mug shots, buying knives for work, and more

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

1. My arrest mug shot is the first thing people see when they Google me

I was arrested a few years back for a mix-up (I went to the wrong courthouse to pay my ticket and was arrested for being a no-show at the right courthouse). The judge dismissed the charges, but my mug shot is the first thing that comes up when you Google my name. I used to go by my married name to avoid being googled, but now I am divorced and my license and social security card are back in my maiden name, which is the name I was arrested under. Must I go by the maiden name when sending out resumes, and how/when do I address what happened?

On your resume, use the name that you use professionally, since, well, that’s your name. And that’s also the name that they’ll ask your references about. But your best bet might be to use the “reputation management” techniques that are recommended for anyone trying to bury a negative search result: Fill up the search results with other things that you WANT them to see. Start a blog that uses your full name, comment on popular sites using your full name (make smart and sensible comments, obviously), have a searchable LinkedIn profile, and so forth. If you do enough of it, this stuff can push the mug shot far back in the search results — and a lot of people stop searching after the first or second page of results.

2. Can I know if an employer already has an internal candidate picked out?

I recently found a job that I think I would be perfect for! However, I’m starting to get the sneaking suspicion that it’s just being posted because the organization (a city government) has to post publicly and/or interview X amount of people for due diligence, but that they might already have someone internal in mind. I know this happens a lot because I’ve seen it happen many times at my current company.

The application has several supplementary questions, some of which are quite specific, such as “How familiar are you with the City organization and it’s approach to managing Department?”

Is there any way I can know if I’m putting in all this work on the many supplementary questions for naught? Or do I just buck up and make my application as competitive as possible so even if they were “saving” the job, I might still have a shot?

You can’t know. You have to decide if you’re willing to take the risk that they might just be going through the motions and planning to hire an internal candidate. Are you willing to invest the time in applying, knowing that might be the case? Keep in mind that this can be the case for any job you apply for; you’re just getting more signals about it than usual here. For that matter, you could go through the work of applying for any position only to have your application trashed immediately because they just froze their hiring or hired someone else. It’s always something of a crapshoot.

For the record, outside candidates can get the job even when there’s a favored internal candidate, if they’re significantly better. Not always, but sometimes (and that’s another thing that you can’t really tell from the outside).

3. I was laid off, but now my job has been advertised again

When a boss chooses to “restructure” your position and eliminate your job (assuring you it was not performance related), can they turn around and repost the same job six months later with a different title?

Sure. The only way this would be illegal is if they did it in order to get rid of you because of your race, religion, sex, national origin, or other protected category. If they just did it because they didn’t want to work with you anymore and found this easier than firing you, that’s perfectly legal. It’s also possible, of course, that the decision to cut the position was a genuine one, but they changed their mind later on or circumstances changed.

You could potentially get a better idea of which of these it is by emailing your old manager, saying you saw the role posted, and ask if it would make sense to throw your hat in the ring (if you’re actually interested in returning; you may not be).

4. Online application system didn’t let me upload a cover letter

I saw a position listed on a hospital website. I am very interested in this job, and, I think, very qualified for it. I spent a long time crafting a good cover letter, tweaking my resume to highlight the most relevant points, and then applied for the job right from the listing.

The website noted that the application process would take about 15 minutes and had to be completed in one session. Fine. I was ready! I filled in the form with my name and contact information and uploaded my resume. After that, there were a couple of short, optional affirmative action type questions, and one that spelled out their flu shot policy and asked for acknowledgement that I read and understood it. Fine! This all took maybe 3-4 minutes, tops.

And then it was over. Nothing else to fill in; no opportunity to upload a cover letter. A “thank you” screen popped up saying something like “Thank you for submitting your resume; we will contact you if it looks like you are qualified for any of our open positions.” So I’m a little puzzled. I had to create an account to apply, and when I check my account, it says I did apply for that particular position and that my status is “active”. I’m sorry I couldn’t submit the cover letter; in some ways I am a non-traditional candidate and I thought the cover letter did a great job of explaining why I am actually very well qualified for this.

My question for you (finally!) is: Is there anything else I can do? I know, probably not. But something just feels strange about this. I’m positive I didn’t miss a chance to submit the cover letter. This is a large hospital system in a fairly big city, and the application process seemed very outdated and lacking in .. something. Honestly, it felt like I applied for an entry level unskilled job. Should I just sit tight and trust that if this is meant to be, it will happen? I just wish I could get my cover letter into the right hands somehow.

Yeah, some online systems don’t ask for or even accept cover letters. They suck.

If you can figure out who the hiring manager is, you could email your cover letter and resume directly to them, with a note saying that you applied online but wanted to send a cover letter as well. You could do the same thing with HR. It might not help, but it it might — and it definitely shouldn’t hurt.

5. Should I apply for a job I’m not qualified for if I think I have a lot to offer them?

I am in the midst of a career change, from film/video to marketing, and have been working in marketing for the past couple of years, after over a decade in film/video. A position has just opened up for a senior marketing manager at a local film/video office (and there are not many of those companies around here).

I know that I am not senior marketing manager material, but feel that my background would give me a unique insight and knowledge base for marketing purposes. Should I apply anyway or would I come across as naive if I am applying for something that I am not qualified for? I would not like to burn any bridges with this company as it sounds as if it could be a great fit for me.

If you’re wildly unqualified, I wouldn’t apply for that particular job — but why not reach out to that company in some other way and explain what you think you have to offer? This will go best if you can target a particular person there (someone with decision-making authority) rather than a general HR address.

6. My husband’s restaurant is telling him to buy an expensive knife for work use

My husband works at a very popular and high priced restaurant as a dish washer. He only makes $8/hour. He was “promoted” lately to kitchen prep but without a raise. He was told a raise might come soon.

The restaurant asked him to purchase an expensive knife for his kitchen prep duties. We reviewed our budget and all we could reasonably afford was a $20 knife that gets the job done. My husband tells me that management continues to pressure him to get a knife that costs at least $75 and that they will be willing to do paycheck deductions to help him out.

I told my husband I feel it’s unreasonable for them to ask him to purchase an expensive knife at $8/hr and that he should politely decline and ask that they provide a knife for his use or give him a raise to $10/hour. What do you think of this advice? Do you have any advice on how my husband can handle this in the best way?

Are you sure this isn’t standard for the industry? I don’t know for sure, but the chefs I know all have their own knives that they take from job to job with them (and often even take home at night in a case). At least at that level, it seems to be standard to have your own — any chance that’s the case for kitchen prep too? If so, it might be the price of admission to this particular job. Anyone with restaurant experience want to weigh in?

{ 192 comments… read them below }

  1. KarenT*


    No restaurant experience, but that seems insane to me. Expecting someone making $8/hour to spend $75 on a knife?

    I know there are some jobs where you bring your own equipment, but paying a kitchen prepper the same wage as a dish washer and making them buy an expensive knife just doesn’t sit we’ll with me.

    1. -X-*

      FWIW we have a highly rated and $25 chef’s knife by Fibrox/Victorinox in our kitchen and when my neighbor saw it he said “nice knife.”

      He’s executive chef at an expensive restaurant in New York City, makes six figures cooking, has been on TV (in Latin America) cooking shows, etc.

      Fibrox/Victorinox are cheap knives used in professional kitchens:

      That said, a $75 knife you’ll use for, say five or ten years, is not expensive in the larger scheme of things if the person can front the money know. At $8/hour that might not be possible….

      1. A Bug!*

        Yes, I actually came into comments to suggest Victorinox. It’ll do the job well until a long-term investment can be made.

        I agree that it sucks and it sounds like the restaurant is taking advantage. How nice of them to offer to work out a payment plan. Not.

        1. Anonymous*

          Thirded! I recently bought a Victorinox knife which cost £20 (roughly $40?) and its really good value. I did a quite bit of research and they’re generally considered the best quality knives in that price bracket.

  2. mel*


    What kind of restaurant kitchen doesn’t have a whole rack of (usually dull) knives???

    Congrats on your “promotion” though. I’ve been promoted to prep twice! Both of them fake. I even trained for cooking too! Still a dishwasher at minimum wage after 5 years. Didn’t have to buy my own tools though…

    1. mel*


      Sorry, I’m just super extra bitter after a bad day. I so wish I wasn’t pigeon-holed into hospitality work for the rest of my entire life.

