coworker keeps spamming the office email list, can’t make an out-of-town interview, and more

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

1. How to get a senior coworker to stop spamming the office email list

Could you advise on how to tell an office manager to stop spamming the entire office with random supermarket deals, random events, motivational speaker sales pitches, irrelevant travel alerts etc? It was initially a quiet joke among the rest of the staff, but there are some days where our office manager forwards us as many as five irrelevant emails in a row. Aside from clogging up our inboxes, it makes us feel like she’s not really concerned with getting her work done #judge. She’s more senior to us and is supposed to be our HR manager, so it’s a bit awkward.

Just be matter-of-fact: “Hey, Jane, would you mind not sending these to me? They’re taking up a lot of space in my in-box and making it harder for me to see work-related emails. Thanks.”

Or, “Hey, Jane, you can take me off your list for this stuff. I prefer to just use my account for work-related things. Thank you.”

2. I don’t think I can make an out-of-town interview that I already agreed to

I have an in-person interview scheduled this upcoming week on the east coast, but I might not be able to make it because I live in California. I work in finance, and personally I think this job is a great fit. This company has great culture, awesome work ethnic, and is where I would love to work.

The problem is that I can’t afford the flight tickets from west coast to east coast. The interview is scheduled earlier in the week, I’m thinking about postponing it later in the week since tickets from Wednesday – Friday are much cheaper.

Another option is to talk to my recruiter about travel reimbursement, but if she says no, then I wonder if this will affect my candidacy. Will she reject me knowing I’m out-of-state? Except the irony here, is I used to live right next to this company for years, and after sending applications I was always rejected.

How should I email my recruiter, and what should I say? Should I email her first, then call? So far, we’ve only conversed over email.

You need to contact her ASAP if you’re not going to make that interview! The employer is holding time for you, and it’s going to reflect badly on you if you cancel at the last minute, especially if it comes out that it’s because you were undecided the whole time about whether to purchase plane tickets or not. And you can’t really approach as “let’s postpone until later this week” because they may not have time available later this week.

I think you’ll have a tough time asking for travel reimbursement if they didn’t even know you weren’t local when they asked you to interview, but it’s probably your best bet at this point, given a bunch of less-than-great options. I’d say this: “I don’t know if you realized that I’m in California, but I’ve been having trouble finding a reasonably priced ticket for that date. Any chance they’d be willing to move the meeting to later in the week, when tickets are more affordable, or that they’d cover travel?”

Will she reject you for being out of state? It’s possible, but you are out of state, and trying to hide it has caused issues. She’s more likely to reject you for not being straightforward about your interview availability initially. But at this point, all you can do is be up-front and see what happens.

I’d use email for this since that seems to be her preferred method of communication, even though this is pretty urgent. But send it ASAP, like right this second.

3. Should I start job searching now or wait to hear if I get a promotion?

My boss, the head of our two person department, has resigned. Company policy is to do a full search, so it’s been posted and I’ve applied. For the last year or so, my boss has worked hard to get me to stay while they were job hunting, (reclassification and higher than average raise) but that doesn’t mean the hiring manager will decide I’m the best candidate in the pool.

If I’m not selected, I’ll move on. I’m ready for a promotion, and the company really doesn’t need someone at my level in my current position. Conceptually, I’m OK with this. It’s business, not personal. But it will certainly sting, and if they hire someone I don’t agree is more qualified, I’ll be bitter and have to expend a lot of energy hiding that from my new boss.

My question is, do I start looking at outside positions now, or wait until I hear about the promotion? Part of me wants to start now. Having other irons in the fire will increase my confidence during the interview. (As a qualified internal candidate they are required to interview me, but no preference beyond that.) And it will ease the sting if I don’t get it.

Another part of me says I should wait and see what happens before looking externally. Lots of wasted effort if I do get the promotion, and I’d be paranoid that a recruiter I talked to about the situation would send in the perfect candidate that ends up being hired instead of me. But I’m also worried that if they do decide to go external, I’ll wish I had a foot out the door already. I’m probably overthinking this. Would love to hear your thoughts.

Start now. Yes, it could end up as wasted effort if you get the promotion, but it sounds like that’s outweighed by the advantages you’ve listed here if you don’t get the promotion.

As for worrying about a recruiting using the information to send in a candidate who ends up getting the job, you don’t need to tell the recruiter your boss is leaving. Use a different reason.

4. “Present” vs. “now” on a resume

When indicating the length of time in a particular position, is it okay to say “now” instead of “present”—which I’m tempted to do just to save space?

E.g., (2013 – now) instead of (2013 – present)?

You could, but I wouldn’t. “Present” is so very much the convention and “now” is so very much not the convention that it’s likely to make you look unpolished/out of touch with professional norms. It’s a very small thing, obviously, and it’s not going to take you out of the running if you’re otherwise a good candidate, but you want to care about the overall picture that you’re presenting.

Will four letters really make that big of a difference to the space you have available?

A good rule of thumb is that if you’re resorting to stuff like this to gain space (or shrinking your margins or your font), you need to go back and pare down your content instead. More on that here.

5. How do hiring managers view job seekers who took buyouts?

Can you speak about how job seekers who have taken buyouts are viewed by hiring managers? My company recently went into downsizing mode and offered voluntary buyouts to employees based on years of service. I had been at this employer since age 21, and needed to move on with my life and career, so I was one of the younger employees to qualify, and after much consideration I accepted the offer, as I felt I needed a bit of time to regroup and dedicate time, energy, and focus to a job search, something that wouldn’t have been possible when I was working full-time. The terms of the buyout, unfortunately, didn’t offer much time to make a decision, and although I stepped up my job search immediately in my remaining month of employment, in such a short timeframe I was unable to secure another job before my buyout date.

