boss said she’d give me a great reference but she didn’t, jobs advertised for less than minimum wage, and more

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

1. My manager said she’d give me a great reference — but she didn’t

After a second round interview with company A, I was asked to submit references. I typically would not include my current direct supervisor, who started working with my team six months ago, but many of her close friends work at Company A and she is aware that I am job searching. We have a good relationship, and she is a “huge fan” of the work I’ve produced. She gave me great reviews during my annual review last month.

Despite all of this, I did not get the job at Company A because of the reference my current supervisor gave. According to the hiring manager, my supervisor did not have full confidence in my work product. What makes this situation especially unique is that my supervisor has been bragging about the “glowing” reference she gave to multiple people in the office. She even told one of my peers that the workload may shift because I was about to get a fabulous new job.

Should I let her know that her reference was not as glowing as she thinks it was? Aside from never using her as a reference again, how should I move forward with her? It at all? I’m sure it was her – the hiring manager specifically said my current supervisor’s reference was the determining factor. My other references were former coworkers/former supervisors.

It’s possible that the hiring manager got mixed up, and the reference was from someone else. But assuming that’s not the case, it’s possible that your manager was acting in good faith here … because references aren’t typically a pass/fail thing but are more nuanced than that. References that are overall very positive generally still acknowledge that the person has weaker spots (and really, a credible reference often needs to do that). It’s possible that she didn’t think the weaker spots she mentioned would matter much for the job, but the hiring manager considered them a bigger deal.

The idea that she said she didn’t “have full confidence” in your work sounds damning, but it could have been something like, “Of course, she’s still learning to do A and B so I have a lot of oversight on her work in those areas.” Or the hiring manager could have asked how independently you work, and your manager could have said, “I review all her work before it goes out” just because that’s standard practice at your company. Or who knows — but there are a lot of ways that your manager could have felt she gave a strong reference while the hiring manager didn’t take it that way.

That’s not great, of course, because it may mean that your boss isn’t communicating the way she intends — but it also could just mean that the hiring manager put more weight on something than you’d expect her to from the outside.

Since you have the kind of relationship with your boss where she knows you’re job-searching and she’s bragging about how she’s helping you, I do think you could say to her, “I feel awkward about raising this, but the hiring manager for that job said that your reference gave her pause — she felt like you didn’t have full confidence in my work. I want to make sure I’m meeting your expectations and you feel you can give me a great reference in the future. Is there anything you’d like to see me doing differently?”

2. Recruiter made me promise not to accept any job offers

A few months ago when I was job hunting, I was contacted by a recruiter, Megan, who explained the position she was working on with me and asked about my experience and job hunt. She asked if I had any other interviews or offers on the table. I was honest and told her I had one interview the next day. She said, “I can’t submit your resume until you turn down that job” (mind you, I hadn’t even gone on the interview yet). She said “I’ll call you tomorrow to see if you even liked it or not.”

The next day, she calls and asks how my interview went. I told her it went well, but that position was very data-heavy, not what I was looking for. She said “Okay, I can submit your resume to my company, but you have to PROMISE me you won’t accept any other offers.” I was very put off by this, but the position sounded great, so I told her sure. She kept following up with me, saying “you stopped job hunting right? Not taking any offers?” I would just kind of brush it off.

Turns out, the company thought I was too junior and didn’t want to interview me anyway. What if I had actually turned down an offer to get this though? I’d be furious at myself and Megan for pushing so hard. I didn’t stop job hunting or turn anything down, since I knew this wasn’t a guaranteed interview. But I still found it incredibly strange. Is this normal? I never worked with another recruiter like that.

It’s not normal. It’s terrible practice. Of course you should be actively searching and should be free to accept a job offer if you want to! Good candidates aren’t going to agree to work with a recruiter who makes those demands, so Megan is harming not only candidates (for the reasons you mentioned) but the employers she’s working for as well (since they’re going to lose out on strong candidates who will find Megan’s demands ridiculous).

3. My boss doesn’t know my name

I’m writing in with a bit of an odd conundrum; I don’t think my boss knows my name. My company has less than 25 people in it. I have a main supervisor and then a boss who is above my supervisor. Every time my boss has spoken to me, she has called me by a different name. Sometimes, the name she calls me starts with the same letter or sounds somewhat similar to my actual name (such as Emily or Annie) but sometimes it is wildly different (Rachel or Christine). Each time she does this, I say something along the lines of “oh, it’s actually MY NAME,” but it continues. The only time she got my name right was when she was interviewing me during the job application process.

I’ve noticed that she sometimes makes small mistakes with other coworkers’ names, such as Christine instead of Christina or Katie instead of Kaitlin, but it’s never as huge as with my name. My coworkers have definitely noticed it, and seeing what name she’ll call me next has become a bit of a running joke. I don’t necessarily find it offensive, but it is annoying. I don’t feel like my name is all that unique or hard to remember. Do you think there’s anything else I should be doing or should I just let it go and accept that for whatever reason, my boss just can’t learn my name? Am I totally overreacting?

Since you’re already correcting her each time, there aren’t a lot of other options. The only other things you could try would be (a) a big conversation with her about it (“Jane, I’ve noticed you almost never call me by my correct name; can you try to remember to call me Cecily?”) or asking your supervisor to mention it to her. I might go with the latter, so that you don’t have to shoulder the burden of an awkward conversation with someone who has been so dismissive of your reminders already. But since she’s apparently mangling other names on the reg too (although not as badly as yours), I’m not super hopeful that it’s solvable.

It would be interesting, though, to know if she ever messes up names of people who are her peers or senior to her. If she’s an equal opportunity mangler, I wouldn’t take it personally at all. But if she only does it with people who she has power over, that’s telling.

4. I saw a job advertised for less than minimum wage

I am job searching and just came across a job that pays less than minimum wage. I am not interested in applying for this job in particular but wondered what the best way to handle it in general is. Minimum wage in New York city and state recently increased and in the city, the minimum wage is $13/hour for businesses with 11 or more employees and $12/hour for those with less.

This job is a temporary, part-time job at a non-profit. Even if it has fewer than 11 employees, the $11/hour they’re offering is still illegal. If I were interested in applying (which I might have been in the past), what is the best way to handle this? In the interview? At the offer stage? Just not apply for this job because an organization that doesn’t even realize the laws surrounding minimum wage have changed is one that one should avoid for fear of complete disregard of all labor laws?

I have actually worked at a business in the past that disregarded state wage laws but it was a little bit of a different situation (a restaurant that paid the federal minimum serving wage instead of the higher, New York state wage) and my wages after tips were generally high so I rolled my eyes and decided it wasn’t worth it. That was admittedly not the best way to handle it, so insight would be great!

It’s possible that they just haven’t updated their ads — if they’re used to reposting the same ads, it could be that it’s being done by a junior person who doesn’t realize they need to update that piece of it. So it’s possible that if they offered you the job, you’d find that they were offering it to you at the higher, legal wage.

As for when to bring it up, you could just wait for the offer and address it then if they still offer the lower, not-now-legal wage: “New York City recently increased minimum wage to $13/hour, so am I right in thinking that should be the wage for this position?” But it would also be fine to bring it up in the interview: “I saw in the ad that the position was advertised as paying $11/hour. Since New York City recently increased minimum wage to $13/hour, am I right in thinking that $13 is actually the wage for the position now?”

In other words, just sound matter-of-fact about it and like of course they’ll follow the law.

5. How far back do employers check your social media?

Thanks to your resume advice, I’ve managed to get an interview for an internship!

I’m very much a quintessential millennial and have had Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook for a lot of years now. Do you have any advice for ensuring there’s nothing that an employer would object to on there? Part of the internship is running the charity’s social media accounts, so simply making my accounts private probably wouldn’t fly. My recent content is all employer-friendly but I’m just worried in case there’s some dumb teenage stuff from years back. How do employers check social media? Do they glance over the most recent stuff or do they deep trawl your account?

They’re usually just looking at the most recent stuff. It’s hard to give an exact timeframe since it depends on how much you post (six months of posts for you could produce the same number of posts as three years for someone else, if you’re a prolific poster and the other person isn’t). But typically an employer isn’t going to be reading everything carefully; it’s more like a quick skim to see if anything (good or bad) jumps out. That quick skim usually won’t go more than 100-200 posts back (and that’s on the high side).

That said, if you know that you had bad judgment in what you posted in the past, it would be smart to go back and clean that up, because you just never know how someone might run across something. But if you’re just worried that you might have posted something indiscreet eight years ago but don’t have anything particular in mind, I wouldn’t worry too much about that.

{ 533 comments… read them below }

  1. LouiseM

    OP#5, you know your field better than we do, but are you sure it’s not an option for you to make your social media (at least your facebook) private? At OldJob our social media manager did a great job running our (widely read and very prestigious) institutional instagram/twitter/facebook but kept his personal accounts tightly under wraps. I’m not even sure he had facebook or instagram himself. I’m a very private person and hate the idea of strangers seeing the things I post, so I would at least consider making a “public” instagram account under my full name as almost a “portfolio” and then keeping your personal account private.

    1. Elemeno P.

      I can’t tell if this is spam or a brilliant parody of terrible ways to impress employers.

      1. LouiseM

        What? Why would this be spam? It’s basically the same as my suggestion. If anyone has teen or college-aged children they may know about the “finsta”–basically someone has one account that’s public, under their name and one private one where they just post weird and silly things. I don’t think it’s a bad idea.

    2. Kathleen_A

      As tempting as it is to lock down accounts, I really don’t think the OP should do this. The internship involves working on the company’s social media accounts, and so the prospective employers would be crazy if they didn’t want to see how the OP had managed her own social media accounts.

      1. EddieSherbert

        I think it varies by account – Facebook seems to be a pretty common one to have locked down so only your friends can see stuff – I expect not to see much if I go to a stranger’s account. Instagram it’s a bit less common to have locked down – I’m usually a bit surprised if it’s locked. And Twitter it’s weird to have locked – like I kind of have a WTF reaction if someone’s Twitter is locked down.

        I’m not an expert on these things, but I do co-run these accounts for my office, and am also very active on these mediums in my personal life :)

        1. EddieSherbert

          I would also watch out for any “old” accounts that you don’t use floating around that might (or do) come up on the first page when someone searches your name. I had someone apply for an internship who had an old Twitter account with A LOT of rapey and misogynistic tweets from like 2010. It obviously hadn’t been used in years, but it STILL made me pause and definitely gave him a disadvantage in the interview process.

        2. Blackcat

          Facebook also allows for a good middle ground. I’m in academia and my research community uses Facebook (which has huge pros and cons). I have a “research community” list that I restrict from most stuff (they do not get cat pictures). But I also selectively post publicly when I have a new paper or want to engage in a scholarly conversation (which is totally possible. Some of the conversations are helpful/fascinating). I also post articles about teaching publicly. So someone who finds me would see a curated professional page. Someone from my research community that friends me would see slightly more, and an actual friend gets the whole shebang. One page, multiple uses.

        3. Jesmlet

          Unless you’re the type to want strangers to follow you, most people keep their Instagrams set to private. No regular person I know allows anyone to see their pictures without first requesting to follow.

    3. Alton

      Agreed. I manage my department’s social media and website, and my own social media accounts are all either completely locked down or under other names. I’ve been careful not to use my personal accounts for anything work-related because I like having some separation.

      It does depend on the field, and with more specialized, strategic social media/communications work, it can be helpful to have a visible online presence. But if a company just wants an intern to post events on the company Facebook page or something, they’re probably less concerned about the intern having their own platform.

      Personally, when I do social media stuff for work, it’s always from an account owned by the department or an account that I’ve made specifically for work, not my personal accounts.

    4. lady bird

      A fellow millennial here. I don’t have one, but it’s pretty common (at least for teens/college age kids) to have a “finsta” (fake insta) where they are a little less polished, for the benefit of their closer friends. So if you’d still like to have some personality to your social media you could have an official, portfolio like page and then an alternate that’s a little more free and I don’t think it would be that weird or out of touch to your friends.

    5. JustCurious

      I keep my FB account friends-only, but my Twitter is public. However, I retweet a lot of news/politics stuff on Twitter, plus stuff about pop culture and social justice stuff about LGBT/anti-racism/being an ally, etc.

      What would you say a prospective employer’s response would be to seeing my feed? I don’t post embarrassing pictures of myself or anything like that, but it’s definitely a mix of personal posts (like mentioned above) and professional stuff (eg: live-tweeting conferences and professional development events).

      1. Blue Anne

        I have the same setup and the same thoughts. I’ve decided that if a prospective employer finds my twitter and has a problem with my queer stuff or my activism stuff, I don’t want to work for that employer anyway.

      2. KarenT

        I think that’s fine. You run the risk of alienating an employer who disagrees with you politically (and is childish about it since most of us can get along with those with different views) but that’s arguably a good thing.

    6. Littlelionlass

      Just to add- as an older millennial (out of college for 7 years omg), change your last name on your facebook to your middle name. That’s the social media that hiring managers will start with, and from there (if your accounts are linked), can find your twitter/insta/etc. I did that right before graduating, and had many employers tell me after I had been hired that they couldn’t find my facebook when they’d looked, and therefore, none of my other social media came up. (And when asked, I just told them I didn’t have one because it’s none of their business!)

      1. Tessa Ryan

        Yes, that’s exactly what I did! I keep my facebook locked down pretty tight, and use only my first and middle name for all my social media. I now have friends on Facebook from work, but when I was job hunting I made darn sure that when you googled my name only previous internship stuff came up.

      2. Alton

        I wish I could do this, but I go by my middle name professionally and personally, so my options are more limited.

        1. AKchic

          I have multiple email accounts, so I have no problem using different email accounts for different social media profiles. I’ll use different derivatives of my name, my stage name, my fair name, my maiden name, my grandparents’ last name, whatever to hide myself. I am happy to lock my profile(s) down.
          My social media accounts are just that – mine. My prospective employers aren’t hiring my personal life. They are hiring my work life.

          1. Alton

            I do this too to an extent, but I don’t have that many names and I want my friends to be able to recognize me as the person they know.

      3. Ex-Academic, Future Accountant

        I’ve seen people doing this, but is it just luck that Facebook doesn’t catch it and shut them down for not using their real names? Because I’ve heard that people who change their Facebook display name as part of a gender transition, or to thwart a stalker, as well as some people whose cultural naming traditions are unfamiliar to TPTB at Facebook, often get their accounts suspended, and can’t get them reinstated unless they prove to Facebook that it’s their legal name. (My Facebook name is currently First Last, and I’ve thought about changing it to Nickname Middle, but I don’t know if they’d let me! Of course, I never had to prove my name when I first created my account more than 10 years ago, but Facebook was very different then.)

        1. Nico m

          I think the people “busted” were maliciously reported by personal enemies or trolls. I don’t believe that Facebook knows or cares that Bob Smith is actually Joe Bloggs.

          1. Jiya

            I signed up to Facebook around…2006, I think, under the name Eleanor Roosevelt. They never cared.

        2. Lindsay J

          I believe it actually now says in the TOS that you can use your first and middle name, and, for people undergoing gender transitions, or who always go by their initials or by their middle name or whatever “a name you use in everyday life”.

          I looked at it the other day because I was curious, and because I knew that they said they would be making changes after they had the issues with the drag performers and with native american names.

          Really what they crack down on is people using celebrity names, nicknames that nobody ever calls them (like putting “Dragon Tribiani” when your real first name is Joey), and similar. And with the nicknames, you can include the nickname, just not in place of your real name. So you can have “Joey ‘Dragon’ Tribiani”.

          You also can’t change your name very frequently – like it has to be less than once every few months.

          Most of my friends are teachers, and a large number of them go by first-middle to try and avoid being found by students. My mom is a teacher, and uses her maiden name hypenated with her last name (so even though she took my dad’s last name at marriage and has gone by “Geller” ever since, on Facebook she has “Green-Geller”. That one I suspect is in violation of the TOS, but I highly doubt anyone is going to report it. My little brother has had the name of a Game of Thrones house as his last name for several years, which, again, is in violation of the TOS nobody has reported him either.

          That’s the other thing – they generally only review names when you are changing your name on an existing account, or when somebody reports the account. (And it seems to me that even when changing the name on an existing account, as long as it doesn’t hit any of their flags they would not look twice at it. So going from Jane Johnson to Janet Marie probably wouldn’t cause issues, but going from Jane Johnson to Jane Moneymoneymoney might.

          1. Ex-Academic, Future Accountant

            This is good to know! (My Facebook is friends-only, and consists entirely of posts about my former academic field and science news more broadly, silly cartoons, complaining about the weather, and cute baby animals — and always has, even when I was an undergrad — so I’m not terribly worried anyway. Just idly thinking about going slightly more anonymous.)

          2. Alton

            I can’t vouch for this, but even after Facebook clarified their position to say that people can use the name they go by in real life, I’ve still heard of people being locked out of their accounts unless they can provide a legal ID with that name on it. Just a few weeks ago, a trans man on a site I frequent said that this just happened to him and that explaining that the name was what he really went by wasn’t being accepted. So I worry that Facebook doesn’t really abide by what they say.

        3. soon 2be former fed

          I think FB questions when the same IP address is used to create accounts with different names.

        4. VictorianCowgirl

          Perhaps off-topic, and I hope this can post as a PSA, but an ex who was stalking me found me through FB’s shadow profile of me and facial recognition when someone posted a picture with me in the background. 95% of stalking victims who were caught in the last 2 years was due to FB. So, just changing your name is not enough. I now run NoScript and am very careful on the internet just browsing, and have no FB. It’s a scary, unacceptable company to me.

        5. Jess P

          Facebook doesn’t know who you are. Just don’t be a troll or a spammer. If you set up an account as Joe Garcia. They don’t know who Joe Garcia is or have any way to know that YOU are Joe Garcia. Obviously is you want to communicate as yourself, you’d want your real name or some approximation of it—so if you are Wally Schmidt going as Joe Garcia that probably is ;eft field. But there’s no way they can know who you are or aren’t unless you do something suspicious, OR (and this is a real frustration) you have an odd nickname—even if thats what you go by “Knuckles O’Roarke” or “Shake-N-Bake Babcock.” Even then, FB won’t always bother you. And really, American parents in particular give their kids all kinds of interesting name, and they can get called out if they hassle someone for whom certain kinds of names are normal, if not common. It gets messed up for people with Native American origin names, for example. I think there one grabbed a headline a while back for having the name “Kills-A-Man” or something.

        6. Mr. Bob Dobalina

          Here’s what Facebook really does. I was using as fake last name to stay anonymous on Facebook. I had less than 30 “friends”, all family and close friends, and I kept my privacy restricted to Friends only. But someone reported me to Facebook for using a potentially fake name.

          Facebook informed me that my account would be locked unless I submitted valid photo ID such as a driver’s license, proving that my name used on Facebook was my legal name. Of course I didn’t, so after 7 days, Facebook locked my account forever.

          I never did any trolling on FB, or harassed anyone. But I did occasionally comment on political articles (this was around the time of the Presidential election), but never in an inflammatory manner. So I believe someone who didn’t like my political views reported me to Facebook. I’m sure it wasn’t any of my “Friends”. And Facebook took that person at their word, and locked my account when I wouldn’t give them ID evidence.

        7. Mr. Bob Dobalina

          A troll who didn’t like my political views reported my fake name to Facebook, and Facebook locked my account. Facebook demanded photo ID to prove it was my real name, and when I didn’t give it to them, my account was locked forever.

      4. Penny Lane

        For Facebook, I don’t know why one would bother to go to one’s middle name as a last name instead of just making the whole thing private in the first place. All you can see of mine is my profile photo (which I’m comfortable with), hometown, education. You can’t see my friends list or any posts. What’s the benefit of keeping your Facebook settings to public?

        1. TheAssistant

          I’ve found that Facebook on occasion changes its privacy settings without my noticing, so I use *formal first name, middle name* as my name to add an extra layer of security, then lock everything down and do a privacy sweep every year or so, or when I notice they’ve updated something.

        2. Alton

          One benefit is that it can be easier to control who tries to connect with you on Facebook. If it’s easy for someone to identify which account is you, you run more risk of an awkward situation if your boss sends you a friend request, or if your workplace is big on pushing people to connect on social media and you don’t want it to be obvious that you have an account. Of course, you might want friends to be able to locate you on Facebook, so you have to weigh it out.

      5. GriefBacon

        This is a great solution if you can make it work. I use Fullname Lastname professionally, but go by Nickname Lastname socially. I spell Nickname in a very different way (which I’ve done since middle school, not at all related to job searching) and all of my social media is under Nickname Lastname. It has the added benefit of gatekeeping coworkers/clients trying to find me online.

    7. JessicaDay

      As a social media manager myself (albeit in a more casual industry) having unlocked personal accounts is very important. You are your brand, and I use my Twitter to network, to promote talks I’m doing, and to share opinions on industry issues. As a hiring manager, if I was looking for a social media manager or assistant and I couldn’t find their online presence I’d be very surprised. It’s your portfolio. (Of course, I’m aware this differs industry to industry) so yes, I agree with your point to make a ‘public’ account for a portfolio (and not just Insta).

    8. Susan Sto Helit

      It’s a good idea to set up some ‘public facing’ social media accounts, but those take time to establish and if evidence of an existing social media presence is important, it’s probably a good idea to keep both running for a time and just do a clean-up of the old one.

      Set facebook posts to friends only (you can use the view options to check what someone you weren’t friends with would be able to see). Run a sweep of your instagram posts and remove anything potentially embarrassing.

