who should pay for coffee at a business meeting, age discrimination, and more

It’s mini answer Monday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. Who pays for coffee at business meetings?

I am a designer and have been doing more and more freelance work in addition to my day job. I don’t have an office, so I frequently meet clients at coffee shops. At these meetings, am I expected to pay for the client’s beverage/snack? I have found that generally the client insists on purchasing my coffee, but my initial thought was that I should be paying since I am the one courting their business. What’s appropriate in this situation?

Generally, the business owner (you) pays and the client doesn’t. That said, if the client insists on paying, graciously accept and thank them. Next time, you can always jump in with, “Let me get this for you.”

2. Will it be harder to get a job at 27 than at 24?

I graduated college when I was 24 and am now 27, and while I’ve been applying to places for the past three years, I really haven’t gotten any offers. A few people have been telling me that the older I get, the less people will hire me because there are always younger people who will work for cheaper (obviously they don’t know how cheap I can be). But seriously, is this true? I have two part-time jobs that I’m currently working because the bills need to be paid. I’m just concerned that I’ve past some sort of age limit for a career. Most of the rejection letters/calls I get are “we went with someone with more experience,” so maybe not.

Age discrimination is a real thing, but it usually applies to people much older than you — there’s a reason age discrimination laws don’t kick in until 40, and many of us think 40 is weirdly young to need that protection. What IS true, however, is that the longer you’ve been out of school without having a professional job, the harder it is to get one — not because of your age, but because of the stretch of working years without professional experience, which tends to make you less competitive. I would worry not about your age, but about finding ways to get more professional experience ASAP, even if it’s through volunteering or internships. Good luck!

3. Should I be annoyed at the constant misspelling of my name?

For the three years I’ve been at my current job, my last name has gone through at least three misspelled variations. HR (and more importantly, my paycheck and taxes!) have it correct, but my work email address, my nameplate, my information on the company directory, my listing in the “service anniversary” announcements, and on various pieces of paperwork put in by coworkers are all misspelled in various creative ways. My name is not common, but it is in no way “exotic” or “foreign” and is not particularly long. (Editor’s note: It’s a very normal name.)

Just how annoyed should I be over this? I personally find it incredibly discourteous that no one bothers to spell my name right, or check with me, or in any way make sure they are not mangling my name. It is right there on emails that I send every day.

I’ve come to accept that my work email is not easily changed (in fact, when I was first hired and pointed out the error, my manager at the time essentially told me “too bad, so sad, we don’t change them”), but I’m not sure how best to handle it when I see coworkers turning in paperwork with my name misspelled. I would like to bring it to their attention that they are mangling my name and ask them to please spell it correctly in the future, but I’m leery of coming off as anal-retentive or nitpicky (which I can sometimes be!). I would mostly be directing this to employees who are senior to me, and I really don’t want to burn bridges, but I’m tired of getting called “Chocoltae Teapot!”

As someone whose name is also constantly misspelled by others (who like to write “Allison” rather than “Alison”), I decided a long time ago not to care. I look at it as a word that has multiple correct spellings, like grey/gray or whiskey/whisky. My name uses one spelling, but I know what people mean when the use the other, and I’m not bothered by it — as long as it’s in informal uses, and not something that’s going to be published or otherwise “official.” That’s probably what I’d recommend for you. I mean, you could make a big deal about it and correct people every time they get it wrong, but then you’ll be the person who’s always screaming “It’s ONE L, damn you!” I think you’ll be happier just letting it go.

That said, it absolutely does need to correct in official stuff — bylines, your company email, and published documents. I would correct it there — but be prepared to have to patiently do it multiple times.

4. Explaining why I’m looking for a new job after such a short amount of time

I am currently in a job I haven’t been in very long (a little less than 6 months) but have started to look for new jobs. The main reason I am looking is because I am contractual and work 40 hours/week but have no benefits. No paid time off, 401k, health insurance, etc. How do I address this in a cover letter where an employer will notice or ask about my short stay? I anticipate it will take me a while to find a good fit, and by that time I may even hit a year at this job (in which case my “contract” would be up but my company has a history of renewing contracts and already mentioned renewing mine) but would like to know how to word it properly in a cover letter if I apply to something now.

It’s fine to say that you’re on a contract job but looking for something more long-term. You don’t have to get into the lack of benefits, etc. up-front; people generally understand that contract jobs often mean no benefits. If someone asks how long the contract is and the answer is “indefinite,” it’s fine to at that point explain that you’re looking for a role with benefits and so forth.

5. I don’t feel comfortable training new employees

I have a question for you about training new employees. I currently work in an industry with a high turnover rate. Most new hires stay less then six months. I have been there almost three years and am the most experienced person on the team.

Because of this, I end up doing all of our training, whether it be a new-hire or someone who is going to be cross-trained. I want to help however I can, but I just don’t feel comfortable training people. It’s not something I have been taught to do, and it makes me frustrated in addition to putting me behind on my own work. Whenever I try to address this with my manager, I am told that I am the best one to do it because of my patience and my work experience. No one else seems to want to train either.

I don’t want to sell myself short, but on the other hand I really feel like I need some training myself before I train others. Can you think of a good way to address this with the boss? Should I go over her head since she is not listening to me?

It sounds like you are the best person to do the training, if you’ve been there three years and most people stay less than six months. And it’s really very normal for non-managers to be asked to train new hires on their team, and most of them do it without special training in training. In fact, it’s so very, very normal that protesting is going to come across pretty weirdly. That said, if there are specific elements of training that you don’t feel equipped to handle, you should discuss those with your boss — not with the aim of getting out of them, necessarily, but with the aim of finding a solution, whether that solution is additional training for you or something else. (But keep in mind that “something else” might just be assurance that your boss thinks you’re doing a perfectly fine job at it and wants you to continue.)

This is not the type of thing you should go over your boss’s head about.

6. Will it look bad to do this internship, and how do I find out if I’d need to commit to staying for the whole period?

I just graduated college with a degree in journalism, and as you can imagine, it’s been kind of tough finding a job in the field. I’ve widened my net and am considering a communications-related internship in a major city’s mayor’s office that I found out about through a friend who works there. I’ve already conducted a phone interview for the position and have an in-person interview tomorrow afternoon. The position pays much better than anything I’d be able to find in retail or food service and it’s part-time for the next three months. I will, of course, keep going on the full-time job search, full steam ahead.

My question is this: is it going to look suspicious to potential employers that I accepted a non-journalism position — and an internship, no less — after I graduated? Also, I know that leaving the internship if a full-time job offer came my way would be contingent upon the terms discussed before the internship offer was accepted. But is there a way I can ask about that before the job offer, so that I don’t waste their time if they’re looking for someone to commit for the full length of the internship? I’m managing my expectations and know that it’s not likely that I’ll get a full-time job offer within the next three or four months, but I’d hate to pass up on it to stay at a temporary internship.

It’s not going to look suspicious; people take the jobs that can get in order to have an income. And there’s an argument that any work is better than no work when it comes to developing professionally.

Before accepting the offer, it’s fine to say, “I’m really excited about this internship, but wanted to ask how people generally handle it if they get a full-time offer before the internship is up. I’m continuing to search for a position for after this position is over, but if I were to be offered something that started earlier, would you need me to commit to turning it down?”

Read an update to this letter here.

7. How should I get in touch with this employer when I have another job waiting for my answer?

I recently applied for an academic position, which I’m really excited about. I did a 15-minute phone screening a few weeks ago and told the person I spoke with that I would be out of the country for my wedding for about 10 days. The person I spoke with said that wouldn’t be a problem as one of the people involved in the hiring process would be out during the same period and a few days longer for her own wedding.

In the meantime, I’ve been offered a short-term consulting position in Belize for the summer and need to make a decision. I sent an email to the person I spoke to on the phone to ask what their timeline was and if it had been updated since the job description said they wanted to fill it by July 1st. She’s out of the office until June 28th. Her email auto-responder gave the email of her colleague, who I also emailed but didn’t respond.

I’m now debating with my husband whether or not calling is too much. I think it is and I could become the “annoying person who they drop.” He thinks calling to ask if the position has been filled shouldn’t matter, but it also means I have to seek out someone who I haven’t been in contact with previously. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

You’ve tried the obvious people to reach out to and haven’t been successful. At this point, I think you need to make a decision about the short-term position in Belize independent of anything that might or might not happen with this job. After all, you’ve only had a 15-minute phone screen for it — you’re far from a finalist at this point, and it doesn’t sound like their process is going to be over by the time you need to make a decision. Jobs fall through all the time, and in this case, their process has barely begun. Make the decision you’d make if this job weren’t even in the picture.

{ 255 comments… read them below }

  1. TK*

    The first life of number 3, I think you mean “misspelled,” not “misspelling.” An amusing typo, given the context. :)

    1. TK*

      And I of course did that classic thing of making a typo of my own while correcting one. That would be the first LINE.

      1. Jessa*

        That’s a rule. It’s like one of Murphy’s I think. Every time you correct someones grammar or spelling you muss up your own.

        1. tcookson*

          Here’s an explanation of Murphy’s law that I’ve always loved: “Karma does not like smug.” I think it was in a book by the Sweet Potato Queens.

    2. thatsmyname*

      About #3-Alison’s and others replies all talk about first name mispellings. The OP is talking about her last name which I think is more important. OP should correct her co-workers and anyone else who spells it incorrectly. Most professional people would (or should) apologize and make the correction. OP’s letter also makes me think that it is more serious than using Mc instead of Mac in front of Donald.

      1. Daisy*

        I agree, I think last names are different, because it may actually make it difficult for people to find you. People probably spell mine correctly maximum 1 time out of 5, and it causes problems (I phone the bank or phone company and they can’t find me because someone’s copied it wrong, I don’t get an email and it turns out someone’s sent it to the version of my name they plucked out of the sky). And also, it’s just rude. I chaired at a conference the other day, and they spelled my name wrong on the programme and my name badge. It didn’t make me feel very valued, particularly since I was doing them a favour. Plus, anyone I met who might have wanted to connect with me, may not be able to find me.

        1. Lalaith*

          I once thought I wasn’t invited to a friend’s party because she sent an evite to an incorrect variation of my email address. But apparently the address she chose did actually belong to someone, who replied “no” to the invitation! Like, really, you took the time to reply but didn’t bother to mention they got the wrong person? Anyway, thankfully this was all discovered before the party and I get to laugh at it instead of being annoyed.

      2. danr*

        #3… Get your directory listings fixed, since those are probably the sources of the bad unofficial listings. Since your manager won’t help, find out who controls the lists and ask directly. Also, don’t boast about getting it fixed, wait for folks to ask.

        1. Elaine*

          + 1 Go to IT about the email. They should be able to update the Active Directory account fairly easily; they do it all the time for people changing last names for marriages, etc.

      3. Jamie*

        Last names much bigger deal, IMO. There is a common error with my last name that by changing one letter it still sounds the same…but it’s no longer my name. Where as with my first one I don’t other correcting Jaime or Jaimie…I know who they mean – still me.

        Its a much bigger deal with my surname.

        1. simona*

          I have a long first name that is often confused with a similiar popular variation and when I bought a car they got it wrong on all of the paperwork. They had all of my info credit score, license, proof of insurace, etc. it wasn’t until the last page i realized it was wrong. It’s one of those situations where we both should have checked it but scary that it wasn’t caught by the dealership.

          1. Chinook*

            I am not surprised a dealership never caught it. When I bought a house with my husband in Quebec, they assumed my middle name was my maiden (and thus legal) name without even bothering to ask. I took special pleasure in making a rather arrogant and rude lawyer (for other reasons, not the name) redo all the paperwork at his expense.

        2. Chinook*

          I have the same issue with my maiden name. By changing one letter, even though it sounds the same, you are referring to a completely different family. As well, the 2 different spellings are markers of belonging to two different religious/cultural groups back in Ireland and, at one time, would have been worth fighting over (the irony being that the name is Protestant (via Dad) but I am Catholic (via Mom)). I never got angry over the misspellings but I always corrected it, even if it meant going to IT and explain the historical implications.

