can you bill for your time after a long interview process, bringing in baked goods on your first day, and more

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

1. Can you bill for your time after a long interview process?

A friend recently sat for 29 — yes, 29 — half-hour interviews (company size ~180) for the position of senior director. The interviews included the CEO, President, COO, CFO, etc. The company’s hiring manager called her two references, both of which are highly respected in the field, and both of which attested to giving her stellar reviews. In addition, she has an un-blemished record, excellent credentials, etc. Regardless, she was not hired and the position remains unfilled.

Considering the fact that the company took it to the end (i.e., by calling her references), should she bill the company for her time? If so, how would she go about doing so, a simple request by mail? Attorney? If not, do you suggest she voice her disapproval, assuming it is somehow constructive?

What?! No, she can’t bill them for her time, and doing so would make her look really, really out-of-touch and would be the kind of thing people would gossip about for a very long time and would seriously hurt her reputation. You can’t send people a bill for a fee they never agreed to pay; otherwise we could all send each other bills for draining, annoying interactions.

29 interviews is beyond excessive. But no one required her to continue participating in them, and her participation didn’t create an obligation on the company’s part to hire her at the end of the process.

The better move would be to resolve in the future not to do anything in a hiring process that she’ll be bitter about if she doesn’t end up getting an offer.

2. Should I bring in baked goods on my first day at a new job?

I’ve just accepted a job offer and will be starting my new role at a tech startup in a few weeks. The organization is overwhelmingly male due to the nature of the work (software developers), and I’ll be only the fifth or sixth woman to join the team. Not a problem for me, I’ve worked on similar teams in the past.

In the interview process, I was asked a number of cultural questions. One of the question was about hobbies and interests outside of work, and I discussed my love of cooking and baking with my soon-to-be supervisor.

My question is this: I’m considering making some kind of awesome baked goods to bring on my first day of work, but I don’t want to be seen as overly feminine, mom-like, or the de facto “office manager.” On previous mostly male teams where I’ve worked, I found myself cleaning up after meetings, planning Christmas parties, and other “women’s work” tasks, even though these things had nothing to do with my role (I’m in marketing). I don’t want to set that tone at this new job. Do you think bringing treats will diminish my professional stature? Is it a nice gesture or a way to pigeon-hole myself as the den mother?

Nooooo, don’t do it.

You want to make a good impression based on your skills, not on your baked goods. And while you’re doing that, it’s smart not to walk right into a stereotypically “female” role — especially in a heavily male office, and especially when you’ve found yourself getting pigeonholed that way in the past.

Plus, doing it on your first day risks coming across as pretty transparently attempting to curry favor through food. And you don’t know the food culture of the office yet; this could be a thing no one ever does, or they could have an anti-sweets thing going on, or who knows what.

Normally I’d say to wait until you’ve been there a while (months, not days or weeks), and then go for it if you still want to. But given the situation you’ve described and how you’ve been pigeonholed in the past, this sounds like a situation where it would be wiser not to bring in food at all, unless/until it’s clear that doing so wouldn’t diminish your professional stature there. (Their loss!)

3. I’m not sure if I’m doing my job at the expected level

Through all the jobs I have had, and schools, etc., I’ve never had trouble with the self-awareness to know how I am performing at a job/class. I like to think I am usually a high performing and conscientious employee, but I have always felt like I knew where I stood with my level of work.

However, this new job (seven months in now) has me spinning. I am working in my field in a large company but a small department. It is a demanding and skills-based field, and while I am currently taking courses at night to move forward with my knowledge base, I am still learning a lot on the job. The problem I am having is that I feel like I am making a lot of mistakes, and that there are aspects of the job I am really struggling with still, and I’m not sure if that’s normal. I find myself needing to ask both my boss and the one other person in my department a lot of questions still, and need help with tasks that I’ve done before. I want feedback from my boss, but she is incredibly busy all the time and I’m not sure what asking “How am I doing?” would accomplish, especially if she says I am not doing well. She has told me previously that this is a job where they intentionally hire more junior people early in their careers because it is a good position to gain experience in, but I’m not sure how far that extends.

My inability to gauge my own work here may be slightly complicated due to a medical condition I have which can cause side effects such as brain fog, strong emotions, etc. I keep it pretty well controlled with medication but it means there are times where I’m not sure if I can trust my own perception of things. Is it worth trying to ask my already busy and stressed boss to make time for a review? If so, how should I bring it up?

Yes, yes, yes. Well, not necessarily a formal review, since if she doesn’t already do those as a matter of course and she’s busy and stressed, that’s a big ask. But it’s perfectly reasonable and normal to ask for an informal conversation about how things are going and areas where she might want you work on improving. You could say it this way: “Could we sit down for 15 or so minutes in the next week or two and talk about how things things are going? I’d like to get a better sense of how I’m doing overall, as well as any areas that you think I should be focusing on improving in.”

You said you’re not sure what this will accomplish, especially if she says you’re not doing well. The big thing it will accomplish is giving you information — since right now you’re guessing at how you’re doing and you’re feeling unsure and insecure. If you find out that she’s pleased with how you’re doing, that should give you some peace of mind. And if you find out that she has concerns, then you can stop wondering and know for sure what you need to work on doing better.

There’s more advice on asking for feedback here, and read this too.

4. Telling high school students to put objectives on their resumes

I’m a high school teacher; most of what I teach is Concurrent Enrollment (CE), which means that students are enrolled in high school but I teach college classes to these students, who need to apply to the college, get accepted, register through the college, etc. I have backgrounds in both secondary and higher education, so I’m unusually qualified at my school to do this. We occasionally talk about differences in academic terminology (“What’s the difference between a major and a minor?”), post-college and career preparation, etc. Recently a guest speaker from a local college spoke to my CE classes about career preparation; she modeled a poor resume (a real-life example, since she does some hiring at her college) and interview skills, both of which I think were very helpful discussions for my high school seniors to have.

However, one thing she mentioned was how important it was to include and customize a career or job objective atop their resume (customized for each job). Clearly there’s a difference between the types of jobs a high school student is likely to have vs. the type of career they’d like to have, so having a bunch of retail jobs is not necessarily indicative of a professional career. (Yes, I know there are exceptions.) Is this a thing – telling younger people to include career or job objectives because it might not be otherwise career what one’s objective is?

It’s only a thing as much as giving young people bad career advice is a thing — which is to say that it happens a lot and shouldn’t.

They don’t need objectives, and including them will make their resumes look outdated. In fact, while resume objectives are pretty useless for everyone, they’re extra useless for this group, given the types of jobs students are generally applying for.

5. Networking with current coworkers

I’m in the early stages of my career, in a good entry-level position at an organization with a lot of interesting people. I’ve been there for about a year now. I’m debating my next move and in the process of conducting informational interviews to see what kind of educational/career track I might like to take, perspective on my field, etc. These interviews have been going well and I feel like I’m getting a clearer sense of what I’d like to do next.

But, so far I have refrained from asking people at my current organization for potential networking contacts. The nonprofit organization with which I work is a large, civically-minded place that’s closely tied in with local and national networks; there are a lot of strong professionals on staff, smart board members, and volunteers who might have interesting connections. Since I’d like to leave my position in the next few months once I have a better sense of what I’d like to do next, I’ve refrained from asking for any networking contacts through people I know at my current place of work.

Is it kosher to ask for some connections from people I work with? I’m tempted — I think it would be helpful to talk to some of the people they know — but I’m not sure how that would reflect on me. Does it make it seem like I’m looking elsewhere? Or would it reflect poorly on me later if I took a new position in the next few months?

It definitely does make it look like you’re looking elsewhere and thinking about leaving; that’s going to be pretty clear. And because you’ve only been there a year, there’s a good chance that it’ll make some people uncomfortable because they’ll feel that they’re being asked to help you leave before you’ve put in the normal amount of time that your organization probably expected you to stay (which is likely more like a minimum of two years). That doesn’t mean that some people won’t still be happy to help; they might be. That’s especially true if (a) you’re doing a really good job now and (b) you make it clear that you’ve realized you need to switch to an entirely different type of work (as opposed to just moving on for the hell of it or because you’re bored). But you’d need to proceed with caution.

Also, if you do talk to people, you need a more targeted ask than just asking for networking contacts. You’d want to have a very specific request (“people who work at X organization” or “people who do X type of work” or “your old boss, Jane Warbleworth”), and be clear about what it is that you’re hoping to talk to them about (“what it’s like to do X work” or “what she looks for in people she hires for job X”).

{ 381 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Gaia

    OP 1, another way to think about this: If the same scenario had ended with them making an offer but your friend turning them down…would she be okay with them billing her for their time? No. Because it would be weird as hell.

    Reply
    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      Yeah, “billing” for your time, in this context, is a horrible idea. OP#1, I understand your friend feels like she wasted her time—and the process certainly sounds like overkill—but keep in mind that everyone she interviewed with also sunk a lot of time into the process. Ultimately, neither side found what they were looking for. But lack of success isn’t what determines whether you’re allowed to bill for your time, and when you’re not providing any tangible service or deliverable, sending a bill looks especially bizarre/off. I also don’t know that it makes sense to voice her disapproval—at this point it will sound an awful lot like sour grapes, even if she does have a valid critique (she can of course still provide feedback, but she shouldn’t expect the company to do anything with it given that they didn’t solicit her input).

      OP#1, if you can, please talk your friend out of this idea, and please don’t let her waste money paying an attorney to draft a letter that will likely be thrown directly in the trash.

      Reply
      1. Artemesia

        Oh yes please. They will be laughing about her for years; companies all over town, maybe all over the region will be laughing about her for years. This is career suicide. I can think of a half dozen ‘can you believe that’ stories from the interview process over the years that made the rounds of professional associations and marked people as undesirable hires. It isn’t quite as bad as the video conference faux pah recently hilariously described, but it it right up there.

        Reply
      2. SadPanda

        The “company people” were getting paid to do those interviews! The interviewee was not. Appeoximately 15+ hours of interviews? That is nuts.
        NUTS. CRAZY. OVERKILL.
        I don’t think the interviewee should sue or invoice, but really? I hope she and OP talk these fools up all over the place.

        Reply
        1. OhNoNotAgain

          Yeah, that many interviews is ridiculous. Wonder how many days that was dragged out over? Or was it done in two days?

          Reply
        2. Purest Green

          I’d have probably exhausted everything I could think to say after the first three to four hours. I feel like after that, you’re either repeating yourself for the benefit of different interviewers, or they aren’t bothering with useful information and digging into the minutia of “here’s where your pens would live.”

          Reply
          1. Antilles

            I feel like after that, you’re either repeating yourself for the benefit of different interviewers
            Yes. At a previous company, they had a 45 minute phone call first, then a full day interview process, broken into a bunch of 30 minute chunks with various people. On that full day process, each interviewer starts with basically the same information (resume, cover letter, etc) but they don’t observe the other interviews, so there’s a ton of repetition. I’d estimate the first 15-20 minutes of each 30-min interview was more or less the same – they immediately ask about my resume, my history with Alpha Corp, then about my teapot design experience, then about where I’d like my career to go. Things *would* differ a bit for the last few minutes though, mostly based on what each interview individually cared about (e.g., the flavored teapots guy started talking about flavors, the teapot accountant chatted about pricing of teapots, etc).

            Reply
            1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

              Which is a sign of a) managers and decision-makers who refuse to cooperate even enough to get their asses in the same room for an interview and operate as lords of little fiefdoms and b) a workplace which requires the buy-in of too many people to make decisions, resulting in none getting made.

              Reply
          2. CDL

            Yes – I’ve repeated myself for the benefit of different interviewers, which I understand. During my last interview process though, they had me come back and do a second round with some of the same people. I figured that they thought of new questions to ask or wanted to clarify something from the first interview…nope. Instead there was lot of shrugging and “I don’t really have anything more to ask you.”

            Great. I’m glad I took the day off to come in.

            I think it’s smart for a company to be thorough, but I also think that if they are mismanaging the interviewer and interviewee’s time, the company is telling you something valuable here.

            Reply
        3. Gaia

          Of course they were getting paid. But that cost the company money. If we agree that she can invoice them, why couldn’t they invoice a candidate that turned down the job?

          Of course both are inane on their face (as is 29 interviews!)

          Reply
          1. Czhorat

            Yep.

            You can also only invoice things if payment was agreed ahead of time; you can’t after the fact decide this is paid work of some kind.

            It was a poor choice on both sides; at some point you run into a “sunk cost fallacy” and pile on more interviews to recoup the investment [in time and salary] for the earlier ones.

            I’m reminded of the boss from last week who asked for 20% of the outgoing employee’s salary at the new position: you can ask, and they can laugh and laugh and laugh.

            Reply
        4. Artemesia

          The cost to the company of an insincere applicant can be considerable. We did national hires which meant flying in and putting up the finalists. A person who took the interview ‘for practice’ or because they wanted to visit our city with no interest in actually taking the job, caused us a huge financial hit from a limited search budget. I have known non-profits who ended up spending all their travel and expense budget for hiring on ‘tourists’ who didn’t have any intention of working for them.

          Reply
          1. Wheezy Weasel

            What ways do you use to cut down on the tourists? Are there signs that you can see upfront about someone’s intent?

            Reply
        5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          Regardless of how excessive their process was, it doesn’t merit “billing” for that time. I’m not defending their process, but I would really hate for OP’s friend to act out in this way and then have the anecdote about this insane candidate bandied about her industry.

          Reply
      3. NLMC

        Sending a bill is not likely to make them rethink their hiring process or make them reconsider her employment. The only thing it’ll do is make them glad they “dodged that bullet.”

        Reply
    2. Czhorat

      This is EXACTLY my first thought. An interview process is a two-way street in which you evaluate the position and hiring company as much as they evaluate you. It sounds to me as if both sides wasted time and resources on this; as Alison said, 29 interviews is quite excessive. If they were schedule at a rate of one every other week, that’s also over a year.

      Sometimes you just have to stop throwing good time after bad and cut your losses.

      Reply
      1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

        This. If it takes more than three interviews, I’d seriously consider cutting my losses.

        Reply
    3. Christine

      The employer is unreasonable, wouldn’t be surprised if they did receive an invoice for time wasted from an interview candidate, that the letter would find it way onto the internet. That they wouldn’t retaliate.

      Reply
    4. Chippy

      Thank you for your input.

      The essential importance of any agreement, be it verbal or written, is that interests are aligned and interests are protected.

      By way of clarification and to request re-consideration:
      29 interviews over 8 separate days;
      each interviewer had a different perspective and minimal unnecessary repetition was needed although a panel interview may have been more effective for all.

      Thus the point of mismanagement of the interviewer and interviewee’s time is a good one but it does not answer the question with rationale.

      The company took it to the end — interviewed the candidate’s references — and failed to fill the position. This brings into question the company’s initial intent (e.g. aimlessness, phishing, other.). Ulterior motives aside, if she were to turn them down then she would not have provided her references.

      The problem with opinion such as “weird as hell”, “a horrible idea”, “looks especially bizarre/off”, “sound an awful lot like sour grapes“, “laughing about her for years “, “career suicide”, “both are inane on their face”, etc. as response is dismissal-by-default thinking.

      Consider:
      What if the attorney’s services were free? Would billing of the company become more valid?
      Why exactly shouldn’t she expect respect? She has it in her industry and this event is unlikely to find a dent in her “career future”. (Was this not clear from the submission?)

      Why say, “neither side found what they were looking for” when that is exactly what they did find but one did not commit? If the company’s behavior is “NUTS. CRAZY. OVERKILL” why not invoice?

      I am curious:
      The “talk these fools up all over the place” and “post on glassdoor” perspectives does appear to provide a service to the commonwealth. Disrespect, in whatever form, should not go over well in any field and it is up to those who work in and support the field to ensure that this is the case. But does anyone have evidence that opinions posted on glassdoor are effective (e.g create a disincentive to potential candidates)? Or are they dismissed? Also, to clarify, anecdotes about ‘insane company bandied about the industry’ would affect the company far more than anecdotes about ‘insane candidate bandied about the industry’ by simple factorial. Would she not gain respect for standing up for herself? And what exactly would they gain?

