don’t put “sexual purity” on your resume, boss left a private email open during a screenshare, and more

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

1. Don’t mention your “sexual purity” on your resume

I am reviewing law student applications for a summer internship/clerkship position at a large public law firm. One applicant included, among other standard experience stuff, that he was a “Co-Leader of a Young Men’s Sexual Purity Accountability Group” during his undergrad years. Alison, what do I do with this information? I can see in some contexts that this might(?) be appropriate (he also included a lot of not super relevant church activities on his resume), but I can’t figure out why he would include this in this context. The other members of the hiring panel are as put off by this as I am — are we right to have this reaction? I just don’t want to know literally anything about applicants’ sex lives!

Yeah, this is the other side of the question earlier this month from someone who wondered if there was a way to put his leadership of a sex club on his resume.

Your sex life stays off your resume.

Possibly this guy has just gotten very bad resume advice, but it certainly raises the concern that he doesn’t understand what is and isn’t appropriate to discuss in a work context. You are right to be squicked out and put off of his candidacy.

2. Boss left a message open during a screenshare, showing coworker’s raise

A few months ago, one of my bosses held a video call/screenshare with the entire company (relatively small business, around 10 of us). During the screenshare, she left her messages open, revealing a private conversation with another employee, offering her a raise. She made no move to close the conversation during the call, leaving it up for everyone to see.

I had expected some sort of apology about this, but no word. It’s awkward because I know that several of my coworkers have been upset with their pay and/or denied a raise. We no longer have yearly reviews, either.

Am I wrong to think that instead of letting this be the elephant in the room, my boss needs to say something? Should I approach her?

It was a few months ago, so I’d let it go. If it had just happened, you could say something like, “Hey, you may not have realized that during that screenshare, you had an email up between you and Jane about her salary. I figured you didn’t intend that and I wanted to let you know in case anyone asks about it.” But that’s just alerting her to it — it’s not complaining that your coworker got a raise. This long afterwards, though, there’s no real point in bringing it up.

As for the actual content of the message, now you have the advantage of knowing some salary data you wouldn’t otherwise have known. That can be useful background as far as what kind of thing your boss rewards and by how much, and you can potentially use that to figure out whether/how to pitch a raise for yourself.

3. In my first professional job, can I work through lunch and leave early?

I am a senior in college and I just accepted a job offer for after I graduate. My question is what to expect at a “real” salaried job, because in the past I’ve always worked as an hourly employee (internships, campus jobs, etc). I do software development, and at my internships I usually like to eat my lunch at my desk while working and then go home earlier, rather than clock out for a lunch break and have to leave later to get my eight hours in. I was wondering if that is generally considered okay for salaried employees? Or is it important to not leave earlier than other people in the office?

It depends on your office and on your boss, but as a default you should expect to work their full working hours, regardless of what you do with lunch.

At many jobs (and especially if you’re exempt, which many software people are), it’s not as much about getting eight hours in as it is about ensuring that you’re there when you might be needed … and your boss might want you there through the end of the day in case questions for you come up, or someone wants to meet with you, or so forth.

And if you’re exempt, you won’t be clocking out for lunch anyway. (With exempt jobs, you’re paid a salary that doesn’t change regardless of the number of hours you work per day.)

So I’d start out planning to work whatever the office’s standard hours are, regardless of how you handle lunch. Over time, you’ll get a better feel for the office culture and whether anyone seems to work flexible schedules. If they do, after you’ve been there a while you could ask your boss about the possibility of doing the same. That said, flexible schedules are usually starting earlier or later and then staying a full workday from there; they’re not usually about finding a way to be in the office less (especially as someone just starting out).

All of this is stuff you’ll get a better sense of after you’ve been there a while. But for now, assume you’ll be there the full day.

4. Should I disclose health info during a reference check?

I have a student assistant who wants to use me as a job reference. I don’t overall have a problem with this because she’s been a very good assistant in my classes.

However, that has not always been so with her as a student. After some behavior challenges in class (getting excessively frustrated, being very snappy, bursting into tears, refusing to speak, using inappropriate amounts of physical force when moving things around), she disclosed that she has pretty severe mental health issues behind these things but is getting treatment.

Since then I have found that if you define and enforce very clear and specific expectations and boundaries with her, far more detailed and explicit than in any typical working relationship, she controls herself beautifully. She just has to know down to tiny details what’s expected of her for her to thrive.

I am hopeful that an understanding workplace could do this for her, but if they don’t she could struggle (and has, she’s been fired more than once). So far I haven’t really seen her articulating this need herself, she instead usually asks for the opposite — large amounts of leeway instead of strict expectations. I figured it out through trial and error and by way of having a child with many of the same issues.

I feel like it’s wrong/illegal to disclose her health issues during a reference check, but I do feel like it would be useful information for any employer that she requires more explicit expectations than most people. How do I go about that without violating her privacy?

Definitely don’t disclose her health issues to a reference-checker; they’re legally not allowed to consider that information, and it would definitely be a violation of her privacy. However, you can, and probably should, talk about the fact that you’ve found she thrives with extremely detailed expectations, and that you’ve seen her struggle without those. Just don’t mention the mental health part of it, which ultimately isn’t the point anyway.

Also, if you haven’t already shared these observations with the student herself, you should do that. It may help her better understand and articulate what she needs to be successful. Plus you should give her a heads-up that it’s feedback you’d give to a reference-checker as well.

5. What to say if you need to rescind your acceptance of a job offer

My husband got into a sticky situation earlier this week and I wanted to get your take on it. Long story short, he verbally accepted an offer, realized he’d have an ethical crisis every day that he worked there, and then had to rescind his verbal acceptance.

We crafted the best email we could, citing the counter offer his company had (luckily!) given him rather than getting into a debate about ethics, but I was wondering if you had any advice for situations like this. Obviously if we could go back he never would’ve accepted the offer to start with, but assuming someone HAS to withdraw acceptance of an offer, how do you do that as politely as possible?

As quickly as possible is the most important thing, so that they can immediately do whatever they need to fill the gap. Wording-wise, I’d just be extremely apologetic and acknowledge that you know you’re inconveniencing them. Generally I would not attribute it to a counter-offer; that’s annoying, because employers expect you to have thought that through before you accepted the job with them (and it can look like you just used their offer as a way to get more money at your current job). I’d keep it vaguer in most cases.

For example: “I’m so sorry about this, but I’m not going to be able to accept the llama groomer job after all. I’ve had some circumstances change in my personal life that I didn’t anticipate, and as a result I’m not in a position to leave my current job. I really apologize about this and regret the inconvenience I know it will cause. I admire the work you’re doing and appreciated the chance to get to know you and I wish you nothing but success.” (Your husband probably wouldn’t want to say that last sentence since he has ethical issues with their work, but insert something nice there.)

{ 712 comments… read them below or add one }

    1. Lisa

      I was curious about this so I looked it up using the wording the letter-writer did, and apparently, this is a thing in some churches. They pray for each other to stay pure I guess.

      Reply
      1. Lars the Real Girl

        Yea I read more too and I’m really wondering what a co-leader does, because I’m really envisioning this as a “leading bible study/meetings/prayer” role which makes it even LESS appropriate as those aren’t really workplace skills.

        Someone correct me if I’m way off base here.

        Reply
        1. Not Australian

          Well, hypothetically I suppose there may be meeting arrangements to make, subscriptions to collect, refreshments or a newsletter or even guest speakers to organise … any of which could be seen as skills relevant to the workplace. So I can pretty much see why the guy included it, although I’d certainly have been a lot vaguer about it than he was. (A ‘church-related social group’, perhaps?)

          Reply
            1. Triple Anon

              Exactly. The wording is, in my opinion, even weirder than the fact it was included. He didn’t mention the name of the club, but he used the word “sexual” in his description of it. I wonder what the actual name was! Something even less appropriate?

              Why not just say, “Men’s Health Club”? Or “Healthy Living Club”? Abstinance and support for practicing it falls under that umbrella. (Not to imply that other choices are not healthy, but abstinence is one of many healthy choices one can make, and I assume the support includes social and psychological health topics that go with it.) If the interviewer asked about it, he could say the club offers peer support for healthy relationship choices. He could add that it’s faith based. No need to get more specific than that.

              Reply
            2. Tolerance, Please

              All of these comments seem very insensitive and show hostility to this person’s spiritual path. If someone were leading a meditation group or Friday shabbat dinners in college would everyone be so harsh? Would we jump on someone for co-leading an alcoholics anonymous group? That’s very personal, but many would see it as someone who has improved their life and now seeks to mentor others – and disregard that AA is a Christian group with Christian curriculum. I agree that the resume writer could have been more strategic in listing this in a way that doesn’t feel/sound judgmental to someone who has different sexual norms (ex: Co-Leader – Men’s Accountability Group), but I think putting all of his church experience on his resume is extremely relevant. I work for a top CIO in the world – I landed this job because of….the work I did as a leader to grow a tiny church of 80 to 350 in 5 years by tripling funds raised/budget, dramatically expanding ministries offered/budget, and increasing the church’s impact. Strategy, working with diverse groups of stakeholders (people), and values-orientation/commitment are skills – regardless of context. I’m also concerned that more and more nonprofits/public organizations are so left-leaning they are not only skeptical but outright hostile toward those who openly identify as Christian. I’ve had colleagues assert that I have *nothing* to offer to an initiative, strategy or the organization in general, because I’m a Christian, and clearly all Christians hate LGBTQ folks and women’s rights, which is clearly counter to everything our nonprofit – and most nonprofits – stand for. It’s hurtful, and harmful, and needs to stop. There have been several articles lately by prominent academics in the WSJ, NY Times, etc. talking about how they are stymied in academia by their Christian faith due to false assumptions and prejudice. It’s all very ironic that in the name of being ‘tolerant,’ so many nonprofit types explicitly discriminate against Christians…

              Reply
              1. Rocky

                I didn’t see any comments jumping on him – just suggesting other ways he could have worded his resume to avoid the word ‘sexual’. I don’t think anyone has expressed hostility because the applicant is Christian…maybe you are reading that in because you have experienced hostility yourself (which I’m sorry to hear).

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          1. Falling Diphthong

            For young people without much experience (so, this case) I can see putting down some sort of office in a church youth group. But this one’s title does introduce “So let’s talk about sexual morés!” in a context where that isn’t done. (And “I put it on my resume, but I obviously know not to bring this stuff up at work” isn’t really a line of reasoning most employers will assume.)

            Reply
            1. Triple Anon

              He might come from a college or community where it would be considered normal. Maybe that’s where he got his resume advice. That said, in my limited experience with religious groups that promote abstinence, I’ve never heard it referred to so explicitly. I think it’s usually just the opposite – other terminology is used. But what do I know?

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          2. INTP

            Yeah, I think he can just leave out “Sexual Purity Accountability” and be fine – “Co-Leader of a Young Men’s Group.”

            That obviously would not be great either for a more experienced professional, but I see nothing wrong with it for a student who is still in a phase where it’s appropriate to put school and community experience on your resume because you don’t have enough professional experience to give an idea of your abilities yet. Just being comfortable preparing for and leading a meeting is a big pro for an otherwise inexperienced candidate imo.

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                1. Alli525

                  My personal favorite is “What’s the difference between [one Christian denomination] and [another Christian denomination]? A [member of CD#1] will wave back at you in the liquor store/beer aisle.”

        2. Thlayli

          I think when you’re starting out it’s pretty typical to put stuff you did in student groups or community groups on your resume. But for things related to your sex life I’d agree with Alison that it’s probably best to be a bit vaguer in the wording.

          I had my involvement with a student political organisation on my resume when I left college – I organised things and raised funds and so on which is definitely relevant to work. I naively thought that people wouldn’t consider politics when deciding who to hire. But it definitely worked against me for at least one job (I could tell from the direct questions they asked). So id actually go a step further and say to leave all political and lifestyle specifics off the resume unless you feel that you wouldn’t want to work with people who don’t share your views on the particular issue.

          Reply
          1. Karen Lively

            When I was a young Airmen in the military, I was told point blank the things you don’t talk about at work are: Religion, Politics, and Sex. The gist of the conversation was that those topics are hot-button topics and you’re likely to get burned talking about it because you’ll either say something wrong to the wrong person or someone will overhear and make it a big deal.

            It’s been pretty sound advice I’ve found and I try to keep all talk about those three topics outside of the workplace. (And off my resume.)

            Reply
          2. the gold digger

            I was very concerned when I was looking for a new job that someone would connect me with my husband, who was running for public office at the time. (And is again.) People can have very strong opinions on politics and I didn’t know how his positions would be regarded.

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          3. suspectclass

            I’d suggest that folks engage in a realistic risk/benefit analysis of including political/identity information. For some folks leaving that info off entirely is absolutely a reasonable move. If I took all the LGBTQ-related work off my resume, I’d be leaving out significant educational and career accomplishments. I worried about this a lot when I was first looking for a job out of law school, and am certain including information about that work cost me a job. The head of the firm was a terrible boss, as I learned, and apparently based on my interview with him, also a transphobe. As humiliating as that experience was, and as scary as that time was for my family financially, I’m so grateful he didn’t hire me. Now my work expressly includes serving LGBT clients, and I was just hired for a position expressly because of that experience.

            Reply
            1. Specialk9

              That was a secondhand rollercoaster, how much harder to have lived it! Argh, sorry about that job and all the transphobia you deal with. I’m so glad you found a good place now.

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            2. Mary

              I wrote about this for the Guardian a few years ago, specifically about sharing information online:

              https://www.theguardian.com/careers/careers-blog/social-media-jobs-discrimination

              It’s one thing when you’re applying to a specific company and you can make a decision about whether “Co-Chair is the Islamic Society” is going to accord with their values or not. But it’s an impossible decision when you’re thinking about something like a LinkedIn profile or an online resume when you don’t know who’s going to be looking at it. And there’s potential for really nasty burdens when one medical graduate has done super conventional “President of the Rowing Club” and someone else has to decide whether to disclose that they were president of the LGBTQ Society.

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          4. spiderqueen

            I worked for a very well-known reproductive health organization early in my career and I am sure it has affected my opportunities. No regrets, I loved working there and enough people in my field are open-minded about that stuff. It doesn’t seem like an issue now that my resume is longer.

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          5. Lilac36

            A lot of young job seekers think that anything with leadership roles should be put on a resume because they are desperate to stand out. Back in college, I was involved in a feminist organization and had a leadership role within the organization. I put that down on my resume and listed my minor in Women’s Studies, thinking that it was a leadership role that I worked hard to get and I was proud of the organization. When I interviewed for my current employer, I was young enough to list college roles without it being weird. The first interview specifically asked me if I was a “bra-burner and would be spouting women’s lib during work,” and given that he was obnoxious in his questioning, I smiled sweetly and told him that it was a common misconception that women burned their bras during the 2nd wave of the women’s rights movement in the 60s. I then went on and told him what women’s studies actually means and how it could be useful to a job in teapot manufacturing. I also said that my personal beliefs are my own and I don’t believe in having political discussions in the workplace.

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        3. OCDAnon

          The candidate probably thought “it’s leadership! that’s a thing to list!” and didn’t put any thought beyond that.

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          1. ggg

            Agreed. I am slightly amused, but not super squicked about it. If the rest of his resume were good I would probably interview him.

            If he brings it up in the interview, though, he’s toast.

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        4. Elizabeth H.

          I think there are some jobs where (assuming you’re at a stage in your career where college volunteer experiences might be relevant) it might be ok to mention, say, community service volunteering stuff you did as part of a church group, especially if you were applying to public service type jobs where it reflected a background of that type of work. But sexual purity church group a) mentions sexual mores, which is a topic people should avoid at work in any context b) it’s really specifically religious as it’s about a specific set of spiritual values not public service that anyone could theoretically participate in.

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        5. Alli525

          It’s also kind of like having an AA sponsor – you are expected to share your struggles with celibacy with other people. (Problem being, of course, that AA members are bound to confidentiality and lay church members, uh, aren’t.)

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      2. Serin

        I would be surprised if there’s not at least one porn film on the theme of Young Men’s Sexual Purity Accountability Groups.

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      1. Marcel

        Just because people are religious and want to save themselves for marriage doesn’t mean they are like those horrible people. It is not fair to equate the two at all.

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        1. Bleeborp

          It might not be fair but if we’re talking about the way putting something like that on your resume might be perceived by an employer outside of a church setting, well, they very well might not know the distinction. So it’s just further proof that it doesn’t belong on a resume!

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    2. Chaordic One

      While I agree with Alison about it being inappropriate, there are actually a handful of smaller corporations where the founders are, and the culture is, surprisingly religious. (At least in casual appearance, if not actual practice.) If you were applying to one of these companies, including such information on your resume might be considered an asset, but you’d only do it if you were familiar with the company and its culture as part of a customized resume that was specifically targeting such a company. You wouldn’t just put it on a generic resume that you were sending to everyone.

      Reply
      1. Triple Anon

        But using the words “sexual purity” to describe it? There have to be other options. “Moral Living Accountability”, “Peer Support for Faith Based Living”.

        Reply
      2. LS

        He probably is trying to signal to others into his his particular religious culture (which is a reasonable tactic in some areas), but it’s a clumsy way to do it – a non-sexual title for the group would be far better and also less likely to embarrass any staff member who reads through his resume.

        Reply
  1. Engineer Girl

    #5 – Don’t mention the counter offer. It will look like you used the job offer to get a raise at the current job. It’s a great way to get on a do not hire list.

    Reply
    1. Kaittastic

      I don’t think getting on a do not hire list would be bad in this case. This a bridge he can burn since he doesn’t seem willing to want to ever cross it again.

      Reply
      1. Naptime Enthusiast

        It’s not just burning bridges with the company, but the people involved with the hiring there. So if they move to another company in the future and remember him as the counter-offer guy, it will hurt him there as well.

        Reply
    2. Not really a lurker anymore

      My spouse ended up staying with his current company after accepting an offer from a different company. He was extremely apologetic about it and felt that the least he could do was to answer any questions of theirs as honestly as possible. He did restate that he wasn’t using them to get a better offer from his current employer.

      I don’t think the bridge was a total wreck but we’re assuming it’s not stable enough to risk using in the future.

      Reply
  2. sacados

    Oof.
    For OP1, it very well may not do any good, but I think it would be a kindness if along with the rejection (which I assume is coming) OP could give the applicant some guidance about what is and isn’t proper to include on a resume– especially since it seems these are students.
    As long as you can make clear it’s strictly about professional norms, otherwise you run the risk that the student could dismiss the advice as someone who’s just judging him for his opinions about sexuality.

    Reply
    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      Normally I would agree, but I think this is a case where OP is better off not giving him guidance. I suspect the same person who thinks it’s ok to disclose their sexual activity (or lack thereof) on their resume is also likely to zone out for OP’s professional advice and only take it as a criticism of his sexual behavior/beliefs.

      Reply
      1. JamieS

        OP certainly doesn’t have any sort of obligation to provide guidance if they don’t want to but I wouldn’t be so quick to assume the applicant would just write off what OP said or take offense. This is partly speculation but it sounds like this guy is making the mistake of listing irrelevant hobbies/extracurricular activities which plenty of young people make. His hobbies just happen to be church activities but I don’t think that means he’d be any less open to professional feedback then someone who lists, lets say, that they were captain of their intramural flag football team.

        Reply
        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          I think that in light of the extreme litigiousness around “religious civil rights” right now, this is not someone who is going to take advice well. This is someone who is going to perceive OP’s advice as persecution on the basis of his faith identity.

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          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

            I should qualify and say it’s someone who may see OP’s advice as persecution. I just don’t think the benefit of OP letting him know his resume contains inappropriate information outweighs the risk if he really is litigious.

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            1. OP #1

              I appreciate the thoughts on this thread! Given that he listed this in the midst of other religious-based activities, I’m leaning toward not saying anything to the applicant.

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              1. OP #1

                Also, I’m internally disinclined to say anything for the same reason I was squicked out by the resume in the first place, which is that I don’t want to ever think (let alone talk!) about a candidate’s sex life.

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                1. Czhorat

                  The one with the sex club at least had the ability to show leadership and organization skills. It’s not a workplace appropriate topic, but it was clearly in service of a positive message about how potential candidacy. This doesn’t even appear to be that.

                2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

                  He did! Just from his descriptions on here of what he does, he had several of us asking how to join. That takes talent! This… I don’t know. It doesn’t say anything besides “I’m a co-leader” (what does that mean) “of ” (omg is this a thing that exists?)

                  And oh for the love of all that is holy (no pun intended), why didn’t he just leave it at “Co-leader of a faith-based group” or something vague like that? He had already listed other church activities on there anyway. Why the detail? I probably would not say anything, either. Mainly because a) I would not know how to say what I want to say and b) it would be beyond awkward any way I say it.

                3. animaniactoo

                  I have 5 bucks that says he thought that was a pretty good way to say “Look! I won’t be a #metoo problem!”

                  Which I can understand the thought, but… Fail.

                4. Specialk9

                  Animaniactoo, the irony is that he sounds exactly like a #MeToo problem in the offing! (Either sexually harassing, or harassing over sexuality.) As you said, fail!

              2. Eye of the Hedgehog

                If you alert him to the problem with that, without saying that he also should not list his leadership in non-sex-related religious groups, that might work. Altogether, though, since he has probably sent out resumes to dozens of places it might just be depressing for him if he does take the advice seriously because it is too late to do anything about it.

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              3. Lucky

                If your hiring process was part of OCI or otherwise connected to your local law school(s), you could consider talking to their career services people, and tell them generally what this student listed on his resume without identifying him, so they can advise students on what is and isn’t appropriate. Personally, his resume would have gone in the round file (trash) if I were reading it, as it shows a profound lack of judgment.

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                1. Delightful Daisy

                  We know from reading this blog that many college career centers give horrible advice. It could be that he is following misguided advice. If he’s brand new to the professional field, he may just not know what is and isn’t appropriate. I wouldn’t automatically eliminate him if he looks like an otherwise viable candidate.

                2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

                  While that’s generally true of undergraduate career centers, I would argue that law school career services departments are, on average, much more effective at their jobs. And because they’re the primary interface with outside employers for OCI, it’s in their interest to get this kind of feedback on their students. Even if the department isn’t great, there’s usually 1-2 advisors who are, so I think it’s worth passing along the information.

          2. Julie Noted

            Really not cool to assume negative character traits solely from knowing that someone belongs to a particular religious group. Cut it out, please.

            Reply
      2. Casuan

        Hire the candidate to be your new Duck Club Hall Monitor.

        Seriously, OP1, it would be a kind thing to let Candidate know that he shouldn’t include such information on his CV. However, it’s quite possible that he would be more offended than not & he could decide that your company discriminated against him. Use what you already know of him to decide if you should give him helpful advise. Just err on the side of caution.

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      3. Barney Barnaby

        I disagree. Young people are told to put leadership items on their resume, are taught to fully disclose, and aren’t necessarily taught that they should have different resumes for different positions.

        It took me a few years as a grown adult to figure out how to put my (rather substantial) political work on my resume. It basically states that I worked or volunteered for “non-profit groups” and then lists what I did (ex. lobby my state legislature). When people ask, my usual response is, “I don’t want to discuss politics in the workplace, which is why I describe my skills and leadership positions instead of the specifics of what the groups do. Since you asked, it relates to X.”

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    2. Artemesia

      This is a student who will perceive this as being ‘persecuted’ for his religious values; with any luck you will end up in the front page with public accusations of this discrimination.

      Reply
        1. Casuan

          If the candidate were to ask OP1 for a input as to why he was rejected, would it be out of line if OP1 replies with [non-church & non- sexual anything] reasons & then offers some advise for the CV?
          Or is it still best not to go there?

          disclaimer: This is a big “if” so I doubt it will happen. Still I think it best to err on the side of caution.

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          1. Hellanon

            I wouldn’t even go anywhere near why. “We’ve gone ahead with another candidate” is a phrase that’s tailor-made for situations like this.

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            1. Artemesia

              yes, do not take this on. I have dealt with religious fanatics and the desire to feel persecuted is strong. A man who devotes himself to organizations focuses on ‘sexual purity’ is also likely to be rigid and moralistic which is not a happy characteristic in the workplace. Being devout is not an issue, but making something like ‘sexual purity’ a badge of honor is likely to be associated with a lot of other sanctimonious behavior.

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              1. Julia the Survivor

                + another million
                Having grown up in fundamentalist area, I know for sure fundamentalists have no respect for anyone, and this candidate may not respect you or what you’re trying to do.

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              2. Delightful Daisy

                I have to disagree with this comment from personal experience. I know many young people who are choosing sexual purity i.e. no sex before marriage ad they are not rigid or moralistic. I think we are swiping with a broad brush and making lots of assumptions.

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                1. AKchic

                  YMMV, but for many of us, we’ve had the opposite side of the coin. Where everything we did was judged harshly based on their interpretation of their sect’s following of some strict guideline and interpretation of their religious texts.

                  Its best to just not even try to coach or otherwise tell this person why you’re passing on their application. A simple “thank you for your interest, but we have chosen a different applicant” form letter should be the way to go, with absolutely no personalization whatsoever.

                2. Legal Beagle

                  I agree that it’s a broad generalization, but the OP should err on the side of caution and not say anything that could be misinterpreted. Also, the term “sexual purity” implies that people who make other choices are sexually impure. So yeah, I would not bet on a person who embraces and self-identifies with this term being super open to other perspectives.

                3. Julia the Survivor

                  A person with a good sense of boundaries would understand their sexual choices are very personal and would not be announcing them to strangers… That’s a red flag in itself…

      1. LouiseM

        This seems like a big assumption to make from a very small amount of information in the question. I know readers of this blog skew very liberal, but it’s incredibly judgmental to assume that someone who is religious and sexually conservative, and who probably has the same level of questionable resume/job hunting judgement a lot of us did when we started out working, automatically has some sort of persecution complex.

        Reply
          1. LouiseM

            I was responding to Artemesia’s comment, not yours. She literally says “this IS a student who WILL…” How else can you interpret that other than her making an assumptio?

