scheduling a Zoom call to reject a candidate, an insulting trophy, and more

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

1. Scheduling a Zoom call to reject a job candidate

My friend has been applying for jobs and made it to the final round for one position. She didn’t hear back from them on the timeline they had mentioned on the last interview, so she assumed they passed on her and moved on. But she got an email from them recently asking to schedule a Zoom the next day. Feels promising, right? Wrong. She hops on the Zoom and they immediately tell her, “You are great, but we went with another candidate and they accepted” to her on the video, end of meeting.

Is it appropriate to schedule a Zoom call just to reject someone? I feel like that’s really overkill and sort of the equivalent of asking someone to come into the office just to reject them in today’s world where everything is so virtual. At the most I felt like this could have been a quick phone call instead of going through the rigamarole of scheduling a Zoom, where the expectation was to be on video so they can reject you to your face. I also felt like scheduling the Zoom gave her the impression they would be making a formal offer, so it was doubly painful to get rejected in this manner because she got her hopes up.

Oh, this is awful! I’m sure they didn’t intend it to be, but this takes all the problems with phone call rejections (you get your hopes up when they call you, then have to respond graciously on the spot to what might be crushing disappointment) and adds a horrible video twist (you probably took time beforehand to ensure you looked professional, maybe put on makeup and a bra, all to get a rejection that could have been delivered over email).

When companies do this, they think they’re being courteous and respectful. “She invested the time,” the thinking goes, “and we owe her the courtesy of a real conversation.” Some candidates really do prefer rejections that way … but so many people find it upsetting that it’s really better to stick to email. You can send a very gracious, personalized email rejection. You can even add a note that you’d be happy to talk on the phone if the person would like feedback, if that’s something you’re willing to offer. But making someone get rejected face-to-face on video is not kind, no matter what the intentions.

2. Applying for full-time work when my health means I’d have to go part-time soon

My current work contract ends this year so I’m job-hunting again. I’m in a professional career with accreditation and specialized skills. My problem is that I have fibromyalgia that limits my energy and ability to work. Realistically, I can work maybe 20 hours a week, but the vast majority of available jobs want full-time workers. I could do this for a bit — the last time I tried, I made it about three months with sick days every week or two before I had to give up.

Would I be an asshole for applying to full-time jobs and hoping that when my body gives out, the job will value me enough to let me stay on, but cut my hours? I’d love to be up-front about how much I can work, but I’m really worried about not finding anything in my speciality before my money runs out, and if I work outside my speciality, I’d be taking a huge financial hit and not able to pay for rent/groceries. I’d love some advice.

This is such a hard situation, and I’m sorry you’re in it.

You wouldn’t be an asshole for doing what you propose — you’re not trying to screw anyone over, just trying to support yourself in a world that doesn’t make that easy in your situation — but it’s a risky approach that could leave you worse off.

It’s true that some jobs will be willing to let a valued worker go part-time when their health requires it, but asking for it after only a few months is a much harder sell. It generally takes a lot longer for an employer to value you in the way that makes them willing to turn a full-time role part-time; after only three months, it’s more likely that they’ll conclude it’s just not working out (especially if those three months already had a lot of days off in them). That’s not always the case, of course, and you may find an exception … but those exceptions will likely be rare. And if you then end up with a couple of jobs in a row that you had to leave after a few months, that will make it harder to find the next one.

I wish I had a different answer for you! And obviously you need to do what you need to do to get by. But this specific plan is a risky one.

3. Recruiters who want me to suggest 10+ times when I could talk

I recently got an email from a recruiter saying that she’d like to set up an interview and asking me to provide times that I would be available to speak every day for the next two weeks. In a similar vein, recruiters often ask me to provide them with 10+ times that I am available to speak or give them my full availability over a two-week period.

I’m hesitant to block so much time, especially because I’ve found that the recruiters who ask for so much time are usually slow to get back to me about scheduling.

These requests turn me off, but they’ve gotten so common that I don’t feel I can entirely avoid the companies that make them. I usually provide just a handful of times, and when the recruiter inevitably pushes back, I either add a couple of additional times or ask them to provide some times that work on their end. Would you handle it differently?

Yeah, this is a bad way to go about scheduling unless they’re going to get back to you very quickly. It’s not reasonable to expect someone to hold so many different time slots empty for very long.

I’d send back what they’re asking for but include a note saying something like, “My calendar tends to fill up quickly so I can’t promise these times will all stay open — but if you’re able to confirm a slot by today or tomorrow, that’ll ensure nothing else gets booked then.” (They still may not; that’s just how this stuff tends to go.)

Personally, I’ve always found when scheduling interviews with candidates, it seems to work better if I suggest a couple of times to them (while making it clear they should tell me if none work).

4. Is this trophy an insult?

I work in state government. About a year ago, we got a new grandboss, who promptly started a new award system to honor those who go above and beyond in their work. The monthly winner gets a traveling trophy. That’s all fine and dandy.

What rubs me the wrong way (and maybe shouldn’t) is what he calls it: the “getting shit done award” for monthly winners, and the “top of the pile” award (“remember, it’s always better to be at the top of the pile!”) for quarterly winners. And the traveling trophy? It’s a plastic miniature outhouse.

To me, the way this system is set up (especially the “top of the pile” bit) implies that those of us who don’t get the award are, quite literally, shit employees, even if I know that’s not the case (I’ve never won but consistently get glowing performance reviews from my boss). What do you think?

I think the outhouse in poor taste and I wouldn’t do it (and would advise him not to if he asked me), but I doubt he intends to imply the rest of you are shit. It’s more likely the outhouse is referencing “getting shit done,” since that’s literally the name of the award that accompanies it! Tacky, yes, but not intended to be insulting.

5. Can I tell interviewers I’m leaving my job because of how my employer has handled Covid?

As I’m looking for a new job, I understand the general advice is to frame your reasons for leaving in a positive way. I’m perfectly capable of doing that, but I want to be honest about my main reason for leaving my job. I work in a field where most peers are working fully remotely even now, but my work has been in the office as soon as it was legally possible. This was okay at first, because we had alternating schedules and social distancing desks in place.

As time went on, my boss asked people to come in not on that schedule, which meant social distancing was no longer in place. He ended up testing positive and Covid spread to over half of the office. He asked us to come back in less than two weeks and, when I asked if I could work remotely for two weeks, he said he would not pay me if I didn’t come in. He dismissed our concerns about future prevention of Covid spread and said anxiety-inducing things like “everyone will get covid eventually, it’s better to get it over with” and “why are you even worried? Your parents are young.” He also doesn’t seem to trust vaccines and says Covid was made by the Democrats and China.

My mental health has been at an all-time low. I just want to be honest about why I no longer enjoy working there, but my boyfriend says one should never badmouth your boss in interviews. Surely lack of a safe environment is a valid reason I can voice? Saying only a generic reason like I want more challenging work, while true, just seems disingenuous. I’m worried about coming off as a complainer and wonder how I can phrase things in a professional way.

The rule that you shouldn’t badmouth your employer means you shouldn’t say things like your boss is toxic or a jerk. That’s considered indiscreet and because your interviewer will wonder what the other side of the story is — more here.

But it’s fine to say that you’ve been concerned by how your office has responded to the pandemic and you’re looking for a company that is operating in a safer manner. That’s perfectly understandable, just like you could also say you were looking because your company was having financial problems and you wanted something more stable. The key is to say it matter-of-factly and just in a single concise sentence like that — you don’t need to (and shouldn’t) go into all the details you have here. Your interviewer may ask about what your concerns have been (because they will rightly want to make sure you’ll be comfortable with whatever they are doing). I’d respond with something like, “Despite a lot of requests from the staff, the company wouldn’t enforce social distancing or the other public health measures the CDC recommended, and more than half our employees ended up contracting the virus” — factual, concise, and not explicitly about what a loon your boss is (although he is).

It’s actually a useful thing to explain, because it will help you screen out employers similar to your boss.

{ 351 comments… read them below }

  1. Sami*

    Oh OP 2: I get it. I have fibromyalgia and arthritis. I had to eventually leave my job for disability.
    If there’s any way you can cobble together working for a year (super tough, I know), then you could use FMLA. Maybe that would help make it work?

    1. Working Hypothesis*

      I have fibromyalgia and had to find an industry which routinely has part-time work as the way most people do things. 18-24 hours a week is considered pretty standard for a massage therapist, and it’s why a pretty hard physical job is actually better for me than most office jobs… because the office jobs are 40 hour weeks, not 20.

      1. Medusa*

        If you don’t mind me asking, does working a physical job, even if it’s for fewer hours, not exacerbate your fibromyalgia?

        1. Carol the happy elf*

          Sometimes, a physical job makes the medical situation BETTER, not worse.
          For example, when exercise and physical labor are okay with a qualified MD, the benefits can be life-saving.
          Joints don’t freeze up, muscles get strengthened, and nerves get stretched and used- and then, there are those delightful endorphins!
          My 5th grade bff (still my bff) had scoliosis that wasn’t diagnosed til 10th grade; her back hurt when she was sitting 7 hours a day, so multiple Dr.s told this little A-student that she was trying to get out of class. (Ten-yr-olds don’t get back problems, right?.) During the summer, she didn’t have much pain.
          35 years later, she does gardening, tree pruning stuff, loads cow crap by the ton, but working as a deskie makes her cry by the end of the day.
          I work with a man who has fibromyalgia; he gets up at 5 to start with Hot Yoga, then phys therapy. His physician approved this, and it keeps him “sane, but with pain”. And there are days where he is too wrecked to move.
          There are meds that can help, but side-effects can be a deal breaker.

      1. Reba*

        Some people I worked with do a job share! I don’t know how rare they are but I had to look up what it was.

      2. Bodacious*

        I wish this was still a thing! My husband and I have talked numerous times about how we’d love to job share so we could both work part-time and stay home with the kids part-time. Right now he works full-time and I’m a SAHM and neither of us likes it very much.

      3. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        I know people who do this! So it is still a thing, but I’m not sure on how it was arranged or how you would find one.

      4. Green great dragon*

        I jobshared till last year, and it’s pretty common in my large public sector organisation (UK). Though I’d recommend setting it up as 2 part-time jobs rather than a ‘proper’ jobshare if you can.

      5. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Still is a thing! I’ve got 2 members of staff who do it (both women who returned part time after having kids)

        1. UKDancer*

          Definitely. I’ve a friend in the public sector who does her post as a jobshare. I’m not sure how she set it up but it works very well. A number of civil servants work in a job share arrangement as I understand it.

          Obviously in the UK the conversation around benefits is somewhat different given that there are laws preventing part time workers from being treated differently from their full time equivalents. Obviously pay is pro-rata but benefits such as season ticket loans need to be offered to all staff on the same basis.

      6. Miss Betty*

        There are two legal assistants who do that where I work. I don’t know how they implemented it but they’ve been doing it for over ten years.

      7. H2*

        It would be awesome, but hard from a practical perspective. The employer would either need to work it out so that somehow neither person or only one of them got benefits, or else it would be extremely expensive for the employer. (Not saying this is right, just that it’s reality)

        1. Ontario Library Employee*

          They could pay a portion of the premium and the employees could pay the rest. For example, I work part time (21 hours) where a normal work week is 35 hours, so I pay 40% of my benefit cost and my employer pays 60%. But I’m in Canada, so I’m just talking about Green Shield extra coverage and I pay about $120 a month. The portion payable by a part time US employee might be harder to pay on a part time salary. But depending on the premium it might be an option.

          1. Koalafied*

            In the US the employee share of the premium is just dependent on how generous the employer is. Some very generous employers will pay the entire premium, most will pay some percentage of it, but there’s not really a standard amount. With my current job, I pay $75 every 2 weeks for medical and my employer pays $335. For dental, I pay $11 and they pay $13, and for vision, I pay $1.50 and they pay $3.50, so it’s not even consistent between the different types of insurances with a single employer what amount they pay!

            1. fhqwhgads*

              Sure but if there’s a job share they could still let them both have benefits but each gets half the full-time employer contribution. It’d be more expensive for both, but still doable.

        2. M. Albertine*

          The University I work for pays full benefits starting at 50% time. So it happens, but rarely, I imagine.

    2. nonegiven*

      I think you only have to average a little over 24 hours a week over a year’s time to qualify for FMLA, 1250 hours in the last 12 months. If you could get part time work and keep that up for a year.

      1. Cj*

        FMLA is only for a max of 12 weeks per year. Which means OP would have to work an average of 30 hours a week, not the 20 she says she can manage.

    3. Momma Bear*

      I don’t know what options OP2 has, but if there is a job that is flexible, that might be the way to go. I worked for a home health agency for a while and some of the nurses were FT and some were not. One nurse might do all the new baby visits and one might have a steady gig visiting an elderly patient. Something like that might give OP the option to set the hours and level of caring they are able to handle at whatever point in their health.

    4. meyer lemon*

      I wonder if it would help mitigate the risks if OP2 were to broach the question of part-time when they receive an offer. Obviously there’s still a decent chance that it won’t work out, but at least it wouldn’t risk having multiple three-month stays.

      Mostly this situation sucks and I’m sorry that OP2 is left to try to choose between bad options.

    5. Cj*

      You don’t get paid when you are on FMLA leave unless you have accrued vacation or sick pay or the extremely rare employer who gives additional leave.

      If you mean you receive disability pay from a policy you have at work, that would be great and she should look for a job with such a benefit. She might also already qualify for SSDI.

  2. tra la la*

    Re: video rejection: I’ve been rejected several times over the phone because the interviewer wanted to tell me what a strong candidate I was and to offer me encouragement. (In fact I’m about to interview again with a place that did this). But the phone rejections I’ve had that were just rejections were painful enough with trying to keep my voice steady. I can just imagine how awful it would be to have to try to keep my face steady too.

    1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      Me too. With the phone rejection, I was new to the industry and the interviewer wanted to let me know why I was a strong canidate and offer some helpful advice. I really appreciated her taking the time to do that. If it had just been the rejection, it would have felt awful.

      And it was surprisingly hard keeping my voice steady and staying professional. It would have been 1000x worse on a video call, I am sure.

    2. Caroline Bowman*

      My husband was recently rejected via phone following an incredibly promising final-round interview for a role that would have allowed us to emigrate as we so want to do (i.e. it was something we were massively hoping for in various ways that went beyond the job itself – which was also a fantastic fit / role / with progression). The call came RIGHT after he’d had a flat tyre and had to change it and got stung by a wasp during the course of this. He’d been waiting for the call, so I took over driving, he had a gulp of water and we both thought ”woo hoo!! This is it!!”.

      It wasn’t. It was a rejection call. The company were extremely nice, very courteous and as Alison says, it was clearly done out of courtesy, but I caught the very, very slight wobble in his voice and man, it was awful. A detailed, kind rejection email, inviting a future call or even written feedback would be SO MUCH BETTER.

      1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        I realise it’s not at all the same, but it sort of makes me think of someone who gets all dressed up and takes their partner out for a beauitful romantic dinner just to break up with them.

        Like, the expectation you’ve set up is all wrong.

        1. Caroline Bowman*

          Pretty similar! His face just fell. It wasn’t on a video call, so obviously could have been worse, because he kept his voice very steady and spoke nicely, but man, why would anyone do that?

        2. Ms. Hagrid Frizzle*

          My ex allowed *me* to prep a big date night dinner at my place, get dressed up, etc. He arrived, spent five minutes in the doorway breaking up with me while dinner was cooking, and then got in his car and left. It was awful.

          Video rejections/phone call rejections are so misguided and out-of-touch. I hope hiring committees start adjusting their practices to be mindful of the expectations they are setting and what they are expecting a candidate’s response to be.

          1. TootsNYC*

            I’m often struck by the parallels between work, especially job hunting, and dating/relationships.

            1. Keymaster of Gozer*

              Show your best side, don’t harass people, don’t be a total dickhead and expect to get results etc.etc.

          2. Carol the happy elf*

            Happened to me, too, once. I made an extravagant dessert, which I then ate all by myself in one evening, sobbing and listening to every breakup song in the house.
            BTW, it had a caramel glaze, so technically, I invented salted caramel….
            My misery, your good fortune.

        3. Depends*

          I know someone whose husband traveled for work and on the day of his return, she sent the kids to the grandparents, cooked and set the table for a romantic meal, bought new lingerie, etc. Afterwards he told her, “That was great, but I just came home to pack to leave you. I wasn’t at a work conference, I was on vacation with another woman. But thanks for the great send off!”

        4. Corporate Drone Liz*

          So basically the first 10 minutes of Legally Blonde. I’m so due for a rewatch haha.

    3. Lacey*

      Seriously! Especially since it would have gotten your expectations up! To try and not let your disappointment be visible in that moment… awful.

    4. Sparkles McFadden*

      Especially since the planning involved in a video call would make you think you’re close to getting an offer.

    5. voluptuousfire*

      Oof. This is why I’m an advocate for an email rejection with the offer of a feedback call. Gives the candidate time to process the rejection and to approach a feedback call with a clear head.

