fast answer Friday — 7 short answers to 7 short questions

It’s fast answer Friday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. Could this GPA requirement be negotiable?

I have read several of your postings about job requirements and how often a person does not need to be a 100% perfect fit. My fiancé is being transferred to another city and I found an internal job with my company that I would really like to apply to, but the job description said in bold letters “candidates must have a minimum GPA of 3.2.” I have a 3.0 and could easily explain this. I double majored in college and I was just bad at one major no matter how hard I tried. By the time I was ready to give up on that second major, I was too close to finishing it and my GPA wouldn’t have changed.

This is one of those situations where since it was emphasized in bold I was wondering if that was an indicator of “if you don’t have this, don’t bother applying.” I would hate to apply and then be known as the guy who can’t read and follow directions. My fiancé says that may be flexible, but my dad says not to waste my and their time. Another note, I have taken college courses since then and have made the dean’s list so i was wondering if that might help. What do you think?

Go ahead and apply. Because you’re an internal candidate and therefore a known quantity, you might have more leeway than someone they don’t know at all. Sure, they might not waive the requirement, but they’re not going to think less of you for trying. Believe me, people apply for jobs all the time that they’re nowhere near qualified for — recruiters and hiring managers are used to it and generally save their incredulousness for much more egregious cases.

2. Should I wait for my boss to retire?

I have worked for my current company for 3.5 years. I was hired in at a lower salary than I desired, but in the interview it was made to seem that there was a lot of room for growth, as my boss is in her 60’s and said she was on the 5-year plan to leave and put me in her role.

The company has had furloughs and no raises for 5 years. Last year, I approached my boss with multiple sources of proof that I was underpaid compared to market rates/national average and tried to negotiate a raise. I received a promotion and very small pay increase that was nowhere close to what I should be making for an even higher job position. My boss told me it was a very generous increase and that my job was not as difficult as the same job at other companies.

Everyone keeps telling me to run from this job as fast as I can and that my boss doesn’t appreciate me. My boss recently told me that she probably still has another 5 years to go, so my hopes of taking over her role in the next year or two are gone. Is it worth it to stay underpaid for a future position that is pretty much guaranteed to you?

Is it really guaranteed to you though? This company has already misled you about that timeline once.

This isn’t the only opportunity for growth out there for you — there are tons of others. Don’t lock yourself into this one. Take a look at what else is out there and see if you find something you like better. You’re not obligated to take another offer if you get one, but it seems silly not to even look at your options. You might find something you like a lot better, or you might find that you’re actually be paid about the going rate for your skills in your geographic area (since national averages don’t really tell you much, as we covered here). Either way, you’ll have a better sense of your options than you do right now.

3. How long will Ask a Manager be around?

I love your blog, but how long are these answers accessible for? I.e., 3 years down the road, when making a HR decision regarding someone or something, I may want to re-read, as a guideline, some suggestions you posted here – will I find it? Or could be that you moved onto a new career and closed the blog and access to all the postings? And does it work differently whether one is in the U.S. or Canada?

It’ll be on the Internet as long as I pay the hosting fees to keep it here, which I can’t imagine I’d stop doing any time soon. I’ve actually never thought about what will happen to the site if I stop writing it at some point, but I assume I’d keep the archives around for a fairly long period of time, unless I’m sadly destitute and need to spend the hosting fees on burritos. But assume it’ll be here in, say, 2016. But 2026? Who knows — maybe by then the Internet will be passe and everything will be done on mimeographed newsletters again.

But unless Canada starts censoring your access to the Internet like North Korea, it will not work any differently there than it does here.

4. Should I put work in my portfolio if I’m on bad terms with the client?

Should I put work in my portfolio if I’m not on good terms with the client? I am a graphic designer and I want to use some work I did for my portfolio. When I billed my client for this work, he responded first with silence, and later with threats. He ultimately paid 60% of the bill and I refused to work for him again.

I’m worried that if I use the work I did for him in my portfolio, hiring managers might try to talk to him and he will say bad things about me and my work ethic. We live in a small province and it’s not inconcievable that someone might know him already and make a call. I’d like to use this work because it demonstrates a specific skill that I need more examples of in my portfolio.

I’d probably use it, because it’s your work and it demonstrates something you want to demonstrate. There’s a risk that someone might call him without asking you about it first, yes, but it’s a relatively small risk compared to the value of being able to demonstrate skills that you can’t otherwise show in your portfolio. (If that weren’t the case — if you had other samples that would do just as well — I’d say to leave it out, but it doesn’t sound like that’s the case.)

5. Dealing with sleep disorders at work

I was recently diagnosed with both obstructive sleep apnea and periodic limb movement disorder (basically, I kick my legs in my sleep). The meds that I was prescribed for the PLMD carry a side effect of possibly falling asleep without warning while carrying out everyday tasks, which is also a very real possibility with OSA. How much detail do I need to go into about my diagnosis and med regimen with my employer?

I am a union employee covered by a contract, so there’s a very real possibility that I am covered by additional protections, but I thought that this might be an interesting question to answer given the prevalence of OSA.

You don’t need to go into detail at all; you just need to let them know what they might notice at work and what accommodations you might need. (You don’t even need to do that if you don’t want any accommodations, but it sounds like it would be a good idea to do it so they don’t think you’re just sleeping on the job.) Your employer might ask you further questions, but they can’t do so unless they’re related to your job requirements and necessary for the operation of the business.

(By the way, it’s worth noting that this may or may not be covered under the ADA; I wasn’t able to find a ruling specific to these disorders, and so it would likely depend on whether your specific manifestations met the law’s standard of an impairment that “substantially limits major life activities such as seeing, hearing, speaking, walking, breathing, performing manual tasks, learning, caring for oneself, and working.” Either way, though, it seems like it would be wise to talk with your employer so they aren’t alarmed if you do fall asleep without warning.)

6. Can my boss cut my hours just because she doesn’t like me?

I am currently working a part-time job that is usually between 20-30 hours a week. It is a franchise located in many states. I recently found out my boss does not like me. Is it legal for her to start giving me 1 to 2 days a week?

Yes. Your employer can cut your hours or even fire you for any reason at all, as long as it’s not based on your race, religion, sex, national origin, or other protected class.

7. Coworker keeps asking me to dinner

How can I delicately decline a co-worker keeps asking me to dinner? I have said no many times. I think the other person wants a romantic relationship, but I don’t fish off the company pier.

You can’t do it delicately at this point; your repeated no’s were an attempt to do it delicately, and your coworker hasn’t picked up on the hint. So it’s time to be more direct: “I’m not interested in a relationship outside of work. Please don’t keep asking me.”

If you can’t bring yourself to use wording that blunt, you can try, “I don’t socialize with coworkers” (if the person hasn’t already seen evidence to the contrary) or “I’m sorry, but I’m not interested in getting together outside of work.” But if that doesn’t work, then you’re going to have to go with the blunter option.

{ 156 comments… read them below }

  1. Kara*

    Alison –

    If you ever stopped writing and were so destitute as to not be able to afford the hosting fees, I think you have a vast, loyal fan base who would be happy to chip in to keep the archives alive.

