should I be wary of this job offer?

Share on Facebook4Tweet about this on Twitter10Share on LinkedIn5Share on Google+0Share on TumblrDigg thisShare on StumbleUpon0Print this page

A reader writes:

I was recently offered a job at a small company doing what I love as a graphic designer. The offer was originally meant to be picked up in person (the hiring manager/company owner is particular with not sending it over email), but I was out of town and unable to pick it up at the requested time. He agreed to send it through email, and the offer letter stated if I had any questions, to ask. I only had one question (about the way the salary was written), and mentioned pre-planned vacation time in October/November. I figured that it was better to mention it before the offer was finalized. Together, I was asking for less than a week off between the two times, just to give you an idea.

He responded back saying: “Your questions are exactly why I do not like to email an offer letter. Yes this is a salary position. Now that you have read the offer letter, I think we need to meet face to face to make sure we are both on the same page. The vacation request is an issue that I’m not sure will work with what I’m looking to accomplish. We will need to discuss this request. Please check your schedule for next week and let me know when you can come in and discuss this job opportunity with me.”

I don’t know if it is just me, but I felt shaken by this email. I responded back with a time next week that I will meet with him in person, but I am worried. When I met him for the interview, he actually does seem like the type to be controlling and aggressive when it comes to something that doesn’t match what he wants. I’m not worried about physical harm, more that I’m worried about the verbal harm that may come, or possible job threats in the future.

Now, I’m really unsure of how to move forward. I could just be overreacting to all of this, and reading the email with the wrong tone. I understand it’s very possible to have vacation time denied because it doesn’t work out well for the business. I really need a job, and all the steps up to this point have gone well. The company is good, the team I’ll be working with is good, and the pay is good. I just feel nervous and still a bit shaken. On one hand, this is a good opportunity, but on the other, if he is acting this way about these small things, what will he do about the bigger ones?

I remember reading from one of your posts saying to “trust your gut.” The problem is that I really don’t know what to do.

Well, let’s tackle that email first. It’s possible that he’s just not particularly good at communicating in email, as plenty of people aren’t. And you really could read that email in two different ways: as inappropriately chastising, or as just very matter-of-fact. So I’d say the email is a toss-up.

But combine it with the feeling you already had during the interview that he’s controlling and aggressive? That’s the part that would worry me more.

But that doesn’t mean that you should just turn down the offer; it means you need more information. So go to the meeting he asked for and pay extreme attention to his tone and manner and how he seems to operate. Ask him straight out to describe his management style, if you haven’t already. And ahead of the meting, try to figure out what was reading to you as “controlling and aggressive” and see if you spot more of it in this meeting. I’d also look into whether you can talk with anyone who currently works for him, or used to (try LinkedIn) to get a better feel for what he’s like.

But yeah, I’d strongly consider that this might not be the boss for you. That doesn’t mean he’s a bad manager in general — maybe he is, maybe he isn’t. But what you might be picking up on is that he’d be a bad manager for you because you’re feeling afraid of him before you’ve even started working there. While we can’t definitively interpret all of the signs here, that’s a clear one about how you’re feeling about the prospect of working for this guy — and that’s a pretty key thing to pay attention to.

{ 85 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Sophia

    Hmmm…this is a tough one. I read it originally and was also taken a back, but after I read Allison’s response, I re-read it and it seems like a matter-of-fact email. He probably prefers face-to-face conversations to get any questions answered right away and that was why he originally was against sending it via email. I also agree “trust your gut” but just reading the other thread from earlier this morning – it could just be his management style is much more direct than what works for you.

    Reply
    1. Victoria Nonprofit

      I’m admittedly oversensitive to email tone, but I think it’s pretty hard to read that email as simply matter-of-fact. His frustrated “Your questions are exactly why I do not like to email an offer letter,” his abrupt “Yes this is a salary position,” and his self-focused “…I’m not sure will work with what I’m looking to accomplish” suggest some problems to me.

      Obviously style and preferences vary, but here’s what a reasonable email with the same message could look like:

      “These questions are tough to answer via email. Now that you have read the offer letter, let’s get together next week to talk over your questions and make sure we’re on the same page. Let me know when you can come in.