            Reply
              1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

                Although to be fair, to lawyers, almost everything poses a litigation risk ;)

                (But I agree with you that there’s a heightened risk in this specific context.)

                Reply
            1. Specialk9

              I make the assumption based on how I was when I pledged sexual purity as a youngster. I was absolutely rigid, moralistic, and terribly judgmental.

              I met people who challenged my beliefs when out in the world, but my friends who cloistered themselves in extreme religious universities still are like that. (Some of them cloistered themselves literally, actually.)

              Rigid morality and judgmentalism is pretty standard among people who brag (and this was bragging) about sexual purity. Also misogyny like the chewed-up gum analogy for women who have been raped or had sex. There may be pockets where it’s not like this, but not the pockets I saw or lived in!

              Reply
              1. Specialk9

                I have seen up close the ones who feed the fantasy of (despite being in the majority) being persecuted for their religion, while actively persecuting those in the minority *using* that religion. Such as, for instance, my own family members.

                Right wing radio, and now blogs, stoke this persecution delusion actively to gain power. (Yes I listened throughout my childhood, and it’s potent stuff to unpack later.) So yes absolutely, fear the potential persecution complex and litigiousness of someone with the poor judgement to brag about sexual purity.

                Reply
                1. kraza

                  Part of it is that people who actually live that rigidly moralistic life are (sometimes) a minority even among people with the same overall religious confession.

                  This can be… Exhausting, to constantly hear things like “Fergus is / was raised XYZ and he doesn’t have a problem with [thing you consider a pretty fundamental matter].” Sometimes from outsiders who have no idea of your internal politics but definitely have opinions.

                  The right kind of vanity can easily turn a faithful pilgrim into a mouthy boundary-violator like this guy in the OP’s letter.

        1. Sylvan

          Eh. If you’ve lived in that culture, you can know how it works. I grew up in it. I certainly wouldn’t assume anybody would sue, but I think it’s safe to assume that engaging is not going to bring about the outcome (not talking about sex in his resume) that you want.

          Reply
          1. Sylvan

            Also, yes, it is judgmental. People exercise judgment about all kinds of things when reading resumes. That’s kind of how it works.

            Reply
            1. LouiseM

              I’m familiar with the concept of reading resumes, thanks. Us on this website speculating about whether this kid is going to sue for religious discrimination or considers himself persecuted isn’t really the same kind of judgement you use when reading a resume.

              Reply
              1. serenity

                This seems like a pretty snarky reply to a thoughtful commenter, and it doesn’t seem warranted. And your distinction between different types of “judgment” doesn’t hold water – someone reading a resume and someone reading a letter here are taking the few data points they have been given and evaluating the independent judgment of someone they don’t know. That’s not different at all.

                I think the point you and Engineer Girl are trying to make is that you personally feel this letter is bringing out some anti-religious sentiment among certain people. That’s fair enough to think about, but let’s be clear about it and not snipe at others.

                Reply
        2. Observer

          The really big issue here is not that he’s conservative in this respect or that he’s religious or that he’s been involved in a number or church related activities, etc. It’s that he put all of this on his resume. As Allison says, does he understand workplace norms and boundaries? If he doesn’t – and a resume like this indicates a high likelihood that he doesn’t – what else is he going to see through inappropriately religious lenses?

          Reply
          1. Czhorat

            Ileven if he’s not in an insular religious community, it’s possible that enough people in his circles share these values for him to consider them.a default. That’s very wrong, but in a way understandable.

            If he wants a job in the secular world he has to learn to navigate it professionally.

            Reply
              1. Natalie

                How do you figure? Viewing them as the default lets him see just the leadership aspects of the group, while having a blind spot that the “information about his sex life” part will be a problem to people outside the community that don’t assume the same defaults.

                Reply
                1. Penny Lane

                  To me it’s not really “information about his sex life” that’s the issue, as there apparently is no sex life. To me it’s – how is this kid going to react when he meets a coworker who is “living in sin” with a boyfriend, or how will he treat a gay coworker, etc.

                2. Natalie

                  @ Penny Lane, I don’t know, that seems like semantics. He’s giving a l window into his sexual mores even if he isn’t specifically having sex.

                  No comment on my personal beliefs re purity culture, but I don’t think you could take that into consideration without constituting illegal religious discrimination anymore than you could if the applicant’s volunteer work indicated they were NOI, ultra-orthodox Jew, or some other conservative branch of a minority religion. The fact that he’s in a majority religion makes no difference as far as the law is written.

                3. Sled dog mama

                  It’s like the idea that certain tests were discriminatory because of assumptions made in the questions. The only example I can remember right now is one my mom gave me as a kid.
                  Test question: you go to the store to get eggs and the store is out of eggs what do you do?
                  A) go home
                  B) go to a different store
                  People who live in a place where the default is that there is only one store (which tend to be poorer neighborhoods) are going to say go home because that’s their default. People who live somewhere with multiple stores or who assume they have the ability to drive to a store further away (who will tend to be more affluent, and the ones writing the tests) would answer go to another store. Neither is right or wrong because both are operating on their default assumptions.
                  If this guy thought it was normal for others to be in a sexual purity group that’s his default, and now that I’ve laid it out that was is occurs to me that if it is his default he might not view it any differently than a leadership role in any other club.

                4. CmdrShepard4ever

                  @Penny Lane I think it reasonable to question the students judgement in terms of professionalism, but it is taking a pretty big leap to assume that they will react badly to meeting/working with someone who is “living in sin” or is gay. I would have the same issue regarding professionalism judgement if someone put their leadership experience in a sex club group, it is not the fact of participating in the club but rather choosing to list it on the resume. While some people take a leap and assume bad traits about someone who participates in a sex club, I don’t think that is being fair either.

              2. Eye of the Hedgehog

                No wonder this seems to me like it’s getting into actual religious discrimination territory, where rejecting him for not having the sense to not mention sex on a resume does not. Maybe it’s mitigated by the fact that it’s such a specific belief/practice that he mentions, but I’m worried that this gets into making big assumptions. It feels a bit to me like rejecting a Muslim woman who wears hijab based on the assumption that she would be rude to female coworkers who do not cover their hair or rejecting someone who mentions their leadership of the campus vegan club because you are afraid they’ll criticize coworkers who eat meat. I’m assuming the former would be illegal and the latter, since it’s probably not based on a protected characteristic, legal but I still think it’s just wrong.

                Reply
                1. Eye of the Hedgehog

                  Nesting fail. That was meant as a reply to Penny Lane. And it’s supposed to start with “now” not “no wonder”.

                2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

                  Yeah, I think speculating that he’s a religious Christian and therefore likely to discriminate against others is extremely problematic. And illegal.

                  The problem is referring to his sex life (or lack thereof). If he had even framed this as leadership in a prayer circle, but excluded references to sex, it would have been ok. A little odd on a legal resume (unless you’re applying to the Thomas More Society or whatnot), but not disqualifying.

                3. Trout 'Waver

                  But if a Muslim put “Wears a hijab everyday” or a vegan put “is a vegan” on their resume, I would absolutely think they’re going to be judgmental about it.

                  The whole point of putting something on your resume is to have people consider it when they’re making a decision to interview or hire you or not. By putting it on your resume, you’re implicitly saying that taking a purity pledge, wearing a hijab, or being a vegan makes you more hireable. Which is quite judgmental, when you think about it. It’s also why none of those things belong on a resume.

                4. Eye of the Hedgehog

                  Well I certainly agree that just writing “I’m a vegan” or “I wear hijab” on a resume would show a bizarre lack of judgment just as writing “I’m a virgin” would. But this guy didn’t do that. He listed leadership in a club that suggests a religious affiliation and a certain point of view. In his case, it’s wildly inappropriate because it directly relates to his own sex life. Would you say that listing a leadership role in, say, the Villanova Vegan Society or the Marymount Muslim Sisterhood (I’m making these up obviously) equally inappropriate?

                5. CutUp

                  Trout Waver, are you kidding me? You think women who wear head scarves are going to be rude to other women? That is an absurd and frankly discriminatory position.

                6. Trout 'Waver

                  @EotH “Co-leader” isn’t a leadership role. It’s thinly disguised virtue signalling, which is inappropriate on a resume.

                  @CutUp That would absolutely be absurd and discriminatory. But it also isn’t remotely related to what I posted, so I’m not sure where you’re coming up with that.

                7. CutUp

                  Trout ‘Waver
                  “But if a Muslim put “Wears a hijab everyday” or a vegan put “is a vegan” on their resume, I would absolutely think they’re going to be judgmental about it.”

                  How did you intend that comment to be interpreted?

                8. Detective Amy Santiago

                  @CutUp

                  I think the point that Trout Waver was making that anything someone feels is important enough to include on their resume that is not actually professionally related is likely something they feel strongly about and people with strong beliefs are more likely to judge people who don’t share those same beliefs.

                9. Trout 'Waver

                  @CutUp Detective Amy Santiago is correct. I’m only talking about people who would put “Wear a hijab” on their resume, not all people who wear a hijab. Which is, in fact, what I wrote in the first place.

              3. paul

                I don’t think you’re correct there; assuming these are the default views is fairly common if you *are* insular, and it’s entirely likely that, as JamieS said, the person’s just been on the receiving end of the same bad advice a lot of us have been re: resume’s.

                That said I’d think advice about resume’s should really come from someone closer to the applicant. Maybe, at most, a generic line about leaving off things that aren’t more directly related to your professional development would be appropriate, but I certainly wouldn’t feel like the OP is obligated to do so at all.

                Reply
              4. Czhorat

                I don’t think he mentioned it to make a point; It is possible he listed it as a minor leadership position and never considered that “young Christian men’s purity group” is something anyone else would see as odd or inappropriate to put on a resume.

                That said, as a hiring manager you owe applicants fair consideration; you don’t owe them a critique or free job seeking advice. I agree that it should slide.

                Reply
              5. Penny Lane

                I disagree; I submit that he may think that the norms / views are the default and thus by mentioning that he’s a leader in a club that actively promotes those norms / views, he’s showing a high level of character and integrity because he assumes (wrongly of course) that his audience will be suitably impressed.

                (I of course disagree, but that’s what I think he might have been thinking – sort of a “good citizen / Boy Scout” stamp, using Boy Scout metaphorically rather than literally.)

                Reply
                1. Eye of the Hedgehog

                  Interesting thought. I would have assumed the opposite- that membership in a group like that suggests that you know it’s not the norm, otherwise why would you need a support group? But I have not really spent time in evangelical type circles so I may be reading it wrong.

                2. kraza

                  I think I agree. A certain amount of cluelessness may be involved.

                  One’s peculiar local sense of what is normal can have a powerful effect – remember the sex club letter writer and their failure to realize that “I don’t even want to discuss whether or not this crosses my boundaries” is a pretty conventional boundary.

                  I personally am much more to the “sexual purity” side of the spectrum, but I recognize that it sounds like a strange thing to talk about to most people.

                  (In my community, there’s a quasi-boy-scouts type organization… But it has a name some people might consider a bit outré.)

            1. Specialk9

              Such as that lady who thought that calling female children wh@res was normal, because it was such an utter default in her Christian purity culture. She worked for a Fortune 500 company but was so completely off-base on appropriate workplace norms. (Also she had abusive parents.) I would worry that this resume guy shows similar lack of judgment. (Or rather, similar tendency to judge with wild inappropriateness.)

              Reply
          2. Fake old Converse shoes (not in the US)

            Yeah, if he considers this group important enough to put it in a resume, many would expect he would start “promoting” it as soon as he can in the workplace. Or at least give a side eye to Fergus in IT because he ordered a fleshlight online.

            Reply
              1. OP #1

                Yep—I don’t want to know about the sexual purity accountability group OR the fleshlight, am side-eyeing both, and that is the whole reason I wrote in.

                Reply
            1. Safetykats

              Yes, and this is why I would likely be cautious about someone who included leadership of prayer circles or bible study in their resume as well. There can be a fine line between ensuring non-discrimination and ensuring workplace rules are met, but our employer has a well-enforced ban on both political and religious activities at work. it seems obviously inappropriate to tell an applicant as part of the interview process that they aren’t welcome to start a lunch-time bible study on the premises, but I all other things being equal I would rather hire someone I’m not going to even have to have the conversation with. One of those things to talk to HR about…

              Reply
              1. bonkerballs

                And this seems discriminatory already. All you know is that this kid is affiliated with a certain religion, and because of that, you’re assuming he’ll exhibit certain behaviors and based solely on that assumption would want to hire someone else.

                Reply
                1. Julia the Survivor

                  We know he considers it good work experience. We know he apparently doesn’t understand it’s not appropriate for the workplace.
                  I, and probably anyone who has been around Christian religious fanatics, sees it as the tip of the (nightmarishly disrespectful and chauvinist) iceberg.

                2. bonkerballs

                  @Julia the Survivor – And again, you’re making assumptions. You have no way of knowing this person is in any way a religious fanatic. He’s someone who is involved in his church, and as a recent grad without much work experience, is using that to bolster his resume (yes, inappropriately when it comes to the purity club simply because that has to do with sex).

                  If the only issue is he mentioned sex which is inappropriate and therefore shows poor judgement, than I’m fine. But when you say (as Safetykats did and what I was replying to) that as soon as anything pointing to religion is on their resume, you’re looking for other candidates, that’s where things get discriminatory. You can’t look at my resume, see I currently work for the JCC, assume my views on Israel are problematic, and then not hire me because of that. That’s discriminatory. You can’t look at a kids resume, see he has taken on leadership roles in his Christian church, assume he’s a fanatic who’s going to push his religion on his coworkers or create a hostile environment, and then not hire him. That’s also discriminatory.

                3. Julia the Survivor

                  I think there needs to be a balance between not making too much of a huge red flag, and taking a huge red flag seriously.
                  Let’s not bend over backwards to minimize the size of this red flag – that it’s mentioned on his resume indicates he is probably a religious fanatic who would bring his fanaticism into the workplace.
                  It would be the same concern with any other fanaticism, religious or not.

              2. Specialk9

                I don’t mention my Torah studies or work for Jewish charities. Because that’s about religion and that’s not (ahem) kosher at work.

                Also because my religious group actually IS persecuted. Ya know.

                Reply
            2. bonkerballs

              Why? Lots of things are important enough to put on a resume because you assume they’ll help you get the job you’re applying for. Doesn’t mean I will ever feel the need to randomly talk about them with a coworker. I assume I know basically nothing that’s on any of my coworkers’ resumes, even though everything on there was important enough to them to include. What makes this – a leadership position in a club – any different?

              Reply
          3. Purplesaurus

            I’m a pretty stubborn atheist, but there is a difference between holding religious beliefs and doing inappropriate things because of them. A young candidate misunderstanding what belongs on a resume is so common. This one happens to be a Christian.

            Reply
            1. Observer

              Yes, young people misunderstanding what belongs on a resume is common. And people carrying over those misconceptions into the actual workplace is also common. I think it’s legitimate to worry about that.

              How would you react if the applicant had instead put their experience in arranging sex parties on their resume (as another LW asked about)? Wouldn’t you be worried about TMI and inappropriate conversations in the office? I certainly would be.

              Reply
              1. Purplesaurus

                I agree it’s legitimate to worry about the inclusion of sex parties or a purity group on a resume. But I read your comment, particularly the “what else is he going to see through inappropriately religious lenses” line, to mean that he might do inappropriate things because of these religious lenses. And that’s what I disagree with, but possibly I misinterpreted?

                Reply
                1. Observer

                  I think the mistake is the focus on religion per se rather than the inappropriate application to the workplace. If someone starts hassling people about being vegan, that’s a problem, but at least you’re not dealing with a LEGAL issue, and for most people it’s going to be an annoying over-reach but a highly personal issue. The minute you’re dealing with sex, you’re into much more dangerous territory. Same for religion. And “purity club” is overtly religious in a way that “mental health club” isn’t.

                  I don’t care about his sex life, and I don’t care about his religious life either. Neither is my business. And neither belong on his resume.

            2. Political staffer

              It is one thing to put that you raised $5000 for XYZ Church on your resume (which clearly states that you are affiliated with XYZ Church). It is quite another to put something about your sex life/lack thereof.

              Reply
          4. Emi.

            I don’t see any clear indication that it’s a matter of “inappropriately religious lenses” rather than “new to the workforce and someone told him to put ‘all’ his leadership experience on his resume.” And I do think there’s some prejudice underlying how common the first assumption seems to be in the comments here.

            Reply
            1. Observer

              We don’t have definitive information, that’s true. But we DO know that for some reason he does believe that this kind of thing is a workplace topic, what ever the reason is. Absent any other information, it’s legitimate to worry about him bringing it into the office and not just on his resume.

              Reply
              1. Penny Lane

                “But we DO know that for some reason he does believe that this kind of thing is a workplace topic, what ever the reason is. Absent any other information, it’s legitimate to worry about him bringing it into the office and not just on his resume.”

                I’m not sure I agree. Someone could put “president of the Jewish Student Association” on his or her resume and I don’t think that necessarily means that they would “bring their religion into the office, not just on a resume.” Ditto for LGBTQ associations, etc.

                Reply
                1. Natalie

                  This kind of contradicts your comment upthread though? “To me it’s – how is this kid going to react when he meets a coworker who is “living in sin” with a boyfriend, or how will he treat a gay coworker, etc.”

                  Is it relevant to consider, or not? If the distinction is being drawn based on this guy not being part of a minority religion, I think we’re getting into some unethical territory (and definitely illegal assuming Title VII applies to the employer).

                2. Oranges

                  It’s not just because he’s Christian, my reaction has more to do with a bunch of little factors.

                  It’s the fact that he’s part of a church with a “sexual purity” board. It’s how much of his life/activities are church related. It’s the way the letter writer phrased it when they told us about it. Asking us to ignore our own “Danger!” signs because religion doesn’t make sense. The (religious) people who hurt me and this person are showing a lot of the same characteristics and therefore I personally wouldn’t want to engage at all with him.

                3. Natalie

                  @ Oranges – I get it on a personal level (spouse is exvangelical so I’ve had a front row seat to a lot of their pain), but the law is fairly clear on this. Protected characteristics are protected for everyone, and if one cannot set that aside they should recuse themselves from making a decision.

                4. Observer

                  Those are totally different things to this, though. “The Jewish Student Association” in an organization that’s not about specifically religious concerns. And there is no reason to feel that someone’s identity is something they need to “keep out of the workplace”.

                  Here he specifically called out something that is both about his sex life and about his religious practice. It doesn’t matter WHAT that religious belief and / or practice is.

                5. Oranges

                  @Natalie
                  You are correct. The fact that he’s religious can’t be a factor in turning him down or not. I was trying to explain my gut reaction of “danger, run away” and why people are seeing so much “wouldn’t touch him with a 32.5′ pole” in the comment section.

          5. Kat Em

            Yeah.

            As someone who gained a lot of their work experience in faith-based organizations, there are ways you can frame this appropriately.

            “Chaired meetings of 20+ participants as co-organizer of a youth group.” can be helpful on a young person’s resume. Sexual purity, not so much.

            Reply
        3. Falling Diphthong

          If I had some sort of personal relationship with the student, I might tell them. But if literally all you know about someone is what they have chosen to put on their resume, a heart-to-heart about why Those Choices Are Bad is usually uncalled for. Whatever the odd thing is, religious or otherwise.

          Reply
        4. JB (not in Houston)

          I don’t think anybody is making judgments based on the person being religious and sexually conservative. It’s that he’s religious and sexually conservative and ALSO the kind of person who feels that a resume is the appropriate place to tell people that.

          Reply
          1. Elizabeth H.

            I think what a lot of people are saying, is that the two aren’t necessarily linked – lots of people put irrelevant stuff that’s inappropriate to the context on their resume before they learn not to.

            Reply
            1. JB (not in Houston)

              I must have not been clear because I’m not sure what part of my comment you’re referring to, so I’ll clarify–what my point was that people here, from what I can see, don’t care and would not rule out a candidate on the basis that the candidate is Christian or because he is sexually conservative, but they do care and would rule out a candidate who thought talking about his being sexually conservative belongs on a resume.

              Reply
              1. Elizabeth H.

                I meant that I don’t think we should assume that he finds sexual conservatism so important to him that it’s part of what he considers himself to bring as an employee. I think he might have listed it as an example of volunteer leadership type stuff without considering that the subject matter would make it really stand out. Like, he might think “every organized activity I’ve ever done belongs on my resume,” not ” things that are so important to me that I want to be open about them in the workplace belong on my resume, and this is one of them” – I think people are interpreting it as the latter.

                Reply
                1. Katieinthemountains

                  I think this is exactly it, and he’s sheltered enough that he doesn’t realize how this reads to the rest of the world. This and 3/4 of a seminary degree would have gotten him a summer youth pastor gig at the church where I grew up, so I think it’s more YMMV than absolutely always inappropriate.

          2. Delphine

            I mean, he didn’t state those facts on his resume out of nowhere, he seems to think it’s work experience. He’s not using his resume to proselytize.

            Reply
        5. Anonymous Poster

          Maybe, maybe not. At the end of the day there’s no absolute obligation to say to the candidate, “This specific thing here and here is why I will not continue with your candidacy.”

          So, regardless of the reason for how things got to where they are, there still is no obligation to say anything. I wouldn’t, and I think hosting Bible studies or whatever is a fine thing for people to do. But I’d be more worried that this candidate is more interested in a job with an overtly religious organization with a religious mission, and not my company where we do widgets.

          Reply
        6. Anion

          Agreed. All we know about this young man is that he mistakenly, innocently thought leadership in a group was a good thing to mention without considering that mentioning it’s a sex-related group was a bad idea. There is zero evidence that he’s a litigious jerk, and people didn’t make those same assumptions or statements about the guy who ran the swinger’s group.

          Reply
          1. OP #1

            Well, he is planning to be a lawyer, which some would consider the surest indicator that he’s at least an aspiring litigious jerk. ;)

            Reply
          2. Specialk9

            Ahh, the blundering male defense. As a reason to get a job.

            Side eye to this argument, and to the fact that dammit, why do guys always get the benefit of the doubt? The dude included his sex life on his resume.

            Reply
            1. oranges & lemons

              I’m not sure exactly how the applicant’s gender is relevant here–if a woman included a sexual purity group on her resume, that would have the same issues.

              Reply
            2. state government jane

              I don’t think Anion was arguing that just because this applicant may have made a mistake in including the group on his resume, that he *should* get the job. I definitely agree that men often get the benefit of the doubt that women do not (especially in hiring!), but I also think, regardless of gender, the inclusion of frivolous/irrelevant info on resumes is a common early-career mistake. This guy made that mistake in a rather more notable and inappropriate way. But he still made it, and it’s okay to remove him from consideration based on that.

              Reply
          3. DogG

            Seriously, what is with these assumptions today? I’m Christian and it’s making me feel like WOAH gotta keep it under wraps.
            This is like people who cross the street to avoid my pit bull…she’s smiling cause she’s happy and loves people, she’s not opening her mouth to bite you. You have to get to know where someone is at, not snap to judgements.

            Reply
            1. Oranges

              This rubbed me 10000% the wrong way. Why? The way this is worded I’m assuming that you haven’t needed to keep anything intrinsic to your humanity under wraps before and you are from the group that has radicals who hurt me.

              That’s not fair I know. I just want you to think about how you’re feeling right now about wanting to hide something intrinsic to you just because you’re uncomfortable about what others say. Then extrapolate that. That feeling is what a lot of us go through every day. I have it better than most I know. I can be 90% open about myself. There are people who can’t be open about their inner-selves.

              Then think about what you say to those people that harm them, please.

              Reply
        7. Genny

          Thank you! The amount of people assuming unkind things about this guy with the one or two pieces of information we have about him is really disappointing. I really like how kind, understanding, and helpful this community is, so the fact that people are jumping to all kinds of conclusions is just disappointing. And I say this as someone who grew up in a fundamental community and has seen the toxicity of the purity culture (and we don’t know if this particular guy skews that direction or is just someone who wants to wait for marriage).

          Reply
      2. Rip Hunter

        Well hold the phone here. That last letter, the OP wanted to *check* before submitting something like that (on the other end of the spectrum) and was told “I know that’s crappy”. This is a young guy who clearly needs some guidance and now with zero basis it’s “We can’t tell him because he’ll probably claim persecution and sue”.

        I mean, the OP’s in law so they can probably figure out a polite way to tell the OP on the off chance he is litigious.

        I mean, I’m young, and I’ve included (relevant) Church experience on my resume for past applications, and if an employer were to tell me “We’re passing on you. Just FYI including that you run an accountability group may be TMI and could turn employers off” I’d go “Rightio then. That’s actually a good point. Thanks.”

        Reply
        1. Lars the Real Girl

          But it’s never really a hiring manager’s job to give resume critiques to applicants, and with ANY risk involved in this scenario, why put it out there?

          Reply
        2. Gingerblue

          It wasn’t the hiring manager asking in the last letter, though, it was the jobseeker. If the positions were reversed and the law student were asking for advice here about whether to include the experience on his application, I’m guessing he’d get some sympathy along with the advice to no, definitely not do that. In both cases the meat of the letter has been to not include the sex-related experience, but the person who hears it directly gets some commiseration.

          I would have leaned towards saying something to him, myself, but the hesitation from people with (unlike me) actual hiring experience does make me pause.

          Reply
          1. Specialk9

            Thank you, that perfectly encapsulates it. We all get not being sure where the line is and having to ask. It’s the people who have no clue that lives even exist who tend to cause all kinds of trouble, all over the social and political and religious spectrums.

            Reply
            1. Observer

              It doesn’t even have to be malicious or having bad intent. Sometimes ineptness or genuine cluelessness can be as big a problem as bad faith.

