can I ask my new employee to babysit, my boss thinks I lack confidence but I don’t, and more

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

1. Could I ask my new employee to babysit?

I have a question that is currently hypothetical, but may be reality soon. We are looking at hiring our fantastic college intern onto our team, and I would likely be managing her. She also loves kids, and I have two of my own. I’ve had a hard time finding and keeping babysitters; the ones we used to have have since graduated from high school and moved out of the area, and most of the high school and college students I know now don’t have the time or interest.

Would it be completely inappropriate of me to offer her babysitting opportunities if I end up managing her? These would be occasional, outside of work hours/events, and paid the normal going rate for babysitters in our area.

Don’t do it! The potential for conflicts of interest is too high. First, no matter how much you make it clear that she can say no, you won’t know if she feels pressure to say yes because you’re her boss. Second, what if something goes wrong while she’s babysitting? There’s potential for it to bleed into work, and that’s not fair to her. Third, babysitting is really intimate, and you both need to have some distance in order to work together effectively. You need to be able to give her impartial feedback (will you really feel comfortable criticizing her work if you know she’s going to be at your house taking care of your kid that night?) or even let her go if her work warrants it. And other people need to trust that you’re able to do that; perceptions of favoritism or special treatment can be a big deal on a team.

It might go fine, but the potential for problems is too high.

2. My boss thinks I lack confidence, but I don’t

I’m a first year teacher, though this is not my first job — teaching is my second career. I know that the first year can be rough, and there’s a high learning curve. I try my best, knowing that inevitably I will screw up sometimes because it’s my first year. Overall, things have been going really well!

The problem is my principal, who has somehow gotten it into her head that I lack confidence in my abilities and that she needs to help me build up my self-worth as a teacher. I don’t know where she got this impression, but confidence is pretty low on my list of growth areas. I think I’m pretty good at what I do, all things considered! It’s getting to the point where she brings it up whenever we speak, even about entirely unrelated issues, and I’m getting offended.

I know she probably means this kindly, but it feels like she’s making a lot of assumptions about me, especially because I look younger than I am. I understand she wants to support me, but the constant talk about my confidence is only making me doubt myself.

It’s possible she does this with all new teachers, but it’s also possible something gave her the impression that you in particular need it. It’s okay to ask about it! You could say, “You’ve been talking about my confidence level a lot, which surprises me because that doesn’t feel like an area where I struggle. Have I done something to give you the impression that I lack confidence?”

At some point in the conversation, you could also say, “I don’t think I need a boost there, but what I’d love your help with is…”

3. We’re returning to the office and I have a disability that means I can’t stay awake 8 hours in a row

I was hired early in the pandemic when my company went to Emergency Remote Mode, and have remained fully remote since then. My company has more recently been discussing returning to the office, and I have reason to think they might try to announce this on short notice.

While I’m still trying to figure out with my doctor exactly what is going on, I have trouble remaining fully conscious for eight hours in a row. It’s very likely if you stuck me in a desk staring at a computer for eight hours straight, I would either fall in and out of sleep or have spurts of appearing very visibly confused / having slurred speech. At the very least I would probably be a lot less productive. I generally describe the feeling as being like my brain spontaneously feeling like it’s in molasses.

Because I’ve been remote and most of my work is pretty asynchronous, I’ve been able to get away with working weird / fragmented hours, like two four-hour sections of a day with a three-hour break. Because my work gets done, no one seems to mind (and I have explicitly asked how I’m performing and gotten decent feedback) … but I also have not explicitly told coworkers exactly how wonky the hours I’m working are, beyond what they might be able to deduce by the occasional 2:30 am timestamp.

Is it worth telling my company about this if they try to do forced return-to-office? I feel embarrassed about it and I don’t super want to tell coworkers, but also, like, I think the company will probably get a lot more productivity out of me if I’m in an environment where I can physically run around or nap when I get sleep attacks / work non-traditional hours. And considering I’ve been doing this job remotely for years with good performance reviews, I think (hope?) they might take that as reason to believe I can successfully do this job remotely?

What you want is an official accommodation to work from home because of your medical condition. Your condition likely qualifies under the Americans with Disabilities Act because it interferes with a major life activity (sleep/staying awake). Because you think your company might announce a return on short notice, it makes sense to start that process now rather than waiting. Talk with your HR department, let them know you’re making “an official request for accommodations under the ADA” (use that exact term — in fact, put it in the subject line of your email), and find out what they need you to do to get the ball rolling.

4. Former boss is keeping tabs on me on LinkedIn

My former boss, an executive director at a nonprofit, has been routinely viewing my LinkedIn profile since I left four months ago. I know from former coworkers that the executive director has stalked their LinkedIn pages as well. The executive director views the pages around once a week to every two weeks, far more often than necessary to see where employees went or to get a sense of how employees are doing. They view in “private mode” but with their title and company showing up in my weekly report of who’s searches I’ve appeared in, it’s pretty easy to determine who it is.

I’ve blocked the executive director on LinkedIn. To me there is no good reason to view my page that often, but I don’t know if I should bring it up with the board of directors. I think the behavior is concerning and reflects poorly on the organization, but maybe I’m being too sensitive.

That’s weird behavior, but it doesn’t rise to the level of something you’d alert the board to or that they’d typically get involved in.

5. Duo cover letters

I recently attended a career presentation to students where the presenter showed an example of a trend in cover letters that they had learned at a career counseling workshop. It’s called duo cover letters. After the traditional business letter greetings and an introductory paragraph, the text follows a two-column format where the left column is the job requirements and the right column is the applicant’s response. There is the traditional closing paragraph and signature. From the example shown, there was no room for individuality, creativity, or voice. Having been on ad infinitum search committees, I admit that I would have a less-than-favorable reaction if I received one of these do cover letters.

Afterwards, I sent the students examples of the excellent cover letters you featured on your website. At least they now have a comparison.

Are duo cover letters truly a trend?

It’s not a new trend! This format has been around for at least a decade, and it’s a bit … gimmicky and unsophisticated. The idea is to make it easy for the person reading your resume to match your qualifications with the job requirements, but hiring managers can figure out if you’re qualified on their own; they don’t need a chart to show them. Plus, that format makes it really hard to do a lot of other things a cover letter should do, like flesh out who you are as a candidate beyond the basic facts from your resume and show how you communicate in writing. It’s too limiting.

{ 328 comments… read them below }

  1. E*

    LW 1: Ugh there’s nothing worse than a boss that doesn’t understand the dynamic between boss vs employee. There’s always a power imbalance and even if you can say no there’s always pressure to say yes. Don’t even ask it’s really not fair to put her in that position. Find a different babysitter that isn’t someone you’re in charge of at work.

    1. Aphrodite*

      And please do not ask her if she knows anyone who would do it. That is almost as weird as asking her.

      Ask people who you know outside of work. Post at the local college. Put an ad in your church newsletter. But keep her entirely out of it.

      1. Rivikah*

        Your local area probably has a Facebook group for people looking for babysitters/looking to be babysitters.

        1. 2 Cents*

          Most towns have a “Moms/Parents of [Town]” Facebook group — asking if there’s a babysitting-specific group there works too. That’s how I’ve found two babysitters, including a local high schooler.

          1. Clisby*

            Mine did too, way back when they were in preschool. A couple of the preschool teachers were on the list, but they wanted the extra work. I’m sure babysitting paid more per hour than their preschool jobs. But it would never have occurred to me to ask one of the teachers who wasn’t on the list whether they wanted to babysit – I’d figure if they were up for it, they’d be on the list. Plus, I as a parent had no authority over them.

      2. TootsNYC*

        you could conceivably ask her if she knows of any “bulletin boards” that work like this posted on. That’s IT.

      3. littledoctor*

        Man, there are times I feel like being from a very rural small town really affects what I see as normal, because it would never in a million years occur to me that an employer asking you to babysit would be weird. I babysat for my high school teachers even while in their class, in adulthood I babysat for two different employers I worked for—it was just normal where I lived, where you essentially had to have dual relationships with people because there were so few. Hello, my doctor who is also a member of the same church as me and on my bowling team. Hello, employer I housesit for and who leads my daughter’s Guides troop and is in my yoga class.

        I’d honestly have considered it a compliment to be asked to babysit by my employer.

        1. Sara without an H*

          Small rural towns are, indeed, a different world. I once was part of a pool of potential jurors in a small rural city — it quickly became apparent that the attorneys would never get a jury at all if they ruled out everybody who knew anyone else involved in the case.

          This is probably the only place where the LW’s request would make sense. In larger towns and cities, it would pose the problems Alison describes in her answer.

        2. littledoctor*

          And this was in professional environments. My law student sister babysat for the (female) lawyer she worked for during clerkship. When she wasn’t available she gave them my number.

        3. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Laying Around*

          Yeah, where my family is from this wouldn’t raise eyebrows. But here in NYC? If the new employee tells people the boss asked, they will think the boss is a clown.

        4. Clobberin' Time*

          But the flip side of that is there would be no worry about the intern getting fired or pushed out at work if she said no, because there would be no one else to replace her.

        5. Rara Avis*

          Academia is a different world, too. In college I babysit for the chair of my (tiny) department, who taught half of the classes I took and was my thesis advisor. And it never seemed weird. There was a system where college kids who wanted to babysit put their names on a list and faculty/staff could then hire them. So it wasn’t a cold ask.

    2. Zombeyonce*

      A former boss of mine regularly had one of my coworkers (at my level, not the boss’) house and dog sit when they went out of town. I always felt uncomfortable about the access that gave my coworker, to the point of sometimes feeling resentful. I don’t recommend adding this dynamic to work relationships not just because of the potential problems between you, but because of how it makes other reports feel when they find out.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        Yes, that’s one of the more subtle issues – will people believe that the intern is succeeding on her own merits, or that she’s getting preferential treatment because she’s doing favours for the boss. Another subtle issue is that the LW is looking at the new employee as someone very young – she talks about having high school and university students to babysit, so she’s thinking of the intern as a young student, not as a working professional. Would she ask one of her peers, an employee of many years experience, to be a part time babysitter?

        And of course, the obvious things – the employee could easily feel like she can’t say no, or can’t quit if she doesn’t like the job. Conversely, if one of the kids, say, got injured while being babysat, could the LW really separate that from her evaluation of the employee?

        1. Lily*

          “she’s thinking of the intern as a young student, not as a working professional. Would she ask one of her peers, an employee of many years experience, to be a part time babysitter?”

          I would feel absolutely insulted if my employer straight out of uni asked me to babysit her kids. I busted my tail in uni, graduated 3rd in my class, but you see me as babysitter material because I’m young and female?

          And would you ask a MALE employee if he’d watch your kids?

          1. Mockingjay*

            Early in my career, I was asked to babysit for exactly those reasons: I was young and female. I didn’t feel I could say no, precisely because of the power imbalance. This was 30+ years ago.

            OP1, it’s very disheartening that a generation later young women are STILL expected to babysit for their bosses. Treat her like any other employee in your office, and find a babysitter elsewhere.

        2. That One Person*

          The flip side is that it sounds like if OP has to go, then the new hire wouldn’t be able to go to events and grow professionally because they’d be stuck potentially babysitting…or OP would have to find someone else regardless. Hopefully the latter because otherwise it’d become a case of sabotaging someone else for personal interest even if done unconsciously.

      2. hbc*

        Yeah, I did this the opposite way (babysat for years then worked at his company for a summer), and it was weird. He behaved differently around me than other employees, everyone was reserved with me–and this was with me definitely going away in a few months.

        I’ll grant, some of the weirdness came from the fact that he was an absolute tyrant at the office when I wasn’t around, but I guarantee I would eventually have been resented for the special treatment.

      3. Smithy*


        For all of the very common and normal talk in these comments about people not wanting any extra social engagements with their bosses – it’s not the same as not acknowledging that extra face time with a boss is or can be an asset. And this is all the more fraught earlier in your career when it’s really really normal to have less certainty regarding whether or not you’re doing your job well. So it can literally be that position of one colleague having that extra boost of being told they’re doing their job well more frequently and the confidence that can come with that.

        Obviously supervisors will sometimes work more with some staff than others based on work load needs – but that’s why the perceptions of personal favoritism are even more damaging.

      4. kitryan*

        I once asked a fellow employee to check on my cat a couple times while I was away and it was a mess. I thought I’d framed it as a friendly favor thing, separate from regular work, 5 minutes to change food/scoop litter, 2 or 3 times over the week.
        However, this person was a bit -odd- which hadn’t really come out yet (but would later) and felt it was a big commitment due to what her commute would be (which I hadn’t realized and which she didn’t mention initially), and wanted significant payment, *but* only mentioned the difficulty and the payment well after the initial discussion, right before my departure date, so our different understandings came as a bit of a surprise! I also realized in that conversation, that I did actually have some de facto authority over this person, so there was a power dynamic issue there that I hadn’t realized.
        So, to get out of it, I said that there’d been a miscommunication, I hadn’t realized the extent of the time commitment and wasn’t comfortable asking that of her (true, but mostly I was floored by her bringing all this up last minute).
        I then asked another friend if she’d do it – and was crystal clear about what the expectations were and all. She was fine with it and it went off without a hitch. I also knew her from work, but pretty much everyone I knew in that town was through work in one way or another (theater community, everyone worked for or with everyone else), so the options were limited!
        After that, future cat-checkups were done by my boss, who was also my best friend and who loved my cat-we also didn’t take vacation at the same time, for coverage, so that worked out.
        It’s not impossible to make these sorts of things go well but I think that you have to know the person super well and make expectations super clear and it’s probably best to avoid if you have other options!

      5. Turingtested*

        Years ago when I worked food service a coworker baby sat for a manager. Coworker was allowed to be rude/snippy, take tons of Saturdays off, and generally do things that got other coworkers disciplined. I wouldn’t be surprised if the manager had no idea she was treating coworker preferentially but it seemed that way to me and I resented the hell out of it.

      1. Caliente Papillion*

        And sorry- advice to LW – don’t do it. As someone who is asked to use my many talents that I don’t use for my corporate job, even if she doesn’t want to do it she’ll feel obligated. As someone older who can get paid for these skills – more than a random person at work thinks they’re worth – I have no problem saying no, but at intern age I did.

        1. EPLawyer*

          This is an excellent point. Just because the intern likes kids does not mean she wants to babysit ANY kids. She is a college graduate starting out in a field unrelated to childcare. She wants to be seen for THOSE skills, not her babysitting skills.

          Asking her to babysit for you will get her known as the employee who babysits, not the employee who did a great job on getting the TPS collated on time.

          1. TootsNYC*

            add: she’s now a working professional, and she may not want to work AT ALL in her non-work hours.

          2. Jellissimo*

            I’d also like to know how they “know” this intern likes kids? I personally don’t like children (and have none) but I learned my lesson expressing my lack of fascination, so now I feign interest in kids, just so I’m not a pariah. I like maybe a handful of kids in my life, and I’m related to most of them. There is no way this would be a good idea under any circumstances, though.

            1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

              That was my question. I can see that side of this.
              The most obvious one “small talk” = “I acknowledge you fellow human.”
              Intern/employee trying to relate to new boss.
              Boss, I live in X area, great school district. “Oh, I really like kids.”
              So even though intern just finished a four year degree in a field not kid centric.
              Now intern is the “kid person”
              Please do not ask her to babysit.

        2. Botanist*

          Ha. My first professional job out of college (with a master’s degree, at that), I had a director who had really skewed perception of good professional boundaries. The one that’s relevant here is that a year or so in, she had a baby and she knew I had five younger siblings are I was still doing quite a bit to support my family so, natural conclusion- ask Botanist to babysit!!
          I knew it wasn’t a good idea but I wasn’t sure how to say no- I did come up with a somewhat workable solution by telling her my schedule was pretty full outside of working hours and offering to ask my rooommate, who was still in school, if sh’ed be interested in some babysitting gigs. In hindsight I’m bothered that I was put in that position and I wish I had asked my manager for tips on handling it, both to get some better phrases for myself and to make him aware of what this director was doing. Sooo uncomfortable!

      2. Boof*

        Yes everyone wants to try to do things easily, that’s not entitlement, that’s basic sense
        The problem is not recognizing when a power imbalance makes things weird – but glad lw spidy sense went off and asked

        1. Empress Matilda*

          Yes, this is important. OP, you did the right thing here! What’s obvious to one person isn’t necessarily obvious to someone else. Nobody knows everything, and that’s why we have advice columnists – so people can ask for advice.