      Regarding the opinion that “you can also only invoice things if payment was agreed ahead of time” is always context dependent. If a verbal agreement is made then an invoice can be sent; there is plenty of legal precedent.

      Why exactly was it “a poor choice on both sides”? The observation that “the cost to the company of an insincere applicant can be considerable” is just as true as “the cost to the applicant of an insincere company can also be considerable”. Why does the company take precedent in this case?

      If this does not merit billing then exactly what does?

      I wholly agree with the perspective: “If it takes more than three (or a fixed nominal number of interviews) then I’d seriously consider cutting my losses.” In her case, I think, she was working on good faith that potential cultural differences were being addressed. (However, the “sunk cost fallacy” is easy to say in hindsight and not very informative).

      Again, the essential importance of any agreement, be it verbal or written, is that interests are aligned and interests are protected.

      Reply
  2. Gaia

    OP 2, I’m with Alison here. I work in an office that has a thing (in a positive way) with food. We are known for it among the other offices. We have someone bring in food at least twice a week. And then there are the times the office provides treats or meals. We have a culture around eating. Here no one would see it as “womanly” to bring in food. Everyone does it. But that isn’t true in a lot of offices and you need to know how your new workplace works before you do this.

    I’d also avoid other non-directly-related-to-your-job feminine tasks like party planning, cleaning up etc work for awhile, too. The only exception is if this is a clearly shared task where men and women are equally pitching in. Then participate. But don’t fall into the de facto “office mom” role. You are a professional, let them see that!

    Reply
    1. Artemesia

      Especially in the tech world where women are so often treated unfairly, making yourself the nurturing Mommy who brings cookies will do you no favors. I would NEVER bring in baked goods unless lots of people do that. In this kind of setting a woman who wants to get ahead doesn’t take minutes if she can help it, doesn’t arrange parties, doesn’t bring in baked goods, doesn’t do any of the Mommy tasks. Make cookies for your friends.

      Reply
      1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

        Several female friends who work in tech have fought this battle over and over and over. I don’t like to stereotype entire industries, but tech attracts a lot of men, and it particularly attracts a certain type of man who has focused on technical topics to the exclusion of other skills that would make them more rounded individuals. And they have often relied on mothers, girlfriends, and spouses for those areas of their life, and seem to spread that expectation to female coworkers.

        One time, one of my friends’ coworkers came over and asked her to plan the summer barbecue. She turned and asked him, point blank: “Why aren’t you asking Fergus, who has barbecues at his place every weekend? Or Wakeen, who used to be a cook?”

        Reply
    2. seejay

      I’m a woman in tech and like to bring in baked goods and food, but I absolutely positively do *not* organize, plan or clean or do anything else that might pigeon-hole me into a gender stereotype that my team might take advantage of. I bring in food because I like to cook/bake and I live alone and can’t eat all of it (at least without over-indulging on calories so I spread them to the office), but that’s where I draw the line. There are other people in the office who’s responsibilities cover the other things so I make sure that I don’t take on other things just because it’s expected based on my gender.

      (This isn’t to say that I don’t pick up after myself, we’re expected to clean up/wash our own dishes, etc, but I am not going to clean up a conference room or table just because my team used it and a couple of the guys are a bunch of slobs. They’ve been told by management to pick up after themselves and it’s not up to me to chase after them on it, nor clean up after them. Make sure you take that attitude with you.)

      Reply
    3. misspiggy

      Yes – and ‘avoid’, means refusing to do it if asked, particularly if other able-bodied people are around. I’ve had to invent pressing appointments and tasks to get out of minute taking, room clearing and washing up when I’ve been the only woman in the room.

      Reply
      1. Lady in Stem

        We have a rotating committee that plans our many social events. Some of these are in office during the worday, some are weekend trips and some are happy hours etc. Until recently it was properly represented among men and women. Our office is split about 50/50 and so was the committee. But now it is all women and two spots have opened up. I’m a little proud to say no women are stepping up to fill them and have outright said if two guys don’t volunteer the events just won’t get planned. These events are very popular and the guys are complaining we haven’t had as many but the ladies in the office are standing firm.

        Reply
        1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

          Good for you. Guys can pan a party or trip just as well as a woman, and it’s easier to complain than to step up.

          Reply
    4. Rick

      I have a very different take on this from the other commenters.

      I see it as a choice between letting the culture shape your actions vs using your actions to shape the culture. If you’d like bringing in baked goods to be part of the culture, then I’d recommend bringing them in early and treating that as a perfectly normal thing to do, and encouraging your coworkers to follow your lead. It’s _so_ much harder to influence culture after a pattern has already been established.

      Most importantly, this is a little thing that sets the precedent that you have authority to influence office culture, rather than just follow it. So when presented with mysogynistic treatment, you can establish new norms with your reaction.

      Reply
      1. Jessie the First (or second)

        “So when presented with mysogynistic treatment, you can establish new norms with your reaction.”

        I am not clear what you mean by this. Like, as a woman, I can just solve misogyny based on my reaction? I hope that’s not what you mean, and I assume it isn’t because dear lord that’s obnoxiously wrong. :-) Can you clarify?

        Reply
        1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

          I really hope Rick understands how misogyny works better than he’s letting on.

          Reply
        2. Marcela

          I guess what he means is that misogyny happens because we allow it. If we change our reactions, OBVIOUSLY the the mistreatment is going to disappear.

          Reply
          1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

            Because when it comes right down to it, isn’t it always the fault of the discriminated-against person?

            o_0

            Reply
            1. SimonTheGreyWarden

              That’s why I tell my female friends that if they just don’t respond to the sexist comments, then the sexists making them will magically be ashamed and stop doing the thing. /s

              Reply
      2. Myrin

        Unless the OP is about to start working with an office full of closeted baking enthusiasts, I can pretty much guarantuee that that is not what is going to happen.

        Reply
        1. Artemesia

          But if she skips a week, she will be asked when she is bringing the boys more goodies and what she is planning to bring, and can it be chocolate because that is ‘my favorite.’

          Reply
          1. Newt

            Hell, I get that in my department, and I work in one that is explicitly an everyone-brings-food place! Even in situations when that is the norm, it’s still easy to fall into these weirdly gendered patterns about it.

            (Like in my department, it’s generally the women who bring in handmade goodies while the guys mostly bring shop-bought stuff, even the foodie guys who enthusiastically discuss recipe ideas with everyone.)

            Reply
            1. DoDah

              I’m in tech. Our Foodie guy used to bake for us all of the time. Loved it and him.

              ****this is very, very, very, VERY unusual******

              Reply
      3. Morning Glory

        I think this would make a lot of sense if the OP was considering anything other than a traditionally feminine, ‘giving’ activity in a male-dominated office/industry – especially considering her past history of being pigeonholed.
        If she wanted to start a softball league or a recycling program, or a weekly team lunch, etc., then more power to her for wanting to bring something fresh to an established culture (although I do think waiting a little bit to see what the mood is like would be smart, to determine approach.)
        But women very often do get turned into the office mom, to the detriment of their careers, and it’s important for the OP to make sure she’s not doing something that will hurt perceptions of her – that’s just a reality of the workplace for women.

        It’s not smart to introduce a non-work related activity to the office that has the very real potential to hurt her in work-related ways.

        Reply
        1. Myrin

          Very much agreed. Additionally, even if you feel strongly that you want to be the change you’d like to see, don’t come in guns a-blazing on the very first day of your new work without knowing anything at all about the office culture yet.

          Reply
          1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

            This. She has no standing to start an office baking rotation on her first day, and I guarantee that such an attempt would die a quick death.

            Reply
          2. Morning Glory

            Yeah, definitely agreed on waiting a bit, no matter the idea. Nobody in a donuts office is going to love the person who comes in and tries to organize a marathon day one (or the person bringing donuts in to the office training for a marathon).

            Reply
      4. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

        That doesn’t follow. The stereotype of “tech female as office mom” already exists. The stereotype of “marketing person as office cheerleader” already exists. She’s not starting with a blank slate, and playing into that stereotype has a significant chance of pigeonholing her. Most men would not bring in baked goods on their first day. There’s no reason for her to do so unless she’s attempting to curry favor or actively wants to be the office mom, and either way that does not put her in a position of strength. It sets the precedent of her in a stereotypically female provider role, not in the role of competent, professional equal.

        If this was a startup she was part of from day one, she might get a chance to shape the culture. In an established culture she’s not familiar with, she doesn’t actually have authority to shape it yet, and she’s hasn’t accumulated the standing yet to establish new norms. And she can encourage a bunch of tech bros to bring in cookies, but I guarantee you it won’t actually happen.

        Reply
        1. Rick

          I admit I approached this backwards, starting with the baked goods, not the culture issues.

          You’re absolutely correct that the stereotype of “tech female as office mom” already exists. My point is that addressing that requires changing the culture.

          Not bringing in baked goods does not fix the problem. It makes the problem slightly more manageable. Perhaps that’s sufficient for the OP. It’s really up to her.

          If she’s interesting in changing the culture to not be mysogynistic, she should be considering her decisions in that light. Will bringing in cookies cause that to happen? Absolutely not. But it at least gives her agency, which is a step in the right direction.

          Reply
          1. Morning Glory

            I see where you are coming from, but I think you’re assuming a couple of things:

            First, that any office that may pigeon-hole a woman who brings in baked goods as an office mom is a ‘bad, misogynistic’ office. It’s more that people’s perceptions are shaped by a variety of things, often on a sub-conscious level, and that bringing in baked goods is a strong trigger for the ‘maternal’ perception. That may be an issue at a societal level, but it’s different from saying that the office itself is misogynistic. There may not be an issue beyond OP needing to make sure her behavior isn’t office mom-esque and she shouldn’t be going into the office assuming misogyny.

            Second, even if the office culture is bro-y or misogynistic, that the OP should be spending a great deal of her energy and influence trying to change the culture instead of trying to succeed within it. It would be noble and good of her to want to change it on a company-wide level, but this is a professional advice blog, and the best advice for her professionally is just what Alison said, to not make it a potential issue to begin with.

            Reply
            1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

              “It’s more that people’s perceptions are shaped by a variety of things, often on a sub-conscious level, and that bringing in baked goods is a strong trigger for the ‘maternal’ perception.”

              This. And it also comes off as currying favor. It also, on the first day, will be the first thing people associate with her – she’ll be “the girl who bakes homemade cupcakes” not “Jane, the new marketing chief who’s going to be spearheading our first product launch.”

              Reply
          2. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

            “Not bringing in baked goods does not fix the problem.”

            Of course it does. If women in male-dominated fields generally refuse to assume the servile, nurturing office mom role, it will establish and reinforce a norm where women don’t do that and, gradually, aren’t expected to do that. If the general experience of tech bros is that their new female colleagues act just like male colleagues, push back against getting saddled cleanup and food ordering tasks, and don’t accept roles outside their professional ones, that establishes a tone more effectively than “I’ll bring you homemade cupcakes as long as you do the same next week!”

            Which, of course, will never happen, and everyone will just sit around wondering when the girl who likes baking will bring in more cupcakes.

            And not to put too fine a point on it, “organizing the office baked good rotation” is also an Office Mon thing to do. Establishing an office culture where everybody nurtures and feeds each other, likewise.

            Reply
          3. Jessie the First (or second)

            I have to be honest, I find this reasoning a little offensive. As if fighting misogyny by refusing to do things that typecast women as “less than” is settling (it’s your phrase “perhaps that’s sufficient for the OP” that I am basing this on).

            You appear to assume that she can change the culture of misogyny in tech by forcing her colleagues to respect her technical competency and refuse to let them stereotype her (while doing things that historically have always led to stereotyping). That makes it seem as if other women in this position simply haven’t been technically competent – otherwise, they’d be well-respected and have ended misogyny and changed the culture already, right? That’s an insulting argument to the women who have been there. It also assumes that a person has control over how another person reacts; I can’t refuse to let someone stereotype me – I don’t have mind control powers. All I can do is be aware of the sorts of behaviors that have led to stereotyping, and decide to avoid them, or not.

            The way we fight misogyny is by getting more women in positions of power. We don’t do it by both bringing in baked goods and being competent at junior levels.

            Reply
            1. Emi.

              refuse to let them stereotype her

              This isn’t even a thing. I can’t refuse to let you stereotype me any more than I can refuse to let you dislike me. I can, however, avoid doing things that are widely associated with certain stereotypes (and have nothing to do with my job).

              Reply
          4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

            Rick, respectfully, this is not how misogyny works, and it’s not how it’s addressed. I have some really strong feelings/reactions to your comments, but I think others have stated my reservations more eloquently.

            Reply
    5. Jaydee

      I also work in an office that has a very positive thing with food. We have potlucks regularly that feature delicious offerings, and we have even joked that “what would you bring to the office potluck” should be an interview question so we can continue that tradition. Multiple people in the office, both male and female, bring baked goods or pick up bagels on the way to work or make large batches of chili or tamales for the office on a regular basis.

      That said, no one has brought food on their first day of work. That would be weird. It’s your first day. You dress up more than is necessary, you fill out paperwork with HR, you meet a lot of people whose names/exact job duties you will promptly forget until you actually need to talk to them about something a week later, and if we are on top of things we take you out to lunch (because we wouldn’t *not* mark the occasion with food, we just wouldn’t expect you to be responsible for it).

      Wait until you know the culture of the office before you bring food to share. If it’s an office like mine, where bringing in cookies will not pigeon-hole you in any way, give it a few weeks or a month. Everyone will be excited that “Sansa brought in cookies!” and it won’t suddenly put you in charge of organizing baby showers or cleaning up the office kitchenette. If it’s an environment where baking = Mommy in the eyes of your colleagues, then do not bring the cookies. Or wait long enough that you have established in other ways that you are NOT the office Mommy just because you have two X chromosomes.

      Reply
      1. Gaia

        It would be so, so weird if someone in our office brought food on the first day. Not the least because we’d have already arranged food for day 1 in celebration of our new hire (seriously – food.is.a.thing.here) but also because they have no way of knowing how we approach this, no way of knowing we have a list of allergies or sensitivities that people are expected to avoid (or label) etc.

        Reply
    6. Mrs. Fenris

      I used to love to bake, and I fell into the homemade-goodies trap briefly at my job. It’s a female dominated industry, so sexism wasn’t really the issue. (On the other hand, this field attracts a lot of happily childfree women, so OMG the mommy wars.) The only issue it caused me was that one time someone in a PR role asked me, dead seriously, to make a cake for a client she thought we needed to woo. I declined. Everybody thought it was funny (this person is an older, dotty lady who is only kept around because management keeps thinking she will just retire), but I don’t remember anyone besides me thinking it wasn’t really appropriate.

      Reply
  3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

    OP#2, please do not under any circumstances bring in baked goods. Leaving the risk of food allergies, etc., aside, this rarely works when you’re new on the job and can read awkwardly depending on your employer’s work culture.

    I’m a person who loves to bake, and I’ve worked in some pretty social justice-y settings where people think that they care about gender equity, and bringing baked goods was a great way to get pigeon-holed in those “friendly” environments (conversely, if you were a dude and did this you got major brownie points). I imagine that effect will be magnified at your new job, where the skew in gender balance is fairly extreme. If folks eat their lunch on site, bring something for yourself one day and a little extra to share if anyone asks—i.e., not enough to feed the office but bringing 2 cookies instead of 1. That said, given that this hasn’t worked well in the past, I echo Alison in thinking it’s worth abandoning the bringing-in-baked-goods approach until you’re way more established in your role.

    Reply
    1. Workaholic

      I agree – my team at work is very food oriented, with a potluck about once a week, avg 1.5/wk if you count random food shares and birthdays. Everybody (male and female) brings food in and helps clean up. But even with this dynamic – a brand new person bringing food their first day would seem a bit odd.

      Reply
    2. Fish Microwaver

      I know plenty of dudes who like to cook and bake but I have never worked with one who brought his offerings to share at work.

      Reply
      1. Covert

        I’m so glad I landed in my current office. We have s ton of people (both men and women, including myself) who enjoy baking and bring in goodies, including both a man and a woman who were once chefs. I can count on baked goods at least once every two weeks.

