do I write horribly unclear emails, my internships look like job-hopping, and more

It’s seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. Do I write horribly unclear emails?

Do you have any tips for writing emails in the office? I just left a job after 5 months of temp work in an office of 3 people (me, a paralegal, and an attorney). It seemed like every time I wrote an email, I was reprimanded because it wasn’t clear or didn’t make sense. I was even told that if the email didn’t make sense to either my boss or my coworker or if it was too long that they just deleted it.

My boss was in the office 0% of the time (I met her 3 times), so email was our lifeline, but if something didn’t make sense she would ask my coworker what I meant. They would never say “this doesn’t make sense, can you be more clear?” They would just speculate about what an email might mean, delete it without answering, and reprimand me the next morning for writing an email that didn’t make sense and for not getting the work done that I was asking about. They also had rules about how many spaces had to be before and after a slash, and had form emails and subject lines that I was supposed to copy for certain things.

After about a month of this, every time I went to write an email to someone, I started to freak out and take forever even to write one sentence making sure it was as concise and clear as possible. I have worked in 2 offices before this, and we emailed, but not often. My other bosses were more face-to-face or used the phone because our offices were next to each other. No one has ever told me I write confusing emails before, or that anything else I write is confusing.

I feel like they were over the top with their email requirements, but I’m still afraid I might need some tips on how to write email since my other bosses didn’t rely on it so heavily. I’d appreciate any help or links you can provide.

Well, your email here is perfectly clear, so if this is any representation of the types of emails they were objecting to, the problem was your boss and coworker, not you. And I’m inclined to think that, particularly because they handled it so poorly — not asking you to clarify, deleting, and so forth.

In general, you want emails to be short and to the point, with the most important information up top, without tons of background, and you want it to be very clear why you’re emailing — are you asking for approval on something, keeping someone in the loop on an issue, asking for some sort of action, etc.? And you want a descriptive subject line (not “hello” or “question”) so the recipient can find it later or tell at a glance what it’s about. But you also want sane coworkers who don’t berate you for writing in what appears to be a reasonably clear way, and I’m thinking that was the bigger issue here. (That said, it wouldn’t hurt to show some of these emails, if you still have them, to a friend or mentor who writes well and ask them for feedback, just to make sure.)

2. Asking a prospective employer about going part-time a few years from now

I’m currently going through the interview process for a job that I’m really excited about. It’s a full-time position. With that said, I have a few reservations and don’t know how to address them, or even if they can be addressed.

I’m currently the sole benefits provider in my household. My husband is self employed, with a great salary but no health insurance. My existing job has great benefits, and I know that if in the future (two years, maybe), I start a family and decide to change my hours to part time, these benefits don’t change. This is basically the only “pro” to my current job.

I know you don’t discuss benefit packages until final negotiations, but is there ever an appropriate way to say “If I want to switch from full-time to part-time in a few years, is that an option? And if so, how does it effect my benefit package?” My gut is telling me you can’t ask this. But it’s a huge consideration for me as an early 30s woman who is starting to consider starting a family!

You’re right that you definitely don’t want to bring it up until you have an offer, but I’d be somewhat wary about bringing it up even then. Many employers will hear “I plan to take significant leave in a few years, maybe sooner, and I might not come back at all, and if I do, I’ll want to cut my hours.” Some employers will be just fine with that, but some will not — and you’ll see it reflected in the projects you’re assigned and how seriously you’re taken. And you probably won’t know these people well enough yet to know which camp they’re in.

One option is to work your ass off over the next few years and do such an outstanding job that they’re jumping to keep you after you have a baby, part-time or not. It’s not a guaranteed outcome, of course, but both paths are somewhat risky.

3. My manager says she can’t do anything about a slacker coworker

I have a coworker who doesn’t come into work until 10 a.m. and leaves at 4 p.m. most days, if she makes it that long, and who does not write down PTO hours for the time gone. She averages 26 hours a week (which doesn’t even qualify her for the medical insurance that she receives). Anyway, my manager says there is nothing they can do about this. Is that true? She and I are the only two non-exempt employees in the department.

My question is, can they set a schedule for her to work by? Or at least tell her that she has to be to work by 8 like the whole rest of the company?

Of course they can require her to stick to a particular schedule. Your manager’s claim that they can’t means one of the following: (a) your manager is incredibly incompetent, (b) your company is hamstrung by some overly zealous (and incompetent) HR department that doesn’t understand employment law, or (c) your coworker is being given legitimate schedule accommodations for a medical condition (or a family medical situation), which isn’t something you’d necessarily be informed of.

4. Was I too pushy in this hiring process?

I am in university administration. I was laid off so am unemployed in an area with few institutions of higher ed. I am desperate not to have to move my family so keep an eye on every open position at the two universities near me.

A director level job came up, and I applied, had a phone interview, and was asked in for a final interview, along with two other candidates. It was a six-hour event, including an hour with the dean and the vice chancellor. The vice chancellor (who would have been my boss) and I seemed to make a personal connection (he worked at my alma mater and knew my mentor very well). We spoke a little about what it was like being unemployed and he looked directly at me and said, “Well, if you don’t get the job here, I know I will have some suggestions for you so we’ll talk. You won’t be getting a form letter from me, I can tell you that.”

I sent email and handwritten thank-you notes to all 14 people I met with. Some emailed me back, which was nice. Two weeks passed with no contact. I sent a short, polite follow-up email to the search chair, asking her if a decision had been made or if she wanted to meet with me or see any of my portfolio work. She replied immediately that they still had to interview the final candidate because scheduling had been tough. I waited one month. I received an offer for a job five hours away requiring relocation. I wrote to the search chair again, letting her know this and asking if I was still under consideration or whether they had moved on with a different choice. No reply. A week later, I wrote to the vice chancellor to let him know about the other offer and to also tell him I had started my masters in university admin and to ask him for any suggestions or advice. I should also say another director level job in the same area had been posted during this past month and in each e-mail I asked whether my application for that position would be welcomed since they knew so much about me already. No reply.

Where did I go wrong? Is this just the norm — to not even let final candidate know the outcome? Can I do anything else? I don’t want to move 5 hours away if there is still a chance. Do I just have to let this one go? Was I too pushy? Should I apply for the other job which hasn’t closed yet? I checked their website and no new staff are listed and no announcements have been made (which are routine).

Yes, all of this is the norm — not responding to candidates when they send direct queries, not sending rejections, and promising a personal response but then going silent. It’s extremely rude, but it’s extremely common. It doesn’t sound like you were too pushy at all, but it also doesn’t sound like you should continue contacting them at this point. You told them you had another offer, and you got silence — that’s a signal to move on. I’m sorry.

