sending a group photo to a grieving coworker, using a portfolio at an interview, and more

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

1. Sending a group photo to a grieving coworker

I have a question for you about a coworker who recently lost her child to horrific circumstances. In a show of support, another colleague suggested that we take a group photo of the employees. I feel uncomfortable with this idea. I associate group photos, especially in an office setting, with joyful occasions (company picnics, community events, etc.), and I worry that the grieving coworker will perceive the group photo as bizarre, if not disrespectful. What is your opinion? Should I participate in the group photo despite my concerns? (By the way, I’m planning to write a card for my grieving coworker.)

What? I completely agree with you — that’s weird. I’m sure that your coworker means it as somehow a show of support (look at all these people who care about you), but it’s really odd. Will you all be smiling in the photo? If so, that’s inappropriate for the occasion. If not, you’re sending her … a photo of somber coworkers?

Can you speak up and urge a different plan? I’d say it this way: “I don’t think a photo would be appropriate in this context and feel uncomfortable doing that. Why don’t we send a card and flowers or food, which are more traditional for condolences?”

2. I want to give my interviewer a portfolio demonstrating my admin skills

I am an administrative assistant and have a second job interview coming up the end of this week. I really want to wow them with my great administrative skills and do something that will make me stand out above the other candidate(s). At the first interview, I gave them a hard copy of a resume “portfolio” I created that included a letter of introduction, resume, letter of recommendation, work-related documents, numerous training certificates, and feedback from a program I initiated. I was thinking about creating some type of digital resume/portfolio highlighting my experience and skills. However, I only have a few days before my interview and am not sure how to go about presenting it. I don’t want to show up and say, “Oh, by the way, I need a computer and a some way to present this.” I found a site and created a simple digital resume (where you would send a link to your electronic resume) but this seems redundant.

I thought about creating my own PowerPoint or PDF portfolio and leaving it on a flash drive. What are your thoughts on that? I don’t want to be like everyone else; I want to show I think outside the box, but I don’t want to be so far out that they reject me. What’s the new trend with online portfolios?

Don’t do it. Portfolios are useful for design jobs, but even then you’d generally send a link ahead of time. They’re not so useful for most other jobs, where the way you stand out is by being a highly qualified candidate who can demonstrate a track record of success in the areas they’re looking for, and by being warm and enthusiastic about the job.

I actually wouldn’t have given them the first portfolio either since it sounds like most of what was included they already had (resume and cover letter), didn’t need (training certificates), or could have more easily been emailed afterwards (letter of recommendation, which isn’t that helpful these days, and program feedback). They don’t need another one — seriously. If there’s something that you truly think will give them information about your candidacy that they don’t already have and which can’t be covered in an interview, offer to email it to them afterwards — but that doesn’t sound like it’s the case; it sounds like you’re scrounging to try to come up with something to include, which is a signal that you don’t need to.

Just go and do a great interview and let that speak for you.

3. People are cheating at our jeans day fundraiser

Any suggestions how I can tactfully call people out for not paying $5 to wear jeans on jeans days? We have a few repeat offenders who are sneaking in past the people collecting funds on our Friday jeans days. I thought an all-employee reminder would be better than approaching people individually. If it doesn’t work, then I’ll have their managers address it – but I’m drawing a blank. Help!

All-employee reminders are almost never better that talking to people individually. Default to that instead, assuming you’re in a position where you have the authority to address this, which it sounds like you are.

That said, “jeans day” events are pretty infantilizing. Either it’s okay for people to wear jeans in your office or it isn’t. If they’re okay if you donate to charity for the privilege, then you can’t really argue that they’re unprofessional for everyone else, and it calls your whole dress code into question. I’d love to see you link your charity drive to something else and just let people wear jeans if they want to.

4. Employer won’t hire people with a particular degree

My library system has a policy of not hiring employees with library degrees for any non librarian jobs – even jobs where the person does almost everything a librarian does. They allow them to apply and be interviewed, but block hires. I have seen this happen from the inside. Is this legal? They do not care if they hire people with other graduate degrees for assistant positions – just that particular degree.

Yep, it’s legal; they’re allowed to decide they do want certain types of education or don’t want others. I’d be curious to hear their reasoning, but I’d guess that in this case it’s because they’ve found that people with library degrees get frustrated in the non-librarian jobs and want to move into one as quickly as they can (and out of the one they’ve been hired for), and they’re trying to focus on people who have a better chance of being satisfied in the role they’re hired for. Librarian readers, what’s your take?

As for interviewing them if they know they won’t hire them — what a waste of everyone’s time, and how incredibly inconsiderate. I’m going to bet this is linked to the excessively rigid hiring practices that you often see in government, where they have weird ideas about what constitutes a fair shake. This is a particularly dysfunctional perversion of that mindset — “we’ll interview you to avoid accusations of bias, but you will have no chance.”

5. Listing part-time/occasional work on a resume

I’ve been working as a personal/administrative assistant for a small-business owner since 2011. I’ve done everything from academic research for a book she was writing to bookkeeping for her business, marketing, and website management. I track my own hours and invoice her business. The hours have shifted based on both our circumstances (starting with regular hours one day a week when I was in school, dropping off for a period when I was working full-time, sometimes working from home and now back to occasional “on call” work as I’m back in school with a more flexible schedule). It’s a bit of an unconventional arrangement and something I’d probably drop off a resume completely if I had more experience, but it’s the longest relationship I’ve had with an employer and she’s an excellent reference (she’s referred to me as her “right hand” more than once). I’d really appreciate any suggestions you might have as to how to list this on a resume.

I think you can list it like you would any other job, and list the dates as “2011 – present.” That’s accurate, despite the fluctuation in hours over time. If you feel it’s important, you can include a bullet point that says:

* Schedule has ranged from one day a week to on-call as needed

… but I don’t think you even really need to do that.

{ 346 comments… read them below }

  1. Aurion

    #1: in addition to Alison’s points, it’s really weird to receive a group photo when the grieving coworker would normally be part of the (smiling?) group. Having a group photo feels oddly exclusionary, and often the mourning period is plenty isolating on its own.

    The mourning period isn’t the time to reinvent the wheel. Send the card or flowers.

    1. Engineer Girl

      I think it comes off as incredibly narcissistic. Look at Meeee! My photo should make you feel better! It’s about us, after all, not you!
      Please send a card and some flowers or fruit. The focus should be outward toward them, not inward toward yourself.

    2. PatM

      I agree. I lost my child two years ago. I would’ve been freaked out and offended if I received a “group photo” from my co-workers. What are people thinking???

    3. Chloe Silverado

      Agreed – this is such a bizarre idea. I can’t imagine the coworker receiving any comfort. This would be confusing at best, and could be downright upsetting for the coworker. OP’s team should just send flowers or a card. As an aside, what is the grieving coworker even supposed to do with the photo? Frame it? Hang it on the fridge? I’d be willing to bet that it would end up in the trash almost instantly. I love my coworkers, but if they ever sent me a group photo that I’m not even in, I’d trash it almost instantly. I see them 40+ hours a week, I don’t really need their photo in my home.

    4. Green

      Depending on the “horrific circumstances”, you may consider a donation to a relevant group (you can often find online obituaries suggesting an “in lieu of flowers”). I also like a gift certificate for meal pick-up (some restaurants near me have weekly meal pick-ups with sides/salads/dessert/entrees for a week for families of 2 or 4) or calling to ask whether

      1. Juli G.

        Gift cards are such a great idea. Food is abundant immediately after a death but when it’s two months later and you have a horrible day but still need to eat/feed your family, the gift card is such a help.

        1. Green

          Yeah, my comment cut off, but the end was “calling to ask whether there is a good week to do the meal pick-up.” I’m sure that nobody *doesn’t* appreciate extra food at the house, but to prevent spoilage and be as helpful as possible, it may be better to coordinate, or offer something for a future date. If I lost a dear family member, I wouldn’t feel like doing basic daily things like making sure everybody eats for weeks/months.

          1. Liz

            There are some websites that are wonderful for this: http://www.takethemameal.com is the one we’ve used most lately when coordinating meals for a coworker going through chemo.

            Maybe schedule a couple of meals a week for the next few months, and suggest things that are easy to freeze if they’re not needed immediately, but I bet anyone suffering a sudden bereavement would love to have a couple of dinners provided each week for an ongoing period.

      2. the gold digger

        Food is always appropriate when there is a death. I used to think it was something silly – that happened only in books – but when my dad died, people in my mom and dad’s hometown, where they had not lived for 35 years and where we were staying (my dad was at a hospital near there), were showing up with food at my grandmother’s house before noon.

        It is really the nicest thing that someone has thought about what your immediate needs are and has figured out a way to solve that. Everyone needs to eat and when you are in mourning or in a crisis state, it’s really hard to think about planning a meal.

        1. Oryx

          I broke my ankle and have a full on cast right now (and for the next four weeks, at least). Neither my boyfriend nor I had made it to the grocery store and, honestly, it’s not really a priority right now. Just thinking about planning/shopping/cooking is exhausting so when my mom offered to send some casseroles over I happily took her up on it.

          1. finman

            If you end up in a boot, purchase an even-up on amazon. When I broke my fibula my hip was killing me as I was overcompensating for the height difference and this product made walking so much more comfortable.

            1. Partly Cloudy

              I just got out of a boot… wish I’d known about this product! I’ve been going to the chiropractor every week instead. :)

              And Oryx, if people ask if there’s anything they can do, ask them to do laundry or clean your house. Those were lifesavers for me.

          2. Liz

            My sympathies! I broke my foot eight weeks ago, and although I’m out of the boot and walking almost normally, grocery delivery + decent frozen meals are still saving my life.

        2. (Not an IRS) Auditor

          The morning after my grandfather had his final stroke, a neighbor showed up at the house with an apple pie. It was just my brother and I there, getting ready to join the rest of the family back at the hospital. We had apple pie for breakfast, and it was wonderful. I’ve never forgotten that kindness.

      3. HR Girl

        Agreed! And if you end up doing food, bring a pack of utensils, paper plates/cups, and napkins. The last thing someone wants to think about is washing dishes!

        1. Emmy

          That’s brilliant. We have large families and when we all show up unexpectedly because of something like this, then add neighbours and friends, not all of us have enough to cover all of those people, much less, as you said feel like doing the dishes.

        2. Chameleon

          In this vein, bring the food in something disposable, too! After I had a kid, my friends brought food which was great, but it was kind of a pain to clean and keep track of the tupperware. I’m a big fan of bringing something like enchiladas, lasagna, or casserole in those disposable foil pans, so they can just pop it in the oven for half an hour, have hot food, then throw the dishes away. Alternately, you can bring it in tupperware but make it absolutely clear that they can keep the containers.

          1. Connie-Lynne

            Yes! I bring lasagne or another casserole in a foil pan with reheating instructions written on the cover in sharpie.

        3. Simonthegrey

          This is what my mom does after a birth or death. Her card gets dropped off with a bag of disposable dishes and napkins. No one has energy to wash dishes at that kind of time anyway.

      4. Laura

        A gift certificate is SUCH a good idea. I know people want to be helpful by bringing food, but it’s impossible to know if there are dietary restrictions for any of the family members, and you want to make it easy on them by letting them choose what to get. My mom was a big fan of making meals for neighbors who had deaths in the family, and she consistently sent casseroles over to the people who couldn’t eat dairy or grain. Yikes.

        1. Colette

          When my dad died, people brought food, and I honestly don’t know what we would have eaten otherwise. Gift cards are nice, but they require decision-making that people who are grieving may not be able to do.

    5. (Not an IRS) Auditor

      I would need more context, because it could be a great thing. A dear friend of mine recently lost her tween daughter under pretty terrible circumstances.

      The daughter’s favorite color was pink, so folks started wearing pink in her honor. They had a day at her school where everyone wore pink, and at her dance school, girls wore pink hair ribbons in their competitions. The mom is a coach, so many of her former athletes wore pink to dedicate a workout to the daughter.

      The mom talked publicly about how much the support meant to her, so it spread to friends posting photographs of groups of their friends and coworkers, most who didn’t even know the girl, wearing pink. The mom was touched that strangers would do this to show their support. So it could be a very good thing.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

        Yes. My teenage cousin committed suicide last year and her schools (high school and the college she had just started) did some things like this (like a photo of her swim team holding a sign saying “We love you, Katie.”, and it was greatly, greatly appreciated.

        1. One of the Sarahs

          But this was her friends making a tribute for her – presumably the work team didn’t know their colleague’s child, which is a very different circumstance.

          1. Chinook

            “But this was her friends making a tribute for her – presumably the work team didn’t know their colleague’s child, which is a very different circumstance.”

            We ended up coming up with something for the women’s group I head to show support for a widow when we went to her husband’s funeral – we quietly made sure that all our members wore scarves or sashes and, when possible, we sat together. Most of us usually don’t know the husbands, but we have gotten feedback from the widows saying that there was something heartening about looking into the section here we sat in the church and seeing a sea of blue in support of her at what can be hardest public moment.

            That being said, most of what we do is support of our widows is make sure someone (usually a friend or someone who knows the family well) is organizing meals for delivery and giving them leeway to take a leave of absence from any committee work they do but leaving it up to them on whether they take that time (some do and some like the distraction) and for how long. We recognize that everyone grieves differently and let them show us how they want our help. But, just letting them know that we are there for them seems to be enough because we are showing support for our member, not as a remembrance of the lost loved one.

      2. Zillah

        But the situation you’re describing is radically, radically different than what the OP is talking about. There’s no indication at all in the letter that this is some kind of tribute – and even if it was, I don’t think it’s something that coworkers should be taking the initiative on. Even if it was a tribute, while your friend felt supported, others might have a different reaction, and coworkers are unlikely to be great judges of how someone will or won’t react.

        1. CS

          I think offering a tribute such as those mentioned above is a truly heartfelt, wonderful idea. One of things that bothered me about my coworker’s suggestion is that she wanted us to take a group photo while wearing all black. Also, I think the timing is off–it’s been less than a week since the tragic event. I’d prefer to wait for my grieving coworker to process her emotions before we decide to do any kind of tribute. I also feel it’s important to get her input on how we as an office should celebrate the memory of her child.

          1. Windchime

            Oh wow. I’m sure your coworker means well, but this is just so tone deaf. I’m so glad you spoke up. Have they decided against the idea?

          2. Chinook

            “Also, I think the timing is off–it’s been less than a week since the tragic event. I’d prefer to wait for my grieving coworker to process her emotions before we decide to do any kind of tribute”

            I don’t know – we had one coworker here who lost her son and I think she would have felt like we had abandoned her if we had done nothing. Instead, the department admin. assistant sent around a bereavement card for and arranged for it to be delivered to her home along with a plant (the type which was chosen based on feedback from someone who knew her well). When her father died a few months later, we did the same thing because we heard how she appreciated it. When she broke her ankle a few months after that (poor woman had a rough year), we sent a get well soon card and a gift basket to her home. Essentially, we let her know that she wasn’t forgotten and that she had our sympathy.

            1. Sadsack

              Yeah, but those things you did were much different than what CS’s coworker is suggesting. The things you did were subtle symbols of your condolence. The coworker here is thinking of sending a picture of a group (dressed in black?) saying, look at us thinking about you. That is just strange.

