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. I don’t want to travel for work anymore

I just recently returned to work from maternity leave. My job requires me to sometimes travel, and these trips are generally two night stays, though occasionally just one. Prior to having a baby, these trips weren’t really a huge deal. I had no problem complying with that part of my job description. Now, however, I feel quite differently about it. I nurse my baby, so overnight trips without her will not happen easily, not to mention the fact that I just have no desire to be away from my infant for very long (regular work days are hard enough)!

What is the best way to address this with my manager? Travel is part of my job description, I’m just not willing to do it at this point. I also can’t foresee being ready at any point in the near future. Do I just tell him I can’t do it? Acknowledge that I may no longer be the best person for the position? I’m not ready to just quit, but I am aware that broaching the subject might lose me my job.

Talk to your boss and ask if you can hold off on trips for now, while you’re adjusting to the baby. You might find out that things can be shuffled around so that you don’t need to travel for a while (and possibly ever, if you’re valued enough and it’s feasible for your role). Or, you might find out that there’s no flexibility there — in which case you’d need to start looking for a new job if this one requires travel that you’re not willing to do. But the first step is to talk about it.

And simply asking shouldn’t jeopardize your job. Saying, “I will no longer travel, period” might. But asking shouldn’t.

2. What does this mean?

Exactly two weeks ago today, I went on a job interview. I interviewed with several managers, as well as human resources. As far as I could tell, everything went perfectly well.

Several hours after my interview, I received a call from human resources saying that they really liked me but they feel that I would be a better fit for another position. They told me that I had to apply to the position before the end of the day because it would no longer be posted within several hours. I went ahead and applied, and sure enough the job was no longer posted the next day. What makes the situation even more bizarre is the fact that the job was posted the same day they called me to apply and taken down immediately after I sent human resources an email confirming that I applied to the position.

I was just wondering your thoughts on this. Is this a sure indicator that I am hired for the position? Should I follow up?

It’s not a sure indicator of anything at all, other than that they’d like you to be a candidate for the job. Beyond that, none of this means anything. You can certainly follow up with them and ask about the timeline for next steps on both positions.

3. Explaining to staff members why some have progressed faster than others

We’re in tourism/hospitality and gearing up for our busy season. Before we get there, I’d like to have a meeting with all the direct reports to go over policy issues, answer questions, and blow off a little steam.

We have three people on staff who were all hired at the same time and trained together but have shown remarkably different ability levels and talents. This has resulted in one member of this group receiving advanced responsibilities early on, as she is more than capable of handling them.

I have heard some grumblings through the grapevine that other staff members are feeling a little put out by her newfound authority (although, from what I hear, everyone really enjoys working with her). I don’t know how much of this is related to her age (she is significantly younger than the rest of the staff) and how much of it has to do with the fact that she simply caught on faster than the rest of the staff.

Would it be advisable to discuss with everyone at the meeting that they’ve all progressed differently and so received different responsibilities, but stress that we are all a team working towards the same goals? I’m tempted to leave well enough alone, but am preparing to go on maternity leave and don’t want to leave a great big mess that may explode once I’m gone, and I don’t want to create a problem where there’s just regular griping.

Explaining that they’ve all progressed differently and therefore received different responsibilities sounds a little condescending to me, but if you can find a way to say it that doesn’t insult their intelligence, then sure. But you might be better off simply taking on the grumblings on directly with people one-on-one when you hear them. (And keep an eye on those people; those sorts of grumblings are rarely heard from high performers, and often it’s quite the opposite.)

For what it’s worth, you can sometimes ward this off from the beginning by explaining why you’re giving someone increased responsibilities at the time that you first announce it — for example, “Because Jane has done a fantastic job at XYZ and learned it faster than we’ve ever thought possible, I’m asking her to manage all XYZ training from now on.”

4. Working for a younger, female manager

I wanted to ask your opinion on a new environment that will start for me next Monday. A new managing director will be starting in our group and she is 11-12 years younger than me (i.e., 34 years vs 45 years). I can’t wait to meet her and I am looking forward to working for her. She is very accomplished and I believe I can learn a lot from her. I have not had the experience of working for someone this much younger than me. Additionally, I work in a very male-dominated industry. It is in the financial services industry. I want to make her feel as secure as possible. I have almost never had personality conflicts in a work environment.

I want to avoid any land mines or pitfalls here. I understand that you do not have a background of my personality. But generally speaking, what were some of the biggest reasons why men that were much older than their female superiors could not make it work? Are there any suggestions that you can share with me that will make the transition easier for me?

Just treat her like a normal person and don’t think about her age (which isn’t even that much younger than you!) or her gender. You don’t need to do anything special to make her feel secure. Just treat her like you would any competent manager. I assure you that’s all she wants.

5. Why is this position still posted if it’s been filled internally?

Less than 12 hours after applying to an online job posting for a reputable company, I received an email from their HR department saying I had been selected to complete a recorded video interview at my convenience. Due to my schedule, I was unable to complete the interview until a week after receiving the invitation and I was in contact with HR to let them know. They seemed very enthusiastic, thanked me for telling them and wished me luck. I completed the recorded video interview the next week in the evening after work — it took me approximately 20 minutes as there were only a few, fairly basic questions. The next morning (less than 12 hours later), I received a phone call from an HR representative who was very apologetic and said that they had hired internally for the position. She also said that they would keep my interview on file and consider me for future openings and that I “did really well” in answering the questions. I first thought this was a good thing, and it was nice to know for certain that this position was not an option because I’ve had the unfortunate experience of being strung along by companies before. The problem is, I just went to the company website and the posting is still up. Granted all of this happened very recently, but you would think they’d remove it from the website to avoid having people apply when there is, supposedly, no position to hire for.

What does this mean? Have they just forgotten about taking down the posting or are they still collecting candidates in case they need to hire externally in the future? Should I reapply or contact their HR department again? (Personally I feel it may be too soon to do this.) And the biggest question of all, if they knew they were hiring internally, why did they not call me to let me know before I completed the interview?

It’s probably just an oversight that it’s still up, or someone moving very slowly in taking it down. I wouldn’t read into it anything more than that. Don’t reapply or contact them about it; they’ve already told you that the position is filled and they’re not considering you for it.

6. Giving past managers a heads-up before listing them on a job application

I know you need to ask permission to list references and should give them a head up about a call, but does that apply to former managers listed in my work history section?

No, if you’re simply filling out an application that asks for your past managers’ names, you don’t need to give them a heads-up … although it’s generally useful to do anyway, if you’re on good terms with them, because it’s helpful for them to know that you’re job searching (and they might be contacted even if you don’t list them as a reference.

(By the way, I’m assuming here that you’re talking about managers you’re listing on a job application, and that this doesn’t mean that you’re listing them on your resume, because they don’t belong there.)

