is this resume writer shady, telling my boss I’m sober, and more

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

1. Is this resume writer’s price worth it?

I am currently looking for a job and have been posting my resume on job recommendations I find on LinkedIn. I received a response from one of those professional resume writing places. They gave me a few suggestions to tweak my resume. However, in order for them to make my resume more appealing I have to pay $150! This seems so excessive, but I am wondering if it is worth it?

Do not do it! There are some good resume writers out there, but there are a lot more terrible ones — and the worst of the worst tend to be the ones who solicit people uninvited (because their business model is to start by convincing you that your resume is bad and you need to pay them to fix it). Many of them are downright scams. If you’re interested in resume help, ask around for recommendations; do not use someone who approaches you with an unsolicited critique.

(That said, if you do find a good one, that price is on the low end of what you should expect to pay.)

2. Should I tell my boss my sobriety has helped my work?

I started a new job in April, while I was going through a very non-traditional breakup and living at my childhood home due to Covid. This is a job that I’m really good at but it depends on me being crazy reliable. I was not, when I started.

Since then, I’ve gotten better at my new job … mostly because I’ve made a commitment to alcohol sobriety. (My first date with my current boyfriend ended with me having a withdrawal-induced seizure in his arms. The second seizure happened at family home, while on a Zoom with my work mentor. I’m doing much better now.)

My boss kinda lost his s*** at me at some point. Rightly so, I would HATE to have been managing a new employee who’s acting erratically while working from home for the first time. We’re on a more stable level of conversation now.

As a manager, how would you like to receive the information that my not drinking has directly related to my being wonderful at my job? Would you rather not know that, and just see my performance improve? My performance review is coming up. I’ve been trying to square how that massive life choice for me should factor into my work life.

I would handle it like any other medical issue: You were struggling with a health issue that affected you at work, and it is now under control and things are going much better.

In theory you could say that the health issue was alcoholism but there’s a lot of risk in doing that and not a ton to gain. Your boss has known you less than a year. You don’t say how long you’ve been sober, but without years of knowing you as dependable before the problems started, there’s a risk that hearing “drinking” will make him more concerned about your reliability, not less (even in the context of telling him all is well now). You risk things like him worrying about sending you on a business trip by yourself or sending you out with clients who are likely to drink — and you don’t want your boss second-guessing your sobriety. Simply saying that it was a health challenge that’s now under control communicates what you want to convey without opening that door.

For example, you could say, “I want to acknowledge XYZ problems from earlier in my tenure. I was struggling with a health issue that wasn’t under control at the time, and it affected my work. I’ve worked hard to resolve it, and I hope you see that in my work. I’m confident it’s fully under control now and those issues won’t arise again.”

3. Everyone liked the prospective candidate … except me

We recently had a candidate interview with us. We have three rounds of interviews at our company, and this was his second. This stage of the interview process requires the candidate to give a presentation on what they had done at their current company. He had some solid experience in our field, but as the presentation went on, I had some major concerns about his qualifications and knowledge. However, the rest of the hiring team didn’t share my sentiments and were actually quite positive about him. He’s currently scheduled to move on to the final round.

During our discussion after the interview, I wanted to speak out, but once everyone expressed their overwhelmingly positive sentiments, I shied away. This is the first time I’ve been on a hiring committee and, looking back, I hesitated to speak out because my fellow members on the committee have years of experience in both the company and the industry (I’m only a few months into both). I realize that they are more knowledgeable in many areas than I am, but I feel bad for not mentioning my concerns during that discussion. If this candidate ends up being a washout in the final round (an in-depth technical interview), I would feel somewhat responsible for wasting the company’s time in the hiring process.

Am I overthinking this, or is it worth doing more self-examination in this regard?

You’re not overthinking it! You were presumably included in the interview because whoever’s managing the hiring thought your input would be useful. And in fact, when everyone else has one assessment of a candidate,  it’s extra helpful to have someone who can present a different perspective. This is true generally, and it’s especially true if you happen to have a different frame of reference than the other interviewers in some way (which could be anything from race to gender to professional background).

Also, input on candidates is far more useful when it’s not influenced by what other members of the interview panel thought, so I wish your interview team hadn’t done the group discussion first thing. The most helpful way I’ve seen it done is to have everyone give their feedback individually to the hiring manager before talking to each other. You can have discussion after that, but it’s better to get people thoughts before they’ve had a chance to be biased by what others think.

If it’s not too late to speak up now, you could talk to the hiring manager and say you started doubting your assessment when no one else shared it, but you thought more on it later and want to pass it along your thoughts now. If it’s too late for that in this case, just resolve to speak up next time!

4. I was laid off and rehired three months later — how do I show that on my resume?

I know you have said that we won’t need to explain a gap on our resume during COVID, but how should we list them on resumes and LinkedIn? For example, I was laid off for three months and am being rehired into the same position. Is it important that I show that gap on LinkedIn? I don’t want to be dishonest in any way but fear it will also look weird.

During the time I was gone, it was an official layoff. I had to clean out my office and they had to pay out my vacation and everything. However, I am picking up exactly where I left off and keeping my seniority for vacation accrual, etc.

Because you’re keeping your seniority for vacation accrual and such, I might look at it as more of a furlough — they brought you back and had you resume as an employee right where you left off. Given that, I think it’s reasonable not to worry about needing to call out the three-month gap. However, what matters is what dates the company would confirm if asked. Would they say you worked there from 2015 (or whenever) until now, or would they say you worked there until March 2020, and then again from June 2020 to the present?

Although frankly, even if it’s the latter, I think most prospective employers would get you just calling it one period, especially given all the layoffs and rehiring of 2020.

As for LinkedIn, getting it absolutely precise there matters far less in a case like this.

5. Timing a relocation with a partner’s job search

I am searching for a new recruiting role in San Diego, as my partner and I are planning to move there this year. It will be our first time relocating together, and my first time as well. I don’t have a large amount of recruiting experience (I was only at my previous role for seven months due to the toxic work environment).

I’m running into a little bit of a catch-22. Recent interviewers have been asking how quickly I can relocate. I’ve been explaining that I can relocate when I find a new role in conjunction with my partner finding one as well.

Since we are both likely to secure new jobs at different times, my plan has been to find a new role and start remotely, and then make the move to California when my partner finds a new role. We are unable to start searching for a place to live out there until we have a joint income from positions that are California-based.

So far there has been resistance to this, as the interviewers want me to be on-site right away, which I can’t accommodate. However, there seems to also be unwillingness to accommodate what I think is a very reasonable solution: starting in a California-based role and working remotely, then committing to an on-site start date after my partner finds a role, in combination with finding a place to live there. Do you think that sounds like a reasonable idea? I would like to think that the merits of my candidacy and initiative I am displaying can supersede the local (and more convenient) candidate pool.

It’s a reasonable idea for you, the person who wants the job and wants to time your relocation with your partner’s … but it’s not necessarily an appealing idea to an employer who has strong local candidates who could be on-site right away. In other words, “reasonable” isn’t really the bar for whether this will be successful or not; it’s whether you can convince an employer to think you’re the strongest candidate despite that limitation in your availability.

Sometimes people can! If you’re a strong enough candidate that you’re head and shoulders above the local applicants, an employer might be happy to work with you … but with only seven months experience in the field, it might be a hard sell, especially in this job market with so many people looking for work. Alternately, if you’re interviewing with places whose staff are still mainly working from home and expect to be for a while, it might be less of an issue … although even then, employers worry about candidates who say they’ll move at some point in the future and then their plans change and they want to stay where they are. (That happens, and employers understandably want to avoid it.)

Ultimately, you might have to decide if you’re willing to move on a different timeline than your partner. It can be tough to coordinate two out-of-state job searches in the best of times, and people often end up needing to make that kind of not-ideal compromise to make it work.

{ 215 comments… read them below }

  1. L. Lemon*

    Hello LW #5! I moved to SD from DC and found the job market to be very different from where I was relocating. Salary was a huge problem (the SD market pays on the lower end of the scale). My SO moved to SD before I did, as he ended up accepting a federal position. I was waiting for a solid job offer before I relocated. Most employers I interviewed with were not willing to wait one month from the date of offer acceptance for me to find a tenant to take over the remainder of my lease in DC, along with finding a suitable place to live in SD. Eventually I found a job in another city in LA and ended up transitioning to SD, after a 6 month period. I would say, really do your research on the job market and decide if it might be more probable to move on a different time line than your partner. Recruiting is an especially difficult field right now, but SD is also a very tough job market to crack. Good luck to you, and have some patience – the right job will come around. :)

    1. London Student*

      I lived in LA for awhile, and spent the first few months in a cheap sublet with a long commute. This allowed me to move there while I finished my job search, and by the time my sublet was up / I was ready to sign a lease, I had a better sense of where I wanted to live.

      But it was a lonely/long few months in the beginning.

      1. London Student*

        Additionally, when I later moved to SF, I stayed with my mother (maybe friends/family a temporary option for you OP? not sure what’s driving you both to SD) again with a long commute, while I job-searched and later apartment-hunted. That ended up being almost a year of a long commute, but it was the best choice for me. One of my friends who moved with me worked as a waitress during her job search — again, a long year for us, but we couldn’t have afforded those moves without them.

        My mother moved to San Diego just prior to the pandemic, and she lived in an AirBnb for several months while she job-searched and finalised her housing search. She also kept doing some contract work remotely for her old job so she had an income during that time.

        So there’s different possible options.

      2. TurtlesAllTheWayDown*

        I did the same. Specifically, I stayed with a friend in Long Beach while commuting to Van Nuys for 6 weeks. Longest 6 weeks of my life – I’d leave at 6:20 AM for an 8:00 AM start time and often got home at 7, or even later. But I paid her something like a flat $500 for those 6 weeks (this was 2003 and I slept on her couch in a 1 bedroom bungalow) which was worth it.

    2. Cabbagepants*

      #5 it’s pretty unlikely that you and your SO will get offers at the exact same time. Moving a household can also be much easier if one of you is there first. What is the cheapest way you could make the move sooner rather than later? House-sitting, sublet, a commute that is too long to be sustainable but survivable for a few months?

      1. Weekend Please*

        My dad did that. He got a job in another city and my mom wanted to finish out the school year before quitting (teacher). So he sublet a room for 6 months while also looking for a more long term place that would be ready in the summer when she could move. It wasn’t ideal but it worked.

        I sympathize, but having someone start a new job remotely for an indefinite period of time really isn’t appealing to employers unless you are really exceptional and the job can be mostly done remotely anyway.

        1. Anne Elliot*

          Agree with the advice not to disclose, but even for a more vague ‘medical issue’ disclosure, I personally would not recommend saying “I’m confident it’s fully under control now and those issues won’t arise again.” Recovery is tough and there’s a reason many people have more success when they just focus one day at a time and stay away from making any ‘forever’ promises, to themselves or to others. OP, you don’t have to guarantee to anyone you won’t have this issue again; you just have to stay sober today, and then make that commitment again tomorrow.

      2. Tara*

        Honestly, with only 7 months experience and being an out of state candidate, I don’t think it is reasonable to expect a job to wait for your husband (someone who is unrelated to them and their vacancy) to also find an (again, unrelated) position.

    3. CoffeeforLife*

      I just moved (1 week ago) to SD from NOVA :) So so happy to be here, even if it’s only temporary!

    4. Birdie*

      It’s possible they’ll get lucky, but I can see “we can’t move until we both have jobs but we can’t get jobs until we move” continuing to be an on-going problem they may not find their way out of. I think this comes down to priorities – is getting themselves moved to San Diego the most important thing? If so, some compromises may need to be made, as Alison said.

      I’ve done a couple of cross-country relocations on my own now, and last time I came reallllly close to just quitting my job and moving without having secured a new position. Instead, I changed the kinds of jobs I was applying for (lateral moves I was extremely qualified for and were easy to find vs. opportunities for advancement). Moving was my priority, and that compromise allowed me to find a job quickly and make the move happen. To expedite things, I was also prepared to move to an area I was pretty sure I wouldn’t like long-term but would work well enough for one year. I think they would’ve given me some leeway in how/when I started because I was a really strong candidate (a benefit of going with a lateral move), but I’m talking, “You want me to start in three weeks but I need it to be five,” not an undefined “I’ll be available in person at some point but I can’t tell you when.”