    6. CS

      Hi, I’m the OP for #1. I really appreciate Alison and the readers’ answers to my question! Glad that I’m not the only one who thought the group photo is inappropriate. Since I emailed my question to Alison, I’ve talked to some of my colleagues, and they all feel that we shouldn’t take a group photo. Since my office has already arranged for flowers and food to be sent to our grieving coworker, we’re thinking about setting up a collection box for funeral arrangements or a charitable cause. A senior staff has also expressed concern about the group photo, so we’re hoping that things won’t move forward with this plan.

      My office can be cliquish–think “Mean Girls”–which is why I was initially hesitant to speak out against the group photo. But now that I know others agree with me, I feel much better about speaking up. Thanks again!

      1. So Very Anonymous

        Honestly, if there’s a “mean girls” vibe at your workplace, that’s even more reason not to do it.

      2. auntie_cipation

        I don’t know if the vibe would be different in a “mean girls” setting, but I’ve always been personally moved by cards that have everyone’s signature on them. I’ve only gotten them for positive occasions such as birthdays, or for a pseudo-sad occasion such as leaving a job, but I don’t think it would necessarily be inappropriate for this situation. Definitely not the photo, though — glad that got nixed.

    7. Frontier

      About ten years ago, the toddler of an employee accidentally drowned in a swimming pool. We were nearly as devastated as the employee, and we wanted to do something other than just send flowers and cards. Someone came up with idea of collecting money to buy a tree that was planted in memory of the child at the park where the he and his older brother played. The family was very touched.

      1. Laura

        That’s a beautiful way to honor a child. I think OP’s coworker would probably really appreciate this.

        1. Elizabeth West

          You can buy memorial benches in some parks, too. I don’t know how much they are (I guess that would be up to the municipality that does them), but it’s a nice idea. I sat on one when I went to Hampstead Heath. It said, “Tina Gamp– Missed greatly, adored whole-heartedly–she loved the Heath so much. Always in the hearts of her family and friends.” It made me happy and I didn’t even know her, but I could imagine her sitting there looking at the same view I was. :’3

          1. Snorks

            As someone that works for a local council (In Australia, so it might be different) those benches require quite a bit of upkeep from us.
            While they are a lovely thought, we don’t encourage them.

    8. Hillary

      When my dad died, his office offered to make the food for the reception after the funeral service. We took them up on it, and we were so grateful for it. If his office had sent a group picture instead I would have understood what they were *trying* to do because I try to let intentions trump actions, but it still would have been pretty weird.

    9. Anna No Mouse

      When my nephew was sick, my MIL’s co-workers took a group photo for her, but the circumstances were incredibly different.

      Firstly, my nephew was sick, and hadn’t passed on yet. Secondly, there were t-shirts made to help raise money for his treatments, and everyone in the photo was wearing one.

      If they were to have taken the photo after my nephew had died, I’d have thought it was really weird and morbid. They way they did it was a show of solidarity, which might be what the coworker is going for (and missing by a mile).

    10. Corporate Drone

      If you really want to help, send money. I’m serious. Send money to help defray funeral costs and medical expenses. Send money to a designated charity. Does she have other children? Send money to help fund their education.

      I have BTDT in terms of being the one affected by a sudden death, and I’m telling you that flowers, meals, and prayers, although well intended, are not practical. Cash is.

      1. Fjell & Skog

        I agree. When my father died, one of my good friends gave me some cash. She told me later that she worried that it was tacky, but she knew how broke I was and that travelling to the funeral was going to kill my budget. I appreciated it so much, and told her so. Once I got to my family, though, food was definitely welcomed. It was great when we didn’t have to think about how to feed ourselves, we just popped a casserole into the oven.

        So, cash and/or food are my recommendations.

      2. Green

        It can be awkward to give money as a gift to a professional colleague, and many people don’t like giving money at all. (I may give money to my administrative assistant, but I would never give money to another lawyer.) Meals (especially when planned in advance or in the form of a gift card) are a good substitute for money because everyone has to eat, and that will free up money for those other things you mentioned.

      3. Emmy

        I think this is a step lightly and know your culture thing. My mother was offended when an aunt sent money. “As if money could make this better! As if I need money!” Our family had never heard of sending money for a death. I did some research and was able to convince my mother of my aunt’s good intentions by telling her that “Yes, some people do this. It’s a concrete way they can try to help.”

        1. Corporate Drone

          My point is not that you should send money directly to the family of you do not want to. But a donation to an educational fund or to a designated charity is absolutely more useful than flowers. I also like the suggestion of a restaurant GC. And if you know that the family is struggling with medical or funeral expenses, I can guarantee that they will appreciate the cash.

      4. Random Citizen

        A neighbor who lost her son told me that, besides cash or food, which many people sent, some of the most helpful things were just the piddly stuff – paper plates, cups, and plastic silverware, so they didn’t have to worry about dishes, napkins, lots of kleenexes.

        1. Corporate Drone

          Yes. Offer to come over and do laundry. Send a cleaning crew over to clean the house. All of these things actually help.

    11. Stranger than fiction

      Yeah, to me this pic would serve as a brutal reminder of what happened every time I had to look at it.

  2. Mike C.

    #4: It’s to decide to block the hires, but why in the heck is your management wasting their time interviewing them? Presumably the degree isn’t a secret and candidates spend a significant amount of time preparing for the interview so what’s the point?

    1. Aurion

      Probably to fulfill those requirements of having to interview X external candidates (and other scripted actions) that you see so often in the public sector. Checking off check boxes for the sake of those check boxes is incredibly inefficient but sadly common.

      1. tenure track academic librarian

        Yes, as a public institution, we must interview all qualified candidates. An MLS would not disqualify the candidate for the position. And yes, it has been my experience- not always but enough to be a pain… an employee with an MLS who has been hired into a more routine role with no chance of promotion (librarian positions in our academic environment often require a second subject masters as well as 5 years professional experience) find themselves frustrated and at times see themselves doing the “same” work as a librarian for less pay.

        1. CanadianKat

          You must interview “ALL qualified candidates”? That’s crazy! What if there are 100? I’m in government, and we just ran a competition for a legal assistant. We received over 200 application, at least 30 of which made onto the preliminary list (i.e. “qualified”). We’ll only interview about 6 of them. Interviewing an extra 24 people would mean extra 24 hours of work-time taken from other work by two lawyers and one HR person. That’s like about 4 days (not 3, because people aren’t machines, they don’t actually work 8 hours in a 7.5-hour workday) vacation for 3 people = 12 persondays. Besides, after having met 30 people, everything will be a blur, not even notes will help.

      2. throwdetta

        I always felt so bad for my friends who wanted to go into public librarianship. Lots of them were paraprofessionals when they entered the MLIS program, felt they had hit a ceiling without the degree, but had few options even with it, because unionized coworkers with decades of seniority had no intention of resigning. And then to read this…doubly depressing. I went into corporate media librarianship and never looked back :)

        1. Go Tigers

          A lot of people have been sold a bill of goods about the library market — still waiting for that mass exodus of librarians that they said would happen 10-15 years ago….

          1. Kristine

            Yes, I believed that too. I am a paraprofessional in the library field after receiving my MLIS 6 years ago. I’m making less than I did before getting my graduate degree BUT my last position was cut (just after the market tanked), so there’s that.
            I am also a writer and went into the library field to write about it. (Yes, I have been published!) I’ve also worked as a consultant on the side. At least I have bennies and a salary in the field that I believe in. It’s about creating your own definition of success today.

          2. Kerry (Like the County in Ireland)

            Damn straight. I entered library school in 2003, went part time and graduated in 2007, and all the MLIS needing jobs had disappeared by the time I finished. And it hasn’t picked up at all.

    2. Meg Murry

      I’m curious about the “blocking” as well. Is someone actually saying “well, this candidate has an MLIS, so we wont be hiring her, but we’re interviewing her anyway?” Because that’s just stupid.

      Or is it more a case of “if the person mentions that they want to move on to a librarian position in the next few years durng the interview or somehow indicates that they’d rather be a librarian than a non-librarian staffer, we won’t hire them for the staff position” ? Because that’s valid to want to hire someone for the actual position for the mid to long term, not just someone who will use it as a way to become an internal candidate for a “real” librarian job.

      Another thought: is there a fixed pay scale that says “people with no degree get paid X, a bachelor’s or non-MLIS masters get Y, and MLIS get Z”? I’ve worked in public sector and union jobs with pay scales that way, and it’s possible that they don’t have the budget to pay a staff member the MLIS starting rate. Or back to what I said above about what people say in the interview – candidates with a MLIS may say they expect a salary of Z, which is out of the budget, so that candidate is eliminated.

      Interviewing a candidate that is already determined not to be hirable is a waste of everyone’s time and stupid, but isn’t technically illegal. But if it is a case where people with MLISs often indicate they wouldn’t be happy with the staff position in ways like I mentioned above but it isn’t a 100% known until during the interview, it may still be worth interviewing the candidate to see if they are the rare exception.

      1. Xlibrarian

        I once got turned down (by HR, not by the manager) for a non-librarian staff job because I had an MLIS and my would-be manager was still working on his. I can’t quite remember, but it seems like the HR guy said it would be awkward, or something like that. They instead hired me into another position that was not as good a fit for me (IMO), and when I got to know the manager of the other job, I could tell that it wouldn’t have mattered one bit–I got along far better with him than with my own manager, and he wouldn’t have cared that I had the master’s and he didn’t. Now that I think of it, I don’t think they ever hired anyone into the position I originally applied for… at least not during the short time I was there (that job was a REALLY bad fit).

        (BTW, Meg Murry, those of us with the ML*I*S are few and far enough between that I wonder if we went to the same school–not many offer that particular degree. :-) )

        1. Meg Murry

          I’m not a librarian – my public sector/union jobs were in public schools and a different union position (with similar payscale grades by degree, not just by job description), but it was the same kind of idea: no degree got you X, BA got you Y, BA+MA got you a little extra $, and then there was a big jump for an MA in education and a current teaching license to Z – so it was a budgetary issue when people applied to the aide jobs that only required an AA or BA but they had an MA in education, and it was really frustrating when there were good candidates that *wanted* the aide job (because it was part time, or because they had something else going on in their lives that meant they didn’t want to be a classroom teacher at that time) but the budget almost always meant they couldn’t be hired.

          I was actually just being sloppy, because one of my friends just got his MLIS, I should have written MLS/MLIS.

        2. Collie

          Ooh, I’m officially getting my MLIS this Saturday; I’ll have to ask in the open thread about using the I to my advantage. I know there’s a difference in the education, but as to how to actually highlight that, I’m less sure.

          1. fposte

            It’s mostly just which school you got your degree from, like DVM vs. VMD. (And let’s not forget the MS-LIS.)

            1. JMegan

              Mine is a MISt, but my classmates are the only people who have heard of that variation, so I usually just say MLS.

              Congratulations to Collie!

          2. Librarians Anonymous

            There’s not really a difference in the education, it’s just how some schools choose to title the degree. Master of Library Science – Master of Library and Information Science. I think we’re seeing more schools move toward the MLIS designation because it sounds more 21st century.

            1. Go Tigers

              Yeah, as long as you’re from an accredited school, I wouldn’t bat an eye at MLS/MLIS.
              Mine has such a fancy name (Master of Arts in Information Science and Learning Technologies with an emphasis in Library Science) that I just say MLS/MLIS so it’s recognizable.

        3. Librarian also

          I don’t think a MLIS vs. MLS is actually that uncommon at all right now. Sure, many people who got their degrees awhile ago don’t have the I but I think you’ll find that MLIS is the more common degree within the past decade. There are also programs that are ditching the LS all together and just awarding “ALA-accredited Masters of Information” degrees, which is going to be the new trend, I expect.

          1. Some other Librarian

            Yeah, I see everything from MIS, MLIS, MLS, MA or MS in LS or LIS or IS. and a few library media specialist variations too

            They could call it a Masters in Bookitudeinology as long as it was ALA accredited

            1. Metadata Librarian

              My job title will be changing soon — apparently variations on “Cataloger” are too 20th century. Maybe I’ll request Bookitudeinologist as my new title. ;)

        4. ModernHypatia

          I was wondering about the ‘maybe reporting to a non MLIS person’ (because yes, it can be awkward.) And it can come into play with customer service/policy stuff in some weird ways.

          Ideally, the MLS/MLIS teaches you to look at large implications of information seeking and providing resources. I’ve known some really great non-MLS folks in library staff positions, but many of them have also been rigid about some things around access, privacy, how to handle access to complex or unusual material, in ways that MLS programs usually (not always! But usually!) do a decent job of addressing and preparing people to deal with better. (That being part of the point of the MLS/MLIS). Those particular differences with someone you’re actually reporting to can get weird.

          (By ‘rigid’, I mean having policies that protect privacy or access – which is good! – but not always thinking through the implications of how a particular policy might block access for certain other patrons, or might discourage people from asking about or using resources, or providing less-great service to patrons who might be difficult to deal with. A policy that is great for 80 or 90% of the people who use your library may still leave a lot of people out.)

        5. ScarletInTheLibrary

          MLIS has become the norm instead of the exception in the last couple years. I can’t think of any programs (but I suspect they still exist) in North America that have not converted to MLIS.

            1. fposte

              I think Scarlet means are retaining the MLS rather than having an I in there somewhere. There are still a few, but they’re vastly outnumbered.

              1. UNC Alum

                Which makes sense, IMO. My UNC MSLS coursework contained more IS instruction than people I know who got an MLIS. I would never feel comfortable even implying that my degree is IS-related at all.

                They are related, but adding an “I” into a degree does not make it any more information-science based. You have to have the instruction and coursework to back it up, and many schools don’t do that.

                1. UNC Alum

                  Need to add the core curriculum for most MLIS degrees roughly corresponds to the core curriculum for the MSLS at UNC. If you look at the MSIS criteria at SILS, there is very little overlap with the MSLS program.

                2. Kelly

                  Feel free to correct me, but at least Michigan and Washington’s programs in library science are now more focused on the information and informatics side of the profession.

      2. Bwmn

        My first job out of grad school was to be a research assistant for a neuropsychologist who had very similar thinking. He didn’t like hiring psych grads because they found the job to be very far away from psychology and thus frustrated with the realities of the job.

        That being said, while I was happy for a professional job out of grad school – it’s not as though I was exactly looking to be a research assistant as a career either, and left the job after two years. While there definitely were some research assistant “lifers” who found studies and positions that allowed them to grow and remain interested, it was a job very heavy among those in their mid 20’s and the average tenure was 2-4 years.

        The only thinking I have is that the attitude of those without degrees in that field are perceived as being better to support a primary investigator and less vocal with ideas beyond the scope of what the researcher wants to hear. But in my experience, it didn’t correlate to staying around in such a job that much longer.

      3. Eh? Non Y. Mouse

        Part of it too is that it gets waaay harder for a system to justify paying someone a non librarian salary when they’re doing the same work and have the credentials. They’re probably (besides all the long term tenure in the position issues) looking for a clear delineation between positions so that someone doesn’t come and say, if they’re doing the same work and have the same qualifications why isn’t this position a librarian position too? What is the actual difference.

        1. LW

          They have no interest in delineating the position for people to do less work because then they’d either have to hire more librarians, make us librarians work overtime, or admit they don’t care about the degree. And they will hire non-MLIS people and then pay for their degree, but not hire people who have the degree. None of it makes sense to me because these are qualified candidates who do want to do the work.