    Just so you know. ;-)

      1. Jamie*

        Burritos are not on my list of approved foods, so I can’t help there (although I’d happily keep Alison in homemade kolachkis) – but assuming whatever hell freezing over scenario that left her destitute didn’t kill me I’m all in for the hosting. :)

        Future generations need the archives.

        1. class factotum*

          Jamie, I didn’t think one could get kolaches outside of Texas unless they were from my grandmother or from Cedar Rapids. I’ll meet you at the Mars Cheese Castle and will trade some homemade pretzel rolls for homemade kolaches.

          1. Sydney*

            What?! Kolaches aren’t everywhere? I guess I will need to stay in Texas and plan any second houses around the kolache prospects.

            1. class factotum*

              I know, Sydney! I was shocked! When I lived in Houston, someone was always bringing kolaches to work. And any time I drove from Austin to Houston, I was sure to stop at the Bon Ton bakery on 290. And of course there is that kolache place in the truck stop in West on I35. I would have thought with all the Czechs and Slovaks in Wisconsin, there would be kolaches here, but I haven’t seen them in Milwaukee.

              1. Lynne*

                So…for those of us who never heard of these before…is kolache pronounced with a “tch” sound or “sh”? I keep wavering back and forth – my brain wants to pronounce it like a French word but I suspect that’s wrong – so finally have to break down and ask. :)

                They do sound yummy.

                1. Lynne*

                  Aaand end-tag fail on my part. Truly, I only meant to italicize one word.

                  Because I don’t usually like to lay the italics on with a trowel. :P

            2. Czech it out*

              Lots of kolaches around central Oklahoma. Yukon (just west of OKC; birthplace of Garth Brooks, as the water tower just off Garth Brooks Boulevard will tell you) has an annual Czech festival with kolaches. Prague (pronounced “Prayg”) has a kolache festival that isn’t as big, but is supposed to be more authentic.

              Prague also hosts a national shrine to the Infant Jesus of Prague, and used to have a motel called the Czech Inn (I don’t know if that’s still there–I haven’t been there in 20 years or so).

        2. Jamie*

          Okay I’m embarrassed – I thought you guys were talking about Kolachkis with a different spelling.

          In my defense there are a million different spellings of that word.

          My expertise is only in kolachkis (the cookie) and I just looked up kolache and it’s an entirely different thing and I’ve never seen one of those before. It makes sense that you were talking about savory for those – because it’s been killing me trying to figure out how to get eggs and bacon into a cookie.

          I can only do this…

          The picture is accurate but the recipe with it is not …

          1. Esra*

            If you like savoury baking, I’ve got a great recipe for tea biscuits that is good for strawberry shortcake but can also turn savoury with the addition of chopped bacon and cheese.

          2. Katie in Ed*

            Yes – Texas kolaches and Chicago kolachkis are different things. Texas kolaches = Czech breakfasty thing with filled with meat and cheese or fruit. Chicago kolachkis = heavenly Polish cookie thing with jam and powdered sugar.

            Believe me, it was a BIG let down when I moved to Texas and realized the chain kolache stores were not selling my heavenly Polish cookies. In Chicago, you could just pick them up at Jewel or whatever.

          3. Katie in Ed*

            Also, I just spent ten minutes trying to search for Jamie’s kolachki recipe, which I know she posted in the comments once upon a time, but I can’t find it. Help?

            1. Jamie*

              1 16 oz block cream cheese
              1 cup of butter softened
              2 cups flour

              Cut everything together with a pastry cutter (don’t blend in mixer, will overwork dough and toughen it)

              As soon as everything is incorporated wrap tightly in plastic wrap and put in fridge to chill for at least 1 hour (it keeps so you can make it ahead of time).

              Roll thin, like a pie crust (recipe makes great pie crust, too, btw) and keep the unused dough in fridge. Gets sticky when warm and won’t be as flaky. Cut out circles – I don’t have a cookie cutter so I use the top of a juice glass. I’m super classy! Put a heaping teaspoon of Solo pie filling in center…but don’t cover whole cookie. You want to see dough on edges.

              Some use jam, but in my family anything it Solo pie filling is heresy. IMO only cherry and apricot are worth eating, but due to my family I also do plum and almond.
              They don’t know what’s good and will eat anything.

              Bake at 350 for 20 min or so ( check sooner first time – you don’t want to overtake. I love parchment paper because less likely to burn than a buttered sheet.)

              Take out and once cool sprinkle with powdered sugar.

              They are really easy (I am not much in the kitchen and if I can do it anyone can) and yummy. Done right the dough is flaky like a perfect pie crust.

              Sorry for going off topic – but it’s Saturday and hoping its okay.

    1. Kerry*

      I came in here to say exactly this – I am one million percent sure coming up with hosting fees (and even burrito money) will never be a problem!

    2. Allison*

      3.2 seems so arbitrary. 3.0 would make more sense if they just wanted someone with good grades, but how did they arrive at 3.2?

      1. S.L. Albert*

        Though, they are also quite flexible about it, and a 3.0 in place of a 3.2, with an excuse as good as double major, plus the tenacity to finish, would definitely not disqualify an applicant.

        1. anon-2*

          Some postings are worded deliberately – so NO one technically qualifies, and they can disqualify anyone because “they don’t meet the requirements.” I guess it would also mean they could hire anyone, because they couldn’t find anyone who met the specific requirements.

          So – yeah, I’d go for it.

          This is common in the world of IT – where the posting would seek someone with “seven years of experience in platform xyz”, when that platform has only been in existence for two years.

          1. KellyK*

            Does that really work though? I mean, I would think that creating qualifications that are literally impossible to meet would be evidence that your intent is to discriminate. That is, there could be a zillion legitimate reasons to hire Wakeen instead of Jane. But when you’ve asked for 15 years of experience in a 10-year-old technology and that’s the only listed qualification Jane doesn’t meet, it looks awfully fishy that you said Jane “doesn’t meet the qualifications” and hired Wakeen, who *also* doesn’t meet them. Much fishier than if you just said Wakeen seemed like a better fit.

            But then, I had always thought that the job ads asking for years of experience that are only possible for Time Lords were a result of someone in HR or management not knowing how long a given language or platform had existed.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Yeah, while “qualifications no one can meet” might be the effect of some ads, it’s rarely the intent. That wouldn’t be in a company’s interests.

              1. Jamie*

                Usually with the IT stuff it’s just because the ads are written by HR or someone non-technical and they didn’t bother to vet the information. Happens all the time.

                And yes – I have 10 years experiencing in networking SBS 2008 R2 and Exchange 2010. :) I’m so advanced I work on software from the future!

              2. danr*

                My old company placed ads like that when they were recruiting overseas. They could ‘honestly’ claim that no US candidates met the requirements in the ads.

                1. anon-2*

                  Oh come on now. No company would do that.

                  If they recruit overseas, it’s because they are “internationalizing” and “globalizing”.

                  Oh yeah, wages are 1/5 of what they are in the States, and besides, look at all the frequent flyer miles a manager gets! But those are just coincidences, right?

                2. Anonymous*

                  anon-2, I think there’s a misunderstanding. Claiming there is no qualified US candidate is a requirement for getting a foreign national a work visa to come to the States. Yes, they could be/are often paid less than US candidates, but nowhere near the level of workers based in their native land (otherwise, why would anyone come here?)