        Reply
      2. CM

        On multiple occasions, in different workplaces, when a man has brought in baked goods I’ve heard people comment that his wife is a good cook. :/

        Reply
      3. the gold digger

        I never have worked with a guy who brings food to work either, until my current boss (who is also wonderful in so many other ways). He is a really good cook. He is from Iran and brings traditional Iranian dishes to share every month or so.

        Reply
      4. PK

        I enjoy baking and have brought in goods a number of times. It never dawned on me that it could be viewed negatively if I was a female. Learn all sorts of stuff on this blog.

        Reply
        1. Artemesia

          It isn’t ‘viewed negatively’; people love the goodies. But it pushes women who do it into a perception as ‘nurturing support person’ rather than professional. Just as men who change the occasional diaper or care for their kids are viewed as heroic, men who bring in cupcakes are not automatically viewed as lesser beings.

          Reply
          1. PK

            I don’t see any reason that a person couldn’t be both nurturing/support and a professional. They aren’t exclusive. Regardless of my opinion though, I don’t think it’s wise to do on a first day for anyone without knowing the office culture.

            As for your parenting example, the trope is that they are morons when it comes to parenting…not heroes.

            Reply
            1. Emi.

              There’s no reason why someone can’t *be* nurturing and a professional—but it still happens that if people *think of* you as Nurturing Jane, that crowds out them *thinking of* you as as Professional Jane.

              (Also, the “dads are morons” trope is the reason for the “it’s heroic for dads to change diapers successfully” trope.)

              Reply
            2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

              No one is making the argument you’re making (that a person can’t be nurturing and professional, or that men cannot be competent caregivers/parents). We’re talking about a systemic problem, and I think you’re responding from an individualized, idealized perspective.

              Artemesia and others are describing a real, gendered phenomena that exists in most American workplaces and are explaining why it is more likely to negatively impact women (particularly women in male-dominated industries) than men.

              With respect to parenting, etc., I agree with Emi.

              Reply
              1. PK

                I’m not questioning the phenomena (and I’ve repeated that regularly). It’s new to me but I’m trying to be more understanding of different perspectives and experiences than my own particularly when it comes to subtle forms of sexism. Blatant stuff is easy.

                The parenting example is just a sore spot for me personally. I’m often given common sense advice from mothers because there’s just no possible way that I could actually be doing it right. That’s off topic and besides the point though. My apologies.

                Reply
                1. Halpful

                  It’s not entirely offtopic; it’s another example of sexist assumptions. When it comes to childcare, men are stereotyped as incompetent, and the standards are insultingly low. That’s why when a man does something that doesn’t fit the stereotype (like changing a diaper) he’s often treated like a “hero” (like, “wow, it’s so great that you put effort into that” … more like praising a dog in some ways… ). Your example of people assuming that you’re Doing It Wrong is sort of the other side of that coin, like when people try to take something away from a woman because it’s “too technical” for her or other such BS. I occasionally get a version of the “hero” treatment, like “wow it’s great that you’re a programmer, I wish there were more girls in tech” (usually in close proximity to things that drive wiser women *out* of tech). It does seem more common for women to get the overtly-negative side instead of the insulting-praise side, though. … Actually, maybe the reason I get the insulting-praise side a bit more is that I exaggerate my incompetence at stereotypically-female/support things (or am genuinely incompetent at some), to the point that I fit the eccentric-savant stereotype better…

          2. PK

            There’s no reason that a person can’t be both supporting and professional (including men). It’s not a perfect world though.

            The stereotype about men and parenting tends to be that they are clueless morons and not heroes. Just saying.

            Reply
            1. Marcela

              No, there is not. But given the chance to think of me as the Python Wizard or the Cake Master, my coworkers will remember me as the Cake Master, even more if not even one of my coworkers cook, so between the unexpected and the expected, my reputation WILL suffer.

              Reply
      5. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

        I’ve volunteered to cook for office parties and cookouts and so on, but I honestly don’t like office cultures where people bring food in all the time.

        Reply
      6. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        I’ve met exactly two men who have brought food they’ve made to work, and both were in senior positions (at two different employers).

        Reply
      1. LilyPearl

        My brother took in brownies and a coffee & walnut cake to his office last week – but I agree it’s more unusual for men to do this. Absolutely agree on giving it time to see how the office dynamic pans out.

        Reply
        1. SpaceySteph

          I work in engineering and when men in my office bring in food its more like they stopped for a dozen donuts on the way into the office vs. something homemade.
          Our office definitely has a food culture, but the storebought stuff is not likely to cast anyone in the same “mom” image as homemade goodies.

          Reply
          1. Lablizard

            In my office the culture is “My family/in-laws visited and we have too much food” and “I traveled somewhere cool, here is a cool treat from there” and both men and women do it. Interestingly, when women bring in family made stuff we get asked if we made it but men get asked if their wife/mom/grandma made it O_o

            I get around this by emailing, “My $relative made baklava and we can’t eat it all. Help yourself to a piece in the kitchen”

            Reply
    3. Old Admin

      I would agree here – don’t bring baked goods on your first day! This will typecast you.
      In fact, take lots of time, and try to find out if other, especially male, coworkers ever bring snakes/cake/cookies. If they don’t, then you should not ever.
      If they do it on their own birthday, then you do that exactly then, and *only* then.

      I have been burned by this before:
      I once was ordered by our Scrum master to improve communication and my popularity on my team – so I brought cake, and once homemade burritos. The team stuffed itself every time, and the Scrum master praised me.
      We later played a Scrum game where in a full meeting everybody had to say something “nice” (as in technical, job related) about another team member. So they were giving each other all sorts of brownie points (a pun, see? *bitter laugh*) for technical competence and hard work.
      When my turn came, the coworker paused and stared at me, then said: “Well… I guess Old Admin cooks real well.”
      My heart sank, and I knew I had lost every chance in the group. I never brought food again, and soon after left for a different department.

      Reply
      1. Lora

        This. Been in biotech a loooooong time. If you bring in food, if you order lunch, you will become The Mom.

        Exjob required all the project managers to order lunches for their visiting clients. Guess who was constantly tasked, as the only woman for over a year, with ordering all the lunches and picking them up and wrangling the evil expense reporting system? Yeah. Fortunately we were tracking our hours, and charged to specific projects, and eventually Boss #3 asked why I was charging oodles of time to projects which were emphatically NOT mine. I explained, that’s how long it takes to wrangle lunch for EVERYONE out here in the suburbs, because apparently nobody can figure out how to use an online ordering system or a phone by themselves, and there’s not a lot of food options here so you have to call and call and catch them as soon as they open to put in your order or you won’t be eating until 1:30. At one point I was taking orders for who wanted what sandwich, and after a couple of four-hour adventures in “they’re out of that, what else?” for 20+ people, I just ordered one of everything and told people to pick what they wanted from the bags. Even THAT sucked up a stupid amount of time.

        Boss put his foot down and said, everyone will order their own food for their own clients. End of story. Lora has put the menus and website links in the shared drive, look them up your own self. Slowly, painfully, one by one and nevertheless with many questions about how to order food on the phone (these were grown 40-60 year old men!), they eventually got it.

        Then and only then did anyone in my office start asking me technical questions about things. They were surprised to find out that I actually knew the answers.

        Reply
        1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

          I’m surprised you even went so far as to answer questions and put menus and links on the shared drive. Display some initiative, dudes. There’s this amazing thing called Google Maps where you can find restaurants. Call them. Tell the person you want to order delivery. Order food. Pay for the food. Take the food to the conference room. Throw the trash away afterwards.

          Technically competent men have this annoying habit of letting themselves off the hook for any other task that isn’t directly related to their core competency, and it’s insufferable. These are people who can map the genome of the rabies virus, but can’t apply any of that can-do spirit to their own dry cleaning or fixing a toilet. I ran into it all the time in academia. Yes, yes, Doctor Jones, your work in metagenomics is fascinating, but you don’t need to ask your female grad student to order your lunch for you.

          Reply
          1. mamabear

            OMG, yes. This is definitely a thing and it’s infuriating. You’re a bright guy, surely you can figure out how to get beverages and snacks for our meeting.

            Reply
          2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

            Seriously. Or use DoorDash, eat24, etc., etc. Jeez, freaking figure out how to feed yourself without Lora’s intervention, grown people.

            Reply
          3. zora

            Seriously!! Christ on a Cracker, have none of you men ever even ordered pizza for dinner when your wife was sick?? How is this so difficult that you can’t do it without tons of help? That is ridiculous.

            Reply
      2. embertine

        I would be absolutely delighted if my co-workers brought in snakes, but some of our colleagues would not be so pleased!

        Reply
    4. LQ

      I’m on this train as well. I only bring in things when there is a pot luck that I didn’t bake. It’s not that I can’t or don’t bake, I’m just trying to sell a side of myself, and She Who Bakes Good Food is not what I want people to buy. I do feel like I need to participate, and the guys on my team all bring in food (nearly always that they made, and they still get oh your wife made it things), but store bought things say I will participate but I will not be the office mom.

      Reply
      1. Artemesia

        As someone fairly high on the food chain and better paid than the admins and such, I always felt I should bring a main course to the potlucks but didn’t want to be a cook in the professional setting. I used to get a big bucket of KFC when we had potlucks. On other occasions I have taken my own dish to the deli and had them fill it with something.

        Reply
    5. Venus Supreme

      Yeah, I think it has a lot to do with the culture of the work environment. Our organization is pretty woman-dominated/woman-friendly (also not tech) and people will often bring in things to eat. Sometimes they’re baked goods, other times they’re store-bought, and most often it’s someone’s leftovers that they don’t want to go to waste (i.e. pizza) and they’re left out on a first-come first-served basis. It’s not expected and it usually comes up when it’s a holiday or other event to be celebrated, and it is never expected that “So-and-So will bring in the cupcakes” or anything like that. We had one new person start right around the holidays and she brought in an assortment of AMAZING baked goods. Staff enjoyed it, thanked her, and most of our first conversations with her were around swapping recipes. I think it was because of our office culture that the gesture was received really well, and I think that may be the difference if OP2 did something like that here versus doing something in her own office. So, given the circumstances, I recommend waiting a long while before sharing your baking powers with your work people.

      Reply
      1. Eplawyer

        So your first conversations with you new coworker were not about her work background or even anything work related but swapping recipes? This is why bringing in baked goods too soon is a bad idea. You want people to see you as a coworker not a baker.

        Reply
        1. fposte

          I think there are work cultures where that’s less of a problem, but I agree that there’s a job interview element to the first few days, in that what you present with is presumed to be an important part of you. If the first thing you do is present baked goods, that’s going to seem like the biggest thing about you.

          Reply
        2. Venus Supreme

          Her particular position and my position never overlap and our offices are situated where we’d never cross paths unless we go to the bathroom at the same time. She also brought in the goods the day of our holiday party, so I thought it was a nice way to participate in the festivities that wasn’t 100% related to Teapots Inc.

          Again, this is the norm for our arts nonprofit. Clearly it’s different elsewhere.

          Reply
    6. M_Lynn

      YES! I’m also in social justice-y nonprofits, and even in those that skew towards more women than men, the gender dynamic is exactly the same as what I hear about tech or male-dominated fields. Except that there is a self-satisfied smugness about being so progressive and subverting harmful gender/race structures, but they are operating under them all the same! As a woman, negotiating a higher raise with my female boss, female boss’s boss, and female HR director was a DISASTER.

      Anyway, all this goes to say that the OP should absolutely not bring in food on her first day, and potentially never bring in food again.

      Reply
  4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

    OP#4, the resume advice was not great—it’s definitely dated, but it also runs the risk of making your students look a little pretentious. The good news is that because they’re young, employers may give them greater leeway than they would a more experienced candidate.

    FWIW, I’ve never seen a high school or even college student pull off an “objectives” section effectively. It’s often just a waste of space, and it tends to highlight that there aren’t enough other valid experiences on the candidate’s resume to occupy that space.

    Reply
    1. Feathers McGraw

      I’ve actually never seen an objectives section in situ. Is it like a profile but expanded into bullet points?

      I just looked at some examples on Google and they made my eyes bleed.

      Reply
      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        Usually they appear at the top of the resume, under the person’s letterhead/name, but above the substantive sections like “Education” and “Experience” (sometimes it’s a heading, sometimes it’s a text box). I’ve seen them presented either as bullet points or as 2-3 sentences, and they’ll often say something mind-numbingly obvious, like:

        Objective:
        Secure sales position at highly-respected clothing retailer.

        Or some other variation on that the theme of “repeat the name of the job you’re applying for.” I don’t see them often, but when I have, it’s exclusively been high schoolers or college juniors/seniors with no prior work experience. I’ve seen a handful from law students and recent law grads (I’m talking 2-4 out of 700+ applications), and they’re similarly useless/banal.

        Reply
        1. Feathers McGraw

          So kind of like a profile, but about what you’re looking for and not a summary of your skills and experience?

          Not wild about profiles either but they seem to be more of a norm now? I wouldn’t know as I haven’t needed a resume (as opposed to filling in an application) in quite some time.

          Reply
          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            Yeah, exactly — an objective is just about what you’re looking for (and often it barely does that because they tend to be bizarrely generic). A profile section, though, is a different thing and is quite popular these days. They can be pretty generic too if done poorly, but if they’re done well they can frame your whole resume and explain what’s distinctive about you.

            Reply
            1. Feathers McGraw

              I have seen so many terrible profiles it’s not even funny. It’s one thing to use the space to highlight your experience and capabilities, but people all too often fill them with generic rubbish about being a team player.

              Reply
              1. Teapot librarian

                The resume I got last night (see my comment below) highlighted her tenacity in her objective statement. I don’t know what type of job she’s looking for though. :-)

                Reply
            2. Teapot librarian

              This was very timely for me, thanks. I got a resume to review yesterday that had both an objective statement and a profile, and even though I’ve *always* been told — for the last 20 years — that an objective statement is outdated, I was nervous about giving bad advice based on my own elite professional experience.

              Reply
    2. Artemesia

      And when you are applying to be a waitress to help pay for school, or similar teen jobs, an objective related to that job is just silly.

      Reply
      1. Antilles

        Yeah, that was my thought too. If you’re a teenager or student, your career objective is almost certainly *not* to wait tables or deliver newspapers or be a restaurant greeter. You’re just looking for a few hours per week short-term job to pay the bills or get a little extra cash. Which is totally fine and understood by both parties…but does mean that an objective is kinda ridiculous.

        Reply
      2. Alton

        Totally. I wish that more resume advice geared toward young people took that into account. It’s important to know how to apply for professional/career-track positions (though seeing as many people never use an objective, it seems silly to make it sound like the norm), but if you’re just looking for part-time summer work, if you’re applying for an obviously entry-level job, or you have very little experience, it can be hard to utilize advice that assumes you’re more established.

        Reply
    3. Jamie

      I think a big part of the problem is students may be forced to put objectives on their resumes especially if they get a job through the school such as work study or an internship. That’s probably more relevant in college than high school though.

      Personally I hope the notion of objectives on resumes is buried and never seen again very soon. There might be some fields/jobs where they’re relevant but overall they just seem contrived and useless to me. After all is an employer looking to hire an accountant really going to see Bob the Candidate’s objective is to “work in a medium sized accounting firm where I can gain experience while providing valuable services” and think ‘Oh! I must interview this man immediately!’

      Reply
    4. SarahTheEntwife

      My employer’s career services people are very fond of the objectives section, and so when I’m hiring students I either see something that’s a very formal rewording of “I need a work-study job so I can buy food” (which looks pretentious and unnecessary but I guess at least they’re honest) or is something related to their actual career goal (good luck with that international finance gig, student, but that’s not even slightly the job you’re applying for so it makes you look really out of touch…).

      Reply
    5. OP #4

      I could never pull of an objective effectively myself. I still can’t and took them off my C.V. years ago. (My objectives tended to be things like, “Get a job so I can afford to eat, put gas in my car, and pay rent. Will work any crap job for food.” Even as someone with a couple graduate degrees and working in a professional setting, this is STILL partly my objective.) Interesting about the profiles; the only time I’ve seen them is on something like LinkedIn – although that’s more of a career summary, I guess. Then again, I’m not hiring people.

