wee answer Wednesday — 7 short answers to 7 short questions

It’s wee answer Wednesday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. Does my employer have to let me work from home if I have a doctor’s note?

A year ago, I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and started taking medication for it. I’m doing lots better, but I still battle spikes in anxiety now and again. Additionally, I’m pretty much the picture of hyperthyroidism without an official diagnosis.

Last week, my new manager came back from maternity leave, and while she is nice enough on the surface, I can tell we are going to butt heads a lot, or I’m going to be biting my tongue more often than I’d like. Overall though, my job makes me miserable and I am well past my breaking point here. The only reason I haven’t left yet is because I haven’t had anything lined up. I’ve wanted to switch from working at home to at least relieve some of the office environment stress but I knew they wouldn’t go for it without a doctor’s note.

So I got my note, but my gut is telling me that management is going to fight tooth and nail to keep me in the office. I’m not a bad employee and work pretty much unsupervised all day, so I don’t think my performance would play into it much. Can my company deny me the ability to work from home when it is for medical reasons? Being able to control the sounds around me will be pivotal for me; additionally, being able to eat more regularly and as necessary will help me combat being underweight. This is something my doctor and I talked about and she wouldn’t give me the note to work from home if she didn’t agree with my assessment. I’m just now anxious that my bosses will deny this to me, and I don’t know what I can do at that point.

If your medical condition is covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (not all are) and working from home would not pose an undue hardship to your employer or interfere with your ability to perform the essential functions of your job and there is not an alternate accommodation that would resolve the problem, then they might be legally required to allow it. (But if, for instance, they could address the problem by giving you a quieter workspace and allowing you to eat at your desk as freely as you’d like, then it would be hard to argue that working from home was the only acceptable accommodation.)

But if it’s really about just not liking your new manager much, fighting a major battle with your employer to convince them to allow this probably isn’t the way to go.

2. What to do when a written offer is higher than the verbal offer

I regularly chat on a forum frequented by moms in their 30s and 40s. This question came up there and I’d love to know what you think. A woman there verbally agreed to an offer. When she received her offer letter, she quickly accepted it and told them so in writing. Later, she did the math and realized the offered salary is $15k more than what was agreed to. She lowballed herself when she verbally agreed to the original offer, and now she’s wondering if perhaps the company decided to give her an industry-standard salary without telling her.

Half the advice she is receiving from this forum is, “Yeah, they probably wanted to be nice and give you an industry-standard wage, trust that they know what they are doing, and don’t say anything.” The other half is saying, “Tell them. This could turn out badly if they realize their error later and you say nothing. But DONT say it was an error! Just bring it up when you start by thanking them profusely for the faith they have in you and the good will they have shown with the salary bump. This puts you in a position of power and makes it uncomfortable for them to correct you.”

Ironically, this woman was hired as an accountant. What do you think she should do? What do you think of the forum advice?

I’d say something — partly because I’d want the peace of mind of not having to wonder if it was going to be a mistake that would be discovered at some point down the road, and partly because it’s just the right thing to do if you have a real question about whether it was intentional or not. However, I agree that it doesn’t make sense to present it as an error, although I don’t think “profuse thanks” is necessary either. I’d just say something like, “I appreciate the salary bump in the offer letter, and I’m looking forward to starting work.”

3. How long should it take to hear back about a raise request?

A little more than 2 weeks ago, I approached my manager and the HR manager separately (they know I contacted them both) about a raise. Since I got here (in 2005), my duties have increased as a microbiologist. I started with 0 people, now I have 6 direct reports, and I have more areas in my supervision, but no raise.

I simply asked them to review my salary, which I know is underpaid. Both said that they will get together and look into the situation but I haven’t gotten an answer (they didn’t say how much time they would take to come up to a decision). How much more time should I let pass by before asking about my situation again or to know what was the decision?

Give it another week, and then follow up with your manager and ask about the timeline for getting you an answer. (Go to your manager, not HR, because this is really your manager’s call — or at least something your manager would need to be the one advocating for.) This stuff can sometimes take a while, particularly if you’re at a bureaucratic company, but you should at least be able to find out a likely timeframe.

4. Why did this hiring manager ask for another copy of my resume?

I interviewed for a position via Skype early last week and was told that I’d hear back in a few days. Today the hiring manager asked me to send him a copy of my resume. I wanted to update it, but since I’ve already interviewed for the position, I sent the same version that I did when I initially applied for the job. Why would they need another copy of my resume after an interview?

Who knows? Maybe they somehow lost it. Or maybe just the hiring manager lost it and knows that it would take forever to get a response from that slow person in HR. Or the HR person is away. Or maybe he wanted a version that was easily forwardable and their online system doesn’t make that simple. I wouldn’t read anything into it. (However, it would have been fine to have sent an updated version, with a note indicating that you’d updated it.)

5. Manager gives us rules that he doesn’t follow

We work at a convenience store. What do you do when your manager bans all cell phones, iPods, and mp3 players because we “spend too much time messing with them” and tells us we are to be moving at all times, but then two days later reads us a text from his daughter? Or tells us that visitors are not be there more than 5 minutes or that talking to customers for any length of time is no longer tolerable, but he spends 1-2 hours daily talking in lobby with various customers and vendors and the rest of the time playing catch up in the office when he is supposed to be our back up?

We have 180-320 customers on a 6-hour day shift. He accuses of us of having excuses for why we can’t get our duties done, when it is really because he is not there for back up. What we do? Our morale is way low, and work is getting done by most of us; it is just one or two employees on a crew of seven who are not coming close on getting their duties done. We are about to explode. Help!