      1. Carol the happy elf*

        My company has a policy for hires.
        Individual emails with “We’re Sorry to have to say” as the subject line.
        Then, it’s “We’re sorry to have to tell you that our organization is not able to make a place for you.
        “We have many strong applicants for most positions, and we have selected the person with the education, experience, and skills that meet our needs.
        “You were a good candidate in _________,
        (This might be left out) however we wish you all the best in your employment search.”

        At the start of the hiring process, they clearly state that there are 3 tiers in the denial process; the above, the above wirh “you are invited to resubmit your resume in the future,” and the above with “your qualifications were so strong that we truly wish we could have hired you at this time. May we retain your resume for future use, while encouraging you in the job search we feel will be successful to meet your qualifications and your needs?”

        At the start of the process, they are told that the applicant who meets our needs will be notified by phone.

    6. ObscureRelic*

      Yes. I once took a half day off work, paid bridge tolls and parking fees, and got a nice face-to-face with the top person who told me how much she respected me for being a strong candidate and scoring Number One on the recruitment list, but they’d decided to impose a city-wide hiring freeze instead, thank you, good-bye. I’d certainly have preferred a short, courteous letter. Sure, the recruitment process had lasted months and involved tests and meetings and interviews, but I didn’t need the “respect” of a face to face encounter.

    7. Selina Luna*

      My husband had his contract terminated over Zoom. I know that firing is typically done in person and COVID prevented this, but it was still a blow.

      FYI, it wasn’t anything he did. His boss was new to the whole boss thing and was just a bad manager.

      1. Autistic AF*

        I shifted to WFH when the pandemic hit. Temporary layoff #1 was in April, which I survived. Temporary layoff #2 was in June, all communication pointed to it being temporary, and when I was asked to come in a week later I was not expecting to be told it was permanent. I even asked my boss for advance detail when he first emailed me as I’m high risk, and he gave me some vague line about discussing plans for my department. I was so upset and still had to drive home through it.

    8. KayDeeAye*

      You hear some people – including a few of the commenters here – say that a phone call rejection is “more respectful.” And I’m sure that’s the intent of the companies that do this – you know, “JustMissedtheCut invested so much time and effort, the least we can do is take the time to call.” Meanwhile, out in the real world populated by humans who might be feeling emotions that they’d rather not share, nearly every JustMissedtheCut is thinking, “Man, I would so much rather pretend to be a good sport in writing rather than pretend to be a good sport now, voice to voice.”

      On a Zoom call? No. Just no. I am sure it was meant kindly, but it was incredibly ill-judged.

    9. CoveredInBees*

      Yes. I really feel for that person. I’ve had that call and it wasn’t even to offer encouragement. Just to let me know they were going with someone else. It was a real gut punch.

    10. Berry*

      I had this exact thing happen to me in February. Had a video call scheduled to be told that I was a great candidate but they went with someone with more experience, and then the hiring manager offered to help with any connections that he could. While I appreciate his offer of connections, it still really really sucked to have to do this all over video call (and then the one connection fizzled out anyway). Plus, with an email I can always look back at it when I’m ready, while my mindset immediately after a rejection call is one of frustration and not useful.

    11. Elizabeth West*

      Same. I don’t care what your rationale is, employers; please don’t do this.

      Now if you want to give me [helpful and kind] feedback and you want to do it over Zoom while we sip coffee or something, like an informational interview or networking, fine. Send me an invitation and tell me what you’d like to do. I can accept or decline. Otherwise? Email me and then go away.

    12. t*

      This happened to me twice over the phone. I’d been unemployed for nearly a year, gained a massive amount of weight from the stress, was living with my lovely and generous parents but! at age 48, and questioned every decision I’d made about attending graduate school. The absolute worst was when I got a retail job to keep the bills paid and was cashier to several former high school classmates over time. Yep.

      On one of those calls, I was told – verbatim – “We appreciate your interviewing with us, but we found someone we like better.” I am a pacifist, yet never have I wanted to shove a phone down someone’s throat more than I did then.

      Send an email, people.

    13. tink*

      Yeah rejection via zoom is kind of peak “This could’ve been an email or phone call” for me.

      1. Momma Bear*

        Zoom is worse than a call IMO because you have to put on a brave face. I got one phone rejection but it included them asking if I wanted to be kept on file/considered in the future, which I did. So it wasn’t just “have a nice day, but sorry”. Otherwise, an email is sufficient.

    14. OceanDiva*

      Many, many years ago, I had an HR recruiter call me to excitedly tell me they’d finally picked a candidate (it wasn’t me) and were really happy to fill the position. Devastating, more so because of how happy and positive the call started out.

  3. Seal*

    #4 – My father worked as a statistician for the county’s waste control commission (he literally counted shit). When he retired, they gave him a miniature wooden outhouse with his name on it. It even had a tiny crescent moon on the door, which opened to reveal the outhouse was a 1-holer; the craftsmanship was impeccable. He displayed it with pride on the family room mantel for years. True story.

    1. allathian*

      Thanks for the giggle!

      The employee of the month award may be somewhat in bad taste, but I don’t think it’s intended to be insulting.

      1. Batty Twerp*

        I have a low opinion of Employee of the Month awards (for various reasons, including the fact that they’ve slowed down considerably at my hubby’s office now that everyone in HR has won it), so I’m caught thinking this boss is acknowledging that it’s a shit award, while at the same time paying lip service to the tradition.

        I like the idea of a trophy for waste control commission though – beats a carriage clock any day!

        1. Nesprin*

          But there’s something profoundly wrong in acknowledging hard work with a “shit” award. I mean, I’ve worked places where a spray painted gold ball was the highest trophy and proudly displayed, but it was also for winning a kickball tournament. I’d be insulted if my hard work was met with a joke prize.

      2. Joan Rivers*

        I thought the outhouse trophy seems insulting to the WINNER, not to the losers. Who wants an outhouse award? It also compares their work to excrement.

        1. Cj*

          The winners are “getting shit done”. Which implies that the other employees are not getting shit done, so are not shitting, and therefore are not shit. So I don’t understand why the OP thinks the award means the other employees are shit.

          1. Katrinka*

            I think that OP thinks that “top of the pile” refers to a pile of shit. I don’t think it does, I think it’s the same thing as “king of the mountain” or to “come out on top.” It’s probably for the person with the (literal) top numbers.

    2. tamarack and fireweed*

      I can see why the OP thought it really too tacky, but OTOH I live far enough north that people have outhouses in addition to (if not instead of) running-water plumbing (as it is hard to keep water wet in the winter), and everyone has at least experience in using outhouses and keeping them pleasant. There are outhouse races, people post pictures of the view from their outhouses, and the airport washrooms has cute outhouse art on the doors. So yeah, as a materialized metaphor for “getting shit done” this could totally happen here, and I’d just indulgently roll my eyes.

    3. Keymaster of Gozer*

      I’ve got a little desk trophy of a toilet with ‘Office Potty Mouth’ on it that I got from my boss back in 2005 :p

      1. Katrinka*

        I could have won that award hands down, probably. But only after all the students are out of the building. We were very careful about that.

    4. Jay*

      I worked on the yearbook staff in HS and my junior year there was A LOT of drama. After a few months of listening to me talk about the goings-on (!), my dad handed me a small plastic outhouse. He received it from a drug rep and it originally contained packets of the laxative being promoted. Dad said “Y0u can use this as the weekly award for whoever stirs up the most – well, you know.” I didn’t take it to school but I kept it in my room and I bestowed the award in my head, which helped me put all the drama in perspective.

    5. Sewage Plant Worker*

      OK, I work at a sewage plant and we also give people a wooden outhouse when they retire! I came here to make this comment, and then I found it had already been made! lol

      1. Ace in the Hole*

        I work in garbage, we don’t usually give out awards but this would be right up our alley. I’d find it hilarious, to be honest.

      2. Carol the happy elf*

        I taught CPR/First Aid to civilian responders, and one series was at a waste treatment plant.
        They had a gold outhouse as a thank you, and there was a “Golden Nugget” award to the employee who had dealt with the most, um, stuff.
        It also came with a gift certificate to a great restaurant, but the restaurant owner didn’t like it because it was in an envelope labelled “High Quality Future Poop”

    6. IndustriousLabRat*

      As a licensed wastewater treatment plant operator, I want one of these for my 10 year work anniversary or somthing! Someone please tell my boss?

      1. Rachel in NYC*

        maybe you can anonymously print out and post that section of the comments at your office and your boss will get the hint.

    7. Mid*

      Even though i don’t work in anything related to waste, I still think a mini outhouse would be an adorable gift.

      1. the cat's ass*

        Slightly OT, but the local medical equipment store next to the hospital where i trained had small (about the size of your hand) crystal bedpans that said “relax” inside. Gave one to my favorite auntie and she used it for an ash tray! Ah, the 70’s!

    8. Elizabeth West*

      Personally, I’m holding out for a fellow nerd boss who would give me a trophy that said “World’s Greatest Grandma.” ;)

  4. learnedthehardway*

    OP#3 – If the recruiter wants you to have that many times available, they should be using some kind of calendering software that allows you to pick out of times that are available in THEIR schedule. Asking for that many options is ridiculous and unnecessary.

    1. Sammie*

      I use calendly for this exact reason, it’s free and it saves all of the back and forth around booking in times so ultimately everyone saves time.

      1. Sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

        LOVE Calendly. Saved my sanity. I put in the times, the candidates picked the time that worked for them. No back and forth, everyone gets a confirmation email. Best free software that I took a chance on in 2020!

      2. Amlan Gupta*

        And if you are ready to pay a very reasonable amount, the paid version of Calendly offers awesome features especially when booking multiple people.

      3. Joielle*

        My financial planner uses Calendly and it’s so nice! I can just go in there and add an appointment to his calendar anytime he’s available. Really simple and so much easier than emailing back and forth.

      4. MassMatt*

        I was going to suggest Calendly, it has been a game-changer for me, my business requires a lot of appointments with clients and it has cut down on the endless back-and-forth emails and calls needed to schedule a meeting. Confirms are taken care of, and it integrates with Outlook and other calendars. I find meetings are scheduled many times faster, no-shows plummeted, and people are more likely to show up ready to engage in the meeting agenda. There are lots of other resources to use, but certainly the WORST practice would be to ask someone for 10 times they are available over the next two weeks and then just… assume they are going to keep those 10 spots open and wait by the phone during them? Very inefficient, and a recruiter should know better IMO.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Even my lunch break moves because I’m working with people in so many time zones.
      If they want that many they’re likely to hear “any day outside my core hours, so that’s before 8 or after 4. I can check the meeting schedule for midday hours if you have another time.”

    3. Zephy*

      Seconded. The hiring manager for CurrentJob did that, sent me a link to schedule my own interview with her. I do that now when scheduling appointments with clients. My clients are mostly college students, as such most of them don’t have Outlook/Gcal/another established way for other people to request meetings with them, so I link them to my scheduler and have them find a time that works.

  5. Fleapot*

    I’m wondering about ADA protections that might be available to somebody like LW2. Is an employer allowed to refuse an employee’s request to reduce work hours, if there’s medical documentation that supports that request?

    I know all too well that employers can easily get away with denying accommodations, and that legal protection doesn’t necessarily mean that LW2’s plan won’t be risky in practice. I ask in part because in my experience, better awareness of legal protections leads to better self-advocacy—or can make it clearer when self-advocacy is a lost cause.

    (Not to suggest that self-advocacy *should* ever be a lost cause! I’m admittedly pessimistic after a long string of bad experiences—some where I knew my rights were being violated and just didn’t have the resources to pursue a complaint, and others made worse because I didn’t understand my rights until well after the fact.)

    1. Anononon*

      Generally, employers have to provide reasonable accommodations so that a person can do a job. Making a full time job into a part time job is most likely not a reasonable accommodation, so there likely wouldn’t be legal protections here.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      The employer could refuse if they could show that full-time work (or close to it) was an essential requirement of the job or that the job couldn’t be done successfully in the hours the OP was proposing.

      I think the problem here is likely to be that the OP wouldn’t just be asking to go from, say, 40 hours/week to 35 hours/week (which is easier to accommodate) but would be asking to cut her work hours in half, which is a really significant change, and it would be pretty easy for an employer to argue the job can’t be done in half the time. They’re not required to fundamentally alter the position.

      That said, an accommodation can also be moving the person to a vacant position that would allow them to work the hours requested. So the OP might specifically look for jobs at larger companies, which are more likely to have open positions where that kind of reassignment could end up being an option.

      1. Cat Tree*

        I think a big company is the way to go. Whatever needs the employee has, it’s likely that the company has worked through something similar with a previous employee so they at least have a starting point. They also tend to have benefits which are significantly better than the legally required minimum, such as FMLA kicking in immediately rather than after a year.

      2. Dust Bunny*

        Yeah, this wouldn’t work in my organization. We’re not that big and we’re not overstaffed (we’re not understaffed, but if they say they need somebody full-time then they really do need someone full-time). We’ve done it for long-time employees before but had to be careful that other people had the space to pick up the slack.

      3. Fleapot*

        Thanks for that clarification. I’ve gotten a lot of conflicting information (in general, not here) about what actually constitutes “undue hardship,” and I’ve often been astonished by employers’ refusals to grant accommodations. But here, yes–I can see how the reduction in hours is a fundamental change to the position.

        OP, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you!

    3. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Can’t speak to the US but in the UK it has to be ‘reasonable accommodations’.

      So, my request for a pretty expensive but desperately needed special chair would be granted. Me asking to not work Tuesdays *likely* would be (goddamn weekly meds) because both the company and I agree that it wouldn’t cause a major problem to the role/work/company.

      However, if I asked for a 50% cut in hours it would be more than likely that the firm could reasonably state that the job can’t be done in that short amount of time and thus they’d be legally ok to say no. Even if my rheumatologist, orthopaedic specialist, psychiatrist all say it would benefit me.

      1. Bagpuss*

        Yes – someone in that situation could make a flexible working request to work fewer hours and effectively change from full to part time, but it would depend on whether that was reasonable from the businesses point of view., as unless the job has reduced it would mean they have to take on someone else to cover the remaining hours.

        We’ve done it for employees who have made such requests in some cases but it does depend on the type of work and how big the department is – some kinds of work it’s more feasible to have someone who isn’t available every day, or where someone else can fairly easily pick up anything urgent.

        We also have one job where it used be be a job share. The problem we ran into was when one of the two employees left, it was very hard to find anyone to do their ‘half’ of the job as the part time hours weren’t what most part timers wanted. (and you cant’, here, just fire the remaining ‘sharer’ and take on a full timer, or easily force them to significantly change their hours.)

        We ended up taking someone on full time with a split role, instead (so half their time is doing the ‘job share, and the rest supporting a different department. )

  6. Shenannigans*

    LW #4 got me thinking… these awards are usually intended to increase morale, but I wonder if they actually do? Unless there’s significant thought put into the award one is receiving, it just feels like a superficial attempt to encourage people and perhaps more worrisome, maybe it fosters a type of toxic positivity? If I’m good at my job, give a better title and/or more money? I might be reading too much into it. I’m nearing burnout, TBH. I’m just not sure there is an “award” or plastic statuette that would make me feel good about the fact that my endurance/tolerance/((insert COVID coping mechanism here)) is fading, regardless of whether it’s appreciated that I get **** done.

    Feel free to shout “Burnout” if you think I’m being oversensitive and I’ll talk to my therapist about it on Thursday. :)

    1. it's-a-me*

      As the sort of person who never receives the awards, and has watched for years as the favoured few do, it’s not encouraging to the majority of the employees. (in my experience, in this high-turnover company)

      1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        Yeah, I think it’s a tricky balance. I worked somewhere that offered awards which I think were intented to foster an atmosphere of friendly competition/incentivize certain metrics. But one woman consistently won the award several years running. It wasn’t an issue of favouritism, exactly (these were objective metrics and she was crushing them), but after 3/4 years everyone felt so confident that Angela had it in the bag they didn’t bother trying to compete.

        For awards to feel useful, most employees have to feel they have a chance at reaching them if they were to want to, IMO.

        1. Elle Woods*

          Exactly. If employees don’t feel they have a chance at winning the award, it’s more demoralizing than anything. A good friend of mine worked part-time for a business that had a monthly top sales award. In a one-year period, the same employee won the award 11 times. The owner was baffled why there was so much staff turnover among full-time employees.

        2. PT*

          One of my bosses used to do employee of the month, and she did make a concerted effort to make sure it got around to as many employees as possible. But we had a lot of bad employees on staff and only a few good ones. So she had to stretch to find reasons to award other people for that one good thing they did, hopefully to motivate them to continue doing good things, while the people who had done consistently high quality work got passed over in those months.

          It’s tricky.

        3. Zephy*

          At OldJob, I briefly served on a committee that handled these kinds of “employee of the [time period]” awards. They were company-wide, so the qualifications were often pretty subjective since we had no good way to standardize metrics between departments. We had this exact problem. It’s not that Tangerina’s work wasn’t excellent and deserving of recognition – she absolutely deserved the recognition she got – it’s just that there were 199 other employees who also did do great work. The main issue was that she was kind of a department unto herself – she worked closely with many other departments but nobody was doing her exact job, so we ran the risk of inadvertently broadcasting the message that “rice sculpting is the most important thing we do here at Ask A Work Metaphor Inc., and we don’t value the teapot painters and llama wranglers nearly as much.” There was already an implied/assumed “hierarchy” between the various departments, and we didn’t want to feed into that.