5. Applying for a second full-time job on top of my first full-time job

I have a full-time job right now working 8-5 (M-F). My financial situation is such that I feel the need to get another full-time job to cover expenses. It is just my husband and myself (so no kids missing their mommy time or anything like that). I am fully committed to doing both jobs to the best of my ability. I keep all my commitments, which include paying my debt/expenses.

The second job is 1AM-8:30AM M-F and on some weekend hours. I am very qualified for this position (maybe even overqualified). My questions are this: When/if they ask why I want to leave my current position, what do I say? I plan on doing both jobs. I don’t want to scare them away and make them think that I will be over-committing myself, as I don’t believe that to be the case. Is there a way that I can avoid saying that I will be having two full-time jobs or should I tell them that is the plan up-front?

Also, how would I negotiate either with my current job or this potential new one to flex the time so that I can still work both since there is an overlap of 30 minutes (noteworthy that they are only 15 minutes apart commuting time, tops)?

I do think you need to tell them because it might turn out the two jobs are incompatible — they might need you to stay late or come in early, or they might simply not want you working 1 a.m. to 5 p.m., because they might figure that you’re not going to be at your best. And they’re probably right about that — that’s a really long day, with less than four hours of sleep per night. Not only should you not be working with the sort of chronic sleep deprivation that you’ll suffer from if you do this night after night (and most people would see that reflected in their performance at both jobs), but you shouldn’t be driving either! This is bad for you, it’s bad for your employers, and it’s potentially bad for other people on the road. Is there some other option?

6. Should I tell my boss that a competitor has three people doing my job?

I work in an administrative job at a private school. Should I tell my boss I discovered that a smaller peer school has my job divided amongst three people? I do at least two full-time jobs, and I manage to pull it off despite being spread very thin. After speaking with a director at this other school, who was shocked at how much I’m expected to do, I feel like I’m being taken advantage of. However, I doubt there is any money in our budget to accommodate another employee (even if they wanted to hire one). My supervisors are always trying to add other pieces onto my job, and I frequently push back letting them know how busy I am. Since I always meet deadlines and produce quality work, they feel like there shouldn’t be a problem and that I should just “work longer hours.” I don’t know how to curtail the endless sprawl of my job responsibilities without being seen as having a bad attitude. Should I bring up the conversation I had with the director at the smaller school?

No. It’s a smaller school so the workload is probably different. Also, I’d avoid thinking (or saying) that you’re working two full-time jobs. Unless you’re working close to 80 hours a week, you’re not; you might be doing work in two different areas, yes, but that’s not “two full-time jobs.” If two people were doing the work, there would presumably be more work, it would be more in-depth, and there would be more responsibilities.

I don’t say that to minimize what you’re doing, but you want to make sure that you’re thinking about this aspect of it clearly, so that (a) you’re not more resentful than the situation warrants, and (b) if you do talk to your manager about this at some point, you don’t make arguments that she’ll be dismissing in her head.

7. My internships make employers think I’m a job-hopper

I’m applying for new jobs and facing a challenge in structuring my resume. I worked for three years and then went to graduate school (for law). During law school, I decided I would rather do something in my previous line of work, where a law degree could be beneficial, but is certainly not necessary or even the norm.

After law school, I went back to a similar industry/type of job, where I have been for the last two years. Throughout law school, I had a number of internships (between 20-40 hours per week) that are either directly or somewhat related to the industry where I currently work/where I’m seeking new opportunities. I’m currently looking for new opportunities, and I’m having trouble finding a good way to present this information so it makes sense for potential employers.

When I just list my full-time job experience, employers have asked about a gap in service. When I list my internships, it looks like I jumped around in positions (in the legal world there is often a distinction of the types of jobs available for second year students vs. third year students, so I had two jobs and a consulting gig during law school). And almost unilaterally, either way I present it, employers tend to look at me as someone with two years of experience, not five years of full-time experience and two years of part-time internships.

List your internships in a section clearly labeled “Internships,” separate from your work experience. Or, keep them in your work section, but clearly label them as internships (for example, writing “Researcher (Intern)” rather than just “Researcher”), so that it’s clear that they were structured as short-term position, and you weren’t just job-hopping.

{ 133 comments… read them below }

  1. Jessa*

    Regarding #1. That’s kind of outrageous. If you have an issue with how someone writes an email or a report or anything actually, the way you handle it is to take what they’ve written and sit down and explain what you don’t like about it. You can’t expect someone to fix something if you don’t tell them what’s wrong with it. That’s true of anything someone is doing wrong. Saying “this is wrong,” is really no way to manage anyone. If they knew it was wrong, they wouldn’t have done it that way in the first place.

    1. Ann Furthermore*

      I know, this is completely ludicrous. Was “mind-reader” one of the qualifications for the job?

      This reminds me of an infuriating error I run across in the software system I support. Sometimes you click on a link or a button, and get a message that says, “You have encountered an unexpceted error.” Well gee, thanks, that’s very informative. Grrr!

      1. Anonymous*

        Lots of jobs have “mind-reader” as a qualification but, y’know, they don’t have to put it in the ad ;-)

      2. MrsG*

        Yes, one qualification of a legal assisting position is always mind-reader. For some reason they don’t teach it in college. :/

    2. Sydney Bristow*

      I had a temp job once with a boss who had similar email expectations. She wanted everything written in a really specific way so she could copy/paste the relevant portions of my emails into her emails to her bosses. I understand that she wanted it done so she wouldn’t need to edit my writing to fit her style, but the whole process was completely jarring to me. Like the OP, I began to second guess everything I wrote. I still do to some extent and it drives me crazy.

      To the OP- If you come across this again, I found it helpful to keep notes on her preferred format of everything. I’d create form letters myself based on what she sent to me or her bosses. It was very difficult sometimes to get her to describe her preferred formatting, but I was lucky that a fellow assistant who sat next to me had filled in at my desk occasionally and knew some of the formats.

      1. MrsG*

        Thanks, that’s a good tip. I’ve actually tried that, but it seems like the requirements change for some people every time the wind blows.

    3. SarasWhimsy*

      I’ve dealt with this twice now at my previous position and at my current position. At my last position a very rude coworker stood up and yelled at me “You don’t make any sense! Speak English!”. It turned I knew what I was talking about and I did make sense – even in English. My coworker just didn’t have a clue. She only knew how to do very specific steps and had no thoughts or understanding about the process itself.
      At my current position I’m told “you’re not clear”, “I don’t understand you”, “you don’t make any sense”. It’s taken me quite awhile to figure this out, but I finally have. The person I hear this from has been with this company close to 30 years. She doesn’t know any “lingo” or profession-specific terms. Now that I’m heavily rephrasing she’s happier.
      So OP #1, I don’t think it was you. I think it was your shitty coworkers.

