    3. Way Too Nervous*

      Letter Writer #3 here – sorry to be responding so late; busy day at my current job! I appreciate the reassurance and well-wishes. I think I’m just so unaccustomed to being contacted by a recruiter that I somehow convinced myself I’d done the wrong thing! :)

  20. Delta Delta*

    #5 – I would buy soup from Soups of Idaho. In fact, I’d apply to be their general counsel, if they were hiring.

    1. HailRobonia*

      I think the rule is if any of us creates a real company based on the made-up AAM ones (Llama Groomers Inc., etc.) we are required to give Alison some credit and some free merchandise (I picture her wondering “why did someone mail me a llama brush?!?!?)

      1. Sleepless*

        I spent many years showing livestock. Grooming cattle for shows is one of the most relaxing and fun things I have ever done. I would work as a llama groomer in a heartbeat.

  21. KuklaRed*

    LW#1 – I understand that breakups are hard and handling all the emotional fall out can be difficult and devastating. But do you really want to put your livelihood at risk because of this? You need to set some healthy boundaries and try to compartmentalize your emotions during working hours.

    Look, I have been down this road. At one point in my life, I was simultaneously dealing with the not so slow decline of both of my parents’ health (I was the primary caretaker), the rapid decline of my marriage to a violent and abusive man, caring for my 2 children who were 4 and 7 at the time, and working a very demanding job with a long commute into NYC. There were days when I thought I wouldn’t be able to get dressed, let alone deal with all of this and be professional at work too. But my job was what kept the roof over our heads, food on the table, and the bills paid. So I plowed through and did what needed to be done. Not always very well, but I am no superwoman.

    I think working from home adds an extra level of difficulty here because it is harder to have boundaries in your life when there is no office to go to. You are just home, all the time, trying to deal with everything at the same time. But do try to stay focused during working hours and use that as a way of healing. You are what is most important here. The breakup will fade with time. You will get through this.

    1. breakups*

      +1. I hate to sound unsympathetic to LW, but as someone who’s been through some pretty horrible life experiences while working… you just do it. It wasn’t heroics, it was necessity.

      1. KuklaRed*

        Yes, exactly. Breakups suck moose, but hey, life happens and if you can’t roll with it you will get run over.

  22. Carlie*

    LW1: Perhaps as a tiny bit of solace, look up video of James Acaster on the Great British Bake Off. He had to do that show two days after his girlfriend broke up with him (no one on the show knew). One bit became a meme because his comment on his food disaster was “Started the bake, had a breakdown… bon appetit.” Might at least feel like a little shared situation. It’s really tough to soldier on, so be as kind to yourself as you are able.

    1. CoffeeforLife*

      Aww. I didn’t know that about him. Makes him all the more likeable.

      I miss the show and wish I had access to the recent Derry Girls Holiday bakes

    2. Quill*

      Oh I remember that episode!

      He was so much more graceful under pressure than several other contestants. IIrc, he survived to the next week too!

    3. Alex (UK)*

      Oh I didn’t know that! That goes some way to explaining his absolutely hilarious performance, although I imagine even if the breakup hadn’t happened, it still wouldn’t have been stellar performance. Love James Acaster, but I think he’s more suited to eating than making food!

      The “Off Menu” podcast is a great listen, if you’re a fan of James Acaster. Basically JA & his comedian friend Ed Gamble talk to special guests about their dream meal. It’s bonkers, but brilliant!

      1. londonedit*

        He’s also doing a podcast based on the fact that during his ‘terrible year’ in 2017 (which I’m guessing must be when the aforementioned break-up happened) in an attempt to cheer himself up he bought tons of albums released the year before, convinced as he was that 2016 was the greatest year ever in music. The podcast is him trying to convince everyone else – and a guest every week – that he’s right. It’s called Perfect Sounds.

  23. Rusty Shackelford*

    For #1, I wonder if it would be appropriate to say something like “sorry, I’ve been distracted lately by a family emergency.” Just to let him know that you’re aware that you’re not quite on top of your game (though it seems like he expects too much at this point!) and it’s temporary.

    1. cmcinnyc*

      Not this guy. He sounds like the type who prides himself on being cold and heartless. It will just open OP up to more of his crap.