I realize I have a number of different issues possibly complicating my job search (not employed currently, many years at one employer, etc.) but I specifically wanted to ask about how hiring managers view people who took buyouts. Do they see them negatively? Are they viewed as “greedy,” “lazy,” “tired” or having something wrong with them? How also do you gracefully bring up the subject so you can reassure a prospective employer (in cover letter or interview) that you weren’t fired or laid off, and that you left your previous employer under good terms?

No, most hiring managers aren’t likely to see you as greedy, lazy, or burned out! It’s perfectly reasonable to say, “My company was downsizing and offered voluntary buyouts, and I was ready for something new so felt like it was the right time to make a move.”

That’s really it — it’s unlikely that you’re going to need to get into it much more than that, although if someone does have questions, just answer them cheerfully and non-defensively. (There’s nothing wrong with being laid off either, for the record! If it looks like you were the only person laid off, then sure, it can raise questions about whether there were performance-based reasons for picking you, but if you were part of a larger layoff, it’s unlikely to be an issue.)

{ 146 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. RG

    Re #2: for companies that are willing to look at non-local candidates, is it expected that they cover travel costs? I’ve never done an in-person interview that wasn’t local.

    Reply
    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      It varies. It’s more common for an employer to pick up the tab if the local candidate pool is more limited, which is often the case as positions become more senior or specialized, and/or if they recruited you. On the other hand, if they have a lot of good local candidates, there’s less incentive for them to pay to bring in candidates from out-of-town. So if you’re specifically trying to relocate to a particular area, it helps to be prepared to pay your own travel costs if necessary (but it’s still reasonable to ask about it).

      Reply
      1. JL

        One addition (because it happened to me): if you’re applying at a company that is trying to make its workforce more international (a simple way to notice is if the job ad is in English for a job in a non-English speaking country), they will more often than not pick up the tab.

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      2. Anon for this

        I have had mixed results. But, typically I find that if the employer is willing to cover the interview costs they make the travel arrangements and they initiate those arrangements. Other employers typically tell you up front, if they know you are from out of the area, that they don’t reimburse for interview travel. I’ve found both types of organizations are very open to Skype interviews, if there are multiple rounds of interviews, to keep costs down for both the organization and the candidate.

        Reply
    2. Green

      If you’re trying to go from coast-to-coast you should be prepared to pay for your own travel (even expensive travel on short notice, unfortunately). It’s also hard to tell anything about the company from whether or not they offer to reimburse travel.

      Law firms almost always pay for swanky travel accommodations. A top national non-profit I interviewed with paid for my travel (twice) and gave me an offer, which was below-market (even for non-profit version of what I do). A multinational company didn’t pay at all for my travel (again, twice) and never mentioned reimbursement (which people told me was “cheap”), but offered me an above-market salary and executive level stock and bonus.

      If you want to be a competitive candidate from cross country, you typically need to make a pitch on why that city or your connections to that area and be prepared to arrange for your own transportation to an interview. If they offer to reimburse, view that as a nice surprise. (Paying for your own interview costs and taking time off to fly back-and-forth cross country also helps you more carefully screen jobs you apply to and interviews you accept!)

      Reply
      1. Sammie

        Your experience is interesting in that it is exactly the opposite of mine. I’ve always had my interview travel reimbursed. Perhaps tech works differently than law?

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        1. Erik

          Tech companies will typically reimburse. When I last flew out of state for interviews, about 90% of the time the company paid for it up front and the rest reimbursed me.

          Reply
          1. manybellsdown

            Mr. Bells works in tech, and his last interview they not only paid for his ticket and accommodations, they flew ME out as well. Because they wanted the whole family to be okay with relocating.

            Reply
        2. Michelenyc

          I have also always had my travel paid for and if they weren’t willing to pay then I opted out of the interview process. I work in fashion and it is very common to have travelled paid during the interview process. Relocation packages are a bit different but that’s for another day!

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          1. LSP

            I had to pay for parking (expensive downtown of a major city) at my last interview. I couldn’t believe they didn’t validate parking anymore. I had interviewed a few years prior and they validated.

            I ended up getting the job, but I kept a few validations in my desk and gave them to interviewees over the years because who the heck wants to pay $15 to interview?!

            Reply
          2. Green

            If I’d have opted out because they didn’t pay reimbursement for travel, though, I’d have missed an amazing above-market job with great hours & flexibility, full relocation (paying to end my lease, home purchase assistance, full moving & cars, home search trip, meals and mileage while driving cross country), pension & 401k matching, 20% bonuses, and 20-30% in annual stock awards. I’d always assumed that if you didn’t pay travel, then the company was stingy, but that’s not how this worked out!

            Reply
      2. Triangle Pose

        Interesting, I am in law and all of my travel has also always been reimbursed – whether it was law firm, non profit, or public company. I’ve always seen it as SOP. Although, my SO recently interviewed with a foreign multinational with a U.S. subsidiary and they reimbursed his travel with a visa giftcard, which I thought was super odd. But I guess it’s a small law department? Who knows, I thought it was weird.

        Reply
    3. CPALady

      One consideration to remember – many job search costs may be tax deductible in the USA. Consult with your tax preparer or research at IRS.gov. This can help offset the burden of paying for your own travel just a bit.

      Reply
        1. Ms. Didymus

          First, people mail resumes!?

          Second, I know people that, if they mailed a resume, would assuredly deduct that. No one is getting anything past them!

          Reply
          1. fposte

            Well, you’d have to itemize, but hey, that’s 6 cents per letter less on your taxes! (Okay, admittedly it could be 8 or even 10.)

            Reply
          1. fposte

            Probably would be deductible as well.

            Though of course you only list these if you’re itemizing deductions (so if your itemized deductions would exceed the standard deduction), and the result is just that you don’t pay tax on that expense, not that you get reimbursed. Unless I was faxing a ton, I doubt I’d bother, as the record-keeping would cost me more in time than the odd 4 cents off my tax rate would be worth.

            Reply
            1. Rater Z

              It would be a business deduction so it would have to exceed two percent of your income. If it comes down to it, moving expenses come off as an adjustment to income on page one of the 1040 form.