    4. Jennifer*

      I had one boss who didn’t like how I wrote e-mail. He basically wanted them to be a lot longer and less to the point. Every other boss I’ve had before or after him had no problem with how I wrote e-mail. It honestly may just be this one supervisor’s style here, because you seem perfectly coherent to me. I have been known to just flat out ask my boss, “Here’s what I wrote so far, how do I fix it?”, but if your boss is literally never, ever there–well, ask someone who’s there in person, maybe? But honestly, they all just sound like they’re being rude dicks about this rather than giving constructive criticism. I don’t know how to fix that.

  2. Sancho*

    #2 – I agree with AAM, you don’t want to bring up that you are looking to move to part-time work in a couple of years. In fact, even though I am not a woman and don’t play one on TV, I would caution you against even thinking like this. This is something that Sheryl Sandberg talks about in Lean In (the book is fantastic, even though I don’t agree with all of it).

    You don’t want to start removing yourself from your career before you have even had children. Who knows, you might end up in a situation where you don’t have to work part-time and your husband can take of the kids. Or, God forbid, you might not have children, at least in the timeframe you want.

    You should approach this job as you would every job. Be professional, committeed and focused on the job as it is, rather than how it might be or how you think it will be in the future.

    #4 – Honestly, I think the OP was a liiiiitle bit over the top with both email and handwritten thank you notes, but I don’t think that has any relation to her success in the process. If she is really keen on the job, I would phone either the chair or the vice chancellor. Then again, would you want to work for people who treat others like this?

    1. jesicka309*

      #4 That was my thought too – 14 handwritten thank you notes? Plus emails? That’s 28 attempts at contact over the interviewing process….wow.

      1. Sancho*

        To be fair to her though, it seems that that was to 14 different people. But still, it should be either email or handwritten, not both. I can’t imagine that lost her the job though.

        1. jesicka309*

          Probably not, but if I received a snail mail thank you letter as well as an email, I might be a bit bit taken aback. If I showed it to someone else on the panel, saying “huh, two thank yous?” and they responded “me too! You know, even Mary the HR assistant who did the phone screenings got two thank you notes from OP…” it could raise a red flag.

          I always try and make my thank you notes out to the people I connected most with, or had the most direct contact with the role I’ve applied for, as they’re the one I’d have the most questions for – I would avoid sending a letter to each person I spoke to along the process.

          1. Cat*

            It wouldn’t raise any red flags whatsoever for me. I’d assume someone had told the OP that she needed to write handwritten thank you notes but that she wanted to send an e-mail thank you to make sure it was timely. I’d think it was entirely unnecessary and that she should have just gone with the e-mail, but I also wouldn’t think she was stalking me or otherwise discount her as a result of that. Nor would I think it was a problem that she sent a thank you to the person who did the phone screening in HR (or whatever); in fact, leaving out people is a much bigger risk than being over-inclusive in interview thank yous, I think.

          2. College Career Counselor*

            It’s not unheard of for the higher ed world for everyone on the search/interview committee to get a personalized note. I’ve never thought badly of a candidate who did that.

            That said, I agree that handwritten AND email is a bit much. Email is absolutely fine–especially for those of us with terrible penmanship! Plus, if you send it to the chair of the search committee s/he can send it to the other members very easily. This comes in especially handy when you don’t know all the names of the search committee members, didn’t get their cards, and/or you interviewed with dozens of people (this happens all the time in academia). Some years ago, I had an interview where over the course of one extremely long day, I met 53 different people singly and in small groups. One email to the search chair will cover you.

            The fact that they didn’t get back to OP (when they said they would) is a red flag on them. They’re telling you who they are, and while it sucks to relocate (been there, done that) against your preference, so does working for a disorganized, unprofessional, sloppy outfit.

            1. Audiophile*


              I learned my lesson with handwritten notes AND email. The email to each one, would have sufficed. Never again, doing both. It’s unnecessary and it basically cost me a job I really wanted.

                1. Audiophile*

                  No it was just executed very poorly on my part. I shouldn’t have said it cost me the job, it wasn’t guaranteed. But they definitely didn’t help me in this case.
                  I’ve always sent emails only and it’s done the job. And I should have stuck in this case.

            2. RG*

              Except the students :) I’ve been the student rep on a few search committees – undergrad and law school, and have NEVER received a thank you note. Didn’t think anything of it, so no harm/no foul, I guess. I was mostly happy that the school was reimbursing me for yummy breakfasts.

            3. Sophia*

              And I’ve always been told, in academia, that you actually don’t need to write thank you notes to everyone you met – just the search committee chair and anyone who particularly had a good conversation with

            1. Anonymous*

              I think it’s important to note that, for the most part, no one gets an offer because they sent hand-written or emailed thank yous. It can’t hurt, but if it is the “deciding factor” you probably don’t want to work there anyway…

  3. fposte*

    #4–do you happen to know if your references were contacted? While this is probably just sucky SOP, you might want to confirm that there were no surprises lurking in your references.

  4. Julie*

    In your answer to #4, you say, “It’s extremely rude, but it’s not extremely common.” Is that what you meant, or should it say “…not extremely uncommon”? I could see the sentence going either way, so I wanted to make sure I understand your answer. Thanks!

  5. bob*

    regarding #1

    You also always want to put replies at the *bottom* of the email – not on top. Many email clients mess this up by default (outlook and gmail are notorious offenders). Emails done this way are far less confusing.

    1. Jen in RO*

      As an Outlook and Gmail user, seeing replies at the bottom is very confusing to me. If you’re using one of these email clients and trying to get around the way they work by default, you’re probably annoying lots of people.

      1. Chinook*

        It is not just Outlook and GMail. Blackberry has you reply at the top on their phone as does Yahoo. In all my years of using email (and I started back in 1996 when I had to go to the bowels of the Computer Science building to request an email address), I never once had a program ask me to do anything but reply to an email at the top.

        This also makes sense from a publishing perspective – newspaper articles are done in a reverse triangle with the most relevant info at the top and background details further down.

    2. Seal*

      What?!? That is not the norm for email AT ALL. I’ve sent and received tens of thousands of email messages both personal and professional over the years and the vast majority of them had the replies at the the top, not the bottom. The ones that didn’t had responses to specific questions in the body of the original message with a note to that effect at the top. Putting your reply at the bottom means the sender has to read their original message before the see your reply, completely defeating the purpose of what is supposed to be a fast way to communicate.