  24. Fabulous*

    #5 – My current job history is a bit convoluted like this. I started working for Company A under a temp contract. Company A had recently been acquired by Company X, and after a couple years, Company A merged with Company B (another company under ownership of Company X). And a short time after that, I started working directly for Company X.

    I have them all listed under the same heading on my resume:

    Company X
    Llama Trainer, 2019-present
    Llama Groomer, 2017-2019
    >Hired permanently at Company A (now known as Company B)
    Assistant Groomer, 2016-2017
    >Worked with Company A (acquired by Company X in 2015)

  25. Forrest*

    My mum died on the Friday of my second week in a new job. I was in the middle of a conversation with my brand new boss, and my phone rang, and I just automatically reached out my hand and said, “Oh, I have to take this,” and was vaguely aware of my boss’s complete, “the HELL???!” face.

    As it was, he was absolutely fantastic both then and there and over the next couple of weeks as we organised the funeral and everything. But sometimes I wonder about how awkward it would have been if I’d had to be like, “Oh sorry, that was just my dad asking what I want for tea” afterwards!

  26. Not a Real Giraffe*

    #5 has me wondering if I should be listing my job title first instead of my employer? I’ve always listed it on my resume as:

    Company, City, State (Dates)
    Job Title
    – bullets
    – bullets

    Does it matter?

    1. juliebulie*

      It probably doesn’t matter much, but your job title is more important on a resume, so you should really put it first.

      1. Beth Jacobs*

        Hm, I think that depends on the industry. I’m a lawyer and though I’ve held different titles, they are pretty vague and don’t transfer well between law firms and government orgs. I list employers first instead, since they’re recognisable to everyone in the industry.
        So I think you should go for what’s more important for the hiring manager to see. Is it more impressive that you were a “junior/senior associate” or that you worked at “Allen and Overy”?

        1. Renata Ricotta*

          Yeah, I think it makes more sense if your titles are meaningful to people outside of the company or descriptive in some particular way.

          Since I graduated law school, all of my titles have been some version of “Attorney.” If I stick around private practice long enough to make partner I might include that, but probably underneath the firm name because “partner” is much more or less meaningful depending on the firm.

          1. Sled Dog Mama*

            It’s similar in my field. Every title is going to be some variation on Physicist/Medical physicist (Junior, Senior, Staff, Chief etc.) and while they mean something to other physicists (Junior and Staff have a very specific difference in meaning) the hiring manager isn’t going to know or care usually (unless they are a physicist). They are going to care a lot more about which companies I’ve worked at and what my experience was.

  27. ACM*

    I feel that the answer to “Can I contact my partner’s boss…” is pretty much always “no”. Struggling to think of a situation where it wouldn’t be. Anyone?

    1. BottleBlonde*

      If your spouse’s boss does something nice for your family that falls in the personal realm (gift for a special event, food or some other help after a surgery or illness) I would think it would be ok to contact them, at least as part of a joint thank you.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        I think this is where thank-you cards are really handy, as the spouse you can certainly sign one of those to have your spouse hand to their boss in that event.

        Example, you have a baby and the boss sends home a baby-shower gift. It’s okay to write a note that says “Thank you for the lovely baby gift, Boss-Person. We appreciate the thought.” and then sign it personally and have your spouse deliver it.

        TBH I’d just send my partner to work with bagels or something for everyone, boss included if we got a surprise extra bonus in “normal office” times.

    2. Parenthetically*

      “…when my partner is so ill they can’t get to the phone to call in sick (or in a similar emergency).”

      1. Pomona Sprout*

        Exactly. In 46 years of marriage, the only times either my spousal unit or I have ever contacted the other’s employer was under some variation of that scenario. And I can count the number of times that’s happened on one hand and still have fingers left.

    3. HailRobonia*

      Your partner is extremely ill and unable to communicate on their own (or similar situation) to call in sick is the obvious one.

    4. Senor Montoya*

      I was in the hospital and incapable of talking coherently to anyone. So my husband called my boss about that.

      Only other times are when I’ve had laryngitis and literally could not talk. Nowadays I email, before email I had a family member / roommate call.

      That’s it, and I’ve been employed for over forty years.

    5. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      No partner here, but I was thinking of giving my sons my work contact info, so they can tell my boss/grandboss if boss isn’t available, if I am either so ill or so badly injured that I cannot contact them myself, or I’m dead. These are the only situations I can think of. Basically it would have to be 1) something the boss absolutely has to know about, that 2) I am physically unable to tell them myself.

