new boss monitors our LinkedIn profiles, I prepared for a video interview and didn’t need to, and more

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

1. My new boss said he monitors our LinkedIn profiles

I’m a department head who finds himself getting the short straw in a department consolidation. Not a huge problem, as we’re merging three teams into one and not everybody can be in charge. What is a problem is the new VP we’re working under, Bob. Bob pulled me aside at 4:55 today and told me he subscribed to a service that alerts him when anyone who works for him updates their LinkedIn or Indeed profiles. He asked what had caused me to update my profile on March 1 (before the consolidation was even announced, by the way) and if I was looking at leaving. I was a bit surprised and didn’t feel like sharing the entire story, which is a possible relocation for my wife’s job that, thankfully, isn’t going to happen. But I now realize this VP is toxic. Am I overreacting? Do I go full information warfare and update my LinkedIn and Indeed every day via script? Do I run for the hills? Who does this!?!

Subscribing to a service that alerts him whenever someone updates their LinkedIn is … not a great sign about the level of scrutiny he feels entitled to subject you to, and it’s not a great sign about his thoughts on how to manage people in general. If he wants to retain people, he could try treating them well, paying them competitively, giving them meaningful work and opportunities to develop their skills, and also accepting people will still move on because that’s how business works.

Does it mean he’s toxic across the board? You don’t have enough info say at this point; he could be good or okay in other ways while still being problematic in this one, but it’s definitely a red flag. You don’t need to run for the hills at this point, but you should pay attention to what else you’re seeing from him, and it would be smart to find ways to talk to people who have already been working under him and can tell you what to expect.

To be clear, there can be a place for “hey, are you thinking of leaving/is there anything I can do to keep you?” conversations … but that place is generally with managers who have already established some trust, not with a brand new boss where one of their first acts is to announce they subscribe to a service to spy on you.

Read an update to this letter here

2. I’m annoyed that my interview switched for video to audio-only after I spent time getting ready

I can’t tell if this is a pet peeve or something I should genuinely talk to the recruiter about. I was approach about a position at a company. After the initial screening, a video interview was set up with the hiring manager. A couple hours beforehand, the recruiter prepped me, including all of the usual stuff about professional attire and setting up my space that would be seen in the background. I spent about two hours setting up my space, showering, doing makeup and hair. When the time came, I joined the video link … just to be told that the hiring manager was working remotely that day so it would be audio only.

It felt so disrespectful of my time and energy. I don’t think the hiring manager really thought through how switching from video to audio would effect the interviewee. I think that ultimately I had a good interview but it’s stuck with me. Especially since women are expected to have professional looking hair and makeup which can often take more time than men have to invest in their appearance. I would rather have spent that time researching the company, mentally preparing for the interview … or really anything else. Is this valid feedback to share with the recruiter or is it sour grapes?

I see why you’re frustrated, but I’d let it go. Yes, ideally the hiring manager would have let you know earlier, but it could have been a late switch in plans, and who knows what he was juggling at home that came up at the last minute and made video a bad idea. Or it could have simply been a miscommunication between the hiring manager and the recruiter (who probably isn’t kept up-to-date on where the hiring manager will be calling in from). It’s annoying but you’re better off just rolling with it.

3. I’m constantly asked for student interviews

Your recent post about students assigned to go find free work with small businesses really struck a chord with me.

I’m in a profession that is very common, but my job is a niche role consulting about that profession. I am well known in this role and have served as a volunteer board member for our professional association in the past.

There are classes for getting into this niche role all over the U.S., and apparently, a very popular teaching technique is asking students to reach out to well-known consultants and ask to interview them as an assignment. I receive 1-3 of these requests monthly, and in their introductory email the students state the interview will take about 15 minutes. In practice, these interviews are always over 30 minutes and usually upward of an hour. I always offer to respond to their interview questions in writing via email, but the students usually say it needs to be on the phone or via zoom.

I am very busy and feel put on the spot to respond since it’s a small industry. In the past, I’ve been tempted to contact these teachers and tell them it’s lazy to ask people with no association with their school to teach this role to paying students, but that would zap even more time out of my schedule! Is it rude for me to insist on only responding via email, which is fairly easy because I have “scripts” of these answers on hand? Would it be acceptable to decline and respond that posting their need for an interview on a professional interest group board or LinkedIn would better achieve their assignment to network?

As with last week’s post about informational interviews, it’s not rude to say it’s email or nothing, and it’s not rude to simply decline either. You get to decide how to manage your own time, and while it’s a small field, there’s nothing impolite about saying, “I’m sorry, my schedule is packed right now. If you’d like, I can respond via email because I can fit that in more easily, but I’m not able to do a call right now.” Or, for that matter, “I wish I could help but my schedule is packed right now.” And yes, it would be a kindness to suggest other avenues they could try (like posting on a professional interest group board).

Your thought about contacting professors is an interesting one. There could be value in a note to professors letting them know how many of these requests you (and probably your colleagues) receive every month, explaining it’s more of an imposition than they likely realized, and suggesting other avenues they might experiment with instead. That said, it sounds like there are so many professors assigning this that there might not be a way to make much of a dent, and it would just be a whack-a-mole game where more keep popping up.

4. What do you do when a job’s health insurance doesn’t kick in right away?

My husband has been teaching for many years and the pandemic has left him completely burned out. We have agreed that for the sake of his mental health he won’t return to his classroom next year. He got a job offer and is scheduled to start in June after the school year ends.

However, his new healthcare benefits won’t kick in until August 1st. What do we do? My employer doesn’t provide insurance and we have a daughter with a medical condition that requires expensive medicine and regular doctor visits. The idea of being uninsured from June to August is terrifying.

You have the option of continuing the same health insurance through COBRA for up to 18 months. It’s often expensive since you’d be paying 100% of the premiums yourself, whereas previously your employer might have been paying all or part of them, but it might be doable for a couple of months. You can also buy short term health insurance; there are plans designed for exactly this. Google “short term health insurance” and the name of your state. Or you can look into buying a regular plan on the marketplace; leaving a job is a qualifying event that lets you buy one outside of the annual open enrollment period.

But yes, reason #285 why we need to decouple health insurance from employment.

5. Job rejected me but the posting is still up months later

I am a professional in my early 30’s and was laid off in late 2020 from a respected but low experience job that I took straight out of grad school. I have been applying to jobs in the nonprofit version of my field since I was laid off. As of yet, not a single employer has reached out for an interview.

One job advertised on LinkedIn is a near perfect fit for me. It is a nonprofit position in a field I have academic and some small professional experience in. It falls neatly into one of the great passions of my life (I volunteered with this organization in high-school, college, and grad school.) The job posting says they are looking for someone near the beginning of their career, a place I fall into neatly. I have no personal connections with the locale of the organization I’ve applied to (I have plenty of contacts in the southeast but none in the northeast.) I applied with a carefully worked resume, cover letter, and writing sample. Two and a half months later, I got a form letter saying they had filled the position already and wished me luck.

Sure, fine. But the job posting is still up on LinkedIn. Not a similar job posting. The exact same one. Same locale, exact same job description. It is still up on Indeed. It is still up on their internal website. It has been up for the three months since I received my rejection.

Are they just not that into me? Is this a normal practice I am unaware of? Is there some situation here where I should try to apply again? I’ve done a lot of job applications since I’ve been laid off, and am very demoralized and just don’t know what my red flag is. I have an okay academic record (at very good schools), and some experience in the applicable professional field. Seeing that job posting every time I look for new jobs just feels like a taunt. I’m honestly not sure what to do next.

It’s not a taunt, but you should stop thinking about this job posting. They either filled the job (as they said in their email) and just haven’t bothered to remove the ads for it (which is pretty common), or they haven’t filled it yet and someone used the wrong boilerplate email when sending rejections. Either way, it’s not a situation where you should reapply; you applied, they rejected you, and that closes the loop. If more time had passed (at least six months) you could maybe try reapplying, but when the rejection was so recent all you can really do is accept it and move on.

There are lots of reasons why you wouldn’t be selected for a job you feel perfect for: other candidates can be more qualified, or they’re looking for something they didn’t articulate well in the ad, or they’re looking for local candidates when you’re out of town, and on and on. All you can do is accept they didn’t pick you for reasons that will probably remain pretty opaque (but are almost surely not a reflection on you as a person) and mentally move on.

{ 538 comments… read them below }

  1. Can Can Cannot*

    LW4, you have a good, and free, option available with COBRA. There is a loophole in the signup for COBRA that gives you 60 days to elect COBRA coverage, and then 45 more days to make your payment. And if/when you do send in a payment, the coverage is fully retroactive to the first day of eligibility.

    So, in your case, you can simply wait 60 days to send in your COBRA election. That would probably be in late July. Send it in, but don’t pay. Then you have 45 days to make your payment. But don’t make your payment unless you need to use coverage (accident or some sort of medical emergency). By the time you would need to pay, you will have coverage from the new employer.

    This all assumes that you don’t have an emergency pop up in June or July. Or if you do need medical coverage, it it is less than the cost of COBRA, then you could choose to pay out of pocket.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Their daughter has a medical condition that requires expensive medicine and regular doctor visits so they likely will need the coverage (whether through COBRA or a short-term plan).

      1. Can Can Cannot*

        If the cost of the doctor visits is less than COBRA, then it might be worth it to pay out of pocket. For my last job, the cost of COBRA would have been over $2300 per month, which could cover some significant doctor visit costs. It might also be possible to adjust the schedule for visits, to minimize the visits that take place during the time between employer insurance coverage. Trying to think outside the box.

        1. Nikki*

          This is what did when I started my current job. My son has a condition that requires treatment that costs about $1000 a month without insurance coverage. That was still a lot less than the cost of COBRA plus the usual copays for the treatment so I just paid out of pocket for the two months I was without coverage. Luckily nothing else happened during those two months so I never had to activate COBRA.

          1. Liz*

            I did the same when i left my last job, many moons ago. My new job’s coverage had a wait time, I forget exactly how long, but it ended up starting on the day after the day my COBRA payment was due. I had a few dr. appts, for allergy shots, but like many, it was cheaper to pay out of pocket, then whatever COBRA was.

          2. MamaLeona*

            It’s important to remember that in some states, like Colorado where I am, if you have a gap in Coverage and a serious medical condition, the new insurance company can deny coverage of said condition for a period of time. Sometimes years! I have a chronic condition that requires very expensive medication. If my health coverage lapses, the new carrier can deny my claims as a preexisting condition. This could also be LW concern.

            1. Elec*

              I thought denial if preexisting conditions was illegal now? At least with marketplace plans?

            2. Starbuck*

              That’s so absurd and disturbing, I’m sorry. I had mistakenly thought that kind of BS had been resolved at least to some degree, but I’m not surprised to be mistaken.

            3. Reluctant Mezzo*

              I might add that one reason I stayed with OldJob is that my husband was getting cancer treatment, and a six month’s gap would be Bad even if I found something right away.

        2. Esmeralda*

          Good ideas. But could be more expensive than that. When an oncologist pauses and says, it’s a very expensive drug, you know it’s something no ordinary person can ever afford (in this case, 2 doses per month, $20K per dose — they helped us get the drug company to pick up the part insurance didn’t…).

        3. Will It Ever End?*

          I don’t know how anybody can afford COBRA, its 102% of the entire premium with no employer contribution. There was a time before the health insurance marketplace that options were limited, but the health insurance marketplace is always a better choice for interim coverage as there are a variety of plans and premium levels. Also, they can look into professional affiliation health plans, alumni organization health plans, and any other organization you may belong to. Good luck to the OP.

          1. Turtles+All+The+Way+Down*

            I was lucky enough to only need to pay $500/month (for an individual) about 5 years ago for very, very good coverage. I used about $70k worth of insurance the year I was on COBRA. It was even worth it for me to keep it after I got a new job because the insurance was just that much better.

        4. Bumblebee Mask*

          Another option would be to elect COBRA for only the member who actually needs the coverage. You don’t have to elect for the entire family if both the parents are healthy and only the child needs the coverage. It will still be expensive, but not family of 3 expensive.

          1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

            I think that only works if the person who needs it was primary on the insurance. If I leave my job, for example, and I don’t need COBRA but my husband does, I can’t just pay for COBRA for him.

            1. This is a name, I guess*

              But, COBRA coverage is a financial gamble in some cases, because you have 60 days to decide to use it, and it will cover retroactively. So, if OP definitely needs to cover, say, their kid, they can potentially buy them coverage on the open market at $300/mo or whatever. Then, the parents can wait and see if they need to COBRA themselves during the gap. If they do need to buy COBRA coverage + coverage on the Exchange, then they are obviously out more money than if they didn’t use COBRA. But, if they don’t end up using any healthcare and don’t use COBRA, then they will save a lot of money by only paying for the kid’s insurance. So, it can be a risk management equation on the part of the parents: what’s the likelihood we wont’ have any major healthcare expenses during X months between coverage? If X is short and there are no ongoing health issues, it might be worth it

            2. Bcd*

              You can do that, actually.
              The primary person does not need to be insured under cobra. You can select coverage just for a dependent,
              as long as that dependent was covered under the emoloyer’s policy at time of termination.

            3. Managing to get by*

              Each convered person is a cobra beneficiary and can make an independent coverage election.

        5. This is a name, I guess*

          OP can also have the kid’s and their drugs written as a 3mo Rx and filled right before insurance coverage ends. They could also ask the doctor to adjust the dosage slightly (if possible) to get insurance to cover another 3 months. Doctors can be really creative about this. For your own drugs, check goodrx and other sites to see if it’s cheaper out-of-pocket.

          I also had my psychiatrist reduce my appointment and give me a deeply discounted rate during the period of no health coverage (during the implementation of the ACA).

          You could also choose to insure your kid via insurance on the market place and then choose COBRA yourself if you end up having medical expenses.

          There are lots of creative workarounds.

          1. Suzy Q Smith*

            Exactly. My son is on a drug that costs nearly $8k per month. My husband moved from academia to industry and had a 6-week gap between the jobs and insurance. Either way we’d have had to pay $8k for one of the months for his meds since marketplace plans have high deductibles! Instead, I talked with his doctor months in advance and we worked out a plan where instead of taking his meds every 2 weeks, we stretched to 16 days and I stockpiled as much as I could manage to get ahead of time. The doctor also offered to give him a dose covered by the manufacturer if it came down to it (which we ended up needing because the new insurance company took another six weeks to approve the drug). Talk with your doctor – they may have ideas on how to make this work or be able to do samples etc. Our cobra cost was $2800 per month had we needed to use it, but it would have been worth it if the other plan had fallen through. Having that 60 +45 days really helps though!

        6. Candi*

          They can see if the doctor’s office(s) will give a discount if they pay out of pocket. I know both my old and new offices would do so, since a patient paying out of pocket saved them considerable labor on the insurance paperwork. (10-40%, depending on exactly what was going on.)

      2. Beezus*

        I’ve definitely dealt with this and you can ask your employer ir potential employer for the summary of benefits coverage (SBC) or better if you can talk to their broker. Also in most states if the spouse’s insurance ends due to a non renewal if the contract he should be eligible for COBRA. I would also suggest him losing that job means you can get some ACA coverage and looking into it.

      3. Friend in Virginia*

        Regarding short-term plans, pay careful attention to the coverage. All the ones I was quoted were quite a bit cheaper than COBRA, but they did not cover pre-existing conditions, and the deductibles and max out-of-pockets were much higher. We ended up with COBRA, but I was able to negotiate for a bonus (thanks to advice on this website and in Alison’s book!) to help offset a good portion of the COBRA cost, however.

        1. Can Can Cannot*

          That’s a great point. If LW does go with COBRA, they get to stay on their existing plan and make use of any existing allocations against any annual deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums.

        2. Fed Employee*

          By law, any plan on the marketplace (Obamacare) has to cover pre-existing conditions.

          1. Hlao-roo*

            I’m no expert on healthcare, but my impression is that short-term plans are exempt from covering pre-existing conditions.

        3. Anon Supervisor*

          Yes, please read the fine print with Short Term plans. Many of them are privately underwritten and not ACA compliant, meaning they can deny payment for pre-existing conditions or only offer catastrophic coverage. You might be better off buying on the ACA market or just paying out of pocket. Also, depending on your state, your daughter may qualify for Medicaid coverage under the CHIP program.

        4. DataGirl*

          I came here to say this. We bought short term coverage once when we were in a similar situation where my husband changed jobs and the new place didn’t provide health insurance until you were through the 3 month probation period. I think we paid around $1500 for 3 months coverage for a family of 4 (this was 15 years ago). They covered NOTHING. Hidden deep in the hundreds of pages of fine print were clauses that got them out of covering pretty much every scenario. First, there was something like a 10K family deductible. Then they didn’t cover pre-existing conditions, didn’t cover well checks, a bunch of things. We would have been better off saving the $1500 and just paying all our health care costs out of pocket for those 3 months, since that’s what ended up happening anyway.

        5. DJ Abbott*

          I was coming to say this too. I was underemployed for two years and the short term plans I had on and off did not cover pre-existing conditions. They did make that clear when I was signing up, but you still need to check all the fine print just in case.
          Keep in mind, insurance won’t cover pre-existing conditions unless the law forces them to.
          My experience with ACA marketplace plans was they cover nothing, not even medication, until the deductible has been used up. I was also not allowed to pay with a credit card. This probably varies by state but again, make sure you understand all the details.

          1. DJ Abbott*

            Also, if you consider an ACA plan be sure to check that your providers take that plan. I was working in a hospital when ACA happened and after a year or two the hospital stopped taking several ACA plans because they never, ever paid a claim. One of the biggest medical providers here only takes three ACA plans, and one of those has their name on it. So be sure to check.

      4. Charlotte Lucas*

        The OP should contact their state Medicaid plan. Their daughter might be eligible for coverage under TEFRA, which let’s kids with a high level of medical need get coverage without considering parents’ income or assets.

        But I agree. Health coverage should not be tied to employment.

      5. Pinto*

        If their daughter has a medical condition, short term is likely not a realistic option as it is not guaranteed issue. The Marketplace is their best bet for coverage as it is likely cheaper than COBRA.

    2. Beezus*

      Your coverage is retroactive which means you have to pay the premium back to that date. Basically if you have no medical issues and get a job you can skip it. Or if you need a month you can get it. If you need Cobra on day 89 you have to pay 3 months if premiums immediately. You don’t get to skip the premiums since you lost coverage. Also you have 30 days to pay and have to post mark it by 30 days from the 1st of the month once you elect it. I hope you’re not advising people like this. I thought this as a HR person and BCBS said No.

      1. Can Can Cannot*

        Of course you have to pay your premiums if you actually use the coverage. But if you end up not needing coverage during those 105 (60 + 45) days, you get to skip the payments. That’s the loophole.

        Just to be clear, the deadline is 45 days (rather than 30) to make the payment after electing COBRA.

        1. Sleepy cat*

          I think we’ve already established that the LW definitely does need the coverage from day 1.

        2. Claire W*

          The LW specifically mentioned both expensive medicine and regular Dr visits, so I think any suggestion that assumes they will not have any medical expenses at any point in time isn’t going to work for them.

          1. This is a name, I guess*

            But, there are workarounds that might include doing the COBRA gamble on the adults and getting coverage on the Exchange for the kid. Or something else. We don’t really know the exact medical needs of the family. And, if facing $10,000 in COBRA payments for a family, the OP might be willing to find a different solution than COBRA. A lot of people in the US do not understand how health insurance works or how much it costs, so they often don’t know other options. (I don’t blame them. The system is arcane, and it’s changed a lot since the ACA.)

        3. Phony Genius*

          Is this an actual loophole in the law, or this this a case of the insurance company being unable to take anything away since you didn’t use the service you signed up for “just in case” you needed it? If it’s the latter, could they still come after you for payment and/or affect your credit rating?

          1. Bumblebee Mask*

            Phony genius, no. They just cancel the coverage retroactively back to when it would have cancelled. So if a person termed May 31 and their coverage ended May 31, they would be cancelled back to May 31.

          2. ThatGirl*

            It’s not so much a loophole as a way to kind of have the insurance “on hold” in case you need it. The problem is if you need it, you have to be ready to fork over $$$ right away.

          3. NeedRain47*

            It’s a known loophole. I was advised to do the same thing when I switched jobs five years ago. If the gov’t wanted to prevent it they could figure out a way.

            1. Clisby*

              I wouldn’t call it a loophole. I guess there can be different definitions, but I think of a loophole in a law as something that’s ambiguous, or unintended. This is neither. It’s just a feature of the law.

    3. Melonhead*

      Don’t forget to mention that if you put off buying insurance through COBRA, and then opt in before the 60 days are up, you have to pay retroactively for the insurance – i.e., for both months.

      1. Clisby*

        Yes. I don’t know what typically happens, but both my husband and I (separately) left jobs years ago where all this was spelled out 100% clearly in a letter from the insurance company. None of it was a surprise.

    4. KuklaRed*

      Re: LW#4
      My daughter quit a very toxic job and then landed a great one less than 2 weeks later. But her medical coverage for the new position doesn’t kick in until the 1st of the month 60 days after starting. So she contacted the NYS Department of Health and was able to sign up for excellent coverage under the ACA which isn’t costing her anything. Of course, this varies from state to state, but the ACA can be an excellent alternative to COBRA.

    5. Christmas Carol*

      I used to do work for a public school district. I my state, any teacher on a full year contract is covered by their insurance program until the next school year starts. Otherwise teachers would all be uninsured for three months every summer. Your husband may not be in the classroom any more, after the school year ends in June, but haven’t you always been covered for the rest of the summer in previous years? Make his official resignation date say, effective August 15th. It was also a common practice for many of our teachers to have “permanent summer jobs” that they would return to year after year, but they were still considered employed by the district and their benefits continued.

      1. I'm just here for the cats*

        But if he gives his notice then he is not going to be covered anymore. Teachers are covered with the expectation that they will be working there again. That’s not the case here.

        1. Christmas Carol*

          No that’s not how it works. You have a full year contract, and you are employed to the end of that contract, regardless of what you have signed up for next year. You also get your full year salary. A teacher who “retires” in June does not get 25%=3 months less pay in her last year, just because she is not planning on coming back in September.

      2. Former Math Teacher*

        I came here to say something similar, that contract terms for public school teachers are generally August-August. Though I’m sure that varies by location. When I decided to stop teaching a couple years ago, the HR paperwork I received after giving my resignation letter had options – get a lump sum for salary in June and lose health insurance then, or keep getting paid and stay on health insurance through the end of the contract term. LW, please ask your husband to check with his district’s HR about this.