        2. Lisa*

          I had a 3.0 because I was an engineering / physics major in my first 2 years, then got a 3.5 and 3.8 in my 2nd round of double majors, but 3.0 is the official story of me, not that I was a double science major then went rogue to communications/ poli sci, but still i was a double major 2x over. Any company that can’t see beyond the numbers are idiots. Someone who double majors, has aspirations to be better, to take on a lot and succeed (if you graduated).

    3. Construction HR*

      Nah, in about 5 years, Apple-Google will buy her out, download the knowledge base, give to the US Government Department of Education, and they make it required skill set for everyone. There won’t be any more bad managers, bad employees, bad co-workers , or companies.

      It’ll be Shangri La!

    4. ThursdaysGeek*

      Ok, but what if she is hit by a bus?! Are there plans in place for that dreadful calamity? The archives of the voices of reason would become even more necessary.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Ha! I’ve actually wondered before what would happen if I suddenly died in an accident or something. No one has the login info but me, so the blog would suddenly and randomly go silent. I should probably give it to my sister with instructions to post one final thing from beyond the grave.

        1. AL Lo*

          We’re actually in the process of updating our wills, and I’m including an “online access” section — access to bank accounts, information on student loan accounts (in the event that I die before they’re paid off), online communities that I would want to be notified, etc. It sounds silly, but it’s something that I think about quite frequently, and would want to have my contingencies in place to ensure that the relevant people have access to the relevant accounts.

          I know that it doesn’t make everything easier (my husband’s grandfather just passed away, and his grandmother has had the hardest time dealing with his bank accounts, needing, among other things, to have his death certificate on her at every appointment and dealing with multiple individuals to manage each account), but if it makes the first step a little easier, it’s worth it. Not just with financial things, but so many facets of my life are represented online, and it just makes sense to have that all aggregated in one place.

          1. Jamie*

            Doesn’t sound silly to me. I have the password to my keepass password database in our safe so in the event something happens to me my husband can access everything.

            1. AL Lo*

              I use LastPass, so it’s the same idea — the password for that will give my husband access to all my accounts if anything happens.

              1. Jen in RO*

                I had no idea something like this existed. I’m also very much for the idea that someone should let my online friends what happened to me… I always wonder if anything bad happened if someone drops off the face of the internet.

                1. Jamie*

                  When my husband posts to tell you the proverbial bus wasn’t so proverbial and finally got me…be kind.

                  He’s a crappy typist and refuses to use spell check so …yeah. Be kind. :)

            2. The gold digger*

              I am so glad to know I am not the only one! It took me a year to get all the passwords for the bills from my husband! I don’t care if I have his personal email password, but if he gets hit by a bus, I need to be able to pay the mortgage easily.

          2. Jubilance*

            Not silly at all. I’m pretty active online (personal blog/FB/Twitter) and I’ve left a document for my mom with login info & asking her to notify my social networks if I ever get hit by a bus or something.

            1. AL Lo*

              I’m part of an online community of friends that I’ve known since 2005-ish, and letting them know was what first got me thinking along these lines, some 5 or 6 years ago, before many of us had met in person.

              There just gets to be so much. If I died, there would be accounts to cancel and close, friends to notify, financial information to change and/or unlink… it’s quite daunting to think about, and even moreso when you think of someone doing it completely blind.

        2. ThursdaysGeek*

          Yeah, but there also needs to be a way to have someone take over hosting the archives. Otherwise, in 68 years, when you die of old age, the bad managers, who have only been kept at bay by the few good managers reading this site, will finally overcome and take over corporate US (and Canada). Is that what you want your legacy to be?

        3. Chinook*

          Give the login info to Jamie to hide with her monkey ninja. If the monkey ninja can be trusted with punishing those who don’t secure their passwords, she can definitely be trusted with your identity!

      2. Jamie*

        Oh please don’t send the proverbial bus after Alison – because we all know the bus isn’t a bus…bus is code for “sick of this gig and got a better offer.”

        I use bus all the time when in reference to myself, and believe me my bosses know I only walk to and from my car and buses don’t even run in my neighborhood.

        And Alison getting a better offer in this context would mean another blog with different clientele (err…commenters) and I don’t think she’d leave us like that.

        Just in case – Alison, look both ways each time you cross the street (and watch out for curbs – they are tricky!)

        1. Voice of Doom*

          I was reading “bus” as a literal bus, or a metaphor for personal catastrophe. People die. All the time. People get into accidents, commit suicide, get murdered, develop cancer and die within a month of diagnosis, etc. Perhaps not Alison specifically, but anyone within her personal circle could have some sort of calamity, making things like updating a website the absolute last thing on her mind.

          And yep, as noted below, the Internet Archive may have an archive of this site, but that is dependent on their hosting and servers and money and …..

          This has been a long winded way of saying cover your ass and it’s never silly to plan ahead: no one is invincible, and horrible things happen at random times.

  2. EngineerGirl*

    #1 – Your best bet is to contact the hiring manager. HR people can be insanely rigid when it comes to GPAs. I know several that would block a superior candidate because they didn’t have the right number on their student records. So go around HR and contact the hiring manager instead. It’s easier to push back against HR if you have a manager fighting for you.

    #7 – Don’t be delicate, be kind. Remove all doubt if there is no hope. “I’m sorry, but I’m not at all interested. Please stop asking me out”. And if they ask why, only answer “I’m not interested”. If you give them any other reason they’ll try to find their way around it.

  3. Liz*

    #7 It helps to find a way to put the awkwardness back on the person asking. Right now, he asks, you feel awkward, you say no, and he retains hope. The only downside is one he has proves willing to accept and tolerate: you might say no. He can apparwntly live with that.

    The trick is to say no in a way that is absolutely uncomfortable for him, but without giving him a good story that he can use to complain about you. If you bluntly decline, he will be upset (a grown up would accept it, but if he were a grown up he would have stopped asking ling ago. So stop waiting for him to be a bigger person).

    So instead of bluntly declining, paint a picture for hin: “I would have dinner with you but I am dating the homecoming king.” “I would go out with you but I really absolutely need to meet a very amazing guy who is an amazing basketball player (or any othwr attribute that you think Mr Persistent feels insecure about).
    I know it sounds silly, but it is a silly situation. He knows that you will say no, but he keeps making you turn him down brcause it is uncomfortable for you but not for him. You do not have to keep making him comfortable, and you do not have to bear the discomfort of his being angry with you because you were blunt (because again if he were mature enough to handle the truth he would have accepted one of the first 10 times you said no).

    1. Liz*

      Good lord. Spell check on my phone is “apparently” not on! Embarrassed by the typos, but stand by the advice :)

    2. EngineerGirl*

      Liz, I can’t disagree more with this advice. Never say “I’d go out with you if” because they think there is hope. Far, far better to be blunt and just say no. Give no hope. Yes, the person gets angry. So what? They have no right to get angry because you said no. They are not entitled to go out with you – EVER.

      1. fposte*

        I’m with EG on this. Additionally, frivolous turndowns are kind if a flirty rom-com staple, and they playfully prolong a conversation just when it needs to be shut down.