              Reply
        3. Observer

          In addition to what GingerBlue says, in the last case, the fact that the letter writer asked HERE first says that they get that it might be out of the norm. This guy doesn’t show that same sensitivity. I don’t think it’s just because it’s a religious thing, either. Do you remember the letter about the employee who wanted everyone to refer to her SO as her master? A LOT of people were pretty horrified by that including some who explicitly said that they too are involved that community. But, it is just waaaay TMI for the workplace. When someone ASKED about a collar here, they got a much more sympathetic reply (although it also came down to “Only if you are wearing one that could pass as jewelry. No one wants to know the details of your relationship.”)

          Reply
        4. Falling Diphthong

          If someone asked me to look over their resume, I would tell them to take various things off. If I were screening resumes for a potential employee and saw those things, I would think “nope” and put it in the discard pile. It matters who asks the question, and of whom. The weird thing could be sex club, no-sex club, printing the entire thing on aluminum foil, a link to their fanfic about working for the company as a cover for their costumed superhero antics, or a large picture of their cat.

          It’s sort of like people who want their dates to explain the reason there will be no second date–you can ask your friends for some honest feedback, but the person who was unwowed by your coffee date doesn’t need to explain the one cool trick that would unlock their heart.

          Reply
        5. neverjaunty

          That he “needs some guidance “ is a separate issue from whether the employer needs to give him that guidance.

          Reply
        6. Trout 'Waver

          You are the exception to the rule, then. The vast majority of people will either try to argue with the advice or ignore it completely.

          And that’s for generic advice. People tend to hold quite a bit of conviction for their religious beliefs.

          Reply
    3. Safetykats

      Most schools have resume services available through the same student services that set up interviews; both my kids took advantage of that help. They were also provided good advice on cover letters and interviewing. It’s definitely not the responsibility of an employee’s rejecting a candidate to counsel them on their resume – and in this sort of case, where the objectionable content is related to religion, it would be hard to address this without getting into potentially sticky territory. I think this kid is just going to have to figure it out himself – or maybe he will be hired by some company that has a significant religious bent, where he will fit right in.

      Reply
      1. Julia

        A lot of schools give AWFUL career advice, which has been documented here a lot.
        Heck, my non-US university can’t even proofread their pamphlet, and the contents gave my husband and me a good laugh one night. If I depended on their advice, I’d be lost.

        Reply
        1. Emi.

          In all likelihood the guy has this problem because his school’s career office told him to include all of his leadership experience on his resume. This is why I once tried to list that I was the president of a club that existed for a semester and a half and never made it out of probationary status. :(

          Reply
          1. Thlayli

            Yeah i strongly suspect that he got the same advice I did “join loads of clubs and put them all on your resume”.

            Assuming he’s going to start slut-shaming people (as someone actually said in a later comment, and as a lot of other people are hinting here) is a big (and bigoted) assumption.

            Reply
              1. Genny

                That is incredibly uncalled for. I grew up in a Christian fundamental church, so I get the pain that their toxic, unbiblical teachings have caused, but we have absolutely zero evidence that this guy is a religious fanatic. All we know is he leads some clubs at his church and participates in other religious activities. There’s nothing fanatical about that even if you personally disagree with his religion or how he chooses to act out his religious beliefs.

                Reply
              2. Thlayli

                Actually I was getting mixed up between prejudice and bigotry.

                An example of bigotry is being intolerant to people of a particular religion.

                Prejudice is assuming that someone who chooses to remain a virgin and support others who’ve made the same choice will engage in slut-shaming in the workplace.

                Reply
    4. LouiseM

      I’m with you, sacados. This is somebody who needs to learn how to put his best foot forward and present a slightly-modified version of himself to the working world. In general, leading a student club is impressive, so it makes sense that he wants to make the most of that experience when he is so new to the working world.

      Maybe he could do what my friend did. She was the leader of a club that offered sex ed workshops in the dorms (showing freshmen how to put on condoms, etc.) and didn’t want to turn off employers who were more conservative. So she said she was on a “heath and wellness” committee or something along those lines. (I can’t quite remember the details–it has been a few years!) I don’t see why this student doesn’t choose a similar euphemism.

      Reply
      1. seejay

        Sure but that is not on the OP’s shoulders to guide him that way and no one here should be suggesting that to her. There are tonnes of resources out there for him to find, employers he’s sending his resume out to is not one of those resources.

        Don’t take on the emotional/mental baggage of other people when it’s unnecessary. Sure it’s great to be kind, but he’s an adult, he can figure this stuff out on his own. If he’s not getting any luck with his resume, he can find resources, not wait for the kindness of strangers to point it out to him.

        Reply
      2. Espeon

        Yes I agree with both of you, just let him know – it only reads to me like he’s listing his hobbies etc to show qualities he hasn’t got the actual ‘work’ experience for yet, just in this case it’s something he hasn’t considered the full insinuation of.

        But idk I’m in the UK and I know religious stuff in the US can be… super weird and extreme :|

        Reply
    5. sap

      Yeah I feel like students especially want feedback too, but the comments some have made about faith and civil rights are well taken as well. Maybe OP1 could contact the law student’s career services department? They typically would have someone who handles feedback for the students from firms, and that would allow the employer to insulate themselves from the feedback while giving the feedback to a student who could really use it.

      Reply
    6. Temperance

      I disagree. This is a law firm job, and the legal industry is not like others. He should know that these items are wildly inappropriate.

      Reply
      1. Mpls

        I’d be more likely to give the feed back to the career services group at the law school, rather than the law student directly. The law school has an interest in staying on good terms with the firms in the area and might have more influence/less landmines in dealing with this.

        Reply
    7. Allison

      I’m inclined to agree, but I also understand this is a minefield. I made a similar mistake whe I was a youngin, applying to co-ops and jobs, mentioning a bunch of clubs I probably shouldn’t have mentioned (especially since I wasn’t even an active member in some of them, let alone a leader who actually did stuff that could translate to job skills). I got the advice that you should throw ALL THE THINGS on your resume to show how, I dunno, “awesome” you were? And I barely got any interviews. I don’t know if the clubs were the culprit, but it would have been great if whoever was going through the resumes could have clued me in to how off-putting that list of clubs was.

      On the other hand, I also remember being a young person, and I know that young people will cling to the bad advice they get from people they trust, and don’t like it when people they barely know tell them what to do, especially when that advice resembles “tone down the personality, hide who you are.”

      Reply
    8. JD SAHE

      Maybe instead direct the information to his Career Services Office at the law school? I’ve had to reach out more than once after having a first year interview terribly, or who clearly didn’t know social norms. It wasnt really my place to coach them through it, but I felt, given the working relationship we had with the law school, it was worth letting them know about.

      Reply
  3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

    OP#1, I am shaking my head and offering you all of my sympathy. There’s really no context in which an application for any kind of law job (not even at religious universities with codes re: “ethical behavior”) should list your “sexual purity.” It’s ok for the entire panel to be turned off.

    If he were otherwise qualified, or if he’s very young (e.g., K through J.D.), then I’d consider doing a phone screen just to figure out if he has a sense of what’s appropriate and simply missed that abstinence is not one of those things. But if it’s for a post-grad job, or if you have much stronger candidates, don’t feel badly about rejecting the application. I wanted to reject someone for listing an interest in “exotic foods,” was outvoted, and later was totally validated by my decision. This stuff has a way of working out.

    Reply
    1. Artemesia

      Every time someone was hired over my objections — often for weirdness or something ‘trivial’ like misspelling the name of our well known organizations repeatedly in the application for a C suite level position — I had the later occasion if I wished to declare ‘I told you so.’

      Reply
    2. Jenny

      Um, I would like to hear more about the exotic foods story! What kind of foods are we talking? In what context was this mentioned? What ended up happening??

      Reply
      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        I’m happy to tell the story during the open thread on Friday! :) (I don’t want to derail, but I will say that I won a bet over it.)

        Reply
    3. OP #1

      He is young, I think. A 1L who appears to have gone straight through. Luckily we do have plenty of other strong candidates.

      Reply
      1. sap

        If he comes from a respectable school/a school your firm has an ongoing relationship with, can you pass feedback to your contact at their career services office? They handle feedback from firms about 2Ls at OCI typically, so they probably would be able to handle this too…

        Reply
        1. Retired Professor

          I agree with this. If there is any way to get this info back to the career services people, you’d be doing this candidate a big kindness. Career services would want to know and be able to help him.

          Law school job searches are often competitive and stressful. The students have no idea what the norms in this industry are – and they aren’t the same as in other fields. This means that they often do have to toss out what their own common sense would dictate, and they are vulnerable to making these type of mistakes. If a student heard “You HAVE to show leadership,” I can see how it turns into that resume.

          I suspect that this type of resume error is more common than you might realize – the difference is that most of the time it’s caught in internally within the law school or in some screening process first.

          Reply
    4. Traffic_Spiral

      I swear, it’s like a Doctor Seuss poem.

      Do not bring up your swinger’s lunch
      Do not bring up your kinky munch
      Your virgin state’s not our concern
      Christ – what did these people learn?

      Not in a bed, not in a tree,
      You like tantra? Please don’t tell me!
      Your sex life is not part of work
      So leave it out – you stupid jerk!

      Reply
    5. Casuan

      What if this group were a registered organisation & the candidate was a paid employee?
      Still it’s a bit TMI although it would be legitimate work experience that might be valid to the role for which he’s applying [not that he hasn’t done legit work in his co-leader role; I’m just curious how the change in status might apply if the group had a different structure].

      Reply
      1. gregie

        I bet the name would be something different. I think part of the problem here is that the way the candidate describes the group points to his own personal choices, which reads as TMI.

        Reply
  4. Mike C.

    Also, why are you bragging about being the “Co-Leader” of your local junior anti-sex league? Shouldn’t you at least be in charge before putting it on your resume?

    /But seriously, no one wants to know about this.

    Reply
    1. Allison

      Any leadership role could be applicable, but it depends on what you did, not necessarily whether you were president, VP, treasurer, or “secretary.” If he arranged meeting space, booked speakers, helped the club secure funding or managed the budget, it doesn’t really matter what he was called.

      Reply
  5. JamieS

    Re #3, I’m not really sure what Alison’s answer is. If OP gets to work at 8:30 and works through lunch then a full 8 hours is 8:30-4:30 but the caveat about flexible schedules is making me think Alison means a full 8 hours would mean working until at least 5.

    Reply
    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      I think Alison is saying that many workplaces do not treat lunch as a work hour for exempt employees, even if OP is working through their lunch. So you have to work 8 non-lunch hours, regardless of how you spend your lunch “break.”

      Reply
    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      I’m saying that, at least to start, she probably has to work whatever her office’s working hours are and can’t expect that she’ll be able to work through lunch in order to leave earlier.

      Reply
      1. Minnesota Miles

        At my company, the exempt employees are expected to work 9 hour days, and while 1 hour is kind of for lunch, they’re supposed to spend most of it at their desk (ie they can go get food, but come bck to eat it, or only go out to lunch every once in a while, definitely not the norm).

        Reply
          1. JenniferK

            I’m not sure there is a normal. I’ve been exempt since I graduated, worked at 8 different companies, and I’ve had what Minnesota Miles said (9+hrs, lunch should generally be at your desk, maybe in the cafeteria, talking about work with coworkers), 8 hrs (lunch at desk), 8 hrs (with an hour for lunch), and just general “get your work done” hours working remotely.

            I think Alison’s advice was best: see what your coworkers do and then follow that.

            Reply
            1. Trig

              Yep. When I started as an intern, my fellow intern and I were very much into taking an hour lunch break. We got in at 8:30 and left at 5. We were both inexperienced in an office environment, so were very careful about our hours and so on.

              Within the first week, it became obvious that our teammates had only taken lunch breaks with us downstairs in the food court because we were new and they were being friendly. The following week, everyone ate lunch at their desk, and left at 4. We interns still usually took our breaks (it was a beautiful summer!) but gradually learned that working hours were a bit more flexible in the office, and no one was breathing down our necks making sure we were butt-in-chair for exactly 7.5 hours.

              It’s office-dependent and the kind of thing you’ll learn on the job. Err on the side of caution, observe what other people do, and make sure it’s appropriate for YOU to do as well. If one person in particular often leaves early, but no one else does, it might be an arrangement only they have, so be aware of that too! If more senior people do it, but junior people don’t, you’ll probably want to follow suit with the juniors.

              Reply
          2. MLB

            No that’s not normal. I’ve always been exempt and was only expected to put in the generic 8 hours/day unless there was some major deadline, then I would work more.

            Reply
          3. paul

            I’ve seen a huge range even at my small organization as managers change out with the exempt staff. So I’m no longer sure there is a normal or if it’s all just down to managerial whims

            Reply
          4. NK

            At my company (and most I’ve worked for), taking a full hour lunch every day is outside the norm. Not that anyone is telling you that you can’t, but it’s just not typically done. And then there is an expectation that you’re in the office about 9 hours from start to finish.

            Reply
            1. Penny Lane

              Never worked anyplace with a full hour lunch break, and it’s not at all the norm in my professional circles. It was expected you’d take roughly a half hour to eat and maybe attend to wasn’t scheduled and you needn’t clear it with anyone, and if you wanted to be productive and work through your lunch with a sandwich at your desk, that was fine too. There might be occasional times to go beyond a half hour, but mostly of the “we’re taking a new person out to lunch” type of thing.

              But then again, meetings over lunch with food provided is pretty much a norm too.

              Reply
          5. Amber T

            In my office, people typically come in between 830-9ish, eat at their desks, and leave whenever their work is done (it’s really never before 8 hours is up). I usually leave around 6ish, but it ranges from 530-8ish (C-levels typically work 11-12 hour days – no thanks). We’re also granted *a lot* of flexibility when it comes to stepping out of the office to run errands, doctors appointments, working from home while you wait for the plumber or your kid is sick, etc.

            Reply
          6. Natalie

            I’ve had a lot of coworkers who eat at their desks, but its just because the lunch room was either inconveniently located (on another floor) or because we were in an open office so there was no real functional difference between eating in the kitchen and eating at your desk. At the same time, “at your desk” didn’t mean working – if people saw you were eating it was generally understood you should talk to them later.

            Reply
          7. Robin Sparkles

            I don’t think it is normal in that you will be looked at oddly -just that you sometimes can take an hour break and sometimes now (as an exempt). It’s managing the workload and day and if that means working through lunch, then yes. Of course, it also allows you to have doctor’s appointments mid-day or time to do errands- when work allows it. That’s the key- you manage your schedule and get your work done accordingly. I do not know of anyone in my role who takes an hour lunch daily – most of us sometimes do, sometimes don’t and many of us eat at our desk or during a meeting. But many of us also sometimes leave early or come in late.

            Reply
          8. KTM

            I’m in engineering and this is pretty typical. Not that I’m ‘expected’ to work 9 hour days but most people end up working 8.5 – 9 hr days, while taking a half hour or hour for lunch. We are all salaried employees and have flexible working hours on when we start our day or have to leave for short appointments, etc

            Reply
          9. Someone else

            In every company I’ve worked for, exempt or not, “work through lunch in order to leave early” is Not Done. For non-exempt people, it’s not allowed because it’d trigger a meal-break penalty and thus is not OK. For exempt people, since you’re not logging exactly 8 working hours a day, there’s no point in “I worked through lunch therefore I’m entitled to leave that much earlier” because some people pretty much never stop working for lunch, not out of pressure, just because that’s how they work, and others if they take 15 minutes longer than normal than lunch have zero expectation to “make up the time”. It just doesn’t work that way when you’re exempt. You’re expected to be in the office whatever the “office hours” are, unless you’ve specifically worked out a different schedule with your boss or officially have “flex hours” to work when you want. The company isn’t nickel-and-diming the minutes you work, so you can’t nickel-and-dime them back by “working lunch” to get out early. I mean, maybe once in a while, with some personal obligation, sure come in a bit early to leave early, but that’s more about making sure you get everything done than it is about counting the minutes. And still is probably something to run by the boss. It’s not meant to be a common or regular thing you just do because you feel like it. That’s been my experience.

            Reply
            1. Decima Dewey

              In my library system, we’re explicitly told that you can’t not take a lunch hour on the timesheet and get to go home early. If you work through lunch, that’s on you. OTOH, if you’re fifteen minutes late, you can put down that you took a half hour for lunch and not the full forty-five minutes normally charged, and not have to use your time (sick, vacation, comp, whatever) for the lateness.

              Reply
              1. Totally Minnie

                I’m at a government job, and our policy is similar to yours. You can be scheduled for, say, 8-5 with an hour for lunch, or 8:30-5 with a 30 minute lunch, but your regular schedule cannot be 9-5 with no lunch break. As a manager, I will sometimes allow staff to do this on a one-time basis, if someone has an appointment or an emergency and doesn’t have the PTO to cover it, but generally speaking, it’s expected that exempt employees will take a lunch break.

                Reply
          10. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

            There’s just a big range. We do an 8 hour-ish day and lunch is “whatever” – leave for an hour, eat at your desk, hell, leave for 2 hours and go to the gym while you’re at it…it’s more about people getting their work done and managing their availability. Works for us, but there are lots of reasons to have a clearer system.

            Reply
          11. Jesmlet

            At my last job, I got paid for 8 hours, and 1 hour of that was lunch. At my current job, I get paid for 8 hours and I can take an unpaid hour some time in the middle of that for lunch. Paid for the same amount of work but I have to be physically here for an extra hour of every day at my current job. There’s an expectation that I stay here until 6 but there’s enough flexibility that I can leave early if I have to. God knows I never actually take that full hour so they’re definitely getting their money’s worth out of me.

            Reply
      2. eve

        Maybe I’ve missed it below but there is a really serious issue here in relation to insurance and specifically workplace based accident insurance. In my jurisdiction, you need to take breaks after certain amounts of hours irrespective of whether you are exempt or hourly rate. this is for health and safety reasons as there is very strong empirical evidence that the longer you work without a break, the higher your chances of having a workplace accident. Luckily in my jurisdiction the employer will be held responsible for not making you take the break but that is not universal and definitely not in the US.

        It has been compulsory in most workplaces I have worked in over the last 15 years plus to have mandatory breaks due to the risk of accident and it has nothing to do with pay, hours etc. There is a really good chance that if you wilfully don’t take a mandated break you may find an insurance claim contested and depending on where you work, you could have your claim denied entirely if you didn’t take a break your employer told you must and then got distracted and had a horrible accident at work (and even in an office you can eg break your back falling down the stairs etc).

        Take the break, not the whole hour if you can get away with it but the safety evidence is at least half an hour after 5 hours (and the court cases mostly too from what I have seen). If you are trying to get home to kids etc (which I have done) you’ll be doing them no favours if you have a workplace accident, end up badly damaged and don’t get paid a cent while you are off work for potentially years

        Reply
    3. Be the Change

      I’m always a little troubled when people think they don’t need ANY breaks during the day. I had an assistant who would routinely work through lunch and breaks so she could “leave early.” The second half of the day she made a lot more mistakes and I could see her visibly getting hollow around the eyes. I finally had to tell her that she couldn’t do this unless necessary (e.g. doctor appointment or whatever).

      If you want to be effective, take a damn break. –All the caveats about all the awful places to work that don’t allow breaks or have toxic you-can-breathe-when-you’re-dead cultures apply.

      Reply
      1. Q

        Honestly, I kind of hate taking whole hour for lunch (I’m not exempt, so I do have to take break, and I don’t get paid for it). I’d rather take half an hour because even that is more than enough time for me to eat. But I have to take the whole hour, because we want coverage later, so I can’t leave early.

        So, I’ve made a sort of peace with it by bringing my personal computer along and going for walks and otherwise treating the time as I would if I was home and trying to catch up on things so I have to devote less time to some of those things later–if I can take care of it on my break, I will.

        Reply
        1. Anion

          Yes. My husband’s work varies from very slow to balls-to-the-wall busy (can I say that?). When it’s busy nobody takes more than twenty minutes or so to wolf down some food, and everyone stays late. When it’s slow and no one is allowed to take OT, they make him take a lunch–he’s asked if he could work through and leave early* but they said no, they need him until close of business. Luckily he works close by, so sometimes he just comes home to hang out with me for a while.

          (It’s a pretty casual workplace, and he’s been there long enough and been impressive enough [currently in line for a third promotion after six months!] that he could ask without it being inappropriate or seeming lazy/like he’s not dedicated.)

          Reply
  6. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

    OP#3, I am sad to report that I have never worked anywhere that allows/expects me to be able to go home early if I work through lunch :(

    And when I was not exempt, it was illegal for me to work through lunch, and the penalties were high enough to force employers into enforcing those breaks… but I live in a State that’s very aggressive about protecting non-exempt workers’ meal and rest periods. But you may want to check to see if it’s even possible before attempting it.

    Reply
    1. Artemesia

      For an exempt role, treating it like a time clock punching role is also a bad look. I have never worked as a salaried professional in a setting where that kind of hour counting would not be viewed as a red flag about competence and professionalism. Few people work 40 hour weeks in exempt jobs; I’d hazard that most ‘work through lunch’ most days with a sandwich at their desk or whatever.

      Reply
      1. Lars the Real Girl

        Agreed. And with a first job, you definitely don’t want to be seen as the “how do I work EXACTLY 8 hours and not a minute more” guy/gal.

        OP, try not to think of it as “I work 8 hours and I’m done” and more as “I work 8-5, and somewhere in there I eat lunch and go get coffee, and scroll facebook on my phone for 10 min, etc”

        Reply
        1. DataQueen

          I think that every time a question like this comes up on AAM, there’s a lot of outrage that anything other than 40.00 hours per week could be seen as normal. Every industry, company, office, department have different expectations and norms. I am at a leadership level in my organization – I work 60 hours/week, and answer emails all night and weekend, and I do work when it’s needed. But also, at this level, i’m able to have the work/life balance I need without rules and regulations – i take what vacation I want, I leave when I want to leave, I don’t have to ask permission to go get my nails done at 11 in the morning (which is what I’m doing right now). I don’t expect my staff to work 60 hours, but i appreciate those who do what is needed for the business. Meaning, if it’s 430 and an urgent project comes up that needs to get done, I appreciate my staff who say “absolutely! Should we order in dinner?” or “I’m so sorry, i can’t tonight, i have to be home at 5 for the sitter/i have plans tonight… can i help tomorrow?”, but I’m disappointed in my staff that won’t help on the principle of working more than 40 hours.

          Reply
          1. Ave

            My husband is one of those c-level people most folks think are overpaid. He is never, never off the clock.

            There’s a reason he’s paid a king’s ransom. He has a king’s responsibilities. If he fails p, no one at his fortune 50 company can do any work at all as he’s in IT for a company where being connected is make or break.

            Norms for industries and job levels vary greatly.

            9-5 is largely anachronistic in the fortune 50 if you are in any type of management.

            Want to be in management some day? Hewing to strict 9-5 will prevent that in most industries

            Reply
            1. DataQueen

              Yesss. I can’t tell you how many people complain about not being promoted to leadership roles but also complain if they are there at 5:01.

              Reply
        2. Lucky

          Yes, this. I currently have a coworker, Becky, who “works through lunch” so she can leave early and I am constantly finding her checking her personal email, shopping on Amazon, reading Facebook. I have no problem with that – we all need a mental break from our work on occasion – but at least recognize that even when you work through lunch, you’re still taking a few personal minutes here and there throughout the day. (PS Before anyone jumps on this, Becky seems to think that we’re expected to work 8 hours with a 1/2 hour lunch included, so she routinely works from 9:00 to 4:30, so 35 hours/week. I call her Becky because I am BEC with her most of the time.

          Reply
        3. zora

          Definitely, well said. I work in a place where 99% of the employees are Exempt, and no one watches the clock, everyone is expected to manage their own time, there is a lot of flexibility allowed for appointments, working from home, etc.

          HOWEVER, that flexibility is supposed to be the exception, not every day, or even every week. And especially for new employees. If a new, entry-level person was leaving at 4:30 pm every day that would be extremely concerning. The expectation for the exempt folks is that they are working the hours needed to get projects done, not counting the hours. The Only Exception: If the new person requested this schedule for a specific reason when accepting the offer.

          Reply
      2. sfigato

        Counting hours in a salaried position isn’t a good look.It sends a signal that you don’t really care about the job and are just there to do the bare minimum and get out as quickly as possible. even at a laid back employer, working through your lunch means cramming your 10 hour day into 9 hours. If you want to leave early (ie get off at 4 instead of 5), I’d recommend working there for a while, seeing what other people do, and then asking to shift your hours so that you start earlier if it seems like something that might work and wouldn’t be too disruptive. Some employers are totally cool with this, as it allows employees to pick up kids or miss the worst of the commute, but for others it doesn’t work.

        Reply
      3. MLB

        Agreed although I’ve had managers that were clock watchers which was more than annoying and completely unfair since I didn’t take a lunch break every day. Like Alison said, he needs to get a feel for the place before he starts making his own schedule. Any time I’ve worked off hours, it was agreed upon during the job negotiation phase, usually due to traffic.

        Reply
    2. Excel Slayer

      I was going to say this. I’m sure OP lives in a place where it’s fine to work through lunch if that’s been cool with her internships, but she should probably check that it’s definitely possible first.

      Reply
    3. Thlayli

      Where i live it would actually be illegal to work through lunch as it is against the law to work more than 6 hours without a break. If we skipped lunch our employer would require us to take a break later in the day. We could get in trouble if we were caught not taking a break for more than 6 hours; this applies to both salaried and hourly workers. I know that some US states have similar laws regarding working breaks, and others have no laws regarding breaks at all.

      OP it might be worth you finding out what the law is on breaks in your location, in case you decide at a future date to propose working through lunch to your boss.

      Reply
    4. not so sweet

      Yes, OP3 – working while eating and leaving early is something I’d be okay with my reports doing occasionally because of a doctor’s appointment or something, but definitely not as a regular thing. Whether hourly or salaried, my expectation is that they have enough of a break to come back refreshed (even when the break is a sandwich and some internet and a stretch and a walk to the water fountain). It should be clear to them when they are on the employer’s time and when they are not, and it should also be clear to me. If they’re going to work through and leave early, ongoing reports can tell me rather than ask me, but I’d want a new one to ask the first time.