      The timing of this is excellent (thanks, Allison!); I was able to talk to my students this morning about Why This Might Not Be a Helpful Thing to include an objective (redundancy – a version of an objective and explanation of experience and fit can/should appear in a cover letter; appearing even more inexperienced than you are; etc.). A commenter below mentioned something about using this as a writing tool, which is definitely relevant: I teach writing, and the focus in both college-level classes includes the rhetorical choices we and others make.

      Reply
      1. Nonprofit Nancy

        I was told to do one by a college career counselor, and I did add it (what did I know). My interviewer gently made fun of it. At least they did offer me the job! But yeah, take it out – I don’t think it helped me :)

        Reply
  5. Milton Waddams

    #1: It depends on what the goal is. If the goal is to end the practice, you have to find a way to show the owners that the current practices hurts them. While suing for your time is a rather direct way, that doesn’t solve the root problem. Was this a privately owned business or a public one? If public, consider purchasing a share and then explaining your ordeal at the next shareholder’s meeting. If private, does the owner actually know that this is happening? (Or if the owner is the CEO, do they know that your interview with them was 1 or 29 rather than 1 of 3?)

    This sort of thing is usually caused by a perfect storm of poorly trained HR and principal-agent problems; having 29 interviews is the less risky option for a particular employee’s paycheck, even though it is the more risky option for the company as a whole.

    Reply
    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      I don’t think OP#1’s friend was considering suing—it sounded more like she wanted an attorney to write a letter demanding $ for her time (but it’s vague, so perhaps it meant file a lawsuit).

      I’m also not sure I can get behind the idea of buying a share of stock in order to tell the shareholder’s that how the company conducts hiring was overly involved and time-wasting, particularly if OP#1’s friend hasn’t tried other less intrusive methods of communicating her feedback. Frankly, I don’t think shareholders would care, nor do they want to know the inner workings of the company’s hiring process.

      Reply
    2. Allie

      Although if the friend feels like she wasted time and money of the interview, why waste more time and money on an attorney (if she could find one willing to take on this task) or trying to teach the company a lesson? What good would it do for her at all? Write a Glassdoor, if anything, and move on.

      Reply
    3. Colette

      What grounds would she have to sue? Her time would be better spent thinking about how she could have handled it differently and understanding the concept of sunk costs.

      Reply
    4. Leatherwings

      If she shows up at a shareholders meeting to complain about an interview process she’s going to sink her professional reputation even quicker than if she sent a bill for her time. She’d come across as a bitter, loony rejected candidate who went to extreme lengths to complain that she wasn’t hired (and yes, the interview process was ridiculous, but that’s how it’ll come across).

      Reply
      1. Czhorat

        Exactly this.

        You also need to remember that the hiring company wasted at least as much time as the candidate. Time for C-level executives in particular is not cheap, nor lightly spent.

        ANd yes, “rejected candidate complaining about the hiring process” is really not a good look.

        Some days you eat the bear. Some days the bear eats you. If you insist on a positive from this, think of what it would be like to work for someone that handles hiring this badly. OP’s friend might have dodged a bullet.

        Reply
        1. Chaordic One

          There are always a few candidates who reject the job because they are so turned off by the interview process, but the situation has to get really bad before the hiring company will get around to figuring out that the process is hurting them in attracting talent.

          Complaints about the hiring process on Glass Door can help prospective employees and are a warning sign to hiring companies.

          Reply
        2. Milton Waddams

          That’s the point. Time for C-level executives is expensive, so it is in the best interest of those paying them not to waste it.

          However, with larger companies, this is not always kept in mind — when a company grows to a certain size, individual departments (or even individual staff members) find that their performance and financial well-being becomes divorced from the company as a whole, leading to principal-agent problems where what’s best for the department or the individual may be a terrible mistake from a company perspective.

          Principal-agent problems can sink a company if they are not managed effectively.

          Reply
      2. Milton Waddams

        This might be so if we weren’t talking about 29 interviews. If the top candidates were getting 29 interviews each, how many were the much larger pool of second-choice candidates receiving? 10 each? That sounds like an enormous waste of time and money — shareholders would want to know more, even if it somehow does make good business sense. This encourages the practice to be examined more carefully.

        Reply
        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Shareholders are very unlikely to care about this. Shareholders don’t generally get into micro details like this. (And the comment above that it would sink her own reputation is right on.)

          Reply
          1. Milton Waddams

            Micro-details that cost a lot of money tend to draw attention; this is why people care about expense account fraud. These kinds of micro-details are often symptoms of macro-problems.

            Reply
            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              I maintain shareholders won’t care and it will make the OP look bad. We can agree to disagree.

              (Milton, can I ask if you’re in the U.S. or somewhere else? Your comments and perspective are often so at odds with my own experience that I wonder if it’s cultural. Or if you’re in the U.S., are you maybe talking about things as you think they should be, rather than as they actually work?)

              Reply
              1. Milton Waddams

                You’re located in D.C., I believe? I have some family out there, and it really is its own little world. :-) I suppose this is true for many parts of the country — this is the challenge when trying to talk about things nationally in a country of such an absurd size. All that can be done is for people to contribute their own perspectives, even if they are unfamiliar ones.

                Reply
                1. Corporate Citizen

                  What kind of organizations do you work with, though? My impression is that your experience is primarily in the nonprofit world. I enjoy the blog, but some of what I read here is at odds with my own experience, which is almost entirely with large, for-profit corporations (both private and publicly traded). My $0.02 FWIW.

                2. Nale

                  I’ve worked primarily for large, publicly traded companies and almost always find Alison’s advice on point. Milton’s comments normally mystify me and describe a world that doesn’t square with my experience.

  6. Feathers McGraw

    #2 In an ideal world you could bring them in and not give it a second thought but it’s not an ideal world. It depends a lot on organisational and team culture. In my team there a few men who bring in baked goods more often than the women including one of the more senior managers who keeps the biscuit tin filled up (I’m British, tea and biscuits is a thing, by which I mean cookies). I was shocked when I first read on AAM that it was anything to think twice about. But I think in any new workplace it’s best to watch and wait before doing anything like this. And all other things aside, as you’re new, let THEM welcome you. You’ve got through the process and got the job – isn’t day one about them making you welcome?

    Reply
    1. MillersSpring

      Excellent point. Let them welcome you in those early days and weeks on the job.

      You eventually could ask if they ever do potlucks, such as at the holidays. Or you could observe whether anyone ever leaves home-baked treats to share by the coffeepot or the communal kitchen.

      Reply
    2. plain_jane

      What I often see is that men bring in bought baked goods, while women bring in things they made. A similar dynamic in potlucks. The sushi tray or fried chicken is most likely from a guy, or group of guys.

      The guys who do bring in baked goods they made aren’t penalized because there isn’t a confirmation bias being hit.

      Reply
    3. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks

      +1. These first few weeks THEY should be doing things to make YOU feel welcome–Like bringing in donuts or taking you to lunch. Like AAM said, it’s probably not a good idea for you to bring in treats on your first day (or for the first few months)–you don’t want to risk being seen as trying to score points or favors. Incidentally, I worked with someone who did just that and it was seen as her trying to score points–the gesture was not appreciated by the others.

      Reply
  7. Feathers McGraw

    #3 I was surprised when you asked what talking to your boss could achieve, because it’s clear from your letter that you could really use some feedback from her. You ask: what if she says I’m not doing well? That does feel scary but you know what? If she does say that, it’s information you need to have.

    I think you must certainly aren’t the first person to struggle with feeling unable to gauge how you’re doing. It doesn’t necessarily mean you are somehow less self-aware. It could be that you haven’t been told what success looks like in this job or given measurable goals/objectives. So I’d have some concrete questions ready for your boss. What are you doing well and what do you need to improve on? What does improvement look like?

    I also wondered if you’re getting any feedback on anything you’re doing? If not, it’s really hard to know how you’re performing and it’s understandable that you’d like some input. Hang on in there!

    Reply
    1. OP 3

      Hi, thanks for your response!

      I do get feedback occasionally in the sense that if I made a mistake on something she might explain that I made a mistake and why (usually due to not being trained in that area but sometimes carelessness as well). I just have no idea if it is a normal amount of mistakes. I’ve never been given an indication of particular things I can work on or if I am doing average/well at the job.

      I will be asking her to take the time to talk soon and hopefully it either gives me peace of mind or some things to work on :)

      Reply
      1. Ruff orpington

        I had this talk with my boss for the first time and it was so helpful. While he had been giving good feedback on individual things, it was really great to get everything in context. He was more than happy with my work in the position, but also was able to suggest things to work on that would help with career progression. Made me feel much more comfortable in the job and talking honestly with him. (He’s currently helping me find a job at his level!)

        Reply
      2. Grits McGee

        OP 3, what I’ve found to be really helpful is to get quantitative goal posts that you should be reaching (if that’s applicable for what you’re doing). Here’s some questions I asked at my “How am I doing?” meeting:
        -Based on the level of difficulty of teapot spouts I’ve been attaching, am I going at a reasonable pace?
        -Am I on track to meet all of the metrics I need to achieve for my promotion? (This makes sense in my context in a gov job with a defined career/promotion path, but may not be appropriate in your circumstances.)
        -Are there specific quantitative metrics that you will be evaluating me on for my annual appraisal?
        -Is there anything I could be doing more efficiently?
        -I’m really interested in/good at chocolate glazing. Are there any opportunities in the department to take on those kinds of projects?

        Does your boss/company have formal performance plans with defined metrics or standards of performance? Those can be really helpful reference both for your own information and as a guide for seeking feedback from your boss.

        Reply
    2. NoMoreMrFixit

      I suffer from depression and found the meds had a huge impact on my performance at times. Thankfully I had a great working relationship with my boss. So we sat down and I explained that I had a medical condition and how it could get in the way of work at times. Made things a whole lot easier in the long run. When problems did pop up he calmly explained what was going on from his perspective and we worked out how I could deal with it. Sometimes it was a matter of a job accommodation but mostly it was getting me to stop being so self critical.

      Clear goals and milestones help tremendously.

      Reply
    3. a big fish in a very small pond

      YES! Having very clear, concrete talking points / questions/ objectives for the meeting is definitely the key to having a successful meeting with a busy boss. If OP3 has a clear topic and specific questions, the meeting can not only yield the answers OP seeks, but establish a(n initial) rapport with the boss, that could be gradually developed over time, which could have so many benefits.

      It is critical that this meeting have meaning and a point and not come across as loosy-goosy feelings and needs, because OP could easily develop a reputation of being a nuisance or “needy”, which any busy boss will want to avoid (not that that is the right way for the boss to handle it), which would result in even LESS feedback than OP is receiving now! Also, OP would get bonus points if the meeting is effective, succinct and ends before the “15 minutes”. If someone asks for 15 minutes and we have a very effective conversation that lasts 10 minutes – ya, that is an employee who values my feedback and my TIME – I won’t hesitate to accept a future request to check in from that kind of employee.

      Reply
  8. neverjaunty

    OP #2 – that you’ve “found yourself” doing traditionally women’s tasks suggests that you might be going along with getting pigeonholed a lot more than you realize. (Please understand, I’m not saying it’s your fault that male co-workers stuck you with cleanup duty; I mean that you may not realize how you’re getting maneuvered into those roles.)

    Bringing in baked goods in this situation is absolutely not going to be read as ‘the new hire is a cool person’. It’s going to be read as a signal that you are nurturing and feminine and eager to please – which exactly what you fear and don’t, professionally, want at all. Your male co-workers expect to be liked and welcomed by showing up, pulling their weight, and doing a good job. You should expect the same.

    BTW, strongly recommend that you read Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office and Feminist Fight Club. These are not, as you might be thinking, books about how to claw your way to the top Game of Thrones style; they’ve got excellent advice on how to avoid the gender pigeonholing.

    Reply
    1. Marcela

      As somebody who was brought up to ALWAYS offer to help in all places, OP2, I fully agree with neverjaunty. Do not take homemade food to your office. I work in scientific tech, and until last Tuesday I was the only woman in the office. I am always in the first group to leave meetings, and I never volunteer to clean or do anything like that. Been there, and soon my coworkers and older bosses thought it was just more natural for me to do cleaning, organizing birthday parties and keeping the office tidy. Nopes. So this time i am keeping myself as far away from any task I don’t want as possible. Even so, one day, when I brought Trader Joe’s cookies, one of my bosses told other people I made them. With the box and seal in front of him, not even open yet. He is the one that introduces me as “the IT person”, when I am 5% IT and my official title is software developer. Never again cookies, not even from a store, not even when we are working 10 hours a day.

      Reply
    2. ZNerd

      When I was a grad student (much too long ago), a prof told us that women too often start a job hoping to be respected and expecting to be liked, while men more often expect to be respected and hope to be liked. She was making a point about the attitudes we bring into early interactions (in that case, with the bratty freshmen we were trying to teach), how we were sabatoging ourselves without realizing it. That always stuck with me as a useful reminder not to let common social expectations slant my own behavior. I think it is still a useful concept for self-examination.

      Reply
      1. Nonprofit Nancy

        This is good framing. I think girls are so socialized to be “nice” that it’s hard for us to accept that in the working world, sometimes that’s a distant secondary objective to success.

        Reply
    3. Allison

      I do wonder though, is it likely that an unwillingness to help with cleanup, take notes in meetings, offering to get people coffee, and help out in other feminine ways could signal a bad attitude and a poor team-player mindset to your boss? Could you get put on a PIP or fired for refusing to fill the role of Office Mom?

      Reply
      1. Temperance

        While that’s definitely a possibility in some workplaces, I would still advise women not to do it unless they are actually planning to work as an admin for a career.

        Reply
      2. Tuckerman

        I’m surprised by the strong viewpoints on this subject. It makes sense, but maybe since I work in a female-dominated field, I haven’t felt pigeonholed. Everyone here, male or female, pitches in. I do tend to do more of the event planning, but that’s in my job description. And male co-workers are always offering to help.
        I do agree that bringing in baked goods before understanding the workplace culture isn’t a great move, and that it’s worth being very conscious of the type of work one is assigned. But categorically deciding not to help in certain ways (e.g., “I don’t clean up after staff potlucks”) isn’t good for one’s professional reputation.

        Reply
        1. neverjaunty

          There is a huge difference between a workplace where everybody cleans up after potlucks, and one where somehow the dudes never clean up after potlucks. And yes, the dynamic is very different in a male-dominated field where the OP is one of a minority of women.

          Reply
        2. LQ

          I’ve been pretty hardline on this in my job. I’m not sure it’s always good for me with the people who do clean up (2 female coworkers) but I know that those same female coworkers have a …reputation as “nice” and “helpful” and “pleasant” with male bosses and bosses bosses and up and up. My reputation isn’t for being nice but for being really excellent at my job, very technically skilled, innovative. Someone who isn’t me might have been able to have both of those sets of reputations, but I know I could never have managed to be both. And while I’m not seen as nice, I’m not so rough as to people not working with me, so I think I’m ok.

          I don’t clean up after staff potlucks. I don’t bring homemade food. And that’s a part of my strategy for me at my job and it has been good for my professional reputation.

          I do think it is really different depending on your workplace. My level has more women than men, but all the levels above me have more men than women. That matters a lot.

          Reply
          1. Bwmn

            I work in an industry that has a female slant, but in reality that slant is more recent and when you get to more leadership levels it’s common to see more men than women.

            When it comes to bringing in food, cleaning up – it’s relatively balanced. However, lots of the traits of “being helpful” when it comes to work tasks that need to be done but don’t specifically fall on anyone’s plate – it’s still often that younger women will step in to do them and men/women with more seniority will say “no, can’t do that – have a very full plate”. While it might seem that plugging holes on work that needs to be done like learning new data base systems – even when there’s tangible work product success – would ultimately behoove the careers of these helpful employees, I’ve yet to see it play out where I work. The reasons these were holes that needed to be plugged was that the organization leadership hadn’t truly prioritized those tasks and so success would go as unremarked and just someone helping out.

            Being helpful and taking projects on “off the side of your desk” has more often landed the helpful ones with the “jack of all trades/master of none” label and served to take away thinking of Jane as an “up and coming junior Tea Pot Analyst” and rather “Jane’s always there to help out”.

