terse answer Thursday — 7 short answers to 7 short questions

It’s terse answer Thursday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. My boss and I like each other and it’s uncomfortable

My boss is a female and I am a male. We are both married. I really do like her and she gives me the impression she likes me too. The problem is that I think I make her uncomfortable because she likes me. Neither of us have done or would ever do anything inappropriate, but my thinking that I make her uncomfortable is bothering me. I see how she interacts with other people and she is very relaxed and comfortable, but with me she is tense and nervous. It’s because I genuinely like her and working for her that her uneasiness bothers me. I’m a shy introvert and ahe has also admitted the same to me. When we are alone, it is a little better but around other people she practically ignores me. I want to confront her, but think it might make her even more uncomfortable, and the whole idea of making her uncomfortable is making me uncomfortable. I thought it was cute at first, but it’s been 8 months and starting to make me feel some kind of way. Can’t emphasize enough that we get along fine. It’s just this tension between us. How should I resolve this?

Pretend it’s not happening, and interact with her like you would anyone else. Do not under any circumstances “confront” her about what you believe her feelings to be; that would be wildly inappropriate.

Also, consider the possibility that she’s uncomfortable around you because you’re either giving her the vibe that you’re attracted to her or that you think she’s attracted to you — either one would make one’s manager uncomfortable.

2. Coworker distracts me by looking at me

I work in a small office and unfortunately I am easily distracted. I have a coworker who often gets up and every time they do, as soon as they are in view, they look at me. Almost every time and it is making me feel uncomfortable. Is this action normal?

It’s annoying, but it’s not shockingly uncommon. Can you put up some kind of barrier?

3. Interpreting interviewer’s signals at the end of an interview

I had my first-round interview on Monday. I did okay on the interview, with some good answers and some bad ones. I’m worried that I may have done worse than I thought though because she didn’t ask for references at the end, and also said, “Thanks for coming in” at the end. Do these things mean anything? Could it be that they don’t ask for references until the second interview? She did tell me that they will know by next week regarding the candidates for the second interview, and that I am welcome to follow up in the meantime. (I don’t intend on following up until at least a week has passed, don’t worry :D )

I wouldn’t read anything into either of those things. Employers often don’t ask for references until the very end of the process, and “thanks for coming in” is a normal thing to say at the end of an interview, because they want to thank you for, well, coming in. It’s not dismissive or code for “I don’t expect to ever speak to you again” or anything like that.

4. Offering a personal business card to your interviewer

I saw another blog recommending that you should bring your own business cards with your contact info on them to hand out at interviews. Is this now a thing?

I hope not. Anyone interviewing you has your contact information, because they have your resume. Business cards that you’d have printed up specially for job-seeking would be extraneous.

5. Vacation days when you start a new job at the end of the year

I have been at my new job for just under a month. My offer included 5 vacation days which expire January 1, 2013. Associates hired this late in the year typically do not get any vacation days, but since my offer was somewhat generous, I figured the days were just an added bonus. Last week, I inquired about scheduling some of the paid days off, and my manager seemed surprised. She did not know that I was given any and really had to scrounge the calendar to find some dates that would work. Now I am concerned how “needing a vacation” after just a few weeks will make me look. Am I jeopardizing people’s view of my work ethic by not letting these days go to waste?

Probably. I know that they were part of your offer, but in general taking time off right after starting a job doesn’t look great. The holidays are often an exception, but I’d use them only for specifically holiday time (i.e., the days connected to Christmas and New Year’s), and only if your manager doesn’t seem put out. I’d value the impression you’re making on your new manager over the principle of being able to use days that were part of your offer.

6. Avoiding looking like a job-hopper

I graduated from college two years ago, and since then have had terrible luck beyond my control in terms of employment. My first professional job was with a small start-up company, but I was caught in a downsize only three months after starting the position. I’ve been at my current job for a year now, but the company is in dire financial straits, the workplace environment has become toxic, and I’m being forced to take a part-time position working only a fraction of my previous full-time hours. I’m currently job hunting and don’t want to appear negative in any resumes, CVs, or cover letters by mentioning the situations surrounding my short tenures at jobs, but I’m worried that I look like a poorly behaved employee or a job hopper. How would I go about protecting myself from that impression without becoming a case of “the gentleman doth protest too much”?

I’d probably leave the first job off your resume altogether, since three months is such a short stay that you won’t have any notable accomplishments to include anyway, and it won’t strengthen your resume (and instead will just raise questions). That would leave you with just the current job, and you can explain if asked that the company is struggling financially and cutting people’s hours.

7. Confrontational coworker tape-recorded our conversation

I have a coworker who is fairly incompetent. Now I typically don’t care, but here screw ups affect my job as well. I work in the U.S., but my company is based in the UK. I bring this up because it’s my understanding that in the UK they don’t fire people very often, unless they do something totally egregious.

Well today I was working from home, and I found out that this coworker decided to handle something that was my job, not hers (which is a common problem many people have with her). I called to try and A) figure it out so I could correct it, and B) discuss why she felt the need to do it in the first place. The fact that she refuse any wrong doing made me extremely frustrated, and the conversation got pretty heated (more from my end then hers). All of a sudden we were “disconnected”. She then called me back and we talked some more then got “disconnected” again. She called back again and we had some words. It wasn’t going anywhere so I essentially suggested me, her, and her manager have a meeting to discuss this. At the end of the conversation she said that she would let people judge me themselves because she recorded the call. Now aside from that being completely ridiculous to do that to a coworker, I work in Illinois where its actually illegal to record someone without their knowledge.

I’m trying to figure out the best way to go about dealing with this. She is kind of a brat and its probably withing my rights to actually have her arrested, although I think that is a bit extreme (even though I can’t stand her). But my manager is on maternity leave, her manager (who is actually on the organizational chart even with me) isn’t back in the office until next week. Also, we have no HR department in our office and I’m not really familiar with UK HR policies. Talking to this girl clearly doesn’t work since I’m just the latest in a long line of people to have these type of confrontations with her.

Talk to her manager about it when she returns next week. However, it sounds like you weren’t exactly a paragon of professionalism here either. Trying to get a coworker to admit wrongdoing rather than simply solving the problem, “having words” with a coworker, and even contemplating whether you could have her arrested are rarely productive actions, and they’re rarely things that will reflect well on you.

Anyway, talk to her manager about the situation — explain she’s confrontational, difficult to work with, and illegally recorded your conversation as some sort of ammunition, and request that her manager address the problem with her and resolve it, because you need her to adhere to basic levels of professionalism when working with you.

{ 163 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonymous*

    #1 – Eek! Just reading that post made me uncomfortable, the OP is reading too much into his “likability factor” and do exactly as AAM instructs, do not confront and try like hell to pretend it’s not happening.
    #5 – I like that advice – I too started a new job in March and negotiated over 3 weeks of holidays, I took a few but have over 1 week left,I just didn’t feel the need, and have been stressed out trying to figure out how to jam in the rest by the end of the year because we can’t roll them into the next and there is no payout for unused days but AAM makes a lot of sense, it’s really no big thing, just part of the deal, much more important to focus on establishing yourself in the first few months. I feel alot better now…..
    #7- wow, your co-worker is an idiot, that’s all I have to say about it, agree with AAM, let her manager know what transpired and the recorded call, which is a lot worse than anything you may have said that was offensive to her ( unless you made a stupid racist remark) but it doesn’t sound like that’s the case

    1. Lisa*

      Start doing some half days. You can get errands done, be refreshed for like 2 weeks by going to work for only 5 hours a day. You’ll use the time, but be around to get work done and not completely inconvenience anyone

      1. Vicki*

        I’ll add a +10 for the half days idea. It really improves your mindset when you’re feeling pressured and stressed, uses the time they _gave you_ as part of the offer (so, yes, you should take it) yets doesn;t have you gone for, say, a while week.

