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

1. Everyone got laid off except for me

I work for a small business (3-5 employees) and I had known the company was having some financial trouble for some time. Everyone in my office got laid off except for me. I was offered a small raise to stay on, to compensate for the added responsibility. I agreed to stay on because it seemed like the right thing to do at the time — I really don’t want to see their business fail — but the layoffs were not expected by the other employees and didn’t go over well (one of them is trying to pay for her wedding and the other just moved into an apartment away from home to make the commute to this job easier).

I feel bad for staying on and don’t want to ruin my relationships with them. I was told not to tell them of the owner’s decision, but then the owner and partner told everyone anyway, which makes me look shady because I didn’t come out and say anything first.

I graduated college a year ago and have stayed with this company for that year because I really liked the people I was working with and the work I was doing and had been hoping it would lead to a full-time job (I’m part-time). Now, I feel as though I can’t trust the owner and his partner and feel like they could fire me at any second. What should I do? Is there any way I can save this? If I can’t, what is the best way to leave without completely screwing my bosses over?

First things first: It’s very, very common for people not to share that information with others; it’s considered confidential info. Only the company can decide to share it. So you didn’t do anything wrong by not telling your coworkers what you’d learned, and they’d be wrong to hold it against you — you could have lost your job and your good reference if you’d violated your employer’s confidentiality.

Layoffs aren’t an inherently shady thing for a business to do; they’re generally done because the business’s finances require it. So I wouldn’t assume that you can’t trust your employer anymore. That said, it’s always true that any job could lay you off without warning — and a company in financial trouble is more likely to do that — so you should always be aware of that possibility. But your company doesn’t sound especially shady. (They do sound financially unstable though, so it might be smart to start looking at other options for that reason.)

I think you’re taking this all very personally — you’re looking at these as personal relationships when they’re business ones. You should stay if you feel it’s the right choice for your career — not because you feel obligated to help keep their business from failing. You need to look out for yourself first, just as they’ll (rightly) look out for the themselves and their business first. And if you decide to leave, you won’t be screwing them over; you’ll be making a normal business decision that people make all the time. None of this is personal.

2. Responding to men who pretend to be scared of women now

I need a witty retort (or at least a strategy) in response to men who feign helplessness or hardship in the wake of #metoo. They’re always joking, never ill-intentioned, and it’s never funny. For example, a male colleague recently saw me carrying something heavy in the hallway and said, “I would offer to carry that for you, but is that okay? We guys have it so tough these days!” Or after I gave a great presentation, my (male) boss said “I’m afraid of hugging now so I’ll just give you a high five.” So far my strategy is to say/do absolutely nothing in the hopes that they’ll stop talking. But even this lighthearted joking really bothers me; it shows a lack of respect and sensitivity for the issues behind #metoo. (Note: I have never observed this behavior with my 30-something peers, only men older than that.) I don’t want to give a lecture, but I do want them to know how this comes across.

Ick. You could try, “I’m sure you don’t mean that the way it sounds.” Say it seriously and without a smile. And then change the subject so you don’t have to deal with aggravating follow-up comments.

Other options are “That’s really not cool” and “Wow, what a weird thing to say.”

With your boss’s comment, if you don’t have the kind of relationship where any of the above options would work, you could just look visibly taken aback and say, “… Huh.” That should signal he just said something awkward without you having to spell it out and might cause him to rethink saying similar things in the future.

3. Can I bring up my new expenses when I ask for a raise?

My annual review is coming up at the same time as my 26th birthday this year. I’m hopeful for a raise but I know that I’ll be facing paying for my own health care this year as I turn 26 (and come off my parent’s insurance). Is there a way to bring this up professionally during negotiations about pay raise? Is this something that is normally taken into consideration? I also began supporting my partner full-time last year and I am the only one pulling a salary between the two of us – is there a way to bring this into consideration without oversharing?

No, definitely don’t do that. Your case for a raise needs to be based on your contributions and value to the company — not on your personal financial needs. (And that’s a good thing — think about if your coworkers got paid more money for doing the same work as you just because they had higher mortgage payments or lots of credit card debt.)

4. Should I leave modeling work off my resume?

Should I leave modeling work off my resume when applying to office jobs? I feel like this might be a no-brainer for most people, since I would NOT want to imply that one of the traits I’m promoting on my resume is my appearance. However, two factors make it hard for me to decide in my case: (1) most of my job experience has been in my current company, so the modeling agency is actually my third-most-recent employer; and (2) the “modeling” I was doing was really acting in commercials and TV shows in another country using the foreign language that I studied in college.

I described this work on my resume when I applied for my current job. When I was hired, the manager specifically mentioned that seeing that experience suggested to her that I must be really adaptable and comfortable communicating (which is true!). I had hoped other managers would also recognize that this was why I include it in my work history, but after getting nothing but tumbleweeds back on my current job search I can’t help but start to worry about it.

Even though I clearly show that I was employed in another country and I describe what kind of work I was doing, when it comes down to it my past employer is still “Westeros Modeling Agency” and I can’t exactly go changing their name. I am probably being paranoid since the bulk of my resume is very Alison-approved language about my many accomplishments in my current position, but the possibility that hiring managers are stopping at the word “Modeling” and writing me off keeps eating at me.

Yeah, in a lot of cases I’d suggest taking modeling experience off, but this isn’t modeling experience, and I do think it can work to your advantage.

I actually don’t think employers are writing you off based on this, especially since you have plenty of other work experience on your resume. But I can understand why you’re wondering about it.

Any chance you could list it this way:

Westeros Modeling Agency (Acting Division)

That could make it less likely that someone skimming would miss the full context.

5. How do I ask my boss to stop recommending jobs to me?

My department is going through a redesign, and we all have an opportunity to apply to one of the new positions, or move on. The redesign doesn’t go into effect for a few months, so everything is business as usual until then.

I’ve been saving my money for awhile now, and I’ve decided that I want to take this opportunity to become self-employed, something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. I’m a very private person and keep my distance from most people at work. I don’t want to tell them about my plans, because I don’t want a bunch of questions and/or unsolicited advice.

When my boss found out that I wouldn’t be applying to a job in the redesign, she took it upon herself to start looking for and suggesting jobs she thinks I may be interested in. These conversations make me really uncomfortable, because I have no intention of telling her about wanting to start my own business, but I don’t want to lie either. I tried thanking her for looking and moving on, but every time we talk one-on-one she brings it up again. What can I tell her that doesn’t seem rude and doesn’t divulge my plans?

It sounds like she’s trying to help, not realizing that you don’t need this type of help. If you don’t want to tell her that you’re going to try working for yourself, you could say, “I’m actually not going to look for a job right away. I’m going to take some time off and work on some projects I’ve been putting off. So I appreciate you looking out for me, but I’ve got it covered!”

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