            So while I get the very specific points around cleaning up and bringing in food, in my most recent position, it’s also been very clear about women being “helpful” serves to muddy the waters around one’s performance evaluation as well as reputation for what you’re good at. It’s definitely counter intuitive but unfortunately I think it’s something that lots of us learn through some frustrating practice.

            Reply
            1. LQ

              This is a really helpful way to think about it.

              What is it that people in leadership role value? Where do they put the time/money/staff? And that means that is where you need to be turning. It also makes me feel better about something I took on which is sort of on the edge of is it being helpful/office mom like or is it being excellent at the management of processes part of my job. It is a pet project of one of the higher ups who does see it as a process thing more than a office mom thing.

              Reply
      3. Lablizard

        It could, but, if you really don’t want the role of “Office Mom” or to work in a place that needs one, it might be a signal that the company is a bad fit. If I was put on a PIP for not cleaning up after my co-workers or offering people coffee, I would be looking for a new job.

        Reply
      4. Lora

        YES.

        One particular exjob leaps to mind: the woman who was considered “the best” at her job, who was promoted to manager despite having zero qualifications, only actually worked her job about 3 hours/day. Her backlog was literally YEARS behind, clients threatened to withhold payments until her part of the work got done, other departments got dragged into helping her department function, she routinely lost entire projects sitting at the back of her messy office, mislabeled. But she organized all the social things, played on the company softball and soccer teams, went bowling Thursday nights with other people in the department, and always brought in candy and food.

        The women who merely worked crazy hours and got our projects completed on time, invariably no thanks to her, were considered Bad At Communicating/Collaborating and Bad Attitude-havers. The men who worked crazy hours and got their projects completed on time were also considered Bad Attitude-havers, but the guy who spent 5 hours of HIS day flirting with Miss Social Butterfly and dumping his workload on other people and then complaining incessantly about everything under the sun without offering solutions (infuriating everyone except, apparently, senior management) was mysteriously considered indispensable and a straight-shooter.

        I got out of there as soon as humanly possible.

        Reply
      5. Nonprofit Nancy

        Not if its outside your job description. I do think it varies – if you’re something like an Office Manager then you should clean up after meetings of course if that’s in your duties. If that has nothing to do with your job, you should probably try to mirror what guys of your level do, unfortunately.

        Reply
    4. Agnodike

      I agree with this, and I think it’s pretty telling that OP’s explanation for this male-dominated work environment is “the nature of the work.” There’s nothing particular to software engineering that makes it a male-dominated field. It’s not the nature of the work. It’s the nature of the social conventions around the work. The more normal it seems to us to be pigeonholed into doing Lady Things, the more Lady Things we end up doing. Which is one thing if you derive a lot of satisfaction from “office mom” type tasks or roles (and there are many who do!), but quite another if you’d prefer to spend less time on Lady Things and more time on Job Things, which it sounds like OP #2 would.

      Reply
  9. Feathers McGraw

    #5 I work for a non-profit and I have to say it would make me feel quite uncomfortable. And if you’re thinking of leaving because you’re unhappy or not stretched enough in your role, I for one would encourage you to talk to your manager instead of giving you contacts.

    In any case I think informational interviews have their place but aren’t important enough to warrant the risk of making things weird with your current colleagues. That information is often out there anyway, eg in the form of interviews, case studies, reading people’s LinkedIn pages to see what kind of career track they’ve followed, etc. Be selective about how much of your time you actually spend on these. And look for other avenues like your college – do they have a mentoring scheme or any way of putting you in contact with people in the same field?

    Lastly, please do not under any circumstances ask volunteers to do this for you. They are working for free and it is not okay to put them in an awkward position that may make them feel conflicted. What you could do is just have a chat with them about what it’s like to do x in the spirit of being interested – but due to the power imbalance it is categorically never okay to ask confidential favours from people who are helping out for free, so please don’t do it.

    Reply
    1. Feathers McGraw

      That sounded a bit strong. I totally get wanting to make your next step. It’s just that you do need to be careful with volunteers and the position you put them in.

      Reply
    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      Ditto. If OP#5 had been there longer, I think my reaction would be different. Assuming this is a position people stay in for more than year, if that person were anything less than stellar, I think most of my colleagues would find it off-putting to “network” for someone new who had performed adequately and was planning to leave so early on.

      Conversely, if it had been 2-3 years in an entry-level position, most of the managers I’ve worked with (self-included) would have been happy/eager to assist someone in their search for their next job by plugging them into other networks. I would want to know that that entry-level person wasn’t drifting and had a reason for wanting me to reach out to specific people in my network, but if they were clear about their personal motivations/needs, relatively narrow about their ask, and had done great work for the prior two years, I’d be happy to support them in making their next move.

      Reply
      1. Feathers McGraw

        I also just think there can be too much of an emphasis on informational interviews and we may be misleading people newer to the workplace into thinking you can’t ever just read an advert, write a good application and get an interview. Insider knowledge can help you focus your job search and it can give you insights into what hiring managers want but anyone worth working for is going to make that clear by writing a decent advert!

        Reply
        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Yes! They can be useful if you’re truly trying to gain a better understanding of a field, but too frequently they get used as a back-door attempt at getting hired.

          Reply
        2. Bwmn

          Also in the nonprofit world and completely agree with this.

          I would also wonder if depending on where the OP is based if there are networking opportunities within the nonprofit world/thematic sector to seek out that aren’t within the scope of the “informational interview”. If the OP is unaware of any, that might also be a more natural way to start that conversation with the supervisor – something along the lines of “I’d like the chance to connect with more nonprofit young professionals and wonder if there are any societies/meetings/groups/etc you’d recommend”. This would take the pressure off of work colleagues and would also likely be in an easier environment to have those conversations.

          In my first fundraising job, I was a department of one – and finding other ways to connect to other fundraisers at similar organizations was infinitely more helpful to me in terms of networking. Asking people for a full interview – a coffee, lunch, etc. is pretty time consuming for the person you’re asking, whereas being in a professional space where you can have a bunch of 5-10 minute conversations on what people do and how they got there would likely be far more illuminating and less of an ask for others that you’re currently working with.

          Reply
      2. Lily Rowan

        Exactly this. I’ve had some great conversations with junior colleagues on other teams about the field, my role, etc., but only when they were approaching or beyond too long to stay in an entry-level position as an ambitious young person. None of them have ever actually asked me for other contacts, but I imagine I would be happy to make some recommendations.

        Reply
  10. ZNerd

    #4, re objectives, I agree that they serve no purpose except to waste space on a resume. Which may be why a lot of people with sparse job histories (esp those in or right out of school) like them… it’s rather like using a wider margin and larger font size to help you pretend you are writing a complete essay when you have little to say. Once you have a decent amount of experience, a quick opening summary (not objectives!) can be helpful, but even that doesn’t help with those first few jobs.

    However, I wonder if it could help to use the “job objective” as a conceptual or writing aid? I mean, put in words what you want out of the specific job you are applying to, and why it interests you. That could help inform your cover letter, and possibly even what you include in the resume. You still need to flip your writing around to express how you and your skills and experience would match the company’s needs, but some introspection on what you hope to achieve couldn’t hurt.

    Reply
    1. Stellaaaaa

      I think objectives are a helpful educational tool because they encourage students to think about why they’d apply for a given job and what they presume the day-to-day work to be like. A lot of people graduate from high school or college without the vocabulary to describe what it’s like to have a job. It took me far too long to figure out that “admin” was the correct shorthand for the sort of entry level work I was looking for.

      Then again, I think that if it’s technically old-fashioned advice, I’m not sure that a lot of businesses or hiring managers are aware of that. I actually think they use the “objective” section to filter for people who have no idea what the company actually does or what the job in question entails.

      Reply
      1. OP #4

        I’d say that it CAN be a good writing tool – but being able to articulate those reasons for job experience and interest in the job is something covered in the cover letter, not specifically the resume. (And if one is applying for a job in fast food or retail, there’s probably not a space for an objective or career summary. Come to think of it, I haven’t seen dedicated spaces for an objective or career summary in online applications for any online application I’ve ever seen or used myself. I myself see objectives as redundant.)

        Reply
  11. Elizabeth the Ginger

    Is this a rerun? These questions and answers seem familiar. (Obviously it’s fine if it’s a rerun; I’m just wondering since normally you say when you’re revisiting old questions.)

    Reply
      1. Edith

        You’re not the only one. These questions are new, but very similar to ones we’ve seen in the past, like the hiring manager who received an invoice from a rejected job candidate (which Alison linked to in her reply), the newly-promoted reader asking if she should bring cupcakes on her first day as a manager, and numerous cases of students being given dubious resume advice.

        I suppose it’s to be expected in such a long-lived advice column.

        Reply
          1. Edith

            Most definitely! Especially since a lot of the reaction to that other letter was “What on earth was she thinking!?”

            Reply
  12. Freya UK

    29 interview stages?! What role were they hiring for – the second coming?

    I get annoyed if I have to do two stages, any more than three and I’d believe they didn’t know what they actually wanted or needed, or how to judge those things, and I’d be long gone.

    Reply
    1. Undine

      Even for the second coming! Well, we were very impressed with your ability to walk on water, but we still have some doubts, so we wanted to bring you back to see if you can do anything with loaves and fishes.

      Reply
        1. Feathers McGraw

          We’ve found the exception to the rule about baked goods! If you’ve been hired for the Second Coming, please feel free to bust out the baked goods. Everyone else, carry on as you were…

          Reply
    2. Chocolate Teapot

      I was once in the early stages of a hiring process where the HR person cheerfully informed me there would be about 7 different interviews: telephone, in person with HR, in person with team members, in person with boss/big boss/HR head honcho. Apparently the company believed that the longer the process, the better they could discover whether the candidate was the right fit.

      Reply
      1. Ann O'Nemity

        “Apparently the company believed that the longer the process, the better they could discover whether the candidate was the right fit.”

        There are some companies that brag about it too. Google has a really lengthy hiring process for some positions. By the time you factor in the assessments, you’re probably looking at 8-10 hours.

        Reply
      2. NW Mossy

        I did that when I was hired in at my current employer, but they were condensed into a phone screen and an all-day series of in-person interviews and skills testing. I’ve only ever seen this done for candidates like me who were relocating from out-of-state and they wanted to make sure that everyone with a stake would have a chance to meet me before they extended an offer. It was a gauntlet for sure, but I’ve been happily employed here for 7 1/2 years now.

        Reply
    3. Wing Girl

      It’s not clear to me from the letter how many stages there were. It’s possible there were several days that contained multiple interview. My company often does that, especially for higher level positions. Candidates come in for a full day or two and meet with a variety of people and groups throughout the day.

      Reply
        1. Triangle Pose

          An interview equals a stage for you and you get annoyed if you have to do two stages? That seems pretty rigid. I’ve never been hired (nor would I make a hire) with only one interview. I agree with you that 29 is way too much, but it’s reasonable to expect a candidate to have more than one or two interviews and meet with several people on the team or in HR to make sure they are the right fit.

          Reply
          1. Stardust

            Judging from her name, Freya is in the UK. And although I’m not sure the UK is one of them, there are many European countries where one interview is the norm; I’ve personally never had to do more than one and I’ve held many different jobs over the years.

            Reply
            1. Triangle Pose

              Hmm…on balance, maybe in addition to geographic region that you bring up, the specific industry and expertise/seniority level should be taken into account. In my field and at this professional level, hiring after one interview would be unheard of.

              Is it really true that in the UK you can hire a senior or professional position after one interview? I could see it for retail or maybe line work, but I struggle to see one interview being enough to evaluate professional skills and other qualities you’d need for a professional or senior role.

              Reply
              1. Freya UK

                Yep I’m in the UK and with the exception of my current company I’ve only ever had one interview (two here). It’s a professional role, not management, but yeah, one interview is the norm for most jobs here. Sometimes you’ll do a phone interview first, but three stages/interviews would be viewed as unusual.

                Reply
                1. Triangle Pose

                  Oh, see I count the phone interview as an interview. So when you said 2 is annoying I thought you meant phone+ one in-person is too many.

                2. Bananas

                  @ Triangle Pose- phone interviews are actually not that common in the UK in my experience. In fact, it’s ironic but I’d say they’re more likely to be found in the retail/customer service jobs you mention as being more suited to a one-shot interview. Both my retail/customer service jobs had a phone interview and then an in person one. None of my professional or teaching jobs have.

            2. Bananas

              Agreed- I’m in the UK and never had more than one interview. That’s in various banking jobs and now as a teacher.

              Reply
      1. Observer

        29 interviews of 1/2 hour each, even if not a single on runs over it still 14.5 hours. That’s almost two full working days. That’s insanity. Also, needing 29 people to sign off on a hire is also pretty crazy.

        I’d say she dodged a bullet.

        To be honest, though, so did they. There is something very off with someone who thinks they can bill for interview time, regardless of how ridiculous the interview process was.

        Reply
  13. Freya UK

    LW2: I feel you – I love baking and feeding people, however, I wait to see if I actually like my new colleagues before treating them. See it as less of an ‘ice breaker’ thing for you and more of a ‘you gotta earn the good sh!t’ reward for them.

    Reply
    1. Sled dog mama

      Absolutely, I love baking but it is a lot of work for me and takes time away from other things I also enjoy. If I’m gonna spend time making something from scratch for my coworkers they gotta earn it.

      Reply
    2. Nonprofit Nancy

      I’d also say there might be other places baked goods might be welcomed! If OP really loves baking and sharing food, they should do that – just maybe not right away at a new job (possibly never at the job depending on culture). Perhaps there’s a senior center or an afterschool center (Ok I’m guessing, there might be allergy issues or maybe they want everything packaged for safety, I don’t know)? Dog biscuits for the animal shelter? Soup kitchen?

      Reply
    3. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

      Honestly? I doubt they see the distinction, because either way, I think it comes off as currying favor or assuming a nurturing, stereotypical Mom role. That doesn’t come off well.

      Reply
    4. Fauna

      In one of my last jobs, I started bringing in baked goods because I was working on a side project where I baked once a week for a year (couldn’t have all that in the house). After the year was up, and the baked goods came less frequently, people started asking me about them. I said I’d bring them in weekly again if they wanted to chip in towards expenses. And so began my baked good subscription service. $25 every two months bought you a baked good every week, delivered to your desk. It was a good racket I had going. Get ’em hooked for free, then clean out their pockets.

      Reply
    5. Chaordic One

      I love baking AND eating. When someone else brings something I almost always try a bit of it. When I bring something I try to be sensitive to people who are dieting and who have food allergies. I make a point not to insist that anyone try what I’ve brought. If they don’t want it that’s O.K.

      I do get a bit annoyed when certain coworkers say things about how actual baking is a woman’s (or a gay man’s) thing.

      Reply
  14. Myrin

    No advice but I’m highly amused by the thought of everyone sending each other bills for any draining and annoying situations they find themselves in. I’d be handing them out left, right, and centre.

    Reply
  15. Joanna

    Objectives seem like a risky thing for less experienced workers because they don’t know their field and the companies in it yet. When I was involved in hiring it used to frustrate me to see young people who may have been smart and skilled but whose objectives proved they didn’t know anything about the company or revealing that their real career goals were something there wasn’t a pathway to (even a very indirect one) in our company. For example, they’d say their goal was to work in a large company like ours when in fact our company was a very small one.

    Reply
    1. Myrin

      I’m cringing at your last sentence. Either they drastically misjudged what “large company” means in your field (not good!) or they admitted to just wanting to use your company as a stepping stone (not good, either!).

      Reply
    2. Nonprofit Nancy

      Well and to be honest, if a career center emphasizes “objectives” they may not point out that those probably need to be customized to the job just like any other part of the application. So the “work at a big company” objective is sent out unchanged to every job the student applies for, when yeah it doesn’t fit for everybody.

      Reply
  16. MommyMD

    Dear Baked Goods: please come work for our hospital. We survive on caffeine and snacks and welcome you and your banana muffins with open arms…and mouths. You are precious.