7. When should graduating students start job searching?

It’s that time of the year, and antsy seniors are ready to graduate. I am among them, and I am curious how soon I should start a job search? I would hate to get my hopes up for a position, but be told the company does not want to wait 8 weeks to hire while I’m still in school.

Now! Start now. Job searches often take a really long time, and it’s conceivable that you could start now and still have no job by winter. And hiring processes take a while too. Weeks usually pass between applying and getting a phone interview, and between a phone interview and an in-person interview, and all of that and a decision. If you happen to stumble upon the rare employer who moves more quickly and they need an earlier start date than you can accommodate, well, then you’ll pass on that employer. But don’t sell yourself short by not getting a head start on the process with others.

{ 126 comments… read them below }

  1. Jessa*

    Re #7, what Alison said, you cannot start early enough near the end of your time in school. Every other single person in classes with you are going to be scrambling for the best jobs in your field. Get out in front of them.

    Re #5, they might have put it up for x amount of time. And most places don’t bother to go through and pull things, since they probably have them listed in more than one place.

    1. maisie*

      Agreed about #7…however, my advice would be to not JUST focus on jobs in your field especially if you are going to NEED a job right away. I started applying when I was still in grad school, but because I didn’t really have a handle on what job searching would be like and the reality of it, I only applied to awesome dream jobs. I didn’t even consider applying for some other jobs just in case, and when I didn’t land anything at all in my chosen field, I was absolutely devastated and had to start from scratch. I would think it’s a good idea to apply for some more entry level jobs (I had quite a lot of experience so I was applying for higher up stuff, because I just didn’t comprehend how competitive things were), and that way if you need a job right away and you don’t get a “dream job”, then you have SOMETHING to fall back on. As my job search progressed after graduating, it changed DRAMATICALLY in term sof what I was applying to, the skill level and my own attitude. I definitely wasted a ton of time applying for jobs in my last couple months of school because I was too excited about the possibility of walking straight into a job that I didn’t apply strategically at all. Nobody spends their last few weeks of school applying for receptionist jobs, but getting that receptionist job right away, and then spending time applying for your dream jobs on the side and not having that immediate pressure of OMG must get a job right away is a huge help. Otherwise, you’ll spend months applying for dream jobs, possibly getting rejected, feeling really down, and THEN having to take a receptionist job (or whatever job you don’t want. I personally loved working reception) because you’re desperate for money.

    2. Amanda*

      I agree on #7.

      Take it from the absolute master of putting off job searches till the last minute and having a completely unrealistic idea of the job market and the competition. It’s led me to two long stints of unemployment.

      Start searching now. And for those graduating in December, start networking now.

    3. TheSnarkyB*

      For #7, I would say February/March (for people who are in grad school but not graduating this year – I would definitely not recommend May).

      1. S.L. Albert*

        It also depends on your field. If you want to go into finance or a related industry, the October before graduation is late.

        1. Melanie*

          Thanks for the opinions and wisdom guys! I’m OP of #7. I am fortunate that I currently have a full time job and was on LOA to finish up school, so thankfully finding a job immediately isn’t an urgent issue of wondering if my bills will be paid or not.

          Time to send off that resume though, moving on from ‘job’ to ‘career’ is an exciting prospect!

  2. Mike C.*

    What kinds of pitfalls are you concerned about, OP #4? Without any further context, your question sounds downright bizarre.

        1. Jamie*

          For me it’s the use of the word secure. It’s paternalistic in a situation where that sentiment is inappropriate. Her emotional comfort is not his to worry about. Fwiw if someone at work was worried about my feelings of security (outside job security) I would be insulted and more than a little creeped out.

          And I am probably totally reading into this and may be completely off base, but this much enthusiasm to work with someone you’ve never met…me thinks he doth protest too much sprang immediately to mind. Like maybe he does feel weird about reporting to her, but knows he shouldn’t (which is great) and is trying to get over it and make sure it doesn’t show.

          Complete unsubstantiated conjecture and supposition…maybe because I don’t understand how if one didn’t feel unease it would be an issue at all.

          1. Victoria Nonprofit*

            Agreed on everything here. She’s a woman in management, not a unicorn.

            1. Mike C.*

              Well maybe at their company there are so few women in management that she might as well be a unicorn.

          2. :D*

            I think you nailed it with the paternalistic thing.. I’m very young for my job, and I look even younger. Older men tend to speak to me very father-like, even when they’re my customers or coworkers (I don’t have any direct reports).

            I would say it’s definitely insulting and I wish there was something that I could do other than try to be as professional as I can, but when they’re “looking out for me” at events and stuff like that, it’s really uncomfortable. I’m still a grown woman with a grown woman job!

        2. College Career Counselor*

          Agreed. There’s an odd tone to this one. It’s almost as if the person has never even MET women, let alone worked with them. I wonder if there’s a cultural differences about women in the workplace going on here?

          1. Marmite*

            My guess is not a country cultural difference, but a work culture difference. It sounds like he works in a field that is still dominated by men, he quite possibly has never had female peers let alone managers before. Some fields do still mostly only have women in assistant type roles and if he’s been working in a field like that for 20 or 30 years he may well be genuinely stumped as to how to work with women.

            1. -X-*

              I see it as the guy is vaguely aware that he’s a bit of a chauvinist, and is asking for help. He’s trying. He might not be where he should be, but it seems to me that critiques of his language and ideas should try to help him, not just point out that his attitudes bother us.

              Not everyone is “there” yet. It’s good that people that aren’t are at least aware and trying a bit.

              1. Mike C.*

                Yeah, I too am wary of ascribing bad intentions based on so little information, but I’m hoping that the OP comes in to better clarify.

              2. Marmite*

                Yes, that was what I was trying to say, the OP may genuinely just have no idea how to work with women and want help with how to overcome that.

                1. Jamie*

                  In really trying to understand this I keep coming back to just not getting why this is something to overcome. I’m not being argumentative, and I understand the history of sexism, etc. – but I never got the ‘why.’

                  There are people who are never exposed to those of other races and live very homogenous lives…and so perhaps they have misconceptions of other groups. But gender?

                  Odds are every man knows women. Certainly sees them and deals with them while going about daily business. Most have members of their family who are women, I guess I don’t understand how any mystique could still exist.

                  We’re people – just like men. Some of us are horrible, some are awesome and most are in the middle as regular old flawed but basically good human beings. And we’re everywhere!!

                  I understand that there are sexists out there – you can find someone somewhere to actively hate any group. It’s the seeming befuddlement I don’t get. It’s not like Dr. Who dropped some alien being off the TARDIS to manage a department where there is no point of reference.

                  And as someone who is basically the same age as the OP I am just surprised, because I really haven’t seen this as being an issue in our age group. Most of our mom’s worked at some point, most of their wives, sisters, female family and friends have jobs…it’s not 1942 where Rosie the Riveter was just waiting for GI Joe to come back and buy her a tract house in the suburbs so she could fill it with babies. (Nothing wrong with that – just saying our generation it’s not a given as it once was.)