  2. EngineerGirl*

    #7 Uh, just how are you going to get someone in the UK arrested for breaking a US law? As a rule, they wouldn’t even arrest someone in the US for doing that.

    I think it is important to let the manager know (maybe via e-mail) that she put the company at risk by doing something illegal. But as Alison said, you’ve greatly weakened your case by not behaving professionally. And I mean **greatly** weakened it.

    In speaking to her manager I would point out that her going into your work actually created errors that caused you more work. I’m not sure how the tape recording works, but doing it across international boundaries probably makes it worse (I’m not an international lawyer).
    If you must talk with her again I would suggest asking her **why** she is doing it. Then go from there. But seek understanding first.

    1. OP #7*

      Maybe it wasn’t clear, she is in Illinois as am. Our company is UK based, but we are both in the Illinois office.

      And to say I was acting unprofessional which weakened my case about her doing something illegal? I don’t know if thats the case. I wasn’t necessarily super nice, but I made no personal attacks, just commented on her work and the mistakes she repeatedly makes that affect my job.

      1. Anonymous*

        I might be tempted to let your coworker hang herself by bringing up the recording. Contact her boss, tell the boss what happened – just the facts, no labels or opinions – that this coworker had taken over one of your tasks, done it incorrectly, caused a problem that you had needed to correct. That this kind of this has happened before. That you’d spoken to them about it but you didn’t think you’d succeeded in ensuring this would not recur, and you had to admit you got frustrated, which didn’t help. Could the boss please address it with her?

        And if the boss says that the coworker recorded it, rather than being deflected into what was in the tape, you could say, “Well she said that she had, but I decided she couldn’t really have done it, because I’m pretty sure that recording a phone call without both parties’ consent is against the law in this state.” And leave her boss to chew on that.

        1. Another Anonymous*

          I agree. Let her bring up the fact that she recorded your conversation. Because it seems such a childish thing to do, it’s likely her manager will be put off by it and won’t want to hear it anyway.

          However, OP, you might want to evaluate your own behavior during this conversation and admit any potential mishandling.

            1. BW*

              Had a similar experience where someone we let go from volunteer work claimed to have recorded a meeting where she was totally off the wall nuts, and she would use this to prove whatever it was she thought she could prove. What I think really happened is she was pissed off, and threatening all kinds of legal action and this story was part of that puffing up to scare us into doing whatever she wanted us to do.

              I don’t think she did record it, but if she did, she’s hanging herself with her own rope – not just because she looks crazy for secretly recording a conversation, but because if she did, the entire recording will be her incoherant ranting.

              Keep all of your behavior above board. This woman will eventually be the cause of her own demise if she continues acting that way.

              1. Piper*

                “Keep all of your behavior above board. This woman will eventually be the cause of her own demise if she continues acting that way.”

                This. I am dealing with a similar moron at work who has left a long line of wreckage in her path in her short time at the company. I’m her latest target, but I also know that she’s a known quantity. She can’t keep up her antics forever and she’ll eventually hang herself. No need for me to get heated. I’m just killing the crazy with kindness at this point, because that makes her look like an even bigger nitwit.

                Although, for what it’s worth, I do keep all emails and save all IM communications from her in a CYA kind of way. Because she’s known to lie and I want to keep as much evidence of that as possible.

                1. Piper*

                  Also, I have the same issue as #2 with this same work nitwit. She gives me the staredown every time she walks by. It’s ridiculous.

                  She’s actually gone so far as to sigh loudly and roll her eyes at me when she actually directly runs into me (like in the hallway or something). So appropriate. So professional.

      2. EJ*

        I would let go of trying to prosecute the legality of this call. I don’t think it’s your real problem.

        I think what you’re really after is reporting this on moral grounds and the fact that its likely against company policy. Not to mention the actual problem here, which is that she is making your work difficult and adding extra effort for you.

      3. Joy*

        Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer! Just a law student with an internet connection!

        It looks like Illinois has VERY strict anti-eavesdropping provisions. It’s actually a felony (Class 4) there to record a conversation without consent, and that’s bumped up to a Class 1 felony if the recording is of a law enforcement official.

        I don’t know how strictly the state enforces this kind of thing when it doesn’t involve recordings of police, but having a felony on your record is very difficult to bounce back from in terms of finding future employment.

        I would leave this up to your manager(s) to handle – personally, I wouldn’t want to be responsible for someone ending up with a felony charge under such a (IMO) draconian law. I doubt your employer would be thrilled about that either.

        1. OP #7*

          I’m a very compassionate person, but I honestly wouldn’t feel bad if she had a felony on her record for this. Its a clear invasion of privacy, and the fact that she called me back to record it shows she was trying to set me up. Why should I feel bad about something like that.

          1. fposte*

            However, the odds of the cops actually coming out and arresting her for this are slim, and I think you need to walk yourself back from the “I could have her arrested!” stand, because you probably can’t. Mostly this is prosecuted in connection with other malfeasance rather than being something cops will come and get people for in its own right, especially in a situation like this where it’s a low-impact interpersonal dispute.

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I’d seriously consider firing someone who tried to have another coworker arrested for something like this, because there’s no way someone could do that and be operating professionally or with the best interest of the organization in mind.

            1. OP #7*

              Wow, I will say I think its interesting that you’d fire someone who pressed charges over the person who actually broke a law. Also, I’d just like to point out that I have a very good reputation in my office, so I don’t think my professionalism is a question, but I do feel that my privacy was compromised by this.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                I’d consider it because it would be such an over the top reaction. If a coworker hit you or something similar, I’d have no problem with you involving the law. But for something like this? Unprofessional overreaction that would raise serious questions about your judgment and ability to resolve problems with coworkers.

                1. Ellie H.*

                  I don’t know. I find the idea of being recorded without my knowledge deeply disturbing. I think others do too and that’s why it’s against the law. What would the situation be if it were a video recording? Or if the conversation or information being recorded were personal rather than about a professional disagreement? I’m not saying that I would personally involve the police, and I kind of agree with the sense that in this particular situation, it could seem like there is more of an intention to punish/”get in trouble” than to remedy having one’s privacy violated. But like I said, I would find being recorded deeply disturbing and just bizarre.

                2. Michael*

                  Most places I’ve worked there is a clear statement that you have no privacy in the office, that calls may be recorded, computer use monitored etc. However, things to get hairy because intent, common understanding and such get involved. The calls in the office being recorded are generally for the purpose of official calls or calls to customers etc and not for an argument between two people not really over work. For example, even though you’re at work if you get a call from your doctor your employer can’t use that information even if you sign a consent form for your calls to be recorded. It’s more hairy because the OP wasn’t at work. They were at home on their personal line. It’s, at best, gray and should be discussed with an attorney before any action is taken. The onus is still on the OP to prove there is a recording. That’d be the major thing because without it there is nothing to stand on and even with it there is a lot of context and minutia to sort through.

          3. Michael*

            To be blunt: she could be talking shit. If you jump the gun and call the police, etc and there is no recording then you’ve basically hung yourself out to dry. Tell someone, inform your attorney etc just to log the occurrence and statement and only act on it if she tries to use it because until then it’s just your word versus hers. The disconnects aren’t evidence.