      Most importantly, you can search your own twitter timeline. Obvious things to search for are any tweets containing words such as ‘drunk’, ‘hungover’, various swear words and, if they were a part of your language when you were younger, any slurs or words that could be used as slurs in certain contexts. It’s much faster than reading through your entire timeline and, though not foolproof, should at least allow you to pick up on a few of the things that might give a potential employer pause.

    9. Anonymous Bosch

      One of the women that runs our social media, and has run social media for other places in the past, keeps her accounts completely private and locked down — except when she’s job hunting. She has mentioned that, if running social media is part of the job, it helps for the prospective employer to see how you handle your own accounts as well as any professional accounts you manage. I haven’t hired/interviewed anyone to run social media accounts, but that makes a lot of sense to me.

    10. AliceBD

      Yes, I am a full time professionals social media person and have been for several years now. My personal accounts are all locked down to be friends-only. Everyone can judge me by the work I do for my job.

    11. Ironically Anonymous

      It’s worth pointing out that making things private on facebook doesn’t necessarily mean they will never be shared. While job-hunting recently for my first professional position, I asked a question in a secret “Women in [Profession]” group about whether it was appropriate to use publicly available salary data to negotiate. For those who don’t have Facebook, secret groups are about as locked down as you can get. Unless you are an invited member, they don’t show up in searches or profiles — they are invisible. But not invisible enough: a prospective colleague sent a screenshot to the male hiring manager at my top company, who called to tell me I should not be talking to anyone but him. I was offered the job anyway, but turned it down even though I loved the work and the town.

  2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

    Apologies if this is far afield, but I wanted to make a quick comment re: tipped minimum wage in OP#4’s letter.

    For folks who are wondering, nearly all states have a carve out to state minimum wage requirements for restaurant workers (and similar carve-outs for agricultural workers, as well as overtime exceptions). Sometimes cities that have passed living wage laws create higher-than-federal-but-lower-than-non-tipped-wage minimums for restaurants, but until recently, the vast majority of cities/states used the federal tipped wage ($2.13 minimum for restaurant workers) or a similar state law equivalent (e.g., New York State has a $2.90 minimum wage for restaurant workers, NYC’s minimum is currently $8.70 and will rise to $10 by year-end for restaurants with more than 11 employees).

    But importantly, there’s no such carve out for the vast majority of jobs, including nonprofits. The idea that it’s purposeful makes me ragey (probably another reason to take Alison’s tack, which is much less ragey).

    Here’s a link that breaks down the tipped wage, if folks are curious: https://www.dol.gov/whd/state/tipped.htm

    1. CleverGirl

      I’m confused as to why you are ragey. Most other jobs including non profits aren’t tipped so there isn’t an additional source of income there, so why would there be similar carve outs? Maybe I’m not understanding what you’re saying.

      1. Not a Mere Device

        There isn’t a carve-out for non-profits, but the carve-out for agricultural jobs has nothing to do with an additional source of income. Farms aren’t non-profits, of course, but I can see an exec at a nonprofit thinking something like “minimum wage only applies in some sectors, and it shouldn’t apply to us, because Reasons,” especially if they’re inclined to thinking that the hourly staff should be working unpaid overtime out of devotion to the cause.

      2. anon today

        I worked at a place once that had a LOT (and by a lot I mean most of the actual work was done by) unpaid interns. It had the effect of a culture where those of us who were actually paid were supposed to feel grateful we got paid at all. And they did not follow standard overtime laws: for every hour we worked overtime we were paid 1/2 our normal hourly rate. (they called it “chinese overtime” . . . OMG incredibly awful even 20 years ago!!!). One week I worked 125 hours, documented on a time sheet. My direct supervisor worked 127 hours. I received about double my normal weekly salary for that incredibly dangerous week. I fell asleep standing up at work, and the work also involved dangerous things like catwalks and ladders. And yet the Senior (managing director & at that level) were paid well enough that they drove NICE cars and lived in a very nice section of town . . . at the time time there was an official orientation that helped the new interns get set up with food stamps. This was a very prestigious organization that hosted a nationally recognized festival every year. So, yeah, I have personal experience with practices that should make people ragey! And in hindsight I should have reported them and fought for myself and the other staff that were being shafted. (I assume that even 20 years ago this was probably not legal, but this was not a state with strong labor laws so who knows). But being known as The Person Who Complained and Ruined It for a major organization in a very small industry where pretty much all jobs are gotten by word of mouth and personal recommendations . . . .not a good plan. On the the interns, unfortunately, it was really common at that time period that they be unpaid and that was probably all legal. But seriously, it was a huge amount of the actual workers in the organization. : (

        1. Michaela Westen

          Non-profits commonly use their status as an excuse to pay below market value. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been job-hunting and a non-profit tried to low-ball me. Since I don’t have a strong dedication to the cause, I turned them down.
          I had a long-term temp job at one where the employees got tiny raises because, non-profit. Literally 1% or 2% raises.
          Generally a lot of employers try to take advantage – for example, in the 80’s and 90’s paying women less because of the assumption they were married to a man who was the breadwinner – paying a starvation wage with good benefits to take advantage of single parents – finding any excuse to pay lower salaries or raises – all my job and job-hunting experience has made me very cynical.
          To get back on topic, however, this non-profit might not have updated their listing and that might be all it is. Especially if their clerical staff isn’t very well managed. :p

        2. Michaela Westen

          P.S. – This kind of stuff makes me crazy! Smug, stuck-up elites living well while their workers starve and risk their lives. This is what’s wrong with this country and world!!!
          I wish something could be done about this and make them see what it’s like on the bottom.

      3. Natalie

        I read it as “the idea that the job add was purposefully posted with the below minimum wage salary makes me ragey”.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          Yes, this! I mean, I find the tipped wage standard problematic for other reasons, but I don’t want to derail. I am more ragey at the idea that an organization that knows that it isn’t subject to the tipped wage is advertising a below-minimum-wage-salary on purpose.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          Haha, this! But also what fposte says. It means there’s an exception/exemption from the standard minimum wage (or other labor laws) that allows employers to pay below the federal minimum wage. And at least at the state level, the federal carve-outs also often apply to the state minimum wage (i.e., there are exceptions allowing much lower minimum wages for restaurant and agricultural workers).

        2. Jiya

          I think the original FMLA carveouts were as much due to racism as anything else – the people who tended to work agricultural and domestic service jobs tended to not be white.

    2. Cat

      What is the “it” you are talking about in “The idea that it’s purposeful makes me ragey”? The advertised wage being less than minimum wage and hoping no one notices?

      1. CleverGirl

        This is where I was confused. I thought it was the carve-out idea in general that was making them ragey. Upon re-reading, I think it was about the details in the original post, which makes a bit more sense.

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        Yes—I was saying it would make me ragey if an employer knowingly advertised a below-standard minimum wage when they know the wage is higher than they’re advertising.

        1. zora

          I totally get the ragey-ness about worker exploitation, but I’m thinking it has to be a mistake. Even if an organization knowingly decided they ‘had’ to pay below the legal minimum wage, I doubt they would post that information on a public job ad! That’s just asking to get themselves busted by DOL by putting it in writing. I think someone trying to skirt the law would just avoid putting any dollar amount in writing and then try to manage the job as some kind of 1099 or paid internship (illegally of course).

          1. Starwatcher

            There are ads on CL advertising below local legal minimum wage. I think the employers who do this just aren’t that smart (sometimes they put discriminatory requirements in, too) in large part because of all the typos and grammatical errors.

    3. Lyssa

      There are certain exceptions in some places for hiring people with certain types of disabilities – if it’s a non-profit, it’s possible that the intent is specifically to hire people who otherwise wouldn’t have an opportunity, and that just wasn’t clear to the LW.

      Though it’s probably just that the listing is outdated.

      1. OP#4

        Hi! I’m OP #4. It was definitely not a job meant for a disabled person and it also required some skill and experience (ie, it wasn’t a job intended for a 17 year old kid in high school). Job duties included shopping for supplies, run other errands, interact with external people. It also required at least one year experience in a similar role.

        1. OP#4

          Oh, and requires (just checked…still posted) long, 12 hour shifts, working until midnight…

          1. Chinook

            You have every right to be ticked. I was just offered the chance for a job as an admin asst. That paid 50 cents less than next Year’s minimum wage in Alberta . The recruiter was from the US and seemed confused when I mentioned that fact and thought I was being greedu. Sorry – if you want me to work somewhere where I need to provide my own work clothes and have no benefits, you need to beat McDonald’s and Tim Hortons who atleast provide uniforms and discount food.

      2. Bea

        Thankfully that BS is on it’s way to extinction! That makes me angrier than any labor law exemption out there now. EF paying someone less because they’re develop mentally delayed for jobs you would pay anyone else minimum wage for, it’s so grotesque.

        1. Valprehension

          This though! The idea of making an exception saying it’s ok to pay people with ‘certain disabilities’ less then minimum wage is the most-rage inducing thing I’ve heard today.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

            There’s that, and then there’s the “trainee” wage that people are allowed to pay folks (see, e.g., Goodwill, who also has a massive tax exemption because they’re providing “job training” as part of their nonprofit functions).

        2. Anna

          Protected workshops. It applies to piecework. How many of a thing can you complete and you’re paid by thing completed rather than by the hour. Having worked closely with organizations that employ people with developmental disabilities, the best outcome for this stupid loophole would have been to raise the wages of the people working there, not close them down. Instead they closed them all down and created a lot of unemployment for people and flooded state offices with people who had previously been supported by organizations that were trained to work with people with disabilities.

          Anyway, end of derailment.

    4. OP#4

      In my experience, restaurants almost never apply the tipped minimum correctly. Even in weeks when I didn’t make enough money in tips to make up for the tip credit, I never once got the full minimum wage in my paycheck. Granted, this is rare but it’s happened (didn’t apply to this restaurant necessarily but in my experience at other restaurants). And they are supposed to calculate overtime as (Full Minimum * 1.5)-tip credit=hourly overtime wage. Without exception, they either just didn’t pay overtime at all and changed hours to equal 40 or they calculated it as (minimum-tip credit)*1.5=incorrect hourly overtime wage.

      In general, small businesses are the worst when it comes to labor law and restaurants are among the worst of those.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        That’s my experience, as well. I’ve just found that folks who are paid the tipped wage are chronically underpaid and often more vulnerable to abuse (from coworkers and patrons) because of the constant threat of tips being stolen, misappropriated, not given, etc… and because restaurants are notorious for failing to actually pay the difference the tipped minimum and the standard minimum. Wage theft and other employment law violations are unfortunately more widespread in the restaurant industry than in others, and personally I think part of that culture has to do with the tipped wage.

      2. Cercis

        The one time I mentioned that I hadn’t made enough in tips to bring me to minimum wage I was told that meant I wasn’t a good waitress and maybe she should hire someone else. Never mind that I’d had four tables the entire night and their checks hadn’t been enough that I’d have made minimum wage if they’d tipped me 30% (unheard of in those days and still in that town – 15% was an amazing tip there). We also didn’t get free food – although the cooks would often intentionally “burn” fries because they knew I liked my fries crispy and that would help feed me for the night.

        1. OP#4

          Ugh, that suck. Yea, I’ve had days with few or no tables and it sucks. Sadly, they can get around it legally if you have a good night or two that week because the rule is by workweek or pay period (don’t remember which), not by day.

          1. OP#4

            Luckily I don’t work in the restaurant industry anymore and have a boring office job that comes with amazing things like health insurance, sick days and get this–PAID VACATION DAYS. Mind explodes. The first time I took a paid day off (in my 30s) you have no idea how excited I was.

            1. Michaela Westen

              Yes, I enjoyed restaurant work because of the fast pace, organizational challenges, non-morning hours, the people… but I had to leave and work in an office because of the lack of stability and benefits.
              When I was interviewing for a restaurant job I would ask how much I could make and they’d say, “that depends on you”. Riiiigght, because I can magically make a good living with a low customer volume?
              And another thing that was common was “you can make [amazing amount] working here!!!” and that never turned out to be true. What a bunch of dreamers.

              1. OP#4

                Oh, the stories I could tell….Sigh. Someone probably made that fantastic amount once on the busiest day of the year and that’s what they latched onto as something that was “possible.”

          2. AfterBurner313

            The tip thing makes me STABBY.

            I personally hand the cash tip to the server. I don’t trust the add to the bill (credit card) or leave it on the table.

            Manager who steal tips are the worse.

  3. Andy

    #5 For Twitter (and presumably the other socials), I found a website that will go through and delete all tweets older than a timeframe of your choosing (I didn’t actually have anything incriminating, but I had a rando retweet a mundane tweet from like five years ago that I found weird and creepy). Unfortunately, I accidentally went nuclear and deleted EVERYTHING, but pretty much everything I post on there has an unbelievably limited shelf life anyway, so no big deal.
    Anyway, just thought I’d mention it as an option if you’re not overly attached to old stuff.
    Tweetdelete.net I think was the one I used.

    1. eplawyer

      Be extremely careful in deleting old posts on social media. I routinely ask for all social media posts going back a certain number of years in my cases. If I found out that posts were deleted, I would be asking for a spoliation of evidence ruling from the judge.

      Safer bet — never post anything on social media you don’t want a judge or your employer to see.

        1. eplawyer

          I do divorce and custody. Statistically speaking MOST people are going to be involved in one or other or both. And the information contained in a social media profile can be a gold mine. So yes, don’t post anything you don’t want an employer or a judge to see. Because you do not want your all night drinking binge to come out just when you are asking a judge for custody of your kids. or the flashy new car when you are claiming you are too broke to pay alimony.

      1. Falling Diphthong

        It’s pretty frequent that public figures post stupid things, which they then delete, causing a minor story about how silly they are to think no one noticed in the interval the ill-thought-out post was up. It’s not illegal to go through your account deleting things.

        Unless you do it out of some misguided idea that you it’s the equivalent of shredding all the physical papers in the office as the FBI runs up the stairs, but that really isn’t most people’s reason for deleting “Fergus does shots and falls over” photos.

      2. Strawmeatloaf

        That seems kind of weird to me. What if people don’t have those social medias at that point in time?

        I don’t have facebook, twitter, etc. at all. I just like to be private. And how would one know that the posts are deleted?

      3. EddieSherbert

        I feel like that’s extremely different from being a college student applying for internships and trying to cleanup their social media?

      4. Karo

        I mean, that’s fair if you’re currently involved in a lawsuit. But if you’re not, then it’s a little silly to not delete things just because you may wind up in a lawsuit one day.

      5. LBK

        This seems like an extremely weird thing to be concerned about if you’re not a public figure or someone else who might be prone to lawsuits, especially lawsuits that would somehow involve social media.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          Yeah. Also, spoliation requires a level of intent that’s hard to prove if someone is a non-public figure who is now in their 20s and deleted tweets from their teens & college. That time horizon wouldn’t even apply to most standard business records, where in some industries they don’t retain files for more than 1.5 years as a matter of practice.

          I mean, you can bring that motion, but I don’t think the risk of someone getting sanctioned for spoliation in a lawsuit is a big enough risk for OP not to take down old tweets/posts when applying for a job.

          1. Markethill

            +1. Don’t delete things related to ongoing litigation, and it’s generally a good idea to have a data management policy for business-related information to ensure that you keep things for a reasonable amount of time in case of litigation and then — and this is crucial — treat everything older than that the same way. (Destruction or archiving.) If you run a business, get legal advice on – suitable of data management policy and then actually implement it.

            In any event, personal social media posts from when you were a teenager aren’t business records and aren’t likely to be relevant to litigation started years later.

          2. sap

            +1. Also, I am not sure bringing a motion that deleting things years ago is spoilation is worth the risk of having a judge be EXTREMELY bemused that I would bring a sanctions motion that was clearly frivolous, which is a type of frivolous motion that judges tend to be PARTICULARLY annoyed by, as compared to the normal amount of annoyance that someone has just made them spend time on something so they can appear “zealous” to a client.

            But I literally never practice in state court because I do defense side work in an area where fx jurisdiction is automatic, so maybe I am incorrectly attributing the IDGAF IF YOU KNOW I AM ABOUT TO GO HOME AND THROW DARTS AT YOUR STUPID, DUMB FACE that comes with lifetime tenure to elected judges.

      6. Alton

        That seems very dependent on context. For one thing, I would hope a reasonable judge would distinguish between a situation where someone’s posts were conveniently deleted right around the time the lawsuit started and a situation where someone deleted their social media presence sometime in the past for reasons unknown. People delete accounts and posts all the time.

        I also think that telling people to never post anything they wouldn’t want a judge or employer to see is very broad and ignores the complexities of people’s situations. I get the meaning–don’t post on Facebook about how you just beat someone up, don’t post pictures of yourself doing illegal drugs, etc. But I’ve struggled with this when it comes to things like being out of the closet and using the gender pronouns I prefer. What if one day I no longer feel like I have the “luxury” to do that? Should I just stay closeted? Sometimes when there are concerns about things like legalized discrimination, people take calculated risks.

        1. Lindsay J

          Also, the social climate changes. And things that would not have been seen as problematic 5 or 10 years ago, now are.

          (Like, go back and watch any sitcom from the late ’90s/early ’00s. There are things in them that just would not fly now but that most people didn’t see an issue with at the time they were aired.)

          1. sap

            Seriously! I’m sure it’s far fewer gay jokes than I’m perceiving because I don’t hear them as anything but “seriously disparaging of gay people,” but I tried to rewatch Friends and eventually gave up because it just seemed like every joke about something a man did was about how people might be confused and thing he was gay, which would be SOMETHING UNFORTUNATE.

      7. Jessie the First (or second)

        Spoliation applies only if there is a legal proceeding in process (or the threat of one). It doesn’t apply generally to every bit of documentation everywhere for life.

        If there is no lawsuit and no threat of a lawsuit, that’s not a thing people generally need to think about at all. So, person applying for a job wanting to clean up on social media *really* does not have to add this to the list of things to be worried about.

      8. Penny Lane

        Seriously? On inane things, like I just decided I don’t want that 2009 photo of me in an unflattering outfit on my Facebook any more?

      9. Nico m

        Surely your advice is 180 deg wrong.
        Everyone should delete everything now, because if in the future we ever want to because of legal action, it’ll look bad.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger

      I wouldn’t rely on this, as it doesn’t remove them from the Internet Archive, although I guess many employers wouldn’t know to search there. Of course, it’s better just not to have personal or sensitive information posted publicly in the first place — nothing wrong with posting to your friends about how stupid drunk you got last night, but the world doesn’t need to know that. (Also, as long as it’s not a felony, most employers aren’t going to disqualify someone for slightly immature but common behavior many years in the past.)

      1. TootsNYC

        as an employer, I might find it “good judgment through maturity” that, as a 24-y-o, you deleted all your high school drunken tweets/Facebook posts.

        1. sap

          I think this is the future test for whether somebody who should know they’ll be scrutinized (say, a politician) should be held to account for something they said 20 years ago in a way that was recorded: as long as they deleted it before they *submitted themself for scrutiny,* treat it as something that was said by a completely different person from a completely different era, unless it is something that would have been egregious during that era from a person of that age.

  4. LeisureSuitLarry

    #5: I’m sure most of those sites have some sort of privacy filter so that you can’t be found on search engines and people who are not connected to you can’t see your stuff. Maybe not Twitter, but Facebook certainly does. Find those settings and lock your stuff down.

    1. Kj

      That is a good idea no matter what. Seriously, do you want randos to see your FB posts? Lock it down. Of course, FB had a privacy breach at one point where any user could see other users’ pictures, no matter how locked down they had their account. That was when I deleted my FB. I have since returned (had to for various complicated reasons) but I never post pics of myself or personal info.

      1. AcademiaNut

        The way I look at it you have three main combinations of social media type posting and you adjust what you post accordingly, based on the risks.

        Public, identifiable – you expect people such as your employer to be able to see it and know that it was written by you. You post knowing that this is public information. This includes Twitter accounts under your real name, open Facebook accounts, and things like public blogs under your real name.

        Private, identifiable – it’s under your real name, but you have security settings to limit who can see it (like a Facebook account with privacy settings). You can post with the expectation that people like your boss probably won’t see it, but also with the knowledge that you can’t guarantee it, as people can forward it or screenshot it. (This also includes all emails attached to your real name).

        Unidentifiable – the post is under a pseudonym, or in an anonymous forum, and it’s very unlikely that other people could attach it to your real identity. Not 100% impossible, though – post enough identifying features and people can track you down, and if you signed up for the forum (or website) using your real information the data could be leaked (i.e. Ashley Madison).

        1. Slartibartfast

          Even when I am unidentifiable (like right now) I try not to post anything I wouldn’t say to someone’s face. I think it’s just not worth the risk.

        2. Sunshine on a Cloudy Day

          I really like this breakdown! I make sure not to post anything, anywhere (even at level 3, unidentifiable) that would have serious consequences (firing, irreparable damage to a personal relationship) because you just can’t be 100% sure, but I do post things that could be embarrassing or cause a light reprimand at levels 2 & 3 (Private Identifiable and Unidentifiable). That’s a risk that I’m willing to take, but I do my best (ie: adjusting security settings, making sure I know exactly what audience has access) to minimize the liklihood of it coming up.

      2. Sunshine on a Cloudy Day

        UGGGhhhh – this just brought back a horrible memory for me. I was at work, in a shared office (about 5-6 people sat in the same room). I turned around to see a picture of myself in a bathing suit up on my coworker’s screen. My coworker was accessing pictures on facebook that I thought were private.

        I keep my facebook profile very locked down, but apparently they had updated/made changes to the privacy settings and all of my photos were set to public as the default (at least that’s how I understood the situation, maybe I misunderstood and it was the privacy breach Kj referenced).

