guilt over not wanting job
July 22, 2020 1:13 PM   Subscribe

I had a job interview this morning and I saw about a million red flags. But I'm unemployed and unless something happens with Congress this week, next week I'm losing my $600/week federal PUA money. Help me suss out my options.

I'm located in New York. Boyfriend and I were both laid off in April for COVID-19 reasons. I had a phone screen on Monday for a job that I applied for and during the call I picked up on some red flags - the owner of the company seemed very disorganized and more interested in complaining about his staff than actually, you know, screening me to see if I am suitable for this position (I am an accounts payable specialist). Still, he offered me an in person interview today (sitting six feet apart, he promised) and I figured I should give him a chance.

The interview was straight-up ridiculous. It started at 9:30 and finally at noon I had to excuse myself because I had a doctor's appointment; if I hadn't, he would have kept going. He asked me very little about my work experience and instead told me his life story, his family background, the history of his company, the renovation he did on the company's offices, and complained incessantly about the former AP person and also the rest of his accounting team. He also asked me my astrological sign and what Chinese year I had been born in. He talked a bit about what the expectations of the position would be and honestly there's hardly any AP involved; what he described was so involved that it became clear to me that what he needs is a Controller or a Director of Finance. His job posting was completely misleading, and he admitted he knows nothing about accounting, so in the end I'm not too surprised that he didn't understand what he actually needs from this open position, nor am I surprised that he's had his last three AP people quit on him. He also was deeply distressed that I would have an hour commute to work and was concerned it would be a problem, in spite of 1) that not being an uncommon commute time in our area and 2) as my resume states, I have been working in jobs with this same commute for 7 years.

I'm not qualified to do everything he needs in this position. I could learn, and my boyfriend actually is a Controller and could probably help me, but still. The owner also says that no training will be provided because no one in house knows how to do this position, so I'll have to self-teach the accounting software, the payroll system, and the timeclock software. He was very, very clear that the expectation would be that someone would have to be driven enough to teach themselves this job - another reason why he needs to hire someone at a higher level than I am, because they will be able to hit the ground running in a way that I can't. Additionally, the job would only be part time because his business is only just reopened, nowhere near at full capacity yet, and he's not sure when they will resume full capacity. He's convinced that I could still collect unemployment for the hours I don't work during the week, but I don't think that's how UI works... ?

At the end of the interview, despite me telling him repeatedly (politely) that I do not have the experience or skillset he needs, he asked for a list of my references, and then strongly insinuated that he'd make me an offer. He also suggested that I send him a proposal of what I could see myself doing there and how much I would want to be paid, and if I wanted to work a few days remotely he'd be open to that - this seems odd, I've never been asked to provide my own job proposal or job description? He also made some comments suggesting that he thinks COVID-19 safety protocols are overblown and a way for insurance companies and healthcare providers to make money.

Bottom line, this interview was filled with so many red flags that I actually felt adrenaline coursing through my body as I escaped the building.

That being said, I feel like maybe I should give him a job proposal that is AP only and see what he says, as I have been unemployed since April and unless Congress approves more PUA, me and my boyfriend are losing $1200 starting next week as a household. Boyfriend receives the max amount NYS offers for UI but I make less because I was a freelancer for the first quarter of last year. Maybe I should suck it up, collect a paycheck for a few weeks, and search for something better?

But there's no guarantee that something better would come along. And then I'd be stuck working for a disorganized crazy person and if I quit I won't be able to collect UI. Also, he may end up firing me because I'm not able to give his company what it needs. (There's also the issue that I'm in the middle of recording an album and writing a book proposal and so I'd have to negotiate a part time schedule that would allow me to finish both projects, which may be complicated for him - he doesn't seem to be interested in flexing hours and would only let me work remotely as soon as I proved myself capable in the office.)

Every ounce of my body is screaming DO NOT TAKE AN OFFER FROM THIS DUDE OR ENGAGE IN FURTHER CONVERSATION WITH HIM, except for one small part that is terrified about my financial situation. My boyfriend has taken calls with recruiters but nothing has panned out for either of us till now. What do I do? Coronabrain has me paralyzed and I don't know what the smart or responsible way forward is. Please help me make sense of this weirdness and make a decision. I'm leaning towards walking away from this whole situation but again, very scared about money right now as PUA is about to run out.

Halp please.

posted by nayantara to Work & Money (14 answers total)
That is not a job that is going to support your health, safety, or long-term goals, and it sure sounds like it might not even provide a paycheck for very long. A small business owner who has that little idea of how his own company's finances work is not one who's going to be nimble enough to negotiate the very difficult economic times ahead. A small business owner that doesn't believe COVID is a real thing is one that's going to put you at real physical risk.
posted by restless_nomad at 1:19 PM on July 22, 2020 [35 favorites]

^Yep. Do not feel bad. This is, objectively, a lousy situation to put yourself into.
posted by kevinbelt at 1:28 PM on July 22, 2020 [1 favorite]

Don't do it. It will suck and also it will be especially hard to job search effectively while you're flailing around in a job like that.
posted by needs more cowbell at 1:30 PM on July 22, 2020 [5 favorites]

It sounds like: 1. You don't want to do this job; 2. You aren't equipped to do this job; and 3. You'd be profoundly underpaid for doing this job. Those add up to DON'T TAKE THIS JOB.