      My initial thoughts on your questions:

      Salary: Yes, this is a salaried position. Let me know if you have other questions about compensation and benefits.

      Vacation: I’m not sure those dates will work, because . Let’s discuss this more when we sit down together next week.

      Wakeen”

      Note:
      - No passive-aggressive expression of frustration that he had to send the email in the first place (if he was dead set against it, he shouldn’t have sent it via email at all; and maybe he should reconsider that stance because it is incredibly normal to do this via email).
      - Explanation of why fewer than five days off, over the course of two months, three to four months from now is a potential problem. If there is not a reasonable explanation (“Unfortunately, those two weeks are our busiest; it’s when Client X will be working through revisions on their annual report.”), this sends up big red flags about his ability to be reasonable about vacation/work-life balance/etc.

      Reply
      1. AdAgencyChick

        This is exactly how I read the email. First of all, I’ve never had a company insist on coming in in person to negotiate the terms of an offer — usually by the time an offer has been made, you and the boss have met enough times to decide you like each other, and the remaining details can be worked out by phone or email. And, as Victoria does, I read his tone as conveying a very different attitude from the way I would read an email like Victoria wrote.

        The big red flag for me would be the vacation time. Again, I’ve never had an issue with a company refusing to allow preplanned time off, and most reasonable managers will understand that when you’re bringing in someone new, that person may have plans that predate you, and that telling the person to break those plans (which may be very expensive to do) is not a good way to start a working relationship, so it shouldn’t be done unless absolutely necessary. And I do think that a reasonable manager who *does* need someone to break such plans would be sympathetic about it and explain the reason why. “I’m sorry, we wouldn’t be able to allow those two days off because that’s the week that the XYZ conference happens.” “I’m afraid we need someone who won’t be taking any time off during the month of October because we have a product launch coming up, and we’ll need all hands on deck.” That is how a manager who respects work-life balance but nonetheless needs someone at that particular time responds. The way this guy responds makes me think that he may *not* respect work-life balance, and that you may run into a brick wall when you try to use your vacation time in the future.

        So, OP, go to the meeting, but ask lots of questions, pay attention to how he reacts to those questions (not just how he answers them!), and trust your gut.

        Reply
        1. Elizabeth West

          Agree, and being so abrupt about the time off doesn’t give the OP a chance to say if it can be moved.

          Reply
      2. Ruffingit

        Agreed with all, including your revamped version of the e-mail. There is definitely a less aggressive way that this guy could have communicated the same thing.

        Reply
        1. Kimberlee, Esq.

          But the fact that there exists a less aggressive way to word the email doesn’t mean that this guy is too aggressive. My boss tends to be very matter of fact (perhaps even brusque) over email, and some people are just writing-tone-deaf (as in, have a difficult time determining tone in writing). Many people like that tend to prefer doing things in person for that very reason, so that would be why he’d want to meet to discuss a negotiation of the offer.

          This email seems perfectly polite to me. Matter of fact, yes. But it’s not impolite. If it were written by someone where I knew them well and understood the tone with which they right, then yeah, I’d assume it was kind of aggressive. Having no other sample of this person’s writing, there’s absolutely no reason to conclude anything about his personality from this single paragraph of writing.

          You’ll also note that the “less aggressive” version offered by Victoria Nonprofit is also much longer. That’s probably important; he doesn’t spend a lot of time writing pleasantries.

          Reply
          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            This comment could have come straight from my own brain … and coincidentally I used to work for Kimberlee’s current boss — Kim, I hope it’s okay to out that fact — and he was indeed totally brusque in emails but I loved far more things about working with him than I disliked. And it’s absolutely true that he wouldn’t have used Victoria’s version because it was longer; he was a really busy guy and preferred to get straight to the point, as quickly as possible. Which I loved, even when a brusque email occasionally stung a little.

            That actually brings me back to the point I made at the end of the post: The question isn’t really if the guy is a jerk; it’s whether he’s the right boss for the OP. With my old boss, the fact that he was so brusque in emails and wouldn’t modify it for job candidates was a great signal to people to self-select out if that style wasn’t going to work for them. Whereas other people were perfectly comfortable with it, and some even actively liked it.