              I haven’t done taxes since 2012 so it felt good to pull the forms and look at them again.

              Reply
        2. AJS

          I just looked this up–the IRS will allow Schedule C deductions for carrier pigeons if you can prove they were a legitimate business expense.

          Reply
  2. Merry and Bright

    OP1 In an old job I had a manager who did exactly this. Because she sent all her competition and shopping etc emails from her personal account I was able to work round this by setting up a rule to divert them to my deleted folder. But this obviously can’t be done the same way if they are from her work email. You might miss something! Perhaps you could create a separate mail folder and filter all her emails to it? Then they won’t clog up your main inbox and you can run through them when you get a few minutes and delete the rubbish.

    Alison’s suggested wording is good (of course!). But it can be hard to challenge managers depending on the office politics.

    Reply
    1. nofelix

      The difficulty here is if the manager is using a pre-defined email group like “Staff_all” that is also used to send important emails. The OPs request sounds simple, and it might be, but it’s also pretty common for some people to value the email list as an audience – and not have the IT knowledge to select who’s included. Asking someone senior to go to extra lengths to avoid annoying you seems very risky to me.

      Reply
      1. Colette

        The manager shouldn’t be annoyed at the request. She could be, but people can get annoyed at anything. There’s no reason for the OP not to speak up.

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        1. nofelix

          Indeed she shouldn’t. My experience is just that speaking up in cases like this is a great way to have a conversation about whether it’s more of a burden for the manager to change their behaviour or for you to simply deal with the results, and strangely enough the manager always thinks continually accommodating them is more efficient than anything changing.

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          1. Colette

            The manager doesn’t have to change, and the OP shouldn’t demand that she change – but asking is fine. The end result may be that the OP needs to live with it or leave – but it may not be.

            Realistically, neither of them should dig in their heels over this. It’s a trivial thing.

            Reply
        2. Stranger than fiction

          I agree and I’m surprised nobody else has told her. She’s living in the 90’s, I mean what’s next cute cat videos?

          Reply
      2. Ask a Manager Post author

        Keep in mind she’s not the OP’s manager. She’s senior to the OP, but not the OP’s actual manager. That really does give the OP more leeway, especially with a very reasonable request like this.

        Reply
      3. Development professional

        But isn’t that the point? The OP would be saying “could you do this for me?” since that’s all she has standing to say, but the subtext for a marginally self-aware person would be that oh, maybe don’t send them to all staff?

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    2. Meg Murry

      This was going to be my advice as well (you can either just filter all the emails from her into one folder to scan once a day, or filter anything from her + to the all_staff group to that folder).

      However, given that she is also the building manager, my concern would be that legit, important messages like “the water will be turned off from 2 to 3 pm today to fix the leak in the kitchen” or “there will be a walk through by the fire marshall tomorrow, please make sure the fire extinguishers aren’t blocked” might not be read in a timely manner.

      OP, how far down the chain are you from this office manager? Is your boss on par with her? Could you mention it to your boss – not in the “gosh this is so annoying way” but in the “I am just barely keeping up with my inbox, I get X emails a day and the office manager spamming our inbox is becoming problematic, and I am concerned I am going to miss an important email from her buried in cascade of irrelevant forwards” way.

      Or if you are in IT or communications (or are friendly with someone there) could you ask if there is a way to crack down on using all_staff for announcements that aren’t directly related to day-to-day business? Perhaps suggest a second (and maybe opt-in) email list called something like “staff_general_announcements” that people could use for non-business communication that could be filtered separately. Because my concern is also that if the Office Manager is setting the precedent that the “all_staff” email list can be used as a general announcement list, and next thing you know you are getting 30 more emails a day from Bob telling you his son is selling candy bars for his school trip, Joe sends one saying he is selling his car, Jane is forwarding coupons from the Thai restaurant down the street and now the all_staff email list is ridiculous.

      One company that I worked for had a set of shared folders in Outlook that could be used as a non-work related message board – it was basically like an internal Craigslist. From what I understand, it took some doing and training to get people to use those, but once it was all set up, it was great – and since there were often things posted there like people giving away or selling tickets to upcoming baseball games (lots of the staff had season tickets) or selling furniture, etc, it was regularly used and checked frequently.

      Reply
      1. babblemouth

        Yes to this! At ExJob, we had an “_all_staff” list that regularly got spammed, and caused a lot of time wasted and grumbling. But since the special offers were very appreciated by some, a second list was created, “_social” specifically for offers like this. This solution really worked for everyone.

        Reply
        1. Liza

          I like that suggestion. Even if the “social” list still includes every single person in the office, at least it’s easy to filter out without worrying about missing anything important (as long as senders don’t get mixed up and send important stuff to the social list, at least).

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        2. Mallory Janis Ian

          We have a “_personals” list that is opt-in where we get our announcements about buffet leftovers; so-and-so’s kid selling gift wrap; houses for lease; lost pets; etc. People also ask for referrals for carpenters, housesitters, etc. I’ve seen people get reprimanded for trying to sell Jamberry or advertise their spouse’s business, so I think it isn’t supposed to be a forum for that sort of thing. I guess the distinction as to where they draw the line for sales is whether the sale item is a one-time thing or a promotion for an ongoing business.

          Reply
      2. The Cosmic Avenger

        I know I’m more technical than average, but it’s not that hard to make filters where if [From:officemanager] and [subject:mall], then delete. I have had to make at least a dozen or so fairly specific ones, but it certainly doesn’t take long. And you can have them filtered to a [Cersei] folder, then check that folder every day at first to see if it works as intended. After a while, you check it every 2-3 days, then every week. Then you switch it to delete those messages.

        Reply
        1. themmases

          Yes, and in Outlook it’s possible to launch the rule wizard from a specific email message. (I don’t use Outlook anymore but an image search suggests it’s in the Home ribbon under Rules while you’re viewing the offending email.) Some fields like the sender or subject will be populated automatically and then you can alter the rule from there.

