my new job just took away my benefits, I miss workplace social events because of anxiety, and more

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

1. Can I ask my interviewer how soon I could get promoted?

I have a job interview coming up next week, partly thanks to the great advice on your blog, and I have a question about how to ask about the possibility of promotions should I be offered and accept the job. The interview is at a local nonprofit that I very much respect. I think I’d excel in this job, but the starting pay would be a significant step down from my current salary. I can’t afford to make that much less, but if I stayed on part time at my current place of employment, I’d about break even. I think I could handle that for a few months, but I don’t think I could physically or psychologically last doing that for a year or more. (I’d be working seven days a week, and my current job is very physically taxing.)

The good news is that the ad for the job said they’re looking for people they can promote to management because they are expanding. The expansion seems to be as certain as possible: they’ve met their fundraising goal, purchased a piece of land, and finalized blueprints for a new building. However, I know building projects can hit big snags, so I’m a little leery of how it will all play out, not to mention there’s no guarantee that I’d get promoted even in the most stable organization. I do have a background in management, so I have that in my favor.

How can I ask what the timeline would look like for a possible promotion? Something about that feels crass. Should I ask what qualities they look for in potential managers and leave it at that? Most jobs I’ve interviewed for pay enough that it isn’t in issue, but my decision to take this job if it’s offered to me hinges on the possibility of advancing fairly quickly.

I … wouldn’t. It’s not the job they’re interviewing you for, and they’ll be alarmed that your focus is on a job they might never consider you for. You can certainly ask about their expansion and what those plans look like, and what kind of timeline they’re on. But if you tie it too closely to your interest in the job, you risk them rejecting you because you seem focused on moving out of the position they’re hiring for and into a different one. (Especially since it sounds like you’re hoping for it to be within a few months, which is really, really short, and they’d be unwise to hire someone with a plan to promote them within a few months — you’re just too much of an unknown at this point.)

If I were you, I’d just be up-front about what your salary requirements are — the ones that would allow you to stay there long-term and not work two jobs. Let them decide on their own if you’d be a fit for one of their upcoming, higher-paying jobs, rather than taking one that doesn’t pay what you need with the hope that you might get promoted out of it in time to save your sanity.

2. My anxiety leads me to back out of workplace social events

I have been working in my job since July. The office personnel are a very tight knit group of people and they like to do things together outside of work hours. I have been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and social anxiety since I was nine years old (I am 25 now). When I am invited out with the people from work, I usually say no, make up an excuse, or say yes and then flake out (again with another excuse). I feel as though I should be attending these events as the office HR Administrator, but the day of the event I just cannot bring myself to go. How do I let my office mates know that I am interested in getting to know them and that I am not a “grump” (as they like to call me)? I also do not know if it would be a good idea to let my manager know in confidence, so that he at least knows why I am not attending these events. Also, I can manage my anxiety at work and it does not interfere with my work; it is just going out outside of work hours.

I don’t think you have to attend these events at all; plenty of people don’t attend after-work social events because they go home to a family, or dogs, or school, or a second job, or simply don’t want to. It is a problem if you keep committing and backing out, yes, so you might want to stop committing to them — and perhaps just say that you can’t generally go because of (fill in the blank).

The bigger issue is that they find you a grump, but that’s something you can tackle at work, without needing to hang out outside of work. Make a deliberate point of being warm and friendly with people — ask about their weekend or their interests, talk about movies or TV with them, share something about your own interests or personal life, and so forth. Be kind and friendly and take a genuine interest in people, and you shouldn’t come across as a grump at all.

3. How can I preserve my flexible schedule when my manager leaves?

I’ve been at my job for 2 years now. I have second highest seniority in my department. I work full-time as well as go to school full-time. For the last 2 years, they have worked with my school schedule.

My direct manager is leaving her position. I am scared that the new manager, whoever that may be, will not work with my school schedule for whatever reason. What is an appropriate way to bring this fear/stressor up to my bigger supervisor and/or new manager? I want to sound professional, I don’t want to beg, but this is really important for me. If they don’t work with my school schedule, I’ll have to quit, so I want them to understand the importance.