      It’d be great if OP gets lucky here, but to increase their odds of pulling off this relocation in a timely fashion, I’d definitely recommend reassessing what they are/are not willing to do (move separately, both move when only one of them has a job, apply for non-ideal jobs, move farther from SD than they’d originally envisioned, etc.) And hang in there, OP – long-distance job searches with looming but undefined moving plans are stressful but if you can pull it off, it will be worth it.

    5. Public Sector Manager*

      I’m in California but spent 12 years in San Diego and ended up leaving for better job opportunities. The San Diego job market has always been difficult. A lot of locals stay in San Diego, a lot of people with a little experience want to relocate to San Diego, and a lot of people with tons of experience want to go to San Diego because it’s their last move before retirement. So even if the general job market for the OP’s industry is good in California, it might not be as good in San Diego.

      A concern I have with OP’s solution to work remotely and then move has a lot of extra costs for the employer that may not justify the wait for relocation or even an offer. They have to meet with legal and HR, if they have either, to see about income tax withholdings (both states? Just CA? Just the home state?), workers’ compensation coverage, health benefit coverage for out-of-state employees, updating employee manuals and forms for folks working out of state (such as now making sure the forum for any lawsuits is California), etc..

      Large multi-national companies may not have a problem with this, but for medium sized employers, CA-only employers, and small employers, it’s likely a deal breaker.

      1. DMW*

        Re-reading your post, LA5, it’s not totally clear whether you are currently employed or not, but assuming you are:

        Is it possible to do the reverse of what you’ve been proposing? I.e., assuming your current employer is amenable to remote work, just stay with them until your partner finds a job, move, then work remotely for your old job from SD while you look for a new position as a local candidate.

  2. CurrentlyBill*

    LW2: Congrats on your sobriety! That’s awesome.

    I would probably not mention it, though, especially if you don’t know your boss’s experience with sobriety or alcoholics in their personal life. If your boss has alcoholics in their life who got sober and then relapsed once or multiple times, you could end up looking like one of those folks who let them down.

    Or if they’ve struggled with their own sobriety over the years, that could spill over into their perceptions of you.

    Alcoholism is an insidious disease, as you know, and its blast radius of impact around the alcoholic can be quite large and severe.

    I’d suggest not volunteering it to your boss as part of your performance discussion. There are too many unknowns.

    1. MADD*

      +1 to Bill’s note that the blast radius is large and SEVERE.

      My mother’s car was totaled by a drunk driver when I was in 2nd grade. Decades later in my adulthood, she had to be cut from her car and hospitalized after a different drunk driver ran 3 red lights before crossing the center line and nearly killing her and my father.

      I… I would not respond well to the details you’ve included in your letter, especially the details about your relationships. I’m trying very hard not to place my own judgments about codependency, but the fact that I have to try to hard to reign that in is the kind of risk referred to by Alison.

      1. ...*

        One thing I would like to point out here, though, is that not all people who drive drunk are alcoholics (maybe they don’t even drink that often but went to a party and made a lousy decision to drive themselves), and not all alcoholics drive (some just drink at home and stay there).

        I am truly sorry about what happened to your mother and father.

        1. ES*

          I don’t think MADD was making that equivalency, they were just stating how they would react based on their past experiences. That’s an important perspective for the LW to have!

    2. London Student*

      I agree. Alcoholism has impacted enough people that it can be very easy to trigger ingrained prejudices, even in the kindest people. Many people have traumatic experiences of loved ones quitting and then relapsing. If your boss has these memories, he might not be able to help feeling influenced by them.

      Remember too: you can never un-share information and bosses don’t owe you confidentiality. Maybe he’ll be wonderfully understanding, but when your grandboss asks about you, your boss feels obliged to share everything he knows, impacting upper management’s view of you. Or if he leaves, he shares it with his successor, an unknown quanitity to you, who might not have otherwise been aware of your ups and downs.

      For better or worse, addictions and mental health difficulties are seen as personal relative to other health issues, and offering that information unsoclited could also be interpreted as an attempt to make the relationship closer. Your boss might start sharing his own struggles, or offer advice/commentary on personal aspects of your life you’d prefer to keep off-limits. He might think that you’d be comfortable sharing this aspect of your life with another colleague who struggles with drinking.

      I’m not suggesting that everyone needs to keep alcoholism a total secret — it shouldn’t be a terrible taboo — but the reality is it can have a high cost in the workplace. If you decide to disclose, doing it thoughtfully after a longer period of consideration/sobriety is probably the safest route, especially since you’re still relatively new to sobriety.

      1. Uranus Wars*

        I think your last paragraph is where I land. I do believe alcoholism shouldn’t be so taboo…but with such a broad spectrum of experiences people have with alcoholics (from none to devastating) you just never know how this might land.

        I also believe that it might be different when you are, say, 5 years removed or so. It’s still new territory for you, too, and it doesn’t sound like you know your boss well enough yet to know how he will react. And from what you said about him losing his $h*t with you early in your tenure I would go with Alison’s script.

        I wish you the best of luck OP!

        1. Guacamole Bob*

          I think you’re right about the timeline. I had a boss at one job who hit the 25-year sober mark while I worked with him. He was pretty open about it with everyone, had AA meetings on his calendar (I think he sponsored others), etc. and it was never any sort of issue. I don’t think it would have felt like such a non-issue if he had only been sober a few months.

          1. Quill*

            Yeah. When it comes to addiction the longer you’ve been recovering, the more weight people are likely to put behind the idea that you have it handled. At less than a year, I’d err on the side of caution – partially because you can’t un-disclose medical problems, partially because your tenure at this job is already showing improvement.

        2. Chriama*

          The timeline is the biggest risk for me. OP hasn’t even been at their job for a year, so the sobriety is a few months at best. Not only has OP not established a decent track record at work, but if someone told me they were a few months sober and promised everything would be different from now on I wouldn’t believe them.* It’s like someone making a new year’s resolution to go to the gym and telling me on January 10th about how they want to run a marathon this summer. It’s just too new to be credible.

          *That’s not to say I wouldn’t support them or wish the best for them. But I would not make any plans that depended on them being reliable.

          1. hbc*

            Yeah, as much as I’m wishing the person well, I put *less* odds on them being successful if they’re presenting it as “I’ve got this problem nailed” this early on in the process.

            OP, I recognize that you’re in a *much* better place than you were a few months ago. Let the results of that speak for themselves through your performance.

          2. JSPA*

            I’d believe that it’s possible. Some people do indeed quit once, and stay clean.

            I would not believe that the intensity of someone’s certainty has much correlation to sticking a 10 point landing. I’ve seen that absolute certainty more often than I’ve seen a bounce-free landing.

            OP, we’re all pulling for you. But even people in a job that has to be “no slips” sometimes get sick / have to call in. I know you feel like you’ll obviously never drink again. That’s ideal: your word in God’s ear, as my granny would say.

            But if you find yourself among the people who have, for whatever reason, veered off the path briefly, you don’t have to put other people and your job at risk. Those are separable things! Admit what’s happening, call in sick (that’s part of your commitment to doing your job safely) and get help (as you would for the dangerous flare-up of another disease), then re-commit to sobriety.

        3. Wintermute*

          It shouldn’t be taboo, but there’s a few factors that play into it. First of all, the idea that addicts cannot recover can only ever be sober-for-now has ingrained itself into our cultural consciousness, despite modern medical science proving otherwise. As a result people are almost trained to treat anyone with an addiction in their past as forever fragile.

          Second, as London Student wisely pointed out, most Americans have been touched by addiction at some point, either as an addict themselves or with one in their close circle. That extends in a lot of ways to how society thinks about addiction.

      2. Student*

        Alcoholism is a terrible taboo because alcoholics hurt people; sometimes kill people. It’s a uniquely monstrous disease. It’s treated as a taboo because the symptoms and associated behavior are extraordinarily destructive and frightening.

        I wish the OP a speedy recovery and best of luck in their sobriety. Their progress is laudable. Many alcoholics fully recover. But I’d urge them to keep talk about it at the office to a vague health problem and stay in treatment, because talking about it is a taboo for a good reason.

        I have extensive experience with a family member who’s alcoholic. If I find out someone I’m interacting with is an alcoholic, it influences my view of them. I get more wary about spending time with them or trusting them with important tasks. I know in my head that not all alcoholics have as much of a problem as my relative – but I won’t put myself or my work at risk so that the alcoholic in question can prove they’ve recovered. I know I’m not being fair to the alcoholic, who deserves a chance to recover. But none of the things my relative did to me while drunk were particularly fair, either – so I’m not willing to be part of an alcoholic’s redemption and recovery arc.

        1. Wintermute*

          I don’t think you’re being unwise at all, Someone in active addiction will use anyone they can, hurt anyone they have to, and when they feel bad they can mood alter to get out of feeling bad for a while while you get to… just feel bad.

          As long as you don’t extend that attitude towards people who no longer have a disordered relationship with alcohol (or other drugs) I think you’re showing healthy boundaries. Being in the circle of an active addict is chaotic, exhausting and an immense amount of emotional labor– you’re not wrong for not wanting to sign up for that without some compelling reason. My own mother just got out of rehab and I’ve had to draw some really strong lines because I have to protect my own mental health and as much as I wish I could help her I can’t set myself on fire to keep her warm.

          1. JSPA*

            I have not found this to be so.

            I’ve known people for whom this was true.

            I’ve also known people who were addicts (alcohol, speed, crack), who would lie, scam, cheat, and pick up any item left unattended…cell phones, headphones, laptops from coffeeshop tables…but would never break into a house, hold up a person, touch a weapon, or make a threat.

            Give them a ride, and the change would disappear from the cup holder. Use of the bathroom meant half the pills in any bottle might go missing. But no matter how bad the shakes, they would not take all the pills (someone might really need them!) or take money someone needed for rent or food.

            Conversely, I’ve (to my sorrow) run into non-addicts who would rob a locked house, hold someone up, threaten with a weapon or terrorize someone.

            The idea that every addict loses every vestige of moral compass is harmful to addicts in recovery, because they’re judged by the most-unmoored, least principled addict anyone’s ever had the misery of dealing with. But it’s also harmful to people’s ability to come to terms with being addicted. Most people who are addicted have a huge list of things they would never do; and far too many assume that this means they’re not really addicts, or else they wouldn’t have, and wouldn’t stick to, those principles.

            IMO (or in my experience, perhaps I should say?) people who are thoughtless, remorseless manipulators and predators when addicted are not so different in that respect, from other thoughtless, remorseless manipulators and predators. The addiction absolutely adds driving force, unpredictability, and strips any veneer of “doing the expected thing.”

            I understand that there’s a certain level of trauma that’s triggered by encountering (say) the combination of “out of control person” and “the smell of alcohol.” But rationally, extrapolating from “the addict who terrorized me” to “addicts” is a category error, as well as an unfairness.

          2. Anon, Esq.*

            I think this comment is unfairly absolute, and you’re extrapolating too much from your (valid) personal experiences. To say that active addicts WILL do x, y, and z is just not true and adds to the stigma–plenty of alcoholics don’t cheat or steal or abuse, and particularly with alcohol in my experience (maybe because it’s a relatively cheap and “mainstream” substance), many people don’t hurt anyone but themselves. You probably know more addicts than you think you do, you just don’t know that they’re addicts because they’re keeping it a secret and *not* hurting anyone. I’m sober now, but even when I was in active addiction I never stole, lied or said an unkind word while drunk or hungover, and the people close to me who I finally “came out” to were shocked that I had an unhealthy relationship with alcohol at all.

            If you’re imagining everyone who tells you they’re a recovering alcoholic or they struggle with alcohol as being (or having been) a stealing, lying, abusive menace while they were actively addicted, that’s unfair, and it’s just not true.

    3. LB*

      There are definite pros and cons to being open about these things. I am a recovering alcoholic myself (2 years sober, I have worked in my current organisation for six years). I have never said “I’m an alcoholic” but I have told my work friends and my manager about another mental health condition and also a lot of my anecdotes used to be about drinking but now I am open that I don’t drink, I just say “I quit drinking for the sake of my health”.