      4. Lisa*

        My sister’s name is Kathleen, and she has an annoying neighbor that calls her Kathy. My sister never goes by Kathy, and its a clue that this woman is not a friend or close neighbor at all. It’s annoying to say the least, but definitely different from getting called Bub when your name is Bob.

        1. Ruffingit*

          I had the same problem with a teacher when I was in middle school many years ago. My full name (let’s just use “Kathy” as the example) is often a shortened version of another name (“Kathleen”) and she insisted on calling me Kathleen despite my telling her often that no, my name is really just Kathy, it’s not short for Kathleen.

          So I can sympathize with your sister. It can be irritating.

          1. Cruella Da Boss*

            I think that calling someone by an incorrect name, even after repeated correction, is just plain rude! I can understand doing it once or twice out of pure ignorance, but repeatedly? Disrespectful

          2. FreeThinkerTX*

            I had a boss/friend once who name was “Jane K Smith”. Everyone always asked what the “K” stood for. It stood for “K”. Her middle name was “K”. Just like “Kay”, only shorter. :-)

            P.S. Like AAM, my first name also only has one “L”, when the convention is to spell it with two. I, too, gave up long ago trying to get everyone to spell it right.

        2. Nichole*

          My mom has a fairly common name, but people have come up with endless ways to butcher it. Like your sister, it’s become a clue that this person doesn’t really know her. She also uses a very short, simple nickname, which makes it even easier. As a teenager, I was given authority to tell anyone who called and asked for her by her full first name or some variation thereof that So-and-So didn’t live there. Convenient, and served my teenage itch for occasional wickedness.

          1. FreeThinkerTX*

            A long time ago I was the exec asst to a VP of Sales whose formal name was Dennis, but whose friends called “Denny”. I loved screening his calls when annoying sales people would try to act like his friend in order to get past me. . . but would ask for “Dennis”. Um, no. He doesn’t know you and sure as heck isn’t going to talk to you.

            (Additionally, his last name was an unconventional spelling of a *very* conventional word – like “Whyndwaerd” for “Windward” – and it was always fun to listen to fake-friends butcher the dickens out of it. Um, no. He doesn’t know you and sure as heck isn’t going to talk to you.)*

            *For my fellow sales folks, I should let you know that I absolutely did forward calls and information from sales people who were straight-forward and honest. I’m glad I had the opportunity to be in that position before I started my career in sales.

            1. anon*

              Hah! That’s a good one.

              Years ago I covered for an EA while she was on holidays and her female boss was named Shawn. I got a call from an EA at a pretty large (and well known) company asking to book a meeting for her boss with Shawn, stating “Jim and Shawn go way back, they’re good friends! When is he available?” To which I responded, “I think you have the wrong Shawn because ours is a female.” The audible silence and then the awkward attempt to salvage the situation still amuses me to this day.

  2. Another Emily*

    Seeing my non-English name misspelled doesn’t bother me. However, being told “too bad, so sad, we don’t change work emails” would really anger me.

    I don’t see why they can’t create a new address for you and then delete the old one, if they really can’t make any edits to an existing email.

    1. Kirsten, not Kristen*

      That and they can connect the old one as an alias of the new one. It’s not that hard! Sounds like IT just doesn’t want to be bothered.

        1. Pandora Amora*

          Any person in IT would correct this immediately. This sounds more like a clueless manager.

          OP, just go talk to your head of IT, and bring your ID.

        2. tcookson*

          Yeah, it’s lazy. We’ve had a few new employees around here ask for new email addresses just because they didn’t like the one assigned (they can get weird because the system has to avoid duplicating email addresses for people with really common names), and our IT does this for a large public university.

      1. Jamie*

        That’s what I was going to say. Correct it, leave the old as an alias so you’d one lose mail – done. Maybe 3 minutes. 5 to repopulate group addy and distribution lists. Ridiculous.

        I misspelled a name in email once, typo, and I immediately corrected it and apologized. Telling him to live with it wouldn’t have occurred to me. Besides, like I want my typo living on in perpetuity?

    2. Liz*

      Sometimes it really can’t be actually changed except in exceptional circumstances (e.g. stalking) because of the complexity of the systems, especially if it’s tied to a login. But they should definitely be able to create some form of alias for the OP to use instead.

      1. Brett*

        Our law enforcement logins are tied to a federal system, several state systems, and multiple local systems. One login can actually represent a half dozen different logins, including some that require classes, testing, and even background checks to obtain.

        Well, one of my coworkers had something go wrong with the user preferences tied to their login credential. The only way to fix this was to issue a new login credential. How long did it take to issue a new credential as well as all the local systems, all the state systems, and the login to the federal systems?

        Less than a week, and the entire changeover was executed overnight. I definitely do not believe that the OP’s email cannot be changed.

      2. Jessa*

        Then in cases like that the IT department needs to be absolutely positive about their data entry. This is NOT something that can be typo-ed. If it cannot be easily changed someone needs to proactively make sure that there are no errors.

        1. Liz*

          It’s usually possible to change the ID, but difficult and time-consuming, and requires sign-off by multiple departments (all of whom are affected). And sometimes, circumstances mean that it really cannot be changed without losing access to certain data forever. This means it’s easier to say “Cannot be changed” to avoid the “Oh, I just got married/divorced/decided I don’t like mine” requests which turn up despite instructions which very clearly state how *not* to pick your ID.

          But setting up an email alias? Dead easy. That’s a perfect workaround.

          1. Jessa*

            Yes but when the complaint is “HR cannot read and it’s misspelt.” that is not the time to say “No, never.” That’s not the person changing their name or mind, that’s someone making a mistake. Mind this should be said INSTANTLY upon receiving incorrect credentials. But at that point, it really needs to be done. There should be very little data loss as the credentials should not have been used yet.

    3. The IT Manager*

      This sounds like the source of the problem to me. If I got corrected on my spelling of someone’s name, I’d check the spelling of their name using our email’s global address list next time. Frankly I’d be annoyed if I tried to spell someone’s name right by using the their email address only to be told that what I used as an authoritative source was wrong. And LW comes across as possibly crazy if she keeps telling me her name is spelled wrong in her email. It never should be.

      And as others have noted, it is not impossible to change someone’s email address. It’s just annoying when people want to do it to use their nick names.

      1. The IT Manager*

        So i wouldn’t actually think the LW was crazy, but it would go something like this.

        me: “I spelled it the way it’s spelled in your email address.”
        LW: “It’s spelled wrong there.”
        me: “You should probably have them fix it.”
        LW: “They say they can’t.”
        me thinking: “It must not be that important then.”

        You’re failure to get your email corrected sends a signal.

        1. Lore*

          My mom worked at the same job for almost 25 years and they never managed to correct the way her first name was spelled. Every school year, she’d politely request that it be corrected before the new group of students started using it, they’d say “Of course,” tell her they’d fixed it…and it would be the same misspelling. She eventually gave up, but it never ceased to drive me crazy.

        2. Jessa*

          Except that if their IT or HR department says “no we won’t fix it, can’t fix it, don’t care,” this reflects on the COMPANY not the person telling you it’s wrong. It is not reasonable to take that out on the person that has no control over what their email address IS.

          1. The IT Manager*

            Except that it’s a load of bull that it’s technically impossible, so then the incompetence reflects badly on the employee who failed to get the problem addressed.

            It’s a typo not a request to use a nickname or even to make a last name change due to marriage/divorce/etc. If the problem with incorrect spelling cannot be fixed, then I don’t know what to say. Obviously no one cares enough to get the problem fixed – Not HR, not IT, and not the LW.

            1. #3 OP*

              I’m not sure how it works out that I don’t “care” enough to get it fixed, since I’ve been given a flat-out “No, we will not do that” when I’ve tried. What am I supposed to do, try to hack our email system and try to force a change myself?

              1. Elaine*

                It’s crazy that they will not do that. Have you talked directly to IT? (it doesn’t have to be the IT boss, a help desk tech might even be more helpful).

      2. Sandy*

        My boss (VP) at my last job actually had IT change my email from my legal name to my nickname in my first week on the job. She kept trying to write me emails and would type in my nickname (the name everyone calls me) and it wouldn’t pull up my email, since it was under my legal name. That was changed the same day.
        At my current company IT insists that everyone’s email is their legal name, and our Outlook address book is sorted by first name. So those people who go by their middle names, or some other name than their legal name, are almost impossible to find in Outlook. It’s highly annoying when I have to remember if Robert Smith goes by Bob, Rob, or Chuck to send him an email.

        1. MJ*

          Ha, my boss told IT they had to set up “mj.lastname@work” as an alias because she kept forgetting how to email me. The name on my email is still my full name but people can type in “mj.lastname” or “maria-jane.lastname” and still find me :)

    4. Ellie H.*

      I just cannot believe that they would misspell your name in your email. That’s 100% unacceptable.

    5. Kelly O*

      I have a rather long and intimidating looking last name. It would also bug me if IT misspelled it and then didn’t even offer to set up an alias so that my every email would not have a typo in it.

      1. Jamie*

        Intimidating looking is a good way to put it.

        My married name is easy to pronounce if you sound it out as my husbands family took another z or two out a few generations ago, but people get it wrong or just refuse to pronounce it almost every time.

        My maiden name is the same – ends I. The same Polish suffix and while most people would pronounce it somewhat wrong because of one vowel that looks like it should be long but isn’t…anyway that regular gets butchered to the point I dont even recognize it and some don’t attempt it at all.

        My theory is that people see an ethnic name of a certain length and give up before trying. Sound it out people…then at least you’ve tried.

        1. Chinook*

          The irony is that some names make sense when sounded it but others don’t. My grandmother knows it is a telemarketer when they pronounce the “H” at the beginning of her name (at which point she pretends she is the maid and says she isn’t there, usually with a very heavy French accent)

        2. AgilePhalanges*

          I have a theory that three syllables is the maximum that the average person will bother trying to sound out. My ex changed his name to his mother’s maiden name, Landavazo, and people freak out like it’s some horrible last name when it’s the easiest thing in the world to pronounce (or spell after hearing), it’s just FOUR whole syllables. I live on a street that is also four syllables, and it doesn’t help that it’s actually two separate words (De ___), so I have to spell it EVERY time even though it, too, is pretty much phonetic, because their brain just shuts down at a “long” word.

      2. Escritora*

        At work we have someone with a long, intimidating Polish last name. Either she or the IT department had mercy on everyone and assigned her “SusieT” as an address (not her real name), which is her nickname with the first letter of her last name. Since people really call her that in conversation or when referring to her, it works. The rest of us typically have first initial last name addresses.

        My first name is so common that there are at least two people who comment on this site who already have that name. Last name is so common it strikes fear in the heart of anyone who wants to search Google or a database for me. I have a three-digit number trailing my name in my work email.

  3. Kirsten, not Kristen*

    Yeah, I have to disagree a bit with #3. When it’s the first couple few times of a new AE or client contacting me, I’ll let it slide. However, in order to email me you have to type in Ki or you’re not gonna find me. And let’s not forget that it’s in my “official” email signature and my sign off in my emails. I’m very lucky that my new job only butchered my last name (suddenly I’m hyphenated, c’est la vie). But seriously, how hard is it for a person that you are working with on a regular basis (i.e. a couple times a month) to notice the spelling of your name?? I email people all the times and I make sure I spell their “odd” names correctly, and there are more than a few that I could butcher if I wasn’t paying attention. It’s a lack of courtesy and a bit of a slap in the face of business/professional etiquette. There is nothing wrong with saying hey, just so you know it’s Kirsten, not Kristen. Sorry for the confusing! :) (Yes I use annoying smileys, shush.)

    And before people nag on me, yes I tried letting it go since I was a kid. If it were a really weird name, maybe I could let it go. But please, if people were to slow down and look for a moment, they’d get names right.

    1. Zelda*

      Agree entirely that repeatedly getting peoples’ names wrong is a lack of basic courtesy. It also makes me wonder what other (more important) details they’re getting wrong in their professional undertakings.