        Seriously people – lock your facebook/social media down. My last job was looking for 2 interns. We had narrowed it down to 3 that seemed really great/pretty much equal. One of them did not have their facebook locked down so we did browse through their content, and that was the main reason we went with the other two. It wasn’t the content itself – it was nothing too scandalous, just beach/bathing suit pics with friends where they were drinking or obviously drunk. It was more the lack of judgement in locking it down. Particularly because in our line of work maintaining security procedures, confidentiality, handling sensitive information and using discretion are all HUGE components (all business related, but still). I felt a little bit bad – this was a college student and they are still learning this kind of stuff. At the same time – the ultimate decision makers needed something to help them choose between the three, and this presented itself.

        1. Yorick

          This seems unfair. Maintaining proper security procedures at work is very different from not having your Facebook photos set to private. Some people don’t mind their bathing suit photos being visible to others, but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t follow company procedures for company data.

          1. essEss

            Agreed. I choose to maintain a public facebook page. I don’t post info that I care about others seeing. However I am HUGELY strict about the privacy rules at my job, even more than most of the other people I work with. The fact that you would eliminate me from your consideration because of the way I choose to manage my own social media is appalling. I choose to allow it to be public and monitor the information I put onto it which is a lot safer than the peoplel that lock it down and post tawdry photos on theirs and then get all upset when security fails and their photos become public.

            You should be considering what you can see on that page as an indication of their character, rather than the fact you can see it at all.

            1. Sunshine on a Cloudy Day

              Apologies – I definitely wasn’t clear/misspoke in my post! The issue was that the candidate posted questionable (though not fireable/illegal) content AND didn’t lock it up.

              If the candidate had a public profile and no questionable content at all then I wouldn’t judge them and I doubt they would have been eliminated. A public profile with with no questionable content shows me that they have good judgement (in terms of social media/discretion) and/or a very good grasp on customizeable security settings.

              This candidate posted content publicly that was questionable (from an employment perspective) AND didn’t lock the content or profile down. I should have said that it wasn’t the content alone (ex: if someone went out of their way to screenshot the content and send it to us, but it was not publicly available, I don’t think the candidate would have been eliminated, but the combo of questionable+public was off putting.

              Also to clarify – why I say questionable content, in this particular situation – it wasn’t just candidate on beach, in bathing suit, holding a wine glass or a red solo cup or some silly pictures where they were possibly drunk. It was very obvious “drunken shenanigans” type behavior – rowdy drinking games and some of of the photos were sexually suggestive (think mimicking a sex act with a pool float) – though no nudity or anything outright obscene/illegal. Also there were a quite a few of these types of “questionable” photos – not just a single one that maybe we were misinterpreting. Nothing that would get them fired from our company (though it was at the level that could get someone fired at a particularly restrictive/conservative company), but it was stuff that I think should be known to not be flattering as a candidate when job/internship searching.

              I definitely have sympathy for the candidate – they were still in school and I know it can take some time to figure this stuff out. Also, if they had already been ahead of the other two candidates I’m not sure if this would have been eliminated them (I wasn’t the final decision maker) – it wouldn’t have if it were up to me. However, all three were otherwise equal so they were grasping at anything to help make the final decision.

              1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore

                People posting pictures of having normal everyday fun is “questionable behavior”.

                It needs to be illegal for employers to use social media as a tool for hiring or checking up on employees. Or else you end up with this kind of judgey, moralizing BS.
                NO employer should have this much control over or knowledge of their employees personal lives.

                1. AfterBurner313

                  My cousin is a elementary school principal.

                  You have no clue how many candidates never get past the Google/social media search because everything is wide open.

                  Parents routinely troll social media looking for their kid’s teachers accounts.

          2. Nanani

            This. Plus the fact that FB and the like are constantly changing their privacy options, making this or that opt-out or opt-in, turning new ways to share on by default… It’s a LOT and it’s not a fair judgement to make.

            Stop scanning people’s social media full stop.

            1. Sunshine on a Cloudy Day

              I’m definitely sympathetic about fb changing their privacy settings – my whole first paragraph was about how that exact situation happened it me, and how it was embarrassing, but it is what it is…

              I definitely misspoke/wasn’t clear in my post. The content posted wasn’t scandalous or anything that would get a regular employee fired, however it was pretty objectively questionable.

              We will have to agree to disagree on scanning social media :-) My opinion is if it’s public, it’s fair game to hiring managers. I think it would be a waste of resources to do a deep dive into the personal social media contents of every single candidate for every single role, but I think cursory search is pretty reasonable (particularly if you’re on the fence btwn candidates) and I kind of assumed it was standard (at least in my industry it seems to be).

            2. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore

              I agree. I am AGHAST that employers are so eager to stick their noses into their employees lives.
              Judge them by their work, PERIOD.

          3. Alton

            Agreed. If it was “nothing scandalous,” maybe the person knew it was public and was fine with that.

            1. Sunshine on a Cloudy Day

              I added more context on the type content found in the response to essEss.

              It wasn’t scandalous, illegal nor would it get a regular employee fired if it were to be brought to HR or their manager, however it WAS pretty questionable. Not just a bathing suite pic or pictures where the candidate was holding a wine glass/red solo cups or even silly photos with the caption indicating drunkenness – these were pretty hardcore partying pics and some were sexually suggestive. Also there were quite a few of them (not just a couple questionable ones scattered throughout).

              1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore

                Even your more clarified descriptions sound like harmless fun. Holding a pool toy “suggestively” – so what? Why is that such a big deal? Is someone’s slightly off center sense of humor *really* enough to make you not want to hire them?
                If so, it sounds like you did that candidate a favor.

            2. Lance

              Yeah, I’m… confused what the apparent issue here is. Not everyone is going to be concerned about making their social media private, because, as in cases like the one presented, they have nothing in particular to hide in them.

          4. Sunshine on a Cloudy Day

            I added more context below, but the content I was referring to wasn’t just bathing suit pics or the candidate holding alcohol. It was pretty questionable, just didn’t rise to level that would get someone fired at our company (granted it would take something outright illegal or poor judgement/offensiveness that went viral to get someone fired from that company).

            The concern wasn’t so much the candidate following logistical security procedures – it was more the issue of judgement/discretion. Are they going to be able to recognize the situations where they need to follow certain security procedures?

            1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore

              Repeating what someone else said above: deciding to post fun and harmless personal party pictures does NOT mean they cannot follow directions at work or are too stupid to follow safety procedures. The two things DON’T EVEN RELATE.

          5. Lindsay J

            But sometimes the discretion overlaps.

            (Though perhaps that generally applies more for military and government contractors than the public sector).

            Like, we have contracts with a government agency. When working on those contracts, we are not allowed to do anything to give out information about locations, etc. No checking into your hotel on Facebook. No posting pictures online. Someone not showing discretion in their public online postings would not necessarily be a minus to me, but someone showing discretion by locking everything down or only having very innocuous posts would be a plus. And in the case of two equal candidates, that might be the deciding factor between the two. I mean, it’s entirely possible that the person who didn’t show discretion in their online postings would be completely capable of doing that in a work context, or that the person who did show discretion would be overwhelmed with the coolness of their assignment and just have to show the internet. But I can only judge what i have to go on in the interview process.

            1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore

              I’m not sure how the amount of someone’s personal life they feel comfortable exposing has *anything* to do with their ability to follow proper safety or security measures in a work setting. The two things are apples and oranges. One is someone making a personal decision about something that has to do only with them, the other is someone following the directions they are given at work to the letter. What do those two things even have to do with each other?

        2. Lora

          And this is why I only have LinkedIn and only post the extremely professional work related things on it. And I am eternally grateful that when I was a teen there wasn’t even any internet, let alone social media, so I have no records of being particularly shameful.

          Granted, I also don’t really see the draw of Facebook either; I prefer to ask friends to hang out in real life. Admittedly, the world is deprived of the singular beauty and Oscar Wilde-like wittiness that alcohol brings out in me, but you guys couldn’t handle that much awesomeness anyway :)

    2. Kathleen_A

      Because the internship involves managing the company’s social media accounts, I don’t think locking everything down is a viable option for the OP – not if she wants to get this internship. How can she possible convince anybody that she understands social media if they can’t see what she’s done on, you know, social media?

      1. Justme, The OG

        There is the possibility to change one’s privacy settings to friends only, then to make public certain posts (on FB at least). It allows for privacy yet the employer can see them on social media.

        1. Kathleen_A

          Yes, that would probably be OK, so long as that still leaves lots of stuff for one’s potential employer to see.

          The thing is that lots of people claim expertise in social media, but then you look at their pages and posts…well, let’s just say those pages/posts do not always do the applicant a big favor. My own impression, based on participating in interviews with many potential interns over the past few years, is that many people are a lot less skilled at social media – at least the kind that businesses and organizations need – than they think they are. They seem to believe that familiarity with social media = skill at using social media, and they are often oh, so very wrong.

          So the OP and any other applicant who is hoping for a job that involves social media has to make it possible for a potential employer to evaluate that applicant’s social media skills.

      2. Smithy

        This question has me really wondering what a hiring manager looking for social media interns really do look for/let slide around Instagram/Twitter. If 4-5 years you you have a tweet or post that says “omg all Republicans/Democrats/Patriots Fans/Yankees Fans/Cat Owners/Dog Owners/etc suck and need to get out of my face” – nothing super nasty, but still aggressive and not professional – is that a problem if you’re a heavy poster?

        1. Kathleen_A

          Speaking only for myself, I’d look at a year’s or couple of years’ worth of posts. I wouldn’t be looking for incriminating posts or anything, but I would be looking for signs that the applicant understands social media – both its strengths and weaknesses. So the occasional “X person/team/pet/political party/etc. sucks” post wouldn’t dissuade me from an otherwise good candidate. But someone like, say, my very own beloved but irritating sister whose average during the last election cycle was probably 50 percent “X person/political party sucks” posts would not be a favored candidate. At all.

          YMMV.

    3. Smithy

      For Instagram and Twitter there really isn’t unless you’re going totally pseudonym/private. And for something like Instagram that’s been around since at least 2012 – going back that far to clean up posts would be rough. Especially for someone who’s been posting things since high school – and while there may be no nudity/drug use/underaged drinking – everything may also not be 100% professional.

      So I think the question around how far back do you tidy posts/tweets up really is valuable to think about. As someone who’s been working for years and doesn’t use Instagram for work – having posts about holiday brunch mimosas at 10am wouldn’t worry me for an employer. But for someone new to the work force and potentially interested in professional social media engagement – those are different concerns.

  5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

    OP#3, I don’t know if this would fly in your workplace, but here’s what I did with someone slightly senior to me (but not in my chain of supervision/command) who called me any number of names, none of which were mine. Once, within a 5 minute span, she called me “Chloe” and then “Rachel.” She only screwed up the names of non-white employees.

    So I started calling her random names in response, and I appeared genuinely confused when she called me the wrong name (i.e., I was purposefully ignoring her). I’d call her Beth, or Megan, etc., and when she finally huffed and asked why I wasn’t calling her by her real name, I very cooly replied (with one eyebrow cocked), “Oh, are we not calling people made up names, anymore? Because you haven’t said mine in days.”

    Another ballsy option would be to have people be more vocal when they take bets on what she’ll call you. When she asks what your coworkers are talking about, your coworkers can tell her in a matter-of-fact way what they’re doing.

    Of course, neither of those options probably works with one’s boss. It’s also hard to pull off without looking like an asshole. But barring some very humanizing explanation for why she’s so bad at remembering your name, she’s being a jerk.

    1. Alianora

      I agree that they probably won’t work with a manager (or someone who you want to like you), but those tactics sound really satisfying.

      OP, I’d bet that she got it right during the interview because she had your resume in front of her.

      1. OP#3 here

        As tempting as those other options sound, I think I’m going to take Alison’s advice and talk to my supervisor, since we have a good relationship, and my supervisor has a good relationship with my boss.
        And yes, she did get right during the interview (shocking, I know!).

        1. Thlayli

          She probably had it written down in front of her in the interview.

          I am awful with names. And faces. I frequently get people mixed up who have only a superficial resemblance (similar height and hair colour, but no other similarities). I was out sick for three weeks recently and when I came back I had forgotten the names of half of the people outside of my department. I can’t ask their names again now, so I’m just hoping I have a chance to figure it out next time I have to I nteract with them. There’ve been loads of times I’ve developed some sort of mental block about a particular persons name, usually because they look like someone else I used to know, or their name is one that sounds like someone else I used to know. I constantly call my husband, son and brother by each other’s names.

          Which is all to say – she’s not doing it as a slight on you. Some people are just really bad at names. It’s probably just that you look superficially similar to someone else she knows (or a couple of people she knows).

          Things that I have found help me learn peoples names: when people have name tags or security badges – that’s really really helpful. Intranet with photos of employees and their names so I can study them. When people correct me clearly every single time I mix it up – that’s really helpful. I also make up rules for myself to remember – I had 2 sets of identical twins in my year in school and I remember making up rules like “Cersei has two syllables, it’s the longer name and she’s the bigger one” and things like that. Maybe your boss has little tricks like that to help her, and maybe she hasn’t figured that out yet.

          Hopefully the chat with your supervisor would do the trick – if not print out a photo of yourself with your name in capital letters underneath and stick it up in bosses office :D

          1. Jubilance

            “Which is all to say – she’s not doing it as a slight on you. ”

            You actually don’t know if this is true. The boss could very well be doing it as a slight. Just because you aren’t good with names/forget names easily doesn’t take away the possibility that the boss is doing this to the OP on purpose.

            1. Justme, The OG

              Agree. I am awful with names, which is why I don’t use someone’s name unless I am 100% sure it’s their correct name. I think the fact that she is calling OP3 multiple names that are not hers can be taken as a slight.

            2. YuliaC

              Yes, I agree it can very well be a slight. I’ve definitely seen people have no problems with most people names but using the wrong names or mangling the names of anyone they perceive beneath them, like the janitorial staff, students, etc. This is also frequently directed at people of color and/or people with accents.

            3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

              Yeah, I agree. There’s certainly a possibility that she’s not doing it to slight OP. But there’s an equal possibility that she can’t be bothered, which is pretty rude.

              But it’s a good reminder to OP that it helps to go in assuming good intent (and some compassion), first, and waiting to be disproven.

          2. Bea

            If you’re bad with names, do not say their names constantly then. You can address people easily without them. It’s rude and dismissive to constantly call a person by the wrong name even if you’re not intending it to be.

          3. Indoor Cat

            Hey, so, I am not a doctor, but have you ever considered being tested for prosopagnosia? It’s sometimes called “face blindness,” and it’s a neurological memory problem where people’s brains don’t process, and prioritize certain memories about other people’s identities. So, for someone with prosopagnosia to remember people’s faces and names, they have to rote-memorize them, as if they were memorizing a list of random words or shapes. Whereas for most people, identifying characteristics, especially faces of other people, are recognized differently than objects, and stored in a “high priority” memory part of the brain. But for those with prosopagnosia, that part of the brain may be damaged or missing. Alternately, people can’t recognize faces in the first place.

            If you haven’t been tested, it might be worth it, since there are therapies out there that can help someone identify people in other ways (such as by voice or gait) so that it doesn’t interfere with life so much.

            1. Another person

              Yes! This is a thing that is a problem for me–for example, I literally don’t recognize my husband out of context (like… I saw him across the street in my neighborhood when I wasn’t expecting it on my way home from work, he waved, and I wondered for a minute who that was then continued with my day until he got home later and told me it was him) and we’ve been together 9 years at this point. If I am working with people for a while, I try and find a way to tell them this. I have gotten fairly good at dealing with this–I rarely use people’s names and also I have gotten pretty good at recognizing if people know me or if they don’t, from which I can decide how to act.

              1. sap

                My husband has a red mohawk. I can usually use that to identify him in crowds.

                Except that time at a house party when I came up from behind, put my arms around him, and kissed some other dude I had literally met five minutes ago on the neck. They were wearing completely different outfits, and the other guy was about 6″ taller. My husband is also of 100% Irish descent, and the guy was Indian. Nope, not a reasonable mistake to make on someone whose correctly colored red mohawk is sandwiched between two huge expanses of bald head that were really not the same color at all.

                I have never since been so embarassed that I pretended to be so drunk I wouldn’t be expected to differentiate between people with the same color hair who aren’t even the same color person, and then went and napped on the couch. I had been at that party for all of 5 minutes, but I was so mortified that “obnoxious alcoholic who shows up to the party on time and already wasted” was better than “married person who groped me after approximately 2 minutes of mediocre flirting, then tried to pretend she hadn’t made a pass at me by saying she mistook me, a brown man, for her husband, a translucent man.” Becaus I’d definitely been flirting, when I left to go get myself a drink 3 minutes before I tried to give him a surprise kiss.

            2. Wendy Darling

              I’ve not been tested but I’m like… face-nearsighted. I CAN distinguish people by their faces but I’m very, very below average at it, and if someone does something like get a very different haircut or add/remove major facial hair I can get confused if I don’t know them REALLY well.

              I’m really, really good at identifying voices though.

              1. another person

                Yeah, I’m pretty good at voices and how people walk–which means I am actually pretty good at identifying people from a distance–I can usually tell from a distance better than the average person, because people don’t tend to rely on gait as much as I do. Winter is my favorite, because people tend to only have a small number of winter clothes, so then you can learn those (my lovely friend with maroon boots was super easy to ID in winter).

            3. Kelly L.

              Is it possible to have, like…short-term prosopagnosia? It feels like it takes me a bunch of times to start being able to recognize people, sometimes, and then suddenly it clicks and I never forget them again.

              1. The New Wanderer

                I think there’s such a thing as selective prosopagnosia (to me, anyway) so maybe? I have no trouble with about half the people I meet, I’d recognize them anywhere even after years of not seeing them at all (no photos or anything).

                The other half, it can feel like I’ve never seen that person before in my life particularly if I don’t see them daily. I didn’t recognize one colleague at all despite having just had a 45 minute one-on-one meeting with him the week before.

              2. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore

                A quick bit of reading on prosopagnasia says there are “different types and levels of impairment”.
                Prosopagnasia can be caused both by injury or trauma to the brain, and congenital factors. Many of the congenital factors are due to a variety of developmental disorders, including things like dyscalculia and dyspraxia. So being that there are a wide variety of causes, there can definitely be a wide variety of presentations.
                Mine is not consistent, for sure, and there really doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to what makes me forget or remember a face or name.

            4. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore

              Poor recollection of faces & names, or substituting a different name starting with the same letter, can also be a sign of dyscalculia, and a couple of other things.
              I know because I have been like this my entire life. I can recognize people I know well or see every day, but I may not remember their name immediately, or at all. Sometimes I don’t recognize people immediately if I see them in a crowd, or an unfamiliar place, or haven’t seen them in a long time. Sometimes I forget people COMPLETELY if I haven’t seen them, no matter how regularly I saw them before.
              It also doesn’t happen with everyone and there seems to be no way to determine which faces/names will stick and which won’t- I mean I once kept forgetting the name of a woman who has the same name as MY SISTER. And I saw her in a social setting 2 or 3 times a week. It took me well over a month to finally get it, and by that time I’d started asking a couple of mutual friends I knew wouldn’t make an issue of it rather than ask her AHgain what her dang name was. She was amazing and someone I wanted to be friends with and I think that kind of messed it up from the start.
              It’s highly embarrassing, and no matter how profusely I have apologized or explained that it was an issue I had, people still often think it is done maliciously, to be spiteful, because I don’t care enough to remember them/learn their names. I didn’t find out that this was a disability until I was 48 and had made a fool of myself for nearly half a century, and even then it was only because I figured out by the purest chance that I have pretty bad ADHD (and was then diagnosed), and researching *that* led me to Dyscalculia (as well as some other serious disorders, the overt and bizarre symptoms of which I’ve had my entire life but no one knew because these things are so overlooked.)
              I can totally understand someone with this problem being so embarrassed they go the other way and just trying to play it off, or maybe not even noticing they are making the mistakes because of the disorder or a comorbid one.

              TL;DR: This can be caused by several real but not very well known disorders that the sufferer often does not even know they have, and could very well have nothing to do with spite or carelessness. Please do not be rude or snarky when dealing with this.

          4. Llama Grooming Coordinator

            I actually vehemently disagree – because the issue isn’t that the boss isn’t able to remember OP3’s name, it’s that she’s showing that she doesn’t even care by persisting in calling her whatever name she feels like even after being corrected, and not apologizing for her mistake. Even if she’s being unintentional about calling her whatever name comes to mind, I feel like the boss should at least acknowledge that she made a faux pas.

            I mean, I mix up names all the time myself, and I’m also terrible with names. But I acknowledge that and try to do better, because I do want to treat people properly. I’m guessing your reaction when you mess up and realize it is the same.

        2. TheAssistant

          Does this person have an assistant? You could also try that route.

          At my first job, my predecesor’s name was, say, Felicity. One of the VPs (with whom I did not interact with frequently, but we were on the same floor) called me by my real name until one day, he just called me Felicity. And I didn’t correct it in the moment because maybe it was a mistake, or I misheard, etc. Except then he called me Felicity exclusively for MONTHS. (My name is nowhere near Felicity). When he hired a new assistant, with whom I had great rapport, I stopped by her office to congratulate her and then just mentioned that, oh, your boss calls me Felicity, so don’t be confused if you hear that.

          He never called me Felicity again.

    2. Llama Grooming Coordinator

      Your behavior was completely petty and unprofessional. And I love it.

      Strictly speaking, the difficulty is that you are inherently being a jerk to your boss Jane. So it really depends on whether your boss Lucinda is susceptible to shame, if your office has your back in pushing back against your boss Cersei, so on and so forth.

      That said, if I were you, I’d totally do that to your boss Belinda. Just saying.