Well, when you have roughly one customer per minute during a shift, it’s actually pretty reasonable to tell you not to use cell phones or iPods while you’re working. It’s also pretty typical for retail stores to have a hierarchy where non-management employees are subject to different rules than managers. Different positions have different expectations, and it’s really his prerogative to tell you not to use cell phones while you’re working but still use his own. He might (or might not) be hypocritical, but you’re not going to win him over by pointing out that he’s doing the things he’s telling you not to do, because his role is different. I think you’re better off simply accepting that this is pretty normal in this work context and not letting yourself get too bothered by it.

6. Keeping my job applications out of spam folders

I often find that when I email someone for the first time, I get no response, but then when I follow up with a phone call, it turns out that my message ended up in their spam filter. I’m guessing this has to do with the fact that I have an unusual full name (as far as I know, it’s one of a kind) and my personal email address is simply [first name][middle name]@gmail.com. Now that I’m job searching, I’m concerned about this being an issue when I apply for positions that specifically request resumes and cover letters to be emailed. I certainly don’t want to be a pest by calling to see if they’ve received my application, and in some cases there is no phone number listed with the posting, but I would hate to miss out on a position that might be a good fit for me simply because the hiring manager didn’t check their spam folder. Do you have any suggestions for how to handle this?

If you’re sure that your email address is the problem, why not just get a different email address? (I’m not sure if your email address really IS the problem, but if you think it is, that’s where I’d start.)

7. Can I write about hiring on my personal blog?

I currently work for a nonprofit and run my own blog at the same time. I’ve already assisted with hiring an intern for this organization, and we’re working on hiring one more. I wanted to write on my own blog about things people should and shouldn’t do in their job applications based on what I’ve seen from our pool of candidates. I wouldn’t name names, of course, and would be willing to wait until our other intern is hired. Plus, we have no policy against it. Am I allowed to do this?

It’s completely up to your employer, whether or not there’s a policy. Some employers won’t care, and some will not be okay with you writing about work things, including hiring. So check with your manager before you write anything — even if you write anonymously, since things sometimes become un-anonymous on the Internet.

{ 126 comments… read them below }

  1. Elise*

    #6 – I would think it is more likely that the problem is your subject line or the type of attachment you are using. Don’t use zip files since those are popular with spammers for hiding executable code. PDFs are generally recognized as safe.

    What are you using for subject lines? Avoid words like: opportunity, offer, investment, pharmacy, or cam. :)

    I wouldn’t think the name would matter unless your first or middle name is Adriana (for some reason, a lot of my spam mail comes from “Adriana”)

    1. Marmite*

      I wouldn’t think the name would matter either, but I guess if it’s something so unique that it doesn’t get recognised as a name it could get filtered as spam. My Mum often finds her e-mail ends up in people’s spam folders and I’m convinced it’s because she still uses a Yahoo! e-mail address.

      1. Annie de Mouse*

        Trust me, the name matters. Both my names are very unusual in the US (the only other one is the aunt I’m named for) and it causes all sorts of problems. I can easily see a spam filter catching it. Since 9/11, I’m routinely screened for extra security at airports, because a computer flags my name as nonsense characters. I even had one caller accuse me of lying to her when I told her my name, because “nobody would call a child that!” (Oh, how I wish my parents had chosen something else!)

    2. Cat*

      #6 – another possible explanation for this is that in my experience, “oh, it was caught in my spam filter!” is a frequent little white lie people tell when they have either forgotten about or been too busy to answer an email and the sender calls to follow up.

      1. Elise*

        Oooh, that’s a likely possibility too! Kind of the new-tech version of “check’s in the mail”.

        1. Chloe*

          I had this happen, someone emailed me and my spam filter squirreled it away, and when I told the person what had happened it sounded ridiculous even to me, and I know it was true!

        1. Ellie H.*

          Incidentally, there are a few people who have a psychological issue that leads them to capitalize every initial letter in written text – I’m not sure if it’s an expression of OCD (I would assume so) or something else. I’ve never seen it mentioned in medical literature but I’ve come across it on the internet a few times.

          1. Beth*

            I always do that in the subject line… I don’t think it’s abnormal… I consider the subject line sort of a “title.” In the body of the e-mail…. yes, weird.

            1. The Other Dawn*

              Me too. I always write my subject lines as a title, even in my personal emails.

            2. LouG*

              Okay okay, I read that comment quickly and thought they meant EVERY WORD. Now, that would never be appropriate.

                1. Bea W.*

                  There there LouG, I understood what you meant – subject lines written in ALL CAPS. That is also how I read Katie’s post.

                2. Jazzy Red*

                  Capitalizing the first word in every sentence is called Title Case. Capitalizing all the letters in every word is called All Caps. That’s why people were confused by Lou’s first comment. And neither one is enough to classify someone as crazy.

                3. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Are we seriously parsing people’s comments here to the point that they can’t call something widely agreed upon as bizarre “crazy”? Let’s all try being a little less sensitive, maybe.

          2. Ellie H.*

            I capitalize words in the subject line when it’s an announcement or official communication, as Beth says, just as one would capitalize words in a title (e.g. “Invitation to Reception for Doctoral Recipients” or something like that). If I’m writing a colloquial email (e.g. “Can you take a look at this and proofread?”) I think it would look strange to capitalize all of those words.

            1. danr*

              There are still plenty of people who use ALL CAPS (just to be clear) in subject lines in email.

              1. Anon*

                There are plenty of people I work with that just use all caps for everything… so annoying.

    3. Not Your Boss*

      So that’s why no one has responded to my offer of a new investment opportunity in pharmacy cams!

  2. PEBCAK*

    #1: You’ll catch more flies with honey…having an honest conversation with your manager and asking for some accommodations is likely to get you a lot further than demanding them under the threat of legal action.