    6. June*

      Bad idea and fraudulent. The account could be sent to collections and ruin their credit. Running a scam is not the way to approach the challenges of life.

      1. Clisby*

        What’s a bad idea and fraudulent? If you mean following the rules of COBRA, then no – there’s nothing fraudulent about it.

      2. MCMonkeyBean*

        It’s not fraudulent, but it’s also just not helpful here. You only don’t pay anything *if you don’t use the insurance* so that’s not really “free” it’s just… not actually having insurance. Not paying for something you don’t have isn’t the bargain this commenter is making it sound like.

        It’s a fine security blanket for people with a gap in coverage between jobs who don’t need to buy insurance unless they have some kind of emergency or accident in the gap period and it’s what I did a few years ago (on the recommendation of HR). But it sounds like this is a situation where they specifically *do* need the insurance for the daughter so if they want to use COBRA they will have to actually pay the premiums.

      3. Lydia*

        Screw insurance companies.

        PS Medical debt is not treated as heavily as it once was on your credit because even credit agencies know medical debt in our system is an exploitation of sick people.

      4. Quiet Liberal*

        Not at all. My insurance agent helped me sign up on the exchange and she literally told me to just hold onto the COBRA paperwork, but not send it in unless I “have a car wreck and need medical care” before the ACA coverage kicked in.

  2. COBRA*

    you can sign up for COBRA at any time and it will be retroactive so you can not sign up right away, and then if you need insurance during that time, sign back up. But if everything is fine during those couple of months, just let it go.

    1. Beezus*

      That is technically true but once you sign up for COBRA coverage you just pay the premium on time every month you have it or you’re fucked.

    2. metadata minion*

      The LW has a daughter who needs expensive medicine and frequent doctors’ visits. They will need the insurance. Some of that medication is likely ongoing rather than an emergency as-needed thing, and some drugs can cost *thousands* of dollars a month out-of-pocket.

      I’m getting the impression that a lot of commenters in this thread don’t have ongoing medical conditions themselves. Trust me, if someone says they’ll need insurance coverage and are afraid to go without for 2 months, they know what they’re talking about and advising them to just wing it is unhelpful.

      1. Hiring Mgr*

        I don’t think the advice is to wing it, but just making people aware of how Cobra works (in that you can sign up retroactively and pay at that point)

        We don’t know the LW’s financial situation of course, but if they have some cash on hand it can work out for a few months. (paying as you go for Rx, visits etc if you feel it will come under the total Cobra premium)

        Anyway, it’s an option.. We did this a few years ago when I was between jobs and it worked out, but of course with the daughter’s medical expenses this might me moot..

      2. Dino*

        Given how unaccommodating most employers are, it’s not surprising that commenters on a workplace advice blog don’t know what it’s like to be disabled/have chronic medical conditions. We usually wind up leaving the workplace for one reason or another.

        This is one of the least disability-friendly online spaces I’m in. Alison is fantastic, but commenters… not so much.

        1. pancakes*

          A pretty standard mix of the mindsets one encounters on disability and illness in the US, I think. Prosperity gospel isn’t a huge thing in the area of the country I live in, but seems to be a significant influence on many people’s thinking. A year or two there was a letter from someone whose sister’s workplace was implementing a rule where people had six months to “fix” their health issues and if they did, the employer would match their HSA contributions. The idea that people choose or are somehow assigned the health they “deserve” is bizarrely widespread.

      3. NotRealAnonForThis*

        Having been through unexpected medical hell (because it was considered a “Lightning Strike” type of illness, as in, your odds are better that you’ll be struck by lightning than what actually happened) that cost upwards of $750K over approximately 65 days?

        Fun fact – we hit our deductible in the ambulance. The prescription antibiotics that allowed us to be home instead of holed up in a children’s hospital were approximately $8K per WEEK.

        I would not take this gamble and nobody in my house has an ongoing medical issue.

        Yes, reason 285 we need to completely de-couple health insurance from employment.

        1. Suzy Q Smith*

          We were advised by the HR person we consulted to have all the forms filled out and a check written for Cobra and to give them to another trustworthy person to send in if we had a health emergency, so that there was no chance of the premiums not being paid even if we were all in the hospital at the same time from a car accident, etc.

      4. Nikki*

        I think it really depends on the LW’s specific situation. LW doesn’t say whether her child’s out of pocket costs would be $1000 a month or $20,000 a month. If it’s toward the lower end of the scale, it might actually be cheaper to pay out of pocket for a couple months rather than paying COBRA plus the copays for the treatment. I was in a similar situation with my son when I changed jobs a few years ago. He needs expensive treatments every month and my new job’s coverage didn’t kick in for 60 days. I was all ready to just pay the COBRA premiums when a friend encouraged me to run the numbers and it turned out it was way cheaper to pay for the treatments out of pocket. It was nice knowing I could start up COBRA at any time if things got too expensive, but it ended up working in my favor in my situation so it’s a good idea for LW to at least think about whether it’s something that makes sense for her family.

        1. Metadata minion*

          Yeah, definitely run the numbers! I’m just objecting to the idea that the LW might be able to just conveniently not need health care at all for two months.

          1. Lydia*

            It’s remarkably cavalier. I find ways to stockpile my medications and supplies in case something happens and I’m not covered. When I transferred jobs, I somehow managed to stay on my old employer’s coverage for a period of time and I 100% took advantage. I don’t know if it was because of a law in the state where I live, or if it was because of the way the premiums worked out, but I didn’t care. I knew how to work it to give me some peace of mind. New prescriptions, follow up appointments, because I knew once my new coverage came on line I could get all that stuff again immediately if I needed to, thereby giving me a cushion. ACA was a huge help, but we are nowhere near where we should be as far as healthcare goes.

  3. Mia*

    #4: former HR here. They used to be able to charge 104% for COBRA (employees could charge an administrative fee). I’m not sure if this is still the case.

    Does anyone else think about what they would actually do for a living if they didn’t have to worry about health insurance?

    1. Beezus*

      Definitely depends on how the company insurance works I always said to estimate to at 110% max.

    2. CathyA*

      By law, the maximum cost of COBRA is 102% of the full premium.

      COBRA does not have to be offered if there are fewer than 20 employees, but since OP’s spouse is a teacher, that’s probably not an issue. California has CalCOBRA for smaller employers, but that can cost more than 102%.

      1. Insurance Q&A*

        102% is what we charge.

        Since LW definitely needs coverage, i hope they disregard the comments trying to game the system and just sign up for COBRA right from the jump.

        Another thing to think about is that your insurance might LOOK like it has a gap for a little while until the COBRA paperwork goes through, so please tell your providers to expect this and that COBRA is in the works. See if you can get COBRA set up before the last date of enjoyment, even, to mitigate this.

      2. Hannah Lee*

        Yes for small employers check your state’s rules, because some have programs where small employers have programs similar to the federal COBRA option. As CathyA said, CA is one and in MA where I’m at there’s what’s referred to as Mini-COBRA.

        Also, what benefits are available depend on the existing employer plan, and I’m not sure if only the main medical insurance coverage can continue but not accessory plans like dental or vision.

        And yes, that’s another wonky thing about the US approach to health care. Not only is it tied to employment in many cases, but it’s also structured so that standard health insurance often excludes care and maintenance of whole body parts, like eyes and teeth/mouth unless an issue is found that involves other parts of the body.

        1. Hazel*

          Not to mention hearing aids! That are not ever covered by insurance! My parents have to spend thousands per year for hearing aids. I think I may have heard about some insurance plans that do cover hearing aids, but even if that’s right, they’re too few and far between.

    3. Not My Money*

      I would not live where I live if health insurance was universal. Same job, maybe. Different state, definitely.

    4. Cereal Killer*

      Absolutely. Also I don’t understand why it isn’t a bigger talking point in the argument for universal healthcare. How many would be entrepreneurs don’t take the chance because they have to have reliable healthcare for themselves and/or their families? I personally would love to move to contract work which is very common in my field, but I am single so don’t have a partner to cover my healthcare and really don’t want to chance long breaks between contracts with no health coverage.

      1. Ash*

        Universal healthcare is perhaps the single BEST policy you can enact to promote small businesses.

        1. Starbuck*

          And yet it seems to be crickets on this issue from the people who are usually so willing to spout off about being pro-small businesses! How funny.

      2. Merrie*

        AMEN to this. I am the sole breadwinner for a family of five. I am trying to make a transition to a different subfield within my field. I am limited in what jobs I can take because I have to carry health insurance. Luckily I don’t actually want to be an entrepreneur anyway, but I knew I could eliminate all those possibilities before I even began. Seems like a lot of people who are doing these creative things also have working spouses.

    5. Loredena*

      I would like to retire early. I’ve determined I need an extra 20 over my current take home to account for health insurance and care. It’s so frustrating

    6. NeedRain47*

      I would take a break from work, is what I would do if I didn’t have to worry about health insurance. I’ve been working full time for 30 years with no breaks longer than a week’s vacation. No time off between jobs, no parental leave, no sabbaticals, not even a lengthy illness or injury. My mental health would benefit greatly if I got to do something else for a while, and I finally have enough savings that I could afford living expenses for a few months, but I can’t risk not having insurance.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      Does anyone else think about what they would actually do for a living if they didn’t have to worry about health insurance?

      YES, all the time. And if it paid me enough to live on! I have never been able to afford COBRA. I just do without insurance until I have it again.

      Sometimes, you can negotiate with clinics. Also, doctors and hospitals also have programs for lower-income people. They sometimes have restrictions and may still require a small copay, but it might be worth looking into.

      1. Hazel*

        Until the last time I was laid off, I’ve always had the same experience as Elizabeth West with not being able to afford COBRA. We all got 3 months’ severance pay, so I could actually pay for COBRA for the first time. I got a contract job just at the end of the three months, but fortunately that job paid well enough that I could still afford the COBRA payments until I got a non-contract position with benefits. I’m glad that COBRA and ACA exist! That said, it’s not very realistic to expect people to pay 100%-102% of their healthcare costs after they’ve been laid off and presumably have much less income or no income.

    8. HigherEdAdminista*

      Oh yes! Part of the reason I stay at my job is for the health insurance. A bunch of people I know were discussing the possibility of retiring early, and it seems like a lot of people in our group were interested in doing that, even if it meant living a simpler, more budgeted life, but health insurance remains such a huge concern, it really can govern everything.

      My mother herself took a low-paying public job when I was a kid because it made certain that our family had good health insurance while my father worked in the private sector.

    9. Global Cat Herder*

      I have multiple pre-existing conditions. I am desperately unhappy in my current job, and the ONLY reason I am still here is because of the health insurance (which is excellent).

      The day universal healthcare takes effect (ha!), I’m quitting this job and starting a used bookstore / cat cafe.

    10. Starbuck*

      For one, I could more easily make a switch to working part-time if I didn’t have to deal with the issue of part-time jobs never coming with any benefits.

  4. Maggie*

    LW4, you should also investigate your state’s Medicaid for children program. I am a teacher currently on extended FMLA leave. Cobra is too expensive for our budget currently. My husband is still working, and his income is too high for us (the adults) to qualify for Medicaid, but on just his paycheck, our income is low enough for our children to qualify for Medicaid. This is paying for our daughter’s weekly occupational therapy, and it has been a godsend. Good luck.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        And TEFRA can cover kids with high medical needs, even if mom & dad aren’t eligible for Medicaid.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          It’s named after Katie Beckett in some states. (She was the little girl whose mom fought for it.)

    1. Siege*

      If your state participated in the ACA Medicaid expansion, this is a qualifying life event that will allow you to sign up without waiting until open enrollment, as well. You are SOL on that front if your state didn’t expand coverage, but there may be a better option, cost-wise, than COBRA.

    2. The IT Project*

      This was my first thought too. My son has Medicaid for a medical condition/disability and everything under that diagnosis is covered 100%.
      Medicaid is different in every state. We are very lucky that my income is not a factor in his coverage.
      The day you apply for Medicaid (for your child) they are covered. They give you a number online and that is your policy number.
      Then, once you are insured again, Medicaid would drop. Unless you are in a state that covers that condition and you can continue to carry Medicaid for your child.

    3. uhoh ohno*

      And if you’re making too much money to qualify for Medicaid, do look into the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). It’s designed exactly for this type of situation, and there’s lots of information about it, including the number to find out if you qualify and to sign up, on healthcare dot gov.

  5. DAIIAC*


    “Especially since women are expected to have professional looking hair and makeup …”

    It’s okay to nix that assumption. In fact, it’s best you do. No everyone has access to or the ability to use makeup, or styled hair. It’s sexist and classist and ableist. Be yourself and allow yourself to be comfortable being yourself.

    1. Not A Manager*

      I think the LW is concerned that her interviewers might not be “comfortable” with herself without styled hair and makeup.

    2. Tech Worker*

      Yeah…I’m a woman tik and I spend approximately 3 minutes prepping my appearance for interviews – same amount of time that goes into getting ready any other day. More worthwhile spending that time on actual interview prep.

    3. Bayta Darrell*

      I don’t wear make up in my day to day life, but I always do for interviews because I have a baby face and it makes me look more like an adult. I definitely also always put on make up for a video call with people I don’t know, because sometimes if I don’t have the lighting right I look pale and sick.

      You’re right that it’s bad that people have the expectation that women must always have make up, but you have to pick your battles. If I don’t put on make up for my zoom call, the company is likely to pass over the sickly twelve-year-old and pick someone else. But, if I wear my make up for the interview and then get hired, I can change their attitudes about make up and competence when I’m a barefaced employee.

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        Also, there is a reason makeup is sometimes called “war paint”. It’s a great way to put yourself in the right mindset for a job interview or anything formal and stressful. I don’t bother with makeup every day, but for an interview? Certainly. For me, whether or not the interview even notices. Also shoes that go “click, clack” when I walk.

        That said, two hours sounds like a good bit more that is actually necessary. Which I totally get-prep time for me fills all available space like a goldfish growing to fit its new tank-but I have to put that extra time on my own account and not the other person’s, because they didn’t ask me to spend that much time and probably neither noticed nor cared about the result.

        Unless your place was a total mess (which I also totally get, alas) and really did need that much time getting tidied up. But that time gets budgeted to “I should have cleaned this up a month ago”, not to your interviewer either.

        1. Allonge*

          This ‘where you budget your time’ is an interesting aspect: if someone chooses to wear makeup / do their hair because that will get them in a better brainspace (which: yay!) then it’s not completely on the partiarchy. Probably difficult to disentangle!

        2. allathian*

          I don’t wear makeup every day, nor do I ever want to go back to doing so. But for an interview I probably would put on some foundation, mascara, and lipstick. Any more than that, and I wouldn’t feel put together, I’d feel ready to party, just about the opposite of professional…

          1. Koalafied*

            Yeah, I almost never wear make-up, I’ve even gone without to in-person interviews I’ve had in the past. But last year when I had a video interview I found myself wanting to put on some eyeliner and rouge because I look so pale and washed-out on the crappy webcam built into my Dell laptop. Maybe interviewers wouldn’t have cared either way, but an interview is not the time to push the limits of your own comfort level… You want to do as much as you can to put yourself at ease and give yourself one less thing to worry about.

        3. missmesmer*

          I am hugely into makeup and 2 hour prep for a video interview seems excessive even to me. There’s only so much you really need to look presentable on camera. If 2 hours is what OP needs to feel good about themselves and their space, all power to them, but then it’s really not on the interviewer.

          1. Myrin*

            To be fair, OP also showered and prepared her space which I would assume took up most of those two hours but yeah, that’s still not the interviewer’s fault.

            1. KateM*

              I can understand about space, but surely OP would have showered even if they hadn’t had a video interview? How is this on the interviewer?

              1. PostalMixup*

                Not everyone showers every day. I typically go every other (sometimes every third), unless I have a compelling reason otherwise. A video interview might be a compelling reason.

                1. Emmy Noether*

                  Whether or not one has showered is really not visible over video – except if it includes washing one’s hair that is. I can see washing, drying and styling long hair as being a major time sink that wouldn’t have been done for a phone call.

              2. Just Another Cog in the Machine*

                I usually shower the night before and just brush my hair in the morning. But, if I were having an interview, I would probably shower beforehand and dry my hair, which makes it look better but takes significantly longer.

                And if I had to make the area behind my computer look nice for an interview, it would take a while. Even if it’s clean, it’s very cluttered (the “game room” is behind me, so shelves of games), and that would be distracting.

                1. Elizabeth West*

                  I prep my space the night before. I also do my interview prep the night before.

                  Pro-tip: If you wear glasses, you don’t have to put on eye makeup. Just do a quick foundation/coverup and use some lipstick. On Zoom, no one can really tell behind the glasses if you’re wearing eye makeup or not.

                  Disclaimer: I have been putting it on for interviews, but that’s mostly because I haven’t worn makeup regularly for two years, so I need the practice.

              3. CurlyGirl*

                If the LW has curly hair, it might require a total wash and reset in order to fix it. I know this from experience :D

        4. Slow Gin Lizz*

          Elspeth, I totally agree with you about shoes that go “click, clack.” I have *always* loved clicky shoes, even to the point of loving when in TV shows and movies that sound effect is used.

          I think makeup is a great way to put yourself in interview mode. I’m a musician and one of the very few times I wear full makeup is during concerts, because I do not feel dressed up enough for a concert if I am not wearing makeup. Consequently, I feel more self-conscious and I worry too much about that and will find myself distracted and not at my best performing ability if I am not wearing makeup. I feel the same way about interviewing, that I’d be self-conscious to the point of distraction if I were not wearing makeup. Men in my musical field do not wear makeup, but of course stage and film actors do, so it’s not entirely about patriarchy in that case, it’s about looking your best in front of an audience. (I say normalize men wearing makeup! But that’s a whole ‘nother can of worms.)

          But am I at least somewhat grateful that because of the pandemic we have to wear masks during concerts and therefore I do not need to bother with makeup? You bet. It doesn’t take me too long to put on or remove, but it does take time that I’m happy to spend practicing or cuddling my cats or whatever.

          1. bamcheeks*

            I spent a really long time trying to work out how you played a woodwind or brass instrument with a mask on before remembering that Other Instruments Are Also Available.

            — singer and former woodwind player

            1. Slow Gin Lizz*

              Ha! Woodwind and brass players are allowed to take off their masks during the concert.

            2. Miss Muffet*

              I went to a jazz club when we were all still masked and the trumpet player had this mask that had a little flap so he could stay mostly masked while he played and then close it up during rests and between songs. Pretty slick!

              1. Tegan Jovanka*

                My kids are in band (woodwind and brass) and the school provided all the students with masks appropriate for their instruments. The flute players have one where the entire end of the flute inserts into the mask, it must be so hard to play! Brass players also have fabric pieces that stretch over the end of the instruments.

                1. LilPinkSock*

                  Flute player here. You’re right, those masks make it just about impossible. Very seldom do I wish I were a trumpet player….but our first in-person rehearsal this year really made me reconsider some choices :-)

        5. I Licked Your Salt Lamp*

          I’m a woman who wears very small amounts of makeup- a bit of mascara, eyeliner, and that’s it. My hair looks neat and presentable but not exactly styled. And even for interviews, I barely change this and have usually found jobs relatively quickly… who knows, maybe some interviewers rejected me for not being “presentable enough” but my experience isn’t that people expect women to put in that much effort… then again, if I’m wrong, I’m happy to not conform to their preferences.

          1. quill*

            It may be heavily industry dependent. Salespeople may be held to a more restrictive standard than data analysts.

        6. Smithy*

          I think the “war paint” analogy is a great one, in that for most of us – our interview recommendations come from a place of doing what’s needed to feel confident. For one person, that may be cleaning their space – and another, finding the exact angle of their computer’s camera to not see the mess. Neither approach is wrong provided the result is feeling better.

          However, where the hair, make up, clean home, fully dressed plus shoes will only go so far on a digital interview…..I’ve had a number of video calls go to audio only because of connectivity issues. So I do think it’s particularly important that those efforts actually serve to make the OP or any of us actually feel more confident and powerful when speaking as opposed to hoping that our clean homes and polished appearance will carry weight over our words. Because a choppy connection on either end can quickly lead to “can we turn off video/switch to phone”.

          And you are only going to figure that out in the middle of the conversation.

        7. SavedFromLorna*

          Before I got a “fun” job in a creative field, I referred to dressing and grooming myself for work as “putting on my drag.” XD

          1. Red Wheelbarrow*

            I’ve never worn makeup for an interview (and I present as soft butch), but I’ve typically worked in low-budget, fairly informal academic or nonprofit settings in liberal East Coast cities. I imagine that the expectations about women’s makeup and hair vary greatly from one field or region to another, and I trust that the OP has a sense of the expectations in hers.

        8. Observer*

          That said, two hours sounds like a good bit more that is actually necessary.

          That stood out to me. I’m really having a hard time figuring out what took quite that long.

          Even prepping the space sounds odd to me. I mean, I definitely get that you want to make sure that the stuff that’s directly in your field of vision doesn’t have a major mess or anything ridiculous behind you, so that needs to move. But given the field of view of the typical webcam, no one is going to be able to see your entire space. And if you really have such high end equipment, then you have the horsepower to just use a background or blur out the background.

          1. Merrie*

            I had a video interview recently and beforehand my husband and I probably did spend two hours cleaning the area behind the desk, deciding that it still wasn’t a good backdrop, moving the desk and cleaning everything under and around the desk, trying to figure out how to block enough light from the window that I wasn’t terribly backlit, and testing this out on Discord to see how it looks on camera and fix the camera angles. To shower, fix my hair, and dress didn’t take nearly that long.

        9. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          If the place is a mess, the quick, neat solution is to have your desk facing outwards. So many people push their desk to the wall. It’s so much better to sit with your back to the wall, then you can see who is coming in. And for zoom meetings no need to clean up the total mess of chewed up dog toys all over my floor either.

    4. specialK*

      Sorry, this is absolutely an expectation in many fields and the OP is not the one with the issues. It’s sexist and classist and ableist that women have to deal with this but unless we do, we are setting ourselves up to have even less opportunity. Please don’t put this on us by making comments like this.

        1. KateM*

          I haven’t STARTED wearing makeup yet (I’m 46), it would be a huge problem if a place ever started to require it from me.

        2. Batgirl*

          A lot of my colleagues were told by professional advisors they should be wearing makeup to interviews if they expect to get a job (in the context that they were very young looking teachers). I escaped the memo somehow and had no problems with my bare face. I can guess why, but my point is that not everyone can get away with doing the exact same stuff when it comes to saying “stuff the patriarchy”.