    6. ThatGirl*

      Basically the only time is in case of illness where the partner is incapacitated/unable to call. Back in 2007 I had to call in for my brand-new husband to his new job because he was lying on the bathroom floor puking at regular intervals. I might still do the same under those circumstances if only because I do know his boss a little bit but he would also be able to text now – his boss back in those days was both quite new to him and not someone he could’ve casually texted for work.

      But anyway – aside from serious illness, accident or injury there’s not really a reason to do so.

    7. Zanzibar Buck-Buck McFate*

      My husband was seriously injured a few weeks after starting a new job. I emailed his boss updates while he was hospitalized but by the time he came home he was off the heavy duty narcotics and able to take over the correspondence himself.

    8. Foxgloves*

      I think the rule is “Would it be okay for a stranger to contact the boss in this situation?”. For example, soon into new a job, I was involved in a car accident (not my fault) about 20 minutes from my office, and another driver stopped and called my office for me while I was trying to call the police/ get the other driver’s details/ etc. If a partner had been there, it would have been okay for them to call (and I followed up as soon as I was able to). Similarly, if I was rushed to hospital with my work ID and no other info, it would make sense for a member of hospital staff to call my work- and it would make sense for my partner to in that situation too.
      Bit of a weird rule, but I think it works- makes you think about how extreme it needs to be for a partner to call!

    9. Jaxom of Ruth*

      My partner emailed the details of our children’s births to family. I had him add my boss each time. Three different bosses actually. It was the standard Kid born with time. Mom and baby are doing well. I had no interest in dealing with that shortly after birth.

  28. BottleBlonde*

    I have a similar question to number 5 (apologies if this is not an appropriate place to ask). How would you list a job on your resume if part of your company (including your whole team) split off to create a brand new company, but the old company still exists? My job, manager, etc. is all still the same.

    I have it listed like two separate jobs now but it looks a bit odd since the descriptions are very similar.

    1. Bryeny*

      That happened to me and like you, I first listed the gig as two jobs. (You can make them look a bit more different by listing one or two accomplishments only in the more recent position, even if they overlap.) As the jobs receded in the rearview mirror, I streamlined the accomplishments and listed them all under a double heading, like this:

      Technical Writer, Buying Company (1995 – 2001)
      Technical Writer, Bought Company (1991 – 1995)
      – Cool thing I did
      – Another cool thing I did
      – Collection of related cool things I did

      1. Bryeny*

        Sorry, I confused myself on which resume entry I wanted to tell you about, but I think the answer still applies. Think of the employers as Spin-Off Company and Original Company instead of Buying and Bought.

  29. HailRobonia*

    #2 reminds me of scenarios I’ve seen in movies and TV shows (and some ads for a sketchy for-profit university) where everyone is gathered together in a conference room for the Big Boss to announce the promotion. Of course the situation is always that the person who was expecting it was not promoted, instead their sleazy colleague gets the promotion.

    Is this really a thing outside of fiction? Are there really workplaces that do this?

    1. SomebodyElse*

      It’s probably more fair to say that there are boss’ who do this. And it’s really crappy whether intentional or unintentional.

      I’d say more often than not it’s a matter of crossed wires and/or a mistake, as mentioned in some of the comment examples.

      I think the worst thing I’ve seen was watching someone find out they were losing their job in a company wide all hands call. He had been visiting our site that week, and joined the office for the call. The big announcement was that they were closing our headquarters and relocating it to a new state, and all the people who were being kept on had been contacted and offered relocation. He worked out of headquarters and had not been contacted. It seems that in the confusion of all of the activities his boss/HR had missed him in the meetings that had been going on earlier that day. He was obviously devastated and worse as soon as it was announced the whole room turned to look at him.

      1. juliebulie*

        I was at an all-hands meeting where the big boss revealed the new org chart. One employee asked why he wasn’t on it. You guessed it… he was about to be terminated. The org chart had been unveiled prematurely.

        That was awkward!