      1. Anonymous*

        You’re not! Listen, I worked at a call center and thought that’s all I could do with my work experience And worthless college segree. You have to really think about what you can do and how it applies elsewhere. It’s a long and hard process, but stay positive! You can do it!

      2. Another Job Seeker*

        Hi, mel! I agree with Anonymous. You’re not pigeon-holed into hospitality work. Have you considered pursuing a degree in your area of interest? If finances are a bit of an issue, you may wish to look at scholarships and work-study positions. Community colleges tend to be more cost-effective. If the area you are looking to work in requires a 4-year degree, you may want to talk to an admissions counselor about completing your first 2 years at a community college and applying for scholarships to cover the last 2 at a 4-year school. A fair number of schools now have online programs. This may help if you wish to keep your current position. Best to you!

      3. Ann*

        I worked as a cook for a fraternity. The next job I got was writing speeches for a foreign consulate (I had no prior professional speech writing experience, only previous office experience). You’re only pigeonholed if that’s the only thing you apply to. And to be honest, unless you’re interested in something degree-specific, like engineering, your degree isn’t really that big of a deal. I went to school for something completely different from what I’m doing.

      4. Rob Aught*

        Hi mel,

        I would suggest you start working your network to find out if there might be a job out there that might be better suited to you.

        The economy is tough, I know, but there really is no reason to be in a job that makes you miserable.

        I used to be in the same boat. I felt stuck and helpless, but eventually I shrugged that off and took my career into my own hands. I won’t go into all the details in a blog comment, but the short version is I went from bitter, angry, and underpaid to successful and loving my job. This has not only been good for me but for my family as well.

        1. Penny*

          I would be interested in hearing more about that! Maybe you could tell your story on the open thread! So many people I know are in this boat, even with education they feel stuck and miserable in a career path they didn’t really choose, just took what they could get to start making money. I’m sure many people here and elsewhere could benefit from seeing how someone else veered onto a better path.

      5. Natalie*

        My partner was a chef for 6 years, went back to college, and works at a library now. His chef-ing experience has not been much of a detriment. People like to hear the stories and a lot of the skills are transferable.

      6. Chelsea B.*

        mel –
        After I graduated I worked in the hospitality industry for about 2.5 years (I graduated in 2008), before I was offered an entry level position at a staffing agency. Now 2.5 years later, I’ve changed roles within the company, and have gain great experience! Don’t give up on working at a more rewarding job – keep trying, and applying. It can be done. Good luck!

      7. Chinook*

        Mel, I want to add to the voices to point out that you don’t have to be pigeon-holed. If you just want to get into an office job, make sure your computer skills are up-to-snuff and check out some temp agencies. Just a warning, though, you may have to apply to a few before you can find one that is willing to take a chance on you. This is how I switched careers from being a teacher to working at min. wage jobs to “office wonk.” I had one agency that saw my organizational skills, work ethic and willingness to try anything as a good thing and placed me quickly and often.

        1. mel*

          I love all the stories! Thank you.
          My raison d’etre is in fine art, so I have a low-key art business on the side while my terrible job pays the bills (though it really doesn’t at 12k/year). I studied pastry arts only to find out later there are no jobs and it’s all minimum wage anyway. Applied for some low-rung office work (I really want weekday shifts) but all of the ads are fake and a recruiter told me I had no hope because of my experience.

          job searching is so much different than it was ten years ago!

          1. Kat M*

            That recruiter was an ass.

            Job searching sucks, and career-change job searching sucks even more, but it’s definitely not hopeless!

          2. Anonymous regular who doesn't want her real name attached to her alias for google purposes*

            Don’t listen to one bad recruiter. When I started looking, I applied to 6 agencies, got 2 interviews and only 1 ever got me work. In your cover letter, explain why you are makign the transition and draw the lines for them between your current jobs/skills and how that will make you great in an office.

          3. Coco*

            Just chiming in to say that changing careers is possible. Yeah, job searching sucks but it’s a necessary process. You can’t get around it.

            You say you want office work. Do you have office skills? Do you know Word, Excel and Powerpoint? You’re an artist. Do you know Photoshop, Illustrator and some of the other design programs?

            I would suggest you go to a job board like, search for the job titles/duties you want and then look at the common skills and education those employers are looking for. Make sure you at least have those skills and education.

            Most areas offer free job training that includes free software training.There are even some state grants to take specialized training courses. Check with your local employment office.

            You’re a tax payer. Make use of the resources you pay for with each paycheck.

            I believe you can find a satisfying career.

    2. -X-*

      I would have thought good restaurants never have dull knives. Certainly good cooks don’t use them.

      I don’t work in a restaurant but try to never cook with dull knives (and bring a knife with me sometimes when travelling). It’s slow and annoying to use dull knives.

      1. F1nnbar*

        The reason pro chefs use ultra sharp knives has much less to do with speed than it does safety.

        the duller the knife, the more effort required to get it to cut. More effort means more danger of a slip, and with all that effort behind the knife when it slips, the greater the potential for injury.

        And injury — especially to a chef’s hands — will put him/her out of work for days or weeks.

        1. Jess*


          On That same note it should be said that if you get a small cut from a sharp knife it will be cleaner (not jagged) and heal better than from a dull knife.

      2. Anon*

        However, “good restaurants” expecting chefs at the level of bringing their own knives should be paying said chefs accordingly. While I’m sure the OP is an excellent at his job, they should expect to get what they pay for, and it doesn’t seem like they’re paying for a chef who comes with his own tools.

        1. mel*

          that’s what I thought too! heh.

          To be fair, all of our knives are dull because our staff are so rough with them (slamming on plastic cutting boards, actually no-joke stabbing tin cans open with them). We have lots of injuries actually.

      3. the gold digger*

        My husband and I took our own knife (the $20 Victorinox chef’s knife that Cooks Illustrated rated as great) to his mom and dad’s a few years ago. We also gave them a set of knives. I was sick and tired of cooking (we do all the cooking when we are there) with dull knives that had not been sharpened in 45 years. It’s dangerous.

        I also had to take a potato peeler. Not that my husband and I want everything peeled, but his parents do and they expect me to peel with a (dull) paring knife.

        When brother in law, who is a chef, went to carve the turkey, husband’s dad says, “Use this knife! We got it as a wedding present!” (50 years ago.) BIL says OK, but as soon as dad leaves the kitchen, whispers to husband, “Give me that knife you brought.”

        1. Kara*

          Ugh, I’ve had this experience many times with my MIL’s kitchen. We’re always expected to cook when we go (and bring the food – its like hosting, but not at home) and she has such an antiquated kitchen that I started having to pack up several pans, appliances, knives, etc whenever we went to see them. Her pans were all things her MIL had – at least fifty years old. No new knives, only one set of silverware, no serving dishes, nothing. She had bakeware that she rarely used, so that was helpful. No measuring cups though. Its like Ramsey’s Oldschool Nightmare in that kitchen.

          1. the gold digger*

            Kara, we have to take our own lunch food when we go. They don’t eat lunch, you see. So why should they provide it for guests?

            Although they would argue that there is a perfectly good jar of peanut butter (it’s not – it’s rancid) and a loaf of cheap grocery store bread in the cupboard.

            Yet I had to buy Lactaid for them when they came to visit. And then they hardly drank it, but did eat our $24/lb special occasion Carr Valley cheese as their afternoon snack with their afternoon bourbon. They were starving. Because they don’t eat lunch.

            1. Brandy*

              How awful. My in laws are actually cook-ware snobs. Luckily, my husband inherited this cook-snobbery and he wants/gets fancy kitchen tools for most major holidays. My MIL has been on a kick where I get a $200 Staub pot for Christmas…it hasn’t exactly been on my wish list, but they are pretty! And now I have a collection of, oh, 4 pots worth about $1k that I rarely use.

            2. khilde*

              We need a whole open comment thread on annoying in-laws so I don’t feel like having such a pity party. Mine are insane in their own way, but at least they cook or buy us food! I would love to hear the wide range of in-law quirks.

                1. khilde*

                  Oh, I will so check it out. I’m still searching for someone that deals with the same issues I do, but you have such a funny writing style that I”m sure I”ll be entertained!

                1. khilde*

                  Ha, good timing on my part! I think of these random things throughout the month that I’d love to talk with AAM readers about, but always forget about them by the time the open thread comes along.

              1. Jen M.*

                In my case, WE are the quirky ones when we go to my parents’ or his parents’ place.