    3. The Unexpected Dragon

      I did something similar with a grand-boss who refused to pronounce my name (and the name of other person of color in the office) correctly. It was a joke to him that we had “foreign” names. So I just pretended I couldn’t hear him when he did it. My direct boss called me out for ignoring him and I just said calmly, “Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t think he was talking to me. I never heard him say my name.”

      Worth all the spent office capitol, but I won.

      1. Liane

        Judith “Miss Manners” Martin has long suggested the don’t respond followed by “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize you meant me because my name isn’t —” when called out on it on by people, including superiors when polite corrections don’t work. Not just for outright wrong names, but for cases where someone decides to call you a nickname/shortened form of your name without your okay.

        1. SheLooksFamiliar

          Miss Manners’ great advice backfired on me once. Years ago a Great-grandboss refused to call me by my name, but used different names that started with an ‘S’. The showdown came when he stood in the middle of our cubicle farm and said, ‘Stephanie, I need you to get me that report…’ and I didn’t answer because, hey, I’m not Stephanie. GGB stood in the same spot and raised his voice, asking ‘Stephanie’ why she was ignoring him and to get that report. Finally he barged over to my desk and said, ‘Stephanie! What’s wrong with you?’ I said, ‘My name isn’t Stephanie…’ He yelled back, ‘You knew who I meant! Get me that report!’

          Never did call me Stephanie again, so that was good…

          1. Samata

            This really made me laugh. He was probably mortified; I mean he looked like the ass here, not you.

            But it must have been very satisfying for you – it would have been for me!

            1. YuliaC

              I wouldn’t bet money on him feeling mortified. That type would probably think whats-her-name was getting way above herself trying that with him…

              1. SheLooksFamiliar

                I don’t think he was in the least bit embarrassed, and he probably did think I was uppity about my name. He was just that kind of guy.

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          This is usually my first tactic, but because OP has repeatedly corrected her boss, I’m kind of ok with unprofessional and petty tactics.

          To be fair, I would have never done the crazy things I did to a manager in my line. And I always start with non-hostile, professional, non-jerk options (e.g., gently correcting the person, pulling them aside, asking if there’s anything I can do to help them remember my name). But I have a jerk-streak, and I don’t mind illustrating someone’s jerkiness to them if they’re a peer or a superior in a different chain— particularly if I think there’s a problematic racial dynamic at play.

          All that said, again, probably better to go with the Alison approach, instead. :)

          1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore

            I would go with the Alison approach in case the person has some degree of undiagnosed prosopagnasia, a real disability that is more common than people think, that can have a number of cause both congenital and acquired.
            Kind of like me.
            I only learned of my disability in the last three years (I’m 51), but it has plagued me as far back as I can remember. And people ALWAYS assumed malice or carelessness before they would accept that remembering names & faces was just something I did not do well- no matter how apologetic I was. I guess it just doesn’t seem believable that someone you see and talk to on the reg could fail to remember your name for weeks/months on end, and I’m sure it’s irritating. But it was the truth, and it’s happened even with people I thought were fantastic, and even now when I do it, apologize, and mention it’s due to a disability, I still get the freekin’ side eye.
            If there is OBVIOUSLY some type of bias- someone only does it to women, or POC, or LGBTQIA, or what have you…then there are other approaches to take. But it’s absolutely realistic and possible that no matter how ridiculously over the top it seems, she really is forgetting the name every single time, or thinking the name she is using *is* the correct one, or that OP really is some other person named XYZ, or in some other way not even realizing she’s making a mistake at all. The corrections don’t register because the next time she sees OP, she literally doesn’t recognize her as the person who’s name she forgot before.
            And yes, people can have quite severe prosopagnasia and not even realize it.

    4. Like The City

      I’ve done something very similar before. I’m the only person in my company of 150 people with my name. Not that it’s incredibly strange or even that unique but that’s how it worked out. Anyway, one supervisor from another department I collaborated with consistently either spelled my name wrong in emails (when it’s spelled correctly in front of them) or called me by the wrong name entirely. Finally, I responded with “Thanks, Variation of Her Name!” (Something like Christine instead of Christina.) and she stopped, immediately. I guess I took the fun or the power out of it.

      1. Steve

        I once spelled Allison’s name wrong here. I spelled it with a y. And i got several snarky replies from other commenters.

        1. hbc

          That is either an awesome joke or you’re begging to be snarked again, and I can’t tell which.

        2. alh

          No snark intended, but you’re still spelling it wrong — it’s Alison. As a fellow Alison-with-one-l, it’s something I’m particularly attuned to. :-)

          1. Justme, The OG

            Hello fellow Alison-with-one-l. I also have the alternate “sometimes” vowel. So people can pretty much never spell my name correctly.

          2. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore

            I have a friend who is Elicia-with-an-E. She has spoken of similar before.

      2. SheLooksFamiliar

        Same here. My name can be spelled a few ways – think Shelli/Shelly/Shelley/Shellee – but 99% of the time people take the time to get it right. When they keep it up after polite requests, I return the favor. Problem solved.

        Ditto when they call me Shirley/Sharon/Cheryl/Charmaine/Sherry/Charlotte/Terry. I return that favor too, and suddenly I’m Shelli again.

        Shelli is not my real name, no offense to anyone named Shelli.

        1. Wendy Darling

          I used to work with a Lindsay and a Lyndsey and I mixed them up NON. STOP. Felt so bad. I’d be good for a while and always check my email headers to see who I was emailing but then I’d dash off an email on my phone at 9pm and totally whiff it.

    5. CanadianEngineerLibrarian

      I do that when people don’t spell my name correctly. I have an unexpected e. I drop a letter from their name if they have been doing it after being corrected a couple of times. It usually fixes things.

      1. Bow Ties Are Cool

        I have an unusual spelling of a very common name–think Jaine instead of Jane. I decided a long time ago that I really don’t care how people spell it, as long as they don’t call me Julie, or something that’s obviously not my name. It helps that, for whatever reason, I’ve always been the only one whose name sounds like “Jane” in my friend group/work department.

        On the flip side, I totally get wanting people to remember and use the correct spelling of your name. This is not a dig at those who choose to push the issue! Just a comment from the other side.

        And yeah, using the wrong name/a totally mangled version of the name is bad.

        1. Like The City

          It normally doesn’t bother me at all. I’m used to alternate spellings or strangers calling me by a different, but similar, name. This was a person who worked with me every day, had been doing it for over a year and had already been called out on it by someone else. Honestly, I didn’t even plan it. I did it and then thought “oh, this may not be good…” but she just stopped and nothing ever came of it.

        2. Sara without an H

          I’ve had people spell my name both with and without an H in the same email. After all these years, it doesn’t seem worth the time and energy to react.

          I am careful, though, to make sure my name is spelled correctly in documents, or anything else that’s official and likely to be retained long-term.

          1. Sarah with an H

            I have the same problem — I have an H on my name, and some people will spell it without the H. It drives me bananas when someone does that in an email, and my name is spelled correctly right there. But it’s never something I bother to correct. Some people just aren’t that detail-oriented, and I’m sure I’ve gotten someone’s name wrong once or twice. But it does make me appreciate when the people at Starbucks ask if I have an H or not.

            1. Another Sarah with an H

              I always tell them thank you for asking when they do that. It drives me crazy when people misspell it but I don’t call them out. I just complain to my office-mate about it.

              My last name is also frequently misspelled and it’s a very common last name. I’ve never once seen it spelled the way people misspell it. That gets me more upset because there are Sara’s out there but there really aren’t people with the misspelled last name.

        3. What's with today, today?

          I have an unusual spelling of a common name. I don’t care how people spell my name, doesn’t even register for me.

        4. Turquoisecow

          I have an album of photos of Starbucks cups with my name spelled wrong. It’s a somewhat common name, but with a slightly less common spelling than most people think of. People often spell it wrong in many contexts, and other people (my husband, family members, friends, or coworkers) will get kind of annoyed on my behalf.

          Unless it’s an official thing, like a doctor or an employer, where they’ll need to know my name in the future, I just let it roll off my back. It’s kind of annoying when I get an email addressed to the wrong spelling when my email address is the right spelling of my name, but I just chalk that up to a lack of attention to detail, which is sadly common in my experience.

          That said, I’ve rarely had anyone call me by the wrong name, or mispronounce my name (I’m not sure how you could), and that would definitely annoy me more than alternative spellings.

          1. Wendy Darling

            My partner has a perfectly common name but is from another country, and the name is pronounced slightly differently with his accent. One of my favorite things is seeing how his name gets spelled on our takeout/coffee orders. His accent + a lot of non-native English speakers taking orders + noisy environments makes for fun times.

        5. Pathfinder Ryder

          An American recruiter (I’m not in the US) once misspelt my unusually spelt name swapping two letters which completely alters the pronunciation into a different name. I pointed it out in my reply to her as a “by the way”. She apologized and tried to justify it with the misspelling being the name of a popular American TV show character.

          The show is also popular in my country, yet people somehow manage to spell my name right?

        6. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore

          I spell my very VERY common name oddly, only for the fact that some quirk in my brain insists that the way it’s normally spelled looks “wrong” (it’s too short a word to have two syllables!)
          This also makes the pronunciation uncertain for those who have never heard my name spoken before, because my spelling can be pronounced two slightly different ways.
          Because of this, I don’t make a big deal if people pronounce it wrong the first couple times, or spell it wrong even a lot of times.

    6. Spooky

      That’s exactly what I thought, too. That would certainly get the manager’s attention and point out how obnoxious she’s being.

    7. Bow Ties Are Cool

      “She only screwed up the names of non-white employees.”

      UGH. I hate that. That is awful and rude and I cringe when people do that, and then I correct them if the target doesn’t. That crap should not go unremarked. I mean, I’m bad with names, but I KNOW THAT and I make a point of memorizing the names of people I work with more than occasionally, because politeness. And if I don’t know someone’s name when I should, I apologize and own up to it instead of pulling a name out of my nether regions. BECAUSE POLITENESS.

      And as for “ethnic” and foreign-language names, that is also not that hard. It just takes a little effort. Sometimes I have to privately practice saying an unfamiliar name until I’m comfortable with it. And that’s okay, because I owe it to people I would like to have a cordial working relationship with to pronounce their name correctly.

      I just don’t get people sometimes.

      1. Kiki

        I have a couple coworkers with foreign-language names. When I started working here I asked them to pronounce it and then I said it back to them. Some I got right the first time, some they had to correct my pronunciation., but I got it eventually. Only one person told me I’d never get it 100% correct because their name pronunciation relies on being able to say a combo of letters with a certain accent/inflection that isn’t common in English, and he said he was fine with my best try pronunciation.

        1. JeanB in NC

          I have a friend whose last name has a double R and you’re supposed to roll it when pronouncing his name. He finally gave up on getting me to say it right – I can’t roll my Rs! I did try though.

      2. K.

        I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been called by the name of the other Black woman in various workplaces, regardless of the other person’s age relative to mine, if they’re six inches shorter than I am, etc. They get everyone else’s name right but mix up the Black women. I think it’s happened everywhere I’ve worked. I always, always correct it in the moment. If it happens often enough, I’ll say “I’m K. M. is the other one.”

        In one case the other Black woman in the company was the receptionist and we didn’t look at ALL alike – I had just cut off all my hair and she had long hair, for one. And someone called me by her name and one of my (white) colleagues heard it and literally gasped out loud because he understood the implications of it. He said “That’s K., not Receptionist.” The woman doubled down, like “Well, they look alike!” and my colleague was like “They really don’t, at all. Receptionist’s hair is to the middle of her back. And Receptionist has been here for years – you should really know what she looks like, and that this is not her.” It was nice to be supported. (The guy who jumped in bore a startling resemblance to another person at the company – clients often thought they were brothers – so he was sensitive to names and looking alike.)

      3. Sunshine on a Cloudy Day

        Yeah… this type of behavior is so not cool when it’s directed at a specific group. I’d handle the situation very differently based on that. If someone messes up everyone’s names (including those within their own ethnicity, gender, above them in the hierarchy, etc.) then I’d definitely approach with kindness as it could be a medical issue – I think someone above mentioned “facial blindness”.

        However, if it’s this sort of targeted “forgetfulness”. Nope, nope, nope. That needs to be stamped out ASAP.

      4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        Allow me to rant about all the things that bother me when people engage in subtle racism around names:

        1. Please understand that all brown people are not the same and do not have the same name. We’re also not all related to each other, even if we share a common surname.

        2. If I have a non-Western-European-origin name, please don’t complain about how it’s so hard to pronounce. It is composed of sounds that exist in English and really doesn’t take extra work. Plus, I had to learn all your crazily-pronounced Anglo-Saxon names, so let’s call it even.

        3. Don’t refer to my name or its spelling as “ghetto” or “edgy” or “urban” or any other dog whistle.

        4. If a person of color has a “white-sounding” name [not my preferred descriptor–that’s how people describe my name to me], then please don’t tell me my relatively-common name is exotic. That’s just weird. Also don’t ask me what my “real” name is—it’s what I just told you it is.

        I’m usually a lot more compassionate with people who struggle with names, mostly because I am not great at remembering names, either. I do at least try to get folks’ names/pronunciations right, and I apologize profusely when I screw up. But that was not this coworker, and I feel totally comfortable about returning her jerk-behavior to her.

        1. AKchic

          *hug*
          I want to punch people on your behalf. I see a lot of racism regarding names here in my state and it drives me up the wall. I get it, not everyone is linguistically-inclined, but taking a few extra seconds to learn how to pronounce a name isn’t going to hurt a person, and it fosters some much-needed goodwill. It really is a win for everyone.

          The insistence that someone is just too “good” to learn another person’s name is so monumentally narcissistic that I want to throat punch the person so they have a reason not to speak in general.

          1. Blue Eagle

            Your comment reminds me of an episode of Designing Women when Anthony was telling the story of a black gardener hired by a white family who called him “Bombinitious” for years and years. One of the Sugarbaker designers mentioned that it was an unusual name and asked if it was a family name. Anthony responded that the gardener had said “My name is James David Johnson but you can call me by my initials.”

            (can’t remember what the fellows name actually was, but any name will actually work for you to get the gist of the story)

      5. JustaTech

        The tiny superpower I want is to always pronounce and spell people’s names correctly, on the first try. But that would require that I be able to *remember* anyone’s names…

      6. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore

        Just like I practiced saying “sphygmomanometer” out loud till I could say it smoothly enough that I wouldn’t stumble over it either in speech or while reading.

        1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore

          I mean, SAME PRINCIPLE, not to minimize the problem of people mispronouncing names from other cultures or anything.

    8. What's with today, today?

      Our last three sports directors have all started with J names, and a couple of my co-workers pretty much call the roll when talking to the current one. They are both in their 80s, and it’s like when your grandparents called roll, “Jamie, I mean Justin! I mean, Josh, or whatever your name is!” It isn’t going to change anytime soon.

    9. SharedDriveUser

      I did this with my sister-in-law, who consistently referred to me using my husband’s ex-wife’s name. In her defense, our names are similar – “Edie” as opposed to “Edith”. However after a couple of years of gentle correction, then escalating to ‘not hearing’, I started calling her by her husband’s first wife’s name. She’s gotten my name correctly for the last 20 years.

      1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore

        Ha! I get it from her side, a dear friend of mine changed her first name and I had the WORST time making my brain retain it, I mean it took years. And part of the reason was that the names were too similar- and not nearly as close as the the one your SIL had to deal with, oh dear! It helped that she moved quite soon after changing it, and thereafter all our interactions have been online. Reading “NewName” every time I’ve seen her face has really helped. As has the fact that her look/style has morphed into something different since she was out here, so she is sort of “NewPerson” as well.
        I do like your solution though, because I think that would drive it home even for people like me, lol!

  6. A Reader

    So my sisters actual name is Cecily Jane, so I found Alison’s response to #3 particularly fun.

  7. One legged stray cat

    Op. 3- I am one of those people who is terrible at remembering names and find myself awkwardly apologizing for using the wrong one all the time. Some names click better than others, but some I blank out on entirely. There is no rhyme or reason to whose name I cannot get. I do this with people I just met, friends I have known for years, and family members who I see every day. This does not mean I do not care about these people though! I think and worry about these people all the time, but the name just never gets attached right to the person in my mind. Something that helps me is seeing the name visually as well hearing it. You might try putting your name somewhere obvious in your workspace so your boss had constant reminders of what you should be called.

    1. drpuma

      Starting a new job is extra-stressful for me because of all the new names to learn. But I know that about myself, pay attention to emails and meetings, and do my best to learn. It sounds like you also know you’re not great at remembering names and try your hardest to do so. OP3 doesn’t talk about their boss ever apologizing or acknowledging she’s getting peoples’ names wrong. It sounds like this situation is not quite so well-meaning as you or I would handle it.

    2. Slartibartfast

      I can’t remember people’s names either, unless I really work at it, and even then I screw it up ( like saying Louie Armstrong when I mean Louie Anderson-so close and yet so far). But whenever I am in a new group, I mention this about myself early on, so I can ask people for their names over and over. Right now I’m 6 weeks into a training session with 11 people, including myself. I can name about half, the other half I have no clue, and we wear name tags.

    3. Naptime Enthusiast

      I’m wondering the same, I am AWFUL at putting names with faces. Ideally managers would know their team members names but maybe they’re just someone that struggles with facial recognition in general.

      There’s a guy that I consistently called by the wrong name when I first met him, think “Matt” instead of “Jeremy”. To this day I am afraid I will call him by the wrong name again and just don’t use his name at all :(

    4. Elemeno P.

      I am also bad at names, so my solution is to a) work at a place where everyone wears a name tag and b) never say anyone’s name. I do a lot of “Hey, you!” and never say someone’s name directly to them in case I’m wrong.

      My grandboss called me by my predecessor’s name a few times when I started, but I acted VERY fake-offended and threw a fake-fit (dramatic head-tossing, etc.) each time, which my department (grandboss included) thought was very funny. He does it much less often now.

      1. Blue

        I’m always afraid of calling people by the wrong name, so I avoid it unless I’m really, really sure I’m right. This is particularly true when it comes to coworkers’ partners/kids. Like, I definitely know my office neighbor’s wife’s name, but every time I ask how her wife is doing or if they have weekend plans, I internally panic that I’m going to get it wrong. And that’s true for pretty much all my coworkers, except for the one I’m good friends with.

        It seems silly to worry about suddenly messing up a name I’m familiar with, but once when I was a TA, I randomly started calling one of my students by the wrong name one day. No clue why. We were far enough into the semester that I definitely knew who she was, but I called her the (same) wrong name more than once during a single class period and was mortified! I’m constantly concerned I’m going to repeat that.

    5. Not In US

      But i’m guessing you make people aware of that. I’m not great with names – but I tell people that up front because I’m embarrassed by my inability at times to remember people’s names so I TELL people I’m bad. I ask people to correct me and I apologize when I get it wrong. I have found, the act of acknowledging my issue and trying to address it means people don’t take it personally. But if I didn’t acknowledge it I could totally see someone taking it personally because it can feel very personal. On a related note, I won’t remember your name, but I’ll remember that you have 2 sisters and a dog named Charlie who’s 3 years old.

      1. paul

        Yeah. I’m similar and I find that generally, if I apologize it’s better. I also at least try to get it right.

        I’m still having fits with two people we have at our administrative offices though; they have names that are pronounced the same but spelled differently (think Susanna and Suzanna). I’ve had to actually ask a coworker if I’m emailing the right one before :/ They’re even in the same department and do a lot of the same stuff!

    6. LBK

      Not trying to be rude, but wouldn’t it be more polite to just say “I’m so sorry, I’m terrible with names – what’s yours again?” rather than picking something random? Or do you usually think you know someone’s name, but you actually have the wrong one?

      1. Susan Sto Helit

        My default, particularly when networking, is “I’m so sorry, I know we’ve been introduced but I can’t remember your name.” It at least lets me acknowledge that I remember meeting them and I’m not simply being rude. Half the time they don’t remember my name either!

      2. One legged stray cat

        Asking for someones name is only okay the first two or three times, then people tend to take it personally. I have auditory processing disorder which is kind of like dyslexia for sounds. Words often come out as just a series of sounds or my brain attaches a completely wrong meaning to it. It gets worst when I am nervous (i.e. when I still can’t figure out your name after you have told me a bizzillion times). It isn’t an uncommon disorder but you don’t hear about it often since it is harder to diagnose than dyslexia. If you tell me your name and my brain stores it in the wrong compartment, I won’t know your name two minutes later. The best thing for me is if I have your picture and practice writing your name down when I am home, but it is often not appropriate to take someone’s photo and I have to remember your name by the time I am alone to do this. I also have times where I put a lot of emphasis memorizing your name when I am alone (say, Laura), but when I am in front of you I blank out and my brain supplies the name where it originally stored it (Sharon). Since I am in mid conversation I say Sharon since I don’t have time to double check it in my brain.

        I don’t often disclose this disorder to others. I have found that it tends to unfairly hold me back in social and professional situations, when I have most of the disorder under control and don’t need special consideration otherwise. Disclosing it also makes me more nervous and conscious of how I am communicating with others which makes the disorder worse. Names are my weak spot because people have a lower tolerance when people get them wrong and names are so random, I can’t correct the name meaning with sentence context.

        1. tangerineRose

          Can you try to avoid using people’s names? I’m not great at remembering names, and I’ve tended to just avoid using names when I can.