            Reply
            1. Victoria Nonprofit

              I see your overall point (and web I talked this over with my husband he gave an example of someone we know who could have written this email, but who wouldn’t be troublesome in the ways I’m assuming).

              But… My email uses fewer words than the original email (by just a few – I counted quickly). Its formatted, so it would, like, use more space, I guess.

              Reply
            2. Victoria Nonprofit

              Oh, forgot this in all the excitement of counting words: My goal was not to write a more polite version of the email; my point was write a neutral, matter-of-fact email to demonstrate that the boss’ email wasn’t simply neutral or matter of fact.

              If length was a concern, he could have written something like:

              “Yes, this is a salaried position. I’m not sure the vacation days are going to work. Let’s talk next week to get on the same page,” or even just Why don’t we talk next week to go over the details?”

              Reply
  2. Katie

    I think he sounds like an a-hole. But if you really need the job I would take it and try to put up with it as long as you can. If you go in knowing that you’re dealing with someone like that you may end up being pleasantly surprised when he’s not difficult and controlling at best and prepared at worst.

    However if you’re really good at your job and feel like you have other prospects I would always recommend going with your gut.

    I work in the same field and there are a lot of crazy clients and bosses among the normal and nice ones. Anytime I’ve avoided or ended a relationship with a difficult client and boss I look back and think “phew, dodged a bullet there” or “why did I put up with it for so long?” Avoiding the ones that make you walk on egg shells and raise your blood pleasure leaves you open to opportunities with the good bosses and clients.

    Of course sometimes you just need a paycheck.

    Reply
  3. Anonymous

    Danger Will Robinson!
    This will be a bad job for you, you have all the info you need already to know that. In person, you found him not to your liking and via email, you found him the same way. You don’t like how he communicates or how he conducts himself. It’s a small company and he owns it and he’s going to call the shots. If you see a radically different (and good) side of him when you go in to discuss the offer…well that’s going to tell you he’s very moody and can be great sometimes and crappy other times.

    The only way this job should be an option for you is if your situation is dire and you need any job you can get. But if you have a choice, head for the hills.

    Reply
  4. KarenT

    I find the vacation comment strange. Someone having a pre-planned vacation is a normal part hiring, and asking for less than a week off and being told, “The vacation request is an issue that I’m not sure will work with what I’m looking to accomplish” doesn’t sit well with me.
    It could be a timing issue, as many graphic designers work on campaigns or publications that are time sensitive, but it still strikes me as unusual.

    Reply
    1. IndieGir

      This is the part that bothered me too — that he seemed annoyed even at the *request* for time off, not the time off itself. It’s perfectly OK for him to say “nope, that won’t work” but he seems offended that OP even asked. Bad, bad bad sign.

      It reminds me of a job I held for 9 months (the only one I ever left so early!). I had been on the job for three months and everyone was planning their vacation time for the rest year. I asked my boss to take one week of vacation (out of a total of 4 weeks for the year, so I had to take its sometime) at a time 6 months later. I even said I’d checked and no one else on the team wanted that date, and that I’d be flexible if another time was better but just wanted to get something on the calendar. She went right up one side of me and down the other for even asking. Apparently, she had to scream at someone once a week or someone would drop a house on her sister, and it was my turn. My coworkers told me not to let it get to me, but it was a great early indication of what a crappy manager she would turn out to be.

      Reply
      1. Jamie

        Apparently, she had to scream at someone once a week or someone would drop a house on her sister

        I love this. Excellent turn of phrase.

        Reply
    2. Kou

      That combined with not wanting to communicate over email combined with the complaints combined with the bad feeling is just… Nooo no no. Run far away.

      Reply
  5. Anonymous

    If he expected you to pick it up in person were you supposed to read the letter in front of him and ask any questions there and then with no time for further questions? I’m genuinely confused as to how he saw this going.

    Reply
    1. Designer K

      Right?! I need some time to think over big decisions…like a job offer and related benefits/salary. I think that is another warning sign of controlling behavior. They hand over an offer letter w/salary and your supposed to negotiate on the spot. Talk about stressful.

      Reply
    2. RJ

      This was my thought too. The whole reason for sending an offer letter is so that the recipient can review it thoughtfully. His method sounds like a pressure tactic to prevent negotiating or something.