                We are vegans and eat only organic foods, so at my parents’ place, we have our own little corner of the pantry with our staples, and we usually either grocery shop when we get there or bring food from home. (We visit them pretty much every weekend, as the family is at the point where we need to take care of our parents.)

                At first, my mom kind of freaked out, and I know my siblings think we’re weird, but we do it so that nobody has to stress about our “weird eating habits.” It works out well.

          2. VintageLydia*

            My FIL had heart surgery right before Christmas one year so I decided to host Christmas dinner at his house so he wouldn’t have to travel at all. I had to pack almost my entire kitchen. I was NOT going to cook dinner on chipped cheap Teflon (how dangerous is that???) and serve out of old Rubbermaid food storage containers (that didn’t have lids so it’s not like we can serve out of them and then pop a lid on them to store everything. That would be kinda smart, especially since there is some really cute food storage solutions out there now!) I think I did end up serving mashed potatoes from a big metal popcorn bowl. It’s literally his nicest serving dish and I ran out of my own. And don’t get me started on his knives. Most of mine are super cheap, but I have two nice knives and I bring those suckers everywhere.

            Though when Mom came up to cook Thanksgiving here (I just gave birth less than a month prior and I wasn’t ready to travel or cook a major dinner) she brought some of her own stuff, too. I don’t feel too bad. She’s had twice the lifetime I’ve had to collect nice cooking things ;)


            Sorry, I’m pretty passionate about proper cookware >.> I’ve considered getting a job at William-Sonoma for the discount.

            1. VintageLydia*

              And now that I know there’ll be an open thread, I’m thinking I should’ve saved this rant for there.

  3. Anonymous*

    If I’m applying for a job that only lets you upload one document, I combine my cover letter and resume into a single PDF and submit them together. Of course, this might not help if you don’t know in advance and have a time limit. Now I feel like if I ever see a time limit like this, I might make a fake account in order to check out the system in advance!

    1. Another Michelle*

      Yep, I do the same. I’ve found it to be common enough that I typically combine both resume and cover letter into one file, even if I’m emailing it.

    2. Brandy*

      I do the same. I have both kept on file and default to the “bundled” one unless I know there are spots for both.

    3. dejavu2*

      Me too! It’s really common with those types of online systems. Sounds like OP learned that the hard way.

    4. Tuesday*

      I learned about this the hard way. I applied for a job through a third-party service (Kwantek) that only allowed one uploaded document. Of course, I didn’t know that, and there was no final review screen or anything to confirm my info before submitting the application.

      I really wanted the job, and after a few days of panicking, I called the office, explained what had happened, and asked if there was anything I could do. They gave me an email address to send it to, and that was it. I sent my cover letter and resume to that email with a brief explanation, and I ended up getting an interview.

      I got the impression I wasn’t the first person to run into this problem, and I saw a different job posting from the same company later on that explained that both the cover letter and resume would need to be saved in a single document.

    5. Verde*

      Double check the instructions, too, just to make sure you didn’t miss anything – that will shape the context of your request to add the cover letter.

      We used to use a [terrible] system that only allowed for the upload of one document, so I posted very visible instructions to combo up the cover letter and resume. A lot of people still missed the instruction, though, and then it looked weird when they followed up saying “the system never asked for my cover letter”. We have since switched to a MUCH better system that makes it easier on all of us, employers and applicants alike.

  4. LadyTL*

    I know this may seem off base but it seems as if a cover letter just tells you if someone is a good writer or not since someone can have an amazing cover letter and be lacking in the needed skills or have a bad cover letter but have an outstanding resume. So a application system for jobs that do not need creative writing skills would make sense not to allow a cover letter since that allows a more balanced approach to hiring/interviewing.

    Of course I could be totally off base since the letter didn’t include what type of position being applied for just that it was for a hospital.

    1. Elizabeth*

      I don’t think I’d call a cover letter “creative writing” as to me that implies more things like poetry or short stories. (Although I know there are some cover letters and résumés out there with a dose of fiction to them…)

      I also think a cover letter can convey more than writing skill or even communication skills in general (a big part of lots of jobs). One important thing that a cover letter can convey is whether the candidate would be a good philosophical fit for the organization.

    2. Jessa*

      I often use cover letters to add in things that are not directly covered in my resume. Let’s face it at my age my resume goes back way too far to be submitted in full any more. However, often needed skills were learnt/used best in jobs that were years ago. Or there’s some specific things in the job listing that I’d want to point out that I’m really good at. You can brag a little bit (but professionally) in a cover letter. You can use your knowledge of the company you’re applying to, to point up things that make you a possibly better candidate than the next person.

      It’s not just creative writing skills. Particularly in jobs that use a CV rather than a resume. A cover letter lets you point out specifically why the stuff on your CV makes you a very good fit for the very specific job you’re applying to.

      1. LadyTL*

        I promise I’m not trying to be rude but what would you call the ability to write things in an interesting manner besides creative writing? I face this problem myself as I can write a functional cover letter that conveys information accurately but is always deemed a bad cover letter because it apparently reads as stilted and awkward to read.

        1. Anonymous regular who doesn't want her real name attached to her alias for google purposes*

          “what would you call the ability to write things in an interesting manner besides creative writing? ”

          First, that isn’t rude or snarky but a well thought out question.

          Second, I would call it good communcation skills. Speaking as an English teacher, creative writing implies you don’t have to worry about the facts.

          Professional writing usually involves factual writing in the form of essays/reports, letters and articles. This type of writing requires you to a)concisely summarize facts in a way that doesn’t alter them while, at the same time, framing them in such a way that they are useful to back up your arguement (the latter being the art of spin) and b) writing in a way that not only ensures the audience doesn’t fall asleep/throw it away before they understand your main point but also makes them want to remember the comment. Bonus points go to you if they get to end of the document and are sad that it is finished because it was a joy to read (and not because you missed information or didn’t make it obvious that it was ending. Cliff hangers are not useful in business!)

          It is possible to learn to do (a) well but (b) is truly an art form that not everyone is capable of doing.

          1. Chinook*

            Sorry, I forgot to change my name back. Now I am Chinook again and I don’t have to worry about an employer finding out I was talking about them in the comments section.

          2. LadyTL*

            Thank you for the perspective. Good communication skills though feels like it still weights cover letters more than it should since someone can communicate better verbally than in text and cover letters can punish people for that but I understand better now why many employers would ask for them. Though I can understand as well if a company does is not trying to fill positions that need that type of communication why their application systems would not allow uploading cover letters which may be what is happening in the letter here. Of course it could also just be the software didn’t come with the option in the first place.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          “Creative writing” refers to stories, poems, etc. It’s not business writing — two very different things!

          That said, there’s certainly good business writing (flows well, easy to understand, not overly wordy, warm but professional tone, etc.) and bad business writing (stilted, hard to understand, weird tone, verbose, etc.), and it’s good to get a sense of that for most jobs too. But even for jobs where written communication doesn’t matter at all, cover letters still give you a sense of what the person thinks is important, enthusiasm, why they’re interested, etc.

  5. Anonymous*

    #4 If they are not allowing for a cover then they may not want to be bothered with one. It is also possible this will hurt the candidate for going outside the parameters.

  6. Shawna*

    I don’t know about high-end restaurants, but I worked 10 years in food service. The only people I know that buy their own knives (in food service or, in my brothers case, as a butcher) do so because they want something better than the business provides. I just can’t see an employee, especially at minimum wage, being forced to purchase one’s own knife. It’s an expense of the restaurant doing business.

  7. Chocolate Teapot*

    USD 75 is EUR 58 (based on today’s exchange rate), which would buy you an excellent quality German kitchen knife. There are some knives which are more comfortable to work with than others, depending on hand size, and better suited to particular tasks.

    I have never worked in the catering industry, but I have seen TV shows where the Chef arrives with a plastic tool box or one of those rolls with pockets inside full of different sized and shaped knives.

    However it seems a bit excessive for somebody preparing food, unless the restaurant provided the knife.

  8. Sourire*

    #6 —

    “My husband tells me that management continues to pressure him to get a knife that costs at least $75 and that they will be willing to do paycheck deductions to help him out.”

    Okay, people more familiar with these types of laws, help me out. I believe the laws for uniforms are that a company may require them as long as their cost/their cleaning cost does not end up being less than minimum wage when they are paid for. OP’s husband’s wage is already really close to the federal minimum wage to begin with, so I am wondering if the knife falls under the same stipulations or not. Even if they took the maximum of 75 cents per paycheck out, that is still 100 hours, which is crazy to me.