          1. NeedRain47*

            YES to not everyone getting away with the same stuff. As a person who’s neither young nor thin, I’m super aware of the fact that I’m not perceived as positively as someone who is, even if our qualifications are identical. If making my eyelashes visible might somehow help, I’m going to do it.

        3. Observer*

          I stopped wearing makeup decades ago. Have never had trouble getting a job.

          That’s all good and fine. But it’s definitely NOT true for everyone. Also, even if the OP is incorrect about the expectations IN HER FIELD, blaming HER for believing that those expectations exist is just garbage. *SHE* is not being sexist or the one “upholding the patriarchy” by trying to make the best impression she can. The fact that others don’t have to do that does NOT change that at all.

        4. Bill and Heather's Excellent Adventure*

          I’m glad you were able to do that but many women don’t have that option. Plenty of industries still expect women to wear make up, heels, etc. It’s not right but it’s the reality we live in and you can’t change that in an interview.

      1. Fabulous*

        but unless we do, we are setting ourselves up to have even less opportunity. Please don’t put this on us by making comments like this.

        Right, this was exactly my thought when I read the original comment but I couldn’t articulate as well why the comment made me feel icky.

      2. Scrotes be mad*

        I concede that having these issues may not be as universal for women as it used to be but it is still common place enough to be concerning. I don’t want any women to have to wage their livelihood playing schrodinger’s interviewer trying to figure out how much it matters in any upcoming interview if the interviewer are going to be judgmental. Going from men (who take at most 2 minutes to get ready) judging women (whose social expectations is to put up to an hours worth of work in to getting ready) all the time to only some of the time still isn’t acceptable.

        1. Observer*

          don’t want any women to have to wage their livelihood playing schrodinger’s interviewer trying to figure out how much it matters in any upcoming interview if the interviewer are going to be judgmental.

          That is true. And ESPECIALLY since the OP notes that the recruiter brought up her appearance and space. That is a real indicator that SOMEONE actually does care about how the candidate looks.

      3. BalloonFrenzy*

        Yeah, I don’t understand why DAIIAC is accusing the LW of being sexist and ableist. There are numerous studies that show women are treated better (personally and professionally) with “groomed” hair and “natural looking” makeup.

        I don’t have to like it, but it would be weird to call me “sexist and ableist” for trying to be taken seriously based on actual studies.

    5. octopodes*

      While it’s true that the expectation is sexist, classist, and ablist (and often racist as well, when it gets into stuff like “professional” hairstyles), it’s not really fair to chastise the OP for it when they’re not in a position of power here. Failing to adhere to these norms, especially in certain regions and fields, is not going to result in anything other than a lack of opportunity. This isn’t a problem individual job-seekers should be held accountable for.

      1. AnotherLibrarian*

        Yeah, I 100% agree with this. In my home state of Alaska, no one would have expected a woman to wear makeup to an interview. In my adopted state of Tennessee, everyone would have expected a woman to wear makeup to an interview. A lot of this is regional and cultural differences which the OP shouldn’t be expected to try to change when coming from a position (interviewee) where they lack power. Can those of us hiring stop assessing women on their makeup? 100%, but to ask people being interviewed to push back on this cultural norm is asking a lot.

        1. Allonge*

          I think the disconnect is how one reads OP’s sentence. If the full sentence is ‘around here, in my industry women are expected to have professional looking hair and makeup for interviews’ it’s different from as the entire world knows women are expected to have professional looking hair and makeup’.

          1. Observer*

            Well, the OP doesn’t say the latter, so you don’t know that that’s what she meant.

            In any case, this is STILL not on the OP. They are not in the position right now to change the norm, and implying that SHE is the bad guy here is really not a reasonable look.

            1. Allonge*

              If OP meant no women ever gets a job unless she is wearing makeup (especially in a video interview!) they OP is just wrong, and it’s an assumption that is worth pointing out.

              Not to mention that if this is a job that expects makeup and makeup takes OP too long, than there is no match! As it looks like OP was approached and not the one looking for a job, this is as big a warning sign as you get for a culture mismatch. No way I am taking a job where I would be expected to wear makeup if I am happy in my current one.

              1. Observer*

                It’s one thing to point out that the OP *may* be mistaken, assuming that your read is correct. It’s a very different thing to do what this commenter did, which was to blame the OP for being sexist, ableist, etc. by playing according to the rules as she understands them.

                1. Allonge*

                  The commenter said the assumption that women are expected to wear makeup is ableist etc. Not OP, but something OP expressed as a fact.

                  We can argue about prasing, but generally I would want people to point it out to me if I am operating based on rules that are not just incorrect but actively harmful to me and others.

                2. Observer*

                  They also said that the OP should “nix that assumption”. No. In *this context*, it is not on them to nix any assumptions.

        2. I Licked Your Salt Lamp*

          It’s certainly true there are some fields where women are expected to wear more makeup/ certain clothing, law for example comes to mind. I guess the LW could have meant in her field/state/general area… but I do think those fields need to move away from their sexist expectations. No the LW doesn’t need to be the one to break the norms, but she shouldn’t generalize the rest of the world.

      2. Wine-Dark Sea*

        Yes. Blame the system, not the individual woman who knows that covering blemishes and putting on mascara will make her more likely to be hired.

      3. A Feast of Fools*

        I wear makeup every single work day that one of my colleagues will see me. I am 55 and overweight. Without makeup, I look like I’m in my 50’s. With makeup, people are shocked when they learn my age and tell me they thought I was in my early 40’s.

        I do not have enough money to retire at age 67, so I need to keep going — and to keep being promoted — for another 20 years.

        And when I look at the women above me in the org chart, they ALL wear some amount of makeup.

        I hate putting on makeup. But I also hate going into the office. Both are required of me in my industry and in my profession if I want to stay employed and move up the ladder.

        FWIW – I also can’t wear jeans in the office [no one can] and that’s just as dumb as the unwritten makeup rule. I’m a knowledge worker and never interact with the public. My brain works just the same in jeans and a flannel shirt as it does in slacks and a blazer.

        Corporate America is stupid.

    6. Dark Macadamia*

      I’m pretty sure someone who raised an issue that affects them is aware that it’s an issue. Telling the individuals being harmed by a systemic problem to just “be themselves” won’t actually help them OR dismantle the system.

      1. Wine-Dark Sea*

        Right, I don’t understand why we’re blaming individual women for doing what they have to do to be taken seriously and viewed professionally.

        Sure, it sucks that women have to do this, but “just be yourself” isn’t helpful when “yourself” isn’t hired.

          1. KateM*

            I should maybe write it out:
            Were you trying to say that “just like not everyone can have sandwiches, not everyone can have make-up”?

            1. I Licked Your Salt Lamp*

              Sleepy cat is referencing the commenting rules; “Don’t aggressively shoot down suggestions just because they might not work in one particular circumstance.” Not everyone can have sandwiches, or wear makeup, is not helpful advice since there is always an exception to the norm.

            2. ecnaseener*

              They are saying that “not everyone can wear makeup” sounds a lot like a sentence given in the commenting rules as an example of what NOT to say.

                1. quill*

                  Depends on what it’s made of, you might just have your boss telling you that your 30 minute bathroom break was too long.

              1. Lydia*

                My favorite commercials to come out of the Superbowl are the Uber Eats ones. “Can I eats it?” as Jennifer Coolidge chomps a lipstick. Love it.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood, CTA*

      OP still has to let it go, but I’m not assuming she took 2 hours to do her hai5 & makeup. Some commenters are glossing over the inclusion of preparing her background. The 2 hours could have included rearranging the room to remove things from her background like baby gear, NSFW artwork, or medical equipment, or storage boxes. We’ve read here often from people whose video call system does not sufficiently use an artificial background.
      My company does not use video on conference calls, so I would probably need to spend time rearranging my home office for an interview too…. and then might feel sweaty enough to wish for a shower.

      1. pancakes*

        Well yes, but that investment of time seems not regrettable for someone who is job-seeking. Having an area that is now set up for video calls seems like a plus, even though it didn’t get used on this particular occasion.

        1. Leilah*

          It’s entirely possible that she needs to use that background space for normal parts of her day to day life, hence needing to do substantial work to get it prepared. Not all of us have dedicated office spaces at home.

          1. Oxford Comma*

            There are lots of reasons to be annoyed that the time you spent prepping for a video interview is now time you will never get back, but in this case, I think I would chalk it up to the cost of doing business. It sucks and it’s annoying, but bringing it up to the recruiter seems ill advised. The OP doesn’t know what happened on the interviewer’s end. Things happen. Especially these days

        2. A Feast of Fools*

          I would love to have a house large enough that I could have dozens of square feet of empty space behind me when I’m on camera at my desk which faces a wall. My camera picks up 2/3rds of my room… which includes my bed, cat beds, laundry stacked in bins that are slid into bookshelves, nightstands, lamps, medicine bottles, tissues, water bottles, a window fan, a tower-style ceramic heater, a long table that has luggage and an inflatable bed stored underneath it and more clothing stacked on top of it.

          I have nowhere else to put the clothing and other stuff. So I would legit spend easily over an hour carting everything out of my room, stacking it in the hallway, on top of the dining table, on the couch, etc., then I’d have to bring it all back as soon as the call is over.

          1. pancakes*

            That’s a lot of work, but I’m not sure what the alternative is. Job seekers generally don’t have a lot of leverage to tell recruiters or employers that they don’t want to do video calls, and there’s no particular reason to think the hiring manager in this scenario did anything wrong. Do you think they should have asked the candidate if they’d prefer to reschedule the video call for another day? A lot of people would prefer to stick to the schedule rather than delay.

    8. Rhiannon*

      As a woman, I have legitimately been told off for not having professional hair/makeup. One in a business school class where it literally took points off my presentation, and once in a real interview where the interviewer commented on my bun looking messy. =_=

      1. lilsheba*

        that’s insane. Men don’t have to wear makeup, why do women? When was it decided that women looked “sick” without makeup and men don’t?

      2. Polly Gone*

        Lordy, I’m glad I’m not job hunting. I’m 62, and I wear my hair most every day in a ponytail pulled straight back, gray strands shining.

    9. lilsheba*

      agreed. The idea women HAVE to do hair and makeup is ableist and sexist and ridiculous. I don’t wear makeup and I put my hair in a bun, don’t like it oh well. I don’t like the way makeup feels. Don’t wear heels for the same reason, they hurt and I don’t see the point in hurting my feet with something that’s so obviously bad for them.

      1. BalloonFrenzy*

        Yes, the IDEA is sexist and ableist, but LW isn’t sexist or ableist for wearing makeup and fixing her hair to appear professional. It sucks, but there are actual studies that show women who wear natural looking makeup and have groomed hair are treated better and more likely to get a job.

        1. Bad Unicorn*

          FWIW, I’ve seen those studies, and I don’t think the science there is as rock-solid as you’re making it out to be (and even more that the media overstates the findings of those studies.) If wearing makeup helps you feel like if you didn’t get a job after an interview, it definitely wasn’t because you didn’t wear makeup, then do it. But if the only reason you’re wearing makeup and doing your hair for interviews is because you think science says you should… do what you want, because that’s a lot more than what the current research can speak to.

      2. Ginger Pet Lady*

        The *idea* sure is ableist and sexist. Too bad that expectation is the *reality* for many women. If you haven’t experienced it, consider yourself lucky and believe other women who tell you that their lived experience is different than yours.
        Basically stop blaming women for doing what *is* necessary in lots of places/situations/professions. The reality is ableist and sexist, too, and women are doing what they need to do to make it work.

    10. Observer*

      It’s okay to nix that assumption. In fact, it’s best you do. No everyone has access to or the ability to use makeup, or styled hair. It’s sexist and classist and ableist. Be yourself and allow yourself to be comfortable being yourself.

      Which is all good and fine. When the OP interviews with you, she’ll be able to just “be herself”. Till then, she has a legitimate concern if she really needs a job.

      1. Leilah*

        Yeah, and also some people’s “be myself” involves wearing makeup because they actually like to. I don’t love wearing makeup, but I *do* love dressing up really nicely even though my office is pretty casual. I just like cute heels and dress slacks or skirts – it brings me joy. I’m not responsible for holding up the patriarchy just because I like to look a certain way.

    11. Leilah*

      I am really jealous of all the folks here who look “professional” without makeup – I have pretty bad acne + skin picking and I have scabs and scars on my face almost all the time. I need to wear heavy, expensive foundation just to not gross people out with my normal face. I’m always working on it, and after years of work it is getting better (like, I can go to the grocery store now without makeup if it’s not a bad week) but I still can’t pull off “career office professional in my 30s” without makeup.

      1. CysterSister*

        I have a history of bad acne, and I feel your pain! I hardly had acne when I was an actual child/teenager, and then developed it horribly in my 20s. I was regularly mistaken for a young teenager due to baby face + acne.

    12. BalloonFrenzy*

      Yikes… it’s really unfair to call LW sexist and ableist. She’s correct… women are treated better when they’re wearing makeup and have neat-looking hair. It isn’t sexist to note that and do the best you can to get a good job, including “looking the part.”

      It’s unfair, but that’s not on LW, or on any woman who wears makeup in order to appear “professional.”

    13. Starbuck*

      Yeah all this (and the other pro-makeup arguments I’m seeing) make me so glad I never bothered to pick it up in first place so I’ve never been tempted to spend time or money to achieve these apparent benefits, since they don’t mean anything to me as I’ve never experienced them in the first place. I might be more convinced to try it if I EVER heard it suggested that a man could achieve similar benefits in the workplace with some eyeliner, foundation and mascara. But hey, it’s not what the patriarchy does to you, but what it can do for you, I guess.

    14. Little My*

      We can acknowledge that there is a double standard for women’s appearances in interviews, but I agree with you that we need to free ourselves from the idea that 2 hours of appearance-related prep is necessary. I don’t wear makeup ever, and I find it 100% possible to make myself presentable for a video interview in half an hour or less. It’s not any one woman’s fault that cultural pressure exists, but it is in your best interest to spend your time reviewing your answers as a male candidate would be doing.

  6. Not A Manager*

    For LW3, is there a way to combine the language Alison suggests in reply to the students, with the LW’s wish to reach out to the professors? Something like, “I understand that this is a classroom assignment and that you might be required to conduct an actual interview. Please feel free to share with your professor that those of us who are well-situated to participate in these interviews receive many more requests than we can reasonably entertain. Perhaps your professor would consider ___ or ___ as an alternative to requiring you to interview a professional in this field.”

    1. Bayta Darrell*

      I agree with this. That way you’re letting the professors know without having to take the time to hunt them down.

    2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I have to say as a former student who had to do something like this, the teacher was way more willing to work with me when I got replies back stating that “I just can’t do a call, but I can do X or Y instead” from the people I was asked to interview.

      And yes, you as the interviewee know way more about what those interviews entail (and how many requests you’re getting). Just do your best to be patient and polite to the students – they aren’t asking for these assignments, and are probably super stressed about “how do I do this” because not all these teachers give a lot of support for how to do this project.

    3. Jackalope*

      I do wonder if there would be a way to write a form rejection letter to professors, & then send it to the professors sending their students to the LW? Or see which schools do this the most & send it to the depts at those schools? It seems like there are probably some schools that are worse offenders than others, and it might reduce the # of students significantly if the LW could contact them directly.

      1. After 33 years ...*

        I’m a professor who gets these student requests for interviews fairly frequently, because my professorial colleagues give students this type of assignment. The student is usually responsible for deciding who to approach, rather than the professor giving them a contact name.
        There is some flexibility in declining the requests, especially if the student wants to discuss something you know nothing about (such as lawn care techniques), but declining too many could lead to pushback from colleagues (“Please support our students in completing this assignment”). Getting students to hear from people other than their professor is a fine idea in theory, which can have unintended consequences in practice.
        Colleagues also have said that they want to get students used to hearing some “no’s”, so they can “learn to continue pushing”. IMO, asking professors not to do this wouldn’t work.
        LW, feeling free to say “no” or providing a written set of bullet points to FAQ are good strategies.

        1. Today's Name is Not Interesting*

          Similar story here.
          I’m an administrator who manages a university-wide program that affects 100% of our undergraduates, so when instructors in various writing programs were telling their students in their courses to “reach out to a university administrator about something that affects your learning experience,” I got dozens of requests for interviews for several weeks on end. I contacted the instructors and told them I would set limits, and got their advice about how to do so in a constructive way. We developed a standard response that includes telling students how many such requests I get (their project is not unique so they will need to work harder to make it so), I only agree to be interviewed if they prove to me that they have read at least some of the many background materials posted online (we post annual reports, assessment updates, advising tools/explainers), and I want to know their working central thesis (I’m not here to let them fish for ideas). For the few students who get interviews, I set strict time limits and do not do follow-ups. And if they ditch the interview, I do not reschedule. Colleagues who are teaching then have an opportunity to talk about interview etiquette and how to manage setbacks/regroup.
          So, I’m in the camp of setting boundaries and sticking to them. I still get a lot of requests – but I only do a handful of these interviews each year.

    4. BRR*

      I think you can use very mild language to lay out that the situation this is a bit of a burden. But I don’t think a student should be tasked with delivering the message the lw hopes to send. The lw should directly but politely let professors know that this is time suck and most professionals can’t devote this much time.

      1. Jesshereforthecomments*

        LW3, I’m sorry if this was already mentioned, but if you feel bad not helping at all (not that you should) could you create a “cheat sheet” for the information you find most pertinent, or an FAQ of the most common questions you get? Each time you get one of these requests, you could give this out and say unfortunately all the capacity you have right now is to share this but it’s thorough and covers everything you find relevant.

    5. hamsterpants*

      I think this is great language. I’ve pushed back directly at universities when multiple students from the same institution made a request that majorly overstepped professional bounds. In my case, it was students is never met asking that I write them personal letters of recommendation for them to my company.

      LW3 seems a little more mild so a softer touch is good but ultimately the fault here lies with the university, not the poor students.

    6. BethDH*

      There was recently a discussion on Twitter about this in my field (and the way a lot of these asks fall more on women, especially those who are in that awkward stage of being not early career but where they’re getting a lot of this kind of stuff to prove they’re ready for my industry’s equivalent of management). There was actually some useful brainstorming between different parties of useful alternatives. A couple of faculty at different institutions ended up setting up a group panel; a conference organizer arranged for some students to attend an industry conference, etc.
      Not saying OP should be responsible for figuring this out, but the faculty were very amenable to finding other ways to get their students professional exposure once the issue was addressed constructively.

    7. L.H. Puttgrass*

      I really like this language too.

      Although the students are kind of caught in the middle here, they are in the best position to convey LW3’s message back to professors. It sounds like there are too many professors in this field for LW3 to contact them all and ask them to kindly stop it, and asking who the student’s professor is each time LW3 gets an interview request is just more work for them. So the student who asked for the interview is the best person to give the message. Maybe some of them will actually make it back to the professors.

      Also: LW3 is a consultant. They get paid for their time. Not just that, but they get paid for their time and expertise on the subject about which the students want to do the interview! So an interview request is basically asking for free consulting. And perhaps LW3 would be happy to do that as a contribution-to-the-profession sort of thing. Lots of professions have the equivalent of pro bono work. But it might be helpful if someone (not necessarily LW3, although I don’t think that would be out of line, either) to tell these professors and students that what they’re asking for ausually has a monetary value attached to it.

    8. NeedRain47*

      As a recent graduate of a program where we had to ask for things like this, there’s no way I would pass that message on to the professor, because the professor will Not Care. They already know this is hard for some people, and they’ll most likely see this as a student complaining about an assignment that’s already in progress and can’t be changed.

    9. Certaintroublemaker*

      I would still ask for the professor’s name, and then tell the professor that I’d be willing to come in as a guest to the class once a month for a Q&A so all the students have a chance to ask a question and then be done with it.

    10. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Yes, I was thinking that I’d probably respond to the student by email, with an attachment (or similar) for them to pass to their professor.

    11. Jora Malli*

      There’s a YA author I like who used to get tons of email interviews from students whose teachers required them to interview an author. She ended up adding a section of her website with a letter to teachers and a FAQ of the most common questions she was asked for these assignments. So now when students ask she can say “the answers to all of these questions are on my website, and here is a letter you can give your teacher to explain why most authors won’t have time to participate in assignments like this.”

      OP, do you have a website or a way to share documents like this via your LinkedIn or other online platform? Post the answers to the questions you see most often and a letter explaining why you can’t participate in individual student interviews, and direct all requests to that.

    12. LegoFan315*

      I’m an adjunct professor at my local community college (in addition to my full-time job). I understand what the professor is trying to do with these types of assignments. So many students don’t have contacts in their career fields to understand what the “real world” is like so professors are trying to get them that experience and they assume when a student calls and says it’s for a class assignment the professionals will feel a bit of obligation to help out the “next generation.” What they don’t factor in is all the demands on the professional’s time to answer these questions (plus their regular obligations). A possible way to help out but also manage demands on your time would be to reach out to the professor and offer to do a guest lecture with the entire class. That way you can answer the questions in one forum and the professor can try to rework the assignment based on one guest lecture. You may even have an idea for the professor to modify the assignment to work in this format.

    13. Sarah S*

      I would consider leveraging the professional association here too. LW mentioned being an active member and previous leader of it. I’m sure other members are getting the same requests. Perhaps the association could sponsor webinars aimed at students at some regular frequency and association members could take turns hosting it. When any member gets an interview request, they can direct the student to the webinar schedule. It would be a great outreach and recruitment activity for the association.

  7. Beezus*

    LW2 I’m sorry but you’re massively overreacting. I get interviews are stressful but feeling like they wasted your time because you spent two hours prepping for on-camera interview is kind of odd. If this was an outside recruiter they just say these things by default and even in-house folks aren’t always in-touch with the person they’re recruiting for’s situation in 2022.

    Would you be mad if you prepped for an in-person interview (which usually take more time) only to be told it was a Zoom call because it is XYZ? I’ve been doing interviews for a new role and sometimes the video works and sometimes it doesn’t. This has been true with my prior team and clients since March 2020. I think your frustration is not comparable to the situation and you might need to reexamine your own reaction.

    1. Willis*

      Yeah, it would be pretty weird to complain to the recruiter that you spent time showering, getting dressed, doing whatever you do to your hair, etc. Like I get that the OP probably put a little more effort into it to look professional, and I definitely pay more attention to that stuff on video vs a call, but most of those things are just everyday activities.

    2. AnotherLibrarian*

      So, I used to have super long hair and making it look professional (ie: in a tight updo) took a while and often involved large amounts of hair spray and larger amounts of cursing. Also, I can apply make up, but since I hate doing it, it also takes a while. So, I get the letter-writer being super annoyed that they put two hours into getting ready (which is about what I spend getting dressed for something formal-ish) and then found out it wasn’t happening. One thing that might help them let it go is to focus on all the reasons the other person might have not done a video call. This sometimes helps me when I’m fuming.