        1. AB*

          Yeah. From time to time someone here suggests the OP to be funny / make a joke / be obviously ridiculous in a reply. I think these strategies only work in very few situations. This is the time to be serious and blunt. It’s better for everyone involved than trying to play games.

      2. Anonymous*

        In addition, they could very well be uncomfortable situations for the person asking (we don’t really have enough information to make that call) and they could just not be picking up the “no, never” because of the way OP was turning them down. “I’m sorry, but no. I’m starting to feel uncomfortable and would like you to stop asking” is a perfectly fine answer.

      3. Rana*

        Either he’s a reasonable person, in which case he’ll be disappointed but get over it, or he’s not, in which case this sort of weird jokey answer is a seriously bad idea.

        Blunt is not bad. Sometimes it is, in fact, the kindest thing. I know we as women are socialized to avoid being blunt and also hurting other people’s feelings, but this is like yanking a band-aid; you need to be quick and brisk, or else it becomes this long, drawn-out thing and even harder to deal with the longer things go on.

        1. Rana*

          Assuming that the OP is a woman, of course. (It’s just I’ve never seen a man asking this sort of question, though I expect it could happen.)

      4. KellyK*

        Yeah, I agree. Don’t give hope unless there actually is hope. (If you think he’s cute and would totally date him if you weren’t coworkers, then sure, “I don’t date coworkers,” is a perfectly fine reason to give. Just be aware that giving any reason invites people to try to talk you out of it.) If you don’t want to date them, then you’re just not interested. Period, end of story.

        And piling onto their insecurities and deliberately embarrassing them is just cruel.

      5. Liz*

        Until you have spent YEARS dealing with the reputational fallout of someone who should be able to handle the truth, but can’t you are in no position to tell some poor recent grad to be brave.

        Thia guy is deliberately making this woman uncomfortable to get what he wants. He won’t be uncomfortable with a confrontation. He will just spin it to play the victim. But he will be uncomfortable with an “I would but I have better options.” It is his biggest fear, which is why he is being manipulative (and incidentally playing on this woman’s biggest fear, which is being on bad terms with a coworker).

        Life is not graded in “shoulds.” You have to deal with people as they are, and this guy “should” be better but he os not.

        1. Original Dan*

          You’re projecting some jerk you knew on the guy who’s asking this person to dinner. I can’t see any other reason why you would think this guy thrives on making her uncomfortable.

          Based on what the op said, we don’t know that’s it’s any more than a guy that’s not picking up on her lack of interest. I think he’s probably just a little dense and the advice given above for her to just be direct and say something along the lines of “I’m not interested in meeting outside of work” is the next logical step.

          Going all psycho man-hater on him is just going to cause drama in the work place. No one needs that.

    3. Legal Eagle*

      Picking a quality that you think he’s insecure about and saying you only date guys like that? That seems worse than being blunt and saying no.

      Just say no, and clearly tell him to stop asking. If he asks after that, tell who needs to be told (e.g. HR, a manager, etc).

    4. Anonymous*

      ““I would have dinner with you but I am dating the homecoming king.” “I would go out with you but I really absolutely need to meet a very amazing guy who is an amazing basketball player.”

      Don’t do this. Some people think it is a challenge and will then go out and learn to play basketball or become homecoming king or whatever. Seriously. It’s happened to me. Someone lost all sorts of weight, got all new friends, got an apartment, etc. And then I still had to tell him no, which was not taken well and caused all sorts of problems, some of which were permanent and very sad.

      1. Jamie*

        Besides, “I am not interested” is something a grown up should be able to handle. “I’m not interested and here’s why (insert areas of insecurity for him)” is just cruel. You can say no and set firm boundaries without deliberately messing with people’s heads.

    5. Tinker*

      I did something like this once. I don’t recommend it.

      This was about four months or so into my first job — dude worked with my officemate and was by every morning to work on work stuff and ask me out. He’d ask me out, I’d turn him down, repeat repeat repeat. About the fifth time it started being awkward, and as it got into multiple weeks I started to dread seeing him.

      (Why did it get into multiple weeks? Because I was four months into my first job and didn’t want to be one of Those People Who Overreact To Everything.)

      I went down the line of being increasingly intense in my refusal but never actually direct about my dislike of the behavior — “no I will not date you”, “no I will never date you”, “I’m dating someone else”, “no I will not break up with him to date you” (yes, he asked), turning my back to him when he came in, walking out of the office when he came in, et cetera, but never actually saying “Stop asking me out”. It was not one of my finer moments. For his part, he kept right on asking and insisting and doing weird social things that made no sense to me — for instance, he left a note on my desk that he claimed was from someone else in the building who was really into me, stuff like that.

      Finally, I was eating lunch in the company cafeteria with a number of my coworkers. This guy was around, and he asked me out again in front of all those people. Which was the last straw for me, and I barked at him “NO. And DO NOT ask again.” Made me look like a bit of a nutter, even though I followed up by saying he’d been doing that for like the past month. After that, he never asked again — which was fortunate, because my plan was to warn him once the next time he asked and then take it to HR.

      Thing I didn’t realize until later is — it was said around the company that the guy was a pickup artist, and I didn’t know at the time what that meant or that it had any relevance to his behavior towards me. Turns out that a lot of the cockeyed social strategy stuff that he was pulling that made no sense to me at the time (actually made me think he was mocking me, which angered me more) was from that pickup artist stuff. Turns out also that a common element in those systems is teaching people to be resistant to rejection and sometimes to continue pursuit in the face of less than completely explicit rejection — so, precisely what this dude did.

      The sorts of stories being proposed here are even worse than what I did, in the case that the guy’s being deliberately persistent in his pursuit — they can read like playing along with the game. Even if he’s not doing it on purpose, and he really is socially clueless enough to not realize that asking a coworker out multiple times is not OK, it would be kinder to tell him exactly what is wanted of him (that the asking out is to stop) and not playing obscure games that bank on his demonstrably inferior ability to guess.

      1. K*

        I agree about being direct, but I disagree that you weren’t direct. Saying “no, I will not date you,” and “no, I will never date you,” ARE direct. It’s on that guy, not on you, that he kept asking you out after that. Women are not required to guess the magic words before they’re entitled not to be repeatedly harassed at the office by idiots who think rejection doesn’t apply to them. (I’m glad you did hit on the magic words, though, because that sounds incredibly annoying.)

        1. EngineerGirl*

          She didn’t hit on the magic words. She hit on the magic situation. Publicly saying “no” in front of an audience made him accountable for his actions. It should never get to that point.

          1. Michelle.too*

            Yeah–what K and Engineergirl said.

            I’m surprised how much this topic steams me! I have a relative who hounds other family members to want what she wants. All it does is hurt feelings and make everyone angry. “I pity the fool!” who tries that tactic to get a date. Uuuugh!…..

            If the person who asks you out is fluent in the same language as you, it’s on them to accept your answer (they understood it-they know what the words mean). Please don’t waste your life trying to find “magic words” to make unreasonable people turn reasonable.