          It’s possible to get pretty specific, basing the rule on strings in the subject and text of the email. For example, if the manager always forwards on travel deals from a specific website, you could make a rule to trash emails from her, to all staff, and containing either the business name or their contact address somewhere in the body. The copy the rule for similar messages related to other topics. If you’re worried about how they’ll work, tell the rule to send these messages to a folder for a few weeks so you can see what is caught.

          Reply
      3. grasshopper

        OldJob had two all staff email lists, one that was ‘high priority’ and one that was ‘low priority’. The high priority list included everyone and was used for the important announcements that affected everyone (the office would be closed for a holiday, staff updates, etc). For the low priority list, people could ask to be excluded and was meant for the social/life announcements (birthday cake in the kitchen, spare tickets to events, etc). Messages sent to either list arrived with a tag that let us know which list it was sent to, so we could read and filter accordingly. Worked pretty well.

        Reply
      4. Stranger than fiction

        “…and next thing you know you are getting 30 more emails a day from Bob telling you his son is selling candy bars for his school trip, Joe sends one saying he is selling his car, Jane is forwarding coupons from the Thai restaurant down the street and now the all_staff email list is ridiculous.”

        This is precisely why most companies don’t allow you to use the “all staff” type distribution group for unimportant, irrelevant emails and I’m surprised they allow it.

        Reply
        1. Windchime

          I think we’d get the smackdown pretty quick for using an all-department mailing list to spam people here. We have an internal website that has classified ads; people can put things for sale there. I already get too much email and it would tick me off to get a mailbox full of crap every day.

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          1. Cath in Canada

            I’ve seen someone get fired for continuing to spam the all staff list after being explicitly told to stop. She literally emailed our entire huge organisation with info about a fundraiser for a yoga college in India. Twice.

            Her antics prompted IT to block access to any large mailing lists for almost everyone else, too, which was a monumental hassle.

            Reply
    3. Katie the Fed

      Where I work it would be considered a misuse of IT systems.

      Office email exists to support work. If it’s not work-related, it doesn’t belong on work servers.

      Reply
      1. Not the Droid You are Looking For

        Same here.

        There are four people who are allowed to send an “all-staff” email and even using the “all-department X” email is frowned upon unless it is truly something that everyone on the team needs to know.

        Reply
  3. Bluesboy

    At OP 3

    There are 5 possibilities here:
    1. Start looking and get the internal job anyway;
    2. Start looking and don’t get the internal job;
    3. Start looking and find something even better;
    4. Don’t look and get the internal job anyway;
    5. Don’t look and don’t get the internal job.

    How would you react in these cases?
    1. Woohoo! Got the job!
    2. Glad I started looking already!
    3. Woohoo! Got an even better job!
    4. Woohoo! Got the job!
    5. …ah. Now I’m screwed.

    I don’t quite get this worry about wasting time. Would you really get the job and complain about having wasted a little time on a job hunt? Learning what’s out there and updating your CV is never a bad idea anyway.

    The important thing is to avoid number 5. And as you can’t control whether you get the job or not…start searching.

    (I’m speaking as someone who once found myself in that exact situation, didn’t start searching…and got down to the final two. So trust me).

    Reply
    1. Bluesboy

      Sorry, wasted effort, not wasted time. Still holds though. And as Alison said, you don’t need to tell a recruiter that there’s a job available in your organisation. Just that you’re ready for a change (which is true).

      Reply
    2. Noelle

      Completely agree. I just went through a similar situation where my managers dragged out the process for nearly three months. During that time I was doing my old boss’s job and putting all my energy into excelling, but unbeknownst to me they’d already decided to bring in someone outside. I still would have tried to do a good job while filling in, but I wouldn’t have devoted so much extra energy into it. Not surprisingly, I am now looking for a new job and wish I’d started the process three months ago. You never know what is going on behind the scenes, and you definitely shouldn’t postpone your job search just in case.

      Reply
      1. LW#3

        Thanks Noelle – that is what I’m afraid of. I know my boss has been grooming me to replace him, but that doesn’t mean I’ll be the best candidate. And because of what this specific position is, a third party also has to approve the hire. That individual has their own agenda which may or not match up with the hiring manager’s. So this is no sure thing.

        Reply
    3. LW#3

      Thanks Blue. That was pretty much my thought process, but it’s so easy to get yourself tangled up.

      And since I overhauled my resume to apply for this position, it’s in good shape. Actually, that was an interesting process. I found it much easier to be clear and concise on this resume than others I’ve prepared in recent years, and it finally occurred to me why. This resume was being attached to a cover letter, whereas others in recent years were going through a recruiter without one. Knowing I had a cover letter to express my personality and demonstrate my writing skills, it was much easier to chop extra verbiage out of my resume.

      Reply
  4. Quirk

    #5:
    I’ve come across companies offering voluntary redundancies a couple of times, and in each case, the first people to be lost were among their best – the people who can easily move to another job go first, picking up the golden parachute on the way out.

    From a hiring side, my perception would be that if you were confident enough about landing a new job to deliberately make the jump when it was offered, you probably have a measure of ambition and some track record of success. Pretty much the precise opposite of “lazy”, in fact.

    Reply
    1. Meg Murry

      Yes, I would agree with this. I’ve seen a few friends at companies that had voluntary buyouts, and unfortunately it often happened that the people who didn’t take the buyout would wind up working even harder to handle the same amount of work with less employees, and often wound up losing their position anyway in the next few years, either because of further layoffs (this time not voluntary) or because the company went under or was sold.

      My main concerns with an employee that had taken a buyout would be whether I could afford the person (again, my experience with companies that had buyouts was that they had higher than market rate salaries, or were so large that they had set the market rate salary) and what OP mentioned about having been with one employer for so long – how would they handle learning a new role and a new company’s way of doing things? But neither of these would be deal breakers to interviewing the candidate – I would want to at least phone screen to find out if we were on the same page, salary-wise and discuss concerns about how the employee handles change and learning new procedures at an interview.

