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 is reading my emails

I’ve been having trouble at work. I went on FMLA medical leave from September to December, during which time my boss started to receive my email. When I returned to work, she decided to keep reading my email. I know this because frequently she comes to my office to ask me questions about them. Yesterday she called me in for a meeting, and pulled out a large folder with my emails printed out with notes on them. Is this a sign I’m about to be fired? And if I’m about to be fired, is preemptively quitting better than getting fired?

Why not ask her what’s going on? Say something like, “I’m getting the sense that you’re concerned about how I’m handling my email, both because you’re still monitoring it — which you didn’t do before I went on leave — and because you’ve been asking me about it. Do you have concerns about my performance that we should talk about?”

As for whether quitting is better than being fired, that’s really premature at this point (and depends on lots of factors that aren’t in your letter). First you need to find out what’s going on.

2. Can I push back against meetings that run into the evening?

I am a senior logistics manager within an automotive based company. My wife has recently returned to work and we have a baby who is in childcare on a daily basis. Recently the company has been calling meetings which can sometimes last until 7 p.m. Due to my family commitments, do I have the right to advise that I need to leave due to family commitments at a reasonable hour?

Sure, you can explain that to your manager. And with many jobs, at many companies, that will be fine and you and your manager will find a way to work around your schedule. But at other jobs and other companies, it might not be flexible. So it depends on how accommodating your employer is willing and able to be.

3. Writing pieces on behalf of someone else

In my job, I write articles and reports on behalf of my supervisor. He might review the work, but I do all the research and writing. When the pieces are published, my name usually isn’t on the byline with his. Would you please suggest an approach I could take to putting this activity on my resume? And if I were to need writing samples, could I use any of the articles that list only him as the author?

This is very common, and employers will understand it. You can refer to it on your resume as “wrote articles and reports released under CEO’s name” (or whatever), and assuming that your manager is willing to confirm that you wrote the pieces if asked in a reference check, there’s no reason you can’t use them as writing samples.

4. Thank-you gift for dining hall staff

I am a senior at a small women’s college, and I have to follow a restricted diet due to medical issues. Throughout my four years here, the dining hall staff have gone way above and beyond the call of duty in accommodating this — making me a gluten-free pancake with a candle for my birthday my first year, for example (when I was also washing dishes in the dining hall for work-study). I’d like to give them some kind of thank-you gift for everything they’ve done for me, but I don’t actually know any of them well enough to know what they’d like. Would it be appropriate to bring/send a flower arrangement or something similar for the staff as a whole?

Yes, absolutely. They’d probably also appreciate a handwritten card telling them how much their help meant to you.

5. Reaching back out to a company after withdrawing from a hiring process

I made a big mistake! I applied for a great position and even got a interview lined up. But my manager at the time presented me with a promotion, so I withdrew my resume, advising them of this new opportunity. The problem is that now my manager is abruptly no longer with my company and the position that was promised to me was put on hold. Would I be out of line if I were to write the other hiring manager an apology and ask them to consider me for any future positions?

You don’t need to apologize — you didn’t do anything wrong. But it would be fine to let them know that because your manager has left, you’re interested in moving on after all and that you’d love to talk with them if they think you’d be a good match for a role in the future.

6. Calling when a job ad lists a phone number

If a job description lists a name/number to call if you have questions, should you always call, even if you “think” you know enough to proceed with the application?

No, absolutely not! If you have no burning reason to call, don’t call. They’re going to have hundreds of applicants for that position, if they’re like most places, and if all that applicants felt they should call (with or without good cause), they’d be hugely inconvenienced. Moreover, you won’t make a good impression if it’s clear that you don’t have a compelling reason to call them.

7. My temp position was posted online yesterday

I am a temp and have worked here for 2 months. When I was being hired, I was told that there was a high chance that I would become full-time, but I saw that my position was posted online yesterday. Should I go to my boss and ask him, “Are you hiring someone for my position?” I think if I don’t ask, I will drive myself crazy/paranoid, plus I was laid off before starting here as a temp! At this company there are a total of three people in this same position (includes me) but the other two are full-time.

Should I directly ask my boss, my boss’s boss, or call HR? I feel like unless I directly ask my immediate supervisor I will only create “gossip.” Please advise.

You are way over-thinking this. You’re not going to create gossip by enquiring about this. It’s also completely normal and reasonable that they want to consider multiple candidates rather than simply offering you the position (and “high chance” that you’d get the job is not a certainty). Just ask your manager: “I saw that this role was posted online yesterday. I’d love to be considered for it if you think I’d be a strong candidate.”