  3. Anonymous*

    #5: Alison, I don’t think you really answered this question. I think the OP’s issue isn’t the hypocrisy per se; it’s that the manager “accuses of us of having excuses for why we can’t get our duties done, when it is really because he is not there for back up.”

    “Don’t let yourself get too bothered by it” isn’t really useful advice if the problem is your manager accusing you of not fulfilling your duties.

    1. Chloe*

      Sounds like both to me – they might be blaming the manager for not doing back-up, when without them realising it he is actually doing what he needs to do. Reading out a single text isn’t really evidence that he wastes the whole day noodling around on his phone. And chatting to customers and vendors sounds like good business to me.

      But also, there are under-performing staff, which sounds like another issue altogether and one OP might raise with the manager. After all, if some are working hard and some are not, thats something I think most of us would be annoyed about.

      1. JohnQPublic*

        Are there stats generated during the work that could help present your case? In my work every time we perform a work function with someone it is documented, and this is retrievable later when our monthly reports are generated. Perhaps you could show how many persons each of your coworkers helped to your manager and ask him to address the imbalance.

        As far as the manager being a “do as I say not as I do” guy, it’s true he has duties that include more than just being your backup. It can be irritating at first but you can’t control it, so let it go. Either he’s doing it right or doing it wrong, and it’s HIS boss’s job to know and take care of it.

      2. Ash*

        But if the manager is resposible for being back up, and he is taking two hours “off” to talk to a vendor, then he is not doing his job.

      3. BCW*

        I agree that it sounds like he is doing “manager” duties and not cashier duties. Managers have to talk to vendors. Managers have to make sure customers are happy. I’d also argue that its in the best interest of the store for him to have his cell phone accessible as well. So while yes, he should be providing backup when needed, he essentially hired a team he thought could handle the normal workload and probably only feels the need to jump in when its really crazy. Its not that uncommon in retail or fast food.

        1. Receptionist*

          “and probably only feels the need to jump in when its really crazy.”

          This. It’s possible that the OP (and maybe his coworkers) have a different definition of”there for back up” in mind than the manager has in his mind. And frankly, without working there or having much specific context, WE don’t really know what that’s intended to mean either. The OP might be thinking it means the manager should be constantly helping the cashiers as much as possible, whereas the manager might think of it as only jumping in when there’s a line out the door. Perhaps it would help the OP to get some clarification on the expectations of his role, as well as his manager’s.

      4. Dana*

        It’s hard to know what’s really going on without being there. The OP only gave us a few examples to make inferences from, but considering he works day in and day out with this person he would know best whether the manager is spending his time doing legitimate managerial duties or powering down on his staff while he shoots the shiznit with vendors in his office. I’m going to assume the latter in this case since a) the OP seems to be implying this, and b) there are plenty of those out there, particularly in retail. But, unfortunately, either way the answer is the same, deal with it or move on. However, this is an important lesson for the OP, should you get a chance to manage choose to be a leader rather than someone who takes advantage of a leadership role.

    2. Jessa*

      I agree though, the actual issue is the “nobody there for back up.” The rest is fluff filler and really something the manager has a right to do even if it’s annoying. The way to deal with this is to go to the manager and say “Look when we get a line of x, how do you want us to handle this? Take Wakeen off the floor? Call you? Not care?”

      And if it keeps being a problem then you have to decide whether to go above the manager’s head. Particularly if you’re losing business to customers walking out due to the wait.

      A good front of house person (and this works in stores as well as restaurants) will schmooze the customers because the rest of the staff does not have TIME to. But they are also expected to pitch in and open a register, or bus a table in a pinch.

      So the key to dealing is to leave off those things that a manager even if they shouldn’t has every right to do, and complain about the actual problem of the manager NOT managing.

    3. Vicki*

      Also, the part about ” it is just one or two employees on a crew of seven who are not coming close on getting their duties done” makes me think te “manager” hides in the back office and doesn’t do any “managing”.

  4. Girl with a purple pen*


    Hey readers and Alison,

    I was interested in the response to this question because I have wanted to ask something similar. Would welcome advice, even if the answer is the same as was given to OP.

    In my company I am employed as a…chocolate teapot designer. In our team there are 3 chocolate teapot designers (so to be clear, myself and two others). One of the chocolate teapot designers rose through the ranks to become the big boss of the factory…but because he enjoyed the design work so much he kept his chocolate teapot design duties while taking on the rest of his boss role.

    My frustration is that he will insist that we check teapot spouts twice a week, make sure we test the handle design on a Wednesday at 10am (you get the idea) but then does none of these things himself even though they should be part of his duty as a designer.

    What do you guys think? Can I raise it with him or will it cause even more problems?

    1. Chloe*

      Is the problem that he is being a pain the the ass, asking you to do things that are not necessary, or is it causing you extra work because he’s not doing the work, so you’re busier than you would be if there was another full time teapot designer?

      If its the former, I think you have to live with it, if its the latter then you could try raising it as a legitimate query about whether they can get more resource in your department.

  5. Sissa*

    #6: this is overzealous spam filter acting up based on sender’s domain. I also recently discovered that if I send an e-mail from my gmail address to my work address (regardless of subject line, attachment, content), it will end up in the junk folder. Kind of crappy really if I can’t reach my manager via phone!

    If you want to come across super professional, buy yourself a domain (something like http://www.firstnamelastname.com via which you also get an e-mail address like me@firstnamelastname.com).

    1. danr*

      Talk to your IT dept and get your email address whitelisted. When my old company started using a firewall/general spam filter it put ll external emails in spam and managers went through the lists and marked the good addresses. I always asked the email manager to add my personal email address to the whitelist when it changed. And they always did it.