        2. Caliente Papillion*

          I hear you, maybe I’ve worked for too many people who think they can just have someone who works for them/their company at a lower pay grade do whatever they come up with.
          Not everyone wants easy- I want high quality and reliable in my life and will work to both find it and pay for it. Not oh this person works here and I need a babysitter so clearly it’s them and guess what I’ll pay market rate, la di da! Woof, nooo. And yea, I’m glad LW asked so that they can avoid putting this person in this position.

      3. Dinwar*

        I disagree. In my experience they typically are thinking “I want someone I know and trust to watch my kid.” They aren’t thinking about the power imbalance at all–they’re looking within their existing social network to find help.

        The issue is that they’ve confused vertical social ties (ties between castes, really, but in the USA we use employment rank in place of castes) with horizontal ties (ties between peers). Humans have ALWAYS relied on horizontal social ties to raise children–that’s what “It takes a village to raise a child” is trying to get at. The issue is that in the USA we’re taught to treat everyone as equal, and it’s unfortunately easier to treat people lower in the power structure than you as your peers than it is to treat people higher in the power structure. This is especially true if the parents have moved away from family, meaning that they have disrupted their horizontal ties.

      4. Observer*

        I think that this is a bit unfair. After all, the OP *did* ask.

        But, for you, OP, take this on board. Not only are all the reasons that Alison mentioned, and that people have been hammering, really important. But ALSO it can have a really negative effect on your reputation. You don’t really want to be known as the boss who wants what they want when they want it, and is willing to take advantage of people to get it.

    3. Knope Knope Knope.*

      Totally. In addition to all the excellent reasons Alison presented about why this is an awful idea, I’ll add it’s infantilizing to your employee. She’s looking at this as her first professional full-time step on her career ladder and her boss sees her as the babysitter. Ouch!

    4. Miette*

      And just because she likes kids doesn’t mean she wants to babysit. I adore all my friends’ children, but I would rather endure a dental cleaning than babysit.

    5. Student*

      I also don’t like the undercurrent of “A young woman is in my social sphere! She will be pleased to take care of babies.” It makes a lot of assumptions, and there’s a lot of gender-based expectations, and not a lot of regard for whether this is actually great for the young woman.

      This young woman is starting a career after her first internship. Depending on the career, that’s often not a great time in life to be picking up babysitting gigs. I generally use pay as a bit of a meter stick here – is babysitting pay on par with the pay she gets from her day job? If it’s not, then she’s probably not going to consider a babysitting gig to be a great use of her personal time. I generally associate baby-sitting with either younger people who are still in school but able to take care of a kid (usually an older kid that requires less intense supervision), or professionals who’ve made baby-sitting their career field. Or, friends and family.

      1. littledoctor*

        I mean in fairness the letter does specify that LW knows that their employee loves children. Some women do genuinely enjoy being around children.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          People can genuinely enjoy gardening, or baking, and yet want those to be activities completely under their control that they do to relax, rather than must do if someone who knows them offers them money to do that task as a job.

        2. InsufficentlySubordinate*

          I think this points out something to think about for anyone. If your young Male intern also likes kids, would you ask him to babysit? If not, then don’t ask your young Female/NB intern either. (This is ignoring the reason not to do it because of power differential, only addressing the gendered aspect.) It can apply to other situations as well.

          1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

            I think intern was trying to relate to new boss, who has kids.
            As a young woman, when she said to her new boss, who has children, “I like kids,” it became, Intern would love to be around other people’s kids all the time. And if she got paid for it, win/win.
            If Intern were a young man, and he was trying to find a human connection to his new, older/different point in life, female boss and used, “oh, I really like kids,” it would be taken as a nice thing to know about him, maybe wonder if he has younger siblings or cousins, not that he has a hidden passion to watch other people’s kids, because, “well, he said he likes kids, when I was talking about mine.”

        3. Clisby*

          I love cats, but I’m not going to cat-sit for anyone but (so far) my daughter, who has an open invitation to leave her cats here if she has to go off on a summer internship. I’m not going to have other cats in my house, I’m not going to your house to cat-sit, I’m not even going to your house to feed cat/change litter a couple times a week. Not happening.

      2. Sam I Am*

        I agree that LW shouldn’t ask the former intern to babysit, but I just want to counter the idea that babysitting is not a “good use of time,” and the assumption that there are myriad other childcare options available (which LW explicitly said in her letter there are not).

        In my area, babysitting is a common side gig for early-career professionals. Demand for childcare is very high (again, we are still in a pandemic and parents are struggling! there are not tons of options) and the going rate is way better than minimum wage! On the order of $20+/hour vs $12-15. Plenty of teachers and other young professionals supplement their income with after-school, evening, and weekend babysitting. If you’re a new college grad working an entry-level job and you like kids, it’s a great way to earn extra money outside of 9-5 hours.

    6. Clisby*

      Power imbalance aside, it’s saying loud and clear that LW1 doesn’t see this intern as a professional. Otherwise, I can’t see how it would even occur to her to ask, unless the intern has of her own volition *offered* to babysit for her sometimes. It would still be a bad idea, but at least I wouldn’t be questioning the LW’s basic professional judgement nearly as much as I am right now.

      I remember when my daughter was 15 or 16, I pointed out to her that you can earn pretty good money babysitting (this was 10 years ago, and she could easily have gotten $12-$15/hour where we live.) She said, “Mom. I don’t like little kids.” Knowing her, she would have bluntly said this to anyone who asked her to babysit out of some bizarre idea that high school girls of course want to babysit.

    7. Chirpy*

      Yeah, I once had a similar situation where a contractor (who many volunteers at that job wished had gotten my job instead of me, although to my knowledge she had not applied for my permanent position) needed a babysitter with my language skills due to a foreign adoption. I already had problems being seen as “authoritative” due to being in my 20s and the youngest person there. I absolutely *could not* take that babysitting job, because it would have further cemented my status as “a kid we don’t have to listen to” at work. It was extremely awkward to turn down, too, because we lived close by as well.

    8. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      It’s also very demeaning for the employee! They’ve presumably studied hard to get to where they are now about to start working in an office, but the boss still sees them as a babysitter.

  2. Linda Pinda*

    OP 1 – Please do not ask anyone at work to babysit for you. Especially someone under your chain of command.

    I’ve been the potential babysitter in such a situation and even though the money would have been good, there’s no way I wanted to be that “intimate” with my boss’s life.

    I also did know the whole family (wife and kids) outside of work, it just wasn’t a risk – especially my job and benefits – I could justify.

    1. Zombeyonce*

      Even just imagining how hourly rate negotiation for babysitting would work is unpleasant when someone both knows exactly how much you make at your regular job and has power over that amount going up or down. It’s asking for trouble.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        I was quite struck by the phrase “the normal going rate for babysitters in our area”, as though LW has already decided what the reasonable amount is. That amount may well be the OP’s ceiling, but it’s not an amount that’s generating an awful lot of motivation to do the work amongst local highschoolers, so it probably isn’t fantastic? Childcare has gotten a lot more expensive, and people’s time generally is more expensive than it used to be, even very recently. Even if OP is confident that doesn’t apply in their area, it would have to be a rate good enough to interest a busy working adult, who is making their mark at a new job….. at the new boss’ house and all the risk that entails? No, no and no.

        1. CB212*

          I read that the opposite way, actually. Among my friends in Brooklyn, the going rate for a sitter is $25/hr, so I took it to mean OP would be offering a fair rate that could be attractive extra money to a young professional. (There’s no culture of high schoolers babysitting around here – certainly not the below-minimum-wage work I did as a teen.)

          1. Smithy*

            I also think this is another mark in the “can’t say no” column to be mindful of.

            In my early 20’s, I had a one part-time job that I had for a while despite hating it because the hourly wage was so high and where I was financially I “couldn’t say no”. That time in life where someone offering you $100 for 4 hours of work (at night! the kids will mostly be a sleep!), is a financial choice really hard to turn down – especially when it’s offered right to you.

            Now the OP may read this and think “but I want to help this wonderful young person with that $100 for a service I need!” But as is fairly clear, getting another baby sitting job for your not-boss would likely be easy enough if this young person was truly looking for that kind of extra work.

            1. CB212*

              Yes I agree with that part! It’s definitely not a good situation for this boss+employee. I was just replying to the above comment because I wouldn’t assume OP was insulting the intern by offering peanuts that a teen wouldn’t work for.

              1. Ellis Bell*

                Yeah I see what you’re saying, and myself I didn’t get the impression that peanuts was being offered. It was more, because others have considered it fair/generous it’s now a case of “I know the rate” when you simply don’t know what it’s worth to someone. As Zombeyonce said, it’s awkward to negotiate anyway but it gets worse if you think you know someone’s rate up front (especially as the cost of everything is rocketing up past what anyone considers “fair” anyway).

          2. I'm just here for the cats!*

            Yes I understood it that way too. That most people who hire high school/ college students pay X/hour and that the OP would pay that too. I don’t see anything to suggest that the pay is the reason why the OP is not able to get babysiters. I took it to mean that the OP doesn’t know that many high school/ College age kids who are interested in babysitting. Not everyone is.

        2. at work*

          This seems like a stretch. I took it to mean that the OP would, you know, offer the normal going rate– as in offer payment in line with the current babysitting prices where they live.

          OP should not hire an employee as a babysitter, for all the reasons everyone is going into! But it’s hard to find childcare and it’s not so crazy or sinister for someone to think “what about this nice young person I know” and not think through the rest of the dynamics. Now hopefully they’re thinking about it more clearly!

    2. Grits McGee*

      I’ve also been in this position, and it really damaged my relationship with my supervisor. When she asked, it was in the framework of “Hey, what are you doing this evening? Oh, nothing? Well then, could you watch my toddler while I’m meeting with the university bigwigs?” My boss was desperate and I know I was her last resort, but I was cagey about my non-work plans for the rest of my employment under her. It really affected my trust in her.

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        Someone above made an excellent point that relates to this, as well. Instead of mentoring you or allowing you opportunities to network, Intern would essentially “staying home from the ball” to babysit while boss goes to business events.
        I understand that you may not have been welcome at a meeting with the provost, but never having you on the roster for anything because you are “the kid girl” did not do you any favors.

    3. GreenDoor*

      I babysat for a higher up when I was a high-school co-op student and instantly regretted it. I was too inexperienced to realize that you have to put thought into how others perceive you at work if you want to build up a professional reputation. When I started babysitting, I unknowingly reinforced the idea that I’m “just a teenager” and only capable of doing tasks any other teen could do. It was super hard to shake that impression with the higher-ups and at the end of my internship, I wasn’t offered a chance to segue into a full-time roll because they “wanted to work with another teenager next semester.” You’d be doing this intern a disservice, especially if she’s looking for this internship to be a launching pad for her career.

  3. Summer Sugar*

    OP1: May I also add that just because someone “loves kids” doesn’t mean that they want to be with their bosses kids for what might be hours-on-end indefinitely as long as they’re in your chain of command. When someone is a great babysitter (especially with energetic, needy kids), they often get burnt out because people will over-rely on them (speaking from experience). You, as a boss, haven’t even gotten this person on your team yet, and you’re already calculating how to get her to babysit your children. If you’re this invested when the person hasn’t even joined your team yet, how are you going to feel if the intern tells you “no”?

    1. Zombeyonce*

      It introduces so many potential issues. What if the person had to babysit late because of some event going over? Would LW cut them slack at work because it was their fault? How does that look to other people that may be tired from their own lives? Would LW let them off early when they needed childcare unexpectedly, or during regular working days because that person was their only option? It’s a rabbit hole of reasonable problems that will make others resentful.

    2. Allonge*

      Yes, that is what struck me too – ‘loves kids’ and ‘is willing to babysit regularly for money’ are very far away from one another. How did this even come up?

      1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

        Obviously a younger female who loves kids loves to babysit. /s

        Please OP1, don’t ask for all the reasons mentioned. Would you ask a young male employee to babysit, even if you knew they liked kids?

        1. Sloanicota*

          I would feel so uncomfortable if someone senior to me was like, “hey, my impression of you is that you’re mommy-adjacent, you must want to care for children!” Wut. There are implications of that in our capitalist workplace culture!

        2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          A young male employee who said he loves kids “What a mature young man. You’ll be such a good dad someday.”
          A young female employees says she loves kids, “oh good. Here you go.”

    3. Irish Teacher*

      I’d also add that “loves kids” doesn’t even mean “would be a good babysitter.” It might, but for all the LW knows, the intern might not be a responsible caregiver or she might be unable to maintain discipline or any form of authority or she might simply have very different child-caring ideas from the LW. Worst case scenario, she could have some views the LW would find abhorant and that wouldn’t come up in the workplace but might come up casually when childcaring. I am talking things like telling a boy he shouldn’t play with dolls because that’s sissy or telling children that “only babies cry” and they need to toughen up or classist views that could cause her to tell children they need to do their homework so they don’t end up in whatever role she looks down on or even something like religious references that the LW disagrees with or whatever views the LW wouldn’t want her kids learning.

      Not saying it would be OK to ask even if the LW had reason to think the intern would make a great babysitter who would care for her kids in a way she would entirely approve of. Just pointing out she doesn’t even know that yet. Young woman who likes kids doesn’t necessarily mean “good caregiver.”

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        This is an excellent point. When you’re looking for someone to help you bring up your children, you’re going to want that person to share your fundamental values and ideology. It would be totally normal to ask questions about that when you’re looking to hire a new babysitter, but how awkward would that conversation be with someone who reports to you at work?

        My boss belongs to a religious denomination that I left behind because I disapprove of many of their teachings. I know this because she has church stickers on her car and water bottle and phone. But I have not ever and do not ever intend to tell her my disagreements with her religious beliefs. But if she were to ask me to babysit her kids and then want to make sure we’re on the same ideological page, I’d have to tell her things that would make our day to day work life very uncomfortable.

        1. Clisby*

          Eh, I don’t know about that. I babysat a lot as a teenager, and no way was I helping people bring up their children. I was just looking after them for a few hours here and there. A nanny would be different – they’d spend a lot more time with the children.

          1. anonymous goose*

            Watching children for a few hours here and there IS helping bring up their children. Children pick up a lot from the adults they spend time with, even only semi-regularly.

    4. Sloanicota*

      Yeah, when I started this letter I thought OP was going to say they know this employee babysits for others or even offered to babysit. I would still say “don’t do it” in those circumstances but it would be understandable. But in this case it’s just that … the employee is a young woman? Who “loves kids” (but who is going to say they hate children at work to a boss they know has kids?). Hard pass. Don’t even bring it up. Don’t ask for a referral. Would you be acting this way if your employee was a young college man?

  4. Observer*

    #4 – Linked In follower.

    I don’t understand what you are aiming for. To be sure, your former boss is being very weird. In fact I don’t think that ANY level regular checking of former employees profiles is “necessary” or even normal. But having said that, what is it you think you could report? What do you expect to get out of this, and what do you expect you might accomplish here?

    1. JustSomeone*

      This level of frequency is definitely weird! But I don’t think it’s abnormal to check in on old employees/colleagues in general. When you spend years working with someone, I think it’s natural to occasionally wonder what they’ve been up to after you parted ways.

      But yeah, I can’t imagine reporting this to anyone. It’s a strange use of the guy’s time, but it’s not harmful. (And the fact that at least one other person has had the same experience also means it’s not personal.)

    2. WS*

      And if LW 4 is concerned, a better contact might be the other people they know the boss is snooping on, to see if there’s any other behaviour like this that’s troubling. I’d want to know if “former boss checks up on me” is step one towards “boss tries to recruit me” or whether it’s nothing and boss is just nosy.

      1. Nesprin*

        Eh, I was thinking more along the lines of “former boss repeatedly checks up on me” is step one towards “former boss starts camping outside my apartment and puts trackers on my car.”

    3. WoodswomanWrites*

      When I left a challenging workplace and moved to a wonderful job, one of the first things I did was disconnect and block a number of my former co-workers on LinkedIn. I took a mental victory lap knowing I no longer had to have any relationship with them and wouldn’t have them popping up in any way.

      If you’re considering reporting the executive director to their board just for being annoying, you would still be engaging. Someone on the board would likely tell them about this odd message they got from a former employee, and then the executive director might try to contact you to complain.