{ 102 comments… read them below }

  1. Kara*


    I think that would depend on the job, actually. For example, I was recently screening candidates to interview for a telemarketing position. I specifically posted on my job description for candidates to call my number – not to just fire off an resume – to apply, because I needed to hear their phone voice/manners/etc, otherwise it would be pointless to proceed. You’d be surprised (or maybe you wouldn’t) at the number of job hunters who don’t follow instructions. I doubt some of them even made it to the bottom of the job description (which is where my instructions were) before clicking the link to send an email. I had the job listed twice in different categories, and I actually had one person send me an attached resume to each link without a cover letter or memo written in the body of the email. She emailed the next day saying she would call if she didn’t hear from me. I was seriously tempted to point these job seekers to AAM, but I felt that would be rude. I won’t even go into the disasters I saw on the resumes… *twitch*

    To me, the lack of following instructions automatically disqualified them for the position, since its a remote position that would require the employee to be able to follow written instructions. I didn’t list the reason I wanted a phone call instead of an emailed resume, so they may not have seen it as a ‘burning reason to call,’ but that IS how I asked them to apply. Luckily, I found some one who not only follows directions, but is actually qualified for the position, had a decent resume, and interviewed well. There is hope!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Ah, but I think that’s different — your instructions said to call, whereas this sounds like an employer just making a number available if someone has questions.

      1. Kara*

        True, but I really do think it depends on the position. Someone who is applying for a position that will require them to spend the majority of their work hours on the phone might do well to call if it is encouraged/suggested/requested/offered. A receptionist position, call center, etc.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I don’t know — it really comes across when someone is calling because they think it will help them stand out but they don’t actually have a real reason for the call. And it makes them look like they don’t respect other people’s time. I’m thinking about calls I’ve gotten asking if they’re qualified or asking to know more about the job when the ad was already extremely detailed; it doesn’t reflect well on them.

  2. Mable*


    I can totally relate. I was in the same position a few months ago. No one told me that if you’re in a temp-to-hire position that it may be standard practice for the company to consider outside candidates. Perhaps I was naive not to know this but reading your post made me feel better. I feel like agencies and companies who use temps should make this clear.

    1. Jessa*

      This is normal. Many companies have REQUIREMENTS that they list openings. Even if they’re 100% sure you’re going to get the job sometimes they have to do this. I worked for a state job as a temp on other personnel services money. When the job opened permanently I knew it was mine (I’d been doing it at excellent reviews for 8 months.) But they had to list it and they had to interview. I spent a nice half hour with my boss answering “what would you do about x?” By saying “well when I permanently fixed x I did this for you.”

      They had to even set out a set of questions. They had a standard required hiring process. And honestly the only way someone MIGHT have moved me out of that job was if they already did the SAME job and were senior in place. And none of those people applied.

      Even private companies have procedures and the larger the company is the more they have to do it. Because otherwise they can be challenged and while it technically isn’t illegal or anything, you can get someone in a protected class trying to make a fight of it if they don’t follow their procedures. So unless they have a procedure for directly hiring contractors or temps…you’re stuck with this.

      1. Recent Diabetic*

        I understand and appreciate the fact that there needs to be transparency in the process of hiring, but the fact that there is already an internal candidate who will most likely be hired just puts me off. I know the company is trying to be above board and what not, but most job descriptions say x yrs experience and x skills, which outside candidates have, but won’t get hired as the internal candidate has an advantage – proven her/himself within the organization. I am not complaining about the process, but I think it is hugely unfair for outside candidates and why waste my time with an interview if there is already an almost ‘chosen’ candidate. In this economy when so many people are looking for jobs, it seems a bit cruel to waste someone’s time when you most likely won’t hire them.

        1. AmyNYC*

          Here, here!
          Especially if they’re interviewing to fill a quota – I’ve spent my time preparing, I took time off from work to come here, and there’s no chance you’re hiring me at all? Waste of my time AND yours.

        2. Marnie*

          Total agreement – I’d respect a company more if they would just own up to the fact they have someone in mind. It doesn’t need to be anything elaborate, just a line in the posting like “a strong internal candidate exists, but interested and qualified candidates are strongly encouraged to apply”. That’s honest, and leaves everyone on the same page. To post a job that’s essentially been filled seems less so. It would also probably cut down on the total number of applicants that the hiring manager has to process, because only very interested candiates would apply.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Yep. It’s really crappy when companies have no intention of hiring an outside candidate but waste their time anyway. It’s also utterly contrary to the spirit of the policy that requires them to post it, and someone in a position of power should point that out sometime. Either they’re serious about opening it up to the public and therefore should really do it in a meaningful way, or they’re not and they should stop wasting their own resources and other people’s time (as well as engaging in a charade that’s often ostensibly done for the purpose of diversity but is actually kind of anti-diversity at its core).

            1. Jamie*

              I would assume this happens less for higher level positions? I would imagine if you were interviewing people for COO and completely wasting their time that could bite you down the road.

              Well, it could with anyone…I really hate the disingenuous aspect of this and fortunately I’ve never experienced this first hand. We look internally first for open position, if we don’t have anyone that’s when we pull in external candidates.