      2. Mongrel*

        At my work the awards always seem to go the the more gregarious teams\people.
        We also get skipped a lot of the time because we’re a very unexciting department with a very consistent workflow, we very rarely have the drama or last minute piles o’work that seem to go hand in hand with the “Above & Beyond” requirements for recognition awards.

        1. ilikecoffee*

          This is the case in my company as well. Doing your job well and before the deadline every time gets no award. Doing your job incompletely, creating problems, being put into a 7-day-a-week-taskforce that consumes a huge amount of company resources, and then finally fixing the problem three weeks after the original deadline — THAT gets an award.

      3. Chas*

        There were a few years when my old HoD would ask for nominations for people who’d been particulary helpful during the year, and give out little bonuses to people based on that (stuff like a bottle of wine/six-pack of beer/box of chocolates along with a card saying thanks). Most of the time, it was a nice way to acknowledge the support staff who everyone appreciated having around, but who otherwise wouldn’t get much recognition (like the technicians who fix our equipement) or volunteer committees (like the one I was on) so I thought it was a nice way for him to say thanks for some of the otherwise thankless work people did.

        However, the final year he did it, he decided to single out just one member of our post-doc committee and thank her for something she’d done, as part of the committee, that had involved a lot of interaction with him. And I have to admit I was pretty mad at him for it, because even though I had to admit she’d done a bunch of good work that year, it made me feel like the work me (who organised a weekly coffee morning to raise funds and moral) and other members (like the woman who’d helped organised an Away Day for researchers at our level across the faculty) put in was either being taken for granted or considered insignificant in his eyes.

        So I feel like it could improve moral if it was done well and for the right reasons, but it’s also very easy for it to turn into something that just feels like an excuse for the higher-ups to give some extra treats to their favourite people while ignoring the work done by everyone else. (Especially if it’s just one or two people organising who gets the awards)

      4. BatManDan*

        I trust the opinion of the business consultant that said EOM awards are worthless, because if they are awarded according to results, the same one or two people will always get it, and if it is rotated around the staff in order to be fair, it’s meaningless. In both cases, it hurts morale.

    2. Jackalope*

      I’ve had good experiences with them, but they need to be thoughtful, available to everyone, and something you can actually have a hope of earning. I prefer the kind where everyone who goes above and beyond gets an award, not say just one employee of the month. (I had one supervisor that handed them out to everyone who was eligible, but that was different bcs they included a small monetary bonus. It only went to people who actually had a supervisor take the time to write you up for the award, so this was a lot of work on her part.) It doesn’t have to be everyone actually getting it – if someone didn’t perform up to standards that needs to be considered – but not have it always be one or two rockstars.

      1. John Smith*

        We have awards that go to those who go above and beyond, but it’s often managers who take the credit (and often cause the need to go above and beyond in the first place with awardee running around like a blue arsed fly cleaning up the shit show started by the manager).

        Unsurprisingly, the award – a 10% discount voucher for a ludicrously expensive retailer of tat – often goes in the recycle bin.

        Know that you do a good job, hold your head up high and don’t let the buggers get you down.

      2. Lady Meyneth*

        My (huge!) company started doing this every quarter after COVID hit, to increase morale. Any employee who can demonstrate above and beyond work can apply for recognition (or more often, her manager or coworkers recommend her), the submission is revised by a comittee, and about 10-15 employees get a small bonus and their name and work mentioned by CEO in our quarterly general meetings.

        It has actually worked wonders to increase morale, because we can all see it’s not just for high level dudes. Each time I knew at least a couple of the nominees, and would think “wow, they really deserve it, their work is awesome”. On the last one, the Factory Guru actually cried and told us how crazy it was that the CEO now knew him by name and sometimes called him personally when he needed factory help. He’s the one everyone knows is responsible for our factories running smoothly, but he never wanted to be promoted because he likes operational work, and he felt he’d have to go back to school to handle more responsibility there (he dropped out of high school).

      3. Cat Tree*

        We have a good system where I work. First of all, the awards are monetary which makes it meaningful. Technically we get points to spend in a virtual store, but we can get gift cards with those points so it’s basically extra money.

        The other important factor is that anyone can nominate anyone else, although most of us can only select the smallest award option (we can ask our boss to nominate if we think a higher award is warranted). Then that person’s manager decides whether to approve the award or not (usually yes, but could be denied if it’s a duplicate award or extremely frivolous).

        However, a few years ago I won an exclusive award with a very good monetary value (5% of my yearly salary, so essentially an extra paycheck) and that was a little weird. Because the value was so large, I had to balance being proud of my accomplishment and being tactful about getting money that most others didn’t get. I was still glad to get it though.

        1. starsaphire*

          We have a similar program, and frankly, I LOVE it. I (a peon) can send points to recognize anyone for anything. So if someone assists me with a big project or covers for me while I’m out, I send them points. We can also buy stuff or cash the points in for gift cards.

          They have to be approved by upper mgmt, but as long as they are being used appropriately, the approval is pretty automatic.

          It’s the first time I’ve worked for a company that uses these things across the board, rather than as perks for upper mgmt, and it’s so nice!

          1. Cat Tree*

            Due to a few big projects I led, I saved up enough points to get pretty big amounts in Amazon gift cards. I don’t love Amazon, but I still use it because I basically haven’t had to pay real money there for years.

          2. JustaTech*

            We just got one of these systems (Bonusly) for people to send points to each other for medium-small things (thanks for returning that report so fast, thanks for covering that shift, congrats on an awesome presentation, etc). Because it’s for everyone by everyone it doesn’t seem to have quite the same “only the outgoing people get awards” thing. And the support folks get a *lot* of thanks.

            We’ve also got a new Employee of the Quarter thing (one for managers and one for non-managers) and for that a person is nominated by their coworkers, and the application actually requires a lot of thought and writing about what *specifically* this person did that aligns with our corporate values (sigh). But it does mean that it’s not just “best salesperson”, though the awards do seem to be going to the more visible people.

      4. Dust Bunny*

        My workplace’s awards are kind of low-stakes but it’s because they spread them out and figure out how to recognize people for all kinds of contributions–one young new hire got one for being proactive about reducing our office supplies expenses.

    3. tamarack and fireweed*

      My organization has a bunch of yearly/quarterly awards for all sorts of things… and it seems to me than other for student awards there’s an unwritten rule for the award to circulate through at least the long-standing employees. I’m always leery of favoritism, and also, it doesn’t come with monetary compensation – rather a certificate/plaque and a mention in the weekly newsletter. So … I don’t invest anything in it. If I’m asked for nominations, I nominate underappreciated people who I think could do with a bump in recognition.

    4. LilyP*

      I think if they’re done right they’re essentially a routine/reminder for the boss to regularly highlight good work and give public praise — which is something they should be doing anyway, and specific genuine recognition of a job well done really can be meaningful and a morale boost. So more about the recognition than the trinket?

    5. MK*

      It varies. As a general rule I would say that they are ok when they are given on top of more substantial rewards and insulting when given instead of them; also, they are harmless in a good workplace, as in, if I am compensated fairly and treated well, I won’t mind my coworker getting an award, but if I am overworked, it will feel like a slap in the face to be told I should work harder. There are some people who will find them tacky regardless, other who think them cute. The one thing I find makes a difference is having an objective standard to judge who gets the award, like the one who makes the most sales, or never misses a deadline or has performed some specific impressive task. If it is a vague “best employee” standard, resentment will follow.

      1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        I think that’s the big issue with them, actually. Done well, they typically have a negligible positive impact. Done poorly, they can have a substantial negative one.

        (That said, I do think they can sometimes be wonderful for an individual; I’m thinking more impact on the whole.)

      2. A Girl Named Fred*

        I think this is exactly my opinion of them too. At best, in a good workplace, they’re a neutral thing few people actively pay attention to. At worst, in a bad workplace, they increase the resentment already brewing there.

        For example, my org recently floated the idea of ‘merit badges’ for folks who take on certain kinds of projects. Some of our staff (aka the in crowd) seem to love the idea, and the rest of us are annoyed that we’re being treated like children who want a gold star rather than fair workloads and time off. So maybe I’m just biased against awards, but I’d much prefer my employer come up with functional, meaningful rewards for measurable work.

    6. Juniper*

      My only experience with winning one was at a restaurant job where I was nearing burnout. I was hostessing at a large restaurant practically full-time (on paper it was a part-time job intended to supplement a full-time college course load), and after multiple people quit I was pretty much running the front-desk show. I was exhausted, over-worked and felt under-appreciated. And then I won this award at a moment where I was considering throwing in the towel. As cheesy as it sounds, it was just what I needed. It came with heartfelt appreciation from an otherwise rather distant manager, a substantial gift card, and recognition from the rest of the staff. I think it was an employee of the year, rather than month, which probably helped since it carries more weight. And you could definitely argue that in a healthy workplace the focus should have been on addressing those underlying issues. But it did warm my cold, cynical heart and gave me the motivation to continue going (and shortly afterward those other extenuating factors improved, anyway).

      1. Luke G*

        At a summer camp job our “employee of the week” award was called the ROCK OF TRIUMPH. It was a 25 lb block of concrete with a shoulder strap, that the winner was (jokingly) “required” to carry for the next week, to be an inspiration to the rest of us.

    7. Media Monkey*

      we have an “above and beyond” award where anyone in the company can nominate someone for it. all nominations go to one of the management teams who decide on 2 or 3 people (from c. 130 employees) to get the award each month, announced in our monthly company meeting. prize is a bottle of champagne (or similar value, obviously we tend to know of people who don’t drink as it’s a fairly small team). so people in all teams get the chance to be nominated and the management team tend to make sure it gets shared about and the same person/ team doesn’t win every month. if you win you don’t know who nominated you so no pressure to nominate your boss or anything. it works really well. the prize isn’t big enough for anyone to feel resentful and it’s a pretty feel-good thing.

    8. Keymaster of Gozer*

      I’ve got 2 ‘formal’ company award big glass thingies for ‘Excellence’ and a little desk trophy for ‘office potty mouth’.

      The latter I keep proudly displayed at home! The others are in storage.

    9. doreen*

      The OP works in state government, which means that even if this were a yearly award rather than monthly, a raise, title change or extra time off most likely aren’t options. The outhouse itself isn’t meant to increase morale – it’s meant to be humorous, like the last place trophies I’ve seen that consist of a roll of toilet or a horse’s ass. The part that might increase morale is being chosen for the award, even if nothing material comes of it. The outhouse isn’t meant to be insulting, and I don’t even really agree that it’s exactly in poor taste – I really think it’s more a matter of the boss not knowing his audience.

      1. CheeryO*

        Yeah, you really have to put this in the context of state government. There’s a reason one of my coworkers has a sign at his cube that says, “Doing a good job here is like peeing your pants. You get a warm feeling, but no one else notices.”

        It’s just a silly thing to recognize good work, which is probably needed. It’s super demoralizing to get the same exact pay and benefits as someone who hasn’t done their job properly in three decades, but that’s what ends up happening.

        1. CmdrShepard4ever*

          I think if no one else notices you are just not trying hard enough to pee your pants. If you really want to you can do it so people definitely notice you peed your pants.

      2. Shirley Keeldar*

        It made me think, though, that the axiom of “punch up, not down” is really true when it comes to humor. I get the joke, I do, but when the boss jokingly says, “Hey, your work is excrement!” to people, it can land hard, at least to some…as it had landed for the OP. I know the boss didn’t mean it that way, OP knows the boss didn’t mean it that way, but it still stung. I get why.

        1. Joielle*

          Yeah, I didn’t think it suggested the employees were shit, but it did kind of suggest that the job itself is shit! Which is maybe an amusing joke between peers, but when your boss jokes about how much shit you have to put up with, it just feels like… well why don’t you do something about it then?? I’d be irritated too.

          1. PT*

            Because it’s state government. No one can actually change anything. They’re just cogs to maintain homeostasis until the politicians and voters decide to shake things up.

      3. TeaCoziesRUs*

        Back a few years ago my active duty Air Force husband was a flight commander for around 6 or 7 sections, each section containing anywhere from 5-20 people. Two of the sections were filled with lots of young Airmen fresh out of tech school (so 19-21 years old on average in their first “real” job). Hubby was aware that part of his job as their commander was teaching them how to be good Airmen… and adults. These sections had a problem with throwing other people under the bus and pointing fingers rather than owning it when they screwed up – ESPECIALLY in staff meetings. He complained to me that he needed to do something to point out their actions. In the way of all good military jokes, I was familiar with the term Blue Falcon (buddy f****er) and happened to be in a toy store. I bought a bright blue robotic plush bird… which became the Blue Falcon award. Not sure how long it lasted, but it became an excellent tool for communicating when and how people or sections were choosing not to own their mistakes. :)

    10. Anonymous for this*

      My old Engineering Management used to offer an award for teams and people who fixed critical problems. Often this involved overtime and unexpected when someone in sales or marketing ignored engineering input. After a few years of this, I started wishing that the award could go to the marketing manager who never caused a crisis. That manager worked with engineering to develop specifications and development schedules, and then so clearly explained target dates to customers, that the customers accepted it. The only above & beyond required on those projects was to cover illness & job changes.
      But the system was set up to reward fire-fighters instead of good planners.

    11. Super Duper Anon*

      My company does a version of awards very well. We have a program that allows you to send a kudos message to anyone in the company for a wide variety of categories. That person’s manager also sees that they got a message, so that the managers get visibility that their reports are doing something good. If you are a manager and are sending a message, you also have a budget to add a gift card to the message.

      I have a gotten some notes and gift cards for a few big side projects I worked on, and it is really satisfying. I have also sent one note to a coworker who helped me out with a project. I like this method because it is really easy to acknowledge hard work and reward someone without making people feel like they are competing for something.

    12. Roscoe*

      I think this really depends on the role. As someone in sales, there is always some level of competition going on, even if you work on a very collaborative, non cut throat team. So for me, something like this would make sense. Its also much easier to judge because sales numbers are pretty objective, as opposed to other roles. But I could see other positions it not working as well.

    13. Lady of the Lake*

      In my company, we don’t have an employee of the month award, but rather anyone can nominate anyone else for a “superstar” award, which comes with a certificate and a small giftcard reward. Once nominated, the potential recipient’s manager has to approve it (to prevent people nominating each other for nothing just to get the rewards, I guess). This all sounds good in theory, however it runs into problems because it’s very dependent on your own manager. My manager essentially despises the things and notoriously refuses to approve most nominations. She’s of the opinion that the award is for truly going above & beyond your day-to-day job, rather than as acknowledgement of doing your job well. The most outrageous example, my co-worker and I were working late every day following the (rushed & ill-thought-out) implementation of a new records management system; trying to keep the wheels turning on top of learning the new system and training others on how to use it. It was a stressful couple of months for both of us, but we did what we had to do to keep our side of the business from falling down. We were nominated for the award by several people as acknowledgement of the work we’d put in, but our boss rejected it (and told us as much!) as apparently we were just doing our job and that level of effort was expected of us.

      It’s incredibly frustrating and demoralising; especially seeing employees in other teams receive the same award for similar (or even less) effort.

      1. Dashed*

        I think we have worked for the same boss.

        He refused to rate anyone above a 3 on a 1-5 rating system, with 3 being “Doing your job.” No matter what you did, you could not get above a 3. Meanwhile other people with different managers could and did get 4 and 5 for doing the same or less work.

        The rating determined your raise and ability to earn a bonus. Over time, the failure to get more than the bare minimum raise (and no bonus) adversely impacted your pay AND your retirement.

        As an example, I started the same time and classification as someone with another boss. By the end of 6 years, my colleague was earning $10K per year more than I was. That extra money also earned him a lot more retirement contribution from the employer. A LOT more.

        HR was useless and turned a deaf ear to our requests to investigate the equity issues. And they were also “shocked” that this manager had much higher turnover than any other manager. Yeah, it’s so “shocking” that people leave when they cannot get raises and bonuses other coworkers do.

        1. Shenannigans*

          I think my boss was a first cousin of your boss. She was my first boss out of school and needless to say, my understanding of the working world was screwed up for years. She felt that in order to get promoted one should be doing the job you wanted to be promoted into. Except when I asked for a raise a year after I got promoted. That’s when she told me that my salary bump was aspirational and was based on my “potential” to do the job.. once I started doing the job I had basically earned my salary and didn’t deserve more. She also didn’t believe in giving someone a 5-star rating, as it meant there was no room for improvement and she believed everyone had room for improvement. “Shockingly” she also had a lot of turnover. Man, what a poor, dumb kid I was. I worked for her for over 3 years.

    14. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      I’ve won 5 year end awards in just under 10 years. One was even runner up for Employee of the Year.