            *How wrong is it that the vision of Rude Guy struck dumb in front of co-workers makes me smile?*

            1. Tinker*

              I don’t have any information on what in particular got him to stop, but I’d guess it was one of:

              A) The direct statement of “do not ask again” was sufficient to get to the “terminate encounter” portion of his pickup artist flowchart.

              B) He figured out what was coming next, after having been explicitly told what not to do in front of a lot of witnesses.

              C) Someone else from the table clued him in on what was coming next.

              I do agree that what he was doing was highly inappropriate regardless of my responses — asking a coworker out once a day for some weeks is way outside any sensible approach to the office romance subject. Point I buried somewhere in there is that going down the road of inventing up more imaginary suitors or whatever, beyond being something that a person should not have to do in order to work in peace, is also an approach that isn’t likely to work. Particularly if the offending person has been explicitly trained to take advantage of such forms of interaction.

  4. Anonymous*

    I realize that GPA is one of very few indications of ability when the person has no experience to speak for that, but can I just do the generic thing and mention how frustrating the “needs __ GPA” thing is? haha

    I can see it being applicable for many fields, like coding, math based things, or anything else where there is (for the most part) a right and wrong answer. Sure. But I also see it for a lot of fields where a grade is based on professor opinion, and in those sorts I’ve often heard of them saying, “The grade doesn’t matter, so I don’t really give A’s.” I know I’ll probably get plenty of “that’s the only way we can know if you’re a hard worker,” I’m just saying it’s very frustrating when an experience might not be quite as black and white as a number. Sigh.

    1. Rana*

      True…. to a degree. If you’re a “hard worker” who is also reasonably accurate most of the time, most professors will see this as B-level work, which is not the same as C-level work (which will have errors of both commission and omission, as it were).

      That said, the difference between a 3.0 and a 3.2 is pretty small, and, in most places I’ve worked, it’s a difference with no meaning: both are a B-minus. Unless the employer has a really clear idea in their head of the difference, and is confident that the professors at the university a student attended have identical standards as themselves, it would be foolish to overlook an otherwise excellent candidate based on such a small difference.

      But that’s assuming reasonable employers, which I don’t know we can assume in this case.

      1. Anonymous*

        Exactly! Also not all schools do plus and minus, and plenty of teachers (especially in those more black and white kinds of fields) are stubborn on the idea that 1 point below a B is a C and can’t be negotiated.

        1. Jamie*

          I took an online class through a college for work and missed an A by .9 of a point. Yes – not even a whole point. And not percentage – point.

          I didn’t argue the issue because rules are rules and they were clearly explained in the syllabus. But it bothers me whenever I think about it. Questions on most tests were worth 2 pts a piece. If I had worked just a nth harder and gotten half a question right it would be an A.

          I actually considered retaking the class even though I’m not in school, GPA doesn’t matter, and I got the information I needed from the class which was the point. I was talked out of it by pretty much everyone to whom I mentioned re-taking.

          Not that I’m bitter.

      2. College Career Counselor*

        The OP also said this was some kind of internal transfer, so he’s already working. I find it unusual (in the U.S. anyway) to see GPA requirements on jobs that are either non entry level (this may be entry level for all I know, however) OR when the person has a work history already. Sometimes you’ll see it couched in terms of grades/education (3.xx gpa, major in Hamsterology) or “relevant work experience commensurate with the degree.”

        Given that the OP has graduated from college but has other classes and dean’s list (not sure how many courses he’s taken) credentials, could he not have that gpa on the resume as well (“Additional Education” 3.85 gpa) to show what he’s capable of? I also think it’s worth having a conversation with someone in the organization that the OP trusts to ask whether it’s worth applying.

          1. businesslady*

            or if–like a job I just applied for–they require you to submit your COLLEGE TRANSCRIPTS (eyeroll). it kind of makes sense, because it’s a job in higher ed & I can see how it would be embarrassing for them to hire someone who didn’t actually have the degree/background they’d claimed to. but it was still tempting to submit a PDF that just said “I AM THIRTY GODDAMN YEARS OLD ARE YOU KIDDING ME.”

            also it was $15 to get the “certified PDF” (another eyeroll). but at least I didn’t fall for their $50 “lifetime access” scam–especially ridiculous when $15 buys you five discrete downloads, so you’d essentially have to forget where you’d saved your PDF more than fifteen times before the $50 upfront cost would’ve been a better deal.

            …apologies for the off-topic rant.

            1. Anonymous*

              Is is a certified, dated PDF though? I could easily see the same employers that demand transcripts demand recent transcripts, despite how long a person’s been out of school.

              1. Anonymous*

                And by certified I’m assuming the file is digitally signed by the school with some sort of verifiable certificate. If it’s a picture of a seal… *facepalm*

      3. A Teacher*

        Actually, a 2.67 is considered a “B-” at both the college I went to and the junior college where I now teach… they actually give you the break down for the A+, A, A- etc…a 3.0 is a flat “B” and a 3.33 is a B+

          1. Rana*

            Ack, you’re right. I’m used to thinking on the 100-point scale, not the 4.0 scale. (In that case it’s 80-83 for a B-.) *blush*

            Jamie, I find that level of nitpickery somewhat appalling. My own rule, when I was still teaching, was that borderline grades (on the numerical scale) needed to be considered in the larger context of the student’s overall performance in the course. That is, if a student was a bit below the cut-off point, but had done excellent work overall, shown improvement, etc. I’d bump them over. If they were a royal pain in the ass, then I’d be less inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt.

            But this was in history, where a lot of the work is based on essays, analysis, and interpretation, and any professor who thinks that the difference between an 88 and an 89 is a hard, bright line, is fooling themselves.

            There are a lot of variables, ranging from the professor’s own mood at the time of grading to font preferences (I tried to eliminate as many of these as possible, such as by grading blind after changing all papers to the same font) to the difficulty of translating qualitative actions into numbers. How do you compare a student who does solid B+ work and shows up on time every day, to one who ranges from B- work to A+ brilliance, and is constantly late? And yet, that’s what grading entails, and it requires being very honest with oneself about the limits of the process. You do eventually end up with a solid sense of what the different grades of work and overall performance look like, and how to convey those expectations to students, but I cannot imagine the level of precision one would need in order to take less than one percent of a grade as significant.

    2. K*

      I think one thing new graduates can do if they’re at a school that doesn’t really give As (which is not most colleges and universities in the U.S., so it is outside the norm) is include their class rank. If you have a 3.0 but that’s in the top 25% of your class, say that! It will be helpful information to the hiring manager who may not be at your school.

  5. Michelle.too*

    #7 Next time he asks or it feels like the right moment to bring up, I’d make three points in a calm, frank voice:

    1. I don’t date co-workers.
    2. I’m not romantically attracted to you.
    3. You need to realize that it’s mean to ignore my feelings because you feel something different–and ignoring the answer I’ve already given several times is not ok behavior. (If it’s making him look like a weirdo or creepy, you can warn him about that, too.)

    If it helps, think of it as giving him the friendly advice that other people have chickened out of letting him know. I’ve gotten two male friends to change bad behaviors (one was an unwanted romance within a group of friends I shared weekly activities with) by variations of this.
    Oooooooh! I just had another idea! Next time he asks, just repeat that you’ve already answered that question. If he presses for justification, repeat the exact same answer–“Rinse and repeat.” Repeat this as many times as necessary both for that conversation and the future ones where he tests your boundaries *again*.
    And if his behavior escalates or continues unchanged, I’d explain the situation to my boss and ask him to tell the guy that this is disruptive to the work environment and he needs to stop–I happen to have a very good boss.)

