terse answer Thursday: 7 short answers to 7 short questions

It’s terse answer Thursday — seven short answers to seven short questions! We’ve got an employee with a breathy whisper, special treatment of a coworker, and more. Here we go…

1. My employee won’t say hello to everyone and has a breathy whisper

I have seven employees and we all sit in cubicles on the same row. I have an employee who only tells certain employees hello and goodbye even when passing directly in someone’s line of vision. When I arrive or leave work, I always address everyone, but this employee ignores me unless I specifically say “good morning, Jane Doe.” I have had a couple of my employees complain to me about this recently. I noticed she only ignored a few of us, but i have been ignoring her behavior, thinking that killing her with kindness would make her be nice. The other employees also complained that any time she speaks to any co-worker, she whispers and it is very breathy and disruptive (think 1-900 breathy). The funny thing about the whispering is she went to HR and complained that another manager and I whisper in our cubicles, which isn’t true. We always go to a conference room to discuss management issues. My question is, can I address these issues with her and if so how?

Why is it such an issue that she doesn’t say hello and goodbye to everyone? The people who have an issue with this are being petty, and you do not want to be the sort of manager who orders someone to say hello to everyone. Let this drop.

As for the breathy whispering, I assume she’s whispering because she doesn’t want to disturb everyone else. This seems reasonable. I doubt she’s intentionally trying to sound like a phone sex operator. Let this go too.

You’re a manager, not a charm school teacher. Your job is to get results from your team, not police tiny things like this.

2. Copying a friend’s resume format

I am in kind of an awkward position. One of my really good friends sent me her resume to circulate. I liked the format and so used it on my resume. As we both are in the same field with similar experience and education, I didn’t change much except the necessary. I have circulated that to my contacts for job, but to few of them she also sent her resume. Will a company reject my resume because it looks like my friend’s, or will they think I have copied her?

Unless this is some extremely unusual and notable resume format, they’re not going to notice or care.

Update: Several commenters have pointed out that you may have copied wording too, not just the formatting. If you copied the wording, that’s a different story — it’s not nice to do to your friend without her permission, and a company is likely to reject both of you if they notice it (since they won’t know who copied who).

3. Cover letter when applying for a government job

I am applying for a job with the county government, and their advertisement specifically states that they only want completed applications, no resumes. Should I include a cover letter? I wouldn’t even ask if this were a job in the private sector (especially since I know how big a proponent of the cover letter you are). Am I wrong in approaching a government job differently? I wouldn’t want my application arbitrarily disregarded due to any perception of my not being able to follow application instructions.

I’m inclined to say you should always send a cover letter, but government job applications are their own crazy beast. Stick with their instructions, and pity them for being so bogged down in regimented application bureaucracy.

4. How to withdraw from a hiring process

I am in the middle of a job search and I am now being called back for a final interview with a top person at the organization. My issue is that I now realize that I wouldn’t take the job if it were offered to me. Based on my own reflection and feedback from others in the organization, I now know I can’t work for the manager I would get. We never connected in our interview and I never felt comfortable talking with him. What’s the etiquette around bowing out? I’ve already committed to a final interview and feel like I need to see it through, since otherwise it could be interpreted as rejecting the last person I spoke with (the manager). I don’t want to burn bridges with the organization and the job would be a great opportunity for me with another boss, so do I take myself out of the running after the final interview or if/when I am offered the job?

Either one is fine. You can wait to see if you get an offer and simply decline it, or you can let them know before then that you’ve decided it’s not quite the right fit for you, appreciate their time, etc.

5. My boss is letting my coworker have three-day weekends

My boss is allowing one of my coworkers to work four 10-hour days and have Fridays off for no other reason than she wants three-day weekends. But he is not offering this to anyone else on staff. Can he do this? There are only 7 employees so this looks really bad in my opinion. She doesn’t have seniority or anything. Are there any laws about this? Is this discrimination?

This is perfectly legal and not that unusual. It might be happening because she happens to be the only one who’s asked and made a case for it. (Do you even know he wouldn’t let other people do it? It doesn’t sound like anyone else has asked.) Or it might be happening because she’s a top performer and he wants to find ways to retain her — which is a situation where special treatment might make perfect sense.

6. Letting a recruiter know you have other offers

I am pretty sure you’ve posted on this before but I’m unable to find it – what do you feel is the most polite and professional way to let a recruiter know that you have other serious offers on the table, and that you need to know some concrete information about whether the job is still happening (the position doesn’t exist at the moment and would be created), and what the exact timeline would be. The process with this recruiter has been 10 months long and the timeline seems to be never-ending.

Just say it! “I have other offers that I need to respond to within the next week. What is the timeline for making a decision on this position?” This is a very normal thing to say. But if you have other offers, it’s unlikely that you’re going to be able to delay giving them an answer in time for this position to be created, interviews to be held, and decisions to be made, so factor that in.

7. Bringing performance reviews to a job interview

I’ve been at my current position for a year and although I’m not necessarily looking for a new job (I’m pretty happy where I am), an opportunity at a different organization (with a significantly higher salary/paid time off) has presented itself to me. Since I don’t want my current employer to know that I’m taking a meeting/interviewing with this other organization, I won’t be putting my current supervisor on my reference list. However, I do feel that I’ve done a lot of great work and received great feedback. Would it be appropriate to bring a copy of my latest performance review to the interview/meeting as evidence of my work from this past year?

Absolutely. Just make sure they’re glowing. If they’re lackluster, they’ll do more harm than good.

{ 170 comments… read them below }

  1. really?*

    I thought the conclusion of the 2nd question was going to be “and now my friend is really mad that I have basically copied her resume and am distributing it rather than distributing hers.” Because that’s what basically happened, right?

  2. Under Stand*

    #2- You did copy her. Or more to the point, you plagiarized. I cannot speak for everyone, but for me that would be automatic disqualification.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      If I’m reading the question correctly, she copied the formatting, not the text, so it’s not plagiarism. People copy other people’s resumes formats all the time, or take templates from the web. This isn’t that weird.

      1. really?*

        I don’t know. She said “As we both are in the same field with similar experience and education, I didn’t change much except the necessary.”

        1. Just Me*

          I am kind of sensing that as well. Changing only the neccessary to me means she just changed the names, addresses and that type of stuff and left the rest. The pure fact she seems to be worried about it, saying it will look like it was copied tells me it was copied.

      2. Under Stand*

        I took “As we both are in the same field with similar experience and education, I didn’t change much except the necessary ” to mean that unless she had to change stuff, she used the same wording for description of the positions, etc. To me that is plagiarism. And since I do not know if she is the thief or the other girl is, they are both rejected.

      3. Under Stand*

        Especially in light of “Will a company reject my resume because it looks like my friend’s, or will they think I have copied her?” That just screams copied words, not just format.

      4. KayDay*

        I was a little confused on that…she said she copied the formatting, but went on to say “As we both are in the same field with similar experience and education, I didn’t change much except the necessary” which is a bit more worrying…my resume’s text is very different from other people’s even though we are in the same field.

      5. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I had thought it was just the formatting, but if she copied text, that’s definitely a huge problem — not a nice thing to do to her friend (at least not without permission) and could very likely result in them both being rejected when a company sees they have the same wording. I’ll update the answer to make it clear that formatting is fine but text is not.

  3. ES*

    For #1, the not-saying-hello sounds like the symptom, not the problem. It’s a passive-aggressive way of showing unhappiness. I had a colleague do this to me once, simply because she was mad that it was my job to pick up and distribute the mail, and my boss told her to stop rushing to the mail room to beat me to it. It was really stressful for me, and she eventually moved on to someone else to be angry at, and was fired for yelling at/threatening this other employee on the street outside our building.

    So all of this is to say that there could be a bigger problem here.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Be careful about extrapolating from that one experience to assume it’s always/often the case when someone doesn’t say hello. I don’t work in an office anymore, but when I did, I was often lost in my own head during the workday and didn’t say hello/goodbye to every single person I passed. Nor would I ever interrupt someone who was working just to say hello. Not everyone does that.

      1. Julie*

        I agree. I am quite shy and as a result have to force myself to say hello to people. I do it because people who later became friends told me that before they got to know me, they thought I was snobby because I didn’t say hello when I saw them (we all volunteered at the same organization and would see each other in the building in passing).

    2. Lisa*

      Based on the things this employee has done in the past, I feel like there is some type of issue going on. Just like her passive-agressiveness of not responding to my emails. We are going through layoffs right now and I think everyone is on edge especially since I had to give notice to one employee.

      1. fposte*

        Even if two behaviors both come from an unpleasant place, that doesn’t mean they’re both problems.

        I mean, as a kind manager I’d say it’s kosher to link the actual problem of her failing to respond to a supervisor’s directions (I’m presuming the emails have directly said “Lisa, I’ll need a response to this by tomorrow” rather than people just assuming she should know to respond) to the possibility that she’s not happy there, and if you’re interested in investing in her future to see if there’s a way her work future can be more satisfying to both of you. But I’d still say that that’s a separate issue from employees complaining about her whispering, and that if you treat that as a serious performance complaint you end up perpetuating the kind of workplace where people complain to HR about whispering in cubicles (I mean, the problem there isn’t that she was wrong, it’s that who gives a damn in the first place?). You can’t get into the business of ensuring employees a weirdness-free workplace, and it may be more useful to tell employees whose problem is really “I think she’s weird” just to stop thinking about her.