      For me the pros are: it helps with accountability (if people know I don’t drink, they are not going to start buying me wine at a work party etc), I feel that it has helped others a little bit (who have come to me for advice on mental health and alcohol- one of my work friends has also quit drinking since talking to me about it) and also my experience inspired me to become a Mental Health First Aider and also study a part time postgraduate degree in that area.

      The cons are that I feel exposed, I only told my close friends and my line manager but I don’t know who else in the department knows and judges me.

      I would say a big part of why it has not had a negative effect is that I work for a very very supportive organisation (a public sector job in the UK), I have a very kind management team here and I was well established in the role. In general, I completely agree with Alison’s advice, but I think where it is safe to do so, it is good to be open about MH and related issues to help normalise them and to help people know they are not alone.

    4. Mel_05*

      Yeah, anyone who has been close to someone with recurring substance abuse problems is going to be alarmed by that knowledge.

      I think I actually know more people who have gotten sober and stayed sober than have not, but several people close to me have relapsed over and over again and it’s agony and it makes you think any set-back in their lives is leading to a relapse (because it usually has). You don’t want your boss looking for those signs in you.

      1. Wintermute*

        Exactly, that’s basically what cost my mom her job (well that and the fact she was in and out of rehab), I have no doubt she never worked drunk, hung over quite possibly but never drunk, but once they knew that about her any momentary lapse in judgement raised a question, any sick day made them wonder if it was a bender or a hangover or really the flu, any professional slip and they wondered if she was safe to be around… not a great professional look.

    5. Alex*

      I’m also in agreement with this approach. Like so many people, I’ve had heartbreaking experiences watching loved ones get sober and relapse, to the point where it would be very hard for me as a boss to take the letter writer’s confession in the spirit it was meant. Keep it vague about a “health issue”

    6. Friend of Bill's*

      I would not disclose my alcoholism to my supervisor. just continue the good work building your supervisor’s confidence in your continuation of good work. If you feel the need , I would acknowledge the past issues as due to medical situation that is now being remedied. And stop talking. And not say anything more.
      I would continue the hard work of recovery knowing that the reprieve that I am experiencing IS because of this work.

    7. Green Tea for Me*

      Unfortunately I also agree it’s in LW’a best interest not to disclose, or at least not to disclose anything other than a generic ‘medical issues’

      Full disclosure, I’ve never struggled with alcoholism, but my partner is a 15 year sober recovering alcoholic. The thing is, he started trying to get sober 18 years ago. It took three years for it to stick.

      If an employee I had for less than a year told me they were sober for a few months it would be almost impossible for me to silence the voice in my head asking ‘yes, but how long until they fall off the wagon and we have the same issues again?’

      Obviously I don’t want the LW to start drinking again, and I really really hope they’re able to get sober and stay sober. But if I was their boss I’d be weighing how likely it is that it sticks.

      LW, if you’re reading this, I want to stress again that I really wish you the best and I hope you’re able to stay sober. If you’re comfortable with it I’d like to include you in my prayers.

    8. Come On Eileen*

      Letter Writer #2: congrats to you on figuring your shit out! Seriously, getting sober in the midst of this pandemic is HARD, and you deserve credit for that. I’m also sober (7 years now) and my boss doesn’t know. I’m open about sobriety in my personal life and I’ll answer any question if asked, because I know there’s people out there who need help and maybe hearing my story will help. That said, there’s still a stigma associated with addiction, rightly or wrongly. and I suspect if I had told my boss when I was first getting sober what was going on, that the negative (stigma) would stand out more than the positive (my sobriety). If your performance has improved, your boss will notice, and that’s what matters. You can tell your boss that you take your performance seriously and that you’ve been focusing on stepping up. Proud of you. Keep moving forward, and celebrate your accomplishments.

  3. AcademiaNut*

    For #5 – part of the problem is that you’re basically saying that you might relocate for the job at some undetermined point in the future, which is pretty vague. If your partner doesn’t get a job there, it sounds like you wouldn’t be able relocate at all.

    One solution would be to apply to jobs that are designed to be fully remote and hire people from multiple states (as the employer will have to comply with employment law in your state of residence). That way, your location won’t matter, and you can relocate when it’s convenient to you.

    Another option would be to relocate quickly into cheap short term accommodation – think Craigslist ads for places with lots of roommates, maybe combined with an uncomfortable commute to keep costs as low as possible. Then if your partner gets a job, you’re in a position to scout out more expensive longer term places.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      And thinking about it a bit more – I’m not sure what sort of recruiting position you’re looking for, but if you’re looking for a job where you’ll be recruiting people for a particular company, they may not be interested in a recruiter who isn’t familiar with the city or the physical workplace they’re recruiting for.

    2. Casper Lives*

      I understand what the LW is thinking. But it doesn’t make sense from the company’s POV to hire her. Unless there’s no issue with her doing the role remotely in her current state forever.

      Like you said, there are fields where rockstars and trailing spouses are hired. Those are rare. I’m sure LW is a fine employee but it’s hard to be a rockstar with 7 months in the field!

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        I agree with this completely. Being able to dictate your own fluid terms is reserved for people with expertise in a hard-to-find area. Seven months of experience is still mostly entry level and not worth the hassle and uncertainty of dealing with a candidate with no timeline. I wonder if OP#5 is also coming off to employers as out-of-touch or having unreasonable expectations regarding control of a start date and being out of area.

        In order to authorize someone to work remotely, it has to be from a list of states in which we are registered to do business. We’re not going to go through tax set up, registration, etc. with a new state for someone to temporarily work from that state while waiting for a partner to find a job unless that person is being hired for an impossible to fill role.

      2. Let's Just Say*

        Yep. Unfortunately it’s just not realistic to expect an employer to be this flexible. And, as someone else, noted, employment law varies widely by state and the employer is bound by the laws of the state where the employee lives, including tax law. Employing people out-of-state, especially on a temporary basis, is probably not worth the administrative headache for the employer.

        1. Let's Just Say*

          Ah sorry, I was referring to AcademiaNut’s comment, and posted my comment without reading what NotAnotherManager! said. So, seconded :)

    3. Engineer Woman*

      I second AcadamiaNut’s suggestions. Or else, have your partner find their job first so you’ll have an established date to relocate. Frankly, taking a risk that you might never relocate may be too high for an employer, unless as Alison said, you’re a rock star and they’d be willing to make the position remote. What if your partner isn’t able to find a job in SD? What if in the end, your partner decides to remain wherever they are?

    4. London Student*

      Exactly. I can’t think of any employeers who would agree to this, since you’re essentially asking them to take a large risk (you never moving out or bailing from the role after they’ve cut their other canidates loose) on a complete unknown for them (when your partner gets a job). It’s an understandable desire from your position, but it’s a significant risk from their position.

      OP, if you’re reasonably confident in your partner’s ability to get a job, maybe consider a start date that allows you some room for their search? That way, instead of asking employers to let you work remotely until an undefined date, you can commit to working remotely until X date — which will likely leave them more confidence that you will honor your committment and move.

    5. HR Lady*

      I agree.. and the employment law and taxes are a big deal. As someone who sets up new employment states for my company, it is a LOT of work and if the employer is not already setup in the state you currently reside, they likely won’t want to set that up just for you for a few months.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        Yes! It is possible that the company’s the LW is looking into don’t have out of state remote employees and have no desire to add that complexity to their payroll in other words: they only hire people who live in California.

        You’d have to be some kind of rock star to get them to change their minds. It sounds like you’re an entry level employee with only 7 months experience in the field.

        I think you really need to consider what are the “merits of my candidacy” that make you better than someone they can hire locally? What “initiative” that you are displaying by interviewing with them? If it’s just a willingness to relocate or willingness to work remotely that is not different than a lot of other candidates.

        1. LQ*

          This is a really big deal. I know a lot of folks right now want to work from wherever because “it’s all online and nothing matters!” but until a lot of laws change it’s harder than “I want to work somewhere else.” At least for a company that wants to do it legally and who doesn’t already have people working in those states.

          It is more complex than a zoom account, and if your company doesn’t have people in that state and treats it like it’s only a zoom account they are likely breaking a whole lot of laws with employment and tax law at the very least.

          1. WonkyTonk*

            This. My company has employees in several different states, plus overseas (those people are contractors). The taxes are complex and time-consuming! It’s not a simple thing for the employer. And there can be tax consequences for the employee to consider, as well.

      2. Anonamamma*

        Was coming to say this. We are a fully remote company but only hire in certain states, mostly because getting set up in a new state is a giant pain of navigating specific state laws, insurance requirements, etc. Legally we have to follow federal laws and laws in states where work is performed, and we are also following laws in the state where we are based… it is a giant labyrinth and most companies will not want to navigate this for a candidate that may have the same skills as a local one, or who may be moving out of that state soon anyway.

    6. WiscoCat*

      LW #5 – I’m not sure if this would be possible, but I am in a somewhat similar situation in that I am unable to relocate immediately for a new position. I have been a finalist for a position and when I was discussing relocation, I let them know that it would be a few months before I would be able to move. (In my case it’s my lease). I proposed coming on-site (at my own expense) every few weeks until I was able to move. The job can be done remotely, but they were hesitant to hire someone that wouldn’t be at all local until later this year. I calculated it to be much cheaper than breaking a lease.

      I’m not sure if it will work for your situation, but if a job really likes you perhaps they may be willing to explore some flexibilities.

    7. Dolly*

      My spouse got a job before me, as we were only soft looking at the time. I knew I’d be staying behind for at least 3 months, but wasn’t certain after that.

      He moved, got a cheap rental (spent the first week in an airbnb). We found the rental remotely, and did all that work, he just couldn’t move in until after his start date. I stayed behind, and our lease was up 5 months later. I spent the last month in a combo of house sitting, and crashing with friends, and selling off our remaining large furniture. I ended up moving without a job 100% lined up, but I had several interviews, and one final, and another very qualifed for lined up, so I was feeling okay. I didn’t love going without a job, but 6 months was enough of living in two places, and I didn’t want to start another lease at the old location.

      I included in my cover letters that I was currently resident in state A, but my spouse had already relocated to state B. That made it clear I was not there, but I would definitely be relocating ASAP.

  4. LDF*

    LW3 – since you’re newer to hiring, then speaking up when you’re out of sync with the others can also be a learning opportunity for you regardless of the hiring decision. For example, maybe you were worried by the candidates lack of X knowledge but everyone else thinks their X knowledge seems fine. It can be helpful to know if you thought the candidate was 8/10 and other people thought they were 10/10, or if the other folks actually just think 8/10 is sufficient for the role. It can be a helpful way of calibrating expectations.

    1. Myrin*

      That’s an excellent point, especially the thought that the others might be totally content with someone who’s an 8/10!

    2. MK*

      Or it could be a learning opportunity about the hiring process itself. It sounds like the final interview is when they really probe into the candidate’s technical knowledge, so maybe the OP wasn’t focusing on what they were trying to find out at that point.

      1. Roscoe*

        This is what I was thinking. With 3 interviews, there is really a wide range about the purposes of both. Also does that 3 include the initial phone screen? Or was that counted separately?

      2. Not A Girl Boss*

        This was my thought too – sometimes its better to ‘waste’ a candidates time with a technical review, than to try to figure out technical expertise during an interview that is more about cultural fit.

        That said, its a great idea to use this as a learning experience. You aren’t arguing with people that you’re right and they’re wrong, you’re just having a conversation to understand *why* you took different things away from the same conversation.

        1. Weekend Please*

          Also, raising a concern isn’t the same as trying to eliminate him from getting another interview. Saying “I’m a little concerned he may not be very knowledgeable about X” when everyone else loved him would probably just result in them making sure to specifically ask about that topic in the next interview. This wasn’t the offer stage yet.