      Every time, they’ve triggered Impostor Syndrome, because the rationale and justification tends to boil down to “Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est did the job with dedication.” I have gone above-and-beyond and have a few legitimate accomplishments that would be appropriate to recognize on that level, but those never seem to factor in.

      I ‘m to the point where I believe their true purpose is to make certain employees think twice about leaving.

    15. Person from the Resume*

      Quarterly and Annual awards were very useful and morale boosting in the military, but they helped the winners beef up their promotion package so winning had a benefit.

      They were done at all levels of organization size and ranks and the winner of one org would go up to compete at the next higher level. There was a codified process. In my experience, the award was spread around and not just one person winning all the time. Sometime good performer was encouraged to pick up some volunteer work to beef up their package to help them win because that was something unique to the military – it was a “whole person” thing and not just great job performance.

      1. TeaCoziesRUs*

        The frustrating part of those was when you got to the Wing level, or equivalent, and were a support person kicking butt all around – work, volunteering, etc… but were competing with someone in Ops who was doing their job, which was shiny, but not much else. But because their job was essentially the reason for the unit to exist (like C-130 crewmember who flew 300+ hrs/mo AND discovered an issue early that saved the AF thousands, if not millions). Gonna win every time. Unless the leadership was VERY careful.

        1. Person from the Resume*

          That’s true. My tenant unit members rarely won the Wing-level awards.

          But even the unit level awards, helped a person at promotion time.

    16. Sparkles McFadden*

      Oh, no. You are correct. Awards at work are, at best, pointless. At worst, it’s a way to pit employees against each other so they never band together against management.

    17. Rusty Shackelford*

      We have an award system (recognition only, no monetary benefit) that, at best, makes me think “oh, that’s nice, I like Jane, good for her” but doesn’t inspire me to do better on my own. And at worst, makes me think “well, how nice for Fergus that he did basically the exact same above-and-beyond thing I did, but because his boss is a fan of awards and nominated him, he got one, and because my boss isn’t interested, I did not get one.”

      1. A Simple Narwhal*

        Oh 100%. At Oldjob there were weekly above and beyond recognitions that got announced at the weekly staff meeting. Nothing crazy, the person got some compliments on why they deserved the recognition, and the winners went into a monthly raffle for a gift card. The problem stemmed from managers who had vastly different ideas on what was recognition-worthy. It was frustrating to watch people on other teams get constant recognition week after week for things that could only be described as “doing their job”, whereas my manager reserved recognition for truly step-up worthy accomplishments. And when I (or someone else on my team) actually got the recognition, what should have felt like a true achievement was cheapened by the ten other recognitions happening at same time for relatively nothing tasks.

    18. Koalafied*

      I liked my company’s annual awards for a while. Staff nominate other staff with written statements of support, HR chooses the finalists from those nominated, and then those who nominated the winners put together these little videos where a bunch of people talk about why the person deserves an award and they’re shown to the whole company at an annual ceremony. The videos are put together in secret so the winner doesn’t know until suddenly their coworkers are on the big screen praising them. It also comes with a cash prize ($100).

      Unfortunately the longer I was there the more I grew to dislike them. The first few years my department organized nominations for people I really thought deserved an award and I supported the nominations enthusiastically. But after 5 or 6 years all of our superstars had gotten awards (you can only win once ever) and our department kept organizing nominations every year. I began to realize that our department was just always going to find someone to nominate because it was the thing to do, not because anyone in our department necessarily was going so above and beyond what anyone else does, so that massively devalued the award in my mind from “top 5 employees out of 500 company-wide who truly bring something incredible to their work” to “top 5 department nominees who haven’t won before.” And while all our superstars that we nominated did win, once we got down into the normal-good employees, the very outgoing and well-connected ones could still win but the quieter ones who worked with fewer people didn’t, so it further became “top 5 department nominees with lots of friends in the company (who haven’t already won).”

      Early on it really did feel like a thoughtful recognition of the deserving, but especially in a company where long tenure is very common, patterns start to emerge that call into question what, exactly, the awards are recognizing.

    19. Grace Poole*

      It brings up the concept of innovation vs. maintenance. Not everybody is a go-getter doing work that constantly goes above and beyond. There’s something to be said for people who are reliable and do a good job at the kind of work that keeps the website up and the phones answered and the databases updated. Those are the people who never get trophies.

    20. Bagpuss*

      I’ve never worked anywhere which did them, but I know my dad’s employer did, for a while.

      In that case, the award was financial – I don’t know the exact figure but it was enough for a weekend break. It was expressly supposed to be used for something fun.

      I think that the system of deciding who got it each month included nominations from coworkers + feedback from clients + input from managers , and that there was some sort of weighting system to try to ensure that larger departments couldn’t stack the ballot and push out smaller or less visible ones.

      I think it was seen as being a fairly good reflection of people who had done a particularly good job, and the fact that it came as actual real money rather than branded swag or a trophy was positive.

    21. Elizabeth West*

      Honestly, no. I don’t really care about these, and I don’t know many other people who do either. I don’t need munchies or soap or a random item from a gift catalog (although I did get a socket set from a very old job’s reward program and I still have/use it). Of course, being paid more is also quite motivating. As is treating me like an adult who can manage their own time, not requiring a doctor’s note if I’m sick, paying me when I’m sick to stay home and get well, and actually managing bullshit coworkers.

      From time to time, usually before a long weekend but sometimes randomly, AwesomeBoss at Exjob would send me an email: “I appreciate your hard work. Put in your full time and go enjoy your afternoon.” She was supportive in other ways too, but that always made me feel valued, especially since lower-level employees rarely get such perks. I would have fought a tornado for that woman.

  7. Aggretsuko*

    One of my former coworkers (who was temping here at the time), well, my grandboss insisted on having a Zoom rejection call. This was also after the morning staff meeting in which the head of the office talked about getting this girl’s computer back for the next candidate. Grandboss then told her….well, basically that she was inadequate, doesn’t have a college degree, it’s not fair to give her a job that she’s been doing for several months…. So the girl ended up crying on Zoom. Oh yeah, and they were going to extend her contract so she could train the girl who DOES get hired….

    There’s a happy ending to this: she got another job literally a week later, thank gawd. But I was just absolutely horrified at this whole thing. It was cruel.

    1. Zaphod Beeblebrox*

      Good enough to do the job for months…good enough to train someone else…but not good enough to be given the job?

      There’s not enough Arkell vs Pressdram in the world…..

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        I second the Arkell vs Pressdram reference. And anyone who rejects someone via Zoom call would probably be awful to work with anyway.
        I understand that people sometimes complain about being rejected by email after a long and intensive interview process because it feels impersonal … but better that than a Zoom call. That’s just horrible.

      2. MK*

        You know what, yes. It is absolutely possible that you are good enough to fill in for a few months when the hiring process is going to take too long and stuff needs to get done immediately, and not be a good choice for the role long term. Also, training doesn’t necessarily mean that you are teaching a clueless person the work that you yourself are brilliant at, most often it means teaching the ropes about how things are done in this new workplace. Temping does not guarantee you the role, and also you might not be performing great at it.

        In a previous job, my supervisor point-blank refused to allow anyone eligible for a vacant role to fill in till a permanent hire, specifically to avoid people’s expectations. That was an extreme reaction, but I think it was in the right direction: if the temp isn’t a good choice for the role, you need to let them know beforehand, not dump it on them in a rejection meeting. As for his being such a jerk, that’s borderline sadistic. But the problem isn’t that the temp/trainer didn’t get the job.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          This is spot on. Several years ago, I had to fill in for a niche role for several months while we sought to hire the right candidate for it. I worked very hard, learned as much as I could, but I was a backstop to keep the trains from crashing while we located someone who could actually manage the complex train-running/scheduling job. (Of which there are approximately one dozen in the entire US, so it was a process.) The team I was supporting was grateful for my assistance but also quite relieved when someone who knew precisely what they were doing and had significantly more industry knowledge was hired permanently.

        2. Pescadero*


          You’re good enough we’re desperate, but not when we have options.

          Employers who behave that way better never expect any employee loyalty – because you’re job is good enough if they’re desperate, but not when they have options.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            No. Translation: The person was able to do a modified, pinch-hitting version of the job to keep things running in the short-term but isn’t well suited to do the full (more complicated, higher level) version of the job over the long-term.

      3. Keymaster of Gozer*

        I kinda love you now for a HHGTTG name AND knowing that brilliant response from Private Eye :)

      4. MCMonkeybean*

        I mean, it sounds like they handled this in a truly horrible way and if they are listing “not having a college degree” as one of the reasons she can’t get the job then I certainly won’t take their word that she wasn’t up for it–but there are a million perfectly valid reasons that a temp covering the job for just a few months wouldn’t be the right hire for a role.

      5. Aggretsuko*

        I’ll note that the person who did get hired had 18 years of experience in working in an equivalent office elsewhere, but didn’t do any of the stuff that we do.

        Not that I don’t adore my new coworker, and the old one for that matter, but the whole thing was very side-eye.

    2. Caroline Bowman*

      That’s absolutely despicable. I cannot imagine anyone other than an actual sociopath doing such a thing, and yet… they do! All the time apparently!

      It’s beyond mean.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      This reminds me of the boss I had who told the entire all-team meeting, “Funding is down as you know, so we’re going to have to cut some people in the Hydra monitoring department. Sharon Carter’s last day will be this Friday.” Nobody told Sharon before the meeting. The look on her face made me feel stabby.

  8. Lysis*

    RE Letter 1: wouldn’t the best plan be to apply for the full-time positions and then after receiving an offer make a request for part time work as an accommodation under the ADA? Some employers may grant the request because they think it’s the right thing and some employers may do it because there is enough legal gray area that they don’t want to take the chance to run afoul of the ADA. That way LW1 can be upfront about what they need from the beginning and won’t have to go through a gauntlet at the beginning of the job trying to make full time work.

    1. AnotherLadyGrey*

      I don’t think working part time would be likely to be considered a ‘reasonable’ accommodation under the ADA, unfortunately. But perhaps there would be other types of accommodations that could help the OP.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I talked a bit about this above, but the issue would likely be that she hopes to work 20/hours a week, and courts have ruled that part-time schedules aren’t a required accommodation if the essential duties of the job can’t be performed within those hours.

    3. Artemesia*

      I would be enraged as a hiring manager if I needed a full time employee and someone on being offered the job insisted we had to accommodate their health issues by making them part time. An employer should be allowed to have requirements for a job including full time commitment.

      1. Forrest*

        Although the flipside of that is that employers should think of jobs in increments other than “full-time position”. It cannot possibly be the case that every single task neatly adds up to a certain numbers of FTE: that’s completely a choice on the part of employers to only think about hiring on those terms. If employers aren’t going to think more flexibly off their own bat, then somebody should mandate it until the assumptions change.

        1. BubbleTea*

          Yes! This whole discussion is really interesting because over here, it seems much more common that part time roles exist (often because there isn’t enough money for full time), job shares still happen, and flexibility requests for any reason are legally protected after a certain amount of time, so the system is more open to it. Of course there are still employers who are rigid about time requirements, but it isn’t all of them. I applied for a full time role and a part time role (same employer, different but similar roles) and ended up getting both – the full time one was split as a job share between me and an existing staff member who wanted to change roles. That wasn’t what they’d pictured when advertising but they were creative about how to make it work when they decided they wanted me, and thank goodness they were!

          I wonder if there are lists of employers who are more supportive of disabled people, caregivers etc which might be a starting point for looking for somewhere which would be open to flexibility? It is frustrating because I bet there are times when both the #1 and #2 candidate would be happy with or even prefer part time hours (providing they still got the benefits they needed), but a job share isn’t even considered. I bet benefits eligibility rules play a large part in this actually.

          1. Koalafied*

            I suspect that one of the driving factors is our employer-sponsored healthcare system in the US. The vast majority of white collar workers are looking for a job with health benefits because it’s obscenely expensive to buy as an individual – employers both have access to better premiums (because of pooled risk for a large group) and typically pay the lion’s share of the premium.

            So employers know that a full-time role without health benefits is going to be a hard pass for a huge swath of candidates – they pretty much *have* to offer health benefits unless they’re going with that “scrappy startup with thin benefits but equity that could maybe possibly be worth a lot in the future” framing. My health-related benefits (health insurance, life insurance, disability, etc) alone cost my employer $10,000/year. It’s one thing to pay $10,000 more on top of a full-time salary – it’s another to pay $10,000 more on a part-time salary where the $10,000 is going to be a much larger percentage of the total compensation package. And if the job really takes 40 hours, hiring two people means paying $20,000 instead of $10,000 for the role.

            So what ends up happening is employers only very rarely offer health benefits to part-timers, and they cover a lesser share of the cost, which massively drives down the demand for part-time work among skilled workers because most people *need* health insurance. Lots of talented/skilled/experienced people won’t consider part-time work, even if the salary was agreeable and they would love a shorter workweek, because they need insurance. Typically only people married to a high earner or independently wealthy can entertain such a notion. So there’s a negative feedback loop that gets created where there’s a shortage of workers looking for part-time jobs, making companies even more reluctant to shell out for the premium benefits, making part-time work less attractive, creating a shortage of workers looking for part-time jobs, ad infinitum.

        2. Asenath*

          But the employers still decide whether or not they need a full-time employee to take on the work that they want done. There can be some flexibility – the job I spent most of my working life at started out as two half-time jobs because the employer thought they were unlikely to find someone able and willing to cover two different kinds of tasks. In this case, it sounds like OP is applying for jobs that were designed as full-time jobs, so there’s not really an indication that the employers are lacking in flexibility. Now, I do get why OP wants a full-time job – many employers, although not my former ones, don’t offer the same or pro-rated benefits to part-time employees as they do full-time employees. But she might do better in terms of getting a job offer and keeping a job by applying to jobs that are part-time than applying for full-time jobs known she’s probably going to need to go half-time pretty soon.

          1. Forrest*

            The thing about not offering proper benefits to part-time people is definitely something that should be addressed in employment legislation IMO. Just no excuse for the system to tell people who want to work that their skills and knowledge are valueless because they can’t fit into a box designed for people able to work a standard 40 hr working week.

            1. Anon for this*

              And to give employers the excuse to treat people like their skills aren’t valueless if they can schedule them for almost full time hours but not quite each week. When I worked retail, I was forced to stand with my foot in a boot for a week because the doctor wrote that I could go back to work after being run over by a car in the parking lot (stupid customer) as long as I was sitting, and somehow I was never able to sit down because people kept calling me to do things. Taking the time off wasn’t an option, because the operative words were “can work”, and nothing else. Retail employers treat their employees like easily broken cogs in a machine, not people. And I say this as the one person who was trusted to open up the self checkout registers when money jammed which happened all. The. Time.

            2. H2*

              I’m an adjunct professor, so I totally agree with what you’re saying here. But from a benefits perspective it’s still not going to work out economically, no matter what the law looks like. It’s always going to be cheaper to have one full-time person with benefits than to have two part-time people with benefits. In fact, requiring benefits for part time employees would make it worse—there would be less incentive to hire anyone who isn’t full time. (Again, I’m not saying this is right; it’s a problem. But I’ve seen my employment change since the ACA was passed, with restrictions on hours, and now with covid, universities are actively trying to reduce costs by eliminating part time faculty, as even without benefits every person in payroll has has overhead)

              1. Forrest*

                yeah, I think this comes down to what you class as “benefits” — I’m in the UK, where our idea of benefits is more like “gym membership” and “annual leave and maternity pay above the statutory minimum” rather than “healthcare”. :-( Those things are either very marginal benefits on top of basic pay– like gym membership– or they can be pro-rata’d in pretty much the same way as pay itself.) It sucks that there is a whole external and legal framework to discentivise part-time work as well as the institutional blockers.

                1. UKDancer*

                  Definitely. I think the fact that health care is separate from employment makes part time or jobshare arrangements more viable. In my company the benefits are things like pension contributions, a loan for a season ticket or a bicycle and more annual leave than the statutory minimum. Employers are legally obliged to offer these to all employees (full and part time) so you can’t only give the bicycle loan to full timers although things like annual leave can be offered on a pro rata basis.

            3. Analyst Editor*

              Isn’t the goal to decouple employment from healthcare, not entrench it more?
              Second, when you make it more onerous to employ people, people get less employment, fewer hours, etc. How is heaping more onerous requirements going to improve things?!
              Most employers don’t actually have infinite money for these things.

            4. PT*

              It was addressed in legislation. The ACA required companies to offer benefits at 30 hours, which is lower than it had been prior. Companies promptly cut part-time jobs to be capped at 25 hours.

              It’d make sense to offer benefits at 20 hours but if we legislate that, people will end up working 4 different 15 an hour a week jobs to make ends meet, because US corporations are evil.

        3. Keymaster of Gozer*

          The issue though becomes who is best to judge whether a job role truly needs 40 hours a week or could in theory be done in 20? The employer? The candidate? External regulators? Law? Government?

          All I can say is that if I advertise a role that’s full time I *might* have some leeway for hiring someone to work 4 days a week instead of 5, I can make reasonable accommodations for disability etc (I’m disabled myself) but what I absolutely cannot do is bring someone aboard who then asks for a 50% cut in hours. I’ll get yelled at by MY boss!