              3. Jazzy Red*

                The poor guy has probably heard some horror stories about how badly the new female manager treated the employees, or the reverse – how badly employees treated the new female manager. He also sounds like he wants her to feel welcome, and that he wants her to know that he’ll do what he can to make it all work. He just isn’t sure what he should do.

                OP, Alison’s right when she says just treat her with the same respect you would treat a male manager. After a while, you’ll just be thinking of her as the manager.

                FWIW, I love working with younger people. I respect everyone who knows what they’re doing, and who will share their knowledge (IT guy at work – I’m talking to you!).

            2. Jen in RO*

              This is the vibe I got too, and I think it’s great that the OP realized that he needed advice. I don’t understand why everyone’s being so negative.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think both sides of this are true: It’s great the OP is aware that he and his industry may have problematic attitudes where a younger woman manager is concerned, and great that he’s asking for advice. So good, in that regard.

      But the question itself was worded in an extremely paternalistic way (she doesn’t need anyone to help her feel secure!) and it’s unsettling because it does read as if women are some exotic creature who would need to be treated differently than any other manager, which they don’t.

      1. KC*

        I’m with you 110% here.

        I’m a woman working in finance and I work in the engineering/software development side of the company. I am one of 3 women in my department (a department of ~30 people).

        While I am not anyone’s direct manager, I’m a project manager, so I’m in supervisory position over my teams. The best thing my teams did when I started was TREAT ME LIKE A COWORKER. I’ve never felt patronized or frowned upon because of my gender (or my age). I also didn’t walk into the role expecting it. Don’t want on eggshells, OP#4. Just treat her like a person.

  3. Chocolate Teapot*

    For question 1, I was wondering whether whoever had been covering for the OP’s maternity leave had also been doing the travelling in her absence?

  4. Michael*

    No. 1: Maybe she could do some research first among her coworkers, and approach her manager with something like, “I’d like to cut back on travel, but Suzie is very interested in stepping up her travel schedule.” to lighten the blow of the conversation.

    1. KS*

      #1- I have to say I do appreciate the OP’s bluntness about her not wanting to travel. We’ve got 2 folks back from leave now with some travel responsibilities as part of their positions. Instead of being up front about their limitations they have “emergencies” about a week out from every trip (we are up to 3) and we scramble to fill obligations.

    2. Chinook*

      I would be careful about how No. 1 approaches her coworkers, though, about their interest in covering her travel schedule. There is a fine line between seeing anyone would like to do more travel and making it sound like that those who don’t have children under a certain age SHOULD take on more travel.

      1. KellyK*

        Yeah, very true. It might actually better to talk to the boss first to avoid this.

  5. Brandy*

    #1: I, too, travel often for work. I’m due with my first in the fall, and know travel will be an issue for me. I am usually travelling to other offices of my company and do client-travel 1-2x per month.

    Depending on the nature of your work, I’d suggest first approaching your boss about REDUCING your travel. Going in with an “I don’t want to travel anymore” attitude is not going to work. You could consider proposing a reduced travel schedule (evaluate what you have to do now, and where you could cut back saving both your company’s travel dollars as well as your time away from baby). Perhaps you could also talk to your boss about working from home on travel-heavy weeks. For example, if I have to spend 2-3 days out of the week in our west coast office, I work at home for the rest of the week when I get back. Even if your boss can’t ease up on the travel requirements, perhaps there is flexibility during your non-travel time that would give you more time with Baby. One other option (for some) is to bring Baby with you. This will totally depend on WHERE you travel, but I have coworkers who travel to the same site for several weeks each month. They have found area babysitters and bring Baby. Baby spends the day with the sitter, and sleeps in the hotel with Mom. You could also use the miles I assume you’ve accrued after years of a high travel job (if you’re allowed to keep them) to bring along a babysitter/relative to watch Baby. Or, if you fly southwest, look into the Companion pass! That’s a lot of accommodating for a job, so you should consider if this is really the role for you.

    At the same time, I suggest starting to look for roles (internally or externally) that don’t require travel. I am personally going to cut back on travel pretty heavily for the 3-6 months I’m back from maternity leave…but expect it to ramp back up by the time baby is 9-12 months.

    1. Judy*

      Before my kids, I traveled at least quarterly, sometimes even monthly. During the first year with my first, I didn’t travel. During the first year with my second, there was one meeting that was really necessary, so my mom came with me and the baby. I was traveling by car to another location several hundred miles away.

      Now, mainly due to budget constraints and changing job responsibilities, it’s a rare year I travel 4 times. The changes make for different travel though, 2 of my 4 trips last year were to Europe, rather than domestic.

    2. Aimee*

      With my first, my job didn’t really require me to travel, but when he was 10 months old, I did have to go to our office on the other side of the country for a 2 day meeting.

      My mom lives just a few hours away from that office, so I cleared it with my boss and brought my baby with me (I paid for his ticket of course). My mom, who jumped at the chance to see her grandchild, drove out and stayed in the hotel with us for a couple days and had grandma time with my son while I was in my meetings. Then we drove back to her house and spent the rest of the week with her.

      Last year, my job required some heavy travel (1-2 nights every other week for the first half of the year). I returned from maternity leave with my second child about a month ago. While I was pregnant, I let my boss know I wasn’t really willing to travel for my baby’s first year – thankfully, a lot of the reasons I had to travel were temporary, and most meetings can be done via web or video conferencing, so he was fine with that. I ended up moving to a new position 5 days before I went on maternity leave though, and if we have a team meeting, it will most likely be in my office, though there is a small chance I would have to travel to my company’s corporate office (the same office that is near my mom though, so we’d just do the same thing we did with my first child).

      Hopefully, something similiar will work out for the OP.

  6. Jennifer*

    OP 3 – ” But generally speaking, what were some of the biggest reasons why men that were much older than their female superiors could not make it work? ”

    Having an attitude that even allows you to ask this question is probably the biggest reason. Apologies if that comes across as rude, but the fact that you had to write into Alison about this at all, and they way you phrased your letter signals to me that you have some issues regarding women in the workplace that you may not even realize. Treat her with the same respect you would treat any other superior, male or female, 25 or 50. Unless of course you happen to work in an outdated and inappropriate boys-club type atmosphere (again, asking the question at all signals that may be the case) where treating her in the same way would be inappropriate at best and harassment at worst. If that is the case, work to create a professional and respectful environment not just for her benefit, but for that of your entire workplace.

      1. -X-*

        So person who is apparently at least away that he doesn’t know how to deal well with gender+age issues in the workplace, and is probably bad at it, and asks about it, seems to get ragged on for even asking. He should just figure it out himself I guess?