          1. Metadata Librarian

            And I can’t imagine that someone with a Master’s in English (for example) will be happier in a paraprofessional position long-term than someone with an MLS. The main difference that I see is that the person with the English degree will just leave, while the one with an MLS will want a promotion.

            I love what I do, but sometimes I wish librarians were more highly valued by the folks who set the pay scales.

      4. Emma

        How does the person who posed the question know for certain that the library will not hire MLIS holders into a parapro role? Has it been happening to many candidates over a course of years, or just few recently? I don’t doubt that it happens — I applied for a paraprofessional position right out of library school and wasn’t interviewed and later heard that the library system I applied to does not like to hire MLIS holders into non-Librarian roles. I also think it varies a lot for system to system. I’ve worked in library systems where there are many circulation staff holding MLIS degrees.

    3. Go Tigers

      I agree that it’s dumb to waste time interviewing people that you’re not going to hire, but we have to interview all internal candidates, too, so whatever.
      I guess my only thing is that, in this market, for a lot of people with MLS, this is how they get their foot in the door/put food on the table. I know a lot of people who got their MLS that worked 5 years in a non professional job before they got their first MLS job. I know people that got their MLS and then their circumstances changed or whatever and now they work part time or full time in parapro jobs. It’s just hard for me to be so cut and dry on that. Not to mention – following the same logic, are they excluding MLS students, too? Might as well, since they’ll move on soon once they get the degree.

      1. Chaordic One

        I’m aware of a lot of people with library degrees who live in urban areas and who were only able to find part-time work in libraries ( at least starting out). Some of them managed to piece together a decent salary by commuting between 2 or 3 different part-time jobs in libraries (sort of like those commuter college professors). They seemed to be doing comparatively low-level work, although I’m sure their educations helped them in their job, and most of them were eventually able to find full-time work as librarians.

        OTOH, I’m also aware of libraries in rural states where the only person with a library degree in whole county-wide library systems that include different far-flung towns and branches is the head of the library system. All of the day-to-day work with the public is done by people without library degrees (some of the people running branch libraries don’t have any college degree).

    4. Libstaffer 2 Librarian

      The organizations I have worked for do give people with their MLS/MLIS a chance and are very aware of the lack of professional jobs but there is already so much tension between professional librarians and paraprofessional library staff and hiring an MLS/MLIS into a paraprofessional position stirs that tension. There is a point where someone is vastly overqualified for a position that requires an HS or undergrad diploma. I have seen Ph. Ds and former library managers and directors apply for paraprofessional, PT and FT positions. Hiring managers in libraries have a sense, and not an incorrect one, that a person with an MLS/MLIS or higher will not stay in a position like non-degree staff person might and may not be satisfied with the daily work they would have to do. The best person for the job isn’t always the person with the highest levels of education–there are reasons McDonalds doesn’t hire people with MBAs to work the fry station. This is a library school problem and a library student problem and I say this as a recent-ish library school graduate. You have library schools churning out hundreds of graduates every semester and the jobs just aren’t there. They are also graduating students that lack the technical skills that libraries need for both paraprofessional and professional staff. We also have library students who graduate with zero experience working in a library and who failed to look into the job market before they began their degree. Even with a library degree, no library or related experience is hard to overcome so they resort to applying for paraprofessional jobs to get that experience. Still, if you are willing to move, there are both professional and paraprofessional jobs out there–far more so that there was two and three years ago when I was looking for professional work. I think the profession is sympathetic but we also have to hire people we think are the best for the job and your MLS/MLIS degree alone doesn’t make you the best candidate for a position, especially a paraprofessional one.

    5. Sunny Librarian

      Something not mentioned here is that some (not ALL) recent grads can be know-it-alls., which may make them difficult to work with. So in addition to someone who is looking to move on, they may also have a bad attitude on top of that.

      But yeah, interviewing them when you do not intend to hire them is BS.

  3. So Very Anonymous

    #1: If I were grieving and received a group photo of my colleagues as a show of support, I would be very puzzled and at a loss for what to say — which is a lot more social awkwardness than I’d want to be navigating while grieving. Stick with the standards — a card, flowers, possibly a casserole or a meal, maybe a charitable donation if relevant. Don’t make things complicated for your bereaved colleague.

    1. Sami

      Amen. It’s such a bizarre idea. OP, please talk your office out of doing this. For this particular instance especially, but really it’s a bad idea in general. This isn’t school and you don’t need yearbook-style photography.

  4. Mando Diao

    OP3: I’m never, ever a fan of charity in the form of handing small bills to someone else. It usually means that that person (or the larger company) is donating the money in their/its name, or (in the cases of charity events) finding a way to charge cover for events/venues where it normally isn’t allowed. Are you prepared to give receipts to everyone who forks over cash? Do you have a tax ID number? I “donate” hundreds of dollars a year in the form of loose $5 and $10 bills and though it might seem petty, I’ve started documenting it for my taxes, and I stand my ground if someone insists that I give them cash when they haven’t done their homework.

    Do you give them the option of donating to a charity of their choice if they object to the cause that the company has chosen? Do you make allowances for people who cannot afford to give $260 of their annual wages back to their employer? What about people who already donate more than $5 a week to their own favorite causes? What about people who volunteer?

    Yeah, not a fan of this nonsense.

    1. nofelix

      Wow, never thought of the tax thing. And presumably they could deduct the donation even though it was the employees’ money.

      1. Apollo Warbucks

        I would really hope they didn’t claim a deduction for charity events like this, I’m sure it would not be compliant with tax law, but I’m sure they would count it towards how much money the office had raised for charity.

        1. Not the Droid You are Looking For

          My former office didn’t take it as a tax deduction, but *definitely* counted it toward the company’s total donations for the year.

    2. BetsyTacy

      So obviously I can’t speak to other organizations’ systems, but I can tell you how it works at my job:

      We have an employee group (participation is 100% voluntary and the leader is usually a fairly junior staff member) where we have set it up as a nonprofit (I believe a 501(c)3). We give scholarships, make donations to charities when an employee (or their family member) passes away, etc- nothing crazy. When someone collects $5 for a jeans day (or something similar), they immediately get emailed a receipt which also goes to the treasurer of the organization. Yes, we do keep track and yes, some people- particularly those who have occasionally felt moved to donate larger sums to our scholarship fund – have requested back-up copies of these receipts for their taxes.

      And really, for my organization it makes more sense because the Fridays where we can pay for jeans are sanctioned by management as basically a ‘nothing big is going on today’ Friday. They only happen during a few months of the year and we’ve found are actually a great morale booster. We don’t and can’t really police the jeans thing, but what we have found works is telling people exactly how much we raise each time and exactly where it’s going.

      We used to just give our two scholarships. Now we have the recipients come down and do a small presentation to them where we talk about the person it was named after, etc. That’s been the most effective way for us to drive compliance. But really, some people just won’t pay the $5 and will wear jeans anyway. Accept it and move on.

      1. Hiding for this one

        That’s what my company does–they let us know what our contributions are going to, and you can opt in or out as you please. None of them are mandatory, but they are encouraged.

        We have shorts and flip-flops days in summer (I never wear them because it’s cold in here). We can wear jeans the rest of the time except where there will be clients in the office. One thing they do that I find annoying is to say we aren’t supposed to wear any graphic t-shirts except ones that say the company name. The only other time is team shirt days, when we can wear sports tees (ONLY sports tees; no nerd stuff, though they did have a nerd shirt day–on a Friday when no one was here. :P) So if you’re not into sports, then too bad.

        Many people, including me, don’t do this and wear whatever we like. I think we’re adults and know better than to wear a shirt with “F*ckin’ A-right” or something on it. Also, no one sees us. For an otherwise-great company, it’s rigid and tone-deaf, IMO. I just wear my nerd shirts except when I have to cover the front desk. On team shirt days, I wear my Captain America shirt and go as Team Cap. >:)

    3. Green

      I would really rather people spend time on work objectives than hounding people for $5 and getting managers involved over jeans day “cheating.” Sometimes I participate in work-related charitable events, sometimes I don’t. But I do a lot of charitable work outside work (two non-profit board positions and a former board position to an organization I still support, plus tons of other stuff). If I wear jeans and forget to donate (or choose not to), I’m going to be REALLY irritated at someone chasing me down and insinuating that I don’t do enough for charity based on the pants I wore.

      1. Not the Droid You are Looking For

        This. At my old job when you paid your money, you got a little slip of paper that said “I supported ____” that you were supposed to hang on your cube.

        But sometimes we would do jeans months for $20, and well things happen to little slips of paper. There is nothing like having to deal with someone tattling on a coworker because they didn’t pay the money.

    4. LQ

      Or that they aren’t donating the money at all.

      I’ve basically stopped all small donations because the cost benefit for charity just doesn’t pan out for me. Others can keep doing it but I prefer to do something more planned. And so often when our work “charity” does a drive it is to a highly religious organization that I’m not a fan of, because the person who drives it is very religious.

      I’m glad I’ve gotten to the point in my life where I feel comfortable saying no in the cases where someone asks for just a couple dollars for whatever.

      But if jeans are acceptable just let people wear jeans. Let it go.

    5. Corporate Drone

      My company “allows” us to wear jeans on Fridays if you make a $5 payroll donation. I do not have the money deducted from my payroll, and I just wear my jeans. I agree that it’s stupid. In fact, overly strict dress codes like we have at my current employer are irrelevant and infantilizing. If some guy in IT wants to wear a hoodie and jeans, I do not care. I’m not going to dress like that, but his hoodie in no way impacts his job. Worry about things that matter.

      1. Corporate Drone

        I meant to add that all employee contributions are matched by the employer. Still not doing it on the principle that I’m not paying $5 to wear my denim.

    6. ThatGirl

      We have regular jeans days on Friday (free for all), but we also have Wednesday jeans days where you are supposed to either buy a badge for the year ($80) or pay $2 per Wednesday.

      The thing is, the money does go to our charitable foundation, and if you write a check for the badge you can absolutely deduct it from your taxes. So while I understand annoyance at the whole idea I feel like it’s handled fairly well here.

      (It’s still a bit on the honor system though and I admit I’ve worn jeans some Wednesdays without paying…)

    7. Blue Anne

      We had the same thing at the Big 4 accounting firm I worked at, and it bothered me for similar reasons. This was the UK and you couldn’t get tax deductions on charitable donations yourself, but the charity could make a claim to the government for the tax you paid on that income. If you were just putting money into a jar – or a bucket that was shaken at you during the monthly dress-down days – the charity was getting a lot less money. It was a finance firm! Everyone knew this was a really tax inefficient way to donate! And yet…. urgh.

      Plus I resented being extorted for a couple quid just to wear my jeans. That place was bad enough on treating their employees like humans as it was.

    8. Chinook

      I worked for a big 5 accounting firm that did the $5 jeans day thing and they got around the tax thing, the voluntariness of it and the “do I want to support this cause” thing by allowing different employees to volunteer on a given Friday to collect the money to donate towards the charitable cause of their choice. the company had veto power over the charity chosen (so it couldn’t be “the charity of me” and I think the only requirement is that it be a registered charity). In exchange for collecting the cash, you got to donate it to the cause in the name of the company but have the receipt issued to you. So, if you regularly donated throughout the year, odds are good you would get a tax receipt for that amount give or take a few bucks. And when I did the collection, I never strong armed anyone – I went around the office once and people either paid or didn’t. If they wanted to pay me later in the day, the found me and did.

    9. Kiki

      I can’t get past the “I have to pay money to wear the work acceptable clothes of my choice.” Honestly, try it here and people would just laugh at you and walk past.

      Also my tax person insists I write checks or get receipts for all charitable donations; are you set up for that?

      Can you respectfully suggest an alternative scheme?

    10. Not the Droid You are Looking For

      The business can’t (and should not) provide receipts, as they are not the 501(c)3 and since a $5 or $10 donation wouldn’t trigger the IRS receipting rules the non-profit likely wouldn’t either.

      However, these donations would likely fall under the notice for lump sum contributions (if I remember correctly it’s 2008-16) and as long the employee kept individual records they could deduct it.

      1. At a loss for words

        I’m the OP for this one (embarrassingly so) but my organization is stuck on a ‘dress code’ so wearing jeans is definitely a perk that people would pay dearly for – each month the charity chosen corresponds with national observances, like Breast Cancer/Go Pink in October, Heart Health/Red in February etc… we have people ‘selling’ badges that prove you paid the $5 – the issue that came to us was a handful of people who repeatedly don’t pay, yet wear jeans… the organizers were looking to HR to ‘gently’ remind people that they have to pay, without calling people out. In general, I don’t agree with the practice, but I was just looking for suggested wording – a more tactful approach than what I felt like saying, which was, “are you kidding me? Do we not have enough work to do around here besides worry about something this stupid”

        1. Not the Droid You are Looking For

          It’s these moments where I always feel so bad for the human resources team. Somehow you are often the default hall manager when there are more important things to work on.

    11. Chameleon

      It usually means that that person (or the larger company) is donating the money in their/its name,

      This is exactly why I never donate at the grocery store (when the checkout machine asks). Like, if I want money to go to cancer research, why should Safeway get the tax deduction and not me?

    12. Non-Profit Paper Pusher

      I work for a non-profit that receives frequent donations from various Jeans Day-like events throughout the year. Some companies will send in a money order with a listing of employees, who donated what amount, and their addresses so I can issue their tax receipts. Almost every company forwards checks written by the participants who want a tax receipt.

      All you have to do is ask your organizer to start doing this.

  5. Seal

    #4 – academic librarian here. They may think these people see staff positions that don’t require an MLIS as a stepping stone to a professional position; in other words, these people may think that once they’re hired they have a foot in the door. While that may well be the case, it’s very short-sighted on the part of the administration to interview and intentionally not hire such people simply because they have an MLIS. Why pass up on a good candidate just because they hold a a particular degree? Not all library school graduates want a professional position. They may be perfectly happy in a staff position or they may be tied to the area due to family obligations and can’t move elsewhere for a professional position. When the economy tanked a few years ago, we saw many applicants for staff positions with MLIS degrees because they couldn’t find professional positions. If they were the best candidate for the job we hired them. We certainly weren’t going to pass up on good candidates with the library experience just because they MIGHT leave for something better in a few years. If we did that, we’d never hire anyone!

    1. Ponytail

      When we hired for assistant positions, we made it quite clear in the ad that the role was not suitable for anyone with a library degree. Then, if we received any application forms where the applicant had a library qualification, we felt quite justified rejecting them, because as far as we were concerned, they hadn’t read the ad properly. Our assistant jobs were in no way comparable to the work the qualified staff did, so the inverse was true – when we advertised for qualified positions, anyone who didn’t have the qualification was rejected because, again, the specifications had been listed.
      For the library where I worked, this was a good system, because it was in London (so unlikely to be a geographical tie to the area, we have hundreds of libraries in London !) and because we had an in-house qualification process, where assistants would be given the opportunity to do day release to get their qualification and be promoted.
      If I was a hiring manager, I’d wonder why someone working in libraries went through the process of getting qualified and then decided not to proceed further in their career. Changing career is one thing, or getting the degree before actually getting experience and realising what the field was like, is another, but someone who’s worked in libraries, gets the degree and deciding not to advance any further would seem odd and disjointed to me.