        1. Anonymous*

          Yeah, I think you are right. I’ll just tell the other employees to get over it and address the real issue.

  4. Kelly O*

    Regarding #1 – I absolutely detest this whole “everyone says good morning to everyone else and you have to respond with this super-peppy response or else you are not a team player.”

    And I don’t speak loudly either at work. I get so blasted tired of hearing people yell across cubicles or talk like they’re trying to be heard across the food court at the mall. Get up, out of your seat, and walk over to the person to whom you wish to speak, and try to keep the volume in single digits. If I have something to say to you, I will do that. And I absolutely refuse to engage in the loud-talking in the office thing, no matter who is doing it.

    Which probably sounds belligerent, but seriously y’all, just talk at a reasonable volume, don’t yell, and don’t get your knickers in a knot if you don’t get told “good morning” by every person who passes you. (Part of my brain thinks this is what happens when you have to give a trophy to every kid in Little League.)

    1. Anonymous*

      I see your point and agree that being “required” to greet everyone cheerfully is overkill, on the other hand, at my current job most people won’t even make eye contact when they pass each other in the hall.

      It seems so weird to me to walk by someone else and not even nod hello and aknowledge their existence, so I smile and greet eveyone. I’ve noticed some of the automatons starting to come around.

      1. KayDay*

        honestly, I personally find it weird to say hello to people you just saw 10 minutes ago and 10 minutes before that…and 10 minutes before that. It’s just way to much hello-ing…I usually go with the silent nod/smile in these situations.

      2. The gold digger*

        The main reason I don’t always make eye contact is that I usually am not wearing my glasses because I hate how they look. (I can’t wear contacts and even if I could, I wouldn’t want to because who needs to see every wrinkle and every mote of dust?) I don’t recognize people until I am two feet away from them. And I’m not looking at them anyhow because I am thinking of what I need to do.

    2. Anonymous*

      OMG. Thank you!

      Some people are introverts. Some people come to work and just get busy and get caught up in the work, and hey–some people JUST WON’T LIKE YOU.

      We’re all adults. Let’s get over it.

  5. Miri*

    I used to work with a co-worker who went through the following routine every single morning:

    “Good morning, all!”
    (some people say ‘good morning’, others don’t, usually the ones who came in a bit early and are in the middle of working)
    “Good MORNING, Miri.” (or whoever he had decided was the worst silent offender that day)

    Idiot, we didn’t lift our heads and chorus “Good morning!” in unison because (a) this is a workplace, not elementary school and (b) we’re focusing on our actual jobs!

    I never greet people directly at work unless they’re the only one in the office when I arrive (or vice versa) – I come in, say “Good morning!” in the direction of my team’s cubicle, offer to get coffee (if I’m going to the kitchen), and get started on my job.

    This is not to say I’m against being social in the workplace – my team chats and laughs a lot during the day, and (voluntarily) get together for drinks every two or three weeks after work. It’s just that some people just find hyper-ritualized greetings and goodbyes patronizing and a waste of time. People who persist in “Good MORNING, [name]” just sound like petty schoolteachers.

    1. Adam V*

      I’d have totally stopped what I was doing and said “I’m sorry, I’m actually in the middle of doing . Did you need something?”

      (The follow-up “No? Then I’d appreciate it if you didn’t continue to interrupt me” is optional.)

    2. Eva*

      I think this issue of whether or not to greet people is a good example of where understanding differences in extroversion can really improve the working environment. Miri, I totally agree that people who persist in, “Good MORNING, [name]” aren’t communicating constructively, so I’m not defending that, but I think it’s worthwhile to try to put yourself in their shoes and understand where they may be coming from.

      Very extroverted people are not bothered by interruptions while they are working; if anything, they find them energizing. Therefore they may genuinely not realize that an exchange of greetings disrupts the concentration of their less extroverted coworkers. Not possessing an instinctual understanding of the reason for a coworker ignoring them, they perceive it as a snub, a rejection of their own friendly overture, and that’s why they feel called upon to put you in your place for not reciprocating their friendliness. When you think about it this way, doesn’t the label ‘idiot’ suddenly seem overly harsh?

      Doing a personality differences workshop (MBTI or the Big Five/FFM) can really help sort out misunderstandings like these, as people stop projecting and instead recall that Other People Are Not Wired Like Me.

      1. Anonymous*

        Why do I always have to be the person doing the heavy lifting of Other People Are Not Wired Like Me? Why don’t occasionally afforementioned Other People have to realize that I’m not wired like them? If Other People are bothered by me not cheerfully responding Good Morning to every single person who walks past my cube then they should spend more time doing their job and less time obsessing about me actually doing my job and not being cheerfully distracted. Cause I’m going to continue to focus and get my work done.

        1. khilde*

          Because unfortunately, it is incumbent upon the person who has “the knowledge” of this to be the one to rise above. I agree that everyone should understand these differences and everyone should just chill out. But the fact remains that there are some people who don’t know this and if you do, then adjust your own communication.
          Perhaps I’m just being irritable today, but I’m so tired of this “why do I have to go first? Why can’t thethey change their behavior?” mentality when dealing with other people. I hear it from my training participants and it drives me crazy. Everyone needs to change, but you can’t control them so take responsibilty for yourself.

        2. Eva*

          ^ What khilde wrote.

          I’d educate the other party by addressing the insistent greeting directly: “I’ve noticed that my habit of ignoring when others come in has raised an eyebrow or two. I’d like you to know that it’s not that I wish to be unfriendly, but I’m relatively introverted, and when I’m concentrating on work, I’m in my own little bubble. Interaction breaks my flow of concentration, and so I try to keep it to a minimum.”

        3. Kelly O*

          I have to jump in and say I agree with this Anonymous here, and add that while it may be maddening to others that it seems like people ask “why do I have to be first?” to deal with whatever issue, it gets bloody old sometimes.

          I do not feel like, in a room of adults, we all need to go around and talk about whether we’re introverted or extroverted, whether we like to keep our desks neat or just pile, or ANYTHING that can be discerned with a smidge of common sense and two eyeballs.

          You can come to my desk and tell a lot about me. I have two pictures of my family on my desk, my boxes to sort incoming and outgoing issues, my planner, my notebook, and whatever project I am working directly on. I have headphones next to my Blackberry to listen to Pandora. Everything is stacked neatly, put away in drawers when not in use, and I can come up with anything at my desk in a relatively short period of time. I don’t chat up my coworkers. I don’t stand in the break room while others are talking in the morning or evening. I’m not in the hallways talking.

          How difficult is it to tell that I’m quieter, introverted, and I like to keep things neat (so throwing things from the fax on my keyboard is not a way to Win Friends and Influence People over here.)

          My coworker keeps things strewn all over, she talks constantly, she’s always out for smoke breaks, and has tchotchkes all over the place. I feel like I have to yell to talk to her, and her radio is blasting. I know that when I deal with her, I have to be louder than I want to be, and I’m going to have to give her the same piece of paper twenty times. We never had a big discussion, I have not shared my style with her, but it’s fairly easy to suss out.

          Why can we not just go to work, do what we’re paid to do, and stop worrying about all this ridiculousness? I mean seriously it’s like being in high school all over again sometimes, and I didn’t care for that experience either. Just use your brain, treat other people nicely, and, in the words of Wil Wheaton, don’t be a dick. Problem solved.

          1. Eva*

            I wouldn’t lump together extroversion with neatness standards. Lots of thoughtful and considerate people (both extroverts and introverts!) remain oblivious to differences in extroversion.

            Of course no one has a duty to enlighten their coworkers if they’d rather not. I was merely putting on the table a constructive solution for those who are too annoyed by the friction to let it go.

  6. Miri*

    Forgot to say, bringing performance reviews to an interview when I haven’t told my current company I’m looking for work is genius – I’d never have thought of it but it makes a lot of sense! Obviously waving them around rather than answering questions, or (as AMM says) having mediocre ones may do some damage, but saying something like “I’m hesitant to put you in touch with my company for a reference until I have a firm offer, but here are some things my current supervisor had to say about me in my last review, if you’re interested” is brilliant.

  7. fposte*

    On #1: I think sometimes people, in a desire to be good managers, forget that not all employee complaints need to be acted on (and may even need to be pushed back at).

    1. Anonymous*

      Could not agree more with this. I have a former manager who spent more time monitoring personal relationships and mediating personal problems then actually managing. She was far more concerned with being liked and having everyone like each other then ensuring that we met our project goals (to her, this was “good management”). As a result, the project failed and she was demoted.

    2. The Right Side*

      I was just discussing this with a coworker yesterday. A manager who tries to please everyone will ultimately run his everyone into the ground. Not everyone is going to be happy 24-7. Play the political card of “I’ll look into it,” or “I have touched base with John Doe and I’d rather not go into detail but please don’t take his lack of morning acknowledgement personally.” Or my personal fav “Grow up. Are your feelings hurt? I don’t care. I’m not your freaking psychiatrist. Go whine elsewhere.” But that doesn’t always go over well. :)

    3. Lisa*

      Yeah, that is my problem, I don’t want my employees to say I never handle their compliants but I don’t want to be their therapist or micromanage them. It’s funny how some people assume that everyone comes in being perky, yelling good morning, which is not the case in this office. Jane Doe used to walk in singing “Good morning, Good morning, Good morning” but she quit doing that about a year or longer ago.