      Don’t let this mole hill become a mountain. You’ve already blocked them. Give yourself a little celebration now that you’ve left them behind.

      1. Mr. Shark*

        I’m not a LinkedIn person, but what’s the point of checking on someone repeatedly, once they have a new job? And if you have a new job, why are you looking at LinkedIn regularly anyway?

        1. WoodswomanWrites*

          The former boss’s behavior is definitely weird. Responding to your second question, in my profession, LinkedIn is helpful for ongoing networking, sharing updates, etc.

        2. English Rose*

          OP likely either has notifications turned on for LinkedIn when someone views their profile, or they are using it in the way it should be used: for networking, sharing industry news and other interesting info, generally keeping up with folks.
          LinkedIn is not at all only for when you’re looking for jobs. I’d go so far as to say if you only turn to it when you’re looking for work, it’s way less effective.

        3. LinkedInLetter*

          For your second, I just started a new job, but I had alerts on due to job searching. LinkedIn was the primary way for internal and external recruiters to reach out to me. I also used who looked me up after an interview to gauge interest. If it was a panel interview and every panelists looked me up, it was usually a good sign.

        4. Lacey*

          No idea, but my former boss has definitely checked my linked-in several times in the 3 years since I left. And they fired me for being a bad fit!

          But I try to check LinkedIn once a week just to stay connected in my industry and also bc my employer likes it if we can engage with their posts sometimes.

          1. I'm that manager*

            Even though I fired the employee who was a terrible fit. The whole experience was terrible on both sides. I would check in on Linked in and was extraordinarily relieved when she found a new job. I don’t know about the frequency. That does sound odd.

            1. Riverofmolecules*

              It took me a moment to realize you meant you were in the same situation, not that you were literally Lacey’s former manager explaining why you had checked on their LinkedIn.

    4. English Rose*

      My only question around this is whether the OP is being particularly active on LinkedIn. I get many more profile views from past colleagues – especially recent ones – when I’m doing a lot of posting and commenting on LI, although I agree this level of views is a little extreme.
      Not something I would worry about though – LI is a public platform. Unless the OP is meaning ‘stalking’ in the literal and serious sense.

      1. LinkedInLetter*

        The don’t check LinkedIn regularly unless I’m looking for a new position. I don’t post or comment much.

        1. The Person from the Resume*

          I turned off the LinkedIn emails so I am not informed of people looking at my page or doing their own thing from LinkedIn.

          I also log into LinkedIn maybe twice a year and haven’t updated in years so there’s no joy for people to repeatedly look at my linkedIn page either and probably few people viewing it so your milage may vary on the suggestion to ignore it.

      2. Sloanicota*

        Yeah, unfortunately for OP, LI is public and they can’t really stop this boss from looking at public info. You think you’ve blocked them, but TBH someone this committed could have sock puppet accounts, and you can see some info without logging in at all. For my own sanity I would probably assume there’s something weird about the way the boss uses the site causing this rather than any personal stalking (searching for contacts of contacts a lot? Some kind of weird home page set up? An attached app or something?), absent any other information.

    5. EmmaUK*

      I was wondering if he is keeping an eye out for when people are looking to change jobs. It seemed logical to me since the OP isn’t the only person whose profile he has viewed.

      1. Allonge*

        Or OldBoss just obsessively / mindlessly uses LinkedIn and clicks on things there. I don’t think of LinkedIn as something to check daily (I am not that interested in people tbh), but there are those who use it a lot and checking what’s up with OP may just be part of a ‘routine’.

        Just as e.g. I check Ask a manager every morning and then come back for updates if there is something interesting going on. (Obviously this is part of a very conscious strategy to improve myself! It’s not to avoid drafting that email! Perish the thought!)

        1. ferrina*

          This is where my mind went. OldBoss is looking for some answer and is refreshing the page a silly amount. Maybe OldBoss wants to know about where they went so they can make retention strategies; maybe OldBoss is looking for signs of unhappiness so they can woo LW back; maybe OldBoss is just really, really awful at goodbyes.
          It’s weird, but doesn’t rise to the level of nefarious.

    6. LinkedInLetter*

      When I wrote this letter, I originally included a lot of context surrounding why I left and other concerning behaviors I had observed. I removed those items to keep the letter short, to the point and to avoid being identified. The other items would have been better off addressed while I was employed. I did not address the behaviors with the board at that time because I saw how people were treated when they brought up issues. I decided to leave, but I hope things improve at my former employer because of how many people depend on that company.

      1. Observer*

        I hear what you are saying. But it still doesn’t really compute.

        From what you say, it sounds like your ex-boss was bad at basic boundaries among other issues. That’s a genuine issue, but the LinkedIn checking is not a really egregious example of this. Even with a decently reactive Board, if they got a “report” from you about this, it would just confirm to them that you were over-reacting to whatever other boundary issues you might have brought up. When dealing with a Board that does not handle legitimate complaints appropriately? That’s just going to be amped up.

        There is an expression often used here – BEC (B**** Eating Crackers) to refer to a situation where you are SO OVER someone’s bad behavior that even something innocuous sets you off. Your reaction to report the boss for this seems to be in that realm. Yes, it is weird, but really, really not at the level of being “reportable” so to speak.

        1. LinkedInLetter*

          The other issues were more along the lines of me having to push back on actions that would have violated state and/or federal regulations and things of that nature. I do think this is BEC territory. I should have brought up the other issues while employed there, but I didn’t want to make my last few months anymore uncomfortable.

          1. Observer*

            I can see why you didn’t bring the issues up. It sounds like it was a matter of picking your battles and not wasting energy on useless fights.

            I think that the advice to turn on the emails and just not look at the reports as to who is looking at your profile is your best bet. Because at this point, you are essentially letting your boss live in your head rent free.

          2. 1LFTW*

            I feel this. I feel it so hard.

            You know that OldBoss is probably violating laws, and you don’t know if the BOE’s problem is that they don’t know, or that they don’t know that stuff like that actually matters… and part of you is wondering when the whole thing is going to implode. In that situation I don’t blame you for thinking that maybe OldBoss is finally doing something bad enough that you could *make* the BOE pay attention to his shenanigans.

            But he’s not, and you can’t. Like Observer said, at this point you’re letting the dude live rent free in your head. You already spent too much time and energy on his BS when you worked for him, so turn off the notifications or do whatever you have to do in order to minimize your awareness that he exists.

    7. to varying degrees*

      I had to look up this one guy on LinkedIn (don’t know him) for work to see if he was still in the area and/or had contact info. Now my browser window automatically defaults to him everytime I try to go to the site. This poor guy probably has a dozens of “views” from me on his report.

      1. jane's nemesis*

        Yep, I think this happens a bunch. I’ve had someone I barely knew years ago looking at my profile weekly. I think his browser was defaulting to my profile when he was logging in. I blocked him and it (obviously) stopped happening because my profile no longer exists for him.

    8. learnedthehardway*

      The OP should keep in mind that it might be entirely innocuous. There is someone who I talked to months ago, whose profile happens to be the page my browser has decided is the go-to page to land on (ie. it’s saved the page as a “frequently visited” icon on my browser). The pool guy may be wondering what on earth is up, but I’m pretty anonymous, so hopefully he doesn’t think I’m stalking him.

      The reality – I hate landing on the “feed” page because it is distracting and time-sucking when I start looking at all the stories, and I really try to avoid it because I don’t have 15 min every time I open the program to get sucked into all the posts.

    9. The OTHER other*

      The level of frequency is weird, but I found the language of the letter oddly combative. “stalking”? Perhaps there’s more bad behavior by the former boss to put that in context but absent that, complaining to a BOE about someone checking your LinkedIn profile too often seems bizarre.

  5. Santiago*

    #2 – Having gone the other way, temporarily, from teaching to another career (with an aspiration back towards teaching later), I would say that working with kids leads to a lot of singular (not inherently bad, just different) behaviors in education.

    If it’s possible to understand your bosses behavior through a lens such as “she’s upbeat”, or “other 1st year teachers may need this support and she may be applying it” then I would lean towards that.

    If not – Alison’s script is good, definitely they are reasonable ways to address it – but I do think (how to say this as affectionately as possible, towards the dear profession) that teaching may tend to have a slightly higher percentage of benevolent know it alls than other fields. As much as I adore the field and my colleagues, I had a department chair that would get an Idea about us and it took forever to dislodge. I’ve seen that sort of stuff more than in the office, but it’s not inherently bad. I would let it roll off as much as possible.

    Cheers, and happy teaching!

    1. Varthema*

      +1 on the teaching profession being full of benevolent know-it-alls! I say that with the utmost affection but it’s true.

    2. orange line avenger*

      I think it’s also worth asking her really specifically why she’s focusing on confidence. Very possible she’s being a benevolent know-it-all, but it’s also possible that she’s speaking less about your confidence in your overall performance, and more about the way you project confidence (or don’t) to your students. She might be trying to help you develop your Teacher Voice or Teacher Presence (I know, it’s very silly-sounding to people not in education!) which are related to overall confidence but not the same.

      Side note, anyone else really struggling to comment on mobile? My cursor keeps ‘jumping out’ of the box (as if I’d clicked elsewhere on the page) or not registering keystrokes. I also keep having ads take over and playing sound and temporarily blocking me from viewing the site/scrolling. I don’t have these issues on other sites, so I’m wondering if I just need to step up my adblocker for AAM or something.

      1. Sloanicota*

        This is a good point. She may not be referring to OP’s internal self-assessment and confidence at all, just using imprecise language. That said, I’m a young-seeming woman and it’s true that a lot of people assume I must be insecure and meek and need encouragement. I’m not. If anything my ego is too big. I have the opposite of that imposter syndrome my demographic is so into. So, it is A Thing and tricky to address. I find it easiest to just enjoy the fruits of being underestimated personally.

        1. Ama*

          Yup, I was often in this same spot early in my career (not teaching) — I’m soft-spoken and particularly in my 20s and early 30s was often mistaken for 5-10 years younger than I actually was, and I also didn’t talk a lot about my life outside of work. This led to several bosses who assumed I had no confidence, boundaries, or personal life, and decide to appoint themselves my mentor. It didn’t really go away until I moved into roles where I regularly had to run meetings and give presentations and it became clear that I was fully capable of speaking up and having opinions when the situation called for it.

        2. Irish Teacher*

          People also often mistake quiet or introverted for lacking in confidence (and equally, often mistake loud and gregarious for very confident, which isn’t always necessarily true either). So if the LW is somebody who is quieter and doesn’t engage much with colleagues, that may have the principal thinking she is shy and lacks confidence, even if that isn’t true. Of course, there is nothing to suggest this is the case, but it’s a possibility.

      2. As Per Elaine*

        I did wonder if what she’s commenting on isn’t actually “confidence” but rather something about classroom manner. I taught for a while, both internationally and then in the US, and while I would have said that I was perfectly confident as a US teacher, I did not default to deliberately exerting the sort of control/authority that my more-lively US students required. (The international students were all extremely well-behaved whereas the US students were more boundary-pushing, which I think was a little bit cultural and a lot what populations the schools drew from.)

        I got a lot of (well-deserved) “don’t be a doormat” pep talks from my boss the first few months of my US job.

        1. Starlike*

          It’s funny, my reply under yours was actually to the parent comment, but yours is exactly the scenario I’m talking about.

      3. Starlike*

        This is what I was thinking – in a similar vein, one of my kids’ teachers this year has one class with severe behavior challenges, and when I brought it up to her she said it’s fine, they’re fine, everything is fine. When the kids started saying that the class-wide punishments for individual behavior had kept them from recess and put the whole class in lunch detention for weeks, I talked to the assistant principal, who told me she “runs a tight ship.” When the kids told us that she was having them do independent work in class because she had to go cry, and they weren’t progressing in what they were learning, I called the assistant principal again to let him know that while she might be projecting a “tight ship” image to administration, it sounds like she may be hesitant to ask for the help she needs since this is her first year. At that point he did understand what I was saying, and it’s gotten a bit better – there are still issues, but the point is, if the administration is seeing something that’s giving them the idea that you’re lacking confidence, that may be a kind way of saying “we’re acknowledging that you need support, communicate with us about the best way to do that.”

        1. KoiFeeder*

          As one of the proximal causes of class-wide punishments for individual behavior in my classes, it actually made my behavior worse. I hope this teacher got the support she needed.

      4. I'm just here for the cats!*

        I think that is a good point. She might not be telling you that you aren’t confident in yourself, but maybe your demeaner somehow comes accross that way. As a younger looking woman with a very young voice (not in teaching) I found it very difficult to adjust my voice to the tone I was trying to convey.

        It could also be that the Principle sees something that you aren’t aware of. Perhaps she means confidence when you speak with parents. I think the best thing is to have a talk with th

      5. Yoli*

        Agree–one of the more prolific teacher skill development tools recently changed the name of one skill from something like “Strong Voice” to “Confident Presence.” Asking the principal is OP’s best bet.

    3. Humble Schoolmarm*

      I… kind of want to change my name to Benevolent Know it All now! Anyway, I agree with Alison and orange line avenger that you should ask. Teacher Voice is also a huge thing to develop in your early years and it’s really hard to navigate the line between building student autonomy and being the adult with whom the buck stops. I can see your department head or principal using confidence as a shorthand for that even though it isn’t (really) the same thing.

      1. Teacher voice*

        Its a thing. I would have student and first year teachers in my classroom for over ten years.
        The biggest offender is when directing a child to do something. The question uptick is one. Saying okay is another.
        “I need you to listen and not talk right now. Okay?
        “I need you to move your chair out of the aisle. Okay?
        The okay is for signaling to the teacher that the student heard and comprehended what they are saying and will comply.
        What actually happens is the child hears a request.
        Getting new teachers to speak in declarative sentences is important.

    4. Ellis Bell*

      Yeah, nobody actually teaches how to teach teachers (if you follow me there), so teacher skills get lumped into the very broad heading of “confidence” early in your career. It usually means 1) Teacher Voice (practice projecting in echoey rooms, use declarative sentences), 2) Greeting the class. (Stand at the boundary and greet positively), 3) Having a set of scripts that rolls off your tongue 4) Body language (stand in certain places to indicate segment of the lesson, use open facial expressions, practiced gestures, props, costumes (!!), invade the student’s area of the room intelligently, 5) Not getting rattled if things don’t go your way. (Keeping calm when a student is losing it, using humor to diffuse, reminding of rules before problems begin, using distraction and roles to keep students out of trouble). It could literally be anything! Also, it’s all really, really subjective. You may not end up teaching in a similar style to this teacher at all. But whatever it is try it on and see how you go.

  6. Mehitabel*

    LW #5 – I experimented with duo cover letters back in the 1990s. Didn’t get much traction from them and stopped using them after a couple of months.

    1. Public Serpent*

      My org, provincial govt LOOOOOOOOVES duo cover letters. They get so many applicants for specialized positions that the HR folks have zero comprehension of that the duo makes it easy for them to check off requirements when they don’t know the details of what they are asking for.

      I think it really depends on the organization.

      1. The Araucana*

        I’m in higher education and we love this style too, for the same reasons. We are so restricted in how we evaluate applications, the format works for us so we don’t accidentally filter out good applicants who just happened to not explicitly mention Skill X or Knowledge Y during the resume/CV reviews.

      2. Tumbleweed*

        I’m in the UK a lot of acedemic and civil service positions straight up give you a table with the requirements on the left and the right blank for you to fill this in. (I’ve seen in occasionally for charity roles too)

    2. another Hero*

      it’s a useful exercise before an interview – can help identify answers for “tell me about a time when” questions and just figure out what experience to lean on. for a cover letter, no, no, no.

  7. Luthage*

    #1. If your new employee was a man, would you be considering asking him to also babysit your kids? Likely not.

    1. Mark Roth*

      I was thinking the exact same thing.

      The poor kid meets a series of checkmarks: Young. Female. Able to be Pressured.

    2. AnotherLibrarian*

      Probably not, but a guy friend of mine found himself being asked to babysit by his boss, because he taught youth bible study. He declined. Needless to say, while I agree childcare is usually gendered, it is not always.

      1. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Laying Around*

        “because he taught youth bible study” though. He was already in the “works with kids” bucket in the askers eyes. Had he not been? Very, very unlikely he’d be asked.

      2. Ellis Bell*

        So without the bible study he would have been asked? More likely female Sunday school teachers just get this
        in double amounts.