      1. Jessa*

        Yes, this is the best way to go. I know that I have family that works and they are permitted to send emails as long as they do their jobs. Usually we keep it to “Got tapped to leave early, be home soon.” Or “Bring milk home,” but often the home address bounces until they tell IT that this is my family member. Mind you this person works for the cable company and it’s the first name last name at cablecompany.com address. I thought that was funny as heck.

    2. mollsbot*

      I don’t necessarily agree on the me@firstnamelastname.com. I work email lists and we tend to get a lot of bounce backs with those types of domains. I think that is because people use that email address set up as a fake when they sign up for our lists.

      I do believe it is a case of overzealous spam filters and firewalls. OP should watch her subject line and attachment size and type.

  6. JT*

    On #6 Unless the name is a phrase common in spam like “freeoffer” or “cialis” it’s unlikely it’s the name.

    Most spam filtering by ISPs and outsourced tools that IT departments use are based on recognizing patterns – patterns of words in messages that many users flag as spam, or patterns of identical phrases being sent to many users at once.

    Something unique is the opposite of that.

    1. Henning Makholm*

      Yes, it sounds extremely unlikely that (firstname)(middlename)@gmail would trigger a spamfilter. Even if — hypothetically — the spamfilter had human-equivalent AI and could figure out that, oh, this sender address looks like a first name followed by a middle name, why on earth would the filter, or anyone, jump from there to the conclusion “therefore it is probably a spammer”?

    2. HR lady*

      Interesting fact – the word “specialist” contains the word “cialis” (in the exact letter order) within it. So I often get emails in my spam folder when the subject line includes the word “specialist.”

  7. Jill*

    #2 – Hey, crossover from the DOCO; I love it!! How does one get so lucky as to get $15,000 more than expected?

  8. Waiting Patiently*

    #5 I take the stance that good managers lead by example. While their is/should be flexibility in their role there should also be common sense. Being a walking contradiction does nothing for the morale of your staff. To me its not about having your phone out in case you get a call or interrupting a meeting to take a call..its about showing your staff a text from your daughter (as in op case) when they shouldn’t be looking at phones or texting your staff when you implement no texting policies….

  9. Anonymous*

    I am actually curious about #6, as I’ve definitely gotten legitimate e-mails in my spam folder before, so it’s likely that some of my e-mails have ended up in someone else’s spam folder. In general I’m not really sure how to avoid it.

    1. mollsbot*

      I’m curious, legitimate emails from personal, private email addresses or from businesses?

      A lot of business emails might get shuffled into your spam folder (especially if you use a email provider with a strong spam filter) because they send a high volume of emails or they are using a broadcast email service that could be blacklisted.

      1. Anonymous*

        The most notable one was from a company I was *dying* to work for, asking me if I’d like to schedule a phone interview. Although I made the mistake of telling them it was caught in the spam folder, and judging by the above comments they may have thought I was lying :o

        1. Anonymous*

          Something similar but even more strange happened to me recently. I received an email from someone asking me to interview, I replied with my available dates and the other person apparently replied within the hour….except the reply went to my spam (so the 2nd email I got from this person which was in the same thread as the previous emails) . I still know why gmail thought the 2nd email was spam when the first one went through just fine.

  10. Jazzy Red*

    To OP # 5 and all people who deal with the public:

    As a consumer, when I walk into a store and see the staff oblivious to the customers because they’re busy with their cell phones, or wearing earbuds, or visiting with friends, and don’t notice that a customer is there, I walk out and spend my money somewhere else. There is always another option for me to get what I want, and your store loses money.

    Your boss is handling different duties than you and your co-workers. You do not manage the boss. The boss manages you. And guess what? The boss wants to the store to make money; therefore, the boss wants the customers to buy stuff and come back again and buy more stuff. If the staff is too busy to take care of the customers, the boss has the option of hiring people who will.

    1. KellyK*

      I totally agree with the first paragraph, but would add that if I’m waiting in a long line and the manager is texting rather than getting someone to open another register, I’m also walking out.

    2. Marmite*

      In every retail and waitress job I had as a teenager no personal items were allowed on the shop floor. Everything went in your locker, and we were occasionally searched (turning pockets out, taking off shoes, and wriggling waistbands) to deter theft so it was possible to be caught with personal items even if they stayed in your pockets. I always thought this was normal, most of my high school friends had similar jobs with similar rules.

    3. Former counter jockey*

      Didn’t the OP also mention that the manager doesn’t want them talking to customers “for any length of time”? That one seemed really odd to me. I mean, I know certain customers don’t want to chat when they are checking out, but many do. Some stores even encourage their cashiers to try and make small talk – if the customer is receptive.

      1. Jamie*

        I have to say I’m with the manager on this one. I have run in just to grab something before work and the cashier is having a much too long chat with another customer and it absolutely delays the other transactions. And other customers are shifting on their feet and rolling eyes at each other – I actually have a store I won’t frequent because of this.

        Asking if they are having a nice day is one thing – that’s pleasant and fine (I don’t need it – but I get it) but chat that prolongs transactions when you have people waiting is way ruder than being abrupt – IMO.

        And unrelated, but can the lottery people make their choices BEFORE they get up to the counter? And not treat the cashier as their personal good luck charm/financial guru? Because seriously – I feel so sorry for the cashiers and everyone who is waiting. It’s called a convenience store, not watch a stranger take random luck too seriously store.

        1. Former counter jockey*

          That’s a good point, Jaime. I hadn’t thought of it that way because I never once talked to a customer past the point that their transaction was done. Especially if there were people in line. Though, I had a very chatty coworker who did do that exact thing all the time. Very frustrating.