      1. Jane Doe*

        I agree. I had a boss who would mispronounce or misspell people’s names if they weren’t something really simple like Smith or Jones, or she’d introduce people and say “This is Jane…I’m not even going to try to pronounce her last name!” It colored my opinion of her because it’s not the hard to learn how to pronounce a new name more or less correctly. I wasn’t surprised when she turned out to be a flaky nutcase.

      2. tcookson*

        My boss gets people’s names wrong all the time! He has worked here for over 20 years, and we have a Melinda who has worked here for nearly 15 years, but whom he regularly refers to as Melissa. He knows her name, but for some reason it’s as if “Melinda”/”Melissa” are stored on the same memory cell or something.

    2. Poe*

      I agree. I have a name that has 2 sound-alike spellings (like Stacey and Stacy, but more obvious) and it’s one thing if they get it wrong after speaking to me, but after emailing me? It’s even worse when they email me and get my name wrong…when my name is part of the email! Of course, then there are the people that somehow get “Lacy” instead of “Stacy”…I had a boss that called me the wrong name for 6 months, I corrected him 4-5 times every day. He then got fired, and the next guy called me the right name. (My name is not Stacy, it’s just a handy example.)

      1. tcookson*

        WAaaay back when I was a teenager, I had a roommate at a summer academic camp who strongly resembled a way younger version of my great-aunt Wanda. My roommate’s name was Becky, but I spent the first week or two of the program calling her “Wanda”. I would catch myself and correct it just about every time, but I still have a hard time when people don’t “look like” their names. It’s as if that name and that look get stored in the same spot and I have the hardest time mentally detaching them from one another.

    3. MovingRightAlong*

      I absolutely see your point because a) I hate when people spell my name wrong and b) in your specific case the common mispelling is also an entirely different pronounciation, which just makes the offense more egregious. Admitting that, I also have to confess that I’d likely spell your name wrong thanks to a very mild case of dyslexia. For the first three books, I thought it was really weird that Hogwarts gave certain students the title of “perfects.”

    4. Anonymous*

      I think you guys are justified in your feelings but I think it’s silly to get so upset about something as simple as a mispelled name. After reading these comments, you guys sound like”that coworker” who no one wants to be bothered with because they freak out over all the small details.

      1. Brett*

        Small details can lead to big details later.

        There are a half dozen or so certifications that I submit through my employer that I have to maintain to keep my job. If my name is wrong on the course certificates I receive to show I have taken the maintenance courses, I have to take the course test and possibly the course over again.

        We have commendations that range from simple paper certificates to silver lifesaving axes. Do you really want your name to be misspelled on a silver lifesaving axe that you might not only display in your home for decades but even pass on to your children? And the most dramatic circumstance is our end of watch scroll. I help print this every year. I would be disciplined, possibly suspended, if I misspelled a name on this scroll given the gravity of the circumstances.

      2. Mike C.*

        Why don’t you live with having your name misspelled constantly because people are too lazy to look twice before judging others. It’s my f****** name, it’s my identity, and people should make the effort to get it right!

        1. Cat*

          So as I said below, my name is misspelled more often than it’s spelled correctly and I just can’t really hold it against people (if only because then I’d never have anyone I wasn’t holding it against, which would become tiring). It kind of is what it is, I think. Sure, I correct in when need be – and I have asked for three or four versions of official documents until it was correct – but I don’t think it’s a slight on my identity and treating it as such would ensure I never did anything else with my life.

        2. ExceptionToTheRule*

          I do live with it. My last name is bad German. It’s hard to spell, it’s hard to pronounce and if I got that wound up about it every time somebody stuck an extra T in with the Z, I’d have ruptured an artery.

          1. Liz in a library*

            As someone who has a Welsh maiden name and now has a German last name, this is how I feel. I just can’t get that upset about misspellings, or I’d constantly be in a state of rage.

            Plus, I completely understand why it happens. Sometimes even easy names get misspelled because the addressor gets it in her head that it is spelled a certain way, and it is tough to retrain. That has happened to me a number of times.

            What’s funny is when people get your name wrong entirely. At my last workplace, I had colleagues and students I saw daily who thought my (most common girl’s name of my birth year) name was Julie, Lisa, and Terra.

            1. Liz in a library*

              I’ll add that my own father constantly misspells my married last name. It isn’t laziness; it’s just a mistake, like those we all make.

        3. fposte*

          And a lot of the time people do. But everybody gets their name spelled wrong at them sometimes–there’s no goofproof name. Some people on this thread get it spelled wrong because it’s uncommon. Some people get it spelled wrong because it’s common enough that people know lots of them with different name patterns. I think this is one of those areas where we tend to forget or not notice the times that we make a mistake ourselves or the times that other people get it right, and mostly just focus on the times somebody gets it wrong, and as a result we have a disproportionate view of the problem.

            1. fposte*

              I assumed it was hyperbole, given that people have spelled your name correctly here. If literally no one ever has spelled your name correctly, then you’re right, my comment doesn’t apply.

              1. fposte*

                Wow, Mike, I’m sorry; I misread your meaning there. You mean you work with a specific person, not everybody, who gets your name wrong all the time.

                But I still don’t agree with your take–as I mention below, I work with several people who use the wrong name for me despite correction, and I don’t think they do it out of laziness or other character flaws.

        4. Tara B.*


          It gets old after a while, especially if you’ve been sending them emails with a signature block that (presumably) contains the correct spelling of your name. Yet I receive emails with extra spaces, apostrophes and letters that AREN’T anywhere in my name. Heck, I’ll take a simple cut and paste of my name any day if it meant it could be spelled properly.

          My (full) name is unusual, but it is mine. My parents gave it to me, I rather like it, I’m keeping it and I’m not changing it for ANYBODY.

      3. KellyK*

        It’s not “freaking out” to correct an error. It’s reasonable not to get too stressed out about it and to just keep correcting people as it happens, but nobody should be expected to just smile and say nothing as they’re repeatedly called the wrong name. *Especially* as a lot of people have pointed out, when it can cause actual issues—emails bouncing, certifications getting messed up, etc.

        1. snippet*

          My name constantly gets misspelled also. It is a common name, with two common spellings (along the lines of Sarah/Sara, Allison/Alison).

          I think it’s disrespectful when people spell it wrong. Generally, I first make a friendly correction – hey, it’s spelled like this, thanks! However, when the same people do it OVER and OVER, especially when it is RIGHT THERE in the email, it drives me nuts.

          It’s not a minor detail, it is my name! Get it right!

        1. A Bug!*

          This is a good point, as is the fact that it is a sign of respect to pay attention to such details.

          I’ll also note that the people venting here in comments aren’t necessarily “freaking out” at their coworkers, and Kirsten’s “example” correction is perfectly reasonable. It’s a minor frustration in the grand scheme of things, but all those small frustrations add up over time and when you have an environment where you’re finally able to express that completely valid frustration without being “that” coworker? I do not for one second blame them for taking advantage of it.

      4. Phoebe*

        My real name is Phoebe (I comment a lot here, but not under my real name) and people write “Pheobe” at least 20% of the time. It drives me up the wall. I don’t correct people about it because everyone who I’m actually in close contact with spells it correctly, but I’m not sure what the point at which I would correct someone about it would be. Like if I had a coworker who spelled it wrong every day I would probably say something. I would definitely say something after the first time she identified me by the misspelled name in an email to another person (e.g. if she wrote “If you can’t reach me please contact Pheobe” or something like that.
        However if it were spelled incorrectly in my email address, I wouldn’t stand for that for a day. I don’t think it’s fair to say that it’s silly to get upset about something like that. It might be silly to get, say, deeply offended by it, but I feel like if you think it’s not a big deal, you may not have lived with how irritating it is to have your name constantly spelled wrong. It’s not that it’s intrinsically of great value, but that it implies a carelessness of thought.

        1. Aimee*

          I get Amy, Aimme, Aimmee, Amee, Amie, Annie (seriously?) and a number of other variations. My own dad couldn’t be bothered to spell my name right half the time. Before I got married, I also had a very difficult to spell and pronounce last name, so I’m used to it and rarely bother even spelling my name for people (they want to write Amy on the cup at Starbucks? Works for me!). But I do get annoyed when it’s a coworker (especially since it’s right there in my email signature).

          I don’t generally correct anyone, however. I will if it’s an official document (I’m looking at you DMV!), but otherwise I just let it go. It’s a losing battle.

          I am generally careful about making sure I spell other people’s names correctly though!

      5. LPBB*

        I’ve mentioned before that I’m a woman with one of the most common male names in the US. It’s spelled slightly differently because my mom, bless her, thought it would make things easier and less confusing. It hasn’t and some ways may have made things worse.

        Even though it is irritating that people don’t spell it correctly even after I say it, spell it, and point out how it is different from the male version, I’ve learned to deal with that. The concept of a woman with this name is already weird enough, that I realize accepting a new spelling of the name might be too much to process. In a work setting, I might correct people once or twice before letting it go, but more often than not I just let it go.

        However, if someone tries to use the *female version* (and also very common version) of this name, I DO NOT let that go. Because that *is not my name*. If that makes me one of “those” co-workers who freak out about everything, so be it.

        1. fposte*

          It’s not, though–people had identities before standardized spelling, and you don’t become a different person if you change your name when you marry.

          It *feels* very personal, and it can certainly affect your life, especially if we’re talking ways that can make it a royal PITA if it’s screwed up. But that’s not the same thing as it’s actually being you.

          1. Phoebe*

            I don’t think anyone would argue that your name is the sole representative summation of your identity, but in a great many cultures, names are regarded as hugely important and very significant in many contexts – personal, romantic, professional, religious, familial, etc. I don’t think it’s unreasonable for people to regard their name as an extremely important part of who they are.

            1. fposte*

              I don’t disagree with that, and there are certainly particularly problematic ways that name errors can happen. But I don’t think it’s a transgression against your identity if somebody spells it wrong.

              1. MovingRightAlong*

                I think the main take away from this discussion is that some people do feel that way, even if they see it as a minor transgression. Yes, everyone makes mistakes, but I’d argue that it’s worth pausing to consider spelling, just like you would for any word. Maybe it’s because I take words themselves very seriously, but to me, if I type ‘Lindsay’ when I meant ‘Lindsey,’ it’s the same as typing ‘meet’ when I wanted ‘meat.’ A simple typo, but one is correct and the other is not. One person is my former roommate, the other is my cousin. Both of them are meat, but only one is Lindsay!

          2. Layla*

            Curiously , half my mother’s siblings have one last name and half have another : the registrar transliterated differently each time ( from non English script )

          3. Tracy*

            My name is Tracy, but I’m sometimes called by my best friend’s name (Tammy) or my mom’s name (Tressa — her mom thought that was how one spelled Teresa, so it’s pronounced with a long “e”).

            My name is part of my identity, but I guess I don’t identify strongly with it being “who I am“. Maybe if I had a better name, or one with more familial significance I’d feel differently. My mom said that she really wanted to name me “Stacy” instead, but my dad knew an old man named Stacy who picked his nose, so he vetoed it.

      6. Anonymous*

        A “small detail” like the misspelling of your name can cause major problems, however, in certain circumstances. Considering that most people are citing specific examples where displaying your correct identity is especially important (e.g. car titles) or a misspelling is especially disrespectful (e.g. when receiving honors), I think it’s ridiculous to say that they’re “freaking out.” Try flying out of a major airport with your name misspelled on your passport, then let me know if it’s a silly thing to get upset over.

        As for more casual misspellings, within the body of an e-mail, etc., I agree that there’s no use getting upset over it. Since both my first name and last name are constantly misspelled, I would take years off my life if I worried about it. That doesn’t mean it isn’t worth mentioning in a friendly way. If I found out I’d repeatedly misspelled a co-worker’s name and no one bothered to correct me, I’d be very embarrassed.