            2. Jessa*

              Yes, it is. Sometimes (at least in my case it was a state agency,) they have a statutory requirement to list. It’s TOTALLY unfair, because let’s face it if someone has actually been doing THAT job (not a similar one, but the exact job that has been listed in the exact department,) there should probably be an exception to this. And while government usually hates exceptions, private industry should be able to say “In the case that a person is in the job in question for more than 3 months with excellent performance, it is understood the position does not need to be posted.” Now as for internal postings I think it depends on if you have a true seniority system. In which case you probably do have to post an internal notice.

              The issue being that even in my case I would have lost the job to someone with seniority in the same job title who was ABLE to do what I was doing. Which was sole administrative clerical support to 8 departments. Believe me I was keeping that job. I was the only one who ever had it who was able to organise it in a way that it was doable without losing the basic stuff that had to be done.

              1. mas*

                I suspect (based on some knowledge from a friend who worked there and got the scoop afterwards) that I was once that outsider brought in to a government job interview just to fill some legal rules on interviewing outsiders of various classes of gender/race/etc. It was frustrating because I had to burn a vacation day, bought a new outfit, prepped with my friend (who didn’t know I was just filling a quota and spent several hours giving me advice), got excited, etc and then later found out that I probably was not really being seriously considered at all. I’ll write off my excitement/emotional investment because no one is entitled to a job just because you interview, but as for the burning of a vacation day, paying for parking and buying a new interview outfit, I was really mad to have spent that money just to fill some quota.

                Side note – I often wondered if women or minorities were more apt to have their time wasted as we were maybe just there to check a box that said “interviewed 2 people who were (X type of human)”. I think/hope this does not happen often but it does make me wonder.

                1. Ophelia*

                  My husband is in chanrge of hiring at a large blue store that sells just about everything and he came home last night complaining of a similar problem. For every position they fill they are required to interview at least seven people. He has been taking resumes for a position that requires a very specific skill set and there was only one external candidate that fit the description. Because of the interview quota he is being forced to interview three internal candidates that he knows will not receive the job. He understands why the policy is in place but he doesn’t like wasting the time of his co-workers.

        3. Piper*

          Agreed. It’s not the greatest practice and a prime example of companies getting caught in their own red tape. We currently have this going on in my company with a manager. He’s already been moved into the position, but for the first 90 days they have to continue to interview other candidates (and the position is already filled!) because of corporate policy. I see his job posted regularly through my LinkedIn feed by our corporate recruiter. It’s maddening. What a waste of time and resources.

            1. the gold digger*

              I was in corporate finance. I spent a lot of time figuring out what our profits and share would be have been if the company hadn’t sold certain divisions.

              A colleague had to do a huge cost-benefit analysis of a security system. Which is not a bad thing, but the system had already been installed.

        4. Anonymous*

          If they have no intention of hiring an outsider it’s bogus to advertise the position.

          However if they are actually open to an outsider, but the insider has an advantage due to more specific knowledge and experience ( and is thus most likely to get the job), it’s still reasonable to interview other people. They might get someone awesome from outside that will outweigh the insider advantage. Or they might not. The latter is more likely, but it’s not disingenuous of them to look around.

          1. Nikki*

            I believe this is what happened with my current position. I’m the outsider they didn’t see coming. Perhaps they had no intention of hiring the internal candidate but may have gone with her by default otherwise.

          2. Recent Diabetic*

            True, but as another poster suggested, even a brief line about how there is a very strong internal candidate for this position would leave the decision to apply to outside candidates. It is more honest. I don’t want to waste my time obsessing over my resume and cover letter and prep for interview and realize it was just to meet some company protocol.

            1. Anonymous*

              ” realize it was just to meet some company protocol.”

              It’s not “just” to meet protocol if there is a real, though small, chance that someone outside will be hired.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                This is very true, and people lose sight of it. My beef is when it’s truly a charade, but not when they’re genuinely open to outside candidates (even if they have a strong internal candidate).

              2. Recent Diabetic*

                I agree, but I am pointing to examples like mas and Piper are talking about. This is especially rampant in public service postings as they are required by law to advertise them, but there is always usually an internal candidate in mind – it is evident from the job description. Applying for such positions is already an onerous task, and if you get through, it is all for nothing as they’re trying to comply with their law/protocol. My beef isn’t with internal candidates (organizationally that makes sense when you have a proven commodity), but the dishonesty which results in me blowing vacation days and spending time to prepare. I am also a visible minority and I have no idea if I am part of the quota either.

    2. V*

      Even if you’re already *in* a position at the company and they just want to transfer you, they may still have to officially post any new jobs so anyone can apply. My company requires this, which is why you’ll frequently see job “openings” which list “3 years of experience on program ABC, and experience with X, Y, and Z unrelated things”. They’re often lifted from the desired employee’s resume . . .

      When I went through this, I had to resist the urge to submit a official cover letter saying “Hi Sue! You wanted to hire me for this?”

  3. Elise*

    #7 – I wouldn’t be surprised if their policies required the posting of the position and they want you to apply to the posting.