      The other concern for OP would be how she comes off. If she is in a “I got a buyout so I have a little time to do my homework and find a new position that is an excellent fit for me and the new company” – that would be great, instead of a person that appears to only want the position because they desperately want ANY job. On the other hand, if OP is concerned because her buyout money is starting to run out (if it wasn’t such a great package) or her health insurance package as part of the buyout is nearly up, that “I need a job, ANY job” desperation may show – so OP needs to make sure she is applying to jobs that are a good fit, and and making an excellent case for why she is a good fit for that particular position (in other words, what Alison says about tailored cover letters, etc).

      The reputation of the company she is coming from may also play a difference. In my industry, there is a company that is well known to go through big boom and bust cycles of ramping up and hiring a lot of people, and then “cleaning house” every 5 to 10 years. I have worked for several companies that would hire these former employees – and some of them were the very best coworkers I have ever had (often the ones that took the buyout or voluntarily got out ahead of the buyouts/layoffs, occasionally just someone who got caught on the wrong side of the political force in power at the company during the layoffs) as well as some of the worst coworkers I have ever had (sometimes because they were correctly identified as being the worst performers and therefore made sense to let go, others who had probably been pretty good employees but just couldn’t get past the bitterness that came with the layoffs, and the fact that they often wound up taking positions they felt were “lesser” than their previous positions.)

      Good luck OP. I hope if you had been with your previous company a long time you may have worked with other colleagues that moved on to nearby companies – now would probably be a good time to reach out to that network to see if you have any personal connections to companies that are hiring.

      Reply
    2. Ad Astra

      That’s a great point. When I worked in newspapers, buyouts were fairly common. The people most likely to take them were those who felt most confident they could find new jobs, and they were typically some of the most recognizable names on staff. Companies lose tons of incredible talent that way, and it’s a very short-sighted way to save money, but I digress.

      OP, it’s possible that hiring managers will look positively upon taking the buyout, especially in an industry where buyouts are a common way to get rid of some of the higher-paid employees on the payroll. (Similarly, there are some industries where layoffs are so common that hiring managers start to see them as an influx of newly available talent.) Most likely, though, hiring managers will see this as a neutral thing, which is fine.

      Reply
      1. Green

        Almost none of the journalists I know who took buyouts wound up getting jobs back in journalism, but that says more about the field, I think, than the buyout.

        Reply
    3. Martisco

      I’m the person who asked the question about buyouts. (I did find another job last month after a five-month search.)

      My biggest problem that the buyout caused was that I had a hard time convincing people that I was more than willing to take a lower salary in exchange for new opportunities to join a field or learn new skills. I ran into more than one hiring manager who seemed very skeptical that I would be happy to remain at a lower rate for 2-3 years. I never had any illusions that I would find a job that paid as much as the job I had left (after 25 years at one company), but it was awfully hard to get people to understand that quality of life was a bigger prize to me.

      Unfortunately unless there’s a place where you can note this on an application, there’s no graceful conversational way to bring up the buyout and signal that no, I wasn’t laid off and no, I wasn’t fired. All I could do was cross my fingers that someone would look at my resume and ask questions instead of throwing it into the slush pile.

      However, I’m quite happy at my new job which is in my target salary range (as expected, lower than what I was making but I don’t care), and very glad I took the buyout.

      Reply
  5. Karl Sakas

    #3: A random recruiter is not going to submit a “perfect” candidate to your company, because the recruiter presumably doesn’t have a contract to get paid for placing that candidate.

    Reply
    1. Artemesia

      But even so the OP should not mention that they are up for an opening slot; never lessen your chances by providing information that could beget competition. (My first big job came because someone blabbed about an opening within my hearing and I called right then rather the next day when I had intended to do so)

      And absolutely look for a new position if not getting the promotion would cause you to leave. It is time for the move — maybe it will happen internally but odds are probably slightly better at least that it won’t. I also agree that the self confidence you get searching for a new position may affect how you are perceived in the process internally even though they don’t know it comes from your awareness that you are moving up or out.

      Reply
      1. OfficePrincess

        That, and OP has no way of knowing if the recruiter they are contacting does have a contract to bring in candidates for the role or will take that information to approach the company about signing a contract.

        Reply
        1. LW#3

          The three of you have given me a great direction to go in. I actually do know which recruiting firms are approved to send the company candidates, or at least I know of several firms that are on that list. Those firms are already aware of the posting, as HR sends those firms all external postings, along with posting them on linkedin, etc.

          If I start with the recruiters who have reached out to me from those firms in the last couple years, I can be honest with them about why I’m looking, as they are already familiar with the department and will understand exactly the situation I’m in.

          Thanks!

          Reply
      2. Stranger than fiction

        Yep. Also, the Op already mentions she’d feel pretty low if someone from the outside get is after all her effort, and to make matters worse (possibly) a lot of time a new Boss wants to come in and clean house and hire theirown staff. Not that they’d necessarily push the Op out, but rather he’d bring in additional people that are “his” hires and she’d always be the one that isn’t their hire. Not always the case, but I’ve seen it happen in certain industries.

        Reply
        1. LW#3

          It’s a two person dept, just the director and one staff person, so a bit different dynamic.

          I feel valued and don’t think they’ll force me out, at least not in the short term. I could even see them trying to talk me into an internal transfer to strawberry or lime teapots to keep me in the company, but I don’t want to step off the chocolate teapot career path (I did that once and don’t want to repeat that mistake). It’s really up or out, and I think they know that.

          Reply
  6. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.

    #1

    Before we got a real HR Director, we had an HR clerk who I think fancied herself an HR director and, apparently, had no idea what an HR director does.