      7. simona*

        I said above I have a long traditional first name and go by a nickname for it (think Katie). I spell it one way and I usually don’t care when it’s spelt the nine other versions. But I do care when someone calls me Kathy. My hs counselor always did this. I think she thought calling me by a nickname made her feel like she knew me when it proved that she really didn’t.

      8. Tinker*

        The thing that strikes me here is that spelling someone’s name properly (and calling them what they prefer to be called) should usually be an easy win, as far as creating a relationship with that person — they certainly know their own name, after all, and being called by it is being known and acknowledged, in a sense.

        Also, going beyond the courtesy that applies to everyone, some people also have a specific history of having their name misused to make a point — married women and transgender people being prominent examples, but it’s also the sort of thing that can happen to anyone. I still have a bit of an internal cringe factor at the mention of a certain minor celebrity that shares my preferred name, because of years of “clever” commentary related to his catch phrases.

        That doesn’t mean that I’m going to have an epic thing when people call me by the wrong name, but it does mean that if you do that or if you as my employer persistently identify me using a name that I don’t like using then it will put our relationship on a a bit of a wrong foot.

    5. Erin*

      I’m with you. My maiden name was one letter off from a more common last name, and I had to correct people all the time. My married name is not only one letter off from a common last name, but it also has the advantage of being constantly mispronounced as well. Luckily, it’s only three letters, so I’ve taken to the Spelling Bee approach: Say it, spell it, say it again, when introducing myself. If you do it with a smile, it doesn’t come across as nitpicky or overly anal.

      As a teacher, I get students all the time with uncommonly spelled names (first and last), and making a point to get it right is an easy way to build relationships. It shows you care.

    6. scarydogmother*

      Absolutely agree. My name is “Sarah” and it’s amazing how infrequently people actually spell it correctly. It’s like a smack in the face to be addressed as “Sara” by folks I’ve worked with for years, other professional associates, or fellow volunteers when I always sign off as “Sarah,” it’s in my signature and my email, on our websites, and things I’ve written. I always take the time to make sure I’m spelling people’s names correctly. To not do so demonstrates sloppiness and a lack of respect.

      1. LMW*

        I played violin in middle and high school and had the same orchestra director for 9 years. He spelled my first name wrong (ie instead of ey) in every single program, even though I asked him multiple times to fix it (keep in mind that this type of thing is a much bigger deal when you are 12). It’s one thing if it happened once. But multiple times for 9 years? That’s just inconsiderate.
        (I get the “ie” in emails all the time, and it doesn’t bother me as much now – but I do think the people who get it wrong are lazy.)

        1. Aimee*

          This too. I went to a small college. I had classes with my advisor every semester, was one of his work-studies, and talked to him frequently at department events. And every single semester I had to correct him on the pronunciation of my last name.

      2. Phoebe*

        Exactly – it’s a lack of carefulness and attention to detail. While I’m sure it’s not intentional, I do find it disrespectful as well.

      3. TheBurg*

        Exactly. I have a VERY common name (though generally a male name) with a unique spelling. I LOVE how my name is spelled and when people are going to be writing my name out I always spell it out for them in the hopes that they’ll spell it correctly. Yet probably about 80% of the time my name is misspelled… even when I’ve spelled it FOR people. It bugs me; I don’t make a big deal of it, but it does bother me and when someone gets my name RIGHT I definitely notice. I always make sure I’m getting other people’s names right and think of it as a sign of respect whenever someone takes the time with mine.

      4. Sandy*

        I agree. I have a coworker who will email me and refer to me as Sandi. We work in a 5 person office (larger company, but the office we work out of only has 5 people), and we see each other every day. It hurts my feelings a little bit, that this person I’ve known for 2 years doesn’t spell my name right. I try to just think that she probably knew another Sandy who spelled her name with an -i, so it’s just her default spelling.

      5. Aimee*

        Yes! It’s one thing when it’s a new coworker or someone you just met, but when it’s someone you’ve worked with/known for a long time it is worse.

        Someone recently spelled my name wrong on Facebook. I’ve been friends with this person for a long time – my entire name was right there on the comment they were referencing. Sigh.

    7. Jen in RO*

      I also agree. I won’t spend my days frustrated by the misspellings, but I think it’s disrespectful for people to just not bother reading my signature or my display name. It’s an unusual name (I’m in Eastern Europe working with people from Western Europe and the US), but it’s just 5 letters, it’s not *that* hard.

    8. Joey*

      Try this. People assume my full name is Jose when they meet me (its not). But I’ve also had people assume I eat mexican food instead of turkey at thanksgiving and people have also asked me details about living in Mexico (I’ve only been there on vacation). How they even deduce my specific nationality is beyond me.

    9. kristinyc*

      I’m a Kristin. NOT Kristen, Kirsten, Christin, Cristen….. I feel your pain.

      I honestly don’t understand why it’s so hard for people to get it right, especially when they have to type your name to send you an email. Sigh.

      1. LMW*

        Between my sister and I, we are close friends with a Crissy, a Kristine, a Kristen and a Kristin, and have a maternal cousin Christine and paternal cousin Krystine.
        We refer to every one by how there name is spelt in conversation to keep it straight. I’ve learned to pay very close attention.

        1. Judy*

          My college roommate was a Chris. Her older brother married a woman with the name Kris. Her nieces and nephews call them “Aunt C Chris” and “Aunt K Kris”.

    10. Kirsten Too :)*

      My name is Kirsten too… and my family and I have been dealing with this since the day I was named.

      I 100%, completely agree with EVERY word you said.

      1. Kirsten Too :)*

        Also, honestly, Kristen is a totally different name than our name. I think that’s a HORRIBLE misspelling.

    11. Lauri (not Laurie)*

      Arrrrgh, I feel your pain, Kirsten. My name is spelled out there in my email signature as well, but peope still insist that my name MUST be “Laurie”. And when I call in a take out order, many times I will just give my son’s name, because when I give mine, it could have been translated to anything by the person who took the order. One time, they finally found it under “Gloria”.

      Incidently, I have a sister named “Kristen”. And yet, I somehow managed to spell “Kirsten” correctly. If I can do it, others can, too!

  4. Vicki*

    #3 – You manager is not the person who knows. You need to talk to IT directly. There is no technical reason not to fix your company email and a misspelling should be an acceptable reason _to_ fix it. After all, how do they expect you to receive email if people try what it should be and that bounces?

    “We don’t change work emails” is a typical policy, but it means “we don’t change it just because you’re prefer to be called ‘Jenny’ and we set your email to “Jennifer” because we use full names.”

    However, “My legal name is Jennifer and you spelled it Genipher and that means I never get mail from HR.” is a good reason.

    1. Poe*

      THIS. At my work, it’s “no, we don’t change it EVER” but when Andy came to work and found his email was andrew@work.com, they changed it because his actual name was Andy, not Andrew. Plus, it would have been much easier for IT to change it when you first pointed it out on day 1, so your boss is just a bit…blergh.

    2. Anonymous*

      I’m still wondering how IT got the name wrong. I thought usually they pulled the name from HR’s files? Maybe Jamie can post later.

      1. Jessa*

        Because HR often misses, they have humans involved too. I have watched people with photocopies of my ID transcribe the name wrong. I have said it to people and watched them put it down incorrectly.

        Jessa is my middle name my first name is one of those boy/girl names and in most countries girls spell it differently, in the US they don’t seem to care that they keep spelling me like a boy – with an IE (it’s Lesley, btw.)

        And my usual spelling cues are so outdated…so if I say like Ann Warren or Anne Down not like Nielsen or Bricusse people have NO idea who I mean. I’m too old for them.

        1. KellyK*

          Admittedly, I only know who Lesley Ann Warren is because I *adore* Rogers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, but I can’t picture not knowing who Leslie Nielsen is! (Though until now, I had never noticed that the spelling difference was gender-based.)

          1. TK*

            I don’t think it’s so gender-based anymore. I know multiple female Leslies, including one of my closest childhood friends, but I don’t think I’ve ever met a Lesley. My impression of what’s happened to the name among my own (millennial) generation is that it’s fallen out of favor as a male name entirely, but the “Leslie” spelling has been the primary one that’s retained.

            1. T in Construction*

              I think it’s similar to how Ashley used to be a male name, then either gender, and now it’s assumed to be a female name.

              1. TK*

                Ha. The only man named Ashley I had ever heard of was from Gone with the Wind. I assumed it was just an old-fashioned southern thing. Then I moved to the South and had a male co-worker named Ashley– not as old-fashioned as I’d thought, apparently!

          1. Jessa*

            Yes exactly. I do think the commenters above are correct that gendered spelling is on the outs in the US especially. I think one of the last holdouts was blonde/blond, but the truth is it’s becoming passe to care about the gender of words in the US because the language with the exeption of hold outs like “ships are she” is NOT gendered. So you have Francis of both genders, etc.

            I do however notice that in almost every case where the gender spelling dropped out the MALE version of the name took over. I do not however know if that’s significant or purposeful or anything.

            1. LPBB*

              That’s interesting. A number of originally male names, such as Hilary, Beverly, Evelyn, have now become almost exclusively female names. Studies have shown that once a “male” name has been given to enough females, it reaches a kind of tipping point and becomes a female name.

              There doesn’t appear to be any similar progression/process for female names to male names. Once a name becomes feminized it seems to stay that way for ever.

        2. Phoebe*

          I say “Like on Friends” and these days I sometimes meet people who don’t know what I mean. It’s alarming.

          1. MovingRightAlong*

            Do you ever try “like the goddess?” Because I’d love to hear what sort of reactions that got!

      2. LisaLyn*

        I think the letter implied that HR had to wrong at some point, too, and had to correct it. So, IT was following the (wrong) information HR had given them.

      3. Jamie*

        It depends on the company – I get an email from HR with relevant info, but since I typoed a name once a long time ago when I verify when going over initial log in info with new hires.

        And I also check with the person on how they want their name to read. We’re not a formal agency where we need legal names so I could care less if its Michael or Mike, Jim or James. Whichever you prefer – just let me know.

    3. Flynn*

      Ugh, MY name is mispelt in the IT records. I’ve asked for it to be corrected, but it’s like talking to a black hole. It doesn’t even make sense – it’s like they made typos randomly in both first and last names.

      My email is correct and my paycheques are correct, so I’ve given up.

      also, regarding the original post “just one L” thing…
      Blazing Saddles, anyone?

    4. Tasha*

      Simple misspellings can cause headaches outside the organization, too. While in school, the university changed my middle name slightly (think Anne instead of Anna), I was told that–to fix it–I had to send a notarized name change form to TIAA-CREF with proof of a judicial order for the change. After a few phone calls in which they refused to admit error, it was miraculously fixed in the next quarterly report. :)

      1. Chinook*

        I love when an organization asks for a notarized name change when the name really hasn’t changed. I went through that coming back from Quebec where marriage is not a legal reason for a name change, so everything defaulted to my maiden name. But, my credit cards couldn’t be changed back to match the photo identification because I had no “proof” of the name change back to my maiden name because it technically never happened. So, for 5 years, I couldn’t use my credit cards anywhere that required photo id to use them (in a time before PINs). And don’t even get me started about changing my driver’s license and healthcare number back to my married name in Alberta so I could link up with previous records.

        1. AgilePhalanges*

          When I applied for a driver’s license in CA for the first time, the woman behind the counter made a typo in my name (left the last A off, changing my two-syllable female name to a one-syllable male name). She gave me the slip of paper to proof, and when I pointed out the error, she claimed she’d read it that way directly off my birth certificate. I showed her the BC again, and she corrected it, but now I have an “aka” on my record of that male name, even though I was only “also known as” that name for 30 seconds by one woman at a random DMV.

  5. joey*

    I get the same thing as OP #3, from customers *and* coworkers. I still haven’t found a nice way of bringing it up that’s not snarky, so watching this thread with interest :)

    1. AB*

      Here’s what I reply to customer and coworkers (only after the person makes the same mistake twice):

      “I realized that you’ve been spelling my name as Kristen, when in fact it’s Kirsten. I wanted to point this out only because in the future you may need to search your inbox for a previous message from me, and since the spelling you are using doesn’t match my name or email address, you may not be able to find it.”