      Assuming it’s okay as a regular thing without asking first would annoy me. If the new employee asked, I would explain and say the above. I would also then think about what I’d been doing lately, and modify my behaviour to make it more obvious when I was going off-the-clock (e.g. by getting up to get a drink at noon or 12:30, and tidying away my lunch garbage half an hour later.) If the person’s job included answering telephone inquiries, I’d make sure he or she knew that it’s not okay to answer while chewing, and knew how to avoid that (e.g. tell receptionist if you’re in your office but on lunch, and if you’re the receptionist get someone else to answer the phone or go eat in the break room).

      Also, as other commenters have mentioned, my expectation is that someone who works full time in a non-flextime office will be available in person at the start and the end of the official workday. Maybe I won’t be in tomorrow and I want to talk over what I need from you next.

      Reply
    5. ThatGirl

      At my last job, I did only work exactly 8 hours in the office, and took no real lunch break. BUT. My manager was explicitly fine with this, I worked from home 2 days a week and often worked longer on those days, she herself only worked 7.5 hour days in the office but most of us took our laptops home, worked in the evening if needed, and I even was known to put in weekend hours if necessary. And that was after I’d been there for years as a contractor, and in a company where “set your own hours, but make sure you work 40 a week” was the norm.

      That is like the one thing I miss about that job, honestly.

      Reply
      1. Windchime

        Yeah, I’m super relieved after reading all this. My office has a great work/life balance and we are allowed to work through lunch (eat at our desks) as well as leave after 8 hours. My boss put it like this: You are entitled to 2 15-minute breaks in a day, so what does it matter if you use them to eat your lunch at your desk? Commute times can increase by 30 minutes or more if you miss your regular bus, so everyone understands the need to get out the door on time.

        Having said that, I’m under a deadline today and so I made my commute home and then logged back in for another couple of hours. Nobody is expected to work more than 40 hours a week, except when there is a “crunch time”, which is thankfully rare in my office.

        Reply
    6. KayEss

      I knew at least one at my last job, but it was because she was a 5+ year employee and had negotiated it as basically a flex-time perk for childcare reasons after she became a mother.

      Reply
    7. TardyTardis

      At old ExJob, with one manager I was told never to put down overtime if I worked during lunch. So of course when I was at my desk eating lunch (there was really no place else to eat in the building at that time) I got worked dumped on me that had to be done Right Then. Why I ever went back to that manager after escaping from her once I really don’t know, but everyone said she was Much Better (but by that time we had an actual lunchroom so I was careful to disappear at lunch to it by then).

      Reply
  7. Thornus67

    Re #3
    Some states, such as NY, mandate a lunch break if you work more than a set number of hours, even for exempt workers. I know NY mandates a break if you work more than 6 hours. If you don’t take it, you might land the company in hit water with the state DoL.

    Reply
    1. Yada Yada Yada

      I could be wrong here but I think what you’re describing is a common misconception. Your employer has to *offer* you a break, but you are not required to take said break. I don’t think any state mandates employees to take a break. Often though, employers will require you to take that break so you can’t end up saying they didn’t allow it. But at that point, it would be just a workplace rule like any other, the law isn’t forcing you to take a break. I believe Alison has covered this before, someone correct me please if any of this is wrong!

      Reply
      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Depends on the state! In many states, the breaks must happen (if you’re non-exempt). I think it’s actually less common for it to just need to be offered, but I’m not positive about that.

        Reply
      2. LeRainDrop

        Alison’s right about this. It’s not enough for the employer to just “offer” the break. Many employers and employees misunderstand that. Here’s a nice fancy chart from the US DOL, “Minimum Length of Meal Period Required under State Law for Adult Employees in Private Sector.” The chart notes that besides the 21 jurisdictions with meal period requirements, seven states also have rest period requirements. https://www.dol.gov/whd/state/meal.htm

        Reply
      3. Mookie

        Yeah, as Alison and LeRainDrop say, many species of breaks in the US are obligatory, not optional. It’s not always rigorously enforced, as you say (non-unionized service workers spring to mind!), but in every machinist, warehouse, or agriculture job I’ve had, people who don’t clock out for their meals and/or remain on the floor are generally fired after a second warning. It’s a labor issue and a safety issue, both, of course.

        Reply
      4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        It’s a legal requirement in California for nonexempt employees! There are several states where you are required to take a meal break, and the employer is required to support you in taking it (i.e., cannot let you clock back in early or work through lunch). At my first job, you could be disciplined/fired if you failed to clock out for lunch—and stay off the floor / not work—during lunch.

        So for some states, it goes beyond an offer and can become a violation of the Labor Code for a nonexempt employee to work through lunch. LeRainDrop’s chart is super helpful (although behind a paywall).

        Exempt employees are a whole other world, though.

        Reply
    2. Andy

      In Australia it’s a legal requirement, so I was a little surprised Alison didn’t say something here (ie, not a requirement over there).
      Here (specifically NSW), if you work a shift longer than 5 hours (this includes your regular 9-5 “not really shift work” jobs), you must take a 30 minute meal break, and it must not be within the first two hours or final hour. I’ve never been in a job that strictly polices this, but if you make a habit of it they’d probably say something.

      Reply
      1. TrixM

        Meh, I’m on a salary – what they seem to be calling “exempt” here – and no-one bats an eye if I work 13 hours non-stop as I did today.

        Then again, my lunchtime is truly flexible, and I can certainly take the breaks I’m entitled to, pretty much whenever I like.

        Reply
      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        It’s not a legal requirement at the federal level in the United States—meal breaks are often governed by state law :( And for most exempt workers, there’s even fewer break-related provisions.

        Reply
  8. ReporterCommenter

    I feel like Alison doesn’t fully understand #3’s question. Many offices work 8-5 or 9-6, meaning that if OP worked the whole time, through lunch, s/he would end up working 45 hours a week. I think the bigger question is, is it fair to expect salaried employees to extend their hours by so much?

    Reply
      1. Elizabeth H.

        I do? And everyone else salaried in my office? We actually have a 35 hour work week. Our business hours are 9-5 daily and it assumes a 1 hour lunch break. I usually work through lunch at my desk but not always.

        Reply
        1. Doreen

          I’m exempt and I mostly work a 37.5 hour week. I’m not out at 4:30 on the dot every day , but if something is going on Monday that keeps me at work until 6 , I can generally leave early another day to make up for it. Of course, that means if I need to come in an hour late for a doctor’s appointment I need to either make up that hour or use leave for it.

          Reply
          1. Turquoisecow

            That was the same for me at a previous job. Some people worked more hours (especially managers and VPs and such), and some exempt people worked exactly 7.5 hour days. (There were also some hourly people).

            I worked about 7.75-8 hours on average. There were some days I had to leave early or come in late, and depending on my supervisor, I usually didn’t have to make up the time if it was less than a half day. There were some days I worked more. It averaged out in the end.

            There were some clock-watching bosses who really made people make up minutes, but thankfully I didn’t work for those. :)

            Reply
        2. Penny Lane

          Yes, and often these are the kinds of businesses where customer service is no -existent because they employ the kinds of people who could stay an extra half hour and whip through requests but they pull out their watches at 4:59 pm and declare it’s time to go. This is reminiscent of the stereotype of the postal worker who sees a line of 20 people but closes his counter because the world will end if he doesn’t have his lunch right then and there.

          In a world where plenty of professionals just Get It Done no matter what it takes, this counting the clock mentality from a salaried employee is a huge red flag.

          Reply
          1. finderskeepers

            Ragging on postal workers is so last century. My post office is open til 7pm weekdays, 5pm saturdays, and I get amazon delivery on sundays. Whereas I can’t get an appt with a doctor on weekends, on weekdays the last appts seem to be around 4:30!

            Reply
            1. Penny Lane

              That’s so strange! Here, the doctors routinely offer appointments in the evenings and Saturday, and I know one doctor who offers appointments on Sunday. I had dental work done by a specialist who opened his office at either 5 or 5:30 am (I forget which) so people could have their work done and then get to work. I had my work done and by the time I drove to work, the anesthesia had pretty much worn off and I was ready for my day. So smart of him.

              Of course, these are the doctors / dentists who do well – those who have the drive to satisfy their patients’ needs for appointment times. The ones who are stuck in the 9 – 4:30 appointment slot mindset don’t do as well financially and then they wonder why!

              Reply
              1. Nita

                It depends! I’ve dealt with doctors’ offices that are never ever open on weekends… it’s usually the ones who run a one-person office, or practice out of more than one office (so the doctor may be working on the weekends, but in another town!) And the 4:30 closing time could be because of hospital hours, if they are doctors who split their time between the private practice and seeing patients in the hospital.

                Reply
            2. KMB213

              I can usually get doctor’s appointments late, but I completely agree about the postal workers! The post office near me does close at 5:00 pm, but I’ve seen them stay past 6:00 to serve all of the people who were in line by 5:00 (and even a few who arrived a few minutes after 5:00).

              Reply
            1. Karen K

              This. I am not in customer service, strictly speaking, but I do have a group of people who could loosely be considered my “customers.” They all know how to contact me when I’m not in the office if they need me. Leaving on time (or a smidgen early, for that matter) does not mean I’m not dedicated to my job. Frankly, part of the reason I love my job is because no one’s breathing down my neck, insisting my butt be in my seat at an arbitrary time each morning, and must remain until an arbitrary time each afternoon.

              Reply
            2. TardyTardis

              Not during tax season when they’re stacked up to the rafters–I could leave right at quitting time, but I choose to pitch in (the coffee is free, and excellent) so we can all go home that night. Things are bit slacker now that most people who know they’re getting refunds have gone through the system, but I expect April to be Exciting Like That again. But then, the company is waving a lovely bonus at us
              and we just got our pay raised for making quota during the first part of the season, so hey…

              Besides, it’s part time and I intend to sleep during the last half of April .

              Reply
          2. Applesauced

            Woah, that’s taking it a little too far – wanting to leave on time and having a work life balance does not automatically make you a bad employee.

            Reply
          3. a different Vicki

            If you want people to “stay an extra half hour and whip through requests,” they should be paid for that time–and be told up front that those are the expected hours. They shouldn’t be told “8:30-5” and then criticized or punished for making plans based on those hours.

            The problem with taking it for granted that people will stay an extra half hour is that can turn into “it’s okay to show up at 5:28, they’re still open” and the person who took a job expecting to leave at five now being expected to stay “an extra half hour” until six, because the 5-5:30 is treated as the norm, not staying extra. Somehow the people who think “you could just stay an extra half hour” don’t look kindly on someone thinking “I could just leave 25 minutes early, since I’m not on a call and it’s a nice day out.”

            If your business needs to be staffed until 5:30 or 6:00, that’s fine, but hire appropriately, and maybe have overlapping shifts. Don’t tell people that the workday ends at 5 if they’ll be expected to stay later nine days out of ten. and pay them for that overtime.

            After all, many of the people who want to be served at 5:30 are there at 5:30 instead of at 2:00 because their jobs expect them to be at work earlier in the day; the customer service person who isn’t “whipping through requests” is also likely to have errands to run, or a train to catch.

            Reply
          4. Amy

            Almost everyone at my office works around 40 hours and we have won customer service awards in our industry. It helps that due to the nature of our industry if there is an issue we will generally find out about it early in the day. We also have really high retention rates so people know how to fix disasters as or before they occur. Also people like me don’t necessarily work 8 hour a day and 40 hours exactly every week but average around 40 a week. This week I will be here late a few nights and for the rest of the month until we’re busy again my boss will tell me to go early here and there.

            Reply
          5. Elizabeth H.

            Whoa – it seems you’re commenting in general more than specifically just to my comment, but I think there is a giant gulf between “we have standard business hours our offices can be expected to be open” and that everyone who works there is a work to rule clock watcher.

            Reply
          6. neeko

            People in retail and service aren’t allowed to leave on time and take regular lunch breaks? What are you talking about?

            Reply
      2. Melissa

        I’m salaried non-exempt and my normal working hours are 40 hours a week 8-4:30 with a 30 minute unpaid lunch). My employer pays has to pre-approve any work beyond my normal schedule and has to pay me overtime pay for it. I’m a unionized government employee.

        Reply
      3. Fortitude Jones

        I was salaried exempt in insurance and worked eight hour days at my last job – until hurricane season hit, and then I did OT and, yes, was paid lump sum time and a half bonuses to do so. My current salaried exempt role also sees most of us working eight hour days unless we get some last minute post-proposal work in that needs to be done or have a production day shipping delay (which is usually a delay in getting pricing back from another team).

        Reply
      4. 40 hrs a week worker

        I do. I work 7:30 to 4 (30 mins of that is my state-law-required unpaid lunchbreak) and leave at 4 on the dot. Rarely I will do some work on my laptop at home, but because my employers are incredibly insistent that I put in my 8 hours a day, not a minute less, and work that exact schedule every day (no flexibility for needing to leave early or come in late or work from home) I decided I will be equally meticulous about not working MORE than 8 hours a day. Two can play at this game. In prior jobs I was more than happy to work more than 40 hours a week when needed because my employers were happy to show a bit of flexibility and understanding to my life.

        Reply
      5. Windchime

        At my office, 40 hours a week is what is expected and what most people work. During crunch times, we will put in extra time but nobody is expected to routinely work for free.

        Reply
    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I did understand the question :)

      In many offices, they’d want the OP there until the end of their work day — for questions, meetings, etc. So if she didn’t want to end up working “extra” time (which is already not quite an accurate concept for an exempt employee), then she’d need to use her lunch break for lunch. It’s not unfair to ask her to do that; it’s reasonable for an employer to say “I need you around until 5 (or whenever) because things come up toward the end of the day.” Or her employer may be fine with her altering her schedule in the way she’s proposing — but it’s not generally something to request at the very start of your first post-college job.

      Reply
      1. AcademiaNut

        And there are workplaces where it’s common to work a full day *and* eat lunch at your desk. Or regularly work more than a 40 hour work week. So assuming that you’re going to get a substantial lunch break and leave at five is not necessarily accurate.

        I think it’s perfectly reasonable to ask about hours – expected start/end time, what people do for lunch – when you start the job, particularly if it’s your first time as a salaried employee. Asking for exceptions, or seeming too eager to rush out the door at the end of the day, should wait until you’ve had time to watch the culture, and to establish a good work record.

        There’s also a difference in doing it occasionally, and as a regular routine. So it might be perfectly fine to work through lunch and leave early once in a while, to get to a doctor’s appointment or something similar, but frowned on to do it daily.

        Reply
        1. Not Australian

          Yep, I’ve been in a place where I had to stipulate that I was going to need at least *one* lunch break a week out of the office for the sake of my mental health. That was also where I declared one morning that I was actually going to have a coffee break and sit down for fifteen minutes where I couldn’t see my computer. My boss started to say “But we don’t… “, then saw my expression and decided against it. It was the only coffee break I ever had in that job.

          Reply
          1. a girl has no name

            Your mention of a mental health coffee break reminds me about how once I was waiting tables and it was crazy busy. All of the smokers got a chance to take turns going outside and for a quick smoke break while I continued to get my butt kicked. I finally told the manager that I was taking a quick clean air break outside to clear my head. When I said that the smokers all got one, he finally stopped objecting. Breaks like that are important!

            Reply
      2. DataQueen

        We call this “core hours” – it’s important that everyone is in the office between 9 and 5 together, so work can be most efficiently done. If Sally works 6-3 and Joe works 12-8, then there’s only 3 hours of core time together to schedule meetings, or pop over with a question. So OP, if your boss needs you at 4:45, and you’re not there, she’s not going to say “Ah, Persephone must have skipped lunch and left early after working exactly 7 hours and 59 minutes,” she’s going to be annoyed that what she needs done can’t be done because you aren’t there.

        Reply
    2. all aboard the anon train

      I’ve only ever worked places where the common hours are 8-4 or 9-5 where an hour lunch is included in the eight hours instead of eight hours plus an hour of lunch. This is common for most of my friends, too. I wonder if the distinction is regional?

      Reply
      1. Casuan

        I wonder if the distinction is regional?

        It could be, in the sense of industry, management [style], & culture. So I guess those can be considered as regional?

        Reply
      2. Rachel

        I’ve never worked anywhere that didn’t have an ‘unpaid’ lunch break in the expected working hours (to be clear these were all salaried roles with a 40 hour week, working 9-6. Most people would take maybe 10-30 minutes away from their desk for lunch). This is at a few different mid-sized companies in both London and NYC. Friends who work in the public sector tend to have shorter hours though.

        Reply
      3. Someone else

        My experience with this, at least in the US, is generational. My parents and grandparents had schedules like what you describe, but since the 90s things have been sliding more toward pay is based on 40 worked hours, with unpaid lunch breaks for everyone (ie 8-5p with an hour lunch, or 9-5:30 with a half hour lunch, etc). The shift may be occurring more slowly in certain regions.

        Reply
    3. LadyKelvin

      We don’t have set hours per say, other than core hours from 9-3, but we are required to be at work for min 8.5 hours every day, and take an unpaid 30 min lunch break. You can take a longer lunch break, but then you have to work longer, so you’re still working 8 hours plus unpaid lunch. In general we aren’t allowed to not take a lunch break, but sometimes you can skip lunch and leave 30 min early if you have a doctor’s appointment or something. And we are expected to work these hours on the honor system, I rarely see my supervisor, so it would be easy to take advantage of the system, but everyone I work with are adults and don’t.

      Reply
    4. Triplestep

      The question was understood and the answer is essentially “it’s not about math.”

      In a previous job, we had a young woman join our team just days after she graduated. In a staff meeting several weeks in she proclaimed that she would never bring work home with her or log on after hours. This was during chitchat before the meeting actually started, but the disdain in her voice (she clearly thought the rest of us were losers for “working extra”) was evident. Things changed. Mostly she grew up.

      Reply
      1. AnotherHRPro

        This was my reaction as well! I’ve never had a professional job where I didn’t work in excess of 45+ hours per week. Typically 50-60.

        Reply
        1. Delphine

          +1

          This assumption that you’re paid for 40 hours of work a week but that really means you *must* work 45+ to be considered a good employee needs to go.

          I’m lucky that I work for a company that encourages us not to work more than 40 hours a week. When things are busy, we are expected to do what needs to be done to finish our work, but if we stayed late one or two days or worked weekends, we’re told to leave early the next day or come in a bit late. We don’t need to normalize employers taking advantage of employees.

          Reply
          1. KMB213

            Same. Sure, I’ve definitely had weeks where I’ve worked 45 hours, or 50 hours, or even 60 hours. In fact, I’ve never had a job where I NEVER had to work over 40 hours. But, I’ve also never had a job where I’ve had to work over 40 every week, or even most weeks. The same is true among my friends. In fact, I’ve had jobs where 37.5 hours is the average/”normal” workweek.

            Reply
      2. DataQueen

        I’m with you Penny Lane. There is no law that says that an exempt salary is based on 40 hour weeks. It’s all about the norms for your office, your company, and your industry. Wanting a decent work/life balance is one thing – refusing to work more than 40 hours because “you shouldn’t have to” is another.

        Reply
      3. MissDissplaced

        I’m sorry but this is WAGE THEFT. And it needs to stop. And while you may may feel you are being paid well, there are plenty who arent that are exempt. It’s a bait and switch many employers play during salary negotiations. You agree to a salary at X assuming it will be the US standard 4o hrs/week, only to find out you’re really expected to clock in 50. Wage Theft,

        Reply
    5. Beth

      I actually think Alison’s answer is pretty spot on. In my last job (which was salaried), my company was really flexible with what hours they expected us to work, but even with that, it was a bad idea to think of our time as concretely as “Well, I worked through lunch, so I can leave an hour early now”. If I had a meeting at 8AM, then I needed to be in at 8AM; if I had a meeting at 5PM, then I needed to stay until that meeting ended. Working through lunch didn’t change that. If I needed to get a big project done on a deadline, then I needed to get it done, and while working through lunch might give me a little extra flexibility later in the day, it still wouldn’t mean I could wrap up at my normal time. On the other hand, on days where I’d gotten things due that day done and felt on top of my upcoming workload, I had the flexibility to work a shorter day and leave earlier than usual–even if I’d also taken a long lunch break.

      I learned to think of my time less as an hourly count and more as a balance. If I had a week with lots of personal-life stuff going on, I could get the things I needed to do at work done and head out; if I had a week that was quieter on the home front, I could spend more time at work and get ahead on some projects. It mostly averaged out in the end, and it had a lot more flexibility than an hourly position; the longer weeks were worth that.

      I also don’t think 45 hour weeks are unusual in the salaried world. There is the odd company that holds to the 40 hour standard even for their salaried employees, but from what I’ve seen at least, they’re the exception rather than the rule. 45 seems to be well within the standard, and plenty consider 50+ hours a week to be pretty normal. (Whether that should be the case is a different question–but it is what it is.)

      Reply
  9. Sam Foster

    RE #1: To me the over sharing of personal details is a big red flag and shows there is a risk of boundary issues. However, because some of that overly personal information is religious, am I at risk of appearing discriminatory?

    My basic logic is that if this person doesn’t understand that it isn’t appropriate to refer to such deeply personal matters, especially the sex stuff, I’d be sincerely worried about their ability to exist in a professional office.

    Thoughts?

    Reply
    1. Artemesia

      Yes and you put his application in the reject pile but you don’t gve him feedback on this because it WILL be spun as ‘persecution’ for religious beliefs rather than the total lapse of professional judgment that it is.

      Reply
      1. Engineer Girl

        I normally don’t disagree with you but must strenuously do so in this case.
        You have no idea how the student would take the feedback. To say for sure that an individual WILL behave a certain way is just running off of stereotypes.

        Reply
      2. Parenthetically

        I grew up in this kind of “purity groups” environment, and I also need to push back on this language. The butt-hurt, litigious faction of American Christianity is loud, but that doesn’t mean they’re the majority, or that you can say for sure that this particular kid is going to lawyer up if he’s given some judicious feedback about not mentioning sex on a resume. May not be worth giving him the feedback, but I’d say it’d be pointless just as much for the likelihood of it being like giving career advice to a particularly dim fencepost as for the likelihood of him suing or going to the media.

        Reply
    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      I think you focus on the sex stuff as the disqualifying issue. I wouldn’t want to know if he were running an extraordinarily successful sex club, either. His religious background, or the connection between his overshare and his faith, aren’t really the problem. The oversharing is.

      Reply
      1. OP #1

        100%. He could have been more vague about the purpose of the (explicitly religiously-affiliated) club, and it would have been a non-issue.

        Reply
        1. Lars the Real Girl

          This is what I was thinking – putting something like “co-leader of a young men’s bible study” would have seemed slightly non-relevant but not squicky and would have made sense for an intern without much other experience (it shows extra-ciriculars and leadership potential.)

          Compare it to how a college student might write about sorority or fraternity activities: “Organized successful alumni event to fundraise over $10,000” is workplace relevant. Putting “Organized biggest homecoming party/mixer – most alcohol ever purchased” is the same thing…but comes off like the candidate doesn’t understand workplace-norms.

          Reply
          1. Abby

            Right, and if instead of “bible study” he put “fellowship” or “peer mentoring” group I would be entirely okay with that for a very young candidate, even if the organization is the XYZ Bible Church.

            Reply
          2. Annie Moose

            This is what I was thinking. I don’t see an issue with mentioning leadership/organization of a religious group on his resume if it’s notable, it’s just that you have to present it in such a way that it’s in line with workplace norms and has useful information for whoever is reading your resume.

            (and by “useful information” I mean “implying you have leadership and organizational skills”, not “ohhhh boy this person does not understand not to talk about sex in the workplace, do not hire”)

            Reply
      2. Penny Lane

        I agree completely but just to play devils advocate, one could make a case that being the president of X College’s LBGTQ Society is also “discussing” one’s sexual preferences. But I wouldn’t bat an eye at that on a resume and I’d file it under leadership (assuming there was substantiation). I wonder why the distinction.

        Reply
        1. HannahS

          Sigh. No. Something that tells you a person’s sexual orientation is zero percent the same as knowing how frequently they masturbate or have sex. That’s like saying that hearing Jane go, “Oh, my wife and I are headed to the cottage this weekend” is telling you something inappropriate and she shouldn’t discuss her “sex life” at work. She’s not. Knowing someone’s sexual orientation is not the same as knowing about their sex life. Young peoples’ LGBTQ Societies don’t exist primarily as sexual places–they’re safe spaces for young people who may not be literally, physically safe anywhere else. Many are also political, in that they lobby against discriminatory laws and policies. Some promote education. Not the same as the actual title of the organization telling you that they strongly feel that young men shouldn’t masturbate or have sex and that they lead a support group that promotes that idea.

          Reply
        2. Cordoba

          LGBTQ status is an inherent unchangeable trait, religion is a choice – there is no genetic component to whether or not a person believes in Zeus.

          Reply
        3. Snark

          Perhaps if you’re really ignorant about what sexual orientation does and doesn’t imply, and what it is and isn’t.

          I’m really disappointed to see a post this problematic here.

          Reply
          1. Cordoba

            The way you fix ignorance is with information.

            “Penny Lane” does not appear to be a troll or an anti-LGBTQ bigot, and would likely be open to learning more about what sexual orientation does or doesn’t imply.

            I’m really disappointed to see a post complaining about somebody being “problematic” without providing a link where they could learn more.

            Reply
              1. Cordoba

                So you can muster the energy to call somebody a disappointing problematic ignoramus, but not enough to say “Read this” and provide a link?

                Reply
                1. Snark

                  That’s correct. Sometimes education comes in the form of a gentle direction to a link, sometimes it’s an irate queer guy telling you your post sucks because it uses a major plank of his identity to play rhetorical games with hypotheticals.

                2. Ask a Manager Post author

                  I’m with Snark here. People can point out that something is offensive without being obligated to once again swing into educator mode.

                  But let’s leave it here.

          2. Penny Lane

            Did you not see the “playing devil’s advocate” and the “I wouldn’t bat an eye at seeing it and would file it under leadership”?