      Reply
      1. COT

        We have no idea whether or not she’d be pressured to accept on the spot. I once was asked to come in to be offered a job in person; it gave us a chance to discuss the initial terms but I was in no way pressured to say yes on the spot. I returned with a counteroffer the next day and we came to an agreement. It was a great job with excellent management.

        Reply
  6. COT

    I’ve received many an email like that from people who aren’t bad managers or hard to work with, just poor writers. They use a very direct and almost formal written style that doesn’t reflect who they are in person. If can be extremely off-putting at first when you aren’t able to put it in context because you don’t know much else about them.

    That doesn’t mean he’s a great manager and that doesn’t mean he’s a bad manager. I just wouldn’t give the email too much weight; focus more on the vibe you get in person.

    Reply
    1. FRRibs

      Tying back into a previous topic about perfectionism, it’s easy to formulate a perfect email if you have time to waste (I remember once or twice spending over an hour trying to get the exact message I wanted to send through a letter to a client), so sometimes when communicating via an email I tell myself to stop wasting time trying to get every nuance perfect, state the facts, and hit send. The mirror opposite of wasting time being a perfectionist creating the perfect email, is wasting too much time getting a psychologist’s eye view of a writer’s hidden message and motivations in what may simply be intented as a transmission of a more limited set of data than what is being read into.

      Reply
  7. Joey

    I think the guy will be an ass. The type that will throw it in your face when you’re wrong, look for someone to blame, and generally wants to tell everyone how smart he is.

    Turn it around. Think about how inappropriate it would be if you spoke to him this way before you even started working there. Why should the standard be any different?

    Reply
      1. Jessa

        I’d not. I’d go in with an open mind. Since red flags are already waving, there’s no need to go actively looking for more. If any more pop up, go with your gut and say no thanks. I do agree that the phrasing of the vacation thing sounds very weird. Especially with nothing to support it. I mean “it’s a bad time for project x, will you be able to answer questions on the road?” or something would make sense. But just “I dunno if that’ll work?” that tells the prospective employee NOTHING that helps with the decision.

        AND pretty much tells me that nice guy or jerk the boss sounds like the kind of person that thinks the job is all important and his needs come first and the employee doesn’t matter. Because there’s nothing in there that even sounds like “let’s see what we can do to work together on this,” just “well this is what I want and too bad for you.” Which is his right, but a GOOD boss wouldn’t do that if possible.

        Reply
  8. Jill Pinnella Corso

    I don’t read this email as a toss up at all. To me, it’s a clear warning flag. Or (glass half full) a gift. Usually, you have no way of knowing if you’re about to start working for a terrible boss but here, he’s given you a big clue before you’ve even signed the offer letter. If you can possibly afford to turn down this job, I’d keep looking. Better than be stuck with this boss for a year or two before you can move on.

    Reply
  9. KayDay

    I’m having a lot of trouble reading this exchange as simply the boss’s communication style instead of the boss being an ass.

    The big red flag for me is:

    Your questions are exactly why I do not like to email an offer letter. Yes this is a salary position.

    This boss doesn’t like to send emails because there might be questions? huh? Maybe he meant it would have been a alittle bit easier for him to hand you the letter and verbally explain it, but I think complaining to a potential new hire about such a minor issue is strange at best. (by minor issue I mean the fact that you had questions in response to an email, not the salary in general.)

    Reply
    1. Jamie

      See, I think this was his assy way of saying this is why he doesn’t like to do it via email because questions like this are so easily asked and answered in person and he’s aggravated there is now an email volley about it.

      Total presumption on my part, but that’s how I read it. I do however, the whole email gives me a bad feeling and I’d be super wary.

      Not everyone is as comfortable as others communicating in writing, I get that, but if you can’t manage basic courtesy it’s either a communication issue which is pretty significant or he’s just an ass who doesn’t care how he comes off. The former sounds exhausting and the latter infuriating.

      Reply
      1. twentymilehike

        Not everyone is as comfortable as others communicating in writing, I get that, but if you can’t manage basic courtesy it’s either a communication issue which is pretty significant or he’s just an ass who doesn’t care how he comes off. The former sounds exhausting and the latter infuriating.