      So far it has worked well — I always get a reply with a quick apology and thanks for letting them know. Some people may forget when they have to write again, but most start using the correct spelling.

  6. MJ*

    Chiming in to #3 as someone with a hyphenated first name! My name is Maria-Jane. I sign off all my emails, and answer my phone, as MJ, but my work email, deskplate etc. says Maria-Jane. I don’t mind which one you call me, though I prefer MJ because it’s easier. But it’s not Mary-Jane, it’s not Maria. I’m totally fine about people getting it wrong, because hey, it’s different! But when I (politely) correct people and they continue to get it wrong, that’s when I have to start gritting my teeth — I was always taught that getting someone’s name right is a sign of basic respect. And don’t even get me started on people on the phone who ask me to spell “MJ”!

    Granted, this is a slightly bigger misspelling/incorrectness than Alison/Allison and I don’t know how serious a misspelling the OP is talking about. I’m baffled by a “no changes” policy, though — what about if people get married, or change their name by deed poll, or get divorced? Is it too bad, so sad?

    1. Another English Major*

      My work place only changes emails for the attorneys if they get married and some supervisors. Everyone else’s email address keeps the maiden name

    2. JP*

      I worked with a Mary Beth and always cringed on her behalf when I was CC’d on emails addressed to Mary (and on one occasion, Beth. What? It’s not a choose your own adventure.)


    #2 Discrimination at 27. Try it at 50+. Companies DO discriminate and nobody could convince me otherwise. They will NEVER tell you that you didn’t get the job due to age or race or disability etc. B.S. to EEOC policies.

    1. LisaLyn*

      Yeah, I don’t think it’s age discrimination that the OP has to worry about. If he/she has been warned about something, it’s probably that the years are adding up with little professional experience being accumulated, which is a different thing entirely.

    2. Rob Aught*

      Try having your 60 year old boss tell you not to hire a 55 year old because they are “too old”. My mind was blown.

      At the time I was in my mid-30’s and most of my team was around the same age with a couple of 40 year olds.

      I hired him.

      Age discrimination is very prevalent in the technology field.

    3. Mike C.*

      Yeah, the tech industry is notorious for discriminating against those who are 40 or over. You know, because of that “can’t teach an old dog new tricks” garbage.

      1. the gold digger*

        Or the “Why should we pay an experienced engineer an experienced engineer salary when we can get a cheap one just out of college?” Or better yet, “from India or China?”

    4. Joey*

      Of course there are companies and managers that discriminate. But Id say more commonly companies discriminate against people lacking skills or knowledge. Of course when you fall into a protected category it becomes easier emotionally to blame your failure on them instead of owning it. I’m not saying this is you, I’m just saying that its less common to illegally discriminate…..at least in my experiences.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Sigh. Could we chill out on this type of response please? By all means, disagree here — but explain your position and why you disagree rather than just leaving a cutting remark.

          1. WWWONKA*

            my response is pretty simple and to the point. It is not “cutting” in any way. My comments are based on experiences I have seen, and by some of the most well known companies. I am not one to sugar coat things and if someone doesn’t like my candidness well then…

            I expect this post to be deleted and that’s o.k.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I’m not sure why you expect it to be deleted, but it won’t be. You have to go pretty far over the line (racism, other hate speech) in order to get deleted here. That said, I’d appreciate a kinder tone when interacting with people here.

                1. AB*

                  WWWONKA, I disagree with your conclusion that Joey’s experience must be limited because of his statement “Of course there are companies and managers that discriminate. But I’d say more commonly companies discriminate against people lacking skills or knowledge.”

                  That is also my experience, and as an IT consultant, I interact with a variety of companies throughout the year, from Fortune 10 to start-ups.

                  It’s very common for me to see, in the teams I interact with, people in their late 40s and 50s, some in their 60s, many of whom hired in the past 2 years. These people have kept their skills up-to-date (say, learning Flash, then moving on when Flash became a no-no to learn mobile-friendly technology).

                  On the other hand, I know a 27 year old who is finding it difficult to leave his current job as a developer, only because he let his skills become obsolete (he’s been doing the same thing for years and never put an effort into learning anything new).

                  So yes, even though there might be some discrimination, it’s most likely if you have to choose between a 20-something and a 50-something, both of which can do the job well (because of the expectation — right or wrong — that the younger person will be willing to accept lower compensation and have more energy to work long hours). If the person has valuable skills to offer, it’s very unlikely that age alone will prevent him/her from finding a job, and the level of experience the older person brings to the table will often tip the scale in his/her favor.

                2. Editor*

                  All you had to say was, “I’ve seen x number of instances that were definitely discrimination, so perhaps your experience is limited or in a different field.” Even though I agreed with your point, I thought your tone was so dismissive that the other person wouldn’t be equally dismissive back. Your comment is likely to be read as dismissive because it does imply the other person’s experience is limited, but their experience could be extensive in ways your experience is not even if it isn’t similar to yours.

                  The Internet strips out a lot of social cues, so being terse, blunt, belligerent, dismissive, or flippant may not give the impression you wish to give and may paint you as rude instead.

                3. FreeThinkerTX*

                  Replying to AB who said, “So yes, even though there might be some discrimination, it’s most likely if you have to choose between a 20-something and a 50-something, both of which can do the job well (because of the expectation — right or wrong — that the younger person will be willing to accept lower compensation and have more energy to work long hours).”

                  I’m confused. Isn’t that *exactly* the definition of age discrimination? The fact that two people are equally qualified, but the younger one is chosen because of an internalized (but not necessarily factual) expectation/assumption?? That sounds like discrimination to me. Just change out “young” and “old” for “white” and “black”, and see how well your sentence reads.

        2. Joey*

          I might have more to say if you were to articulate a point that had some substance to it instead of making an easy statement which you can’t possibly know.

      1. Job seeker*

        I believe age discrimination does still exist. I think it would be very hard to prove though. At age 27 I do not believe this will be a problem for you. I am a middle-age lady that does not look their age, but I still worry how I am judged when applying for jobs. I never thought twice about this until I went back to work part-time.

        I am slender and very fit and healthy and take pride in my appearance. I have interests and read and keep up with things, still I am over the age of 40.

        Joey, I do not know your age, but sometimes it is more than just lacking skills and knowledge. I am someone that is trying to start over after being out of the workplace for awhile. That is a challenge I have to figure a way out. Sometimes, I feel like I am stuck but age discrimination is out there.

        I interviewed one place that the lady was several years younger and asked me how I felt about working for someone younger. That is not a problem for me but she stated she fired someone because she thought the employee did not like working for someone younger. Just saying.

        1. Joey*

          I’m 40 and I’ve been on the employer side of hiring for a long time in all kinds of companies. I’ve seen a lot people make allegations of discrimination, I’ve seen who was turned down and why. And of course I’ve seen a lot of people hypothesize why they didnt get hired. In most cases those people were indeed qualified, but the person who got the job brought something better to the table. In a lot of cases they also fell within protected categories. And, in almost all cases it was extremely easy to articulate exactly what separated the person who got the job. What’s interesting at least in my experiences is that most (not all) people who allege discrimination were rarely even near the top of the pack. They tended to be towards the bottom of the applicant pool in terms of quality.

          1. Job seeker*

            I do not believe I have ever been discriminated against because of my age. I was just stating it is out there. Yes, I am sure many people in a protected category have other reasons not to be hired. That is more the reason to use resources available (continuing education, acquiring updated skills etc.) to be more competitive.

            But, Joey honestly some employers will choose a 25 year old over someone over 40 for entry-level jobs. I remember when I was in that age group I could get jobs at the drop of a hat. I was young, very pretty and was given lots of opportunities that I believe some others could possibly been more qualified for. It does exist.

            1. Joey*

              Oh I agree age discrimination is alive, I’ve seen it. But its far more productive and realistic to take a step back and to be critical of yourself than to throw up your hands and assume you can’t get a job because you’re old. Because from what I’ve seen people are usually far off base when they allege discrimination. Usually.

              1. Judy*

                I’ve worked for 3 F500 companies. I’ve seen quite a few RIFs. I’ve seen many people who after they turn 50 or 55 start getting bad reviews even when they had many years of good reviews. (And I’ve worked with them and as a co-worker don’t notice any change in their abilities.) I’m really not sure the last time that I’ve seen someone retire at 65. Pretty much all of them recently have been “managed out” before then.

              2. Job seeker*

                LOL. That is funny. No, I don’t think of myself as old because I am in the age group over 40. I don’t think I look old ( I dress young and act young and feel young). But, compared to the 25 year olds I guess being in their mother’s age group dates me.

          2. Anon for this one*

            @Joey — In the department where I worked, I was the oldest worker when I was laid off and no one over their mid-40s remained. When I started there a decade before, there had been eight or nine people older than I was.

            I don’t think age discrimination was a factor in my layoff specifically, although my salary may have been a factor (in that it might have coincided with the amount the department had been directed to reduce costs by). I do think, however, that all the layoffs as a whole showed a pattern of age discrimination. In most cases, the positions were also eliminated, but not all the positions filled by older workers were eliminated. The positions that were retained were filled by people who were much younger and I think the median age went from the mid-40s to around 25.

            Even if the older applicants for open jobs did not have the technology skills the department may have needed, the overall appearance was one of age discrimination. And just because the department needed newer skills doesn’t mean they couldn’t have trained existing workers. I did get some training, but not as much as I wanted. You might feel such training isn’t the employer’s responsibility, but I tend to feel that discarding older employees and then hiring younger and then even younger employees is more of an exercise in treating employees like cannon fodder.

            1. Joey*

              I have no idea if age discrimination were a factor in your layoff. But, I will say if all of those that were laid off didn’t have the technology skills that were needed for the job its also possible there was no illegal age discrimination.

              As you know companies aren’t obligated legally to train workers to keep up with technology. Is there a moral obligation? Maybe. And I’d say companies do have a responsibility to help workers reach career goals. But thats a separate issue.

              Because when you think about it the company who requires you to know the latest technology isn’t discriminating against only older workers, they’re discriminating against anyone and everyone who don’t have the skills they need.

              1. Anon for this one*

                A. We went from Quark to InDesign, and people made that transition, but they also wanted people to have and use Facebook and Twitter accounts and to do some very basic posting online using some very basic HTML. These aren’t things that are impossible for older workers.

                When you hear a manager gush about how great the new hire is on Twitter, and then when you work with the newbie and they think stock-in-trade is “stock and trade” and confuse reluctant with reticent and don’t understand what the margin of error in poll results is, then it is frustrating to be considered surplus just because you don’t want your Facebook page to be used to promote your employer’s business.

                B. When the new hire is very skilled with Excel and the older workers avoid it, that’s a different story.

                Most of the layoffs had to do with A. The layoffs because of B — where older workers didn’t know or want to learn software such as Excel or Access — were totally understandable in my opinion.

    5. Loose Seal*

      My last job hired an 80+ year old woman to be the receptionist. She was the best worker we had in the place.

  8. Anonymous*

    #7 Academia is sl00000w to hire. Usually in the higher-level positions they’re used to the start date being 2+ weeks after the offer being accepted. For faculty, a start date 3-6 months after the offer is the norm, and for more technical positions I’ve seen a start date more than a month after the offer date. As long as you can start at least a couple of weeks before the Fall semester starts it shouldn’t be a problem.

  9. Missing E*

    Re: #3 – my name has an E on the end. You’ll see evidence of this E in my email address, email from line, sig file, desk name plate, personal sign off, the business intranet and the necklace I wear with my name on it. And yet, I get emails with my name misspelled in them endlessly. I’ve tried to let it go, but it feels really rude and disrespectful to not check the spelling of someone’s name before you write to them. I like my name. Stop messing it up!

    I’ve often pondered leaving the last letter off the names of the people who do the same to me, but I can’t muster up that level of passive aggression. :)

      1. snippet*

        I have done this to people who misspell my name! (similar to Allison/Alison). After I give them a friendly note telling them how to spell my name, if it happens again, sometimes I reply and spell their name off by one letter (generally followed by a smiley face, so they get the joke)! Then it usually hits home for them, and they understand how “disrespectful” it feels!