          1. Forrest*

            But what I mean is that when there is More Work To Do, most employers tend to think, “yeah, but it’s not a full time role, so we’ll struggle on,” until it is a full-time role. Whereas there are lots of points before that where they could say, “this isn’t a full-time role, but it could be a 0.2, or a 0.4, or a 0.6 FTE, so let’s get that approved and see what kind of interest we get.” The practice of not trying to hire someone unless you’ve got enough work for 37.5 hours a week isn’t a natural law: it’s a creation of HR / budgetary / organisational structures that disincentivise hiring part-time. I’m sure you’ve come across the thing of managers going, “we’ve got about enough of this work for 3 or 4 days— anything else we can reasonably add to it to get it up to FT so we can put a business case in?”

            I applied for and got an advertised 0.6fte role in 2018 right after having my second child, and it was GREAT to find a 0.6 role advertised. But that’s so unusual! Most of the people I know who are less than FT started out as FT and exercised their right to ask for PT after six months. But there are a lot of people — like OP – who are prevented from entering the labour market, even here in the UK where we have the protected right to ask for flexible working after 6 months, because they can’t manage that first six months. I would just like to see more HR departments encouraging managers employers offer that work at less than FTE.

            1. Keymaster of Gozer*

              I’m also in the UK and…haven’t experienced anything like what you’re saying. I’m even trying to recruit a part time network engineer! (Haven’t enough work for full time but god do we need someone).

              I’d totally recommend contacting a firm before applying for a job to see if the role *could* be done part time. Had a lot of those conversations.

              1. Willis*

                I’m in the US, but I agree with this. I have a pretty small business, and we’ve hired part time for roles where we need some specific skills but not at 40 hrs/week. IME, it’s harder to find good candidates for those roles than full time! But we’re fine with remote, so it widens the candidate pool. I feel like this OP would be a great fit for something like that but there are just fewer opportunities like it. It’s two needles in a haystack trying to find one another.

                I agree that it could be worth bringing up the possibility of part time from the start (in a cover letter or by contacting the company). It saves both the OP and the company time if the answer is no. And I also wouldn’t rule out small businesses…of the people I know who’ve worked part time, office type jobs, a lot of them have been at pretty small orgs. They may have more latitude for flexibility or less volume of work to fill 40 hrs.

            2. doreen*

              There are some roles that can easily be made part-time or job shares and some that cannot. Most of the people in my office handle a specific caseload where cases are weighted by how frequently the clients are seen. It would be very easy in terms of workload to give two different people .5 of a caseload – the problem with that would be what to do with benefits as having two people filling what was previously one job doubles the cost of most benefits.

              My job, on the other hand couldn’t be shared. Sure, I could be responsible for managing half as many people and theoretically work half as many hours – but it would never work. Even now, when I try to leave early, I never quite manage to leave when I want to because something always happens. I get phone calls nights and weekends – not every night/weekend but it’s not something I would be willing to do for half my current pay.

              1. Forrest*

                Do you think the fact that you wouldn’t be willing to do it part-time means that nobody would be? I don’t think that follows!

                1. Colette*

                  It sounds like you’re reading something that’s not there. Some jobs work well with job-sharing; others don’t.

                2. doreen*

                  What I’m trying to say is that it doesn’t really come out to part-time – as it is, if I try to leave at 1pm, I don’t get out until at least 2pm. If I worked half-time ( which would be 18.75 hours for me) , and got half pay, I would still be salaried and exempt. So I would actually be at the office somewhere between 21 and 25 hours minimum, and the phone calls/emails I will have to deal with outside my working hours* will add up to at least another 5 hours a week. Would anybody want to work 25-30 hours a week for the equivalent of 18.75 hours pay?

                  * There would be more calls/emails outside of my working hours if I went part-time than there are currently.

              2. Green great dragon*

                It sounds like your job wouldn’t work part time, but a jobshare could work with what you’ve described.

            3. Koalafied*

              Omg, this happens so much at my org. In order to build up a case to create a FTE they start slapping together multiple, often only loosely related, areas of responsibility to try to add up to a FT job’s worth of work. Not only does this making hiring more challenging, because people who are good at one part of it might not be great at – or might be actively avoiding applying for roles that involve – another part of it, but the icing on the cake is that usually there *was* enough work for a FTE to cover just one of those areas…management just has no comprehension of what a reasonable workload looks like these days. They see that existing staff are carrying X burden in their spare hours here and there, so it must only take a handful of hours a week? Ignoring the fact that X is *barely* getting done, existing staff are breaking their backs just to achieve the bare minimum that needs to get done in that area, and mistakes abound because who has time for things like like QA? Existing staff would still have full-time workloads if you took X away, a FTE devoted to X would be able to do more with it, and everyone’s work would have a higher level of quality because people wouldn’t be rushing through tasks just to get them off their plates.

              Instead we post a job ad looking for a unicorn whose job description amounts to “the random bits and scraps of everyone else’s jobs that they would jettison if we had more staff capacity,” and it’s formulated as an entry-level or junior role and sold as an opportunity to get experience doing lots of different things or get your foot in the door in the industry. So when you finally do find your unicorn, they’re either inexperienced and can only do the tasks at a basic level and not with the mastery that comes with experience, or they leave as soon as they can find a position that isn’t dining on the unsavory scraps of other jobs.

          2. Person from the Resume*


            If the company thought the role they are advertising could be done in 20 hours, it is extremely unlikely they are looking for a full time person because that is a waste of money. They’d advertise part time or just disperse the job duties to someone else already in the company.

            They’re advertising full time because they think is somewhere around a 40 hour a week job.

            1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

              Probably they think there are about 40 hours (or more!) of work in the job because that’s how long the previous person worked. Most jobs aren’t brand new. Going from 5 to 5.5 people instead of to 6 people is a reasonable sell, if maybe not what the business was originally planning on. Going from 5 to 4.5 people is a lot less practical.

            2. Forrest*

              But it’s just not a natural fact that the vast majority of tasks are grouped in increments that take ~40 hours a week! That’s a direct choice about where you’re drawing the boundaries of “a job for one person to do”.

              1. Person from the Resume*

                Due to the fact that the current US standard that 40+ is a full time role, businesses usually struggle along until they get close to needing a full time person.

                I think US healthcare system is awful, but me thinking it awful doesn’t change the fact that I understand that it will cost businesses more money to pay benefits to two part-timers so that’s why it’s the best business decision to pay one FT person.

                I’d also guess that LW wants to work less thank full time, but wants something close to full time benefits (again the biggest concern for most people in the US is the healthcare coverage).

                LW2 is in a bind. It would be easier for her to be accommodated as a known quantity going down to part time work. But I am doubtful 3 months is long enough to become a known and trusted worker. Plus when applying for a FT role, she is either replacing a FT worker that left or is being hired to a new position that the business has already determined had a full time workload.

                I feel like you’re saying it would be nice if the system were different, but the system isn’t different.

                1. Forrest*

                  yes — my point was that the system is bad and we should aspire to a system that works for people rather than making people fit the system.

              2. Colette*

                That’s true – but that decision would have had to be made before the job was posted. Once the job is posted, they are looking for a full-time person (around 40 hours a week). The OP may have luck networking to get the word out that she wants a part-time job.

        4. pleaset cheap rolls*

          “completely a choice on the part of employers to only think about hiring on those terms. I”

          Not completely a choice. There are inherently added costs in having more people doing work that could be done by fewer – certainly more overhead in terms of communications and coordination. Possibly also in terms of physical infrastructure and employee benefits. These can worked around, but having everyone around all the same times full times is not just random.

          1. Forrest*

            Yes, but tying what you count as “benefits” to a full-time job and making them non-scalable for part-timers is ALSO a choice. Not one which is made by individual employers, but one which could be changed politically if there was a will for it.

            (Genuinely surprised at how much pushback I’m getting to the idea that 37-40 hour weeks is a consequence of political and organisational choices and could be changed, tbh — I thought I was making a very self-evident point.)

            1. H2*

              I think it’s a bit simplistic to think that it’s just about our unfortunate healthcare situation, though (and at the end of the day, we can’t change it today so it’s what we’re dealing with). Every employee has some associated costs that can’t necessarily be scaled. Two part time employees are likely to be harder to manage than one full time employee. If one of them leaves, it’s going to be more of an issue to hire another part-timer. You mentioned gym memberships–setting up two half-cost gym memberships is going to cost you more than setting up one. Retirement, 401K, parking, computers, all of these things have incrementally more trouble.

              1. Colette*

                Computers and software licenses as well – they might be able to share a desktop computer if laptops aren’t necessary, but some software will require them to have 2 licenses.

            2. Allonge*

              I think most people agree that it could be changed in theory, but their expectation of how much effort that would take is vastly different from yours. If all the systems are set up to handle 40 hours/week and 20/week, then figuring out what to do for a 32 hour person is additional hassle that most employers don’t want.

              And for some things the scalability is not a choice, just fact. Hiring for a part-time job does not take half the time. Managing their performance is also not 50% of effort, communicating is maybe more /person than for a full timer who is there at the morning meetings etc. Payroll, benefits processing are the same effort (and yes, it’s really horrible that part-timers cannot get benefits in a lot of places).

              1. Forrest*

                Yeah, and I think that’s a reflection of the fact that I’m in the UK, where a lot of those structural barriers have been removed— we have the right to request flexible working after six months, most HR systems are set up to handle fractional contracts and pro rats annual leave etc. So here it is much more about norms and inertia rather than major structural and political barriers. (And there are plenty of organisations that find that benefits of having more flexible/part-time employees rather than fewer FT employees more than makes up for the extra costs.)

                But I am still surprised that the reaction is mostly, “you can’t, because of the system!” rather than, “yeah, there are major challenges here, here are the things that we should change about the system”.

                1. Allonge*

                  I also not in the US; if OP could work for us they would have less issues as you are entitled to medical part-time from day 1. Their manager and team would still be out of luck as we only ever hire full time (as medical leave can be temporary for a lot of people), so they would still have to make up for the missing 50% somehow.

                  There are reasons for systems to exist. None are perfect, but in this case a reasonable expectation of what it means in costs and benefits when you hire a person is very much desirable for most workplaces, I think people get that principle even if it has less awesome effects.

                  Also, it’s completely useless to LW to discuss what needs to be changed about the system, so there is that.

        5. NotAnotherManager!*

          This works great if you have task-based work, but it does not work as well when you do project-based work where institutional knowledge of the project, client, etc. is critical. For many of my jobs, it’s not simply substituting someone who can make a spreadsheet into the task, it’s that the person making the spreadsheet needs to know the project, the underlying data, the preferences of the principal and client teams, and what’s been done to date (and, in our case, is also an approved biller on the project because clients increasingly dislike seeing tons of names on a bill rather than an appropriate, dedicated team).

          I’m sure there are jobs where this would work, but there also legitimate reasons why it will not, and, as the employer, I get to decide if I wish to have a full-time or part-time role, not have it thrust upon me as a surprise after I’ve spent a few months integrating someone new into the system/project teams.

          1. Hillary*

            This is where I fall – in theory it’s a great idea, but in practice it can be extremely challenging for roles that aren’t task-based.

            I share responsibility for a category with my manager – let’s say I’m responsible for llamas procurement strategy and he’s responsible for global hooved animal procurement strategy plus alpaca procurement strategy. We’re both good at our jobs, we agree on the overall strategic vision, and we could trade jobs if we needed to. Just keeping the two of us synced takes a couple hours a week, even with clearly delimited responsibilities, 90%+ overlapping work hours, and (during normal times) sitting next to each other.

            There are also practical issues – some jobs are global and can’t be successful part time. I’m in the US – I spend mornings working with Europe, North America gets 10-4, and APAC picks up when Australia starts logging on around 4.

      2. The Other Dawn*

        I agree with Artmesia. I’d be pissed if I went through the whole process and then it was dropped on me at the offer stage that the candidate needs/wants part time. Then why did you apply? I’m not saying I need full time just because. I’m saying it because that’s what I actually need. I’d feel like my time had been wasted and then have to potentially start over if I didn’t have a second strong candidate.

      3. SweetFancyPancakes*

        I was thinking pretty much the same thing, although “enraged” may be a little stronger than what I would feel. Extremely annoyed, certainly. If I am hiring for a FTE, then that’s because I have determined that I need a FTE, and my (government) HR has allotted me full-time hours, something that I probably had to fight for. I am really sorry that the OP is in this position, and am also sorry that if I hired someone and they immediately started taking a sick day off every week, they probably wouldn’t make it through their probationary period, let alone if they immediately asked to reduce their hours by half.
        That said, because we are allotted hours rather than positions, I might be willing to try to negotiate a job-share if a candidate were really stellar and the applicant pool was strong enough.

    4. Reba*

      For a lot of jobs, the hiring team wouldn’t be able to just switch the hours on a dime like that! Maybe if it’s the kind of environment where a lot of people are doing basically the same thing. But OP here sounds like she does specialized work. If it’s bureaucratic organization the role and job description and levels and so on has to be approved by a zillion people. Even if the particular hiring manager has more agency over the role than that, they probably have thought about what they need and won’t be able to scrap their plans at a moment’s notice.

      I would not be enraged by such a request, but probably baffled, like, we advertised for full time all along, what gives? And I would maybe feel like my time was wasted. Needing more sick days, breaks? Maybe negotiate. Half and full time are pretty far apart though.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Likewise. I wouldn’t be angry, but I would feel like I couldn’t trust this person now, if they’d known all along that they couldn’t do what I advertised/interviewed them for.

        I am the one who gives the job requirements to HR/Recruitment for advertising, I’ve got a bit of wiggle room (heck, I’m disabled) but if I found they’d for instance advertised for a 20 hour/week post for something I said was full time I’d be pretty peeved at them.

        1. Just My Thoughts*

          I think people are missing that there could be coverage issues. At my company, someone tried doing this and it was too hard on the rest of us to take time off or be able to get our own jobs done.

          1. NotAnotherManager!*

            The scheduling of other teammates is a valid concern. If you’ve planned for an FTE, and they suddenly want to be 0.5 FTE, are you supposed to now hire another 0.5 FTE to cover the position you’d originally advertised? And the existing team just has to suck it up and cover for the surprise part-timer until you find someone else who wants to do specialized work part-time? That sounds rather unfair to the exiting team and not like it would engender goodwill towards the new hire from the existing staff.

          2. Yorick*

            Exactly. You might have about 25-30 hours a week of actual, necessary work you need the new person to be primarily responsible for, but you’re also gonna cross-train them on coworkers’ tasks that can add 10-15 hours a week when needed (and it might be needed often).

          3. Keymaster of Gozer*

            I’m currently doing tech support work (I’m the IT manager) to help out the team because we’re several resources down to reduced hours (long Covid in one case) and I can’t pile any more work onto my full time staff to ensure the IT department keeps running and providing service. It’s not doing anything for my health! Hopefully this is temporary though because otherwise I’m going to have to look into discussing it with the higher ups.

          4. SweetFancyPancakes*

            Exactly. At my last job, I had to get coverage for 72 hours/week. I was allotted 3 40-hour librarian postions and one 30-hour. Considering that I always needed at least one librarian on the reference desk and during busy times two, plus all of them were doing programming that they needed to plan for and present, I absolutely needed my librarians working the hours I had hired them for. We could get subs in to cover on sick days and vacations, but I had a limited sub budget. If I advertised for a FTE, then that’s what I needed.

    5. RagingADHD*

      No, that’s called “declining the job you were offered”.

      And there is nothing up-front about it.

      The idea that you should rely on employers not knowing the law or being afraid, in order to manipulate someone into giving you a job you know you can’t do, really deserves the outhouse “top of the pile” award.

  9. Rebecca1*

    LW#2 I eventually managed to find a full-time remote for similar reasons. It was very very hard.

    1. Reba*

      I was going to ask about remote work, too? OP 2 have you found that remote work helps at all?

      I also wondered if the field is one where freelancing or shorter contracts could be a thing–build in your own breaks.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        I was thinking short contracts to cover things like maternity leaves and other absences – I don’t know whether the OP’s work is amenable to that.

      2. Maxie*

        I was also thinking about contract work with 1 or 2 clients if you work lends itself to that. Some of your firmer contracts might be worth teaching out to for that. It also wouldn’t matter where in the country your corners are based. Of course this would only work if you have access to health insurance, which can be challenging for independent contractors. I’ve been self employed for decades, so I’ve been doing this since way before COVID. please ask me any questions if I can help.

    2. Blomma*

      Yes, I have fibromyalgia (as well as some other issues) and the past year has taught me that remote work is much better for me physically and energy-wise. I’ll be pushing to stay remote as long as possible. OP #2 I’d definitely consider if you could handle 40 hours a week if there was no commute and you could manage your symptoms privately at home.

    3. Homebody*

      Yes, I definitely agree. I don’t have fibromyalgia (though I was misdiagnosed at one point), but I do have very similar issues. Going fully remote worked wonders for my health. I didn’t think that it would be possible for me (I too am specialized), but once I showed my employer that I could WFH part of the week the rest came easy.