        ” If that is the case, work to create a professional and respectful environment not just for her benefit, but for that of your entire workplace.”

        This is great.

        1. Jennifer*

          “So person who is apparently at least away that he doesn’t know how to deal well with gender+age issues in the workplace, and is probably bad at it, and asks about it, seems to get ragged on for even asking. He should just figure it out himself I guess?”

          Absolutely excellent point that I deserve to be called out on. As a younger female in a male dominated field, who deals with quite a bit of sexism from not only coworkers but the clients we serve, I think the question hit a bit too close to home for me to remain as objective and helpful as I should have been.

          And speaking of deserving, OP does deserve a lot of credit for acknowledging an issue and wanting to fix it, or at least be proactive about avoiding any type of problem.

          1. Tinker*

            You did, though, capture a significant source of the problem — namely, the whole “Whoa, I’ve got a woman-boss (or a woman-peer, or a woman-subordinate), woman am I going to woman about the woman woman woman who is womaning in the office (or shop, etc.)?” thing.

            To explain to the OP, perhaps: Whatever it is that I am, I’ve been that my whole life. For me, being a woman (or at least outwardly perceived as such) isn’t a terribly novel point. It’s also not a novel point in my social circles, it was not a novel point during my education, and it has been (obviously, with a few exceptions) generally not a novel point during most of my career thus far.

            When I’m doing any given activity, I predominantly feel as if I’m a person-doing-that-thing, not a woman-person (and generally not a person of mysterious and indistinct gender either). It’s therefore at minimum an awkward experience when people’s interaction with me while doing that thing are dominated by their response to my gender rather than by matters that are pertinent to the thing that I’m doing. I’ve also had prior experiences where this sort of novelty-perception (which is uncomfortable, and should be avoided, but not necessarily a concrete problem) leads directly to follow-on incorrect assumptions that do cause concrete problems — such as, that I can’t do certain male-coded tasks that are usually called for from someone in my position — so when I encounter this sort of thing, even while also seeing the person doing this as being basically nice and well-intentioned, I end up cringing a bit inside.

            So I’d suggest that the OP start from trying to think of the boss like she thinks of herself, which is probably not all that far from how he thinks of himself.

            1. Jillsy Sloper*

              Wow. I usually lurk without commenting but I have to give this a slow clap. I am a woman in my mid-twenties and I have never quite been able to put into words the phenomenon you have so succinctly explained here. The “novelty-perception” that you describe hits the nail right on the head!

        2. Victoria Nonprofit*

          Um, yeah, he should just figure it out for himself. Like everyone else has and does. Women in the workplace are not mystical, exotic creatures with motivations and actions beyond the comprehension of mere men. Treat her like your boss and create the relationship you want to have with your manager. Done.

          1. -X-*

            You’re raised in a chauvinist environment, for decades, and the world changes for the better, and you should just figure it out yourself? Sure, some people can, but I don’t think it’s as easy as you think, and I certainly don’t think we should inhibit people from asking for help or be dismissive about it, thinking it’s easy for everyone.

            I’m speaking as a guy, but a black guy who sees vaguely similar issues all the time.

            1. Anonymous*

              But you agree that his language is open to critique, right? It’s great that he probably means well, but that’s only a fraction of the battle — he also has to be open to hearing opinions on his word choices and actions that may not be what he wants to hear. And furthermore, as an adult, I don’t see why we should treat him with kid gloves. It’s definitely unhelpful to just say “Well if you don’t get it now, you’ll never get it, pig.” But I think people are entitled to call him out right from the get go on the dicey things he said even in the initial question, rather than patting him on the head just for “trying.”

              1. Chinook*

                Anonymous wrote “But I think people are entitled to call him out right from the get go on the dicey things he said even in the initial question, rather than patting him on the head just for “trying.””

                I agree to the point that he asked for help and we are pointing out that even his wording of the question can cause issues. He honestly may never have realized how patronizing his word choices were even though his intentions were good (though I will admit that I didn’t see that tone in the email and just saw the good intentions of someone who was confused.)

            2. Chinook*

              I agree. The OP is self aware to know that he ha sno positive role models for how he should act with a younger, female boss. He may even have seen poor behaviour and know that it is wrong but isn’t confident to know what is right. To say to someone “just treat them like you would an older, male boss” may seem self evident but it is harder to do when everyone around you is acting differently.

            3. Natalie*

              He’s 45! We’re not talking Don Draper here. Presuming he started college at 18, he entered the workforce in the mid 90s and should be pretty used to high female participation in the workforce.

                1. Jamie*

                  Ha – as someone the same age as the OP give or take a couple of months I appreciated you saying the age chasm wasn’t that vast. Made my morning!

              1. Chinook*

                Actually, Don Draper would be a bad example of that because he was the one who gave the women a chance when no one else would (I can’t remember his former secretary/now copywriter’s name) and treats them as equals (just look at his reaction when Joan was asked to sleep with a client). He didn’t treat his black secretary any differently than the others (even though she was hired because of a joke ad taken seriously). He truly saw that everyone had potential if they were willing to work for it.

                1. Natalie*

                  No, I used Don on purpose. He was an average-to-slightly progressive person *for his time*, but we’re talking about a substantially different environment then the LW (assuming the LW is, in fact, 45). For reference, Don Draper would be 87 today if he was real and still alive.

              2. Marmite*

                But again, I think this really does depend on the field he works in. There are still places that are predominately male. I have a friend who did a degree in Physics and companies were falling over themselves to hire her when she graduated because there are so few women in that field. She graduated less than 5 years ago. She is still the only woman in her building except for the cleaners.

          2. S.L. Albert*

            And, if in two weeks, we got a letter from a younger female manager wondering how to get her older male report in a male-dominated field to take her seriously/ignore her gender/whatever, we’d call that guy an ass. So instead, the OP writes in for help, and gets called out for asking for help. Give the OP props for trying not to be that guy. How often do we all wish that our coworkers/bosses/reports would say “Hm, I might need help with this. Let me get that help before this blows up in my face.”

  7. Beth*

    #2 – it’s not a sure sign of anything, but it COULD be a very good sign. I am aware of a company which has recently gone the route of doing this sort of thing for many of their openings. In some cases they have hired people known to them (through other professional connections, I don’t mean friends and family) without opening the position up to any sort of competitive process. In one case, a rather desirable position, not yet made known to potential candidates in or out of the organization, was given to someone who was an unsuccessful applicant for another position there.