  4. Jessa*

    Regarding number 3. In a lot of cases the reason your name is not on this stuff is that it is their intent to pretend the manager wrote it. I’d make sure that they’re going to admit you wrote it before you tell people you did. Because if that’s the reason, they’re going to lie about it.

    I would however totally try to get your name on the stuff as co author. If they let you get away with that it’ll be a sign they’re going to be honest about who writes what.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Well, there’s nothing nefarious about publishing under the other person’s name. This is really, really common. It’s not lying; it’s a normal way publishing op-eds, papers, statements, etc. works. I mean, the president of the country doesn’t write his own speeches or op-eds — and neither do most presidents of companies. And yet it’s perfectly normal and accepted to note on your resume that you were someone’s speechwriter or ghostwriter. It would be very unusual for the company to take issue with that. (I’m not saying that’s never happened — only that it would be really out of the ordinary.)

      Only semi-relatedly: I once wrote an article titled “(Celebrity Name’s) Beauty Tips.” Her rep told us to make them all up, and I did. It was weird.

      1. Sharon*

        I think Jessa may be alluding to a more corporate environment. Instead of documents published for public or peer consumption, is the OP referring to corporate reports in which case her manager is stealing credit for all of her work? That happens alot too, but in that case it’s not okay.

        1. Natalie*

          Even in a corporate environment, I just assume nearly everyone above a certain level has their stuff ghost-written, and it seems to be a fairly common assumption. I’ve heard anyone be specifically credited with the writing – it’s always “Jane Smith’s team” who “put the report together”.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          This is normal in corporate environments too. It’s not stealing credit for the work; it’s just the way things work. People ghostwrite things; it’s normal and not nefarious.

          1. Jessa*

            OH yes, it’s not “stealing,” my point is the places that absolutely deny that the person who has their name on it was ghostwriten. There are those types who just cannot understand that it’s normal in industry for someone to be in charge of writing things and someone else’s name might appear on it. But they’re credit grabby, they think it reflects badly on them. But they will absolutely stick forever on “I wrote that.” Those are the people you have to work around. Because it looks bad. They make things sticky and nasty and get into “who did it” fights.

      2. Anonymous*

        A Catholic nun once asked me (a volunteer at her soup kitchen) to ghostwrite her donor thank you cards. She even taught me how to forge her name. :)

        I’ve also ghostwritten “Letters from the Director” in my non-profit’s newsletter, etc.

        1. Anonimal*

          For 4 years, I ghost signed admissions letters for our dean of admissions. There were about 700 to sign every summer and there was no way he could do it. I forged his signature the best.

          1. Evan the College Student*

            So they’re ghost-signed? I thought the dean’s signature was just scanned into a computer and printed out on each letter.

            1. Ellie H.*

              We do it both ways. Sometimes, the signature is printed; some stuff we sign for her. I’m not very good at it because I have an illegible signature myself, but a couple of my coworkers are.

              1. Jamie*

                To paraphrase a quote from Steel Magnolias I have the handwriting of a serial killer…my own name doesn’t look the same twice I can’t imagine trying to get someone else’s right.

        2. I'm Sorry*

          I once wrote a sympathy note on behalf of the CEO of my former organization. It was for someone on the Board of Directors whose spouse had just died.

          Now, I’ve ghostwritten nearly every damn thing, but that was a new one for me.

          Surely the CEO could have written that one himself?

      3. Jamie*

        Am I the only one dying to know what the beauty tips were? Even more than I want to know the name of the celebrity – although I’m nosy about that too! :)

        It’s weird about writing – and this may be just because I’m over thinking this – but I’ve written a ton of work stuff that didn’t have a name on it and I’ve never cared. Blog posts, etc. The reason I don’t care is that it’s “well written” because the facts, spelling, and punctuation are correct…but anyone could have written it. Dry business communications.

        However, when I used to recap I would be FURIOUS when I found my stuff posted on another website without a credit and a link back. It’s weird – no money involved (usually) but it was personal. I didn’t want someone taking my stupid jokes and snarky comments and passing them off as theirs. It was like they stole something of mine.

        So when I think about it I could ghost write for someone if it were factual and dry – clinical – but I wouldn’t if it meant someone else would be co-opting part of my personality…such as it is.

        I remember the first time I got an email from a stranger letting me know they saw my writing on another site with someone else’s name I was so pissed off…but totally flattered that some stranger recognized my words and knew they were mine. They also had a bet going in their office about whether I was a man or a woman – and I won the good Samaritan $10 by confirming both of my X chromosomes.

        Digressing all over the place – sorry – but I do wonder if other people feel the same way about their writing…kind of territorial when it’s in their style as opposed to churning out factual information without typos.

        1. Your Mileage May Vary*

          You are not the only one wanting to know what the beauty tips were. Sometimes I think the only things I take away from this blog are recipes, beauty tips, and cleaning/laundry tips. Next open thread, I’m going to want to get links for suggestions for professional looking purses, backpacks, or soft briefcases. Start preparing now!

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I hope you are taking away something more than that! (But there’s an open thread coming tomorrow!)