      2. Jennifer*

        My mother is the front desk person at her job and she gets yelled at for saying anything above the bare minimum required for her job, apparently.

    4. Mike C.*

      I’ve never walked into a store where this actually happened or where phones weren’t immediately put into pockets so I could be rung up.

        1. tcookson*

          I’m in the south, and convenience store clerks seem to be constantly giving way more attention to their cell phones, friends who are hanging around the store, and favorite customers than to moving each transaction along.

          The cell phone thing can seem almost like a power-play sometimes (as in, the clerk takes a certain pleasure in looking at the cell phone just a couple of moments longer jsut to show that they can make the customer stand there and wait).

      1. Another English Major*

        This has happened to me so many times I lost count-pizzerias, supermarkets, convenience stores etc. I’m in Florida so maybe we are just super laid back here. The worst is when they’re ringing you up.

    5. Anonymous*

      Ehh, I don’t think I’d mind if they left me alone when I walked in, but if I ever had trouble getting someone’s attention to get their help or ring me up I’d be pretty annoyed.

  11. Joey*

    #1. Alison’s answer may be misleading so let me clarify. They don’t have to let you work from home, even under the ADA. If they can find an alternative accommodation that meets your medical needs that is perfectly acceptable under the law. This might mean a private, quiet office with a fridge or something like that. Its important to know that you don’t have the right to a specific accommodation, only an accommodation that assists you in performing your job. That can be a number of options you or the employer comes up with. Obviously employers usually choose the accommodation that is typically the most cost effective and least disruptive to their business. Although some will give you whatever you ask for, but I’m guessing yours won’t.

    1. Beth*

      This is a point I wanted to make. Another option is to offer some other type of work with which the disability will not interfere. (For instance, desk work rather than warehouse picking for someone with a leg issue.) I believe that GAD is protected by the ADA, but unlike physical disabilities, GAD issues can be a little unclear, and the OP’s story doesn’t help. It sounds like he/she hates his/her job (which might be connected to the anxiety and might not… lots of people hate their jobs) and wants to be able to work from home (which would make a lot of people without GAD like their jobs better.) He/she seems to be trying to use GAD to his/her benefit to strong-arm the employer into special treatment.

      GAD is not as clear-cut as a physical disability. The doctor can’t know that working from home will reduce anxiety which stems from the disability, and allowing someone to work at home with no supervision is unlikely to be considered a reasonable accommodation unless there is a culture of telecommuting at the company. It’s also unclear whether the problems are stemming from GAD or just a general dislike of the work.

      There does actually come a point, too, where there is no reasonable accommodation which will work and the employee is not guaranteed a job in such a situation. Someone who suffers a physical disability and is no longer able to perform his or her physically labor-intensive work, but is not trainable on the other kinds of work of a company can end up leaving.

      1. Jessa*

        And they do not have to make a job for you. If there are no openings you can perform, they do not have to create something that you can do.

  12. VictoriaHR*

    #6 – I use Yahoo and have never had a problem with people not getting my emails until I started putting the URL to my home-based soapmaking business in my email signature. Suddenly, everyone said my emails were going to their spam folder. So – are you putting a link in your email anywhere? That could be the culprit.

    1. Jamie*

      Yep – check for links. Spam is notorious for using Facebook to get people to click on it, so if you have links to Facebook or whatever it could be triggering a filter.

      Spam filters are as much art as science, because it’s impossible to get the sweet spot where all legit email goes through and all spam is caught. So you do what you can and hope to get as close to perfect as possible. But there is SO much spam to guard against it’s a constant battle.

      It’s an insidious industry.

  13. Another English Major*

    Is my firm out of the norm for how they handle raises? We have to go through hr and it seems like hr is the one who makes the decision, not our manager. We are a 400+ employee firm. All of my other jobs at smaller and larger Companies raise were through your manager.

    1. Josh S*

      It might be the case that HR is the one who approves the budget increase for a person, but it’s almost certainly going to happen in collaboration and consultation with your manager.

      To have someone completely unfamiliar with your work or value to the company having the only say in changes to salary/benefits is just goofy. Salary is a means to keep good talent (retention)–you don’t want HR giving out raises willy-nilly to just the people who ask, or based on some arbitrary formula; you want raises to go to the best employees so you can keep them. (Not that salary is the only thing that matters–but it is certainly one of the things that matter a great deal.)

      So yeah, HR might approve your raise and make a decision about the amount. But if you get your manager on side to vouch for you and say why you merit the raise, you’re going to be much happier with the result.

      1. Beth*

        I don’t think this is abnormal. I have held 4 permanent full-time professional positions at large institutions and in each case, the manager has had almost NO discretion to decide on raises. In one case I was incredibly frustrated because HR tied my job to a general job description for what a “generalist” in my field would do, but my role (and title) was one of the (usually) much higher-paid specialized roles in the field. Still, all reviews of salary were based on that job description and totally out of the hands of my manager (the dept. head) who better knew my actual work.

        Union shops (including white collars offices) are a whole other ballgame, too…. very, very rigid in terms of job tasks and pay… your manager has no say.

        My husband is a high-level manager in a non-unionized company and has about 150 employees beneath him. When pay is frozen or the average raise is low, people get angry at him, but the decision is made at the corporate level. Outside of the normal wage increase time, he can advocate for a raise (or bonus) for someone if they take on very different tasks from what their job description includes, but otherwise going to him to ask for a raise is useless.

        1. Mike C.*

          Be careful generalizing how union shops operate, because that’s based entirely on the contract agreed upon.

          The professional union here gives management reviews significant power in determining yearly raises for instance.