      1. A Bug!*

        With this post, I get the feeling that someone commented on her “good morning” routine in a way that made her feel self-conscious, and now she feels awkward with any sort of “good morning” at all.

        I agree with all the people who say that the lack of good morning is absolutely not something that needs to be addressed. If she’s responding appropriately when someone else greets her, then it’s a non-issue.

  8. KayDay*

    So this was an interesting cluster.

    #1 get over it. I’m with Kelly O on this…I don’t always say hello to everyone either.

    #2 copying the format is normal. I remember when I screen resumes–we had a position open that I posted on my colleges career site. Our career center had a set of sample resume templates, and one in particular was very attractive (and clear). I used a similar format on my resume and I received no fewer than two dozen resumes that were similar, format-wise….now the text is a different story.

    #5 What you refer to is sometimes called 4/10, flextime, alternate schedule, etc., and it is completely normal. Not every employer offers it, but it is becoming more common. A huge number of Fed Gov’t employees use it. I have three close friends who do this. The only legitimate complaint you may have is if your manager won’t allow any one else to follow a similar schedule.

    1. The Right Side*

      But even if her manager won’t let anyone else do it – he may have good reason for the first person to be doing it but it is nobody else’s business WHY. I posted down below – who is to say she or a child doesn’t have dialysis or something on Friday. Maybe he just really likes her and can’t offer a pay raise so he offered these hours… it doesn’t matter. And if she complains about him not letting her do it (if by chance he says no to others), she can bet she’ll be first on the chopping block if layoffs come around.

      1. KayDay*

        I did see your post below after I wrote mine–definitely a good point I didn’t think of. The OP definitely should not whine about it, but if s/he is interested in a similar schedule, there should be no harm in saying, “I noticed that Jane Doe has a flextime arrangement. That is a great idea and I was hoping we could work something similar out for me–I would be happy to have my days off be different than Jane’s, of course.” I certainly hope no manager would ax an employee just for asking.

      2. Long Time Admin*

        The thing is, without an explanation it looks and feels like favoritism to the other employees. This creates a lot of resentment in an office, which can lead to much more serious problems.

        Now before everyone jumps down my throat, I’m not saying that every detail of everyone’s life needs to be public knowledge. While the privacy of the seemingly favored employee is important, a simple explanation to the other employees could thwart the favoritism theory, and might also generate some sincere sympathy if that employee is going through a difficult situation.

        And if the flex time policy is a company policy, then all employees should have equal opportunity to work 10/4.

  9. Anonymous*

    Question number 7 could not have come at a better time for me! I’m currently in my first “real” job after graduating and it definitely wasn’t my first choice both in the type of work and pay, but I needed a job so I took what I could get. I’ve since received a call from the company that was my #1 work choice offering me an interview for a position in my dream department (they took my resume from a job I had applied to previously). Since I’ve only been at my current job 6 months, and don’t want to make things awkward if my dream job doesn’t work out, the solution of bringing in my performance review is excellent!

  10. The Right Side*

    1. Really? Have you not anything else to do at work? I think you all have too much time on your hands and sound like a bunch of crybabies. I say this as a fellow woman – but you are all women, aren’t you? This is why I try to avoid working with women. Ha!

    2. Hope you are prepared to lose a friend when she finds out you STOLE her formatting and/or wording! You KNEW you are applying to the same places and you STILL did it. Very shady.

    3. Ah, yes, the gov’t. A pain in the a$$ to get hired on but once you are – almost impossible to get fired. (Layoffs are a different story!)

    4. I would probably go to the final interview and play the odds that the likelihood of you being selected is slim anyways. And if they do call, tell them that you’ve decided to go with a) another offer, b) stay with your current position, c) etc.

    5. Awww, poor baby can’t mind her own business? Toughen up! Maybe she has dialysis or her children do on Fridays. Maybe she volunteers on Fridays. Who knows! Who cares! MYOB!!

    6. ITA w/ AAM.

    7. ITA w/ AAM. By the way – if you’ve ever read AAM before, you know that the likelihood of them wanting to call a current supervisor are slim to none (unless you get a crazy one).

    1. Dawn*

      In regards to your response on #1, you’re right. I’m a woman too and I know what you mean. My boss always told me that if you have a bunch of women working together, there tends to be a lot of whining about the “little things,” gossip, back-stabbing, hurt feelings, etc. She said this, she looked at me wrong, she’s ignoring me, etc. Throw one guy into the mix and the dynamics change. I always thought he was full of it until I witnessed it at our branch office. Totally true. At least, in our case it was.

      1. Katie*

        I work mostly with women, and I haven’t noticed this is the case. While there are a few employees who do behave this way, it’s not widespread and men offend at least as often as women. I think this probably has less to do with the fact that you’ve got a lot of women in one place than the fact that you’ve got a lot of silly people without better things to do with their time in one place…and managers who don’t do anything to stop this sort of behavior, perhaps because of their mistaken sexist beliefs that this behavior is somehow due to gender and not due to other factors.

        1. The Right Side*

          Please don’t pretend that women don’t tend to be more emotionally vulnerable than men. That is science… facts! Some women can handle it better and that is a fact, too. That is why women are mothers – they are nurturing and in-tune with other people’s feelings… or at least they try to be. Which is why they often tend to misread others, because they are trying to read them… don’t even try in the first place… especially not in the workplace.

            1. Katie*

              On the science: a huge number of studies have been conducted on this subject, and while yes, generally, women have been found to be more emotional than men, the reasons for these differences are not wholly understood and it can hardly be pinned to a single reason. Whether the differences are purely biological or heavily influenced by social factors is still relatively unknown. 2 or 3 studies out of hundreds really aren’t persuasive, and if you were aware of the full body of scientific evidence on the topic, you’d probably know this. I applaud your ability to run a google search and find a couple of examples of scientific studies that support your personal biases, though.

              Regardless of the broader science, this doesn’t change the fact that gender is not an accurate predictor of how an individual, or how a group of people, will act in a given situation or setting. Making blanket statements about how women will behave in a professional setting, and further stating that you do not like to work with them based on this generalization, is hardly scientific. A scientist will tell you that basing how you view and treat individuals based on large-scale studies that are meant to see trends and generalities is completely illogical.

              I find it interesting that you’re working so hard to find scientific proof of your ideas which, before, you said were merely jokes and that we should learn to loosen up and not take so seriously.

            2. jmkenrick*

              @The Right Side

              Hooray. I LOVE it when people bring science into the equation. This LiveScience article focuses on a study done by Larry Cahill, who is super cool & does some fascinating work. However, this post is generalizing and does not go into any detail. The amygdala is complex and knowing that the wiring is different does not mean we can confidently extrapolate how that affects behavior.

              If you’re interested, I would highly suggest this article, written by directly by Larry Cahill instead of about him: http://healthfully.org/medicalscience/id8.html

              In that article, he notes:

              “One can speculate from these findings that women might on average prove more capable of controlling their emotional reactions. ”

              “To date, no one has uncovered any evidence that anatomical disparities might render women incapable of achieving academic distinction in math, physics or engineering. And the brains of men and women have been shown to be quite clearly similar in many ways.”

              Whenever trying to use science, it’s always best to go straight to the source (the scientist!) since all too often popular sources aimed at the general public are quick to sensationalize findings in order to sell more copies/get more clicks!

            3. EB*

              Read “Delusions of Gender,” written by a neurologist which unpacks the problem with a lot of these kinds of studies (including sample size, methodology, and social priming).

          1. KayDay*

            I ranted about this before and I shall rant about it again…men (in general) can also be emotional, they just show it differently. Women (in general) are more likely to cry or to show sadness. Men, on the other hand (in general) show anger or aggression. People (in general) tend to perceive the way men handle emotional situations as being “passionate” or “take charge” or “attacking the problem” where as women are seen as being “emotional.” The thing is BOTH men and women handle problems badly a lot of the time…but society seems to give men a break on this.

            And since talking about all the crap women do, here’s some crap that men do: Tell other empolyees that an employee’s work ability is bad because the manager thought they made a bad fantasy football trade. When too many men get together (in general) they go into hyper-competitive way-to-much-testosterone mode where they are more concerned with making themselves look good than making the team look good.

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            That has nothing to do with women’s ability to conduct themselves sensibly and professionally in the workplace. There are silly people of both genders. End of story.

          1. fposte*

            Dude. “The Daily Mail” and “based on scientific evidence” in the same sentence? I look forward to the followup from the Onion.

          2. Katie*

            From the article:

            “However no one has yet been able to pinpoint a biological reason for the difference.”

            “Study leader Dr Rita Valentino, of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said: ‘This is an animal study carried out on rats and we cannot say that the biological mechanism is the same in people.'”

          3. Avril*

            Love the Daily Mail! 2-3 days ahead of many US news sites, probably because they don’t do as much fact-checking. Nevertheless, a favorite of mine. Just do you own fact-checking!