The societal pressure that tells us we need to have a job RIGHT NOW or we're a failure is just capitalism playing us for suckers. A better job for you does exist out there. Really.
posted by Jon_Evil at 1:41 PM on July 22, 2020 [11 favorites]

This sounds like a bad job opportunity to me, I would definitely not take it. Working for a disorganized small business owner is usually extremely difficult and stressful. The only reason to take a job like this would be if you really wanted to learn how to do all of the things needed, or if it was for a very large amount of money. It doesn't sound like either of these is true.

I'm also surprised you're expected to be in the office at all for a position like this, I would expect pretty much all financial positions to be work-from-home right now. I wonder if you might be able to open up your employment options by looking for remote work? Given your skill set it seems very likely you can find a better position than this eventually, but you might need to change your job search strategies given how COVID has disrupted everything. I think you're better off spending the time you would spend on this job doing a very exhaustive job search that includes remote positions outside of your local area. They will probably pay less than you want, because NY is very expensive and the salaries are usually higher. But at least that way you can increase the chance of finding a good job, but don't lock yourself out of UI if the extension does get approved
posted by JZig at 1:42 PM on July 22, 2020 [1 favorite]

This internet stranger (in very much the same employment/interview circumstances) fully gives permission for you to quietly nope right on out of this 'opportunity'.

I don't know how UI benefits work in NY, but in my locality you have to report a portion of your direct contact with employers (like, just list who you contacted looking for work). If you turn down a job offered to you that you have told the UI system you've applied for, and they do an audit on you, sometimes your UI is in jeopardy and you may even have to repay portions of it. If you've already applied for this job, reported it to your UI claim, and they offer a follow up anything, you may need to become...uh, creative with your demeanor to convince them to retract the offer.

Do not falsify anything, because that is fraud, but I highly suggest that you only report jobs you've applied for to UI that you know you won't get, even if that means applying for a few that are aspirational to the max. Each week I apply for several jobs that, while I am qualified for and could make a case for, I don't have a shot in hell at actually getting because of experience or other reasons.
posted by furnace.heart at 1:47 PM on July 22, 2020 [2 favorites]

If your boyfriend is an unemployed controller why not put him in touch with this guy.
posted by perdhapley at 1:47 PM on July 22, 2020 [5 favorites]

Despite all the catastrophizing that sometimes goes on at Metafilter, chances are pretty good that Congress will come through on the $600, if not slightly less or more. Like the air traffic shutdown, they tend to act, albeit reluctantly, after a certain tipping point of disruption. And if they don't, well, you'll be in the same boat as millions of other people and a new program will take its place. Don't take a job with a startup guy who doesn't know what he's doing. If UI questions why you turned it down, that's easy, he misrepresented the position.
posted by Melismata at 1:54 PM on July 22, 2020 [2 favorites]

I agree with the above posters not to take this job, but I also don't want you to be in a position where your UI gets denied because you were offered a job and didn't take it. For that reason... I think you might actually want to ghost this weirdo before he makes you a formal offer.

If he is truly scrambling with zero finance people right now, who is to say that he would even pay you? I mean, based on your description, I wouldn't bet on getting paid on time every week with this job.
posted by juniperesque at 2:03 PM on July 22, 2020 [2 favorites]

My job involves regularly dealing with That Guy (and That Kind of Company, which is a cluster from the top down) and you do not want to work there, not even for a few weeks.

I would recommend digging around in the fine print of your UI requirements, because there has to be a condition that describes "I'm qualified to do this title but not the job that was described to me". That is a common occurrence in the job world.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:16 PM on July 22, 2020 [4 favorites]

Lyn Never has provided a practical way to deal with UI, but as far as guilt is concerned: if you had one or two large concerns then risking it in this economy might be worth it. You do not have one or two large concerns — you have a steaming pile of donkey entrails masquerading as a controller position that is masquerading as an AP position. In terms of responsibility to yourself I would think that you should feel guilty if you did take the job.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 2:26 PM on July 22, 2020 [2 favorites]

perdhapley my boyfriend is saying to run away as fast as I can from this guy; there's no way in hell he'd work for someone like this.
posted by nayantara at 4:52 PM on July 22, 2020 [7 favorites]

IN NY, one of the questions you certify each week is whether you did not work for covid19 reasons. He said he does not believe in the mask, etc precautions. There you go. Although you are not turning down an offer because one was never made, if asked, that is one of many reasons you did not pursue/take it.

Fwiw, I am also betting that Congress comes up with some more financial aid to the unemployed. They almost have to in a presidential election year.
posted by AugustWest at 4:54 PM on July 22, 2020 [6 favorites]

Thank you all for affirming that my gut instinct is correct. I'm not going to reach out to or respond to this guy again and have told my references that if he calls (I gave them the phone number) not to answer the phone. References are also in agreement with you guys that this is not a position to put myself in.

I ideally would prefer to find remote work as the kind of work I do is suited to and entirely possible remotely; the trouble is that as NYS opens up it looks like a lot of companies that I would be a fit for are feeling obligated to reopen their offices (in a small scale socially distanced way). But yes, the ideal situation for me would be remote work, or at least work within driving distance so I don't have to get on public transportation. I have focused my search on such jobs but this was the first real bite I've had on any of my job applications this far and I thought it best to suss it out in person. A valuable learning experience indeed.
posted by nayantara at 4:57 PM on July 22, 2020 [5 favorites]

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