            I’ll confess who the celebrity was. It was Belinda Carlisle!

            1. Your Mileage May Vary*

              I confess to a moment of hyperbole. I really am taking away an awful lot from this blog. But boy, can I get side-tracked on the non-work-related stuff easily.

              Yay for open threads on my day off!!

    2. Josh S*

      I’ve published articles under my own byline for my clients, and I’ve ghostwritten articles for them under the byline of a person 2-3 levels up from me as well. (Oddly enough, it was for the same column in a trade press magazine…)

      Unless there’s some prestige about having your name published in a certain publication, it’s unlikely that they’re really concerned if someone finds out the piece is done by a ghost writer. The reason the byline went from the manager to me (a freelance/contract analyst) and back to the manager was because the advertiser that ‘sponsored’ the column wanted either a high-level expert (to attract eyeballs of high-level/CEO attention to the piece) or a ‘feet-on-the-ground’ worker (to attract eyeballs of vendors and typical clients who are more in the nitty-gritty of it). And that choice wasn’t based on the content of the piece, it was based on the object of the ad being printed next to the column.

      Personally, I think they were really overthinking things. But when they’re the one cutting the check…whatever.

    3. Anonymous*

      As a lawyer, I’ve often written letters to opposing counsel or clients that are then looked over and signed by the partner on the case. They typically include the partner’s name and my initials (or the initials of whoever else may have written it like their secretary or paralegal). So it is signed “Jane Doe / sb.” I believe that very common in the legal field for correspondence, but I don’t think there is a similar convention for publishing.

      Maybe a closer relation would be to court briefs. I may do all the research and writing on a brief, but the partner arguing the case is the one who signs it and my name doesn’t appear anywhere. I’ve been able to use one of these that hadn’t been edited by anyone else as a writing sample and nobody batted an eye.

        1. De Minimis*

          That used to be pretty common office practice, I know I was taught it back in high school typing class. I think I was probably one of the last group of students who learned typing on actual typewriters. I don’t remember the last time I saw anything like that though.

          1. Chinook*

            I still doe the JD/sb on all things I type up for someone and use it whether or not they gave it to me word for word or just a general idea for the content. I always think if it as a way of showing that a third party is aware of the content.

        2. Portia de Belmont*

          Yeah, that was the usual assumption before paraprofessionals like paralegals became common. I’ve drafted a ton of correspondence and pleadings where the only input my boss had was signing them. He always makes me put my initials on things to clients, so they know to call me if they have questions.

          1. Anonymous*

            Did he read the material before signing it?

            That’s where some ethics come in, and where I think in the future it will be less and less acceptable for people to present ghostwritten material unless they at least looked through it and agreed.

    4. EnnVeeEl*

      I’ve done this type of work for years and I put the pieces in my portfolio. On my resume, I list that I wrote articles, op-eds, etc., for this or that publication. Because over the years its been a lot of publications, I just list the name and not the article title. I add or take off publications on my resume depending on who I’m interviewing with. I also switch the actual pieces in and out of my portfolio. Believe me, employers you interview with know totally understand.

      I don’t feel any kind of way about my name not being in the publication. It’s part of what I do. In fact, it would be weird for a writer to insist on having their name as a co-author. It is not common and it might come off badly if you ask.

      I’ve worked for corporations and other types of organizations, fyi.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        “In fact, it would be weird for a writer to insist on having their name as a co-author. It is not common and it might come off badly if you ask.”


    5. Forrest*

      I’ve written so many letters as “[insert CEO’s name]” and never once thought to not claim them as my own. But I work in Development where maybe its more expected?

      Regardless, no one’s ever batted any eye at it.

  5. Josh S*

    #4 — You’re a class act. This is a wonderful gesture, and I’m sure it will be hugely meaningful. Good on ya.

    1. saro*

      Yes, I think it’s a very kind idea.

      (WOMEN’S COLLEGES FOR THE WIN! – sorry, got excited)

    2. Jess*

      Just wanted to drop in and add my kudos to #4 for being so thoughtful. That’s indeed a very nice thing to do.

      1. Emma*

        My university had a big corkboard in the dining hall where you could post notes, requests, etc. People put up thank-you notes all the time! Often “The corn-and-green-chile soup was delicious! Can you give me the recipe? Thank you!” which was met with the recipe, for the original however-many-gallons of deliciousness, kindly broken down into instructions for cooking on the individual level.

        Sending them a thank you note with an Edible Arrangement or something lovely like that would be so very thoughtful. It’ll go a long way towards them helping out the next nutritionally-unique person, I’m sure.

        I confess that while I spent hours and hours taking classes, working at, and participating in women’s leadership opportunities on my uni’s women’s campus…I wasn’t officially a student on that campus. Women’s colleges rock, though!

  6. Jessa*

    #4 – very sweet of you. Maybe cookys or pizza delivery so they don’t have to cook their lunch? I know a lot of kitchen people who would love to not have to make their lunches.