      2. The Right Side*

        Well, apparently we are the only ones who have ever witnessed this dynamic. But thanks for speaking up! And LOL @ “she looked at me wrong” – I know exactly what you mean. My all-time favorite is “It is not what you said, it is how you said it.” Ha! Especially when someone responds via email… how on earth do you know how they said it?! LOL!

        I actually took a class in college on the art of online communication. This is one of the things they regularly focused on. People are often misinterpreted via person-to-person communication, so throwing in an added hurdle like no facial expressions or gestures to read – it can be easily misinterpreted.

      3. April B*

        I work for a company that’s 90+% men. There’s a lot of whining about the little things, gossip, back-stabbing, hurt feelings, etc. This happens everywhere, with both genders. When there’s a majority of one or the other, you see it more often.

        1. FrauTech*

          Have to agree with this. I work with a majority of men. The difference I suppose is that when women compete with another it’s seen as women being emotional or not getting along or fighting over silly things. With men you might call it the “wolf pack” mentality. But really it’s the same thing. I used to work in an all-woman field (admin). I think women are perceived as being worse at this because you often get women in certain careers (admin, HR) where a lot of them are there together, and the actual work isn’t taken as seriously.

          In my current profession the men are just as thin skinned and argue over the silliest of personal slights and are constantly competing with one another. Only I think in pursuit of a larger engineering profession it’s just not viewed as silly as when admins reach the same level of competitiveness. Also so often when the complaint is an absurd one and I politely tell these guys to “suck it up” they get so offended and have their wittle feewings hurt. So I’d have to strongly disagree with the idea that women as a group are worse. I suspect a mixed gender workplace just works better since a more diverse workplace tends to work better (there’s a study showing more diverse boards have better stock profits or something to that effect). So maybe it’s our perceptions of these little infighting competitions that need to change.

  11. Anonymous*

    Re #3, don’t include the cover letter. If you get an interview, bring the letter, your resume, and work samples if appropriate even though you have already submitted them. It makes you look more organized than the next guy. Also, the first interview may well be a panel, this one cuts the herd to the final candidate pool, and they all go to the last interview with folks you will work with. If you make it that far, bring your materials. Don’t fancy it up with a folder though. Paper clip is more than enough for most of us.

    1. J.B.*

      Actually for #3 it would depend on how the ad is worded. In my government position the only thing required is the standard form and HR cannot consider any supplemental documents when doing an initial screen. But cover letter and resume if provided go with the application and the hiring manager sees it. I skip the resume but the cover letter can be significant, especially in drawing connections between the job duties and other skills, reasoning, etc.

    1. The Right Side*

      LoL. I ran a large NFP group a couple years ago and after six months I had to leave. It focused on mothers (70 of them) of young children and there were tears on a daily basis about who hurt whose feelings. OMG – ladies – toughen up. LOL! I guess having started with the military, I just don’t see the need for the whining. Just do as your told and deal with it.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I agree that there are some women who are like this in the workplace, but is far, far, from all of us. And I know that you know that. The problem is that when people make comments like this, less intelligent/less nuanced thinkers take it as license to generalize about all women, which actually has a tangible harmful effect on women. This kind of thinking is what leads to people saying they prefer to work for male bosses as opposed to judging people individually, etc. Again, I totally agree that there are some women who fit the description you’re talking about, but be really careful not to generalize it to women overall. Your problem was those particular people in that particular culture.

        1. Anonymous*

          +1 for AaM

          I’ve had some negative experiences in all-female workplaces (cattiness, everyone in one anothers personal business, etc.) but I currently work for an all-female non-profit and am having an amazing experience. It’s one of the most cohesive work places I’ve ever been in and I could not be happier.

          As with many work issues, it depends on the office culture.

          As a side note, my work motto for a long time was the Kelly Cutrone quote – “If you have to cry, go outside.”

          1. KayDay*

            I’ve had two great experiences with nearly all female work places…honestly the drama level was well below that of more “co-ed” workplaces where some of my friends worked. …I do have one friend who works at a (nearly) all male work place and the amount of swearing, yelling, and pissing contests is ridiculous. Unfortunately, crappy employees come in all genders.

            1. Liz in a Library*

              Agreed. I currently work in a department that is all-female and has been so for several years. We have very little drama, less than anywhere else I’ve worked.

        2. jmkenrick*

          Agreed. I don’t cry or whine, and the other women (and men, for that matter) in my workplace don’t either. You seem to be discussing a company culture, not a gender difference.

      2. Anonymous*

        While I agree with you on the no whining rule (and may I add, the male engineers I used to work with were the biggest bunch of crybabies ever), I have to ask: seriously @rightside, did you take your meds this morning? lol

        1. The Right Side*

          Perhaps. I just won’t do it ever again. I like the motto up there – if you have to cry, take it outside. I’m not saying men don’t whine – they do. But I much prefer a “I’m angry/upset/disappointed because ___” approach versus a “It is not WHAT you said, it is how you said it” approach. People take things so personally. Like the individual in question – they are upset b/c someone didn’t say hi to them?! Really? So ridiculous. How could a manager ever get what needs to be done – done – if they have to worry about these kinds of people.

          And AAM – I’m fully aware that it was a stereotype, which is why I laughed when I said it. Apparently there are many sensitive people in here, too. I’m not a fan of political correctness. I’m not a fan of affirmative action, either. The concept is outdated, IMHO. I just wish people would learn to loosen up and not take everything personally. That is all.

          And learn how to take a joke!

            1. The Right Side*

              I am a female. I have two little girls. I do not hate women.

              But I bet you are one of those people who would call me racist because I didn’t vote for Obama, too. Ha!

              I never once said I hated females, I said I don’t like to work with them. That is my choice.

              But thanks for your poor attempt at putting words in my mouth.

              1. A Bug!*

                Please do not put words in my mouth and then accuse me of doing the same to you.

                I don’t mean to imply anything about you personally and that ‘Obama’ comment was certainly reaching. I freely admit that I don’t know anything about you. My comment was directed solely at the content of your post.

                You made a blanket statement about women in the workplace that is misogynistic in nature. The message you intended to convey and the message that you did convey are (hopefully) two different things but does not change the fact of what you said.

                Last but not least, you do not have to be a man to perpetuate a sexist culture. I made no assumptions about your gender, and your gender does not give you a free pass to make harmful statements.

              2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Are you kidding me? Do you also think it’s acceptable to say that you don’t like to work with black people or gay people? You had bad experiences with some people who happened to be women. Please don’t extrapolate from that to apply it to women across the board; it’s ugly and offensive and it’s the kind of thing that is directly responsible for people saying they don’t like working for a female boss, which is actually quite harmful.

                I’m not into having misogynistic or racist or homophobic comments on my site, so please stop.

            2. Rana*

              A Bug! – Agreed.

              The Right Side – the reason your position is problematic is that you are making assumptions – very broad and negative ones – about 50% of the human population, and declaring that they are universally true for everyone in that group.

              Do you honestly not see the problem in that?

          1. Anonymous*

            I don’t see anyone here taking your statements personally. As AAM stated “less intelligent/less nuanced thinkers take it as license to generalize about all women”. I think it was an encouragement to consider how your posts could be interpreted.

            You’ve stated that you’re a women, so negative comments about working with women (especially if they’re made by other women) could have a negative impact. As a lot of questions sent into this blog prove, not everyone has common sense. I would also hate for other women to be discouraged from working in all-female workplaces or connecting with female mentors. It has to do with your office culture, not your gender.

            Also, your statement about the problem being how people communicate their issues has nothing to do with gender. In your experience, you may have encountered more women who communicate in that manner, but it’s not a characteristic of being female.

          2. Katie*

            When someone “jokes” about how they avoid working with women–in a management forum, no less–and then goes on to list several examples of negative experiences they’ve had working with women, it no longer sounds like a light-hearted joke, but like bitterness thinly veiled as comedy to make it more socially palatable.

            I prefer directness to “it’s not what is said, but how it is said” crap, too, which is why I’m not particularly impressed with your, “but I was laughing when I said it, so that makes it okay.”

            1. Esra*

              I work mainly on web teams, mainly with guys. There are men who have issues with tone and are indirect. It’s not a gender thing so much as a personality thing. I’m beginning to wonder if my experiences are really that isolated or what?

          3. jmkenrick*

            @The Right Side – I don’t think the issue is that people are worried that you, personally, dislike woman.

            However, AAM’s point is well-made. When smart, educated people casually joke about these things, it helps provide (unwittingly, I am sure) a platform for people who genuinely believe this stuff.

      3. Anonymous*

        While I disagree that women are more emotional than men (I’ve worked with some very emotional men!) I do agree that in my personal experience, women cry more at work. And, as unfair as I know it is, nothing makes me dislike a colleague more than if they are prone to bursting into tears. I just have such a strong negative reaction to that.

  12. Malissa*

    #3. As a county government worker who has had to review applications on many occasions, please include a well written cover letter. Nobody thinks you need to to this for a county job. Which is why you’ll stand out.
    Also as some one who’s had to review hundreds of applications, I can tell a lot about a person’s communication skill just by their cover letter and application. Those lines they provide on the application to further explain yourself. Use them up!
    County government jobs of any kind are all about communication.