      Maybe the interviewer’s kid was sick and they had to stay home where they know their internet sucks and therefore didn’t do video because the band-with would have been a problem. Maybe the interviewer never intended it to be a video interview and the recruiter misunderstood. Maybe they have weird hiring rules where all interviews have to be done on camera or off camera (our Uni has that rule). Maybe the interviewer has a secret identity and the only part of house with wifi was in the Bat Cave due to a plot by the Joker and if they had done a video call it would have all been revealed! Who knows? The sooner the letter-writer can let this go than the better off they’ll be.

      1. MsSolo UK*

        Bruce Wayne video interviewing for Wayne Enterprises.
        “Oh, no video?”
        “Uh, no. Robin- my kids, you know? Off sick from school.”
        “Can you do anything about the sound? You’re awfully echoey.”
        “Oh yeah. That’s a mic problem. Definitely.”
        “And there’s some weird high pitch squeaking?”
        “Chair wheels.”
        “And someone cackling manically? And taunting Batman with the destruction of Gotham City?”
        “… Can we rearrange?”

        (Also, I’m picturing the Joker having spent two hours putting on makeup to disguise his clown face and covering all the whacky props in his lair with sheets, and being really annoyed it was for nothing)

      2. Allonge*

        For me it also helps to remember that what I do to prep is (at least partially) my choice.

        If I need my outfit to be in perfect harmony and spend half an hour to make sure that the blues on my blouse, shoes and necklace don’t clash, that is ~75% on me. If it turns out that this was not necessary as nobody actually saw my shoes, well, it still gave me more of the necessary confidence and so on. Whereas plenty of others would rightly consider this overkill (already in the sense that I have more than one pair of blue shoes).

        1. MK*

          I agree. Spending time on grooming for interviews is unavoidable realistically, and “just don’t do it, if you don’t want to” very unhelpful. But two whole hours of preparation for a video interview is usually a choice, though maybe not always depending on your industry and culture.

      3. pancakes*

        These are personal choices (keeping your hair very long, having a complicated up-do for interviews, taking a long time to apply make-up) and it just seems off to me to be “super annoyed” with other people about them.

        1. Leilah*

          The LW isn’t annoyed with other people that they have hair and makeup and a non-ready-made Zoom space, they are annoyed that they were told to do a certain thing and then the plan was changed after they had put a fair amount of effort into preparing for the original thing. I agree they shouldn’t be venting or complaining to the interviewer or phone screener, but to be annoyed seems like a normal reaction to a lot of wasted effort.

          1. Hazel*

            I completely agree with Leilah. It’s seems so strange to me that some commenters seem to think that showering and getting ready to be seen on video by an interviewer is the same type of prep/getting ready everyone already does every day. If I were going to an office every day, I would already need to spend the time to get myself showered and appropriately dressed and coiffed with my usual amount of makeup on. But I (like a lot of us, I presume!) have spent the last two years working from home (and many of us are also fighting depression, which makes all of this much more difficult). I definitely do not shower every day, and if I have video calls, I stick my hair up on top of my head, put glasses on, blur my background, and I’m ready to go. But that’s with colleagues who I’ve been working with for two years, not an interviewer in a high pressure situation. I don’t think the OP should say anything to anyone about the inconvenience, and I don’t think it’s anything the interviewer should have taken into account, but I also don’t think there’s anything wrong with feeling peeved about it. A few times during the last year, I have taken the time to get completely ready for a high-stakes video call and then had it rescheduled or cancelled at the last minute, and I was annoyed! But again, no reason to say anything to anyone else about it.

            1. pancakes*

              I do not think interview prep and daily prep are the same, and as I said I was responding to something a commenter said, not the letter writer. Like many other women, I take more time with my own hair and makeup for an interview day than I would for an average day. If there were parts of that prep I hated doing, though, I’d consider eliminating them.

      4. CurlyGirl*

        I feel like the commenters saying LW is overreacting have easy hair, and it shows! lol…. I agree that LW should move on, but I don’t think she’s overreacting at being annoyed.

        I have curly hair, and there’s already a stigma against curly hair looking “unprofessional” (thanks to racism!) Even when I pull it up in a ponytail or bun, it gets these sprigs around my face that just look messy. (I also look younger with my hair pulled up, and I unfortunately have a baby-face and regularly get mistaken for a teenager when I’m 30).

        If I knew I had a video interview, I’d make sure to take a shower to wash and reset my hair, use copious amounts of product, and leave enough time for it to be dry by the time of the interview (apparently wet hair also looks “unprofessional,” as I learned after being chastised by an advisor in college). I have to at least partially air dry it because it gets frizzy if I dry it all the way with a hair dryer.

        So, yes, I would be annoyed if I’d gone through all that trouble to be moved to a phone interview. I wouldn’t complain, but I’d be really annoyed that I wasted that much time and product.

    3. londonedit*

      Yeah, it’s not ‘disrespectful of your time and energy’. Things happen, they wanted to carry on with the interview but the manager couldn’t do a video call at the scheduled time, so they switched it to audio. No big deal. I was once halfway to the train station on my way to an interview when I got a call saying they were so sorry but the boss had an unforeseen emergency to deal with and could I reschedule for later in the week. Was it mildly annoying that I’d spent time and effort getting ready and arranged my day around the interview, and that I’d have to do it all again on Thursday? Of course. Did I think the company was ‘disrespecting my time and energy’? Of course not. OK, if they’d then flaked out on two more interview appointments then I probably would have told them I didn’t want to carry on with the process, but once? Let it go. They had no idea how long you’d spent getting ready – they were just doing the best they could to hold up their end of the bargain (i.e. interviewing you).

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Yes. This situation is very much, “Sh*t happens,” and it sucks a bit, but it’s life.

        I spent days and hours prepping for am interview for a job I really, really, really wanted. They called and canceled two hours before. It was an in-person, too. In March 2020. COVID hit them early and hard. I was devastated, but sometimes, there’s nothing you can do.

      2. Anonym*

        Yeah, this is in the “stuff happens” bucket, and professionalism means rolling with it. If I had a candidate complain that their time was wasted because an interview was moved from video to audio, I’d be a little concerned about their judgement and expectations in the workplace. Life just doesn’t revolve around any one person, and work especially doesn’t. Stuff happens, and I want to work with people who have the big picture in mind and don’t get hung up on small things and take the usual unpredictability of life as a personal affront.

        Which is not to say that I don’t understand being a bit frustrated at the lost time and effort, but it’s more of a sigh and let it go, maybe complain to a friend and let it go situation. And perhaps, OP, it’s worth revisiting how you spend your effort on interview prep? You sound frustrated that you could have spent that time on work/role/company focused preparation. Maybe there are ways to somewhat reduce the visual/aesthetic prep to leave more room for that? (And I say this as someone who TOTALLY includes makeup/aesthetics in my prep routine, but I recognize it’s 99% more for me than my interviewers because it gives me a sense of control. And it takes like 15 mins because if my hair’s not behaving it goes into the tight bun/ponytail of doom. And I am thankful for the relative imprecision of webcams to hide fine details.)

      3. Emmy Noether*

        This touches on another good point: it would have been worse, time-wise, if they had postponed and she would have had to get ready all over again another day. So if video wasn’t possible that day for some reason, phone is the lesser evil.

      4. ferrina*

        Truth! I did this on the flip side- I was supposed to be on a Zoom interview and my camera refused to work! We switched to a purely audio interview (though maybe the interviewers could see each other). Luckily the company didn’t think I was ‘disrespecting my time and energy’- the interview went well and they ended up offering me the job.

      5. Lydia*

        The OP’s reaction feels like they may struggle with inflexibility. Stuff happens and if you can’t roll with really inconsequential changes when they’re necessary, it might be time for some self-reflection.

    4. EventPlannerGal*

      I agree – my industry often requires quite a polished look but I would still consider two hours prep to be overkill. Now, partly that’s because I can do this stuff quickly because I’m used to it, I have “easy” hair to style, clearish skin etc etc, and if the OP isn’t used to doing this or has hair/skin/etc that does require a longer routine then I can see it taking longer. But if you actually say to a recruiter “I spent two hours on my appearance rather than doing interview prep” they’re probably just going to be like, well, what did you do that for? It’s annoying but it’s just not something you can easily raise without making yourself sound a bit OTT.

      1. KateM*

        Agree – sounds to me more like information that I would want to HIDE from the recruiter. I’d want them to think that I always look so fresh and clean and polished (which I wouldn’t be even if I spent 20 hours on it, so just ignore it).

        1. pancakes*

          Yeah, it would not be great for a candidate to convey that getting presentable for a work call is a big burden.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood, CTA*

        Argh OP does not say they spent two hours on makeup and hair only. People who are not on video calls all day often have to take extra time to get their background set up the first time. People who do not live alone might have to set there video call up, and then break it back down after every call because of roommates.

        1. pancakes*

          For the purposes of communicating with recruiters that’s not much difference, though. A candidate who emphasizes that they need a lot of time to get set-up for video calls is probably going to find themselves moved down the list of people to contact with quick-moving opportunities to interview. It would probably be better for that candidate to streamline their set-up process than ask everyone else to slow down.

        2. EventPlannerGal*

          Sure, but again I just don’t think that’s something you can raise with a recruiter. We’re two years into the pandemic; even if there are perfectly legit reasons for the OP’s prep to have taken a while, I think that – rightly or wrongly – she runs the risk of sounding a little oblivious if she acts like preparing her space for one video call is this huge deal. Maybe it is! That sucks! But I think it just has to be filed under “sh*t happens”.

          1. londonedit*

            I agree. Interviews and appointments necessarily mean stepping out of our usual routines for a morning/a day/whatever and doing extra things that we usually wouldn’t do. That’s just a part of life. I think ‘I had to spend ages preparing my space for this’ sounds like ‘I had to get on the bus for this’ or ‘I had to get up extra early so I could fit my gym session in and still have time to get ready’. Yep, if you have an interview then you need to prepare for it and shuffle your life around temporarily. Of course it was annoying that the OP’s prep work went to waste, as she saw it, but it was better to have done the prep and not needed it than the other way round.

        3. anonymous73*

          It’s still not “disrespectful of her time and energy” or egregious enough to bring to the recruiter’s attention.

        4. Allonge*

          Sure, and I don’t resent OP for being annoyed here for having wasted time, especially as they were approached by the company. But once you are in an interview process, there will be some time investment, and for a lot of it there is a high chance of not being useful. Even if you prep about specific subject matter, it may or may not come up in an interview. I certainly have revised a lot of things that I was never asked about. Part of the game, really.

          Also, there are probably a thousand complaints on this site about how using video in itself is a bad idea. The interviewer may even have thought it would be a positive for OP.

          1. Dona Florinda*

            That’s a very good point. A hiring manager once asked me beforehand to set aside some of my work so we could talk about it in the interview but in the end we never did, even though I prepped (mentally and physically, since I had to print some stuff and organize it for presentation) for it.
            It’s mildly annoying, but it’s part of the time/ investment you put into job search.

        5. Person from the Resume*

          Yes, thanks for noticing this.

          If I had to video interview or even turn my camera on for the job I already have, I’d have to do something to hide or clean up my background, figure out how to position my camera from the good angle (my laptop camera aims at my neck area, figure out the lighting, etc.

          I’d have to fix my hair a bit more than it is now (although I don’t have crazy Einstein hair) and I’d have to wear more than the old free 5K tshirts I wear the rest of the time around my house. If I wear trying to impress for a job interview, I’d probably wear a bit of make up which I rarely do just because my coloring is not the best on camera.

          But at least half of the time or more would be setting up the background, lighting, and camera for a professional looking interview and environment. Folks should not ignore what the LW wrote in her letter and think it’s all hair, makeup, and clothing.

      3. Daisy-dog*

        Yeah, I’m guessing the recruiter emphasized this because they have gotten feedback from other interviews that some candidates did nothing to get ready. Maybe even had beer cans in the background or were wearing baseball caps and hoodies. So the recruiter didn’t realize how conscientious OP would be and emphasized this importance *way too much*. The real ideal would have been a general clear background and a general professional look.

        Also, I absolutely practice my interview answers when I’m doing other things – getting ready, driving, etc.

      4. CurlyGirl*

        She didn’t spend the whole two hours on hair and makeup. She was also setting up her space and furniture per the recruiter’s instructions.

        I have VERY difficult hair and I would need more than two hours–not that I’m doing my hair the whole time, but because it would need time to dry (and I can’t dry it all the way with a dryer because it gets frizzy and awful if I do). It’s unfortunate that curly hair is still viewed as unprofessional (thanks racism!) but it’s a reality. I don’t blame LW for feeling frustrated.

    5. BRR*

      Is it annoying? Absolutely! Is it the hill to die on? No. Something that has been helpful to me and might help the LW is allowing yourself to be as irritated as you want at this, but accepting that your viewpoint is outside the norm. It can be easier than trying to convince yourself that you need to shift your view.

    6. ecnaseener*

      I don’t think it’s fair to call it an overreaction just to write in about it! If LW actually did complain to the recruiter, sure, but having frustrated feelings? and asking for advice about whether to act on those feelings? We’re going to disparage that here?

      1. Churlish Gambino*

        Come on, no one is “disparaging” anyone or anything here. It is perfectly fair to call LW2’s reaction an overreaction because it is. They are perfectly entitled to feel put-upon — I think all of us can relate to the frustration of putting time and effort into something that ultimately ends up being unnecessary — but wanting to alert the recruiter about it? Equating having to put on makeup to a misogynistic societal ill? These are not reasonable reactions.

        It’s not unkind to provide LWs with a reality check when the situation calls for it.

        1. ecnaseener*

          Agree to disagree I guess on all three of your points! I see “you’re massively overreacting” as quite disparaging. I don’t think *wanting to* complain to the recruiter is an overreaction when tempered by the very reasonable “huh, let me get a gut check on this urge.” And I see the pressure to wear makeup in order to be taken as professional as a societal ill.

          1. River Otter*

            I see “you’re massively overreacting” as quite disparaging.

            There is probably something behind that belief. When someone IS massively overreacting, saying as much as truthful. You are missing out on opportunities both to calibrate your own reactions and to help other people calibrate theirs if you have a defensive response to the words “massive overreaction.”

            Being annoyed that her efforts were for naught is a reasonable reaction. Believing that the hiring manager was disrespectful and wanting to bring it up to the recruiter are massive overreactions.

    7. Mockingjay*

      OP2, in my experience I have found that recruiters tend to focus on minutia when prepping candidates. Yes, making sure your space is Zoom suitable is important. It’s more important to be ready to discuss your qualifications, which you were.

      The hiring manager wasn’t being disrespectful of you by switching to audio only. It was probably just a bandwidth issue. I use Teams and Zoom frequently and I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve had to switch to audio only on my end, and I have robust internet (I work from home). What’s important here, is the hiring manager ensured that the interview still took place. That tells you a bit about their work ethic and that they take hiring seriously.

    8. MCMonkeyBean*

      I agree, it’s annoying but last-minute changes happen and you have to be flexible. If something changed on their end where they had to change the parameters of the meeting, I don’t think that is disrespectful of your time. Sure it’s annoying that you prepped things that weren’t necessary, but looking your best can still be worth it just to *feel* professional and confident so it’s not a total waste of time IMO. Plus I think it is normal to prep things for an interview so I’d just put things like getting your space set up in that category mentally.

      (Now, a last-minute switch in the other direction where you are all prepped for an audio-only interview in your pajamas and a big messy bun and suddenly they want you to turn the camera on–THAT would be more of an issue lol.)

    9. Dust Bunny*

      This feels like a new level of being mad that you have to put on pants after two years of working at home in your pajamas.

      I hate interviews as much as the next person but I would still expect to put on makeup, etc. I would probably do it even if I had been told the interview was audio-only, just in case somebody changed their mind, because it’s better to be over-prepared. This would at best be a mild, “Ugh, seriously?” from me but not worth being extendedly, writing-in-to-advice-columnists annoying.

  8. Oysters and Gender Freedoms*

    #4 You can also sign up for Obamacare. Leaving a job is a qualifying event. You can’t sign up for COBRA and then switch to Obamacare, but you can pick one. Depending on your income, you may qualify for a partial subsidy, which has been increased this year.

    1. Raboot*

      That’s what “you can look into buying a regular plan on the marketplace” means. “Obamacare” isn’t a plan, the ACA regulates the marketplace.

    2. turquoisecow*

      When I was laid off I learned that Cobra is basically paying to continue your existing plan. Since my company was shutting down, the plan would be shutting down so Cobra would only be an option for me for a couple of months anyway. I opted to go on the health insurance marketplace and find an ACA/Obamacare plan instead and it was very affordable. Losing your job counts as a qualifying event so you don’t have to wait for open enrollment. And then when the spouse qualifies for insurance at their new job, that also is a qualifying event so OP won’t have to wait to switch. Highly recommend that over Cobra plans, unless the current plan offers some benefit you can’t get elsewhere – but since they’re switching to new insurance they’d be losing that anyway.

      I would just make sure that you pick a plan that hopefully is similar enough to the new plan that it won’t be a major hassle to switch in a few months – something where you won’t have to switch doctors or pharmacies or anything like that. Especially important with ongoing health issues.

    3. Old and Don’t Care*

      The downside being that the networks for these plans can be very, very limited (and varies a lot by state.). I have an individual ACA compliant plan that is more expensive then my COBRA was, with a much higher deductible and far fewer providers that accept the insurance.

      But none of that may be relevant for the OP, who I think has received some good options for various strategies that might work for her family.

  9. Mockingbird*

    LW4, if you can, start as soon as possible checking which insurance company the new job has, and if your daughter’s doctors take it. If they do, you have a little more wiggle room in what you do for those two months. Short term insurance can be limited in coverage, but if you’re just covering for the summer and you’d be able to get your daughter back with her usual doctors in fall, it’s probably ok. If she’ll have to change doctors because they don’t accept the new insurance (or if changing insurance makes you a new patient and they aren’t taking new patients, a real thing I had to navigate once), paying for COBRA to get those extra two months to get referrals and transition to new doctors might be worth it. And don’t forget, new insurance means starting over with deductibles, so if you’ve made big expenditures towards them already this year, COBRA might be cheaper if you can max out all your medical stuff by the time the new insurance starts, and hope nothing expensive happens in the fall. If you have any friends with chronic illnesses, we’re good resources on health insurance issues. Good luck, may it not be too expensive.

    1. Insurance Q&A*

      Oooo good calls. New insurance will also mean starting over with prior authorizations that you might need – ask the new job about those as well, so you can get that ball rolling sooner rather than later

      1. OP #4*

        We had realized our deductible would start over (we’ve already met our current one) but didn’t consider that the new insurance may not cover her specialist. Yikes. We’ll have to check on that ASAP. Thanks!

    2. Hannah Lee*

      LW could check with the drs billing office to find out what they take and which ones are more of a hassle, have gotchas in their coverage. They can’t walk you through all the options, but I’ve found they’re usually able to flag the big outliers, saying “oh this plan usually works well, they accept all our usual claims” or “oh man, steer clear of XYZ, they have so many caveats almost nothing winds up being paid”

    3. OP #4*

      We knew that we would need to restart our deductible but I hadn’t thought about checking to see if her specialists will be covered. Thanks! We’ll do that right away.

    4. NotRealAnonForThis*

      The only good thing I found during our stint in “medical hell” was that our insurance company at least did not play when it came to children. Every single children’s hospital was considered in-network, all providers were considered in-network. That is absolutely NOT the case with adult care under our plan.

  10. Omnivalent*

    LW #1: I can’t believe the most pertinent question in your letter was ignored. Yes, you should update your LinkedIn constantly with trivial information – not necessarily every day, but maybe three times one day, nothing for a couple of days, or something else frequent but unpredictable so it doesn’t look like a script. Eventually the VP will get sick of the alerts.

    1. Chili pepper Attitude*

      Also, let others know this is a good practice. Make sure everyone working for that manager is also regularly updating their linked in.

      I mean, don’t do that but I so want it to happen and to hear about it!

      1. Ally McBeal*

        OP should definitely let his coworkers know their manager is spying on them, though. OP doesn’t have to directly suggest updating their profiles, as I’m sure a few petty types might come up with the idea on their own.

        1. Observer*

          Uh, this is not spying – LinkedIn is a public site and what you post there is public.

          Is this a good practice? No. But that’s a different thing. Also, it’s not like the boss is hiding this – he told the OP. What makes you think he didn’t tell others?

          1. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

            It’s spying when you subscribe to get alerts whenever your employee updates their profile.

          2. SnappinTerrapin*

            Interesting semantical exercise. Of course, intelligence officers working for national governments include open source materials in the intelligence they gather. That’s part of the tradework of espionage, even if most governments don’t include it in the legal definition of the crime of espionage.

            Yes, the boss is gathering intel on his employees. The pertinent question is, what counter-measures should the employees adopt in order to blunt the effort?

            Occasionally editing information that’s already posted, without material changes, would alter the signal-to-noise ratio.

        2. hamsterpants*

          Spying? No.

          Creeping? Yes. This is the boss equivalent of liking your FB pics of the beach vacation you took in 2013.

          1. quill*

            Spying, no, stalking, maybe. If your boss had a robot pinging him every time you went into a facility owned by a competitor, in case you were thinking of looking for a job with them, it would clearly be stalking, even though your actions were done in public and anyone could see. Linkedin notifications and bothering people about them seems like the internet equivalent of that.

      2. Snow Globe*

        Question-on LinkedIn you can change your settings so that your network does not get notified when you make changes to your profile. Is there a way around that so the service that the boss subscribed to can detect changes anyway? This is news to me.

        1. Lily Rowan*

          I don’t know all the details, but there is some way to detect a change on a given webpage, so it’s not necessarily that LinkedIn is notifying anyone.

        2. Haha Lala*

          I just researched this recently! You can change your linkedin settings so any updates/activities are not broadcast to your network, and you can make your connections not visible to others.
          But you can’t turn off the “new connection” visibility to others in your network. So if you’re job hunting and making lots of new connections with recruiters, people in your network might get a “Fergus has 3 new connections” notification, with links to their profiles….

    2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Bare minimum – make sure others in the group know that this guy likes to snoop super hard into their online presence, they deserve to know.