            I am not saying **I** have a problem with someone indicating that they had served as the president of the LGTBQ club. I was asking people to help parse out why I feel differently about that than I do either “President of the No-Sex Club” or “President of the Sex-All-The-Time Club.”

            Reply
            1. Snark

              I really hate “devil’s advocate” arguments that trade on offensive misconceptions about what being GBLTQ is and means, whether it’s in the service of an authentic embrace of that viewpoint or for the sake of drawing a rhetorical comparisons. I get what you were trying to do, it just rubbed me the wrong way.

              Reply
              1. Penny Lane

                Well, I’m sorry I didn’t please you today. It wasn’t my intent to upset you. Perhaps I should have said something along the lines of this:

                “Some people [not me!] might argue that putting President of the LGBTQ Club on your resume brings TMI about your sex life to the work place just like President of the Sex Purity Club or President of the Sex Party Club do. I disagree, because I wouldn’t blink an eye at seeing President of the LGBTQ Club on a resume and I’d immediately jump to leadership experience, but I recognize that others might think otherwise. How might one counter such an argument?”

                Reply
                1. HannahS

                  Yeah, you really should have. Saying “I feel like I’ve heard people say XYZ and it disturbs me, because I don’t agree, but I can’t articulate a counter argument–can you help?” is totally different from seemingly playing intellectual games with someone else’s oppression. As a speaker, they might sound the same. To the listeners (as you’re seeing) they absolutely do not. Approach with humility; stay away from things that sound like you don’t take this seriously (the whole “Devil’s advocate” thing). After all, none of us know you well enough to give much benefit of the doubt.

              2. sin nombre

                Yeah. The devil’s got more than enough advocates as it is, and it’s a particularly ugly role to take on when it is at the expense of other humans, particularly marginalized ones like LGBTQ folks.

                Reply
              3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

                I’m with you on this one, Snark. I don’t think Penny Lane’s analogy even works (it’s not comparing apples to apples), but I don’t think it moves us all forward in any kind of helpful way to throw out specious and discriminatory arguments under the guise of being Satan’s advocate.

                Reply
            2. Annabelle

              I loathe the whole “devil’s advocate” thing because it allows people to say super bigoted things under the guise of hypothetical questions. But if you want a real answer, the reason you supposedly feel differently is because talking about not being straight is not even sort of the same thing as talking about how you do/don’t masturbate.

              A “sexual purity accountability” club would likely involve some pretty frank discussion about sexual urges that do not occur in safe spaces for young queer people.

              Reply
        4. General Ginger

          Come on. By that logic, just saying the words “I have a spouse/significant other” is discussing one’s sexual preferences.

          Reply
          1. General Ginger

            Also, I don’t know about president, but allies can and do hold leadership positions in LGBTQ orgs, so this doesn’t track even on that level.

            Reply
        5. neverjaunty

          “Playing devil’s advocate” by recycling a very ugly and timeworn anti-LGBT argument is uncool. Please don’t.

          Reply
          1. Penny Lane

            It was a serious question because I like hypotheticals and deconstructing things. My intent was not to offend, at all.

            Reply
            1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

              Remember that LGBT folks are not your hypothetical toys. We are real people who experience real discrimination, thanks.

              Reply
            2. neverjaunty

              You presented a sloppy, shallow hypothetical that makes no sense unless one assumes rather unpleasant and one-sided things about being LGBT, and which echoes bigoted arguments LGBT people have heard all too often. And you announced that you did so for your own intellectual amusement.

              If you want others to assume you have good intent so they will engage and debate with you on those terms, you’re doing it ass-backward.

              Reply
            3. Oranges

              I don’t think you did but you just basically reminded every LGBT+ person here that they’re second class citizens in a large swath of our country. That we’re considered horrible people who prey on children in some areas (note: this is a BS cover story, we really upset them because we’re not playing their gender games “correctly”).

              Also that we matter so little that you didn’t think about our reaction when you posted this. I know it was out of ignorance. You didn’t mean it, you’re not a horrible person, I understand. BUT it still hurt. I can’t explain how tiring it is and how heart-rending it is to have the world constantly tell you that you are WRONG. Not to mention the smaller portion of the world convinced that you’re a monster.

              It affects us in large ways: I used to want to teach. Now there might be job openings for a gay teacher. But not when I choose my path. Firing gay teachers was seen as a heroic thing in my private school because they just SAVED all those kids from that PERVERT.

              It affects us in small ways: constant self editing in groups until you know if it’s “safe” or not and one new person can suddenly make the group feel unsafe. So each time you have to test it all over again.

              Reply
        6. Thlayli

          The real question is why is this different from saying “co-leader of an asexual group”. Superficially they are giving pretty much the same info. However the difference is there. It’s about your personal sex life, not about a general group.

          People identify as asexual, they don’t identify as “sexually pure”. Being asexual is something you ARE, being sexually pure is something you DO (or don’t, in this case). You can identify as asexual and have sex. Telling someone you are asexual is not discussing your sex life in the same way that telling someone you are abstinent is.

          It’s like the difference between saying “how do lesbians have sex” and asking a lesbian “how do you have sex”. One is a general query the other is specific info on someone’s personal sex life.

          Reply
        7. Annabelle

          You’re essentially putting forth the incredibly harmful notion that queer people are doing something inherently sexual just by being out of the closet. As a gay person, I can tell you that LGBTQ+ groups are not generally sexual in nature. A lot of them offer free STI testing and stuff, but they’re not organizing orgies or anything.

          Reply
        8. Librarian Ish

          @Penny Lane, I’m LGBTQ and an organizer with a local LGBTQ group, which I’ve put on my resume, and was worrying about whether or not I should have, and I was hoping to get an answer to *just this question*. Thank you for asking it.

          Reply
            1. Julia the Survivor

              Sorry that wasn’t very complete! I’m trying to say it depends on what your area is like and what the industry you’re applying to is like, in regards to prejudice. You can probably make a good estimate of how much such prejudice would affect your candidacy.

              Reply
    3. JamieS

      I’d consider it a lack of judgment red flag but wouldn’t consider it any more of a red flag than someone who lists other irrelevant hobbies/interests that aren’t religious in nature. I could be way off but I’m getting the strong impression this guy was given the advice (probably by a school career center but possibly his church) to lists his outside hobbies/interests to help the employer get a better sense of “who he is as a person” or some other similar nonsense I’m sure is being peddled to students these days.

      Reply
      1. WoodswomanWrites

        It’s not the religious part that’s an issue. It’s referencing his sexual life in his resume. Religious or atheist is irrelevant. Unless someone is applying for a job that involves sexuality counseling or something comparable, it it is never appropriate to reference one’s personal sexual views.

        And as some suggested above, I disagree that it’s the letter writer’s role to contact the applicant to give him this feedback, no more than it is to contact any applicant who’s being rejected based on something else on their resume. Hiring managers respond to the resumes they are interested in, not the ones they aren’t. I don’t get why the letter writer owes it to this applicant to give him feedback.

        Reply
      2. Dot Warner

        Students are often told that it’s OK to put leadership experience on their resume even if it’s not relevant to the job they’re applying for; this guy probably thought the purity group fell under the umbrella of a religious organization and didn’t realize how it might sound to a potential employer.

        Reply
        1. JamieS

          Plausible and that’s what I’d assume if he just had his “leadership” position (not really sure how much leadership work is actually involved in those groups) but OP mentioned he also had other irrelevant church activities on his resume so I put it all under the category of including irrelevant outside interests.

          Reply
          1. Falling Diphthong

            There’s usually a fair amount of behind the scenes work to any group that meets regularly. Done well, it appears seamless and easy to outsiders–like dishes that wash themselves if you don’t worry about them.

            Reply
            1. Thlayli

              Yes there is a lot of work that goes into organising all groups. This is one reason students are encouraged to put experience in organised social groups on their resumes.

              Reply
    4. Birch

      TBH my first assumption would be that the candidate doesn’t see that info as being either religious or sexual in nature, but just ethical/leadership. I also grew up in that kind of culture and it involves a belief about an objective state of the world where all ethical principles come from religion (so atheists or people of other religions are automatically less ethical) and everyone who disagrees is objectively wrong, but it’s just in the background as a guiding structure. Everything in the world is seen through this lens, so even disclosing this “purity” stuff is seen only to mean that you have self discipline. It could also be that the candidate isn’t so steeped in that culture and made an innocent mistake based on bad advice.

      If OP mentioned it, I don’t think he would necessarily spin it as discrimination or persecution, but he would probably see OP as being inappropriately interested in his sex life, ironically.

      Reply
      1. sin nombre

        it involves a belief about an objective state of the world where all ethical principles come from religion (so atheists or people of other religions are automatically less ethical) and everyone who disagrees is objectively wrong, but it’s just in the background as a guiding structure

        I also read this kid’s activities as a signal of that kind of attitude and I find that absolutely alarming!

        Reply
        1. Julia the Survivor

          Yes! And this is the point I’m trying to make: People with this attitude are often very focused on making everyone follow their beliefs.

          Reply
  10. professor

    OP4, I work at a university, and I’m pretty sure I could be fired for revealing a student’s health information, especially since you find that out due to things like accommodations. Say nothing. Also, in general: what is the timeline on this all? When did this student take classes with you vs. be your assistant? If she has improved, that is notable. Frankly, your letter sounds rather negative, and I would say you need to talk to her about your ability to write a strong letter too.

    Reply
    1. AcademiaNut

      I think the best thing the LW can do it talk to the student about this directly. If the student works best when given clear, detailed, instructions, she needs to learn to ask for this, because other employers aren’t likely to be as patient as the LW when it comes to figuring out how to manage her.

      Reply
    2. TL -

      Yeah, I think the OP needs to talk to the student about writing a letter AND about their observations of student’s work style. It sounds like things have improved but it also sounds like a lot of that improvement has been because of the OP’s decisions, not the student’s.

      But the OP should also give an honest recommendation, which means that she needs to be really clear about what conditions she has seen the student succeed in while working with her.

      Reply
      1. TL -

        Also, improvement or not, the behaviors described are really concerning, so it’s understandable if someone felt reservations about giving her a recommendation even after seeing a big improvement.

        Reply
        1. Sam.

          I would be particularly concerned that the student doesn’t recognize this about themselves and in fact asks for the opposite. Improvement is great, but if the student isn’t aware of the improvement or what caused it, it’s surely temporary. OP really needs to have a conversation with them.

          Reply
    3. nonymous

      Yeah, I think it would be well within norms for a reference to comment about how beautifully the assistant responded to explicit direction. There are definitely jobs/workplace cultures where communication is incredibly direct and the workplace metrics are highly detailed. A lot of these jobs are highly repetitive and have difficulty retaining staff who thrive on a different framework, so the recommendation may truly be an asset. Manufacturing jobs (Amazon, food packaging) for unskilled labor, maybe auto repair if she has good logic skills? Delivery drivers have strong structures around the day as well.

      Reply
      1. OP4

        I don’t know how she responds to structure. The kinds of boundaries I have in place are things like a code word to excuse herself to the restroom if she’s going to cry, the amount of texts she can send in a day and what is appropriate to discuss, behaviors I don’t tolerate when she’s having a bad day, how to bodily handle herself when she’s frustrated.

        It’s basically that any workplace has to put in place limits around emotional breakdowns and tantrums rather than giving her leeway when faced with a disability claim. If you give in to her at all it just gets much worse, but if you hold firm while reassuring that you’re not kicking her out, she realizes you mean it and finds ways to cope most of the time.

        Reply
        1. OP4

          (This is why it’s hard to talk about it without mentioning her health issues. The limits she needs are not things any adult would expect to need to put in place for another adult.)

          Reply
          1. Asian

            What about phrasing it as “explicit coaching on unspoken industry norms”? How much to text, what things to ask her superior about versus which things she should just make an executive decision on, emotional openness / casualness in the workplace are all implicit norms that are different for every industry and workplace culture, and it’s pretty normal for newcomers not to know these things immediately when starting a new job (and therefore these are all fair game for a mentor to orient the newbie on).

            Advising that prospective employers go over these things during orientation is quite reasonable and is something more people should do- partly because this will reduce the gap between socioeconomically advantaged and disadvantaged employees.

            Reply
    4. OP4

      This isn’t academia. I run a performing-arts studio. She’s been a student for a little over two years, and assisting me as part of her fees for the last 6 months. She is not in any kind of college/uni.

      Her particular mix of issues I believe prevent her from being able to act on this knowledge, even though she’s definitely aware and I’ve talked to her about many times before and had her sign agreements about how to handle herself in classes. I wouldn’t have brought her on as an assistant if I hadn’t seen the improvement with firm direction.

      She does really really well in the assistant role, but miserably in her jobs that don’t give her the same kind of expectations. She’s on the verge of losing her 3rd job in a year and that’s why she’s asked me to be a reference. I can truthfully say she’s done great work with me, but there’s a definite reason why.

      Reply
  11. CityMouse

    As an attorney who reviews intern resumes, let me also note that, generally, undergrad clubs, unless somehow legally relevant (maybe student government, paper, or other legal or writing experience) should not be on a legal intern resume anyway. That smacks of padding. Tell me about your law school activities or other relevant work.

    Reply
    1. OP #1

      I agree! This batch of resumes was pretty heavy on irrelevant info. I think a lot of these applicants have just gone straight through school and haven’t had much resume experience (or even law school experience—we had a lot of 1L applicants).

      Reply
      1. sap

        Yeah, and lots of schools don’t let 1Ls do anything organizationy in their first semester, so I guess college leadership is better than nothing–I remember putting together a resume for 1L summer was really tough, since basically all I could do was list my GPA for law school stuff (and even though I took a ton of time in between college and law school, “bartender” was… Not the look I wanted).

        Reply
    2. Anon for this

      I just reviewed a lot of applications for a STEM grad program, and was surprised at some of the personal info included. Several candidates used their statements to bring up their sexual orientation, which was a little unexpected. In most cases, though, it made sense – they mentioned it in the context of their decision to choose a specific graduate program / potential advisor / etc.

      But one candidate just listed a couple of sexual specifics out of the blue and basically said, “Look how woke you’ll be if you admit me!” I found it very off-putting – both the oversharing of personal information and the fact that, you know, they could have used that space to talk about something relevant to their scientific performance. That application was not very competitive for other reasons, so it ultimately didn’t make a difference, but I had to kind of wonder what that applicant was thinking.

      Reply
      1. Academic Addie

        There’s kind of a push in STEM right now to include that sort of info – how being X/Y/Z has influenced your path, and will influence your future. And I largely agree with it. I definitely included in my faculty applications how being a first-generation college student, and being the only woman in the room influences my approach to mentoring, the types of programs I’m interested in, who I am as an educator, etc. But there is real danger in that for young folks who are not that savvy at knowing how to include that info, and are not getting advice from mentors from themselves are from underrepresented groups. So much of the advice about personal statements is very generic (“Let them see who you really are”), and not helpful. Students, don’t be afraid to ask mentors and colleagues to read your statements!

        Reply
        1. Anon for this

          Yeah, that was what got me about this particular application – the applicant made no attempt to integrate that information into a personal narrative. Ok, so you’re graysexual* – you need to do more than just say that, you need to tell me why it’s relevant to your scientific performance, goals, and choice of grad programs. People are different. Without context, it’s either TMI or an open invitation to stereotype, neither of which are helpful.

          I think you’re right on about students needing to ask for – and take! – advice on their essays. This particular essay had other issues, as well, though from the rest of the application I got the sense that it was less a lack of mentorship and more an unwillingness to take it.

          * Changed for anonymity, but I am fairly young and pretty internet culture-savvy, and I had to look it up.

          Reply
        2. Anon for this

          But back to the topic at hand, job / school applicants of the US, if in doubt, leave sex-related things off your applications! As Alison has mentioned before, we live in a world where a lot of people will be put off by it (rightly or wrongly), so I think the risks often outweigh the potential benefits of including that co-leadership experience, etc.

          Reply
  12. LittleRedRidingHuh?

    #4 I have to admit this “daily ethical crisis” comment has me bouncing on my toes out of sheer curiosity. What happened between application, interview rounds and verbal offer, that made your hubby stop in his tracks and say nu-hu!?!, especially after initially accepting the offer? I just can’t think of anything bar my new employer requesting I gift them my kidney along with my first born upon contract signage. Sorry for the off topic.

    Reply
      1. Dot Warner

        Sure, but if a person was applying to work at one of those places, they’d know what they were getting into prior to the offer stage. Anybody who feels strongly against an organization’s mission wouldn’t apply in the first place. What made this guy get all the way to receiving an offer and then decide he had ethical qualms about the work?

        Reply
        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          I think it happens a lot — you apply, you maybe feel a little weird about it but you figure you’ll see what happens, you get an interview, you’re intrigued by the money or whatever so you keep going, you find yourself with an offer, and suddenly you have to really think about the reality of what it’d be like day to day.

          Reply
          1. JamieS

            I can see that if it’s more of a “not the industry I ideally want to work in” issue but if it’s truly an ethical opposition to the industry it strikes me as odd someone would apply in the first place. Particularly someone who wasn’t desperate for work.

            No judgment on OP’s husband if it is the industry itself but makes me wonder if something happened during the interview process that had more to do with the company than the industry. For example, OP’s husband discovered his would be manager is a racist or the company owners support animal abuse.

            Reply
            1. OP #5

              It really was the industry. Based on the nature of their business, we thought that they would support the same thing we did, or in the very least not be actively opposed to it. My husband did research before he accepted the interview (he was approached by a former colleague to work there; he didn’t apply), but it didn’t turn up anything bad. After he had accepted the offer, I got a random inclination to do my own research and pretty quickly turned up something that was (to our point of view) pretty awful.

              Reply
            2. Thlayli

              It’s probably a huge organisation. Big companies have their fingers in so many pies it’s sometimes hard to figure out if they are doing anything unethical. So he may not have had sufficient time to really think about that before accepting the offer.

              And when you do know in advance, you can tell yourself “oh I won’t be doing that personally so it’s ok that another part of the organisation does it”, and then realise afterwards that even though you personally won’t be involved in making weapons/ animal testing/ bombing civilians or whatever it is, that you just can’t in good conscience work with people who do that.

              I think it’s acceptable to change your mind on ethical grounds at any point. In an ideal world you would have figured out exactly how you felt before you applied, but sometimes you don’t really know how strongly you feel until it comes down to it.

              Like how soldiers often think before they go to war that they can shoot someone, but when it actually comes down to it loads of them intentionally miss – because no matter how much you think you can do something like that, you never really know till you’re in the situation.

              Obviously this isn’t such high stakes but it’s the same concept – when faced with the reality of actually having accepted it, it made him realise that actually his convictions were stronger than the thought after all.

              Reply
              1. Thlayli

                Oh should have refreshed before posting. Second part of my comment is irrelevant.

                OP I kind of wish you had told them why he turned down the job. Clearly they wanted him, so it would be a good lesson for them to know that good candidates are being put off by whatever awful thing they did (and btw I’m dying to know what it was, if you can figure out any way to say without breaching confidentiality.)

                Reply
        2. Gen

          It can be a process of learning more about an organisation through the interview though. I worked for a very well known animal charity that has a lot of TV and general news presence. Going into the interview I thought I knew a lot about their mission but what I really knew was their PR message. The interview questions were much stronger on things a layman might class as more ‘militant animal rights’ topics than any of us had expected given that the job had only been listed as ‘call centre’ without specifying the company or the mission. We only found out who it was for when we arrived on site, but even if we’d had time to prepare I still wouldn’t have expected it. The job itself turned out to be fine and pretty ‘normal’ as far as these things can go, but I definitely had some niggling ethical concerns.

          Reply
          1. Betsy

            I interviewed at the foreign aid department in my country once, and I was surprised how many questions were along the lines of ‘what can our country actually get out of building a relationship with X very poor country. How would it benefit us?’ I knew that having a reciprocal arrangement was part of the department’s clearly stated values, but the repeated questioning did really come across as ‘how can we get stuff from the poor people?’ They also painted a certain nation as mostly sexual predators and wife-beaters, and although it is true rates of violence against women are higher in that part of the world, it’s still quite common in most countries.

            I would have still taken the job if offered, and then just done my best to act ethically in the position, but it was a bit of an eye-opener. Also, the people there had horrible personalities, which seemed strange because I had a perception that they’d be kind, caring types. Around the same time, I also interviewed for a department that dealt mostly with legal issues, and they were all lovely, when I’d assumed they’d be hard-nosed and pragmatic.

            Reply
        3. One of the Sarahs

          It can also be about the role too – someone might have ethical qualms, but really want a shorter commute/need better insurance and think they could be ok with working for the organisation, because their role would be support, and not actively trying to push their agenda, and then get to the interview and realise the job is more directly involved with the mission than they thought.

          (This is the classic case of why interviews are two-way streets)

          Reply
    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      This happened to a friend! She took a BigLaw job with a renewable energy team, only to get stuck on a team that defends manufacturers whose products contain carcinogenic/toxic materials that trigger listing under state law. Turns out the group’s favorite case to brag about was one in which they successfully defeated a request to label organic baby food that had lead in it. Yes, you heard me—the client was selling organic baby food with discernible levels of lead in it to very small humans. I suspect if she knew she’d be working on hiding lead-in-baby-food, she would have turned down the offer.

      Reply
      1. sap

        Something like this is why I lateralled after my first year–the firm I worked at was all about litigators staffing across lots of different practice areas as juniors, which sounded really great I theory but in practice the second non-IP case I got staffed onto I literally couldn’t sleep at night anymore and I couldn’t go out with my friends because I was too scared I’d have a bit too much to drink and my guilty conscience would wordvomit privileged information all over them.

        Reply
        1. kimpossible

          My first year in BigLaw I got pulled onto a case defending a Saudi national whose assets had been frozen on suspicion of funding terrorism. That was a good time.

          Reply
    2. Mel

      Husband’s friend interviewed for a job doing art for teapots. He interviewed with the team that painted flowers. He was offered a job and found out after he accepted that he would be on a team painting teapots with male and female genitalia, weapons, and illegal drug references. He quickly rescinded his acceptance of that job, and luckily hadn’t turned in his notice for the job he had.

      Reply
    3. SusanIvanova

      Remember back when you couldn’t go through a mall without someone ambushing you to take a survey? I lasted one day as the person in the back room who gave you the survey – getting people to tell us about the food sample was one thing, but when the person I was questioning said she really did believe the ad that said the shampoo that cost 2x what she made in an hour would make her “beautiful”, I decided that was not the job for me.

      Reply
    4. OP #5

      I didn’t want to identify the industry and derail the comments, but the simplest way I can explain it is that we thought they were in a morally light gray area (which was giving Robb pause but it was exactly how Alison described it) then I dug a little more and found some stuff they had published that put them into very dark black territory.

      Reply
      1. Lora

        Yeah, my field has many companies that are basically run by Satan himself. I do not have the skills for the departments where the real evil happens, thankfully, but even within my little sub-field there are many things highly ethical, moral people would find problematic (e.g. animal testing being unavoidable at some stages of discovery research). And even so, there are some companies I just cannot bring myself to work for.

        In my experience it’s rather difficult for people to wrap their brains around the depth of evil that many companies both large and small commit on a daily basis because money, and then to reconcile that not only does this level of evil exist, but it’s your neighbor the VP of Marketing who just bought a new Audi and seemed so nice at the BBQ last summer.

        Reply
        1. nonymous

          it’s your neighbor the VP of Marketing who just bought a new Audi and seemed so nice at the BBQ last summer.

          Yeah, last summer my neighbor went on a diatribe that the school free lunch program shouldn’t exist because it just teaches parents to shirk their burdens. I actively avoid the guy now, and certainly won’t be considering him the next time I need a RE agent.

          Reply
        2. Julia the Survivor

          Do you mean discovery requires reading about animal testing? Or doing it?
          I work in medical and it is unfortunate, but animal testing is necessary to determine if medical treatments are safe – for both people and animals.
          There is an ethical standard that requires animal testing of a particular product not be done more than once. If your competitor did animal testing on a material and you want to use that material in your product, you have to use your competitor’s tests instead of repeating the animal testing yourself.
          There’s also a committee that actively looks for alternatives to animal testing. Many people are concerned about it and work to minimize it and find alternatives.

          Reply
    5. Oxford Coma

      There can be issues that aren’t apparent until you dig down under the surface. I know people who refuse to work with Komen because it doesn’t reject the use of animal testing.

      Reply
  13. Jenny

    OP #3 – My old job allowed what I think you’re asking for, people could choose to take or not take a lunch break as they wanted. Some people worked from 9-1 and 2-6, and some from 9-5 with no break. It didn’t matter at all as long as you worked 8 hours. However, many workplaces are much less flexible than this, so I agree you need to watch what other people in the office are doing and follow suit. If it’s not clear, you could always ask your manager or someone else what the standard set-up is.

    Reply
  14. Observer

    On #1, I wonder if it’s about the “purity” or the “co-leader” bit. Not that it’s appropriate, but if you look at the letter Allison mentioned, the letter writer wanted to know if they could put it on the resume because it was such great management experience. Maybe this guy thinks that too.

    Nevertheless, I think that Allison has a really good point about his sense of what is appropriate in the workplace. You’d have to wonder if he’s going to have an issue with women who don’t dress to his standard, whatever that may be.

    Reply
    1. Observer

      I see from other comments that I probably need to clarify my last line.

      Firstly, I don’t think that he will FOR SURE have inappropriate expectations. I think that his lack of understanding of workplace norms makes it more likely that he’ll have inappropriate expectations.

      Secondly, the issue is not that he is religious. It’s that he doesn’t understand workplace norms. And people who don’t understand those boundaries sometime put their expectations on their co-workers. In this case, I would expect that if that happened it would take a form related to his religious + sexual mores, because that’s what he has highlighted. We’ve seen enough other stories of people who crossed those boundaries, here on this blog, that it shouldn’t be shocking to think that someone who shows such lack of understanding of what you do and don’t share might continue to act with lack of sense and discretion once he got hired. Now, if the OP had enough information to know that this is an aberration, I’d believe him. But the OP does NOT have further information, and I think that it’s a reason to be concerned.