    She spent a chunk of time treating the job like she was the head of the PTA or something. From what I gather, outside companies pitch HR to pass along discounts (free advertising!) all the time. The vast majority of our HR communications was advertising for other companies, and discount coupon stacks were so piled up around reception it was nuts!

    What the what? I went off on her boss (CFO) at least 5x about the ridiculousness of the crap. Eventually she got fired and although she was a sweet person, I can’t say I was sorry. It was nuts. She’d confused benefits communication with passing along discount codes from Boscovs! Cracker Jack for everyone!

    Reply
    1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.

      P.S. I should say that the advertising communications were done to “all company” via email, during the work day, as coming from HR. If it had just been stacks of coupons at reception, I wouldn’t have bitched about that.

      Reply
      1. Judy

        I’m used to companies having a page on their HR web portal with links to offers, and maybe at the bottom of a monthly newsletter mentioning that portal plus significant new offers (“New offers available from LocalGym listed on the portal”). And most of the time the HR department has one of those flyer holders mounted on the wall in the hallway near their office with the coupons for amusement parks, etc.

        Reply
        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

          I forgot the worst one.

          This was before we had a specific vision benefit, which we do now, but back then, we didn’t have a vision benefit available.

          She, I am not making this up, emailed all company with Pearle Vision coupons, saying that it was a vision benefit she had negotiated. Like, the subject of the email was New Vision Benefits!

          !! I lost my shit over that one. !! Stop embarrassing me!

          Reply
          1. Rat in the Sugar

            Ouch. I’d have been livid enough to start making complaints, and I’m normally a “let it slide off your back” kind of person. That must have felt like a slap in the face.

            Reply
              1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd

                And, if you’re upper management, it’s embarrassing!

                It wasn’t too long after that we got a real HR Director. (And acquired an actual vision benefit, too.)

                Reply
        2. Windchime

          That’s how we do it here, too. There is a web page that tells about all the corporate discounts that are available, with a link to the coupon if applicable.

          Reply
        3. Cath in Canada

          My organisation is so big that we have our own iPhone app for discount codes from local restaurants, stores, gyms, and various service providers. It’s pretty cool! Other local cafes and even one local liquor store (sweet) that aren’t part of the app will also give us 10% off if they see our name badges :)

          Reply
          1. Mallory Janis Ian

            That’s cool! We don’t have a phone app, but there is a web portal for local and national discounts. We get a discount on our Verizon bill, and 10% off at Staples where we have our office supplies contract.

            Reply
    2. Mockingjay

      Here at Toxic Job, we actually got this one right. No mass emails are permitted. Instead, we have a bulletin board in the back hallway. Food truck menus, coupons, charitable causes, the car wash guy – post what’s near and dear to your heart.

      It’s on the way to the breakroom and the restrooms, so all can see it, but it’s not visible to the public areas.

      Reply
    3. Stranger than fiction

      Oh wow, that’s funny (well, sad for her). I have the polar opposite here, our HR person hardly sends any communications compared to literally every other place I’ve worked. Once in a blue moon, I’ll need to go to the other building where she is, and I’ll see some, kind of important info posted on their bulletin board and say to myself “geez, she could have emailed us so the whole company knew”.

      Reply
    4. Vulcan social worker

      I once worked at a place where the HR director had a side gig teaching at a for-profit university and sent out info about registering for classes there. I don’t know if he got a kickback for enrollees he referred. C-level shut that down fast.

      Reply
  7. Gandalf the Nude

    I didn’t see where OP2 hid that she was out-of-state, but it doesn’t really change the next steps. And if it doesn’t work out with this company, OP, now you know for future interviews to schedule for later in the week if possible.

    Reply
    1. Elsajeni

      I think it’s the “Will she reject me knowing I’m out-of-state?” line — that sounds to me like the OP has been avoiding mentioning that she’s out of state and hoping no one will notice.

      Reply
      1. Gandalf the Nude

        Oh, that makes sense. I’d read that as wondering if the recruiter would reject her now that being out-of-state has become an issue where it hadn’t seemed to be before.

        Reply
    2. Jimbo

      How do you even apply at a company without them knowing your address or at least city? I’ve never read a resume that didn’t at least say something non-specific like “Las Vegas, NV” unless it was for a telecommuting job. That makes think maybe OP listed the company’s city because she had intentions of moving there or didn’t list any city. But if she didn’t list any city, and I assume her area code is not local, wouldn’t the company have asked where she was located?

      It seems like the standard advice for out-of-town job seekers is to list a friend’s address in their target city, get a local P.O. box, use a Google Voice number to mislead them, etc. I think these are all bad ideas. Why start any relationship out with a lie that could sink you at any moment? Plus, what could be worse than getting a job, moving across the country, getting a lease/mortgage and then being fired for lying on your application?

      I’ve moved several times, all over 500 miles away, and it’s not easy. But I was always upfront and honest when applying for jobs. The key for me was doing everything I could to prepare. For example, I sold my house and got a month-to-month lease to prove I was dedicated and ready to move. Especially during the recession, I think selling your house is what scared many employers from hiring out-of-town candidates. Your house could easily be on the market 6-12 months (it took me 7.5 months) and most people can’t afford two places. Those people are more likely to flake out when their house doesn’t sell. The average person would never sell their house in advance but then I would argue that they don’t really want to relocate.

      Reply
      1. Elsajeni

        When I did a cross-country job search a few years ago, my resume could not have been clearer about my location, but lots of people just assumed I had already moved, or didn’t seem to have noticed I was non-local at all. I think a lot of people, recruiters and hiring managers included, are just not that attentive to stuff that doesn’t directly answer the question they have, and when they’re looking at a resume, that question is “Would this person be good at the job I’m hiring for?”, not “Where does this person live, anyway?”