    In those cases, a candidate was chosen and THEN the position was posted online very briefly because every hire must, no matter the means of being identified, apply through the online system. The positions were taken down within a day or two. In one case, I was excited to see the posting because I had been hoping the position would open up, and I was disappointed to find out that it was actually filled by the time it appeared online. (I don’t want to get into how I know the inner workings of this company, but I do and none of this is speculation.) “Informal recruiting” or passing an unsuccessful candidate on to another hiring manager isn’t unusual, but posting the job only so that a candidate identified through those means can apply, without looking at any other applicants does seem to be unusual. It seems especially unusual when the job is very desirable but not upper management level and the candidate hired was a completely unknown quantity prior to applying for a different position, and is reasonably qualified but not really a stand out in terms of qualifications. (This may or may not be the case with you.) In such a case it seems almost negligent to not open the position up to a wider pool of applicants. But, it saves time and money and definitely does happen. Who knows, maybe in your case they told a bunch of other unsuccessful candidates to apply, too, but maybe not.

    1. Mimi*

      I’ve seen this happen at my workplace: the recruitment period ends, and then sometime later a call comes in to open the posting just long enough for one particular person to apply, and then quickly take it offline again.

      I’d take it as a good sign, that they thought you were a strong enough candidate to re-open the position long enough for you to apply. Good luck!

  8. Hannah*

    OK, I’m going to say this, and probably get a lot of flak for it, but for #1 — if I was one of OP’s co-workers that wasn’t usually on the travel rotation and then had to start traveling, I would be pretty annoyed. I would be more annoyed if I then found out it was because OP refused to travel anymore because she had a baby.

    I know OP didn’t specifically say that she would like a co-worker to pick up these duties, but the reality is — it sounds like travel is required for her job, and if she’s not doing it, someone else is going to have to.

    This is exactly the kind of thing that makes non-parents feel like they are so much less of a priority and their personal time is not valued by employers because they don’t have kids.

    1. Cat*

      I feel you on that, but I think that there are a lot of ways this could work out that wouldn’t be parents benefiting at the expense of non-parents. So if it was just she didn’t have to travel anymore and someone else traveled twice as much and the only consideration was parental status, that would be bad. But maybe there’s someone who’s not traveling who would like to; maybe there are other jobs that can be shuffled around to everyone’s satisfaction; or maybe OP will be willing to take a pay cut in exchange for not traveling and someone else will get a raise for traveling more. Or maybe OP is valuable enough to the company that they want to accommodate her and would also do the same for an equally valuable non-parent regardless of their reasons for not wanting to travel.

      1. PEBCAK*

        I picked up a coworker’s travel duties for about six months while he had a newborn at home. It wouldn’t have been sustainable in the long-term, but for a little while, I was fine with it, for two reasons:

        1) We had “travel bonuses” at the time, and I got mine + his for that period.

        2) He picked up any night/weekend coverage shifts that normally would have been assigned to me.

        So, it’s just an example of when it was an arrangement that worked out for everyone. I am single, but I didn’t feel I was being forced into something or taken advantage of, I felt that I was offering up some flexibility to find a solution that was good for the team.

    2. KellyK*

      Sure, there are ways of handling it that would be highly preferential toward parents, but I didn’t get the impression from the OP’s post that she wanted that or that she felt “owed” because she has a baby.

      I mean, if she leaves for another job (which she understands she may have to do), her coworkers are still going to be stuck picking up her travel.

      I’m not sure what you’d like the OP to do in this situation. Not even bring it up, when there might be someone who’d be quite willing to travel more?

      1. Chinook*

        I think that how Alison described it is exactly what she should do. She should also be aware that her current job may no longer be the right fit for her and she and the company may have to part ways in order for her to find the right work/life balance.

        Basically, she is asking for them to change her job description to fit her new outlook on life. It is not unreasonable to ask but this is definitely one of those times when you have to realize that “no” is a reasonable answer and then the employee has to decide if the job is right for them. It would be the same if the employee bought a new house and now her commute takes longer – she has to learn where she draws the line between her personal happiness and what it requires to do the job she agreed to do.

    3. Andie*

      You are not the only one who thinks this. I would be upset to if I was made to travel more because I don’t have children. Travel for work is difficult for everyone including nonparents.

      I love children but I really have an issue with people expecting their employer to accommodate them because they chose to have children.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I don’t think she’s saying that though. She’s saying her circumstances have changed and she’s wondering if she needs to find a new job or whether she might be able to change this piece of her role. Her employer can say no, but if she’s particularly valued, they might want to work with her.

        1. OP#1*

          Thank you, Alison, for your original answer to my question. And thank you to all who took the time to post your thoughts as well. KellyK and Alison are both correct in saying that I am not expecting special favors or accommodations just because I had a baby. Really I’m trying to feel out what the best options for me are, and part of that was asking Alison.

          After a lot of thought (and reading everyone’s thoughts here), I have really come to the conclusion that my current position isn’t the best fit for me and that the most fair thing for all involved is for me to start searching out a new position. Thank you again for all your input!

          1. khilde*

            I am late to the game on this, but just wanted to comment anyway. I set my own schedule for work, but my job is to travel around our state to provide training for our employees. I am gone on overnight trips at least 5-8 times a month (which actually doesn’t seem like that much now that I type it out). I had my first child three years ago and up until then, I enjoyed the travel. I would travel A LOT just because I loved it. When she came along, I had the exact same feelings as you. In fact, when I read your letter I had to re-read it a few times to make sure it wasn’t something I had accidentally sent it! haha. I didn’t start traveling until she was about 4 months old. I nursed her well past a year, so I juggled the pumping issues and travel. It was totally doable and I’m glad I did it. So I wouldn’t worry too much there (unless your time is dictated for you while you’re traveling – I do have the luxury of being in charge of my time when I’m on the road). I remember those early days when I couldn’t wait to get back to be with her. As the years went by, I learned that travel was a much-needed break for me! I was a better parent for having that time away.

            I’m pregnant with my second one due in a few months. But this time I seem to have hit a brick wall with my job. I am totally with you on the not wanting to travel. I’m so crazy about it that I even just want to leave the workforce and stay at home with my kids. But I’m not making any decisions about this until after I have the baby and see how things go. I could truly be unhappy with the requirements of my job given how my life has changed now (and then will need to make a permanent decision). Or, it could be a fleeing thing I’m feeling. I blame it on hormone insanity (that I don’t recall having with my first baby).

            I’m not trying to change your mind. I just wanted to share with you that I have been (and am currently) in your predicament. The first time it turned out that the travel wasn’t such a big deal. It remains to be seen how I’ll feel about it after this second baby. Good luck.

    4. Nicole*

      For what it’s worth, I am a nonparent and actually enjoy traveling for work. Not everyone hates it!

      1. CAndy*

        Good employers will always try their best to accommodate good people.

        AAM’s advice about having a simple chat about it is bang on.

  9. Runon*

    #4 What you can do is not behave inappropriately*. And if your coworkers behave inappropriately when she isn’t around call them out on it. This is something you shouldn’t just do because you have a female boss but because you aren’t a jerk.