      1. KellyK*

        Totally agree. It makes sense to reply at the bottom if you cut out everything but a snippet of the original email that you’re replying specifically to. Other than that, it really should go at the top.

      2. Rana*

        Agreed! I hate having to scroll through the stuff I wrote before, and the previous responses, and all the rest of the quote tree to get to the new information. Put it at the top, please.

    3. Anonymous*

      outlook and gmail are notorious offenders)

      I don’t have stats on this, but I suspect those two clients cover a rather sizable chunk of email users out there. Working against the convention just makes life harder for everyone else.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Wait, what? I’d say fewer than 1% of the emails I receive put the replies at the bottom, and it always comes across as sort of not getting how to use email.

      1. bob*

        replies at the bottom is proper email etiquette. cutting out extraneous content is part of bottom posting.

        Top posting comes across as not really getting how to use email.

        Consider the following cases
        – archived mail – where the read later needs to read from the bottom up
        – adding a third party to the mail – where the reader get confused by the random reply until she scrolls to the bottom.

    5. Elise*

      I have used many email services over the years and none put the replies on the bottom. Which are you using that does it that way?

      I’ve use outlook, gmail, aol, yahoo, hotmail, gmx,, and various proprietary programs. They all put the reply at the top, where it is easiest to find.

      1. Tina*

        I use gmail for personal and Outlook for work, and they both put replies on the top with the original message on the bottom. Is it a settings issue? If so, I don’t remember having had to manually choose to do it that way – and since my office computer was replaced about a month ago and I had to re-establish my Outlook, I’d hope I remembered that.

      2. Bea W*

        SquirrelMail (free PHP webmail program) starts the cursor at the bottom on a reply, but that is really the only one I can recall in recent memory. I can’t imagine this is commonly in use, and people I know who do use it, still reply at the top, because replying at the top is the convention and it’s easier for the recipient to see.

        1. Nancie*

          I use SquirrelMail, and it starts the reply at the top of the email. So there must be an option at either the user or the system level to override the reply location.

          Unfortunately I’ve been using it for so long I couldn’t begin to tell you if it was something I had to set myself!

    6. Zahra*

      I get that, if you want the context, replies all the way through at the bottom are less confusing. On the other end, if the conversation grows longer, you have to scroll all the way down to the bottom and then find the beginning of the last reply. Most people I know remember the topic by looking at the subject line or just glancing at the last message before the reply jogs their mind.

      Thus, the usual convention is actually to put the reply up at the top.

      1. bob*

        “. On the other end, if the conversation grows longer, you have to scroll all the way down to the bottom and then find the beginning of the last reply.”

        Trim your quotes. Solves the problem.

        1. TheSnarkyB*

          No, because then if you ever want the full context, it’s completely gone. How does this make sense?

    7. Bea W*

      Having to scroll through all the original text to get to a reply at the bottom is needlessly time consuming and annoying. When I see a reply in email, I don’t want to have to go searching for it. I just want to open the email and have the reply text right in my face, first thing I see. I don’t need to re-read what I wrote the first time. I just need to read the reply.

    8. Anonymous*

      Emails done this way are far MORE confusing. If I have to look at 100 emails in an hour I don’t want to have to search and scroll and dig to find the answer. It should be at the top, if I need the background I can scroll down to read that. But most of the time all I need is that one quick response.

      Outlook (for once) and gmail do it right. Replies at the top.

    9. The IT Manager*

      Wow, Bob. Emails done that way would only be less confusing for you. Everyone else trained in the email standard of the reply on top would think you sent a blank message.

    10. Ellie H.*

      Yeah, that seems pretty nuts to me too. Whenever I get the rare email with the response on the bottom I always first think it was mistakenly sent without a response. Outlook and gmail aren’t “notorious offenders,” this is actually the set standard.

    11. fposte*

      In the old days, before AOL, yes. But the convention changed for a reason, and people now communicate based on the reply-on-top convention, so bucking it means becoming the problem rather than solving it.

      1. Jamie*

        Until this thread if I got an email with my own email on top I’d have assumed it was an inadvertent reply. I can’t remember the last time I saw anyone send a bottom reply email.

      2. Chinook*

        “In the old days, before AOL, yes.”

        I think I am having flashbacks to the double and triple lines on the left denoting what level the message is at. But, that was back when I was dialing up the university computer on my word processor with the 4 inch, grey and black screen. Even then, it was annoying.

      3. Liz*

        You mean “In the old days, before Outlook was so common and gmail existed”, right? Because in the days of AOL and usenet it was very common, and indeed preferred, to use bottom-reply, or for replies to be interspersed with the original message for clarity.

        With the essential death of usenet and the huge popularity of Outlook, convention has now changed to top-reply.

    12. A Bug!*

      To my knowledge Thunderbird is one of the few clients that still clings to that outdated convention. And to be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if a significant chunk of their userbase are people who’ve been on the Internet long enough to have participated in usenet groups and the like, where the “bottom-reply” was considered “proper”.

      Basically, I think once a point is reached where Outlook and Gmail both default to “reply on top”, it’s no longer “messing up”, but rather a reflection of a changed convention.

      (I googled to see if I could find other clients that still do this, and one of my first hits was a 2006 discussion where the OP was of your mind, and the replies even back then were heavily skewed toward ‘top-posting’. I think you’re fighting a battle that’s long since been lost.)

      1. Anonymous*

        Even then, there’s a setting for it. (although I’ve had it for long enough that I have no idea what the default was)

      2. Cassie*

        I just did a quick search (I use Thunderbird and although I remember seeing the option in the settings, I couldn’t remember what the default was either) – it looks like the latest version (ver 24?) has default reply at the top of the email.

        From the Thunderbird FAQs, the reason for changing the default because of “frequent requests in forums and the choice of default in other mail clients…”

        I’ve gotten a couple of reply-at-the-bottom emails over the years – one professor in particular uses this convention (he is in his 70s, I think). I think it would be particularly confusing if it was a long email chain, with multiple replies – having some replies at the top and other replies at the bottom means that people will have to scroll down and up and down and up while reading the email (if they want to refer to an earlier reply).

  6. Contessa*

    For #1, the strict subject line and formatting requirements might have come from clients, not the firm. We have some required email subject line formats like that. If my secretary doesn’t follow them, I’m the one who gets yelled at. On the other hand, I gave her a template, and told her when to use them, and if it gets done wrong, I tell her exactly what wasn’t right and what to do instead for next time. I despise being told I messed up by someone who refuses to then tell me how to fix it or avoid it in the future, and, alternatively, not being told how to do something, then getting screamed at because I didn’t meet their mystery standards they refused to share earlier, so I try not to do those things to other people.