      I also wonder what Manager Snoopy McSnooper would do with me – as this site is the closest thing to a “Social Media Presence” I have. Betting that would mess with his routine. Also wonder how he deals with those of his employees that have very common names (in the nation-wide org I work at, there are 50, yes Fifty people with the same first and last name. And honestly I don’t think of myself as having the most common name out there.

    3. Cj*

      Yep, and in response to any comments say something breezily like ‘Oh, I update my LinkedIn semi regularly out of habit, i use it a lot to stay on top of what’s happening in the industry, please don’t read anything into any changes you see there’

    4. Colette*

      That sounds like a lot of work for nothing. Simply replying “Oh, occasionally I go in and change my Linked In profile, just to make sure it’s always up to date” would also solve the problem.

    5. High Score!*

      Or just go to your LinkedIn settings and turn off “Share Profile Updates with Network”. You can still update your profile but it won’t be posted in your feed and Boss’s snoopy bot likely won’t catch it.

    6. Artemesia*

      And let all your colleagues know that they are being surveiled and that you are updating several times a week to put noise in the system. This whole thing is really gross. Would love to see 100 employees updating 3 times a day for a couple of weeks. Just re-word a sentence here or there.

    7. Mockingjay*

      This is why I never add/friend anyone at a current job to any of my social media accounts, including LinkedIn.

      OP1, it would probably raise eyebrows with the VP if you unfriended him on LinkedIn. Instead, join industry-specific organizations (hopefully he’s not a member too); those can offer very targeted job and network contacts should you want to search again.

    8. LinkedOut*

      So I’m OP for LW #1 and it’s been a couple weeks since I sent this in.

      Oh yeah, Bob’s toxic. 1 person quit on the spot during a meeting, 2 more were termed for asking questions, and 3 more members of the team are interviewing leaving us with… 1 person. I let the rest of the team know he was snooping and we’ve gone full information warfare.

      Thanks for agreeing that editing it constantly is the way to go. It’s been fun! I found a typo in an old job. Updated some links. Added some nice earned media for an old project.

      1. Wants Green Things*

        Oof. I’d hope such a large turnover might alert upper management to the problem, but I doubt it. Sounds like it’s time to put that updated profile to use!

      2. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Haha, glad you are having a little bit of fun at Bob’s expense. Hope you are leaving soon!

      3. Mockingjay*

        Wow, you are freakin’ awesome!

        After you start New Job (lol), come back to a Friday Open Thread and regale us with tales of Bob!

      4. L.H. Puttgrass*

        Two people were fired for…asking questions? Wow. Bob’s a real pip. And if your response to Bob on being asked about the LinkedIn edit wasn’t, “Well, I wasn’t actively looking, but that just changed,” then you have more self-control than I do.

        The last paragraph is hilarious, though. I hope Bob is enjoying getting all those updates! (No, I really don’t.)

      5. Free Meerkats*

        Add a space here or there. Makes the bot ping Bob, but he won’t e able to figure out what changed. PRN

    9. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      A few weeks ago I reposted a story on LinkedIn. It was about that guy who raised everyone’s salaries at his company to $70K, talking about how he doesn’t have any trouble filling jobs even during the Great Resignation, the completely obvious message being that if you want to keep people, pay them and treat them with respect.

      A couple of hours later, my grandboss messaged me. “So, Thin Mints, is everything OK? How are you doing? Is there anything we can do?” I thought it was very nice of her and told her (truthfully) that I’m very happy and my boss is a sweetiemuffin. (Uh, that’s a technical term.)

      A while after that I went back to LinkedIn and that was when the penny dropped. OH! She thought I was making a dig at my company! I was just posting something I thought people should know! So I had to add a comment saying my current company was very good at keeping people happy, etc. etc. It was nice to know that she was paying attention and concerned about retaining me! (She need not worry, I will cling to this company like a kitten climbing up a pair of jeans.)

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        Heh, if you really were posting that to make a dig at the company… that would be quite a passive-aggressive move, as you know. I’m wondering now if your grandboss is actually “projecting” and is the passive-aggressive type themselves so reads this into others’ posts!

    10. Filosofickle*

      There’s another good reason to update often — every time I make the tiniest copy edit my “people viewed your profile” number jumps. The algorithm prioritizes active people.

    11. calonkat*

      I was thinking that I’d make a final update to LinkedIn in the “about” section to state that my company spies on my LinkedIn profile, so no updates would be made, however I am open to offers from companies that don’t spy on employees.

  11. It's a me*

    LW #5 – I just want to say that that all sounds terrible and I am sorry you have been applying for so long without any traction. I had a similar situation with a year of hearing nothing and it was so hard for me to keep going, so I can’t imagine doing that for two years during a pandemic!

    I got my current job and almost all my other interviews through networking: I reached out to literally every person I could think of (parent’s friends, roommate’s boyfriends, former coworkers that I only really had lunch with, etc) and asked if they knew anyone for me to talk to, and then those people introduced me to other people. That technique is ALSO exhausting, but somehow it felt easier than spending an hour every day, editing a resume and cover letter to send it to hear….nothing.

    1. It's a me*

      Oh also, I went to a bunch of networking type things with strangers and they never resulted in a connection for me, and also felt harder to sort of “cold call” random people standing around. However, the ones that were more specific to my intended role or likely to have former coworkers or classmates were helpful to start the spark of something that I followed up in the 1×1 style networking.

      Good luck out there!

    2. WomEngineer*

      Yeah OP #5, it sucks but you can’t take it personally. Focus one what you can control (like your application, interview, etc.). Also know that some strategies may work better (or be more enjoyable) for you than others. For example, I found networking to be more helpful than career fairs… but only applied online for the job I ended up with. Good luck!

    3. Ama*

      I will also say that I’ve helped with a hiring process where the posting of the job listing was handled by our central HR (notoriously disorganized at that employer) — it took them 2 years to take down one of our postings once, I reminded them every three months for a year at one point, because we were still getting calls asking if it was open.

      I’m struggling through a bad job search myself (my current problem seems to be my materials read as too experienced for mid- management but somehow not experienced enough for Director level positions) and it is incredibly frustrating how many companies don’t really think through what their materials or processes really say to applicants (I laughed at the form rejection email I got today that said “we are only interviewing people who closely match the job description” given that their job posting had one of those “you should apply even if you don’t have 100% of the qualifications” messages on it). But you have to chalk it up to the organization not really knowing what they want (or wanting 90K worth of experience that they only pay 75K for, that also happens to me a lot).

    4. MissGirl*

      It sounds like the OP has focused exclusively in the non-profit world. I would recommend broadening your search to include industries that match your skills and will help you grow into the candidate you want to be. There can be added competition in the non-profit space you might not see in the private sector.

  12. nnn*

    Does anyone who’s good at LinkedIn know if #1 can block this service that provides the updates? I don’t know how this service works, but I know that on Twitter you can block external services like Thread Reader. Maybe there’s something similar on LinkedIn?

    1. AED*

      Yes. You can turn off notifications to your connections that you’ve made updates on LI. Also, every employer should know that every employee is actively on the job market at any given time. Besides, you were just updating some info pertinent to your current role with the company. **bats eyelashes** Don’t they want you to have a profesh presence that makes them look good on LI?

      1. Seeking Second Childhood, CTA*

        It sounded to me like this VP is actually using a web crawler so just blocking notifications wouldn’t be enough. I hope someone has an answer, because those have the potential to be really misused by a bad managers. (And bad ex BF/GF/spouse as well.)

        1. ecnaseener*

          And if it is a web crawler, that can’t be blocked without making your LinkedIn private I believe. It’s just going to your public profile and checking whether it looks the same as it did yesterday.

          1. LinkedOut*

            Yep, I’m OP on LW#1. I asked a LinkedIn obsessed friend and he set set it to private, no recruiters, etc. which defeats the purpose of, ya know, LinkedIn.

        2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

          My mind went to a web crawler/scraper as well, but instead of the VP doing this personally, I imagined there’s a “spoof” fake profile pretending to be a recruiter in the industry or something like that, that has reached out to employees to get that 1st degree connection.

    2. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      LinkedIn has sued a company that crawls their content and lost. I read it in Ars Technica last week if I’m not wrong.

  13. Erik*

    LW2 – You’re missing a key point: the recruiter almost certainly does not work for the hiring company. Not only do they not know whether the manager will be remote that day, they usually don’t know the video/audio habits of the cultures of a given company, and whether audio-only is common or not. It’s usually on a group-by-group basis in most companies.

    They almost certainly gave you generic advice that applies to any video interview (not bad advice, just not targeted). They had no actual knowledge of whether or not it would be applicable, and in this case they were wrong. It happens.

    You do have a good point that your time may have been better spent on mental prep that physical, but as a man I really can’t weigh in on how important makeup and presentation are for women. It didn’t matter to me when I hired, but I’m non-neurotypical and am a really bad reference for such things.

    1. Bernice Clifton*

      Even an in-house recruiter isn’t necessarily going to know every hiring manager’s schedule and preference and is going to be giving generic advice.

    1. BossLady*

      LW3 Here- THIS! To be clear I do care about the future of my profession and I dedicate a lot of time to my professional association including sitting on Q&A panels, speaking, and I have never declined one of these interviews flat out but it’s ALOT, especially considering I own my own business and already do volunteer in areas I’ve chosen. I hope all the professors that commented read this article you posted.
      I do think there is value in learning how to reach out, network, etc. but to tell your students to go out and cold call rather than find professionals interested in volunteering for this type of contact still feels lazy to me, contracting out the teaching to unsuspecting professionals who feel obligated to respond.

    2. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Wow, that article is brilliant. The LW last week should send it to their professor. (And also the kitten! KITTEN!!!! So CUTE!!!)

  14. Erik*

    LW2 – You’re missing a key point: the recruiter almost certainly does not work for the hiring company. Not only do they not know whether the manager will be remote that day, they usually don’t know the video/audio habits of the cultures of a given company, and whether audio-only is common or not. It’s usually on a group-by-group basis in most companies.

    They almost certainly gave you generic advice that applies to any video interview (not bad advice, just not targeted). They had no actual knowledge of whether or not it would be applicable, and in this case they were wrong. It happens.

    I think you do have a good point that your time may have been better spent on mental prep than physical, but as a man I really can’t weigh in on how important makeup and presentation are for women. It didn’t matter to me when I hired, but I’m non-neurotypical and am a really bad reference for common views on such things.

    1. bluephone*

      That’s a good point. I’ve had a few video and phone interviews recently, all set up through external recruiters, and all the meeting invites came with generic templates about preparing for interviews. It was very “How to Interview 101” but I took the applicable information and ignored the rest.
      I think you have to let this go, LW2. Your mental energy is better spent on prepping for the next interview.

      1. londonedit*

        Very good point – I’m sure I’ve seen a letter or two here along the lines of ‘I am a professional with 20 years’ experience; why did this recruiter think they had to tell me to dress smartly and prepare notes for an interview???’. It’s not personal, it’s generic info that goes out with every email about interviews.

        The recruiter could well have been providing basic information that they tell everyone (especially now when people might not have been job-hunting in the last two years and might not have done video interviews before – I certainly haven’t, and while I’ve done enough external Zoom meetings to understand what’s generally required to look professional, not everyone will have). ‘Make sure your space is clean and uncluttered, make sure you remove anything distracting from the background and make sure you can have a reasonable expectation of uninterrupted quiet for the interview’ might have translated in the OP’s head as ‘You must make sure everything is perfectly neat and tidy and you must go to a great effort to make the room you are interviewing in look as polished and professional as possible’.

        1. Cate*

          And the thing is, everyone should hear this background/presentability advice. because for a lot of people it is information they previously may not have considered. Whenever I speak to prospective interns/grads/etc., I’m surprised by the number of them who furiously write down when I say “remove anything distracting from the background and make sure you’re dressed smartly, but without the need to wear a tie/full suit”.

    2. ecnaseener*

      Where do you get “almost certainly” ? I don’t see anything from the letter hinting whether it’s an external or internal recruiter.

      1. Dr. Rebecca*

        Probably because most companies don’t have internal recruiters, so statistically speaking…

        1. Bernice Clifton*

          In large companies they do, but their job titles might be something like “Talent Acquisition” instead of Recruiter

        2. NotAnotherManager!*

          I’ve never worked anywhere without at least one internal recruiter. None were small businesses but also not large corporations. Their title was not always “recruiter” but that’s what they did full-time. I work for a place that has about 100-150 staff members and there are 2.5 internal recruiters who are company employees. Using outside recruiters is expensive, too – they typically cost us some significant portion of the new hire’s annual salary. I’m only authorized to use them for hard-to-find positions where our internals have exhausted their own networks, LinkedIn outreach, etc.

          I asked my spouse because he’s had way more jobs that I have, and his experience is that only small companies don’t have someone who does recruiting at least part-time.

    3. Daisy-dog*

      Yes, I agree. Most likely general advice or advice driven from bad candidates in the past. OP2 – you seem to be more conscientious than that recruiter’s average candidate, so you could be a little more relaxed prior to your next video interview.

  15. Where’s the Orchestra?*

    I don’t see this in the answer, and not having anything that is considered “Social Media” don’t know how the etiquette works – but could you warn the rest of the folks in your former group that new manager seems to be spying on people’s social media presences.

    Also, I wonder how the manager reacts to people who have no social media accounts? And how does he handle employees with really common names? I know my actual name isn’t the most common out there, but there are 50 of us in the large org I work for…. How is Manager Snoopy McSnooper confirming he has the right account for his monitoring program to watch?

    1. ecnaseener*

      Re your last question: People’s LinkedIn profiles generally list their job title and employer, and include a picture of themselves. Even if there are two John Smiths with the exact same job title at the same company, and the pictures don’t help, the profile also shows your work history and other details that would be easy enough for your manager to check against.

  16. Blueberry Girl*

    #5- Just to give some additional context, my old workplace couldn’t take down job ads until the person hired filled out the contract, signed the offer agreement, the background check cleared, and they were actually on site. Since we hired from around the country and most people don’t just move for a job in 2 weeks, that meant that sometimes job postings stayed up for literally six months after we’d hired someone. I’m sure it confused the crud out of some of our rejected candidates, but there it was.

    I just want to second Alison’s advice that as hard as this is, you need to try to stop focusing on this one. The more it becomes “the one that go away” or “the perfect job” the more you’re just harming yourself. Take a breath, dive back in, and try to remember that hiring is not personal. I know that’s hard to remember, because when I was earlier in my career I would get so wrapped up in knots over jobs I didn’t get and would really beat myself up. It took me hiring people to learn that you will never know why they didn’t hire you, but 99.9% of the time, it wasn’t personal.

    1. Sleepy cat*

      And often the people hiring have limited control over this.

      If you’re not getting anywhere at all with job applications, it can be a sign that something is going wrong with your application materials. Has anyone had a look at yours for you?

      1. EPLawyer*

        That was my thought. Although the LW wrote in about this specific ad, there is a larger picture here. LW, please get Alison’s book and follow the TONS of advice she has. That is a better use of your time than focusing on this one job ad that could be up for a billion reasons completely unrelated to you.

    2. Antilles*

      Agreed. You can’t read anything whatsoever into the job ad still being posted. In addition to your old work place, here are some other fairly common reasons why an ad might stay up:
      -The hiring manager just plain forgot to notify IT/HR to close out the ad.
      -IT/HR just plain forgot to close out the ad.
      -We want to leave it open for a little while just in case things don’t work out with our new hire.
      -There’s some irritating bureaucracy involved in posting a new opening, so it’s easier to have it always listed as a placeholder rather than having to deal with the process of listing a new opening.
      -We’re expecting another position to open in a few months and we want to make sure our name is out there ahead of time.

  17. Snoozing not schmoozing*

    LE#4, is there any way to move your husband’s start day up by one day? At one job, I had told them I’d start on the first of April, which was fine with them, and it gave me a few weeks to shift mental gears. But my prospective division head called a few days later and suggested I start on March 31st, because my benefits, including health insurance, would start a month earlier. She was not the greatest boss, but I’ll always be grateful to her for that suggestion.

    1. Skytext*

      This is a good suggestion, depending on the company. Sometimes health insurance is a hard 90 days, so day of the month wouldn’t matter, but there could be other benefits. For instance, at my company vacation accrual started on the first of the month following the month of hire. I started on July 30th, so on my second day I had already gotten some vacation accrual.

      1. Insurance Q&A*

        You could also ask for insurance to start sooner due to need, if you’re willing to disclose your daughter’s condition. The company might be able to waive the waiting period.

        1. Texan In Exile*

          Really? I used to work for a health insurance company and we did not allow that ever.

          However – I had a job with a waiting period and they gave me a signing bonus to cover the COBRA premium during that period.

          (Also – employers – knock it off with the waiting periods. The whole point of them used to be to reduce excessive paperwork in high-turnover positions. Now you’re just being cheap jerks.)

          1. Insurance Q&A*

            Yeah, if they make a REALLY GOOD CASE sometimes the insurance company will make an exception. It’s rare, but worth asking.

        2. Alexis Rosay*

          Not sure they can change that. My former boss tried to change our health insurance offerings for an employee—with the best of intentions of course—and got a talking to about how offering a different menu of health insurance options to just one person could be grounds for a lawsuit from other employees.

          Trying to start earlier is a very good idea though.

          1. HoundMom*

            You are 100% correct. Under ERISA, employers are not allowed to change the rules of the plan for any one individual. It is considered to be arbitrary and could result in the plan losing all preferential tax treatment for both the employer and all employees.

            If they wanted to do this for your family, they would need to amend the plan, have it approved by the underwriter, and offer the same terms to all employees who also were being hired at that time.

            Carriers’ systems are programmed not to allow a random person being enrolled in the plan outside of the plan rules, so there is no way to do a “one-off” for a special situation.

    2. Leilah*

      Yes, my boss at my first professional job did this as well. I ended up starting on a Thursday which was super weird, but he was the one who suggested it. I started March 31st, so my benefits all kicked in on April 1st.

  18. Sophia*

    #3 I 100% understand student conversations arent everyones cup of tea, but for any students reading this, I hope the “no”s don’t discourage you. (Although no students should be insisting on zoom).

    I really love it when students reach out. I probably get one every other month or so and am invited to alumni speaking events once or twice a year but I would love to chat with students once a week if I could.

    Particulary when it comes to first generation college students, hearing from professionals in the work place is so important.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      I feel like there’s a difference between a student reaching out because they’re interested in the field, and a student reaching out as part of an assignment.

      1. My Cat is Fat*

        Yes! I commented on this below, but the blanket policy of everyone in the class has to interview someone is pedagogically pretty lazy! There is a world of difference between a student who is genuinely interested and a student who is checking a box for a class. There are some of us who are professors who are trying to push back against this practice, so for anyone who finds themselves inundated with interview requests as the result of class assignments, please do reach out to the professor, or write a response to the student and ask the student to forward the response to the professor.

      2. Esmeralda*

        Eh, depends on the class. My first year students (all the first year students in our program = 100s) have to do a job shadow or info interview with a working adult in a field they’re interested in. They do a lot of prep work before the interview, and we talk a lot about how to find interviewees, proper ways to ask, writing a thank you, etc. I do not find interviewees for them unless I happen to know someone (and I check with them first), and I don’t offer up my connections until the student has tried to find someone else.

        Right here on this site we see advice for people to do info interviews to learn about career fields and about specific jobs. Doing these as part of a class can be a great way for students to learn how to do info interviews, how to start networking in their field, because it’s within a structure and has support and guidance.

        A fair number of my students are first gen, under-resourced, under-represented…they are learning skills by doing this assignment that they would very likely not be getting from their family or community. Shoot, even in my own family (everyone has a college degree, many of us have graduate degrees or certificates, most of our jobs are professional, white collar), many of my younger relatives have no clue what to do re career development. I have one sib who has told his kids, Get in touch with your auntie Esmeralda and do what she tells you to do. Because he has no idea how to learn about careers, etc. (he got a job, stayed with same employer forever)

        So I understand the OP’s frustration, but nixing these kinds of assignments — baby with the bathwater, I think.

      3. Loulou*

        Yes! I’m always happy to email back and forth with, say, a friend’s student who is interested in my field. I’m not happy to fill out a fifteen-question survey from a student living across the country who cold emailed emailed 50 professionals and who experience suggests will likely not even reply to say thanks.

    2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      OP #3, congratulations. You made the list!
      It might be worth talking to the instructors.
      In both my grad school and undergrad classes. If you didn’t know anyone, they’d give you a couple names to contact from a list of people who “always welcomed student interviews.”
      You don’t have to change the system, just your place in it.

    3. Jellyfish*

      I also do several student interviews every year. It’s somewhat built into my job, so the time allotment isn’t as great a concern. However, I still have boundaries with it.

      Some instructors outright tell students to contact me since they know I’ll agree. In those cases, I’ve asked them to give me a couple weeks notice if I’m going to get several at once. Sometimes I suggest coming to speak to their whole class instead of doing 17 separate, identical interviews. That usually goes over pretty well.

      With the students, I hold to my calendar pretty rigidly. If they say half an hour, that’s what they get. Only my boss and those further up the chain can extend a planned meeting without notice. If we are at the 25 minute mark and still going strong, I’ll tell them to ask one last, vital question before we need to wrap up. Once we hit 30 minutes, oops, gotta run! Nice to meet you, bye!

  19. ExpatReader*

    LW4 – former teacher here. Every time I left the classroom (either changing districts or when I left the profession), my school system-provided insurance covered me over the summer until the beginning of the new school year contract. I would be really doubtful that the school system leaves all its employees insurance-less every summer, or starts the insurance year in June (when most new hires aren’t hired yet). It would definitely be worth your husband verifying with his school system’s HR folks on when his insurance coverage lapses.

    1. Snarky McSnarkerson*

      I agree that this would work for teachers who are expected back in the fall, but the OP’s husband has put in notice they are not returning. It would not make any sense for a district to provide health insurance for the summer on an employee who is not expected back. At least it doesn’t to me, a non-teacher.

      1. Madhatter360*

        Teacher here! In my district we have a choice between 21 or 26 paychecks but they only take health insurance premiums from the first 21 paychecks. At the end of the school year you’ve paid for a full year of health insurance, carrying through the summer.
        I agree it’s worth checking with HR/payroll-benefits about when the school provided insurance actually ends.

        1. doreen*

          Definitely check – there are all sorts of reasons why the school insurance may last longer than you would expect. In addition to possibility that he has paid for the whole year’s insurance by the end of June , it’s also not unheard of for government employers (including school districts) to keep employees on the payroll with insurance coverage while paying out accrued leave. There’s also the factor that end dates for insurance aren’t necessarily the last day on the payroll – my last day was Jan 27 and the insurance ran until March 2.