          1. One legged stray cat

            I do when I can, but it gets me into a lot of trouble when I can’t reference a person to someone else. If someone asks me to give something to James, for example, sometimes I won’t be able to do it since I can’t remember who that is, and when I am in a position of authority, I always feel it is my responsibility to figure out their name, since not knowing their name is limiting to my responsibilities to them in that position. The only way for me to learn is by using any visual tricks I can muster and by being brave and calling them by name and hoping I don’t mess up. Sometimes it only takes one or two times of humiliation to reprogram their name into my brain, sometimes fifty seven. I hate offending others and humiliating myself, but if my not learning their name is a sign of disrespect and bad work ethics (even if only I know what is going on), I bite the bullet and do it.

        2. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore

          I have auditory issues on a neurological level because of dyspraxia, which means things like that I have difficulty hearing speech over background noise, and not being able to understand the speech of people with (to me) strong accents- it’s like you say, just a series of sounds, or more accurately, a series of meaningless sounds, words, and parts of words. This applies equally to accents from “white” cultures (Australian or English accent, some regional US, non-native English speakers from white European countries) as it does to people from non-white cultures who have accents for any reason. Or a black person with a Kiwi accent or a white person with an Indian accent or whatever combination you want.
          It’s still mortifying to me when I have to ask any POC whose speech I have trouble understanding to repeat something they said, and while I apologize and mention that I am hard of hearing I still feel like “stupid white person who doesn’t bother to understand anyone not like them” and really hope to Dog I am not committing a microaggression because of my $@#%* disability.

    7. Blackcat

      I am bad with names, but I believe it is important to get it right when I teach. So I tell students my strategy: for the first few [time interval depending on class size], I ask that they say something, they say their name at the start. Then, when I address them, I use their name a ton. “Fergus, that’s a great point. Did everyone hear Fergus’s idea? Fergus, can you say that again? Thank you Fergus!” It helps me and shows them that I try.

      Learning names isn’t easy for everyone, but I do view it as a matter of respect. I have a hell of a time when I am teaching 100 students (in which case that rule is in place all semester), but I think trying is very important.

    8. Ron

      don’t worry about it.

      I once worked with a guy for three years and never learned his name. We still never talk sometimes.

    9. Elizabeth West

      This happens to me too, and I tell everybody to bear with me. It’s nothing personal, and it doesn’t matter if your name is Amarjeet or Jim; it might not register for a while, especially if I don’t talk to you very often. There’s a woman in my dharma group who has a very short, common name and it took me eight months to get it right. I see her every weekend! For some reason, I kept wanting to call her Renee, but that’s not even close.

      I am really good at recognizing faces, most of the time.

  8. Drama Llama

    Why would the hiring manager mention the contents of the reference? It’s supposed to be confidential, no? If I knew the hiring manager is going to divulge what I said (or even vaguely hint about it) I would be uncomfortable with giving a truthful reference for a former employee, if there are genuine concerns or weaknesses.

    1. JaneB

      My mum, who is all there with her cough drops (no signs of dementia etc) regularly calls family members by the names of long deceased pets – apparently she sees a person she knows well and her brain throws up Bambi (idiot rabbit) or Trotsky (fast moving guineapig with sticky up crest fur and sticky out ears) or even Brindybum (another guineapig) rather than one of the human names.

      I do it a bit too- my first tutor group had two dark haired males both called Matt and three blond Joes, and I tried so hard to learn names of students that first year that they got a bit deep wired – so whenever I’m distracted dark haired male students are Matt and blonds are Joe….

      So whilst it sounds like your boss is being kinda rude, this DOES happen anyway, so assuming no malice is probably the best approach (and maybe accept she will sometimes do it anyway however hard she tries – I got a voicemail message for Petra last week, and that particular cat has been dead 35 years…

      1. Wendy Darling

        So many times have I been called the dog’s name.

        My mom now has a brain injury that gives her no end of problems with names, but I got called the dog’s name all the time before that also. I’m pretty sure there’s just a bin in my mom’s head labeled “MEMBER OF THIS HOUSEHOLD” that contains me, my dad, my sibling, and every pet we’ve ever had.

        1. London Bookworm

          Actually, some research on memory has suggested that names work exactly as you’re imagining. So parents often mix-up the names of siblings (and yes, pets, which both my parents are guilty of). If you mix-up the name of friend or famous actress or whatever, you’re probably going to accidentally call them by the name of another friend, or famous actress, or whatever.

          1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore

            So that would be why mom’s run down the list of all their kid’s names when one is in trouble (I’ve done this with my animals names.)

    2. LBK

      Is it? I don’t think there’s a standing expectation of confidentiality with references unless you specify it in the conversation. I mean, I would assume at the very least if I gave someone a bad reference, a generalized version of what I said would be passed on to the candidate as part of the reason for their rejection, if not my specific name.

    3. McWhadden

      It’s generally understood to be between you and the hiring manager but there is no actual requirement it be confidential.

      There have been several letters here about people wondering if they should disclose to a candidate that their references aren’t saying good things. Alison usually says no, of course. But I don’t think you should say anything in a reference that you wouldn’t want to get back to the person, ever.

  9. J

    OP #4 – I would bring it before an in person interview, like if they reach out by email or schedule a phone interview. I wouldn’t want to waste my time interviewing for a sub-minimum job.

    1. OP#4

      My first inclination was honestly to send a rage-y anonymous email to them pointing it out because it irks me that someone might need/want this job so badly they decide they don’t care. Or is clueless about the new minimum wage or thinks there is a non-profit exception. My second inclination was to report them to the state labor board. Then I just decided to write to Alison for her opinion.

        1. OP#4

          Maybe? But not necessarily the kind of error that they would fix. Like, I believe that they don’t realize the min wage has gone up. But I don’t have faith that they would realize it before the person was hired and started, etc.

          1. Sandman

            I’m noticing a lot of people have much more confidence than I do that this nonprofit is intending to do the right thing. I’ve worked for both good and bad ones, and the bad ones… they’re pretty bad. In their minds, labor laws don’t apply to them. I don’t find the idea that this is an intentional oversight a stretch at all.

            1. Anonymous Bosch

              Yeah, my sister worked for a well-known non-profit that paid significantly below the minimum wage by calling it a stipend. When she pointed out that she was being expected to work 50 hour weeks on about a $5/hour wage, they did not care at all. Luckily, she got a different job pretty quickly and only worked there for about 6 weeks. Her boss also yelled at her staff until they cried, even in front of clients, so overall it was a great place to work and she’s sad that she didn’t get to keep working there.

          2. Ask a Manager Post author

            I think the most likely explanation is that it’s an error. Second most likely is it’s not an error but just lack of knowledge about the change, and that they’ll fix it as soon as they realize that. Least likely is that they’re intentionally pay an illegal rate and openly advertising that fact.

            1. many bells down

              Also, I know that when Seattle raised their minimum wage, there was a transition period where different types of businesses were required to comply by different dates. So for example, all restaurants had to go to $15 by X date, and all retail stores by Y date. Is it possible that this business doesn’t actually have to comply with the new wage yet? They might have more time before they need to?

              1. OP#4

                No, this applies to all employers in NYC. The only exception is for orgs with fewer than 11 employees, which allows them to pay $1 less than orgs with 11 or more. This org definitely has more than 11 employees.

        2. The Cosmic Avenger

          That seems like a big error, something that is both illegal and absolutely key to the whole message. (I mean, sure, skills and duties are important, but those are more nebulous, whereas numbers are pretty absolute and not open to interpretation.) I would be reporting it to the state department of labor; if it’s an error, they would probably not do anything, but if this company has been illegally underpaying employees, they deserve whatever trouble they get into, including public shaming.

          1. OP#4

            Yea, I don’t disagree. NYS also has stricter laws when it comes to exempt employees than the federal government, which is based on the minimum wage. The weekly salary for exempt employees in NYS is 75 times the minimum wage. So, in NYC for employers with 11 or more employees, that would be the equivalent of $50,700 and will go up to $58,500 per year as of December 31 of this year. I am POSITIVE that lots of employers don’t know this and are violating this law already and even more will do so once it goes up to nearly $60k. It kind of infuriates me and I want to fight all the battles (but I know I can’t, so I don’t).

          2. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore

            I would report it just because 1. That’s who deals with those kind of things and 2. If I notified the business of the ‘error’ myself and it turned out to be something less aboveboard, I might be opening a can of worms that I’d regret getting tangled in (like end up with a bad rep or blacklisted in the industry.)

      1. That Would Be a Good Band Name

        I’d bet it’s an honest mistake. Seriously, people run the same ads for years and it’s easy to forget that something needs updated. I know I do a variation of this several times a day. Someone will ask me for something and I think, oh, I’ve sent that before – let’s search for the email. Copy, paste, send and I’m done instead of redoing the thing. My first instinct would be “oops, someone forgot they had to update the ad”, not “omg, they are deliberately breaking the law”.

        1. Falling Diphthong

          Yes, reusing their standard ad seems the most likely problem.

          Also, the problem isn’t the ad. If they are actually not paying the minimum wage, that’s a problem for their workers and for law enforcement. If there’s skullduggery here, it’s not the ad that’s the problem.

          1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore

            Which is why I’d just report it and let the labor board sort it out.
            Most likely it’s as innocent as forgetting to change a number in an ad, not likely they are deliberately advertising an illegal wage, very likely they are advertising and paying an illegally low wage out of ignorance of the new law.
            Not my place to try to figure out which one.

      2. John Thurman

        I’m also in NYC. It’s crazy how common this is on big job boards.
        I’ve sent about a dozen emails like: “Hey heads up! Minimum wage increased this year. You might owe your employees some back pay!”

        But this reminds me of yesterday’s post about pointing out an applicant’s mistakes because I have to remind myself it’s a poor use of time. If this person was interested, they’d have figured out already.

        1. OP#4

          You’re kind of my hero for doing that, just for the record. I kind of want to do it but restrain myself…

  10. Mark Roth

    Am I alone in thinking I would make that “promise” to the recruiter and let the chips fall where they fall?

    1. Nico M

      Yes it’s okay to lie to liars and arseholes. Though in this case it could also be fun to push back with some innocent “Why?”s just to feel them squirm.

      1. Tia Maria and Coke

        I’d say “Of course, and I assume you’ll only be working with me until I’m placed in a suitable position. You aren’t trying to place any other candidates, right?” and smile sweetly at them. And then carry on job hunting as normal, because they are clueless.

        1. Hey Karma, Over here.

          I would like to take this comment out for dinner and movie. I promise to have it home at a reasonable time.

    2. Bagpuss

      No, you’re not alone.
      If it were practical, I’d avoid using that recruiter, but if not, then depending on how badly I needed the job, I’d either make the ‘promise’ and then ignore it, as it is a ridiculous and inappropriate thing to ask, or would call it out maybe something like “Why? That’s a really strange request to make,I don’t understand how would it be in my interests to limit my applications?”

    3. Thlayli

      I would not outright lie (because I don’t do that ever) but i would imply that I would do that.

    4. Irene Adler

      I’m with you on this. With such an agreement, where is the consideration from the recruiter? Ain’t none.
      Basically, the recruiter is asking for something without giving anything in return. Not a fair deal.

      So why not?
      Now, if the recruiter could assure the OP that the job was theirs for the taking, then that’s a whole other situation.

    5. AthenaC

      No you’re not alone.

      In fact, I actually did that when I got laid off a few years ago. I got called by a recruiter who asked me to be exclusive with them (of course! sure!) and got me some pretty great interviews.

      While this was going on, I got contacted by another recruiter who also asked me to be exclusive with them (of course! sure!) and got me the interview for the job I ended up taking.

      Here’s what I would keep in mind:

      1) Don’t sign ANYTHING. If push comes to shove and they want you to sign something, don’t do it.
      2) Tell them that while of course they are the only recruiter you are working with, your former partners are reaching out to their networks to place you (because the decision to lay you off came from higher than them) so of course you will explore those avenues when they come up.
      3) When you find a job that they didn’t place you for, tell them it was because of your partners’ professional network.
      4) Thank them for their help (because you’re still a very polite person).

      1. OP Promises

        I never worked with her again after that instance. It was very odd, she would text me multiple times a day about not taking any other offers. She spun it like “Oh, the client doesn’t want any disappointments so I want to make sure you’d take this job.” Totally unreasonable especially since they didn’t want to interview me anyway.

        1. Irene Adler

          Multiple times a day????

          Stalkerish in my opinion.
          Gotta wonder if she treats all her contacts similarly.

        2. voluptuousfire

          I cant wrap my head around the “promise you won’t take any offers?” I couldn’t help but think you ask something like that over a pinky swear.

          1. Lance

            I’d bet pretty much anything at it being a grab for the recruiter to have a (hopefully) guaranteed paycheck.

    6. Gazebo Slayer

      Noooope! If you demand wildly unreasonable promises while exploiting the power dynamic at play, you’re asking to be lied to.

      I mean, probably the worst that can happen is that you get a different job and have to burn a bridge with a terrible recruiter.

  11. MommyMD

    Don’t listen to anyone who tells you not to field job offers when you actively need a job. Especially a recruiter. They have their own interests in mind.

  12. E.

    OP #4: This is a rare case where I actually might call the organization and ask (or have a friend call if you want to stay anonymous!). You don’t want to go through all the work of getting to the offer stage and only then find out that they aren’t planning to pay minimum wage.

  13. Steve Lacey

    #3 – I used to work as a department manager in a retail environment. One store manager renamed everybody in store because she couldn’t (and, given the numerous other issues that arose which led to her dismissal, wouldn’t) learn people’s names. You could almost understand some, as like many UK-based retail environments we attracted a multi-cultural staff, and I often found myself encountering names for the first time, but when it came to calling an employee with the name ‘Spence’ as ‘Spencer’ despite his repeated (and eventually abandoned) protestations, it came across as incredibly disrespectful. My theory was that once she got the staff to a position where they stopped complaining about the constant mis-naming, there was a shift in power and what was ‘acceptable’, and this led to the more serious stuff.

    1. Drop Bear

      Encountering a name for the first time is a reason for being unsure on how to pronounce it, but *not* a reason for refusing to ‘learn’ it.

        1. NewHerePleaseBeNice

          Yes, definitely. I work in a field where there are lots of homogenous blokes called Dave and Pete, so it’s great when we get a Confucious or a Sanjay because I’m not going to be horribly embarrassed trying to remember which Pete or Dave said what…

          1. Lora

            Once worked in a department of 25-30 people that had five engineers named Andy. They were all Andy, none of them were Andrew or Drew.

            At another job, 1/3 of the men in a company with over 100 employees were Mikes.

            1. Elemeno P.

              Actual speaker call I overheard in my office:

              “Hi, this is John.”
              “Hi John, it’s John.”
              “Oh, hi John.”

              I would change the name but I think, somehow, they will remain anonymous.

              1. PB

                I work with a ton of Johns and Jeffs. People often just say, “ask John that,” or “Jeff told me that…” and neglect to include a last name. It gets very confusing.

                1. Elemeno P.

                  My boss often does this, and it once led to me sending an email to 100+ people that was supposed to say that “Joe” (a director) wanted something but instead said “Joe” (the CEO) wanted something.

                  People responded promptly, at least.

              2. paul

                You just described an upper level of hell for me. How the hell do people keep them all straight in their head?!

              3. Quinalla

                Haha, I was in a meeting for a project where we had three Todds, three Mikes, two Matts and me, Katie, the only woman (not unusually in my field unfortunately) and the only one without a name double. It was confusing, however…

                I have another project where there was a Katie on one of the other teams. It was hilarious/sad how confusing it was to have a woman name double where most people would breeze past a man name double/triple without much issue, at least in my industry where it happens on nearly every project somewhere because of the small % of women. One of the people on the team did not know who was who for months and kept confusing us in very obvious ways. I do have to admit it is a bit awkward to say “Hi Katie! It’s Katie.” when I call her.

                1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore

                  My name is so common (especially for people around my age) that my best friend shares it, two other close friends had it, as did several of my brother’s girlfriends and one wife.

            2. Parenthetically

              This is one of the reasons choosing a baby boy name was so hard! If you look at the top 100 boy names for last year, a massive number of them have remained relatively constant for the last, like, 500 years, which is just not true for girl names. It’s genuinely difficult to be creative with a boy’s name without getting a ton of flak for it, for some reason.

              In 30 years, half the men in every company are going to be called Noah, Mason, Liam, or Jacob apparently.

              1. Project Manager

                Both of our boys have still-common names from the Bible (think Adam or David…or, I guess, Noah or Jacob…) and we have not even met a kid with the same name in +/- 10 years age range yet (+30 yes, but +10 no), much less had one in the same classroom. One is 6 and the other 2, so there’s certainly time to meet some others with their names, but I’ve been surprised it hasn’t happened yet.

                I have a name that people like to nickname, and it makes me so mad (it’s because my family are among the people who nickname me despite multiple clear requests over the last 30+ years that they stop) that I can’t deliver any script in a calm voice. I usually try to do it via email “Oh, BTW, I actually go by Full Name” so that they don’t see my teeth gritted and think it’s about them when it really isn’t. Haven’t had any problems doing it that way.

                1. Falling Diphthong

                  We gave our son an uncommon name and wound up being on the cusp of a trend. There’s no one in his grade, but several a few years younger. (Our daughter also has an uncommon name, but no trend so she’s still uncommon.)

                  He also wound up being on the cusp of a rhyming trend, which I hadn’t thought to check on the SS website.

              2. Hey Karma, Over here.

                The number one boy’s name for the second have of the 20th century and into the 21st is Michael. And they are everywhere. In the 80s I found a Hallmark birthday card, “Happy birthday, Mike!”
                And the inside was something about how unspecial you are because the name is common enough that there’s a card.

                1. Calpurrnia

                  Tell me about it!! I’ve dated less than 10 people total (in the 15-ish years of my life I’ve been old enough to date), but three of them were named Michael. Extrapolating from my experience, approximately 40% of people are named Michael.

                  On a similar note, at my last job I worked regularly with maybe fifteen people total, FOUR of whom were Jims – a director, a manager, a teammate, and a cubicle neighbor. Even worse, two were Jim C.’s. We ended up just calling the director exclusively by his last name anytime he wasn’t in the room, but conversations were still mind-boggling at times (like when I’d be telling Jim 1 I hadn’t gotten to his document yet because Jim 2 asked me to do something that needed Jim 3’s approval).

              3. Friday

                I’ll board this tangent train! The husband and I have generic white people names that are super easy to mix up with other generic white people names – we’ve been getting this our whole lives. So we picked Awesome Tricky Gaelic Names for our kids and yes it’s definitely harder for those who are lazy with names, but damned if it doesn’t slow them down and make them THINK about the name and the person instead of just mixing up Katie/Kathy or Matt/Mike, etc.

                And for what it’s worth, when you hear a daycare full of 1-year-olds correctly pronounce your kid’s name, it makes it hard to find patience with adults who consistently get it wrong. At some point it really is about disrespecting the person who owns the name.

                1. Hey Karma, Over here.

                  “when you hear a daycare full of 1-year-olds correctly pronounce your kid’s name, it makes it hard to find patience with adults who consistently get it wrong”
                  That’s the fact of the day!

            3. Tardigrade

              I once worked with a Harry, Larry x2, Garry x2, and a Barry. I never remembered who was who, so I’d just sort of muffle/cough the first letter and get the “-arry” out.

              1. wendelenn

                I have 26 direct reports. Among them are Kathy, Katherine, and two Kathleen T’s. 3 of those work together at one branch. (so at that branch, 3/7 staff members are Kat*)

              2. Al Lo

                I work with 5 Katherines and 2 Kathys of various spellings. All different. Makes it really easy to distinguish in writing who’s who.

                (What do you mean, you can’t hear the different spelling when I say it out loud? In my head, it’s totally the one spelled the right way!)

              3. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore

                My middle name is a variant spelling of Katharine.
                Named after my grandmother, who had gone by “Kitty” nearly all her life.

            4. AMPG

              A friend of mine once made the comment, “At [Job] I worked with 23 Mikes, which ironically meant I worked with zero Mikes, because they all just went by their last names.”

              1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore

                My last name sounds like a cool nickname, so there are a lot of people that call me that rather than my extremely common first name. I prefer it, actually.

          2. Kiki

            We have so many repeated homogeneous male names at my office that we group them together and call them things like “the Dans” and “the Steves”. And we have a little fun with it. Instead of saying, “Talk to Dan H.” we’ll say “talk to plaid Dan” (the Dan that wears a plaid shirt every day) or “I need that report from mustache Dan” (he is very proud of his prominent mustache).

            1. Kvothe

              We had two new engineers start at the same time and one was named Steve and one Tyler so the duo got dubbed Aerosmith

            2. Calpurrnia

              Are they aware of/okay with their epithets? Do they embrace them?

              I love the mental image of Plaid Dan donating all his solid and striped shirts to Goodwill, or Moustache Dan telling his wife “I can’t shave it off, they’ll never recognize me at work!”

          3. ContentWrangler

            Unique names are really helpful. For two guys I work with, one has the same last name as the other’s first name (like Bob Sam and Sam Smith). And a lot of people in the office are referred to by their last names so I had no idea which one people were talking about for my first month here.

        2. Colette

          Only if it’s an unusual name that you recognize as a name. For example, there are few Matilda’s, but if I encountered one, I would know that it’s a name. On the other hand, if I met someone called Sequoia, I might remember that it’s a tree, or a plant, but not necessarily the name. (Willow? Lily?)

          And if it’s something that is not a word in a language I speak, it’ll be that much harder to remember because I don’t have anything to relate it to.

          There’s a reason why memorization often requires repetition.

          That doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t try, or that I shouldn’t make a point of remembering names of people I deal with frequently, of course.