    1. Lore*

      The one that baffles me: you’re responding to an email I sent you, with my name in the signature line AND the address spelled correctly. How do you get that wrong?

      Of course, most of the people I exchange emails with are professional editors, copy editors, and proofreaders, so the stakes are a little higher. I have uncommon spellings of both first and last names (the first being a common alternative and the last a very unusual variant) so if I took it personally I’d have used up several lifetimes’ worth of affront by now. But in my particular professional context it’s a bit of a red flag!

      1. Cat*

        It’s because adults (as opposed to children sounding words out) tend to identify words from the beginning and the end only. And once a misapprehension about a word is lodged in someone’s brain, it’s difficult to dislodge and very, very easy to continue to read the wrong word over and over. That goes for names too.

        My full first name is spelled correctly maybe 10% even though it’s on my email (I go by a nickname on normal day to day circumstances which obviates that problem). I actually had to get IT to add the misspelling as an alias on my email because so many people were getting bouncebacks. At that level it’s not that every single person I deal with is careless; it’s a reflection of how people process language.

        1. fposte*

          What you say. Most of my department calls me by a nickname that I don’t go by and don’t like (a friend here used to use it despite being asked not to, and it spread), and because my email login truncates my last name to an equally valid name that doesn’t happen to be mine, I get a lot of mistaken last-name stuff.

          It doesn’t delight me, but I don’t think it’s worth fussing about. I think of myself as being careful with other people’s names, but I know I’ve screwed them up sometimes myself, as I imagine other people here have done, and it’s not because I’m indifferent. The mistaken last-name stuff isn’t something that leads people not to find me, which is good, because I don’t think they’d ever change anything here without a court order.

          1. AnotherAlison*

            Know what you mean about the nickname. The division president calls me Ali. My grandma, my favorite aunt and her daughters, and a high school best friend were the only people ever allowed to call me that, but it’s not enough of a problem to make a big deal about.

          2. VictoriaHR*

            Ugh – there’s one guy here who calls me “Vic” and I HATE it. I generally do not care if people call me “Vicki” even though I go by “Victoria,” I’ll still answer to “Vicki,” but “Vic” is just .. ugh .. it’s a fat hairy guy sitting in a pizza parlor in Brooklyn discussing mob hits, ya know? It’s not feminine in the slightest, IMO. Thankfully he’s the only one who does it.

            I rarely have my name misspelled so for that I am grateful. My last name, that’s another story.

        2. Lore*

          For most purposes–when I’m selecting an email address–I purposely use some variant of my first and middle names, and then add the misspelled version of my first name as an alias. My work email is first-initial-last-name so they don’t need to spell the first right–but there’s at least six more common spellings of my last name, so I just have to trust that if they get close, the directory will spit out the one they want…

          1. Julie K*

            Fortunately, I can use in my email address because my company only allows legal names in the employee database, which feeds into everything else. My legal first name is not the name that everyone knows me by, so to avoid confusion, I can use jlastname@… instead of Unfamiliar_firstname.lastname@…

            The company has been threatening to eliminate the first initial option in email addresses for years, but there must be higher ups with a similar issue because it still works. :)

            1. Tinker*

              I have a similar problem — my legal name is something akin to “Katherine Roberta Jones” and I’m known to essentially everyone as “Rob Jones”. Given the option, I’d prefer that “Katherine” appear in my personnel file and nowhere else — I don’t ever go by it, people don’t associate it with me, it clashes distinctly with my persona, and it tempts people who are trying to be buddy-buddy with me to call me things like “Kathy” (which I find appalling) or “Kate” (which, as far as I’m concerned, is my aunt’s name).

              Because of this situation, it strikes me as a bit churlish of companies to insist on hanging their employees with their full legal first name, no substitutes or nicknames allowed now or forevermore — even if it’s supposedly a small thing, it’s a small thing like a rock in one’s shoe.

        3. Phoebe*

          Yeah, as much as I hate it, I find the misspelling of my name 100% understandable because it is in the middle of the word and it is also an uncommon series of letters. That said, when I was typing the misspelled version above I had to re-type it about three times because it’s so unfamiliar to me to use those letters in that order.

          Incidentally, my name is also nearly incomprehensible over the phone. It’s most commonly mistaken for “Stevie,” then “Katie.”

          1. Lore*

            Oh, well, that problem: my first name ends with the same letter my last name starts with. So if I don’t enunciate super-clearly, it all mushes together and all bets are off! (And even when I *do* enunciate super-clearly, I get a ton of close variants. If I’m going to ultimately have to spell it, I don’t even bother correcting those.

      2. Megan No 'H'*

        +1 on higher stakes for the writing/editing field. I’m in journalism, and it drives me bonkers when I get e-mail replies from an editor who is insistent on putting an H in my name even though the spelling is there in my signature and in the e-mail ID. It makes me nervous that my bylines aren’t being correctly attributed, and I’ve had to have the ‘h’ removed on more than one occasion. My name’s not Meghan, it’s Megan. Since when did the ‘H’ become the standard spelling?

        I’ll admit that I thought unusual spellings of names were interesting–when I was 14. As an adult having to constantly correct the spelling of my pretty straight forward name because of all the crazy variants (Meghann, Maygen, Meegan, Megyn, etc.) I will be sparing any future children the frustration.

      3. A Bug!*

        I did that once. I Lindsey’d a Lindsay even though there were three examples of the correct spelling of her name on the screen as I typed it. It was a complete and total brain fart moment, made possible by the fact that I’d communicated with her a fair amount and so I let my guard down.

        I was mortified because I didn’t notice until after I’d sent it, and although she didn’t mention it I know she noticed.

        And I’m normally a person who’ll even make sure to use the accented letters for recipients’ names who use them.

        1. Jessa*

          I cannot count how many posts I messed up before I realised that our Alison was a ONE L Alison and I try to be careful about that stuff. Your brain sometimes just does not see it.

    2. fposte*

      Have you checked to make sure they’re not leaving off the last letter of your name because you left the last letter of theirs :-)?

    3. AmyNYC*

      Speaking of names and email signatures, my friend Santiago goes by “Santiago” or “Santi” so his mobile signature is “Santi(on the go!)”

  10. ProcReg*

    #4…I’ve had the same trouble. The interviewer will ask why i’m looking to leave after a month. I tell them it’s a three month contract, and I’d rather have something stable.

    They didn’t want to listen. Stupid. Sometimes, the employer will decide for you why you shouldn’t work there.

    My issue has been that the employer will want to cast me as a “job hopper” even though my resume is clear that i’ve been a contractor. My answer has been that I graduated from grad school at a bad time and that that was all that was out there, and I don’t want the contract lifestyle.

    The employer is lazy for doing that.

    1. Jessa*

      Nooo…the way I dealt with that for instance when I was contracting or temping is put in a heading “XY Contracting or XX Temp agency,” and the dates for the ENTIRE time. Then I’d break it out “dates at company s, dates at company y, doing this and that and the other.” and in the cover letter call out “see how great I am at walking into short term contracts and temp jobs and getting up and running in an hour and producing good work before going to the next place and learning MORE useful new skills.”

      The goal is to show them that the time was intentionally spent in short term assignments. So your JOB is “Contractor year x to year y,” your job description is “TempTea Chocolate Pots months a to c doing y, Alison’s Teapot Store months d to g doing y+x+d, etc.”

      1. Anonymous*

        Yes! That’s a much better approach. You can do that even if your short-term contracts were with different firms, provided that the nature of the work was the same:

        IT Consulting – Jan 2011 – present
        Contract 1 – Company ABC via Contractor LMN (Jan 2011 – Mar 2011)
        – accomplishments and duties
        Contract 2 – Company LOL via Temp Firm PQP (Apr 2011 – Aug 2011)
        – accomplishments and duties
        Contract 3 – etc.

        This makes it much easier to avoid the risk of giving recruiters and hiring managers the impression that you are a job hopper.

  11. Anonymous*

    #3-I so know how you feel. Since I was child, people called me the wrong name. My name has many variations. The spelling of my name is a simple vowel switch. Yet, people say it differently. Even in school, I would correct people. I just thought it was plain rude not to get it right. My classmates were so trained that whenever someone new came in the classroom they would correct the person themselves. For this, I was taunted (even in my 30s, former classmates still use it to taunt me by saying my name wrong). Even in the working world, same thing. I’ve been told by others to just get over it. Let people call me whatever and be happy. Why should I? There’s nothing wrong with my name. For me, it’s sign of respect and acknowledgement. Now I use my nickname, people say that can’t be real name. Plus, why can’t the IT department change your name. I’ve seen them change names on email constantly including my own.

  12. Tai*

    #4 – Editors may not look favorably on your internship. The line between journalism and PR is thick in newspapers, less so in TV. Some editors may question whether you can be objective. You would be better off trying to freelance some articles on the side (if you’re a writer) so that you can build contacts and keep your clips fresh.

    1. LeeD*

      On the other hand, you’ll be able to get hands-on experience with the inner workings of local government, which can only serve you well if you go on to do any kind of political reporting.

  13. Cat*

    #6. Last week the major paper in Portland, Oregon announced that it was dropping home delivery to four days a week, and laying off 1/4-1/3 of the newsroom; that is not uncommon these days. Now is not the time to be holding out for a job in journalism. Tai is right that a PR job might look less than stellar to newspaper editors, at least, but at a certain point, you have to put food on the table and you need to be able to develop a sustainable career. Plenty of the veteran reporters who have been laid off in the last five or so years are taking PR jobs too.

    1. Weblet*

      Having once been in the same position as #6, I respectfully disagree. I trained in journalism but started as a communications assistant at a charity (writing for the website, membership magazine and newsletters) and am now the website editor – I have editorial control of all the news content.

      I don’t see a massive difference in, say, a magazine gushing about designer x, TV show y or celebrity z (because that’s exactly what happens. A lot of the time they will only get the interview if they write a puff piece. Also, many advertisers additionally expect their brand-new dress/ eyeliner etc to be featured in the mag’s ‘top picks’ section), and only writing positive things about your organisation.

      Newspapers may be a bit different but they are being hit the hardest by staff cutbacks and paper closures, plus the pay is even worse than on magazines. In addition, you need to think whether you will still have a job in five years. At least communications-related roles give you an extra skillset.

      Finally, sorry to nit-pick but communications is not really the same as PR. With PR, you promote your product/company/whatever by sending press releases, holding events and cold-calling journalists to persuade them to give coverage. With communications, it’s more about writing, maintaining and managing content intended for a specific audience without trying to ‘sell it’ to the media.

        1. kristinyc*

          I majored in Public Relations, but ended up only being able to find a 6 month marketing internship right out of school. That evolved to marketing copywriter, which turned into email marketer. I’ve been doing email exclusively for about 4 years, and now I couldn’t even imagine ever doing PR. I love what I’m doing now. Email wasn’t even really a career when I was in school (and social media was just starting to exist).

          My PR program was part of my school’s journalism department, and the writing/research skills I learned have been applicable in every job I’ve had. I think the OP should go for the internship – it could lead to completely different, unexpected opportunities in fields that don’t even exist yet.

        2. Weblet*

          Eeek, I meant to reply more to Cat! Darn phone. Though I am disagreeing with you in the sense that you say ‘Tai is right that a PR job might look less than stellar to newspaper editors, at least’ but
          1. It isn’t a PR job and;
          2. Communications are more similar to journalism that some might think, so editors won’t definitely have a negative option. It’s far better to work in communications than to be, say, a receptionist if you want to break into the media.

          1. Cat*

            All I was really saying is that no, you can’t discount the possibility that this will be unappealing to some editors, but that doesn’t mean the job isn’t worth considering.

    2. Commsie*

      I work in communications and I say absolutely go for the internship and get that public affairs experience – if you do end up getting a job in the journalism field it will give you great insight into how press secretaries/PR people think and how to work well with them.