    1. Anonymous*

      I like the part about “it’s rude to ignore my feelings on the issue.” He might be one of those “nice guys” (as opposed to a guy that’s actually nice) who only pays attention to their own feelings and wanting to be seen as good enough.

      Stand up for yourself!
      But I do want to caution that the OP for this could not be being as explicit as she thinks in saying no. You have to be very straightforward- not “oh I can’t,” not “no, thanks” (only because that could be seen as no to that specific invitation) and no playing coy or shy. You don’t want to send your own confusing signals.

    2. Esra*

      #3 is something I think a lot of people feel uncomfortable saying, but could really help to clear things up. It’s very straight forward, which I think is best for both parties.

  6. #5*

    I am the asker of #5. Just to give a minor update, I spoke with my union rep, who advised me to file a doctor’s note along with the insert for the PLMD meds with corporate HR.

    I already have a mandated medical break of 20 minutes per hour sitting if I want it, and it’s been agreed that I can take a nap during that time if I feel the need.

    I did do a little googling around about whether or not sleep disorders are covered by the ADA and the online consensus seems to be that it is, as “A person has a disability if he/she has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having an impairment (EEOC Regulations . . . , 2011)” (from Sleeping is definitely a major life activity.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I would think that too (since sleeping is a major life activity), but I found several cases where sleep disorders were found not to qualify under the ADA. Basically, courts look at it case-by-case and look at how much the disorder impacts your sleep. There’s no blanket “yes it qualifies” or “no it doesn’t.” (There’s also an opinion letter from the EEOC saying basically the same thing — that it requires a case by case determination. One of the lovely things about the ADA — you get to guess!)

      I also found cases where staying awake on the job was determined to be an essential requirement of the job, and thus no accommodations were required.

      So don’t assume it’s covered, and proceed with caution.

      1. PEBCAK*

        As I understand it, it also depends on the effects of treatment. For example, if you have apnea, but taking Provigil makes you a-okay, then it’s not covered, because you are just supposed to take your meds.

    2. #5*

      As a side note about OSA: it’s not something that only fat people or snorers suffer from. My only outward symptom is insomnia. If you have trouble staying asleep, it could be sleep apnea. Get it checked out. Starving your brain of oxygen is no bueno.

        1. Anne*

          Assuming you were trying to reply to the comment above yours…

          1) OSA sufferers often snore, so it’s worth pointing out that if you have other symptoms but don’t snore, you might still want to get checked out
          2) Where does morality come into this? Please tell me it’s not because you see the “fat people” thing as a moral fault?…

        2. Victoria Nonprofit*

          Pretty sure #5 was making a PSA that you can have sleep apnea (which is dangerous) even if you’re not fat or a known snorer.

  7. JT*

    To #3 – I tend to save copies of online articles I find particularly useful typically as PDFs to my computer and file them carefully. If something online is very valuable to you, you could consider doing that.

    Also, the Internet Archive is a good resource for information from sites that are offline if you know the old URL or at least domain name”

      1. Anonymous*

        As long as you preserve the text and not simply an image (well, even then you could do OCR, but it can be an extra step) yes, absolutely. I’m personally a big fan of tools like Evernote for clipping interesting info off the web. There’s an extension that’ll show search results in your personal note archive when you do a Google search, so you don’t even have to remember that you’ve made a note of it.

  8. Anne*

    Hey Alison – The threading function for comments seems to have gone wonky. I definitely clicked Reply for the comment by “Henning Makholm”.

      1. Anony-mousse*

        Both mine and Anne’s comment didn’t show up as replies to his comment when we posted. They do now.

  9. Jazzy Red*

    OP #5, I’m more concerned about you falling asleep behind the wheel of your car than at your job. Please, please, don’t be driving if that’s a possibility.

    If your falling asleep at work would harm anyone else or cause damage to company property, then I think you DO have an obligation to tell your employer. Otherwise, I’d say no, at least until someone throws a glass of water on you to wake you up.

    1. #5*

      I have actually as of today been taken of that med and switched to a different one. Rest assured, I do not drive if I feel like there is the slightest chance I feel like I could fall asleep.

      I also have a problem with sleep onset insomnia, but there’s not much that can be done for that until i am stable on the CPAP, which may take a couple months.

  10. Runon*

    Have you actually said No or have you said, “I can’t this weekend, I’m busy.” “I have other plans.”
    Those aren’t no. Those are “yes, but”. If you’ve been giving “yes, but” answers then he may just be clueless and not get that your “yes, but” means no. In that case give a clear and direct no. “I’m not interested.” (I would say that even saying you don’t date people you work with could be heard as, if you get a new job or I do I’ll totally date you, or lets covertly date while one of us looks for a new job.)

    If you have been saying, “No, I’m not interested.” Then you need to follow up with a “I’m not interested and it isn’t appropriate to continue to ask me, you need to stop.” (Note the lack of please, or soft language.)

    Sometimes being direct is very hard, there is a heavy socialization, especially for women, to be kind and the perception is that the yes, buts are kinder. They aren’t the kind thing here is to be direct.

    1. Julie K*

      I always thought that if someone says “no” to an invitation several times, then it’s time to stop asking. It doesn’t matter how they say no, unless they’re clearly saying “I really wish I could, but I’m not free that day.” And even if it was said that way (which I don’t think is OK unless you actually mean it), after several of these, it’s still time to stop asking.

      1. Runon*

        I would agree, and I think that it is generally pretty clear that that is the case. But it can be misconstrued. Because if you actually take that at face value you aren’t saying no.

        I have been a person who has turned down multiple invitations in a row (sometimes with less enthusiasm) and it can be really hard to then later convince someone that it really was just scheduling problems (or being too depressed to leave the house or whatever) but some people just take stuff at face value. So I think there is too much wiggle room in saying “Not now” to have it be a true “No.” Then you lay out a straightforward wiggle free “No” so there is a clear answer.

      2. A Bug!*

        The way I figure it, for both friendships and dating, is that if a person who declines an invitation is actually interested in spending time with me, that person will actually say something that invites further contact.

        So after two invitations I stop asking, because on the one hand, maybe the person’s just “relationship lazy” and doesn’t ever initiate, in which case, see you later, I can’t be bothered with a one-sided relationship like that; on the other hand, maybe the person’s just not interested, in which case I don’t want to do stuff with someone who’s not as into it as I am.

      3. Sydney*

        That only works on reasonable people and I think we’d all agree this guy is not reasonable.

        She might very well have to yell at him in front of the whole company for him to finally get the picture. I hope it doesn’t go that far though.

        1. Original Dan*

          No. We would not “all” agree.

          Runon makes a very good point. The OP needs to start escalating the negativity of her response until she gets the reaction she needs.

          So far, she’s been nice. She needs to move on to direct (i.e. No, I’m not interested. Please stop asking), then stern (i.e. you need to stop asking immediately or I will go to HR/boss/your mother/etc), then actually going to HR/boss/mother/etc. At no point it yelling needed, and it makes no sense to go from nice to yelling.