      As the OP said in another comment, had he just been a bit more vague about the purpose of the club, it would have been a non-issue, even though it was a church activity.

      Reply
      1. HannahS

        Yeah, exactly. If he’d just known to put “Co-Leader of Young Men’s Church Mentoring Group” it would have showed much better judgement.

        Reply
      2. Allison

        Right, I wouldn’t assume this guy is gonna go around spreading his purity views to others, but there would be some uncomfortable scenarios running through my head, and if I were to hire this guy, I might want his boss to be prepared to nip it in the bud if that behavior comes to light.

        To be fair, his group was about mentoring young men, not preaching to women, so he might be more likely to “counsel” his male colleagues than police his female colleagues about what to wear and how to behave with men.

        Reply
        1. Observer

          That wouldn’t be a whole lot better.

          The bottom line here is not that his “purity club” is a Bad Thing. I have no idea, and I don’t want to know. That’s really the problem – he’s bringing something wildly inappropriate into the workplace and we have no other information to reassure us that this is an aberration and he won’t continue to bring this wildly inappropriate thing into the workplace in some form or fashion.

          Reply
          1. OP #1

            Given that I of course have more information on this candidate than the other commenters, I don’t have the same concerns about bad judgment re: sexual boundaries in the workplace. (Some other specific experience on his resume leads me to believe this was probably just bad judgment on the resume. Also, he went to a large public university in a big liberal city, so if he was openly disapproving of others’ choices, he probably would have been called out.) But we do have many other, stronger candidates.

            Reply
            1. Observer

              Of course, you are in a far better position to make a judgement, and it’s good to hear that there are mitigating items.

              I would say, though, that the fact that he went to a large university in a liberal city is not as useful as it sounds. I totally get where you are coming from, but people can be resistant to change in some respects. I can’t help but think of the letter writer who called her boss’ daughter a whore. She realized that she’s messed up, but was apparently quite taken aback by the level of negative reaction in the comments.

              Reply
        2. HannahS

          But…that would still be sexual harassment, so I don’t see how it’s a “to be fair” point. If he was going around to male colleagues and engaging them in conversation about porn and masturbation it would be sexual harassment, even though this guy’s likely heterosexual.

          Reply
    1. Myrin

      It’s actually tamer than I thought it would be from the title – I started to read fully expecting his having written something like “During all of my internships pertaining to Teapot Law I’ve managed to stay sexually pure until this very day”.

      Reply
  15. Retail4life

    #3
    I have had a job and been able to work through lunch or take a short lunch and leave early. I think my tip would be get to know your office. Do people all have different schedules or do they all generally stick to 8-5 hours and noon lunches? Do people comment about coworkers comings and goings? Do people notice if you’re 10 mins late in the morning? Does your job require you to work with a lot of people in a different time zone? Does your phone ring after 3pm? You can generally tell by the atmosphere if this will work with the culture or not.

    My other tip would be talk to your boss. Float the idea by her. I would say to make sure you float it as an idea and not a demand or a given. Also be sure to be aware (and make other people aware you’re aware) that flexibility goes both ways. Sometimes you’ll need to stay late for meetings or to get work done or sometimes you’ll want to take an actual lunch break. If you do it in the right way, it certainly doesn’t hurt to ask!

    I also found the answer super confusing. 8-5 is 9 hours.

    Reply
    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      But where are you getting 8-5? That wasn’t in the letter. Lots of jobs are 9-5. (But if it’s 8-5, then the advice would be “take the lunch hour offered if you don’t want to work nine hours a day.” At least at first, etc.)

      Reply
        1. Chocolate Teapot

          My job has flexible hours, but 30 minutes is deducted every day for my lunch break. Whilst this is in Europe and the employment laws are different, I would suggest checking in the company handbook, if there is one, as there is often a section on flexible hours and which are the core times employees have to be in the office. It might be that it is not possible to leave before 4.30pm or everyone has to be at work by 9.00am and so forth.

          Reply
    2. Cambridge Comma

      I would say definitely don’t float the idea until you’re a few months in. You don’t want your first impression to be that you are trying to work out how to spend as few hours as possible in your new job. I think there are some things were it can hurt to ask.

      Reply
      1. Alliej0516

        And not only that, but as you move forward at the new job, you may find that you NEED that break in the middle of the day, whether it’s to make phone calls, run personal errands or just go takrva walk or escape to your car for a bit to rest your brain. To commit beforehand to working every day without a break would be self-destructive right out of the gate. Give it at least a few months to determine what you’ll need in the long run.

        Reply
    3. Fortitude Jones

      Yeah, every job I’ve ever had has been 8-5, so doing what the letter writer suggests would not be unheard of at most of these places, especially if you were exempt. I still probably wouldn’t try it as a new hire fresh out of school though.

      Reply
  16. Needs a new username

    OP#1, I get that it’s tempting to point this out but I’d take it more from the tack of, professional norms rather than anything else.

    And of course sometimes you can’t. This reminds me of a situation where an applicant for our admin position (who I’d have had to share a very small office with for 25 hours per week) added to his resume that he had admin experience running an anti-LGBT group. Great experience from an admin point of view for sure, but I’m very not straight.

    Reply
    1. Natalie

      See, I think leadership in that type of group would be a perfectly acceptable reason to reject someone’s candidacy. They’re explicitly telling you that they have negative views of LGBT people, versus you making an assumption that person in [X Religious Subculture] must believe similar things.

      Reply
  17. Steph

    Ok, maybe I just talk about sex too much, but I am not finding the info from OP1 nearly as squick worthy as I, apparently, should be.
    Yeah, it’s not a good look and show’s his immaturity. But clearly, in the context, he sought to point out his leadership experience (and possibly hint at his “integrity”). Do we seriously reject him on the basis of that?

    Reply
    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      On a professional application? For a law job at a “large public firm”? Absolutely.

      Speaking personally, I’d take into account the rest of the application because I get that folks come from different cultural and class contexts. But putting something like that on your resume shows a really stunning lack of judgment and lack of understanding of very basic professional law-job norms.

      Reply
    2. Stellaaaaa

      I think the takeaway is that there are a lot of ways to be involved in college activities that touch on provocative issues, and no one is telling students that these activities aren’t the best fit for resume bullet points.

      Reply
      1. Amity

        They do. There’s a comment above regarding a college student who described her work with a campus sexual health group as a health and wellness group.

        Reply
      2. nonymous

        I’d spin it more as a know your audience situation.

        Being active in a non-mainstream activity will look good to a much smaller pool of potential employers. It will also limit the time a student has to devote to resume-building activities that are more widely well-regarded. Part of the college experience is learning about how to budget time and grad/professional degrees especially are all about positioning oneself for future employment opportunities. While I agree that this student doesn’t seem like a candidate for a hard-charging mainstream firm, they simply might be a sheltered individual who is getting advice out of line with their goals.

        I think a lot of times people who do really well in advanced fields outside the classroom are either incredibly bright/driven individuals who are wringing opportunity out of every single life experience or have exposure to successful role models. The middle-of-the-road students who don’t have life experiences to draw from, frankly, get left behind.

        Reply
    3. Clarice Fitzpatrick

      They don’t have to reject him based on that, but it would be reasonable to. It’s a clear overstep of professional boundaries in a way that while likely naive and immature, could point to other issues. Like, what if he continues to overshare on the topic of his sex life? It’s not the same as failing to meet technical qualifications but it puts his soft skills and levels of self-awareness into question on a fairly basic boundary.

      Again, no one is obligated to strike him out, maybe he has some really compelling qualifications too, but LW and the rest of the hiring panel aren’t oversensitive either.

      Reply
      1. Falling Diphthong

        Yes, if people feel something is important to include on a resume, it’s reasonable to suspect they will feel it’s appropriate to talk about at work, and just not want to deal with that.

        Reply
        1. Elizabeth H.

          I don’t know! I used to have on my resume that I was house council president one year in college. I definitely didn’t think it relevant to talk about at work. Similarly what my GPA was or what my thesis was about.

          Reply
          1. SarahTheEntwife

            That sort of thing isn’t relevant at work most of the time, but it probably wouldn’t be *inappropriate*, just not likely to come up much. If the topic of college life came up it would be totally normal for you to mention your council position.

            Reply
    4. Oregonian

      I’d be concerned if he was trying to hint at his integrity via listing the club, as it demonstrates a considerable amount of judgmentalness (not a word, I know) on his part that could cause issues with other employees or cases.

      Reply
          1. Mildred

            Not if you’ve been on the receiving end of that kind of judgement. Then it’s not a stretch at all to worry about that possibility.

            Reply
    5. Lissa

      Yeah, I actually am pretty curious as to what types of activities one should not put on the resume due to the, well, nature of it – if one would if it was an equivalent job/volunteer etc about basketweaving. I mean, I assume it’s OK to put work or volunteer experience at a sexual health clinic for instance? Should one put non-sex related university leadership roles on a resume? What about something politically charged…? This website has really made me glad that I don’t have anything especially startling to put on my resume because I think I might’ve made the wrong call on some of it.

      Reply
      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        With both this guy and the sex club leader from before, the problem was that they’re sharing info about their own sex lives. Working/volunteering at a sexual health clinic is fine to include; that reveals nothing about your own sex life. The issue here, and with the sex club leader, is that it’s inherently about their own sex practices/lack thereof.

        Reply
          1. OP #1

            The point, at least to me, is that I’ve never met this person and wouldn’t have that kind of context—and ultimately I shouldn’t need it. Regardless of what the context is, I don’t want to read any direct references to applicants’ sex lives while I’m reviewing resumes.

            Reply
            1. JessicaC

              Yeah, I get that. I’m just sympathetic to the applicant because I had similar confusion about norms regarding discussing purity/virginity in “public” (although purely in social contexts, for me). Growing up in a community that emphasized waiting until marriage, it was really common to hear people publicly declare that they were committed to sexual purity, etc. (I mean, even Jessica Simpson/Britney Spears/the Jonas Brothers talked about it.) For me in my early 20s, I would have immediately understood why saying “I had sex last night” would be gauche, but it took me awhile to realize that people categorized the statement “I’m a virgin” in the same TMI sort of way as a “direct reference to one’s sex life” rather than, like, a moral position.

              Reply
              1. Political staffer

                The difference is most people don’t say “I had sex last night” during a job search to a potential employer, or even worse, put it on their resume.

                Anything that an applicant puts on a resume makes it fair game for the employer to discuss.

                Reply
          2. Co-leader of a Non-Purity Group

            To be in a position to lead a group on sexual purity, one must have, at some point, successfully maintained their sexual purity. In all cases, it reveals either current or past information about his own personal sex life.

            Reply
      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        Personally, I think it’s a “know your audience” situation. I have definitely been turned down from jobs due to the “political” nature of my resume. I’m ok with that–those experiences are integral to who I am and what I believe in, and if someone doesn’t like them, it would be a mismatch.

        But I try to frame my work constructively in terms of core skills and competencies. So although I could say that I “smash the racist, patriarchal, capitalist structures that perpetuate feudalistic poverty,” that would probably be alarming to most employers and not very helpful in getting them to understand what I actually do.

        So this is really about having the awareness and discretion to realize that (1) what you list can limit some job opportunities, and (2) it can open doors and signal commitment for some employers. For example, discussing sexual health education on an application to be a community outreach coordinator for Planned Parenthood could make complete sense.

        Reply
      3. Thlayli

        As Alison says the distinction is your own personal sex life info. It would be fine to say “co-leader of the asexual society” but not “co-leader Of the sexual purity group”. One is about sexuality and identity the other is about your own personal sex life. People identify as asexual. They may even have sex and identify as asexual. So it’s not as clear cut as saying “I don’t have sex” in the same way as saying you are “sexually pure” is. Even though superficially they give the same info about you.

        It’s like the difference in asking “so how does lesbian sex work” and asking a lesbian “so how do you have sex?” One is general info about sexuality, the other is personal info about an individual’s sex life.

        I can see how someone new to the work world wouldn’t understand the difference though.

        Reply
    6. Arjay

      I suspect he included this fact more for the leadership and accountability aspects than the purity aspect. Accountability is literally one of my healthcare company’s core values that we address on our annual reviews, so I can see trying to use this experience to demonstrate professional integrity and accountability. I think it’s misguided and a stretch, but I don’t think it’s any worse than that.

      Reply
  18. Stellaaaaa

    OP3: My understanding of exempt positions is that employers are allowed to set and enforce the hours that you are expected to be in the office. They are even allowed to compel you to punch in and out, especially if they use records of time worked when allotting PTO/vacation. What the employer is NOT allowed to do is look at your time card and deduct from your paycheck if you work less than 40 hours in any given week. Again, this is just my understanding of the regulations, but I was very surprised to learn that being exempt doesn’t automatically give you as much freedom as I’d previously thought. I would also keep in mind that some employers view time spent eating as time not working. Just because you’re physically at your desk doesn’t mean that you’re getting your job done in a way that your boss finds adequate.

    I also think the answer didn’t quite address the question that was being asked. Skipping a mid-day lunch break in order to go home early isn’t a concept that’s…relevant (I’m searching for the correct word here) to non-hourly jobs, whether because your comings and goings have little to do with the natural end point of your day, or because your job won’t have you watching the clock. You could skip your lunch break but there’s a good chance you might not leave early anyway.

    Reply
    1. AnotherJill

      One of the things that I think people new to being an exempt employee struggle with is the concept that you aren’t being paid to work a set number of hours, you are being paid to produce results for the company. Even though most workplaces define a set of from and to daily work hours, it really depends on the culture and the expectations of your management how flexible those hours are. I’ve had exempt positions where it was looked upon very poorly if you weren’t there right on the dot of the starting time and others where it didn’t matter if you rolled in sometime in the hour after that.

      The best advice is for any question about a new position is to work a while and observe the culture. Like clothing, there isn’t any one size fits all.

      Reply
      1. Faithful Reader

        +1 to this. As a supervisor, I’ve had the experience of managing a couple of exempt employees with “hourly mindsets” — meaning they thought that if they came in late, they could just “make up the time” by skipping lunch, or if they missed their lunch hours, that meant they were entitled to leave early. My workplace actually has a policy documented about this — that lunch breaks can’t be used to shorten the workday.

        That said, if I have an otherwise strong performer who is productive and dedicated to their job, I’m not the type to raise a fuss if they need to adjust their schedule, as long as the work is getting done. Since you’re still fairly new in your job, OP #3, I echo Alison’s advice to you to see what the culture there is like. I’d also encourage you to ensure you are performing your job well. In my experience, managers are usually more willing to be flexible about schedules when there are no performance issues.

        Reply
  19. Alphonse

    I feel everyone’s being quick to jump on giving the guy from #1 a hard time. Like it wasn’t appropriate, and the dude made a mistake. But it really seems like there’s more people bashing him for the fact that he runs an accountability group, which could be anything from abstinence of sex to abstinence of porn.

    Some of the comments (like one suggesting he could take issue with the way women dress) – seriously, guys! Get a grip! There’s a huge leap from “Guy wants to help other guys keep it in their pants and adhere to Christian values” to “That bigot is totally going to be sexist and proselytize his coworkers!”

    The kid’s young and clearly hasn’t really applied to jobs before. Give him a break.

    Reply
    1. Stellaaaaa

      Rightly or wrongly, heavy church involvement is a red flag for people. Add in the applicant’s interest in sexual purity, and it’s hard to extend too much open-mindedness, sorry to say. The group was about “purity,” not abstinence. Take away idealism: in reality, when you’re dealing with real men from church backgrounds who value PURITY, there are only a few directions this could go in.

      Reply
      1. Engineer Girl

        A red flag which is illegal, as we have laws about that. This is like assuming a person of color will harass “our women”. It’s pure BS.
        We look at people as individuals. We shouldn’t be seeing stereotypes. Especially ones gained from TV and news feeds.
        Assuming someone with a church background will behave a certain way is just as ridiculous as assuming someone from a certain race will behave a certain way, or a person of a National background will behave a certaon way. It’s assuming behavior based on culture.

        Reply
        1. OP #1

          Yes. Just wanted to jump in and make crystal clear the red flag for us was this young man sharing information about his sex life on his resume, not the religious affiliation. I mentioned the religious activities in my letter because that was the context in which the applicant listed this activity, which gave me a hint about why he might have thought this activity was appropriate to share. If he had called it something more vague (“church-affiliated young men’s group” “support/social group for young men” etc.), it wouldn’t have raised a flag. His other church activities weren’t super relevant either (running the A/V at services, for example) but didn’t raise the same red flag for me or the hiring panel.

          Reply
          1. Parenthetically

            Hoo, boy, running the A/V at services! Does this kid just not have a lot of volunteer or work experience and is trying to fill in the gaps with any church thing he possibly can, however flimsy? I suppose if you ran A/V at multiple services on a Sunday/Wednesday you could be talking about 8-ish hours a week, but he should have put all his church volunteer work under one heading. Bless his heart.

            Reply
            1. OP #1

              I think some of these folks had some idea that their resume should be a full page. He did have some good relevant experience! But yeah, also shared a lot of stuff I really didn’t need to know, which was pretty common in this pool, for some reason.

              Reply
              1. grace

                That’s so strange. I know someone upthread mentioned possibly bringing it up with the school – if it’s that many people from the same school, I’d encourage doing that just in a general manner.

                Reply
      2. Parenthetically

        “in reality, when you’re dealing with real men from church backgrounds who value PURITY, there are only a few directions this could go in.”

        Mmmm, I’m going to push back on this. I grew up in this section of the subculture, and I’ve seen the good and bad of these kinds of groups. Yes, there are men who are sort of trained to see women as adversaries or sin-traps or whatever. But there are also just loads of ordinary dudes who think X Sexual Behavior (porn, masturbating, lust, whatever, in addition to actual sex) is wrong and so they put a structure in place to hold each other accountable. Misguided, sure, but also? It’s just as wrong for a non-religious person to red-flag someone for church involvement as it would be for a religious person to red-flag someone for spending Sundays at the coffee shop.

        The issue here for me is that this kid got crappy advice about what’s appropriate to put on a resume (“List all your leadership experience! And make sure you include plenty of detail!”), and that is having some unfortunate consequences like making him look out of touch and unprofessional. Speculating about what exact variety of bigot he definitely is, as some people seem to be doing in this thread, is hardly productive or helpful.

        Reply
        1. Trout 'Waver

          The problem is that if you openly advertise that you are pure for not doing X, you’re also openly saying that if you do X, you’re impure. Which is problematic. That’s the red flag.

          Reply
          1. Parenthetically

            Yeah, I can see that interpretation. Most people I knew in groups like that were very self-condemning and guilt-ridden but less worried about what people who weren’t Christian/evangelical/whatever were doing, FWIW.

            Reply
          2. Salyan

            Which is where freedom of belief and speech comes in. We have equal freedoms to think – and say – that X is pure or impure: acceptable or unacceptable. That’s not a problem, that’s freedom. To attempt to stifle a view that doesn’t agree with yours, or prevent them from having a voice, is intolerance. It works both ways.

            Reply
            1. Trout 'Waver

              We don’t have to tolerate intolerance. Calling your own personal belief system “purity” and by extension others’ “impurity” is intolerance.

              We do not have to tolerate intolerance. You can think whatever and believe whatever you want. You cannot police others or attempt to shame them by alluding to them as impure.

              Reply
            2. Ethyl

              I must have missed the part where the government was censoring the OP’s job applicant??? Otherwise, I don’t get why freedom of speech is at issue here.

              Reply
      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        But in the absence of other information, that’s really problematic (and illegal). It does us no good to behave as bigots when trying to build an inclusive society—yes, even one that integrates dominant religious groups.

        Reply
      1. Detective Amy Santiago

        When you’re from a subset of society that is frequently the target of another subset of society, you generally proceed with caution. So, yeah, call me a bigot if you want, but as a bisexual woman, I am going to be nervous around people who advertise beliefs that are routinely used against people like me.

        Reply
    2. Clarice Fitzpatrick

      I’m not really sure I get that from the comments so far? As of right now, there’s only a few comments assuming the applicant potentially could take criticism as an attack (and call it religious discrimination) and only one saying he’s “anti-sex.” Most people are commenting that it’s highly inappropriate in this professional environment because only in a few industries/fields should people be directly informed of your sex life.

      I also don’t think it matters how vague “sexual purity” is as a term. It’s really not something that would decrease the level of inappropriateness shown here. I think that it does evoke a very specific, intimate image though, which is why people are reacting strongly. I do feel very bad for him because he probably just put down whatever he thinks will look like he’s responsible and well-rounded, but it’s just not a mistake that can be glossed over easily.

      Reply
        1. Emi.

          But I think they also seem to be coming down more aggressively and snarkily than for similar letters in the past, which doesn’t help the overall tone. With the sex club letter it was just “Don’t put information about your sex life on your resume” but now it’s more “Don’t put information about your bad, stupid lack of sex life on your resume.”

          Reply
          1. Boo Berry

            I think the difference between those two is that in one we were talking directly to the person wanting to include that information (and hadn’t yet) versus speaking to the recipient of that kind of language with regards to someone who had gone through with it.

            Reply
          2. Observer

            Firstly, the latter is totally your interpretation.

            Secondly, there is a major difference between someone who actually realizes that there might be a problem and finds an appropriate person to ask BEFORE doing this – which describes the prior letter writer, and someone who just DOES this, which describes this applicant.

            Reply
          3. Trout 'Waver

            I think that if the sex-club dude had value-based judgments in the name of his club, “The Recreational Sex Club for Open-Minded Modern Adults”, e.g., the commentariat would pick up on it just as much.

            Reply
    3. Lissa

      I’m honestly not seeing a lot of difference here than on the comments on the sex club guy, except that that guy was the OP and this one isn’t. Even on that letter we had people saying it upset them to see the letter at all, some people were pretty clearly icked out by it, and basically everyone was like “don’t do it!” There are a few people with extreme reactions in both cases but I think most people are pretty well “nope” about both in similar ways.

      Reply
    4. Observer

      No one said “That bigot is totally going to be sexist and proselytize his coworkers!”

      What I said was that he showed lack of judgement and lack of understanding of workplace norms. And that’s a problem on its own. But ALSO, given the specifics of what he shared there is a real chance that he will not realize that he cannot bring his religious views into the office. This stuff happens, we’ve seen a number of letters where this kind of thing has come up.

      This is not an issue of religion, it’s an issue of not understanding workplace norms and boundaries.

      Reply
      1. Engineer Girl

        Actually he CAN bring his religious views into the office as long as he doesn’t harass people. And there is no indication he would. Shoot, we used to have some pretty good discussions about the differences in our Christian/Hindi/Muslim faith. One of the managers even did a nice lunchtime talk on his Hajj.
        I suspect the kid was grasping at any type of relevant experience for his resume.

        Reply
        1. hbc

          Well, there’s plenty of indication that he would bring his religion into a work setting because…he just brought it into a work setting, via his resume. Just like I decided that the guy who included his daughter’s Miss Teen Ohio crown on his resume was a risk for spending a lot of time blurring the lines between work and family. (Maybe he got a lot of relevant experience on the pageant circuit with her, but he certainly didn’t explain it.)

          Is it possible that both these people would be completely professional in the workplace? Absolutely, but this isn’t a case where we need to prove someone guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Both these people are not good bets, especially when there’s a stack of other resumes that don’t have a red flag.

          Reply
          1. AvonLady Barksdale

            I don’t see those two scenarios as analogous at all, except in that both men included inappropriate information on their resumes. His daughter’s pageant win isn’t his, so that’s inappropriate. Now, if that applicant was the president of some kind of parents’ pageant association, then I could see putting that on a resume because it’s a leadership position. If I were the president or treasurer or whatever of my synagogue’s Social Action Committee, I would put that on a resume even though it mentions religion. It’s not inappropriate, nor does it immediately indicate I’m going to walk around talking about religious stuff all day long and be unprofessional about it. I think the religion part of this is secondary.

            Reply
    5. Mookie

      abstinence of porn

      That’s not what “sexual purity” means. Let’s stick with the applicant’s actual language, that way we’re not projecting our own biases into him.

      Reply
      1. Minnesota Miles

        Actually I wanted to comment on this aspect. I spent many years in this kind of community. Seeing that on a resume would
        Have made me feel icky (squick?) because of religious connotations, however, purity groups are so normal to me I wouldn’t have thought about his sex life at all. However, my experience with purity groups is they are generally focused on porn, not sex.

        Reply
          1. Natalie

            “Purity accountability” is almost certainly coming out of an American evangelical culture, where all of these things – opposition to sex before marriage, masturbation, pornography, and any sexual thought that’s more than fleeting – are part and parcel of “purity” by their definition.

            Reply
    6. Thlayli

      A lot of people are saying the comments aren’t that bad and there aren’t that many of them. So out of interest I went through and copied all the (at present time) comments that I think crosses the line into making negative (and in some cases bigoted) assumptions about the man in #1. I don’t know how this would compare to other posts, but do feel that there is bigotry towards men who choose to be “sexually pure” present in the comment section today. Here they are, in the order they appear.

      1 I suspect the same person who thinks it’s ok to disclose their sexual activity (or lack thereof) on their resume is also likely to zone out for OP’s professional advice and only take it as a criticism of his sexual behavior/beliefs.

      2 in light of the extreme litigiousness around “religious civil rights” right now, this is not someone who is going to take advice well.

      3 This is a student who will perceive this as being ‘persecuted’ for his religious values; with any luck you will end up in the front page with public accusations of this discrimination.

      4 A man who devotes himself to organizations focuses on ‘sexual purity’ is also likely to be rigid and moralistic which is not a happy characteristic in the workplace.

      5 if he considers this group important enough to put it in a resume, many would expect he would start “promoting” it as soon as he can in the workplace.