    1. Anonymous*

      I disagree, if it is an online application, and there is no spot for an upload of additional material, then they don’t want it. As a county government worker myself, I want to see that potential employees can read clear instructions, understand them, and follow them.

      1. Malissa*

        If it’s an online app, then a cover letter may not be an option. Then not having one would be okay.

      2. Bill*

        I’ve got to second this. If I’m not giving you the option to attach a resume or cover letter, then I really don’t need to see one. I know government job applications can be a pain to fill out (which is why I almost always let applicants attach a resume), but copying and pasting from a resume is ok even if the formatting on MY end looks wonky.

    2. Cassie*

      Maybe it depends on the position (clerical vs management), but for the clerical/admin support positions in our county gov’t, there is no place for a cover letter. For clerical or admin support positions, there may be a skills test and that determines your position on the list. For those types of positions, where you are on the list matters just as much as your experience.

      Obviously, if you’re applying to be the head of XYZ dept, then maybe you would need a cover letter. But many of those people are recommended by others (or recruited), so the cover letter is basically just a formality.

  13. anon-2*

    #4 – If you know that you’re not going to accept a position , yes, it might be the proper thing to do.

    I was in that situation once — back in the 80’s. I was about to be fired from a job. I was placed on probation on a Friday afternoon. I started looking. By Monday, I had three interviews lined up. By Thursday, I had gone to two places — first and second interviews. By Friday – I had an offer from a THIRD company. Which was my second choice!

    Knowing that one place (choice #3) had called me back for a third interview and also my knowing I now wouldn’t accept that one, I politely thanked them for their time but let them know I was going in a different direction. They were appreciative of that.

    Long story short – the offer from my second choice spurred my FIRST choice into making an offer, which I accepted. Yes, things like that will get people away from lolly-gaggin’ and get serious.

    But wait – THERE’S MORE! Ten years later, I wound up in another place — where the manager I interviewed with — that I rejected but thanked them — was an executive there. My courtesy a decade earlier certainly didn’t hurt. I wasn’t going to waste their time.

    We’ve heard about employers not getting back to candidates with rejections — but when the shoe’s on the other foot, you can certainly get a courteous rejection back to a company you won’t be going to. It won’t hurt you.

    Only once have I ever withdrawn from an interview cycle discourteously — but that was because that firm (no longer around) was running their HR process like a zoo, and by design. “Please purge my paperwork from your files, and please, never call me again, OK?” But that’s once in a lifetime.

  14. Anonymous*

    Thanks all for your comments. I was kind of guilty for what I did, but my intention was not plagiarize nor to back stab her or something, that’s how you guys are making it sound like. I have amended the resume based on my experience, it’s just few experience statements where I liked her action verbs and so I let it remain there.
    Now I probably should completely modify it except for the format.

    1. Under Stand*

      I understand what you are saying, HOWEVER, if you had turned in a paper in school like that, would it have passed muster because you used the disclaimer that you “liked her action verbs and so I let it remain there”? You are basically saying, nicely, I chose to steal what she wrote and pass it off as my own.

      There is absolutely nothing wrong with using her format. There is nothing wrong with taking her resume and using it to prime your creative juices and write your own synopsis of the experience heavily influenced by her writing. There is everything wrong with copying sections of her resume verbatim and then passing it off as your work.

      1. Joey*

        That’s not a very good analogy because a lot of people have resumes or at least sections of their resumes that were written by someone else (a spouse, resume service, friend, etc). It’s the failing to get her friends permission that’s the problem.

        1. Anonymous*

          I think another problem is that the resumes were submitted to the same jobs. This could effect negatively on the friend without them even knowing. If the employer found two resumes that had a large amount of similarities (or unique details worded the same way), they have no way of knowing who copied who.

          1. Joey*

            I can’t imagine any friend ever giving permission unless they were sure this would never be an issue

      2. JT*

        An academic paper and scholarship is different than work. To an extent, using (copying) good information from another source is a good thing. I’m not saying it was right in this case, but this issue is not so black and white.

        And as an example of how it’s not black and white from the other side – it is simply not the case that we can call reusing text “stealing” but doing the same with visual or information design OK – ask a graphic designer how they feel about that.

        Now, in resumes, it’s accepted that visual design will be copied, so I guess that’s OK in this case. But it seems to me that “passing it off as your work” could apply just as well here.

        The real problem here is if both resumes go out for the same jobs. That could be very very bad. But don’t bring in standards from one field (academic citation) and use them in another field.

        1. Under Stand*

          What I was trying to point out is that the OP would never attempt to pass off another’s work as her own in an academic setting. So the whole thing just stinks of justifying a bad decision to do so here! She stole the wording of her friend and could very well cost her friend a good job because word will get around that either one or the other plagiarizes.

    2. A Bug!*

      Yes, you absolutely should re-write it completely. And you should contact your friend to first apologize for your behaviour (your intent is mostly irrelevant: you were inconsiderate on several levels), and to second give her a heads-up on the situation in the event a potential employer comments on it. Ideally you’ll tell her every employer you sent your copied resume to.

      Further, if she provided that resume so you could circulate it, you need to tell her if you haven’t done that.

    3. Lindsay H.*

      Part me thinks you already knew what you did wasn’t okay and were looking for others to justify your behavior.

      I’m glad you’ve decided to revamp the content of your resume!

    4. Ry*

      Your intent was irrelevant to your action, which sounds like it was plagiarism. You could ruin your friend’s reputation, as well as your own, with this kind of behavior.

      When you do renovate your resume, using your own text, please have somebody edit it for you. You may have wonderful skills to offer, but they don’t convey from the (short) writing samples you’ve provided here.

  15. ChristineH*

    Great discussion re: saying hello/goodbye in the office (question #1). I’ll admit that I tend to greet all coworkers unless I see that they are on the phone (I may give a little wave if they’re facing me) or very focused on their work. Likewise, I appreciate when people greet me. Sure I’m disappointed if my greeting isn’t reciprocated, but then I immediately brush it off and move on. I wonder if their are additional issues with the OP’s employee because I cannot believe the others are complaining about something so minor; if it doesn’t affect your job performance, let it go.

  16. ChristineH*

    Just to clarify on that last post – I would only greet anyone I see as I’m going to where I need to go; it’s not like I’d actually go around room-to-room just for the sake of saying hello. lol.

    (I’m not actually in paid job, sadly; everything I’m referring to is in the context of where I volunteer.)

    1. fposte*

      We’ve got variable schedules, so I like people to say something when they come and go so I know who’s here in the case of a fire or other emergencies. The actual words are up to them.

      1. Jaime*

        I don’t care about people saying Hello, but I do like it when my immediate team members say goodbye. This way we all know when someone’s left so we know who’s still here and available to help if something blows up. But it’s certainly not the end of the world if they don’t, more of a “did Bob go home early, I haven’t seen him in awhile”?

  17. Interviewer*

    #5- Working 4/10’s – yes, you have 3-day weekends and can use Fridays to get a lot of errands done or get out of town. But 10-hour days, 4 days a week, can be pretty exhausting – mentally, physically, etc., depending on the job. Even if I had the energy, I wouldn’t be able to do it because my children’s daycare doesn’t work those hours. Your boss might not be able to flex specific positions to that schedule because there’s nothing to do when the rest of the team is on their commute. And it’s annoying as heck to the co-workers who actually need you to handle something on Friday.

    So, is it a retention practice? Probably. Is there any likelihood of this being medically necessary? It’s possible. Does she have grand plans to go on 3-day benders every weekend? I doubt it. She’ll probably spend way more time with her new schedule hassling HR on getting paid correctly for vacations and holidays, and figuring out how her ongoing projects and client concerns get covered on her day off. At my office, she’d miss out on most of the fun things we do around here, like casual days and special lunches.

    1. Jamie*

      I can see double shifts being exhausting, but 10 hour days?

      I start to feel it after hour 13, and more than three 12+ hour days in a row and I get cranky…but imo 10 is a lot closer to the average day than 8 hours.

        1. Jamie*

          There is nothing wrong with working an 8 hour day, if that’s your schedule. However, working longer hours isn’t always indicative of a lack of balance.

          For some people it is, but many people have balanced lives regardless of how much of that time they choose to spend working.

          1. Anonymous*

            I used to regularly work 10-12 hour days, and my home life and health suffered. Maybe some people can achieve balance working like that, but I am definitely not one of those people.

  18. KellyK*

    I think there’s nothing wrong with letting someone work 4 10-hour days and get a three-day weekend. Or three 12s and a 4 with several days off in a row, or 9 hour days with every other Friday off. If your schedule works, they’re getting done what they need to do, and hourly employees are working the right number of hours, why not?

    In general, I think that if you’re going to offer it to one person, it should be offered to everybody *whose job it’s compatible with.* Like, if you’re open five days a week, your receptionist can’t work a compressed schedule (well, unless you have multiple “must be there every day” people who can cross-train and cover each other).

    I really wouldn’t jump to assume “discrimination” or “special privileges.” Someone made a request, the boss decided it was workable, and they got it. If you think it would benefit you, you can ask for the same thing. If you don’t, and it doesn’t negatively affect you, there’s no reason to worry about it.