    Other than that treat your new boss with the respect you would treat any new boss. If you are concerned before you go to “help” think to yourself, is this how I would treat a 55 year old guy? Before you say something ask yourself again if it is how you would treat a 55 year old male boss.

    *any lewd comments should be called out immediately with even a simple “wow, not ok”; any demeaning and degrading language should like wise be called out, not in a paternalistic or condescending fashion but but again “really? not ok”

    1. PEBCAK*

      The asterisked part is REALLY IMPORTANT.

      Also, make sure you aren’t entertaining clients at strip clubs and stuff like that.

  10. Allison*

    Alison’s response to 7 is spot-on! Depending on what kind of job you’re looking for, it may take a while. I would also add that if you’re trying to get in a field where opportunities for recent grads are rare, you should look into doing an informal internship to keep you busy and get your foot in the door while you’re looking.

  11. VictoriaHR*

    #5 – UGH .. recorded video interview? That company is setting itself up for a discrimination case. Why not a phone screen? Why do they need to see the person? Lame.

    1. -X-*

      “That company is setting itself up for a discrimination case. ”

      Oh come on. Are meetings in person setting themselves up for discrimination? Should applicants be asked to wear masks before they are hired?

      1. Beth*

        +1 (to -X-)! Although apparently the federal government (at least for many jobs) hires people after only phone interviews to avoid claims of discrimination. I thought that was really, really weird (shouldn’t both parties be able to see and really get a feel for who they will be working with?) but a friend who has had a string of professional jobs with the gov’t thought I was crazy for thinking hiring after only phone interviews is crazy. He’s so used to that it’s really ingrained in him as a norm.

    2. Anonymous*

      “Why not a phone screen?”

      At least at my company, the candidate does the recorded video interview on his own & someone reviews it. I think this takes less time for our personnel than a phone screen & eliminates the scheduling issue.

    3. Jen in RO*

      What’s the difference between a video interview and a regular interview, with regards to discrimination? Should we stop having interviews face to face and hire based on phone and IM conversations? This doesn’t make any sense.

  12. Victoria Nonprofit*

    I’ve never heard of a recorded video interview. Have many folks done these (either as hiring managers or interviewees)? Are they useful?

    1. Jamie*

      I haven’t either – and I hope I never hear of one in my real life.

      It’s kind of like sending in a video application for Survivor…I wouldn’t do that either. :)

      1. Beth*

        I know a lot of companies are doing live Skype (with webcam) interviews when the technology is available.

        I think I would prefer a recorded video interview! I had to give a presentation at a recent interview and I was thinking, “oh I wish I could just record myself and send in the video.” So much less nerve-wracking. Particularly if it’s not a live recorded interview, this sort of thing seems to one’s advantage (over the live interview.) I’d love to be able to give thought to questions and answer them in front of a camera instead of a live person.

        1. Marmite*

          I’m the other way round, I like to have an audience to play off when I do a presentation. I would hate to have to record it!

    2. T.*

      I have a friend who lives in Europe who recently completed one of these, so maybe they are more common in different countries. I can see how they could be a helpful screening tool for employers and candidates, but the idea of recording myself interviewing makes me feel weird. I would probably re-record a zillion times trying to not appear awkward on camera!

      1. Marmite*

        I’m in Europe and have never had to do one of these, nor do I know anyone who has. I’d guess it’s more industry specific than location specific.

  13. LCL*

    #4, thanks for asking. Alison’s advice is the best, but I want to add something. My advice is from that of a female low level manager working in a traditionally male field. You sound very professional and I think you will make this work, but there is one big pitfall/trap:

    Men who work in male dominated industries that reward assertiveness often use common expressions and slang that shouldn’t be used at work. They will use these expressions without thinking about it, because it is the common language of the job. So spend a little bit of time thinking about common phrases that could be offensive. Then avoid those phrases. Examples:
    OK, close that account. I want you to get that !@#$
    !@#$ yeah!
    I really chewed him down. (Yes, I know a very kind man who used that in the workplace and didn’t realize it was a sanitized slur, and I had to explain it to him.)

    Women managers aren’t delicate flowers, they won’t care if you at your desk cussing up a storm because you lost a big client. But if you then tell her to &*() off until you get this problem handled, you might have troubles.
    And oh yeah, I have read about the financial services industry. If all the boys suggest going to strip clubs to bond, you are better off not going. Never let the sexual cross over into the work life. On your own time, of course, do what you want!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      OK, close that account. I want you to get that !@#$
      !@#$ yeah!

      Wait, these aren’t particularly offensive to women. I’m confused by this. Men and women both use theses phrases, and there are also men and women who don’t. I’d actually be offended if a man at work felt he shouldn’t say these things around me just because I’m a woman!

      (If you want to make an argument for cleaning up language at work generally, go for it — but it shouldn’t be gender-based.)

      1. Jane Doe*

        Yeah, I’m not sure what gender has to do with swearing.

        “But if you then tell her to &*() off until you get this problem handled, you might have troubles.”

        I’m pretty sure I’d be up a creek if I told my male boss to f*** off too, because that’s rude and it’s a lot different to swear AT someone than to let loose with an expletive directed at no one in particular. “F yeah we won!” is way different than “Go f yourself!”

        1. Natalie*

          Is it possible LCL is thinking of some particularly gendered phrase (i.e. “nut up” or “stop being a pussy”)? I have a fairly extensive curse word vocabulary and can’t think of a specific phrase that fits, but who knows what sort of colloquialisms I’m missing.

          1. LCL*

            Yes. Certain industry slang which is obsolete and I won’t repeat here, names for equipment that are obscene, that kind of thing. And in my experience, men with the best of intentions who work in a traditionally male industry, can be accustomed to speaking this way. It can create problems in the workplace. Doesn’t mean the men are evil, or are trying to haze the women, but doesn’t promote workplace harmony.

      2. KellyK*

        Yeah, I agree with that. General swearing isn’t a gender issue, except maybe indirectly in that a lot of men, particularly working class guys of an older generation, feel they aren’t supposed to swear in front of ladies, while women of that same generation are (broadly and generally) more likely to be offended by coarse language.

        The spot where I think language might be related is specifically sexist off-color comments. Allusions to rape (e.g., as a metaphor for being ripped off), using words for female genitals to imply weakness or as a general insult, that kind of thing. (To be slightly less vague, four-letter words starting with F, D, and H aren’t relevant; the one that starts with C is.)

        For that matter, general negative comments about women seem to crop up a lot in all-male environments. It’s terribly awkward to be the one woman at the lunch where guys are talking about how it’s a wife’s job to make the husband’s life miserable, but don’t tick her off because she’ll leave and take half your stuff.

          1. Jamie*

            Heh. A prospective vendor once complained to me about his SAHW who was home with the kids and acts like it’s work and she doesn’t really do anything but spend his money and how lucky my husband is because I work.