    Reply
    1. Britt

      Thank you!! I might be on the other side of the bridge here, but I’m eyerolling the advice and general “don’t bring food!”. OP2, I bake and cake decorate as a hobby so I jump at the chance to create since my husband complains it’s making him fat. I’ve even sent him to his own office with baked goods many times and it was always well received. I do agree that it may take some time to figure out your audience in how often they do this stuff but I also think that you can bring in cookies or muffins on your first day and not have it mean anything more than that.

      Reply
      1. Blue Anne

        I sympathize, and I love bringing baked goods into the office (and anywhere else I can offload them) too. But it’s not a good idea on the very first day.

        Reply
          1. Covert

            Well, because in some places you don’t earn that moniker just by bringing in baked goods. My office has bake-offs where people bring in homemade stuff and we eat ourselves silly.

            The pro for me is that I get to show off my baking/decorating skills a little and I can do the hobby I love without eating thousands of calories by having a ton of cookies in my house.

            Reply
              1. Blue Anne

                Okay, but it is what I was talking about… it’s perfectly possible to get a feel for an office and know that you won’t become the office mom by bringing in baked goods. But you can’t know that on your first day.

                Reply
          2. fposte

            Bringing in baked goods doesn’t automatically translate to being the office mom, though; it’s just not something you want to do out of the gate as your most salient characteristic, before you know how the culture operates. Once you’re known for your fearsome disciplinary tactics, skills with a budget, and fundraising prowess a batch of chocolate chips isn’t going to take you down.

            Reply
      2. CM

        But OP#2 is going to work at a tech startup.
        I still remember my first job as a software developer. I showed up in a skirt and everybody thought I was a secretary. After that, jeans and flip-flops for me.

        Reply
      3. the gold digger

        I’ve even sent him to his own office with baked goods many times and it was always well received.

        Yes, but the key difference is that nobody looks at a man bringing baked goods as the Office Mom. It does not diminish a man professionally to bring cookies.

        Reply
      4. TL -

        It can be well received and still pigeonhole you into an office mom position, especially if you’re in a notoriously sexist field (tech) and already have struggled with being the woman who does the womanly work because she’s a woman.

        Reply
      5. neverjaunty

        You seem to be taking it personally that anyone would say “don’t bake for work” because you like to bake.

        Do you really not see the difference between a guy bringing in goodies his wife made, and a woman bringing in goodies she made?

        Reply
      6. Triangle Pose

        What you described is….totally not the situation here. OP wants to be known for her work, not for being a good baker. Bringing in cookies or muffins on your first day to a role unrelated to baking is going to make you stick out in a way OP does not want.

        Reply
        1. PK

          They don’t seem mutually exclusive to me but if some folks are going to treat you differently for doing it, then no need. Just skip it.

          Reply
          1. Jessie the First (or second)

            And that’s exactly the point – some folks absolutely will see you differently. The tech industry is notoriously rife with sexism, and so a woman in a tech role in a tech company has to be really aware of how she presents in a way that her male colleagues don’t (and in a way workers of either gender in some other industries maybe don’t). The danger that she will not be taken seriously as a developer is real, silly as that apparently seems to some.

            Reply
            1. PK

              Oh, I’m not doubting it that it’s a real concern even if I didn’t know about it until now. It never occurred to me that a woman baking would pigeonhole her into a particular stereotype. Completely illogical that a person couldn’t be known for multiple things but this isn’t a perfect world. I work in IT and a department culture that has a number of food events through the year where everyone chips in (both in cooking and cleanup). Considering that I love baking and sharing my sugary treats, I’m a lucky guy to share that hobby with others on my team.

              Reply
              1. tigerStripes

                I’m female and in tech and several years ago, I would sometimes bring in cookies that I made, but I didn’t bring them in the first day! It was actually several years later, when I got into baking and felt like sharing some. I don’t think it hurt my reputation, but I’d already been there long enough to get a good reputation, and t.hat was probably the only “mom” like thing I did

                Reply
      7. Birdhouse

        Liking to do something does not mean doing it in a professional setting is a good idea. It’s all about how you present yourself. Someone who comes bearing cookies on day one may seem sweet and kind and thoughtful, but they don’t exactly seem professional, competent, focused or high achieving. And they have immediately ensured that everyone’s first impression of them is about something other than how good they are at their job.

        If you actually want to be the kindly office mom, have at it. But if you want to be a stellar employee with a great reputation on the track to success, send the cookies to your grandmother and go to work to do your job not to feed your coworkers.

        And in a tech startup, this goes triple if you are a woman.

        Reply
    2. MissGirl

      Your choice of adjective may be telling here. Precious probably isn’t the descriptor she wants in this field and position. The first days and weeks can label you in a way that takes years to change so it’s important that it be the one you want to cultivate. I wouldn’t say never but not the first day.

      Reply
      1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

        Like I said above: bring in cupcakes the first day, your first impression is “Jane, the girl who brings in yummy cupcakes,” not “Jane, the new marketing chief who will be launching the product we’re working on.” I don’t care if you like to bake, which one do you want to be known for at work?

        Reply
    3. LQ

      That’s great if someone wants to be a chef or baker. Then HECK YES! Be the best baker or chef. But if you want to be a software developer, or the best surgeon on staff then being known as the woman who feeds everyone isn’t helpful to having people applaud your skills as a developer or surgeon.

      It would be great if it never impeded any woman’s career to do this, but if someone is concerned about it I don’t think you have to brush off their concerns, especially in an environment where other people are clearly pointing out how it has been problematic.

      Reply
      1. Nonprofit Nancy

        Well, and in MANY offices it’s fine to occasionally bring a baked good – full disclosure, after working here for six months and seeing that people occasionally brought in leftover sweet treats and that it didn’t seem to hurt them (one guy does it too, as well as a senior woman), I *did* bring in sugar cookies – now I do it once a year, on valentines day – because I like to make them, and it’s my way of celebrating a holiday. I don’t make a big deal of it, just leave them in the break room, I’m not sure how anybody would even know it was me. *If I do* face a small penalty for this, I’m willing to pay it now – I’ve been here five years, I trust the org, I’m reasonably secure in my reputation, I’ve been promoted and gotten a raise. But it’s not a good foot to start on, and it’s definitely a know-your-culture thing. I don’t think we have to say you can’t ever bake for your coworkers ever, the end.

        Reply
        1. LQ

          I totally agree that it can work fine. But I’d lean really hard on you should never do it on your first day. And I think dismissing concerns about it and just encouraging blanket bringing of treats isn’t good either.

          I always ask my coworkers who are going to be here on Christmas eve day what they want, and pick up not just general doughnuts, but specifically what each coworkers favorite is every Christmas Eve. It’s become a tradition. But I’m already known by all the other things I do first and foremost, which I think is critical.

          Reply
    4. Graphic Designer (Freelance, full time)

      Bringing goodies to the workplace might be fine, but not on the first day (or probably the first week or month).

      This is a question of timing, not treating.

      Reply
  17. Jamie

    I think LW #2 is drawing a parallel that’s not actually there. For me, ‘bringing in some brownies occasionally’ equals ‘office maid’ is too much of a logical leap. I agree with not bringing treats in immediately due to the reasons listed (mainly not knowing the food culture) but I don’t see a problem with bringing in treats after a few weeks on the job.

    From the context of the letter it seems she’s concluding that bringing in baked goods somehow causes her to be pigeonholed into being the ‘office mom’ but I’d say that’s the result of the other stuff like cleaning up after others and planning office parties. That’s easily combatted by simply not doing it. Although I wonder if LW cleaning up after everyone was the result of her voluntarily doing so under the notion that nobody else would do it (little bit of self sacrificing martyr) or if she was actually asked/told to stay behind and clean which seems over the line.

    I will add a caveat that I work in an office in a completely different industry where it’s very common for both male and female coworkers to bring in treats so the industry culture may be different in LW line of work.

    Reply
    1. Wanna-Alp

      It’s not even necessarily about being pigeonholed as the “office mom”, it’s about being labelled as good at baking, rather than being labelled with being good at various skills you use for your job.

      I am in the tech industry and I had to learn this the hard way. Do not do it, OP#2! You will absolutely be dminishing your professional stature. If you want to make a nice gesture, there are other ways to do it as part of your job.

      Reply
      1. Colette

        I think she can bring in baking once she has a solid professional reputation, as long she takes the approach of setting the baking somewhere central and doesn’t monitor who is eating it (or pressure people into eating it using guilt). But reputation first, baking second.

        Reply
        1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

          Even then, reputation and roles can change. There’s no upside to bringing baked goods.

          Reply
          1. another person

            I think this is a little strong. And probably very office culture dependent. (Especially when everyone occasionally brings in baked goods–the upside is that you get to have more delicious baked goods–and that you don’t have to eat them all yourself and in many places it isn’t a concern).

            Reply
            1. Skipper

              I agree. It’s very office culture dependent. I took baked goods into an office where I worked that was mostly men. They were received very well. I received two promotions while working there and ended up in one of the pretty specialized departments. No one thought I was an office mom. They praised both my actual work and my baked goods. What a shock, they were able to hold both those thoughts in their heads at the same time.

              Reply
              1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

                Like I said above: bring in cupcakes the first day, your first impression is “Jane, the girl who brings in yummy cupcakes,” not “Jane, the new marketing chief who will be launching the product we’re working on.” I don’t care if you like to bake, which one do you want to be known for at work? Maybe it makes sense to you to bring baked goods in once you’ve got an established reputation, but I still see no upside for a professional woman to step into the nurturing role at work in that way.

                And of course, I’m not talking about office cultures where everybody brings in stuff all the time, though I actively dislike that phenomenon too.

                Reply
                1. fposte

                  That’s the first day, though. I agree on the first day, but if you’re saying there’s overall never an upside to bringing in baked goods, I don’t agree with that. It can be good that people enjoy cupcakes; it’s just not good to *be* a cupcake.

                2. Kate

                  I agree. Just think about it, how many guys at each level above you bring in baked goods for the office that they have made themselves? If the boss or CEO or office manager brings in cookies that they (NOT their wives and not store bought) then go ahead. But otherwise, never ever do this.

                  From what I have seen the advice for clothing (dress the way the boss dresses, dress for the job you want) goes for the rest of office culture too.

                3. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

                  “It can be good that people enjoy cupcakes; it’s just not good to *be* a cupcake.”

                  Nailed it.

          2. Colette

            Once she has a professional reputation for doing good work and expecting her coworkers to do the same, it would take a lot of baking to hurt it. Right now, it’s not a good idea because she doesn’t have a reputation with her new coworkers. In six months, it might be fine.

            Reply
      2. Britt

        I think it’s possible to throw together some tollhouse cookies without “diminishing your professional stature” or ruining your reputation. One has nothing to do with the other.

        Reply
        1. Emi.

          The fact that baking has nothing to do with your job is part of the reason why it’s a bad idea–(a) baking will make you stand out, whereas everyone in the office programs (or similar), and (b) on your first day, you haven’t yet had a chance to show that you’re good at programming. So if you bring in muffins on your first day, they’ll think of you as the Baker, instead of as something professional.

          It’s like how you don’t want to be the Weird Clothes Person or the Strange Music Person instead of the Cluster Analysis Guru or the Database Wizard, with the added concern that being the Baker is associated with being the Office Mom.

          Reply
          1. Allison

            “Weird Clothes Person or the Strange Music Person”

            Pretty sure I’ve been both of those things . . . at the same time . . . I still wear stuff from ModCloth every day* and listen to swing music on Pandora but I’m hoping it’s not as “oh my gawd, sooooo weird” as it was in my first job. But maybe it is . . . damn.

            *I am very selective of which pieces I wear to work though. I’m not donning polka dot, pinup dresses or 50’s ballgowns or anything.

            Reply
            1. Blue Anne

              I have definitely been that person. I was the blue-haired Office Goth in my first job. It worked out, but only because it was a little oddball company and I asked my boss before I dyed my hair.

              Reply
            2. Kj

              I am certainly the “weird hair person” and “the office geek” but thankfully, I am first and foremost “the woman who connects to Teapots and gets stuff done in the Teapot Community.” I’ve even been able to leverage the “office geek” thing to a work-related thing that is getting us good press in the local Teapot news. If “office geek/weird hair” was the only thing I was known for, it might be a problem. But it isn’t.

              Reply
              1. tigerStripes

                In a tech place, weird hair and geekiness isn’t always seen as a problem. In my experience, being at least a little geeky is helpful.

                Reply
          2. Temperance

            I’m the strange music person and the weird office person, but this works because I have worked really hard to be a professional who also left work to go see One Direction live. I still wouldn’t bake for my office, because I don’t want to get pigeonholed as an admin.

            Reply
            1. Myrin

              Additionally, unless you come in on your first day blasting your “strange music” and ask your coworkers to dance wildly with you, your taste in music isn’t going to be immediately obvious the second you show up, whereas bringing in baked goods is. It’s also not usually something you contribute to the office but just a personal habit/taste/preference etc. – there’s also a difference between actively bringing in cupcakes and your coworkers simply knowing that you like to bake cupcakes.

              Reply
            2. Marcela

              Hahaha, I am the strange music person too, and the developer who _always wears dresses_, but that’s after I fiercely fought to be considered the expert in what I do. I am the webMaster of the Universe and I do not let my people forget it :)

              However, that was after I made the mistake of taking food to my office, and being super helpful as I was taught it was my duty to the universe as a woman to be, and discovered that one day, when talking to other people in front of one of my friends and coworker, my boss explicitly did not count me as one of the developers ( my friend asked him about that, and my boss said, “nah, I don’t count her as being as knowledgeable as the other developers”).

              Reply
        2. Observer

          Considering that you are basing this on your experience of baking for your husband’s office, I think your perspective is not terribly useful. I’m not being snarky. It’s just that it’s such a totally different situation that you simply cannot draw any parallels.

          Reply
        3. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

          This thread is full of posters commenting that because they’re women, they’ve gradually gotten handed more and more of the organization, logistics, and food/party work that has nothing to do with their professional duties and stature. That’s the entire point: they have nothing to do with each other.

          Taking on stereotypically gendered duties not in your job description for the convenience of male coworkers is a slippery slope. Getting a reputation as office cookie lady on your first day sets you off at the bottom of that slope.

          Reply
        4. Artemesia

          Oh but they do. Being the cookie lady is not going to get you the VP promotion over the person who writes amazing proposals, or trouble shoots complex problems. And cookies are yummy and the cookie lady soon IS the cookie lady first and the heart surgeon second.

          Reply
    2. Apollo Warbucks

      I think the optics could look bad and give the OP less credibility, it should matter but unfortunately I’ve seen these types of things have a negative impact on women in the workplace, maybe the OP could bring some treats in for her birthday or a team event but not on the first day.

      Reply
    3. BadPlanning

      For awhile, I brought home made cookies in 2-3 times a year. I work with nearly all men. I had a coworker in my office eating a cookie, a second came in and said, “Ooh, cookies.” The first replied, “Yeah, OP is like our office mom.”

      I never brought cookies in again.

      Reply
      1. Nonprofit Nancy

        Yeah I’ve gotten the “mom” comment (not around cookies, around organizing my team for stuff) and it’s a real morale killer. I don’t know why mostly male, mostly senior people don’t think about this a little more before they start talking :( I still look back on that incident see where the mistake occurred; I guess I was hustling people out the door in more of an affectionately nagging way than a the strong effective leadership way that I was picturing :P

        Reply
    4. dr_silverware

      The wisdom of bringing treats does vary from office-to-office, but is still overall a huge consideration in the tech industry.

      In tech, especially as a young woman, there can be a really tense negotiation of how much you want to be seen as The Girl. I think other commenters have gotten too specific with the “office mom” pitfall. It’s not actually that. It’s that if you’re The Girl, your code will be a little more suspect come code review time. You’ll get little verbal tests of the programming languages you know to see if you know the “right” ones and know all the “right” complaints about them, or if you only know the “softer” languages. You have to judge if you’ll be included on after-work/lunch social events or lose valuable networking because you’re just not one of the guys.

      These considerations are endemic to any sexist field, and they’re not insurmountable–I’ve worked in offices where I do wear cute dresses every day and occasionally bring in baked goods, and I’ve been able to negotiate any gendered consequences so far. But it’s just not a first-day thing before you read the atmosphere of the office.