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          At an OldJob, we had an all-hands meeting where, 5-10 minutes before the meeting, as we were all sitting in the room waiting for it to start, a door in the back opened and someone asked a well-liked middle manager to step out, as they needed to talk to him. He left the room, the meeting started, we were shown a new org chart… dead silence and, after a minute, somebody asking, “Hey why is Fergus not on the chart?” Meanwhile Fergus was being escorted out of the building after having been laid off. Ours was 100% intentional. We’d recently been acquired (by Idaho Stews, lol) and the new owner was cleaning house and getting rid of a lot of the key people from Idaho Soups, one at a time.

        2. JustaTech*

          The last time my company got around to showing us our org chart (about 4 years ago, and no matter how often I ask they won’t let us see our own org chart, anyway) my coworker, who’d been there forever, wasn’t on it.
          So she asked “Hey, why am I not on the chart?”
          Big boss looks at the chart again and says “oh shoot, we forgot you. You’re not fired, sorry!”

          Not a great day, but better than it could have been.

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            I’m glad that it ended well, but what possible reasons can a company’s leadership have for hiding the org chart from the very people that are on it? I don’t get this.

    2. Anonymity*

      Why does the colleague have to be sleazy? They may just be a better candidate. If it’s me I just let it go.

      1. LutherstadtWittenberg*

        The OP’s referring to all the fictional scenarios wherein the person who gets the job is inevitably sleazy or underqualified.

  30. SomebodyElse*

    LW1 is a tough one. And honestly I can see it from all sides.

    Starting a new job is discombobulating enough, without the added personal issues. That being said and setting aside the boss’ expectations for a minute. I would muddle through as best as you can. Nothing cited as far as mistakes is a deal breaker and can be easily covered under ‘new job’ settling. But unless you are going through something truly extraordinary such as a death in the family you should keep it to yourself.

    You know that you aren’t at your best, but at this point your boss doesn’t know what your baseline is. As unfair as it seems, personal issues affecting job performance in the first 3 or so months of a new job is likely going to part of what forms your new boss and coworkers opinions of you. These people are already actively judging you and with a very small amount of data as they don’t have a large frame of reference.

    So my practical advice is the hard advice… do your best to focus on your new job as much as you can while you are working through this. Good luck and sorry for your breakup.

  31. LW1*

    Hi all, just popping in to say thanks for the support. I think I was feeling like my work life was just as precious as my relationship had been, which is why I was so scared about the mistake. Emotions are so funny like that. I’m doing my best and the week has already gotten a bit easier.

    1. SomebodyElse*

      Glad to hear that things are going better for you. Starting a new job is hard and breakups are brutal. Doing both at once is absolutely going to be difficult.

  32. Ophelia Bumblesmoop*

    So glad you are experiencing some grace this week. Setting new routines after ending a relationship – whether a personal, romantic, or work one – is emotionally exhausting. You can do it!

  33. Ophelia Bumblesmoop*

    LW3 – I know your concern is the contact with the recruiter, but I also see a comment that it’s been a few days since you applied and you haven’t heard anything. I don’t know what educational institution you are trying to work for, but Higher Ed/post-secondary in the US is notorious for being very slow in their hiring process. I applied for a position in the beginning of June. I got a call back at the end of August asking if I was still interested in the position. Did a phone interview and in person interview. Job offer came at the beginning of October. After ten years, I switched to K-12 and it was a night-and-day difference. I applied on Wednesday, had a panel interview Monday, met with the principal and the supervisor for the position on Thursday morning, had a job offer at lunch time.

    1. Way Too Nervous*

      Letter Writer #3 here! Thank you for sharing your experience. I currently work in higher ed, and I know just how ridiculously slow it can be at times! Part of my worries about the message was that I’m not familiar with recruiters intervening in the process for higher ed jobs, so that felt a little unusual. The functional area I am applying to is very different, though, which could explain the change (think Student Services, where I am now, vs. IT/eLearning). For now, though, I’m going to take Alison’s (and others’) wonderful advice and put those applications out of my mind, in order to focus on the next one!

  34. Zanzibar Buck-Buck McFate*

    I’m the boss’s wife and happened to catch a glimpse of the employees’ spouses faces at the office holiday party (everyone + SO, fancy restaurant, on the company) when my husband announced to everyone that they had finished setting up a 401k with the maximum permissible match. They looked DELIGHTED. But none of the spouses thanked him because that would have been weird.