      1. nofelix

        It’s fair enough if, as Alison said, you worry they’d jump ship too quickly. But otherwise isn’t this being rather unfair to assume applicants misunderstand the requirements or are confused about their careers? Maybe they are just willing to accept a more junior position because it’s what’s available?

        1. hbc

          I think it’s up to the candidate to include a crystal clear and believable explanation in their cover letters. Like, “Though I got my MLIS degree, I have come to realize that I prefer not to do X, and find roles like this job much more compatible.”

          I definitely wouldn’t want someone who would “accept a junior position because it’s what’s available,” because that means they’ll be outta there if a more senior position is offered in six months.

          1. Cafe au Lait

            Library-land has no jobs. I graduated 6 years ago with my MLIS having worked my way through grad school in an academic library. While I have a full-time position in a library, it’s not a librarian position. When I apply to librarian jobs, I nearly always get a phone interview (due to Alison’s great advice and highly personalized cover letters), and fifty percent of the time, I’m asked to complete a face-to-face interview.

            Right now, I’m working a junior position because it gave me library experience even though it’s not a librarian position. I believe that having experience, however “junior” makes me a much more competitive candidate than those with no experience and only their degree.

            1. Librarian also

              Are you applying to jobs outside your geographic area or are you applying to things that become available where you live? I think like any academic position, you might need to expect to move for a full-time faculty position (which librarians are in many academic libraries, as you know!)

              1. Cafe au Lait

                Where I live. Which, with two library schools in a 30-mile radius, means there is a glut of applicants for every job.

                I’ve thought about moving, and if I really insisted on it, my husband would be willing. There are circumstances that make me less willing. 1) My husband’s Mom is older and his father is no longer living. 2) We’re starting a family, so moving away from support makes me very very nervous. I have dealt with depression in the past, which means an increased likelihood of post-postpartum depression. 3) My husband worked a toxic job for many years and finally found a position he loves. There are dwindling job for his type of position, so he’s hit the jackpot in his current job. 4) My academic institution has great benefits and I don’t want to loose them.

              2. Joa

                This is true of public libraries as well. I got my MLIS in an area where there were multiple library schools and the market was saturated. The classmates I knew who had complaints about the job market were ones who were unwilling or unable to move.

          2. RG

            I mean, if there’s not really any jobs around that you’re reasonably qualified for, then you just have to take what you can get, which is why you end up with the situationyou described. Few people in that position could afford to just not work, so they’ll apply for positions they’re ovet-qualified for because at least there’s a paycheck.

        2. LW

          Usually positions don’t come open very often in our system and we are in a city with a glut of librarians because we have a university here, so it’s just people who want experience. They might use it as a stepping stone, but most don’t intend to take the job and immediately leave.

      2. Lucy, odd and disjointed

        Ponytail, you are speaking as if everyone has multiple choices when it comes to working: you assume an applicant can’t read instead of assuming “this person really needs a job”. Or wondering why a person would go through the trouble and effort of getting an MLIS and then “deciding not to advance further”. Sometimes, “decisions” like that are beyond a person’s control.

        I am currently working in a job that doesn’t require an MLIS. Wolves were circling my home, Ponytail. I “chose” this job because I needed to feed myself and my family. I didn’t have the luxury of hanging out and waiting for a career appropriate position to magically open up. I definitely want to advance further with my MLIS, but life/circumstances have made that “choice” a little tricky. Food, shelter, clothing – those get priority over career choices. Good to know that seems odd and disjointed to you.

        1. OhNo

          Agreed. As a fellow MLIS-holder in an assistant position, this was basically my situation, too. Do I want a professional position? Sure, I do. But I don’t have the choice of waiting for one to open up – I have bills to pay right now that aren’t going to go away. Better that I should pay them while getting relevant experience than drop out of my field and hope that I can get back in later.

          Besides, I can safely say that I much prefer library assistant jobs at this point in my life. I have the degree because at some point, I know I’ll want to move up to a professional position. But right now, the flexibility and slightly less-intensive workload works well for me; it’s what I can handle with all the other things I have going on.

          Be real here: even if the wolves aren’t circling, it is 100% okay to decide that you don’t want to move up yet (or ever). No one, especially not a hiring manager, should judge someone for making the call that’s right for their life.

        2. Kerry (Like the County in Ireland)

          Also, I don’t know where you are but in my experience public libraries don’t want to hire people with special library experience at the professional or paraprofessional level, academic libraries only want academic folk, etc. Library schools with their lax admission requirements don’t require a general library experience before admission, and not having that experience makes it harder to find work. Plus, libraries often don’t consider related experience outside the library world.

          So it’s not that they didn’t read the ad, Ponytail. Sometimes it’s that they are trying to pitch themselves because they have to apply to every job in case you are the one that will buy the applicant’s tale of skills and experience.

          1. Ponytail

            But again – if someone ignores the ad’s instructions, and this is my first dealing with them, why would I want to hire someone who can’t follow instructions ? I have no problem with a scattergun approach when you’re desperate for a job – I’ve done loads of jobs that weren’t in libraries – but I don’t apply for jobs where they specifically tell me not to.

        3. Lolly Scramble

          Thanks for your comment Lucy. Dealing with people (normally older and more privileged) who assume you have choices you couldn’t dream of is possibly the most frustrating aspect of job searching.

    2. nofelix

      So the million dollar question is did you have increased turnover with these MLIS employees and was it still worth hiring them?

      My hunch would be that as long as you have some longterm staff for consistency, having a regular stream of graduate hires would introduce new best practices and help find people worth promoting.

      1. Seal

        We did not see increased turnover and yes, it was definitely worth hiring them. Part of it was due to this being a college town with a number of amenities that attract people to the area. Also, the bad economy lingered in this part of the country longer than it did elsewhere, so many of the staff members with MLIS degrees wound up staying for at least a couple of years because they still couldn’t find professional positions. As our budget improved and we could hire more librarians, a fair number of these staff members were able to move into professional positions here. By that point, they had several years of library experience and were known quantities. While they still had to go through the fairly rigorous interview process, they definitely had the advantage of having practical work experience in a library (it still amazes me to find people fresh out of library school who have never worked in a library, even as a graduate assistant – more common than one would think).

        Now that the economy has improved we’re not seeing nearly as many applications for staff positions with an MLIS. Instead, we’re having trouble keeping our entry level staff positions filled because the pay is so low compared to entry level positions elsewhere at our university. Even recent library school graduates would rather make better money than gain library experience.

    3. Going anon for this

      My friend is a senior manager in a library service, and I asked her about this – she says the same thing about people seeing the other jobs, especially admin jobs, as a stepping stone to librarian posts, and this having caused problems in the past. Her service is all for encouraging people to develop and move up within the service, but they’ve had problems in the past with people doing the “foot in the door” thing and then resenting the role they’re actually in, so they make sure the adverts are clear and they recruit carefully.

      That said, the idea of interviewing people they know in advance they won’t hire gave her the horrors – especially as every post they advertise gets huge numbers of applicants.

      1. Seal

        Just had a conversation with a library director friend about this very issue. We agreed that while we want to hire people with ambition and certainly don’t expect anyone to stay in one position forever, it’s not up to us to make sure the job they have now is fulfilling their long-term goals. Job descriptions exist for a reason; we hire someone to do the job as described, not the job that person necessarily wants to have. Doing the job you have well will help you move up; coasting along while looking for “something better” won’t get you very far.

      2. Elizabeth West

        I know that people who just want to be admins and nothing else exist; I’m one of them. I have no desire to go higher. Maybe if they wrote the posting to indicate that Job X has no chance of advancement? I don’t know. It’s better than interviewing people you know you’re not going to hire–that’s a huge waste not only of their time, but yours!

    4. Heather

      I typically don’t interview librarians for paraprofessional positions, unless they have no work experience in libraries. It’s both about the fear of jumping ship and them wanting to turn it into more.

      1. Librarian also

        It’s interesting that we call both anyone who holds the MLIS degree and anyone who works in a role with the actual title “librarian” (who presumably has the MLIS degree) a librarian, because that gets to the crux of the problem: degree-holders think of themselves as librarians regardless of the role they’re working in, which can cause problems with authority in the library and salary expectations when they take a parapro role.

        1. nofelix

          Hmm, interesting. Architects have the same thing kinda: you’re an architect if you have the qualification even if you’re not employed as one.

    5. Lily in NYC

      Yes, this. We no longer hire anyone with an MPA as an admin because we want career admins, not someone who is only taking the position as a foot in the door. Every single time we’ve made exceptions it’s come back to bite us in the butt. The last admin like this started ignoring her duties within the first 3 months and tried to only do project management work and started angling to replace a PM that had resigned. She left very quickly after realizing we were serious when we said it was not a promotion track position.

    6. Manager

      A couple of years ago I posted a clerical position in my academic library. Among those that I interviewed were two people with MLIS degrees. I ended up hiring them for PT librarian positions and not the clerical position. They both told me later how glad they were that I didn’t hire them for the clerical position, because there was much more to it than they had expected.

      However, it *is* odd that OP #4’s company will hire people with other graduate degrees but not MLIS.

    7. Anon for this

      I work in an academic library as a paraprofessional role. The main difference between librarians and paraprofessionals, at least at the institute I work for, is in how they are classified by HR. It’s very much a caste system where the librarians are salaried and exempt with better benefits, but the paraprofessionals are hourly, non-exempt and are viewed as clerical staff, rather than professionals. There’s very little opportunity for professional development for the hourly people. Some do have their MLS/MLIS and are in roles that were done by librarians at one time, especially in technical services. I have coursework for the MLS but not the degree, because I didn’t see finishing it up as a good investment of time and money with the job market. Retirements are happening, but often the positions aren’t being replaced with salaried staff. The positions get reclassified as hourly to save money, but often degree holders get hired because the position requires someone who has the MLS. The administration knows that a MLS degree holder will take the hourly job because they need a job to gain experience and to make a living.

      I don’t see why technical services, which increasingly is done in house isn’t valued as highly as reference services, which are on the decline at my institution. There are reference retreats every semester but few options for development or additional training for tech services staff. The exception is when training is necessary during an software transition, which probably will be happening every five to ten years compared to 15 to 20 years. There’s still one part of my job that is being done by our salaried reference person just so she can keep her full time appointment.

    8. OhNo

      I agree with everything you said. It makes perfect sense to be aware that MLIS degree holders may want to move up at some point, but I’m pretty sure even paraprofessionals in libraries have the risk of leaving the job for a better one.

      Plus, having just completed the interview process for (another) part-time library assistant job, I can say that there is a really easy way to make sure that your candidates are okay with the limitations of the position: ASK THEM.

      Seriously, it was wonderful to actually be able to sit with the interviewer and say, “Yes, I do have a degree, but I understand that this is a part-time, paraprofessional job and I am 100% okay with that. In fact, those are exactly the reasons that I applied for it.” Much preferable to either having to pretend that I didn’t have a degree, or coincidentally ‘failing to mention’ it and be outed as a degree holder during reference checks or after being hired.

  6. Lizabeth

    #3 something else to consider – what you are fundraising for? One of my old jobs pushed for 100% participation for a group that I personally objected to for several reasons. I did not contribute and TPTB ended up putting a nonimal sum in under my name so they could claim 100% participation.

    1. Amber

      The army would do this often. We’d be out in the field and donations would be voluntary but if our company didn’t give with 100% participation, our commander wouldn’t let us go home.

      1. Stephanie

        I’m at a place that’s big on 100% participation. I had already logged off my workstation for the night and my boss had me sign back on so I could fill out the pledge form. I donated a comically small amount and had no shame about it.

        1. Karo

          I hope it was something so small that they lost money by taking the time to collect it (like making them send you multiple pieces of paper thanking you for your $.01 donation). That’s incredibly ridiculous.

        2. Hlyssande

          I always fill out $0 on the UW pledge card. As long as they have a record that I filled out a card, they count it as participation. If you haven’t filled out a card, you get pestered until you do.

          So annoying.

      2. Chris

        Sounds about right. Hey, you don’t have to go home, there is room on base for you to sleep. It’s your CHOICE to go home. If you choose that, then the volunmandatory donation is a part of that deal.

    2. blackcat

      At my old job (teacher), a coworker would help students run an event where the admissions $$ went to charity. One year, I had pretty strong objections to the charity they were planning to give to–my objections fell both in objecting to the mission of the organization and having read news reports that this organization is pretty badly run. I gently brought up point 2 to my coworker and asked if I could donate to another organization instead. It had truly never occurred to her that someone would object to that organization. As soon as she realized that might be the case, she created an option to donate to Highly Neutral Charity instead.

      OP, it could be that people actively do not wish to donate to the organization, and they may not want to reveal that to you because it could indicate certain political beliefs that they want to keep out of the office.

      It’s just one of many reasons that I think corporate fundraises can be problematic….

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

        Amen to this. My job did a fundraiser last year for a charity that has a big name but a very bad rap from the people affected by the issue it purports to take on — including some very good friends of mine! I raised my concerns gently up the chain of command that this was maybe not an organization we wanted to support. The one fundraising event that had already been announced went on as planned, but afterward they switched to a smaller, local charity aimed toward the same cause. Fortunately, the cause itself is pretty apolitical.

        1. NolongerMsCleo

          I wonder if this is the same group I refuse to support. It’s the most well known for the cause, but has a terrible rap. When I see someone raising money for this cause I always ask if it’s going to this particular “charity” and if it is, I’ll say no. Unless they’ve done their research they are usually offended that I wouldn’t help out. However, I would hope if they did their research they wouldn’t be choosing this group to begin with.

        2. Kyrielle

          I know a group that description fits. I’ve actually stopped buying from companies that give to it, if I reach out and point out the issues and they respond by doubling down.

          I’d opt out of a charity event at my job for them fast and (if the organizer ignored my concerns) loudly.

      2. Florida

        I would love to know what Highly Neutral Charity was. I don’t think there are any charities that are neutral. There are causes that highly neutral. Most people probably think that health is a good thing. But do people agree that the way XYZ Health Organization approaches health is the best way, or that ABC Health Organization is making good use of the money, or that LMNOP Health Society is actually helping people become healthy.

        Charities are like religious organizations. Pick any religion in the world – some people will swear it’s the be all end all and other people will think its practitioners are crazy. Charities are the same way. There is no universal charity that appeals to everyone.

        1. esra

          I think the smaller + closer to home you get, the easier it is to be neutral. Ex. Fix Up Local Park Drive.

        2. blackcat

          It was a local org that provides backpacks full of school supplies to kids at high needs schools at the beginning of every school year.

          1. Elizabeth West

            I think we have one of those too. Also there is one started by a local businessman (and endorsed at one point by his A-list family member) that helps kids with urgent food, health, and hygiene issues–if a kid needs something, people at the school can reach out and vice versa without having to go through a huge mess of bureaucracy. Teachers are often the first to notice when kids are in trouble or don’t have socks, lunch, a coat, etc. It’s now state-wide, I think.

        3. Chinook

          In Canada, one highly neutral charity has become the Red Cross, specifically when you donate it towards disaster relief. It is so neutral that, with our recent natural disaster, not only is the government matching funds donated to it, but every business I have seen collecting money has said that is where they sending it and all the local Catholic bishops are saying “give your money to them, not us.”