      Reply
    5. Kyrielle

      I’m in the tech industry and have worked for a couple decades in mostly-male offices and mostly-male groups. And at $LastJob, after someone had established themselves as professionally capable, bringing in treats wouldn’t pigeonhole them regardless of gender. (Although it might cause people to request brownies when they felt it had been too long since they got a treat, which I was surprised didn’t annoy more than it seemed to.)

      In my current office? I have no idea if it would pigeonhole you exactly, but it would be deeply, profoundly weird. Number of times I have seen someone bring in homemade goods, other than for their own lunch, in nearly two years: zero.

      Reply
      1. Myrin

        Yes to your last paragraph (which Alison also touched upon in her answer, but I wanted to stress it regardless)! Even putting aside any and all thoughts of gender and femininity in this situation, it might simply come across as weird or unusual depending on the place’s food culture so just from that standpoint alone it’s best to err on the side of doing the thing that definitely won’t stand out (i. e. not bringing food; even in an office where homemade treats are being handed out all the time, it’s not going to seem weird for the fresh newbie to not have something at hand).

        Reply
      2. Kj

        Husband works in Big Tech and it isn’t weird for men on his team to bring in things they cooked. That said, there are no women on his team, so it can’t be a gendered thing. We have a female friend who works in tech who avoids anything too feminine at work because her team isn’t exactly good about gender dynamics. I think it is largely dependent on the company or even the team within the company. But the OP should go to work for a while before she decides if cookies=liability. Don’t assume it isn’t and get pigeon-holed.

        Reply
  18. Pickles

    #3, take a notebook to the feedback session. It helps with perception when you have it written down and makes you look really serious, in a good way.

    Reply
      1. ZTwo

        Depending on your boss, it can be good to send her a doc beforehand too–you can write some areas/projects you have questions about (or even things you know you need to improve on and want advice for the steps to do that) and she can see that ahead of time and be prepared to give you good information.

        Reply
        1. Pickles

          Oh, great idea!

          Was rushed this morning when I commented, but a notebook generally helps:
          – outline what you want to say/ensure you don’t forget your key points,
          – document what was said, from positive feedback to directions,
          – show you’re serious about improving,
          – does make you look like you’re prepared, and
          – keep you awake during dull meetings that are dragging on, in a way that makes you look much, much more competent. (Bonus points if you can write “help me” in weird foreign languages that’s not quite a doodle.)

          Never used to use notebooks, until I took on a ton more responsibility and was just plain unable to keep track of everything without it. Plus, it let me go back to such-and-such a meeting and verify that we’d discussed the tea ceremony for the important visitors, or Wakeen had said he’d take on the responsibility for the green teapots. Being able to pull out specific proof boosted my reputation as reliable – and, according to one of my bosses, “the voice of reason.”

          Reply
      1. Lily Rowan

        Not just you. I always have a notebook! And only sometimes my laptop, which can lead to some boring downtime if everyone else has screens to amuse themselves with….

        Reply
      2. starsaphire

        Not just you.

        I owe a good chunk of my career successes to a wonderful executive secretary who was my supervisor on a random temp job twenty or so years ago. On my first day, she handed me a steno pad and a pen, and said, “Take this with you everywhere. Everything I tell you, write it down in here. Everything anyone else tells you, write it down in here. If you have a question, flip through the pages first, then ask questions if you don’t find the answer.”

        Oh my God. Changed my life. I’m not an admin anymore, but I have kept it up for every job. I still have a notebook right next to me containing all the instructions I’ve received since I started here. I change them out once a year and write the year on the front. I will do this until the day I retire, because it’s saved my bacon countless times.

        Reply
  19. Grits McGee

    After the first two questions, I was really hoping that “Noooooo, don’t do it” was going to be a post theme… It’s a long shot, but any chances of “Nonononono No-vember”? ;)

    Reply
  20. Delta Delta

    #1 – What job would have 29 interviews? Just what even is this? And don’t the HR people at that company have anything else to do other than to interview (presumably multiple) people 29 times? Hiring takes a while sometimes. This must have taken six years to get through all the interviews. Yikes.

    #2 – Joining the “don’t bring baked goods on the first day” fray. Later on, once the office culture is more clear to you, bake away, if that’s going to mesh with the company.

    Reply
    1. Milton Waddams

      Re #1, I could see it being a “go slow” tactic if the new position’s role involves any structural reorganization — that gives staff who are pretty sure they’ll be laid off extra time to look for new work. Alternately, the company could have developed a culture where promotion prospects are tied to blame; in those cases, not hiring at all is actually sometimes less risky than hiring for high-stakes positions, as absurd as that sounds. The hope for that may be that the task will be passed off to a third-party headhunter (along with the sign-off risk).

      Reply
  21. BBBizAnalyst

    A bit anecdotal, but the women in my office who have risen to senior levels don’t bring in baked goods. They’re just known for their work and being incredibly bright. I would err on the side of not being known as the pastry lady on your first day.

    Reply
    1. J

      Interesting. Our Senior Associate VP, a woman, brought in homemade brownies for the quarterly office birthday celebration last week.

      Reply
  22. always in email jail

    I often receive university student resumes from individuals looking for internships/practicum opportunities. I have never once been impressed by an objective. Their only option is to be honest (“looking to complete my practicum in an organization that related to my field of study”…..DUH) or unrealistic (“looking for an opportunity to develop and implement a plan to end the opioid epidemic through community outreach” oh really? you’re going to solve this? cool. The rest of us will just quit our jobs then because you’re clearly going to solve a crisis in 6 months).
    More often than not, listing an objective just leads me to think snarky thoughts about a resume (as demonstrated above).

    Reply
  23. always in email jail

    #2 I don’t have much to add but to agree with everyone who said don’t do it. Honestly, even if it seems to be an office culture where people bring food in a lot, err on the side of “hey I picked up bagels”, not “Hey i made these super cute cupcakes”.
    I work in a male-dominated field and have to be extra conscious that I don’t end up taking on “feminine” roles. I LOVE party planning in my real life. However, if I have to pull together a baby shower for an employee at work (we do them for men and women), I’m gonna slap up a dollar store “It’s a Baby” sign (THAT’S A REAL THING GO GET ONE) and get some pizzas and present them a gift card.
    I also won’t send in leftover baked treats to my husband’s office. We work in the same field, so his employees are to some extent my colleagues, and I want them thinking of me as “email jail the colleague from such and such office”, not “email jail, wife of the boss, who sends us delicious cupcakes cause she’s a lady”. I wish it wasn’t this way, but it is.

    Reply
  24. Aurora Leigh

    Re: objectives

    In my last job interview (I got the job, but the interview was awkward) the interviewer was waiting for other people to arrive and had run out of questions to ask me, so he looked at my resume and asked “You don’t have an objective?”

    I said no, then he said he wished there were tests he could give or something and then left his office to go look for the other person.

    I felt bad for the guy! He’s a nice guy, pretty high up in the company, but not a big talker.

    Reply
  25. nnn

    The weird thing about putting an objective in a customized resume is that clearly your objective is to get this specific job. That’s why you’re applying.

    And given last week’s letter about “over-qualified” candidates, with employers’ fields that candidates may be hoping to move on to something other than that exact job, it seems like having a broader long-term objective could only be harmful.

    Reply
  26. J.B.

    #5 – I think what you’ve done so far is perfect to evaluate educational and career tracks and perspective on your field. If you are looking to grow in specific areas, I think it would be fine to approach someone in your organization who does that kind of work, and ask how you can get involved with such projects within your organization. The best way to network is to do good work and build relationships. Then you can quietly approach someone you have worked with to keep an eye out for positions or send your name on. I get the impression that right now you’re networking for the sake of networking. That’s really not necessary.

    Reply
  27. Ann O'Nemity

    “The better move would be to resolve in the future not to do anything in a hiring process that she’ll be bitter about if she doesn’t end up getting an offer.”

    I’m wondering if there’s a good way to turn down excessive interviews while still expressing interest. I can’t figure out how to politely convey, “We’ve done ten hours of interviews already. I’m still interested in the position, but I won’t be doing any more interviews.”

    Reply
  28. overcaffeinatedandqueer

    I am a woman in a progressing, but still male-dominated at the top, field. I don’t bring food because I don’t want to get categorized, and also because I can’t cook.

    However, I do bring cake to work on my birthday. I grew up in the US, but with many German traditions and norms; and the way my mom told it, in Germany when it’s your birthday as an adult, it’s backwards. You have to provide cake to others rather than someone buying you one.

    (My mom’s colleague from conservative Bavaria once did not have any cake to give out on his birthday, and so hid under his desk when coworkers looked for him to have cake! Then again, he was kind of a goofball).

    Reply
    1. BadPlanning

      This actually how birthdays are done at my US job. If you want to have your birthday celebrated at work, then you bring treats in and announce it is your birthday.

      Given how many people have reported bad birthday things with work on this site, I am now sold on this system.

      Reply
      1. Judy

        I’ve worked at places like that. People brought treats in for their celebrations. Birthdays, promotions, new babies, finding out about future new babies, Wednesdays, dropped the car for service near the Krispy Kreme. ;)

        Reply
    2. AP

      I’ve always liked the German birthday attitude! It’s a little bit of celebrating yourself, which I think is great! And everyone gets cake. Win!

      Reply
      1. Sled dog mama

        Not to mention that you get exactly the cake you want.
        My office decided to celebrate my birthday last year (as part of a cheer up sled dog mama project after the really crappy year I’d been having). It was so hard to muster any enthusiasm because I’m a baker (a good baker, my cupcakes won at my county fair a couple of years ago) and everything I make tastes great, coworkers brought in cupcakes and cake that had mounds of flavorless sickly sweet icing that tasted like vegetable shortening, so disappointing.

        Reply
        1. Jaydee

          Yup, you get exactly the treats you want and get to set your energy and money budget for it based on your needs and wants.

          Reply
        2. Marcela

          Ugh, yes. It seens the world is full of chocolate lovers, and me. Therefore, in all the offices I’ve been, I can’t eat the chocolate cake. But in other countries, I’m kind of fine with the alternatives: in the US, it seems the only other cake is carrot cake… and please, how can that be a treat?! It’s a veggie :D

          Reply
          1. overcaffeinatedandqueer

            I feel the same way. Having spent so much time in Germany as a kid, and having sweets very restricted unless I was abroad, I am a complete chocolate snob.

            Ritter Sport Kokos or Espresso-Bohnen or bust! American chocolate or chocolate flavored stuff just tastes overly artificial.

            Reply
            1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

              It’s because most American chocolate is trying to emulate Hershey’s, which has such a high milk content that it spoils and tastes off. This is why Hershey’s sucks: it tastes like sour milk. It’s also because most American chocolate is cheap as hell and uses fillers to replace the lost cocoa butter.

              Reply
          2. PK

            This is me too! In my family, everyone is a chocaholic and I’m not a fan. My mom would ‘forget’ about me not liking chocolate and make a chocolate birthday cake every year. I started making my own birthday cakes around 13 years old and now I much prefer it since I always get what flavor I want!

            Reply
    3. Roz

      Funny story – I work in a smallish (about 25 people) office, with a very friendly and casual culture. Very typical for people to know when each others’ birthdays are and to bring in treats, etc. We hired a new person last year, who is perfectly nice, polite, and professional but very quiet compared to everyone else – mostly keeps to himself and doesn’t talk about his personal life ever. Then one day about 6 months after he started, we get a huge package delivered to the office with tons of treats from a very high-end local bakery. New guy sees package, turns bright red, and goes to his office. 5 minutes later, we all get an email from him saying “Despite the fact that I turn 35 today, my traditional German mother still insists on sending treats for the office for my birthday. Please enjoy.” It was great.

      Reply
      1. the gold digger

        I was at US corporate and several Germans from the head office in Germany were at the arranged happy hour for my team (R&D) and theirs (manufacturing). The other Americans and I, who are all middle aged, were talking about how our mothers still want a text when we have arrived anywhere after traveling, even for a business trip.

        I asked one of the Germans if German moms are like that as well. He said no – his mother does not require a text when his plane lands – but that every time he leaves on a trip, she says, “Please come back.” I thought that was very cute.

        Reply
        1. overcaffeinatedandqueer

          Agreed, it is so cute. I also briefly attended German Kindergarten as a kid, and my mom gave me a “Schultute” (is that what they are called? Candy for after your first day of school in Germany).

          I so want to do that for my kids in the future.

          Reply
          1. Emi.

            Aww, I love Schultueten. I was already in an older grade when we lived in Germany, but my parents gave us them anyway to help us feel less nervous.

            Reply
            1. Artemesia

              I made one for my granddaughter when she started Kindergarten here in the US — adorable pictures ensued and she was delighted. They are easy to make and quite fun; there are examples all over the internet. I remembered them from a year I spent as a high school student in Germany; I would see these proud little kids in their lederhosen and cute little dresses with these enormous cones of treats and school supplies on their first day of school.

              Reply
    4. Allison

      When I was in college I liked getting my own cake and decorating it to my liking, but I wouldn’t say “no” when my mom has offered to buy me a cake for my friends and I to enjoy. I’ve had coworkers bring me a cake though, it was kinda nice. I guess as much as I don’t mind getting cake, having someone give you cake is a nice gesture that shows they care about you. Especially if it’s delicious cake.

      Reply
      1. Phyllis B

        This has nothing to do with baked goods, but when my son was doing a summer internship away from home on his birthday, I called a local pizza place and had pizza and soft drinks delivered. (The restaurant offered to send beer, but being on a college campus and under-age students, I declined.) I was voted BEST MOM EVER. However, this had nothing to do with my job, just making my son’s first birthday away from home special.

        Reply
  29. Robbenmel

    OP #1, I think Allison is spot on, but just so you know…I SOOOO get the temptation. I am tempted every time I am still waiting in a doctor’s office two hours past my appointment time.

    Reply
      1. Iris

        It’s either going to be three hours of waiting today or at least another three weeks before I can get another appointment (either with the same doctor or a new one, if I can find one accepting new patients).

        Reply
        1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

          I mean, let it get past half an hour without communicating my intense impatience to the doctor and their staff.

          Reply
          1. fposte

            I think you can let them know that you’re still waiting (you’re encouraged to in the offices around here) or that you need to leave (I’ve done that when a nurse apparently disappeared from the planet and I had to get back to work), but mostly all they can do is check to make sure you’re still in the rota where you need to be anyway.

            Reply
            1. Iris

              Yeah, I generally don’t say anything beyond a, “Hey, just so you know, I’m still here” because there’s very likely nothing that can be done and my getting upset at someone isn’t going to do anything for me. I have no idea what’s happening behind the scenes. Perhaps someone came in for a minor issue and then it turns out they actually had a medical emergency and the doctor had to do a bunch of extra steps and it put her behind. That’s not really her fault and me expressing my displeasure isn’t going to help anything.

              This is why I try to book the first appointment of the morning, but I will admit I’m lucky to have a job that affords me the flexibility to do so.

              Reply
              1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

                If there’s a medical emergency or something, they can come out, tell me, and ask if I can stay or if I need to reschedule. If they’re not doing that, it’s pretty clear to me that they’re just in the weeds, and/or they don’t respect my time.

                Reply
                1. fposte

                  I think “in the weeds” is SOP for the clinics around here. (I did actually get put in an exam room and forgotten once, so I tend to be hypervigilant now.)

                2. Phyllis B

                  I have actually had that happen once. The nurse called and told me the doctor had an emergency, and did I want to come in later or re-schedule? I didn’t have anything pressing, so I opted to come in later. But was nice to be given a heads up so I didn’t spend three hours in the waiting room.
                  Another time I was running behind so I called the doctor’s office and asked them whether I should come on later or re-schedule. They told me come on when I could, and I only had like a 15 minute wait. The doctor was amazed. He said in his whole career he had NEVER had a patient notify them they were running late and they really appreciated the courtesy. I couldn’t help but think, “Why can’t y’all extend US the same courtesy?” (Different doctor.)

          2. Robbenmel

            Most of the time, yes, because what Iris said…and if I start to communicate my (VERY) intense impatience, I am likely to just walk out without what I came in for.