          1. Beth*

            Okay, I will clarify and say that the unionized institutions in which I have worked have had raises negotiated years in advance. We had performance reviews – lengthy ones at that – but they had no connection to salary increases. In any case the overall point – that it’s not unusual for management to have nothing to do with raises – still stands.

    2. Joey*

      HR frequently has to approve raises along with the budget person. HR typically makes sure company documentation supports the increase and doesn’t create other issues. They look for things like justification, consistency, salary alignment with other employees, compression issues, eeo issues, potential red flags like low evaluations or recent discipline. That sort of stuff. Although sometimes they hold the keys because managers make poor decisions about raises.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      HR may be approving it, but if the manager isn’t the person initiating it, advocating for it, and pushing it through, something is very off.

      1. Beth*

        I think this disconnect is especially common in non-faculty positions at institutions of higher education. Unionized or not, there is a culture of equality, such that pay is often not connected to performance in any way. It is usually connected to “years of service” (at that institution – other experience is discounted) and the job description HR keeps. Raises outside of the annual salary increase are virtually unheard of. I spent my formative working years (and most of the rest of my working years) at top universities, and always laughed at scenes in movies or on TV where people went to their bosses to ask for raises. It struckly me as completely unrealistic, given my work experiences.

        1. fposte*

          I actually got a raise by going to my boss at a top university. I agree that it’s not the way things are structured, but it definitely can happen–I would also say that HR has almost no relevance to these decisions at my university, so Alison’s it’s-the-manager model correlates with my experience.

        2. Anonymous*

          I work at a university as staff, and how raises are handled is a mix of HR-only and through the manager. Everyone gets a set cost-of-living increase (even the hourly staff, even if it’s only $0.05), some people get larger raises paid out due to years of service, and then for each given position “class”, that like Beth’s is based entirely on your job description and not what you actually do, HR sets a range for a raise that CAN be given, depending on your manager’s approval.

          For faculty it’s also a mix, as each department is given a set amount of money for raises, which is usually given out based on some metric the dept. decides on, (apparently number of papers published per year is common), and then faculty get a raise for each change in title (from associate to assistant to full tenure), which happens every few years after a review by a group.

  14. Anonicorn*

    #1. You don’t really know for sure that your bosses will give you a hard time about a work from home situation until you ask.

    I don’t mean to offend, but is it possible your negative gut feelings about this are a result of your anxiety disorder coupled with your overall dissatisfaction? Because it could totally end up being a non-issue.

    1. KellyK*

      Speaking as someone with anxiety disorder (though I obviously can’t speak for the OP), that’s a very definite possibility. Always expecting the worst is certainly an anxiety thing. It’s entirely possible that your manager will be more than willing to work with you. Probably the best thing you can do towards that is to point out the problem politely, not confrontationally, and suggest that working from home some might be a solution.

    2. Bea W.*

      This is a really good point, also speaking as someone who has an anxiety disorder among other issues. The scenarios that tend to play out in our heads due to anxiety are usually negative or worse than things that are more likely to actually happen. I have had to practice thinking about how it would play out *positively* and stepping back and being realistic about what is really the worst thing that can actually happen. Usually the answer is “The answer to my request is “no”. Nothing changes, and I keep doing what I have been doing.” Learning to have a conversation with someone will go a long way toward dispelling some of the unnecessary worry and negative thinking that comes with anxiety disorders.

      I have to eat frequently to combat low weight and low blood sugar as well. I make sure I take time for lunch, and I have snacks available for throughout the day to eat at my desk. I keep track of what I eat to make sure I am eating enough throughout the day.

      The accommodations the OP mentions may be feasible in some environments, like being moved to a quieter work area, and being allowed more frequent short breaks, and having a fixed time for lunch. Since the OP seems to have a job that would allow her to work remotely, I’m guessing she works in an office environment on a computer where these kinds of accommodations are easier to make, and some of them are actually more personal changes (developing good eating habits) than work environment changes.

      My advice to the OP would be to approach your manager to discuss working from home first. When you present it to your manager, be prepared to explain how this change would benefit the company. You can also propose to work from home some days and offer to be in the office other days as a way to meet in the middle.

      If you genuinely need the other accommodations, a quieter workstation, a fixed lunch schedule or the ability to take short snack breaks, discuss these with your manager first before handing her a Dr’s note. If you manager does not want to accommodate your requests, then your next step is to discuss medical accommodations with HR or whomever in your workplace would handle making official accommodations for your disability.

      ADA accommodation requests are more than just asking your manager for something, your disability has to be documented in your personnel file, along with the recommended accommodations and the actions that your workplace took to accommodate your disability.

  15. IronMaiden*

    Op #1, can I suggest you return to your doctor and have your thyroid function checked. The symptoms of hyperthyroidism can mimic/exacerbate those of anxiety. You might find the anxiety reduces if your thyroid hormones are at their correct levels and this should help with being underweight too.

    1. Nutella Nutterson*

      +1 I am surprised her Dr dx-ed anxiety and verbally agreed on hyperthyroid without running a full panel!

      To the spam-fearing op: when I had an outward-facing role, checking my spam folder was a daily task. As long as your subject line is clear, and assuming a human gets to look at the folder, it will stand out.

      1. fposte*

        The post isn’t clear on the hyperthyroidism, so a panel could well have been run and come up normal; it’s also not clear if the doctor actually has agreed on hyperthyroidism, since there’s no official diagnosis.

        1. Beth*

          Agreed about the hyperthyroidism.

          I have hypo (off the charts, basically, when first diagnosed, numbers and presence of antibodies agree with diagnosis) and in doing research I have found that many MANY people believe that they have hypo or hyper, and are absolutely convinced of it despite the fact that their numbers come back normal. It sounds like the OP is of this variety who has self-diagnosed.