          The Red Cross is also very open about how they are spending the first wave of donations – for staff in the relief centres and by depositing directly into bank accounts (or other ways if requested) of everybody who has registered as being evacuated so that they can spend it on what they need. The donations are literally going back into the economy to pay for hotels, clothing, food and entertainment. I can’t think of anything more neutral than that.

          1. Florida

            In America, Red Cross is not neutral, which I guess is my point. They have had a lot of problems over the years. There are still plenty of people who think they are a great organization, but plenty of people who think that the worst way to help out in a crisis is to give to Red Cross. I don’t want to discuss the specific pros and cons of RC because that’s not relevant. What’s relevant is that some people love them, some people hate them. Even though the cause (disaster relief) might be neutral, everyone has a different idea of how to help in a disaster (some people don’t think giving victims cash is a good idea) and what organization is the best one to do it.
            Again, I’m not advocating for or against Red Cross. I’m just saying that it’s really not a charity that everyone loves. I don’t think such a charity exists.

            1. Buffay the Vampire Layer

              Very short comment to say that Florida is not mistaken. I am vehemently anti-Red Cross (in America, I reserve judgment as to their international branches), and if someone tried to get me to donate even a dollar to them they’d get a long list of my reasons to refuse.

      3. Laura

        Very well said. I do my research before donating any money. Most people don’t. Fundraising has no place in a professional work environment when it’s unrelated to the job.

    3. B

      I was coming here to say the exact same thing. Just because it is a charity your company believes in does not mean everyone needs to believe in that same charity. As well, $5 each week can be a lot of money for someone – you do not know everyone’s circumstances no matter how close you think you are. If you want to let people wear jeans, they should be able to wear jeans. Tying that to a charity fundraiser, in my view, is unacceptable.

    4. Bird

      The thing is, it doesn’t really matter what the charity is. People shouldn’t be pressured into spending their money in a fashion that their employer feels is appropriate. My employer has a charity drive every fall that provides an extremely long list of charities to which you can donate. The approved charities are all as neutral as they come – no religious or overtly political based. The company matches your donations at 50%. It is a great program. But it still aggravates me that there is so much pressure to get 100% participation. How I spend my money is none of their business. Maybe I don’t have any money left over to give. Maybe I want to spend my charitable donation budget on something that wouldn’t be approved by the company. Maybe I just don’t like giving to charity at all. As long as I am doing my job properly, my employer’s relevance to my paycheck should end as soon as they take the taxes out and issue the check.

  7. OneSpecialLibrarian

    #4: My big question, OP: What sort of library do you work in?

    Back when I was working for a State Library, we had the worlds most stupid hiring rules. We literally HAD to interview anyone who fit into a scale that State used to determine qualifications, even if we KNEW the person was a horrible fit. So, is that what is going on here? Or is someone in your Administration specifically blacking people with MLIS degrees for staff jobs?

    Now, I work in the Special Collections department of a medium-sized Academic Library. In our department, specifically, we do try to avoid hiring MLIS grads for our staff jobs. It’s not that we don’t like MLIS grads or respect them, but we have found over time that MLIS grads are often only interested in the job for as long as it could lead to an actual higher level position, or can get weirdly resentful about doing work they consider “beneath” them, especially if their manager doesn’t have an MLIS. As far as I know though, no other Departments share our concerns. (The concerns come from a few specific incidents that happened before I was hired and I get the sense people got a bit gun-shy about it.)

    I do find the policy of interviewing people and then blocking the hire to be really out of line. Just don’t interview them! We don’t interview people if we think they are over qualified, so why would you? That’s the piece of this puzzle that I find really unprofessional and almost cruel, especially considering the last entry level librarian job we had, we got over 100 applicants. It’s a really competitive market out there for librarians these days and I don’t envy new grads.

    1. ginger ale for all

      At the library I work at, your cover letter and resume are considered to be your first interview so we can get around the you must interview x number of people requirement.

    2. LW/OP

      It’s a large public library system, and yes, the administrators are specifically blocking people with MLIS degrees.

  8. Chocolate Teapot

    3. I’m reminded of the post from an employee who was (extremely) short of money and her company was stinging her for wearing jeans on charity fridays. (I think it is the question which is titled “Living on Cupcakes”). Could the “repeat offenders” be sneaking through because they do not have the money to fork out each time, and perhaps, as in the case of the Cupcake post, no other suitable clothing?

    1. roisindubh211

      Exactly! I thought of this poster as soon as I read it. I say let them slide, or separate the “jeans day” from the charity – it hearkens straight back to elementary school and being the kid who forgot about tag day and therefore the only one in uniform (or, in my school, the poor girls with the horrible mother who made them pay their dollar out of their pocket money but would not allow them to wear non-uniform clothes to school.)

    2. One of the Sarahs

      I thought of this too – if it’s a fiver every Friday, that adds up, and not wearing jeans on the semi-mandatory jeans-for-charity day, in my experience, results in having to answer 100 questions every week about why one isn’t a charitable-minded person…

      (I was temping last winter in an office where they did the “Xmas jumper* for charity” thing and spent the whole day having to say “I don’t have a Xmas jumper, and it feels stupid to spend money on one just for one day” and then having follow-up conversations about it. I used to work in the Voluntary and Public sectors, and I’m really confident in these situations, but it was still annoying – if I’d been anxious about my reasons, it would have really upset me)

      *Erm, a jumper is a dress in USA, right? In the UK it’s a woolly sweater

      1. roisindubh211

        Yes. it’s like the kind of dress in a school uniform that you wear over a blouse or shirt of some kind.

        1. AnonInSC

          But now I want a xmas jean jumper (the USA kind) with lots of bling attached. It would be glorious.

      2. TheLazyB

        I don’t have one either. I pinned baubles all over a plain black jumper. I was the organiser and I certainly didn’t want people to spend money if they wanted to participate!

        1. Elizabeth West

          We had that and people were like, “Go get one cheap at a thrift shop!” That is not how I want to spend my time off, thanks. When I’m not at work, I don’t even THINK about it.

          1. One of the Sarahs

            Yes, I had people tell me I should have bought one at a charity shop – and no way was I going to spend my day off hunting through charity shops on the off-chance there was a Xmas jumper in my size, and buy it, so I could pay to wear it.

            This is what I mean about people shaming those who don’t join in – it’s not that people were necessarily asking all these things intending to shame me, but there was so much judgement going on, about what I should have done to take part in this “optional” event. I get that some people just get super-excited about anything Xmassy, but it was tiring, having to bat these questions off all day, and had my reason been “I can’t afford the fiver”, I would have felt terrible. And when it’s the well-paid staff hassling the temp about why I didn’t rush around, there are extra nuances there.

        2. Merry and Bright

          I borrowed an Xmas jumper from my sister as she was working from home on National Xmas Jumper day. This year I will see what happens.

      3. PlainJane

        I was going to say something like this. If you don’t pay and you don’t wear jeans, you’re essentially advertising that you didn’t contribute to the cause. I’m not a fan of any policy that segregates people unnecessarily, shames them, or is likely to make them feel self-conscious–especially not in the workplace.

    3. AndersonDarling

      I used to do that. I couldn’t afford $20-$25 a month for jeans days, but not wearing jeans was a flag that you were poor. I would buy a pass for the first Friday of the month and skate through the rest of the month wearing jeans on Fridays. I was a front line employee making 1/2 of my associates salaries, so they couldn’t understand why anyone wouldn’t pay $5 for jeans every week.
      If someone confronted me about it, eek, I don’t know how I would have reacted. I wasn’t cheating because I was a jerk, I was cheating because I was trying to save face in front of my co-workers.

      1. Elizabeth S.

        Good point, it really creates a can’t-win situation for employees who don’t participate for *any* reason. It’s a flag that you’re too poor to afford $5/week, or it’s a visible statement of non-support of the chosen charity. Yuck!

    4. Whoaaohohoh....JeanEater

      Also how do you know they are sneaking? I use to be a “jeans day cheater” because I had no idea that it was tied to a charity. I found out after working at the company for 6 months when someone said they needed change for their jeans money. That’s when I found out that there was a collection and I had been pegged as “a cheater” by management because I had never gone over to pay in for the charity. It was just one of many misunderstandings that put me in a bad spot at that company.

  9. Some Sort of Mangement consultant

    Wasn’t there a post a few years ago about someone who literally could not afford those $5 for a jeans fundraiser?
    Seriously, OP3, DONT go hunting people down and demanding money. You have no idea what their personal circumstances are. Maybe they can’t afford it. Maybe they don’t support the cause. Just leave them alone.

      1. Purple Dragon

        I cry everytime I read that question and the update ! Especially the update.

        I wonder how that OP is going now – it’s been a few years so I hope they’re doing well.

    1. Ife

      The problem is the people in this letter are taking advantage of the jeans day perk without making the donation, not that they’re wearing jeans all the time. It’s 100% legitimate to tell them to either donate $5 or follow the regular dress code.
      And I agree the jeans day fundraisers are kind of… silly… but it’s still unfair to let some people wear jeans without making a donation while their coworkers are following the rules by either donating or not wearing jeans.

      1. roisindubh211

        It’s also not fair to basically publically shame people for not donating by making it a dress code change issue.

        1. Some Sort of Management Consultant

          But it’s just such a silly thing to have a fundraiser around. I can totally see some of these people wearing jeans in protest.

        2. One of the Sarahs

          Absolutely – making employers visibly stand out because they can’t afford to give to charity/prefer to give to different charities etc is a horrible practice.

        3. Raine

          But at a call center I worked for, for example, there was a dress code — and wearing jeans was absolutely not part of it and infractions would get you fired. It’s NOT that jeans either are or are not okay in the workplace. I feel like the sentiment in the thread that $5 charity jeans day is infantilizing truly isn’t helpful to the OP here.

          1. Mike C.

            It is helpful, because it gives a good justification for not enforcing such a silly rule.

        4. LSCO

          Is it really public shaming? At all the dress-down charity days I’ve been involved in there’s been a fair mix of people who do & don’t dress down – no one’s shamed for their choice and I have no idea if the woman sitting opposite me has decided to not dress down because she can’t afford the donation, because she is morally opposed to the charity, because she has no dress-down clothes, because she feels more comfortable in professional clothes or because she simply plain forgot.

          The people in the OPs post do have professional clothes to wear so it’s not a case that they don’t have anything else (at least I assume so; they likely wear professional clothes every other day of the week), and they are not being forced to wear jeans. If they want to wear jeans, they have to donate. If they don’t want to donate, they don’t get to wear jeans.

          FWIW I’m not a fan of charity dress down days – if jeans are acceptable for charity, they’re acceptable everyday in my mind – but if the company have decided they want to offer a charity jeans day a week, then they get to decide the rules.

          1. Rafe

            Thank you. I do not have any desire to defend charity jeans days or organizations that participate in basically forced volunteer work like this. But the thread is really derailing on the subject matter — this is indeed the practice at several types of the most gigantic corporate named cable companies in the United States for example. Telling the OP that this is bad policy won’t change Comcast’s national approach. It’s not helpful. If your company’s policy is to have vacation time approved in advance by a manager, and someone writes in asking for advice, it’s not helpful to be told the policy is infantilizing.

            1. Katie the Fed

              But we’ve had exactly that kind of letter here about the leave (it was about getting proof for a death in the family.) And it IS useful to question the policy, or at least encourage someone to push back in the way they can. OP can either decide not to follow up with the people not paying, or tell her management that it’s infantilizing. But it IS a stupid practice and it’s worth pointing that out.

            2. PlainJane

              Pointing out the problems with the policy may also help the OP be less resentful of the “cheaters” and more comfortable looking the other way rather than feeling obligated to enforce a questionable policy.

          2. Mike C.

            Just because it hasn’t happened to you personally doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen or that there isn’t a risk.

          3. LQ

            Constant questions about why aren’t you wearing jeans, why don’t you want to give money to X charity, etc? Yeah. That’s shaming and why on earth should I have to deal with that at work. Go do your damn job and stop bothering me. Except the people who are most likely to need to say that are the people who are in the least position to be able to say that.

          4. LBK

            I agree, I think the idea that a dress code change is somehow “shaming” people is kind of bizarre. I’m sure it does happen in some places because there’s rude people everywhere, but I can’t say I’ve ever seen it or even considered it as a possibility. Who even pays that much attention to what their coworkers are wearing?

            1. LQ

              The OP. The entire reason we are having this conversation here is because someone wrote in because they are paying that much attention to what their coworkers are wearing. How are you saying you can’t see it as a possibility when it is the entire reason we are talking about it right now?

              1. Laurel Gray

                Great point. And people do pay attention. The OP may not have the offenders’ bank statements in her hands but she can identify these offenders by name and position. She can make the judgement that Bob in IT is a senior manager and shouldn’t be stiffing the donations and be more sympathetic to Billy the part time intern who isn’t paid more than minimum wage. One absolutely can pay that much attention.

              2. LBK

                She’s paying attention to it because of the rule violation aspect of it, not because she’s trying to shame them for not donating to charity, as others are implying.

            2. Jozie

              Honestly…I absolutely notice what coworkers are wearing, especially outfits I really like that other female coworkers are wearing. I enjoy fashion and it gives me ideas for outfits myself. On a jeans day (my organization has had those only maybe three times in the nearly four years I’ve been here), I do notice who is wearing jeans and who isn’t because it’s so unusual for me to see my coworkers in casual clothes. FWIW, these were days for the whole office to wear jeans, and not based on donation drive participation.

            3. Green

              But that’s exactly the point; there shouldn’t be any visible markers of whether or not somebody donated to a charity. You go to work to work. I don’t want people judging me for not support the Red Cross by proxy of my pants; I want people judging me by my work at work. This is precisely the kind of rule infraction that OP should just move on from. What kind of work culture do you want to have?

              1. Green

                (This is a side note and neither here nor there, but having extra unwarranted rules and someone appointed for enforcing them actually drives up tension and conflict (and lawsuits). I don’t have any right to control what color my neighbor paints their mailbox or whether it’s shaped like a birdhouse or whether my earthy crunch neighbors use a clothes line on nice days to dry their drawers in their backyard, so I don’t worry about it. But throw in a neighborhood association and then you get people somehow very invested about the exact height of fences or the colors of the mailbox. Yes, it’s a “rule violation”, but how much time and emotional energy do you really want to spend getting each other worked up about things that don’t actually matter? This is work; just focus on work.)

                1. PlainJane

                  “This is work; just focus on work” – exactly. Why introduce sources of conflict that have nothing to do with getting the job done?

              2. LBK

                Maybe these things play differently if you’re at a place that generally has a more lax dress code anyway, but in my experience at a company that used to require suits and ties, most people made the donation solely because they cared about wearing jeans, not because they really cared about the charity (I actually don’t even know what charity it was for in my office). So the general sentiment if you saw someone not wearing jeans is that they just didn’t care about wearing jeans, not that they didn’t want to donate to charity.

          5. Jozie

            Unfortunately, we don’t know what happens in OP’s workplace, but there is certainly the potential to be “shamed” (or possibly just noticed) when going against the norm here – at the very least, it may be an ultimately unfounded worry in the back of people’s minds.

            At the same time, I don’t think the point is that OP’s coworkers/employees can’t potentially afford the clothes – both professional wardrobe and jeans – but that they potentially can’t afford to donate $5 however often to wear the jeans.