        Reply
  8. Ros

    #5: taking that sort of benefit is a perfectly reasonable thing to do, and no rational human being would hold it against you. That’d be equivalent to having objections to, say, having had a higher salary (must be greedy!), having negotiated more vacation time (must be lazy!), etc. I’m sure there are SOME people who think that way, but a) thank god, they’re far from the majority, and b) working for someone who holds those views would pretty much guarantee zero raises, zero time off, zero vacation, and general being-taken-advantage-of, and you don’t want that.

    Basically, if anyone has an issue with something perfectly logical and rational, that’s likely to prove that you’re not going to be treated logically or rationally by them in the future.

    Reply
  9. Miss M

    #2: Have you looked at third party sites like Kayak, Monondo or Orbitz to look for better pricing on airfare? I used Kayak for an upcoming flight and I was able to save a bit of money ($125) on a plane ticket.

    Reply
    1. BRR

      I thought this was a joke about the office email letter haha.

      Good suggestions to the LW. Also have you (LW) looked into nearby cities? I feel like the east coast has more options and you might just have to travel slightly further when you arrive.

      Reply
      1. Liza

        I don’t think that’s true–I speak as someone who isn’t directly involved in the travel industry but has been close to multiple people who are. If you use a fare aggregator like Google Flight Search, it’s going to show you the same prices you can find on (for example) Delta’s website. And Delta isn’t going to raise its prices because of your browsing activity on Google or Kayak.

        Reply
    1. fposte

      I’d recommend against that; for one thing, going over somebody’s head to complain about off-topic emails seems like an overresponse, and for another, the office manager’s boss gets these emails too and and presumably doesn’t find them an intervention-worthy problem.

      Reply
      1. NJ Anon

        But sometimes you just have to be the first one to speak up. There have been times when staff does stuff and doesn’t want to suggest a change. I suggest the change and then it’s “Thank you-I hated doing that!”

        Reply
        1. fposte

          In a situation where there’s a group at the same level and the boss doesn’t know, sure. But the boss does know and can speak up for herself, if she doesn’t like it, and it’s her call more than the OP’s.

          And ultimately this really isn’t a big enough deal to be worth complaining to somebody’s boss about. The priority isn’t automatically “Ask co-worker, then if that doesn’t work, go to her boss.” A lot of things it’s perfectly fine to ask your co-worker to change really aren’t worth the boss’s time and won’t make you look good for presuming they are.

          Reply
  10. BRR

    I have a similar problem to #1 except it’s multiple people in my organization and the emails are technically work related but still junk. There has been a lot of news recently regarding a topic related to my organization’s mission which has not helped. One coworker is so bad, Outlook automatically started categorizing emails from her as “clutter.”

    Reply
  11. Not Karen

    #2 You could also ask if they would be okay with a phone or Skype interview instead.

    That said, if you can’t afford a plane ticket, how do you expect to able to afford to move across the country should they hire you? When job searching from a distance, you should always be prepared to pay for everything yourself even if you expect not to.

    Reply
    1. Random Lurker

      This is a good point. If I’m not offering relocation, I don’t even consider candidates who aren’t local for this reason. I’ve been burned by the “wow, I can’t afford to move” situation before.

      That being said, I would be very concerned about a company that didn’t offer to pay for my travel. Maybe it’s my industry or my current career level, but it would be unusual for a candidate to pay out of their pocket for anything.

      Reply
      1. Not the Droid You are Looking For

        I had this thought as well. Every time I have interviewed out of state, my travel has been paid for upfront by the organization if it’s plane tickets, hotels, etc. The only time I had to do a reimbursement was when I chose to drive 4 hours rather than fly, but even then the form was sent to me before I left.

        But I am also a bit concerned that none of this has been discussed up until now. As a hiring manager, I am also clear to lay out things like travel expenses and even relocation/lack of relocation before an in person and interview.

        Reply
      2. CMT

        I’m looking for out-of-state jobs, and I put a line in my cover letter that says I’m willing and able to pay for the costs of interviewing and relocating. I’m sure some people won’t consider me at all, but hopefully it helps!

        Reply
    2. irritable vowel

      I don’t know, I think there’s a pretty big difference between spending hundreds of dollars on an interview for a job you might not even get, and spending money to relocate. The first is a gamble, the second is a sure thing. But in this case, the LW should certainly have mentioned up front that she is a long-distance candidate and asked if they would cover travel before agreeing to interview.

      Reply
      1. OneWouldHope

        The second is as sure as one can get these days. A friend sold his house and moved to city, complete with lease signing. Two days before he was to start his new job, he was informed the job was going away.

        I agree with you – better to be honest up front and plan for getting to places you apply!

        Reply
    3. Anxa

      From my perspective, there’s a big difference between spending a few hundred dollars for a chance that maybe one day you’ll have a better income and a few hundred to a few thousand to invest in a new job. Of course, a new job may or may not work either, but I’d feel more comfortable taking a risk on a job than on an interview, financially speaking.

      I say this as someone with a part-time looking for a full-time job. If I already had a full-time job and couldn’t afford to travel, than I could see where I might not be able to afford the risk to invest in a move.

      Reply
  12. Murphy

    OP#3 – I would also suggest starting to look now, especially if you think you may bitter by who the new boss is (presuming you don’t get the job, of course). It’s both exhausting and damn near impossible to hide those feeling away for any length of time and there’s no need to a) put yourself through that and/or b) potentially damage your relationship with your new boss who you may need as a reference if you don’t leave soon-ish after they come on board.

    Reply
    1. LW#3

      Yeah. Generally I’m pretty pragmatic, and if someone else is clearly more qualified, I’m going to be able to accept that pretty easily. And I do trust the hiring manager to be fair – I don’t know him well, but well enough. The wrinkle is, a third party has to approve this hire, and that individual has their own opinions .

      Some people feel chocolate teapot directors absolutely must have vanilla teapot experience, which I don’t have. I could see the third party insisting on vanilla, and hiring someone with far less overall experience than me, just because they value that vanilla experience so very highly. If that happens, I…will not be pleased.