      My best wishes to the LW.

    4. Koalafied*

      There’s a site called FlexJobs that I’ve subscribed to in the past. Their staff sift through job postings advertised as remote, flexible hours, etc., cull out all the work-from-home scams, and repost the legit ones on their site in a standardized format. There’s some more to the site but that was the thing I used it for. It’s $50/year or you can purchase shorter subscriptions with a bit higher cost per month. Prior to the pandemic their service was especially valuable because there were far fewer companies open to remote roles and I regularly saw jobs posted there that weren’t coming up in any of my job search alerts on Glassdoor, LinkedIn, etc. Definitely recommend it to anyone looking for remote work, if you can swing the cost.

  10. Couldbeapossibility*

    OP#2: depending on what state you are in, you might want to look into vocational rehabilitation services through the state. All states have it, to varying levels. In some states they will give employers incentives to hire people with disabilities, and even subsidize peoples’ wages at first in order to help people find employment. In this situation you would be able to be upfront about the number of hours a week you could work as an accommodation.

    1. MK*

      I am sure you mean well, but the OP says she is in a professional career with accreditation and specialized skills, and she is apparently still able to do her job, she just needs to work fewer hours. That may turn out to be impossible in her field, but telling someone to chuck a career they studied towards and that they can still basically do, that’s a last prayer, worst case scenario.

      1. Ducky Worshiper*

        Vocational Rehabilitation doesn’t tell people to chuck their career. They provide supports and help with accommodations. They may know employers who could accommodate what the LW needs or be able to help the LW advocate when the time comes. The only jobs they wouldn’t support are illegal ones (for example marijuana industries in states where that’s legal because they’re federally funded) or ones that exacerbate a person’s disability, none of which seem to apply here.

      2. BubbleTea*

        I don’t know much about the schemes mentioned but the comment doesn’t say anything about the actual content of the work, just that the schemes take a particular approach to boost employment of disabled people. Would she have to ditch her career? Could she not work for an employer open to supporting people through this sort of scheme, doing the work she is qualified to do?

        1. MK*

          I took vocational rehabilitation to mean training to do different work, maybe that’s wrong. But I don’t think it’s about finding understanding employers.

          1. doreen*

            When my state had a separate agency for vocational rehabilitation, it seemed to be mostly about job training. Now it’s been moved into the education department and services include everything from tutor services, paying tuition for training, and transportation to job development and placement.

          2. Elizabeth West*

            In my state, VR has two tracks: work and school. The work track is geared toward getting someone hired with an accommodating employer and providing support to both to integrate the employee in the job. They don’t care what the job is, as long as you’re working. The school track is the retraining one.

            Of course, they don’t want to spend any more money than they absolutely have to, so as soon as you find a job that meets or exceeds their absurdly low income threshold, you’re booted from the program.

      3. Couldbeapossibility*

        I did not mean for her to Chuck her career field at all. In my state I am in Voc rehab works with people in all types of careers, even professional careers that require grad school, etc. they just help people find competitive jobs. Our voc rehab will even help people pay to get bachelor’s degrees or specialized education in order to help them find jobs that work for them. Our state is very good about acknowledging that sometimes people with disabilities just need help overcoming barriers, like this, to fulfill their employment goals. I recognize services in all states are not this good (we pay very high taxes) but not knowing where the op is it could be worth looking into.

      4. Bird*

        I have a PhD and a decent amount of work experience in both my field of education and others (including some very specialized skillsets), and I took advantage of my state’s vocational rehabilitation services to get connected with a recruiter who would help me find a job that would work better for my specific chronic illness/disability needs last year. They also helped me get additional diagnostics so that I would have official records for any accommodation requests. It was an incredibly positive and affirming experience, because my assigned counselor was respectful, listened well, and asked helpful questions about what I needed in a job. It was a direct contrast to how my previous employer treated my request for reasonable accommodations, which was to treat me like a child, repeatedly use the wrong name/title, and then deny my ability to use the accommodations I had been granted.

  11. Worked in IT forever*

    LW #5, I am just appalled at your boss. Alison’s wording is perfect: “Despite a lot of requests from the staff, the company wouldn’t enforce social distancing or the other public health measures the CDC recommended, and more than half our employees ended up contracting the virus.” Any decent interviewer should absolutely understand that reason. (And if they don’t, I think that’s a red flag, and I wouldn’t want to work there.)

    1. Green great dragon*

      I would specifically include quarantine here. There are some places it’s hard to socially distance, and ‘other public health measures’ is vague, but expecting you to come back before quarantine time is up seems an obvious bad plan.

      1. The Rural Juror*

        I think it would also be important to highlight the, “and more than half our employees ended up contracting the virus.” You don’t have to wave your hands around and yell it, but a little vocal emphasis on that bit of information could go a long way.

    2. Sparkles McFadden*

      Questions regarding pandemic response are very good red flag detectors.

      I interviewed for a position recently and I asked what measures they took regarding covid. I got about thirty seconds of a reassuring response, but then the department head said “I am so glad we’re back in the office because…” and she went on for a couple of minutes to pretty much say she was ignoring all of the social distancing and protective measures she just explained because they’re a small group and they only work with each other, and everyone is healthy so they won’t get sick and all of the other things people say when they’re going to exhale spittle directly into your face and tell you nothing is wrong with that and you’d be fine if you’d just take zinc and wore socks to bed.

      When they sent me the email that said “You’re one of our top two candidates!” I replied with a “Thank you but this is not a good fit for me” response.

      1. No Mask No Job*

        Ouch! I had a similar experience recently with a company whose HR manager told me during my virtual interview they were enforcing their mask policy “pretty strictly”. When I got to my on-site interview, everyone was doing a good job with masks until said HR manager took his mask off when he talked to me alone because “I’m 6ft away now”. Red flag alert!! I turned it down when they called me to discuss an offer.

        Moral of the story, don’t trust everything they tell you about their pandemic response! If you are going to be on site for your job, make sure you can see how they actually operate!

      2. Keymaster of Gozer*

        The ‘we don’t worry because we’re all healthy young people’ speech was one I got from an interviewer last year and it really has made me blacklist that company. I’m never working for anyone that ignorant or dangerous.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        Yeah, I had an interview with someone who ranted for five solid minutes at me when she saw me wearing a mask. “I’m not sure you’d be a good fit here because personal freedommmm wwwgggbbbbll.” (You’re right; I wouldn’t.) The person who scheduled the interview had told me the big boss was “taking it seriously,” but failed to mention that the hiring manager was a raving maskhole. I put the company on my Oh Hell No list.

    3. Beka Cooper*

      We homeschooled our daughter this year because she was already struggling with kindergarten before covid, and we are now sending her to a montessori school in the fall. When deciding between two schools in our area, one of them had a detailed page on their website about the ways they were observing public health protocols during covid. The other had a facebook post bragging that they would “be open no matter what the governor says.” That made our choice super easy!

  12. Niii-i*

    LW2: I am so sorry you are in such a position!

    There is nothing much I can offer, but my suggestions would be: 1) Do what ever feels best for you! and 2) If you have the energy: keep applying both full-time and part-time jobs. Take one step at the time and deal things as they come. Be brave and be matter-of-fact in your interactions. You are doing nothing wrong, just trying to earn a living.

    Good luck to you.

  13. Jessica*

    LW2, in a better world I wouldn’t give you this advice, but assuming you’re in the US, this is not that world.

    What struck me in your letter was this: “I’m in a professional career with accreditation and specialized skills” but also “if I work outside my specialty, I’d be taking a huge financial hit and not able to pay for rent/groceries.” It must be very frustrating and disappointing to have to contemplate leaving a field you chose and enjoyed and that pays well, because it doesn’t have part-time jobs.

    However, given the level of desperation you seem to be approaching, maybe it’s time to consider it. There are plenty of part-time jobs in the world. Lots of them wouldn’t fully support you, but if the alternative is “be unemployed till my savings run out and then starve,” surely a part-time job that supplied 50% or 70% or some % of what you could live on would at least prolong that process. If the part-time jobs in your field are rare but not nonexistent, buying time like that could give you a chance to find one. And it could replace a “gap” on your resume with a reference from someone who’d be able to say “LW2 can only work part-time but she does a terrific job, is a highly valued employee, and has XYZ skills that will transfer right back to her original industry.”

  14. Ellie*

    LW2, I don’t think its going to work if you can only go full time for the first 3 months. If I was going to switch a full time role to a part time one, I’d want at least 6 months to know if it was worth making that kind of accommodation. And if you had been absent for at least a day every week or two since, with no explanation, it would come across as unreliable.

    Is there any other kind of work you could consider applying for, apart from part-time roles? Would remote work help you to stick it out for longer? Would having a very short commute help? How about short-term contract positions, or flexible hours/a non-standard work week? I’d be applying for everything you think you can do.

    The other thing you could consider is, applying for full-time positions, but then making it clear in either the cover letter, or during the interview, that long-term you are looking for part-time work. This feels more honest to me, and there’s a chance that if the pool of candidates was small, or if you interviewed extremely well, they’d be willing to take a great part-time candidate over an average full-time one, or no candidate at all. But I think you have to be upfront about what you can do before they hire you.

    1. Boof*

      Yes, I think the last option – maybe some companies might even MAKE a role considering someone who wants part time, flexible, in a higher level position is actually kind of rare and a lot of places might be able to use “Extra but not a full time level of extra” help…

    2. Katefish*

      This was going to be my suggestion… If you tell employers up front you’re looking for part time, maybe they’ll consider it. Easier than trying to change the job a few months in.

    3. Sandman*

      I agree, and would like to be optimistic that this could possibly work. So many people can only do full-time work that organizations default to that, especially with the type of skill set it sounds like you have, even though that’s not necessarily always what they need. I think the process of finding a position like that could take a while but I really don’t think it’s impossible.

  15. Boof*

    LW2 – I think some folks have luck in applying for full time jobs, but being clear up front you are looking for part time work. Then employers can consider whether they can modify the role to fit. I imagine this would involve accepting a significantly lower salary than the full time version; I don’t know the full ins and outs of negotiations there. I imagine you’d need full health coverage still, unless you have a partner who can cover you etc etc

  16. Little mermaid*

    #1 I totally agree that a Zoom rejection is terrible. But once I made it to the last round, I actually would be annoyed if a rejection only came by email. Might be cultural though – I’m not in the US. Here it also seems quite normal that employers do that (in my experience at least). Once you are a final round candidate, the decision is delivered by phone, an email at that stage would be a bit rude. It’s considered more personal and to be an acknowledgement of the effort you put in as a candidate, I think?

    1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      I would so much rather get a rejection in a way that meant I didn’t have to immediately try not to sound like I was about to cry. If it were an internal position that’s different because I have a relationship with my boss and grandboss – but I don’t want to have to put on a brave face for a stranger who’s going to stay a stranger because they’re not hiring me.

      But the last few times I was job hunting I instead got rejected by just totally being ghosted – never heard back at all even after spending half a day interviewing. Ugh.

      1. me*

        Agreed – I had a “I’m sorry to reject you and I just feel so bad about it” video call once and it felt like the emotional role of saying “no it’s fine” fell on me which was really not cool. He did refer me to someplace else, which did hire me a week later, but an email, or really even a message over the text app we were using would have been much better. Give me a chance to privately react, and then think about my professional reaction first please.

        1. Caroline Bowman*

          Yes, this completely.

          First prize is to give the info succinctly and kindly as soon as possible, ideally with a reason or two and then, if it’s possible, to allow the candidate to request a short (short!!) call or whatever if they want to chat further. Of course this has pitfalls and of course the hiring person may well be very busy, so clearly they cannot engage in lengthy post-mortems or be faced with arguments, but assuming courtesy on both sides, that would be the kindest and best way to handle it.

      2. Cat Tree*

        I agree. The other problem with phone calls is that I can rarely take them immediately, so then I’m stuck wondering what it’s about until the game of phone tag resolves. With an email, I get an answer right away.

        But, I also generally prefer to be broken up with over text, except for more serious relationships. That way I can react in privacy and on my own timeline. But I know a lot of people consider that rude, so I’m probably the outlier here.

      3. doreen*

        I’m sort of the opposite – I hate getting rejected by phone for internal positions precisely because the person rejecting me is the same person I will have to interview with the next time there is an opening. I feel like not being sucessfull at putting on a brave face might hurt my chances next time.

    2. Forrest*

      There’s either been a cultural change in the last few years or I’ve hit a certain level of seniority where people prefer to do a phone rejection rather than an email rejection, but in the last 3 years all my rejections have been phone whereas before they were email. They’ve all been in the format, “We thought you were very good and you were appointable, but someone else just had more ..”

      I am EXTREMELY team “just send me an email, fgs”. Personally, I think that if you want to be extra courteous to candidates, ask them their preference during the process and abide by it!

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        I am EXTREMELY team “just send me an email, fgs”.

        Likewise. I’m being rejected and the employer is committing to someone else; I don’t want to hear how strong a candidate I am and I don’t want to hear how much they want to hire me. It all rings hollow. Just cut to the chase asynchronously so I can compose myself and acknowledge gracefully and then everyone’s lives can move forward.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Them: “You were an amazingly strong candidate and we really wanted to hire you.”

          Me: “Yeah, but you didn’t!”

          (fyi I wouldn’t say this but it would be sooo tempting)

    3. The Prettiest Curse*

      I would much sooner get rejected by email, because I find it so much easier to put it out of my mind and move on that way. You can just delete the email and try to forget about it. Phone rejection would be a lot worse because I have been offered my last 2 jobs by phone and would get my hopes up. Zoom rejection would be infinitely worse, because if you get upset and start crying, there’s really no way to hide it.
      I prefer my rejections to be impersonal! It’s a lot easier to deal with them that way. When it comes to rejections, “personal” doesn’t necessarily mean kind.

    4. londonedit*

      This is one of those things that really divides people. Personally, I would hate to be rejected by phone/video call. I’d much prefer an email. With a phone call, your mind’s automatically going ‘Oh! They wouldn’t call unless it was good news, right?’ and then you answer the phone and it’s ‘Sorry, we went with someone else’. That’s a blow. And then you have to do the bright-and-breezy ‘Oh, that’s no problem! Thank you for letting me know!’ thing while trying to hide your disappointment. With an email, at least you can read it in your own time, you can do a bit of a swear and go and make yourself a cup of coffee and not have to worry about having to hide your initial reaction.

      1. MCMonkeybean*

        Yeah, there is no method everyone will like best because at the end of the day being rejected sucks. But I agree with Alison that it’s best to err on the side of email because at least the people who are annoyed with that can be annoyed privately, while the people who hate being told on the phone or even worse on video have to try to maintain a professional demeanor in that moment which sucks. I think a personalized email where you offer to have a follow-up call if the person wants to talk more or hear some feed back is the kindest route.

    5. Bilateralrope*

      For me it comes down to one thing: How much of my time are they demanding just to reject me ?

      Scheduling the rejection call means they are asking me to set aside a block of my time, at a time when I’m most likely to bend over for them, just to tell me that they don’t want me. So even in their rejection, they are making demands of my time. That gets annoying.

      If the call is unscheduled, that’s a different story. It’s just a quick phone call. I didn’t have to adjust my schedule, just pick up the phone. So not as much of an imposition.

      Finally, if I’m having a phone/zoom interview and something comes up that’s a deal breaker, then it’s best to mention it on the spot so neither of us are wasting our time after one of us knows it’s not going anywhere.

      1. Little mermaid*

        What I see is that they are unscheduled calls. It’s within the time line they give me. They take max 5 min. But in my experience personal and kind.
        As I said, probably a cultural thing. I’m not saying that one style is better than the other. It’s just what I expect here, after I’ve invested time into several interviews.

        1. Cat Tree*

          I find unscheduled phone calls to be even worse because of the inevitable phone tag. Phone calls are inherently intrusive while I’m working and I can rarely drop what I’m doing to answer. So then I return the call and the hiring manager is slightly more likely to pick up because it’s her work line, but could still easily be in a meeting or another call.

        2. Aquitane*

          It’s a culture thing – I was recently talking to a friend about this. I’m in tech and have never gotten a rejection phone call. I have only had impromptu calls to tell me I got the job. She is in journalism and has always had scheduled calls (sometimes far in advance!) to get rejected. I can’t imagine a weekend where there’s a mysterious call on Monday to look forward to. I’m very glad I’m on my side of the fence :)

    6. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Also not US but prefer email, although the all time best rejection (and isn’t that a weird sentence…) I got was from a firm here in the UK who emailed me, but also included a phone meeting request – they’d love to talk to me directly but were leaving it up to me.

      I phoned them, we had a long chat. They’d had a really hard time deciding between me and another candidate (‘both of you smashed it out of the park’) and ultimately decided on the other, but felt saying ‘other person had slightly more experience than you in our specialist field’ via email felt too flippant.

    7. Threeve*

      It’s not that the practice itself is inherently bad, but if you’re in a culture where the email rejection is the norm, getting a phone call is pretty much always going to get your hopes up, because statistically a phone call from a prospective job is normally way more likely to be good news than bad.