            I do think organizations should separate donation collections from dress-down days or anything resulting in a visible demarcation between those who did donate and those who didn’t. It’s true that they set the rules, but sometimes all it takes is a few people speaking up with a viewpoint that hasn’t previously been considered or represented among the decision makers.

      2. Mela

        Right, but are there actually coworkers not wearing jeans? It’s very possible that the rule breakers are the only ones not donating, and everyone else is. That’s a pretty big flag to wave around. If there are folks who don’t pay and don’t wear jeans, are we sure they aren’t looked down on? It’s not a simple “follow the rules” issue when you’re wearing the evidence of how charitable you are.

        1. Raine

          Actually, everything you say is correct (I used to work at a huge call center that had a dress code and a $5 jeans day, though it wasn’t weekly, it was only a couple times a year).

          I just remembered: There is a simple solution for the OP. My company made these color-coded little name tags or paper badges or whatever you want to call them and gave them to each person who donated $5 specifically to have on their desk to indicate they’d donated and were authorized to wear jeans if they chose that day. You’d already receive points toward being fired if you violated the dress code anyway, so it was already a risk — I don’t recall anyone thinking wearing jeans for 1 day was worth making a fake authorization.

          1. Meg Murry

            Yes, other places I’ve worked ran jeans day this way – when you paid your money you got a sticker that said something like “I support [charity]!” or “I donated today!” (when it was a United Way drive, United Way had stickers for that) – similar to the “I voted!” stickers. So if you were wearing jeans, you were also supposed to wear your sticker.

            Two things that helped out with the drives that might work better than trying to get people to pay as they walk in the door:
            -Stickers were also sold for a couple of days in advance in the cafeteria
            -The company has a very feature-rich benefits and paystubs portal, and you could go there and sign up to have your contribution deducted from your paycheck (and then you could go on the portal and get a receipt for your donations for the whole year) and then the stickers would be handed out the day before to anyone that had signed up.

            Also, I wonder how many people aren’t avoiding you because they don’t want to pay, but rather that they don’t have cash on them (I almost never do, or I’ve had times when I’ve intended to stop at an ATM on my way to work but forgot or am running late and can’t), they don’t have time to wait in line if they are running late (especially if everyone is handing over $10s and $20s and the money takers have to constantly make change), they get in earlier than the money collectors, or logistically it makes sense for them to go in a side door closer to their desk and they don’t walk past the money takers.

            1. esra

              Yea, that is crazy. Like, I think we had more freedom in our Grade 8 Crazy Shirts for Charity Day.

            2. Oryx

              I had this at the college where I worked. Instructors were told to identify students who were wearing jeans and didn’t have the sticker and were supposed to tell them to go home and change.

            3. Green

              If I worked at a place that made me wear stickers to wear jeans, I would work at another place. I’ve served my time in Crazytown.

        2. Ife

          This is a good point, in my org the mix is usually about 50/50 jeans/no jeans, but if in the OP’s organization *everybody* is donating and wearing jeans then the non-donators would really stick out. I still don’t think it’s fair to let it slide, and if other people found out they might be inclined to wear jeans without donating too–but it isn’t the greatest system if only Joe is wearing business casual. If that’s the case, maybe they need to decide whether a jeans day is really the best approach. Can they award a company-wide jeans day if they get X% participation? Or something else that’s either more inclusive or less obvious that you didn’t participate?

          1. AndersonDarling

            Where I worked, everyone wore jeans except for some of the administrative assistants and secretaries who couldn’t afford it. The jeans day definitely created a class divide. (That’s why I cheated and wore jeans without paying.)

      3. LQ

        It’s unfair that someone gets paid so little that they can’t afford $5 and then get shamed by their coworkers for not being generous enough when they are struggling to pay their bills.

    2. Karo

      At the same time, especially if this person is HR or their management, the OP may be in a place to help someone who doesn’t have the money. So OP shouldn’t go in demanding the money, but could go in saying “hey, what’s up with this” and then see what happens. If the employees are in such dire straits, the OP can help them, give them resources available through the company, etc.

      1. Green

        People really, really do not want anyone asking if they need financial assistance because they didn’t pay $5. I know that suggestion comes from a good place, but it would not come across well.

    3. Guest

      I’m not saying that “jean days” or casual Fridays are a good idea or whatever, but if you’re office has a dress code that is enforced and you want to wear jeans on this jeans day, then either participate (i.e, donate) or dress in your normal work attire.

      Personally speaking, I don’t participate in these kind of events, since I’ve already been wearing work clothes for the rest of the week, so I might as well just keep dressing normally. I’m not particularly desperate to wear jeans to work (it definitely would be nice, but I’ll survive without them), so I don’t really get the appeal.

      Tbh, I don’t really understand this “public shaming” situation either. I don’t mean to be unsympathetic, but if you’re working with people so douchey they’re going to judge you for not wearing jeans on “jeans day” then they’re probably already judging you for a thousand other things as well.

      If you can’t afford it/don’t want to participate/don’t support the charity/etc. then just wear your regular clothes; there’s no way you’ll be the only one. But, if you’re gonna wear jeans, then you have to follow the rules – regardless of how stupid they are.

  10. Dan

    #3

    For the last 7 years (2 different employers), I’ve worn jeans five days a week and never paid a dime.

    Count me in as one who would “sneak” by you no matter what was said, because I think jeans days (or casual Fridays) are dumb.

    My charitable contributions (or lack thereof) are just like religion – nobody’s business but mine.

  11. SDS

    4 – I’ve definitely been rejected from library jobs that haven’t required a qualification (which I have, plus some experience). After a few months of unemployment I reached out to one of the places that hadn’t even interviewed me, and they basically said they thought I was unlikely to be happy in the role for long, so they went with other candidates with no degree or experience necessarily, but who might be willing to go longer in this role without … getting ambitious about wanting to take on projects, improve procedures, etc.

    Basically, they wanted someone who’d do as they were told, get a lot out of the experience, and stay for probably at least a year. Which I couldn’t have promised, given I do have better prospects in theory. (Of course, from the point of view of ‘NO JOB’ I was quite willing to do the entry level stuff for a while – but I’ve landed a 3 month contract doing complex work now which will definitely diversify my CV and hopefully make it easier to get subsequent, more appropriate jobs.)

    My previous employer hired library grads for entry level roles when they were the best candidate, but – due to almost no one ever leaving the reference and subject librarian roles (which require a degree), they’d generally last a year or two at most before landing something more challenging elsewhere. (I can’t argue, I did the same after 18 months).

    However, I _really_ object to this place interviewing candidates they have no intention of hiring! Don’t waste their time, or your panel’s time and also, you can’t say you’ve interviewed a good range of candidates if you interview 10 people and can only seriously consider 4!

  12. Stephanie

    #3: Yeah, jeans charity days always feel a bit infantilizing (and as someone who tends not to wear jeans–I prefer dresses/skirts, it wasn’t that much of a perk). Casual Friday always felt funny too because if the company didn’t implode from one day of casual dress, then why dress up the rest of the time?

    My company relaxed its dress code the last two weeks of our busy season. On the announcement page on the intranet, several comments were to the effect of “I hope this is the first step toward relaxing the dress code. Plenty of offices function with causal dress.”

    I’m not really a fan of forced charitable giving either, especially with a reward as conspicuous (and silly) as jeans day.

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

      My office actually did do that! We started with “casual Fridays,” then had a couple seasons where they would decree “Okay, casual dress until the first day of fall/winter/spring/summer,” and now we’ve gone to “jeans everyday, but please save your t-shirts/team jerseys till Friday.”

      1. Laurel Gray

        I would love the idea of finally working in an office environment where I could have casual Fridays again (6+ years without it) but I will admit that what some people consider “casual” is pretty darn sloppy. Heck, what some people consider “business casual” is sloppy! I’ve seen it all in the workplace but I guess it is easier to say “no jeans” or “jeans only on Friday” instead of individually addressing the clothing choices of a few Sloppy Sals/Sallys

      2. Mallory Janis Ian

        We have unofficial casual Fridays at my university; it isn’t in any handbook or written anywhere, but it is an employee practice. Now that it’s summer, many staff members (myself included) have casual “Friday” on one or two other days a week, as well. Most of the faculty aren’t around, and hardly any students are here, so as long as we’re not expecting any outside visitors, we dress more casually. That and parking in resident-reserved parking now that the students have vacated are making me very happy this week.

    2. On the Phone

      Casual Friday can make sense for some offices, though. My office is often filled with government officials here for meetings, and a certain level of dress is expected of everyone, even if you’re not attending personally (and this makes sense for our office). On Fridays, however, there are pretty much never any meetings so why not wear jeans?

    3. On the Phone

      I’m surprised to see casual Fridays bring maligned so much, and especially to see a lot of people saying that if jeans are okay on Fridays than they must be okay the rest of the time. There are plenty of businesses that try to keep a certain standard of dress for employees because they are interacting with outsiders, but allow that to be relaxed on slow days when not many outside people will be around, because many people like to wear jeans even if it’s only one day a week. I don’t know about donating money, but it can make sense that jeans are only okay on certain days like Fridays. My office, for instance, has tons of meetings with outside officials through the week, but almost never on Fridays so the dress code can be relaxed that day. We would like to wear jeans all week, but Fridays are genuinely the only day we can.

      I’m also aware as some people said above that there are those who don’t get to participate because they prefer skirts, but I feel like that’s getting into not everyone can eat sandwiches territory.

      1. On the Phone

        Gosh darn it this was supposed to be it’s own comment, sorry for the double post on your comment!

      2. Mike C.

        It’s because those standards are often based on shaky ground to begin with and don’t often serve a useful business purpose.

        1. Not Karen

          Exactly. WHY is it deemed more professional to wear fabric cut into one shape versus another? What I wear has nothing to do with how well I do my job.

          1. Florida

            It has nothing to do with how well you do your job but it has to do with how people PERCEIVE that you do your job. Is that fair? Absolutely not. But we judge people by what they are wearing, how they look, etc. Even people who are attuned to this judgment and try not to do it, still do it.
            In the ideal world, an attorney could show up to court in shorts and flips flops and that would not sway the jury’s opinion. But in the world we live in, dress matters and it matters a lot.
            Your dress also affects how you perceive yourself. If you are wearing something that you feel uncomfortable in, everyone knows that. If you are wearing something that makes you feel powerful, it’s reflected in your attitude. If you are wearing your I-dont-give-a-crap-what-anyone-thinks-of-me-right-now clothes, people know that.
            All of this is not to say that jeans are inappropriate at work. I’m not saying that at all. (I wear jeans 90% of the time.) It depends on your job, your office, and the image you want to convey.

        2. Not the Droid You are Looking For

          Eh…I’m one of those people who complain about the dressing down of America and would make every man wear a suit, tie, and hat to work if I could get away with it.

          But it’s always been interesting to me that people trust my decisions and ideas more if I am in a dress and heels, rather than jeans and Toms.

  13. Connie-Lynne

    #2, please please don’t! This is weird, and the last thing people want in an admin is someone unaware of professional norms.

    Years ago when I was hiring for an admin, a candidate showed up with a good 20 pages of portfolio she wanted me to photocopy. When I offered to either look at it right then or have her copy it herself, she insisted I do it.

    Needless to say her subsequent interview was perfunctory and basically just a means to politely say “yes, I glanced over this while I was copying it and you won’t be a good fit. Please feel free to take these copies with you to your next interview to save them time.”

    1. Spooky

      Agreed – it really isn’t needed in OP’s field, and it would come across as weird. I do think there are more fields that require portfolios than Alison mentioned (writing, PR, etc.) but they’re all within the general media umbrella.

      As a side note, I’ve found it’s often helpful to have a few printed samples of work on hand (I’m a copywriter) – I’ve been asked to do that several times in interviews. The key is to just have two or three quick samples printed out that you can leave with the interviewer along with a copy of your resume, not a digital file on a flash drive that might get lost (and not 20 pages that the interview has to copy – yikes!) I’ve also seen it work in PR, but that tends to be more results-oriented–as in, here’s a list of some of my most popular campaigns and the number of digital impressions they earned, etc. But things like letters of introduction or recommendation seem really out of place.

      1. Not the Droid You are Looking For

        I hire writers and designers, and I will note in the interview request that they bring or send their portfolio, as we will discuss their work in the interview.

        I rarely request people leave things with me, but I agree having a sample article on hand that you can leave with an interviewer is great. It’s like the extra copies of your resume, no one ever really needs it but it’s great to have on hand if someone does.

        1. Spooky

          Exactly. You don’t want anything that’s going to take up more of the interviewer’s time, like trying to find a computer to launch a powerpoint. It’s there if they need it, and it allows you to highlight the two or three pieces that most closely fit the job out of your whole body of work.

      2. Electron whisperer

        Surprisingly, turning up with some stuff is actually often applicable to engineering….

        I am quite certain I was hired for at least two jobs because I turned up and placed a fairly complex electronic assembly on the desk as an example of my work (And was prepared to talk in detail about it), and of course the software guys do the github ‘portfolio’ thing.

        This is VERY much field dependent, and that can be surprisingly nuanced sometimes.

    2. Kelly O

      I will add that, since I’m in administrative support, I see a LOT of resources advocating for creating a professional portfolio for administrative support roles.

      I see both sides of the issue, however for me, most of what I do is confidential and doesn’t translate well to a portfolio style of presentation, so I’ve never put one together for myself, although I do see value in being able to present yourself well (which I think is the bigger point that gets lost in the actual portfolio creation process.)

      Administrative professionals have a really tough time, because they’re often low on the totem pole, and being ambitious and in an administrative role is seen by many as a paradox. I can see the temptation to try and present yourself in what might feel like a “most professional” light, but missing the mark. That happens way too often, particularly in those who may not have as much hands-on experience, or who take advice literally.

      1. Elizabeth West

        Yes, and the metrics for this position are different than they would be for say, sales or marketing, where you have concrete data or actual samples vs. something like “reorganized an entire basement full of files in conformity with environmental retention regulations.” Well okay that might be a bad example; it was 32 cabinets’ worth, LOL. But it’s usually stuff that’s harder to measure in numbers.

  14. Meg Murry

    For OP #5, if you are concerned about the fact that the job spans a time when you’ve also had other jobs, so it may make the chronology confusing, I think adding (part-time) either after the job description or dates would clarify that point. Or if you weren’t working that position when you had a full-time job (unclear to me whether by “dropping off” OP means “not working that position at all when she had a full time job” or “dropped down to a couple of hours a week/month”), you could list it as 2011-2012, 2014-present.

    Since it’s a ” to present” position OP, you should also be prepared for an interviewer to ask if you plan to continue working this part time job if you are offered a full-time position, and to discuss whether that would cause any conflicts.

    1. AF

      OP #5, for a previous job, I say “(part-time, project-based)” on my resume behind the dates of employment, to briefly attempt to explain that I worked as projects were available. It would have taken 2 lines just to list the dates if I had listed them for every single project I worked on while employed there to include the gaps. For my current full-time job, I clarified it with the hiring manager when she had a question about it. She hired me, but from the tone of her reaction when I clarified, it was a very relevant detail to her, likely because it wasn’t consistent work. I’m really glad you wrote in, because I’ve often been confused about this. And I agree with Meg Murry – it does make the chronology confusing if you have more than one part-time job.