      6 you don’t gve him feedback on this because it WILL be spun as ‘persecution’ for religious beliefs

      7 I’d be concerned if he was trying to hint at his integrity via listing the club, as it demonstrates a considerable amount of judgmentalness (not a word, I know) on his part that could cause issues with other employees or cases

      8 in reality, when you’re dealing with real men from church backgrounds who value PURITY, there are only a few directions this could go in.

      9 When I hear about dudes and “purity”, all I can think is: “Dude is gonna slut shame me at every opportunity imaginable.”

      10 Or start leaving church pamphlets at my desk. Ick.

      Reply
        1. Thlayli

          Fair point – as I said I haven’t done a comparison so I have no idea if the level of bigotry is higher today than on other topics. I also only included those comments that I thought definitely crossed the line – there were many other negative comments about the OP that i didn’t include, including some that I thought were borderline bigoted but wasn’t sure.

          I do think it’s always worth calling out bigotry wherever it appears. Even if it’s only 2% of comments.

          Reply
          1. Trout 'Waver

            With all due respect, if you use the word bigotry in this manner, it completely devalues the word. Most of the objections you cited are based on the choice of the word “purity” which implies a values-based judgment.

            You can’t tout yourself as more pure than people with different beliefs and then claim bigotry when people object to it.

            Reply
            1. Thlayli

              You are correct. I was using the word bigotry incorrectly. I always thought it was a synonym of prejudice. I was wrong.

              Bigotry: intolerance towards those who hold different opinions from oneself.

              Prejudice: preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience.

              What these comments show is prejudice, not bigotry.

              I actually thought they meant the same thing. You learn something new everyday!

              I absolutely think it is worth calling out prejudice whenever you see it.

              Reply
              1. Thlayli

                Also something new I learned: im definitely a bigot cos I have very little tolerance for people who hold certain opinions (such as those who hold the opinion that it’s ok to murder innocent people).

                Reply
            1. Natalie

              Eh, even among people that use the “power+prejudice” definition of racism and other isms, there’s usually an understanding that anyone can be prejudiced or bigoted. It’s just that prejudice or bigotry doesn’t an -ism make, you know?

              Reply
            2. Thlayli

              I just looked up the definition of bigotry (see above) and it’s got absolutely nothing to do with who historically oppressed who.

              Reply
              1. Ex-Academic, Future Accountant

                Well, almost nobody uses it to mean “intolerance of people who hold different opinions”. In my experience, “bigotry” is more commonly used as an umbrella term for things like racism, homophobia, etc. In fact, one often hears the phrase “racial bigotry” as a synonym for “racism”. I think that’s why people are talking past each other in this particular case.

                Reply
          2. Ask a Manager Post author

            I don’t think most of those comments are bigotry though. Some might be unfair or leaping to conclusions, but I wouldn’t say bigotry. And also, the sex group leader guy got similar comments re: people worrying that he wouldn’t keep it out of the office.

            Reply
    1. Bridgette

      I agree. I used to skip lunch and almost always felt sluggish and exhausted in the afternoon. It’s not good to be chained to your desk all day!

      Reply
  20. Frizz

    1#- I have worked in several jobs since with Christian organisations and have had to sign what are essentially purity pledges – no sexual relationships outside of marriage including cohabitation. To be a part of an accountability group, and there are some around, might look like the right thing to out on a resume for a religious org, but even then few people would see the value of having these bragging rights. Maybe he’s applied for some jobs which would value this ‘involvement’ and hasn’t updated his resume to reflect this application.

    Reply
  21. Catherine

    OP #4, mental health should be treated with the same discretion we afford physical problems. In general, it’d be inappropriate to disclose someone else’s disease for them during a reference check (ie, “Jane has cancer so she was out of the office a lot for doctor’s appointments”). It’s not your place to reveal this on your assistant’s behalf–what if she wants to keep this quiet to avoid the possibility of discrimination?

    Reply
  22. Nacho

    Anyone else feel bad for the kid in OP #1? He obviously came from the kind of place where leading a “Sexual Purity Accountability Group” is actually an accomplishment people share, and he just needs someone to gently point out to him that non-religious workplaces want to know as little about his sex life as possible, even if that means you’re not allowed to share sex-related achievements.

    I feel like the kind of person who would lead a Sexual Purity Accountability Group is also probably the kind of person without any non-church based role models to tell him this kind of thing. Hell, the role models he has might have even looked over his resume and thought it looked good.

    You don’t have to, but maybe you could do him a service and send him a quick email explaining why he shouldn’t be putting this on his resume OP #1?

    Reply
    1. HR Here

      I am not sure if there’s any legalities in an admission setting where it might be discriminatory to consider religion. I’d be cautious about contacting him about that as a bar to admission. That said, I agree with the instinct to help.

      Reply
    2. Delta Delta

      I’m not going to say I feel badly for this kid, but I do think he’s going to get a lot of rejections and possibly not understand why unless someone tells him. Here’s the problem I see with lots of law students’ resumes (and OP mentioned above that this fellow is a 1L who appears to have gone straight through): nobody tells them what to include, or not. Students are encouraged to get involved with clubs and organizations, so they do what interests them. But without more, they’ve got nothing to put on a resume. So it’s possible this guy co-led purity club because it was interesting to him, and now has little (if anything) else to put on his resume.

      So, one possible way to help this person eoild be to contact his law school’s career services department and suggest someone there talk to him about his resume and its appropriateness. Yes, career services generally is awful, but they also have an interest in their school’s students getting jobs so they can trumpet their placement rates. They’re also likely to hear from this guy when he’s twiddling his thumbs this summer without an internship, and he can’t figure out why.

      Reply
    3. neverjaunty

      He’s a first year law student, not a teenager trying to get his very first summer job. It’s neither appropriate nor professional for the OP to play kindly Auntie.

      Reply
      1. ggg

        We’ll never know, but I’m curious — did he put this on his law school application? And then he got in, so it must be effective, right?

        I don’t think it’s LW’s place to tell him, but a phone call to career services might be worthwhile.

        Reply
      2. A Cita

        Right. He’s not a kid; he’s a full grown man. Weird to me that he gets the “poor kid” framing. Just doesn’t seem professionally appropriate.

        Reply
        1. JamieS

          Based on OP’s comments there’s a good chance this guy is around 22-23 years old. While early 20s is an adult I don’t think it’s uncommon for people, particularly on this site, to give more leeway to younger adults at the start of their career.

          Reply
      3. Nacho

        IMO you’re still a kid until you’ve got your first real world job and managed to hold onto it for at least a year.

        Reply
  23. HR Here

    #3, in one of my first job, the interviewer had mentioned some people had schedules that allowed them to leave early. I began the job and assumed I could leave at 4. After a couple of days an older secretary pulled me aside to say the hours were 9-5 and they really needed me there until 5. I was mortified and realized I had taken a comment as permission I hadn’t asked for.
    We have state labor laws where I work, and we generally prefer employees take their lunch verses what you’re doing to prevent potential claims later.
    That said, some places might be ok with this, but, generally speaking, as Alison said, it’s as much about knowing when someone can reach you. If you see other people doing this, you can ask (don’t assume) about doing it. If you don’t, it’s something you could float after working there awhile and earning some credit.

    Reply
    1. Obelia

      Totally agree! Good on OP3 for asking the question here, too. Things like this you don’t automatically know when you start your first job, especially if internships etc have worked a bit differently, and even if you’re really conscientious.

      Reply
  24. MommyMD

    I understand it’s disappointing not to get a raise. However your boss does not need to apologize or consult with you to give another employee a raise.

    Reply
    1. Minnesota Miles

      So true, however, I would be thrown off by having a coworkers raise displayed on my screen. But honestly I would be more annoyed if I were the coworker who GOT the raise. That is uncomfortable for them.

      Reply
      1. Purplesaurus

        I understand why you wrote in, and took it to mean that you expected an apology for inadvertently displaying someone’s personal information.

        I agree with Alison that at least you now know raises aren’t being flatly denied for everyone, and you have more information if you decide to advocate for your own raise. But to be clear, I wouldn’t bring up having seen this conversation, even though it was displayed to all of you.

        Reply
      2. Observer

        I’m with Purplesaurus.

        Also, it’s worth considering that your boss doesn’t think that they shared anything truly confidential. I know of one organization that used to use a payroll register with check amounts as the sign in sheet for payroll. Talk about “radical transparency”.

        Reply
      3. Elizabeth H.

        Right, I didn’t get that at all from your letter! My impression was that you were sharing just as background context about why the email would have been perhaps even more sensitive or private than on its face, and so more jarring or inappropriate to see accidentally displayed.

        Reply
  25. Jaguar

    It’s interesting that, in the sex club letter, the tone was “it’s unfortunate that this is the reality, but people will be put off by including this due to its sexual nature.” Here, the person reviewing an application that includes leadership of a club which is sexual in nature is put off by it’s inclusion and asking if that’s okay. Given what was said in the sex club letter, surely a consistent answer is something to the effect of, “it’s perfectly normal to be put off by this and it shows some questionable judgement by the applicant, but it could be useful to look past the sexual nature and let the applicant speak to how applicable the leadership of this club is.” Right? “You are right to be squicked out” seems much closer to “abstinence is gross” than the lamenting of how taboo sexuality is in the sex club letter.

    Reply
    1. Cambridge Comma

      If the other OP had put his club on the resume and the hiring manager was the one who had written to Alison, I can’t imagine the answer would be ‘look past the sexual nature’.

      Reply
    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      If a hiring manager wrote in and said they received a letter with sex club leadership on it, I’d tell them it was understandable to be squicked out by that too. I would not tell them that they should look past the sexual nature of the inclusion; I’d tell them that it showed problematic judgment and they would be right not to move forward with that candidate.

      And reversing it the other way, if the sexual purity guy wrote in and detailed many credible, impressive sounding accomplishments related to the running of his club (the way the other guy did), I’d tell him too that it was too bad he couldn’t include that, but that he couldn’t.

      Really, it’s the same answer for both, just coming from different sides of the interaction (hiring manager vs. candidate).

      Reply
      1. Jaguar

        But you didn’t say it’s understandable, you said it’s right. Maybe you meant understandable, but that’s not what’s there, and the letter writer is asking if they’re right to be put off by this, not if it’s understandable to be.

        I’m not just bringing this up to rail about consistency – I think the message from the sex club thing letter is the right one. It’s understandable to get put off by learning about someone’s views on sexuality, but if you can look past that, it’s better, right? If I saw someone mentioning that they were involved with an abstinence club on a resume, I like to think the strongest reaction would be a quick laugh and then not hold it against the person.

        Reply
        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Yes, I think it’s right to be put off by inclusions about one’s personal sex life on a resume. If you’re not, great, but I think it’s just as right as being put off by, say, misspelling “detail oriented.”

          When you’re hiring, you work with the limited data you have. I do not think it generally makes sense to look past seemingly significant data an applicant gives you about themselves, particularly when they’re one of hundreds of candidates, as it often the case.

          Reply
    3. TL -

      I think “you’re right to be squicked out” in this context means “yes, this is a transgression of social norms and you should be concerned about their judgment” not “abstinence is gross.”

      Reply
    4. Mookie

      Alison has addressed why advice given to job-seekers will automatically differ in content and tone from advice given to job-granters, but asking for “consistency” here is not going to work as a sea lion’s sad gotcha. People don’t have to be consistent about their reactions to both letters.

      I’m very comfortable, personally, with lamenting unhealthy, anti-humanist sexual repression, so, yeah: sex clubs for consenting adults are tops in my book and anti-sex clubs built to repress children and teenagers aren’t. But that’s not what this discussion is about nor has it veered in that direction. From the word go, Alison, the LW, and everyone here has made that distinction very clear: inserting information about your sexual practices into a resumé is not professional and is a big, embarrassing non-sequitur.

      Reply
    5. Natalie

      See, I don’t necessarily read “that’s unfortunate” as “that should definitely be different and it’s too bad it’s not”. It could just be, well, unfortunate but not something that should or will be different. Say someone wrote in about losing out on a really good job to a more qualified colleague, you might say “I’m sorry” or “that’s too bad” or “that’s unfortunate” *even though* you don’t think anything should have happened differently. It’s sympathetic mouth noises, not really meant to be taken literally.

      Reply
    6. hbc

      The unfortunate part of the earlier letter is that Sex Club OP had a ton of job-applicable skills that came from running that club, which s/he outlined in detail. Someone who organized a quilting circle of 200+ people would be able to claim the same skills on a resume without there being any side eye.

      In my experience, these peer-support group situations have “leadership” roles that aren’t much more complicated than if you were organizing a group of friends to go on a day trip or something. So the message is more “This is information about me as a person” rather than “Here’s how I will contribute to your organization.” Unless there’s more to it than that, and Purity Club Guy is in the same boat as Sex Club OP: figure out if they can refer to budgets and scheduling and HR-type issues they’ve dealt with while avoiding disclosing too much about their personal lives.

      Reply
  26. Jenny D

    #3, there’s one thing I haven’t seen mentioned yet in the comments: If there is a culture at your workplace of taking lunch together as a group, it’s usually a good idea to go along with that at least part of the time.

    I work flexible hours, and I usually prefer to take my lunch at around 1 pm, both to avoid the queues at the lunch places around noon, and because I never have a cooked dinner in the evening. But when I get to a new place, I’ll adapt and go with the others for at least the first few days, and thereafter occasionally when it otherwise fits my schedule or when I have meetings booked during my preferred lunch time. It makes for a friendlier work environment.

    Reply
  27. Some Sort of Management Consultant

    LW#4, like Alison says, it would be very nice of you to have a frank conversation with your assisstant so that she is more prepared to enter the workforce. You sound like you’ve done a lot for her already, so don’t stop now.

    Reply
  28. No thanks

    A lunch break is better for your health. Walk around a bit. Get some oxygen up to your brain and throughout your body. Rest your brain. Actually think about and enjoy what you are eating. It’s a good thing.

    Reply
    1. Obelia

      Indeed, giving your brain that rest can often help your effectiveness in the afternoon too. (We also expect people to take those breaks because otherwise it can create an environment where people feel they can’t take a lunch break without looking like slackers.)

      Reply
  29. All. Is. On.

    RE#1: Do you think it’s OK to put experience in church groups on your resume if it IS relevant? I used to be counselor in a girl’s group at my parent’s church, so when I was applying for my first ESL teaching job fresh out of university, I included it on my resume since it was the only experience I had working with young children. A couple friends told me I shouldn’t have, but I’m curious to hear what other people think.

    Reply
    1. Beth Jacobs

      You made the right call to include that.

      I would treat church groups as any other volunteer experience. They’re not as good as job experience, because they generally involve less time commitment and as a volunteer you are often subject to less scrutiny, but if they can demonstrate transferable skills and experience, it’s a lot better than nothing! If the guy had volunteered at a legal aid service ran through a church (I know of some local religious charities that do debt counselling), it would have absolutely belonged on that resume.

      Reply
    2. Natalie

      I don’t think there’s one right answer – to some extent, it depends on how comfortable you are with the possibility (however large or small) of being filtered out because of it. The likelihood of being filtered out is probably going to depend on a lot of factors – what industry and area you’re in, what kind of church you attend compared to other people in the area, how strong your resume is, etc.

      All of that said, I think if it’s an innocuous enough group and the church itself isn’t insanely controversial, the risk is probably no greater than the risk that you might be filtered out for biases (conscious or unconscious) about your alma mater, the neighborhood you live in, prior employers, your name, and so forth. At the end of the day, we’re always taking a risk that some hiring manager will react irrationally or subconsciously to something about us, but that’s not really under our control.

      Reply
    3. HannahS

      I included religious stuff. My job in high school was for a Jewish company, and in university I founded a fairly large Jewish organization and helped run it for three years. If I hadn’t included those, my resume in university would have had much more, uh, white space. I suppose people could have been put-off by it, but I wasn’t super worried–and what could I do? I didn’t have much other experience in anything at the time. But the nature of those two things didn’t really tell people much about me, and well, my real name is an Israeli Hebrew name + a Yiddish last name so it’s not like I’m getting away with much, and also I wear pants so I don’t read as particularly religious.

      Reply
      1. All. Is. On.

        I had a religious education all the way up, so my resume is always gonna say ‘Synonym for Jesus’ University. Not much I can do about it. *shrug*

        Reply
      2. EvanMax

        My last name is one that most people may think nothing of, but any anti-Semite immediately knows it as being Jewish (it’s like they are trained to “break the code” that I must be deliberately using, or something,) so I’ve never shied away from listing Jewish agency employers, or my Jewish private school, or other similar information on a resume, when relevant.

        When I was younger and applying for unskilled jobs, one of my favorites was to keep on there the work I did for two months in an Israeli Meat Factory on a kibbutz, immediately following high school. It was never relevant to the job itself, but it was a eye-catcher, and I could always spin a good yarn from it to relate to the job at hand (working all day in a factory where the rest of the employees spoke a different language, adapting to new tasks every day, etc.) As I progressed in my career and my resume got longer, it fell under the knife for the sake of brevity, but I could always be sure that an interviewer would ask me to explain that job.

        Reply
    4. KitKat

      I think if it’s relevant and not about your sex life, it’s fine. As Beth Jacobs said above, I try to treat church activities exactly like traditional volunteer activities when hiring. In my area, church is where a lot of young people, especially low income people of color, get leadership/organizational experience and ruling that kind of experience out would end up discriminating on multiple levels.

      Reply
    5. Anonymous Poster

      I think generally if it’s relevant experience and not something that’s rude to talk about in polite company (sex life, for example), as long as it’s focused on the relevant achievements for your job, then include it. So, for example, if you were a Planned Parenthood or NRA employee and were publishing articles, you’d include something like “Published x number of articles in support of organizational goals”, but you wouldn’t put something like, “Wrote x articles supporting more abortion access” or “Wrote x articles supporting lifting gun restrictions”.

      That also means that your articles for your sex club trade magazine are not something you could put down. But you can put down something someone may consider controversial as long as it stays focused on your achievements. So for church stuff, the point is you may lead a group of kids to do X or Y, or you raised money for some external organization, or whatever the thing it.

      So for example, I could include that I coordinated the fundraising and clothing drive for a local battered women’s shelter through my church. I wouldn’t include information about why my church is the best and everyone else is wrong. Which isn’t what you’re doing :)

      Reply
    6. Thlayli

      If it’s relevant definitely include it. However he prepared for the fact that some people will hold bigoted views about your religion and hold that against you. It’s illegal for them to do so, but it seems to be pretty widespread. I would give similar advice to anyone with any experience in any contentious topic. If you were leader of an LGBT group, or a pro-life or pro-choice group, by all means include it, but be prepared for the fact that some people may hold it against you.

      Reply
    7. Countess Boochie Flagrante

      If it demonstrates relevant skills, go for it!

      Before I got my professional start, I had a church on my list of jobs. I’ve never had my GSA experience on a resume, even when I had zero jobs to list, because “organized LGBT group under serious opposition from principal and school board, found ways to rules-lawyer the restrictions on advertising placed specifically against our group, maintained confidentiality of group in the face of homophobic parents, etc” does not really do anything to speak well for me as an employee.

      (The rules-lawyering was fun. They told us we were prohibited from putting up flyers, handing out any printed materials, or advertising in any school periodicals. They never said anything about us getting t-shirts made and wearing them to class once a week!)

      Reply
        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

          Somewhere in the back of my closet (ha ha) I still have my old t-shirt. It’ll never fit again, but I can’t bring myself to get rid of it. Maybe someday I’ll cut out the design and put it on a memory quilt or something.

          Reply
    8. Hrovitnir

      As someone who is in no way hiring, and whose hackles are all the way up at anybody involved in a sexual purity group + lots of church involvement*, I don’t see a problem with your example. You are talking about doing something relevant to the job that happens to be in the context of a Christian church/Christianity, which is very different to this guy.

      *Given the entire concept of sexual purity involves labelling all sexual activity as impure, which is inherently judgemental, I think it’s pretty fair to be really uncomfortable with it even if there is a chance he somehow actually only applies his beliefs to himself and his brethren, or just manages to keep it completely to himself (including not letting it bleed through in how he treats people he sees as less pure).

      Reply
  30. Cordoba

    In the absence of a specific policy to the contrary, I’ve always had success at new jobs with just working my preferred lunch/hours setup from Day 1 under the theory that “I’m an exempt adult professional so of course I can determine my own working hours, within reason”. Treat it as a fait accompli until somebody in authority says otherwise.

    Get your work done to a high standard, be available for questions whenever, and if a peer criticizes your use of time look at them like they just grew a second head.

    If the boss has a problem with how you’re using your time she can tell you about it. If your management is even remotely rational then not going to fire you, it would probably just be a brief conversation like “I’ve noticed you are gone for an hour at lunch, we only take a half hour here.” No big deal.

    To date, no boss has ever articulated a problem with this approach to me.

    Asking up-front puts people in a position where they have to give you an answer, and that answer probably won’t be “just do whatever you want”. No reason to box yourself in arbitrarily when you don’t have to.

    Reply
    1. Colette

      I agree that when it comes to things like what time you eat lunch, this makes sense – but not when it comes to leaving an hour early. That’s the kind of thing that can negatively affect your reputation, even if no one says anything to you.

      Reply
      1. Samata

        I agree.

        If you work in an office of 10 and they are all there until 5 and you just decide it’s ok to leave at 4 starting on day 1 I think that might cause some friction/grumblings.

        In an ideal world only the boss should care and yes, work quality should be top priority, but I think it sends the wrong message right out of the gate if the office is more structured.

        Reply
      2. Cordoba

        I’m generally of the opinion that if somebody isn’t upset enough about my work schedule to mention it to me then they aren’t upset enough for me to worry about it. If the office busybody is bent out of shape that I took a long lunch and their response is to “tut, tut” behind my back then they’re welcome to jump in a lake.

        This largely comes down to priorities. I really value temporal flexibility and am willing to put up with some grumblings or reputation damage to get it. What’s the point in being exempt if you have to stick to a rigid schedule?

        Reply
        1. Totally Minnie

          Point #1: You say that if someone isn’t upset enough about something you’re doing to mention it directly to you, they’re probably not upset enough to worry about. That’s not necessarily true. Losing the trust and respect of your coworkers, even if they don’t say it to your face, can be a big freaking deal. It could mean not being asked to join certain committees or workgroups that could further your career. It could mean that a hiring manager who knows one of your coworkers could ask them about you, and your coworker could say “She comes in late or leaves early most of the time and doesn’t even care if that impacts the rest of us,” and the hiring manager decides to pass on your application. There are a lot of things that could come from this, even and perhaps especially if your coworkers don’t mention it to your face.

          Point #2: It’s less about exempt employees needing to work a “rigid” schedule than working a “regular” schedule. It’s about being available to your coworkers when they need you. I’m not saying you can never change your work schedule to accommodate your non-work life, I’m just saying that on a normal, day-to-day basis, it’s probably best to match your schedule to your coworkers or at the very least to set up a formal arrangement with your boss where it’s understood that your hours will be different.

          Reply
    2. Anonymous Poster

      I disagree! This is always something I ask when interviewing, as part of my “What’s a day in the life look like, generally?” That includes how often are people expected to work late, do you have core office hours and flex time or something else, and all those sorts of quality of life questions. It’s a very normal thing, at least for my in the places I’ve worked, to ask and no one has thought it weird to have to answer. I’ve had one place tell me “Whatever hours work for you, as long as you aren’t missing meetings or deadlines”, another say core office hours are 10-2, but otherwise just get 8 hours in everyday, and another say “It’s very flexible, but we expect you here for meetings and any other major scheduled events where a teleconference isn’t set up.”

      I’d worry about impacting my corridor reputation by being wildly out of sync with an office’s standard operating norms. It may come to bite you in subtler ways, like future assignments or career growth opportunities. It might make you seem out of touch.

      Reply
  31. WeevilWobble

    I agree with most about OP #1 generally but I also totally get why he thought it would be a good idea. To him I doubt it was about the sexual purity part and more about the “co-leader” part. Putting leadership roles for extracurriculars is normal for students. This is weird because it’s a sex thing but to him it’s just a leadership position he’s had and is proud of.

    I’m assuming he’s a first year and the school didn’t OK that (usually there is intense career coaching for second years at law schools.)

    Reply
  32. Hercules’ Assistant

    Asking this as an inexperienced recent grad, but can someone explain to me why it’s morally wrong or rude to leverage a job offer from a new company for a raise with your current company? Something similar happened in Season 3 of the Office, but I understood why that was wrong since Josh went along with his promotion until the very end and pretended that he would stay. If you get a job offer from a new company, you tell your old company about it, and they give you a raise to incentivize you to stay, that doesn’t seem awful to me? Because they haven’t put a ton of work into your transition, just the search which they have to do anyway. For the OP I get it’s a little annoying rescind his offer, but it’s only bad to the degree of the amount of time they’ve let pass, imo.

    Reply
    1. Cordoba

      It is not inherently bad to decline an offer from a new employer if your current employer counteroffers with something more appealing. It becomes an issue when:
      1) You have already accepted the offer from New Company, and then back out of that acceptance once you get a better offer. When you accept an offer you are agreeing to take it, at this point they stop interviewing other candidates and start doing work to prepare for your arrival. It is a big disruption to then say “nevermind, better offer came up, I’m not coming.”
      2) You interview and get an offer from New Company with no intention of ever taking it, solely to shake a better offer out of Current Company. This is wasting New Company’s time and is an example of interviewing in bad faith.

      Because you typically don’t tell Current Company that you are leaving until you have accepted a final offer from New Company and done things like pass drug tests and background checks #1 is usually a factor.

      There are also practical reasons not to accept a counteroffer from your current employer. Some managers see an employee who interviews for other jobs as being “disloyal”. They might throw cash at you to keep you on short-term, but will also put you down as the first to go when things get tough. This varies considerably between industries and people.

      Reply
      1. The New Wanderer

        I know someone who went with option 2, as they felt it was the only way to get a raise/level-up. Unfortunately, we had a mutual acquaintance at the other company who figured out the motivation, and now that person is on a do-not-hire list. It did work in terms of resulting in raise/level-up though.