    Also, a knife is not really a purchase in a vacuum. He will need a case, a sharpening steel, a sharpener, etc. So this will end up being even more than $75 if it’s assumed it is his equipment that he will need to maintain himself.

  9. Amanda*

    #6 I am a pastry chef, I have worked at the super fancy places.

    When you say food prep promoted from dishwasher, I assume he’s the guy making the potatoes even looking, or breaking down the fish into fillets or something. You can do those things with a $20 knife. What you get from a $75 knife is better construction and a blade that holds an edge better and longer.

    If your husband is going to make fancy cooking his career, it’s nice to have good quality tools, but right now he’s just starting out. He might need his own knife to do the job, but it doesn’t have to be expensive. I’ve found in the industry that there gets to be a bit of an obsession about the fancy knives while forgetting that they don’t make you a better chef.

    In short, I think the management are trying to pressure him into buying ‘the best’ as they see it because who wouldn’t want that? but in reality it’s unnecessary for now and also, they should give him a damn raise, knife or not.

    PS mel, i had to retype this 3 times to avoid sounding bitter. you’re not alone.

    PPS Nice to see wages haven’t changed in 10 years

  10. Jessa*

    Actually a lot of high end restaurants now have services that handle their knives for them. Since they use them a lot, they actually provide high end very expensive knives, and the required upkeep (sharpening, etc.) on a fee type service.

    Yes some chefs do have their own knives and swear by them. However, an $8 kitchen worker should be provided with their equipment. It’s not reasonable for a lower level hourly worker to be expected to invest nearly 10 hours of work for equipment at that level.

    1. Sharon*

      Can you tell me what they’re called, or how to find those sharpening services? I don’t work in a restaurant but DH and I are big time foodies and we own two sets of high quality knives. We also own a steel and sharpening stone, but we’re not quite good enough with the stone. We’d like to get the knives professionally sharpened once a year or so. I can NOT find anybody either in the yellow pages or by googling for knife sharpening services.

      1. 22dncr*

        Sharon – I’ve hade luck asking at any Fabric Store who sharpens their scissors. They usually have a guy that comes in and does all sharpening and he can also do knives.

      2. Ash*

        A few small mom-and-pop-type hardware stores in my area offer knife sharpening (as well as lawn mower blade, etc., sharpening) services, you should call a few and see if they offer something similar!

      3. Sourire*

        My local restaurant supply store (also open to the public) offers this service. If your area has one, it would be a good place to start (even if they don’t offer it, they probably know where would)

      4. Natalie*

        I would strongly recommend looking for a kitchen store or restaurant supply before trying a non-food option like a hardware or fabric store, simply because kitchen knives are a lot thinner and more delicate. You only need to remove a small layer of metal to get a sharp edge and a person that works with industrial tools may remove too much.

        The fancy kitchen gadget store near me offers knife sharpening for about $10 per, if I recall correctly.

      5. AP*

        Not sure where you are, but in Brooklyn there’s a guy who drives around in a former ice cream truck and sharpens knives! I’ve never used them but it makes me happy every time I see it.

        1. the gold digger*

          When I was a kid, my family lived in Spain. There was a guy who would come around on his bike to sharpen knives – the mechanism was attached to the back wheel of the bicycle!

        1. Katie the Fed*

          OMG!! thank you so much for this! I live RIGHT by it and I need my knives sharpened!

      6. Jessa*

        I get mine done at our locally owned Tru Value hardware franchise. They also have an amazing guy who custom cuts keys – we have a 40 year old mailbox system in our apartment complex, the key blanks are no longer made. You have to take another key and cut it down.

        The Google search term is “knife sharpening mail order,” if you do not have a local place to do it. There are a bunch of places you can send your knives to, and they have reviews so you can determine the best one.

        You can also Google “Blacksmith, your city, state,” they’d know who can sharpen for you. Also restaurant supply, beauty/barber supply, even knife sales, your city.

        Talk to your local scouting type agency, they’d either know or can do it for you. Whichever type agency you feel comfortable with.

      7. A*

        Oddly enough, also check out local open markets in your community. In two different places I’ve lived in (in two different states) there was a knife sharpening booth at the farmers market that would show up a handful of times throughout the summer.

        I always thought it was strange (as someone who does not cook often) – but you’re right, I very rarely hear about this service being offered.

  11. jesicka309*

    Haha I thought this post was going to be something like an episode of COPS “Mug shots, buying knives for work…” in street gangs……

    :D Made me chuckle.

  12. MentalEngineer*

    OP #1, one other thing. Do not, do not, do NOT pay someone else/a company to ‘fix’ your search results for you. At best, they’ll do the things Alison mentioned and do them well, but at absurd prices. More likely, they’ll do those things, but the blog posts will be spammy, the comments mediocre, and the price still absurd. At worst, you’ll accidentally choose one of the companies that sends out ‘takedown notices’ that have no legal standing, and instead of getting your reputation fixed, you’ll get Streisand Effect-ed all across the Internet.

    Short version – do your reputation management yourself, no matter how tempted you might be to trust a ‘pro.’ It’s cheaper and you’ll do a much better job.

    1. Ali_R*

      You can use Mechanical Turk where you pay for people to do Internet searches under the parameters you set up. It is through Amazon, it is typically only pennies per HIT (human intelligence tasks) and you pay only a percentage of that since the people get paid in Amazon credit.

      So what you would do… write some awesome, profound, relevant comments on sites using your full name as Alison suggest. Then figure out which key words are required to pull that up. Have an army of people via Mechanical Turk search those key words pushing those specific links to the front.

    2. Lynn*

      I have the same very unusual name as a woman who does a LOT of Internet porn. I am a software engineer. I thought of asking her to take her stuff down, but it’s her name too, and she has as much right to use it as I do. “Can you take your stuff down? You’re making me look like a porn queen?” “No, you take YOUR stuff down! You’re making me look like a giant nerd!”

      I fixed it by answering a bunch of questions on Stack Overflow, which is a site where programmers post their programming questions, and other people answer them. Now when you google my name, you get my helpful software answers. The “granny and young lesbian” stuff doesn’t start until page 8.

      Long story short, can you find a forum or board devoted to your field? Then talk about your field a bunch on the site, under your real name.

  13. 2013 Jobseeker*

    re #4: If I get to the last page (with a “submit now” button) of an application form and it hasn’t had a cover letter upload or text entry field available, then I go back to the page with the resume upload and upload a replacement, two-page version of my resume in which page 1 is the cover letter.

    That said, some ATS online applications really are wretched. A large organization where I worked for years has purchased a new one and both the internal and external application processes are dreadful — it stores a cover letter and resume permanently with your profile and the “apply now” button automatically sends in whatever you already have in there, so you have to *know that first* (and of course the only way to learn is to screw it up) and go edit your profile in advance every time you want to apply for a different position. As a bonus, it mangles formatting in editable documents and doesn’t accept PDFs.

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      Ooh, and sometimes they don’t save what you’ve entered, so when you go back to page 3, you then have to type in the stuff on pages 4-6 all over again! And then they time out because it took you too long. Although, I never encountered one that didn’t let me start all over and try to get everything in faster.

    2. Elsajeni*

      It is AMAZING how bad some online application systems are! I dealt with one recently that had a link to a different website where you had to take a test… except that the link didn’t work. I poked around the test company’s site for a while, and eventually figured out what I needed to do to make it work (fill out a form elsewhere to request login credentials, wait for the company I was applying with to send some kind of automated approval stamp, then try again) — but of course they didn’t TELL the applicant any of that information. Just “Click here to take the test at Test Company Dot Com.”

      Then there’s the one I’ve filled out several times that requests undergraduate and graduate GPAs, and for some reason it eats everything after the decimal point in the undergraduate one but leaves the graduate one alone. This is the kind of small, inexplicable bug that drives one slowly mad.

  14. Anne*

    Alison, did you purposely choose the dangerous-sounding topics for the title of this post? ;)

    Ask A Manager: XTREME EDITION

    Love it. :)

      1. Chinook*

        I am happy that you liked coming up with the title. Your proof that great communication skills are a true art form and you are a magnificent artist!

      2. Natalie*

        On that note, this seems as good a time as any to mention that I really like that the short answer posts now have slightly more descriptive titles. They will be so much easier to find in the future when I think to myself “I know there was a post on Ask A Manager about this…”

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Oh good — a reader suggested that, and I hadn’t even realized until then that I’d accumulated a zillions posts all with the same “short answer” titles.