            My dad, though…one memorable time, he had been waiting quite a while (I don’t remember how long exactly), and went up to the desk to discuss the situation. The young lady there informed my old school Southern father, in an apparently not-respectful-enough tone, that he was just gonna have to wait. His answer was, “No, ma’am, I do not. I want my entire medical file, NOW.” He got it, left, and did not return.

            This was well after he had retired, so he did not have any other pressing engagements. He just didn’t like 1) being kept waiting, 2) being told he “had” to do anything, and 3) her attitude.

            Reply
  30. AJ

    Re: post #2, beyond gender dynamics, you really need to know your office culture. I currently work in a small department with three other women. Occasionally one of my coworkers will bring in a box of cookies or donuts to share. So, after I was here about three months, I decided to bring a loaf of homemade banana bread. Not one of my coworkers wanted any of it. I felt foolish and rejected. I took the banana bread home and gave it to my husband, who took it to his workplace the next day. Not a crumb was left.

    Reply
    1. Morning Glory

      Ooh that’s interesting. I just thought about it realized I would probably grab a doughnut or cookie from a box but not grab a knife and cut a slice of banana bread. Grabbing a single-serve baked good from the plate in the kitchen is fast and easy, like nobody is going to catch me in the act of helping myself to something unhealthy.

      Of course, that’s just my own neuroticism, but it would have had nothing to do with how delicious your banana bread looked :)

      Reply
    2. Emilia Bedelia

      There is a really strange dynamic about store bought food vs. homemade – there’s something different about what “Oh, I was at Dunkin this morning anyway and decided to pick up some Munchkins” says vs “I spent 2 hours of my free time making food for all of you”. It comes off as…. too earnest, almost? It’s something about time vs. money, I think. Spending $5 on donuts is seen as nothing, but time is so much more valuable to many people that it looks strange to put that much time and effort into your coworkers.

      I have also brought in homemade treats that got rejected and felt the exact same way… it’s so crushing. I really enjoy cooking and baking, but I’ve learned my lesson.

      Reply
      1. Morning Glory

        I think that earnestness is a big factor, but I also think that the issue is that traditionally in the office, the women baked and the men bought. And in childhood life for subconscious associations, traditionally, the moms baked and the dads bought.

        That’s painting with a really broad brush, I know, but if the intent is to avoid being seen as maternal, buying food is ok, baking is not.

        Reply
      2. AJ

        Again, I think it really depends on the office. In my previous two jobs, bringing homemade treats was commonplace, and both men and women would participate. It wasn’t always involved–might be a tray of fruit or veggies and dip. This was in higher ed, and none of us had great salaries, so it made more sense to make things than buy them from home. I still work in higher ed, but at a different institution. None of my coworkers cook at all–ever–and a couple are the type who look down on home-cooked food as inferior. We have different priorities for our time and money (and health), and that’s fine.

        Reply
  31. a big fish in a very small pond

    Alison’s response to OP1 –
    Oh, Alison, PLEASE can’t we “… send each other bills for draining, annoying interactions.”? I’m dying just thinking about how hilariously fantastic that would be; that is the best idea EVER. Some of my co-workers and clients are going to be receiving some very large bills (not to mention some family members!). Actually, I think I’ll carry an invoice pad with me and just hand them out as things happen – like a parking ticket! I’ll be extremely unpopular, but extremely rich (being a hermit-type, I don’t think I have enough interactions with others to anticipate receiving these myself – not that I’m not annoying!).

    Reply
    1. Marillenbaum

      I really want a set of calling cards that say things I don’t always feel comfortable saying: “Please don’t talk to me”, “This conversation is boring/annoying/bat-guano insane and I’m leaving”, “DEAR GOD SHUT UP”.

      Reply
      1. a big fish in a very small pond

        The tricks I’ve mastered for these chatty folks (mostly everyone) is 1) to talk quietly – it wears them down (they seem to get tired of having to listen intently?) and 2) when being questioned or talked at, turn every single thing around back on the chatty person (they typically find it flattering and enjoyable and if you’re patient there will be at some point there will be an opening for a reasonably graceful escape!).

        Reply
  32. Non-profiteer

    I’ve always been baffled by career objectives on resumes, and I wonder if the people who advocate for them think it’s a good way to show that you’re not just applying to hundreds of jobs indiscriminately? Like, do hiring managers think a tailored objective is a good sign that the person was thoughtful about applying to their job?

    All of this is better accomplished in a cover letter, IMHO.

    Reply
    1. Erin

      +1 I’m so glad I don’t need one anymore. Everyone has the same objective when applying for a job. Which was the one I put of my resume in high school for an assignment when I was 15.
      Objective: To get a job, so I can have money.
      They said it was too short and too honest.

      Reply
    2. a big fish in a very small pond

      I want to totally agree (and I do for my own resume!), but as an employer I have sometimes seen objectives that have tipped the scale one way or the other for an interview (when it is otherwise a “maybe”). This is particularly true when a candidate is switching fields or trying to return to employment – it can answer the unasked questions I have before deciding to interview or pass (did they mean to apply for THIS job? what’s the deal with the big employment gap(s)? they put an objective that has nothing to do with our business – pass.).

      Reply
      1. Artemesia

        I think this is the job for the cover letter though rather than a stilted objective. On the other hand I think mission statements are the stupidest thing in organizations in my lifetime, so I have little patience for elaborate and stupid jargony nonsense.

        Reply
  33. Bridget

    OP #3: I’m not sure if this would work for your job, but one thing I’ve done in the past when I find myself asking for help with the same task over and over is write a manual for myself. This was very helpful when I was learning how to input contracts, set up room blocks, etc. at a hotel I used to work at because the process was very finicky. Writing it down just the one time really helped it stick in my mind because I made sure to document every single tiny step. And once I left, I sent the manual to the other admin who still worked there so she had some training material for the new admin who would be replacing me. My old admin friend has told me that the instructions have saved their butts more than once when they couldn’t remember how to do or access something, so something like this will be useful long after you’ve moved on as well!

    Reply
    1. Letters

      I do this for my roles, too! :) High five for hotels — that’s my industry as well. I have an Evernote notebook set up for it so that I can refer back to it, search it, tag it, etc. Especially useful for those tasks that are monthly/quarterly, since the finicky stuff you’re likely to forget over long spans of time.

      It’s actually helped me get hired for new roles, and I actually feel like it’s encouraged my managers to allow me to move in & and move up. They know that even if I’m only in a role for a year or two before I move onto something better, I’ll still be leaving the role better equipped going forward, because there will be all kinds of how-to’s left behind.

      Reply
      1. Marillenbaum

        That’s such an excellent point! I’m a graduate teaching assistant, which means there’s nearly annual turnover in my role. I’ve started making training manuals for every task I’ve been given, so that my dear unfortunate successor (cough) won’t have to spend as much time reinventing the wheel. Sadly, they will spend no less time getting patronizingly lectured to by my supervisor, but that says rather more about him than it does about anyone else.

        Reply
  34. shep

    OP #1 – This totally sounds excessive, but I also absolutely agree with Alison that your friend should not bill for her time.

    The only exception I know of to interview practices that run this long (it sounds like about 15 hours) are video game developers and similar culture-centric fields. I’ve heard of day-long (or two-day-long) interviews for many positions, and that the interviews are pretty harrowing. But typically, the applicant is flown out and accommodated on the company’s dime, and it’s very clear upfront that the final “interview” is an entire day or two. There’s a lot of coordination and planning the interview with the applicant before all this happens, so it’s not a surprise.

    Conversely, it sounds like your friend’s interview process was a long, drawn-out affair, and she didn’t realize it would be this way. I can definitely see why she is angry about it. But of course, billing would be really inappropriate, and like others have said, likely damage her reputation were knowledge of it to circulate in her field.

    Reply
  35. Ms. Meow

    OP3, I was in the exact same situation. I was learning/developing in my role and making some mistakes. Working through the issues was usually covered by the groups I was working with and not my direct manager (who is crazy busy filling two managerial roles during a merger). She didn’t give me any direct feedback. When I was finally able to sit down with her it turns out that the old adage of “no news is good news” was applicable: she didn’t give me any direct feedback because it was all good. Since she was so busy she decided to focus on the areas/people that needed the most help.

    I let her know during that meeting that I like to periodically receive feedback whether good or bad. Now we have a standing monthly check-in meeting, and it’s been working out great. Good luck!

    Reply
    1. Letters

      This is actually part of what I came here to say! One of the most brilliant things I’ve ever seen a younger worker do is actually request & schedule REGULAR periodic meetings with her manager — 5-10 minutes at most, with whatever timing works for you (weekly/monthly). That way she not only could review her schedule with the manager, but she could get regular & updated feedback from them, solicited on her terms and not just arriving when she messed something up. OP#3, I encourage you to consider this! It makes you look professional / determined to get it right, especially if you take notes & refer to past discussions. “Okay, so last time you said you wanted me to focus on improving X, so to that end I’ve been doing Y .. do you think it’s made a difference? Should I keep working in that direction?”

      Reply
  36. Christine

    1. Can you bill for your time after a long interview process?

    What do you say to a prospective employer when the interview process goes into the ridiculous stage? That you are interested in the position but not willing to continue the multiple interviews. To me they are asking people to take an awful lot of time from their current job. I would be frustrated after a point, and withdraw my application because I cannot justify the time away from my current job. Would also tell them that interview process what a huge turn off.

    Reply
    1. a big fish in a very small pond

      agree! It certainly points to inefficiency, inexperience, poor decision-making and/or organizational skills on behalf of the potential employer which are more of a concern as a potential employee, than the time and effort actually spent on the interviews. Hiring for senior executive positions often have 3 – 5 interviews and/or testing, etc., but 29?! I personally would have bailed by #10 (due to my own impatience and concerns this would generate – not a judgment of OP!).

      Reply
      1. Christine

        Big Fish,
        I agree with you. They have forgotten that they are also being interviewed by prospective employees. It’s a huge red flag. Just not poor decision making / organizational skills but a total lack of consideration. Some employers would be so mad at you being out so much, in a short period of time; that it could jeopardize your current employment. My boss would be riding me like crazy if I was out that much. But she’s one of those that works 7 days a week, and has no social life; than resents the fact that she cannot require me to work overtime without pay.

        Reply
  37. Important Moi

    LW 2: I don’t know if this will get lost in the comments but have you spoken to the other women at this company to see if they bring baked goods?

    Reply
    1. Jessie the First (or second)

      Why would she ask the other women? Not snarky. Genuinely confused. If she is concerned about being shuffled into the “girl track” at the company, how does finding out whether other women bring in food help? Wouldn’t it be better to work there a while and get a sense of the gender dynamics at work, see whether men and women share the burdens of clean-up and organizing more equally, than to go up to the few other women and poll them about their baked good habits?

      (Also, how would that question be anything but odd, coming from a person who hasn’t started work there yet?)

      Reply
      1. Important Moi

        No snark taken. :) In my years of working, I’ve often been asked discreetly about office norms by new hires. I have no idea as to why people consistently come to me.

        Reply
        1. tigerStripes

          I think that’s a good idea for what to wear and anything else you really need to know the first day or right away, but whether or not to bring baked goods is something that can wait a few months.

          Reply
    2. Emi.

      Mm, I think this is the wrong tack. Even if a bunch of women say they do bring in cookies, it’s hard to know before you start whether/how that’s affected their reputations and careers. For all you know, the company has lots of female employees who bring in cookies and promptly get pegged as Cookie Moms, so “other women do it” is not a solid basis for this decision.

      Also, if a new hire emailed me and asked if I brought baked goods to the office, I’d think she was (a) really strange, (b) probably trying to curry favor, and (c) probably a Cookie Mom type.

      Reply
    3. neverjaunty

      To what end?

      OP isn’t saying that she loves to bake and nothing brings her more joy than feeding people goodies. She’s trying to make a good impression on her first day. Bringing baked goods is not the way to do that. AND it’s intensely problematic in a male-dominated field where she’s already going to have to push hard to be treated fairly.

      Reply
      1. Christine

        Just wait six months before bring in baked goods. See if others do it, if women do it, are they asked to do other admin type of jobs. You do want to find yourself serving an office administrator to the others.

        Reply
  38. Allison

    #1 reminds me of this guy I read about who sent his ex an invoice after she turned down his marriage proposal. Never managed to verify if it was real or BS clickbait, and it did clarify the man didn’t expect payment, he just wanted to really lay out how much he invested in her to make a point (and make her feel guilty, I imagine). Kinda crappy if it’s true.

    Honestly, it does stink when you spend a lot of time on something that ultimately doesn’t work out, be it a job interview or a relationship, but you can’t always expect the person to make it up to you with dollars. Sometimes you have to accept that you sunk a lot of resources into something that didn’t happen, and the takeaway should be don’t gamble what you can’t afford to lose.

    That said, 29 interviews is too much. Most processes should be phone screen + in person interview. In some cases you can throw in a second phone screen (if a recruiter handles the first one), maybe you can do a tech screen, sometimes a second in-person interview is necessary, but 14.5 hours of interviewing is a lot, even for a high level role. The problem is that everyone wants to talk to the candidate and give their input on the debrief, and it falls on the scheduler to weed out the unnecessary interviewers, which can be tough. But yeah, a lot of companies could stand to tighten up their interview processes.

    Reply
  39. ilikeaskamanager

    When I was a professional recruiter I had a client like the company in #1 and after the first fiasco, I told them I would not work with them anymore. . It is a ridiculous situation. I am sorry for the job seeker, but consider it a lesson learned. Interviewing is a two way street and it is perfectly acceptable thing for a candidate to either withdraw from such a dysfunctional process or to ask for clarification about the purpose of additional interviews.

    Reply
  40. Alex "Barney" Barnaby

    #1:

    I’m of the mind that the better way to handle this is somewhere before Interview #20 occurs. There’s a very understandable temptation to continue with the process because so much time has been invested into it, rather than cutting your losses and moving on.

    I’m not sure what the script would be, but when she’s asked for even more interviews (this totals 15 hours, i.e. at least two full days), she could say something about withdrawing her candidacy if they do not yet feel they have enough information to evaluate her.

    Reply
    1. Jessie the First (or second)

      Yes – or maybe just say, at interview 3 or 4 or whenever she is getting close to her limit, that she is interested in the role but she does have obligations she has to meet to her current employer and is getting close to the limit of how much time she can carve out from her current job, and ask what they see as their timeline and process going forward.

      Reply
      1. Alex "Barney" Barnaby

        I like that script!

        Point is, you’re also interviewing them, and if things get out of hand, there’s nothing wrong with being firm but kind. They keep you waiting for two hours? At the end of hour one, you can politely ask for it to be rescheduled. The interview process becomes onerous? It interferes with other obligations.

        Reply
  41. Mirax

    OP#2, you’re the newcomer! It’s their responsibility to be rolling out the red carpet to welcome you, not your responsibility to try to endear yourself. Let them treat you, if that’s their culture, and when someone more junior to you comes along, pitch in with the rest of the office to pay it forward–but only in the manners in which you yourself were welcomed. (E.g., they take you for lunch and don’t let you pay, so in the future you are one of the people taking the new hire out and paying for their lunch. Don’t bring them bakies unless someone did it for you.)

    Reply
  42. Bevina del Rey

    OP #2 Re: Baked Goods:
    I’m having a super hard time with this sentence: “The organization is overwhelmingly male due to the nature of the work (software developers)”.

    Your sentence implies that software developers are usually men because of the ‘nature’ of the work.

    The reality is so much more layered than that, and has so many implications for you promoting, unintentionally I’m sure, institutionalized sexism.

    Reply
    1. Elizabeth H.

      FWIW I interpreted it mostly as shorthand for the fact that women are underrepresented for this specific field, rather than *literally* it’s due to the nature of the work though I agree with the more general point about institutionalized sexism.

      Reply
  43. Sue

    Try AFP or a simolar organization for nonprofit networking. Relative only a few years out of school has a great, well paid (6 figures) job thanks to her contacts at the organization. Also, members regularly announce openings at their shops, some unadvertised and you have an immediate contact.

    Reply
  44. Chris

    OP4… I’m baffled at what objectives you’d put when you’re applying to be a bagger at Kroger, or a barista

    Reply

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