    1. Chinook*

      I was thinking a gift card for a takeout restaurant so they could choose which day to have their lunch brought in.

    2. Liz T*

      Yeah, I was going to say something edible like chocolates instead of flowers–easier to share. (Flowers are always so lovely when you get them but then you don’t really know what to do with them.) Don’t overthink it though! It doesn’t have to be too expensive or too large a gift–the point is that you care about and appreciate them. Little heartfelt gestures go a long way.

  7. Corporate Drone*

    #1: Yes, the boss reading, printing, and keeping a hard copy file of your emails is a bad sign. We are missing some key information here, like what is the content of those messages, is the on you about your follow up, etc. Without knowing more, it’s impossible to speculate if this is documentation for an HR case or just good old fashioned micromanagement.

    #2: It depends on a number of things. Is there a special project right now that requires these late meetings? Is the late day scheduling done to accommodate a global team? Do you need to be there, or could you call in to the meeting? If it’s a special project or scheduling to accommodate international colleagues, then suck it up. If it’s once a week, suck it up. I have to be on a weekly call at 6 AM EST every Tuesday with a team in Europe. I suck it up.

    1. Jen*

      I used to work for an international company and we’d have to do those 6 a.m. global calls (or 9 p.m. calls) and fortunately they were very flexible and I could say “Hey, I have a 6 a.m. call on Thursday so I’ll be in afterwards.” and if I had to do daycare drop-off I would do the call on my cell phone on speaker as I drove. Not entirely safe but what can you do? And with the later evening calls, it was expected that we would just go home and call in from home.

      See if there is a way you can leave the call for 30 minutes, pick up the kids, go home and then dial back in. If you don’t miss too much time, they shouldn’t care.

      That being said, the birth of my second child made me realize I could not work for an international company anymore – the hours and the travel were not anything that fit into my life so I eventually quit.

      1. Jamie*

        I didn’t have the child care issues because mine were older when I went to work, but I second the issues of working for an international company.

        I briefly worked for a horrible boss and a large part of the job was communique with overseas partners. He was a be in at 6:00 am in case anyone needs us and stay until 8:00 pm + because that’s when they were most communicative. He had no ability to schedule so needs were met and people weren’t routinely doing 16 hour days.

        Hence only working for him briefly – and that wasn’t my biggest issue with him – but I digress. The point is there are scheduling needs one would have to accommodate to work with partners overseas but it can work if bosses are reasonable.

        I’ve always found Jen’s set up fascinating (regular commenter with South Park pink parka gravatar) where here boss is in the US and oversees her team in Europe. I think it would be neat to work with a more diverse group of colleagues sometimes and skyping into a different part of the world. Unfortunately I have no language skills outside of English and I do like my job so it’s not to be…maybe someday though.

        1. Esra*

          I used to work for an international company and we worked with South America. It was remote work (yay!), so we tended to do a lot of work 3-4 hours in the morning, have the afternoon to ourselves, then 3-4 hours in the evening. It was nice if you had to schedule appointments or wanted to go anywhere, but I can see how it would be a drag if you had kids etc.

          My boyfriend at the time also worked there, so it wasn’t an issue, but it might’ve put a damper on things otherwise.

            1. -X-*

              I got a work call from East Asia once at 1am while visiting my wife who was living in another city at the time. Wife was not happy.

              Just arranged a couple Skype conferences with the 3 countries in the Americas, 2 countries in Africa, India, and a country in Southeast Asia. Luckily the person in SE Asia didn’t mind being up late, and the Americans were all willing to be on early.

    2. Chinook*

      #2 the early morning meetings don’t necessarily have to be international. Depending on where you are in the country, there really are only 3 hours in the work day where the east coast and west coast sync up re: business hours. Here in Canada, it is even worse – when I worked in Ottawa, it was near impossible to have a teleconference with Newfoundland and BC without someone working outside hours.

      1. Mary*

        Agreed. I work for a global company, and even our North American meetings are tricky. I manage the Alaska and Hawaii offices, and when someone on the East Coast schedules a meeting, the Hawaii employees often have to log in at 6 a.m.

  8. Chocolate Teapot*

    1. Another issue is how the emails are handled. Is there a shared mailbox which the whole team can access, or is the boss automatically copied into messages/has requested that even though the OP is back at work the sender should continue sending the emails to the boss?

  9. Naomi*

    Regarding #7- I have a part-time internship, and there is a person who has a full-time entry level job in the office (the exact kind of job I am looking for). Last week, the boss calls me into his office, tells me “As you know, Megan is leaving” (I didn’t know) “and I heard you were interested in the position” (I didn’t know the opening existed). Then he goes on to preemptively reject me, for a job I hadn’t applied for and didn’t know existed. I was shocked, because he wrote a really complimentary letter of recommendation for me and everyone seems happy with my work. He told me they wanted someone with “experience,” but afterward I saw the job ad on my university’s job posting website, and it specifically asked for a new grad, entry-level, etc. I know he’s hired interns for this position in the past. It feels like such a slap in the face!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      That’s crappy! If it helps at all, someone probably said something like, “I’m sure Naomi would be interested in that job” and it got translated along the way to “Naomi is interested in that job,” and that’s why he talked to you. Two other things:

      1. It’s totally possible to do a great job as an intern (hence your good feedback and the letter of recommendation) but not be right for a particular opening.