  11. Esra*

    #4 If it’s a good piece, definitely still use it in your portfolio. Unfortunately most of us get stuck with a bad client at some point, but it’s the work that matters in the end.

    If it makes you feel better, I’ve never had anyone contact clients I worked for unless I specifically put them forth as a reference. Even if it did happen, pretty much everyone in the industry knows there are crap clients who won’t pay, refuse to pay the agreed amount, try to steal work etc etc.

  12. dk*

    “everything will be done on mimeographed newsletters again”

    Mmmm….to be transported back to a time where warm, fragrant paper was delivered by purple-tinged fingertips…

    Seriously, it’s a happy memory for me :)

    1. Vicki*

      Mimeo machines. Dittos.
      I filled in for a week one summer for the city offices secretary. I got to run the mimeo machine.

      It was fun. And I liked the smell

    1. Some European*

      I often go to the web archive too, if I’m landing on a dead link.
      Sadly its more like a 50:50 chance the thing you want is actually archived. Thats because often websites block robot access or send fake 404 pages to them to have less traffic or they have dynamic pages or incompatible file types that cant/dont get archived.

  13. Anon*

    #3-I think the question the OP might have intended was more along the lines of for how long will the information be valid? There was a time before Linked In and as such we had to change our advice to job seekers with it’s advent. Same goes for the death of the objective and hand written thank you notes.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I don’t think that’s what the OP was asking (she’s asking about it being accessible and if she can find it if she comes back), but this is a good question too. Stuff does change over time, but I can’t predict when that’ll happen. If I’m still writing, you’ll see the change here (and already have in some cases; for instance, it’s much harder to change fields or get a job you’re under-qualified for now than it was in 2007, when I started the site), but if it’s just archives, well, then it’ll be a weird time capsule of that period in 2013 when you still couldn’t send a photo with your resume.

      1. girl reading*

        Agree with Alison about the question’s intentions. I’ve wondered this too before and thought about saving useful info on my computer in case the site went away. Glad you’re sticking around!

      2. Chinook*

        AAM I have noticed that you do acknowledge when you have to change your advice based on technological advances because you have only had to do it once – it was the great landline vs. Mobile phone for phone interviews debate.

      3. Anonymous*

        With the US vs Canada thing, I think what OP was thinking of was sites like Hulu, for example, which only let you watch videos if you appear to be in the US as their advertisers are all US-based.

    2. Jamie*

      Some things will always be timeless.

      I would think that my great-great grandchildren will still need to learn that you can’t read anything into innocuous phrases that hiring managers make, you need to be on-time/clean/polite, and if cover letters are no longer relevant (even if by then in the form of holograms) than I will be quite surprised.

  14. Lisa*

    AAM- #5 might be under RLS or restless leg syndrome, which I have. It doesn’t bother me, but does bother my BF cause I have an urge to toss and turn to get relief from my legs and it does have some various random kicking movements that I don’t initiate but only when I am not proactively trying to get rid of the sensation on my own by tossing and turning. My sister has it and my two nieces and we all get it from my grandmother. It also manifests itself at work, where i am constantly shaking my legs up and down or repositioning into cross-cross-apple-sauce on my chair. It can be distracting for co-workers to see me move around and create a humming sound with my legs shaking, but most don’t care. the office manager, just hates that I am wearing down my chair with my movements / shoes when i keep moving my legs up and down.

    1. fposte*

      It’s not about the disorder’s name, it’s that the ADA doesn’t pre-qualify *any* condition by name except for HIV/AIDS.

    2. Jamie*

      My husband has apnea and RLS as well – and tbh the only time I get a decent nights sleep is once a year when he’s at his sleep study.

      Since he got that machine thing and started taking this vitamin combo for the RSL he’s sleeping MUCH better than I am. Between the whistle of the machine when the mask goes askew and the tossing and turning constantly…well I love him but I’ve seriously suggested going to twin beds several times just so I can sleep. I ended up with a compromise…a more comfy couch since that’s where I end up mostly when I can’t take it anymore.

      Not whining and I know he can’t help it – but sometimes I’m so tired during the day I think I need some sort of accommodation for his health issue.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, do you know what vitamin combo? I get RLS as a medication side-effect and it would be great to find something to combat it.

        1. Jamie*

          Just texted him to confirm and I was wrong – he takes two supplements but only one is for restless leg (the other, Co Q 10 is for his blood pressure).

          Calcium. Once he started taking calcium he stopped waking up with the RLS and slept much better. He still tosses all night – but that could be other things – but the discomfort of the RLS stopped. If he runs out and stops taking it he says it comes back.

          1. #5*

            RLS/PLMD can also be caused by low levels of iron, folate, or b12.

            (these are what the sleep physician had me checked for before writing a prescription…that i had horrible sides from. now trying med#2!)

      2. Kathryn T.*

        for the whistling, you can wear earplugs. I can’t sleep without them. I like the Leight Sleepers brand.

        The tossing and turning is awful, though.

      3. EngineerGirl*

        How about European style beds? It is basically two twin beds pushed together like a king. You ate still nearby, but having a separate bed separates the jiggles.

        Also, how about a fan as a white noise generator?

    3. #5*

      i would have never guessed i had PLMD either. OSA was believable. I asked my last two bed partners before my first sleep study if they had ever seen me kick my legs at all, and both of them said no.

      Turns out I kick my legs 40 times an hour. Neither of them knew. In retrospect it makes sense – I have always hated having covers over my feet, and i often wake up with cramps in my calves.

  15. Elizabeth*

    #7: “No” is a complete sentence. So is “No. Don’t ask me again.” Alternately, “No. You’re making me uncomfortable by asking me. Stop it.”

    You don’t have to say why. You don’t need to go into an explanation. You need to be direct.

    Odds, his feelings will be bruised. That is his problem. Your problem is to assure that you are making yourself understood.

  16. Bryce*

    For Number 7, I agree that being “nice” and “letting him down easy” is counterproductive. In fact, according to Gavin DeBecker’s book “The Gift of Fear,” it can even be dangerous.

    Here’s a “script” that might help.

    Start with: “Even though you may think otherwise, I’m not interested in a relationship with you. Please don’t ask me again, because it’s making me feel uncomfortable and disrupting my focus on work.”

    The operative phrase here is “with you.” It makes it clear that there’s nothing the “asker” can do to change that, whereas “I’m too busy” or “I’m not interested now,” or “I don’t date people I work with” are “yes, buts” as Runon puts it. You’re also getting out in the open that you are aware that this person has romantic intentions and you don’t, as well as making it clear how this behavior affects you and your ability to be productive at work.

    If he doesn’t get the message, follow up with:

    “As I said before, I’m not interested in a relationship with you, and you need to stop asking , because it’s making me feel uncomfortable and disrupting my focus on work. If you continue to do this, I will have no choice but to take this matter to (my boss, your boss, HR, etc.) ”

    PS: While all this is going on, document it. Write it down (you can even use one of those 49-cent 3 x 5 memo pads) with the details.