        3. Blackcat

          Yes. I posted about about how I try hard to learn all my students names even though it does not come naturally to me. I have a strategy, but I always struggle with the generic white boy names. I teach mostly engineers at a largely white institution, so I get lots of Dans, Daves, Johns, etc. and in a large class, I can have three or more of each. Unusual names or “ethnic” names are much easier. (And there are few enough women that I don’t similarly struggle with the Christinas).

  14. Kella

    Regarding OP #3, I had a boss that consistently got my name wrong for the first three months I worked there. Granted, he had around 100 employees and didn’t actually spend much time on site, so he spent very little time working with any individual person. But, on the other hand, we were all wearing nametags at all times *head desk*.

    I have an unusual name so I’m used to getting it wrong He called me Hanna, which is one of my two last names, so it’s the most common way people get my name wrong. It’s so common, I’m used to responding to it, so when he’d zoom past and say, “Hi Hanna!” I’d say hi back and by the time I had realized he’d gotten my name wrong, he’d already be gone.

    I finally had enough of this, so at month three, every time he called me Hanna, I did not respond. I pretended I didn’t hear him, and then if he was still nearby I would act surprised to see him and go, “Oh hi! I didn’t see you there” or “sorry were you talking to me?” It worked like a charm. Within two weeks he was calling me by the right name.

    1. Irene Adler

      Suggestion for bosses with name issues: couldn’t one ask employees to don name tags for a few months?
      I know I’m terrible at remembering names. If I had like 100 people’s names to remember, I’d ask for their indulgance for a few month’s of name tag wearing. Might even make it a bit fun with name tags like:

      Ed who likes Cheetos
      Mary with pics of her three sons
      Clyde who is studying to be an attorney
      Mac who runs the drill press like no other
      Jamaal the sports aficianado

      1. Lora

        See, this is my problem – I can remember other things about the person (homebrewer, metal sculptor, jewelry designer, likes Terry Pratchett books) but usually not their names until I see it written or hear it several times. Otherwise it’s just another Andy / Mike / Jennifer.

      2. Hey Karma, Over here.

        I told my mom that I have trouble with names. She said mnemonics. Whatever, even if it’s Sally with the big mole. Ya gotta do what ya gotta do. So in my work life, there’s Scary Mary, Happy Mary, Loud Mary. Slouchy Karen, Sporty Karen, Hipster Karen, Quiet Karen.
        Because in my company, we can only hire people with one of 10 names, I swear to god.
        Joined my department of 10, three Jessicas, 4 Annes.

        1. Lora

          Then you run the risk of calling people the nickname in your head. One guy I know is the only man I ever met named Leo who isn’t a USSR defector/refugee (it’s short for Leonard rather than Leonid) and the day I said “okay Capitalist Leo” was…not good.

          1. Libervermis

            I understand this was not a good moment for you and I am cringing in empathy but I just laughed loud enough to startle my dog, so thank you for that.

          2. A grad student

            Sorry, but genuinely confused- what was offensive/wrong with that? Sure, most people don’t identify themselves (at least primarily) as capitalists, but I can’t imagine anything other than amusement/confusion as a response

            1. Kelly L.

              It’s not offensive, it’s just awkward, having your inner mnemonic accidentally blurt out like that!

        2. Kelly L.

          I once learned someone’s name because it was very similar to the name of the breed of dogs she had. So she was “Ann Weston, who has Westies.” (Name and dogs changed for privacy reasons!)

    2. AnotherHannaAndHerSister

      Do get the same flak I do when filling out forms–Last Name first, you must not be able to read directions

      1. Falling Diphthong

        If I had a quarter for every clerk who assumed I was giving them my first name because despite being middle-aged I just hadn’t yet figured out how records are stored by last name…

        1. Lily Rowan

          I just overheard someone at the doctor’s office giving his first name at the check-in desk, and I think he might not have been American (I don’t really remember), but the clerk was so kind about it, that’s what I noticed.

          1. Falling Diphthong

            “Name?”
            “Rose.”
            “Ah. And your last name?”
            “That is my last name.”
            “Oh… What was it again?”

            1. Kvothe

              My last name could also be a woman’s first name so I get that all the time too…

              Also people responding to your emails using your last name as a first name really irks me too, like I have my email signature on so you clearly didn’t read the whole thing

              1. EvilQueenRegina

                I have exactly that same problem as my last name is spelled the same as, but pronounced differently from, a woman’s first name. What didn’t help in my previous job was that that name happened to be the name of my predecessor, so I used to get called it a lot.

              1. EvilQueenRegina

                I worked with a Lee Martin who got put on the system as Martin Lee because IT weren’t sure which was his first name.

              2. EvilQueenRegina

                Hit send too soon. As for substitute teachers, there was one kid at my school who tried to convince one his name was John Lennon. She didn’t believe him, but she also then kept accusing the kid he sat next to of pulling the same trick (his name was James Colley, she’d misheard Colley as Colin at some point and persistently called him Colin, and when he tried to tell her he was really called James she wouldn’t believe him.)

        2. KimberlyR

          Same. I was picking up something for my kid and I knew it was sorted by last name. Our last name has become a very common first name.

          Them: Name?
          Me: Jackson
          Them: No, last name?
          Me: …Jackson

          *names changed

      2. Kella

        My last name just confuses the heck out of people. I have two last names, they are BOTH common first names, there’s a hypen between them, and my first name is unusual. So many variations on calling me by my last name, asking for my last name and when I start to spell it they say, “no your LAST name,” or using only one of my two last names as my last name.

        Also, I do not understand how Fedex workers don’t know where the hypen button is on their keyboard. I have never met a delivery man who didn’t get totally stumped when I spell my name and include the hypen.

        1. Calpurrnia

          Do you ever try calling it “dash” instead of “hyphen”? I wonder if that might be more familiar to folks these days…

    3. Blue

      My coworkers and I have a long-running joke about a former supervisor randomly addressing a coworker by one of her last names. It’s one that could be, but usually isn’t, a first name, but he’d been working with that woman for a couple of years at this point and definitely should’ve known better!

    4. Murphy

      My mom had that problem. Her maiden name was also a woman’s first name. And her first college roommate had that name, leading to more confusion.

      1. EddieSherbert

        My college roommate had the “double first names” as well – think like ‘Margaret Sandy’ where they both could be first names, but one seems like it definitely is NOT a last name.

        Someone would call her “Sandy” and she’s say something like “That’s my LAST name! Did you really think my name was Sandy Margaret?!”

    5. Former Border's Refugee

      At Borders, we had a woman who worked there who was introduced to us as Cooper, and that is what we all called her. Two months after she started, she said, “Well, Actually my first name is Meredith. Cooper is my last name.” And we all went “…okay…” and she said that the Training Supervisor got mixed up about which name was which, and she just kinda went along with it, and after we all glared at him, we asked her if she wanted to be called by her first name and she said no, she kinda liked being Cooper.

    6. Mrs. Fenris

      I have a mild to moderate case of prosopagnosia, so if I call somebody the wrong name, it’s usually because I can’t remember whether I’ve seen them before or not. I spent a hellish day as a locum once with four staff members who looked too much alike for my particular brain, and I couldn’t tell them apart. As in, one of them would leave the room, someone would walk in, and I didn’t know whether it was the one who just left, or a different one. I so wish this place had had name tags…they’re common but not universal in my industry.

  15. MarkA

    OP1.
    It’s entirely possible that the hiring manager gave the reference reason as an excuse, they wouldn’t expect your current manager to be openly discussing your departure.
    They may have already had someone lined up, someone internally, or even a more spurious reason.
    I’m not disagreeing with Alison, but I’d chalk it down to the hiring manager being disingenuous, rather than your current manager bring dishonest because you’ve not given any suspicion that your current manager would behave that way.

    1. Nico M

      I think There are 3 possibilities
      1) the hiring manager was lying or has a weird idea of a good reference – the reference was fine
      2) the boss has tried to write a good reference and has screwed up
      3) the boss is evil

      Nothing can be done about 3) so the issue is ruling out 2) without offending the boss

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Or 4, which is very likely — the reference was overall good but there was nuance (as there should be) and the example of weaker points she gave was something that really mattered to the hiring manager. (This is what I was talking about in the post.)

        1. Mike C.

          Why do you believe that a small nuance would be enough to override two other solid references to the point that the hiring manager would point out to the OP that the reference was what cost them the job?

            1. Mike C.

              You talk about miscommunications and nuance, which is fine. You’ve talked about your own years of hiring and how you carefully weigh multiple and differing references and how a slightly bad one would just normally cause you to probe deeper or ask more people. Yet for this hiring manager, this nuance caused them to drop the candidate all together. What sort of reference would it take in your own experience to drop a candidate you were one step away from hiring? Would it be over a reference that was simply mixed or nuanced?

              You’ve also talked about how hiring managers should tell candidates that they haven’t been selected. Variations of “hey you were great, we had a lot of highly qualified candidates, better luck next time, etc”. Almost never does a hiring manager say, “your reference said bad things about you”. Again, in your experience, what sort of reference would you have to receive before you felt the need to forgo the more standard scripts and tell the candidate, “this reference thinks your work product is bad”? Would it be over a reference that was simply mixed or nuanced?

              Look, I’m just getting all this from reading this blog over the years. The situation just doesn’t add up to me.

              1. Ask a Manager Post author

                The hiring manager didn’t tell the OP the reference was awful. She said the reference said she didn’t have “full confidence in my work product.” That’s it.

                Again, I’ll use the example I used in the post. If the hiring manager is looking for someone who can work really independently in area A and the reference happened to mention that she’s still learning A or works with a lot of oversight in A, then that in itself could be enough for the manager to conclude she’s not the right match. Not that she sucks, but that she isn’t the person for this particular job.

                And the fact that I’ve said that hiring managers should do X not Y when rejecting people does not mean they all actually follow that advice.

                1. sometimeswhy

                  I provided a reference for a former employee years ago–after I’d left the org and he was trying to–that could’ve gone either way, depending on what the company was looking for. It was good (glowing, actually) from my perspective but the questions about work style and amount of oversight he required could’ve sunk him. He ended up getting the job–in fact, they didn’t bother calling any of his other references before offering it to him–but if it had been a place that didn’t afford for much independence, it wouldn’t have been a good fit in either direction. They would’ve hated him and he would’ve been miserable.

                  I gave another one for someone who wasn’t a good fit for my team but the reasons for that made her an excellent fit for a different org. If someone had given that reference to someone applying to work for me? No dice. Them? Ideal candidate.

              2. Sas

                But what she’s trying to say is it doesn’t have to be all that bad of a reference. This situation really only colorfully shows why references can sometimes be problematic. Sometimes good, but sometimes they only provide complications. How would you know.

              3. Nico m

                I agree. I could understand a tough boss’ fair reference being misunderstood as mediocre by someone who is liberal with praise. But this boss is actually boasting about how glowing the reference was.

          1. LBK

            In addition to Alison’s explanation, I’d also give more weight to a current manager’s reference that a former manager; someone’s work quality can change over time so the current manager will be most accurately describing the version of the employee you’ll actually be getting. Additionally, you tend to remember people more fondly/are more likely to gloss over issues in retrospect than you are with someone you’re working with right now whose deficiencies could be affecting your daily life.

            If the former managers gave “solid” references – nothing bad but not glowing either – and the current manager’s reference had a couple items on it that gave me pause, I think I’d be hesitant to hire that person.

      2. Kelly L.

        My first thought was maybe that there was a phrase used in the letter that’s kind of…secret code in the hiring manager’s industry for “this person actually sucks, but I’m being polite,” but the current manager didn’t know the code and meant it sincerely.

      3. Bostonian

        The fact that the boss is going around saying what a good reference she gave OP makes me think she didn’t really give that great of a reference. The lady doth protest too much.

      4. tangerineRose

        If the boss is truly trying to mess with the OP’s employment, the OP could find out by getting someone to pretend to be a prospective employer and call the boss and ask about the OP.

    2. Runner

      I wouldn’t use the manager as a reference again by any means — never mind she has only managed you for 6 months. The whole scenario is so awful and screams … sabotage, or at the very least insincerity, from a worker’s perspective. (This is Ask a MANAGER and does land often on seeing things through the manager’s perspective, which is a view to certainly consider, but OP is now seriously on tye defensive. All my hackles are raised by this.)

      Here’s the facts: Interviewer pins no offer explicitly on the manager’s no-confidence reference. And they know that manager — OP used her as a referral only because she has many friends there and promised a great reference. Meanwhile, current supervisor (bizarrely) is publicly telling everyone at OP’s current job that she gave her a glowing reference. Whether this was a deliberate set up or not is beside the point if you want to be generous in giving the manager the benefit of the doubt — the end result is the same. OP is now “known” among current coworkers to have gotten glowing reviews from the manager but still didn’t get the job, and doesn’t really have a way to counter that.

      I personally wouldn’t say a word to the manager — I don’t see how this could possibly end up well, OP is 100 percent in the subordinate position — and would certainly never use her as a reference again.

      1. Mike C.

        If this one reference was so bad as to not only override all the other references and derail an offer, it had to clearly be bad. I don’t understand why this manager is deserving of all this deference given that what she is saying in public is clearly different than what she’s saying in private.

        1. Runner

          From my reading of the letter, many people at the new company know and are friends with the OP’s manager. In my mind, it’s a real stretch to think the hiring manager is confused on that point. To me it seems there are two possibilities: (1) Because they know and are friends with the OP’s manager, a no-confidence reference of course outweighs all other glowing references from people they don’t know. Or (2) Because they know the OP’s manager, and we and OP don’t know what their view is of this manager, it could be they don’t respect/like/trust/put any stock in her judgment. or are bitter about the manager and why she’s not at their organization or who knows what, and are undermining HER reputation and trying to embarrass her by not only not accepting a glowing reference but explicitly saying it was a no-confidence referral that ended OP’s chances. Which would be Game of Thrones maneuvering and not really having anything to do with the OP. In either case, as the subordinate, I still wouldn’t say anything and would work double time to get out of there.

        2. LBK

          Conversely, it’s bizarre to me that the boss would be so openly bragging about giving a great reference if she knew that was a lie.

          1. Lissa

            Is it weird that the boss is bragging about giving a reference at all? that seems a little strange to me but I don’t work in that sort of environment so I could be wrong….it just seems like an odd thing to bring up.

            Also despite this being not as “juicy” as some of the letters I really want an update to this one!

            1. Bostonian

              I agree that this is really weird. Especially going on about how OP is about to have a great new job thanks to her awesome reference. It’s too much.

        3. Someone else

          I don’t think it “had to clearly be bad.” I think it’s possible the reference was something like “OP is super awesome at ABC. She’s good at D too, but not the same level as her ABC.” Boss thinks that’s speaking pretty highly of the person. Except, oops, turns out this job is 80% D and 20% ABC, and Boss doesn’t realize this. So even though she said pretty much all positive all true things, she’s just tanked OP’s chance at this specific job because what she thought she was communicating (high performer in lots of ways, average to slightly better than average in one), actually communicated something else (not the best at the thing this job wants most).

      2. Blue

        OP doesn’t seem to think that there’s deliberate sabotage here, and a misunderstanding generally seems more likely. If the boss has seemed fairly reasonable thus far, I see no reason not to ask about it. Best case scenario, it’s a miscommunication, the boss is horrified she gave that impression, and she wants to compensate for it moving forward; alternatively, OP finds out for sure that her boss shouldn’t be trusted and she should maintain some distance while escalating efforts to find a new job.

    3. Twilight Fancy

      I don’t see any reason to ascribe this to a falsehood on the part of the hiring manager, They can easily just say they had a stronger candidate, or it wasn’t a good fit, etc. Hiring managers do that all the time. They’d have no reason to give a specific piece of feedback like this if it wasn’t true.

      1. Mike C.

        Then why point out that manager’s reference specifically when as you say, there are a bunch of bland, non-specific reasons to give instead? If anything, the reference was likely really, really bad.

        1. Falling Diphthong

          I think you’re attributing to malice that which can be explained by incompetence. People can be 180° on whether a given interview is being aced or blown.

            1. Falling Diphthong

              That it is a possible explanation doesn’t make it the only possible explanation.

              It’s possible that a neutral observer would say the reference was bad, and that the person giving it knew it was bad. But that’s not the only way to account for the facts in evidence, and OP shouldn’t get stuck on the malicious vendetta as the obviously true explanation. She shouldn’t dismiss it–she knows her boss better than we do. But it’s also possible that what the boss thought was a compliment the interviewer took as a negative, or that what was a perfectly boring detail in the context of the current office came across as a negative in the context of the other job (like whether all work is reviewed). Or that the interviewer was strongly reminded of an ex, ruled out LW, and blamed the reference for weird throwing off the scent reasons.

              1. Mike C.

                That it is a possible explanation doesn’t make it the only possible explanation.

                This applies much more to your response than mine. I provided a justification for why I believe it’s malice, you provided a pithy saying that just diminishes the responsibility of the party it’s applied to, ignores the option of negligence (where the party was acting dumb but should have known better) and doesn’t really address my justifications at all.

                Now, to address the meat of your post here – I can certainly buy the idea that the manager made a mistake, but an unseen mistake that was so large as to overwhelm the rest of the the OP’s candidacy and remaining references? So large that the hiring manager specifically pointed it out to the OP rather than giving out a more standard non-response? Yet at the same time small and innocent enough that it remains unnoticed by the manager themselves, that they’re convinced they gave the OP a great reference? A manager, whose job it is to presumably evaluate employees on a regular basis, and would have some understanding of what sounds good or bad while evaluating a reference?

                That’s an incredibly tough line to walk. I cannot reasonably see how this would happen as an innocent accident.

              2. Ask a Manager Post author

                Yep, very much this. It could easily be a miscommunication, or something that the reference thought was a minor comment actually had outsized importance to the hiring manager.

                1. The Supreme Troll

                  I don’t know; I just don’t tend to believe that. I think the current mgr. might have tried to play coy and innocent when dropping a major negative bombshell that could have turned away any hiring manager with common sense.

                  Regardless of what the reason is, it would be the ethical thing to do for the current mgr. to reach out to the OP and be forthright if, for whatever reason, she cannot be a 100% positive reference.

            2. Twilight Fancy

              Sure, but why the rush to assume it in a situation where, as described, there are other explanations that fit at least as well?

                1. Ask a Manager Post author

                  You’re taking it as a given (as opposed to one possibility out of many) and criticizing others for not agreeing (“I don’t understand why this manager is deserving of all this deference given that what she is saying in public is clearly different than what she’s saying in private”).

            3. LouiseM

              We have *no* way of knowing that malice exists based on OP’s letter. She’s probably disappointed enough, why add a reason to be paranoid?

              1. Mike C.

                I don’t understand why you think I’m claiming to know the situation. I never said I was a psychic.

                1. LBK

                  From your comment above:

                  I don’t understand why this manager is deserving of all this deference given that what she is saying in public is clearly different than what she’s saying in private.

                  You certainly seem pretty sure that your reading of the situation is correct.

                2. LouiseM

                  It’s the way you’re pretty aggressively shutting down people who are explaining their read on the situation (which in my view and Alison’s is more likely). It makes it seem like you’re convinced yours is the only likely explanation.

                3. Mike C.

                  @LBK I didn’t think folks would infer that I was there or had secret knowledge and I later expanded on my reasoning. If we were talking legal standards, I would put myself at “meets preponderance of evidence”, not “beyond a reasonable doubt”. It happened to a buddy of mine in college, and he lost out on a bunch of jobs because someone told him they’d be a good reference and instead said terrible things about him, and the circumstances were quite similar to the letter.

                  @LouiseM Aggression? Several people responded to my comments, and I think it’s only fair to give considered responses to what they’ve written as I’m able. I haven’t prevented anyone else from speaking, so your characterization of “shutting people down” confuses me as well.

                4. SarahJ

                  @Mike, logically, ‘I haven’t prevented anyone else from speaking, so your characterization of “shutting people down” confuses me as well.’ is an awful justification for aggression. You’re not a moderator so you can’t prevent people from speaking. You can be sufficiently aggressive that people no longer want to speak to you. Just keep on the polite side of that line, please!

                5. LBK

                  I didn’t think folks would infer that I was there or had secret knowledge and I later expanded on my reasoning.

                  …who is doing that?

            4. LBK

              To what end, though? Malice without any kind of clear motivation is exceedingly rare; there’s been no signs up to this point that the boss harbors any kind of ill will against the OP:

              We have a good relationship, and she is a “huge fan” of the work I’ve produced. She gave me great reviews during my annual review last month.

              To suggest that a bad reference was given out of malice means not only did the boss lie in this particular situation but that she’s been lying to the OP this entire time about her performance. We’re steering into sociopath territory at this point if you truly believe there’s a likelihood that this is all a ruse at the OP’s expense.

              1. Mike C.

                Sure, this is certainly a weakness in my reasoning. I could offer that it’s common for managers not to be thrilled about people looking to leave, and humans have been known to be petty and vindictive, but that’s speculation.

                1. Ask a Manager Post author

                  We actually have a letter coming later today about a manager who did exactly that, but part of the reason that letter is so outrageous is because it’s an incredibly shitty and uncommon thing for someone to do.

                  It’s possible that it happened here, but when there are so many more likely/common explanations, it seems strange to instead assume it was the much less common thing, and to argue it with such certainty.

                2. LBK

                  But why assert so confidently that that’s what happened when the evidence available points to it being the least likely scenario? The boss hasn’t given any indication that she’s upset about the OP leaving, so this would be a pretty convincing act if it is one. Life isn’t an episode of Damages – most people aren’t so good at putting up a facade while secretly stabbing their colleagues in the back.

                  That all being said, if we treat this as being equally likely as any other scenario, how do you suggest the OP proceed knowing it’s possible she was sabotaged?