        2. Josh S*

          The courts have placed a stay on enforcement of the “recording an officer in the course of duty” portion of the law. Too many people were being prosecuted for video-recording encounters with the police. I think they’re in the process of ruling it unconstitutional. (Details hazy, I am not a lawyer, I am not your lawyer, this is not legal advice.)

          Still, it’s a two-party consent state here in IL, so you have to get consent from all parties before recording a phone call.

          1. Anon*

            While true, I’m wondering if he has possibly previously consented as a condition of his employment. I know, for example, that all conference calls at my place of employment (in Illinois) are recorded. I don’t recall ever signing anything to that effect, but it very well could have been in my contract and I wouldn’t have paid it any attention. This company is large enough that I am certain they would not overlook this.

            1. Naomi*

              It sounds like OP was at home during the call. Could be a company cell phone though, it’s not clear. Either way, there’s a difference between consenting to the company recording your calls and consenting to a colleague doing so for themselves. Even if OP consented to the company monitoring their phone, that’s not the same as consenting to anyone else monitoring it.

            2. Vicki*

              There is a HUGE difference between the company recording all calls through their system (e.g. This call may be monitored for quality assurance) and an individual co-worker recording an individual call.

      4. UK HR Bod*

        It’s not illegal in the UK (although that news story is 6 years old – our governments like to make up lots more laws every year…), but technically organisations should be clear when they are recording, so she could be hit by that. It’s pretty stupid behaviour, but stupid behaviour should be dealt with by performance management, not laws. Otherwise the jails would be very very full (mostly with staff at my place!).
        Whether it would come under UK performance management policies or not depends on your contract. If you have a minimum of 4 weeks holiday, you’re probably on a UK contract. If not, you’re probably on a US one and therefore US processes would apply.
        If it’s UK, then stupidity probably doesn’t warrant more than a tough conversation, maybe a warning – unless of course the recording (if made) exposes the company to any vicarious liabilty.

  3. Peaches*

    #7 Just a word of caution before you accuse her of illegal behaviour. You might want to double check the law in your state because many people misinterpret it. I’ve done some investigative journalism work and in most places it is illegal to record a conversation you are not part of and which the people having the conversation don’t know your recording (hence, a judge’s order for a wire tap). However, recording a conversation that you ARE a part of, even just a little bit, is usually not illegal in countries with free speech laws. That’s how you get all those exposé shows.

    I agree it wasn’t very professional or nice, but it isn’t necessarily illegal and if you already got heated with her in the discussion, you want to be sure the facts you present are accurate.

    1. EngineerGirl*

      It was on the phone and Illinois requires the consent of both parties. So in Illinois it is illegal. But it is a civil, not criminal matter.

      1. Anonymous*

        “But it is a civil, not criminal matter”

        Exactly. Now if only everyone took an introductory law course…

      2. OP #7*

        yeah, I’ve looked into it. It can be both a criminal and civil case. Thats what lawyer friends are for :)

        1. Kelly*

          You could maybe bring it to court, but no one is going to arrest her until you have a “guilty” verdict for illegal phone recording. Unless you live in a very quiet town, the cops might not even be too nice about your report (I’m not saying it’s right, but they probably wouldn’t consider “my coworker recorded me without my permission” a public safety threat). And how would you prove that in court unless you have the tape or she has already played it for witnesses? Just saying – there are many things which are illegal, but seeing those laws enforced is another matter.

          1. -X-*

            Kelly, verdicts are results of trials. Arrests typically happen before trials.

            “And how would you prove that in court unless you have the tape or she has already played it for witnesses?”

            Please don’t give legal advice anymore.

              1. -X-*

                Can you please help me by showing me how to rephrase what I wrote more nicely. I don’t understand the problem.

                1. KellyK*

                  There’s a huge difference between “Hey, you said this thing that isn’t correct,” and “You’re totally clueless, please shut up and go away.” Your last sentence has strong overtones of the second. It may be what you *wanted* to say, but it’s not nice or respectful.

                  Especially when Kelly did have a valid point that the police aren’t likely to consider a recorded work conversation a public safety threat that they need to deal with.

                  You made it sound like she didn’t say a single useful or correct thing, rather than that she had some details and terminology wrong.

                2. -X-*

                  To go to specifics, it is not the case that police only respond to things that are public safety threats.

                  More generally, if a substantial portion of what someone says about a topic is wrong, they shouldn’t give advice on that topic. It’s not that not one thing is right, but that a lot is wrong.

                3. KellyK*

                  While, yes, the police respond to more than public safety threats, someone recording a conversation with a coworker strikes me as very far down on the list of things they would consider a priority.

                  For that matter, an opinion on what the police are or are not likely to take seriously isn’t legal advice.

                4. -X-*

                  Then Kelly could have been more accurate by saying something like “It will probably be low priority for police, so they might not deal with it” or even what you just said. Adding public safety threat into the discussion confuses things. I don’t understand why you seem to be defending that. The comment about how to prove it in court is confused or confusing too. In the case of a crime, it’s prosecutors who do proving, not the person harmed by the crime. In a civil matter, yes, the person hurt or their attorney has to prove things. But there is too much fuzz in her comments for them to be good advice.

                  I am now asking for your help: would it be better of me to go point-by-point with what was wrong with her statements? I ask that as a real question. I thought THAT would be more obnoxious than a request to not write on this topic but perhaps I’m mistaken. Any advice would be appreciated.

                5. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  It read as harsher than it sounds like you meant it. Tone doesn’t always come through in email. I think that’s as far as we’ll be able to resolve it.

                6. Kelly*

                  I wasn’t trying to give legal advice, like, as a lawyer! I just have been surprised in incidents in my own life, at how difficult it can be to get the police to take something seriously if it isn’t on their radar. I have family that work in the justice system, and they often have to call in favors with police to get them to pick up repeat offenders for domestic violence crimes and probation violations. There is a lot of bureaucracy and not a lot of time.

                  I once called the police after someone I was living with punched me in the face. The officer that came to the house refused to write a report because it involved a family matter. It’s definitely not allowed, but it often happens!

                  I had a friend whose phone was stolen. She had tracking on it, and it was an acquaintance of someone who lived with them whose house it showed up at after the night she had been there. The police let her file a report, but wouldn’t take further action, saying it wasn’t a priority.

                  I just think people often naively think “this is the law, if I report it it will be immediately enforced!” – that is not how many peoples interactions with police end up…

        2. Clobbered*

          If you are asking your lawyer friends about it, I worry that you have lost perspective on this. Sure, it is not okay (and in fact I know a person laid off by his UK company because of doing exactly this), but the problem is that you are coming across so agressive about this that (1) it gives the impression that you are trying to compensate for having done something wrong yourself and (2) you are choosing to take this personally rather than a professional issue.

          A normal reaction to this would be “wow, crazy” not “I’LL HAVE YOU ARRESTED”.

          1. Michael*

            To me, it depends. It is a protection under the law and to be honest I’d rather see some citizens using the laws they’re entitled to. Too many people are lackadaisical and wonder why the nation is like it is. This is a bit of a diatribe, sure, but more often than not we have legal recourse and just don’t use it. This is where the majority of our rights get usurped as the system breaks down when people don’t use the system.