        This.

        He sounds like my current boss (for only three more days!!!!), and he’s the type that will point out any issues like that in a “see, I told you so” manner. He will rub things in your face as much as he can, not matter how minor, just to make a feeble and shameful attempt at looking like the “better” person. It’s demoralizing and agrivating. He takes credit for everyone else’s ideas whenever possible and places blame for mistakes on anyone he can.

        Reply
      2. Kimberlee, Esq.

        The issue I’m having with what you wrote, Jamie, is that I’m not sure where you can call this email “discourteous.” I mean, it’s definitely brusque, sure, but he says please once or twice, he states what the issue is, asks if there’s a time OP can come in to talk about it, and is generally what I would call “polite,” even though an email I would write where I was trying to be polite wouldn’t be as bad as this.

        I think there are all kinds of hints in that email that he could have been much more brusque and aggressive, and intentionally and thoughtfully dialed it down to this. Still tone-deaf, don’t get me wrong, but I’m really not seeing anything that should illicit the panic that some of these commenter are going into.

        I agree with Alison, about going to the meeting to figure out what OP needs to know, and considering the email a wash. He could have just been in a bad mood when he saw it. Could be a million reasons that would have absolutely no impact on OP’s experience working for him.

        Reply
        1. Anonymous

          I’m not sure “please” is always a sign of politeness. It can just as easily be used in a sardonic or passive aggressive way, e.g. “Please remember that there were X number of great candidates for this position,” etc.

          Reply
      3. Elizabeth West

        I read it the same way, and it sounded very snotty in my head. I think I actually, physically went 0_0

        Reply
      4. Kou

        I’m someone who would greatly prefer just talking to someone for five minutes over exchanging emails for two days, but it is definitely assy to get in a huff because someone else needed to talk by email. If she already got a controlling vibe, I’d say his demands to only speak face to face are a sign that her intuition was right.

        Reply
    2. Jessa

      My issue with this is that an offer letter should be complete in and of itself. It should not be a start for any major questions. The four corners of the offer should be complete. Unless it also says contract to follow, it should be a complete and unambiguous offer, because once one agrees to it, it is binding. So “it’s a salary position?” This should be quite clear in the offer. Email or handing a piece of paper across a desk the information should be exactly the same. An offer letter is an official document not a casual conversation.

      Reply
  10. Seal

    This guy sounds like a jerk. If this is how he responds to perfectly reasonable questions now, what is he going to be like on a daily basis? And his freak out over the vacation question is a MAJOR red flag. As others have said, go with your gut; it sound like your gut is telling to run as fast as you can in the opposite direction.

    Reply
  11. Zahra

    The letter might be matter of fact or it might be a tad aggressive, I don’t know. However, if you perceive this boss as controlling and aggressive, I urge to go to this meeting with the clear objective of *not* giving an answer on the spot. Don’t feel bullied into taking a decision. Ask for at least another day to think about it. The boss’s reaction to this (in my inexperienced opinion) very reasonable request should tell you a lot about him.

    Reply
  12. Jen

    I don’t like the tone of his e-mail at all. Granted it can be read as rude or matter of fact – whatever you want to call it but the tone is coming off as rude and you don’t even work there yet. If he really hated e-mail etc…he could have responded to you and said, ” so and so, I’m more than happy to answer/discuss any questions or concerns you have about our offer. That being said, I do prefer to have those conversations either over the phone or in-person, please let me know what works best for you and we can go from there.”
    You haven’t accepted yet – he should still be trying to woo you to work there if they really like/need your experience. If you really neeeed the job, then I guess you may not have too many options but if you can hold out for a bit longer – I probably would. Nothing destroys your mood and overall happiness more than an a-hole power trippy boss.

    Reply
  13. MM

    I found the response matter of fact. Leading with “Your questions are exactly why I do not like to email an offer letter” may not have been the greatest, and seems like something you’d say to a coworker or someone you’ve been working with for a long time in a semi-casual environment. If it were me writing the email and re-read it, I’d be slightly embarrassed and think I came off abruptly to start. The rest of it, though, is to the point and doesn’t seem unusual to me. Perhaps the manager was having a frustrating day and didn’t intend the tone. Not the best way to handle things, but I personally don’t read that much into it. How they behave in person could indicate how they meant this email to come across. If aggressive in person, the email could be considered so; if not overly or at all aggressive in person, the email probably wasn’t meant that way.