  14. Runon*

    #2 – expire at 27
    The problem here isn’t that people don’t offer jobs to anyone after they turn 25 or something absurd like that.

    I’d really recommend going back to start with your resume again and really look at what you are saying. Also make sure you are applying for jobs appropriate for your skill level. If you are being rejected for not enough experience then that level of job might not be the right level of job.

    #3 – What’s my name!
    My very common name has 2 very common spellings. People often spell it wrong. I generally correct it once, it is on my e-mail etc. But after I correct it I don’t mention it again. I do however judge them for not bothering to ever notice or have the basic respect to spell my name correctly after I mentioned it to them.
    I would go directly to IT (I’m guessing your IT has a way to put in a trouble ticket for things that don’t work) and request your e-mail be fixed. And on other official documentation it will be worth pushing for, especially things that lead to you getting paid.

    1. fposte*

      I’m in agreement with you on #2, Runon. That’s an application package or search approach that could likely be improved.

    2. NOT AMANDA*

      #3 – I agree, there’s only so many times I can tell someone that my name is “Amelia” not Emilia not Emily not (my pet peeve) Amanda.
      I try to correct them politely – “Can you hand me that Emily?” “Actually, it’s Amelia, here you go.”

      1. NOT AMANDA*

        I sometimes just ignore repeat offenders. “Oh, were you talking to me? You kept saying Emily….”
        I KNOW it’s wrong, but sometime it feels good to shame them.

      2. T in Construction*

        # oh the misspelling name game. My first name is Patricia, so I get variations of Trisha, Tricia, Trish, Pat, Patsy, Patty, Patti, Tee, etc. My last name is REALLY unusual and not phonetic at all (it was butchered when my family immigrated to the US), so I don’t even bother with correcting most of the time.

  15. Calla*

    #3, I feel your pain. My actual name is uncommon as a name, but a common English word of average length — think of it as similar to, say, Tiara (ha, I wish that was my name). I’d understand if people addressed me by Tiana or Tara or something by accident. But I have literally gotten called names like “Courtney,” “Jeremy,” and — I am not making this one up — “Gourady.” It gets frustrating when people are continuously making huge leaps from your easy-enough name, not tiny mistakes.

    I agree this absolutely needs to be corrected in official listings, and if this is a major leap from your name and said verbally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with nicely saying “Actually, it’s (name), but to answer your question…” once or twice. For some reason correcting it in email comes across as nitpicky though, even though I understand.

  16. E.R*

    #2 I will chime in to say, not to worry about age discrimination. Turning 27 made me feel “old” for the first time, but you are so very young. And it’s likely interviewers wouldn’t even know your age by looking at you, only by guessing based on your graduation rate.
    I started my first professional job at 24 and a few years in, I did look back and think, what’s the rush? Many of my peers felt the same way. Think about where you want to be in 10 years and start working towards it. Take some courses if it makes sense, look for an internship, network. You’ll get there.

  17. Elizabeth*

    On the name issue in #3 … There is a fantastic scene in Star Trek: The Next Generation where Dr Pulaski is in a turbo lift with Commander Data, and she calls him “Commander DAH-ta”.

    He asks her to please call him “Commander “DA-ta”.

    She looks confused and asks him what the difference is.

    He responds “One is my name. The other is not.”

    1. MovingRightAlong*

      The key is to deliver the line as charmingly as Brent Spiner. Who, I’m guessing, could add a few things to this name conversation.

  18. Xay*

    I have a non-English name (that I certainly wouldn’t think of as not normal, just not European) that gets misspelled and mispronounced all the time, to the point where I stopped using my first name for a while. But I got over that because it is not too much to expect people to learn how to spell your name, especially in a professional environment.

    You need to talk to whoever is in charge of official paperwork and make sure your name is spelled correctly. I don’t worry much about informal communication, but any official documents including the directory, your nameplate and your email address should be correct and you need to contact whoever necessary to get that corrected.

  19. Cat H*

    I get really annoyed when people use a short name for me when I haven’t suggested it in emails.

    My signature says Catherine and I always sign off with Cat with the signature underneath. Email recipients know my fullname and the name I like to be known by.

    When I get emails sent to Cathy! I think it’s rude that they have jumped to that without me signing off in that way!

    1. Calla*

      I cannot imagine doing this and I don’t know how other people do either. I sometimes even feel too forward calling people by the shortened name they sign off with (when the full name is in their signature block) because it seems too familiar!

      1. Cat H*

        Tell me about it!

        I have absolutely no problem if someone wants to use my full name. I really hate being called Cathy though.

        Even if someone is called Matthew and I want to refer to them as Matt, I will wait until they use that name with me.

        I just thought that this was normal email etiquette but I happens so often to me that it must not be!

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, you generally don’t want to nickname somebody without their consent. But I think a lot of times it’s not that they’re consciously nicknaming us–they’ve just got other people in their lives who *do* go by that nickname and they didn’t get the wires unsorted in time.

        2. FreeThinkerTX*

          I worked with a man once who thanked me warmly and genuinely when I asked if he went by “Reginald” (the name on his badge) or a derivative like “Reg” or “Reggie”. He said he hates the derivatives and always goes by his given name. He also said he could count on one hand the number of people who had asked him his preference; most people just called him “Reg”.

  20. Ash*

    Regarding whiskey/whisky… There are actually two spellings because they are referring to two different kinds of whiskey/whisky. Whiskey with an ‘e’ is Irish whiskey, whereas whisky without the ‘e’ is Scotch whisky (or simply Scotch).

    The More You Know.

    1. Loose Seal*

      Yes! I learned this while reading my favorite book series — the Jamie and Claire novels by Diana Gabalden.

  21. Anonymous*

    #6 – If you want to work in newspapers DON’T TAKE THAT INTERNSHIP. The world of fluffy news might not care as much, but if you want to do serious journalism, that will be highly frowned upon. Newspaper hiring is unlike any other job you will experience. (The advice on this blog is amazing but journalism is quirky and this is an exception.) You will create a conflict of interest if you want to work in that town. You will have a huge hurdle to overcome in any newsroom that you were playing for the other side. It’s one thing to do it when you’re in college and haven’t graduated or decided on a career yet, but it’s completely different to do it after graduation while trying to find journalism jobs.

    I work in newspapers and know that it’s very, very hard to get jobs right now. But don’t listen to the grumbles about layoffs and staff reductions and lost print days. If you work hard, you too can work in journalism. Just don’t throw it away by taking an internship on the dark side before you can get your foot in the door somewhere else. Just keep trying.

    1. Cat*

      I think you’re doing a disservice to her. It’s all very well to say “work hard enough and you’ll achieve your dreams,” but the fact is, newspapers are laying off veteran reporters with 30 years experience. They’re replacing them, if at all, with cheaper people right out of school, sure. But are those kids going to have a chance to develop the skills their predecessors did? Or do the same kind of work? Or have the same job longevity? They’re going to be trying to do the work of four more experienced colleagues in an environment focused on churning out content as quickly as possible. And then they’re going to be on the chopping blocks when they start getting too expensive. That is not the newspaper environment of yore, and I’m not sure it makes sense to hold it up as an idealized profession worthy of turning down all other offers until it materializes.

      1. Megan No 'H'*

        It’s not an issue of idealizing the profession; it has everything to do with ethics. PR is all about spin, and spin has no place in solid journalism. The two industries may have crossover skills–writing, editing, social media, etc–but they’re applied very differently. If OP #6 really wants a career in journalism, a PR stint is going to send the wrong signal to most news outlets he or she is applying to, because that employer is going to see him or her as “tainted.” If I’m looking to hire a journalist, I’m going to look for someone who has a demonstrated ability to adhere to the industry’s standards of ethics and reporting, and I’m going to be very, very wary of hiring anyone who has the potential to damage my publication’s reputation because their PR habits slipped into their reporting.

        1. Cat*

          I’m not disagreeing. My comment about idealizing the profession was about holding out for a spot in it; not the integrity of the profession itself. Newspaper editors should be wary of people with PR backgrounds. But what I’m saying that a new grad holding out for a newspaper position these days is putting themselves in an extraordinarily risky position, both because (a) they may well not get one; and (b) if they do, it may be nothing like newspaper positions used to be and they may well find themselves in a much worse position than anticipated.

          1. Sam*

            Bearing in mind that the OP may not be able to get a journalism job. Sorry, but I’ve got to be realistic. There are very few junior reporter positions available. Should she really wait tables for a year or more while job hunting, or should she take something that’s vaguely connected to the field she wants to do?

            I don’t personally buy this ‘tainted’ thing. The world is a lot smaller now and editors should at least see that she was proactive enough to get a semi-related job. I once worked with someone who was a PR officer, and she’s now a section editor at a big Australian newspaper! She actually moved there without a job, residency or any business connections in the country. It’s an extreme example sure, but if a non-Australian can succeed in a country that is renowned for giving its citizens first priority with most jobs (fair enough, it’s their country!) then OP can possibly make it if she puts the work in.

            We all have different opinions, but one thing for sure is that none of us can speak for all editors across the world.

            1. V*

              It’s actually quite common to go from PR to journalism and vice versa. The skills overlap and sadly, journalism has become a lot about spin these days too. A true journalist would be able to ask the right questions and separate fact from fiction. A PR person knows from experience what questions to ask.

              There has been a major attempt at bringing ethics back into the role of PR… IABC and PRSA have code of ethics that they expect members to adhere to.

              That being said, ABSOLUTELY the OP should take the internship over waiting tables, retail or nothing. It will not look suspicious to take an internship outside of her field. 90% of people major in something in college and then have a career in something else.

  22. AP*

    #7 – Belize is amazing! Not sure if you’ve been, but…do it do it do it!

    (Sorry, I know you probably have other things to weigh than vacation preferences, but I’m excited for you…)

  23. AP*

    For #1 – I’m not sure where you are in your life/career, but I work with a lot of young freelancers and, even though technically I’m the client, I will often buy coffee or lunch for meetings – mainly because I know I have a corporate Amex with an expense account and I’m pretty sure they don’t.

  24. Lisa*

    My last name has a common name in it — think of the Donald in McDonald. I get called Donald all of the time. I don’t stress to much when its in response to a verbal introduction. But I really just don’t get it when my email — which has a full sig of my name, title, and work info — gets a response of ‘Dear Donald . . . ‘

    What’s weirder — and happens a lot — is when people just skip my name entirely and call me . . . Linda.

  25. nyxalinth*

    My first name is Sheila. I get #3 All. The. Time. People spell my name as:


    It! Is! Sheila! (kicks the misspeller into the pit a la 300)

    I feel better now. :D Seriously, this has happened since kindergarten, both the misspellings and the misstating of my name. I just turned 48, so do the math :P

    1. Kelly O*

      You’d think Kelly would be easy. I get (in no particular order) –


      (My middle name is Anne. Mom said she figured giving me Kelly Anne would be an easy name. Turns out, not so much. I have to remind daycare sometimes that Sarah – my daughter’s name – has an h on the end.)

    2. fposte*

      Oh, yeah, even I notice the Sheila problem, and I’m not Sheila. I think it’s because “ei” is an unusual vowel combination in English. I’ve had to check sometimes when it’s really ingrained in a document to make sure that we haven’t finally encountered a “Shelia.” (Got a book with a “Freida” this week, which is going to lead to trouble for Friedas in the future.)

  26. anon-2*

    #7 – been there, done that. Best way to do it — call the HR department, or the hiring manager — DIRECTLY – and tell him/her —

    “I haven’t heard back from you. I have another offer on the table, but you are my first choice, I’m wondering where this all stands, should I move on, or is there something forthcoming there?”

    You’re probably going to get one of three responses —

    1) “We are going in a different direction” so you know what you have to do (take the job that’s on the table)

    2) “We are delaying filling that slot” – meaning “you may be a good candidate, but we are still looking further” (see – 1) above)

    3) “OH WAIT….. ” and if they press for details, how much are they offering, what is the timeline, etc., you may get an offer before the day is out. Companies love to drag their feet but if they’re going to lose their #1 candidate — you may be able to break the logjam.