            I let him ramble and told him I had been a SAHM for 15 years. Nothing else – just let it hang there.

            Didn’t want his service anyway, but him being a jerk meant I didn’t have to feel even a little bad at killing a sale he so badly needed.

            Seriously – sales people – don’t make assumptions, stay out of the mommy wars as some of us are decidedly Switzerland – and save the personal moans for your buddies not prospective clients.

            1. Cat*

              Similarly, there was a guy in our office who spent a fair amount of time telling some of the working mothers in our office about how he really didn’t want his wife to go back to work after she had a baby because it was more important that she really raise her child, or something like that. Dude, no.

              1. Jamie*

                Wow. Someday we’ll get to the point where everyone can make the choices best for them (and their families as applicable) and no one will assume that what works for them would work for others.

                Life isn’t one size fits all.

                That said one of my work friends is pregnant and I want the company to hire the baby once it’s born just so she can bring him to the office everyday. I’ll set up a pack N play in my office…the server white noise would soothe him to sleep. See, I’m more than willing to share an office if the office mate is in a onesie and smells like baby shampoo.

                Maybe I can force my choices for her child care arrangements on her…

                1. Cat*

                  Heh, this was well before my time in this office, but apparently back in the ’70s this actually did happen at my firm. One of the receptionists – who was quite young and from a conservative family – had a baby and was kicked out of her parents’ home. So they set up a space in one of the copy rooms for the baby and he would stay there during the day and people would take turns checking in on him during their breaks. This was, umm, somewhat before current worries about liability and the like.

              2. Chinook*

                Cat, was he implying from his tone that the working moms made a poor choice or just talking about his family’s choices the same way the working moms talked about theirs? If the tone was judgemental, that is one thing, but if it is neutral then I see the problem being that you read too much in it.

                1. Jamie*

                  she really raise her child

                  I’m obviously not Cat – but this would have bothered me. It’s the implication that working mom’s aren’t really raising their kids, that the day care is doing it.

                2. Cat*

                  The issue is by telling someone that you don’t think your wife should make the same choice they’ve made because you think they’re not really raising their child, you’re casting judgment on it whether you think they are or not.

                  And the reason I’m bringing it up in this post is not because I think he’s a bad guy who was doing it deliberately and was really judging those woman he was talking to. I don’t; I don’t think he meant anything by it. But the fact of the matter is it’s a loaded topic; it’s one women get a lot of judgment about on both sides of the issue (as Jamie notes above); and as a result, it’s worth thinking about how you’re coming off.

                  And yeah, you can dismiss basically anything with “you’re reading too much into it; I didn’t mean anything by it.” But the question was how to make your female co-workers comfortable, and one of the ways you can do that is by thinking a bit about whether what you’re saying is going to come off to them as judging their family choices. And yeah, that’s true when you’re talking to male co-workers as well but since people are not in the habit of implying that working dads aren’t really raising their children, it doesn’t come up as much.

                3. Lynn*

                  How could he not be implying that the working moms made a poor choice? If “he really didn’t want his wife to go back to work after she had a baby because it was more important that she really raise her child”, that directly implies that mothers who DO go to work are NOT really raising their children. That is a very negative judgement. There is no way it can’t be.

                  Maybe he was a clueless tool and didn’t think about the logical conclusion of what he was saying, but that IS necessarily the conclusion.

        1. Cat*

          I also have worked with a fair number of men who tend to default to things like “Thanks, you’re a sweetheart,” when a woman does something they like in the workplace. Stuff like that that implies you’re looking at her like your wife or daughter instead of your boss/co-worker is probably not a great idea.

          1. Chinook*

            Would it mean the same thing if it was a woman saying “Thanks, you’re a sweetheart” to another woman? If so, I am in trouble and need to strike that from my vocabulary. If it isn’t, then I think you found the area that may be confusing the OP the most – what gender to gender interactions are perfectly acceptable but, if the genders are mixed, they suddenly become a hot button?

            1. Jamie*

              That kind of thing doesn’t bother everyone. I don’t bristle at sweetheart or kiddo or hon – unless it’s a condescending tone. Although I will note that I get kiddo from men and sweetheart from women.

              This is a YMMV issue – but I’m rarely bothered by this kind of thing unless it feels like it was meant to be insulting.

              I do wholeheartedly agree with KellyK up thread when she said to stay away from sexually loaded analogies or name calling. I am absolutely not bothered by swearing in the least – as long as it isn’t at anyone – but doesn’t even phase me. But if I’m the only woman in a meeting of 15 men and someone says that an audit was an invasive as a gyn exam and he’s sick of being in the stirrups. Yeah – don’t say that. (I don’t work there anymore)

              1. Marmite*

                I agree, I don’t find sweetheart, kiddo or duck (a common one from some people here) insulting whether coming from men or women.

                One of my supervisors is a fan of saying, “You’re a star!” and I find that incredibly patronising, but I think that’s just because it sounds like something a pre-school teacher would say to a 4 year old that was slightly slow to catch on to tying shoe laces!

            2. Cat*

              I mean, I guess the thing is I have never had a woman say that to me.* I don’t think it would be an issue if it was something that I saw across genders; but because I have always only seen older men telling women that, it comes off as condescending to me. (And for the record I don’t mind what Jamie talks about below; the odd term of endearment in a condescending tone. It’s specifically the thanking someone for a professional service in such a way that implies it was a personal one, basically, that I find condescending.)

              * For whatever it’s worth, I’m in Washington, D.C.; I understand this stuff varies a lot by region.

            3. Mike C.*

              The issue here is the implied historical power imbalance. Such comments can signal to many women that they aren’t being taken as seriously as their male coworkers.

            4. Amy*

              Yeah, that would bother me, from either another woman or from a man. I’m not a sweetheart. I’m doing my job. It feels demeaning to be called little pet names at work, no matter who is doing it, and it makes me uncomfortable.

              Would I say anything? Probably not, because it’s such a small thing. But it would make me feel less at ease spending time with that coworker, and it would make me feel icky and weird every time it happened. And, deep down, it would probably make me take you less seriously as a professional.

        2. Mike C.*

          “And let me tell you why you should get a mail order bride! American women are too demanding and don’t want to stay home and do the housework!”

          Holy crap, I couldn’t believe I heard those words come out of a coworker’s mouth. This was just a few weeks ago, too!

      3. Tinker*

        On top of this, I’d point out that the only problem I’ve had with regards to profanity in the workplace is people Pointedly Not Swearing or Pointedly Apologizing For Swearing in my presence. It puts me in the position of being the hair in the salad that ruins everyone’s fun, and yet I use all the damn words myself.

        IME, anymore the profanity divide is based on factors like class, religion, region, and the like, rather than gender.