          It’s true that both hypo and hyper can cause severe anxiety, but GAD has specific requirements for diagnosis, which are quite different from the kind of vague anxiety thyroid problems can cause.

          1. KellyK*

            There are also differences in opinion about what numbers are required for diagnosis (though I think that’s more on the hypo side). If someone is symptomatic and their numbers are borderline, one doctor might not think it’s a problem while another may want to treat it.

          2. Jessa*

            I have had doctors tell me I am hypo, except that the chief endocrinologist at a major teaching hospital say that they’re wrong and I’m hyper, the reason the doctors keep messing this up is because I’m overweight. And most hyper people are not overweight. I just make them get the file from the experts.

            Also it is possible to switch between them especially if you are on medication. You need to continue to have tests done on a regular basis. And unless your numbers are off the chart in one direction or another (so that it’s TOTALLY obvious) I’d see a specialist for a diagnosis.

            1. Beth*

              All true… usually, though, a full panel (free T3 and free T4 in addition to TSH, and tests for antibodies) will clear it up. I’m not sure that it is any less difficult to diagnose hypothyroidism than it is to diagnose hyperthyroidism (the scale is the same), but hypo symptoms, in particular, can be so vague and so common. People want answers for why they’re overweight, depressed, or tired. Sometimes it has nothing to do with the thyroid.

              I agree – see an endocrinologist! Since my hypothyroidism was so obvious because of my numbers, I was diagnosed by my regular physician, but she gave me a dosage of medication which was WAY too high so I swung to hyper. (That can also happen even if you’re not on medication.) With the help of regular visits to my endo, I am well-regulated.

              My beef is that “thyroid problems” have become such a trendy thing, and it bothers me because when I tell people about mine – a real, serious, autoimmune disease – people kind of respond like, “oh, another one who want to believe she’s got something wrong with her.” (And I’m not even overweight… if I were, people would probably be even more skeptical of my claims.)

              1. Jessa*

                Oh yes. I hate when something that is genuinely wrong with someone (in my case I have a stack of auto immune things amongst other stuff,) becomes the new “in thing” to ask your doctor about. Because NOBODY believes you. Ditto allergies at restaurants, because so many people who just “don’t like x” get on the bandwagon.

                I laughed my head off at a new TV show where one of the people sent in to “test the contestants in food service” said she was gluten free and the people behind the counter had NO clue what this was, and also the person TESTING them had no clue so was talking about “is there gluten ON this thing?” Mind you it was a pizza chain.

                Pardon me but I cannot imagine in this era where people understand celiac and some people do gluten free as a diet that a PIZZA joint would not know what this is and have called this idiot on it.

                And it’s people like that who give genuinely celiac or dietary gluten free people a hard time. Because “well gluten can’t be all that important, see national TV nobody cared.”

            2. LPBB*

              My sister was diagnosed an autoimmune disease which caused her to cycle between hypo and hyper. It took a long time for this disease to be properly diagnosed, since her symptoms were both intermittent and all over the board. She was very lucky to find a doctor who was willing to actually listen to what she was saying and to continually test until they determined what was going on.

    2. Bea W.*

      ^This. If the OP has not already been worked up for thyroid issues and other possible physical causes of anxiety and low weight, it is important to do so. If the doctor did not find anything, a second opinion and/or seeing a specialist might be a good idea.

      OP, some people are just anxious and thin without any thyroid, hormone, or other issue going on. In my case, it seems to have been luck of the genetic draw. Being very thin and being able to eat whatever runs in my family, as does depression, anxiety, and ADHD. I’ve been worked up the wazoo for physical causes of my mental issues, and nothing has ever panned out. If you have been through the battery, it might just be what it is – an anxiety disorder and a naturally thin body type.

    3. Caelys*

      I have been tested and am pretty much the picture of hyperthyroidism. Except my tests came back normal.

      Also to everyone else, my gut is being negative because in my 3life years with the company, my mgmt has shown themselves to not be especially caring or helpful when it comes to their staff. I’ve been wanting to switch to WAH for months now, even before I had this new supervisor. Her attitude cemented my desire.

  16. Josh S*

    Completely, utterly off-topic, but how the heck is it May already?! Didn’t we just have St. Patty’s Day?

      1. Josh S*

        Yeah. We have 27*C weather in Chicago today, and tomorrow is supposed to be a high of 10*C or so. Some places in the lower plains states are calling for snow. I’m a bit concerned for my new garden bed…

        1. Chinook*

          You have +27 Celcius is in Chicago?!?! I am jealous. We were hovering at -1 Celcius yesterday and I had to wear my winter jacket to work (cuz I am no longer acclimatized to such “warm” weather after a week of +15).

          1. Penny*

            No idea what 27C is in F, but I’ll guess cold based on responses. It was a warm 87 here in TX today and it’s been really humid and gross the last week or so. Supposed to cool down to low 70s on Friday! Actually, it stayed pretty cool and nice all through April which is a rare blessing.

            1. Josh S*

              27C = 82F

              I know it’s a losing battle, but I’d like it if the US joined the rest of humanity in using Metric. So I try to do it myself when I can.

    1. Receptionist*

      I agree! We are RACING through 2013….but then, we say that every year, don’t we?

  17. Jane*

    #2 – Half the advice she is receiving from this forum is, “Yeah, they probably wanted to be nice and give you an industry-standard wage, trust that they know what they are doing, and don’t say anything.”

    Does anyone else find this really frustrating for advice? I understand that this is most likely not the wording used, but I just don’t ever see that being actual business reason for compensation.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Some employers actually do offer a higher salary than the candidate asked for, if the asking salary would put the person below industry standard or below others in the same role in the organization. It’s not to be nice; it’s to avoid retention problems when the person realizes they’re under-paid later and to avoid paying some demographic groups differently than others.