  15. #5 OP*

    hi – thanks for answering my question, Alison! I wrote question #5.

    The job was posted on a third-party site, so applying is through the site to an unnamed human resources manager. I have a pretty good idea who the company is (though not 100%) so I’m not sure I should reach out that way.

    (And fwiw, my husband thought I sold myself short in my letter to you – I suppose I am senior marketing manger material, but don’t have enough experience at the moment to say that I am totally qualified. )

    In any case, I feel I need to get something to them today if I am going to do it. Back to the cover letter!

  16. Anonymous*

    #1 I’m curious if this is the first thing that comes up in regular results or in specifically Google Image results. If the latter, how many employers search image results? But if you still do reputation control, I’d make sure those blog posts contain an image, the comments have an avatar, etc. to push that down.

    1. Ella*

      It is the regular search. The site is and when I click on the “contact” link I get a “page not found” page.

  17. Aravind Ramachandran*

    I can understand a restaurant (or other organization demanding specialised skills) asking an employee to buy his/her own tools, but it should be up to the employee what kind, quality or brand to invest in. The most the restaurant can (or should be able to) do is to set standards for the work expected to be delivered using those tools, and not the tools themselves. If they insist on a certain brand, make or type, they should be willing to supply it themselves.

    However, if he has no way out, here are two things he can do:
    1. Look for a good used knife (on eBay or Craigs list), or a different brand of the same kind of knife – you’d be surprised at the variety available
    2. Ask if the restaurant can help to pay upfront for the knife and take it bit by bit out of his paychecks for, say the next three months or so.

    1. Jess*

      Unfortunately not all knives are created equal. A knife that is perfect for home use can easily be cr@p for professional use. The main factors are how its made (including the process) and the type of metal/alloy that the blade of made of. Process is EXTREMELY important.

      What you want for a pro knife is something that has a good weight, excellent balance, and holds its edge well. You want something that will only need to be steeled before a new series of cuts. A normal at home kitchen knife can easily be dulled (even with steeling) when put through the rigors of hours of use.

      Part of the reason why restaurants expect kitchen staff to provide their own is that a Chef’s/Prepper’s knives are part of them. Think of a warrior and their sword and thats the type of relationship that can be found in many cases.

  18. scm*

    #2- I’d say apply anyway! I applied for a federal govt job in December that I was CONVINCED already had an internal candidate picked out (it was only for federal govt employees, very specific questions). Well, I got the job! Personally, if it’s a job you are qualified for and that interests you, I don’t think you can waste time on it. Think of every new application as a way to really jazz up your resume/cover letter.

  19. Lily in NYC*

    #4 – I’m screening a ton of resumes right now and our system is awful and only lets someone upload a cover letter once. If you apply for another job with us, your old cover letter pops up. What people have been doing is to submit the cover letter along with the resume as one docment (meaning, page 1 is the cover letter and the rest is the resume). It’s a good work around unless the system is the not the type where you can upload it and have to fill in a form instead.

  20. Ash*

    For people reading #6, please remember that the husband is a prep chef, not a “real” chef. Prep chefs do all of the grunt work like peeling, mincing, filleting, chopping, etc. They are literally prepping the ingredients for the chefs higher up on the chain to cook with. Yes, you have seen those people on Top Chef pack up their knives when they get sent home, but remember that they are all career chefs who either own their own restaurants before they come on the show, or are the head chefs where they work, or have some other very prestigious position within their kitchen. They have the money for—and the need for investment in—that kind of equipment.

    If/when the OP’s husband goes up the ladder and gets paid accordingly, he can buy all the Wüsthof and Global knives he can carry, but there’s no reason for a prep chef who only makes $8 an hour to spend 9 hours’ worth of work on a knife to appease the very people who won’t give him any kind of raise.

    1. Natalie*

      “he can buy all the Wüsthof and Global knives he can carry”

      Eep, that sounds dangerous.

    2. Marie*

      i love Global Knifes ! I only use those at home… such a disapintment when I cook at my parent’s

    3. Anonymous*

      Exactly. That question could have been made into its own post based on the response volume alone, but the majority of them are missing the point so hard. “Oh, this knife here is only $20!” But…he already found one for that price and the company’s pushing him to get the specific one they want. “Ask if they can do paycheck deductions.” They already offered. He shouldn’t be paying for it at all.

  21. Juni*

    For #4, for future instances where it looks like there’s only one file upload option, I make a version of my resume that has my cover letter on the first page and my resume on the next two, then PDF it into one document, and upload like that. I had a prospective employer tell me in an interview once that I was one of very few candidates who did that, and they were impressed.

  22. Andrea P.*

    While I agree that…
    cold-calling or showing up in person = not okay
    emailing the hiring manager or including the cover letter in the doc = okay
    … I’d be interested to know how someone might defend that (just so I feel more justified in doing it!)

    1. A-a-anonymous*

      I think the fact that email is pretty unobtrusive and easy to ignore until you have time to deal with it makes things way different. If you show up in someone’s office, they either have to drop what they’re doing to see you or look rude. Same with a phone call – you are interrupting their work flow with a thing that has to be dealt with RIGHT THEN.

      Sending an email to someone who is hiring or including a cover letter with your resume is just giving them more information – which they are free to ignore or deal with as they see fit. It doesn’t require any action on their part.

  23. Rob Aught*

    Wow, already a lot of answers for #6

    While I didn’t have to buy a knife, I did used to work in a very nice shoe store and one of the conditions for working there is that you had to wear their shoes. It was a specific brand and they only sold their brand there.

    At the time, the cheapest men’s shoes they made were $80, but were hideous so I sprang for the $120 pair. I was making $6/hr. I did get an employee discount, but that was still $80 for a pair of “old man shoes” on a college budget. That was a little more than half my paycheck for one week. However, that was also the cost of working there.

    I do think it stinks that the restaurant would require him to buy such an expensive knife but it’s not necessarily unreasonable either. I definitely feel your pain but try to think of it as a long term investment that might really pay off.

    1. Heather*

      I really need to learn to read more slowly…I was sitting there thinking that while it’s nice that they didn’t make YOU buy a knife, why would a shoe store expect the rest of their employees to buy one? :)

        1. Heather*

          Nah, that was me skimming too quickly…I don’t think you could have made it clearer that your shoe store did NOT involve knives ;)

  24. Jess*


    I am not a Pro Chef and Have never worked in the industry. That being said: I love cooking and I cook every meal from scratch and doing fine dining and know alot about how the industry works. Prep in high end restaurants will typically need their own knives as they use them the most of anyone in the kitchen. As long as he is doing prep he will be knifing alot.

    HOWEVER. If you have a Ross store, or a TJ Max or a similar store you should be able to get a brilliant knife for less than $20. Look for a knife that is from ja henckels. That is pretty much the chef standard. I am willing to bet that that might be what they told him to obtain.

    make sure that it is full tang (the metal part of the knife handle extends all the way to the rear and is fully visible in the middle of the handle all the way around. These will be the most durable. If he comes to work with one of those no one should make any comments and I can typically get one for $12 at those stores (point of ref: I can get the EXACT same knives in Kitchen and Co for $75)

    Do NOT buy the ones that come as a set with a block, those are the /home/ line and they will not hold an edge well enough to be used for work.

  25. Workingmom66*


    The same thing happened to me. In fact I was part of a big layoff and several jobs that had been “eliminated” were being filled a few months later. It’s really unfortunate because I think in these cases employees become nothing more than lines in a budget and then job descriptions are tweaked just so much that they could bring in a less expensive employee to do *almost* the same work. It bothered me a lot but I moved on. I suggest not going back.

    1. Anon for this*

      This happened to me, too. I was laid off in a huge round of employees. Beforehand the company decided to hire someone and advertised the position to do part of my job because they were making an operation change company-wide that would have required more than one person to do one of my tasks.

      Luckily, I knew the company had been dishonest in the past and saw the writing on the wall and started searching for a new job. Sure enough, they hired that person within a few weeks of my getting laid off and she had my exact job duties with a different title. A former co-worker referred to her as “your replacement” in a conversation with me.

      1. Anon for this*

        Also wanted to add that it is very hard not to take personally. It’s like a significant other breaking up with you and telling you it’s because they don’t want to be in a relationship, and then within weeks they are with someone else and it’s as serious or more serious than the relationship they had with you.