        2. OP #4*

          Hello! I actually just had my husband look into that yesterday afternoon (after I had already emailed Alison). And great news, the school district said his insurance WILL run until August 1st. So it’s perfect! I realize that we’re really privileged since most employees in our situation wouldn’t have that kind of coverage.

          I agree completely with Alison – insurance tied to your employment is nuts and needs to be changed.

      2. Esmeralda*

        Teachers get paid differently. They work 9 months, but often the pay is spread over 12 months. And thus everything tied to the paycheck –taxes, social security, insurance — is also spread over 12 months.

        My spouse is a university professor and a 9 month employee, and it works exactly like that. He’s never been without insurance in the summer. If he got a different job in the fall or decided to retire (he could let his dept chair know today, in April, about it), he would still get paid in the summer and he would still get insurance. Because these are spread out over the whole year.

    2. FormerTeacher*

      Former teacher as well. My contract ran from August to July. Even though my last work day was at the end of May, I was paid and had insurance through the end of July. I would call your HR/Benefits person to find out exactly when your coverage ends.

  20. I'm the Phoebe in Any Group*

    #4. COBRA and the Marketplace are good ideas, but short term plans won’t work for you. They almost never cover pre-existing conditions. COBRA will be a big finacial hit, especially if your spouse’s income goes down, but you will get to keep your doctors and not new faced with new deductibles. If you do go to the Marketplace, make sure your providers subscribe to that plan. Good luck.

  21. Virginia Plain*

    LW#5 I was briefly confused about one detail in that you said they were looking for someone at the start of their career, but you were in your early thirties and had your previous job since leaving education so at first I thought you’d been working in the field for the thick end of ten years so that wouldn’t be a match. I realised it was my error as you could have done your masters etc a couple of years ago as a mature student which I think is even more common in the US than here. But then I thought, maybe a hasty recruiter is making the same mistake? Might be worth just checking it’s clear in your resume/cover letter that you aren’t “over-experienced” so to speak. It might be perfectly obvious in which case ignore me haha

    1. Kate*

      I had the same thought – that if she’s already had a job in the field she might be considered over-qualified for an ‘early career’ position. So she might be in that bad spot of over-qualified for entry level, but not enough experience for mid-level. I was there and it’s tricky.

    2. Smitty*

      I had the same thought. That language would indicate to me that they were looking for a recent graduate with a four year degree. They may have seen the higher degree and experience and thought, rightly or wrongly, that you were 1) over-experienced or 2) would not be willing to accept the salary they had in mind for the position given your education and level of experience.

    3. ecnaseener*

      I had the same first impression. Maybe remove the graduation date if school wasn’t right before your previous job.

  22. bamcheeks*

    LW3, things that are all completely OK:

    – simply declining
    – offering an email interview instead
    – giving them alternative suggestions (such as your one about posting in a professional LinkedIn group)
    – preparing a template of Common Questions and just sending that.
    – not answering at all

    Any school preparing students for this type of activity should have let them know in advance that all these are possible and perfectly reasonable responses, and to impress on them that they risk damaging their own professional reputations in this area if they don’t accept them gracefully.

    Bluntly put, the students’ grades are not your problem and you definitely shouldn’t feel pressured to contribute. However, if you want to contribute to the younger people in the profession but in a way that’s more manageable and controllable for you, you could reach out to one or two of the programmes in your local area and do something like an annual talk / drop-in / Q&A where students can ask you questions. I’m a careers professional and I can say that the opportunity to speak to people in a given industry is absolutely invaluable and irreplaceable for students, so I would really encourage everyone to find a way to make that work if you can. But it should be in a way that works for YOU, not something that causes resentment or irritation.

  23. Caroline Bowman*

    OP3, I can imagine at certain times / during certain semesters you are inundated with requests for ”quick” conversations by students!

    Obviously email or a simple ”no” is entirely fine, though if you felt like it and it suited you, an option might be to set aside a 30 min window (to suit yourself but at a reasomable hour generally), and suggest to each asker that they’d be very welcome to join a Zoom group where you’ll be happy to have a sort of group chat and where they can put questions either verbally or in the chat box, and where the last 5-10 mins will be dedicated to you answering those questions. Of course it’s not without admin, but if you felt like it would balance being helpful, but putting a very solid boundary in place, it might work. I know a person in a different situation who comes up against this kind of thing and every couple of months (in their case), they do this.

    1. Teach*

      If the interview questions are typically similar, you could also just record a 30-60 minute video monologue answering them, and se d that to every request. One investment of time on your part…

  24. Maybe it will work?*

    LW#4 – Have you talked to the new employer to see if they would be willing to pay the COBRA fees for the time until their insurance starts? Depending on the company and type pf position, I’ve had employers who seemed surprisingly happy to cover that, they just didn’t want to start me on their own policy until I’d been there X amount of time.

  25. Katie*

    Just FYI- most short term plans don’t cover pre existing conditions only emergency ones so in your daughters case I’d just be very careful if choose to purchase one. (It’s an allowed exclusion from ACA)

  26. I just work here*

    LW #2 I want to give you some props for taking your interview seriously and making an effort to appear professional and at your best. I’ve interviewed people that look like they slept in the clothes they were wearing and had just finished running a marathon. Not necessarily the best first impression…

    I hope you can reframe your thinking –feeling “disrespected” because of a change in your interview details doesn’t seem like it’s very helpful to you and assumes an intent on the part of the company that is almost certainly not accurate. We’ve had to do that several times where I work and it’s almost always due to one of the interviewers having technical problems. We were bummed too, because we like seeing people we are interviewing, whether on zoom or in person–it just feels friendlier

  27. I should really pick a name*

    If you’ve be job searching for more than a year without any interviews, I’d suggest finding someone to review your resume and cover letter.

  28. L-squared*

    #2 this really seems like a “YOU” issue, not them doing something wrong or disrespectful. I’m on calls all day (not interviews now), and the amount of times its a scheduled zoom that ends up being a call instead is huge. Canceling on you last minute would’ve been disrespectful of your time. This was just essentially a slight change that didn’t really need an explanation. Maybe their internet was spotty at home. There are a ton of valid reasons, none of which are really disrespectful toward you. You seem that you are a bit too rigid on plans, which may make things a bit more difficult depending on your job and company, because a lot of places have minor changes like this that you just need to be able to roll with.

  29. Vice President of Monitoring Employees’ LinkedIn and Indeed Profiles*

    I’d love to be the “Vice President of Monitoring Employees’ LinkedIn and Indeed Profiles.” It sounds like a nice, cushy gig — or at least a cute handle for AAM.

  30. Kjolis*

    When I was in grad school, I had a professor who assigned us to interview a DIRECTOR of someone in our field – in person. At the time, I thought it was a great idea – maybe this would put me on someone’s radar, and once I graduated, I could apply for a job at their workplace! So, I scheduled an interview (through the director’s assistant) at my dream workplace.

    At the interview, the first thing I say to the director is “thank you for taking the time to meet with me.” She responded by saying she gets these requests a lot, and I could tell by her tone of voice that she wanted this to be overwith already. She followed up by saying I should alert my professor about this.

    I immediately scratched off in my interview notes “what kind of candidate are you looking for when hiring” because I knew I’d blown it.

    Now, many years later where I am now a director in the same field, I get it. I’ve only done one of these types of interviews with a student so far – and I was delighted to do it – but now I realize what an imposition a professor is making on the student and who they interview.

    1. KRM*

      I would argue that you certainly did not blow it, though. You were fine–you reached out to someone you were actually interested in, and you prepared for your assignment, and yes, you could have made a good impression or a new network connection that would end up helping you in the future. All good things! You certainly weren’t to know that this director was Against This Kind Of Thing and Over It.

      1. KRM*

        To clarify, I’m not saying that people should all welcome these interviews with open arms. It’s a lot, and I think professors shouldn’t assign them. But from your point of view, you were both doing your assignment and trying to make a connection with a place you were interested in, which is not a bad thing! You personally were fine! You didn’t know that the director got tons of requests.

    2. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

      I don’t think you blew it. If they didn’t want to do the interview they should have said so, and they should not have held it against you. How were you supposed to know she gets these requests all the time and didn’t want to do it? I think that’s on her.

    3. Observer*

      I agree with the others. You didn’t blow it. But you are probably right that you were never going to get on her good side. But I agree, that was on her.

      1. Kjolis*

        Thanks all for your support! I guess it would’ve been more accurate to say that I didn’t feel I could later approach her about job opportunities, since she never wanted to meet with me in the first place. It makes me think her assistant scheduled our interview without checking with her first, at which point she would’ve denied my request and I would’ve moved on to another director.

        I did tell my professor what she’d said, and he was suprised, like he never got this kind of pushback before.

  31. Katie*

    For OP4, if getting insurance fails, can you get a 90 day supply of your daughters medicines/medical supplies? Line up her appointments for May and then August? Get everything you possibly could need beforehand?
    Also to note, sometimes for some medical supplies, they are reasonably priced to buy online (cheaper than expensive insurance at least). Uninsured medicine often can get a coupon/discount with it so it’s more reasonable in price.

    1. OP #4*

      Thank you! I hadn’t thought of getting her appointments in before the insurance switches. We’ll do that!

      1. middle name danger*

        I came here to suggest this! I had a similar situation where I had a gap in insurance but I have expensive conditions that require multiple medications. I used goodRX to price out what I could get for reasonable costs without insurance and compared that to the cost of COBRA, made all of my normal appointments line up right before I left Old Job, and asked my doctors to give me 90 day supplies where they could. I had to switch pharmacies to get some of them affordably but I did not have to skip any needed followups, was able to get all of my prescriptions written, and only wound up skipping one dose of one monthly med that was prohibitively expensive without insurance.

  32. My Cat is Fat*

    LW3, I’m a professor and I’m sorry you’re dealing with these requests. If you have the bandwith, I strongly encourage you to write to the professor and tell them these requests are getting out of hand. Alternately, you could have an auto-reply to these emails that tells the student to forward your response to their professor.

    There’s a growing number of us pushing back on assignments like this, so hearing from people in industry who are being flooded would be hugely helpful! My view is that if the professor really wanted their students to benefit from your expertise, they could invite you to give a (virtual) talk to their class. Or they could have students interview one person each, but then keep those interviews on record as a knowledge base, and not have future classes conduct the same interviews. Or they could have students track down CVs of people in this industry/position, and look at similarities in trajectory. There are so many other options other than turning tons of students loose on the goodwill of strangers, and I think it’s incredibly lazy and arrogant for professors to continue this practice. So please push back! That will help those of us who think this is a waste of working professionals’ time make our points more strongly, and hopefully curb (if not end) these types of assignments.

    1. bamcheeks*

      On the flipside– the expansion of higher education and university-based credentials over the last few decades in the UK and US labour market has really allowed employers to retreat from investment in the next generation of workers. A lot of what used to be “recruit school-leavers / high-school graduates and train them” has become “hire university graduates / interns and complain that they aren’t work-ready”. Universities *cannot* train the next generation of professionals without significant input from employers: there’s a ton of knowledge and stuff that you can only learn from direct engagement with the workplace and with professionals working in it, and you simply can’t replace that purely with in-classroom experiences.

      I would certainly argue that that shouldn’t fall on individuals, but should be factored into formal work-planning and resourcing discussions. But I think this kind of exercise is an inevitable replacement of a structural shift away from employers investing in training and development of the next generation and towards expecting it to be done by higher education (and with the student bearing the majority of the financial burden.) So if you are a senior professional working in a field that gets a lot of these kind of requests, by all means push back against universities assigning this kind of task, but please do also ask hard questions about how and where your employer and your field is investing time and money in training your future workforce.

      1. pancakes*

        What you’re describing is vocational training, though. That isn’t what every university is for. Getting a good education means a lot of different things to different people, but it’s definitely broader than getting training in how to be a good employee.

        1. bamcheeks*

          This is my specialist subject, and I could talk about it for hours! But briefly, I would argue that a hard distinction between academic education and vocational education is untenable, since the vast majority of university students are expecting to be able to develop skills and knowledge through their academic education which will be used in the workplace. Expecting that to happen outside the classroom— basically, expecting them to convert academic learning into professional success without explicitly teaching them how to do that massively benefits privileged students who have access to that knowledge through family and social networks.

          1. bamcheeks*

            (Although what I said in the first comment is true even if you just limit it to the mostly-traditional definition of “vocational” — universities are increasingly offering undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications for specific roles or sectors which used to sit with employers, and employers are often quite happy to let that happen. I would argue that in many cases employers ought to be more engaged in delivering those programmes.)

          2. pancakes*

            It does, but I don’t like the idea that every education needs to be shaped around how to “achieve professional success.” In my experience, people whose academic learning has focused nearly entirely on workplace skills or entrepreneurial skills tend to have very blinkered knowledge, at best, of subjects that aren’t readily monetized. The world doesn’t seem to need a great many more people who are ready to, say, build apps with no grasp of history or social sciences. It also doesn’t seem to need employers to be much more influential than they already are in shaping the trajectories of people’s lives.

            1. bamcheeks*

              I have worked at this interface for 15 years, and I just don’t think the categories fall nearly as neatly as people think they do. For a start, I think this is just as important for history students and social sciences students as it is for Business for IT students. If anything, I think it’s even more important for them, because their academic tutors are less likely to have worked in industry themselves and be able to provide that insight in the classroom, and on the flipside, those are exactly the people who build apps should be reaching out to and engaging with if they want a diverse and creative mindsets on their teams.

              Secondly, I just think that “education shouldn’t just be about professional success” is a decision you get to make when you’re pretty sure your basic needs are always going to be met. It’s brilliant to be able to focus on education for education’s sake, and everyone should get that opportunity, but realistically you only get to do that if you’re of independent means or your choices are “work a staggeringly well-paid job you don’t particularly like” or “do something you love which isn’t as staggeringly well-paid but which means that all your basic needs are met.” Most people, ideally, want education which is exciting and stimulating and stretches their brains and teaches them to think abstractly and analyse and problem-solve and communicate and put them in the way of getting decent work afterwards– and I think that is an eminently achievable goal for most higher education programmes and employability/career management skills and academic excellence are not at all contradictory and actually complement each other extremely well.

              And lastly, I am just such a geek about applied knowledge, sorry! I think it’s amazing, and to be honest the reason I work where I do is because I think the things that the students and academics I work with study are actually a lot more fascinating and intellectually challenging than my traditional academic-subject education (which I did to PhD level.) I’ve worked with building students and quantity surveyors and nurses and psychologists and textile designers and broadcast engineers and data scientists and electronic music specialists and librarians and museum specialists and applied drama specialists and teachers, and god, the things they know and think and study and create are just so complex and intellectually exciting and important. And I think it’s really important that universities study and teach those things in critical ways, not just in the ways that meet capitalism’s needs, but I also think it’s really important that both traditional academic students and more vocationally-oriented students get what they need from employers to apply their learning.

              1. pancakes*

                I don’t at all disagree that applied knowledge can be amazing and challenging, yeah. I spent two out of three years of law school heavily involved in clinic work (one year participating in the clinic itself, the next as a research assistant to the lead prof.) and don’t regret a moment of it. I am less enthusiastic about undergrads focusing heavily on employability. There are so many other ways for recent grads to have their basic needs met, including subsidizing their educations to begin with. That is a conversation for another day, though!

      2. My Cat is Fat*

        But I think there are ways to do this that don’t impose on the generosity and time of people. Some examples:
        – Invite industry professionals to visit your class, virtually or in person. Invite a different person or group of people each year
        – Have students do interviews in year 1, and write up their interviews to contribute to a knowledge base. New classes of students can’t interview someone who has already been spoken to.
        – Have students interview in teams (or prepare for interviews in teams), to reduce the number of redundant requests any one individual will receive
        – work with relevant professional associations to either bring industry people or recruiters to campus
        – make use of the wide world of YouTube and other resources. I cannot believe that each of the students contacting people has such unique and special questions that the answers cannot be found elsewhere. Heck, you could even turn it in to a scavenger hunt.
        – Have the professor pre-contact a set list of people, and rotate through those people every few years.

        In short, there are a ton of ways that an exercise LIKE this can be conducted, that reduce redundancy and will make the interviews of actual use, rather than just box-checking for a class.

        1. pancakes*

          Yes. The post that commenter Jerusalem Artichoke linked to above makes a lot of good points about this.

        2. bamcheeks*

          My point is that this shouldn’t be about individuals’ “generosity and time”– this kind of activity (whether as individual interviews or more formally structured speed networking / Q&A sessions / live briefs / placement opportunities ) should be baked into the core work expectations of organisations and resourced appropriately. The fact that this is done as part of a

          Personally, I do think there is a value in students having the opportunity to speak to professionals on a one-on-one basis, whether that’s through an individual informational interview, attendance at a sector networking event, a short placement or work-shadowing opportunity etc. One of the things that I think is incredibly important is that students’ learn to develop and prioritise their own questions and not get a one-size-fits-all look into an industry– IMO, it’s actually really important that students can go and ask their own questions about the types of people you work with or what kind of budgets you hold or how you evaluate the work product or whatever, and I don’t think any prepared talk or recorded resource gives you that opportunity. But I do think far more companies and organisations should see providing that type of opportunity as part of their core business, just like handling finance or HR or IT, rather than leave it up to well-meaning individuals to squeeze in on top of their “real” work.

  33. Teacher1234*

    LW 4: Educator here.
    In most school districts, benefits run through the summer to September 1st based on the previous school year’s employment. Have your husband check with HR to verify he will be covered through to the start of the next school year. This is standard practice since any teacher switching jobs would face a 2 month gap in insurance.

  34. Scouty D*

    LW 4: your daughter might be eligible for Medicaid coverage when you’re uninsured (in my state, she almost definitely would be).

  35. Elsa*

    #2– This one would bother me a LOT. A certain segment of the population just has to comb its hair and throw on a tie to look “professional” and has no appreciation of the work involved for the rest of us in getting ready.

    I’m visually impaired, so makeup is really difficult for me. Because of this, I frequently refuse zoom meetings, or when I must do them, I consolidate them into one day if I can. But with a job interview you’re not in control and don’t have those options.

    I know it’s a minor matter and LW #2 just has to let it go, but I’d be steaming. It was inconsiderate.

    1. anonymous73*

      That’s the thing here…it WASN’T inconsiderate. Things happen all the time in life that can’t be helped and this was one of them.

      1. ecnaseener*

        I don’t think we have enough info here to know one way or the other. Nobody seems to have said this was a last-minute change of plans or anything. It’s helpful for LW to remember that it *might* have been unavoidable, sure.

        1. anonymous73*

          The why is irrelevant. You have to roll with the punches for interviews and expect the unexpected. It doesn’t matter how prepared you are, there’s always a chance something is going to be changed at the last minute because you’re interviewing with people who have a job that isn’t all about interviewing candidates. Last minute work emergencies and life emergencies happen. Unless this happened a few times with the same person/company, it it not inconsiderate for them to make a last minute change. And while I can understand being a little annoyed about it, if you get your panties in a bunch over things like this, you’re going to constantly be miserable in life.

    2. hbc*

      I think that you’re implying that men aren’t understanding what women *have* to do, and it’s simply not that black and white. I’m a woman who hasn’t worn makeup since middle school, wears no jewelry, and has a simple cut that I just have to run a comb through. Those are choices I made a while ago in how much to invest in what society expects of me. I know there are some jobs that are off limits to me, and it’s possible that I’ve lost out on jobs because someone judged me as not caring as much about my appearance as the previous guy who also ran a comb through his hair and put on a dark grey suit. But I’ve been successful in customer-facing roles, taken part in tradeshows, and made it to top level management with my blotchy skin and raccoon eyes on display.

      And all that being said, even if the company knew it was 2 hours of prep time, I don’t see how they could be more considerate. “Oops, some combination of location and technology changed last minute” doesn’t get fixed whether someone put 5 minutes or 5 days into prep.

    3. ND and awkward*

      It would bother me too, though more due to having an audio processing delay that’s almost a non-issue if I can lipread on a videocall. In an audio-only interview I would struggle significantly more, and a last-minute change would already have me on the back foot. Because a videocall would be no issue I’d not have mentioned any adjustment need, so would have to pick between doing badly in the interview and likely blowing it, or asking to rearrange last minute and likely losing the interview spot.

      People seem to be absolving the interviewer of any wrong-doing because OP doesn’t have a “good enough” reason to be upset, and that kind of bugs me.

      1. sagc*

        Nope! The recruiter gave the advice, not the interviewer; other people can have competing needs that make an audio call better; you’re referring to an actual need for accommodation, whereas the LW is just pissed that they had to get ready for the call.

        1. ND and awkward*

          That’s precisely my point, OP is being roasted for not having a socually acceptable reason to be annoyed at an uncommunicated change with potentially high consequences.

          It’s not clear whether the “video interview set up with the hiring manager” was ever confirmed as being video by the hiring manager, but the fact that there was a video link makes it a perfectly reasonable assumption, thus the hiring manager made the change to audio-only without informing either the recruiter or the OP.

          1. sagc*

            Well, yes, there are both good and bad reasons for things, which is what I’m getting at. Needs a video call for accessibility? Good reason to be annoyed by the change. You spent time prepping that ended up being unnecessary? Bad reason to be annoyed by the change.

            What potentially high consequences does the letter writer describe?

            1. ND and awkward*

              That’s not what I was ever getting at, this is what I was getting at: “people seem to be absolving the interviewer of any wrong-doing” – as stated in my first comment.

              1. sagc*

                Yeah, they did no wrong, so… people are absolving them of not considering whether someone would have an outsized reaction to a phone call.

                1. quill*

                  It is also ok for OP to be frustrated that so much prep time was wasted. Sometimes this comment section forgets that there can be a situation where no one was in the wrong.

      2. Observer*

        People seem to be absolving the interviewer of any wrong-doing because OP doesn’t have a “good enough” reason to be upset, and that kind of bugs me.

        No, people are absolving the interviewer because they actually didn’t do anything wrong. Many people are also saying that the OP seems to be over reacting to the circumstances.

        In your case, you would of course have a real and significant reason to be upset. But unless you had actually told them that you actually NEEDED a video call rather than audio only, I would still say that the company did nothing wrong. Now, if they penalized you when you told them that you actually need the video component, by refusing to reschedule you, I would absolutely say that the company had done something wrong. But that’s a very different scenario.

    4. Observer*

      A certain segment of the population just has to comb its hair and throw on a tie to look “professional” and has no appreciation of the work involved for the rest of us in getting ready.

      It was inconsiderate.

      This makes a lot of assumptions, including the idea that all of the people involved, other than the OP, were men.