            1. fposte*

              I really don’t think the legal system’s problem is underuse. Even if it were, I don’t think it’s going to do much for the OP in this case. The OP can call the cops, sure; he can’t make them come out or take action, and what he’ll probably get is a suggestion that he come in and fill out a report. The report will likely go nowhere because there’s nothing for a DA to prosecute with and this isn’t tied into anything of consequence. He can file a civil suit, but civil suits are for redressing financial damages, of which the OP has none.

              1. Michael*

                I was more speaking to the general attitude of not using the law when you clearly can and not so much about this specific situation. I don’t live in Illinois so I really don’t know and can’t speak to the laws there. However, I had the pleasure of working with a gentleman who has run for office and was a major figure in his party and was very amazed at the sheer amount of information I did not know. This often came in the form of procedures and rules specific to our jurisdiction based on the courts and local laws and how those interrelate to the state and national stage and how to communicate effectively with your local, state and national officials. If people would find out about these in their own local jurisdictions I simply fail to see how we would have the civil rights issues we have which is what most people seem to care about second to Big Bad CorporationsTM. Most people go about it the wrong way so nothing changes and things happen to make it worse. Given this, I wholly believe the vast majority of the mechanisms that run our society are simply not used by the average citizen.

                1. Emily*

                  Personally, I think over-reliance on the government to handle personal disputes is a bigger threat to society. We don’t want to get to the point where people are only doing or not doing something because they have reason to believe they could be arrested for it, and we also want limited government resources to be used wisely.

                  For instance, noise ordinances are of course legally enforceable, but I think it’s nearly always a much better choice to try knocking on your neighbors’ door and letting them know they are disturbing you and asking if they could keep it down before involving the police. It’s potentially going to be awkward to have to have that conversation, but I really don’t think “helping me avoid an uncomfortable interaction with my neighbor” is the best use of taxpayer-funded police resources, nor does it promote neighborhood cohesiveness or harmony for neighbors to suspiciously view each other as “that jerk who tried to get me in trouble with the law instead of talking to me directly.” Most people don’t want to be a nuisance to their neighbors, but once you become the jerk that called the cops you might find that your neighbors care a lot less about whether they piss you off, especially when it comes to all the ways to annoy you that are perfectly legal.

                  In general if the goal is a more harmonious society where people treat each other better, I believe the police should only be utilized when handling the matter yourself 1) would be dangerous 2) would be ineffective or 3) has already been attempted and hasn’t worked.

                2. Michael*

                  Someone got shot just a few weeks after I moved into an otherwise peaceful neighborhood. Call the police for a noise disturbance? You bet.

                  To your point of over-reliance do you realize there are probably thousands of state and local agencies with governance over all kinds of issues that are rarely ever called on? Your tax dollars are already going there. You might as well make it mean something. I don’t know if your use of the noise ordinance was meant to demean my larger point but it’s still true. If you don’t want to use those agencies or think they’re necessary you STILL need to get involved to promote those issues that are important to you so my point is still true so your voice is represented. The notion that voting for your mayor, governor and president is ‘good enough’ is a falsehood. There are various committees and groups at every level that have various ways to impact the issues we face not to mention just talking to each other about them helps increase awareness. It’s not about involving government as it’s already involved. If you don’t speak up then someone else will for you and you very well may not like the results and will have no one to blame but yourself.

                3. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Michael, I think you’re arguing a separate thing than Emily, who’s talking about situations that can be resolved without involving police, and often more easily/effectively.

                4. Michael*

                  I can accept that as a possibility. I started this line of discussion as a step back from the specific issue to speak more generally as I said. So, if Emily did not then that disconnect is understandable.

            2. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Just because the law is available to you doesn’t always mean it’s smart to use it. For instance, maybe you could take your tenant to court for the first instance of late rent, but it would probably be much more effective to simply talk to the person about the problem. Or you might be able to have your kid arrested for taking your car without permission, but unless there was a much larger context to consider, it would probably be an overreaction that wouldn’t serve either of you well. Same thing here — there are larger considerations, like how it would make the OP look to others in her office and in her field. Is a future employer going to hire someone if they hear she tried to have a coworker arrested for this? Probably not. I sure wouldn’t.

              1. LL*

                +1. Involving law enforcement for this seems a bit unprofessional. And it may backfire on the OP.

                Let’s not forget that the Illinois law that prohibits secretly recording phone conversations has an important exception for “fear of crime.” Recent court cases have shown that a person *can* legally record a phone conversation if he/she has a reasonable suspicion to believe that the other person may commit a crime against them. Unfortunately for the OP, yelling and ranting is enough to trigger this exception. See Mary Carroll v. Merrill Lynch (2005).

              2. Girasol*

                It reminds me of when Mom used to say to us kids, “I don’t care who started it. You’re BOTH going to your rooms!” The company wants to get on with business. If it’s going to be messy to figure out who’s right and who’s wrong between two angry employees, they might be happy to discipline both. It wasn’t fair when Mom did it either, but there you are.

            3. Nichole*

              I think in this case whether prosecuting would be smart or not comes down to harm, and it sounds like the only harm is that the OP is mad because this lady’s a jerk, which she is. Even if he was a jerk back, illegally recording someone, or even legally recording someone without their knowledge is a jerk move unless it’s a very specific type of circumstance that this does not appear to be (ie., legally obtaining proof of fraud, sexual harrassment, or stalking). If the tape was manipulated to try to get the OP fired or something, prosecution may be needed to stop the issue, but at this point it shows poor judgement, love of drama, and tendency to overreact. In this situation, I like Anon 9:06’s advice to bring up the general unprofessionalism and handle any mention of the tape only by pointing out that it’s illegal, then addressing what’s ON the tape as the bigger issue.

      3. Peaches*

        Thanks for correcting me. I don’t operate out of or in Illinois at all so I am unfamiliar with their particular laws. I just wanted to give the OP a heads-up to make sure.

    2. Marly King*

      Yeah, in Texas it’s legal so long as you’re part of the conversation – even if the other party is not aware of the recording. What is illegal is if you’re in a room covertly recording another conversation that you’re not apart of.

      …But it IS Texas, so exception not the norm.

      And yay things you learn through investigative journalism!

  4. Perpetual Intern*

    #2: I am in a vaguely similar situation at home. Everytime I go down to our basement to get something, if my dad is laying on the couch watching TV, he will sit up, turn and look at me, but not say anything. It’s annoying/uncomfortable because then I’m wondering, “What? Are you expecting something? Do you want something?” I think I’m going to ask him why he does that and tell him to stop.

    Would it be reasonable to explain to a coworker that it makes you uncomfortable so they’ll stop? I imagine it will just feel more uncomfortable the longer he does it, so having a quick awkward chat might be preferable to letting him continue to do it.

  5. Mike*

    Re #5: Nice thing about working in California is that use-it-or-lose-it is illegal.

    I did just start a job a month ago so I’ll be losing the 2 personal days but that is no biggy.

  6. Katie the Fed*

    Regarding #5 – I don’t think it’s unreasonable to use some of those days, but I wouldn’t have waited until two weeks before Christmas to request them. I asked for holiday leave requests from my team two months ago so I could balance out everyone’s dates and make sure the work would be covered. It’s probably more the timing than the request itself.

    I don’t mind new people taking a couple days off. Actually one of my new people only had a few hours of leave earned and wanted a few days off around Christmas so I’ve been letting her work late for several weeks so she could acrue comp time to use for that purpose.

  7. Anonymous*

    #1 sounds like of creepy. To be honest she might be weird around you because like AAM said, you are sending her weird vibes.