    “On March 22, 2013, at 11:15 AM, John Smith came to my cube and asked me to dinner. This is the 3rd time today he did this. I responded by saying ‘I’m not interested. Please stop asking.’ He asked me to dinner again at 1:1o PM.” (you get the idea).

    Should this escalate, you have that documentation, plus if the asker sees this, he may realize how serious things are.

    Your thoughts?

    1. Bess*

      I concur. I also would like to advise #7 — for that matter, I would like to advise everyone everywhere — to read “The Gift of Fear”. It’s an incredibly useful book.

      As mentioned above, if you are giving “yes, but” answers, you are not saying “no” clearly. You need to stop “letting him down easy” and be very direct and very explicit. “No, I am not interested in a relationship with you. Do not ask me again.” Documentation of any attempts to ask you out, and your (very clear and very explicit) answers are also a good idea.

      DeBecker describes the “axiom of the stalking dynamic” as MEN WHO CANNOT LET GO CHOOSE WOMEN WHO CANNOT SAY NO. (Yes, it’s in all caps in the book, too.) That is, those who are unreasonably persistent (and it’s not just men, although it is men more often than women) will take anything short of a very explicit “no” as “yes”. Your unwanted admirer has already failed to respond to more polite versions of “no”; he is already demonstrating that he can hear “no” as “yes”. You need to be VERY explicit about the no so there is absolutely no “but” in there at all.

      1. Bess*

        Oh, and I should say, this is why I don’t think saying, “No, I don’t date coworkers” is a good idea. That’s a “yes, but”. If he’s serious enough — and I’m not saying he is, but he could be — he could take that as “I would be happy to be in a relationship with you as long as we weren’t working together, i.e., one of the two of us should get a different job and then we can date”. You need to say no with no “but” at all.

        1. Chris*

          I feel weird asking this, but I’ve seen a lot of stories on this site about guys behaving like this. I’m wondering: in the working world, how common is this? Should I expect that if I gain employment in a male dominated workplace that most females I’d meet there would have stories such as these?

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Most women have stories like this from a variety of settings, including work. Work is just not that different from other settings when it comes to this kind of thing.

          2. Bess*

            I have had three different guys from work take everything short of “I am not interested in dating you, EVER, do not ask me again” as “yes, but”, and I have only been in the working world for six years, and the last year I’ve been self-employed, so it doesn’t count. When I say “he may take ‘I don’t date co-workers’ as a ‘yes, but'”, I am unfortunately speaking from experience. “No thanks, I’m married” is also a “yes, but”. (It took me two of the three to learn not to use that excuse. One of the two asked me whether my husband “minded me seeing anyone on the side” or if we had considered “an open relationship”, which quite frankly, I was less creeped out by than the second guy, who would ask me every month, regular as clockwork, if I was still with my husband.)

            I am in a male-dominated field, so YMMV.

          3. Anonymous*

            Every woman has a story like this. Many of us have several. Keep in mind that significant percentage of us have been raped or sexually assaulted – about 5% of college women get raped or assaulted per year, 10% get assaulted prior to reaching college age. Statistics are harder to come by after that, since college women are the ones usually studied for these things, but the current thinking is that ~25% or more of the US female population has been raped or sexually assaulted.

            I bring up rape because these guys, the ones who chase a women when it’s unwanted and don’t take no for an answer, fit the potential rapist profile pretty well.

            Stop treating this guy like a co-worker with delicate feelings, start treating him like a potential serious threat.

            I should throw in the obligatory reminder that some men are subjected to this crap, too. They’re much less likely to admit it, but we shouldn’t forget them.

          4. The IT Manager*

            Not every woman because I do not and I have been a professional in a male dominated field for 15 years now. But apparently many women have this kind of story.

  17. Lanya*

    #4 – from one designer to another – if you are very very happy with the work you did for that client, keep it in your portfolio, and don’t worry about your interviewers calling him for a reference. Your interviewers are probably paying less attention to what companies you’ve done work for, than your actual style itself. Plus, they are probably looking at several other portfolios at the same time. They most likely won’t be mentally cataloguing every company you (or the other interviewees) did a piece for, to call them up for information. That is why you provide references for them if they are interested enough. No worries about your bad experience with this client.

  18. Mabs*

    I skimmed through the comments but didn’t see this mentioned to the OP of question #1: do you meet the minimum GPA if you average the grades of the colleges classes you taken more recently with your transcript from university? If so, I don’t think any fudging or anxiety is needed – your GPA meets their requirement when pulled from ALL your university coursework. Just a thought.

  19. girl reading*

    No 2, at first I wondered if u were from my old company! they had a similar situation where they planned for a manager to retire and told. Another employee she’s be moved into that job. Well that lady quit and they told the next person she was in line for the job when this manager retired. By the time I left after 6 years, the manager was still there and saying she had no plans to retire and she makes everyone there miserable! Just because they want her to retire doesn’t mean she will.

  20. Sandy*

    Thanks for answering my question, Alison, and more so for the humour!

    It was great to see other comments and ideas on the subject and gladly took note of the indicated links where information can still be obtained from … awesome!!

    Yes, I would gladly chip in to keep the archives alive! And for the burritos as well, if that makes you happy!!

    Also thanks for the “mimeographed newsletters” reference, that made me research the term … had no idea what that was! Take care, till next time :)


  21. Anonymous*


    It totally sucks, but it’s completely legal. I recently had my hours cut back to almost nothing myself. All that can be done is to look for another job elsewhere.

  22. TM73*

    I’m the OP for #2 – I should have been more clear. I understand national averages aren’t accurate – but I live in the LA area where salaries should be higher than national average by about 11% and I’m not even AT the national average. I also have spoken with my previous bosses who manage departments like mine (I’m in HR) and I have many friends and former colleagues who I speak with and who have all far surpassed me at the salary level years ago.

    I “know” that I am guaranteed this position in the future because my boss works part time now and she’s gone on vacation a lot, etc. (she is also married to the owner of the company – but that’s a different story). She relies on me so much and every time we hire new in the department it takes her MONTHS to trust someone or give them authority, etc. And, as I mentioned, she is in her 60’s. Unless she plans on working until she dies, she has to retire soon, right? Seems logical, but I might be pretty dumb about this whole thing to stay in this position.

    1. TM73*

      To be clear: I’ve spoken with friends in the same field/positions about appropriate salary ranges, not just friends in general. Sorry, it’s been a long week.

    2. EngineerGirl*

      60’s isn’t THAT old – especially since people now easily live into their 80’s and 90’s. If her 401K took a pounding she may be trying to defer retirement as much as possible.

      Your boss is telling you that your job is much harder at other companies. Why don’t you find out for yourself? If it is true then the companies will tell you that you don’t have the experience needed. You don’t have to take any jobs offered. But any jobs offered might give you a better idea about what you are worth.

  23. Chriama*

    # 7: I was watching Community, and this is now my go-to answer for shutting down unwanted advances:
    “No. I don’t want to go. Not now, not ever. No.”
    – Jeff Winger

    After all, if anyone knows how to prevent themselves from forming meaningful connections, it’s the disgraced lawyer with daddy issues.

    Seriously though, the only way to get them to stop asking is to tell them to STOP ASKING.

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