    3. Varthema*

      LW2 – As a (recent) former teacher, I’d add that confidence in teaching is not quite the same as just believing yourself or thinking you’re good at what you do. It’s also an image you project in the classroom while teaching, and very difficult (to impossible) to evaluate on your own. Hard to describe, but it’s something to do with your presence… alert but relaxed, aware of the students and what they’re doing but not hyperaware of them, ready for the next step of the lesson without seeming glued to the plan… just off the top of my head. Seeing a video of yourself teaching a class can be eye-opening! I would take your principal at her word here because it is uncommon to see this quality in new teachers, but also, if that’s the kind of confidence she’s talking about, it’s just the kind of thing that comes with time, hard to build proactively, so I also wouldn’t stress about it. Good luck!

      1. orange line avenger*

        Seconding! My old instructional coach and I talked a lot about developing Teacher Voice and Teacher Presence. It’s not about being confident in doing well in your job, it’s about walking into the classroom space and commanding the attention of students. They’re distinct skills, and the latter usually takes a couple years to develop.

        1. Lime green Pacer*

          This reminds me of the recent NYT article, “How I Learned the Art of Seduction”. The writer started as 14-yo server looking to increase her tips by attending to social cues, leveraged those skills in her next career as a sex worker (dominatrix), and continues to use them, in a different way, as a university instructor!

      2. Irish Teacher*

        “Hard to describe, but it’s something to do with your presence… alert but relaxed, aware of the students and what they’re doing but not hyperaware of them, ready for the next step of the lesson without seeming glued to the plan… just off the top of my head.”

        Love this summing up as these are all things that get so much easier after you’ve been teaching a few years and yet, it’s hard to say exactly what you are doing differently. Not having to think about things so much, I guess. I do find that sometimes if I am teaching a subject I am not fully comfortable with, I take a few steps back on these things or at least the last one.

      3. learnedthehardway*

        Good point – it might be helpful to ask the principal for pointers. Comments on one’s self-confidence without actionable things one can do about it aren’t terribly helpful.

      4. Dragon*

        This sounds like the episode of The Partridge Family, in which student teacher Laurie is assigned to Danny’s class. In trying not to play favorites, she unintentionally was harder on him in front of his classmates.

        The school was videotaping the student teachers, to show them the videos at the end of the term. Shirley asked the principal to let Laurie see them now. Lori then realized what she’d been doing, and apologized to Danny.

  8. AcademiaNut*

    Regarding #5 – in general, if someone is evaluating a document you’re writting (resume, grant proposal, undergraduate essay), it’s to your benefit to make evaluating your document as easy as possible for the reviewer. If there’s a standard format for the document, you want to do a really good, clear version of that standard format, rather than re-inventing a new format to stand out. Processing the new format to get the information out of it is going to take more work for the reviewer.

    This is particularly important when someone is reviewing a large number of documents in a short period of time. If they’re devoting 1 minute to each resume to sort it into rejected and look more closely piles, an extra 30 seconds to figure out where you’ve put the information is non trivial.

    1. Mx AK*

      Indeed. I work in the UK so perhaps it is different here, but we make it explicit in job postings at my organization that their cover letter needs to specify exactly how they meet the different requirements. While most don’t look exactly as described in letter five, the most successful ones do have a heading before each paragraph letting us know exactly which job requirement that bit of experience speaks to.

      There’s still room for creativity and sharing things that might not exactly fit the job description but that they think we should know, but it makes shortlisting so much easier. Took me awhile to get used to as an applicant but also made it easier in the end to make sure I’d shared all my relevant details.

      1. bamcheeks*

        Do you expect that in cover letters, or are you using cover letter for personal statement? Because that kind of specificity and using criteria as a headings is what I’d associate with a personal statement/ supporting statement, and I’d be surprised to see it in a cover letter.

        (also in the UK, work in recruitment!)

        1. Robin*

          I basically did that for my cover letter in the US. I went through the qualifications and chose three key ones and labeled the three body paragraphs with a bullet point and the qualification in bold. This format was a suggestion of my career services advisor and was specifically mentioned as easy to read by my hiring team. They liked how direct it was. They are nonprofit lawyers, not sure if that influences anything.

          *Grant management: blah blah blah
          *Project management: blah blah blah
          *[Community] experience: blah blah blah

  9. Astrid*

    LW3 – I feel for you. I got long covid and the only way I could keep working in the early days was working from home with a nap over my lunch break. I hope you and your doctor are able to narrow down the health issue.

    1. allathian*

      Yeah, I thankfully didn’t get long Covid, but when I got diagnosed, I was on sick leave for 5 days before returning to WFH. I’m really glad that I was able to take a nap during my lunch hour for the month afterwards that my Covid fatigue/brain fog lasted.

      LW3, I recommend following Alison’s advice on requesting ADA accommodations here.

    2. MigraineMonth*

      This is the exact situation ADA accommodations are designed for. You can do the work, you just need the ability to step away for a few hours in the middle of the day. I have a coworker who has a different condition but a similar accommodation. For a long time workplaces would push back on remote work as an accommodation (“this job can’t possibly be done from home!”) but after doing the job remotely through the pandemic that’s a laughable sentiment.

      1. Big Bank*

        Yup definitely ADA all the way. My company returned to office earlier this year, and I had my accommodation filed and approved before it even started. I don’t discuss it with most colleagues, though in an environment of forced return after full time remote, I do occasionally mention to people that notice (or have cause to notice) that I’m never in the office that I “have a work accommodation.” Nothing more than that, and it tamps down (I hope) office chatter that I’m breaking the rules by quietly not coming in.

        Also, since I give this PSA to anyone who tells me they are tired without knowing why, consider Lymes. It’s easy and cheap to test for, so simple to cure if caught early, and depending on your region may not be an immediate consideration by your doc (it did not occur to anyone in my region, and I was undiagnosed for a year resulting in irreparable damage). Good luck on your diagnosis journey!

  10. Keyboard Cowboy*

    LW1, gosh, no! What a weird thing to ask of someone you’re aware is just starting a professional job. I’m sure this is some internal bias of mine, but I tend to think of babysitting a weekend here or there as the kind of job you offer to a high schooler or broke college student for pocket money, and like something they do because they’ve got too much else going on (like school) to be pursuing their career just now. So even without the power dynamics, it feels very, very strange to me to ask someone with a full time job to come in and babysit weekends.

    1. Observer*

      So even without the power dynamics, it feels very, very strange to me to ask someone with a full time job to come in and babysit weekends.

      It is indeed. And it could create some not great perceptions.

      1. You don’t consider the internship REAL work / career preparation

      2. You don’t respect your employees – or this employee in particular. “She’s young, single and just an intern. A fantastic intern, but still. What on earth could SHE have going on in her life that would take up her time after work?”

      3. You know that your internship is exploitative, do you are pretty sure that she NEEDS the money.

      I’m not saying that you think any of these things. But surely you can see how someone could get that impression.

    2. JustaTech*

      I have a friend who continued to babysit (actually babysat more) after college, but her position is different because she was a preschool teacher, and most of her babysitting clients were her students.

      In her case it was a bit more like freelancing, where if you’re in a non-child-care industry it would be weird/infantilizing.

      1. Clisby*

        That was true when my children were in pre-school, but the teachers who were willing to baby-sit proactively made that clear. It wasn’t like parents were trying to pressure them into it. Plus, they got premium per-hour pay – much higher than they made as teachers – and there was none of this nonsense about “I pay the going rate.” You paid the rate they set or they’d politely decline, because they were in really high demand.

  11. Keymaster of Gozer*

    OP3: major sympathies. I’m disabled and on medications that mean I literally can’t work past a certain hour in the day – if I have to be working past that hour I have to rejig my schedule, not take a certain dose and then suffer through the really really unpleasant results.

    I’m in the UK so the laws here are slightly different but ultimately the ‘I cannot do past hour X in the office because medical reasons that need accommodations’ holds up still. It’s not a fun conversation to have and sadly there are managers who’ll treat me worse after finding out that there’s stuff wrong with me.

    But, my experience is that most managers are reasonable! What you’re asking for is very reasonable and achievable without additional expense on their part. Definitely use Alison’s advice. I stayed in one job where my health suffered because they wouldn’t make accommodations and it was bad.

    1. Chronic condition here*

      I am of no use past 3:00 pm. I get a second wind after dinner. For the last 20 years, I have been able to flex my schedule to accommodate this special need by working from home as needed, sort of a split shift.
      If I was called upon to work the afternoon or evening shifts or had a consistent late afternoon meeting, I would request ADA accomadations.

  12. AnotherLibrarian*

    #5- As a fellow member of ad infinitum search committees, I have seen these and I dislike them intensely. Frankly, the point of the resume is to tell me how you fill the job requirements. The point of the cover letter is for me to see why you want the job and get a sense of you as a candidate. Let the resume be a resume and the cover letter be a cover letter. Grumble, grumble.

    1. Bit o' Brit*

      I don’t understand cover letters. I want a job because I need money to live. I think I might want this hypothetical job in particular because the job advert that I’m not meant to reference matches the skills/experience listed on my CV which I’m not meant to reference. How do I give a sense of myself as a candidate without the only two documents that have any relevance to being a candidate?

      1. londonedit*

        Why do you think you’re not meant to reference the job advert or your CV in your cover letter? It’s totally fine to reference both. When I write a cover letter I make sure it talks up skills I have and things I’ve done in my career that make me a good match for the role – it’s a chance to expand on the basic info that’s on your CV, so you can say things like ‘In my current role as Assistant Llama Groomer, I have developed a reputation as an expert at dealing with stroppy llamas and recently improved our booking system so that we can groom an extra three llamas per week’ or whatever. It’s also a chance to explain how your skills and experience match what they’re looking for. You pretty much have to reference the job requirements, and your CV!

      2. Allonge*

        The whole point of the cover letter is to connect the dots between the job description as in the ad and your CV (and to express some enthusiasm). Who told you you are not meant to reference these? I would ignore other advice from them as well.

        1. Bit o' Brit*

          I’ve only ever read cover letter advice on this site. Statements like “don’t summarise your resume in your cover letter” repeated ad infinitum and the answer above talking about a format where you literally connect the dots between the job description and your experience as also wrong, while also saying that’s the point of the letter.

          I also haven’t found a translation for what “who you are as a candidate” actually means, since you’re not meant to include non-work-related things and you must “show, [not] tell” (i.e. it’s not “who you are as a person” and statements like “I am [adjective]” are wrong to use) but also “hiring managers can figure out if you’re qualified on their own”, and “the point of the resume [not the cover letter] is to tell me how you fill the job requirements”.

          1. hamsterpants*

            Here are some concrete things I appreciate seeing in a cover letter. They all will have echoes from the resume but are more qualitative and broad in scope.

            — Why the candidate is interested in this specific job and not a similar one at this or another company (bonus: if you already have a similar job, why you are looking to change jobs)

            — Highlighting a few unusual or special aspects of the resume and showing how those are features rather than bugs

            — If possible, tying your own experiences/background to the company’s mission above and beyond the exact job duty

            By the way, a cover letter doesn’t have to be extremely long. A few sentences could do it.

          2. Lorraine*

            Your resume lists items. Your cover letter explains those items in prose sentences and goes into detail about them that the list format of your resume cannot. So the cover letter should not replicate the resume (just list again the items on the resume), but it should offer additional context for the resume.

            For example, if you list that you won the Most Awesomest Employee Award on your resume, your cover letter would explain the things you did to win that award. If your resume lists that you manage projects, your cover letter would give an example of the most prestigious project you managed and all the amazing things you did while managing that project.

            1. Rapunzel Ryder*

              +1 – I have always been told your resume/CV is the place to list your duties; your cover letter is the place to humble brag about the top relevant project or two. I was also told as a student that it is a bit of a pre-interview. Put a little of your personality in your writing style while still maintaining professionalism.
              As a person who has been on search committees, we use them to assess how well you can communicate, attention to detail and get a feel for you as a person (what did you choose to talk about, how did you say it, etc.). A resume gives me a list but you cannot tell where that person excels from it. The letter lets them tell you their strengths and work passions.
              Example – I work in data entry/processing heavy jobs. Reporting/creating reports, adding tech efficiencies and standardizing procedures are my jam. From my resume, it seems a small part (maybe one or two bullets of ten) but I talk it up in my letter to show that is why I am a valuable candidate beyond that I have done simple processing before.

          3. Myrin*

            There’s a big difference between summarising your CV in your cover letter and referring to your CV in a “conversational” way as a tool to help talk about yourself! I feel like that might be what’s possibly tripping you up here.

          4. Harper the Other One*

            I think you’ve misinterpreted what people mean when they say “don’t summarize your resume/CV”! What they mean is that if your resume has points that say “award-winning llama groomer” and “specialized certificate in dematting” you don’t want the first sentence of your cover letter to be “I’m an award-winning llama groomer with a certificate in dematting.” But you might say somewhere that “my recent certificate work in dematting also covered alpacas and angora rabbits” if working with them is part of the job description.

            Ideally, your cover letter should feel (professionally) conversational, which gives people a bit of a sense of your interests, personality, etc. Just like in real life you wouldn’t announce “now I will discuss my experience with alpacas” you don’t really need a heading in the cover letter.

            This does take a while to get used to, but I found it really effective when I changed careers recently due to retraining; I couldn’t point to EXISTING work experience with accounting because I didn’t have any yet, but I could show how traits I demonstrated in my other work (attention to detail, clear communication, etc.) would be an asset in an entry level accounting role.

            1. londonedit*

              Absolutely this. Your CV will have job titles and bullet points, not much more:

              Assistant Llama Groomer, Llamas Inc, 2019-present
              – responsible for managing booking database, greeting llama owners, undertaking basic grooming tasks
              – promoted to team lead on hoof care best practice in July 2021
              – working towards full groomer certification, estimated date of completion December 2022

              And then on your cover letter, you’d say:

              ‘In the three years I have spent as Assistant Llama Groomer, the scope of my role has grown to encompass hoof care, and I am particularly interested in specialising in this once I achieve my certification as a groomer. In the last 12 months I have redesigned our booking system and helped to streamline grooming appointments, which has led to the team being able to groom on average an extra three llamas per week, meaning that I have been able to gain more hands-on experience. I am now keen to move into a role where I can use my developing hoof care skills as well as having the opportunity to interact more closely with llamas and their owners.’ Etc.

          5. I should really pick a name*

            The point of that advice is that if your cover letter only contains information that’s already in your resume, than it doesn’t add anything.

            The cover letter is a good place for info that doesn’t fit in a resume very well such: why you are interested in this field, why you’re changing fields (if you are), what you were doing during a gap in your resume, how you see your career path going.

          6. Wheel of Cheese*

            The site has had multiple examples of good cover letters posted over the years, with Alison’s explanations of why they are effective. It might benefit you to explore those posts, as you seem to have misunderstood quite a bit about how this works.

            (Either that or you are deliberately representing your understanding as confused, muddled and inaccurate to make some sort of point, but what that could be beyond “I am not capable of comprehending this concept” I am uncertain.)

          7. hbc*

            Think of a cover letter as the qualitative versus quantitative. It fills gaps and expands on things that might not be obvious. It’s like the difference between reading a data sheet about a camera and reading a testimonial from a user on what it’s like to use it. Do you see the options below as equally compelling, especially given that the first is basically already in the resume?

            1) 1-3 years management experience–Technical Supervisor for 13 months, managed team of three technicians

            2) I’m somewhat new to official management, but I’ve often taken a defacto leadership role when no one is in charge of a situation. My company recognized my skill here and created a new role for me, and I’ve gotten praise for how smoothly I filled it. I get great satisfaction from handling the bureaucratic problems so that my team can focus on the work they want to do.

          8. Chilipepper Attitude*

            Hi Bit o’ Brit,
            I think it might help if you got a friend to work through Alison’s advice with you for your resume and cover letter. I found that helpful myself.

            I’ll work through your points as a way to start that process but since I don’t know your specifics, this can only help a little.

            #1 “don’t summarise your resume in your cover letter” – means don’t say in your cover letter I had job 1 as a llama groomer and was responsible for grooming llamas. Then I had job 2 and still groomed llamas but also trained new employees on llama grooming. Your resume is a list of your jobs so don’t repeat them in your cover letter. Instead, say, I was so successful grooming llamas that I was able to get a job training llama groomers and was able to increase our llama grooming rate with my methods. Everyone who is a llama groomer presumably has the basic skills, what distinguishes you in the role?