    Also, if this was an area of law where there are specific terms of art that come up a lot, the attorney and paralegal could have been confused if the terms weren’t used in a way they understood. But, again, they should have asked you what you meant and explained how to communicate the idea/question better next time.

    1. ac*

      Agree with this. As a lawyer in private practice, I can see why some email issues by an admin or junior attorney would be very problematic (e.g., grammatical errors in client emails, overly wordy or unclear emails to a time-pressed lawyer, not using a form email when told to or changing the form email without permission), to the point that is a serious concern for your boss. But the correct way to handle it is to address and try to fix the issues — NOT just ignore the emails.

    2. Anonymous*

      This shows another parallel between work and dating. Once dated what I later found to be a very high maintenance woman; in the end, nothing I did or said was ever good enough. When I asked her what I was doing wrong or what to do differently, she replied “You just have to know!!!”

    3. MrsG*

      I understand form letters to send to clients, and used them a lot. I think I only emailed someone outside of the firm twice though. The emails I’m talking about are more along the lines of just letting someone know I called maintenance for a problem. I was reprimanded for taking the time to explain that there was a noise, what the noise was related to, and that I had notified maintenance.

      It really does bother me though that they didn’t explain why something was wrong. They kept telling me my emails were too long and jumbled, then a month later said they couldn’t read it on a Blackberry, and it took several months until someone would actually show me what email looked like on a Blackberry and explain why it looked jumbled to them.

  7. Elizabeth*

    For #5, the writer could get maybe 6 hours of sleep a night by going straight home and right to bed – no spending time with the husband or even eating a non-rushed dinner. But that’s still not enough.

    OP, I believe you when you say you’re responsible, but I don’t think this is sustainable. The human body has limits.

    1. Jamie*

      Agreed. An 80 hour week is exhausting, I’ve done it on rare occasions, but no way would I be able to keep it up as a regular schedule. And while I know everyone’s different no way would I trust anyone could sustain that and maintain quality of work long term.

      Over the years I’ve learned that when I get up over 70-75 or two weeks without a day off I get pretty unlikeable and even rote work takes a lot more effort and requires more corrections. Silent, resentful, and blurry is no way to go through life. You have to know your body.

      1. Colette*

        My problem solving ability disappears when I’m overworked. Any slight problem becomes a huge disaster, and I cannot figure out how to get past it … until I take a day off, and then the solution is obvious.

        1. Gemma*

          Yes! And the worst part is that when you’re in the thick of it you don’t even realize what’s happening, or why everything seems to be going so poorly. You know you’re tired, but it’s hard to overstate the nosedive your cognitive abilities really take, and you may not be aware that they’re impaired.

          1. Jamie*

            Exactly! Not only are you not working at full capacity, but when extreme fatigue makes everything seem so overwhelming and emotional. Every single thing is a BFD, as Colette mentioned…which makes everything so much worse and can really hurt your reputation if this causes you to act in ways against your best political interests.

    2. Bea W*

      Agreed. The spirit may be willing, but the body won’t be able to keep up. Performance at both jobs will suffer. The OP’s health and home life will suffer. It is likely to strain the OP’s relationship with her husband and create even more issues than taking a second full time job was meant to solve. OP – you have weekends off, but you’re going to find that you’re too exhausted to want to do anything and have to use that time to catch up on all the errands and chores and other life tasks you can’t do working 16+ hour days.

      OP, are there other alternatives you have already tried help your financial situation where you might be able to be okay working a second part time job or having both you and your husband working a part time job? Cutting your cost of living expenses? Refinancing or renegotiating loan terms? Small changes in lifestyle or services that could reduce, even by the smallest amount, some of your bills?

      1. OP #5*

        Thank you everyone for the feedback.

        Ideally a PT job would be better, however most that I find are during the work hours of my first FT job. Also the pay per hour seems to be better at FT jobs as opposed to PT jobs.

        I have done refinancing of the home and placing loans on forbearance until I feel like I can get back on my feet financially. Cut costs of living (grocery, gas, all other items to only the necessities).

        I worry too about the lack of sleep and getting burnt out, but I am also compelled to do what I have to do to pay my debt down. Ideally this would only be for a few years and not a new lifestyle.

        1. Ruffingit*

          Just something to consider. I know someone who was in your position. She worked full-time during the day and then took a job doing pizza delivery at night after her full-time job hours. She worked pizza delivery from around 6 – 11 at night. While base pay was small, the tips made up for it and she made a pretty good chunk of change doing that for a couple of years. She was able to pay some massive student loans with that money. Just something to consider because it offers a better work schedule than what you are looking at now. I hate to be doom and gloom, but you will not be able to keep up two FT jobs like that. It’s not about how strong you are or how willing, your body will not be able to handle that for long.

          1. Jamie*

            Yes – and it’s kind of like treading water…for a while even if the pace can be maintained there won’t be the energy/time to move forward career-wise so the OP might find herself making less money in 5 years than if she’d focused on her job and seeking advancement that way.

            Professional reputations are hard to rebuild.

            1. Ruffingit*

              That’s a good point to be considered as well. The discussion of taking two jobs reminded me of when I was working night shift (10 p.m. – 6 a.m.) at the front desk of a gym. That was the only job I had and it exhausted me to the point where I had to quit. I was sleeping during the day, but not enough since life goes on (loudly I might add) during the daylight hours and it was killing me to be awake all night. I can’t imagine working during the day and then doing a full shift at night. No way.

          2. Anonymous*

            That’s a great point – a mentally unchallenging second job with part time hours is a lot more sustainable than a second FT job.

          3. OP #5*

            Thank you Ruffingit…I think this could be a great solution. I will see what I can find. Didn’t even think about tips.

            1. Ruffingit*

              You’re welcome and I hope it works out for you! I can also recommend I’ve gotten both pet sitting and babysitting jobs from that site that closed the gap for me some months with money. I’m still doing a pet sitting job I got from there two years ago. I make a couple extra hundred a month from that and it fits with my current schedule, it’s something I can do on my lunch hour. Hang in there. I know where you’re at and it’s not easy.

    3. Anonymous*

      One of the hardest things about this is that as you lack sleep you lack the ability to see that you…lack sleep and you are less able to see how your performance is suffering. So you may insist you are just fine, but that is because you lack the processing power to see what you are missing.

      1. agree!*

        My boss is chronically under-slept (I get emails from her at all hours) and she has no idea how much it affects her. She is much more patient and fun when she is well-rested.