      Beyond that, no. What WOULD have been inconsiderate would have been for the company to call that morning to say “Oh, we’re going to have to reschedule because we can’t do a video call.” You don’t cancel an interview the day of unless you really, really need to. Switching from video to audio does NOT qualify. In fact, I’d be willing to be that if the company HAD cancelled over this, people would have been all over them for being so hung up on the video portion that they wasted someone’s time and made them re-work their schedule an extra time just to be able to see everyone else, even though it’s really inconsequential.

  36. AdequateArchaeologist*

    LW#5: Yes, you should let that job listing go. It’s amazing how many companies forget what they have posted, or thought it would automatically get removed, or or or.

    But I also wanted to express some sympathy. It took me about 1.5-2 years to land my current position, and it sucked. Full time positions are hard to come by in my field, only a handful of companies were hiring at low wage entry level, and then Covid hit. Urgh. Hang in there, get someone else in your field to look at your resume, and don’t take it personally. Its super hard to job search sometimes, but you’ve got this!

  37. Not Tom, Just Petty*

    (If this is a double post, apologies)

    OP # 3
    It might be worth reaching out to instructors.
    You don’t have to change the whole system. (If only!) But here’s my experience:
    In both under and grad school, when teachers assigned this, they’d add “I have a few names of people who always welcome these interviews.” If you can’t think of anybody. (See? The instructors expedite. You can, too)
    So maybe contact someone and tell them that you don’t mind, but it will have be email and if not, you can’t do it.
    I bet most instructors won’t care; the student just didn’t ask.

  38. Not Tom, Just Petty*

    Follow up question for letter 1.
    Is this something that OP should share with colleagues?
    I’d tell every freaking body.
    Does that change if OP is a manager?

    And wtf? You update your LinkedIn, you must be leaving? Not, oh, I should clean up what I wrote five years ago, because I didn’t care then, but now I want to.
    So don’t touch LinkedIn.

    1. anonymous73*

      I would also warn everyone. And I’m not sure how it works, but if the VP can only monitor their connections, I’d make sure I wasn’t connected to them immediately. If they ask why, I’d be honest. “I don’t enjoy being monitored and questioned every time I make a minor change to my account.”

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        Oh, very good point about not connecting. Might be the perfect time, since the merger is new and he hasn’t had a chance to connect with everyone.

  39. PNW4567*

    For the person with the break in coverage, try and order a multi-month supply of the medication. Most insurers have a mail option that’s not only preferred but provides a 3mos supply of your pharmaceuticals

    1. OP #4*

      Great point! I hadn’t thought of that either, but we can get it ordered. Her meds are expensive so I would rather have them on old insurance where we’ve already met the deductible.

  40. anonymous73*

    #2 do you normally spend that much time getting ready for work in the morning? If not, it’s unnecessary to fix yourself up that much for a video interview. I’m not a regular makeup wearer and I have a low maintenance option with my hair which is what I choose most of the time. So it wouldn’t make sense for me to spend hours fixing my hair and putting on makeup for a job interview. Things happen at the last minute, especially with interviews. Let it go.
    #5 being rejected for a job sucks, but it’s rarely personal. And just because the job looks perfect on paper, doesn’t mean it’s actually perfect for you. When I’m interviewing someone for a job, it’s not just about qualifications and experience. It’s about their personality and if I think they will mesh with the team. That doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with your personality, just that you may not be a good fit. And you will rarely get feedback that means anything of substance after an interview. Because sometimes…it’s just not a good fit. Let it go and move on.

    1. River Otter*

      do you normally spend that much time getting ready for work in the morning? If not, it’s unnecessary to fix yourself up that much for a video interview.

      I don’t normally wear a suit to my job, but I wear one to interviews. It’s normal to dress up a little more for an interview, which for some people means make up.

    2. Leilah*

      I think it’s very bold to assume fixing yourself up for an interview isn’t necessary. We don’t have any idea what field this job was in or what the interviewer’s comfort level is. I have acne and skin picking, despite being in my 30s, and I absolutely need to wear at least some makeup to avoid discrimination. It’s very normal to appear differently working from home off-camera vs going to the grocery store vs going to work vs doing a job interview — and for lots of people, the job interview is going to be pretty high on the “look my best” scale. There is good, solid evidence that people, especially women, who look more attractive are more likely to get hired and make more money. I totally understand that not everyone wants to “play that game” but there are also a lot of people who want to do everything they can possibly do to increase their chances of a landing a job.

    3. BalloonFrenzy*

      Women who wear makeup to interviews and groom their hair are more likely to be hired. It’s good that you find it “unnecessary,” but some women have to put in some effort to be taken seriously. It sucks, but it’s true.

  41. Construction Safety*

    #4 I’ve negotiated with the new employers to pick up all or most (typically about what they pay for the employee’s share of the premium) of the COBRA premium.

    1. Christmas Carol*

      Yes, I’ve almost always been successful with this move as well. One employer just told me to bring in my COBRA billings, and they paid the premiums directly to my old insurance company for me. Another one gave me a Signing Bonus equivalent to the 3 months of premiums but added the amount to my salary figure. They forgot to take it out after I went on their insurance., and to be honest, I didn’t catch it either.

  42. Contracts Killer*

    For OP #3, I’m an attorney and a friend of mine is in undergrad working towards a criminal justice degree. He had one professor who required them to interview attorneys MULTIPLE TIMES with a laundry list of questions that would take well over an hour to answer. He is a good friend, and I still struggled to make time to accommodate him. I can’t imagine being a student who didn’t have a close resource and had to cold call an attorney and ask for an hour of their time to answer complex criminal law questions. My friend is graduating in May and as soon as he does, I’m reaching out to that professor and the school dean to share my thoughts on what an unfair assignment this is, both to the student and the professional they contact.

    1. UKDancer*

      That’s a lot to ask. When I was a law student we had to do a major essay project and we were encouraged to do primary research. I did mine on the treatment of serious juvenile offenders by the criminal justice system in the UK. I wrote to a large number of people in the field (several barristers, solicitors and probation service people) asking for an interview or their views and I think about 3 of them were willing to be interviewed by me including a pretty eminent QC who was very informative and really sweet. A few more sent me written responses. The majority didn’t answer which I can completely understand. People really do have a day job so I think it’s unrealistic to ask too much of them.

    2. NotRealAnonForThis*

      An HOUR?

      Yikes. Having a rough idea that attorneys charge by the hour, and its not a cheap number, that’s truly onerous on the part of the professor.

    3. L.H. Puttgrass*

      “You know this is not what I meant when my ad said that I offer ‘free consultations,’ right?”

  43. Beth G*

    #3 I appreciate the reminder that sending students out to interview professionals can be burdensome to the professional. I just finished a graduate certificate in Instructional Design, and was required to do just that. Luckily I had a coworker willing to be interviewed, and I have to say it was one of my favorite projects. Everyone else in class did one as well, and we all posted our presentations for everyone to see. I learned so much from the other presentations. I made sure to send her a thank you note, and hopefully kept the interview under 1/2 hour (but I can’t remember!). The assignment went from “oh great, busy work” to a great learning opportunity. So I thought I’d at least put my plug in for that!

    1. Colette*

      I don’t think there’s a doubt that these assignments can be great for the students, but it’s not as great for the people providing the value.

      1. quill*

        It seems to be only providing students who already have an in for the profession with value. Everyone else is being flung at this assignment with a strong possibility that it can’t be completed.

        1. Lyudie*

          I had a professor suggest we contact complete strangers on LinkedIn and ask to do a phone interview of 20 questions. Um, no.

          1. quill*

            I couldn’t always get seven questions from actual faculty members at college while writing for the student paper!

    2. Lyudie*

      Having just finished my master’s in the same field, I had to ask for help from my coworkers several times, some of them more than once (I have a small team). Fortunately they were all accommodating and happy to help but I am very tempted to send this letter to the program head. Too many of these requests for (sometimes hours! I had to do a 20-question interview once, plus multiple surveys) unpaid work as favors isn’t great for the working relationship. I’m sure the professors are thinking “it’s one short conversation” but when you have to keep going back to those wells through multiple classes, it does become an imposition.

  44. Oakwood*

    Re: boss monitoring LinkedIn

    Do you really think that’s the only social media he’s monitoring? If he’s paying for a service, no doubt the service offers more than just LinkedIn monitoring.

    1. LinkedOut*

      Indeed, LinkedIn, but my FB is locked down. Twitter, well, eh, he can read that if he wants. Insta, sure, but it’s mostly cat photos. Wonder if he reads AAM…

      1. quill*

        I would be somewhat suspicious of whether your facebook is indeed inaccessible to monitoring programs when it’s “locked down”, given the frequency of settings changes and the well publicized links.

      2. Observer*

        but my FB is locked down.

        Given how porous Facebook is, and how cavalier they are with the privacy of users (still!), I wouldn’t count on it. Don’t post anything you don’t want him to know about.

      3. pancakes*

        An excerpt from a memo that leaked from Facebook, from an article that came out after I linked to the earlier two:

        “‘We’ve built systems with open borders. The result of these open systems and open culture is well described with an analogy: Imagine you hold a bottle of ink in your hand. This bottle of ink is a mixture of all kinds of user data (3PD, 1PD, SCD, Europe, etc.) You pour that ink into a lake of water (our open data systems; our open culture) … and it flows … everywhere,” the document read. “How do you put that ink back in the bottle? How do you organize it again, such that it only flows to the allowed places in the lake?’

        (3PD means third-party data; 1PD means first-party data; SCD means sensitive categories data.)”

  45. K Diehl*

    LW3 – I used to be a travel agent – and an area high school geography teacher assigned the kids to “plan a trip” to a country of their choice. This was before the era of the internet, and students were encouraged to call a travel agent to find out how much it would cost to fly, get hotels, etc. Essentially to have a travel agent plan a trip for free that the student was NEVER going to take. We got so many calls that we did ask for the teacher’s name and called them. The students were welcome to come in and pick up any brochures we had for free, but no – we could not take staff time to collect said paperwork and mail. (Some of these brochures were full 30 page plus magazines with heavy thick color paper – very expensive to send.) The teacher really didn’t think through the ramifications of the assignment.

    1. NotRealAnonForThis*

      Our local library board called our school and informed the principal that the assignment given to the entire 6th, 7th, and 8th grade en masse was not going to happen as our small county library did not have the physical or manpower resources to assist that many students with research far above middle school level as outlined in the rubric that they’d been shown the night before by no fewer than 20 students who were scrambling at close at the library.

      I don’t remember the details exactly, but I remember being given a completely obscure composer and needing something on the order of ten primary resources cited for a pre-writing portion of the semester long assignment. Nobody across three classes was assigned the same person to research, either. (This was “Encyclopedia Brittanica Days”, pre-internet)

    2. quill*

      Yeah, based on the previous letters about students being thrown out into the wilds to find a business to do some volunteer website building for, it feels like a lot of teachers don’t think through the ramifications. And they won’t until someone who isn’t a student calls them on it.

  46. Emily*

    LW3: If you’re doing someone the favor of talking to them in this context, you can that your schedule is packed and you really only have 15 minutes, and then you can end the phone call at that time. Obviously there’s no obligation to even have the phone call, but if you would be willing to spend 15 minutes talking to someone but not an hour, that’s absolutely a boundary you can set and stick to.

    1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

      This. This is what I was thinking. LW3, you have full control over your schedule. If (IF) you keep giving these kinds of interviews, when they ask for 15 minutes, give them 15 minutes. Tell them you only have that much time so they should prioritize what they want to ask. Then at the start of the call, tell them again “I only have 15 minutes”. At the 10-minute mark, remind them that you only have 5 minutes left. And at the 14-minute mark, wrap up the call and say goodbye. That’s not being rude, it’s being respectful of THEIR time as well as your own.

  47. HB*

    For post #2… I feel like I am the odd one out but I agree with OP to an extent. She spent time prepping for a video interview and they didn’t consider how it would affect OP by switching to audio only. So, I agree that she should be upset but it seems like only something to mention to the recruiter if OP doesn’t end up getting the job. Or, if OP feels like they didn’t respect her, that can be a sign of how it is in the workplace and that OP should avoid working for them and let the recruiter know about her experience.

    1. Dinwar*

      “…and they didn’t consider how it would affect OP by switching to audio only.”

      That’s the crux of the issue. Did they? We honestly don’t know–we don’t know if the interviewer spent two hours agonizing over the decision, or if this was a split-second choice made five minutes before the interview. We don’t know if the interviewer decided to do audio-only because they were caring for a sick child, or because they were still in bed, or they could have recently been injured on the face and self-conscious about it, or because they were hungover and didn’t want folks to see. We don’t know.

      Humans being what we are, we’re filling in these unknowns with data from our own past. I’ve been the interviewee far less often than I’ve been the interviewer, so my sympathies are going to lie more with the interviewer–not because that’s where they should lie, but merely because the issues on that side of the table are more visible to me. Others who have been the interviewee more are, for the same reason, going to sympathize more with the LW. But ultimately this has nothing to do with the letter; it’s all about our own biases and past experiences.

      Without knowing a great deal more, making a moral judgment simply isn’t rationally defensible. One side could be being unreasonable, or both sides could be being perfectly reasonable. I think it’s most likely–because this is how humans generally operate–that both parties were doing what they thought best based on their limited data.

      I will say that the part of the LW’s annoyance that came from their prep work being waste is less defensible. The LW is criticizing the interviewer for not knowing something they couldn’t reasonably know. It’s been two years since the world shut down and remote work became prevalent. It’s reasonable to assume that people interviewing for professional positions have worked out a way to deal with video calls efficiently. Sure, not everyone has, but increasingly such people are outside the norm, and the burden for their choice justifiably falls on them.

    2. sagc*

      I can’t imagine reading “Made a phone call rather than a video call” as disrespect. That will come off very, very poorly.

    3. Colette*

      If you decide that someone making a decision that peripherally affects you is disrespecting you, that’s a you problem.

      You say they “didn’t consider how it would affect the OP by switching to audio only”, but … why would they? Most people who can do a video call can also do an audio call. If the OP had hearing issues or needed accommodations because she could do a video call but not an audio call, she could still say that. But the hiring manager is allowed to make reasonable decisions based on the information she has, which is that she could not do a video call. Yes, she didn’t know the OP had spent a lot of time getting ready for a video call, but … so what? Would it have been better for her to reschedule, or cancel the interview entirely?

    4. londonedit*

      I really can’t see how this tips into ‘disrespecting’ the OP or their time/energy, though. There have been so many work meetings where I’ve done a ton of prep, because I (or my boss and I) thought that Things A, B and C would be an issue and I’d need to be thoroughly prepared to fight my corner if necessary, and then you get to the meeting and they’re barely mentioned. Of course you think ‘Oh, FFS – an afternoon’s work getting all that stuff together and they weren’t even bothered in the end!’ but that’s about the extent of it. You move on. The OP’s interview wasn’t cancelled altogether – it was just an audio meeting when they were expecting video. OK, for a brief moment you might be a bit thrown, but you’d reset and get on with the interview. You wouldn’t jump straight to ‘they have disrespected my time and energy’.

    5. Kiko*

      Yeah… I feel like I’m in the minority here but I’m annoyed for OP2, especially given that the recruiter gave them a lot of instruction on how to set up. It would be different if the recruiter didn’t offer any of these suggestions and OP2 took on this interview set up all on their own.

      I work with people regularly to set up at-home filming set ups for these sort of interviews, and an hour for set up and an hour for hair/make up is pretty standard. It’s also pretty exhausting for most people, more so if you’re not used this sort of prep.

      Given that, I would say that the hiring manager was pretty inconsiderate if they didn’t apologize for this change… but I wouldn’t say this was disrespectful. I would only take issue if this was a pattern with other small things like this.

      1. londonedit*

        Maybe it’s an industry/culture-specific thing, because I’d never spend hours readying myself/my space for a video interview. I’d wear a nice top and make sure my hair looked decent, I’d put on my usual amount of make-up and I’d sit against the plainest background possible and have a general tidy-up if necessary, but I can’t think what else there would be to do. I’d just treat it like any other work Zoom meeting.

        1. Leilah*

          I only do video calls maybe once a month, so there is no amount of “usual” readiness for a video call that I have. I only wash my hair every 3-4 days. Clearly the LW isn’t doing a lot of regular Zoom calls and if she was maybe it wouldn’t have been as big of a time suck but given that they had to spend significant amounts of timing getting the space zoom-ready it clearly isn’t a normal thing for them. I think maybe the fact that this is part of your normal routine is coloring your approach. For lots of us there is nothing normal at all about a video call.

      2. Colette*

        I can see being annoyed by having done a bunch of work that ultimately ended up being required, but … sometimes things change, and you have to roll with them. If a candidate complained about that, it would be disqualifying, because in my industry, you will end up doing stuff that doesn’t get used. It’s just the nature of work; priorities change and stuff we thought would be useful ends up getting tossed.

    6. Just Another Zebra*

      HB, we can be the odd ones out together. It’s not a hill to die on, for sure, but I’d definitely be peeved to have a video call swapped to a voice-only one. I don’t work from home, so I have no home office. I have a small desk that a printer and laptop live on, but it faces into my living room and the plethora of dolls and dinosaurs my daughter leaves everywhere. So to make my space “presentable”, I’d probably be rearranging furniture and cleaning my house on top of getting myself ready, and then basic interview prep. Also, since I don’t work at home, I’d have to take time of from my job to interview for a new job. A phone interview I can go out to my car and take.

      Again, it wouldn’t be something I’d mention, but I’d certainly remember it about the company.

    7. Observer*

      Or, if OP feels like they didn’t respect her, that can be a sign of how it is in the workplace and that OP should avoid working for them and let the recruiter know about her experience.

      Except that if this is the only indication of a “lack of respect”, she’s going to come off very poorly. Because, the overwhelming likelihood here is that this was NOT the result of a lack of respect.

    8. CurlyGirl*

      I agree, too. She’s getting absolutely roasted in the comments, but it’s totally fair to be annoyed that she wasted time doing the things women have to do to be taken seriously.

      I agree that it’s probably best to let it go, but I also don’t think it’s a bad thing to necessarily mention to the recruiter. Not “I spent two hours prepping for this interview and I’m upset” but just like, “Oh, so you know for the people you advise in the future, our interview was switched to an audio call last-minute” so that others can be prepared for the possibility.

      1. I should really pick a name*

        What would they do differently if they were prepared for the possibility?

        This really just seems like an unfortunate occurrence with no bad actors. Switching from video to audio would be an annoyance for some people. It would be a benefit to others.

      2. Observer*

        She’s getting absolutely roasted in the comments, but it’s totally fair to be annoyed that she wasted time doing the things women have to do to be taken seriously.

        I get *annoyance*. But she goes well past annoyance. She calls is “so disrespectful” and wants to complain to the recruiter. That’s really a stretch.

    9. Elsajeni*

      I mean, assuming they had an actual reason for switching to audio, really the most you can say is that, ideally, they might have asked “Something’s come up and we can’t do video today — is audio-only okay, or would you rather reschedule?” That’s offering an option that’s presumably inconvenient for the interviewer, who also planned their day around doing this interview, but maximally considerate of the needs of the interviewee — and her prep time to get video-ready on that specific morning would have been wasted either way. It’s not that it’s not frustrating, but it just seems like the kind of thing that… cannot be perfectly avoided, so you’ve just got to find a way to roll with it.

  48. irene adler*

    Maybe the way to find interested/willing professionals for interview is to reach out to the local chapter of the professional organization pertaining to the class subject. I’m finding many professional organizations are looking for an avenue to reach out to the local students interested in one day working in the industry. This might be one way to further that; a win-win for both sides.

    The interviewee won’t always be a director, but they will be someone in the industry.

    1. Never Nicky*

      Absolutely this – in fact, the local chapter of my professional organisation is focused this year on student outreach. We’d LOVE for people thinking about comms, PR and marketing to come talk to us!

  49. Cthulhu's Librarian*

    LW#1 – I disagree with Alison on the severity of this concern. This is similar to finding out that your new boss is paying a PI to investigate you – sure, its a bunch of algorithms they’re paying for, rather than a seedy guy in a beat up car with a camera, but… its the same level of violation, and your boss doing it out of their own pocket speaks to ridiculous levels of insecurity. I feel like a good analogy is that you’ve come in and found the building on fire, and your new boss is putting a can of gasoline back into his car while playing with his zippo. There may be an innocent reason for it, but odds are better than good that there is not.

    However good the company was or has been before, you should run, not walk, for the exits, rather than work with this person. I guess you could try reporting this to HR, if there is a track record of them dealing with inappropriate behavior in management quickly and decisively, but… I suspect most of them are going to be too flummoxed by the situation to react well.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      I don’t think it’s helpful to compare this to a PI.
      Yes, what the boss is doing is shitty, but they’re accessing information that the LW is making publicly available. A PI tends to look for information that their target isn’t sharing.

      1. Observer*

        Yes, this is true.

        Of course, it turns out that this is the least of the OP’s problems with this guy. According to the OP’s post, this guy is a toxic mess. I mean who firs people for asking questions?

  50. Not a mouse*

    One year I had COBRA run out at the end of January, got on marketplace for two or three months, and then qualified for employer-provided coverage, so had to switch to that. Or, rather, I didn’t have to switch, but once you qualify for your employer’s coverage, you usually can’t receive the subsidy, so it wouldn’t have made sense financially not to switch.
    A few things about this:
    1. The marketplace plan was by far the best plan. Even my employer’s most expensive plan wasn’t as good. So definitely check whether it makes financial sense for you (I’m single, no kids, and was working part time retail, so got a high subsidy against a relatively low cost – this will probably be different for you).
    2. The worst part of all this was having to start my deductible all over again three times that year.
    3. I wish I’d gone straight to a marketplace plan – for me at least, it was so much cheaper than COBRA. (Actually, it’s possible marketplace wasn’t available yet when I first went on COBRA; this was a few years ago.) Others have made good points above though, regarding good reasons to use COBRA to stay on your current plan since it’s just a couple of months. Deductible, same doctors, approvals and pre-authorizations, etc.

    Ultimately you have to find out a lot of small but important details and do a lot of math to find out what will be best for you. Good luck!

  51. RagingADHD*

    LW#2, I also have a serious problem with procrastination and time management, and getting flustered when I’m rushed (see username) but I have to ask:

    If the video interview was set up in advance, and you knew the name of the company from the phone screen, and the info the recruiter gave you about setting up was all “standard stuff” that you already knew…

    Why did you wait until 2 hours before the call to start doing anything? You could have researched the company, done most of the setup, etc well in advance, and had plenty of time to chill out before the call.