            #2 the “new” letter format is critiqued here bc it is a gimmicky thing, 2 columns in the middle of the letter!? Just write a letter. Someone said in the UK that they are expected to include headings for each job requirement the paragraph is addressing. That’s fine! But 2 columns in the middle of a letter is just odd. And as others pointed out, they tried it and it did not work.

            Point #3 “who you are as a candidate” – that means things like are you a team player or independent go getter. We are hiring right now and we ask, “what is your preferred work environment” (something like that) because it shows us a lot about who you are as a candidate in terms of how you might fit on our team – we are basically 8 individuals who are each a department of one. You have to want to work very much on your own, you won’t get much training or direction. We want to know if you will thrive in this environment. Who you are as a candidate is that and more, things like, your approach to problem solving or if you roll easily with frequent policy changes, etc.

            Point #4 – don’t tell me you roll easily with policy changes, show me with specific examples. “Current job changes things quickly, I might come to work and find the entire way we manage x changed overnight. I know it frustrates some of my coworkers but I’m actually happiest when I’m learning new things.” That’s still more telling than showing but it’s the best I can do without saying too much about me here.

            Point #5 “hiring managers can figure out if you’re qualified on their own”
            This is related to point #1, they can figure out if you are qualified to work as a llama groomer bc you had a job as a llama groomer and they know what those skills are. We get a lot of resumes from people who are not at all qualified for a role, have never don’t anything like it; think lifeguards applying for a role as a llama groomer. Don’t use valuable space on a resume or cover letter telling them the job description of a llama groomer! Tell them what makes you a good candidate for their job as a llama groomer. Your resume should not just list job duties, try to include your success at the job in there. We know what llama grooming is. And use the cover letter to give examples of ways you would be good at their job llama grooming. If you learn they have llama groomers also do x or train other llama groomers, put in the cover letter your experience with x or with training others, even if it is not with llama grooming. And it won’t hurt to say you enjoy x or training because reasons.

            Point #6 “the point of the resume [not the cover letter] is to tell me how you fill the job requirements”. Yes, as I said, the resume shows you had a job as a llama groomer which means you know the basic requirements of a job as a llama groomer. Your cover letter (and resume if you can fit it in there) is to show what is special about you, do you do the job requirements better or faster or more skillfully or you can do them while also doing something else or can train others in them, etc. what distinguishes you in the role from others in the role.

            I hope this helps, I can hear your frustration and I think going over Alison’s advice and how you are thinking about it can be helpful.

          9. ecnaseener*

            Summarize does not mean the same thing as reference. It sounds like you read way too far into that!

            And the resume is to show your objective qualifications: 5 years of experience, X certification, etc. And of course stuff like getting promoted implies you have skills and other good qualities, but you’re not going to put soft skills like “organized” on the resume.
            The cover letter can absolutely address soft-skill-type requirements that aren’t usually shown in a resume, aka the ‘who you are as a candidate’ content.

            1. As Per Elaine*

              Yes to what everyone has said above.

              When Alison says “don’t summarize” she means that you don’t need to re-state the details; they’re there in the resume/CV. The cover letter is your place to explain why the hiring manager should hire YOU rather than someone with comparable qualifications, and to point out anything that makes you qualified that isn’t on your resume for whatever reason. “Who you are as a candidate” is shorthand for using these few paragraphs to build a fuller picture of how you do your work, what you’re like to work with, and, as ecnaseener said, the “soft skills” that you can’t easily turn into resume bullet points.

          10. rebelwithmouseyhair*

            “don’t summarise your CV” means that the cover letter must go beyond what’s in your CV. You flesh out the parts of previous jobs where you gained the skills that the future employer is looking to harness. You point out similarities between your llama grooming hustle and the data analyst role you are now applying for, where the employer might not realise the roles have anything in common at all (both required great attention to detail for example).
            What’s wrong with the format mentioned in the OP, is that it doesn’t give room to show off your writing skills. If you’re applying for a software engineering position, you don’t necessarily need writing skills, but you do for a lot of other positions.
            I think I might start by producing a table like that, to make sure I’ve covered everything, then convert the table into a beautifully written paragraph or two

    2. El+l*

      I think above all that a duo cover letter doesn’t add any value.

      Doesn’t talk about motivation, doesn’t talk about relevant (but not resume) experiences, doesn’t talk about useful connections.

      Doesn’t give the seeker a chance to say anything that doesn’t fit easily onto the resume.

      Above all, it doesn’t give the job seeker the chance to give an elevator pitch for the job. Because it’s no story, just box checking.

      Yeah, can’t like these.

  13. Sharp-dressed Boston Terrier*

    LW1: I was in your intern’s shoes as a young man of ~18 and stupidly said yes. It was a mess from the get-go; I didn’t have much experience babysitting older children and I was getting paid peanuts to basically watch them all night several times a week. I got fired in a fairly spectacular manner (grievous bodily harm was actually threatened) and I didn’t stay much longer in my main job after that.

    Don’t do it.

    1. Chilipepper Attitude*

      Helpful advice! But I’m also really curious about the spectacular manner of the firing of you want to share!

      1. Sharp-dressed Boston Terrier*

        The woman in question—an assistant manager where I worked at the time—was going through a divorce and needed someone to watch the kids on the evenings she worked closing shifts.

        I had no authority over the kids and things spiraled out of control quickly, so they went to their father and accused me of being abusive. Dad chewed me out behind closed doors at the workplace (where he didn’t work, but was a customer) and threatened to kick my ass, then told me I was off the babysitting gig. No skin off my nose at that point.

        1. Sandi*

          Oh my goodness, that’s a complete disaster! Sounds like that job wasn’t going to go well even if you hadn’t babysat, because the boss had a lot of boundary and other problems. You were better off having a job elsewhere.

          1. Sharp-dressed Boston Terrier*

            As I said, I was 17 or 18 at the time (late in the second Reagan administration… how time flies!) and it was a part-time job manning the front desk at a bowling alley that is now long gone. I was a kid myself, so trying to deal with kids who weren’t all that much younger than I was who were going through the trauma of a messy divorce was definitely not part of my skill set.

            I didn’t leave the job over this incident, but I doubt I would have lasted much longer anyway after that.

  14. nonny*

    #5– Probably not relevant to you specifically, but it’s worth noting that some version of this is sometimes preferred outside the States. Coming from the US to the UK, I had to do a complete mental overhaul of how bluntly I wrote my covering letters in order to get attention from jobs here. I was given the advice to literally bold the job requirement phrases in my cover letters, and it has worked! I could see that format going over pretty well here.

    1. londonedit*

      I’ve never seen this sort of two-column cover letter here, but it’s definitely true that our cover letters are more…formal? Less effusive? than the US examples I’ve seen on AAM.

    2. Retired to Morning Room to Write My Letters*

      Agree with you both. I’m in the UK and have gotten several jobs/contracts through writing cover letters where I featured every job required as a heading (sometimes 2 or 3 related requirements in one heading), with a brief paragraph under each heading describing how I meet that requirement. But my cover letters always manage to be personal and give a sense of my values, etc, too.
      I am friends with one person who hired me 11 years ago and she still approvingly mentions how much she liked the clear format of my cover letter, ha!

      Good to get this insight into cultural differences.

    3. TechWorker*

      I can also the bolding format working well when there’s a large number of CVs/cover letters for a job and first stage filtering is done by someone who isn’t the hiring manager & doesn’t necessarily have full context… honestly I don’t love it when reading CVs (I’m capable of reading a sentence without needing to know the important words) but I’m sure if you’re trying to filter without much knowledge than that’s an easy way to do it!

    4. SJ (they/them)*

      I was coming here to say, Canadian federal government jobs have very strict cover letter expectations where you’re supposed to speak to every single item on the job listing. I’ve never literally done it side by side but the idea of putting the job requirement and then a blurb about it, makes sense in that context (and does work).

      1. Public Serpent*

        A lot of provincial governments do that too. My government encourages writing one page of cover letter and then having the next page as an appendice to have a table with the chart requirement | how I fulfill this. Then attaching my resume. It really depends on the organization.

        Oddly enough, one barrier to employment in my gov is actually fancy headers with your name/address. The system strips out the headers and footers so if your name is only in the header there is no way to identify whose resume/cover letter it is.

  15. DontStressTheCoverLetter*

    I wouldn’t stress too much about cover letters generally. As a fairly frequent interviewer at many different jobs I’ve never once seen a cover letter from a single candidate. Not once. I’ve also never seen an interviewer bring a copy to an interview from the other side and have had interview questions that made it clear the person asking did not see my cover letter. I assume most if not all applicants had one, but the people doing the hiring never see them. I’m not suggesting omitting the cover letter – it may be something gatekeepers use to filter people out – but I would treat it more like a checklist item than something you spend a ton of time working on or stressing over.

    1. londonedit*

      I think this is really industry-dependent. In my industry (book publishing, UK) cover letters are absolutely expected. Every job advert asks for a CV and cover letter as your application. We deal with words, so you’re expected to be able to write well and submit a CV and cover letter that shows good attention to detail, no typos, etc. You’re also expected to be able to write about how and why you’d be a good fit for the role and you should reference the key skills/experience listed in the job advert. You wouldn’t get anywhere without a good strong cover letter.

      1. DontStressTheCoverLetter*

        Many of those jobs have been writing jobs and this is across industries. Some of them have asked for cover letters in ads. Doesn’t matter. We may get to see other writing samples later in the process.

        1. londonedit*

          OK, but where I am you’re not getting an interview unless you follow the instructions in the job ad and submit a strong cover letter.

      2. Retired to Morning Room to Write My Letters*

        I am on hiring committees in my (UK based) industry, and for us too cover letters are key in helping us decide who to interview. (In fact, I don’t know how someone could decide based on a CV alone – gosh, industries vary, don’t they!)
        It’s not a writing/publishing industry.

      3. Marion Ravenwood*

        Yeah, I work in PR (also in the UK) and cover letters have been more common than not when I’ve been job hunting, for (I assume) similar reasons. If it’s not a ‘CV and cover letter’ job application, then it’s an electronic form with a section along the lines of ‘in 300 words and referencing the job description/person specification, tell us why your skills and experience makes you a good fit for this role’. I assume this is designed to work in the same way as the cover letter, and I treat it as such (minus the standard letter top and tail phrases).

        I could maybe see the case for just going on CVs if the job didn’t require a huge amount of writing (although arguably most if not all jobs these days involve some written work, even just emails). But yeah, I would personally be really surprised if I applied for a job and there wasn’t some form of written ‘tell us why we should interview you’ aspect, either a cover letter or a statement.

    2. Allonge*

      We disqualify applicants who do not submit a cover letter (yes, this is specified in the ad) and look for specific things in the cover letter (this, too).

      So this is totally industry dependent.

      Of course stressing about it is no help, so that part I agree with :)

    3. Hiring Mgr*

      It seems very industry dependent. In mine a cover letter is unheard of, but there are some where it sounds like it’s absolutely crucial

    4. hbc*

      In my industry (manufacturing), whether we get one is highly dependent on the role, but they nearly always boost a candidate if they add *anything* beyond what’s in the resume. I’d say we get cover letters from 5% of candidates, and they make up 75% of the people we interview.

    5. Beehoppy*

      For two of my last three jobs I absolutely was called for an interview based on things I said in my cover letter.

    6. Jenna Webster*

      As a hiring manager, I would rather have a cover letter than a resume. With so much competition for jobs, I don’t know how anyone gets an interview without a solid cover letter talking about why you’re interested in this job and how you can be a great addition and solution for our team.

    7. Chilipepper Attitude*

      Our job ads say YOUR APPLICATION WILL NOT BE CONSIDERED WITHOUT A COVER LETTER. And about half still don’t submit one.

      We really do use that as a weeding tool. We might take a quick look at resumes without a cover letter if the pool is small, but none of them have ever interested us, even when we are pretty desperate for candidates (it’s been tough the last year!).

      I can talk more about why, but if you cannot follow instructions (our work is very detail oriented) that’s a problem. And for our job, the basic skills are all the same. If you have the degree and the title, you know the job. But is your approach old fashioned or more modern, are you structured and set in your ways or are you more flexible and innovative? Only the cover letter tells us that.

    8. Pobody’s Nerfect*

      Wow this has not been my experience. For my newest job I just obtained, I was told my cover letter was what made them want to interview me and give me a chance, they said they rarely get personalized interesting cover letters anymore, so mine stood out to them. Several rounds of interviews later, I got the job. I look at the cover letter as an investment of time that can pay large returns, and in my case it has.

    9. Lily Rowan*

      It sounds like you are one of several interviewers? Yeah, when I’m the hiring manager I don’t necessarily share cover letters with those folks, either, but they are CRITICAL to my decision of who to interview.

    10. spcepickle*

      I interview and hire people several times a year – The only thing I look at is people’s cover letter, I usually don’t bother with resumes. If you don’t submit one (as instructed in the job application) you don’t get an interview. If you cover letter has bad grammar or does not address the job we are hiring for, you don’t get an interview.
      You don’t have to stress about them – just answer two questions. Why do you want THIS job, why will YOU do well at this job.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        Why do you want THIS job, why will YOU do well at this job.


        Why do I want THIS job? That’s a weird question. If I’m applying to your company it’s because a) you are hiring, b) your job description includes stuff I can do, c) your company does not violate my ethics, and d) your pay is in a range that I can accept. No, most companies I apply to I don’t GAF about their market niche or product(s). I’m not going to be excited about some obscure corp-to-corp enterprise software, clothing for teenagers or any number of things. I’m not applying in sales or marketing, so having enthusiasm for the product or business line is not required.

        Why will I do “WELL”?? The only answer I have to that is I have experience in the requirements that you have and that I always do my best at a job. I don’t know enough about your company or the position to write fanfic about the position.

        When I write cover letters, they highlight my relevant experience and what I bring to the post. Anything else is baloney and fiction. If you are a publicly known company that has a significant impact on my field I might have a reference to speak more to your product/industry, but those companies are rare.

        1. hbc*

          You know what? I would love your cover letter that says that honestly says that you don’t care so much about the company’s mission (shy of giving cancer to puppies) as letting you put your head down and excel at [purchasing/ accounting/ guerrilla marketing/ whatever.] It tells me something about you that’s helpful–it would have been a negative at my last company where there was eye-roll-inducing capital C Culture, and a positive at the one before that where work was work.

          I mean, I wouldn’t put it in terms of “I don’t GAF,” but it would help you get selected by compatible companies.

  16. Retired to Morning Room to Write My Letters*


    Wait a second… Even when you’re in private mode, people can STILL detect that you’ve looked at their profile? [Throws up her hands in consternation] Whaat…?
    Does any actual private method exist, then, for looking at other people’s profiles? I get value from checking out other profiles, as genuine industry research, and I don’t want to be visible doing that because – well – it can seem personal even when it isn’t. Even in private mode, am I somehow detectable (say, in weekly reports like the OP mentioned)?

    1. English Rose*

      No, you have three options when selecting Profile Viewing under Visibility:

      1) Your name, photo and profile
      2) Someone at [your company] – no name, photo etc.
      3) Completely private

      So my guess is this person has option 2 selected on their own privacy settings.

      I did just check if this changes if someone has a premium account – whether they can see more – but no, this is what LinkedIn says:

      “Even if you have a Premium account, you won’t see the names of viewers who choose to browse in private mode or private profile characteristics. We respect the privacy of members who don’t wish to reveal information about themselves when viewing profiles.”

      1. kiki*

        I think you’re still detectable in weekly reports. Like, the “somebody viewed your profile” notification will be completely private and not say anything, but in a report the company and position will still show up.

  17. Irish Teacher*

    LW2, my guess would be that she is just assuming most teachers will lack confidence in their teaching abilities their first year, especially if she assumes you are straight out of college and around the age of 22/23. It IS nervewracking to be only a few years out of school yourself, often in your first professional job and suddenly in charge of either small children who are very dependent on your or else teenagers who are only a few years younger than you. It is definitely VERY different from most student jobs, where there is a good deal of oversight, to be simply sent into a classroom on your own and left to get on with it.

    I was sort of on the other side of this recently. I mean, I hope I didn’t overdo it to the point your principal seems to be, but one of our student teachers this year is on his second career and about 30, but looks a lot younger, so I assumed him to be college student aged and was speaking to him as if he were. I found out fairly quickly when I mentioned something from the past and assumed he wouldn’t remember it and he told me he was older that the average student teacher. A little embarrassing, but at least it didn’t go on for weeks or months.