          1. Let's Just Say*

            This. It makes the process stronger if everyone shares their informed, honest assessment. Also, as Alison said, it’s especially important to speak up if you bring a different perspective. I was on a panel for a candidate that everyone scored high on technical skills, but I recommended no hire because he kept talking over me. I was the only woman on the panel, so I felt a little uncomfortable bringing it up (am I making too big a deal of this? do I seem arrogant for being bothered by it?). But honestly, it bugged me, plus it’s a highly collaborative role, so if you’re interrupting me *in the interview*, what are you going to be like when we’re working together on a project?

            1. Hazel*

              I often have the experience of being surprised to discover that I had a very different experience of something than “everyone else” did. However, when I say what I’m thinking, a lot of the time it turns out that others were thinking the same thing but didn’t say anything. And sometimes no one else was thinking the same thing as me, but we still add it to the discussion and keep it in mind as one of the factors.

              When I first realized that this was happening, I didn’t want to say anything because I assumed everyone else would think I was a weirdo for having such a different take on a situation. But after so many experiences of people clearly not thinking that it’s weird (even when they don’t agree), that I almost always go for it because it can be helpful to the discussion. This is one of the benefits of diversity and inclusion!

              1. Antilles*

                In fact, your first paragraph is exactly why Alison suggested getting individual impressions first.
                When you jump straight to group discussions, it’s very easy for one person to set the framework for the entire discussion – especially since the person who talks first is often the person with the highest title and/or the person with the loudest voice. And then if the second person then agrees with them, the group consensus probably settles right then and there…even if those are only two voices out of 10 and the other eight people in the room are much more lukewarm or have concerns.

    3. Person of Interest*

      You can also use your newness to phrase things a little more carefully, like “I noticed this aspect of the person… is that something that would be a red flag for us or that would be a concern in this job?” And let your coworkers recognize it that way, or explain why that’s not actually a concern.

    4. RC Rascal*

      I have been in this situation & it turned out both sides were correct.

      Fergus interviewed to be a sales manager in our business unit. I had reservations about him & thought he was a job hopper. During our one on one interview I dug into why he had made his career decisions and it was always to get away from something.

      He was hired anyway. He turned out to be an incredibly popular employee and solid contributor. However , 9 months after he started he announced he wanted to pursue a career in HR instead. It ended up he had difficulty finding an HR role in the company. Ultimately he stayed in the job we hired him for nearly 3 years, which was the right amount of time for that job.

    5. Rainy*

      That individual perspective can be really valuable because everyone notices different things.

      We had a candidate once that everyone was in love with–and they were great, an interesting person, very knowledgeable in their previous role etc–but in the group interview someone asked them to give one thing that would make them stay in the job and one thing that would make them leave, and that one thing that would make them leave (and that they said they hated and considered a waste of their time) was fully EIGHTY PERCENT of the job we were hiring for. Basically, imagine you were Subway and a candidate said they hated making sandwiches. And somehow no one noticed but me.

      So in the debrief after the interview, I pointed out that this person had told us that they would not stay in the job, because the job was mostly this thing they didn’t actually want to be doing. If no one else had noticed, we would have hired someone who hated making sandwiches about three months before a hiring freeze that would have prevented us replacing them when they inevitably left.

  5. Analyst Editor*

    LW5- you all agreed to the same city, it’s it like you’re both job-searching across the country. Ahyy not both do you apply, And whoever finds an offer first takes it, you both move and continue the search from there?

    1. Job Carousel*

      This seems like a more pragmatic approach with a good chance of success!

      LW5, does your partner have a sense of how easy or difficult it will be for them to find a role in SD? Do they have in-demand skills in their field where they might draw an offer more easily than you?

      1. Isomorphism*

        That is what we did when moving abroad. We expected my partner’s job search to be a lot easier/faster than mine, so I looked for a job first, and he started applying only after I had accepted an offer. (We moved too before his first interview, so this came with the added bonus of him not having to travel several hours to every interview, which made his search much less stressful than mine – but with covid that point is probably void.)

    2. Not A Girl Boss*

      This is what my husband and I have done. We ‘take turns’ choosing our first pick job, wherever that ends up being. Whoever gets that first job negotiates the latest start date possible, and the other starts looking.

      Also, cross country moves are enormously, awfully expensive. Take whatever you think it’ll cost and triple it. Especially when you factor in lost wages. Its something that requires a lot of saving up of money and sometimes taking a random barista type job to make ends meet (hard to do with COVID). So much of the expense is upfront (moving, down payments on apartments, the million ‘random’ shopping trips that first week for food and dish towels and a trash can) that its important to consider whether this is a move you can really afford at this time. We saved for the last one for 2 years AND had relocation assistance from my job and it was still a huge expense that lives on our credit card now.

      We also have learned the hard way how important it is to take a short term lease when you first move, so that you have time to figure out a location that works for where you both end up commuting from and fits your preferences. No amount of research replaces living there.

      1. Le Sigh*

        Yes to all of this. We found a friend of a friend who needed to sublease her apartment for 8 months (done off the books, which worked well for us since we didn’t yet have jobs and no one was gonna sign a lease with us). It was the exact amount of time we needed to get located and find jobs. In retrospect, we didn’t save nearly enough money ahead of time and you are entirely right about tripling it. We just got lucky that my partner found a job quickly. I did retail and temp until I could find something. It took me several months after my partner found something (this was the 08 recession time) and that’s WITH me starting my job search before even moving to the area (using a friend’s local address of course). Once we both had jobs and could get our own apartment, it look time to rebuild our savings.

        I’m still glad we did the move, but it was a ton of work and you have to be willing and ready to adjust.

      2. Job Carousel*

        Agreed! I’m not sure if LW5 and their partner are moving cross-country (they just reference moving to CA but don’t say from where), but if so, the financial aspects of moving are definitely something to think and plan through. I was fortunate when I moved cross-country in 2017 for work that I was able to write the move off as a tax deduction (the rental truck, the gas, the hotels, the movers, and even the packing containers and tape!), but alas the tax code changed so that moves are no longer tax deductible now. I wonder if LW5 or their partner might be able to find an employer willing to provide some reimbursement for relocation costs? Not all fields/jobs offer it (especially if you’re still entry level/fairly junior), but it might be worth a shot….

      3. KayDeeAye*

        The thing about Southern California – everyplace, really, with a complicated and congested traffic problem, but SoCal is justifiably famous for this – is figuring out the complicated equation of “Where I work”+”where I live”= “Acceptable commute.” It’s perfectly possible and common to discover that while one 30-mile commute will take you 40 minutes, another 30-mile commute will take you 1 hour and 40 minutes. You can’t figure any of this out from hundreds of miles away, and you really can’t figure it out until you know where you’re going to be working, either.

        So even if by some miracle the OP and their partner manage to get jobs at the same time, they need to find a temporary place to live and then wait until they know their way around before really settling in.

        1. Le Sigh*

          Yup. This is soooo true about the DC area as well. “Oh hey, it’s a 20 min commute from DC out into the suburbs.” LOLOLOLOL.

          1. NotAnotherManager!*

            Yup. I live 15 miles from my office, and my commute takes an hour on a good day when Metro is not on fire. Driving in would take longer. My spouse’s commute is more than twice as long but takes 45 minutes driving because they’re going in the opposite direction of most rush hour traffic.

        2. Not A Girl Boss*

          Yes exactly. My husband and I worked on opposite ends of an east coast city, but splitting commute travel time in half meant we actually lived about 1/4 of the way from my work and 3/4 from him.

          When we first moved to the city I tried to approximate by googling the travel time during rush hour, which helped some but still underestimated by about 20%.
          Another thing I didn’t prepare for was that while one particular highway moved along at 80mph 24/7, it was a terrifying hellscape of merges, tractor trailers, and construction (which lasted the entire 4 year we lived there). I still remember the day I walked in the door and announced “either we move, or I will die of early age from the stress of this commute.” Until we moved I happily added an extra half hour to my commute to take a different road in.

    3. Archaeopteryx*

      Yes were we not in the middle of a pandemic I would say that whichever of you doesn’t get a job there for a street waiter or work retail or something for a couple months so that you can move there and continue job searching in your field. But the kind of work that you can pick up for a couple months just while searching for the job you actually want is in really short supply right now obviously.

      You should try and figure out how many months you could afford to live there with only one of you working, based on your savings. I think housing there is pretty expensive, so you’d want to make sure that you’re making a sensible financial decision. but it’s probably going to be much more likely that you’ll both find decent jobs there if at least one of you is job searching from in state already and the other one moved as soon as they got the job.

    4. J!*

      This is what happened with me. I got a job offer in another city where we were working, and my spouse was able to negotiate a remote work agreement with his employer to join me there. They eventually found another position a couple of years later and got a local job, but we didn’t have to figure out how to make things work on just one salary in the meantime.

  6. Daffy Duck*

    San Diego can be crazy expensive compared to many areas. I understand you not wanting to move until both of you have a job but that may not be feasible unless you are in related fields or one of you is a prized hire. I’ve known hospitals to hire both doctors (or a doctor and their support staff spouse) when they really wanted a specific specialist and universities to find a position for a trailing spouse. In those cases, one spouse was very highly sought after. If this is not your case is it possible for you to both move and rent a temporary space until the second spouse finds a job?
    If I was an employer I would worry you would never move to the area and I would need to decide if I should make the position permanently remote or start the hiring process over.

    1. Allonge*

      LW5 – also, if you can only afford to live in this area when both of you are employed (there), what will happen if you move there and one of you is laid off? What if you break up? Financially, this is a huge risk to take! I know this is not what you asked, but withhout knowing why exactly you want to move, it stands out a lot.

      1. Lady Heather*

        I’m not sure if you’re saying that it’s a bad idea for a couple to live in an area where they can’t live off one income if necessary – if you are, I don’t agree with that. It’s a risk, certainly, but no more of a risk than being single/having a single income in any cost of living area.

        1. Allonge*

          I was not thinking of it that way, but you are right that it’s not a univerally bad idea. It just really stood out to me as a big risk to take, as we have no information on what the reason for wanting to move to this particular place is. It’s probably worth it, for LW!

          But to go back to the question LW5 asked, I would probably try to include my reason to move (if this is shareable) in my cover letter, if that is a way to show dedication to the idea.

        2. Archaeopteryx*

          It’s a bad idea if they couldn’t afford it for a month or three if one of them was unemployed. That’s too little of a savings cushion and a huge risk. But if they couldn’t afford it long-term but could cut back and afford one person to be unemployed for more like 4 to 6 months, then they’re not vulnerable to the slightest bump in the road.

        3. Chriama*

          > I’m not sure if you’re saying that it’s a bad idea for a couple to live in an area where they can’t live off one income if necessary

          I would absolutely say that. Moving to a city where you can’t afford to live off one income is a *huge* risk. There are ways to mitigate it — having an emergency fund of several months, having freelance or part time work, etc. But the way OP is phrasing it, they need both incomes to even get set up in the new city. That sounds incredibly risky, to the point that I would say that if they can’t think of a plan to get there with just one job set up, they shouldn’t go — at least not right now. I’ve seen some suggestions in this thread about basing it on whoever’s job search is likely to take the longest, or looking for a roommate situation/long commute. Aside from those methods, waiting longer to save a larger emergency fund is also an option.

          1. Unfettered scientist*

            I’d just add to the discussion that with a lot of cities, unless you’re making 6 figures it isn’t possible to live off of one income. I agree ideally you’d be able to and you definitely need an emergency fund that will last 9-12 months to cover you while job hunting. But there are just so many areas where it is the norm for a couple to not afford to live without both incomes.

  7. Aggretsuko*

    I was in an interview panel (note: my old team who hated me) and everyone was all “We want to hire Person B,” when I was crazy about Person A. Person B was fine, mind you, but Person A had a lovely personality. I didn’t say anything at the time since the group hated me, but I was surprised. However, they were right. It was a very introvert-y position and Person A said she was an extreme extrovert and needs to talk to people all the time….which would not have gone well with this group. Person B was a lovely choice in the end and did quite well, plus he was a extreme introvert so he was liked by all.

    Might I suggest that in round 3, you start asking the candidate about what concerns you and see if he has good answers or not? Maybe you’re right and maybe you’re wrong, but asking him might help figure it out.

    1. Kiitemso*

      I really like this advice, ask for the info you need and either you will find out it’s not that important in this role or alert your colleagues to the things you would want from this candidate or the things you are finding they lack.