    But make that call sincerely and not as a bluff.

    1. Elizabeth*

      If all the company has done so far are phone screens (at least with the OP), though, the odds of #3 happening are pretty much nonexistent. The company can’t know yet who is their top candidate. And if they did offer the OP a job in a rush like that, I would consider that to be a big red flag about the company. Especially since the one person the OP has spoken to is out of the office!

      I also think there’s a chance of annoying the hiring manager by calling, which could lower the chances of getting a different job at this organization later.

      1. anon-2*

        I disagree – conditionally – because if the interview cycle had gone forward, and the applicant is waiting for a yea/nay — the applicant has no choice but to force the issue.

        This happens often – where a firm has an opening but is acting very casually toward filling it. *Sometimes* — SOMETIMES – this lights the fire and gets them working toward a conclusion.

        As far as lowering the chances of getting in there in the future, that’s not an issue, if the applicant has another offer in hand.

    2. Anonymous*

      It’s different in Academia, where usually decisions are done by committee or is by a group which takes a long time. Add on to the fact there may be no one there who can make that decision because most people take vacation in summer because it’s less busy.

  27. De Minimis*

    #2–I don’t think there’s a whole lot of difference between 24 and 27, professionally speaking. As others have said, your main issue is probably how to explain a long gap in employment.

    There are “younger” fields where you do see earlier age discrimination, but even then people don’t usually start to see it until the mid-to-late 30s–and even then it is not on the same level as it is for middle-aged job seekers.

  28. Anonymous*

    I have variant spellings to both my first and last name. I insist that anything official have both names spelled correctly. If I am being introduced to others, I insist both be pronounced correctly so as not to set a precedent. I do not expect strangers to spell or pronounce either of my names correctly, and I do not get offended at errors. My name is weird; I just deal with that. I accept that my coworkers misspell my names, but I think they are idiots for doing so. If they have to type my name correctly into the to line of an e-mail, they should be able to type into correctly in the salutation of an e-mail.

  29. Anonymous*

    #3. My own grandmother I’ve know my whole life still spells my name wrong. My name is Elise. I get Elsie, Alice, Alison, Elyse, Alyce, Louise, Clarice, Lisa, Elisa, and Elisha, Alicia.
    It doesn’t really bother me. Shrug.

  30. JP*

    #3 I’m a Jennifer at work and Jenny in personal stuff. I’d be fine with Jenny or Jen at work (I still get cards from a great-aunt for Jennie, so I probably wouldn’t even correct that)…what I am not okay with is Josh. I get Josh ALL THE TIME (people smush the J with the “osh” in my last name). It says Jennifer in BIG BLUE BOLD LETTERS at the bottom of every email (standard company signature)! Josh is not acceptable. I don’t usually correct, just sign off with my actual name. People usually course correct in the next response, thankfully, but only one person has ever apologized for getting it wrong.

    1. Josh S*

      Hey, I like the name Josh, and even I would get really fed up if people make a contraction out of my first and last names.

  31. Alyssa*

    I also comment on here under a different identity, but my real name is Alyssa–there are about 6 different spellings (at least). I’ve been called everything from Alisha to Alison (no N in my first name) My last name is a long Norweign name that is often mispelled and misprounced as well. For me it had real implications when I went back to grad school for a second time. A federal employee had mispelled my name and then my birthdate got entered wrong somehow. It took6 months and a lot of hassle to get it corrected. I went through undergrad and round one of grad school on a GA position with no problems.

    At my current employer, my boss misspelled my first and last name as well. I ended up going to HR to get my last name corrected for my tax forms 3 times. My boss got mad because I “went over her head.” After asking for it to be corrected for 3 months and having her admin assistant submit the changes 5 times I took matters into my own hands. It is my name and my tax forms–not hers.

  32. train to learn*

    To #5 – I haven’t read all the comments yet, so maybe this has been addressed. But look at training others as a fantastic opportunity to 1) learn your job better and 2) shape the way things are done at your employer. When you find yourself in a situation where you need to explain concepts so others who may be unfamiliar with them understand, it’s a great way to increase your own knowledge of the subject. I have always embraced the opportunity to train co-workers and it often leads to better things, if done well. View this as a opportunity and not an obstacle!

  33. CathVWXYNot?*

    A guy at work who consistently called me Cathy (and called my colleague Diane, Diana) stopped when we started adding an a to the end of his name, turning it into a female name.

  34. myswtghst*

    To #5 – I may be a bit biased, because I am a trainer, but I wanted to share my two cents. :)

    First of all, do take it as a compliment. Being asked to do on-the-job training typically means you’re knowledgeable about and good at your job. Plus, it’s something you can put on a resume in the future.

    Second, I wholeheartedly agree with Alison – make sure when you approach your manager, you do so not just with the problem, but with potential solutions. If you really don’t want to continue training the new hires, see if you can identify someone else who can, and suggest them to your manager. Or, if possible, see if there are other resources – we use a lot of virtual (recorded) training and documentation, which might help minimize the time you spend “live training” the new people.

    Otherwise, try to figure out what you struggle with, and see if there is something you can do to address that – I’ve taken plenty of quick, cheap / free online courses and borrowed plenty of resources from the library to improve my skills, and my boss has been more than willing to reimburse me for a number of things I was able to justify, as well.

  35. ThursdaysGeek*

    #3 misspelled name – I bet a lot of the misspellings are due to the email address having it spelled wrong. Push back on that — would they really not change an email address if the name changed due to marriage or divorce or some other legal name change reason?

    I would never claim that I can’t do some normal part of my job — it makes me look bad. I would never say that I won’t do some normal part of my job — it makes me look lazy. Fixing a name change in an email address is a normal part of an email administrator’s job.

    1. #3 OP*

      What I’ve gotten is that it depends on the manager – our IT department will not change email addresses without a manager’s sign-off on the request. So it all comes down to whether a person’s boss thinks the name change request is appropriate and/or worth the effort. Some people (in the department I started out in, most of them) still have their maiden or pre-divorce email addresses still unchanged years after their actual name has changed.

  36. Cait*

    I’m a Caitlin, so I’ve been correcting people on the spelling of my name since I learned to spell it myself. A lot of people like to put K’s and Y’s where they don’t belong so for the most part I try to take it in stride, but it does get confusing because it’s such a common name (with so many common variants) that if I see something addressed to Caitlyn I have to double-check to make sure they meant me. It may seem nit-picky, but I’ve been in situations where I’ve received notes meant for other people because the sender used the wrong spelling.

    I try to be extra conscientious of how I spell other people’s names, but I was actually recently stumped by one person whose email address said one thing while our other records said another. I went with what was on the email address, thinking that nobody’s name would be misspelled in their own email address… now I’m wondering if I was wrong. That’s absolutely something I would insist on having corrected, because it could easily lead to further errors down the line.

    1. Anonymous*

      I work at a Catholic college. I would never have guessed how many variations of Caitlin there could possibly be before this.

  37. Coffeeless*

    My husband’s middle name was supposed to be Michael, but his birth certificate reads Micheal, so people always assume he made a mistake on official documents that have his middle name. As for me, I have a ridiculous last name that’s pronounced very differently than its spelled, so I can’t really get too angry at constant misspellings.

    1. Anonymous*

      In all fairness, similar to the posters encouraging the OP to really push for the email to be fixed, if your preferred spelling isn’t the same as the spelling on your ID, then it’s not really misspelled if someone simply reads of the ID.

      1. Anonymous*

        That is, from the person’s perspective. Of course it’s not really your name, but that’s why IDs should show the right name.

    2. MJ*

      My husband’s name on his birth certificate is spelled “Josuha”. Surprisingly, he is yet to have any issues getting official documentation as “Joshua”. Lots of people don’t check the birth certificate spelling clearly, apparently!!

  38. Cassie*

    #3: I’ve had people shorten my first name in emails, so “Cass” instead of “Cassie, although I’m not sure if they are doing it as a nickname-sort-of-thing, or if it’s because they confused me with Cass who works in a different dept.

    I try to be really conscientious about spelling people’s names correctly, which is why it bugs me a little when people sign off their emails with just “Thanks” followed by their signature. I always sign off my emails with “Thanks, Cassie” (unless it is someone that I frequently email and this is the 4th email in a row). I know it’s a personal preference but it gives me a clue as to what the person wants to be called. Like when the signature says “Benjamin” but I know others call him “Ben”. I don’t want to be too formal and use Benjamin, but I don’t want to be too casual/close by using Ben.

    We work with a lot of Chinese-speaking people and people from one country frequently have hyphenated given names, while people from some of the other countries do not. One of my bosses continues to hyphenate another prof’s name even though it is not supposed to be hyphenated (it drives the latter guy crazy; I don’t know if he’s actually mentioned it to my boss or not but I wouldn’t be surprised if my boss was doing it intentionally). We also sometimes abbreviate to initials (as is common in one of those countries) – the “spelled out” name using English letters is not really tied to their identity (since their names are in Chinese). Plus, some of the transliterated names are not transliterated using the international standards so you get a whole host of variations.

  39. #3 OP*

    Coming back to this a little later, since I’ve been moving this weekend, but to answer some of the common things that have been raised-

    It is, in fact, my last name that gets misspelled, either with just double letters dropped or (very commonly) with double letters dropped AND letters transposed. (Not my name, but turning ‘Caudillo’ into ‘Caudlio’ would be comparable in terms of how much phonetic sense it makes and how it looks.) My preferred (not legal) first name also gets often misspelled, but this tends to grind my gears less, as it’s not my “official” name, just the name my coworkers do me the courtesy of calling me.

    Yes, I’ve pushed. My first manager with the company was the one who gave me the “don’t care, we don’t change them” answer. When I contacted IT directly, not really believing her, they told me that they CAN change email addresses/associated names, but it requires a person’s direct boss to submit the request. (So in other words, my boss’ answer really boiled down to “*I* don’t care and don’t want to bother.”) Since then, I’ve gone through a couple different managers at the company, and the answers have been “I’d love to but I don’t know how, now let’s never speak of this again,” “Oh sure, I’ll put in the request, just let’s have X, Y, Z, A, B, C, D… get done first!” and most recently, “Sure, remind me later. Oh, it’s later? Uhh, remind me later still…”

    For the most part, I’ve come to accept it with a sigh and a grumble, but every now and then it just boils over for me and I sit in a fuming rage going “God why is this so hard it is SEVEN LETTERS and RIGHT THERE why can’t you GET THIS RIGHT…” and knowing that when I’m in that mood, it is really, really not the time to get into it with whoever’s made the mistake this time.

    1. anon*

      Would it work for you to submit a request to IT via email with a cc to your manager, instead of having your manager make the request directly? I’ve worked at places that allow this, simply because some managers can’t be bothered (or get too tied up, etc) to submit requests for their employees, so the “cc” acts as the approval.

    2. Phoebe*

      If you can explain the situation (like, by saying exactly this, but in more professional language) to IT, then ask them if you can submit the request yourself and CC your boss and have that serve as approval, do you think they would be responsive?

  40. Marie*

    I’m Marie-Ève, I don’t get mad at non french speaking people who can’t seem to be able to pronounce my name, They can call me Marie any time.

    For some strange reason, a lot of people call me Geneviève, my ex-boss would still randomly call me Geneviève after 3 years.

    the first year I was at my curent job it happened a lot, not so much now.

    Most of the Workers will call me Marie, but it’s mainly a problem with them not being able to say the full name.

    I try to call all of them by they name, but I’m having trouble with one (so may vowels), I still try and he’s good about helping me saying it ( I can spell it fine). His coworkers call him Denis (no link what so ever with his real name), that would bugg me

  41. bob*

    Age discrimination is a real thing, but it usually applies to people much older than you

    It also applies to people much younger than you. Do you know how hard it is for people under 18 to get a job? Did you know in some states its illegal to give a willing adult under the age of 18 a job for the summer without her parent’s approval?

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