    Also, Interviewer has a really good point about the physical and mental strain of long days. My mom once worked at a nursing home that did 12-hour shifts, and she absolutely hated it. Because the schedule was fairly random, you didn’t tend to get huge blocks of days off in a row, but ones scattered here or there throughout the pay period. And after 12 hours of constant, frantic-paced work, she felt like crap on the first of those days off anyway, so they really seemed like a waste. People half her age (she was in her late 40s at the time if I recall) seemed to like it a lot better.

  19. Laurie*

    1. In the words of other commenters here, get over it. While it is entirely possible that she is a misanthropic social-outcast that is also passive-aggressive, and a 1-900 phone operator (impressive resume, in that case).

    Or, it could be that she is an introvert that doesn’t feel comfortable yelling out hellos and goodbyes for the whole office to hear, feels like saying ‘good morning’ to her boss on a daily basis is sucking up somehow and is uncomfortable with her phone conversations being heard by everyone around her, especially if it’s a open-cubicle arrangement.

    Just saying – introverts don’t look at the world the same way extroverts do. You could take her out to lunch and try to gauge if she is an introvert and/or ask indirectly if she gets uncomfortable with all the ‘good mornings’, ‘hellos’ and ‘goodbyes’ her coworkers keep throwing at her.

    2. Not cool, especially if you copied her wording too. Why would you, though? From a purely self-serving perspective, wouldn’t you want to *improve* on her wording so you can distinguish yourself from the competition? What’s the point in using her word and her format?

    4. Since I just did withdraw from being considered for a position, do it whenever you feel comfortable. If you think you can go into the interview and talk to the top person without already giving off signals that you’re going to turn down the position, then do it. If you aren’t sure, it’s best to tell them something specific about the job (not the manager, not their office wall color) that you don’t think is a great fit. The top person will appreciate his/her time not being wasted.

    1. Ali*

      1. I wondered why no one had commented on the introvert/extrovert dichotomy. As an introvert myself, I also do not make a practice of greeting everyone each and every time I cross their paths, which is quite often in the course of the day. And yes, it has gotten back to me that this behavior is noticed, often by those who are of the type yell across the lab, or talk so loud on the phone that everyone is privy to their every thought and appointment. Very different definition of “manners” for different folks.

      1. Anonymous*

        This drives me insane! I don’t usually consider myself an introvert, I really do enjoy having conversations with others and feel more energized when I’m in social environments (common mistake: being an introvert does not automatically mean you’re a quiet person, it means you get your energy from having “alone time”) but I get distracted easily. Since I’m prone to hour-long conversations with people, I try to avoid those situations at work. I will say a quick hello if I see someone, but chances are, I won’t stop to chat. This has led to co-workers in my new work place commenting on how quiet I am and how sometimes they don’t know I’m in my office because it’s so quiet. It’s not because I hate my co-workers or am not interested in getting to know them, it’s because that’s how I get my work done in a reasonable amount of time.

  20. Cruella*

    Oh Thank God! I was beginning to thing I’d bumped my head and woke up in Oz! I am in a similar situation as the subject of #1!

    I am not paid to be anyone’s friend! I’m paid to be your manager. That means I manage just your performance at work. While, for the most part, I try to be pleasant and social, the situation of the moment may not necessarily warrant it. You may get a “good morning/ good afternoon” from me, or you may not.

    Regardless of the situation, be it someone asking a simple question to someone calling out sick, my direct-reports seem to constantly complain about their “slighted feelings” to my manager. (about 75% are women by the way) It was even brought up a performance review. I’ve tried everything: Answering in the simplest of terms and I’m abrupt or uncaring. Going overboard feigning concern and I’m too nosey! It’s really beginning to get ridiculous. I undersand that I’m dealing with “people” and their “feelings,” but at what point do we just get back to work?

    I’m so glad to see that I’m not the only one who thinks everyone should just “grow up.”

    1. Anonymous*

      YES, thank you for saying this. I don’t know why so many people think they need to be best buddies with all their colleagues and then fall to pieces when this inevitably does not occur. It’s great if you happen to make friends at work, but that’s not what work is for.

    2. Liz*

      Fwiw from someone who doesn’t know you and might be misinterpreting your momentary annoyance in the above comment, your wording and the use of quote marks for emphasis conveys a tone of, “Why can’t people just get along with me on my terms?” That attitude could be causing the hurt feelings, rather than the specifics of what you say or how you say it.

      1. Anonymous*

        Team Cruella here. The worst place I ever worked was staffed by a number of overly-sensitive academics who were simply unable to accomplish the most basic tasks without first meeting to discuss how special they all were. The slightest bit of criticism would result in intense whining and in some cases, actual crying. Tears. Real tears. It was maddening.

        I was thrilled to move on to the brutal world of finance, where people feel that they can be as refreshing honest as they need to be in order to get things done.

        I’m of the opinion that if you have to dance around someone’s delicate feelings in order to get them to function properly, it is their issue and not yours.

  21. Lexy*

    3. So I work for state government and included a cover letter and resume with my application package which did not require it. I’m not sure how much it had to do with my getting an interview but I’m sure it didn’t hurt.

    However, (a) I work in an area of government that has a lot of crossover with the private sector, so the hiring practices are fairly similar. (b) the application was not submitted via an online form but emailed to the hiring manager, so I could include the cover letter/resume in a separate attachment.

  22. anon-2*

    #6 — yes, it is fair and probably good to let potential employers that you’ve got other offers in hand, and to ask for a timeline is not unreasonable.

    When it comes to filling positions, some companies act slowly and strangely. Losing their top candidate for a position often motivates them into getting the work of hiring done.

    See my reply to #4 above — the fact that my company of choice was going to lose me actually motivated them into extending the offer. If I *hadn’t* told them that, they would have dragged their feet and I might have ended up going elsewhere.

    There was another incident when I was actually unemployed. I had no other offers. But, after interviewing twice with a locally based company — I continued my search. That company continued theirs.

    I was interviewing with three companies, 400 miles away — the local company called my house. “Is anon-2 available — we MIGHT want to talk to him in a couple weeks.” mrs anon-2’s reply = “He’s not here. He’s in Pennsylvania today. He will be back tomorrow night.” They asked = “What’s he doing THERE?”

    “He has three job interviews.” The “let’s continue dialog for a few weeks” turned into “we want to offer you a job NOW.”

    But you have to be careful. You can’t bluff.

    1. OP #4*

      Thanks for these examples. I did go to the final interview since I had already scheduled and rescheduled it. I also went since the sector that I work in is a bit closed and would rather make contacts, not enemies by blowing the head person off.

      The hard thing is now that the head person is great and I would work for him, just not in the position that I am up for, given the manager. I am mulling a potential note to him after I decline/am declined the job and stating that if he needs someone going forward, to consider me. If I am forced to decline, I’ll have to give some comment about the scale of the job and trying to go back to grad school at the same time.

      Thanks for your input and all the varied scenarios involved. Unfortunately, there are no extant offers on the table in my case. I hope the job market in my field picks up.

      1. Jaime*

        Is there a possibility to transfer to the manager/department you’re really interested in? Would the ultimate goal be worth tolerating your direct manager for a year or so? I’m wondering how bad the fit is, or if you think you could work with it for while.

        1. OP #4*


          I would love the department and work I interviewed for, but can’t handle the boss for even a year. I was warned about this person from others and still kept an open mind in my interviews with him. I have a high tolerance for bottom line people and feel that I am pretty low maintenance when it comes to feedback, but I literally had nightmares when I considered taking the job. I’m a much more logical person, so I’ve tried to listen more to my inner voice over the years and my inner voice was shouting loudly about this person.

          The work is in this person’s department and he’s not going anywhere for 3-5 years. His boss, the head, seems great, but unless he needs a Special Assistant, there may not be many openings that he needs.

  23. Anon*

    I think the flex time thing can be great, but it really has to be handled carefully, and with some consideration for other employees. In a previous position, I was in a very small office (maybe 12 or so employees total, 3 of whom could be considered admin, basically). So if one admin person was off, it was frowned upon for any other admin person to be off on that particular day (unless due to illness or other emergency). And our bosses proceeded to make a similar arrangement with one person – every Friday off. So they basically made it very difficult for either of the other admin folks to take any Fridays off – for the entire summer. Their right? Absolutely, but it definitely created some resentment for the two of us stuck holding the bag.

    In a more recent position, a person I worked closely with also had Fridays off, although it at least wasn’t a problem for me to take a Friday off if I wanted to. But it did mean that if something urgent came up for my co-worker’s stuff on Friday, I had to cover it. Neither she nor my boss at the time ever said “thank you” for this. Not that I expect praise for everything I do – I don’t.

    But was it too much for them to recognize that it wasn’t actually part of my workload, but I stepped up and handled these issues cheerfully, competently, and without complaint? Seriously, just a “hey, thanks for taking care of that” would have been enough, but I never got even that.

    And then I got mildly chided by the same boss for asking to leave less than 2 hours early on maybe 3 Fridays total so that I could get a little extra time in on the final course in a degree program…did I mention that I work in education…and am on salary? Oh, but it was ok, because co-worker had a small child at the time…

    Which is really by way of saying, there’s a good way to do flex time, and a bad way to do flex time. I’d consider both of the above to be bad examples.