            5. MCMonkeyBean

              It’s extremely unlikely that the boss acted maliciously because it would be very weird to intentionally give a bad review and then go around bragging about giving a good one, since people generally don’t talk about reviews they gave at all. There is no reason to assume anything was done with malicious intent when the OP says that they have a good relationship. It’s not impossible, but it is definitely not the most logical explanation.

              1. The Supreme Troll

                To me though, this could be the perfect cover of why the current manager would indeed act maliciously. She could be acting coy & innocent in her face-to-face interactions with the OP, while slipping major negative feedback to other hiring managers outside of the company so that she doesn’t lose the OP as an employee.

                I’m trying my best not to see everything through dark glasses, but this could very well be a reality here.

        2. Twilight Fancy

          You seem to be overlooking the possiblity that the hiring manager simply told the truth. It doesn’t have to be “really bad” to be an indication of something that would deter them from hiring, as Alison clearly outlined.

          People seem weirdly keen to ascribe malice in this situation, for no good reason that I can see. Why so touchy, people?

          1. Anon commenter

            “Told the truth” seems more like they should have been more honest with the OP when saying they would provide a reference. But I otherwise agree with what you said.

            1. AMPG

              I think this might be the missing piece, as it were. It’s possible the current manager is conflict-averse, and isn’t giving the OP accurate feedback in their day-to-day management. Given that, it also makes sense that they wouldn’t hesitate to agree to provide a reference (so as not to cause hard feelings), but would also be more forthcoming during the actual reference call.

  16. Chocolate Teapot

    2. When I was last job hunting, I had an initial interview with a recruiter who was making lots of nice noises about how I would be perfect for several positions they had. Great, I thought, more positions means more likelihood of finding something suitable.

    Except that then the recruiter asked me to work exclusively with them and not to job hunt with either other recruiters or applying via job websites. Since there was no guarantee there would be a job offer as a result of the recruiter’s efforts, I politely said I would get back to them, and didn’t. Oddly enough, neither did the recruiter!

    1. Bea

      I would laugh at anyone who requested this. Unless you’re paying me while I sit by while you try to place me where you’ll get commission afterwards, GTFO. I’ve got bills to pay! Should we tell our landlords or banks that “sorry, my recruiter hasn’t found me a job yet, I’ll pay my rent as soon as they do!” Argh the audacity

    2. Whoa

      My response to “don’t work with any other recruiters/apply for other jobs” would be “then it’s a two way street- don’t work with any other clients until I have a job.” I’m sure they wouldn’t appreciate that, though.

  17. A

    Can you please remove this Trigenic/Clarks advert from your site? It creates an overlay that means I can’t click on the threads properly and the movement is basically making the site unusable.

      1. Goya de la Mancha

        but then you would miss the AWESOME Smokey the Bear Ad that was just on my page!

  18. drpuma

    OP3, I am curious how your boss does with email? Does she ever send messages to the wrong person, because she gets the names mixed up? Or does she always keep her emails straight and only mis-name people during in-person conversation?

    1. EddieSherbert

      Interesting idea – I’m curious about this as well. If Boss can create a new email thread and successfully CC me (versus just REPLYING to emails), but then calls me the wrong name in person, I’d be a bit annoyed.

      I don’t think that’d change anything – I still like Alison’s advice! – just curious :)

    2. OP#3 here

      I’ve only ever gotten an all-staff listserv type email from her, so I’m not totally sure, to be honest.

  19. Lynca

    OP#3- My experience with this is that it’s almost always a power issue. Getting a name mixed up every once in a while? Not a big deal. I’m terrible with remembering names of people I don’t work with all the time, but I will own up to that. Calling someone by the wrong name is intensely mortifying to me, I can’t see someone doing it constantly with out it being intentional.

    1. Thlayli

      There are multiple posts above from myself and other people saying we repeatedly get names wrong, despite our best efforts. I’m interested to know what kind of “power issues” you think we all have?

      1. Dizzy

        There are also multiple posts by people sharing their experience with people who only got “foreign” names or the names of people of color wrong. It seems like people who do it innocently apologize and try harder, where others use it as a power play to remind “lessers” that they’re not worth the brainpower.

        I think it’s worth considering both options–after all, we’re speculating about the LW’s boss, not you, personally.

      2. Lynca

        I said “My experience with this is that it’s almost always a power issue.” Not that it is always that. Since you directly deal with the issue of remembering faces/name, I respect that you have a different perspective on it that I do.

        But I do have my own perspective on being called by the wrong name in both school and in my career.

      3. soon 2be former fed

        Names are important. I would rather be called no name at all than be called the wrong name, especially by people I work with regularly. I bet the big bosses’ name gets remembered.

    2. A Person

      I think the clue is the context in which it is done. I have a manager who calls me and others on her staff by the wrong name frequently and there are only 10 of us. However I have never seen her call anyone at her pay grade or above the wrong name. Ever.

      She also frequently calls her underlings out and tries to humiliate them in meetings which is another clue it is a power thing.

    3. fiona

      It’s not all power issues. My father is awful with names. He has four employees the most recent hire has worked there two years and he is always calling them the wrong name. It’s a small company and he is friendly with his employees and can tell you minute details about them. He could tell you Jane has three boys ages 3, 5 and 7 and that she has two cats and her birthday and that she is allergic to teapots, her husband works as a llama wrangler and her last holiday was in France but he would refer to her as Janet or “whatshername” all the way through.

      Every time one of his employees has a birthday he orders a cake delivered to the office. He never forgets to order the cake, never gets the day wrong, even remembers to order according to allergies but the cake almost always has the wrong name on it. There’s still amusement in the office about the time he came in one morning and wished Fergus a happy anniversary (addressing him by the wrong name as he did so) and Fergus freaked out because it was his anniversary and he had forgotten. Somehow my Dad remembered the day the guy who worked for him for 5 years got married but not his name. He’s not stupid he has a phd and a successful business but he cannot keep names in his head for some reason. He still spells my name wrong and he chose it!

      Yet his mother, my grandmother who is now nearly 90, has 10 siblings, 5 children and 16 grandchildren and a seemingly infinite number of cousins, nieces and nephews and almost never mixes up our names.

      1. fiona

        He does it to clients too and people he needs to make a good impression with so it isn’t just “underlings” he does it too.

    4. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore

      No, people can do it constantly because they have a brain based disability.

  20. Sleepy Unicorn

    OP#5 – This may take some time and work (depending on how many posts you have), but if you want to keep a public facing account, you could go back on Facebook and change the individual privacy settings to old not-so-employer-friendly posts so they aren’t public. That way you still have the posts if you don’t want to lose pictures, memories, etc. Likewise, instagram has an archive feature that will remove posts from your public account, but they are still there and can be retrieved later. Twitter unfortunately as far as I know you’d have to delete old posts as they isn’t a way to hide or archive individual posts

    1. Anonymous Ampersand

      I’m pretty sure that there’s a way to set all posts to friends only for FB, I’ve done it before. (Most of my stuff is friends only but it’s helpful to be able to make sure every so often)

  21. JessicaDay

    OP#5 – Bear in mind that it’s not just Facebook. What we do on Twitter is search for the employee’s username and then keywords – so “twitter username slur” and see if any results come up. That way, we could easily find something from eight years ago. Luckily, this is something you can easily go back and check yourself if you’re worried about it (and not just slurs, but just things that may have been a joke then but won’t come across well now).

  22. idi01

    # 1 – DON’T talk with your current supervisor about why she gave you a bad recommendation. No good will come of this. Just smile and thank her, then tell everyone what type of person she is.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      That’s really not good advice. If it was a misunderstanding or something like what I outlined in the post, she’ll be giving up a good reference for no reason (and slandering someone wrongly).

    2. Alton

      On the other hand, if it turns out that she is duplicitous and sabotaged the OP on purpose, having it brought up in a good-faith, non-accusing way could put her on the spot while letting the OP keep the higher ground.

    3. Bea

      That’s giving a hiring manager who’s a stranger so much power. Why trust them so much that you’d automatically assume this isn’t a real misunderstanding. What a terrible way to burn a bridge with someone you actually know.

    4. Lissa

      Yeek! Both these things together are really passive aggressive. If you make the decision not to talk to her about it, that’s fine, but then going around and telling other people “what type of person she is” based on one thing that could be a communication error or an issue on the other end (the hiring manager) is not cool. I mean, yes, if you talk to her and find out for sure she deliberately screwed up your reference and lied I couldn’t blame you for telling people, but you don’t have anywhere close to that information yet.

  23. Ambpersand

    OP#3 – It’s a shame you’re having to deal with this, and it sucks. At my last job, where I worked for five years, there was one colleague who insisted on calling me the wrong name (Amanda) all of the time. She just could. not. get. it. It got to the point where every time it happened I would say something pointed. We worked at a college, so my favorite would be when she would do it in front of students, and I would respond with “You know that’s not my name right?,” “My name isn’t Amanda, its Ambpersand,” or “You keep calling me Amanda, but that’s not my name,” and she would get incredibly apologetic. She finally learned, but it took several years. I just don’t think she cared. It too became a running joke in the office about her messing up my name. Her second worse offense was referring to me as a student work-study when I’d actually been a department assistant for three full years and had my own office. I’m not sure why she was so clueless, and people who continuously do this sort of stuff after repeated corrections can be so frustrating. I hope your boss can help!

  24. Guy Incognito

    My boss doesn’t know my name, and I don’t know my boss’s name. We keep our work and personal lives very separate.

    1. Parenthetically

      This is cracking me up. I think I figured out where Ron Swanson went after he left Indiana State Parks.

      1. Guy Incognito

        This is funny, because the other day I did make a comment about someone being a workplace proximity associate. They laughed.

  25. Strawmeatloaf

    I might start wearing name tag. Then the boss will get a lot more snickers when it’s clearly in front of them when they are talking to you.

    Either that or act confused when they completely call you by the wrong name, and when they finally get to you go “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t know you were calling for me, since my name is [name].” They might get frustrated, but that’s why you really have to act confused about it.

    1. nonymous

      For some reason, my mind went straight to a small placard saying “Name —>” on a stick. then OP can pick up the stick and wave it at the boss when the name is wrong, like a cue card.

      1. EvilQueenRegina

        My cousin once made a sign to wear around her neck after our grandparents called her by my name one too many times.

  26. Observer

    #2, I’d be hesitant to work with this recruiter at all, no matter how nice the position sounds. She sounds incredibly shady.

    1. CBH

      I was just about to say this as well. This recruiter seems very pushy and one sided for her company’s needs, but fails to realize that you need a job. If you just met her you haven’t earned one another’s respect to demand such a requirement.

    2. voluptuousfire

      I have a feeling she’s very green or incredibly bad at what she does. Either way, not necessarily a good thing.

  27. Ice Bear

    OP #1 – Perhaps my poor experience with past managers is coloring my take on the situation, but my first thought was she intentionally sabotaged your chances because she doesn’t want to lose you. It’s not nice, and very short-sighted, but it has happened to me so I speak from experience. I hope that wasn’t the case, but just to be safe I wouldn’t use her again as a reference until you no longer work for her.

    1. Q

      I agree. My thought was that the hiring manager should have known something was up if the current manager gave a mediocre or poor reference. No one would purposely put a bad reference on their list!

    2. The Supreme Troll

      This could very well be true, unfortunately. It might not be such an innocent thing that what the current boss could have stated would (to a reasonable hiring mgr.) be a major negative bombshell. I personally have felt that I have been in job situations like that where a promotion would mean that The Supreme Troll would no longer be there to fulfill those duties that many would have found menial with below average pay.

    3. OP#1/ PolicyGirl08

      OP#1 here! I got a bit more insight from folks involved in this situation, including my current manager. My manager spent more time during the reference check discussing how “well” I dress, how articulate I am, how “nice” my hair is (I kid you not!)and my positive attitude. I do believe that she truly believes she gave me a glowing reference but her lack of comment on my actual work product left the hiring manager unsettled. For more context, my manager is woefully incompetent (socially and professionally) and knows very little about our industry. According to my manager, she felt that she couldn’t speak on the quality of my work because she “didn’t know if my work was accurate” because she “doesn’t know the subject matter.” She still doesn’t see the connection between what she said and the hiring manager’s decision. She blames the hiring manager and, unfortunately, called the hiring manager and said some not-so-nice things about him and the company. Safe to say that bridge is burned. She is a bit of a loose cannon.

      Nevertheless, I’ve since been offered two jobs! Currently making a hard decision and I plan to give my notice to my manager this week :)

  28. Phoenix Programmer

    #3 Name mangler here. And no it’s not personal or a sign and has nothing to do with you. I also disagree with Alison that it’s “telling” if she gets her peers name right. All that would tell about me is that I work more frequently work my peers than my direct reports staff.

    I really wish everyone could be more understanding of this disability. And I am going to call it a disability because it has a huge impact on social life. If I could recall your name I would! In fact I even practice people’s names but my brain drops the information in a hot second while retaining that SAS requires a ; at the end of each line even though I have not programmed in that language in over seven years.

    Also OP you mention small other of only 25 people – for someone like me that’s a lot of names! I struggle with more than five.

    Seriously I do not know how to get it across to society at large that I am not forgetting names At You and that I am much more inconvenienced by this socual handicap then you. I have forgotten the names of beloved professors just a semester later. My brain is just weird like that. I remember their subject, career path, the fact that they moved here from out of State (can’t recall the name of the State naturally) and that their wife is a cancer survivor but the name eludes me.

    1. Traveling Teacher

      I had a professor who was actually diagnosed with the inability to remember names/match names and faces. She would tell us at the beginning of every semester and nicely ask us to please always sit in the same seats (she would make a grid for herself) and put an identifying detail about ourselves along with our name, like “Margarethe who likes cats” or “John from New York.” Maybe you have something similar?

        1. Yada Yada Yada

          I commented about this below, but just having a difficulty matching names to faces wouldn’t necessarily put you in the category. It’s also most often a result of brain damage, although there are exceptions. I’m pretty sure it’s rare on the whole, although lots of people casually say they have it. similar to “I’m so ADD!” when you’re actually not.

          1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore

            It can be congenital and is associated with a number of developmental disorders (dyscalculia, dyspraxia, autism, etc) as well.

        2. grace

          A quick Google suggests it’s called prosopagnosia, affecting perhaps ~1% of the population. I think it’s fair to consider a diagnosis of that a disability AND to make sure you make it clear that you have difficulty with names and it is not a personal dig at anyone. The boss in OP’s letter is not doing anything like that.

          1. grace

            Sorry, that should 2-2.5% — so still exceedingly uncommon, and it’s severe enough to interfere with things like navigating and identifying gender.

          2. Mrs. Fenris

            I have this and it is absolutely horrible. I am capable of learning faces over time, but it isn’t easy.

            I try to explain it to people when I first meet a bunch of new people at once, but they usually just chortle and say “ha ha, I’m the opposite! I never forget a face but I’m terrible with names!” and don’t really hear what I’m saying.

            1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore

              I’ve had the same with trying to explain. They joke about it and don’t get it, and *still* take it personally when you forget their face and/or name.

      1. Yada Yada Yada

        Not completely related but still interesting: you can have a condition where you don’t recognize faces, called prosopagnosia. But this doesn’t describe people who kinda have a hard time recognizing others (me), it’s much more severe. A famous guy with this disorder can’t recognize his wife and kids

    2. hbc

      In my experience, though, there are wrong-namers who are nice and those who are jerks. The jerks can come by it the same way the nice ones come by it, or they can just forget just because they don’t care enough about other people, or they can actually be deliberately power tripping or racist or whatever.

      Since you’re one of the good ones, you probably avoid using names as much as possible, you handle it with grace when someone calls you the wrong name back or corrects you, and you have explained that it’s not personal to the people who might have reason to take it personally. The people being complained about here are not doing those things, so it doesn’t make a lot of sense to give them the benefit of the doubt.

      1. CMart

        I have one of those common names with a zillion nicknames, so people who don’t suffer from face blindness or poor name memory (or some other cognitive block that can contribute to this) routinely goof up my name. And they fall into the same categories: jerks and nice people.

        Nice people say, “hey Kat!” and I reply “I’m one of the Kathy’s actually” and they apologize and try to do better. Often they don’t do better, but they apologize every time. They also usually get it right in e-mail because it’s my display name and in my signature.

        Jerks say, “hey Katie!” and I reply “Close, but I’m still a Kathy” and they dismissively say “whatever” and continue with their request, and call me Kathleen/Kitty/etc… and never apologize. Nor do they ever seem to get it right in e-mail.

        You always start by giving them the benefit of the doubt–which LW3 has done! But after a while you start to notice if their reaction to being corrected is a jerk one or a nice one, and it really informs your opinion of that person. I don’t care if it’s literally, physically or chemically impossible for them to remember my name. If they’re nice about it then there’s no need to write in to an advice blog, you know?

      2. Phoenix Programmer

        That category goes both ways. A surprising number of people are really rude if you forget their name.

    3. Lissa

      I think this is also one of those things where it’s become known that there are some people who do this in a racist or power trippy way, and a lot of Internet spaces have latched onto that, or stories like the black woman on Twitter whose jerk coworker was misnaming her, so she started calling him all these generic white guy names like “Chad”. So people have heard a lot of those stories, where someone either is a spectacular ass and/or gets their comeuppance, and they are *much* more interesting and memorable than “Bob is bad at names” so it has entered the general consciousness that forgetting names=terrible people.

      (I am awesome at names but absolutely horrible with faces! Like I will remember the name of your coworker’s ex-girlfriend’s sister because you told me a story about her six months ago but not recognize a coworker I had for a year.)

    4. Jennifer Thneed

      But Phoenix, do you call people by the *wrong* name? Or do you just not remember their actual name so you don’t have a name to call them? There’s a HUGE difference here. The boss in question is *mis-naming* people, and not even consistently.

      1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore

        Oh I can call people by all kinds of wrong names.
        “Mistaken recollection of names. Poor name/face retrieval. May substitute names beginning with same letter.”

        All features of my particular disability. All things that have happened my whole life.

    5. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore

      Yep. Sounds very familiar. I am a big jumble of neurodevelopmental disabilities and the mild prosopagnasia is a result of that.

  29. Falling Diphthong

    One of my first jobs was substitute teacher at a preschool, and the first time I was in the toddler room they placed stick-on nametags on the backs of all the kids. As someone terrible at faces, I have often wished adult life included this option.

    1. Traveling Teacher

      Maybe once we’re all part-cyborg with Facebook and Google embedded in our brains, it will be an option we can toggle! ;)

    2. Typhon Worker Bee

      My new job is the first I’ve ever had where they don’t have name plates at everyone’s desk – nightmare! I used to rely on that a lot when starting a new job. No-one wears name tags, either. Luckily we have a really good website with photos and profiles of every staff member, so I’ve been using that a lot.

  30. Goya de la Mancha

    #4 – does NY have a “first 90 days” law? In my state we are legally able to pay under the minimum wage for the first 90 days of employment. I have no clue what the reasoning behind this is, my guess is “probation”, or what the reasoning would be to post this rate instead of the after 90 days (unless it’s less then 90 days for the job?), but it’s legal here.

    1. OP#4

      Nope, I’m 99.9% sure that that doesn’t apply here. And this job would only last about 90 days (it’s a summer, seasonal position).

    2. Natalie

      No, there’s no training wage in New York State.

      That aside, it wouldn’t make any sense to advertise something at the training wage. For one thing, it’s temporary, and you would presumably attract more candidates with the higher number.

  31. Traveling Teacher

    I’m always glad when coworkers get my name right–never guaranteed, since my name is very common but also has lots of common variants and nicknames in each language (think: Margaret vs Marguerite vs Margarethe, plus Peggy, Meg, Rita…). At one workplace where I’d finally convinced everyone that my name was Margarethe, for example, not Peggy or Meg or Margaret, a fellow colleague went around and gave people a talking-to every time someone referred to me as Margarethe, telling them “No, no! Her name is Marguerite!”

    I finally had to send out an email blast to my entire department, simply stating my actual name. And, my intranet email name has always been “Margarethe.Teacher”!

    1. BadPlanning

      My name has a lot of spelling differences and variations. I used to be very grumpy about it — but now I try to be pretty chill and only correct people when they need to know my correct name/spelling long term.

      However, sometimes in the office I get called by the wrong name altogether (some similar sounds, but definitely a different name base). That rubs me the run way. I had one coworker who was pretty bad at calling me by my other female coworker’s name. It was bad enough that another coworker correctly in a rather brusk manner. Unfortunately, I think it caused a bit of a “object fixation” for mis-naming coworker and it got worse for awhile instead of better. “Don’t call her Amy, don’t call her Amy, don’t call her Amy. Hey Amy, you on the call (doh!!!)”.

  32. Murphy

    So many people think it’s not a big deal to continuously get someone’s name wrong, but it does matter! I think you’re handling it ok, OP. Given that she does this, I’m not sure how helpful a conversation would be, but I think it’s still worth having.

    My name is something like “Sophie”, so I get “Sophia” a lot. (“Sophia” is a much more popular name.) It annoys me when I think the person should know better, but I usually let it go unless someone does it repeatedly. It annoys me more in email because it’s right there. There’s also one professor who periodically calls me something different altogether, like “Stephanie.” She doesn’t do it every time, even within the same email chain, so it’s really weird.

    At my old job, people pretty much always got my name right…until we got a “Sophia” in my department. All of a sudden, several people couldn’t get my name right. We didn’t look alike at all, and I’m 10 years older. It led to a strange situation with a weirdo volunteer once.