    I get the sense of letdown that you were, in a sense, “all dressed up with nowhere to go,” but showering, getting dressed, and making sure a wedge of your home is tidy are not impositions. That’s just ordinary life stuff.

    If you want to have makeup options handy, there are plenty of 5-minute fixes that only require 3 or 4 products from the drugstore. Having a professional presentation on video does not mean you need to look like your makeup and hair were done by a professional. And if you don’t like makeup and never wear it, there is no law that you have to. A comb, moisturizer and lip gloss are fine. I see women in extremely professional environments with minimal or no makeup all the time, and I live in a very conservative area. Feeling like you look well on camera is helpful for your confidence, but women with no makeup get good jobs and do good work, too.

    I think maybe you got yourself into a situation where this felt a lot harder than it needed to be, and that might be what’s driving your reaction.

    I’m glad it felt like a good interview regardless, and I hope you get a great offer out of it!

    1. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

      I think that the OP meant that she could do more research in that 2 hours. I do think that 2 hours is a lot for hair makeup and making sure you have a professional-looking background. Really, all you need is a blank wall or to make sure there’s not a pile of dishes in the line of site.

      1. RagingADHD*

        However much time she needed for research or focusing, or prepping the room, she still could have started earlier if she needed a lot of time.

        Apparently nothing the recruiter said in the prep call was a surprise, so most of it could have been done in the preceding days, and then the personal grooming would only take as much time as it would normally take to go out and be “presentable” according to your personal taste and standards. All of that is entirely our own choices.

        1. Just Another Zebra*

          While I agree to an extent, I still feel for OP2. I said this in another comment, but I don’t work at home, so I don’t have a home office – I have a desk shoved into a corner that my dusty printer lives on. That corner is in our main living space. I have a preschooler. There are toys EVERYWHERE. So yes, I would also be spending 2-3 hours on video call prep, and I’d be annoyed if they changed plans last minute. I wouldn’t say anything to the company, but I’d certainly keep it in mind while interviewing.

          1. RagingADHD*

            Well, if you don’t work at home you’d have to take time off to be home for the call. I’d be a lot more annoyed about that than about hair, tidying, or research.

      2. cokezero*

        I’m curious as to what the recruiter actually told her to do for the interview. A computer in front of a blank wall should be fine, right?

        1. Observer*

          Sure it should. But that’s not always practical. And even when it is, that often does require some prep. So it’s totally not surprising that the OP had to spend SOME time of the physical prep.

  52. Metadata Janktress*

    Re: LW #3, in my field, good professors will keep shortlists of folks who are willing to do this work and distribute them to the students. More people need to do this–it’s not only overwhelming for us responding to the interviews, it’s not fun for the students to have to cold call/email someone they don’t know and hope they have the time/won’t be irritated by the request. I’d honestly consider it worthwhile to suggest this to professors who you get a lot of traffic from and if you have the energy, see if there’s a resource through your professional organization to automatically refer the students to.

  53. Judy*

    When I left my job in May, “not wanting to pay high Cobra payments” was not considered a qualifying event to go on the Marketplace for coverage – and open enrollment wasn’t until the end of the year. I opted for Cobra.

    1. ThatGirl*

      Leaving a job is absolutely a qualifying event for ACA coverage, “loss of health coverage” is number one.

      1. quill*

        When I jumped these hoops a few years ago you had to demonstrate that COBRA was unaffordable for you. (Given that COBRA for one month was about 25% of what my income would have been at the job I left for that month… I cleared that bar easily.) Things may have changed since then, or may vary by state.

  54. WillowSunstar*

    The company I work for monitors our social media (at least, anything under our real name). I post nothing political or religious ever. I’ve had relatives try to make up for it by posting religious messages on my page and I had to tell them not to, as we can’t have anything even remotely controversial on our sites. This would include any messages telling others that xyz religion is the only right one, and so forth. But at least the company told us and it is in our social media policy. I use an actual physical, paper diary for any venting I need to do offline.

    I think monitoring social media is just one of things workers now have to put up with for having a pay check. If you don’t want to be monitored, set up an account under a fake name.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      How do they have access to your social media?
      Are you expected to friend them?

      1. WillowSunstar*

        We are expected to either friend them or probably through previous coworkers at the same company that we have friended. It’s not unheard of. Regardless this was not the policy before our company got bought out. However, it is the policy of the company which took us over.

    2. Cthulhu's Librarian*

      It may be something a lot of employees are putting up with – I don’t like the idea that it is something we should have to put up with. Workplaces should understand that their control over our lives ends at the door to the building, and the very moment the time clock gets punched.

      1. Dinwar*

        “Workplaces should understand that their control over our lives ends at the door to the building, and the very moment the time clock gets punched.”

        I agree, but society at large doesn’t. I mean, what if one of your employees attends skinhead rallies? Would you say “Sure, he’s got objectionable stuff in his personal life, but he’s a great accountant”? If not, you’re admitting you’re fine with policing some personal activities, we’re just quibbling over where to draw the line.

        Also remember that employers are incentivized to pry into the private lives of their employees. This comes up in safety–a worker that’s injured at home is just as injured as one who got injured at work, and still incapable of doing their normal work. Add health insurance being tied to employment and you have employers making you wear FitBits, track all sorts of health parameters, etc. Makes sense from their perspective–they are, after all, the ones paying the premiums. And in today’s social media climate companies can be held responsible in the public eye for the actions of individual employees, on social media and elsewhere.

        I’m not saying any of this is right. It’s not. I’m not even saying it’s legal. It often isn’t. I’m just saying that it IS, and it’s unreasonable to expect companies to not respond to clear, direct fiscal incentives. We can wish that it were otherwise, even work towards it being otherwise, but it is what it is for now.

        1. WillowSunstar*

          Right and customers can and will leave. Not to mention, the possibility of lawsuits. Yeah we have freedom, but it’s only to a point. If I post “I hate my boss” on FB, I should expect to be summarily fired.

    3. quill*

      The problem is partially them even asking for your social media handles. If someone finds my facebook after googling me and I didn’t disclose that I had it on my application it’s none of their business that I use the internet to keep up with a few friends and extended family.

      If I had, say, posted a video to it of myself breaking into a building, it could be legitimately their business, but liking my aunt’s pictures of her disagreeable chihuahua? Absolutely not.

      1. WillowSunstar*

        It’s any media service that require us to use our real names. So yes, that would include Linked In (which I rarely update) and Facebook, which I now limit a lot what I post.

        1. quill*

          Yeah, it’s overall pretty bad, especially when you also have them looking at every Same Name person if they’re googling you and potentially attributing that person’s attitudes and indiscretions to you.

          1. WillowSunstar*

            Well I do believe they have to verify it’s us (for example, claiming to work for company xyz, which you do have to put in Linked In). FB doesn’t require it but I have it in there, and I friended some coworkers before new company bought us. Had I known we were going to get bought out, I wouldn’t have.

    4. I should really pick a name*

      I think monitoring social media is just one of things workers now have to put up with for having a pay check. If you don’t want to be monitored, set up an account under a fake name.

      I really want to push back against this idea.
      Yes, you should be careful about what you post to social media, but your employer is not entitled to monitor it.
      I restrict access to what I post, and I would find it extremely unusual and concerning if my employer was trying to get access to it.

      1. WillowSunstar*

        Again it is in the social media policy. I am not high up enough to do anything about it.

        1. I should really pick a name*

          I understand that, though I’m pushing back on the idea that this is a norm.

  55. StoneColdJaneAusten*

    I kinda respect that the boss told you. My employer clears does monitor our LinkedIns but nobody has ever told me about it.

  56. Amanda*

    RE: LW 4 – Current teacher here. I agree with some of the others to check with someone in HR/a benefits person. I’ve left other teaching positions and my insurance at that school ran through the summer even though I wasn’t going back to that school in the fall.

    1. HR Llama*

      Yep, came here to say this. Sometimes teacher’s pay schedule can be unique compared to other “standard” jobs. Even though they finish teaching in May/June they might still be receiving checks until August/September. And my school has it set up that the paycheck pays for benefits for the next month. So for example, if the last check is June then July benefits would be paid for. You would just have that one month gap if their new benefits start August 1st.

  57. Just Me*

    LW3 this is very common in my industry as well. My office happens to be connected to a university that has a program for this niche thing, so we nipped it in the bud by telling students from other universities that we must prioritize helping those at our own institution. I could also see adding a small note on your website or LinkedIn saying something like, “Unfortunately, I am not able to grant interviews to students at this time.”

  58. Bunny Girl*

    #2 – No advice; just sympathy. I totally get where you are coming from. I used to have waist length hair that, when left to its own devices, looked ever so slightly feral. There were times I would tame that beast, get on my make-up, pick out a nice outfit, drive across town for the interview, and the interview was significantly less time than it even took me to get ready and I always remembered being a little perturbed. Just keep moving on.

  59. Person from the Resume*

    LW#2, you should not speak to the recruiter about this and it wasn’t really disrespectful of your time and energy. You’re having a bigger reaction than most people would about it, and that would reflect badly on you if you shared it.

    Also you planned for one thing and a differnt one happened, but it sounds like either a last minute change or an inadvertent miscommunication that it was going to be a video interview. No one was disrespecting you by what happened.

    I don’t know how busy your life is, but it also sounds like you’re saying I focused on my appearance and my environment’s appearance rather than prepping by researching the company and mentally preparing for the interview. Again that’s not going to reflect well with you.

    If specifically the recruiter (sounds like an external recruiter) ate up 2-3 hours you have planned for a different kind of interview prep with superficial stuff maybe you can ask them to do that discussion at a different time. But the interview change sounds like a last minute thing so if the video interview had gone on that prep would have been useful, and you should have done the company research and mental prep for the interview earlier.

  60. Purple Loves Snow*

    To OP #3:

    I too work in a field that has a lot of student interview requests; in fact it is an actual assignment in one of the university courses. I also get inundated with these requests and my workaround is to schedule one per month and allow no more than 60 minutes an interview. I do have a reply that I send to all student interview requests, I use it so much it is basically a formula that I copy/paste into my reply. It basically says thanks for reaching out and am unable to meet as requested as I have already filled my available student interviewee spaces.

    I also require the students to email me their list of questions and/or agenda one week in advance. I also advise in this email, that if they do not email me their questions, I will cancel the interview. I have also put together a compilation of the usual questions and professional etiquette standards that I am frequently asked and my answers. I provide this after the interview to all the students I connect with. I find setting one interview per month for this purpose is what works best for my schedule and work demands.

  61. quill*

    #1: I’ll clip my probably-extraneous opinions about why a job search site shouldn’t also be a social media site, because people like your boss haven’t so much as blurred the lines between social media and professionalism as driven over them with a tank. I would either tell him that you update often (and then do so for a while) or start using another site to job search.

  62. El l*

    OP #5:
    On your online job searches, see if there’s some way that you can hide that particular position as it comes up. LinkedIn has this capability, for example.

    And…that’s it. Move on. Don’t let yourself have another thought about it. Not about you. It’s tough, I know, but there’s no benefit to giving this job a minute more of your time and energy.

  63. Meep*

    #1 – Since I see you around here OP, my first big girl job my boss told me to create a LinkedIn. I did. She then told me I wasn’t allowed to add anyone but her. And if I was going to, I had to run it by her first. She posed it as “good for me”. Now I know she is just out of her ever-loving mind. Sometimes I still go on a “connection” spree out of spite.

  64. KoiFeeder*

    Truthfully, I don’t see why more of the students contacting LW 3 aren’t willing to take the email response and just lie to their professor. If the professor hasn’t even bothered to collate a shortlist of professionals willing and able to answer these sort of interviews, I can’t say I was too fussed about lying to them when I was a student. If the professor actually contacts LW3 and demands to know whether they talked on the phone to a specific student, I think that would be a very educational experience for the professor!

    (I also can’t process verbal language to save my life, especially over the phone, so actually doing a phone interview would have involved me writing down the person’s answers, asking them to repeat themselves about ten times over, and reading scripted questions- no one wants to deal with that.)

    1. NeedRain47*

      You can easily record it with any smart phone. this is what I did, even for pre covid face to face interviews. I’m never going to be able to write fast enough unless I leave huge gaps where the interviewee is just waiting for me to finish writing.

      As for lying, most students aren’t going to have the knowledge to finish the assignment associated with the interview if they don’t actually do an interview.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        Lying about the medium, not the interview itself. If someone can actually manage to research well enough to fake an entire interview, more power to them, but that’s not what I meant for this one.

    2. Lyudie*

      Probably because the university would consider it academic fraud if they found out and the student could get in serious trouble for lying about the assignment. Personally I wouldn’t take the risk, though it occurred to me a few times to do this with these “pester your coworkers” assignments.

  65. Dragon*

    About fixing up her visible interview space, and assuming the video interview was by Zoom: I wonder if LW #2 has an older computer that can’t support virtual backgrounds.

    That was a big reason I got a new home laptop this year.

  66. Nancy*

    LW4: your husband should first ask the benefits office what days he is actually covered and if there are missing days, what his options are. Ask both the current and future office.

  67. Brienne the Blue*

    For LW3: I have a friend who’s an expert on a subject that is frequently assigned to high schoolers writing research papers. Because my friend receives constant requests for interviews and/or is straight-up asked the same questions over and over, they will only grant a Skype/Zoom interview if the requestor can demonstrate they’ve already done a lot of reading on the subject and have specific questions. My friend would tell you there’s absolutely nothing wrong with insisting on doing the interview via email and then sending boilerplate answers, or with sending a boilerplate message to professors who repeatedly send students your way to let them know this is an imposition.

    1. Alexis Rosay*

      That’s a good idea. Asking for questions via email would facilitate sending canned answers to those who ask generic questions, and choosing the students who have prepared more thoughtful, one-depth, or specific questions for phone calls if OP is willing to do a certain number, like 1 per month or per two months.

  68. Enn Pee*

    LW#4, this may not apply in your case, but if your husband has a Health Flexible Spending Account (FSA), you can use whatever he elected at the beginning of your plan year – even if it exceeds the contributions he has made so far.
    Let’s say you elected $2,750 and you haven’t yet spent it all. See if the doctor can prescribe ’til August NOW, and you can pay for that through the FSA.
    You do NOT need to pay back any “excess” money you spend. So – if you’ve only contributed $500, but spend the whole $2,750 and then quit…you’re not on the hook for the $2,250.

    1. Katiekins*

      Re: “You do NOT need to pay back any “excess” money you spend.” This depends entirely on the paperwork you signed, and is likely to be false. My first job with a FSA made it clear in the paperwork that they would take reimbursed FSA money not yet deducted from your paychecks out of your final paycheck, and if you had more reimbursed than deducted, you had to pay the rest with your own post-tax money. My second job with an FSA didn’t have that stipulation the first year I signed up (believe me, I noticed!) but wised up by the second year.

      Enn Pee, you may want to double check the paperwork you signed, just in case you’re counting on this loophole. (Maybe your company doesn’t stipulate payback, but if they do you don’t want to get burned!)

  69. Regular Human Accountant*

    #4 I saw above that the OP had her problem solved, but for anyone else in a similar situation: try negotiating with the new employer to pay for COBRA or short-term Obamacare premiums (or at least a portion of it) until their own coverage kicks in. I had success with this twice and it saved us about $3,000 each time.

  70. Evvie*

    Re: #1

    I’ve now had two jobs that forced me to used LinkedIn in specific ways. Change my job duties, advertise positions even though I’m not in HR, etc. They also want me to leave positive Glassdoor reviews. I’m SO uncomfortable with all of this. LinkedIn is MINE and unless they want to pay for my upgraded membership, they shouldn’t get to dictate what I put on there. And the Glassdoor thing? Sketchy sketchy, and those are supposed to be anonymous. Also, I won’t lie for them–if I have nothing positive to say, I won’t say anything positive. I learned a long time ago to stop protecting the wrong people.

  71. Sharon*

    #4 – have you tried negotiating with your new employer to have your coverage start earlier? It’s definitely something to explore.

  72. Elle by the sea*

    Updating your LinkedIn profile is by no means the sign of someone searching for a new job. I update my LinkedIn profile from time to time, even though I’m happy in my current job and have no intention to leave. And anyone monitoring their employees updating their profiles? What on Earth!

  73. Jessica Fletcher*

    Short term health insurance plans are terrible in the first place. (They’re called “junk plans” for a reason!)

    They’re especially bad for a child with medical issues. STLDI aren’t subject to the Affordable Care Act. They don’t cover pre-existing conditions, they don’t cover free preventive care, and they’re allowed to have coverage caps or black out expensive conditions altogether.

    Alison, this is terrible advice, for anyone.

    This person should go to, the official Health Insurance Marketplace created by the ACA. (Some states have their own official version. In this case, will send you there!) Loss of health insurance creates a Special Enrollment period, an opportunity to buy coverage outside of the normal enrollment period. The whole family can get coverage. They’ll just cancel when the new coverage is going to start.

    The child may be referred to CHIP, if the family income would qualify them for subsidized coverage there. CHIP is high quality insurance, specially designed for kids.

    Really disappointed to see this recommendation. You should strike it from the post, so others don’t think this is a solution to their problems.

  74. Marian the Librarian*

    LW3 – These interviews are fairly common in my field too. One professor took to Twitter and asked for volunteers. She keeps a list, and I get an email from her each semester checking to see if I’m still happy to be on the list. I’ve said yes some semesters, and no others, and it’s worked really well. I really appreciate the heads-up and the opportunity to opt out if I need to! It could be a good strategy to suggest to the professors, and you could even have a policy of only responding to inquiries from classes you’ve pre-approved to be on the list for.

  75. HR Llama*

    For #1. I would wait it out, especially since you’re under a merger. You never know how things will get shuffled. What if, the VP from the other company gets the boot and now there’s a new spot for you to move into and you’re the peoples choice because you’re a better manager than everyone else. You just never know. If once things get settled this guy is still a pain, than I would say to start searching.

  76. Making up names is hard*

    If you are in the midst of a job search, realize you could always got called for a last minute interview. So, do yourself a favor, figure out a baseline acceptable set up for the call, have it good to go pretty much all the time, pre-select an outfit to use for all first round interviews whether on Zoom or in-person, and figure out a basic hair/makeup look you can do in 10 minutes. For the hair/makeup, keep in mind that most makeup barely translates across video calls, depending on wifi strength, screen size and resolution, etc. And, if you happen to wear glasses your eye makeup will barely read. For my recent interviews I wore green-tinted primer to tone down my redness from rosacea/acne, a smidge of under eye brightener, and a statement lipstick that makes me feel like bad ass.

    Then next time you’ll have plenty of time for actual last-minute interview prep.

  77. Living That Teacher Life*

    LW #4 If. Your husband teaches through the end of the school year (through the end of his contract), he should still be receiving insurance through July. Make sure he dates his resignation letter for the end of July, not the last day of school. I once changed teaching positions and dated my resignation letter too early, and I had to argue with the personnel office that I had fulfilled my teaching contract for a full year, so I should get a full year of insurance. The new school year’s insurance usually starts in August, which is when he would be starting his new job anyway. Best wishes!

  78. UpsideDown*

    For LW3, I used to get similar as my field is very popular but small. A couple of options that myself and others in our field have done:
    – Record a YouTube video or write a blog post with the most commonly asked questions by these students (I bet a lot of them are the same Qs every time!) and share a link to that when you get requests. Ask them to forward to their lecturer as use for a class resource, and that you don’t have time to do one on one interviews. You could have comments enabled so students can ask things you might not have answered and then you can answer at your leisure. That way it becomes a resource for students instead of a time drain answering the same things over and over.
    – If you are constantly getting approached by students from the same handful of courses or classes, reach out to those lecturers and offer to do a group Zoom session once a semester for one hour where all the students from all the courses can dial in and ask questions (again many of their questions are likely to be the same) to limit it to a once off imposition. (Or even better, to do a paid guest lecture in their course where you are remunerated for your time!). Perhaps the lecturers can rotate through the 3 or 4 other people in your field who probably also get swamped with these requests so then you only end up doing it once every few semesters. To me it strikes me that their lecturers aren’t doing a great job of cultivating relationships in this small sector if they haven’t already got feedback that the interviews are a time drain, and don’t already have some kind of guest lecture type arrangement set up.

    Of course, both of the above are actually pretty generous so you can also do what AAM says instead and just decline. But just some other options if you don’t want to give a flat out no.

    I feel for the students too, my first career was journalism and it was hard getting people to give you time as a student journo. This is a lame assignment.

  79. Boof*

    Op1- sorry if this has been said in the comments already but please ask the oncoming employer if they have any help or policies on this; i’m sure it’s not the first time it’s come up and they might be willing to cover you sooner or some other help

  80. Try, try again*

    LW5 – I don’t usually disagree CV with Allison, but I would consider applying again. I had applied for a job at a company that I thought I was a great fit for and was surprised to not even get a screening interview. 3 months later I saw another posting (same job title, same location, same team) and sent the same materials (updated date on the cover letter and that was it) thinking what did I have to lose? I got the job. Sometimes HR is screening and the miss a resume/application among a sea of applications, but they might pass it along to the hiring manager if you give it a second shot. Just my $0.02.

  81. Feral Historian*

    OP3 — I’m a PhD with a fairly niche specialty and I get these kinds of emails from teachers, parents, and students in K-12 fairly frequently. I’ve had cute conversations with third graders and I’ve just ignored emails from high school students who are clearly looking for me to write their paper. Yesterday I sent a polite rejection to a fifth-grade teacher who didn’t even say ‘please’ when she sent a list of specific questions. If you get this kind of thing from teachers often, it might be worth one line explaining the burden in your email when you decline, but I think you’re also find to just ignore the messages outright. Getting a degree/being a specialist doesn’t mean you (I) agreed to underwrite students’ homework assignments on demand.

  82. Candi*

    #3 -wow! I didn’t expect my letter to inspire another. (This is a good surprise.) :)

    As for contacting the professors, ones like the prof I was writing about probably wouldn’t care, but there’s other teachers I’ve had who would likely be embarrassed they didn’t think of how they were imposing in the first place. It’s up to you if you want to try.

  83. Turtles+All+The+Way+Down*

    Re: dressing for a video interview, well before the pandemic, I heard a hot job searching tip, which was to dress nicely for a phone interview, rather than taking it in sweats or pajamas. Also stand if you can. It helps your confidence and vocal projection.

    Now, obviously, different people work well in different things. I personally like to shower and dress for the day every morning, including while working from home and on weekends. So in that sense, I wouldn’t see getting ready for an interview that switched to video to be wasted time, per se.

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