  8. KellyK*

    With #5, would there be a possibility of rolling them over? Talk to your boss and/or HR to see if they can be carried to next year. I’d mention that because of how late you started, there’s nowhere in December that it’s convenient to your team to take them, and you don’t really need the time when you’re still getting settled into your role anyway, but, because they were part of your offer, you’d really like to be able to use them.

    Personally, I would be really annoyed to have a benefit as part of my offer that I don’t actually get to use, but Alison’s right that starting off on good terms with your boss is more important than the days. You might not get to carry them over, but it’s worth asking.

  9. Not So NewReader*

    #1 Stop. Stop thinking about her, stop trying to imagine what she thinks, and what she thinks you think. This is just way too much thinking. Find other things to fill up your mind. Take on more work, develop a new hobby at home, do something. If you continue on the road you are on, it will get you no where…. except maybe unemployed. Decide, “Every time I think of the boss, I am going to make myself think about X instead.” You are giving off awkward vibes and making the situation very difficult.

    #7. Of course, her end of the conversation was more under control, she knew that she was recording it. I wonder what she would have said if there was no recording going on. In some ways this sounds like entrapment through staging a conversation- reflecting on the conversation do you think she said subtle things to provoke you? Did you hear her say things that she has never said before?

    I had a boss that used to listen in on my phone conversations. She did not realize I could hear a click when she picked up on the extension phone. At first it upset me. Then I realized, every conversation I have should be able to stand up to scrutiny. If I am handling myself professionally, she can listen all she wants. Nothing is going to happen and she is wasting her time.

    And it played out this way, too. Nothing happened. She made me sharper and she shaped the way I handle my at work communications. Now when I am talking to someone I picture the whole world is listening, even though I am only talking to one person. She made me think, really think, about how I present to others.

    1. Anonymous*

      This is a great point – if you assume every call you have is monitored and every email you write is read by your boss and all your co-workers, would the way you communicate change? if he answer is “yes”, then change now! After having some uncomfortable instances where a manager forwarded emails I sent to people I would have preferred not seen them. I didn’t say anything horrible, but would have worded things differently. It’s made me more aware of what I put in ‘writing’.

      1. Maire*

        Continuous self-monitoring is actually a symptom of social anxiety disorders. I don’t think it’s necessarily a healthy mind-set.

        1. EM*

          I can see this in a personal context, yes, but at work, monitoring what one says on the phone and via email is just common sense. In fact, we just had a risk-based training session at work today where one of the points our boss made was that if a project is ever part of a lawsuit, every single email that has the name of the project in the subject line or in the body will be under scrutiny. Even if the email chain becomes unrelated, but is still part of the chain with the project emails. She specifically mentioned one case where some people started talking about what club they were going to after work……and they were talking about strip clubs! The point is, don’t say something in a work email that you wouldn’t want made public. It’s not social anxiety disorder at all.

  10. Katie the Fed*

    Regarding #1, a couple years ago when I was in a quasi-leadership role (but very new to it), one the junior guys on the team asked if he could speak to me privately. He proceeded to tell me that he had really strong feelings for me, that I was the perfect woman for him, and he couldn’t stop thinking about me. He felt he had to say something, and wanted to know how I felt.

    Well, I felt shocked and mortified. And I wasn’t interested. I was new to my role and didn’t really know how to handle it, so I went to my boss for advice. My boss decided to talk to the guy directly, so they got to have a SUPER AWKWARD discussion about his crush on me. Things were just really weird between us for a while, until he eventually left.

    Not good. Better to keep your mouth shut.

    1. Sdhr*

      Was your boss male or female? I’m not sure which would be worse. I feel kinda bad for the guy with the crush on you, but only because how mortifying for him! We’re you ever able to hear his name again without remembering that moment when he pulled you aside?

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Yeah actually we’re friends now. He was really embarrassed for a while but I reached out to him after I moved to a different position and we’ve hung out socially and talk from time to time. He knows there’s no romantic interest though.

        Our boss was a male. It was all so incredible awkward!

        1. Jamie*

          I’m sure it was horribly awkward – but does it make me a bad person for laughing at what I imagine the entry in your Outlook Calendar looked like:

          1:00 pm – meeting re: how distractingly attractive I am and what we can do about it. Agenda attached.

          Scheduled attendees:
          – Katie the Fed
          -Cause of the Problem

          I would so love a meeting entry like that – however all of my co-workers have found me very resistible so alas it’s not to be.

  11. Anonymous*

    Just me, or is this a particularly wacky group of questions? “I want to confront my boss about how much she likes me”; “My co-workers LOOKS at me”; “I probably shouldn’t have my co-worker arrested even though I could”.

    Thank you, AAM site for making my workplace look downright sane :)

  12. Anonymous*

    #1 Given the previous post about the adjunct who is having to try and head off gossip about himself and his sister, it’s also possible your boss has been subjected to stupid gossip and innuendo about the two of you, and has been made self-conscious about it. Just keep playing it straight.

  13. Joey*

    #1. Dude, you’re thinking about this way too much. It’s probably more that you want her to like you so you’re interpreting everything through that lens. Here’s how to get over it:
    1. Don’t talk to her about personal stuff, especially personal problems.
    2. Remember that both your wife and her would think you’re a douchebag if you confronted her.
    3. Remember that this is your livelihood and you can’t eff it up.
    4. Channel all that energy on your wife and take her on a date to remember why you married her.
    5. Don’t find excuses to be around her.
    6. Remember that even if she does like you (which she probably doesn’t) there’s no way it could end well for anyone.

    1. KellyK*

      Agree with all of this, especially number 4. If you focus that energy and attention on your marriage (and if you and your wife are having problems, work on them), you’ll have less mental space for daydreaming about your boss.

      Also, while “confronting” her is probably the worst idea ever, if she seems uncomfortable around you, and you do everything suggested to get your mind off it and she *still* acts uncomfortable around you, it *might* be worth asking, in a low-key way, if you’re doing something that makes her uncomfortable, because you’d like to know so that you can knock it off.

      I say “might” because it skates dangerously close to trying to confront her about the feelings you assume she has for you. But, if you are doing something that makes her uncomfortable (probably because you like her and she’s picking up on it), it would be good to know.

      1. Anonymous*

        And you have to wonder— Is she acting uncomfortable around him? People can dream up weird things in their heads when they’re crushing.

    2. EM*

      Yes, please don’t say anything. I’m pretty darn sure an unmarried coworker has a crush on me (married). It’s really awkward. Seriously, sometimes he’ll blush when he’s talking to me, which will make me feel embarrassed, and I’ll start blushing. It’s not good. I avoid interacting with him unless it’s work-related.

  14. majigail*

    I could be the looker in #2. I feel weird when I walk through the office and go out of my way not to make eye contact with my coworkers, I don’t want people to think I’m mad at them. So I typically glace in their direction and smile if we make eye contact. (I don’t consider it to be a big deal if we don’t though, they’re working!) But then it gets kind of awkward when I’m going back and forth a lot… maybe I’m #1’s manager.

    1. Elizabeth*

      I’d say you’re probably safe making eye contact and smiling the first time, but if you find yourself walking back and forth repeatedly in a short time you don’t have to glance at people each time – they won’t think you’re mad at them. :-) Maybe if you’re carrying a document or something you can look at it instead?

  15. Victoria HR*

    Can someone please explain to me why it’s a big deal that someone looks at you? I’m not trying to be snarky at all – I just wonder why someone would get upset about that. If they know that the coworker is looking at them every time they stand up, then the OP is looking back, right? Obviously there’s a difference between casual eye contact and the unblinking stare of a homicidal maniac, but … I am relatively introverted and don’t always pick up on social cues, especially at work. I would be mortified to find out that someone has been upset with me because I was looking at them too often.