    1. Whoa

      I had a professor who would refer to everyone in the class by their last names. Mine wasn’t hard to pronounce, but had a different pronunciation than how it was read. I corrected him for the first three weeks, but then let it go. Finally, at the end of the year (I had two classes with him in back to back semesters) I went to pick up my final from him at the end of class and said “Actually, it’s pronounced ******” he was mortified and wanted to know why I let him get my name wrong for 8 months in front of everyone. I shrugged and told him that I had corrected him several times, and that it just hadn’t stuck. I cut him some extra slack though, he was teaching hundreds of new and different students every semester.

      1. Betsy

        As a professor, I find it impossible to learn hundreds of new names. I’m honestly mortified when I don’t remember names or faces. However, I’m basically at the stage where I walk around and heaps of people look familiar to me, but I can’t quite place most of them. I think when I was a teaching assistant, it was far easier to remember names, though, especially in small sections.

        1. Murphy

          It’s definitely more understandable in a student/professor situation, especially with a large class. In my case though I’m a staff member, and at least some of these people should know my name by now.

          1. potentially not anonymous!

            I am terrified of screwing up names (pronouncing, spelling, AND matching with the correct person) of my students. Thankfully I have small classes and a lot of chances to get to know everyone. But meanwhile: in grad school, I TA’ed for my advisor, and my two labmates were the other two TAs. I am female, clearly female presenting, with a clearly-female name. My labmates were male, clearly male-presenting, with very clearly-male names. On the class’ weekly quizzes, each student had to *circle the name* of their TA.

            And there was still a student who *wrote in* “girl TA.”

            (I am potentially not anonymous because I have told this story to legions of my students, and some might well read this site!)

    2. kitryan

      This happened to me too. Everyone was doing fine with spelling my name until someone with one letter difference started work- like Kristin/Kristen. Suddenly my name’s spelled wrong maybe 60% of the time. Those who work closely with me but not her get it right but outside of that ‘inner circle’ it’s usually wrong and it’s only gotten more frequent. I try to occasionally make corrections and usually frame it as being concerned about making sure that emails and other things aren’t misdirected. And while this is a concern, mostly I just hate it. It’s just a nice visible symbol of people’s general lack of effort. I try hard to make sure I use everyone’s correct and preferred name and it just irks me that others don’t put in the small effort it would take to glance at the email sig or the many other places my name appears in our correspondence.

  33. JM in England

    Re #2

    This illustrates yet another parallel between job hunting and dating. The recruiter’s request is equivalent to making your partner promise never to leave and/or cheat on you at the beginning of a new relationship.

    I have had this too during previous job searches; like the OP, I just agree verbally and continue looking with other recruiters.

    1. S

      I think asking someone to never cheat is reasonable. When I am in a relationship, I expect the person to not cheat on me, but I don’t expect them to not break up with me.

    2. Not a Mere Device

      It’s more like someone who is dating several people, but demanding that each of them date only him.

      Lots of people want monogamy, at least once they’re serious about a relationship, and that’s fine, but it should be reciprocal. (And this is where the analogy breaks down: it’s not weird for a company to hire a dozen llama wranglers, but ask each of them not to wrangle llamas elsewhere.)

  34. Cara

    OP5, when I am hiring, I consider any publicly available Facebook account to be a dark mark. Unless it’s obviously a clone of a LinkedIn page (professional headshot and little else), it shows poor judgment to not understand privacy settings.
    For more public things like twitter or even git repositories, assume your most judgmental relative is reading everything and making hiring decisions off of it. That’s how vanilla it should be. Delete all else.

    1. AthenaC

      Really? That seems unnecessarily harsh.

      I mean – as I recall, Facebook was changing their site often enough a few years ago that you would have to go back in and reconfigure your privacy settings every few months. I never had time to do that, but that’s fine – I’m extremely vanilla on Facebook, at least partially because I don’t have time to do anything exciting.

      1. tangerineRose

        I’m surprised about this too. I keep my facebook account fairly neutral, partially because I don’t trust its privacy settings and partly because I have a lot of work friends on it. I don’t think it’s a big deal to not have your facebook account locked if there’s nothing particularly objectionable in it.

    2. EddieSherbert

      I don’t know if I’d go as far as considering it a mark against them, but I also find publicly available Facebook pages to be unusual – in most of my experience, people tend to have their Facebook pretty locked down compared to other social media accounts.

    3. Natalie

      How can you tell the difference between a person who doesn’t understand privacy settings and a person that doesn’t want or need their facebook to be private?

    4. The Cosmic Avenger

      Is there a reason that you put such weight on something that has no bearing on job performance or skills? I do not post publicly often, but I do occasionally, especially about causes, because otherwise Facebook makes it hard for people to share your post. I also sometimes make public comments about scotch or beer, because I have been of drinking age for decades and I actually enjoy sharing information about things I enjoy. And I do all these things under my real name, because if an employer wants someone who doesn’t drink at all, or doesn’t have strong political opinions on anything, they are probably not a good match for me.

      If you’re limiting your talent pool for reasons that have nothing to do with work, IMO you’re doing your employer a disservice.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger

        (In case it’s not clear, I don’t post “Duuuuude, I just slammed a case of [cheap beer]!!!!”, I post reviews of whiskys and craft beers, and give advice to people who say they are interested in whisky or craft beer, but feel like they don’t know what to try next.)

    5. essEss

      That is really appalling that you would judge based on public/private. You should judge on WHAT is on the page that you can see. I have public settings, but I only post pictures of finished craft projects, or restaurant reviews or innocuous comments/pictures. There is nothing on there that needs to be data secured and I WANTthem to be shared publicly. On the other hand, I am the most diligent person in our office about keeping our internal systems locked down because we work with confidential data. I have the reputation of being the strict enforcer of privacy in the office.

      1. Typhon Worker Bee

        Right – almost all of my posts are friends only, but I’ve deliberately made a few posts public – e.g. when my book first came out or got a nice review, or “get out the vote” posts on election days.

        1. Kelly L.

          Yeah, I also like to have some innocuous public stuff–cute dogs, something good I was in the news for, etc.

    6. PieInTheBlueSky

      I have no idea if Facebook does this anymore, but I recall that in the early days of Facebook, it would occasionally reset users’ privacy settings after some site updates. If they still do this, and a user hasn’t logged in for a while, then it’s possible FB changed their settings without them knowing.

      1. AthenaC

        Exactly – which is precisely how my new employer (in 2012) found out that I was pregnant. By checking my Facebook after my privacy settings got reset and I hadn’t known that I needed to change them.

    7. Cara

      Sorry y’all, didn’t put in enough details. I mainly work with new hires so they have typical college student Facebook profiles. Would not judge your knitting pics, those sound great!
      I do think a college student with a lot of blurry pictures (clearly drunken) is demonstrating poor judgment if I can find them, and I would assume their maturity level is a bit lower than I would want for a hire.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger

        Oh, good! Yes, obviously a lot of it is a judgement call, which is a lot like art — it’s hard to describe, but you know it when you see it! That’s exactly why I felt like I had to clarify my comment.

      2. Guy Incognito

        This isn’t better. You’re arbitrating what’s ok in the off hours? I like to go to Comic Book conventions… are you going to judge me wearing a costume? But knitting is ok because it’s “acceptable” in your eyes? Wow.

        1. tangerineRose

          I think the idea is that someone looking for a job probably shouldn’t make their fairly recent drunken pics available to the world.

      3. Jennifer Thneed

        I think you mean “new to the working world”. A new hire is just someone who was recently hired at a place.

    8. Guy Incognito

      This is good to know. If I can’t be myself in off hours, I certainly wouldn’t want to work for you in on hours.

    9. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore

      Really? What about people who understand privacy settings, but choose not to use them? Or choose not to use them as heavily as others?
      I rarely post anything private enough to even rate a filtered friend group let alone any tighter controls. I don’t care who sees what I post about politics, rape, abuse, feminism or what have you, because I am outspoken about it IRL as well (and always have been, I’ve identified as a feminist since I was a grade schooler in the 1970s.) That includes my most judgemental relatives, all of but one of whom are by marriage (my family was awesome) and none of whom I have anything to do with.
      My main use of FB is to keep in touch with people that I would otherwise lose track of, and I mostly respond to my friends instead of making posts of my own.

  35. Not Today Satan

    Reference givers, how do you handle giving references to people who are solid but flawed? Most people that I supervise (or supervised) I have some problems with. Not super major, but they’re not great with follow through, or perform good work but are difficult, etc. I know that everyone has flaws so I don’t want to penalize them, but I also don’t want to pretend like someone is greater than they are.

    1. Gorgo

      My take: a new supervisor isn’t going to use a reference to help them understand how to manage someone’s performance. All a reference does is help them make the decision to hire or not-hire. If you think someone deserves to get the job, give them a good reference. If you can’t give them a good recomendation, don’t offer one.

    2. Betsy

      I’d love to know this too. I have a few references I need to write for students, and unfortunately there’s only one who I can write an absolutely glowing reference for. Another’s grades aren’t so good in general, but is very likeable and a good guy in general, and the third is very hard-working but gets frustrated easily.

      1. nonymous

        When I write references for students, I try to place them within the field of their cohort group. So Jane’s weakest skill may be teapot glazing, but even at her weakest she performs better than some 2nd year graduate students. That kind of stuff.

        If they have an area of performance where they are meh I just refrain from mentioning it at all. If Fergus is mediocre at glazing teapots (so I don’t praise him), but everyone else in the applicant pool has glowing recommendations about their glazing skills I figure the natural consequence is that the hiring manager will investigate that further or rank the others higher (if it’s an essential skill). My perspective when writing a reference is to capture the highs and lows of the person’s performance. Ideally, I can say something like in the paragraph above, where their “lows” are still high-achieving.

        1. Betsy

          Thanks for this! Sounds like good advice! I’ll make a note to refer back to it when I finally get around to finishing writing these things. :)

  36. lalalindz22

    OP #3: Our owner and CEO always spells my name wrong, and it’s super annoying. Not really badly (with an E instead of an A), but it’s annoying in an email when my name is there in my email address, the “From” field, and my signature (I both put my name and have a full signature). So usually in an email, my name is there at least 4 times! My boss has sent him no less than 3 emails since I started correcting him, but he just did it over the weekend in a bunch of emails. It’s really irritating. I don’t even know what I would do if it was in person too… I work with a bunch of European people with heavy accents, and they pronounce many names wrong (like we have a temporary person whose name was pronounced “Kay-lah”, but everyone called her “Kie-lah”).

    1. Yolo

      I have the same problem with coworkers (and probably the same name), though mine have generally taken the correction and moved forward using the right spelling. Always surprises me that people will overlook such an easily fixable error when there’s an email address and a signature right there!

    2. Bea

      Spelling poorly is a learning disability from what my well meaning but painfully obtuse high school English teacher once told me to try to make me feel better about not being able to spell myself out of a wet paper sack.

      I know it’s readily available to him but when you’re firing off emails, rarely are you doing a research of “wait, is it a or e, let me check?”

      I get so many people who can’t spell my name and it’s a popular enough name and standard spelling. That’s a quirk I’ve had to long get over or I would not have lasted long with my beloved boss who would only ever refer to me as “Beeh” in every email despite it also being in front of him.

      Having worked with countless accents as well, that’s never something to hold against or be bothered by. I have a speech impediment and my former supervisor had a very Spanish name that only the other Spanish speakers technically said correctly.

      1. Had Matter's Pea Tarty

        My name is the name of both a colour and an object but people still manage to get it wrong…

  37. yup

    #2 – I originally thought this was the recruiter saying “don’t accept any other job offers until you notify me first,” which has happened a couple of times to me with companies that are notoriously slow in hiring. But don’t look, interview, apply?! That is bonkers!! Run!

  38. Anon for this

    OP 3: I’ve had this happen to me twice and I think intent plays a big role here:

    The first time was one of my teachers in high school. He just never bothered to remember any of the girls’ names (he had no trouble remembering boys’ names) and would call every girl “Heidi”. Eventually, some of us started calling him “Mr. Johnson” and just called him “Mr. Teacher” instead. He was upset about it, but if he wasn’t going to budge, so weren’t we.

    The second time is actually ongoing. One of the managers in my company (we switch teams and projects often, so I don’t deal with him all the time) once had an awesome employee called Maria. Apparently, I look just like her, so he regularly calls me Maria. Sometimes he catches himself and apologizes, sometimes he doesn’t. In his case, I’ve decided to let it slide, although I do like to change my messenger app name to “Jane “Maria” Smith” whenever I’m on his projects. We both get a good laugh out of it.

  39. Jaybeetee

    LW5: FWIW, if a company didn’t hire me because they found something stupid (I’m thinking “dumbass drunk pic”, nothing egregious) I’d posted on Facebook when I was a teenager/over a decade ago, I’d consider it a bullet dodged. I hope no hiring manager expects candidates to have always been perfect.

    1. Betsy

      I am thinking they’d care more if it was along the lines of offensive memes, or hundreds of drunk semi-clothed pictures.

      I had a colleague who I was friends with on Facebook and I scrolled back and found some old misogynist picks and frighteningly misogynist comments, and because of the field we’re in now, I’m pretty sure he’s changed. However, there is always that part of me that thinks, ‘what if he really still is a secret extreme misogynist?’

  40. M

    OP#2 – I had a similar experience with a head hunter, and all I can say is lesson learned. Not all of them are bad but unfortunately the ones I dealt with were particularly slimy. He told me I should not be pursuing other jobs while I dealt with him and should only look at the jobs he sent me. Yeah right. He ended up trying to get me to interview for a job that required travel 90% of the year to other countries when I said I was only comfortable with 10% travel. It ended with a nasty phone call and I soon found a much better job on my own. I now avoid employment agencies and head hunters like the plague, IMO they have distasteful practices and don’t care if the job is a good match for you.

    1. Emily, admin extraordinaire

      Or Cat Grant. OP3, is your boss perhaps waiting for you to assert yourself and find your true calling before giving you the respect of calling you by your name (and allowing you to create a position for yourself)? And do you secretly have superpowers?

      1. EvilQueenRegina

        Yes! I can see it now, Cat calling Kara Kiera! My mind also went to the way Walter Bishop on Fringe persistently called Astrid things like Asterisk, Asteroid etc.

  41. Typhon Worker Bee

    “If she’s an equal opportunity mangler, I wouldn’t take it personally at all. But if she only does it with people who she has power over, that’s telling.

    I’ve worked with one of the latter. He just didn’t seem to think it was important that he was saying things like Anna instead of Ann, or pronouncing someone’s name completely wrong, or mixing up Sarah and Sandra. (Funnily enough he always got my name right, even though plenty of other people call me Cathy or Kate instead of Cath!) It became a running joke among the rest of us. There was one meeting where he was the only person dialling in, and every time he got someone’s name wrong the rest of us in the meeting room mimed drinking a shot, and another call where he mangled someone’s name so badly that there was a long awkward silence while we all muted our lines until we stopped laughing.

    So, if you can turn it into a joke (that’s on the perp, not on the person whose names are getting mixed up), that really helps deal with a frustrating situation! Alternatively, you could try what “Ann” did – every time he called her Anna, she called him “Philippa” instead of “Phillip”. He now gets her name right.

  42. Nonprofit Lady

    I LOL’ed at #3 because I have a coworker who screws up people’s names constantly and I find it so weird. There are only like 10 people in our office so it’s not hard to remember people’s names!
    We have an open office plan and one time he was trying to get the attention of a coworker, Grace. But he was calling her Karen! So he was saying, “Hey Karen, Karen… Kare? Karen…” Until finally I looked at him and I was like, “there is no one named Karen here! Who are you trying to talk to?”

  43. DanniellaBee

    At my first office job as a college intern a paralegal called me “Christine” repeatedly which is not at all close to to my actual name. The next time she asked me to perform a task I said I would take care of it right away and with a smile on my face I also added that my name is actually BLANK. Her entire demeanor changed as if I had deeply offended her and she rudely spouted, “I can call you whatever I want.” I was taken aback and very surprised by her hostile response to simply being asked to be called by my name. I then evenly replied that she could call me by my full name or nickname and then went about performing the task she had assigned. The next day my manager pulled me aside and said that the paralegal accused me of being disrespectful. I then told her exactly what had happened and her entire face filled with recognition and understanding. Apparently, this was not the first time this paralegal had been very rude to someone in the office about something as basic as a name. I heard nothing further about it and that internship was an excellent reference for me when I started my career after college. It is amazing how weird people can be about basic courtesy.

    1. Jennifer Thneed

      I’m reminded of the (now-dead, happily) habit of naming a person according to their job. According to my British mystery novels, there used to be women who always called the maid, eg, Mary because their first maid was named Mary. And of course, there was the staff of Pullman train cars, who all got called George. (Which was much better than a racial slur, certainly, but still so very disrespectful.)

    2. S

      Oh, she was definitely telling you that she had power over you since you were ‘just an intern’.

  44. Llama Grooming Coordinator

    So, stupid story about a thing that I did a few weeks back: We have two employees in our company with…not totally unsimilar names. (Think…Brandon and Brian.) They don’t look ANYTHING alike other than both being men and of roughly the same ethnicity. Brandon works in my department, Brian was on loan from another department.

    Brian came up to me one morning and asked me for something. I was multitasking as usual, and said, “Hey, Brandon, could you do x please?” He did x. He did not acknowledge that I had called him Brandon.

    Two seconds later, I looked at one of the other employees and said, “…wait, did I say Brian or Brandon?” The employee said, “You said Brandon.” I was mortified, and immediately ran over to apologize because I consider myself a decent human being. And also, it’s not the first time I’ve made that kind of mistake (although usually it’s with people with MUCH more closely related names – so I’m more prone to mixing up Brendan/Brandon or Brian/Bryce).

    At any rate, the issue with LW3’s grandboss is that she’s not acknowledging LW3’s requests or her own errors. She’s calling her whatever name she feels like, even after being corrected multiple times. Even if she is an equal opportunity mangler, she should at least have the courtesy to acknowledge that she’s bad at remembering names. It sounds like this happens often enough where the office is chattering about it, so LW3 and grandboss are in enough contact that grandboss needs to address her somewhat regularly. Even if the grandboss isn’t being malicious about it, she’s at least showing a disregard for LW3 as a person. (I admit that sounds a little dramatic, but I can’t think of a better way to phrase it.)

    If it doesn’t bother LW3, that’s fine – it’s not my place to tell her how to feel. But even if it’s unintentional, that still doesn’t make it okay, and I think she might have more room to push back than she feels.

  45. Not a Morning Person

    For OP#3, I see a lot of comments that fit for a manager who is either too disrespectful to learn your name or being deliberately mean about not using your name, and a few that mention being bad with names. I like your plan to speak to your manager and find out more about the situation and whether it occurs with many people, the manager’s peers or superiors, and so on. That may give you more insight into whether this manager has always been bad with names or has some other blind spot or chooses to be disrespectful.
    Your situation reminded me of the stories I was told about a former VP, retired before I was hired, who was legendary for not remembering names. They were still talking about him a decade or more after he retired. When he walked around the office he was always accompanied by his assistant who would whisper the person’s name to him when he encountered anyone in the office. People just went along with it and joked about it later. They even said they were surprised he could recall the name of his assistant because it was widely known throughout the company that his memory for names was so bad. It could be that he had a real memory issue, but after reading the other comments, it could have been that he was just choosing not to recall because he didn’t care. Hmm.

  46. nyc social director

    OP5 – I lead a social team, and I don’t find it weird if 1 or 2 accounts are private, as long as at least one is public and shows me that you understood the basic rules of posting/interacting on that particular platform. But plenty of savvy social people have private Instagram accounts, for example. One way to counteract that is to be prepared to talk about accounts you follow that you think are amazing on any given platform.

  47. TardyTardis

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I have a fake birthday on my FB profile–I like to avoid the potential of identity theft. And I once gave a fake birthday (different one) to an astrology site, and you would be *amazed* at how much spam I got connected to that, because of course everyone gives their right birthday for a horoscope, right?

    Just thought I’d mention this, especially given the latest fuss over Cambridge Analytica and all that.

  48. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2

    #2 – during a brief period when I was out of work , oh boy, did I see some goofy things in that area. I interviewed in late October with a guy – the interview went well. Then Mr. Dumdum asks “can you wait until January?” – the position would have required relocation – and I said “well I guess that will work – if you offer me the job now, it gives me time to prep for a move…”

    “NO!” huh? “That’s not what I meant, I want you to stop looking for other work, I am not going to decide who to hire until January. I don’t know if you’re the candidate, or if there will be someone else, but can you hold off on job-seeking until January?” I replied that it was a strange request, and I could lie and say “sure, whatever you say” but I have a family to take care of and I have to keep looking.” He said he’d call back in January.

    Two weeks later I get a job, am at my desk – and the phone rings. Mr. Bozo Dumdum had called my house, my wife gave him my phone number. I answered and there he was. Ready to offer me the job. I told him I HAVE a job and I was no longer interested. “Are you sure?” YES. October was when he had his chance.

    I think I dodged a bad situation there, no?

    5. Social Media. Assume that an employer will go as far back as they can. Not saying they will – but they might. In fact, if you send a resume/CV in, odds are that they’re going to go there before calling you back. Like I said in here once — it ticked people off but – “Before you play on your smart phone, play it smart.”

    1. The New Wanderer

      Yeah, I’ve gotten “We’ll have the funding in a couple of months and be able to make an offer then” before, but no company has ever asked me to put my job search on hold and wait for them. The reasonable places will say “let us know if we can still contact you then” OR “we’d love you to consider reapplying in a year or two if you find yourself looking again.”

  49. CrunchyBits

    I’m sure this is far too late for LW3 to see it, but I highly recommend doing the following: keep a running tally of the names she accidentally calls you and the date. Not necessarily to ever show to her, but for your own amusement. Also, if it DOES get egregious, you can bust the list out.

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