        1. Stephanie Dickson*

          If only people would be upfront with their actions. I had a male friend do that to a really nice young lady. Broke up with her, told her he wasn’t ready to settle down (and she was really hoping she was “the one” ) and got married to someone else about 6 months later.

          1. fposte*

            I have no problem with that, though. For one thing, people often don’t feel ready to settle down until they find the person they settle down with; for another, I don’t actually think you owe somebody a statement that it’s her personally you don’t want to spend your life with. You owe a civilized exit.

            1. Anon for this*

              This is a good point, but it doesn’t make it any less devastating for the person who got left, at least at first.

            2. Cat*

              In my experience, it’s pretty much guaranteed that men who break up with women because “they’re not ready to settle down” will be married within a year. It’s uncanny how often this seems to happen.

      2. Stephanie Dickson*

        Why go “Anon” for this post? In real life, we don’t know each other and no one is trying to figure out who posted what. If you want to be anon, just do it. No need to announce it.

        1. Meg*

          … This is a really weird thing to snark on. Also, for what it’s worth, when you post on AAM it automatically fills in whatever you put for your name last time, so you have to think to change it. For example: one time I was commenting on a post where there was someone else named Meg commenting on. I put mine as “The Other Meg” to differentiate between us, and then forgot to change it for weeks afterward, so every time I commented, it showed up as “The Other Meg” even when I was the only Meg commenting.

        2. Chinook*

          I have chosen to go Anon for a response because I don’t want someone to easily match my real name to my screen name which could then link to jobs past and present. This Anon may know that there might be poeople she knows here and doesn’t want them to get on her case in RL about implying a company was dishonest.

    2. Chinook*

      I have a question about the word “layoff.” I was under the impression it meant that you are off work until they call you back (or you find other work) and that the company is required to call back laid off employees before hiring new ones. I have heard of this happenning at factories or with the seasonal crews in forestry, fishing, etc. Then, if you are let go but not laid off, you are considered “fired without cause” which gets you the same EI benefits but there are no chances of getting called back.

      1. Workingmom66*

        I actually looked it up because I understand where you’re coming from. The term can be used for both temporary unemployment (like the factory workers) or permanent.

        1. Chinook*

          I think I may also be influenced by my Canadian perspective because our EI system treats layoffs and terminations without cause as two different items on the checklist.

      2. doreen*

        That is exactly what “layoff” used to mean- it was only used for union jobs where the employer was required to call you back before hiring someone new. The definition has changed (perhaps because unions are less common) over the years.

    3. SerfinUSA*

      This happens where I work. It’s all political shuffling by mid-level b’admin, trying to look busy and financially proactive. Then they realize they really did need those warm bodies, and now they can rewrite the job description to cover more menial work and lower the starting pay grade.

      We recently suffered a shuffle that was pimped as a full-on reorg for workflow efficiency. What really happened was a few people got better jobs, a few people had hours or entire jobs cut, and they used the ‘surplus’ to bring in more b’admin.

      Luckily the people who lost their jobs bounced back into healthier workplaces, but it’s tough on morale.

    4. Just Me*

      #3 Other than management changes where everybody loyal to the previous admin was let go, I’ve seen this happen to a good person –it was mainly that the person who had been in the job was getting the job done, but the duties he was most excited about were not what the company was interested in. When they re-posted the position, it focused on one of the previous employee’s tasks, but not one that he was a star at… at least not for our industry. They wanted somebody specifically educated and experienced in that aspect of the job, which the original employee was not even though everybody liked him and would have given him a good reference. They reworded the job description very specifically to show what the new focus of the position would be.

      I’d say if it was worth tossing your hat in the ring, somebody on the hiring committee would have called you to let you know that the job had been posted. Don’t take it personally, it just wasn’t a good fit.

  26. Acidartha*


    I’ve worked in plenty of kitchens before and I’ve never been asked to buy an expensive kitchen equipment.
    It doesn’t make sense that they wouldn’t have the specified equipment available to you unless they are training you to take over more work, in which case they should pay you more.
    Politely decline – say “I’m sorry, buying a $75 knife is not in my budget and although I appreciate your offer for payroll deduction. Once the raise that is expected from the role comes through I will certainly consider it.”
    And maybe start looking for a new job.

  27. Liz*

    #1 – and anyone else looking to beef up their positive google searches – this may sound silly, but start running road races! I’m a runner and when I google myself, there’s always at least one race result on the first page of search results. This is a positive or at least neutral chunk of info about you, and I like to think it shows a facet of me that I don’t list on my résumé. Also, road races are fun!

    1. FormerManager*

      There’s also bridge tournaments…a friend of mine is in a bridge club (I guess that’s what it’s called) and her bridge results are the first things that pop up in Google when you search her by name.

      1. Kelly L.*

        I accidentally optimized my Google results by writing a lot of book reviews.

        Then a young woman with my same name hit college, and now my Google results are of a college cheerleader who is way prettier than me. LOL

        1. Liz*

          It’s always fun to see what else you’re doing according to the internet. I run a school for girls, and I was an accomplished softball player at the same time I was a college track athlete, for two different colleges at once!

          1. Garrett*

            I’m both a professional hockey player and a dentist and my name isn’t very common.

  28. Jane Doe*

    #1 – It’s a little disturbing that people who commit minor offenses like not showing up to pay a ticket are ending up with their mug shot online, especially since a mug shot just means you’ve been arrested and not that you were found guilty of anything. This is stuff that probably wouldn’t end up in most crime blotters unless you lived in a very small town.

    1. Ally*

      Absolutely! I hope all these websites get sued. I was charged with a pretty terrible crime when I was 20 and the charges were dismissed. It took many years for me to get over the whole situation and move on.
      These companies are capitalizing off other’s misfortune and then want you to pay them $399 to have your name removed.

  29. AJ-in-Memphis*

    #1 – You can send those websites a request to remove your name. They might charge you but the small fee might worth it in the long run…

    1. Ella*

      It is and when I click on the “contact” link, I get a “page not found.” I would be willing to pay something, but I don’t even know how to contact them.

      1. Aimee*

        I was able to pull up the contact page. It says to send all inquiries to

        That sounds promising. (Yes, that was sarcasm!) Good luck – I think sites like this and others that comb public records sites to combine all your info for nosy people to snoop on are horrible.

    2. Ally*

      The fee to have your name and photo removed is pretty expensive, especially if you show up on multiple sites.

  30. some1*

    #2: This is how I was hired at a City Dept as a receptionist. I started as a temp and did the job well, but the Civil Service rules dictated that my job had to be advertised, first to internal hires than external, but I had an awesome supervisor who assured me this was a formality and she was going to hire me. So based on my experience, it could very well be what is happening there.

  31. AJ-in-Memphis*

    oh and #6 – Wouldn’t a purchase like that be a tax write off?? Not sure, just curious…

    1. KayDay*

      (Full disclosure, I’m not a tax accountant). I think it would only be deductible if he itemized his deductions, and I’m guess someone making $8/hour wouldn’t normally do that. But maybe a friendly tax accountant or attorney could chime in.

      1. Chinook*

        For Canadians reading this, I believe that any tool you buy for a trade, like a cook/chef’s knife, have a spot for them to be claimed as a deductible. There are a specific list of trades that this applies to, so you need to look it up on the CRA website. DH was sad to learn that his bullet proof vest was not considered a deductible expense as a police officer because they are not listed as a trade.

    2. RG*

      A business expense, which what, reduces your amount of taxable income? That’s not going to make a lot of difference at that payrate.

    3. AJ-in-Memphis*

      Y’all are *assuming* the wife doesn’t have a job and as a married couple they won’t be filing together. People claim work expenses at all levels of income, depends on the situation.

  32. Employment lawyer*

    Re the knife: Y’all are looking at this wrong.

    This has nothing to do with the knife. It is a functional test of loyalty. They don’t want to train a prep cook who doesn’t REALLY WANT to be a prep cook. And they don’t want to train a prep cook who doesn’t (in their limited view) care about the right tools… So they’re asking him to buy a knife, as proof.

    That’s not so surprising, because there are a lot of already-trained prep cooks who they could hire. So: since they’re asking the question to see if you’re “really” a cook, answer like a cook.

    If you don’t like the way that the expensive knife feels in your hand, that’s a valid reason for a cook. If you find a used knife that is “perfect for your cutting style” that’s a valid reason for a cook. If you “prefer a slightly more straight/rounded shape” or “like the balance of this one better” and so on, that’s a valid reason for a cook. See the difference?