    I will add that especially if you are teaching secondary/high school, then mentoring young people is very much part of the role and if your principal does assume you are about 22, she may be seeing you as only a few years older than the students and treating you as she would hope their first boss will treat them in a few years. When you teach teens for a few years, college-aged people start to almost get put in a category with your students, as you know that is where your students are heading next.

    Not sure if that helps much, but while it COULD be something you’ve said or done, there’s a good chance it’s just her trying to be helpful to a young person starting out on their career, as she sees it.

    It’s possible it might help if you subtly let her know you’re a bit older. A casual reference like “oh, yes, when I was *previous career*, we did x,” (if it’s relevant, obviously) might be enough to change her perception.

  18. Gnome*


    While your intern shouldn’t babysit for all the reasons stated, they might still be a resource to help you find a sitter. Think of it as networking. Do they know anyone who might be interested? Maybe there’s a job board at their school they could point you towards? Just be ready to kindly say no if they offer, citing professional boundaries.

    1. just another queer reader*

      I was thinking about this, but asking the new hire to help recruit babysitters also feels a bit much. If they recommend their friend, it would also be pretty personal! If they spend time hitting up their networks or posting in groups, that’s a pretty big favor for the boss.

      I think that OP’s best bet will be to look for babysitters on their own, via neighborhood groups and such.

      If the new hire happens to have babysitting experience and brings it up, the boss could say “hey, do you know where are people posting/ finding babysitting jobs nowadays?” But that’s the most I’d probably want to ask of the new hire.

      1. Gnome*

        Hmm. I think that’s a good point. I guess I’m feeling like there’s a difference between “hey, do you happen to know anyone?” And recruiting. Your point about friends is definitely good, and not one I had considered. It is likely that anyone they DO know would be at least a casual friend. But I think asking if their school (assuming it’s local-ish) has a job board for such things would be appropriate.

    2. Snow Globe*

      Honestly, I think that is still too much. That still brings up issues if the intern recommends one of their friends, who then turns out to be problematic for some reason. Or the intern could hear “would *you* be interested in babysitting” behind the actual question.

      1. Allonge*

        Eh, normally something like this could be ok if someone is desperate. But as OP already seems unclear on boundaries, I would indeed not recommend in this particular case.

    3. I should really pick a name*

      Is there even any indication that the intern IS a babysitter? Without knowing that, I definitely wouldn’t look to them as a source of leads. I don’t see that the intern is a better source for this info than any other random employee.

      I also think that asking them to help with personal stuff right off the bat isn’t sending a great message.

    4. EPLawyer*

      It’s still seeing the intern as someone associated with babysitting instead of a college graduate just starting in her career. Which would also be the case for any of her friends. Let the intern and her friends be seen as the young professionals they are. Not a source of babysitters for bosses. This includes asking if the school has a job board for such things.

      There are plenty of resources out there to find a babysitter that do not involve hitting up your newest employee for help either as a babysitter or a resource for finding one.

    5. biobotb*

      Wouldn’t the school’s job board be in the student union building? That seems like it would be easy for the LW to figure out on their own.

  19. Hiring Mgr*

    Telling your board that someone was looking at your LI profile sounds far less appropriate than actually looking at your LI profile, so I would advise you to please let this go!

    1. philmar*

      And who cares? I understand we casually say “stalk someone on Facebook” but googling someone or looking at their social media profiles does not rise to the level of actual stalking, which is scary and potentially traumatic. It seems weirder to me to monitor a weekly report of people who have viewed your profile.

      1. ecnaseener*

        LI sends you a notification every week with the list of your profile views, so that part’s not weird – after several weeks of “Fergus again?” you’re going to notice it’s always Fergus.

        But I do agree that there’s nothing really concerning with someone checking your LI frequently. Maybe they’re weirdly invested in finding out when you get a new job, but nothing weirder than that.

  20. just another queer reader*

    As a side note, I’m interested in the cultural concept that babysitting is a job for young people. (I babysat a lot as a teenager, and while it was a nice source of cash, in retrospect I was completely unprepared and immature.)

    Maybe it’s because young people tend to be willing to work irregular hours for low-ish pay.

    1. Harper the Other One*

      I think it’s also because it’s traditionally been a way to work when you were too young for a shift at a grocery store etc. – kind of like mowing lawns for neighbours.

      That said, I wholeheartedly agree that you need a mature young teen to have a good babysitter, and they do NOT all qualify!

      1. just another queer reader*

        Ahh, good point on being too young for more formal work!

        And yes! I was considered very mature as a teenager, but I was still in way over my head lots of the time. I just didn’t have much experience handling situations!

      2. bamcheeks*

        I think it’s also the expectation that Actual Parents are not too far away to call for help. Pre-pandemic, we asked the 16 yo and the 18yo who live a couple of doors down from us to babysit, and part of the logic was that if they were struggling (especially the 16yo, since we were her first babysitting job), her mum or her sister would be there as back-up.

      3. Gracely*

        Yeah, this. I started babysitting when I was 12 (after taking a CPR training at our local hospital). But I was a pretty mature kid for my age, and I wasn’t babysitting infants/toddlers at that age. And my own parents were just a few houses away. It was how I made money to pay for the toys/books I wanted (some of which were, naturally, The Babysitters’ Club). Other than chores around my house, I had no other way to make money at that age.
        I actually built up a pretty good clientele, which expanded once I could drive; for two summers in a row, I was basically a nanny for 4 half days a week for two kids (and I made really good money). It’s money you can make under the table, so to speak, and I always made at least minimum wage (back when that was still close to a living wage), which meant my take-home per hour was more than any other part time job I could’ve held in high school/college. It varied wildly on if babysitting was actually fun; my best clients were the ones with kids who liked to bake, watch movies, build blanket forts, or duel light sabers (the Star Wars prequels were big back then). Plus sometimes, especially when I working over the summer, parents would pay for me to take their kids to the movies or to a life-guarded pool, which meant free movie or swimming, which was awesome.

        However, even though I did a ton of babysitting in my teens through college, it really was NOT something I wanted to do once I started working professionally. And yet my first boss at my first full-time job did the same thing OP is wanting to do. I gave in a couple of times, but I was really thankful when I found another, better job after a few months, because babysitting on top of a full time job was exhausting (and my boss lived 30 minutes away from where I lived), and also there were some messed up power dynamics at that job (half the people there were related somehow, and some of them were cheating with the people who *weren’t* already related). I got out right before all of that stuff imploded, but knowing that was going on also made me feel almost complicit when I babysat. Even without the weird cheating things going on, it wasn’t great to babysit for my boss. It felt way too familiar. I haven’t babysat since, unless you count watching a friend’s kids to help them out in a pinch (and those times were unpaid, because that was me doing a favor, not a job, and my friends’ kids are generally delightful).

        Don’t do it, OP. You can ask, once, if your intern knows someone who might be interested in babysitting, but only if you’re also already asking everyone else who works with you. If you wouldn’t ask a coworker or your own boss, don’t ask the intern.

    2. londonedit*

      I think this has really changed in recent years – when I was a teenager it was absolutely something that young people would do. Your parents’ friends would be going out for the evening on a Friday night and as long as you had a reputation for being sensible they’d give you £10 to babysit the kids for a few hours. Nowadays the local Facebook groups are full of people wanting babysitters with criminal records checks and references and all sorts.

      1. LW 1*

        Everything around babysitting has changed . Most high schoolers we know are far too busy with multiple extracurricular activities every night and all weekend to babysit; the only ones who are potentially interested are adults who work a day job in childcare, or young middle schoolers who are really too young for what we’d feel comfortable with.

        We do have help from our parents on occasion, but my in-laws’ health isn’t great so we try to limit how often we ask them for any kind of help.

        1. ferrina*

          I do recommend an adult who works in childcare. They may cost more, but they also have a ton of experience and are often (if not always) required to be first aid and CPR certified (note- choking measures on an infant look very different than on an adult or older kid). Quality will vary, of course, but the really great teachers are worth it.

        2. AcademiaNut*

          As a teen, my peak babysitter age was 14 – after that, I had a part time job that paid better than babysitting, was generally less stressful and involved fewer bodily fluids and less screaming.

      2. just another queer reader*

        This is fascinating! I can’t say I’m up to date on the babysitting dynamics nowadays, but I’m not shocked that (in some social groups) parents are being very risk-avoidant and getting bureaucratic about it.

        My experience was similar to yours: all my babysitting was for neighbors and my parents’ friends. I do think that it’s really nice when the parents know each other. After all, the babysitter is a kid too!

      3. bamcheeks*

        I think there’s also a UK/US difference. “Babysitting” to me means “someone looking after the kids for a couple of hours, probably in the evening or at the weekend, informally, irregularly, whilst the parents do something like go out on a date or go to a school meeting”. “Childminding” means regular, OFSTED-inspected, one or more days a week, same standard of care and educational expectations as nursery. But I don’t think the US makes that distinction.

        1. bamcheeks*

          (But also probably BECAUSE childminding got more formalised– OFSTED etc– babysitting did too.)

        2. Chilipepper Attitude*

          I think we do make that distinction in the US. Babysitting means irregular or maybe very part time care (like 2 hours every day after school till the end of the workday). And babysitting to me means, usually, an unqualified person but it can be an adult who works in daycare or teaching.

          Day care workers (child minders) have at least some minimum qualifications though I think the UK has stronger requirements as a minimum than we have in the US.

          1. MsSolo UK*

            Our high schools usually finish about 4, while junior and infant schools finish around 3, so the timing doesn’t work out to use teenagers for that gap. You might describe a grandparent as babysitting, but the majority of people would use a more formal afterschool care programme, either based at the school itself or with a registered childminder (day care being a term usually used here to refer to all-day care situations, and childminder referring to someone who looks after kids in their own home).

            Additionally, if you have someone at the same time every week certain employment protections kick in after a certain amount of time, which would get really complicated with a teenager (not that that’s something most people would take into account with a cash-in-hand job, but does relate to some modern-day-slavery stuff where vulnerable people are being told they’re babysitting rather than employed as a nanny as part of a pattern of exploitation)

            Anyway, as bamcheeks says, babysitting over here pretty much evenings and weekends only, and almost always irregular, regardless of how qualified the sitter is. After school care wouldn’t usually be considered babysitting, especially if it was every week.

          2. Orsoneko*

            Yup, I’m in the US and I make the same distinction. I make a further distinction between “babysitter” and “nanny,” where both terms refer to someone who watches the child in the child’s own home, but the former denotes a sporadic or part-time position and the latter a full-time position.

    3. Allonge*

      Part of it is that in larger families, the older kids were absolutely expected to watch out for the younger ones. So when you needed a babysitter, you were looking for a replacement of the non-existent older daughter, not trying to find someone with qualifications in early childhood development or medicine.

      1. The Person from the Resume*

        I think this is key. The oldest child (especially daughters because women are maternal?!?) would help with the younger kids under the parent’s/mom’s supervision until they were old enough to be left alone with the younger kids. In that dynamic a responsible teenaged child/girl was considered good enough to babysit for other family’s. They weren’t expected to have specialized babysitting training or child CPR training which is now more common. Or background checks, but in the old days where kids lived in the same town for their whole lives and everyone knew everyone, what would a background check find that they didn’t already know.

        Expectations have changed about how trained and mature a babysitter needed to be.

      2. The Person from the Resume*

        Personal experience highlighting the error of this thinking

        Over 30 years ago as a teenager I babysat a young child one time. An acquaintance of my parents needed a babysitter, and it was homecoming or prom for the local public high school so none of the normal babysitters were avaiable. They asked my parents to ask me since I went to a different high school and wasn’t going to the dance that evening. And for some reason ($$$ presumably) I agreed. Thing is: I have no experience with babies, no interst in babies, didn’t know how to change a diaper, and never babysat another child before or since, had never “babysat” my younger brothers because we were only 5 years apart so I was only 7 or 8 when my youngest brother was the age of the kid I babysat. I was not qualified to babysit. My only qualification is that I was very responsible and wanted to do well, but I had no idea what that meant while caring for a baby. I didn’t change the diaper the whole night. But the child survived. And I never babysat again.

        The other thing going for that family is that their elderly grandmother who only spoke French was in the house with me too. She was too old to care for the baby and we couldn’t speak to one another, but I guess she could have swooped in and shouted at me or called for help if I did something obviously wrong that she saw.

        What were those people thinking? Answer: Any old teenage girl knows how to care for a baby/toddler. NOT TRUE!

    4. ferrina*

      It’s also one of the few forms of small economy that has regular high demand, low barrier to entry (i.e., no special training required), and no set up cost for the employer (cuz really, how many folks pay taxes on babysitting? Some, absolutely, but I’m guessing not most).

      Mix that with the historic roots that Allonge pointed out, and it’s a pretty stable industry.

    5. Kate*

      In my corner of world, the cultural concept for babysitting is looking for OLDER (retired) women – like an extra grandmother. Remembering what I was like as teen I wouldn’t even think of getting another child to take care of my children.

    6. Qwerty*

      The expectation of most babysitting is pretty low, or at least was when I was a teen. It’s more like “be a surrogate older sibling”. Safely able to operate the stove, reach things on high shelves, keep the kids alive, call for backup if hell breaks loose. It used to be easy to get a teen from your own neighborhood who could call their own parents if there was an emergency (or even just had a question). The low rate was decent pocket money for the teen, and affordable for parents to regularly book a sitter. Kind of plays into the whole community and “it takes a village” mindset

      For the majority of the evening babysitting I did, my main duty was just putting the kids to bed (which could be drawn out) and a lot of time was spent reading or watching tv. Neighborhood families would often be fine with having a (female) friend over to keep me company if they’d met her. Daytime babysitting was just play with the kids for a while and give them a snack. I generally avoided anything baby/toddler related on purpose though.

      Modern day babysitting my nephew? Way more effort and work. Though I do it for free :)

  21. PsychNurse*

    I don’t know how accommodations work, so I have a sort of basic question. Is it harder (or I guess, is it impossible) to request accommodations if there are only symptoms and no diagnosis? The OP mentioned that they are currently in the process of getting diagnosed (and hopefully treated!). Does the situation change if you can say “I have X” rather than “I’m experiencing this symptom”?

    1. I should really pick a name*

      I don’t believe you actually need to disclose the specific issue, though the employer might request a doctor’s note stating what specific accommodation is needed.

      1. PsychNurse*

        That does make sense. After I submitted my question I thought that part through and realized you probably don’t give the diagnosis anyway.

    2. Esmeralda*

      You need actual legit documentation if you want an accommodation under the ADA.

      Good bosses will work with you if you’re having symptoms or finding it hard to work because of XYZ. But they are under no legal obligation to do so. And if a helpful boss leaves, you’re back at square one.

    3. Interplanet Janet*

      I’ve been on the management side of accommodations. If its something not so straightforward, an employer may ask for a letter from a doctor stating what the employee needs in the ways that it impacts work.

      So, for a totally made up example, say an employee has AAM Disorder, which the employee treats by brushing their teeth twice after waking up a 3 hour nap at noon, a special lightbulb in the light fixtures over their desk, and a special diet for dinner. If none of the initial accommodation requests burden the employer, they could offer all of it with no paperwork. But if they are in an interactive process, which means they may want to offer the employee alternate accommodations than what was initially brought up, they may request a letter from the employees doctor. Usually, those look something like:

      To whom it may concern: [Employee] is currently under my care at Internet Clinic. It is my recommendation that [Employee] be allowed to work a flexible schedule allowing for a midday break and not be required to work under fluorescent lighting. Thank you, Dr. Internet.

      Note specifically that the letter: Does not mention the diagnosis, does not mention the treatments that don’t impact the workplace, and (usually) does not cite specific accommodations, but instead cites the issue that they believe the the patient needs accommodated.

      Hope that helps explain it!

    4. Pobody’s Nerfect*

      Employers aren’t supposed to need to ask for an actual diagnosis for the ADA accommodations process, and ADA itself doesn’t give a list of diagnoses or conditions that are “absolute qualifiers.” However, every HR Dept/ADA office I’ve ever worked with *all* have asked explicitly for the health care provider on their form to list a diagnosis. They can then elaborate on how that condition and symptoms interfere with activities and why you need an accommodation. And just a heads up, even if the ADA/HR office grants the accommodation, that doesn’t mean the manager will be happy about it, they may have to live with it but they can still make your work life absolutely miserable and try to subtly force you to leave, even crossing over into disability discrimination territory. It’s challenging fo the employee but they should definitely take advantage of the ADA process if they need it.