      2. If you wanted feedback, it would totally reasonable to talk to him and say, “I understand that you don’t think I’m right for this job, but since the posting asks for qualifications that I have, I wonder if you can give me feedback about why I’m not a good candidate for it. I’m not trying to debate your decision; it would just be very helpful for me for my job search in the future to get your feedback.”

    2. Jamie*

      Wow – it sucks enough to be rejected for jobs for which you applied.

      I can’t imagine if people started coming up to me rejecting me for jobs I didn’t want or even know about.

      Agreed with Alison – probably miscommunication – but they should have waited until you expressed an interest yourself.

      1. Another Reader*

        Totally! Considering all the jobs one never applies for, that would be a lot of (unnecessary) rejections!

  10. Nelle*

    My instinct is to say the boss in #1 isn’t trying to build a case for firing or discipline, because if so she would try to cover her tracks. This just sounds like she’s having trouble delegating.

    That would still be MEGA annoying, though.

    1. Sydney Bristow*

      I was thinking that the boss had become used to dealing with the people who are emailing and built relationships with them and just wants to make sure the transition back goes smoothly. OP, did you spend time getting your boss up to speed on your emails before you left? Maybe your boss is just trying to do the same in reverse and by talking to her about it she will see the transition back is fine.

      1. Just a Reader*

        I would love more context on this. Either the boss has a concern that should be addressed directly vs. through email monitoring, or she doesn’t have enough to do/is micromanaging/can’t let go of this task.

        Either way, it’s weird, even if there are performance issues.

      2. Anonymous*

        She didn’t do any of the work, she just read the emails and then forwarded them for other people to do the work. She never got involved or lifted a finger to actually help out. She also refused to hire anyone else to help while I was out. It was a huge struggle, and made me also feel guilty for being ill.

  11. PPK*

    #4 Maybe one of the fruit dipped in chocolate arrangements? I think Edible Arrangements is one place that makes them. But I also think a note thanking them for their extra care and attention is the most important. Don’t just say thank you — say more or less what you said here.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      That last line is so key! Thank-you notes are nice, but the ones that really have an impact are the ones that are specific and detailed about what you’re saying thank-you for. Those are the ones that people treasure for even years afterwards.

      1. Jamie*

        I agree that a gift/gesture is nice but the most important thing is the note.

        I saved someone’s bacon once in the course of my job and didn’t think it was a big deal…but this kinda terse and gruff guy I wasn’t particularly friendly with left me a heartfelt note expressing sincere thanks on a series of post it notes left on my keyboard.

        He’s long gone, but I still have the note shoved in a folder. Reminds me that even my mundane “any monkey with a keyboard” could do it stuff does matter and helps other people get stuff done.

        It’s all about the note.

        1. Lily in NYC*

          Ha, I have to share about a note in a card I received yesterday for secretary’s day (my least favorite day of the year!) It simply said, “you suck” and had no signature. No one fessed up, but this morning when I came in one of the VPs was looking at me with a weird face so I realized it was him. He meant it as a joke (we have been friends for 10 years) but completely forgot to put in the starbucks gift card he bought me – which would have made me realize it was a joke right away. He felt awful but I thought it was hilarious. He’s not my boss but I am going to get him back on Boss’ Day.

          1. Liz in the City*

            This is hilarious! And I hope he gave you the Starbucks gift card and an apology. (And yes, you have plenty of time to plan…)

        2. Kristi*

          Along similar lines, one of my favorite notes came about when I left my last job. More than just good luck, “Scarecrow, I’ll miss you most of all.”

      2. PEBCAK*

        And if there are specific people who helped you, do what you can to LET THEIR MANAGERS KNOW.

  12. Beth*

    Regarding number 5 – reaching back out to a company after withdrawing from the hiring process – this happened to me, with yet another twist. And I still got the job!

    In April of my last year of grad school, I applied for an exempt professional position at a top company within my field. The job looked perfect for me, right in line with my previous work experience and the degree I was about to get. I was offered an interview. Unfortunately, I had to postpone the interview (something I had never before done) because I was in grad school in Canada and my transportation to the US had fallen through. (Complicated issue… I am American and my passport had just expired, which isn’t supposed to happen while you’re on a student visa as I was, but it did, and so I couldn’t fly or take public transportation across the border. At that time I could only take a private car.)

    That rescheduling is the added twist, which already potentially made me look a little flaky. Then, in the time leading up to the rescheduled interview, a project I’d been heading up as a graduate student was made into a term-limited professional position, and offered to me. I jumped at the chance, as I was dying to stay in that city, so I called and cancelled the interview altogether, explaining the situation. I don’t think I even received a response, so I didn’t know how the cancellation was perceived. Unfortunately, the job in Canada fell through due to funding, and another job option also fell through because it was going to be “casual” employment and I wouldn’t be able to get a work visa for it.