        It is also why it’s not great for companies to say “show us your better offer” as a response to “I would like a raise/promotion for XYZ reasons” or reward people for doing so.

        Reply
    2. Lars the Real Girl

      That’s a really good question! The thing is – hiring IS a ton of work. Not the same as hiring and then training, etc, but it’s usually a multi-week (if not multi-month) process. At the point that you are given an offer, the company has done a lot of work vetting you (interviews, reference checks, etc).

      Now, you can always decline an offer, and the company should expect that, but saying it’s because you got a higher counter at your current job reads a little bit like “you led us on without any real intention to join our company”. That’s not always the case, but that’s how it can come off, so it’s better to stick to “for personal reasons, I’ll decline.”

      AFTER accepting is really bad because at that point the company has probably already contacted their 2nd and 3rd choices and let them know the role has been filled. It’s better to “take a couple of days to think about it” than to say yes and then remind.

      Reply
      1. Cordoba

        I can see the case for not doing it, but I am generally supportive candidates of letting employers know that they are declining an offer because of money or because of a more lucrative opportnity.

        This is one of the levers that employees have to influence employers to improve pay. Once they lose a few desirable people who all say “the money wasn’t good enough” a rational organization will start looking for ways to offer more.

        It also keeps employers from going on a goose chase to improve their “culture”, or their office furnishings, or their job search/interview process, or to have mandatory Nerf gun fights etc when all they really need to do is pay more.

        Reply
    3. Thlayli

      It’s not morally wrong in the slightest (in my opinion). It can be bad because 1 it means you’re less likely to be offered a job at the other organisation in the future, because they will assume you could do the same thing again, and 2 your own work now knows you wanted to leave and may take steps to replace you in case you decide to leave again. Alison once said that a high percentage of people who accept counter offers to stay end up being let go very soon (sorry don’t have the link but u can search the archives). basically it seems like they give you the counter offer to get you to stay to avoid the chaos of losing you quickly, but they work on the assumption that you’re going to leave eventually so they start looking for a way to replace you and then let you go when it suits them.

      Reply
      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Not that they end up being let go — but they end up leaving for one reason or another within a year (often because the same issues that led them to job search originally are still there).

        Reply
    4. Anonymous Poster

      You’re basically delivering an ultimatum to your current employer. Give me a raise, or else.

      There’s generally a reason you’re looking in the first place, and the stats on taking a counter offer are terrible for the person taking it – it generally just doesn’t end well, and word generally gets out about what went on.

      It also takes away interview slots and job opportunities from other people for the job you’re using as leverage. There is an invisible cost to the rest of the interviewing world.

      Reply
      1. Cordoba

        Good point. The problem with giving ultimatums like “give me a raise or I’m gone” is that sometimes the person you’re giving it to will choose to go with “you’re gone”.

        Reply
    5. KayEss

      If you want a raise, it’s better to just… negotiate a raise based on the merits of your work, without bringing a third party and threats to leave into things. If your company/boss is reasonable, that should be all that’s necessary–and getting an outside offer just to leverage it has a high risk of souring that relationship, since you’re essentially saying, “actually, the only reason I work here is money.” (Which may be true, but there’s a societal polite fiction that you enjoy your job and work community for reasons other than the weight of your paycheck and people will look at you askance if you disturb that.) If, on the other hand, your company/boss ISN’T reasonable, and you’re never going to get a raise or recognition without threatening to leave… well, staying because of a counter-offer isn’t going to suddenly make them reasonable.

      There are always going to be exceptions out there hinging on individual life circumstances (like… “my job made a good counter-offer AND I just discovered I’m unexpectedly pregnant”) but generally, as with relationships, you shouldn’t say, “I want to break up” unless you’re breaking up.

      Reply
  33. Dana Lynne

    About the lunch hour…. Some jobs, even exempt ones, do have nonnegotiable work flows that require that the break be taken at a certain time or you won’t get one at all.

    When I was a copy editor for a daily afternoon newspaper (rare as sasquatch nowadays!), the work happened between 730 am and 330 pm and the only possible time to take a lunch break was at 1030 a.m., after the first edition went to press, and that was a half-hour. You had to work when the work was happening.

    Not all exempt positions are that strict, of course, but they do exist.

    Reply
    1. Allison

      And I’ve encountered plenty of office martyrs who are soooo busy that at 2:30 they start talking about how hungry they are and how they really should eat, but they’re still sooo busy.

      Reply
    2. Clewgarnet

      And some jobs will be easy about when you take your lunch break, but it’s essential that it’s co-ordinated with your coworkers. I’m a telecomms engineer, and we must have at least two people working at all times in case of faults.

      Reply
  34. Lady Phoenix

    When I hear about dudes and “purity”, all I can think is: “Dude is gonna slut shame me at every opportunity imaginable.”

    Reply
  35. Allison

    #3 this is potentially an optics issue. If the workday ends at 5, it’s likely that most people leave around then or maybe a little later. If you stroll out the door an hour before most people, they’re not gonna know that you worked through lunch or came in an hour early, they’re just gonna see a rule-breaking slacker ditching work early (or just tsk and go “gee, must be nice, I wish *I* could leave early but *I* have work to do . . .”), especially if you’re young! And how people perceive you will impact how they treat you. When you’re older and more established, and most people who see you leaving know how hard you work and how much you get done during the day, they might not care as much.

    Reply
    1. SkyePilot

      This. Also, if you do ever get the okay to do this, get it in writing (even just an email like, “I wanted to follow up on our conversation earlier regarding…”) Because even if you get verbal approval, things may change. I am a salaried employee in my third year of working for my current company. I recently was chastised for not getting in at 8 regularly (think, arriving around 8:15-8:20) even though I had been told that start time was flexible, that I routinely work through lunch, and often stay late. It stinks, but welcome to being young and salaried.

      Being perceived to be late (even if you have something worked out) or slacking (even if it is not true) is also very easy to tack on to other perceived issues to make a situation seem worse – think “Fergus didn’t get these tea pot orders correct, AND he always leaves early! Must be slacking on the job to get out the door quicker.” Doesn’t matter that this was the first time there was a typo on the tea pot orders and that you have an agreement worked out about leaving at 4…it already seems worse.

      Reply
      1. Allison

        You reminded me of something important, that just because you have an arrangement with one boss doesn’t necessarily mean everyone you work for, even at that company, will be as lenient, and saying “but exboss said I could!” won’t be effective. If you change hands, so to speak, you’ll need to say “Hi newboss, I had an arrangement with exboss where I could ____ as long as I ___, [insert reason here if needed]. Would you be okay with me continuing to do that, or would you prefer to have me revert to a more standard schedule for the time being?” Being open to change is key.

        Reply
  36. Jam Today

    I have the same reaction to #1 as I do to my friend telling me all about her poly FWB situation and other specific practices she gets into with her boyfriends: please stop involving me in your sex life (or your lack of sex life.) Any way you slice it, you are demanding that I contemplate your genitalia, even if its just for a split-second. I do not want to do this. I mean do your thing kids, I’m pretty open-minded and generally take the “an ye harm none, do as thou wilt” approach, but please do not make me or any other person an unwilling participant in whatever you’ve got going on.

    Reply
  37. Earthwalker

    #3 I wouldn’t make assumptions about schedule without asking very specifically. My old employer stated time and again that the day for our all-exempt team was 9 hours including a full hour for lunch. You could not skip lunch or eat quickly and leave that much earlier. The reason wasn’t that we lunched as a team or that our workflow would be disrupted by differing schedules but “because we believe that if you skip lunch you will end up taking the same amount of time off at some point, perhaps a little here and a little there, so we account for it with a nine hour day.” Then they informally encouraged everyone to work through lunch hour anyway. Sometimes staying employed may require complying with rules that aren’t fair or don’t make sense so you can’t guess what’s permissible.

    Reply
    1. CM

      I agree about not making any assumptions at all. There are huge variations among workplaces and even within an industry, there’s often no “normal.”

      I wouldn’t ask right away. I’d see what the workplace culture is like and observe when other people arrive and leave and what they do for lunch.

      Once you get an idea about workplace norms, then you can ask for permission to do something that you think falls within those norms, but you want to make sure.

      Reply
  38. Naomi

    OP#2: This is only an “elephant in the room” if your boss realizes she did it! It’s possible she didn’t even notice that she accidentally screenshared the information. At this point the window to point it out has probably closed, but it might help your perspective about why she hasn’t said anything.

    Reply
  39. CM

    OP#2 – is it possible the boss never realized this happened? It sounds like nobody ever told her, and she obviously wasn’t thinking about it during the call.

    I agree with Alison that at this point, it’s probably too late to say anything. I think the only circumstance under which I’d be tempted to bring it up is if your boss blatantly lies and says something like, “It’s not in the budget for anyone to get a raise,” and even then you’d need to do it delicately.

    If it happens again, I would bring it up in the moment by saying something like, “You have a chat window open, would you like to close that?”

    Reply
  40. General Apparel West

    The one time I had to rescind a job offer, I tried to do so as politely and apologetic as possible. I explained to the internal recruiter that my current company offered a large raise and extra PTO, and promised to make significant organizational changes to improve my situation (removing my team from a certain manager’s umbrella).

    The recruiter responded by kind of making fun of me for believing my employer, and said that I’m “not the queen of Sheba” in the loudest most incredulous voice you could imagine. I felt so stupid and sheepish after that call that I’ve written off ever working for that company in the future.

    I’d like to smugly mention that my employer did follow through on all promises made.

    Reply
    1. CM

      I think your recruiter had a point — if your organization promises all kinds of changes, but only when you threaten to leave, those promises are often empty. But she didn’t have to be so dismissive and rude about it.

      Reply
      1. Parenthetically

        Absolutely. Good idea for the recruiter to say, “Hey, look, I wouldn’t put all your hopes on this, given they only agreed to these changes when you said you were planning to leave because of them!” but jeez, mockery is uncalled-for.

        Reply
    2. CM

      Also, this reinforces Alison’s advice about just saying you’re declining without giving a lot of details. In your situation, I think just saying you appreciated the offer and had been excited about the opportunity but ultimately decided to stay with your current employer would have been enough.

      Reply
      1. General Apparel West

        Extra details doesn’t give the recruiter a free ticket to react like a child. I opted to be more open about my reasons believing that extra details may help the recruiter in their search – salary considerations, etc. Obviously that was of ill judgment.

        It’s an assumption, however, to believe that the company would have only offered me good things if I threatened to leave. I withheld my grievances and didn’t explain my situation with management until I submitted my resignation. Upper managers were flabbergasted and embarrassed about the events that had led me to that point. I am 100% confident that if I had just spoken up before looking for another job, management would have corrected the situation without it going that far.

        Reply
      2. Natalie

        I think General Apparel West was backing out of an offer they had accepted, though, not just declining an offer that had been made. You have to give a bit more in the former situation since you’re reneging on an agreement.

        Reply
    3. Bea

      Awwww sounds like the recruiter saw her commission spiral the drain and lashed out like a child, what a dick thing to say! I’m glad that your employer made good on their promises.

      Sure it sucks to have to be on the verge of leaving for some management to do anything to make things better but to assume they’re lying is pretty vile, they know you’ll frigging leave if they don’t follow through.

      Reply
  41. Product Manager

    OP3 – as a software dev starting your first permanent job, building relationships with colleagues is really important, much more so than at an internship. Use lunch as a time to get to know people. Figure out your team’s rhythm and work your schedule around it.

    If you’re working with a team that is spread across time zones, being in the office (or online from home) early in the morning or later in the evening may make sense and you’ll want to work your schedule around that.

    I would plan to spend your first 6-ish months focused on building relationships and getting into the groove at your company, then think about schedule optimizations.

    Reply
  42. anyone out there but me

    OP#5: why even give a reason? Just a “After further consideration, I realize I am not able to accept your offer after all. Best wishes on filling the position” yada yada

    No reason is necessary, IMO

    Reply
    1. OP #5

      For my husband’s case, the email without some sort of explanation felt…uncomfortable. Like backing out of plans with a friend for no reason, as opposed to declining to make plans in the first place.

      Reply
    2. ????

      As someone who works in an industry that some might find questionable from their own moral perspective, we know that some people will not be comfortable working for us. Because of that, we address that very early in the recruiting process. I do not think it would be a problem to tell the recruiter/hiring manager that after further consideration you would not be comfortable working in the XYZ industry. This is actually helpful information for the recruiter as now they will know they need to do a better job of vetting this issue earlier in the recruitment process.

      If this really is an industry issue or a company with a negative social image, they will not be surprised that someone has concerns about working for them. It kinda comes with the territory.

      Reply
  43. Mr. Bob Dobalina

    OP #3 – The OP already senses that a change in approach might be (and most definitely is) appropriate for this first job after college. I think it goes beyond whether the job is exempt or not. You want to make a good impression at a new job, not look like a clock-watcher. Some employers highly value “face time” and your initial expectation should be that you will work the standard, full hours. For your exempt job, I would consider leaving at 4 daily to be a so-called flexible schedule that would require approval from your manager. Personally, I would defer that type of request for at least 6 months, in order to get a handle on the workplace culture, on your manager’s attitude, and prove yourself. (Yes, I think there is an element of proving that you are a professional and committed to the role, especially since you are new to the workforce.)

    I have been in exempt jobs for years, and my average work week has never fallen below 50 hours. To boot, I have been required to submit time sheets at those jobs, for various reasons that are not related to my wages.

    Reply
    1. Ambpersand

      In our office/area, it’s been said time and time again that a flexible schedule is something that’s earned, not a given right out of the gate. The entry level or new hires that come in and expect to be able to come/go as they please never last long and are usually low performers. Even then, super flexible schedules are often only done by those in management positions. But, they’re also the ones logging on at 8 PM to continue working from home and putting in those 10-12 hour days. In my office at least, most people set their working hours from 7:30/8 AM -4:30/5 PM and take varying degrees of breaks for lunch. I can count on one hand the people who always work through- it’s definitely not the norm around here.

      That aside, I will say that it is really hard to go from hourly to exempt/salaried- the transition is really hard when you’re used to counting down the minutes until your shift ends. But having that mindset in a salaried, office position isn’t going to look good or go over well. You hit the nail on the head… it’s a lot about “face time,” especially when you’re new.

      Reply
      1. Obelia

        Absolutely. In our team, we have quite flexible work arrangements but we do need to have at least some members in the office till at least 5. It is *much* more popular to leave early than to start late, so we have to manage flexible working patterns based partly on need (childcare, health etc) and not just let everyone decide their own flexible hours.

        Reply
  44. LisaLong

    #1: I actually read that previous sex club post as written by a woman not a man.
    That aside, when will people realize that activities related to sex or lack thereof are not appropriate at any point in time to be included in any resume, interview, anything job related…EVER.

    Reply
      1. LisaLong

        Okay I don’t know why 3 of you felt the need to comment same thing. All I said was that I read the post in the voice of a woman. So it’s a surprise to me that it was a dude.

        Reply
        1. Natalie

          They probably didn’t refresh and see that the question had already been answered. It happens all the time; no one means anything by it.

          Reply
    1. AnotherJill

      Eh, it depends on the position you are applying for. It is perfectly appropriate if you are applying to a position where those kinds of activities relate. The real bottom line is that potential employers are going to look for relevant experience and have a strong preference for paid experience.

      Reply
  45. Nicki Name

    #3, I’m a longtime software engineer and all I can tell you is that it varies hugely. If the place you’re going to be working produces software, then the most likely scenario is that you’re expected to be in the office 8 hours including a lunch break, roughly the same 8 hours every day, with some flexibility as to exactly when those 8 hours start, as long as they mostly overlap with the 9-5 block.

    But, there are places where people may be physically present in the office less than 8 hours a day because they’re also expected to routinely handle things off hours. Or where 10-12 hour days are common because they’re in constant crisis mode. Or where it’s common for people to still be at their desks at 6:30 pm because they routinely vanish for an hour and a half at lunchtime and another hour for a ping-pong session at 3pm.

    If you’re working on internal software at a company whose product is not software, you’ll be expected to follow the norms of whatever industry it’s in.

    Since you’re a recent graduate, it’s okay to just directly ask people what the local customs are. This is something you can ask about in interviews for future jobs, too.

    Reply
    1. Amphian

      Another long time (20+ years) software engineer here – I have never had a job where I could not work through lunch and leave early, and some jobs officially had “core hours” (something like everyone is in the office between 10 am and 3 pm) so meetings can be scheduled easily while accommodating people who wanted to commute outside of rush hour. Software is one of the industries where generally getting something done and being available when there is some kind of crisis or crunch time is a lot more important than what the clock happens to say.

      I agree with Nicki Name that this varies if software is not the product – you’ll be more likely to be expected to conform to the hours of whatever the industry is. There should not be any problem with asking about the company hours and what flexibility they have.

      Another thing to consider if they want people in the office for set hours – can you work from home some of the time? I would not bring this up at the start unless they talk about it, but working from home gives you tremendous flexibility with your hours as long as you are available for meetings and phone/email/chat contact. However, you probably don’t want to start working from home until you have gotten to know your company and some of your coworkers, and working from home might not be right for you if you don’t have a quiet place to work, or it might not be a good fit for your personality, so I would start slowly with that if it interests you.

      Reply
  46. Anony

    #4: Alison’s advice is great! I get why it seems important to talk about the mental health issues because of how it affects the way you manage her, but it really is irrelevant. You can talk about the type of management she needs without disclosing anything personal and therefore feel good that you did your best for your employee and gave an honest reference. I do think it is a bit concerning that she thinks she needs a hands off manager but your experience is exactly the opposite. You should have a conversation with her about what you have observed so that she does not keep going after jobs with hands off managers.

    Reply
  47. Free Meerkats

    For #2, I have yet to hear a good reason for salaries being secret. All the secrecy does is allow and cover up wages disparities based on race or gender. If Fergus gets paid more than Fiona, the management/company needs to be able to justify it using objective information.

    As a public employee, my salary has always been public. I’m open to hearing a good reason for salary secrecy do you have one?

    Reply
    1. Thlayli

      I have a clause in my contract prohibiting me from disclosing my salary to anyone and I have to say I agree with you. It’s considered very impolite to talk about wages where I live anyway, so even in jobs without that clause I have never known most peoples salaries.

      (I know that is illegal in the US but it’s not illegal where I live as far as I know).

      Reply
  48. Hiring Mgr

    Something seems off about letter #1. My sexual purity group only had one leader–the concept of a co-leader makes no sense given the function and structure of the group. The applicant may be falsifying this, so you might want to dig in a bit more

    Reply
    1. Temperance

      Okay I just laughed imagining that conversation. “Hey bub, that super inappropriate thing you put on your resume? Are you sure you were a co-facilitator of the group, and not just a member? I demand evidence.”

      Reply
    2. Countess Boochie Flagrante

      You just have to go and flout Alison’s request to mark your sarcasm, don’t you? I don’t want to see you banned!

      Reply
      1. A Cita

        Did Alison request that or was it other commenters? I don’t recall for sure, but thought it was the latter.

        In any case, I laughed out loud.

        And if it was the former, please don’t ban her, Alison!

        Reply
          1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

            Pleeeeeeease tag your sarcasm! I love your posts and I’d love to see you let the snark flow. Do something like “Percival, World’s Best Hiring Mgr”

            Reply
      2. Thlayli

        I must admit i didn’t actually twig this was sarcastic till your comment. I was more confused than anything.

        For me when I first read the letter the very first thing that came to mind was Rachel’s CV in Friends – co-captain of the cheerleading squad.

        Reply
    3. Hiring Mgr

      Just to be clear, I don’t mind if anyone wants to practice sexually purity in the privacy of their own home or behind closed doors, but please do not flaunt it in public for the rest if us.

      Reply
  49. Silly in Retrospect

    Are you in an area with any large religious employers where this resume would not be a turnoff? Like near a “bible college” or Focus on the Family or something? I’d wonder if other places are responding well to this- from my brief associations with evangelical/conservative xian culture, there are lots of organizations where the response would be “righteous young man set for scandal free leadership positions” instead of the “uhhh, what?” that you know, everyone else would be inclined towards.

    Reply
    1. OP #1

      Not at all. His undergrad and law school are also both places where his level of church involvement would be uncommon (not unheard-of, but he wouldn’t have been in the majority by any means).

      Reply
  50. Julia the Survivor

    #5, if it was me I would be tempted to say something about their ethics. Maybe that’s inappropriate, but I always want to help misguided people do better.
    On the other hand, if they realize their losing candidates because of it, they may just start hiding it better.

    Reply
    1. ????

      They is to not question their ethics but to tell them that after further consideration you are not comfortable working for a company in the XYZ industry or a company that is dealing with ABC issue. The company must know that they are losing candidates so you wouldn’t shock them. And they should be doing a better job of addressing concerns earlier in the process for everyone’s benefit.

      Reply
  51. Aliecat

    Letter # 3: If you are not salaried, depending on your state, you most likely cannot work through your lunch to leave early. In my state (MN), per the state labor board, you cannot skip lunch to leave early. If your employer allows this, not only is he/she breaking state labor law, but also putting themselves at risk for disgruntled and unscrupulous ex-employees who may state that they were forced to do so. However, if you’re not from MN, and state law is unclear, just ask!

    Reply
  52. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

    I got a resume one time where someone listed his experience leading men’s nude yoga. Yes. MEN’S NUDE YOGA. This had absolutely nothing to do with the job, and he had decades of varied experience that did relate. Why? Why do you want me to know about that? I couldn’t resist the temptation to click on the included link, and yep – lots of pictures of naked dudes standing on their heads.

    Reply
    1. Observer

      I hope this went straight to the reject pile.

      Mentioning it on his resume was bad enough. But including a LINK to it, with those pictures?! Talk about terrible judgement. And, I’m judging this guy MUCH harder than the OP’s applicant. Let’s face it, that guy is young and inexperienced, so could be genuinely clueless without having really terrible judgement. But what is this guy’s excuse?!?!

      Reply
      1. Falling Diphthong

        …. whereas I now really want to understand the chain of reasoning that led to “I should include a link to men’s naked yoga. The analogies to tea pot heat tolerance design are impossible to miss.”

        Reply
    2. Detective Amy Santiago

      Maybe he was trying to demonstrate his flexibility?

      (use whichever definition of flexible you’d like here)

      Reply
      1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

        Yeah, I kinda wondered that. We are a social services agency that works with victims of abuse, including child sexual abuse. People have to start with some pretty clear ideas of what “appropriate” means in that context.

        Reply
    3. Thlayli

      I’m giggling silently because I’m waiting for my kid to fall asleep so I can sneak out of the room. That’s hilarious!

      Reply
    1. Falling Diphthong

      Public law: relationships between individuals and the government
      Private law: relationships between individuals
      Large: not small

      Reply
  53. thatgirl

    I am late to the party on this one, but I wanted to respond to #4.

    I am a faculty member and coordinate internships for my students. Our access services department will not let me disclose any learning disabilities or other ADA issues to my internship site supervisors. The students are required to disclose on their own (and if they do not, then they can assume no protection/assistance there). I had one student who did not disclose his aspberger’s and was asked to leave his internship due to a very bad, inappropriate joke. The department made it clear to me that I could not disclose his aspberger’s and that the onus was on the student to do so.

    In hindsight, I wish I had set some expectations and parameters with the internship supervisor before we started. So I do think that it behooves you to share their workplace needs, but not the nature of their issue.

    I think it would b

    Reply
  54. Wintermute

    Re #1–

    I feel like I’m way out of the norm here but… it doesn’t but me? Now, for my background I’m a militant atheist, pro-feminist sex-positive, about all those things that would NORMALLY make that a giant red flag. But that’s no valid reason not to look at it for what it IS: it’s leadership experience, the ability to work with a group, a lot of positives in the workplace.

    Of course if I do hire him he’s going to be on a short leash making sure he’s not contributing to a hostile workplace, making judgmental comments to his co-workers or otherwise stepping out of line, but that’s ANY new worker if they raise even a slightly off-pink flag (I would do the same if someone was new to the workplace and mentioned a fraternity, heck even an extracurricular as seemingly benign as band– I know how crazy their parties can get and how overly sexual the hazing can be).

    Freaking out because “sexual abstinence” is still being pretty sex-negative and not as progressive as I like to be: freedom of choice means freedom to choose not to, his body his choices, and all those slogans cut both ways.

    Reply
    1. Observer

      The issue here is not that he is / was into abstinence. The issue is that it’s really no one’s business. Neither this club nor the “sex parties” organizer belong on the resume.

      Reply
    2. OP #1

      We didn’t freak out because of the “abstinence” part, we freaked out because of the “sexual” part. The sexual part–regardless of whether that means tons of kinky sex or no sex at all–doesn’t belong on a resume almost ever, especially a resume submitted to our organization. I’m perfectly happy for him to make all the sexual choices! But I don’t want to know about those sexual choices as someone reviewing his resume.

      Reply
  55. Software Engineer

    Leaving conversations open during screen sharing is my biggest fear and I am very paranoid, especially now that I am a manager and my conversations may include following up on tough feedback. If I am sharing in our conference call technology I share a single window instead of my entire screen (so only the browser window is shared), and if I’m plugged into a projector I close EVERYTHING—IM, email, every app, make sure to sort out my files on the desktop so there’s nothing interesting visible st all, etc. if I have to go into my email or IM to find a link somebody sent me I will disconnect from the projector

    Reply
  56. rez123

    About #1. It’s not like he listed it under special skills or anything. He has relevant experience in leadership and mentioned the name of the club. I agree that maybe it could be changes to “young men’s club” or “non-profit” but for him it’s so normal that he didn’t think to change it and if no one told him to then it’s just there. We all think of our hobbies as appropriate and don’t have a reason to hide it. In my university everyday there is an advertisement about how you need to lead a club and voulanteer so your CV will look good and finding a´suomeone to take you is becoming impossible since there are too many voulanteers. So I think the sexual aspect actaully had nothing to do with it. Just youth and folloing the instructions to write about voulanteer causes.

    Reply

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