    1. Anonymity*

      Super weird. It’s part of the compensation package. Plus it’s overstepping a boundary. You may be a couple but you’re a private individual when it comes to your job.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Yeah it’s weird when it’s part of a compensation package, even the employee themselves shouldn’t say thank you for a 401K match.

      People have thanked me for raises or bonuses or a IRA match, my response is always “No, thank YOU, you earned the compensation!”

  35. Steve*

    I had a job once that was actually two part-time jobs– two businesses of the same type with the same owner, but distinct. I would work at the first site all morning, then go to the second for the afternoon. My duties were basically identical at both places and I reported to the same supervisor (although he had two different managers). I collected two different paychecks (from the same office) but there was never any question about the fact that they were a package deal; they didn’t want two PT employees. If I needed to spend extra time at one site or the other, the change wasn’t tracked on my time sheets. It’s a moot point now because it was decades ago and unrelated to the work I do now, but was always a little puzzled how to write it up.

    I went with:

    Wernham-Hogg / Dundler Miflin
    Warehouse manager
    June 2001-August 2003
    Manged the warehouses of two associated paper companies

  36. Anonymity*

    The only boss anyone should ever be discussing compensation with is their OWN. Stay out of it.

  37. AnonPi*

    #4 I’ve been in the same boat. I applied for a middle manager job in my group along with another coworker. I honestly didn’t expect to get it and figured they would due to office politics, but figured what the hell, people would see more of what I’m capable of and that I’m interested in moving up. While I’m proud of how I did (turns out I knocked it out of the park and according to several people involved had the best interview of anyone), I regret doing it as it just didn’t play out in the end (again due to office politics). The icing on the cake was sitting in my office and hearing people go to my coworkers office a few doors down and congratulate them on getting the position. I was officially told by grand boss several weeks later. They didn’t seem surprised when I told them I already knew I didn’t get it, and didn’t offer any apologies about it (of course, grand boss isn’t the type to apologize about anything).

    Ironically when I applied for another position in my group, this was when covid was starting, and they weren’t going to tell me I didn’t get it until I pushed for an answer. Since we were being sent home to work they figured I’d just get the email notice eventually from HR that I didn’t get the job, and they wouldn’t have to tell me face to face. Thing is the new person started and worked for over a month before I ever got the HR notice. I mean by that point I would’ve done figured out I wasn’t getting it, but imagine the first time I officially would have known was at a group meeting when the new person showed up!

  38. AllerDerm*

    LW4 I feel your pain. At my last job something similar happened to me. I applied and interviewed for an internal position and waited a couple months. I followed up with my supervisor, I even followed up with the supervisor of the position since we had a good relationship since he had been my supervisor just weeks prior. I was told there was no decision yet and to hang tight. I never did get a follow up. I had to find out through the official company wide email announcing the person who did receive the promotion. It was super upsetting after waiting months for official word and then having to find out in that way that I didn’t get the position was terrible.

  39. Elizabeth West*

    #5 — Exactly what Alison said. I was hired before OldExjob was acquired and just changed it on my resume to “TheXYZ Company (International Conglomerate).”

  40. Aerin*

    LW4 – Back when I was working for Unnamed Theme Park, I applied for an internship with the attraction development team and got interviewed. One day on my lunch break, I didn’t see anyone I knew super well in the dining area but spotted a guy who’d been on my side of the park and then moved over to open up the newest ride. So I joined him and we chatted for a while… and realized that he was in the running for the same internship. Awkward.

    But the thing was, I knew at that point I wasn’t gonna get it. He was so much more qualified than me (more impressive non-UTP resume, had been a lead and trainer before joining the opening crew, and the opening crew thing meant he was already working directly with that dev team) that I was astonished I was still even being considered. Weirdly, it was kind of an ego boost that they were still even considering me.

    I ended up hearing from a mutual friend that he’d gotten the position, a few days before the recruiter reached out to let me know they were passing. I was kinda surprised by the delay, but it made sense when I thought about it–if he’d turned it down or if there was some weirdness that prevented him from transferring I might have still gotten the offer, and why cut me loose prematurely? Plus it meant I was prepared to graciously handle the conversation when I did get the call.

    There can be so much organizational machinery that has to take place with an internal job that the lag between the offer and the rejections, and the chance for the news to spread quickly, seems kind of inevitable. Probably not much they could have done to prevent it

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