    Reply
    1. LisaLyn

      I agree with you and I’m usually overly sensative. I thought the opening could be read as why he’d prefer to do this face to face so that the OP could get the answers he/she needed without having to wait, you know? I think it could be read that way.

      I would go far more, as you note, by in the in-person meeting. If you are getting a bad feeling from that, I’d heed it, which doesn’t necessarily mean not taking the job. Just being aware of what you’re probably walking into.

      Reply
  14. OP

    Hey everyone, and Alison, thank you for responding and your advice.

    I already had the meeting with him earlier this week, and (I guess I was channeling you already, because I went in, eyes open). We were both on edge, and he apologized for how he came across. I will admit that it was partly my fault in the way I worded my vacation request (I’m used to being very matter of fact and less flexible when it comes to sending emails — it’s usually seen as a strength with the people I deal with). He took it extremely bad and let his emotions get the better of him. Again, he apologized and said that he ‘regrets the way he handled it’, and I apologized for the poorly written letter in the first place.

    After we apologized, and talked it out, we seemed to be alright. We also worked out the vacation issue. I asked for time off at the same time another employee that I’m for the most part replacing, is on maternity leave still — which leaves very few employees in the office at that time. The second vacation was fine, but because of the misunderstanding we had to discuss it in person.

    After the meeting, I took a day to think about it, but I ended up taking the job offer. I still feel like I might be walking on eggshells the first month or two with him…and I did feel a little unsure when thinking it over. However, the pros out-weighed the cons in this situation (my future team is extremely friendly and we all clicked right away, good pay, and still a good company).

    Also to the readers, thank you all as well for the advice. I am still remaining cautious (though optimistic now), about this whole situation. Some issues were definitely out of context — given how e-mails can be, and I got a better feeling this time around when we met again. Thank you all, and although I’ve already taken the job, I am still reading all the comments and advice. :)

    Reply
    1. Del

      I’m glad things worked out that way! That is definitely a good resolution to the whole issue, and it’s great that your new boss was willing to acknowledge that he’d also been on edge, what prompted it, and that that it wasn’t appropriate. Anyone can be caught in a bad moment and snap, but it’s how they handle it afterward that is really important.

      I don’t blame you for still being on eggshells — after all, a boss who’s inclined to be snappish isn’t a fun boss — but it sounds like you’re gonna be okay.

      Reply
    2. Chinook

      The fact that the boss started off with an apology bodes quite well. Not only is he self aware but he also realizes he makes mistakes (as do you). This is a great thing in anyone you work with. Congratulations on the job!

      Reply
    3. LisaLyn

      Thanks for the update! It’s very interesting to know that he was actually being snippy. But I have to say that it’s a huge plus in his favor that he apologized. I have a feeling he’s going to be walking on eggshells around you for a while, too. I’m sure you’ll both get over it soon enough, though, and move forward. Good luck and congrats on the job!!

      Reply
    4. Cat

      I’m curious – would you be willing to share (with personal details redacted, of course) your initial e-mail? Since we so seldom end up getting to talk to people about how they took our e-mails, and since tone in e-mail does so often end up feeding off the previous reply in ways we don’t think about a lot, I think it would be interesting/educational to see the first part of the chain.

      Reply
      1. OP

        I’ll post the section that he had the issue with, since the rest didn’t seem to be a problem. Also, I don’t even know if the rest of the email matters in this particular case because my tone in this section must have set the tone for the rest, based on his initial reaction.

        “I also wanted to mention (before moving forward) two pre-planned/scheduled vacation times in the coming last half of the year. One of my best friends is getting married in ——, and I will be gone Oct —th until Oct —th. The second is a family vacation to ——-, and I will be out of town November —th through November —th. I hope those will not be too inconvenient to accommodate.”