    8. Texan In Exile*

      I am in the US. Asking me to schedule time and to be on camera – which, for me, means using my phone because my computer is in a docking station and the battery etc etc, which means downloading something else to my phone, which means finding a place where it’s quiet (two Siamese cats who miss me so much), where the background isn’t weird, having to take a shower, dry my hair, put on makeup, wear decent clothes, etc, etc, etc.

      All to tell me you don’t want me?

      Just send me an email. Don’t add to my annoyance.

    9. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      To me, email would be perfect. I’m not a fan of the popular “ghost the candidate” method, but phone or Zoom would, I think, be overkill. Just let me know so I can move on. I can see handling it via a phone or zoom call if they really liked me and want me to apply again for future openings, but otherwise, too much. (And I’d have to make myself and my background look presentable for a video call! Way too much work for me to be told that I didn’t make it.)

    10. qwerty*

      I’m in the US and I’d also prefer phone after making it so far. It seems so rude to send email or text. Of course, I also don’t assume that any call from the company at that point would be a job offer. Why would I? Even if I think I did well, I still don’t know. I mean the phone call could be asking for more info, a rejection, an offer, or even something else. Why would anyone assume it’s an offer and then be disappointed it’s not. I think that’s a weird assumption.

      1. Metadata minion*

        Given that so many employers just ghost candidates, if they take the time to call me I’m going to assume it’s good news or at least not bad news. I wouldn’t feel that it was unfair to call/videocall me with a rejection, but I’d definitely have gotten my hopes up.

    11. Weekend Please*

      I would want a personalized email and not a form rejection but I would prefer email to a phone call and be horrified by doing it over zoom. Scheduling a call to reject me is asking me to put in even more effort and I would find that highly insulting.

    12. Libervermis*

      One way I’ve seen this handled well is email rejection that includes a request for a phone call. In my case the phone call didn’t even involve feedback, just a short “we appreciate the time you took for the position and wish you well”. I’m in a field where interviews are pretty lengthy and where I’m at least somewhat likely to run into these people again, so I thought it was a nice gesture. It might be overkill for fields with much shorter interview processes. I’d already decided no on the job before they rejected me, but sending the email first and scheduling the call for a few days later gives candidates the space to process and also means the phone call doesn’t have to involve the Big Bad News.

    13. T. Boone Pickens*

      I’m in recruiting and this is such a tricky line to walk. I initially would default to a phone call when rejecting candidates that had reached the final interview stage because that’s what I wanted when I was in the final interview stage and felt that the candidates deserved a phone call after putting in the time, effort and flexibility that the interview process requires. I’ve since pivoted to an email rejection where I do my best to express my sincere thanks in their flexibility, acknowledge that I wish I had better news, and provide feedback that I’ve gotten from the hiring manager as to why they weren’t selected. I also invite the candidate to give me a call should they wish to discuss things further. I’m not gonna lie, when I send that email it feels so impersonal to me and no matter how much I convey it, I can’t help but feel that the email comes off a bit cold. At the same time, I realize that email allows the person to absorb the news in private and react in whatever way they feel appropriate. I’ve definitely run into the situation over my career where I’ve given the rejection phone call and you can hear the deflation over the line. It absolutely stinks. There’s no good way to deliver bad news but I think I’ll be sticking with my email format for the foreseeable future. The Zoom rejection is incredibly cruel and I can’t believe someone thought that was a good idea.

  17. Green great dragon*

    OP2, if you can, call the hiring manager and ask. I’m sure a lot of them will say no, but you can focus your efforts on those that are open to discussion at least. Worked for me (PT for childcare reasons). Would you be able to go slightly above the 20 hours for a longer period if you didn’t start with a 40-hour block?

    Everyone else – please think before insisting on full time! It’s pretty unlikely that every team has the right amount of work for x*40 hours a week, and never 20 hours above or below that, and yet so many people think in terms of how many full timers they need. We have a standard line in our job ads about being willing to consider jobshare, compressed hours & part time, and a strong part timer can do more (for less money) than an mediocre full timer.

  18. Aaron*

    OP #2 Thanks for asking the question. I’m in the same boat and it definitely sucks. Here’s hoping the changes from Covid make more jobs flexible.

  19. Forrest*

    LW2, it sounds like you might need to move away from the mindset of applying to advertised positions and into creating positions for yourself. Even if the majority of demand for your skillset in full-time, employed positions, there are probably gaps where extra coverage is needed, or companies don’t quite have the work for a full-time position, and there may be a niche for you working as a consultant or freelancer with a mixture of long and short-term contracts. This does change the nature of the job, and would potentially require you to develop new skills like networking, business development, financial management and so on– but if you can make the shift and find clients who have that need instead of / on top of / around full-time employees, it can give you a lot more control over your hours and be much more sustainable long-term.

    (Apologies if this is obvious and already something you’re exploring– depending on your field, sometimes it’s very obvious that this is an option and sometimes people completely haven’t considered it!)

    1. Mitzii*

      This right here! If the skills are in-demand, there are companies that will be looking for ways to get that work done without hiring a long-term employee. Just be sure you charge enough $$$! It’s expensive being your own boss, but really worth it.

    2. PersephoneUnderground*

      This! Plenty of companies have projects they need done but don’t have budget to hire a new person and don’t want to divert their existing staff from other priorities. Contracting or consulting work fills a real need in the market, though obviously how common it is depends on your field. If there’s a lateral move you could make into a part of your field more conducive to that kind of work, that’s also something to consider.

      1. PersephoneUnderground*

        See: consultant we hired to fix our awful Jira setup at my work. Yes, it was that complicated to fix.

  20. Foxgloves*

    For OP2, in the UK jobs are often listed as being full time with a statement that they’d be open to part time/ job sharing. If you’re applying for a full time role, particularly if you’re applying through a recruiter, could you ask up front if they’d be open to part time work? I know that’s a risky move because it’s easy for them to say no, but it might work with some employers?

    Alternatively, and this really might not work for you so apologies if I’m off base here- but could you ask about compressed hours/ a different work schedule, so you’re still doing full time but over a smaller amount of days (e.g. 4 x 10-hour days rather than 5 x 8 hour days)? A friend of mine has her work schedule agreed as 8-12 and 2-6 – would something similar to that allow you to recharge sufficiently in the middle of the day to enable you to work full time?

  21. Detective Amy Santiago*

    OP #2 – have you considered trying a temp agency? When I worked as a recruiter, we were always desperate for reliable and skilled people to work part time and/or temporary office gigs.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      When I was temping during a long ago recession, I came close to the threshold for health insurance. Is that something that temp agencies still offer to their long-term temps?

    2. Sparkles McFadden*

      This is a great suggestion because the LW could get work when she’s feeling OK and just not take assignments when she has a flare up, and there would be no repercussions from “spotty employment.”

      I did temp work while I was still in high school and just before college. Once I’d been vetted by the agency, I could send them dates I was available and, if something matched up, I’d get work. I got plenty of assignments during college break without having to waste time looking for a summer gig. Plus, if you go to the same place a few times, it can turn into permanent employment and they’d be more willing to negotiate with you. Bouncing from place to place wasn’t really in my comfort zone, but work is work.

  22. Anna Badger*

    LW2, I’m in a similar boat due to a different condition – I found leads for part-time jobs by leaning hard on my network, particularly those of my former colleagues who have young children, as going down to 3 or 4 days a week for a few years when you have a child is not unusual in my industry.

    If you know anyone in your industry who is working part time, see what’s available where they work, and if there’s nothing there then ask if they have other recommendations from whenever their last job search was.

  23. Bookworm*

    LW1: That does seem like overkill. I’ve only had a phone call rejection once and I actually appreciated it because it was a good conversation (and I wasn’t that attached to getting the job anyway). It would be nice if companies could find a balance (Zoom calls are a bit much, but ghosting an applicant after the effort, time and money (travel) they put in is gross, too.

    LW5: Thanks for writing this letter. I don’t quite have the same issues that you have, but I am disappointed with how my workplace handled other aspects of COVID (ie, expecting us to attend multiple meetings per day and refusing to let us to turn off the camera or…not have so many meetings) and I’ve wondered how to integrate that in my current interviews (more of like a work/life balance, mental health issue). I am sorry you’re going through that and good luck.

  24. Keymaster of Gozer*

    LW2: fellow sufferer of long term disabling conditions here, and I was very very tempted to try exactly what you want to do a few years back. I need to work not only due to money but because it takes my mind off the pain, but I was also aware full time work for long periods would absolutely wreck me. Rock and hard place.

    I’m in the UK so can’t speak to other countries accommodations etc but here it’s okay to ask upfront before applying if there’s an opportunity for the job to be part time. If the answer is no, I didn’t apply. If there was a ‘depending on the candidate, yes’ then I applied.

    My husband talked me out of the ‘hey I’ll take the job but after a couple of months I’ll have to cut it down to 3 days a week or less’ mindset by asking me if my reputation in my chosen career would be harmed by word of mouth of me doing that (whether unfair or not, it would have been true). Additionally, in the probationary period of employment the firm could easily just say ‘well, you can’t fulfil the job requirements then so bye’.

    So, in conclusion I totally 100% understand where you’re coming from, but it’s better to look for any alternative like e.g. asking upfront if the job can go part time.

    1. Chilipepper*

      In the US, it seems like we just don’t have professional jobs that are part time. We also don’t have Mat Leave jobs the way you do in the UK (or did when I lived there).

      Professional PT and MatLeave jobs exist, but they are kind of unicorns in my experience.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Can you still ask if a job can be done part time before applying/during interview etc? Or is ‘apply for full time then go part time once you get a job’ the only way aside from changing careers/going freelance etc?

        (Genuine question, I have no working knowledge of the US and have only really been employed at UK firms)

      2. Boof*

        We do, it’s just not standard. I’m given to understand many doctors negotiate various part time schedules even if jobs aren’t listed as part time. I know it’s going to vary a lot by profession but it’s quite possible the positions are there just not listed as such. Best to negotiate up front so both sides can be happy!

      3. The Rural Juror*

        At the company I work for, we have 2 positions that are 3/4 time. They both are in the office 5 days a week, but leave earlier than everyone else. It wasn’t necessarily advertised that way when we were hiring, but one position already had someone who left at 2:30 every day to go pick up her kids from school and it didn’t make sense to deny that perk to the other position. However, both of those employees take their laptops with them when they leave the office and sometimes continue working from home to finish up tasks if they’re behind.

        If we can do it for parents, then we can most certainly do it for someone who needs accommodation for their health. However, not every position in the company can offer that and all openings are posted as full time.

  25. triplehiccup*

    LW2 I’m sorry you’re in this position. This seems like a problem made for really working your network. Tell people what you’re looking for and maybe it will occur to someone that you’re the solution to one of their problems.

  26. Pam Poovey*

    Re: LW 3

    I’m job hunting right now and I HATE when applications ask you to list times when you’re available. I’ve never encountered one wanting 10 (WTF) — usually they want 3 — but it still annoys me. I’m not working at the moment, and I only have one weekly commitment, so there’s literally like one hour a week I’m NOT free. But then I worry that if I put down “any time except Tuesday afternoons” or something to that nature it looks like I’m flaky or not following directions or something.

    1. green thumbs up bubble*

      haha, also in the middle of job-hunting while unemployed and I have the exact same thoughts about scheduling calls. Some where along the way I just started choosing 2-3 hour blocks of time as arbitrary ‘available for call times’ but I still feel paranoid about somehow they’ll know that I’m lying or not actually working.

    2. Mitzii*

      In that case, I’d suggest picking general times you’d prefer talking to someone.

      I’m a self-employed freelancer, and my schedule is my own, so I usually have a lot of availability to work in a short phone call. But I don’t want to do it first thing in the morning when I’m just getting into work mode, or right before lunch when I’m hangry, or too close to the end of the work day, etc. So I usually tell people something like “Most days I’m available between 10-noon or 2-4”, and let them come back with a time.

    3. Aquitane*

      I definitely played the annoy game with recruiters. My available time was always “any day of the week before 10am.” I’ll happily move my schedule around for an interview, but after a dozen “getting to know you” ten minute chats with recruiters – especially ones where I make clear that I don’t want to work in X industry, and they push me there anyway, telling me my background is great there – either they do it at a time that is convenient for me, or they give me a specific time to accommodate. Again, does not apply to hiring managers, but by that stage, I’m usually getting a suggested time. But with full-time recruiters, whose job it is to schedule these things, I’ve found inability-to-use-a-free-appointment-scheduler to be a pretty good measure of competence and therefore likelihood of wasting my time.

  27. M*

    #2- have you looked at universities? My partner heads a university and he has someone on his team who only wants to work 20 hours and another who works 20-25 hours 10 months. They both can get a health insurance for temporary or part term employees which has a deductible but it is still good! And they can join a retirement plan as well. They do get less sick leave and vacation days though due to their hours but they have better long term sick leave.
    Many universities are struggling but the top ones are doing fine.

  28. Keymaster of Gozer*

    OP5: I did leave one firm due to what I told interviewers later were ‘unsafe working conditions’. That might work?

    (Having one’s life under threat in an office job was unsafe! Although it was due to the criminal activity of the firm)

  29. pretzelgirl*

    Op1- something similar happened to me, but in person. I interviewed several times with a company. It was looking super promising. I was brought in on a final round of interviews. I spoke with the supervisor (again) and the grand boss for the first time. Each interview went really, really well. The interview with the grand boss, mostly seemed like a get to know you thing as the supervisor had already interviewed me several times and relayed the info back. It went really well and we developed a good rapport. Finally I was brought back to the supervisor again. She basically told me several reasons why I was terrible candidate (she never said this in the previous interviews) and then walked me out. It was quite possibly the strangest set of interviews I went on as the whole time they made me feel like a strong candidate. It still leaves me puzzled some 5 years later.

  30. SaffyTaffy*

    OP 1, our HR really pushed hard for us to do this for a hiring decision and few years ago. Since the candidates were students, I still see all these people I had to schedule meetings for and then reject! It’s so bad. All I can say is it’s definitely worth pushing back on.

  31. RavCS*

    My job (home health care) used to have annual awards where we all voted for those we thought deserved them. There were enough categories (home health aide, hospice aide, nurse, office support staff, etc.) that many people were recognized. They had the previous year’s winner join the administrator who passed them out. They acknowledged people who didn’t win but were chosen in the most categories (there may have been an award for that too.) They had a lovely catered fruit and dessert spread as well. One year I won the “pressure cooker award” which was for the team member you were happiest to see show up in a crisis or tough situation. I’m sad, especially after a year+ in health care dealing with COVID, that with a large health care merger these peer chosen awards have gone away.

    1. PersephoneUnderground*

      Yeah, I actually like small peer recognition awards. We have one in my office that’s just a vintage pop-culture figurine, to be cute, but it’s passed from the current holder to the next at each big staff meeting to recognize someone who really helped out etc. It’s also encouraged to be awarded outside your own department, so makes for a nice bit of cross-department comaraderie.

      As long as this sort of thing isn’t used as a thin excuse to duck the obvious big stuff like raises and promotions, it can have its place.

  32. Moira Rose*

    LW5: I’ve been interviewing for jobs for the same reason, and I’ve been upfront about it. I usually just say, “I’ve been very disappointed with how Current Employer has handled Covid, so I’m looking for an employer who takes it seriously.” They often ask for an example, and I have many (“Well, we didn’t require masks for most of 2020”) does the trick. Then they tend to fall all over themselves telling me how well they handled Covid. At a Fortune 500 company I was interviewing with, a manager told me, “I told all my employees that I’d rather lose a contract than any of them.” It was really nice, actually. This is an area where sane companies will want to show off how flexible and respectful they’ve been; they’ll see it as a selling point. You’ll do great!

    1. Lentils*

      Yup, I left my old job after nine months of the higher-ups’ aggressive Covid denialism and refusal to enact an in-office mask policy or take the pandemic seriously at all (they were having in-person events as recently as October!), and in interviews I was brief but candid: “My current employers’ Covid response has been really questionable, and I feel actively unsafe in that working environment.” In my experience, once you mention even one of the shitty things your company has done, the interviewer reacts with the appropriate level of horror and will happily tell you all of the precautions and safety measures their company has enacted. (I will say that I have been slightly more candid about the pandemic-related things I experienced at old job with my new coworkers, and wow, it’s nice having people actually agree with you that your old job was a horror show!)

  33. Person from the Resume*

    LW#4, I think it’s in poor taste, but it’s not intended as an insult.

    I actually don’t mind the “Getting Shit Done” award wherein the “shit” is this case is stuff/things/work that is getting done.

    “Top of the pile” award with an outhouse trophy is making it’s clear you’re still on the theme of shit, but is unfortunately calling all the employees shit. They are naming the winner as the shit on the top of a pile a shit. So it does imply absolutely everyone is shit but not just the people who didn’t win. That isn’t really great. It is poorly thought out. I don’t think it is intended to insult anyone even those you don’t win the “Top of the Pile” award.