    So, in August, with my visa about to expire, I was desperate for a job. I saw that the position at the US company had been reposted. Tail between my legs, I contacted the HR rep. I explained the situation, and I think she could understand that it had made sense for me to stay where I was, when that appeared to be an option. I think she also understood that it didn’t necessarily mean that I lacked genuine interest in the job at her company, but simply that I liked where I was living, and wanted to finish up the project on which I’d been working.

    In my case she did have some reservations about whether I seriously wanted to move from a major cosmopolitan city to the more rural area in which this company was based, but I had grown up in that general region, so I was able to assure her that I was interested in returning.

    In the end, I got the job. I think that withdrawing from consideration because you want to stay in your current company would be looked at pretty favorably. It shows loyalty and suggests that you like the company, and you’re liked and respected there. Obviously if you’d already accepted a position or maybe even come on board, and then jumped ship back to your old company, and then wanted to be reconsidered at the new company, that would be a different story.

  13. Allison*

    Gotta second 6! I used to invite people to PM me if they had any questions, but I stopped because everyone who was interested would contact me just for the sake of contacting me, asking if they’re qualified. That shouldn’t be a hard thing to figure out yourself, but then I realized they already know the answer and are just trying to make a connection hoping that it’ll help their chances, or that I’ll push them through the “real” process.

    Only call to ask if you need to know something that wasn’t listed, or if you have questions about the process, or something you legitimately need to know before applying. Don’t just call to stand out.

  14. Lily in NYC*

    #4 – that would be such a lovely gesture. But maybe instead of flowers, think about getting something they can share – like one of those edible fruit arrangements or a tray of sweets better than what they can get at work. But even flowers would be really, really nice.

  15. Andrew*

    Meaningless diversion: why, every week, do I misread this headline as “Tense Answer Thursday?” What does that say about me?

  16. Anonymous*

    #1. While your boss printing out your emails and keeping them in a folder is probably a bad sign, I have to disagree on the principle that any boss reading an employee’s work email is wrong. Your work email belongs to your employer. If you don’t believe that IT is already monitoring your emails, Facebook posts, and url requests and reporting them to your manager, well…
    [where *did* my “I read your email for I am root” t-shirt get to??]

  17. Anonymous*

    #4 – Wonderful that they’ve taken such good care of you, & that you are eager to thank them. I suggest that you also send their boss/appropriate administrator a note complimenting them on their going above & beyond not just once but for four year. They’ll be delighted by your gift & card, hearing about your compliments to the boss means professional recognition, too.

    And, congraduations!

  18. Waiting Patiently*

    Recently I saw a position posted like that. It was described as a temp position (did not state how long and was quite vague) and the announcement directed anyone with questions to call. –Well I wanted to know how long was it for– was it for the summer, to cover maternity leave, etc..While *I* thought it was weird that they would instruct people to call (esp in this economy and esp since it was an opening at a city municipality), I went with it because if I could get more information that ‘they said they would give’, it would better help us both in the search for ‘fit’. And it would save me the time from submitting an application, cover letter and resume. *And* just like I thought the person didn’t bother to return the phone call. I left a very detailed message with my question. It wasn’t “hi, this is Waiting Patiently can you please call me back to discuss xyz job” I figure they were either unsure of the length of the position, or the person who wrote the ad was new to the position.

    Why ask for someone to ask you for more information when you’re not willing to give it or can’t reasonably get back to everyone.

  19. author of number 1*

    I saw your response, and I have a follow up question. I wanted to clarify a few things about my situation. When I went on medical I had a feeling this would happen. Others at our organization had been fired shortly after their FMLA. Therefore, this would not be surprising.

    I do feel like this file is linked to a record of “poor performance” as in she is building a case a against me. During the meeting, it clearly came off as a counseling session, she took notes on everything I said, it was all “being documented”, even though she was not up front with me what was going on. (I do wonder if anyone could be perfect if all their emails were tracked and read and they dealt with 10,000 clients yearly).

    My boss is a very unreasonable, unprofessional woman, who quite frankly is just unstable and mean (also she is a in a long standing relationship with the head of the organization, so there is no going to anyone about the situation, and our HR Manager quit in January after 5 years because she could not handle working for her anymore and her decision was to not have HR anymore. HR was the only person controlling her actions). I think having this conversation could only make things worse, in the sense of she will not see what I am doing as professional, but as weak minded and overly concerned, when I should just be focused on work. She only wants what she wants.

    Thank you for your time and advice.
    It is very much appreciated.

    1. Anonymous*

      Well at least when you find a new job you will know you have tried everything to fix the solution, which it sounds is really unfixable.

      I have to wonder if this person, since they are in a relationship and it sounds like this person has no concept of privacy, is reading the owner’s emails too?

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