      2. Elizabeth*

        Ugh, this was the story of my entire freshman fall at college. It wasn’t until I went home for Christmas and finally got enough sleep that I realized how much I’d been affected!

    4. The IT Manager*

      Yes. Unless the LW has a very unusual biology, this kind of schedule is not sustainable. And neither your current job or the one you’re applying for are likely to believe that you can do a good job on so little sleep.

      I recommend a part time additional job instead of full time.

    5. Fuyu*

      I think its doable as long as the OP is the type of person who only needs 6 hours of sleep or less. My mom worked two full time jobs and had a part time job during the weekend for over a decade and health wise she was okay and she had time for us (her children, single parent) during part of the weekend and vacation time.

      1. Jamie*

        But that’s so rare to be able to handle that I don’t know how the OP could convince her current or a new employer that it’s doable.

        She could end up with no job if she pushes this, instead of two.

        (I would love to be one of those 4 hours of sleep is enough people…but anything under 7.5 for more than a couple of days and I’m not fully human.)

        1. Ruffingit*

          Same here. Very few people can get by on 6 or less hours and be fully capable of performing their job and general life duties.

  8. Em*

    I don’t understand how #7 is confusing to employers, unless they’re not reading your entire resume (always a possibility). If they see the dates you were in law school, it should be obvious that those jobs were probably internships. As a lawyer, I think AAM’s second suggestion is the best solution. In legal positions, it’s common to use the word intern, summer (e.g. summer associate) or both.

    1. abby*

      I think either option is fine, though I got the impression the OP is not applying for legal jobs and maybe some of the terminology is unfamiliar to potential employers.

  9. coconutwater*

    1. OP, I think it’s safe to say it wasn’t you or your writing style. It sounds like an uncomfortable place to temp. Nothing you did was the right thing or good enough and it’s nearly impossible to not freak out when treated like that. That type of management seems a bit like gaslighting. I went through something similar. Never in all my years writing email had anyone ever complained until I started a job with a micromanaging Director with Narcissitic Rage tendencies. I printed and shared the emails with both my husband and my mentor. They were shocked and let me know I wasn’t the one with the “communication” problem.

    1. Jessica*

      micromanaging Director with Narcissitic Rage tendencies

      Yup, they usually have a little toadie, too, to feed their narcissism (in this case, the OP’s one coworker), who they treat almost as bas as you, but not quite.

      OP, I’m sure you’re fine. Don’t let it go to your head.

      1. Ruffingit*

        I worked for that same kind of person as well, also in the legal field. It can scar you emotionally, seriously! OP, it’s not you!

    2. MrsG*

      Thanks. I eventually decided that, like my mother was saying all along, they truly just didn’t want to hire someone else in that office and I shouldn’t blame myself.

      They would also build up my confidence one day and the next everything I did was wrong, even if it was the same as what I had done the day before. It was like being on a rollercoaster.

      1. Ruffingit*

        Not an unusual thing for abusive people to do. It’s dangling the carrot in front of you so you’ll do all you can to get that praise from them. Better to just cut your losses and go buy your own carrots. :)

  10. JJ*

    #5 – As someone who worked a night shift in college (midnight to 8am), I agree that you should carefully consider this. It’s hard to train your body to stay awake through the night without caffeine or energy drinks and even after I achieved this, when I had only a few hours of class to get through later in the day, it was hard to function and be at my best because I would still feel sluggish.

  11. FRRibs*


    I work 12 hour night shifts with a few hundred other people, and I would really, really discourage you from even thinking about this. Every night that you short your sleep hours adds up; where I work three 12s in a row at night works okay, but when you get to that 4th one, the culmative lack of sleep turns many people into zombies. Five days make everyone into foot dragging stumblebums.

    Working twelve hours causes many of my co-workers to have weight gain, memory loss, inability to focus, falling asleep standing up, dangerous near-accidents on the drive home, short tempers, back and/or foot problems, not to mention the inability to keep a relationship going. Your productivity will take a hit on both ends. Even if you are in your 20s and in peak physical condition, you will not be able to maintain that pace for any length of time. I see it every day and that’s only 12 hour shifts 4 days a week.

    1. OP #5*

      I think I know that this would be a bad idea (in the long term), but I haven’t been able to find a PT job that isn’t during my current work hours. I really appreciate your feedback.

      1. TheSnarkyB*

        OP, I’m sure you know your life better than we do, but I implore you to reconsider your definition of the long term. I’m thinking anything upwards of a month. Up thread,you mentioned only doing it for “a few years”. That’s a really long time. Things like this can lead to the conditions mentioned above, but also silent things like diet change (->diabetes), blood pressure, heart problems, neuron problems… Generally things that cause early death. I’m not saying this to be dramatic, but I don’t want you to sacrifice yourself now thinking that you can just stop later and the effects will be gone. Also, if you do do it, consider getting picked up from work. I wouldn’t want someone in that condition a
        Driving after working those hours for one day, let alone weeks or months at a time.

  12. Bea W*

    #1 – Even if your emails were unclear, the way your boss and co-workers handled it was…what’s the word I’m looking for….f—-d up. You are 100% right in thinking if someone doesn’t understand what you wrote, they should ask you to clarify. That leads me to believe they were messing with you, totally dysfunctional, or otherwise had some issue which they dealt with by being passive aggressive.

    I’m sorry you had to go through that. I know that feeling of panic and walking on eggshells in the office over something that should be simple like writing email. I had no trouble understanding your letter to AAM, and reading is really not my strong suit.

    1. Katieinthemountains*

      Exactly, Bea W!
      I have a friend whose (former) boss didn’t like the way she answered phones when she started working for him, so he took to ringing the office line from his cell, listening to her greeting, and then berating her. Best part? The boss was her uncle.
      The problem isn’t you either, OP.

  13. Ann Furthermore*

    #1 – It’s OK for your boss to have issues with how you compose emails, but it’s definitely NOT OK for your boss to give you no guidance whatsoever on what it is about your emails that he/she finds to be unclear, or what needs to be improved, and so on. I think it’s safe to assume that it was your manager’s issue, not yours.

    That being said, I tend to be wordy, and so before I hit the “Send” button on an email longer than a few lines, I do proofread it to see if I’m able to make it more succinct. I think this is partly because I like vocabulary and words in general, and also, I type pretty quickly and sometimes it turns into a stream-of-consciousness thing.

    #5 – I understand wanting to get another job to help with your finances, but 2 full time jobs is bound to catch up with you, sooner or later. Your body and mind need rest.