      1. OP #5

        Yes, the chronology was exactly my concern. Alison’s answer makes me think I’ve been overthinking this a bit (which is comforting!), but just so there’s no confusion I think I’ll also do something like adding (part-time) – actually, I think your “project-based” wording is perfect, AF! I can definitely see why a hiring manager would be concerned about the inconsistent work, but I’m hoping they’ll also think it reflects well that I’ve been brought on for projects consistently for such a long time, and I’ll definitely be prepared to answer questions about it. Thanks for both your input!

  15. June

    I can’t read the site on my iPad because the page keeps reloading saying there was an error and needs to reload. The ad I saw before thus happened looked like a nascar add or something, a square ad somewhere in the middle of one of the letters from readers. Safari app on iPad. I’ll jump on my computer in a bit but was hoping to read from bed this morning!!

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      If you email me with details, I can try to troubleshoot. (That’s going to be my new request for any tech or ad issues from here on — to email me rather than putting it in the comments. Hopefully there will be a form to report problems coming soon. Thanks!)

    2. Willow Bark

      Yeah, the site keeps crashing my browser app on the iPad today. Can’t keep it open long enough to work out why.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Please email me with details (and anyone else who’s encountering this) so I can troubleshoot it — want to start leaving this out of the comments. Thank you.

  16. H.C.

    OP2 agreed w AAM that 2 portfolios is definitely overkill; in addition to all the reasons Alison cited (incl. the iffyness of even one portfolio for an admin professional role), it suggests you didn’t put adequate thought assembling the 1st portfolio & thus the need to pad it with more stuff.

    That being said, I’ll also add a PS to Alison’s answer in that marketing/communications-related roles is another line of work that will expect a portfolio of works, but the timing of submission depends on the potential employer.

    1. One of the Sarahs

      But when portfolios are expected, it’s made clear in the job posting/interview invite, right?

      1. Karo

        Not necessarily. In the communications roles I’ve interviewed for, I’ve only had them explicitly ask for me to bring my portfolio in once – the rest of the time it was just assumed that I would show up with it. And I always do, and they always ask to see it.

        This is another time where I think knowing the norms of your industry/profession are super important.

    2. Spooky

      Agreed. Add PR and copywriting to the list – I’ve got my full portfolio online, but I would never go to an interview without at least a few samples printed out.

    3. Kate M

      OP2, I’d be really wary of trying too hard to “stand out” and “not be like everyone else.” Those are the types of gimmicks that can really end up backfiring and making you look naive and unprofessional. Do what Alison said – be professional, give examples (non-portfolio) of why you can do the job well, and keep things relevant. I don’t think an admin ever really needs a portfolio, and it makes you look out of touch with the norms in your field to have one like that.

      If they want references, they’ll ask for them. If they need writing samples, they’ll ask for them. This just reminds me of the advice to bombard the employer with calls and try to talk to someone about your application before they contact you for an interview so that your name will “stand out” and they’ll remember you. Just because you include extra things they might not need doesn’t mean you’ll be standing out in a good way.

  17. Librarian of the North

    #4- I agree that this probably has to do with your system thinking librarians truly want to be librarians forever. Which is so unfortunate because I know a lot of people who don’t work in the field of their degree and who are wildly successful. I would also guess that they interview people with library degrees for non-librarian positions due to strict hiring rules. I work in a fairly small community library and we still have an incredibly strict hiring policy with quotas.

  18. Seianus

    I am not from US and jeans day sounds like something straight from The Onion to me. It just can’t be real… can it? If the job dictates you cannot wear jeans, there must be good reasons for it, and no $5 would make those reasons disappear. If on the other hand there are no reasons for strict dress code, everyone comes to job dressed however they like, where I am from.

    Also grown ups usually do know about charities themselves and they already donate if they want to. If they don’t do it already, allowing to wear jeans… what kind of motivation is that? I won’t donate to cancer research to save lives, but I might reconsider if you allow me to wear jeans..? What kind of convoluted priorities is that?

    1. Some Sort of Management Consultant

      Agreed!
      So much!

      I understand it’s just a gimmicky “fun thing” but at least do a charity run or something that’s actually fun instead. :p Or sell cupcakes? Almost anything is better than the jeans fundraiser.

      1. Mona Lisa

        Not to some people. There was a co-worker turned manager at my last job whose sole mission seemed to be to get a jeans day instated at the terrible non-profit. She adamantly loved wearing jeans, made sure everyone knew it, and brought it up at almost every strategy “how can we make this place better for our employees” meetings. She said she would happily donate $5 a week to wear jeans.

        We were paid peanuts there, and I couldn’t imagine giving any money back to an organization that wasn’t willing to compensate its employees fairly. I would totally have been the spoilsport in dress clothes having to explain why I wasn’t willing to pitch in or get in on the “fun.”

      2. Green

        Office charitable events work best when they are 100% optional. I like our employee volunteering day because the employee picks the day and the cause. I like our charitable matching program because they match my gift to the 501c3s for things I care about. I like our corporate donations program because they pick an organization and just pay for it and then we can all feel good about it without giving any money. And I’m OK with little things like a “drop off bin” for books or school supplies because nobody knows or cares whether I dropped anything off into the bin. If you have to start keeping tabs or tracking me down or there are visual (or e-mail) identifiers regarding who participated, you are probably doing it wrong.

    2. Random Lurker

      I’m somewhat surprised by the backlash against this in the comments, especially this post which is judging people’s priorities. I worked at a place that did this almost 20 years ago – $5 bought you 5 stickers, each was good to wear jeans on a Friday. I never participated because 1. I was not a fan of the charities involved, and 2. I was pretty strapped for cash in those days and it cost less than $1 to dry clean my slacks, so I decided it was cheaper to be less comfortable. But that being said, I’m surprised by the number of people who think this is a weird or ridiculous thing. If it motivates people to give to charity, why criticize their motives?

      As far as OP, I’m a believer in living with your decisions. If someone is knowingly skirting the donation process, that’s on them and something that I’d let go. Regardless if the policy is dumb or not, taking advantage of the benefits without contributing is pretty gross.

      1. Katie the Fed

        “If it motivates people to give to charity, why criticize their motives?”

        I would just prefer this stuff stay out of the workplace, period. I thought the Combined Federal Campaign was a great idea when I was new to the job, and now I loathe it. People (usually women, of course) get voluntold to serve as reps, and it’s this nonstop barrage of emails and events for 3-4 months. It’s just NONSTOP. There are ridiculous events that people get to do on their work time, bake sales, jeans days, just a bazillion different events.

        1. Christy

          I 1000% agree with you about CFC. I give through it, because that way I don’t have to put any thought into my charitable giving, but the marketing around it is so intense.

          Do you actually know how CFC funds itself? I think it’s its own nonprofit, but if I give $x to Organization A, does CFC take a certain percentage of that to run CFC? Or does CFC running itself get its own funding stream?

          1. Not the Droid You are Looking For

            I know (from being on the NP side) the charities do not see the full amount of the donation.

        2. Green

          I worked at a law firm where every year, two women were appointed to be the “United Way” coordinators. Because women are good at organizing events and such and apparently the work the men were doing was too important for them to focus on the charity side-bar stuff…

          1. One of the Sarahs

            I am always interested, in offices with bake sales, in who’s approached to bake treats for them – ie pay for the raw materials AND work out of hours – in my experience it’s most often the female admin staff, and women on the lowest rung.

            1. Green

              Yes, and I am actually very cognizant not to participate in events that involve only women organizing things that only women participate in doing the work for. The people getting promotions aren’t the people making cookies for the potluck.

            2. Queen Anon

              Yes, and it gets expensive. We finally did away with birthday treats in our office because the support staff – all women – was expected to supply them, but not the attorneys – 90% men. The attorneys certainly benefited because treats were provided for every birthday. It would cost me more than I made per hour to bring in treats when it was my turn, and I was living paycheck to paycheck at the time. Treats were generally expected to be homemade. But the six figure guys couldn’t even be bothered to go to the store and buy a cheap bag of cookies once a month. Glad we got rid of that!

        3. Sarianna

          Thank you for using the word ‘voluntold'(/’voluntell’)! It is excellent and one of my favorites as it really hits the nail on the head of forced behavior under the guise of charitable choice behavior.

      2. Reality Bites

        People’s charitable donations, or lack thereof, are not their employers business. And companies that organise these sort of events often put an emphasis on achieving 100% participation etc, which is inappropriate and puts demands on employees to co-operate when they may be unable or unwilling to.

        If I give money to charity, that’s between me and the charity. My employer should not be part of that.

        1. Green

          I like the employer being part of it, since I can submit my donations for 100% matching. But it goes through a separate vendor and foundation and my bosses don’t know anything about it.

    3. Katie the Fed

      Ours always comes with the stipulation that you have to have a suit ready to change into if you need to give a brief or something.

      1. Jenm

        This is why I rarely wear jeans even when we are allowed to on fridays. Too many tall old white engineers around. Too many big bosses around. Too many times when someone grabs you for a quick meeting that turns out to be with a couple of big bosses who want to know if you can do something, write a scope of work, etc. Too many big bosses who never wear jeans.

        I’m too short, young, female and tattooed to also be wearing jeans in these instances.

    4. Tara R.

      Not from the US, but in my Canadian bank teller job we could pay $5/month to wear jeans on Thursdays (Fridays & Saturdays were already “casual dress”). Inevitably, customers would complain, but hearing it was for charity would shut them up. We also had posters & buttons about “charity jeans days” or whatever. So the main idea behind the dress code– not offputting customers– could be circumvented for that one day, with some additional bonus (oh, Bank gives back to the community!).

      Why nobody ever complained about casual dress on Fridays and Saturdays, I have absolutely no idea. Maybe it was because our clientele tended to skew much younger on the weekends.

      1. Tara R.

        I should add that literally everyone participated in this, and as the youth intern who was broke & already paying towards the employee fund for things I didn’t participate in, I hated it, but didn’t want to stand out as the only one not wearing jeans.

  19. The other side of the sword

    #3 While I can’t speak to the idea of paying money for wearing jeans, the idea of casual Friday is quite common place, serving as a sort of stress-release valve at the end of the week… one day each week when people relax a bit more than usual. I don’t find it infantalizing, but am grateful for the uptick in spirit that comes with this weekly shift in routine.

    1. Katie the Fed

      I don’t know what it is, but when I get dressed on Jeans Day it takes like 20 minutes off my morning routine. Which is weird because the rest of the time I just wear pants or a skirt, so it shouldn’t take that much more thought. But it’s much easier with jeans for some reason.

      1. TotesMaGoats

        It’s one less thing to coordinate. Jeans are the ultimate neutral. This morning is was “do my pants really go with my blouse and do these shoes go with the whole thing?” It’s something about jeans that you really only worry about the shirt and the shoes, I think. I love jeans day. Our office is really casual all of the time, which I have a problem with but our president runs around in shorts and a tshirt most days that it’s pretty hard to expect anything more than moderately business casual.

        1. Not a Real Giraffe

          Yes, this. I actually think I look more put together in jeans than I do in business/business casual attire — because a lot of the guesswork of “does this really go together” is eliminated when you wear jeans.

      2. Coffee and Mountains

        I think it’s because it’s one less thing to coordinate. When I’m wearing pants or skirts the rest of the week, I have to pick my top and bottom. But when it’s jeans day — the bottom is already decided and I just have to pick the top.

      3. Feline Fine

        I’m the opposite. My clothes are either “work” or “casual”. Pairing the two for jeans day takes me forever. While we can wear jeans on Fridays, more often than not, I choose not to.

  20. Nedra

    OP3: To answer your question, the way to avoid people cheating at a jeans day fundraiser is to stamp their hand when they hand over the money. Have the place where you get your hand stamped not be right at the doors, so nobody has to “sneak” by — you just show up at so-and-so’s room and it all takes place there. That said, the way that I know this is that this is how it used to work when my middle school would do out-of-uniform fundraisers. So, yeah, it feels pretty infantalizing. I mean a middle schooler doesn’t mind having a flower stamp on their hand all day if they get to wear jeans…but an adult? A professional adult?

    1. One of the Sarahs

      Woah, having a hand stamp? No way! I can’t imagine for a moment going into a meeting with external clients, or being on reception, or meeting & greeting visitors, or even out to get lunch with a hand stamp. If I saw someone with one in the workplace, I’d immediately assume they’d been to a club the night before and were stamped for ID, or “free drinks all night” etc and hadn’t bothered to clean up!

      1. Kelly L.

        Well, I think it wasn’t so much a serious suggestion as it was a demonstration of the whole concept being a little silly. ;)

    2. Yetanotherjennifer

      Hand stamps don’t always wear off overnight. I’ve had ones that an exfoliating scrub wouldn’t budge. Most people wouldn’t notice or comment on a hand stamp but it’s not fair to brand employees to ensure fundraiser compliance.

    3. Mike C.

      Should we have a bouncer and a velvet rope as well? Can I get bottle service to my desk? :)

      1. straws

        I would definitely donate & get a hand stamp in exchange for bottle service at my desk!

  21. Katie the Fed

    #3 – oh, Jeans Day. We do it for the Combined Federal Campaign (the bane of my existence every winter) every year and this exact issue became something for the Inspector General. Since we don’t have a written dress code for the agency, and CFC contributions can’t be compelled, the IG decided that although it was a fundraiser, people didn’t HAVE to contribute in order to wear jeans on Fridays during CFC season. Which I far prefer, because the CFC general fund is ridiculous and I don’t want to donate my $5 every week to it, versus a specific charity on the list.

    1. AnotherFed

      We had a great CFC a couple tears ago. No one ever wants to be the key worker, so they always make a senior staff person do it when no one volunteers (I guess its supposed to show us how important it is?), and one year it was a guy who doesn’t take anything too seriously. We had a potluck lunch followed by paying $ to pie him in the face. That was the most profitable drive we ever had!

      1. Hlyssande

        I think a lot of workers could get behind a ‘pie your boss in the face’ or ‘dunk tank your boss’ fundraiser. I know I could. :D

    2. Meg

      The local office of my former federal agency used to use Jeans Day to fund our holiday party. It was never a problem not to participate (and wear more formal clothes) because on any given day, you might need to wear a suit for a good reason. It was still a huge pain in the behind to get people to pay their $5.

  22. The Cosmic Avenger

    You know, I just reread #3, and the OP specifically says “pay” to wear jeans, and never uses the words “donate” or “charity”. Even as a “fundraiser” I think it’s a horrible idea for all of the reasons previously mentioned, but this one has my hackles up even more now. Even if it’s going towards paying for office supplies (coffee, spring water for the water cooler), that means that you’re trying to get employees to pay for something that the company normally pays for, and some people might not want. (Unless you’re government, in which case your employer may be legally forbidden to pay for those things.)

    1. Florida

      I think OP say “pay” because clearly that’s how they perceive it. OP is writing in asking how to enforce the payment, so it’s really not a donation. OP sees it as mandatory paying, not voluntary donating. If you sneak in jeans without paying, you are practically shoplifting! I’m not saying I agree with this – I’m saying I can see why OP chose the verbiage they chose.