    1. Joey*

      Same reason #1 think his boss likes him. When people don’t know something they make conclusions based on assumptions. Lots of people aren’t very accurate in their assumptions. I think the difference is that some people naturally higher anxiety levels and worry more about things some of us consider insignificant.

    2. fposte*

      Yeah, I thought about the OP having to look to know this too. I think the other person may actually be wondering why the OP is always looking at this point. If a physical barrier isn’t possible, OP, try retraining yourself away from looking at her–I suspect that when she starts to get up you look over at the movement. Cultivate a habit of redirecting your glance back on your work or using that as a cue for a particular task or transition.

      In case it does need saying, you really can’t complain to a manager that your co-worker is looking at you. (Well, you can, but it’s not going to do much for your reputation in the office.)

      1. Victoria HR*

        When I stand up from my desk to stretch or go to the restroom, I’m usually looking straight ahead. The person in the cube that’s kitty corner to me might think I’m always looking at them, but I’m not. This just seems so weird to me that it’s a thing.

    3. Ivy*

      I once had a class with a guy who sat a couple of rows ahead of me and about 2 seats to the right. He would turn all the way around in his seat and stare at me for the majority of the class (we’re talking about 30min – 1hr of staring). At first it was a little distracting (since it was so obvious and since our eyes would lock every time I’d look in that general direction… and no he didn’t look away when they did lock). Anyways, I got over it. I don’t know why he was staring and I don’t care. It’s important to just learn to roll with things like this because it’s not worth the effort of a) thinking about it b) a confrontation or c) trying to set up some kind of barrier.

      1. Vicki*

        > It’s important to just learn to roll with things like this because it’s not worth the effort of a) thinking about it b) a confrontation or c) trying to set up some kind of barrier.

        Thus proving that people are different.

        This is creepy. And shouldn’t have happened.

      2. Tricia*

        OMG YES! There was a girl in a few of my courses who was *Known* for this! She would always sit in the front row, and every 5 minutes turn and state at the back rows. Without fail. every time.

        Sooooooo uncomfortable.

    4. saf*

      I’ve been sitting here trying to figure that out too. OK, they look at you in passing. Better than ignoring you, right? And it doesn’t sound like they’re staring.

  16. OP #7*

    A few more background and facts for people about the story.

    1) I’m probably like the 4th person to have this kind of interaction with her based on the fact that she has a very specific role, yet continuously interferes with other people’s work.

    2) Part of what is frustrating is that I think she truly believes she is helping us out, when in reality she is making our lives more difficult.

    3) In the time since I wrote in, she went to another manager (since mine and hers are both out) to complain about me “berating and disrespecting her”, which is laughable. The manager brought me in since he had to and basically told me to try to be nicer because this keeps happening. My response was maybe the people yelling at her aren’t the problem.

    4) As far as the pressing charges thing, the only reason I’m even considering it is because nothing else seems to get through to this girl. She should have probably been fired a long time ago, but her manager keeps giving her more chances and she never learns. But I have to wonder if this was a woman who said a guy secretly recorded a conversation with her if people would be looking at this a bit differently.

    1. Victoria HR*

      Has anyone ever complained to her manager about her doing their work without asking? I assume so because he said “this keeps happening.” Who is she banging that she’s not getting in trouble over this? :)

      Has anyone ever said to her, “Please stop doing my work without my authorization. It is not cool and I don’t like it” ??

      1. fposte*

        Can we avoid the “must be teh sexx” thing? I know you meant it as a joke, but it’s crappy to have to face that belief professionally and keeping it alive even humorously doesn’t help. (And it’s not like this blog doesn’t provide plenty of evidence that managers can find many reasons not to manage :-).)

        1. Zed*

          Generally, it’s also a sexist assumption, as people are less likely to ask this question of a male employee.

          1. Jessica*

            Very true. Usually when it’s a guy, the question is “What is he blackmailing someone with” over “Who is he sleeping with?” I’ve never thought about that before. (And this could just be what I’ve heard more in the past than the way it truly is for everyone else, but whenever I’ve worked with an incompetent man, it’s always been “What’s he holding over someone’s head?”)

    2. Colette*

      Well, if you’re yelling at her, her complaints that you’re berating & disrespecting her are legitimate. You’re allowed to be upset, and you’re allowed to ask/tell her to stop doing your work, but if you’re losing control to the point where you’re yelling at work, you need to reevaluate your approach. It’s rude, disrespectful, and feels more like an attempt to intimidate than an attempt to communicate.

      And personally, if coworker A told me that coworker B recorded a conversation between the two of them, I’d think coworker B was out of line. If A tried to get B arrested for it, I’d think A was out of line. That’s not appropriate on any level, and shows a complete lack of judgement about how to handle issues in the workplace.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      If there are performance problems that are interfering with your ability to your job, bring them to your manager or hers to deal with. If they won’t, the problem is bad management more than it is your coworker.

      Meanwhile, develop a thicker skin and don’t get drawn into hostile conversations with this person, or you’ll lose your moral high ground, as well as impact your own credibility and, more broadly, your reputation. Pressing charges is obviously a horrible idea and could put your own job at risk (as I said in an earlier comment, I’d probably fire someone who did that in this context).

      Seriously, you’re too worked up about this. It’s work. Let your manager know about problems, and then re-focus on your job.

    4. Tiff*

      From what you’ve described you don’t have the whole picture. Her “meddling” may not be as self-directed as you think it is. If she IS totally out of pocket it is her manager’s job to fix it. Talk to that person (I got from your letter that her boss is your peer, not her) and focus on ways to get the work done efficiently and correctly.

      I think at this point you really want to avoid coming off like you have an axe to gind or that you and some other disgruntled employees are targeting her. That will only cause her manager to defend her and won’t solve your real problem: the work is being done incorrectly.

    5. Anonicorn*

      So, this girl is trying to help her coworkers by doing some of their tasks and keeps getting scolded by them for it , and you’re the one who is frustrated?! Just imagine.

      Your manager has already told you to be nicer to her, so there’s your answer. Whether you feel you were “berating and disrespecting her” or not, that’s her perception of you and you probably need to work on it. Even if she really is just a brat like you say, it’s in your best interest to be the bigger person and figure out how to get along.

      1. OP #7*

        Well the problem is her “helping” isn’t doing things right. So its really just making my job more difficult. So while her heart might be in the right place, that means nothing if you can’t do things correctly.

        1. Forrest*

          I feel like there’s a disconnect between your coworker “the brat” and “she has her heart in the wrong place.”

          There may be issues on other people’s end as well, espically if she has an image of being “a brat.” If person tells someone else that coworker is difficult and to handle her harshy, then that person does and then that person tells someone else and then so on.

          1. OP #7*

            She’s a brat in the fact that she whines when she doesn’t get her way. For example she kind of has 2 bosses. She asked one for time off for something and they said no, so she went to her other boss to get it. She also plays the victim a lot.

            Having said that, I do think she means well and she legitimately thinks she is helping people when in reality she is making their jobs harder.

            I think everyone has made their opinions on their own honestly.

            1. Jamie*

              Regardless of her issues, it’s really hard to resolve things if you refer to her a brat. Even if you don’t say it to her face – it’s belittling and degrading.

              Difficult people are by definition hard to work with, but the name calling is indicative of a lack of professionalism as well.