      1. LW3*

        Letter Writer 3 here – oddly enough, I’m actually more worried about HR than I am my manager!

        My manager is pretty chill, and while some of my coworkers can be a bit nosy I’ve gotten used to deflecting questions when they don’t need to know the answer.

        But my main concern is that historically my interactions with our HR department haven’t been great, namely due to their tendency to not push back against whatever the sweeping company-wide whim of the execs is that day. Which causes problems unfortunately frequently – I don’t think the execs actually understand what my job *is,* so sometimes their sudden changes in things like what hardware and software is allowed to be used / dramatic policy changes / reorganization / etc. make my job much harder. The times I’ve attempted to communicate with HR when one of these decisions was disproportionately impacting a protected class or otherwise dramatically impacting my work life were pretty much ignored. (We’re privately owned, so there’s a bit of a “if someone high up enough doesn’t like what HR says, they’ll just fire HR” dynamic going on.)

        Namely, in this case it’s more likely the issue will be a top-down “Okay everyone back in the office” initiative that my manager won’t have control over.

        That said, because this is an “*I*, as a lone individual, would need an accommodation for these documented medical reasons” issue and not a “ummmmm that policy might have some interesting unintended consequences” issue, there’s a decent chance HR will handle it better. It’s worth a shot, at the very least!

        1. Isarine*

          Hello, fellow fatigue sufferer here! I also describe my symptoms as “sleep attacks”. I work in a small, locally owned real estate office so we’re less bound by ADA requirements, but my boss still understands and gives them to me.

          The trouble, for me, has been with coworkers and regular vendors we work with. Mine was diagnosed (Vitamin D so low it was undetectable, so check that if you haven’t yet), but still flares up sometimes. This means that occasionally I just stop functioning, exactly as you describe. In the worst cases, I have enough time to get myself into a safe position so I don’t fall over or break something. People see this and accuse me of just taking a nap, and refuse to work to understand that it’s a lifelong chronic illness. I haven’t yet found a good way to convince them without just starting a fight, so sometimes I’ve found it easier to just drunkenly stare at my computer screen for a few hours rather than be accused of being lazy.

          For the record, my work gets done, and if it’s a busy time of year I work extra to make sure it’s done. So anyone complaining is doing so literally for no work related reason.

    5. Sitting Pretty*

      I am working on both sides of this issue right now, both trying to request ADA accommodations and FMLA for myself and supervising someone going through it. I’m learning that while federal laws determine FMLA and ADA. the process is quite workplace specific. I work for a large state university and the journey for accommodations is… epic. There are at least four complex forms for each process. The medical certification form alone required is 5 pages long and requires a physician to complete it. That means extra conversations with my already swamped PCP. Everything has to go through our HR office and the ADA office, which are not the same people. It’s really something!

      I assume a smaller organization would have a less labyrinthine request process. While this is really exhausting, it gives me confidence that once it’s all through and approved, I (and my employee) will be legally protected from any kind of termination or discrimination, even if our state’s leadership changes the telework/accommodation rules (again).

  22. Ruth Margolis*

    OMG! The two column cover letter was my JAM, in 1989. No kidding.

    I also had an Objective in my resume.

    Times change, but man, that is a blast from the past!

  23. Nikki*

    LW4: are you sure they’re actually looking at your profile or are you just seeing them listed in your weekly searches? I ask because I was in a similar situation where I noticed someone I knew seemed to be searching for me frequently. I finally asked about it because it seemed weird and we figured out that when a user looks at their list of contacts, that counts as a search that shows up in all their contacts’ search reports. Maybe your old boss just looks at their contacts list weekly but isn’t clicking in your profile.

  24. TX_Trucker*

    On #5, I got my first post college job with a duo cover letter and that was 30 years ago. I didn’t learn that technique. It seemed “natural” because I was a perfect fit for ALL their requirements. As a hiring manager today, I see this style of cover letter ocassionally. When the candidate has everything I’m looking for, it’s fabulous. But most of the time they don’t. And this style just reminds me of what they are lacking.

    1. TX_Trucker*

      I will also add, that I think the “duo” makes sense for entry level positions with a checklist of requirements, such as being a Certified Llama Groomer. It’s less helpful in senior positions where I’m looking for “leadership” and other skills that can’t be summarized quickly.

  25. LW 1*

    LW #1 here.

    First, thank you all for reinforcing that my wishful thinking was problematic. I felt like it probably was, but wanted to get Alison’s take.

    I also wanted to provide little more context, since some additional comments have come up.

    -This young woman has mentioned her experience with/enjoyment of working with children. She has been a nanny, helps run religious ed at her church (we belong to the same faith so this wouldn’t be an issue for me), currently also works part time as a substitute teacher, and connected with another individual involved with our nonprofit regarding babysitting. So, it wasn’t entirely out of left field or me making assumptions that she would want to babysit because she was a college age female (although I could see how that would come across in my letter).

    In addition, it’s not unheard of in our organization (private religious high school) for people to help each other out in various ways. For example, out Director of Admissions’ college aged daughter babysat our school President’s kids this summer. I acknowledge that it’s a different dynamic, however.

    Again, thank you all for reinforcing that my wishful thinking was a bad idea.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Your response to criticism is highly admirable and I’m not being sarcastic. One of the things I admire is the ability to say ‘actually I was wrong’.

      1. Sandi*

        I wouldn’t say LW 1 is wrong. They asked “I’m hopeful this is okay but this is probably a bad idea, right?” and that’s far from wrong!

    2. Summer Sugar*

      It sounds like you have a ton of resources at your disposal to find a potential babysitter: your faith organization, your nonprofit, etc., so it might be better for you to start there. I just want to reinforce the notion that you can’t “deputize” someone just because they will potentially work for you. This attitude might spill over into other parts of your work-life regarding personal favors in general, particularly since you both attend the same faith-based organization and you both are connected with your nonprofit. This sounds like so much potential enmeshment. In your shoes, I would be extremely apprehensive about approaching this person to do any personal favors, babysitting or not.

    3. Irish Teacher*

      It sounds like you know a lot more about this potential intern than I was assuming, which does change the dynamic a bit, but yeah, still probably better avoided. The context does make it a lot more logical that you would consider it though. She does sound a good choice if it wasn’t for the potential conflicts of interest.

    4. Sharp-dressed Boston Terrier*

      I can certainly see why you had considered the idea, given the amount of personal crossover you and your intern share. (My manager and I didn’t even have that; I was just a warm body who happened to be in her field of view at the time.) And if she weren’t your intern, with the dynamic that comes with that relationship, it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea at all. But your instincts on this are right and I’m sure I’m not alone in commending you for trusting them.

      1. Happy meal with extra happy*

        Agreed. I think many of the responses to LW1 were relatively harsh. Everyone isn’t going to have the perfect answer every time, and isn’t it great that OP checked her gut feeling here before doing it? Don’t we want letter writers who go “is this a bad idea?” vs “help, I did a bad idea, how do I fix it?”

    5. Sara without an H*

      Hi, LW1 — Thanks for providing some more context. I can see why you might be tempted to ask this young woman to babysit, but do try to find somebody else, for all the reasons Alison listed in her response. It sounds as though you have connections that would let you find somebody you don’t directly supervise who would be interested and qualified.

      I don’t think it would be out of line for you to ask her if she knows somebody who might be interested in the job. In fact, you should probably be asking your entire network for referrals.

    6. Observer*

      This does add a lot of relevant context. But, yes, it’s still a bad idea. For both of you.

      Good for you for asking, though. It’s a really important thing to recognize that you might be getting into something not great and do a gut check with someone outside the situation.

    7. Kora*

      Yeah, given this context it does sound like she might have been a great choice for babysitting if she wasn’t about to start working for you. It’s not a good idea to cross the streams that way (especially with an intern where the power differential is so big), but I can absolutely see how you’d hope there was a way it could work. Hopefully you’ll find someone else who fits the bill!

      1. Sharp-dressed Boston Terrier*

        Heh… crossing the streams.

        “Ray, the next time someone asks you if getting the intern to babysit is a bad idea…

        YOU SAY YES!!!”

  26. Ochre*

    I had a good relationship with my boss and agreed to watch his toddler one afternoon. The kid and I had a good time, no major problems, except the kid wandered into his parents’ bedroom to get a “video” he wanted to watch. The box was similar size to a VHS cassette, but it was a sex toy. Hard to look my boss in the eye when they got home! Do I tell him (in the interest of storing the item somewhere else)? Do I not? (I didn’t!)

    We did work together for many years after that and the babysitting need turned out to be a one-off thing, but it was awkward to think about!

    1. I should really pick a name*

      Nope, that one goes down the memory hole, never to be seen again. There’s really nothing to be gained by telling him.

    2. kiki*

      Yes! Ochre, yours is a kind of extreme example, but kids have a way of revealing secrets about their parents to their babysitters. Generally it’s fairly innocuous (once a kid told me “mama takes stinky poops in the morning”), but it still is stuff you’d prefer your colleagues not know or think about.

      I like babysitting and as an intern I probably would have appreciated the cash (babysitting pays well compared to other part-time jobs!), but it has so much potential to get messy.

    3. Bernice Clifton*

      This is what I was thinking – some people snoop, unfortunately. And yes, any babysitter can do this but it would be worse if they were your employee at your day job.

  27. Seriously?*

    Gee, if the college intern was male and liked kids, would you be considering them as a sitter? I doubt it. That you are considering if of this woman says to me you don’t see her as an adult professional. Don’t do this to her.

    1. Observer*

      Gee, if the college intern was male and liked kids, would you be considering them as a sitter? I doubt it.

      To be honest, even without seeing what the OP updated, I think that this is a bit unfair. A lot of people have been making that assumption, but given how desperate the OP sounds in the letter, I doubt that this is true. It’s true that some people are that way, but even in the comments here, all of which are unanimous that the OP should not do this, there are several stories of young men babysitting and how badly it went.

  28. One of the Annes*

    Very much agree with the comments about viewing the intern as a young student rather than a working professional. I also wonder whether the LW would have considered asking a young male intern.

    1. LW 1*

      Yes, I would have. In general, I feel better with babysitters who have experience with/enjoy kids and have had background checks, unless I already know them very well. If a male met these criteria, then great!

  29. ecnaseener*

    LW1, good on you for recognizing this might be an issue and asking for advice before doing anything. I see the top few comment threads are getting into “how dare you even consider it” territory, which is unrealistic and unhelpful. This comment section can sometimes be unkind towards people in your position, asking for advice because you know you don’t know what’s okay – which should be commended, not criticized.

    1. LW 1*

      Thank you; I appreciate that.

      I had a feeling it wouldn’t be a good idea, but when she mentioned she connected with one of our volunteers about watching her kids, it just made me think. At any rate, I’ll do better.

  30. Coffee and Plants*

    When I read “Duo cover letter”, I immediately tried to figure out how the language learning app worked its way onto cover letters. I may or may not be on Duo too much. Haha

    1. SJ (they/them)*

      I pictured a pair of candidates writing a joint cover letter at first. My brain was trying to figure out how this could possibly work.

    2. ecnaseener*

      Same, I was thinking maybe the owl would be featured with some of his passive-aggressive reminders, rewritten for the context – “Got 5 minutes? Time to read Jane Warbleworth’s resume!”

  31. Delta Delta*

    #1 – Just, no. Don’t do this. I’ll offer an additional perspective beyond those already mentioned here. Let’s suppose New Hire decided to watch your kids from time to time. To the new hire’s co-workers, this is going to look awful, like New Hire is trying to worm her way into disparate/preferential treatment in the office by watching your kids. Yeah, maybe you pay her, but what’s really happening is she’s getting additional face time by being your domestic help. When it’s time to give someone a promotion or a raise, are you going to consider Fergus who shows up on time and produces a solid product, or are you going to consider Jane who watched your kids despite both of them having strep throat, and was kind enough to fold that load of laundry? And then if Jane doesn’t get that promotion, she wonders why she spent half her weeknights folding your stupid socks for $8/hour if it didn’t get her anywhere.

    1. LW 1*

      I see what you’re saying.

      I think what also skews my perspective is that even if I manage this individual, I wouldn’t have the power to set raises, fire, promote, etc. That power lies with my boss (and somewhat with her boss).

      We’re transitioning from what used to be a flat department to one with a middle layer. There’s definitely been some growing pains in this process.

      1. Delta Delta*

        That still doesn’t matter. You’d be in a position to speak to the decision-maker about whatever goes right (or wrong) with her. Suppose she watches the kids and one gets hurt, or someone sets the toaster on fire. Are you going to go to bat for her with her manager to help her get a raise? I’m not trying to argue – there’s just this other angle to consider.

      2. Irish Teacher*

        I’d still be careful. I don’t know the dynamic in your workplace exactly, but presumably your boss would be looking for your input on her. I don’t manage anybody, but I recently said to my head of department (who also has no power to hire or fire) that a particular sub teacher would be a good choice for a longer term subbing position and he agreed and said he would suggest her to the principal who DOES have those powers. I don’t know whether what I said had any impact or not – it’s possible the principal was considering her anyway – but she got the job.

      3. Observer*

        I think what also skews my perspective is that even if I manage this individual, I wouldn’t have the power to set raises, fire, promote, etc. That power lies with my boss (and somewhat with her boss).

        That doesn’t really fundamentally change the issue, though. Keep in mind that no one is going to believe you if you claim that you have NO influence on raises, promotions, schedules, etc. And with good reason. The fact is that if your management is any good your opinion WILL matter when they makes these kinds of decisions. And in the meantime, a manager can make someone’s life better or worse. So the dynamic still stands.

        And if she doesn’t know that you cannot hire / fire / promote / give bonuses, and thinks that doing this for you will lead you to decide in certain ways, that’s still going to have to influence her decision.

        Also, you have to think about how this looks to everyone else. Either they will wonder what favors you are doing or they are wondering what favors Intern is expecting, or both.

  32. ferrina*

    For LW3’s situation- does a condition need to be diagnosed in order to qualify for the ADA? I assume some form of professional assessment is needed, but do they need to have a full diagnosis?
    It sounds like LW doesn’t have a dx yet, and I’m curious about how the ADA works for this

    1. Esmeralda*

      You need to provide documentation for an ADA accommodation. You do not have to tell your supervisor what the dx is. But they need to know enough to be able to figure out an accommodation with you.

      One of my siblings has done this — eventually could not work in the office due to lung disease (covid was…concerning). Had to provide documentation from their various medical providers, all of which went thru HR, not their immediate supervisor. Employer had to come up with secure software for my sib to do their job (privacy of records). They now work 100% remote, at home. Can only work at home due to those security requirements.

      I will say that it was a pretty substantial accommodation, because it’s a job that requires interaction with various federal officials in a public space. But they did it — they would not do it, though, until my sib put through the official ADA request.

      ADA is one of the most important pieces of civil rights legislation in the last 50+ years.

      Recommended viewing: PBS documentary Lives Worth Living (oral history of the disability rights movement in the 1970s).

    2. Pobody’s Nerfect*

      Employers aren’t supposed to need to ask for an actual diagnosis for the ADA accommodations process, and ADA itself doesn’t give a list of diagnoses or conditions that are “absolute qualifiers.” However, every HR Dept/ADA office I’ve ever worked with *all* have asked explicitly for the health care provider on their form to list a diagnosis. They can then elaborate on how that condition and symptoms interfere with activities and why you need an accommodation. And just a heads up, even if the ADA/HR office grants the accommodation, that doesn’t mean the manager will be happy about it, they may have to live with it but they can still make your work life absolutely miserable and try to subtly force you to leave, even crossing over into disability discrimination territory. It’s challenging fo the employee but they should definitely take advantage of the ADA process if they need it.

  33. BlackBellamy*

    LW4 I think it’s weird that someone would write a letter wondering if they should contact the board of directors because someone is looking at their linked-in page on an occasional basis. Just block them without writing any letters or wondering about it. LW4 should probably ease up about jumping to conclusions and stirring up professional trouble for others and well…maybe themselves.