      Many people find fundraising absolutely repulsive. (Mention fundraising to any board of directors, and you will see what I mean.) For some people, there is nothing worse than asking someone for money and giving them nothing in return. That is very uncomfortable to many people. So they come up with these gimmicks like Jeans Day. This way, the coordinator doesn’t have to ask you to donate. They can ask you to buy something. It’s more of a quid pro quo exchange than a donation so it’s more comfortable for the asker. Again, I’m not supporting Jeans Day. I’m just suggesting that might be one reason for it’s popularity.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger

        Ah, yes, that’s one of the reasons I hate these things, they’re sometimes designed to use social pressure to coerce people into donating. We plan our yearly charitable giving very carefully — I’ve commented before about my spreadsheet. We do make some unplanned contributions throughout the year, but usually for things like walkathons or bike-athons for friends who have a cause that is very personal to them. But we also use our planning to feel better about rejecting requests for donations, or at least being able to say “Not right now, but we’ll consider it for our end-of-year/next year’s charitable giving.”

        1. Florida

          I think Jeans Day and the whole 100% idea was designed to strong arm people. “If Jane is the only one who isn’t wearing jeans, she will be embarrassed so she will want to donate.” I think this is a horrible way to get people to donate, but like you said, I think that’s part of why it started (in addition to what I mentioned above).

          I also agree with saying, “Not right now.” That’s a great way to gracefully turned down someone who is asking. At the grocery store, when they ask me to donate an extra dollar to help the cause of the week, I always say, “Not today.” It seems nice than telling the cashier, “Are you kidding? I wouldn’t give to Terrible Charity if it was the last nonprofit on earth!” ;)

  23. Hiring Librarian

    #4 I know it is sort of against the rules here to question the premise of a question, but is there an actual written policy that says the system will not hire librarians for non-librarian jobs? Sometimes it may look like there’s a policy, because you have never seen a librarian hired for a non-librarian role, but there may not actually be a policy.

    We have no such policy, and we are currently hiring for a library assistant role. As always happens, librarians have applied (there is a glut of library school grads looking for jobs). Sometimes we interview librarians for these roles because they are strong candidates, and very occasionally we will hire a librarian for this type of role if we are convinced by the interview process that the role would be challenging and interesting for them. But a lot of times, they clearly want work beyond the scope of what’s on offer. This is a bad match for us.

    There have been occasions where we have been hiring for non-degreed positions, and we have been so impressed by a degreed applicant that we have offered them a librarian job. There have been times when we have held an application over to contact the candidate again later when the next appropriate position opens up.

    Because there is a glut of librarians on the market, it seems unfair to disqualify them from an interview for a non-librarian position after they have worked for their degree, but it is a hard sell to convince us that they will be happy as a library assistant. So yeah, we sometimes interview librarians for non-degreed positions, but we don’t often hire them for those roles.

    1. Regular wearing the anon hat

      I have an MLS and I have never been able to get a professional librarian job. Entry-level professional position for new grads with little library experience are rare. I am now working very part-time in an assistant position and temping full-time in a totally unrelated office job – which is the position I’ve been in for years now. If I had a full-time library assistant position, I’d be happy with it and stay for several years, and many, many recent-ish MLS grads feel the same way, but library managers who’ve had their jobs since long before the recession are shockingly ignorant of the reality of our job market. Presuming that we would feel “overqualified” pushes able, knowledgeable people out of the profession. Interviewing us and wasting our time when there’s no chance is particularly cruel. If you absolutely refuse to hire anyone with an MLS, just *put that in the ad.* “No candidates with an MLS will be considered.” Which is crappy, but at least it’s honest and doesn’t waste people’s time.

      1. Go Tigers

        I get the reservations about hiring an MLS for a non-MLS position, but if you already have to interview the person, you might as well find out their intentions and see if it matters.

      2. JP

        Yes, this. A lot of people start (and finish!!!) library school with little to no experience working in a library. For some people, applying for parapro jobs is all they can do.

        1. JP

          And that being said, the job market for librarians is still tight. You’re seeing people with 2+ years experience getting hired for entry level roles.

      3. Talvi

        I made my final choice of library school largely because I was offered an internship there. (Getting this internship was much like applying for a job – incoming library students who submitted an application for the internship program were sent job descriptions for the available positions; we then had to submit cover letters and would potentially be contacted for a interview. And it pays pretty well to boot.) I will be getting 15 hours/week of library experience for the duration of my degree doing exactly the kind of work I want to be doing, which will put me in a better position on the job market than if I had gone to any of the other library schools that offered me admission.

    2. LW/OP

      I would agree except there is virtually no difference in the roles between librarian and library assistant here – and that is a problem systemwide that needs a solution, but the administration is unwilling to face what the solution might be (hire more librarians and less administrators). You are right that it is an unwritten policy, but it is a policy nonetheless.

    3. Joa

      I’m a director at a small public library and this is my approach as well. A degree is not something that would disqualify a candidate, but it is a warning flag. If we get the sense that it is a stepping-stone position for a candidate, we are going to pass unless there is something really special about them.

      I’ve encountered degreed librarians in paraprofessional positions who were quite unhappy because that was not the position they really wanted. It manifested in poor interpersonal conduct: passive aggressive comments, dismissive attitudes towards their work and colleagues, and a general sense that they constantly wanted to be elsewhere. I don’t want to work with people like that. However, I have a staff member with her library degree who has been working in a paraprofessional position for over a decade because she likes having less responsibility and it suits her preferences better. She’s awesome in her role and I’m delighted she’s here.

      When we encounter an overqualified candidate, we are wary, and try to draw out more info with interview questions. To be hired, the candidate needs to make clear why they want *that* position. When we hire any position, we’re usually looking for people who we think are likely to stick with us for a while in order to make our training investment worthwhile. Turnover is tough for a small org. However, we’ve occasionally hired people who we suspected would be moving on to bigger opportunities more quickly but were outstanding enough that we still wanted them with us – even if just be for a year or two.

  24. Roscoe

    #3 This just comes off petty. So you are basically spying on these people enough to know that they are sneaking in to avoid paying to wear something that clearly has no impact on their work. I feel like you are looking at it as though they are somehow stealing. They aren’t. They are wearing something that probably is more comfortable that a good amount of their co-workers are wearing. You don’t know their financial situation, their thoughts on the charity, anything. But you feel the need to go to their manager? Let it go.

  25. Important Moi

    OP#1: Alison and everyone else, I am wondering if this is a generational issue? How old is the co-worker who suggested sending the photo?

    While not exactly the same, I have younger than me family members, who take pics and send them for reasons I would never consider.

    1. CS

      The coworker who suggested the photo is in her twenties. I also thought it might be a generational issue, but then again I’m a millennial and felt uncomfortable with the idea. The coworkers I talked to about the issue and who agreed with me were in their 30s and 40s.

  26. sjw

    Op #2 — Please, don’t do the portfolio thing. When people do this in interviews (unless it’s a job that requires creative or graphic work of some sort) it just feels awkward. I always feel like I have to look at it, and it never means anything in the context of figuring out if the candidate is the right fit. (and what am I even supposed to SAY as I look through it? I don’t even know what I’m looking at most of the time!!) It also makes me feel that the candidate needs a lot of validation — both at the interview process and as an employee if they’re hired. But to be honest with you, anyone who’s plopped out a portfolio when it wasn’t appropriate never made it past my initial screening interview. It’s just so awkward and unusual — and not in a good way. Please, don’t do it.

  27. js

    #3 – people can debate forever whether donating to wear jeans is infantalizing. in a perfect world, sure, but we don’t live in that perfect world and that’s not the question. no one is ‘inquiring into someone’s financial situation’ – if you don’t want to donate, just wear your regular work clothes. at my office, the CEO is so rigid that we’re just happy to ever get a jeans day, and this is how we most often get them, so i’ll take what i can get. not everyone participates, and certainly no one is required to (and anyone can nominate a charity). what the organizers do is give an ‘i donated’ sticker (like something made on a printer from avery labels) to each person as they collect from them. easy, visible.

    1. LBK

      Yeah, this is kinda my feeling – I work in a fairly stuffy industry so as much as I’d love to be able to effect cultural change by questioning the whole dress code, that’s not only way above my pay grade but it exists as a culture in the industry as a whole, so there’s basically nothing I can do about it. I’ll happily pay my $5 to enjoy one of the few times I can dress down at work.

  28. Natalie

    We’ve established that a group photo is a terrible idea. Reactions to loss can vary wildly. This misguided suggestion came from a place of kindness. Some people are triggered by previous loss and add oddly or have no experience with death at all. Most people want to do something to help those who are hurting. Ideas are few because ultimately, there are very few options that really help those who are grieving.

    Simple redirection should be enough and give the original suggester a break.

  29. The Alias Gloria Has Been Living Under, A.A., B.S.

    #3 First, I wish I could print off this post, highlight the answer to #3 and anonymously give it to the leadership team here. Second, I know quite a few people who wear jeans every day and either re-use a jeans day sticker, or, if asked, say that it must have fallen off, it’s on my sweater back at my desk, etc. They have them so often here, or it’s used as an incentive for hard work, that people get away with it all the time.

  30. GigglyPuff

    #4: MLIS degress holder here. I can understand the thinking on a black and white level, but the reality, that’s totally ridiculous. If every job only hired people with (or without) the correct degree/education level I’d be screwed right now. I work at an archives, clearly don’t have an archives degree or a public history degree. When I graduated I had little experience in libraries and zilch experience in an actual office setting. My first job was grant funded and didn’t require a master’s, still learned tons and did a great job.

    I can understand not wanting people to jump ship or only looking for a foot in the door, but that’s what good interviews and asking references the right questions are for. To blatantly blackball everyone who decided to get their master’s is B.S. I’m totally all for paraprofessional jobs because a) I love the hands on work in the area I’ve chosen, b) I am no where near being ready for higher level job in a department yet, and have no desire to be a full time manager.

    And seriously reason I got my master’s, because everything you read about working in a library (at least when you’re just starting to look at the profession) says you need a MLS/MLIS. This really makes me wonder at the several paraprofessional jobs I applied to when I was just starting out and they were exactly what I wanted to long term and what my experience matched.

    1. LW/OP

      yeah, I tell people now who ask me for advice to get the job first and then go for the degree because it really is a detriment.

  31. kckckc

    #1: I went through this at my workplace 2 years ago when the child of someone on my team was accidentally killed by a sibling. I am so very sorry for your officemate’s loss and your office. It’s really traumatic for everybody when something so horrifying happens. We took cash collections and bought several different gift cards for local restaurants (including ones that delivered) as we knew they would have extended family in town. This way it is easy for them to just send someone out for food and they can use the cards as needed, rather than having a ton of food go to waste. Each group sent a plant or floral arrangement to the service and about 5 months later we purchased a beautiful tree to be planted in their yard in honor of their daughter. The best you can do is to let them know you care. It’s best to err on the side of caution and if something seems iffy then don’t do it.

  32. LBK

    #3 – This is one point that I think I’ll always disagree with Alison on; I think jeans days or casual Fridays are enough of a known quantity that on the odd occasion that you see a client or have another more formal meeting on a day you’re wearing jeans, it can be explained away because people get the concept and know it’s an exception to the rule. There’s a difference between a one-time occurrence where you can say “Oh, we’re having a jeans day for charity at the office today” and move on versus always being in jeans; they set different norms for the tone of your interactions with those people.

  33. newlyhr

    #4 the organization may be a little concerned about accusations of discriminatory hiring practices if they don’t interview candidates with library degrees who otherwise qualify.

    That said, my experience is that good interviewing and screening processes will assess whether a candidate who is “over qualified” or “other qualified” might still be a good fit for a position. Sometimes people have very good reasons for changing careers or working at positions that don’t fully utilize all their skills. It’s a shame to miss out on those candidates. They can be some of your very best employees.

    1. LBK

      Concerns about accusations of discrimination would be unfounded here, though, because a) it’s legal to discriminate in this way, and b) discrimination laws apply to the whole hiring process – just interviewing people doesn’t exempt you from claims of discrimination if you never actually hire anyone. If anything it has the reverse effect because it proves that you had those kind of candidates in your hiring pool and categorically rejected all of them.

  34. Ell

    OP2: When I hired people, I was always frustrated by these things. It felt wrong to throw away materials people spent so much time and energy on, but once I glance at it what else am I supposed to do? A website is something I don’t have time to visit – I have other ways of evaluating applicants and I prefer to stick to my own methods.

    It’s unnecessary and just feels like another Thing to deal with.

  35. OlympiasEpiriot

    OP #3’s question is how to deal with people not participating. Alison’s answer is perfect.

    I second talking to people individually; I especially recommend this as I assume this pay-2-wear-jeans thing wasn’t your idea but is your responsibility. If there are people who are (1) opposed to the cause, (2) short on funds and can’t afford it, or (3) just annoyed about the dress code implications [are jeans normally allowed? Do some people’s jobs mean it is better for them if they wear jeans? Are there people who never wear jeans and are now getting pressured to wear them occasionally in order to participate? Und so weiter…et cetera…et ainsi de suite…]

    I fortunately work somewhere that at my level, I am expected to dress to my job and we don’t have casual Fridays. If I have to go to the field or have a potential risk of going to the field, I am dressed for a construction site. If I am in the office or going to a client meeting, I’m generally dressed more formally — which, in my case, means doing my best to be in Vivienne Westwood-esque suits/garb (not her ripped t-shirt pieces, but the Saville-Row-On-LSD suits) on my budget. I find it a suitable contrast from hardhat and steel toed boots and works with my personality. If we had some kind of ‘fundraiser’ tied to clothes, I could see myself being annoyed for all 3 of the reasons I wrote in my last paragraph. Personally, #2 wouldn’t kill me, but there are people here who probably couldn’t afford it and they also probably wouldn’t feel comfortable speaking up. When management doesn’t take that into account — a clear class issue — it REALLY pisses me off.

  36. Rosamond

    I hired for a library paraprofessional position not so long ago. Since the position had a high hourly rate and offered challenging, independent work, we were open to MLIS-degreed candidates, maybe if they were fresh out of library school and had a couple years experience from student jobs. We had close to 100 applicants, and I recall the candidate pool was roughly 50/50 MLIS-degreed vs. not. As many other commenters pointed out, I was required to at least phone screen everyone who met the minimum qualifications, so that’s neither here nor there.

    For those MLIS folks who are looking for any kind of library work and feeling disgruntled, I really mean the following as friendly “what not to do” advice, not across-the-board criticism: The thing was, for this position the MLIS holders generally weren’t strong candidates. Many of them actually had less work experience than applicants who didn’t have the degree. Several others shot themselves in the foot by literally saying things like, “This job would be a great stepping stone to [the kind of job they really wanted],” or saying they actually were more interested in a technical role, rather than the public role we were hiring for, so would it be possible for them to also do digitization/metadata/whatever? The person we ended up hiring was a recent college grad with a couple years of directly relevant library experience, who completely sold us that she and this job were made for each other.

  37. voyager1

    I worked at a FI that did the 5.00 jeans days. Most people participated, however those who snuck in not paying were told not to do it again or face a write up. All the monies collected were for charity.

  38. Chris

    As a job-hunting librarian, #4 fills me with rage. One of the most pervasive problems in library employment now is the rampant division of full time jobs into multiple part times. There are many, many young librarians who would leap at the chance for a FT job in a library that isn’t technically a “librarian” (most people who you see at the library are not librarians). Wasting their time is horribly unprofessional, and they’re also hurting themselves in the long run. Instead of a stable of young, educated, well-trained internal candidates, they’re waving away an entire generation of librarians looking for entry level work.

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