  24. Anonymous*

    On #1, the thing that caught eye was “she went to HR and complained that another manager and I whisper in our cubicles”. Really? First, it’s my manager’s prerogative to do whatever she wants in her cube. Second, I’m having a hard time thinking of any issue that would cause me to ever go over my manager’s head.

  25. William*

    #2 – I had an interesting experience when someone copied just the format of my resume.

    I have a very unique format for my resume. I know the conventional wisdom is that resume’s should usually be fairly generic, but I have gotten so much positive feedback about the unique format from recruiters and hiring managers that I’m not changing it. Anyway, I have shown my resume to friends in the past, and know a few have copied the format for use in their own resumes.

    About three years ago, I got a call from a hiring manager that I had interviewed with about two years before, saying “I received a resume from and it reminded me of your resume, and I looked back at yours and see they are the same format. We are strongly considering hiring this person, do you know her? Can you provide a reference?”

    Recruiters and managers do spot these similarities. And, as has been mentioned on this blog many many times, anyone can be a called as a reference.

    1. just another hiring manager...*

      What field are you in? A “fairly generic” resume is bad. The conventional wisdom should be that your resume be formatted in a way consistent with your field.

      I’m also highly skeptical about a “very unique format,” but I would have to see it to believe it. In 8 years of hiring, I have never seen a “very unique format” resume…

      1. KayDay*

        I’ve seen some unique graphic design/online communications specialist resumes! (Keep in mind that in these cases the resume serves double as a resume and a work sample).

      2. William*

        I’m a computer programmer. My resume has a standard resume across 3/4 the page, and a light blue column down the right side for 1/4 the page width, which beside each job lists the specific languages and applications that I used in that job. So, a prospective employer can skim the list of languages in that column for what they are looking for, then read the text for a more conventional description of how I used those languages/applications in the job. Then by the education section is a more cumulative section where I list the years of experience with each language/application.

        I consider it unique simply on the basis that I’ve never seen another resume like it, and neither have any of the hiring managers, recruiters, or job center staff I’ve talked to, and as mentioned in my original post, I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback on it in interviews.

        1. Anonymous*

          I have a resume similar to that! It’s not exactly the same…but don’t worry, we are in completely different fields. I was quite proud of my unique resume, too =\

  26. OP #3*

    Thanks for all of the helpful responses. There are a few other oddities in this application…no where do they ask for previous supervisor names or phone numbers, but they do ask for three non-supervisor work references. The field for the date of birth is first, not the name field…not a big deal, i just haven’t encountered an application quite like it before.

    It’s not an online application, and I am leaning towards just putting my cover letter in there. We shall see. Thanks again!

  27. Anonymous*

    #1: really?? This is what you are writing in about? Seriously? And you’re a manager? If that were my team I would tell them to buck up, shut up, and focus on their jobs. Who cares if one person doesn’t say hello to everyone or you are strangely offended by how she talks. You should be focused on performance, not ridiculous petty stuff like this!

  28. Anonymous*

    #5: Focus on your own job. This is a perfect time to master the rare “minding your own business” skill.

  29. Bill*

    #3. I’m in the “hiring services” unit for a large city’s central HR department handling civil service applications. What I’m looking for is “does this person meet the minimum education/experience requirements?” This information should be on the application itself or the resume (if one is attached). If these requirements are met, great, you go in the approved pile. If not, a great cover letter is pretty unlikely to convince me otherwise. Plus, the way a civil service system works is that a cover letter is relatively irrelevant when you still have take, and pass, an exam (written or oral) before you’re even called for an interview. Although when we said the approved candidates to the client departments, we forward the entire application (including resume, attachments, and so on) so it might make for a good conversation starter in an interview, but it won’t get you an interview.

    In my experience, most people who have attached a cover letter when given the chance, probably should not have attached one in the first place. (generic, riddled with spelling and grammatical errors, and/or still have the previous application’s information on it.)

    Now, my little spiel being over, I want to iterate that not all government entities operate like mine does. Not every place is as “bogged down in regimented application bureaucracy.” (side note: I love that phrase because it’s 100% true in my case). If you’re not given the opportunity to attach a cover letter, don’t. If you ARE given the opportunity, don’t waste it. As Malissa and another poster said above, bring a copy with you to the interview along with your resume. At that point, it couldn’t hurt (unless your cover letter is just plain awful).

    1. OP #3*

      Thanks for the insight you provided here. What I chose to do was include as much information from my cover letter as possible (tiny handwriting!) on the space provided for in the application.

      I am scheduled now for a lengthy test (over four hours); this is for a 911 operator/dispatcher role. I know that how I do on the test will determine whether I proceed further in the candidate pool, but I don’t want to be seen as over-dressing if I wear a business suit. Do you think what I wear to the testing matters? (Obviously all of my wardrobe options would be well within the realm of business casual.)

  30. Anonymous*

    So I’m just noticing this now, and think it may be an underlaying issue for #1. The OP mentions that the person only says hello or goodbye to certain people and ignores some when they say it to her. This makes me wonder if the work place issue is deeper and the person in question is unwilling to work with others in the office and causing noticable tension. I also wonder if, as the manager, the OP is feeling disrespected and unsure how to bring it up.

    Then again…the situation could just be the face value where the OP is taking things too personally.

    1. Anonymous*

      I agree with you. There just has to be more to that story. It really doesn’t make sense otherwise.

    2. Jamie*

      I had a similar situation once, a co-worker said hello to everyone except for me and one co-worker. It was obvious and went on for over a year.

      The difference was, I didn’t care…truth is it took me over six months to notice. I’m kind of oblivious about that kind of thing.

      Anyway, it turns out she’s a lovely woman and really very nice. We started at the same time, and when I’m new I can be somewhat aloof because that’s how I handle nervousness. She thought I didn’t like her, so she didn’t like me back.

      We turned a corner when I overheard her talking about a computer problem she was having at home, and I couldn’t let her spend a lot of money on repair when I could fix it fast for nothing. Her son needed the computer for school and coming up with the money for the geek squad would have been a huge hardship for her – so I was nice in spite of myself.

      We’ve had a great relationship since, I’ve even taken to mentoring her in some accounting areas as she’s advancing in her job. But that’s not to be nice, I really do love teaching people about budgets and Pareto charts.

      1. khilde*

        This is an excellent example as to how unintentional misunderstandings occur that escalate. Jamie, you are a task-focused person and the other lady is a people-focused person. I just did a training class yesterday that talked about these differences. And I gently scoled the people-focused people that we have to stop taking everything so damn personally! (I don’t swear in class, but I wish I could. It’d be more exciting). And I get several nods of agreement from the people-focused people. I tell them they need to not take it personally from the task-focused people, because it truly is NOTHING PERSONAL! You task-people aren’t even thinking about the interpersonal fallout because you’re focused on the job. Argh. People are too willing to take things personally in the workplace, which is what contributes to a LOT of this mess (and I say this as someone who identifies with the people focus). I think this is a great story. Do you mind if I share this as an example in future classes? I won’t even need to use your name. Thanks.

        1. Jamie*

          Feel free to use anything you like, what an awesome compliment!

          You are dead right about the people vs task focus issue. And yes, while the people focused people would be happier if they took things less personally…it wouldn’t kill us task focused people to make a little effort to connect to our co-workers.

          I’m not saying we should go crazy and start inviting new people to lunch, or attending non-mandatory company parties…I can’t drink that kool-aid…but a little human interaction to remind ourselves that our co-workers are people and not just other cogs in the project machine wouldn’t go amiss.

          1. khilde*

            “it wouldn’t kill us task focused people to make a little effort to connect to our co-workers”

            I like you so very much, Jamie :) Because you are very reasonable and objective while still being personable. What you said is what I tell people in my class: the people-people need to not take it all personally; and the task-people need to understand that relationships are very important to the people-people. Both sides need to understand that other people just need different things to have their communication needs met. And it does no good whatsoever to make value judgments on other people’s needs. Cause if you judge me, I can just as easily judge you. It’s a never-ending cycle of dumb. If you know these differences exist, then why not try to adjust your own behavior slightly to better communications between another person? The benefit of doing that is if you meet their needs to an extent, that person is more likely to want to cooperate with you to meet your needs. And in the end, we all need to cooperation of someone else to solve problems, think of new ideas, and generally make the workplace function. Sealing yourself off with the attitude of “you go first, I’m sick of pandering to your needs” isn’t an effective strategy in the long run.

            So, umm where was I? Oh!…thanks again for the story! :)

  31. Natasha*

    It probably weird but I much prefer applications where I don’t have to send in a cover letter. I don’t apply for jobs that require creative writing because I am truly horrible at it. Since I am that bad though my cover letters always range from horrible to terrible to obviously a template. I hate having to submit one though since in a job that doesn’t require creative writing, it penalizes those who are bad at creative writing but could be amazing at the job.

    1. P*

      IMO, a cover letter isn’t “creative writing” – it’s a normal business communication. One that’s usually fraught with dread and frustration because it can be personal, but business communication nonetheless. If you’re applying for white-collar jobs, I don’t really think it penalizes people who aren’t good at this type of writing – business communication is an important skill for everyone in a white-collar field to have.