      Reply
  13. em2mb

    We have a slightly batty (but lovable!) colleague who uses the all employee email list for her random musings … like, the other day she sent around asking if anyone of us had packed an orange in our lunches, and if so, could we count the sections and reply back? She works in a different part of the office than most employees, and you just saw people’s heads popping up over cubicles with WTF faces when that one went out.

    Fast forward to the next day … my manager brought in different kinds of citrus fruit and sent another all-staff email inviting us to the break room to count the sections at lunch time, then sent a follow-up with results.

    Reply
      1. CMT

        She said it was an invitation, not a mandate. I really doubt it was meant to be anything other than a funny, short activity.

        Reply
        1. Laurel Gray

          The proto-orange is the best part! It’s like getting the Daily Double on Jeopardy and the category is a book you just read!

          Reply
  14. Hilary Faye

    Question for Alison and other hiring managers: how would you feel if OP2 suggested a Skype interview instead? Would you be open to that or annoyed that they were trying to change the interview format at the last minute?

    Reply
    1. fposte

      I’d be annoyed unless there was an unforeseen reason, like an illness or a death in the family, that the interviewee couldn’t travel. “I just found out how much money it would cost” would be an explanation that would hurt the candidate.

      Reply
    2. Jen

      If the request came with a Very Good Reason, I wouldn’t have an adverse reaction, though I still may not say yes.

      “Weather is looking terrible and flights are high risk of getting cancelled. Would it be possible to schedule a Skype interview as a back-up?”

      “I have had a last minute family emergency that will prevent me from traveling this week. I hate to postpone our conversation and am more than happy to interview via Skype; if that’s not possible could we move the interview to next week?”

      That sort of thing. Not “I am just now looking at tickets and realized I can’t afford it even though I already said yes…”

      Reply
    3. Not the Droid You are Looking For

      Honestly, it would depend on the candidate, the explanation and the timing.

      If the recruiter scheduled an in-person interview on Monday and the candidate got back to us on Tuesday explaining the situation and offering a Skype interview, no problem.

      If the recruiter scheduled an interview 10 days out and the candidate is getting back to us on day 8 to offer a Skype interview, I would be frustrated.

      But honestly, in this situation, I’d be more frustrated that no one has told that candidate whether or not we reimburse/cover travel. I feel like if this information had been part of the original conversation, this situation would not have happened.

      Reply
      1. Sunflower

        But it sounds like OP hasn’t told the company she’s out of state- not sure if that’s because OP is using a local address or no address but it doesn’t sound like the company has any indication she is not local.

        Reply
        1. Not the Droid You are Looking For

          I went back and read the letter and some of the comments, and you are right, it appears like this was hidden from the recruiter.

          If the OP wasn’t truthful about being out of state it would explain why this wasn’t discussed.

          And would probably change my view of the candidate and answers above. If I found out someone hid the fact the were out of state, agreed to an appointment time, and now was balking at buying a ticket, I would worry how they would handle situations in the future.

          Reply
      2. Development professional

        This is literally something that happened to me, and boy did that guy burn a bridge.

        He applied from out of state, and we were up front about the fact that we couldn’t cover travel costs, but invited him for an interview. We scheduled the interview with a full committee of 5 people for about 2 weeks later. The night before he’s supposed to come in, he emails and says that plane tickets are too expensive and could we meet with him by Skype instead? We declined, saying that for an executive position we really needed to meet him in person before we could hire him (we’d already done a phone round). Besides, we already had met with several good candidates, and he wasn’t as strong as them even on paper, but he had a different kind of experience than the others so we were curious.

        Once my colleague turned down the Skype interview, this guy almost instantly sent a very nasty email about how we were being unfair and unreasonable to him. And then a few hours later sent a calmer one, but didn’t apologize.

        Reply
        1. Not the Droid You are Looking For

          Yikes! That is not behavior someone would expect from an executive level candidate. Especially if you have been upfront from the beginning.

          Reply
      3. Stranger than fiction

        All this, plus, at some point, wouldn’t you still want/need to travel to the site to have an close up look at the place before accepting a job there? Op says they used to live nearby, but that’s not the same as meeting the team members, touring the facility, etc.

        Reply
        1. Not the Droid You are Looking For

          I took my current position based on phone/skype interviews.

          I’d never lived in my current city, but had been to college nearby and spent a lot of time here. It was a complete gamble, but so far has worked out well.

          Now, renting my apartment sight unseen was a *huge* PITA!

          Reply
    4. Christian Troy

      IA with Not the Droid You are Looking For.

      I’ve done a significant amount of job searching and most companies in my field will not cover interview costs or relocation. But it’s something discussed in the beginning so we can plan on a Skype as a next step before scheduling an in person that requires $$$ and time. I wonder if LW3 is young and inexperienced or just desperate to get a job in NY? It should have been something discussed ahead of time though.

      Reply
  15. regina phalange

    OP2 – Is it possible to do the interview over Skype? That’s what I wound up doing for my job, which was across the country from where I lived.

    Reply
  16. Q

    I love this line and and totally going to use it: “My company was downsizing and offered voluntary buyouts, and I was ready for something new so felt like it was the right time to make a move.” Except for the buyout part it fits my situation to a T and I’ve been trying to come up with a way to explain why I am looking for a new job when on the surface it looks like I have a pretty good one. (Under the surface is the knowledge that within the next year my entire department is being moved to our office in India.)

    Reply
  17. Jill

    LW #1 – Does your company have any kind of “acceptable use policy”. I had to sign one for my job stating that I understand that certain websites are prohibited and that the email system is for work related emails only. If you have something like that, you could reply back (privately, not reply all) and ask her to stop with “I’m concerned that, by sending and receiving these types of emails, we may be violating the company’s acceptable use policy. I’d hate to see us get into trouble.” Framing it as a “we” thing even though she’s the offender here might soften the conversation enough since you’re speaking to a manager and citing policy is sometimes enough to remind people that they’re not making the smartest decision.

    Reply

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