    1. Bernice Clifton*

      I agree that the question on its own was a little bizarre, but it sounds like in context the old boss was really awful and there wasn’t much the LW could do about it when she was there, and she assumed the boss is searching for her on the regular to mess with her somehow. Sometimes when you are stuck in crappy thinking, it’s a good thing to get an outside opinion.

  34. Avril Ludgateaux*


    I can’t help but let my mind wander to this: would you even consider asking this of your intern if she were a he? Women who “love children” frequently get pigeonholed into care work, whether it is something they are at all interested in or not.

    It’s inappropriate. Don’t do it. I babysat as a side gig all through college and after graduation, when I was job hunting, one of the parents of a family I sat for regularly ended up extending an offer for me to work in their business. As soon as I was hired there, the family appropriately and expectedly stopped using me as a babysitter.

  35. Esmeralda*

    Duo cover letters.

    OMFG, not another gimmick that makes it HARDER for me to read application materials.

    Who comes up with these ridiculous ideas? Who? Someone who doesn’t have to read applications, that’s who.

    If nothing else, you’re going to have to shrink the font to make two columns fit, unless you go onto multiple pages. That is not reader-friendly right there. I don’t want to be messing with the magnification while trying to *get through applications*.

    I’ll read a cover letter formatted like that, but I’m going to be mad about it, and I’m going to downscore the applicant for lacking knowledge of professional standards and for poor written communication.

    Readers have expectations. Writers need to meet those expectations. Otherwise readers are going to next their applications.

  36. TootsNYC*

    the biggest reason to NOT ask your intern (or any employee, but especially a young one, and especially especially an INTERN) is that you are supposed to be modeling for them how business relationships are supposed to go.

    and this isn’t proper no matter what employee you’d ask, honestly.
    it’s not completely OK with a same-level colleague, tbh

  37. straws*

    LW3 – Alison’s advice is great for how to move forward, so I have nothing to add there. But please don’t feel embarrassed! There’s no need for you disclose your condition to coworkers for many, many reasons, but you don’t need to feel embarrassed for a legitimate medical condition – especially when you’re seeking answers under a doctor’s care. I have narcolepsy and my afternoon nap is a lifesaver. My last job (and prior to the pandemic), I did disclose to my boss so I could put my head down over lunch and recharge. He was happy to let me do it, because I was SO much less productive when I was nodding off and fighting microsleeps. While it sounds like you need more of a recharge than I do and that isn’t as feasible while in person, most reasonable companies are going to prefer a productive employee with a wonky schedule than an unproductive employee working 8 hours straight. I hope you find the cause soon and can get on a treatment/schedule that lets you live the way you wish to. Best of luck!

  38. Tesuji*

    LW4: Sorry, but if someone complained about this, I’d find their behavior more troubling than what they’re reporting.

    Maybe it’s a generational thing, but this kind of thing comes across to me as “I posted this thing online without any restrictions or limitations for everyone in the world to look at. And… and… someone *looked* at it! But they weren’t the person I wanted to look at it! How dare they! They were supposed to know that they weren’t part of the ‘everyone in the world’ that was *supposed* to look at it. I want to speak to their manager!”

    To me, treating someone looking at your public information as an invasion of your privacy is telling me more about the person complaining than it is the person looking.

    (And, hey, as someone who’s pretty much absent from social media because I’m a private person, but am on LinkedIn because I kind of don’t have a choice for professional reasons, I get it. You need to just stop caring–or even checking up on–who’s looking at your profile or what searches you showed up in, accept that posting something online is the equivalent of putting something in a newspaper, and let go the idea that you get to control who reads the newspaper or what people do with it.)

    1. londonedit*

      I don’t know, even though LinkedIn is a public thing I think I would still find it a bit weird if I realised the same person was checking my profile all the time. Why the fascination with me?! But then, yeah, they’re probably checking loads of people’s profiles, if that’s a thing they do, and what harm does it really do if they look at my profile once a month or once a week? I don’t really use LinkedIn so it’s not as if they’re going to glean any juicy information. I’m always getting emails from LinkedIn saying ‘You appeared in 14 searches this week!’ and ‘9 people viewed your profile this week!’ and…I’m just really not sure what I’m supposed to do with that information. I guess it’s just meant to serve as a prompt for people to go and look at LinkedIn, nothing more.

  39. Sunny days are better*

    LW #5

    When I found myself laid off in 2015 and having to look for a job for the first time in twenty years, the job-seeking-advice-service company that my company included in the severance package insisted that this was the ONLY way to do cover letters now and gave me s**t about any other style that I used when I supplied samples for feedback.

    I figured that I didn’t know anything anymore about finding a job, took them at their word, and used that style. I got the first job that I applied for, so I figured they were right.

    Now I’m wondering if I just got lucky? I had no idea the level of hate for this style until right now.

  40. Environmental Compliance*

    #4 – I have had a guidance counselor at my undergrad (in which I graduated nearly a decade ago…) look at my LinkedIn in random twice weekly events for a month or two at a time since I graduated. It was really strange at first – I never interacted with this person when I was there – but at this point it’s kind of hilarious. I’m assuming this person for me is updating alumni records or something. It’s weird, yeah, but overall pretty innocuous. A Board would find it much stranger for you to bring it up. If you want, block the person and move on.

    1. bamcheeks*

      They might have been using you as an example for other students! I quite frequently search alumni to show students the variety of things that alumni from particular programmes do or to give them an idea of possible career progressions. If you have a well-filled-in page it’s gold. :)

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        Possibly! I get invited to a ton of alumni stuff, they really nicely expanded their outreach programs. I was just at a conference for students to learn who’s doing what with their relevant degree – “Alumni In The Field”. And I have a rather odd career progression, which is apparently fun to talk about.

        It was way more strange to see the person looking at my profile just 2 years out of school when I wasn’t doing anything interesting. My career now makes a lot more sense. (And I’ve actually met her and spoken with her now, so I have a Real Face to go with picture/name).

  41. James*

    Regarding LinkedIn – no one talks enough about how even in ‘private mode’ people can figure out pretty easily if they’ve viewed your page due to the weekly reports. A rather unsettling fact I learned a bit too late.

  42. bamcheeks*

    I’m quite interested in the LinkedIn one, because “see who viewed your LinkedIn” is a paid feature in the UK, but since LW says they never really update or use LinkedIn outside jobsearching they presumably don’t have a LinkedIn Premium. So is it a free feature in the US?

    1. Banana*

      It’s limited. You can see a few of the views but usually not all. They tease you with some of the details to entice you to pay to see the rest.

  43. Observer*

    #1 – Can the intern baby sit.

    As a parent I want to point something out here. You mention that the intern loves kids and you have 2 of your own. But the thing you need to realize is that generalized “loves kids” absolutely does not mean “loves MY kids.” So even if you know for a fact that this inter takes part in child centered activities outside of school / work, it does not mean that she’s going to want to do that with YOUR kids.

    Given the work relationship you should be trying to build getting into, making her get into that choice is not good for you and it’s totally not fair to her. Having dealt with the babysitting thing myself and having been a babysitter in my teens as well, I would say that keeping in mind that “loves kids” is not the same as “loves my kids” is likely to helpful on getting and retaining good babysitters.

  44. Banana*

    Tangent on weird LinkedIn cruising…my college ex boyfriend, who I broke up with 21 years ago (!!!) occasionally cruises my LinkedIn profile. He is not even remotely dangerous so it doesn’t really concern me much, it’s definitely harmless, but it’s so weird! He does not even view it in private mode, I just see John Smith pop up on my views once a year or so.

    1. Banana*

      We dated for two years and it was pretty serious. I broke up with him when I realized we wanted completely different things after college (in particular, his mother was going to play a MUCH more active role in his adult life than I was going to be able to bear). As far as I know we both went on to live the lives we wanted, so it worked out.

      1. Delta Delta*

        I get this sometimes, too from a former boyfriend. But it’s not him, it’s everyone at the firm where he works. He’s totally harmless and a nice person, and lives about 4 states away, and we work in wildly different industries, so I don’t know why they’re all looking at my page. But whatever.

    2. Dinwar*

      I’m Facebook friends with most of my exes. The breakups weren’t hostile–we were after different things and acted like adults about it–and we still enjoy each other’s company in a purely non-romantic way. Maybe it’s weird, but I think it’s only weird because our society pushes screwed-up notions of how romantic relationships work; breaking up doesn’t necessarily need to create hostility.

      LinkedIn may be a different thing, being more business-oriented, but everyone I’ve spoken with about it (I’m not on it) makes it sound like Facebook playing dress-up in a suit and tie. Could be that’s the view your ex takes on this.

  45. MurpMaureep*

    Years ago my manager dumped a bunch of hiring activities on me that I was ill equipped to handle at that stage in my career. I was impressed by one applicant’s dual column cover letter where he did exactly what LW 5 describes: listing each of the required and desired qualifications next to his applicable experience.

    We ended up hiring that candidate and let me tell you he was the living embodiment of a gimmicky cover letter/resume! All slick talk and buzz words and zero substance or knowledge. He’s actually still working in my old group, scraping by, but I now have a deep aversion to those types of cover letters and downgrade them significantly when reviewing resumes!

  46. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Laying Around*

    Another point on the boss asking a young woman just starting her career to babysit: you’re communicating a very gendered expectation of her that comes with an added side of her wondering if you see her as a professional. I’d bet anything if young intern was Steve instead of Stella, it wouldn’t have crossed your mind to ask. I bet Steve loves kids too, and babysits for his niece and nephew, but we don’t look at the Steves of the world as potential caretakers for our family because we’re looking at them as junior account associates or whatever.

    1. Dinwar*

      It’s not just that, though. Steves of the world are considered active threats to children, particularly unknown children. There are many people who refuse to allow teenage boys or men to care for their young children on the grounds that the gender is inherently unsafe and that the risk of abuse is too high.

      This is a situation that is likely sexist against both genders.

  47. Maz*

    I’m originally from the UK, and although I no longer live there so don’t know what the current hiring practices are, when I did live there it was far more common to have to fill in an application form than to be expected to send a cover letter and CV — at least at the level I was applying for, which was entry to mid-level. There was never enough space to fill in the required information by hand, so I always ended up recreating the application form on Word so I could expand the spaces. The Duo Cover letter reminds me of application forms rather than resume and cover letter.

  48. Risha*

    LW1, please do not ask your employee to babysit your kids. Just because she likes kids doesn’t mean she wants to babysit. I love kids but I don’t want to watch other people’s kids at all. I’m wondering if you’re a new boss since you want to blur the professional/personal line quite a bit. She’s not a babysitter, she’s a young professional who is trying to learn the working world. Even if she’s babysat for others in her personal time, she’s at your company to work. You asking her to babysit would most likely be uncomfortable for her. If she says no, would you truly be ok with that? We’re all only human and it’s very possible it would affect her later on if she declines your request, even if you don’t think it would.

    Besides the issues that Alison raised, what if your kids misbehave (if they’re old enough) and she feels like she can’t address it since you’re the boss? What if others on the team found out and now they think you’re showing favoritism to this one staff since she babysits your kids? What if she doesn’t think you’re paying her fair but feels afraid to speak up? There’s also the possibility to take advantage of her services since you’re in a position of power at work (such as coming home late, or paying her “later”). What if she disagrees with the way you raise your kids but she feels like she can’t stop babysitting? There are so many negatives that outweigh the potential benefits.

    You can ask local daycares if any of their staff babysit after hours/on days off (the staff at daycares in my area do offer that), you can ask neighbors if they know anyone. Many colleges have job boards where you can request a sitter (I would think people majoring in childhood education may want to babysit) You can ask people in your house of worship if you have one. You can even go to that site care and hire someone. Work is work and personal issues do not belong at work and are not your coworkers/subordinates problem.

  49. tiny*

    Re: LW #3, I was under the impression that accommodations were task-specific, how can you start requesting accommodations for a situation (return to office) that has not been stated yet?

    1. Mimmy*

      In addition to specific work tasks, accommodations can also be alteration in workplace policies (as long as they’re “reasonable”). So, in this instance, the request would be to continue working from home with flexible hours. Even though the forced return-to-office hasn’t been officially announced, I don’t think it would hurt for OP #3 to proactively make the request.

  50. Adds*

    LW #1: As someone who has been asked by their boss to babysit their kid both in the office and in my own home and had my kids invited to their child’s party only to become the childcare at the party, DO NOT DO IT!!

    Was I told I could say no? Yes. Did it actually feel like I could say no? Not one tiny bit. Did I resent it and my boss? Yes, absolutely.

    If this intern wanted to work in child care they probably wouldn’t be interning for your company. If you need a babysitter, ask your children’s friend’s parents for recommendations. Ask your neighbor’s kid to do it. Ask literally ANYONE ELSE on the planet. Do NOT ask your intern.

  51. Aguslawa*

    Stalking bosses are a thing. At least two of my former bosses do, and each time I get this schadenfreude. My sweet summer child, why yes I managed to get a more enjoyable, better paid job than what you offered me and called it “above market standard”.

  52. Mimmy*

    Talk with your HR department, let them know you’re making “an official request for accommodations under the ADA” (use that exact term

    I always thought–and have taught my students when discussing the ADA–that you don’t have to use those exact terms and that you can make the request in your own words.

    *Makes note to self to refresh on ADA as it relates to employment*

    1. Observer*

      Legally, you are correct. However, it makes sense to use that kind of explicit language to avoid both obtuseness and plausible deniability.

  53. morethantired*


    I have narcolepsy and I sympathize with you!! It was the same for me before diagnosis in terms of brain fog and sleep attacks. With help from my doctor, I was able to get accommodations under the ADA. Definitely find what’s comfortable for you when walking the line of advocating for yourself and disclosing your disability. Don’t feel like you have to over-explain to anyone.

  54. HMS Cupcake*

    Speaking of cover letters, I just received one that surprised me. My job posting is for a mid-level teacup analyst and the applicant decided she was applying for Deputy Director of Teacups! I even checked with HR to make sure we didn’t post the wrong job. I’m slightly baffled by this.

  55. ScienceBear*

    OP3: I have a really unusual sleep condition called Kleine-Levin. When I’m having spells, I feel like I’m living life in a puddle of molasses and I sleep all the time. It’s episodic, so this only occurs sometimes and it took me five years from suspecting I have this condition to a formal diagnosis by sleep study. I’m an unrelenting asshole when this is happening, confused, barely conscious, and quite difficult. I’d never manage in an office when it’s happening so I feel your struggle. I was roundly mocked in grad school for falling asleep at my desk all the time even though it was beyond my control. Push your doctor for a polysomnogram to study your brain while sleeping, so they know what’s actually going on. There are effective solutions for day to day though. Modafinil has been a lifesaver for me. Good luck!

  56. Coco*

    LW 3: I just wanted to say, I’m so sorry you are dealing with this unknown condition. I hope you can find some answers soon! I have a chronic condition that has no cure, and treatments are more or less nonexistent. I can’t do much about it, but having a name and a diagnosis has still brought me some mental relief. Good luck!

  57. Michelle Smith*

    Hi LW3: My last job was going back to the office full-time at any moment. I did the preemptive accommodations request and it was absolutely the right call. Your company should have a clear policy on how to apply. Note that you may need a letter from your doctor, but you do not have to disclose your medical condition, just the limitations, and they are NOT allowed to share that information with anyone else. They will also reach out to you during the investigation phase and propose alternatives (e.g. come in 4 days a week or 3 days, etc.). Just explain that it won’t work and you need to work from home. Your manager should be able to support you on that as well.

    What you do need to know and accept is that your coworkers will probably need to be told, by you, that you have an accommodation. Why? Because when they all go back to the office and you’re working for home, they’re going to ask why (if they’re anything like mine were). Again, you don’t have to disclose anything, but it may make your life easier and stave off the questions and resentment if you explain that you have an ADA accommodation and will continue to work from home indefinitely, but there is nothing to be concerned about.

  58. Catfuneral*

    #3, PLEASE go see a neurologist or a pulmonologist for a sleep study! It sounds like narcolepsy with cataplexy–if you return to the office, you could start having panic attacks. Just trust me on this one.

    Sincerely, an ICU nurse with a specialty in cardiac medicine and sleep disorders

  59. Laura*

    LW1: consider also that most colleges require intern placements to actually give interns relevant work. The school would have every right to remove your business from the list of acceptable internship placements. Internet are not there for employers to drop irrelevant work onto; they’re there to learn about the career.

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