    Like someone else has said already, you’ll be getting 6 hours of sleep a night, if you’re lucky. And only if you leave Job #1 at 5:00 on the dot every day, go straight home without running any errands, don’t encounter any traffic on the way, and only stop to wave hello to your husband before going to bed, and then fall asleep right away. I never do…I lie there for awhile each night, thinking about things, while my husband is sawing logs in about 30 seconds. It’s so annoying.

    The risk you’re taking with 2 full-time jobs is that you’ll be so overextended that you’ll do neither of them well, and they’ll both be at risk. This could very well be setting yourself up for failure, not because you’re not willing to work hard, but because you’ll be physically exhausted.

    1. MrsG*

      I type in a stream of conscious too because I go so fast. It’s like when you’re typing in discovery to be answered, and you can’t recall any of the questions because your eyes and your hands were just working and your brain was off in la la land.

  14. The IT Manager*

    #4, I’d guess that you are not the front-runner, but they have not finalized the offer with the front-runner yet. They are silent because they are waiting for that to do rejections just in case they have to go to their #2. (It could be that I am being a bit optimistic that they will contact the people they did not hire, but its supported by the fact that there’s been no official announcement yet.)

    If you were the front-runner they’d would have responded when you said that you have another offer. Once they stop being silent (if they do) they might encourage you to apply for the other job and they might not, but only you can decide if you want to decline the offer five hours away on that chance.

  15. Anon*

    For #1, please keep in mind that you could be so over-thinking your emails that they are far more convoluted than need be. I’m not saying that is the case with you but I’ve seen that happen.

    I’ve got a coworker who, for some unknown reason, writes the most formal, confusing, and often empty emails you have ever seen. To the point that they are fodder for jokes. (She’s a peer who has a fantastic way of alienating people, so no one has said anything. I did try to stress when she started that we aren’t excessively formal.)

    If they were asking for a specific format, regardless of how crazy it is, then use it. But don’t overthink it and make yourself crazy.

    1. Ruffingit*

      This reminds me of someone I worked with who addressed everyone formally in all communications even when it wasn’t required. It just looks so silly to see that when it’s an informal environment.

  16. Brandy*

    #4: an 80 hour work week stinks. But it stinks less with the one employer who is making you do it and knows how people working 80 hours/week function. When you’re looking at this from the perspective of two separate employers, you’re likely to under perform in BOTH roles.

    You say that you need to work two jobs for financial reasons. Here are some considerations: (1) can you do consulting work on the side? You can charge more than your hourly rate and don’t have to worry about benefits. (2) can you look for a better paying full time job, instead of having to split your time between two jobs that don’t pay as well? (3) can you look for a job that has hours spanning the weekend? Eg. work 8-5 M-F, then 1am-8am Thurs-Mon? It kills your weekend, but would allow you to have a more reasonable amount of time at home each day. (4) could you take on a well-paying second PART time job? (5) whatever you do, make sure to consider the tax implications. When I’ve worked multiple jobs at once, there are NEVER enough taxes taken out and I’ve been slammed come tax time.

    In any case, you do need to let both employers know you’d be working two jobs.

    1. Editor*

      I had a work schedule that involved night work some weekends, but otherwise was a daytime schedule. The OP could look for longer shifts of weekend work, but I would strongly advise keeping the same sleep schedule Every Single Night. Otherwise, the OP will be less alert in the essential full-time job.

      Very few people can handle irregular sleep schedules or get by on only four to six hours a night. The weird schedule I worked took me years to recover from, and I still haven’t gotten rid of the extra weight, although I have weaned myself from a dependence on caffeinated soda to keep me awake and “alert.”

      One person I worked with found part-time work as a security guard that paid well. He already had experience with guns and a concealed carry permit, though. Someone else I knew had experience as a medical transcriptionist and continued that part-time at home; I’ve heard some court reporters do the same. The problem is, I think, that you have to have done the medical or court work full-time for a while to build up the skills and connections to get part-time work.

  17. some1*

    #1: there are many reasons employers bring in a temp rather than hiring a FTE, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that place had a temp in your position because no one ever stayed very long. It sounds like a nightmare where you were being set up to fail.

    1. MrsG*

      10 secretaries in 4 years, the longest lasting 1 full year. And yes actually on my first day I was told that I couldn’t do the job and was going to fail, so maybe I should have listened! ;)

  18. Colette*

    #2 – Totally agree that you shouldn’t bring it up until you actually want to make the move.

    One of my friends was convinced that she was going to be a stay at home mom, and that she was going to homeschool – and then she had her first child. Her maternity leave could not end fast enough.

    Other things can change as well – your husband might decide to give up self employment, you might move, you might have a child with medical issues that make it impossible for one of you to work at all.

    1. Lynn Whitehat*

      Agreed. A couple years is a long time. Anything can change in that span of time and often does. No sense putting ideas in your employer’s head about how you might want to go part-time in a few years, when you don’t actually know what the situation will be then. It can easily come across as “I am counting the days until I finally get to go down to part time!” whether you mean it or not.

      If you really want to know what the deal is, keep your eyes and ears open for what your co-workers are doing. Is anyone working part-time? Whom? How is it going? How are they perceived? You can observe a lot without tipping your hand.

  19. Loose Seal*

    #5 (two jobs) — Don’t you have an overlap in schedules there? You say you’re planning to work one job until 8:30 am but your second job begins at 8:00 am. Then, I assume there is a commute between them. So you’re going to have to either leave one job early, come in late on one job, or both. Even if your body and brain are up to the stress of working so many hours a day, unless you have a time-turner, I don’t see how you’re going to avoid being written up for not fulfilling your hours.

    I feel for you. At one point in my life, I worked a full-time job and two part-time jobs (neither over 20 hours/week). I was absolutely exhausted and had no time or desire to date, hang out with friends, or even go grocery shopping — I would get something from a drive-thru on my way to another job or to home. And I did this for four years (!) until I had my head above water enough to cut out one of the part-time jobs. It can be done but it’s going to take a toll on you.

    1. fposte*

      She mentions the overlap and the commute at the end. Given that it’s functionally going to be an hour overlap, I think that may be a problem in its own right, in addition to the two-job thing.

      1. Loose Seal*

        Ah, thanks. Sometimes I get excited to see Alison’s answer and I think I skipped over that paragraph.

  20. Kat*


    Are you sure that person doesn’t work from home or another location? It’s hard to tell what type of work you do (I work from home a lot) and barely go into the office.

    Also, the title said she is a slacker but all I see in the OP is about your coworker’s hours. How is her work output?