    2. irene adler*

      Be careful with personality as a sole hiring criteria.
      I found that “fine” worked out lots better than “lovely personality”. Of course, YMMV.

      I was overruled by upper management. They hired a gal with a lovely personality. Only, she turned out to have a bad temper. And poor work ethic. Course, I’m the one who had to manage her. So I had to deal with getting the work done on schedule – the work she never had time to complete (she spent the majority of her day on the phone). And I was on the receiving end of her screaming fits over being asked to endeavor to complete her work on time. She even bullied co-workers whenever they expressed opinions that differed from her own.

      The “fine” candidate we hired turned out to be the best lab tech ever (for many reasons!). Miss her terribly!

      1. Not A Girl Boss*

        I take everyone’s personality during an interview and multiply it by 3. Everyone comes out of their shell a little more and stops self-auditing once they get comfortable in a new place. So often the people with the *sparkling* personalities end up to be ‘a bit too much’.

        I mean, obviously this isn’t a hard and fast rule. Sometimes people are just good interviewers and I don’t want to punish them for that. But in general, these day’s I’ll take competence over personality.

        1. JustaTech*

          I have a coworker who was a perfectly normal person in his interview, a little intense but we’re in a technical field so that’s normal.
          After he’d worked with us a few months he eased back to his normal personality, which is to say, semi-hermit. A little odd, but mostly very quiet until he got to a topic he was passionate about. Looking back now at his interview I can’t imagine how he managed to push himself so hard to be so outgoing and engaging when that’s really not his personality at all (except you do what you have to to get a job).

      2. Lacey*

        Yes! It’s a weird thing, but some of the most personable people in interviews are the worst to work with.

        At an old job we interviewed a woman who seemed just delightful! And she was… for a few weeks. Then she got super gossipy and cliquey, she didn’t handle her job as professionally as her predecessor – but she was sure she knew how to do everyone else’s job.

        When she rage quit because our boss wouldn’t let her gossip on the phone all day with her friend, we had two final candidates. One was charming and the other was just… fine. I was so relieved when we got the fine one. I thought, “If she can just quietly do her job, that will be amazing” and it WAS. She got more chatty as time went on, but she also was/is the best at her job.

        We ended up hiring the other woman for another department. And I liked her too – but I didn’t have to work with her. People who did were really bugged by her after a while. And then things shifted and I did have to work with her. She’s a charming person – but she’s a terrible coworker. Give me someone bland but competent every time.

      3. Paulina*

        Ah yes, we also once hired someone with a “lovely personality”. Bags of charm, presented herself as super-collegial. Turns out she used it to cover up that she was essentially a fraud, and all her “collegiality” was in service of getting ideas and work from other people, which she would then present as hers or something she was leading.

        Unfortunately she was a supposed star who was already all-but-hired by the time I met her and saw her CV (since I was quite new then and not on the hiring committee). I wish I’d spoken up about the red flags I saw on her CV, even if nobody had listened. I’m sure I would have if she had been in my immediate field, and I’ve listened to odd-opinion-out colleagues about other potential hires when they’ve been the ones with the background to judge whether or not the interviewee knows what they’re talking about. I’ve also seen review panels change 180 degrees on an assessment when the last voice raised a problem and everyone else rechecked things and went “oh, now that you mention it…”

        Approach it as a conversation, but don’t be afraid to share what you see.

        1. Lacey*

          Oh yes, we had one of those as well. I wasn’t in on that higher decision and no one would have listened to me if I had been. By the time that guy left everyone in the company knew that he did almost no work and lied like breathing, but in the beginning everyone was very charmed by him.

          1. Paulina*

            Yes, sounds like ours. At the time, because the position was a special one that we wouldn’t normally get, I had thought she wasn’t as good as she sold herself but hopefully better than nothing. By the time she left, I think everyone agreed that nothing was significantly better.

        2. Regular Dodo, not Pickwick*

          We had one of those. Assured everyone that they had plenty of experience, needed little supervision and as a bonus when anyone went on leave they would take care of everything! It never made it that far…they showed up at work under some kind of influence, when they did show up. Were rude to coworkers; asked one if their older spouse enticed them by driving around with candy in their car! :0
          I can’t recall if they even made it past the initial 90 days…
          But anywho, OP I think the collaboration is key and many other posters have already provided sage advice on communicating with the committee. If speaking up in the hiring committe meeting is too daunting, reach out to one or two seperately and compare notes and ask their advice.

      4. meyer lemon*

        I have a friend who I think might be a bit like this, although I’ve never worked with him. He showers interviewers with charisma, so whenever he gets an interview, he’s pretty much guaranteed the job. On the job, he has many tactics for working as little as possible, and usually ends up fighting with his manager.

      5. Aggretsuko*

        Honestly, I think she would have been fine workwise (both of them were equal there), except she was very open about being very extroverted, and the rest of that bunch didn’t like people who talked.

  8. Heeryor Lunboks*

    LW 3 – Absolutely share your concerns! I was once a hiring manager / search committee head who had my eye fixed on one candidate from the start. It wasn’t until several members of the committee spoke up and shared concerns that I realized my perception of the candidate was off. We ended up hiring a great candidate who was not even on my radar at the start of the process, and it wouldn’t have happened if the other folks in the room hadn’t spoken up.

    1. Smirkpretty*

      Yes, I second this! Several years back, I was in an admin role coordinating a search for an executive position. This one candidate made it to the final round. I had to help him get set up for a videoconference interview on a room in our building. He was irritated about the setup, snappish with me, and cursed indirectly at me, and didn’t thank me for my help. He was the top candidate for the members of the committee, though, both for how well he performed in the interview itself and for his extensive experience.

      I really had to work up the courage to talk to the head of the search committee. Everyone was full steam ahead on the candidate, and I didn’t want to disrupt the process. But I did have a private conversation with the chair and told him what happened, making clear that I didn’t want to influence the process but I still thought he should know.

      He was firm and clear. No way could the candidate move forward. He said that the way a person treats office staff is a measure of their ability to lead. He strongly recommended that the committee remove the candidate from the running. There was some disappointment but they all agreed. Everyone felt we had dodged a bullet. Can you imagine the toxic environment it would create if we hired a dismissive and entitled jerk who tells at the administrative staff?

      I don’t expect all situations to end with such an outcome, but it was informative for me. The 8 other people on the committee had different things they paying attention to. I was the only one with my unique perspective, and that perspective ended up being quite valuable in the process. Now when I am on or am leading searches, I try to remember to be honest about my own reactions to candidates even if I’m not 100% sure what they mean or how they’ll be received. I also encourage others to try to articulate what they’re thinking even if it might not be the popular opinion or might slow the process down.

      1. Daffy Duck*

        Oh yes, those folks who kiss up and kick down can be incredibly toxic to an organization. They are often information horders in my experience and gatekeep access to higher ups.

  9. The Original Stellaaaaa*

    LW5: It needs to be plainly said that you can’t bet on being able to work remotely in a different state. Unless the company also operates in your current state, they legally cannot hire you. I would worry that if you keep pushing this angle, employers will wonder about your qualifications as a recruiter, since you’re putting yourself up for jobs that you can’t accept. I’m not saying this to insult you, but to remind you of the importance of not damaging your reputation with potential employers before you even live there.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      To clarify, it’s not that they can’t legally hire you. They can! But it will establish nexus in that state, which can require them to charge sales tax to customers there, as well as pay taxes to that state. They’d also need to get set up to pay workers comp insurance in the new state, plus figure out and comply with that state’s employment laws, which could be more restrictive than the ones they’re subject to currently. If they already do business there, it may be fine — but it can be an additional obstacle.

      1. The Original Stellaaaaa*

        So, if she worked in a state where the company isn’t properly set up to pay taxes and whatnot, it would be…illegal?

        1. MK*

          No, it would mean the company will have to go through the process. It would be a huge overreaction for a company to receive an out-of-state candidacy and immediately assume the candidate is expecting them to break the law or that they don’t even know the law. Especially given that a candidate has no way of knowing whether the company is set up to have remote employees and where.

        2. LinnetBird*

          You’re splitting hairs to seem correct when you aren’t. If I didn’t want to, for example, drive a highway because it involves paying a toll, it would be incorrect to say driving the highway is “illegal.” You can’t say “so, if I drove it and wasn’t properly set up to pay the toll, it would be….illegal” because that’s not what you said. Breaking the law (by not paying a toll in my example or not setting up nexus) is illegal. Not driving the highway, or hiring someone out of state.

        3. micklethwaite*

          It would be illegal IF they didn’t take the necessary steps on hiring her. Why are you assuming they wouldn’t? It would also be illegal if she worked and they didn’t pay her, or any number of other things.

        4. BPT*

          How do you think companies ever hire remote workers? If they are hiring for a remote worker and find someone to hire in a state they haven’t had an employee before, they go through and set things up in the proper channels. Yes, if “a company decides to skirt the law and do something illegal, that would be illegal.” There is no indication that any employer wouldn’t go through the right channels though. You’re really stretching.

      2. Cheesecake2.0*

        I live in San Diego and my employer straight up won’t hire anyone out of state because of all this, not as employee or contractor. We’ve had people who lived here and then moved, assuming they could work remotely, but they were laid off because we’re not set up for out of state staff. I work for the State too, not a small company or something.

        1. Diane*

          Why on earth would someone think they could move out of the state they are directly working for? If anything that should be the most obvious case of “no, we only want local staff.”

          1. NotAnotherManager!*

            Because a lot of people do not realize what is involved in running a legally-compliant business and think that, unless you explicitly tell them not to do something, it’s fine. This was part of our COVID learning curve – it didn’t occur to us to tell people not to move out of specific jurisdictions. We had a not-insignificant number of people move out of the DC area when our office went virtual, and our accountants nearly had heart failure over the potential tax implications. I got very lucky in that the folks on my team who relocated without mentioning it were all in states we already had a nexus in. Some of my peers ended up having tougher conversations.

  10. Cathie from Canada*

    One suggestion about #3: You do need to clarify, in your own mind at least, exactly why you “shied away” from this candidate. Because you lack experience in hiring, you might not have gone into the interview with a clear idea of what personal and professional attributes, skills, etc are needed in the job, and perhaps you allowed some personal or irrelevant factor to colour your thinking. On the other hand, if you feel you do have a clear idea of the hiring metrics for this position, then maybe you are actually more on top of these position requirements than the other committee members are, so it would be helpful for the committee if you could pinpoint the specific areas where this candidate, however likeable, fell short.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Please especially comment if you spotted racist /sexist/etc behavior & comments.
      That’s not just “unpleasant personality”–it’s potentially a legal liability on your staff.

      1. EPLawyer*

        THIS. I have a feeling something felt “off” because they used coded wording that no one else picked up on. OP did for whatever reason but it was so subtle she did not want to get accused of overreacting.

        On the other hand OP, do not take so much responsibility on yourself. If they move this person forward and it turns out they bomb the 3rd interview, well it happens. Even with people that everyone LOVED and expressed no reservations about. Sometimes, hires … just don’t work out. So please don’t worry about “wasting company time” by this person having a 3rd interview.

      2. voyager1*

        You’re fan fictioning the LW. She states right in the letter:
        “He had some solid experience in our field, but as the presentation went on, I had some major concerns about his qualifications and knowledge.”

    2. Reba*

      The OP “shied away” from speaking up to the rest of the panel with her dissenting view. She didn’t use that term with reference to the candidate!

      In fact, it sounds like she already does have clear and specific reasons for the opinion she formed, based on the presentation content (not other interactions or impression).

  11. Kathlynn*

    So, my view point for LW 4, is that if I’m on temporary disability or some other medical leave I don’t have to change my resume to reflect that. Infact when I was job searching, while on medical leave, the advice I received was to indicate on my resume that I was still employed there (and given it had been 6 months, it felt weird doing so).
    so I don’t think a person who was laid off and rehired with less than a year between the two needs to indicate it either.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yes, with something like medical or parental leave. But in this case she wasn’t considered an employee when she was laid off (unlike with most leaves). I think it’s still fine, as I wrote, but you can’t think of it as quite the same as a medical leave.