  32. Anonymous*

    Re: #1 Employee not saying hello

    Why do you even care if someone doesn’t say hello/bye to you? Are you that insecure about yourself that you have to worry if someone talks to you or not? My co-workers come in and leave everyday and don’t even say hello/goodbye. Do I care? Nope. I would be too concentrated on my work to worry about stupid things like that.

  33. Harry*

    #5) Not a lot of people like working 10 hours. The only exception would be people who work 10 hour days regardless if its a 4-10 or a 5-8 schedule. If I were the OP, this would be a great time to ask the manager if you can work from home once every 2 weeks.

    1. JT*

      Yeah, 10 hours once or twice a week is OK, or all week a few times a year is nothing. But every day for four days week after week can get old, unless you have a super-short commutte.

  34. Just Me*

    #1- Unless it is distruptive to the work what is the big deal? I have worked in places who have people that say hi to everyone, say hi to a couple of people, who simply ” bond ” more with some than others and others that ignore you.

    I work now at a place where the leads and supervisors are told NOT to talk to us. Work related fine but some actually divert their eyes when walking down the aisle. Is it odd.. wrong.. bad for employee relations.. yup… but do I care? Nope… they leave me alone all day ! And there is not a dang thing I can do about it. I do not take it personally.

    1. JT*

      That sounds like my dorm at college, which has a reputation of people being very snooty and aloof. Such much so that there was a bit of joke in which the phrase “a [dorm name] hello” meant completely ignoring someone as you walked by.

  35. Steve Geoghan*

    I get why she doesn’t say hi. I worked at a large corporation with huge, open floors. I walked by the same 200 people all day, knew maybe 50, only needed to talk to about 10 of them on a daily basis. If I got in the habit of saying “hi” to everyone I got in close quarters with, I would be saying “hi” a 100000X times per day, which is fine, but it can be ackward when ALL you ever say to someone is “hi” and “bye.” It creates a sort of ackward dynamic where the other person tried to hard to start a conversation just so you have something to say besides “hi” and “bye.” Better to avoid all of this and simply not greet everyone!

  36. Anonymous*

    #1 – I don’t say hello to everyone at my job, and not everyone says hello to me. There are a few people who just give me a bad vibe, and I try to limit my communications with them. One guy in another department started randomly talking to me one day, and he got through one conversation to ask me about my dating life.

    Now I try to avoid him as best as possible because whether or not I’m available, I don’t need him to start hounding me about any information or asking me out if I’m single. I don’t want the repercussions of turning him down. He gave me a weird vibe from the start, and that one conversation secured that feeling.

  37. Cassie*

    #1 – the breathy whisper could be annoying for me. I had a coworker who would whisper – I don’t know if she was trying not to disturb anyone else, but it wasn’t necessary. But it’s not like you can tell someone “stop whispering”. What if that was just her regular voice?

    As for the hellos and goodbyes, *sigh*. In our office, some people have offices, other people sit in cubicles. I choose not to walk in front of the offices when I walk to my cube. There are some people who walk in front of the offices and say hello to each and every office-dweller. It would annoy me.

    There is one person who will call out good morning to me as she’s making her rounds – I respond back but I usually don’t look up from my computer (she’s not looking for my undivided attention – at least not at that point in the day). My neighbor does say good morning to me (and I respond), and when I leave, he says bye to me and I say bye. We sit next to each other, I’ll tell him if I have to go to the next building (in case someone is looking for me), and vice versa. It’s more utilitarian than trying to be polite.

    If I’m walking and I pass by someone, we will exchange hellos, smiles or nods. Some profs do not respond – they either won’t meet your gaze or will look elsewhere. That’s fine – I’m only saying hi as as sort of a pre-emptive strike. I’m an introvert, and I’m a bit shy, but I’d rather not get into a discussion on why I’m so quiet or whatever – so I’ll just be polite.

    It drives me crazy that people (namely the ones in the office) are so loud – when they talk to each other, they stand in the doorways. Or in the walkways. And a lot of it is whiny, pointless chatter (I mean, they sometimes sound like grade school children). For us in the cubes, we have nowhere else to have conversations. For them, they should actually use the offices – they have doors for a reason!

    1. JT*

      ‘But it’s not like you can tell someone “stop whispering”. ‘

      Sure you can – just say “I can’t hear you – please speak up.”

      1. Cassie*

        And what do you do if the person normally has a low, raspy voice?

        Or what if the person is not talking to you? In my example, my coworker was not talking to me – she was talking to the person sitting in the next cubicle. I’m not going to say “hey, speak up, I can’t eavesdrop when you’re whispering!”

  38. Anonymous*

    #1: I was going to be on the “Really? Get over it” bandwagon, but the fact is there is team conflict going on, and it must be addressed, however petty it may appear. If you ignore it, it will get worse and be detrimental to productivity and success. I commend you for reaching out for help with this.

    Perhaps a little team discussion of diversity and communication styles (e.g. some folks smile as an acknowledgement, etc… using some of the above information) is in order? The problem is not this person, but rather your team dynamics. Remember to focus on issues and not people.

    Good Luck.

  39. Anonymous*

    #3 Different government agencies will do it differently. My agency anything that comes thru HR will get stripped down to the application. But if you can get something direct to the Hiring Manager then they’ll read everything. Some will always include everything. Something that I’ve run across a lot in a range of state, county, city agencies in my region is that they have in the interview process a set list of questions, generally with multiple parts that the interviewers are not supposed to deviate from. You get points for answering each part completely. Going thru when they read the question and taking notes on each part and then expanding on everything else that is shiny and good about you is really what you should be doing. They can consider anything else you say, but they can’t ask extra questions. (I was once told this was all about not having interviewers not accidentally ask questions that would give information about protected classes, but really, would a simple, can you give me an example of your excel skills? be too much to ask?)

    #6 I recently turned down the next step in a interview process and feel much better for having done it. But when I did I got a follow up email saying that I was their top choice and they wanted to know why. I was a bit dodgey and said I have another offer (I’m like 99% sure I do but it isn’t actually firm yet) and said that the speed of the other process was much more comfortable for me. (The process I stepped out of was taking upwards of 8 months for a fairly entry level spot, which made me go no way, not a chance.) But when the company says that do they really want feedback or what is going on there?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      But when the company says that do they really want feedback or what is going on there?

      Yes, they really want to know. (Just like you want to know why a company rejects you.)

  40. anth*

    #1 maybe she’s just shy.

    (I find it awkward to say hi to everyone, though if I run into someone on my way to my desk, usually I’ll smile or say good morning. But if an office neighbor says good morning on the way into their office, they’re not always going to get a response. I might be stuck in an email and by the time I am ready to respond they’re in their office already. )

    Now consider it’s passive-agressive behaviour on your part to forcefully say Good Morning Jane specifically to her because you are annoyed she didn’t say anything when you came in.

    Definitely a put on your big girl panties moment.

  41. Garrett Browning*

    #4 Withdrawing from interviews/offer …

    I’m a successful veteran recently-retired-after-30-years recruiter in high-tech. Do not wait until after receiving an offer if you already know you don’t want the job. Putting together an offer often takes time and multiple approvals and offers that are made only to be turned down look bad for everyone involved, including the candidate. How would you feel if the company had you come in for final interviews and led you to believe that there is serious interest only to learn that they knew they didn’t want you? I recommend you withdraw immediately with a simple “thank-you” and “I’m pursuing other options.” Note to managers and recruiters: never start the offer process without getting a committment from the candidate that he/she will accept.

  42. Anony Mouse*

    In response to question to number one, we have a similar situation with our boss, and its so frustrating! There are eight of us in cubicles down one side of a room. The boss walks in and ignores everyone except his “favorite son,” whom he rushes to, says good morning, chats a few minutes then goes on to his office. During the day he will spend up to an hour or more sitting outside the “favorite son’s” cubicle talking about everything from the newest app for his I-phone to local restaurants, weekend plans, etc.
    If you try to say, “good morning” to him or chat with him he will look straight through you like you don’t exist!
    Three of us last year worked ourt tails off trying to get this guy to acknowledge our value to the department. Our case closure stats were each higher than the rest of the office staff, including the “favorite son.” We each had letters of thanks from clients, while the “favorite son” had none. The boss accused us of soliciting the letters from clients (none of us did) and said he would not use them in our annual performance evaulations!
    We requested a copy of all of the evaluations from HR for our office at the end of the year last year. The boss wrote a glowing evaluation for the “favorite son” while the rest of us received mediocre evaluations.
    Yes, most of us are looking for another job but in this economy its hard. The rudeness is very unbprofessional, but what really hurts are the evaluations. How can you overcome that? My friends and I have started sending all thank-you letters and accomplishments to HR for inclusion in our personnel files. We don’t know what else to do. The boss is very popular with upper level management, so going to them is pretty well out of the question. I really like my job, I just can’t stand my boss. He can have a favorite all he wants, but I want a fair and accurate evaluation for my personnel record!
    I think now even more I jsut want a new job.

    1. Anonymous*

      Keep copies of all those glowing letters and thank yous in your personal portfolio (ie, at home,) too! That should help you in your job search.

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