        1. Chinook*

          I have a response to people who seear in front of me (and one company I interviewed with tactfully asked if I would have issues with this because we work with roughnecks, etc., for whom it is part of the blue collar environment). I just look at them, smile and say I married an infantry man. That usually puts them at ease. I don’t like people swearing around me regularly but I do understand that there are trades where it can sometimes slip out in “civilized” company (in this case, that means the office staff and not women).

        2. ThursdaysGeek*

          Some people apologize after swearing in front of me, but I never ask others to not swear or use body language to indicate it’s not my preference. But it’s not because I’m female, it’s because they’ve noticed that I don’t swear, ever. They don’t apologize to other females. Swear, don’t swear, apologize, don’t apologize, whatever is fine.

          However, if you say “excuse my French”, I’ll often point out that the word used more likely had Anglo-Saxon roots (for most common vulgarities).

    2. Anonymous*

      Telling anyone you work with to f— off would be seen as disrespectful or cause “troubles” unless you have an established relationship wherein it wouldn’t be seen as harsh and dismissive. Definitely not a gender thing.

    3. Anonymous*

      #4 Sounds like they’re working in a white collar, office type of situation, but it could be upper management for a blue collar type of job. In some blue collar jobs, especially ones where unions are important, it is quite possible to have never worked with any woman before, even as a secretary. As someone mentioned up-thread, the way in which some men in male-dominated blue collar professions talk about women in general can be very disrespectful. Examples of this are calling wives/girlfriends “my old lady” when talking to male coworkers, (I wouldn’t want to be 20 and called that, but for some people they’re fine with it) to calling those same wives/girlfriends something very derogatory not involving curse words. Also calling any woman with any type of power “b*tch” or any attractive or younger woman “wh*re” when talking to those same male coworkers. Or if someone speaks up they become “that fag” or “that c*cksucker”. It’s bad enough that some unions actually tell every member that cannot even talk to a woman while at a job site. And yes even management and owners of large regional companies will talk this way. Very often those same blue-collar companies that don’t employ any/very few women are also racist and ageist too. It may be what OP really wanted to ask was ‘my entire company/industry is sexist, how do I support my manager while not being treated badly by my coworkers?’

      1. Mike C.*

        Why do you link union shops with a lack of women, is this just personal experience? Here in WA you’ll find plenty of women in the nursing and grocery workers unions for instance.

        On the other hand, look at the machinist and engineering/technical workers union…

  14. Erica B*

    First I’m going to say, I haven’t red the comments but I have some thoughts on #5.

    At my place of employment (state university) they are required to advertise positions even if they they are hiring internally, or just promoting someone and not actually looking for a new employee. Also, if an employee is trying to get a green card, they have a job, and their job posting is required to be advertised to be sure there is no one else (us citizen) better suited for the job. They have to take applications, do interviews and such even if there is no hope for others to get employed. It’s a messed up system

    1. Julie L*

      I agree. While it could be useful sometimes for companies to see what else is out there, if they’ve already picked their candidate and are just going through the motions it’s a huge waste of time and energy for both the company and the people applying (unless they don’t have much interview experience, in which case it could be good practice for them). I can only assume they were very disorganized or forgot to remove the job posting from their website after announcing it was already filled.

  15. Jen*

    #7 I finished my MA in September and only then began my job search so you should absolutely start right now!! I have a lovely job that I am starting this September but that means I will have this whole empty year. I’ve been working a couple of retail jobs but I would strongly urge you to volunteer in your field as well as starting the job search. Also, backing up what Allison and other commenters have said, if you start now then you will probably be v selective if the jobs you apply for. But then, as the rejections pile up you become more realistic and aim for jobs that you can do to build up your cv and fall back on whilst you search for something better. It feels so much better even to have a retail job to tide you over and pay the rent whilst you search. And having a job whilst you look for one puts you in a position of strength! Good luck

  16. Jess*

    Re #4: I feel like age should cease to matter in just about all spheres of life once you become an adult (apart from certain health related things). It’s just easier not to worry about that stuff and concentrate on the person instead of their vital stats.

  17. Victoria Nonprofit*

    I’ve been trying to figure out why the question and subsequent conversation about the LW with the younger female manager (especially the suggestion that many folks have made that it’s admirable that he asked for help in dealing with this new situation) has been bugging me so much, and I think I’ve figured it out:

    If the LW simply saw his manager as a person, rather than as a woman (or, to put it another way, if he saw women as people rather than… something separate), he wouldn’t need to ask. That he asked the question at all suggests that the challenge is internal.

    Two weeks ago my organization restructured and I now have, for the first time in my career, a female manager. It did not occur to me to think about how I should handle her femaleness. Now, I’m a woman and I’m in an industry where female leadership is not uncommon, so I understand that it’s a different situation from what the LW is experiencing. But I’ve also never had a manager who was, I don’t know, Asian, or in a wheelchair, or trans, or whatever. If in the future I do, I’m pretty sure I won’t wonder about how to “make it work” given their differences.

    So I think Alison’s advice is spot-on, but I also think the LW should do some reflecting on why this feels like an issue for him.

  18. Anonymous*

    I wrote #4, and I am going to stick to the high road here and thank those who really understand what I was concerned about.

    I went through these comments very fast so I might have missed some of you but “Anonymous @ 3:08”, “LCL”, “Runon” and “Alison” closely read what I wrote and gave thoughtful responses. I want to thank you for that. They did not give a knee jerk reaction and assume the answer was just an “-ism”. Being raised by a widowed mother starting at the age of 5? I don’t think so.

    1. Jennifer*

      Well, honestly, I think it’s worth acknowledging that so many people here were a little put off by your letter and the perceived tone of it, even if you had no such intention or meaning behind it. Their reactions (my own included) may not be helpful in the most direct sense, but it is helpful insomuch as it provides you with an understanding that even with the best of intentions, your current actions may still come across as a problem or patronizing.

      Help and criticism come in many forms, and it may help look past your own knee-jerk reaction of feeling judged and try to figure out the why behind the judging.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I would urge you not to fall back on “I was raised by a woman so I can’t be sexist.” That doesn’t prevent sexist attitudes from taking hold, and if you believe that it does, it will keep you from seeing how your own attitudes could be changed.

      The reality is that the way you worded your question did sound deeply patronizing. Certainly everyone doesn’t express themselves perfectly in writing all the time, but the writing set off alarms in lot of us for a reason. I’m no knee-jerk reactionary (at least I don’t think I am), but it really did read as problematic to me. People aren’t looking for a reason to jump on you; they’re genuinely trying to point out the problem with where you’re coming from on this question — even though I think we’d all agree you have good intentions.

    3. Mike C.*

      You can’t blame people for not understanding you when you gave so little context to begin with.

  19. Amanda*

    Oh, #7. I so, so wish I had started applying for jobs sooner–and I was doing applications from winter break until graduation. Knowing more people, remaining disciplined with my applications, and following up would have kept me from working at Starbucks last summer.

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