    2. allathian*

      In the LW’s place, I’d check with HR to see which dates of employment they’ll confirm if the LW switches jobs in the future and go with that.

      1. Sara without an H*

        Yes, this. Just call HR and ask them. If the firm is too small to have a dedicated HR person, OP#4’s manager could possibly be asked how to describe the gap and what dates to use.

      2. Lacey*

        This is a good idea. I had to check with my HR on how my vacation was effected because of my layoff and discovered that because our health insurance had been able to cover all the laid off employees during that gap, I was still considered a full time employee for this entire year – even though I wasn’t working and collected unemployment.

      3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        I worked with a company for six months before relocating, then took a job with another branch of the same company in the new city. There was a three-month gap between the two jobs.

        I negotiated with HR that my work history with them would start from the earlier date and look uninterrupted.

        It became important a couple of years later for a calculation about whether I was vested in the pension or not! Definitely worth negotiating.

        I like the other suggestion of putting the furloughed dates in parentheses for transparency.

    3. hbc*

      I think there’s the concrete aspect and the nuanced aspect. For concrete, it’s simply whether there will be an appearance of lying if they call your company. If someone asked me about your employment, I’d say you were still employed, because you technically are.

      For the nuance, it depends on how much the prospective employers are relying on your experience during that 6 months. If I was looking for someone with a year experience and you had 6 months actually working but presented yourself as having 12 months experience, I’d be ticked. If it’s 6 months of 5 years experience, or you’re getting into a different type of work altogether, I’m not going to care.

    4. HR Exec Popping In*

      Different companies have different rules for how a short break in service effects their employment dates. Some companies have a rule that if the break is less than X amount of time, then they do not consider it a break and will treat the period an an unpaid leave. Other companies just would say the person was rehired and go with the new start date. As others have stated, LW 4 should contact HR and simply ask or look online if they have an HR self-service system. Asking the question won’t raise any eyebrows at all. As for listing it on a resume I would just do something like:

      Manager or XYZ 1/2014 – 5/2019, 8/2019-present

      For LinkedIn you would not even need to include the break

  12. Barbara Eyiuche*

    #4 I think you could just put a note in parentheses that you were laid off for three months on the line of your resume where you put the dates of your current job. If they see ‘2020’, surely they will realize it was because of the pandemic.

    1. Not Australian*

      I was just coming here to say the same thing. IMHO what matters in this case is not that the OP was laid off briefly but that they were rehired at the earliest opportunity and with no loss of seniority; that clearly marks them out as a valuable and trusted employee, which is exactly what any prospective employer will want to know.

    2. Mercurial*

      I’d personally go with something like “COVID hiatus May-Jul 2020” (or whatever the case) for complete clarity and then it tallies with whatever the employer says.

      1. Anononon*

        Yeah, I think something like “hiatus” specifically is good, because it doesn’t have a legal meaning when it comes to job gaps. The problem with furlough is that (at least in the US), it means you’re still employed but essentially placed on leave. That’s not the case here.

        1. Uranus Wars*

          I am sure OP would have noted this if it were the case. But my mom had a professional job, but at times she would get laid off for a few weeks and then hired back as soon as the work was there. They called it a lay off and she could get UI, but then she and her team would get called back.

          It was a project based position, where projects lasted years and usually there were multiples going at the same time. Every once in awhile they would hit a snag where there might be a 2-3 week window of no work; on her resume she just kept it as continuous employment. However, she only ever worked in this field so it was known AND she only worked for 3 companies in her career but always all the same people in the (not small) city she lives in.

    3. pretzelgirl*

      I thought the same as well. Something like this…

      Teapots Inc
      Senior Chocolate Teapot Designer
      March 2015- present (3 month furlough due to CO-VID 19 pandemic)

      Or some variation

      1. starsaphire*

        Yep, I was coming here to suggest that as well! Or, if space issues:

        Llovely Llamas LLC
        Sr. Llama Groomer
        March 2015 – present (furlough Apr-Jun 2020)

    4. CupcakeCounter*

      Agree – just footnote in the time frame “Llama Groomers Intl, 2015-present (3 month lay off in 2020 due to Covid)” and then if it comes up in an interview, simply say “I was laid off in May 2020 due to Covid. As Company had no idea the long term impact, they did layoffs instead of a furlough so we could get our PTO payouts to help bridge the gap due to the backlog of unemployment and free us up to look for other employment. The recovery ended up being much quicker than expected so they were able to bring some of us back just a few months later. I was thrilled to return.”

  13. Anony-Mouse*

    LW#1: If you’ve been to college, their career center may support alumni and you may find free resume support from there. It could also be worth reaching out to your personal network. I found some friends to provide useful resume feedback.
    There are also things like chat groups (Reddit, Discord, Slack, etc) either general ones or for your field/hoped-for-field. For example, my local Slack for my field will provide free resume advice for those hoping to enter the field or change jobs within it. And I’ve definitely seen groups on Reddit that will tear a resume apart and you could use that construction criticism to rebuild your resume.

    1. MassMatt*

      College career and resume help is often free for grads but very hit or miss in quality in my experience. I would try to network with people that do hiring, especially in your field. These can be great for mock interviews also.

    2. London Student*

      Agreed – OP if you have any friends who do hiring, especially in the field you’re looking at – send them your resume for feedback!

      A few years ago, I shared my resume with 5 or so different friends a few years ago and looked for commonalities between the feedback, which was helpful. Also, if you do get responses from employers, you can ask for feedback. I actually got feedback on my CV from the last few people I interviewed with including last person who hired me — who told me, quite bluntly, that she had been underwhelmed by my CV / only interviewed me out of obligation, but was won over in the interview — good to know, especially as I’m used to job-searching in another country.

      People are very friendly/helpful on this site as well. While you couldn’t post your whole resume, you could post some questions in work-related open-comments thread and see what people suggest.

      Even if the resume writers you found are totally legimate, it’s worth exploring free routes first!

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I had an interview with a recruitment agency and asked for their opinion on my CV. They offered a few ideas which I incorporated into a revised version.

    3. Sara without an H*

      LW#1: I’d be really skeptical about any kind of service from a cold call or contact. They may be all right, but the odds are against it.

      I like the idea of asking for advice from friends or professional contacts who do hiring. Be advised, though, that resumes (and academic CVs) are something that everybody has strong opinions on and their advice may conflict. A lot depends on your field.

      There’s a lot of good advice on resumes in the AAM archives, and you may find some ideas you can adapt.

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        These types of things are so difficult because of the contradictory nature – “this is a scam, but also that price is actually low for a good version.” They’re both true, but it’s hard to understand when you start out. I’m familiar with it from fiction writing, where people are constantly trying to charge for services you don’t really need anyway … but if you did need them, they’d actually be about this much or more. For OP, I think the advice not to pay for help at this level stands.

        1. MK*

          I don’t think it’s particularly contradictory. Finding anything at a low price is always a bit of a risk: could be a great deal that you lucked out on, could be a scam, or at least a bad product/service.

        2. Paulina*

          A too-low price can also be a red flag, though, in addition to the cold call. Unsolicited deal that’s too good to be true: if a legit offer, likely still not that good.

  14. Mama llama*

    LW3 – when you’re new to interviewing, it can feel like you’re voting on whether someone gets the job – but you’re not! You’re going over the strengths and weaknesses of the candidate. Bringing up a negative won’t be taken as an insult to the candidate. It’s usually a lot more of a discussion than a “yes/no” – at least in my experience!

    Also +1 on what LDF said.

    1. London Student*

      Having been asked to feedback on canidates who were at the same level or senior to me, I want to agree with this. At a functional company, you don’t need to worry about your voice ‘overriding’ people with more experience — often people with less experience in an area are consulted specifically to get that viewpoint.

      Certainly when I was asked for feedback re: hiring for roles senior to me, they wanted the viewpoint of someone who would be working with the position but not necessarily from the perspective of someone who had a lot of experience in that position.

      1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

        Every interview panel I’ve been on has included people senior to me. And it is hard to disagree with senior members of the team, especially when you respect their experience in general. It’s even harder to actively push back.

        One possible option might be to ask questions like “I noticed Persephone has been using a different technique for llama toenail trimming than we use here. How do you see that fitting into our existing llama grooming routines?” Maybe management wants to expand the llama toenail trimming services you offer and didn’t make that clear to the panelists, or maybe you caught something they overlooked. Either way, it gives them valuable information (either about how they’re prepping their interview panelists, or about the candidate).

    2. David*

      As an extreme example, I was involved in an interview circuit where every single interviewer initially had a positive evaluation of the candidate, but by the end we had all changed our minds and the hiring manager decided not to make them an offer. The reason was that there was one particular weakness that had showed up in every single interview. Individually we all thought it was probably a minor factor that the candidate would likely be able to work around, but seeing it that consistently raised it to the level of a dealbreaker.

      Or something like that, anyway – it was a long time ago and I don’t really remember the details. Mainly I remember being fascinated by how the outcome was the complete opposite of what it would have been if we were just voting.

    3. allathian*

      For the last two hires, I’ve been involved in hiring a coworker for me. While I’m a professional and would do my best to work with whoever is hired, and I realize that my manager would make the final decision, it was very empowering to be involved in the process to select a coworker for me. The first time we hired a replacement for another coworker who left for a new job (she had been involved in interviewing me and I was hired on her strong recommendation). Then after a couple years the person we hired had a child and went on maternity leave. Maternity and parental leaves are long enough here that hiring a replacement is essential. In the end, she elected not to come back from maternity leave and my coworker, who had originally been hired on a fixed-term contract, was hired indefinitely. We had a number of good candidates, and the two top ones were about even in qualifications. My boss said later that she picked the one she did because she could see that we’d probably work very well together. There was none of that awkwardness that often occurs when you meet a new person.

    4. Cat Tree*

      A year ago I was on an interview panel for a peer position, the first time I had interviewed in several years. One candidate was weirdly defensive, first giving a hypothetical answer when I asked for a specific answer, then when I asked a second time if he could give an example from his work experience he seemed annoyed that I would dare question him and even told me “Don’t worry; I can do that” without ever demonstrating that he actually could.

      In the discussion after the interview I was kind of vague and framed it just that the other candidate was better but I wish I had been more specific about my issues with this candidate. The rest of the group agreed that he was second place out of two candidates but still considered him hireable. The first candidate turned down the offer so he got an offer, which he fortunately turned down. It wasn’t until much later that I realized how much of a red flag his behavior was, because if he’s that argumentative when he’s trying to make his best impression, it would have been exhausting to work with him. One major lesson I learned is that in some cases it’s better to leave a position open longer than to fill it with the wrong person, and this was definitely one of those positions. (There’s a happy ending here – we later interviewed a different group of people and hired a great person.)

      1. MassMatt*

        Those last 2 sentences are really key. Hiring someone just to get the process over with frequently leads to disastrous hires. Having good teams starts with hiring good people; training and coaching are much more costly and have limited effectiveness on mediocre or bad hires.

        People I know with really stellar, high-performing teams (I mean those that actually HAVE them, and don’t just claim to) are very thorough and selective about who they hire. People with lots of horror stories about bad employees… well, ask them about their hiring practices and you’ll find they generally don’t have a process and their priority is getting it done fast.

    5. MCMonkeybean*

      Yeah, I definitely don’t think they need to feed bad about “wasting company time” if they don’t speak up, because if a bunch of people liked the candidate and one person had reservations I would think they would likely move to the third round interview anyway. Especially since it sounds like OP’s concerns are around technical knowledge which is exactly what the next interview is set to dive into.

      I do think you should speak up if there is time, but if there’s not then there is nothing you need to feel bad about right now. Just use this as motivation to speak up next time.

    6. J!*

      Agreed! It’s also really helpful to think about if you’re on the hiring committee for a peer and everyone else is a step or more above you, you’re probably closer to the day to day needs of that role than the managers. Something that you are able to see and flag as a weakness might be something that other committee members may not have realized from their vantage point.

  15. Casper Lives*

    LW2: First, congratulations on your sobriety. Second, you should really consider keeping your alcoholism to yourself. Unless and until there’s something you want from your company related to it [like FMLA or ADA]…keep it quiet. Be aware of whether you or your employer would qualify for those laws too.