        Reply
        1. Cat

          Thanks! That’s interesting – the wording wouldn’t have bothered me from a job candidate, but if it was very difficult for me to accommodate those dates, I might have thought we’d have a possible irreconcilable contact on our hands.

          Reply
        2. Ellie H.

          Wow, I was expecting something completely different. I was expecting “I have two pre-scheduled vacations and will be out of town October x through October y and November a through November b. Please let me know if these leave requests will be a problem” or something extremely blunt.
          You worded it exactly as I would have worded it and I think I have a tendency to write overlong and not concise enough emails with too much conciliatory language and apologetics. (I wouldn’t have mentioned the reasons for these vacations, but with the reasons it becomes even “softer” and again I feel I write “too soft” emails.) I’m actually not sure why either you or he thought it was poorly worded or why you felt the need to apologize for the wording.

          Reply
          1. Cat

            To me, the issue is whether the plans are negotiable or not. That e-mail makes it sound like a non-negotiable to me. Which is 100% fine, if that’s the case. But if the vacation plans really are up for negotiation, their might have been a better way to word it to imply that while still not negotiating from a position of strength. Though I have to admit, I’m trying to draft something and am having a difficult time.

            Reply
          2. Jamie

            I agree. I mean she could have been more clear if they were negotiable or not, but I didn’t find the wording rude or harsh. I expected much more brusque. OP – I certainly wouldn’t cringe over that.

            Reply
    5. AnotherAlison

      Maternity leave! I knew it!

      I was wondering why he wouldn’t say, “We’re prepping for a big [whatever] during those months,” so you knew he wasn’t just being a jerk when saying know to your vacation, and not wanting to talk about someone’s maternity leave was the best that I came up with.

      Reply
    6. Sophia

      Yes, to echo others – it’s great news that he recognized how the email came across and apologized. Congrats and hopefully the job works out!

      Reply
    7. Victoria Nonprofit

      I’m so glad that this worked out for you, and that you’re feeling good about the situation going forward.

      Did it worry you that he got emotional in response to your poorly-worded vacation request? That would concern me; his feels really have nothing to do with whether you can take those days. I’d expect a manager who was concerned with the tone of your request to talk to you about how you communicate, not further inflame the situation with his own emotional reaction.

      Reply
      1. JamieG

        I was wondering the same thing. If a matter-of-fact* e-mail about taking vacation sets him off emotionally and causes him to react like that, are your communication styles really compatible?

        *From your comment, it sounds to me like you told him you were taking vacation at a certain time instead of asking if it would work with his schedule or whatever, and that’s what he got mad about. I can’t see practically what else that could have meant.

        Reply
        1. OP

          That was pretty much it, actually. I worded it in a way that was “I’ll be gone during this time” and not an actual request. Again, I chose my words poorly because I, unfortunately, have been in the habit of being matter of fact. I’ve been attempting to be more assertive in my every day life — making decisions (instead of “I don’t know…you decide”) and such. It never occurred to me (at the time) that it was coming off as rude. I read my past e-mail now, and cringe.

          Reply
    8. Elizabeth West

      Yay!
      Here’s hoping he’s the type of manager who is open to learning from missteps. And that the job is awesome for you. :D

      Reply
    9. EE

      Best of luck in the new job!

      I would have had exactly your initial reaction to the e-mail. But if he led with an apology, that bodes really well. It’s not ideal that he lets emotion get the better of him, as you said, but nobody’s perfect.

      Reply
  15. Chinook

    “Now that you have read the offer letter, I think we need to meet face to face to make sure we are both on the same page”

    This is the line that came up to me as a red flag. It implies that the OP asked the question before reading the offer letter which, in the boss’ mind, clearly answers the question (where it obviously doesn’t in the OP’s opinion). It makes me think that the boss thinks the OP is an idiot for asking the question. Not a good way to start a job.

    Reply
  16. Brton3

    I must say, I had a boss once who was shockingly incapable of communicating like a human being via email. Every email he sent, even simple meeting requests or FYIs, came across as chastising or bullying. He was a little gruff in person but nothing like you would imagine from reading his emails. The staff used to talk about seriously looking into some kind of training or other options for him, because it was so unnerving.