    1. BadWolf*

      Yes, this thing starts out in a okay place, but the metaphor falls apart quickly. And hardly seems worth missing sleep, family time, etc to “win” an outhouse.

    2. MsOctopus*

      I don’t know…if the shit in “getting shit done” is all the work you doing, why would it switch to “the people who do the work” here? “Staying on top of the pile” could just mean you were staying on top of all the work? (Not to get too disgusting, but people often use metaphors like “buried in work”, “drowning in work” etc, which to me follows the boss’s logic of wanting to be on top instead of ….not on top… of the proverbial shit :) )

    3. Wintermute*

      Yeah, I think it’s just an unfortunate case of not realizing how it sounds or the implication, no malicious intent. I’ve seen that a LOT, especially where people just don’t realize the exact cultural implications or shades of meaning of a phrase.

  34. StateTrekkie*

    Re: Video Rejection. OP, I feel your pain. I recently applied for a promotion internally. A few weeks later, I get a Zoom invite for an update. *cue excitement* However, it was a rejection meeting for 20 minutes to encourage me to apply to other positions when they open. It’s so difficult to keep a professional face for that long when you just want to move on. Employers, please stop doing this. Offer it, yes, if someone wants it, but don’t crush most of us like that.

  35. Macaroni Penguin*

    This may not be suitable for your life but…..
    Do you qualify for long term medical disability benefits? Combined with a part time job in your field, would that be financially viable? I work in the social services field. One thing I’ve seen is people with a combined income from social medical benefits and employment income. Maybe both benefits and employment would bring in enough to support your life. (Thankfully I live in a province where individuals can earn a living wage without benefits being clawed back.)

    1. Reba*

      Assuming the OP is in the US, unfortunately, that kind of arrangement is very difficult to impossible in the US system. Depending on what program a person receives benefits from, they either time out if you are earning a certain amount, or the amount of benefits decreases as you earn more or attempt to save money/assets. Disability advocates point out that this keeps disabled people on the economic margins and often in poverty.

      (Sorry, not trying to Sandwich rule here! Just wanted to take the opportunity to mention this since many people may not know how paltry these programs are.)

      That said, I agree it could be worthwhile for the OP to begin to investigate disability assistance wherever she lives, in case she needs to go that route someday.

      1. Macaroni Penguin*

        Fair points! I live in Canada, so there’s that. While social benefits aren’t enough (IMO) in my province, people with disabilities are encouraged to pursue employment. One can indeed expect that social benefits and income earning thresholds are different between countries.

  36. CupcakeCounter*

    I was rejected for 2 internal promotions at the same company many years back. One was handled very well – he emailed me that I didn’t get the job and asked if I wanted to set up some time to talk to go over a few points that would strengthen my candidacy for the next time a day or two later. In the meeting, he made it clear the only reason the other person was picked over me was seniority and if the opportunity arises he would let me know of other openings on his team. He kept his word and also tried to collaborate on a few things so he would have a better idea of my skillset and working style. He did call me about an opening but at that point I was in the running for another position and (stupidly) opted out.
    The one that wasn’t handled well I’ve written about a few times. The hiring manager (aka the biggest douche canoe in the company) called ALL THREE INTERNAL CANDIDATES into a meeting with HR and the rest of the team (so about 8 people plus the 3 of us) to congratulate the “winner” on getting the job and then attempted to do a round table of feedback and career counseling with the “losers”. Once the HR rep picked his jaw off the floor he stopped that real quick and within a year the hiring manager was stripped of his management duties (he was SOOOOOOOO bad). The other candidate asked about filing a complaint but apparently the HR rep had already fully documented the incident and kind of filed one on our behalf without us having to put our necks on the line. When my boss heard about it he was in shock that someone would be so cruel. He got me a fancy coffee and piece of pie from the cafe to cheer me up and tell me he was happy I was still on his team. I worked for him the rest of my time there and when he realized I was leaving, he announced his retirement.

    1. BadWolf*

      Wow, wow, wow. Hiring manager probably thought HR was going to be all impressed with his leadership and mentoring skills. And suddenly the “winner” of the job feels like the biggest loser. “No thanks, I’m going to have to decline…”

    2. NotAnotherManager!*

      Insane – our HR would have wanted an agenda for that meeting and would have shut it down in a hurry, but at least yours did mop and bucket detail and didn’t require the unsuccessful candidates to file the complaint. I am just so sorry that happened to all of y’all.

    3. Observer*

      Your company sounds like a mostly decent place though. Yes, the HR rep did fall down on the job to start with, but he seems to have gotten back on track pretty quickly. And it looks like whoever makes these decisions did take this kind of behavior seriously.

      But, I simply cannot imagine what this guy was thinking.

  37. Irish girl*

    #1 I feel the pain on this one. Back in Dec of 2019 before life went to h due to C, i had applied an interviewed for a promotion within a parallel part of my department. I had called the recruiter to check in and instead of calling me back, the hiring manager sent me a Skype message that he wanted to talk with me. I knew at that point I didn’t get the job but he took me to a conference room to chat and tell me in person. It was horrible. I had to sit there and not cry or show I was upset or disappointed when inside I was falling apart. I understand why he thought it was a goo idea but I feel it would have been better to be told no by the recruiter and that the hiring manager wanted to reach out to chat after I had time to process. 2 other jobs I applied for internally after that were handled in that manner. I finally landed a role in October of this year so I finally had the good conversation with the recruiter.

  38. Bethie*

    I havent read all the letters, but the traveling award one – We had what we called the “Telly”. The “Telly” eventually got lost, but an amazingly hilarious picture of our AD holding the Telly is now sent virtually to anyone who does an amazing job. Its not a top of the pile sort of thing – just recognition of a job well done and it rotates frequently between everyone. Its all in good fun, but I could see where if it was meant to be a tactic to push people harder, it would get old and less inspiring.

  39. SP*

    To the person who mentionedOnly being able to work 20 hours a week have you checked with any of the big for accounting firms they have all different specialties and almost all of them have what’s called like gig work and even part time positions for certain specialties. Even if you aren’t in accounting, they have all different kinds of consulting areas.

  40. Jubilance*

    #1 – this happened to me last year, for an internal role. I was excited when I got the Zoom meeting invite, and then crushed & struggling to keep it together when I was told that I didn’t get the role.

    I later gave the hiring manager the feedback to please stop and think about what meetings need a Zoom call and what should be a phone call. I think a lot of people have gotten into the habit of making everything a Zoom meeting – and at my company that means cameras on – and they don’t stop to think. If this was a pre-Covid world, they would have called to give the rejection, and the same applies now.

    OP, I’m really sorry that you didn’t get the role, I was in your same shoes last Sept and it took a good while to shake off that rejection.

  41. BadWolf*

    On OP1 — depending on one’s current home office situation, that rejection might have been a lot of investment. Getting “interview” prepped with clothes/hair/etc. Arranging your office/background. Possibly changing your work/school schedule. Locking out pets/children and/or getting babysitting. All for “Nope, don’t want you.”

  42. BadWolf*

    On Op2 — do you have anyone in your network contacts that maybe you could be frank with and may have the right contacts in the company to say “Hey, this person has these specialized skills but needs a specialized job arrangement.” At my large employer, we do have a temporary part time work option (full health, reduced pay) — I have no idea if they’d do that long term for an employee ( and you need to be in good standing, etc, etc, but it does exist). Some places might not advertise that they need a 1/2 time person for special skills, but someone on the inside might be able to sell the bosses that they know someone who could help unload an existing full time person (or save them from occasionally trying to scramble for coverage if they don’t have a primary person with OPs skills).

  43. Seashells*

    Is the boss in #4 one of the “good ole boys”? That sounds like something a “good ole boy” would say thinking it’s funny but it’s really not. I feel like that award is in poor taste and he could have come up with a better name. If I happened to win it, it would go in a drawer until it was “awarded” to the next person.

    1. SyFyGeek*

      It’s one of Negan’s catch phrases on The Walking Dead.

      I received a “participation” award from an employer once. I volunteered to drive to our clients offices in NC & SC to help train them on a system since I understood it better. My award, and I really did love it, was one of those banner/flags you attach to the window frame with our logo. And it was handmade.

  44. Governmint Condition*

    On #4, in my government office, the use of the profanity in that manner would be actionable if any employee were to file a grievance. Also, we have one employee who would likely take the trophy off the holder’s desk and throw it in a faraway trash can when nobody’s looking, as she would be disgusted by its display.

    1. Jay*

      I hate hate hate the related emoji and the “cute” stuff that goes along with it (pillows, T-shirts, whatever). Really hate it. I think “disgust” is probably an appropriate term. I would feel alienated from the boss and I’d be uncomfortable every time it was mentioned. I’ve been around long enough to know that when I have a strong reaction like that, I’m probably not the only one. I also have enough seniority and role power to speak up, and I would. If I didn’t get anywhere with the boss, I’d go over his head. I don’t think it’s meant as insulting, but it doesn’t have to be meant that way to be just wrong.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Just a thought to help you get through its current popularity. Try thinking of it as it was originally intended: soft-serve chocolate ice cream.

  45. CatPerson*

    Why do some managers insist on treating their adult employees like children? A trophy outhouse, for pity’s sake? Most people outgrow bathroom humor by the time they reach their teens. This is 10-year-old boy behavior.

    1. CupcakeCounter*

      At my org right now we would actually love it – the place is a total shit show of a dumpster fire so it would fit. Definitely a “know you audience” thing though. Absolutely would NOT have gone over well as a different employer.

  46. JessicaTate*

    LW #3 — An option for dealing with this is to set up a Calendly (or there are a bunch of similar platforms) – which I think has a free-level account. Basically, it would let the recruiter pull up your availability and directly book a time with you. On your end, you sync it with your calendar — so it automatically blocks out whenever you have a conflict — but you can also set other constraints like… your general daily window of availability, amount of buffer you want between appointments on your calendar, how many meetings can be booked on a given day, and even how many time options a viewer can see as available on a given day. That last one is good if you actually have tons of availability, but don’t want to SEEM quite that available for any reason.

    It addresses their (unreasonable) request without you having to put a lot of energy into it every time they ask.

  47. UsernameRejected*

    I have gotten applicants telling me (rudely) I should have called to reject them, or asking (nicely) for a rejection follow up call… it’s good to know it’s mostly just a personal preference and I’m not out of line for sticking to email!

  48. Anonymouse*

    What I don’t understand is why any sane person would bother checking in on Zoom to be shot down more personally. If you don’t hear from the company you applied to, move on instead of lining up for the firing squad. Don’t be that interviewer’s personal amusement.

    1. Colette*

      They don’t book the meeting as a rejection – they just book a meeting. They aren’t being ghosted; they are being scheduled for a meeting for an employer they’ve been interviewing with.

    2. MCMonkeybean*


      This doesn’t make any sense. It’s not like they are just popping in on Zoom at random, they got on Zoom because the company set up a meeting. So they DID hear from the company. To set up this meeting. Which they attended and then found out they were not getting the job.

      And wow, interviewers don’t reject people for fun. What an odd an unnecessarily adversarial stance to take. They have one job opening and multiple candidates and therefore some people have to be told they aren’t getting the job. No reasonable human enjoys doing that or finds it amusing.

      1. Anonymouse*

        Aw, I’m sorry you feel that way.

        Because I overheard an interviewer talk unkindly about someone that they rejected. I wasn’t meant to hear it but I accidentally did. I never ditched an interview so hard in all my life.

        I guess we had different experiences and we’ll have to leave it at that then.

  49. Moi*

    #4, I personally think yes. The traveling trophy showed up in a department at a previous job and the head of that area told us in a lunch-n-learn it was some kind of management tool he had learned and implemented. The trophy was to be a recognizable item that signified that the ‘winner’ had done some great deed and was being rewarded for it. When someone new would get the trophy, the area head would make a big show of taking it off the current ‘winner’s’ desk and place it on the new ‘winner’s’ desk, all while congratulating the new ‘winner’ for the specific reasons they won it. This usually involved a parade of sorts because the other department members wanted to see who it was going to and would essentially follow the department head around.

    I was not in the department, but a friend was. From the outside, to me it seemed like theater play and completely for show since it not only seemed to reward the ‘winner’ but also shame the past ‘winner’ for losing it. From my friend’s point of view, it highly encouraged backstabbing and taking credit for as much as possible since that seemed to be what got the department head’s attention.

  50. Deborah*

    #5 I left a job where they were being similarly unsafe in August. There were also clues they were struggling financially even before the pandemic, and it was a very small company with founders/owners in their 70s who worked 12 hour days 6-7 days a week and weren’t making succession plans. I ended up telling companies and interviewers that a) I wanted to move to company that was more stable financially and as far as their future direction and b) because it was a small company there wasn’t anywhere left for me to grow there and I wanted to move forward. I told some recruiters that additionally I was not pleased with the irresponsible way they handled the pandemic.

    I got a job at a larger but still family owned business in a more recession and pandemic proof industry and that has more structure (the current CEO is the granddaughter of the founder) and they were fine with my reasons for leaving. Also they have handled the pandemic well and are giving everyone that gets the vaccine $50 gift cards.

  51. Mayflower*

    OP#2, I have a suggestion for you! I know people who do part-time by teaming up with another person to make up 1 full-time person. Their employers love it because (a) they manage their own coverage and deadlines so their manager isn’t involved at all, (b) between the two of them there is no vacation so the company gets 100% coverage that they wouldn’t get with one regular employee, and (c) the quality of work is higher because when they work they are 100% present and if a deadline is slipping, they have another person to help. Granted, this is easier said than done if you don’t already have someone in mind. However, with a killer cover letter, I think you should be able to convince a potential employer to take you on and let you find another part-timer and train them.

  52. Richard*

    OP #1: I once had an in-person rejection. It was at a large corporation, and I thought the interview went well, and then the hiring manager said he wanted to give me a test then and there, which I hadn’t been told about, but I said fine. It was very difficult but I did my best. Several days later he called me back for a second interview, so I assumed my test was OK. But instead, the hiring manager sat down and went over in detail how awful my test was with patronizing explanations of where I went wrong, and concluded by saying how unfit I was to work there. It was NOT a case of “if you can fix a few knowledge gaps we’d love to interview you again” or an attempt to mentor me–just a 30-minute dressing down and then he walked me out of the office. It was still early in my career, so I didn’t think just to walk out of there once he started. Why did he want to do that instead of a quick email “thanks for coming but we don’t have a place for you.”

  53. Elizabeth West*

    #3–I give ranges, like “Monday-Friday 9 am to 1 pm.” I don’t have any clue what the recruiter’s schedule is like, unless they tell me what dates and times they’re available and ask me to choose one.
    It’s not my job to manage your time, Fergus!

  54. Alexis Rose*

    LW3 – It’s a long shot and will make applying a ton of work, but I would suggest that if you apply for full-time work, state clearly in your cover letter that you would prefer part-time work if available.

    I work at a small nonprofit and we actually prefer to hire part-time, specialized employees because there simply isn’t enough work in any one area to fill 40 hours per week. However, we often advertise full-time positions because that’s what most job-seekers want and these tend consist of tacked-together tasks–like we are hiring a Llama Grooming Specialist who will also be expected to do Llama Hoof Care part of the time because it we tried to find a .5 FTE Grooming Specialist and a .5 FTE Hoof Care specialist, we’d end up with two disgruntled employees who are both going to move on as soon as they find full-time positions. Yeah, it’s tough to suss those out from the outside, but I do believe these situations exist more than people might expect.

  55. Skeeder Jones*

    LW 2
    Are there any accommodations that would make it easier for you to work full time? ADA accommodations can be requested right away when you first begin working. After the first year somewhere, hopefully you’d be able to get a FMLA intermittent leave approved which would allow your schedule additional flexibility and you can use an hour here or there as needed. You would just be certified for x amount of hours per week to use if needed.

    I also have fibromyalgia and quit a job over it when it was too painful to be at a desk full time. I didn’t know much then about ADA accommodations and looking back, I might have been able to stay if I had some. Right now, what helps me manage mine is that I work from home (3 years + and my whole team works remotely so I don’t even have to get that as an accommodation) and if my muscles begin to hurt or I’m overwhelmingly tired, I can take an early break to go lie down. I know it helps that I’m exempt/salary so I don’t have to worry about hitting 40 hours but I do usually make that time up elsewhere as I’m notorious for eating lunch while working (been this way for decades).

  56. Miriam*

    LW 4 I, too, would not a personification of poop on my desk. But, in addition, I object to the “top of the heap” analogy. Carol Gilligan’s book In a Different Voice so describes the (usually, but not always, male) perspective behind this and contrasts it with the (usually, but not always, female) perspective of creating a web of connections where, when you’re at the center, you’re the most powerful. Finally, I would be really leery of any “award” that involves setting employees against each other. I rely on my whole team, and I know they rely on me – we do well or poorly as a team.

  57. Miriam*

    LW 2 – you are probably already familiar with the Job Accommodation Network – – but others on the board might be interested. They have all kinds of info, incl sections for employers, employees, and “others”. For those w/a cancer hx, there’s Cancer and Careers – And, yes, national health insurance in the USA would certainly be a great way to go.

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