    I say this with sympathy from family with alcohol/drug dependency issues. Your boss has no track record of your behavior before this job. You need to keep your head down. Show your reliability and professionalism. Accept a bad review for unprofessional behavior with grace and without defensiveness.

    You’re on thin ice at this new job. I’m rooting for you.

  16. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    #4 – represent your current situation with continuity – example = Acme Dynamite Co. 2005-present … (and indicate in italics – (furlough 6/20-9/20) . No big deal – in fact it’s a feather in your cap that they wanted to bring you back ASAP.

  17. Cambridge Comma*

    OP5, it should be a much easier sell to go remote at your current company and move to San Diego when your partner has a job, then start your own search. (If that’s not possible with a company than knows and presumably has a high opinion of you, you might understand more why a company to whom you are an unknown quantity don’t see a remote start as a reasonable solution.)
    There are fully remote recruitment roles out there too, why not apply to those?

    1. the ol' switcharoo*

      Yes! Or, as an alternative, rather than LW looking for remote work, can your partner switch his current role to remote while you relocate for a new job? I understand you need to the two HCOL salaries ultimately, but would a short temporary HCOL salary with his lower COL salary work in the short-term?

    2. fhqwhgads*

      It’s not clear to me if OP is currently in a different part of CA, or another state entirely. But if they’re in another state, and they’re not certain the San Diego employer has nexus in that state, then the pitch the start remotely is probably completely off the table. Employers are not going to want to set that up for what is hopefully only a couple of months.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        And of course works the other way too: if their current job is in another state, and the company doesn’t have a presence in CA, they’re not going to want to set it up so OP can work from CA temporarily either, most likely.

  18. Caroline Bowman*

    Re LW1, as an ex-HR bod I would say that you would most certainly not disclose your alcoholism unless it is strictly necessary. As Alison suggests, you absolutely can refer to medical issues that are now fully controlled that impacted your professional life during X period if you would like to give your boss – who sounds like a decent person – a bit of context and reassurance, but please don’t disclose anything personal / medical unless there is a specific reason to do so. There are just too many unknowns and it will colour boss’s perception of you in ways that are very hard to fully quantify. What if one day in a few months you’ve got an awful cold and cannot make it in on a Monday morning? What will boss think? This is obviously entirely unfair to you who has worked very hard to get sober (massive congrats on that by the way, what a hard road), but it’s hard to control for people’s inner thoughts, prejudices and convictions.

    Don’t do it.

  19. HA2*

    #5 – yeah, “I’ll move at some point in the future, whenever my partner finds a job” won’t really sound good to employers. They don’t know your partner. They don’t know if your partner will *ever* find a job in that region. So “when my partner finds a job” translates to “At some point in the future, but maybe never.”

    It would come out a lot better if you can give a date, even if that date is in the future. “I’ll be able to be on-site in two months” – yeah, might not be optimal, but at least there’s a timeline, they can judge whether or not it works for them. They can then push back and say “Actually, 1 month is the longest we can wait” or accept it or at least have a discussion about what timeline works. Whereas the vague “at some point, maybe” doesn’t even give a starting point for negotiation.

  20. Lady Heather*

    OP5, have you talked to your current employer about working remotely from San Diego?

    I’m not sure what you mean by I would like to think that the merits of my candidacy and initiative I am displaying can supersede the local (and more convenient) candidate pool. – but assuming it means you are very good at your job, your current employer already knows that, won’t have to worry about remote onboarding, may want to avoid/postpone a hiring process, and more.

    1. KiwiApple*

      I am guessing they mean the initiative they are displaying with their suggestion of starting remotely and then moving (a solution that works for the LW but not necessarily companies).

      I am not sure if LW5 currently has a job? It’s unclear as to if they are working and how much experience they have.

      1. Cambridge Comma*

        Good point, I read it that they have a previous job to the one they currently have but if they are unemployed with only 7 months of prior experience then they are playing with quite a weak hand and the suggestion of remote work for an office based
        role plus bringing up an partner and their job hunt may not go down well at all.

    2. Emmie*

      I also recommend looking for remote positions that allow a person to work in California. In my experience, recruiting is a position that is more likely to be remote compared to other jobs. I also recommend that OP talks to any potential companies about her plan to live in California. That state has very different labor laws, and some companies may not permit remote work from the state unless it has operations in the state.

    3. Chriama*

      > I would like to think that the merits of my candidacy and initiative I am displaying can supersede the local (and more convenient) candidate pool.

      I have to say that this comes across as super immature and indicates a lack of professional experience. OP is thinking about things from their point of view, but admits that they don’t have a lot of work experience. So exactly what merits they think they have that would put them ahead of not only other experienced candidates but candidates who can get started sooner than them, come into the office for emergencies, and who have stronger ties to the area and possibly more information about the local job market?

      Hiring a remote employee is a big risk, especially for a company that doesn’t have experience with that. COVID-forced wfh notwithstanding, allowing existing employees to work from home is different from hiring/onboarding/training a new employee entirely remotely. The fact that OP doesn’t seem to recognize that and acts like their willingness to work remotely is somehow a plus makes me raise an eyebrow.

      1. Colette*

        I think what she’s missing is that it’s much harder to bring a new employee in remotely when they will normally be working in the office. If the entire company is remote now, it may be an easier sell, but it’s hard to keep tabs on a new employee when you’re all in the same place (i.e. do they have everything they need, do they have questions about the work etc.) and it’s harder when they’re somewhere else. And that’s aside from the fact that the OP has no concrete plans to move within any particular timeframe.

    4. TheSnarkyB*

      OP, I encourage you to reconsider how you’re thinking about this. You’re not really showing initiative —
      you’re asking for the thing that would be convenient for you. With your limited work experience, none of this is to their benefit. It’s inconvenient for them to onboard someone remotely, inconvenient to have a recruiter with limited local knowledge (possibly), and asks a lot of them legally to comply with the employment laws in your state. On top of that, if you’re not currently employed and you only have 7 months of experience in the field, you have huge competitive disadvantages compared to their other candidates.

  21. LGC*

    LW2: I think it’d help to not think of it as a massive life choice (which it is), but more as a major health crisis that you sought treatment for (which it also is). Like, you went into multiple withdrawal seizures! One of those was at work! That’s a really big deal, I think.

    For what it’s worth, a decent human being should hear your story and immediately have some compassion. I’ll admit, though, my first reaction might be to ask why – if this was serious enough where you could have died – you didn’t address this at the time! (But I’m crabby, and I know why you didn’t address this at the time – we have a stigma against substance use disorders.)

    1. Reba*

      I agree with keeping it vague and “medical.” Even if this were not an unfairly stigmatized issue (like if it was something “neutral” like idk knee surgery) you don’t need to tell anyone the details of your medical history.

      On that note, I hope you are getting medical care, OP! As well as therapy, support group, whatever. This is a huge, brave decision and you deserve lots of support.

      1. tata*

        I agree with this, and because of that, I’d also suggest tweaking the script a bit. “I’ve worked hard to resolve it” doesn’t line up with how I think people would address most medical issues, so I might encourage saying something like, “I’ve been able to treat it and get it under control,” again staying broad, but taking out the “worked hard” part (I just don’t see someone using that language to describe medical treatment, even if it does apply).

      1. Mostly Lurker*

        This! This letter frightened me, TBH. Withdrawal induced seizures are life threatening and it surprised me this wasn’t brought up more strongly in comments and replies.
        I understand that was not what the LW was writing for, but it was mentioned twice.

  22. Jennifer*

    #5 Is it possible to put your job search on hold while you wait for a firm timeline from your partner? I gathered from the letter that you’re unemployed currently. It’s understandable that some employers may be nervous about hiring someone that may end up deciding not to move after all.

    Moving early is a good suggestion, but also makes me nervous for you.

  23. Hornswoggler*

    LW3: Story time.

    I worked for a small arts organisation that needed a new marketing manager. I was not on the hiring panel and was still rather new to the organisation. Two people were shortlisted: a highly competent arts marketer and a person from a banking background.

    My boss and the Business Manager (BM, the other person on the hiring panel) started going on about how it would be great to have someone from outside the arts to give a whole new perspective and set of skills. I was really sceptical – I thought they didn’t want to hire the arts person because our BM saw them as a potential threat (similar age, sex and personality), and I thought hiring someone who didn’t know much about the arts was a huge risk.

    We were all asked to meet the candidates and then give our opinion. I found myself saying ‘I think you should hire the banking person because blah blah’ and spouted all the stuff I’d heard my boss and the BM discussing. Inside, I was screaming HIRE THE PERSON WHO KNOWS HOW TO DO THE JOB! But I didn’t say it.

    So they hired the banking person. And they were an absolute disaster – for us and for them. No idea how to work in a small team with hardly any money, no knowledge of the sector, absolutely astonished by the work-load and the required skill-set, no credibility with our arts collaborators, was fired within two months. I still think about it in the wee small hours sometimes and wish I’d had the courage to say what I really thought.

  24. I'm just here for the cats.*

    Please share.your thoughts even if they differ from the others. I understand the discomfort because I’ve been in that position myself last year.
    I do agree with Alison and wish they hadn’t done the group thing first. When I’ve been Involbed we have had a survey for each candidate and then a group chat before continuing g on. But I work in accademia which has a weird hiring process.

  25. blackcatlady*

    LW#2: Congrats on taking that very scary big first step to stop drinking. Unless you have been there, it’s hard to appreciate just how much courage that takes. I have written into comments before and readers may remember I’m a recovering alcoholic – tomorrow will be 21 years. Life is so much better now! It does scare me that you had seizures due to withdraw – if possible please get yourself under medical supervision. Take it one day at a time – hell, one hour at a time – as needed. Don’t put yourself into temptations way. I agree that you should just stay ‘health issue’ to your boss. Surround yourself with a good support group. And best wishes!

  26. WellRed*

    The seizures surprised me. I know everyone is different but that seems extreme. OP I trust you are under a doctors care and know for a fact that’s what’s going on. Good luck. We’re rooting for you!
    Black CatLady, congratulations!

      1. Please keep your monkeys from my circus*

        This. When covid-related closures started, I heard a lot of jokes (and some grumbling) about how liquor stores remained open because they were deemed essential, while gyms, etc, did not. I spent so much time explaining to people that cold-turkey alcohol withdrawal can be fatal. Sure, it applies to a small segment of the population, but it can kill them. Having to do Zumba in your living room rather than at the gym…won’t.

    1. Maggie*

      Very common for alcohol withdrawal actually, but does mean the person was consuming huge amounts of alcohol on a daily basis

  27. Steveo*

    In a large group trying to give interview feedback you really need to take an approach that avoids group think. The simple approach of everyone counting 1, 2, 3 and then putting their thumbs either up, down or sideways really can kick off the discussion as it forces showing your real opinion before you hear N positive or negative votes.

    1. JM in England*

      I was going to say something similar. Perhaps the OP felt groupthink pressure from the rest of the hiring team…

  28. Sled dog mama*

    LW #2 congratulations on your sobriety. I went through a very dark period after losing my daughter and probably the only thing that kept me sober was a very dear friend pouring out every drop of alcohol in my house (and “borrowing” a few rare bottles she knew I’d regret opening if she left). I’m proud to say I now (5 years later) have those rare bottles back unopened and on display at my home.

    Alison I know that everything being remote now doesn’t often change your answer but I wonder since this LW noted that she had a withdrawal seizure while interactions with a work mentor which, in the before times could have happened at work, is that something that should be addressed? Or an avenue for addressing the whole situation? I agree that because the sobriety is so new and unfortunately often stigmatized she should avoid sharing that specifically.

  29. Crivens!*

    I’m an alcoholic who has told a current boss about my sobriety, but I still wouldn’t recommend it except in very limited circumstances.

    In my case, I knew my boss to be unerringly kind and he had spoken positively about people in recovery before. I also had five years sober at that point and I had been sober before working there so my drinking never impacted that job. All of this combined made me feel safe disclosing in a non work related conversation and it went well.

    BUT! That was still a huge risk to take!