    1. Anonymous*

      Good question! She does not get her work done either. She has other people do ALL of her scanning and can not get her checks out in a timely manner either. I am just at a loss as to why she is aloud to do this? When I was on maternity leave, they told me that if I could not meet my work requirements and required hours after my 6 weeks of leave that I would be terminated, so why does she get to work only 26 hrs on average and get paid for 40? Thanks… mostly I am trying to understand the why’s???

      1. Garrett*

        I don’t think you can know why and it’s only going to make you crazy if you try. The main thing you can do is if any of her work is thrust upon you, you tell your boss that you won’t be able to handle her duties in addition to your own and let them prioritize. If enough people do that, they may have to deal with it.

      2. Elizabeth*

        I agree with Garrett – I don’t think you’re going to get a satisfying reason about why this is happening. I think the best thing for you to do would be to intentionally not let it affect you. It sounds like you don’t have any supervisory control over her, so just ignore her and focus on doing your own work well.

        If her short hours mean that you’re having to pick up the slack or correct mistakes, that’s something to address with your manager, but you’ll seem most professional if you keep it impersonal. “I’m not able to do [responsibilities that are part of your job] and also do all the scanning for both me and Kathy. Which of these things should I focus on?” or “When Kathy sends out the checks late, I receive phone calls from upset clients. What should I tell them?”

        1. Elizabeth*

          That said, this does sound like a hard place to keep your morale up, so if this is typical of the management you might want to look for another job. But if you decide that the benefits of staying at this one outweigh the costs, try to let go of the things you can’t change. Otherwise you’re just upsetting yourself to no avail.

  21. BCW*

    As for #3, does her work (or possible lack of) actually impact her, or are you just spending time watching her coming and going? My office has no real set schedule. Some people (like myself) work from home a couple days, others come in later, others leave earlier. I could really care less unless their work isn’t up to par, and even then if its not really affecting me or others, then I still don’t really care that much (a sales person on straight comission comes to mind).

    Now as far as the manager saying there is nothing she can do, maybe thats her nice way of telling you to stop worrying about it. Even you caring about how much is covered by insurance makes you sound like a bit of a busy body.

    Again, if she is truly impacting your job, then its a different story, but you never mentioned that in your letter, and I don’t think anyone should assume that that is the case. But otherwise I say this is a case of mind your own business.

  22. abby*

    #7 – This is exactly my situation. I worked in one field for 9 years, attended law school, then moved to a field where I could combine skills from my previous work with my law school education. I’ve since made yet another transition and what worked well for me is similar to what Allison advises. I include my full-time professional experience under the “experience” heading on my resume. After that, I have another heading – “relevant part-time experience” where I list internships, research assistant work, and student teaching. Good luck!

  23. r*

    For #2– Perhaps during the offer phase you could request to see the full benefits plan for all employees. Ours listed out all of the benefits available to every kind of employee, from temp to part-time, full-time, etc. I’m not sure if this kind of detail is available at every company, but it might be worth asking for it in any case.

  24. Ruffingit*

    #1 – Unclear e-mails: I sincerely doubt the problem here is you. It sounds like your boss is more than a little crazy and so is the co-worker. You may have come across The Bluebook (not the car one) that is used for legal writing and contains a whole ton of formatting rules. I think some lawyers just go insane in law school from having to learn those rules and they never recover. Maybe your boss is one of them. In any case, this isn’t about you. She’s crazy, end of story.

  25. Amber*

    #1. I once took a Business Communication class which was very useful and included info about how to improve writing emails. Even if your coworkers were at fault, I’d suggest taking a class or getting a book since it was so useful for me. Here are a few small suggestions:

    * Be sure it is addressed to the specific person/persons you need a reply from: “Hi Bob and Jane”. Don’t just start writing off an email and not make it clear to the reader if the information is general or if it is specifically for them.
    * If you need a reply, ask a question at the very beginning or at the very end. Don’t have the question hidden within the middle of the content. Make it easy because most people will just skim the email to see if its important.

    1. Email work*

      Put the key question at the beginning, then give the background. Even though its tempting to tell the whole story then ask the question, putting the most important stuff up front will help people who are seeing the message on their phone.

    2. MrsG*

      Somehow though even if I asked a question, which is the only reason I was usually writing an email, it wouldn’t get answered because I was told I didn’t word it correctly. I don’t understand how “Do you have the updated copy of the proposed order from last week?” isn’t clear. Thanks for your tip.

  26. Ruffingit*

    #3: This part should be in italics “My question is, can they set a schedule for her to work by? Or at least tell her that she has to be to work by 8 like the whole rest of the company?”

  27. cncx*

    #1 , I also had two bosses who liked to tell me I didn’t know how to write but then expected me to be a mind reader about the changes that needed to be made in order for emails to be acceptable. In the case of one boss, giving me constructive feedback rather than vague, witchy comments would mean teaching me how to do my job, which totally ruined her plans to get me fired and hire her friend. The second one was just a crap manager with a poor communication style who just didn’t like me on a personal level but rather than admit that chose to make vague comments about my writing.

    The strange thing is I started my career as a legal secretary in a white-shoe law firm, so I had a trial by fire in professional communication. I knew before working for these bosses that I was at least professionnally capable, barring the odd typo. But they chose to gig me on one of my strengths to further their own personal agendas which makes me wonder if your boss has other issues with you which may not be relevant to the job (like wanting someone else for the position, not liking you personally, or just being a mean girl) and is just gigging you on emails because it is work-related but just flaky enough to deflect. Don’t let this job ruin your confidence like it did for me. Get third party advice from someone out of your chain of command, and take the rest with the grain of salt.

  28. Kay Orr*

    Where do you get entitled? It has nothing to do with entitled. It has to do with the fact that I genuinely feel that it is inappropriate. In real life, you know outside of the aspy law world, things should be in proportion and go witht the flow of natural human interaction. I very much appreciate the time that the associate or partner took to talk to me and never feel entitled to a job, but a handwritten thank you note is not in proportion. Like the person said about the first date and the flowers. Flowers are nice, but it might be an outsized response, plain and simple.If someone was kind enough to give me a job, a six figure position that will allow me to pay off my loans, then a handwritten letter is totally in proportion. I’d also feel more authentic writing it, while I’d feel that the handwritten note after a callback was about ME and my strategic job search (which it would be). Don’t pretend that this topic isn’t about strategy. No offense to OP but this topic was not brought up for a lesson purely in manners. So relax with your fake outrage and think about it for a moment.

  29. Anonymous*

    I am glad that my former supervisor provided me feedback for emails: use point form (or bullets). (Think of the receiver reading your email on their smartphone as how many times to scroll the message on the screen to read the whole message).

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