    Rather than a paycheck deduction, you can also simply negotiate for a deferred raise. In other words: rather than raising you to $9/hour and taking a paycheck deduction for a $75 knife (which will be $40/week), they can just move you up, buy the knife, and leave you at $8/hour for the next two weeks–that’s the same $80. That way, they can move you back down if it doesn’t work out, without any fuss.

    But if push comes to shove, you’ll just have to choose whether the risk is worth it.

    1. Your Mileage May Vary*

      Rather than a paycheck deduction, you can also simply negotiate for a deferred raise. In other words: rather than raising you to $9/hour and taking a paycheck deduction for a $75 knife (which will be $40/week), they can just move you up, buy the knife, and leave you at $8/hour for the next two weeks–that’s the same $80. That way, they can move you back down if it doesn’t work out, without any fuss.

      This is brilliant! But how does the husband know for certain that they will go ahead and process his raise for two weeks from now? I’d be afraid that they would keep finding reasons to put it off.

      All my “professional” chef experience comes from watching Hell’s Kitchen but your idea that this is a test to see if husband really, really wants this seems pretty solid.

    2. Cimorene*

      “If you don’t like the way that the expensive knife feels in your hand, that’s a valid reason for a cook. If you find a used knife that is “perfect for your cutting style” that’s a valid reason for a cook. If you “prefer a slightly more straight/rounded shape” or “like the balance of this one better” and so on, that’s a valid reason for a cook.”

      But isn’t “I have to pay rent, and $8/hour isn’t enough money to pay rent and buy a $75 knife” isn’t a valid reason for a cook? It seems like a valid reason for a *human*, since humans need a place to live, and all cooks are humans, so it seems like a perfectly valid response for a prep cook. Especially since chef, cook, and prep cook are all different jobs.

  33. Scott Woode*

    #6: 10+ years restaurant experience FOH/BOH here. On buying a knife…

    If you show a recent pay stub from your restaurant at Williams-Sonoma, they will discount your knife purchase by 20-30% as an industry favor. Also, restaurant warehouses have older, good quality knives that he can buy for 1/2 off. There are other similar discounts. He should ask his fellow chefs what they know of and they can give him pointers.

    Good luck bargain shopping!

  34. SerfinUSA*

    #2 – Go for it!!

    I’m in a similar situation now, waiting for a job to be posted that is a perfect match for my skills and interests. It’s a new position that has been in the works since November last year, and the delay in posting makes me wonder if they are trying to jigger it for an internal candidate. I plan to apply anyway, because you just never know.

    But another department had pretty much promised an employee a move up into a vacant position for which he was superbly qualified. Just a formality to do the external posting they said. But he was on the bad list of the next-up b’admin, and the job went to a less-qualified outside hire. Makes me laugh that this outside hire has doen nothing but make trouble ever since, and has now resigned in order to better manage the lawsuit he is bringing on.

  35. Meg*

    @ #3: The hospital I currently work at doesn’t accept cover letters; in fact, your experience sounds suspiciously like mine. It’s really annoying, but rest assured if you didn’t have an opportunity to submit one, others didn’t either.

  36. annalee*

    1 – Someone already mentioned upthread that threatening takedown notices are worse than useless, but depending on where your mugshot is appearing online, it might be worth asking them nicely to take it down.

    If it’s on a government website, they may have a takedown policy you can go through. You may also be able to get the record sealed, since it’s a few years old and such a minor offense. Doing so should oblige a government website to remove any information about it, including the picture.

    If it’s not a government website, it’s a question of judging how reasonable the proprietor seems. But most folks are not going to retaliate against you for asking, as long as you’re polite and not trying to threaten them with legal action.

    1. Chriama*

      I second this advice. If it’s only showing up on one website, try and see if you can get them to take it down. As long as you’re polite and professional, the worst that happens is you fall back on plan B and bury the results with new stuff.

    2. W.W.A.*

      I can almost guarantee these are sites like “” or whatever, and there are probably multiple sites that have the picture, and it will cost non-insubstantial amounts of money to get them taken down. It is rather unlikely that it’s the city’s website.

      1. Ella*

        It is I have tried to contact them to offer to pay to have it taken down, but the “contact” link leads to “page not found.”

        1. annalee*

          It looks like they’ve switched their contact form to an email address, so you might have better luck contacting them there. If it were me, I wouldn’t offer to pay them. If they’re the kind of skeezy outlet that demands money to stop spreading around your private business, they’ll tell you.

          They’re using a WHOIS proxy service out of Auckland, NZ, so if you did want to pursue legal action, you’d have a very difficult time tracking down the actual site owners or their ISP.

          If they don’t respond to a polite email, it sounds like your best bet is Alison’s plan to comment under your full name on blogs. When you do, make sure to fill in the ‘website’ field with either your LinkedIn profile or a personal website, which will create a link between your name and your desired site. That’ll improve your desired site’s googlejuice.

          You can use the Technorati blog index to find top-ranked blogs related to your industry, and other hobbies/subjects that would look good to employers: since these blogs have a lot of googlejuice, they’re likely to kick the result down the rankings if you start leaving your name in their comments section.

          Another option is to start a blog on wordpress or a similar service, and write a handful of short, informative posts about things related to your field. You don’t even need to commit to keeping it updated–as long as it’s up there and you’re linking to it from blog posts, it’ll help kick down the undesired result.

          Be sure to put up several pictures of you on your site, your LinkedIn, etc. It’ll help get that mugshot out of the first few picture results for your name that show up when you do a normal websearch. If you’re not already wise to the ways of metadata, a little googling will show you how to add key words to a picture’s description and alt text to improve its search ranking. A Gravatar account will help, because it’ll post your photo everywhere you comment.

          If you’re not already on Google+, definitely join up and post a few public pictures, and maybe join/participate in some groups related to your work or hobbies. Google prioritizes google+ content when determining what to show in search results.

          Good luck!

          1. Flynn*

            And if they’re not responsive to a polite query and have hidden their details, you can just contact their website host and/or Google. Or send them a stern letter notifying them that you intend to.

            I’m not sure how many legal things you can throw at them, and it’s not quite as straightforward as filing a DMCA, but if is shady then a) they won’t want it escalated and b) the hosting company won’t want them around (as they get in trouble then!) and Google doesn’t want them in their search results (and no Google will kill most websites).

        2. Natalie*

          If you do ever get a hold of them, do not offer to pay. It’s extremely unlikely you’re dealing with aboveboard people here.

  37. MiaRose*

    For #6, if you do decide to buy the knife, hang onto the receipt.

    I used to work after school part-time with a company that installed home security systems (mostly hardware, but some minor electronics). I was told that I had to buy a small set of tools for $25.00 (about 4 times my hourly wage at the time). I didn’t keep the receipt, and when I was let go because of some serious miscommunication issues (I did things exactly as boss showed me, then was told that I did them wrong, even though I had matched his initial example), they told me to leave the set, even though I had paid for it. They said it belonged to the company, I did not have the receipt to prove I had purchased it, and I was a naive kid.

    And remember to take that knife home with you every day. If you paid for it out of your own pocket, it’s yours, and no one else should use (ruin) it.

    1. Jessa*

      Oh, I always go one more step than that. I get the receipt, I type up something that says “x item, serial number y (or good description) belongs to me, not the company and make the supervisor sign the thing and take it home with me.

      But then when hearing impaired me works for a call centre as a manager, I have a $450 adaptive headset that plugs into a special amplifier that attaches directly to my hearing aids. I also get a signed paper that says I do not have possession of a company issued headset. Because I’m not going to end up being charged at the end of employment.

      You need to know when you’re being asked to buy something if it’s intended for your sole use or not. That needs to be made completely clear at onset and in writing, because even if the company is honest, things change. I worked for one place where the company provided headsets for years, then they changed it to provide your own. This happens a lot.

      Company provides tools for years, but people lose/damage them, so they make you buy, but then someone thinks well “everyone was given tools, so those are ours,” not “well we changed it a few years ago then changed back. so anyone hired from 1989-1995 owns their tools.”

  38. Another Reader*

    #2 — I work for the federal government, and in our component, folks applying for a job get points for knowledge of the organization for just about all positions. However, that doesn’t mean that the jobs are pre-selected (some might be, but not all)….