    Reply
    1. LisaLyn

      I worked for a guy like that and now work for another guy who can be like that, too. The first guy especially was the sweetest guy in the world, who would do just anything for you, but he was the KING of the one-word emails and just came across as so rude! People would talk to his boss about it.

      The current guy is … verbose to say the least and he sends these really terse emails that make you think you must have just implied his first born is the spawn of a worm and a toad or something. But he honestly doesn’t mean it and apparently doesn’t know how it sounds. Maybe he’s trying not to write emails as long as his in-person soliloquies or something. :)

      Reply
      1. Jamie

        I have a lot of users who do this – I don’t even notice it anymore.

        They just don’t release the capslock from working in the ERP…they aren’t really shouting.

        Reply
        1. Twentymilehike

          Jamie, I type in all caps in a lot of my programs, but I’ve still never EVER sent anyone and email in all caps. I just can’t do it no matter how lazy I feel. And yes, sometime I have to backspace and re-type the first few words. So yeah, I don’t really buy that excuse and even though I try to be forgiving it still irks me when I get emails in all caps.

          Reply
          1. Jamie

            Oh I don’t do it either – I’ve never been too busy or tired to hit the capslock key once…although given the trouble others seem to have with it perhaps it really is a herculean task.

            I just personally choose not to let it annoy me, because I’m so busy being aggravated by so many other things that annoy me.

            Reply
          2. Chinook

            “And yes, sometime I have to backspace and re-type the first few words.”

            Did you know that sometimes there is an option to just change things to sentence case? I know can be found in Word but I can’t remember if I ever found it in Outlook. That discovery made typing large amounts of text and copying/pasting stuff from other documents so much less stressful.

            Reply
      2. Elizabeth West

        I had a coworker who did that too. It was like “CAN YOU SEND A BOX OF CATALOGS TO THIS SALESPERSON? THANK YOU”

        Gah!

        Reply
        1. Rana

          I know. It’s like getting a telegram or something.

          I NEED THE DATA FOR THIS REPORT STOP RESERVE THE ROOM FOR BOB’S MEETING STOP YOUR VACATION REQUEST IS APPROVED STOP

          Reply
      3. FRRibs

        We have an engineer here who in nine years, I’ve only seen one email that wasn’t all caps.

        I occasionally fantasize about sending him a capslock key in a jewelry box.

        Reply
  17. Lee

    As a professional designer myself I have to weigh in here. Email is crucial for communicating with print vendors, etc. How is he planning on handling the review of pdf proofs? Email may not be his communication preference, which is mostly fine, but as part of my job that is the main way I have to send files back and forth and approve things. It is really important you clarify with him his process on approving things, receiving files, and so on and make sure it is something you can live with.

    Reply
    1. OP

      In this particular case, he is the print vendor. He has a group of designers (now I fall in that group) that handle the front end of things, and he makes sure that the team in back handles the processing and printing.

      However, thank you for pointing that out. I’m still new to the Graphic Design world (this is my first official full time job out of college), so I love hearing from people who have been/are in this business.

      Reply
  18. BellaLuna

    I was reading the entire post before I commented as I agreed with Kimberlee . I didn’t think the email was a big deal. I work for the President/Owner of a small business. At times she does and says things without thinking and I almost quit the first month. I have become accustomed to her style. Depending on the situation I use humor or I question her as to why she did or said something. She is actually a great boss and I have worked for her for 12 yrs.

    A prior mgr could be brusque as a result of his military background. There were times I took offense to the way he phrased things. He he was the best mgr I ever had and supported me 125% but it took time to understand his style.

    Sounds like the meeting went well and as long as you can communicate with your new mgr I think it will work out. Congrats and good luck.

    Reply
  19. Another Reader

    Congratulations and good luck with the new job, OP. From what you write above, it sounds like the in-person vibes actually improved at your second meeting, and that’s a good thing.

    Reply
  20. Vicki

    Personally, I would run away from anyone who wrote “Your questions are exactly why I do not like to email an offer letter.” because he is too likely to not want to communicate anything else in email. (UNnless, of course, the OP is happy to do every interaction face to face in this job. I wouldn’t be.)

    Reply

Leave a Comment

You can find the site's commenting guidelines here.

Subscribe to all comments on this post by RSS