      1. Jane*

        That I can totally understand and makes sense. I think it’s the follow up part of trust that they know what they’re doing and don’t say anything. If it seems confusing, why would you not say anything–especially during your salary negotiations.

      2. Brandy*

        In my org., if you have a certain title, your pay falls into a very specific band. So if the OP asked for $35k/year, but her job title and responsibilities fell into the $50-80k salary band, my company would offer her $50k.

        However, I read the post as the OP’s VERBAL OFFER was given at $15k less than the written offer. That to me indicates some kind of disconnect worth figuring out. If I were OP, I’d call up HR and verify the salary over the phone. Better yet, in email. Then there is no confusion about what you will be paid.

        1. Sandy*

          I thought it might an administrative error. Perhaps the person creating the offer letter was using a previous letter and just changed some of the information, but forgot to change the salary. $15K is a huge amount, so it seems strange they would actually pay her that much more than what she verbally agreed to. I would check with HR before starting, just to find out if it was an error in the verbal or written offer.

          1. Chinook*

            I have to agree that she needs to verify with someone that the $15K bump wasn’t clerical error. I had it happen to me at one job where I had it in writing that my next review was suppose to be in Jan. 2012 (even though the promotion was in Nov.) even though we had been told company wide that there woudl be no reviews/pay bumps until 2013. When I verified with HR, they acknowledged the error and sympathized with the lsot prospect of even a COLA raise.

      3. danr*

        Another possibility is that the company raised the base pay for the position between the verbal offer and the written offer. Thinking back, my company did this for a few years when I was starting. Everyone in a certain job area got the raise. There were people who were quoted one pay rate before the general raise, and got the new pay level in the written offer.

        1. Jessa*

          This, a lot. Companies do this, they re-evaluate, or depending on their fiscal year, they make salary band changes with the new budget. The hiring agent might not know what the number is til it’s done.

          However, it’s still better to clarify. What you don’t want happening is an argument on pay day as to “My offer says X.” And then you get a “we did not have a meeting of the minds you know we talked about Y.” And a fight because of a clerical error.

          Either you go in expecting X and being pleasantly surprised it’s Y. Or you go clarify and maybe get that letter corrected. Personally I’d rather clarify. “Hey I just got my letter, it’s nice you are giving me more than we discussed. Thanks.” Partly because if it’s legit, they really should have told you before the letter, and if they didn’t that’s on them. And if it’s a typo, honestly they need to metaphorically kick their (fill in job title of person who typed the letter.)

          Because someone could probably try and make a legal case for offer letter equals something they have to abide by. That’s part of the reason for an offer letter. To make sure everyone agrees to the terms.

      4. Judy*

        Once my husband and I interviewed for several jobs at a new company that would require relocation. He was given a job offer about 4 days before mine came through. When the HR person for the area I was going to work for called with my offer, it was 5k more than his, and that was not an insignificant number 15 years ago at that stage in our life. He got a call from the HR rep for his new organization later that evening offering him the same salary as me, a bump from what they offered him the week before.

    2. OP #2*

      The woman posted again, and the president of the company called her and told her they were bringing her up to an industry-standard wage that is more in line with her experience and duties.

      And yes, there were a lot of “trust them, they know what they’re doing” type responses. Along with a few “if you ask if it’s an error, and it is not, you are going to look like you dont trust them and you’re a know-it-all trying to make sure everyone is doing their job properly.”

  18. Beth*

    #6 – I’ll second that, “oh, it was caught in my spam filter!” is a lie that people tell. It’s a good way to explain away ignoring or forgetting about an e-mail.

    Gmail is so common that it usually doesn’t get stuck in spam filters. I have tried e-mailing people with a variety of corporate and educational addresses, and it comes through. My old boss used to use this excuse ALL THE TIME… we worked together to customize and implement various technology solutions for customers and I was always copied on his e-mails to them. I can’t tell you how many times he claimed their e-mails had been stuck in the spam filter.

    1. Jessa*

      I hate to say this about that boss, but my response would be “So what? You know stuff gets stuck, you should at least be checking it 2-3 times a day before deleting stuff ANYWAY. Sort your darned spam folder and run your eye down it quickly before deleting stuff. And do it regularly, since you know mail from X is getting stuck.”

      I mean geez it’s NOT an excuse.

      1. Beth*

        True! And I don’t know if I made it clear, but he was almost always lying when he made that claim. He constantly felt overworked and was always behind. He also used “I’m on paternity leave” for several months after his return.

  19. HR lady*

    #6 – I wanted to add that a good recruiter should be in the habit of checking their spam folder regularly for this very reason. I do that and train all of my new HR people to do the same.

  20. A Non*

    On the subject of Anxiety Disorders, how does everyone feel about letting your employer know about a condition like this if you aren’t going to request accommodations? I have GAD and moderate depression. I’m very good at faking it and my job is generally isolated anyways.

    The only issue I feel I’ve had is dealing with a known troublemaker in the office – on my down days I have a lit more trouble ignoring her rude digs and patronizing behavior (though she is actively not speaking to me at the moment, so problem solved I suppose).

    Is this something I should discuss with my HR? I lean towards no but I also tend to be too secretive for my own good.

      1. A Non*

        When I think of it that way, the answer is clearly no, I should not tell them as I don’t want to accomplish anything. I was just unsure if this sort of health issue was one that my employer would expect to be informed of.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Nope, definitely not one they’d think you’re obligated to disclose. (In fact, nothing is, unless you need accommodation of some sort.)

  21. Shaye*

    I’m OP #4 and wanted to add that today I was offered the job! Looks like they just needed another copy of my resume.

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