              If someone came to me and expressed that they had trouble working with so and so because of X, Y, and Z I would try to resolve that. If someone came to me saying that they had trouble working with so and so because she was a brat and whiny…even if X, Y, and Z were articulated the same my response is different because now I have a problem with you, too.

      2. Cassie*

        “My response was maybe the people yelling at her aren’t the problem.”

        It sounds like it’s not just the OP who has had problems with this person, but other coworkers have as well. At my office, it’s not uncommon for certain people to go and complain about being picked on/yelled at/ignored, etc when they are actually the ones who initiate and escalate situations. Or they exaggerate about the incident.

        Not saying that yelling is appropriate, but how does one define yelling? The coworker could take any kind of criticism/correction as being yelled at and goes to report it as such.

        I feel the manager telling the OP to be “nicer” needs to brush up on his managerial skills. If he had told the OP to stay professional and not get riled up, that would be one thing. Saying “be nicer” is pointless. If I ignore someone, I think I’m being nicer because I’m not actively attacking the person. But to others, it may be seen as rude because I’m ignoring them.

  17. N.*

    #7. That is creepy, for sure… especially since she TOLD you what she was did afterwards “GOTCHA” style. To me an imbalanced person would resort to such a tactic, beware. But on the bright side, you now have lots of evidence that she doesn’t operate in good faith to the point of performing an illegal act in your state. I think Alison is right, you should at the very least let your management/HR people know, since (correct me if I am wrong, anybody) the company could share liability since an employee commited an illegal act in the course of their work.

    Who knows? What if she does this to contractors or clients as well? This could potentially embroil your international company in a quagmire as there are laws that force compliance with local laws anywhere a company does business… can’t remember the name dang it, but we had to take 6 hours of training in it (go figure) before our company allowed us to do ANYTHING. These laws prohibited things like offering or accepting bribes etc even if you think you are in a country that requires such things to accomplish work…

    I don’t think you should attempt legal action per say, I would just mention that first of all her cavalier attitude in this illegal act makes you question her judgement, second tell them you now find it hard to operate in good faith with this person to the point you are reluctant to take her calls and that is now disrupting your work.

    “At the end of the conversation she said that she would let people judge [?!] me themselves because she recorded the call.”


    Tell your manager for sure, even if you have to admit you weren’t on your best behavior (you said it was nothing untoward in one of your replies), in case she escalates and you feel threatened later (perhaps unlikely to happen, but I got a bad vibe here). If you have to go to the law for something, at least your complaint will exist within the company, and you won’t have to explain why you failed to take action when you first noticed a problem or did nothing about it sooner.

    Sorry if I am over-reacting, I once had a boyfriend who liked to play these games… and I put up with it far too long.

    1. Nichole*

      Though I agree with you that legal action isn’t called for right now, I hadn’t thought of some of the other points that you raised. Someone who records their coworkers and then throws it in their faces is not stable, and it’s reasonable that she may become a threat either physically or through some kind of sabatoge. It makes a good case for mentioning it to management, just to get it on the record.

  18. Hello Vino*

    #4 – I normally bring a few businesses cards with me to interviews, but I only give them to the interviewer if they offer me their card first. I printed the cards for networking purposes and figured I might as well keeping using them.

    I also bring a few copies of my resume in case the interviewer doesn’t have a copy of my resume. I’m amazed at how many times that has actually happened.

    1. Joey*

      I’m sure there are other managers who feel differently, but I always think its weird when people offer a business card during an interview. If its a personal business card you use to market yourself it sorta feels like you’re going to far with the whole personal branding thing. And if you’re talking about your business cards from your curren job that is just inappropriate.

        1. Kathryn T.*

          Is that different if you’re a freelancer? I have a friend who’s a freelance graphic designer, and he has logo cards that he hands out whenever he’s bidding for a job.

          1. EM*

            My mom has always had personal cards, because she does (well, used to do) freelance grant-writing, and other things. I got some personal cards from zazzle. They’re cute, and they have a hummingbird on them. I use them as “mom” cards or personal cards because my cell phone is not listed on my business card (company does not pay for personal cell phone). I wouldn’t use them in an interview, though.

        2. Chriama*

          Why is it inappropriate to hand out business cards from your current job when searching? Is it a hard and fast rule or is it one of those things that depends on the scenario? I understand that you shouldn’t use work resources for your job search, but
          a)business cards are an accepted method of sharing contact info, and
          b) there are so many scenarios where you are legitimately searching for a job while employed (e.g. you’re in a contract position, you’re relocating)

          I still think it’s weird and even unnecessary to bring it to an interview, but why inappropriate?

          1. Elizabeth*

            In my opinion, it’s sort of inappropriate because your business card with Company X is used when you are representing Company X. When you’re interviewing, your experience at Company X is relevant, but you’re not the company’s representative at that moment. In fact, if you are successful at the interview, it will wind up hurting your current company because they’ll be out an employee!

            This could also be an argument for not giving out your business card to people you meet socially about things unrelated to your business (in the old days, we had calling cards for such things), but at least there you’re not doing something counter to the interests of your current employer.

    2. KayDay*

      I agree with Joey about the business cards, but I do agree to bring a couple of copies of extra resumes. I’ve had interviews with multiple interviewers sharing one copy of my resume, so it’s nice to be able to give them an extra copy.

      If they can’t find your contact info, get the interviewers business card and email it to them after the meeting.

  19. Ivy*

    For #6, I understand that you wouldn’t want to look like your job hoping, but considering OP is a recent grad, isn’t it a little extreme to leave off the job altogether. I mean she probably doesn’t have much relevant experience, so even showing what little she did in the 3 months might be beneficial. Besides, aren’t internships sometimes that short anyways?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It would be pretty unusual for her to have had notable accomplishments in the first three months on the job, and the potential red flags it will raise will be more harmful than any good that a 3-month stint could do. It sucks either way, but I think that’s the less crappy of the options.

    2. Anonymous*

      Ditto– I think the OP could put this on and simply explain the position was eliminated in her cover letter to clear up any confusion.

    3. Elle*

      Yeah, I don’t really agree with a lot of the job-hopping advice on this blog anyway, but a college student leaving off a 3 month stint seems crazy to me. Internships are a few months long and you can find achievements in those.

        1. Ivy*

          I would understand that, but OP says she graduated 2 years ago, and that the 3 month job was her first professional job. I would think that means the only really relevant experience she has is from her current job and the 3 month one. If that’s the case, then I think it’s more beneficial for her to leave it on and address that fact she’s not job hopping (maybe even in her cover letter?). I also don’t think it will necessarily come off as job hopping. If I were to see a short stay like that right after graduating, I’m more likely to assume it was a temporary position or internship.

          1. Anonymous*

            Agree with you Ivy; seeing as it is the only professional experience she has, and it was right out of college, I would assume it was a temp or internship type role upon first review.

      1. Maire*

        Yeah, I don’t know if it’s a US thing, but this pejorative emphasis on job-hopping baffles me somewhat. Particularly when people are starting out, they may take crappy jobs to get by. Should they stay in them, rather than taking a better job if offered just to avoid the stigma of “job-hopping”?
        What’s the point of the US employment laws which allow both employee and employer to quit or fire as they please, if the employee is stigmatised for doing so.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Employers assume that the best predictor of your future actions is your past track record. If you’ve left every job after a short time, they’re going to assume there’s a good chance you’ll do the same in the new job.

          Moreover, most employers are looking for people who have learned and grown within a role, something hard to do if you leave each job after a short time.