  39. Jessie*

    I’m sorry but I just have to disagree about the cover letter thing. I never ask for cover letters and specifically ask for resumes only (as in, “upload resume”). When someone includes a cover letter I wonder why they can’t just keep it simple and follow the instructions. Obviously, that’s not the norm, but I think saying “it can’t hurt” is not always the case.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      That’s a pretty unusual stance (and you can certainly find unusual stances on everything in a group of hiring managers, but that doesn’t make it a bad choice for a candidate to do). Cover letters are such a normal part of the hiring process that most people don’t wonder if a candidate includes them.

      (I would also encourage you to ask for and read cover letters unless you’re hiring for a very unusual type of job. It’s enormously helpful in screening.)

    2. Your Mileage May Vary*

      I applied one place where they said on the online application system that the did NOT want a cover letter. They even made you check a box to indicate that you understood you were not supposed to submit a cover letter.

      Cover letters are so common in business applications that if you are going to ding someone for not following instructions you should specify on your site that you don’t want one. Otherwise, people like me are going to see “Upload Resume” and think that means cover letter too as they go part and parcel for me.

      1. A*

        This. I have applied to one place online where it specified that they did not want a cover letter. I always assume a cover letter will be beneficial (or at the very least not work against me by its mere existence) unless told otherwise.

        When I out together my résumé for an online app I automatically combine it with my cover letter for that specific position (since I often make at east minor tweaks to my resume for each individual position I apply to). So when I saw that they mentioned they did not want a cover letter I had to submit a separate file that contained only the resume. If it doesn’t specifically say no cover letter, I automatically submit both as one document.

  40. Ella*

    #1- I asked this question.

    Thank you, Alison, for your advice. I have been reading through all the comments as well, and appreciate the help. I have asked the website several times to remove it, and provided copies of court records showing the charges were dismissed, all to no avail. I have gone by my old married name in LinkedIn so as not to be connected to the mug shot (doesn’t help that it’s a very unflattering picture!). It seems no matter where and how often I post my “criminal” name, that mug shot does not budge from the #1 spot. I will keep trying though. Thank you!

    1. Liz*

      I have one more thought – do you have Gmail, or Google Chrome as a browser? If either of those is true then you are probably seeing *your* personalized results when you Google your name. There’s a little button at the top right of the page with a person and a globe – click the globe. It may be that a non-you, when they search your name, won’t see the mugshot first after all. (Or ask a friend, or Alison, to Google your name and see what happens.) Good luck!

    2. Ally*

      Thanks for asking this question. I have the same problem. Getting arrested is pretty traumatic (at least for me it was) and now it’s on the internet for everyone to see, leaving out the important fact that the charges were dismissed.
      I’ve worked on being more confident when asked about my arrest.
      Maybe there will be a lawsuit we can all get in on.

  41. Tmbrlnd*

    #1 – I feel for you. Some years ago someone put my full name in a bunch of comment threads to videos on a popular free pornography site, implying that I was involved in these videos. If you googled my name, assuming you weren’t on “safe search,” these links were three of the hits on the first page of results. It took me almost two years to deal with this, first having to convince the porn sites to delete the comments (a huge ordeal in itself) and then having to figure out Google’s absurdly complicated system to eliminate old cached hits, which I never really did. I just had to wait it out. These results still appeared for more than 6 months after I got the comments deleted.

    I never figured out who did this, but I have suspicions. Meanwhile I’m convinced this cost me jobs I was applying for at this time, but who knows.

    1. Ella*

      That is awful! I am so sorry. Scary that it is so easy to ruin someone via the internet.

  42. Vicki*

    #4 Online application system …

    Worse than the “no way to upload a cover letter” sites are the ones where the job description includes something like “please include two writing samples” or similar wording, and yet, there’s no way to attach or upload anything except a resume.

    I second the idea of putting everything into the same PDF (or Word document) but it’s definitely weird.

    My guess is that the people posting the job description don;t even know about the restrictions with the online tool.

  43. anon*

    #6, my husband is a chef who has worked in the industry for over 20 years. It is standard that everyone has (and brings) their own knives and other tools. This has been true in every kitchen he’s worked in — in several part of the country — no matter what his position was.
    If your husband plans to pursue the culinary arts as a career, buying his own knives is an expense to be expected with no compensation from the employer, and it won’t just stop at the one prep knife. The more he has to do, the more tools he’ll need. The good news is, the tools don’t change, and my husband has some knives he’s had the entire 20 years!
    However, your husband should absolutely ask for a raise right now with the “promotion”, and with any additional “promotion” he gets, no matter how small-seeming. Prep may seem like no big deal, but suddenly he’s handling FOOD, not dishes. That’s more responsibility for him, and more liability for the restaurant. He should even cite this fact when asking for a raise (as well as the fact that he has to start investing in professional tools in order to get the job done). Very few culinary professionals are paid well, so be prepared for that. Take advantage of the “promotion” to ask for more money. Don’t wait. If he doesn’t ask, he will not get it. Trust me.
    And, honestly, I’d suggest both you and your husband think long and hard about his entry into that field… it’s tough work, tough hours, with very little reward (personally or financially). It can be hard on a person, and on a marriage. It’s definitely not right for everyone.

    1. Another Emily*

      You’re spot on about the hardships of the restaurant industry.

      But about the knives, my husband used to be a professional cook and restaurants he used to work for (three) all provided knives. Most cooks chose to buy their own knives but you could always use a restaurant knife.

      One thing that jumped out at me is the “you must buy a specific knife that costs $75”. I could see “You must buy a 8″ cook’s knife” or whatever, but since they’re saying the exact cost it’s like they have a specific brand in mind. I think if they want him to use a very specific knife it especially should be provided by the restaurant.

  44. Cruella DaBoss*

    #1 How do you answer the “have you ever been arrested/ convicted of a crime” question that is on most job applications? (I know it’s on my company’s application, on the very first page)

    But my company also runs extensive background checks, so the arrest would surface regardless, right along with it’s dismissal.

    If you have the dismisal paperwork, have you tried sending copies of that to the website? That will prove that the judge dismissed the case and your mugshot should be removed, or at least marked as “charges dismissed.”

    1. Ella*

      If I am asked on an application if I have ever been arrested (which I think has only happened once), I try my best to explain in the 100 or less characters they give me to do so. Usually I am sending a cover letter and résumé and not filling out an application though.

      I have sent the dismissal paperwork to them. They said it was insufficient to remove to page.

    2. Natalie*

      Do employers routinely ask if you’ve ever been arrested? That seems like a wide net, IMO.

      I’ve only ever been asked if I’ve been convicted of a felony or specified misdemeanors. And my state doesn’t have a Ban the Box law, although the legislature is considering it this year.

      1. A*

        I was asked only once if I was every arrested on a job application. It was at a very large national convenience store chain when I a was a teen.

        Only ones I’ve dones since have asked if I’ve ever been convicted, which is a far better way to weed out potential ‘high risk’ applicants versus asking if they’ve been arrested since it means very little on its own.

  45. Jess*

    Someone with more law knowledge than this lowly law student might be more helpful, but depending on the state, is it possible to petition the court to have the mug shot removed from the website (assuming it is a state-owned website). Particularly if the arrest is of a type that is/can be expunged or does not appear on a criminal record check done by an employer? It’s possible a legal services organization or public defender in your area might be able to help. This won’t solve the internet history part, and you’ll probably still need to do as Alison suggests, but it might help in the long run.

  46. Tuesday*

    Re: #1-
    During a particularly desperate time, I registered to write for (if you’ve ever looked for writing/editing jobs, you know that Examiner is always looking for new blood!) I wrote a few articles but ultimately decided that it wasn’t really for me.

    I officially resigned and haven’t contributed a thing in two years or so, but if you Google my name and city, my Examiner profile is one of the first things to pop up. I really don’t want it there, because it’s not showcasing my best work (and does showcase how I quit after a month!) So I set up my Google+ profile and linked it to things I’ve written using Google’s authorship tag. I updated my LinkedIn profile. I have a site with my full name right in the URL. I just checked and Examiner is still #3 on the first page of Google results.

    I attempted to contact to ask them to remove my profile, but they are next to impossible to contact and really have no interest in removing old profiles, so that went nowhere.

    The moral of the story is one of two things. One is that you shouldn’t write for Examiner, because they’re kind of a slimy, glorified content farm. The other is that you SHOULD write for Examiner if you’re trying to hide a less-savory search result, because they apparently have the world’s best SEO and will make sure your profile stays at the top of the results forever and ever.

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