    1. Myrin*

      Yeah, I think time and circumstances are an important factor in situations like these.
      The coworker I’m closest to has been sober for over thirty years and is very, very open about that as well as his work in advocacy and awareness regarding alcoholism. And while a big part of that is certainly that he’s incredibly open about literally everything with literally everyone – I honestly know more about his past and inner life than I do about that of my two oldest friends – a not-insignificant part of it is also that he’s been sober for longer than half of our coworkers, myself included, have been alive and that it’s clear that it’s well and true in the past.
      (But also, he’s retired and just doing this as a manual labour part-time gig – it’s not like he has to fear losing a career.)

  30. voluptuousfire*

    OP #1, definitely check this person out. If they’re not a recruiter or HR person or were in the past but haven’t been in the field since at least the Great Recession, I wouldn’t bother. I see a lot of so-called resume coaches on LinkedIn and many of them have never even worked in recruitment or HR. It’s pretty shocking.

    Also, a resume review for $150 doesn’t sound too terrible. IMO anyway.

  31. Firecat*

    #3 I have been in your position before and it didn’t go so well for me. In my case, ironically, we ended up hiring the person I recommended and not the ones I had concerns with, but my co-workers who interviewed on the panel were surprisingly defensive!

    They gave me the cold shoulder for weeks afterwards!

    My recommendation if it is ran like your team did it (which Alison is right is a bad idea), is to speak up about your concern but if there is pushback to drop it.

  32. agnes*

    Don’t share the specifics of your alcohol problem. I’m suggesting this route both as an HR person and a person in long term recovery. Leave it at a “health issue” and go from there Congratulations on taking positive action to address this problem! Best of luck to you.

    1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      We shouldn’t bias against this sort of thing, but many do, even without realizing that they do.
      Medical issue is accurate and will cover the circumstances for you.

      Also, I am really glad you are getting help.

  33. Firecat*

    #1 So many of my co-workers were furloughed or laid off that I helped a lot of them with resume overhauls.

    It’s a lot of work! I considered offering paid local service but changed my mind (my town is notoriously cheap).

    The services involved:
    A 30-60 minute interview coaxing your accomplishments out of you.
    2-4 hours to redo resume from whatever mess it is in to a modern accomplishment based resume.
    30-60 min to craft a summary together.

    So that’s 3 hours of work at a minimum and up to 6. That’s a lot of work for just $150 dollars. When you think about other services that take an expert hours of time, car repair, spa services, salon hair care, you tend to pay much more.

    1. starsaphire*

      This is why I only do resume overhauls for my friends. It’s a good half-day’s work or more, every time, even when it’s someone I’ve known for ages.

      Fortunately, I enjoy doing it – and they enjoy getting a new resume and better job-hunting results for the cost of a sushi dinner, so it’s a win-win. :)

  34. aett*

    #3: I’ve never conducted an interview or been present for one that wasn’t mine, but I worked at a front desk for a long time, so I was the first person to meet and greet all the interviewees who passed through. Without fail, if someone gave me a bad vibe off the bat and managed to get hired, they would end up being a bad employee (or at least not get along well with most/all of the office).

    Additionally, part of my job was to tell the interviewees that the written portion of their test was over and to collect their materials. The way they handled this told me a lot about them, as well. I remember the woman who, when I told her that her time was up, looked at her phone, said “I still have about a minute” and proceeded to continue working until she was ready to stop.

  35. I'm just here for the cats.*

    Question about #2. Did your boss loose his s*** at you after you had the seizer on a work zoom? Does he know about the seizer? You could have epilepsy for all he knows. Did he say anything to you about it? Did he become concerned. Anything a boss looses their s*** regardless of the reason puts my hackles up.
    I would just tell them that you struggled in the beginning because of a medical condition but are doing better now because it is under control.
    Do not mention your alcoholism. I have a feeling with this boss it wouldn’t go well.

  36. Rehab*

    LW2 – I agree telling your boss the exact details is not good. I have a question about disclosure when your employment history reflects addiction. Not because it’s erratic, but because you just did work while at a residential long term rehab. (This is a common thing in more industries than you’d think!)

    We’ve used them and once they’re done, they’ll put their supervisor here down as a reference. I mean we’re not going to say anything about it (great worker!), but what if a hiring manager finds out? Also, some have been hired on at the sites they worked at so everyone knows they’re a recovering addict/alcoholic. And when they’re here in the program, it’s a known factor so no one is judging them.

    It’s an interesting mindset and i’ll be sad to leave it behind when I leave this job.

  37. Exhausted Frontline Worker*

    #2 I do harm reduction work in my job. If anyone is trying to get sober from alcohol or benzos, PLEASE make sure you are in the ER or a medical detox center to withdraw under medical monitoring! As OP noted, seizures (and even death) are possible from alcohol withdrawal, so it’s important to do it under medical supervision. (Withdrawing from other substances doesn’t carry that same risk, but medical supervision can make the experience…a little less unpleasant).

    I don’t say this to chastise OP for actions that are already in the past–I’m so glad you are past that period and doing better, which is the most important thing. But just wanted to give that PSA in case it can help someone in the commentariat or someone else they care about in the future. OP2, I wish you nothing but continued success in your sobriety, job and everything else.

  38. Jess*

    For #1, I’m curious how the resume service saw your resume. You mean you publicly posted it on the hiring company’s LinkedIn page? I’m just curious, I would have assumed you email it to a manager there or upload it to the company’s website, I am not familiar with a way that you’d apply for a job that would publicly share your resume with everyone.

  39. Argh!*

    Re: LW3

    This is a sign that you are not in alignment with the culture. I now work for a boss who I thought did a horrible interview. She was an internal candidate who acted like she would be a shoo-in for the job and didn’t have to prepare — and she was right. She got the job.

    Grandboss’s boss was the same way — an internal candidate (whose presentation was crazy slick) who I didn’t think had leadership qualities. He was promoted, as well.

    We don’t get to pick our leaders, but we can provide feedback. I have no idea whether my feedback leaked out, but it’s clear to me that my values don’t align with the values of whoever things these two would be good picks.

  40. AKchic*

    LW2 – you are not alone in your struggles. Alcoholism (and addiction in general) is a disease, and it’s one we have to fight for life. It’s may not always be an active problem, but it will always be there. Just like any co-occurring disorders (depression, anxiety, etc.).

    I agree with Alison; acknowledge you had a medical issue that wasn’t under control, but now is. It acknowledges that you are aware of your past issue(s), while also giving a big hint that what is going on is a protected issue and sensitive enough that you’d rather they not pry. It also kind of insulates you a bit that if a co-occurring issue (or even some natural fall-out) crops up, you can wrap that in for a reason to take time off later. Example: Need to take some flex time for follow-up appointments for therapy for depression, or you have dental work because you really damaged a tooth due to one of your seizures.

    Taking it one day at a time, you are going to get through this. I am proud of you.

  41. KnopeKnopeKnope*

    LW #5 – I have relocated between states for work five times. Four of those times the move was something that benefitted my life or career–meaning I wanted to relocate and was not asked to relocate by my employer. In all of these instances, I was fairly junior (less than 10 years of experience, limited management experience). One of the best pieces of advice I was given was to include the line “I am financially able to relocate myself” in my cover letter and to mean it. If you want to be considered against a local candidate pool, you basically need to remove any friction for the company that would make a local candidate more appealing. You’re unfortunately the one with the lower hand in this negotiation, so you will likely have to adjust your plan. I would suggest you and your partner adjust your budget to account for the fact that you will find jobs at separate times rather than asking employers to adjust their expectations for the job to fit your relocation budget. That might mean saving for long enough to relocate on an individual salary at first. Applying with the means to relocate yourself on your employer’s timeline is pretty crucial. Another alternative is to apply to jobs that offer relocation packages, but these will be hard to come by unless you are significantly more senior and specialized.

  42. neeko*

    Congrats on your sobriety, OP2. I’ve only very recently come out about my sobriety at work, and I’ve been sober the whole time I’ve been there. There are far too many stigmas about addiction that make it very scary to be as open as we should be able to be about it. And I honestly was only open about mine to give a perspective about having something nicer for people who don’t drink at our events. I would keep it to yourself unless there is a definite need to share.

  43. sally*

    LW1: I’ve hired three different resume writers over the years, and not one of their resumes on their own has ever gotten me a job. But, they were still worth doing, because I have taken elements of all three of those resumes and incorporated them into the final drafts that did get me jobs.

    This is an area where I feel like it’s important to know your strengths. I’m a good writer, mostly, and don’t need much editing help aside from asking my husband or a friend to scan for typos/clarity. And I can usually extrapolate from a job ad what kinds of things the employer wants to hear about, since not every thing you’ve ever done is relevant to every posting. But no matter how many tutorials I read, I remain TERRIBLE at quantifying my work and generally bragging on myself. For me, it really helps to have an outside person assist with that.

    But, I agree with Alison that getting recommendations is the way to go rather than responding to solicitations – unless the writer has great reviews and/or a history of working in recruitment.

  44. Mayflower*

    OP 5. Timing a relocation with a partner’s job search:

    A few years back I job-searched as a highly in-demand software engineer (employers and recruiters were desperate to get someone with my skillset) and almost immediate availability (a month out at the most) and even with that, I had a hard time getting interviews. Hiring managers and internal/external recruiters alike were very skittish about my not currently living in the city where I was looking. No matter how much I explained that we already had a house purchased and were literally moving in a matter of weeks, employers were not interested. As soon as I got a local number and started saying I was already there, I had a flood of interest. So unfortunately, I predict you won’t get any bites.

  45. Former San Diego Hiring Manager*

    I lived in San Diego for many years and only left due to a COVID-related job change this past spring. I did a lot of hiring while I was there and want to offer my perspective as a hiring manager who interviewed lots of out-of-town applicants. The market in San Diego can be VERY competitive for out of town job searchers. I know where I worked, if we had 2 candidates who were both out of town and both equally qualified, if one of them told us they were waiting for their SO to get a job before they’d relocate, that would be the deciding factor to not extend them an offer. The fact of the matter is that lots of people want to move to SD and there are a higher number of qualified applicants per position than in other areas because of it – and also salaries will be lower (a lot lower than what you think they should be based on the cost of living). I’m not trying to discourage you, just want to give you some perspective as to how a hiring manager in SD is thinking. It’s likely that one of you will have to move first, or only one of you will have a job when you move together. Good luck!

  46. DrRat*

    LW#5 – A quick reality check. I moved from out of state to San Diego years ago. Companies here HATE hiring people who say that they will move as soon as they get the job, because 9 out of 10 never do so. As a result, it usually needs to be a high demand profession where the company just can’t find local talent before you can get a job that way. (For example, some biotech jobs.) If you’re a recruiter, you’d have to be in a specialty – like having a long and successful track record of recruiting nurses or IT people. Not 7 months of what sounds like general recruiting experience. Sorry.

    I had great credentials and when I was applying for jobs saying I was going to move to San Diego, no one would seriously consider me. Once I actually moved here and had a local address, it was a very different story.

    San Diego is currently considered in the top 10 most expensive places to live in the U.S. There is a housing crunch. As a result, the AVERAGE price for a one bedroom apartment is around $2000. Most landlords want to see pretty much perfect credit ratings for both of you, first month’s rent, last month’s rent, PLUS a deposit, and proof that you can keep paying once you move in. Got an extra $5000-6000 sitting around? Not counting all the other expenses?

    We’re in a pandemic and our unemployment rate is currently about double what it was a year ago. There are a lot of local candidates. Again, sorry, but realistically I think your ideas are about a hundred to one long shot. If you absolutely have your heart set on San Diego, consider the finances with open eyes, please.

  47. Former Employee*

    San Diego collectively seems to be unhappy, collectively speaking, that it is not seen as a large city. While it is the 8th largest city in the US by population (I looked it up), it tends to be rather provincial, which is why people tend not to think of it as a major player.

    As at least one other person has pointed out, a lot of people born in San Diego stay there, which is probably why it often seems like a very large small town. Again, the word “provincial” comes to mind.

    I guess that’s why I don’t understand why people want to move there unless they are planning to retire.

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