    4. #6 OP*

      Hello! I definitely worry about harming my resume vs. being upfront with my work history and providing as much experience as possible. Would it be the best of both worlds to stress in my cover letter that I’m eager to find a position to dedicate myself to in the long term without equivocating over the nature of my short-term jobs?

      1. Anonymous Accountant*

        I agree with AAM’s advice of leaving it off altogether. We received a resume that listed being downsized like this:

        Project Manager, ABC Industries, Inc. (1 of 400 downsized)

        AAM, any ruling on this presentation if OP#6 or another reader elects to present a downsizing this way? (

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I have mixed feelings. On one hand, it immediately explains why it was a short-term stay and by explaining the size of the layoff, it minimizes questions about whether there was more to it than just a layoff. That said, it’s not typical information to see on a resume, and it might be a little bit odd to include. Overall all, though, I like it more than I dislike it.

          1. Lulu*

            I’d be interested to hear other people weigh in on this, too – I was part of a HUGE layoff, but I never mention that in my cover letters, and it never occurred to me to put it in my resume. But I’ve also been worrying that people see that I’m not working and assume the worst, even though I was with the company for several years. That said, it does seem a little awkward to me to use… but if it’s seen as more helpful than bizarre, I might consider throwing it in!

  20. BW*

    #1 – AAM’s advice is spot on. You really don’t know if she has mutual interest in you. That may totally be something you are projecting. I know this has happened to me with guys, just because I am friendly with them, they want to take that as being interested in something more, because *they* are interested, but really, I have no interest in anything other than work, or outside of work, friendship.

    I agree, your manager could be picking up on your vibe and that could be making her uncomfortable. I know just reading this question made me squirm a bit.

    #3 – In my experience, since HR does all the reference checking, the hiring manager and other people I’ve interviewed with often don’t mention references or ask for them. It depends on what the process is and who handles what. I would not read anything into this. It could be that HR or a company recruiter (many large employers in my field have their own recruiting staff) gathers the feedback on candidates from the hiring manager, and will follow-up with checking references when the hiring manager makes a decision.

    Good luck!

  21. Erin*

    #3 – Don’t stress out about it too much! Asking for references doesn’t mean anything. I had an interview last week that I thought was mediocre, and the HR lady didn’t ask me for references or even tell me about their timeline for moving forward (I had to ask her at the end, as I was walking towards the elevator!). I assumed they weren’t going with me. They just called this week and asked for my references, and a day later I got the job.

  22. Paranoia*

    I could be both the manager in #1 and the looker in #2 if I squinted closely enough, but in general I have found that the fastest route to crazytown is to put thoughts into other peoples’ heads for them.

    That being said, if I am actually the manager in question #1: you’re not wrong but we both have jobs to do. If one of us moves on, give me call.

    And if I am the looker in #2: I actually wonder why you are always looking ME!

  23. Anon21*

    Also, consider the possibility that she’s uncomfortable around you because you’re either giving her the vibe that you’re attracted to her or that you think she’s attracted to you — either one would make one’s manager uncomfortable.

    So extremely likely.

  24. mel*

    #1: eek! If she is tense and uncomfortable around you, then she is tense and uncomfortable around you, not in love…

    This kind of hits home with me because I am often the only female worker in my section. I love and appreciate my coworkers, but simply because I happen to be female, I get to be bombarded by persistent “hypothetical” date requests or humiliating semi-public marriage proposals. It’s so gross and I wish I could have a friendly conversation about films and hobbies without it turning into an awkward nightmare!

    1. Anon37*

      I don’t know. I am an introvert, and kind of awkward to boot. The more I like someone (not just romantically) or want them to like me, the more I really care what they think and can become super self-conscious and nervous around them when we talk about certain topics or about ourselves.

      Not saying that is at all what is happening here, though!

    2. Chip McCallahan*

      Ugh, I totally agree. Men in male-dominated industries, please leave your female coworkers alone. They are just trying to work, not find a mate.

    3. Cassie*

      Gosh, yes. My cubicle neighbor used to ask me to lunch (in a not-serious way) all the time. Though he’s stopped doing that nowadays.

      For some reason, the office supply delivery guys seem to like me – maybe they are bored and since I am the one who signs for the deliveries most often, they figure what’s a little harm in flirting. One guy used to comment about how pretty I am. I used to dread seeing him. Thankfully he left and another guy took his place. He’s chatty as well, but at least he hasn’t commented on my appearance yet :)

  25. Elizabeth West*

    #1 – You say you like her, but you don’t say HOW you like her. Is it just as someone you would like to be friends with? Is it a “work spouse” type situation? Either one with your boss would be uncomfortable. I second commenters who say she’s acting weird because you’re making her feel weird. If you’re both married and she’s your boss, there is no reason to have any kind of relationship other than a professional one anyway.

    Also, and I don’t want to generalize and I don’t know how experienced you were before you got married, or how you handle interactions with women, but a lot of men misinterpret friendliness from women as romantic interest. And it’s conceivable that she could be more friendly than is appropriate or usual, because that’s just her personality. I do think it’s good that you like working for your boss. But that’s all it is: work.

    #4 – I got some cards with my name and contact information on them, but I don’t give them to interviewers. I have them for networking. Of course, I’d much rather have a card from my JOB…if I had one (not for interviews, just in general). :P

  26. KayDay*

    #6 – I don’t wanna be a hopper no more: I actually don’t think you have too much to worry about (in most industries). Short term stints are pretty normal in the first few years after college. If the first job is relevant to what you are applying to, I would leave it on your resume. Better to have something than nothing. If at all possible, I would try to stick with your current position in a part time capacity. Also, when you get to the interview stage, try to mention that you are looking for something more long-term.

    But do try your best to make sure that your next job is something where you think you can stay for a few years.

    1. #6 OP*

      I absolutely want a job to settle down in for the long term, and am trying to make sure a future employer can offer better financial stability! :) A long-term stay was my plan for my current job, as at the time I was hired I was promised raises based on my performance, which was later rated as excellent, but unfortunately my current hours simply can’t pay the bills in the long term.

  27. Omne*

    #7- we’re getting the cart before horse here. So far there’s no evidence that the call was actually recorded other than her say so. It’s easier to claim that you recorded it then actually doing so. She may just be yanking your chain.

  28. Op no 3*

    Hi everyone,
    thank you for your feedback. To the person that provided me feedback using her own new job as an example, congratulations :) really happy for you!
    The reason I was worried is that this position IS actually an entry level HR position, and the person interviewing me was HR lol. However, I am not anxious about it anymore. What’s meant to be will be. Thank you for all your feedback. Will let you know what happens :)

  29. anonymous*

    #1: What is she doing that makes you think she likes you exactly? The only positive things you mentioned in your question were that you “get along fine” and things are “a little better” when you’re alone, otherwise it just sounds like a big ball of uncomfortableness and not really a mututal crush. Her being uncomfortable around you doesn’t mean she likes you and makes it seem like you don’t “get along fine.”

  30. KPI*

    6. Avoiding looking like a job-hopper

    Kind of an extension to this question, I always wondered, is it just as bad as looking like a job-hopper if you switch jobs but stay at the same company?

    1. EM*

      I hope not! My husband has been with the same large company his entire career (almost 13 years now), but he’s had about half a dozen jobs within the company. It’s a defense contractor, and programs are constantly ramping up and down, and so far he’s been able to read the tea leaves when a program is in trouble or downstaffing and moved on to other programs. I wouldn’t call that job hopping at all.

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