Just be straightforward. I’d say this: “I want to make sure that the schedule I’ve been working will still work even once Jane leaves. Because I go to school full-time, for the last two years I’ve been able to adjust my hours around my school schedule. Usually that means (explain what adjustments you make). It’s always worked out well, but do you foresee any problems letting me continue to do this?”

And if your manager hasn’t left yet, you might also ask her to leave something in writing about her agreement with you for her replacement. That won’t obligate the replacement to continue it, but it will add to the impression of simply being “how we do it” and will work in your favor.

4. Is there a way to weed out job postings that have been already been secretly reserved for someone?

A friend of mine is a supervisor with hiring responsibilities for a department within our state government. Because the government (and I assume some companies within the private sector) requires all job openings to be posted, she mentioned that oftentimes if they already have someone in mind for a position, they’ll just “dummy down” the requirements for the position, aka post the minimum qualifications for the job (whereas if it was a real opening, the minimum qualifications would likely be much higher and more competitive). This ensures that their candidate makes the cut, and they can coach them accordingly to give their application a high ranking in the interview pool. In the meantime, all the other applicants never really stood a chance.

I know know know that networking eliminates this obstacle, but now I wonder how many entry-level positions I’ve wasted my time applying for that I never even stood a chance getting! Is this common practice? How can a job seeker “weed out” these openings, if at all? Should they even be “weeded out” to begin with?

It’s not unheard of, but it’s not the case with the majority of postings you see. (It’s also totally contrary to the intent of the policies that require them to post the job in the first place, and in that regard what they’re doing is really dishonest, problematic, and rude to the applicants whose time they’re intentionally wasting.)

There’s no way to know from the outside if this is going on with a particular job you’re applying to, and there’s no point in trying to speculate. Besides, hiring is always something of a crapshoot.

5. Is it a good sign if a hiring manager looks at your LinkedIn profile?

I know that this may seem like a silly question, but I was wondering if hiring managers often check the LinkedIn profiles of applicants. The reason I ask is that I applied for several roles at a publishing company, and put a link to my public LinkedIn profile on my resume (I figured it couldn’t hurt as I am on a marketing track and wanted to show how I can use social media to market myself). Today I checked my profile and it showed that the senior marketing manager of the department where I applied looked at my LinkedIn profile. I know that this is no reason to get excited, but do hiring managers often do this, or only with candidates who they are interested in, however marginally?

You shouldn’t read anything into it, unfortunately. Hiring managers do frequently look at the LinkedIn profiles of the candidates they’re considering, but “considering” can mean as little as “HR sent me this candidate, along with 100 others” or “is this the same company that my college roommate, Petunia Sugarlord, once got fired from?”

You’ll know if they’re interested in talking more with you if they reach out to talk more with you. Nothing else is a sign.

6. My new job just took away my benefits

When I was hired for my current job, I was asked to give my two-weeks notice at my previous job ASAP, which I did the next day. I was promised full-time hours and benefits. I have it all in writing. Now I’m being told that our office will not be having extended hours and they can’t guarantee me full-time hours, which means no benefits. They told me I could travel to other offices across the state if needed to fill in. These offices can be 4-5 hours away, meaning that I would be away from home all week. What can I do here? I left my last job because this was supposed to be a better job, with benefits and a 5-minute commute. Now I’m getting screwed over.

I’m sorry, that’s awful. Business needs do change, and sometimes they change with really bad timing like this, but that doesn’t make it any better on your end. If I were in your shoes, I’d talk to the person who hired me and say, “I’m in a really difficult position here. I left an excellent job with great benefits because I was promised full-time hours and benefits here. I wouldn’t have left that job under any other circumstances. What can we do here? Would the company be willing to provide me with benefits regardless, since it was part of the offer I accepted only X weeks ago and in recognition that I left a job with benefits to come here?”

And from there, I’d also start looking at other jobs — because it sounds like this might not be the right situation long-term, even if you can get them to give you benefits meanwhile.


{ 97 comments… read them below }



    I feel for you, you never know what’s real or unreal. Recently I went for an interview where I met the manager first who was very professional and then I met with a senior lady who seemed irritated to be interviewing me. Maybe she was having a bad day but I knew before I left the building that I didn’t get the job. There is no excuse to be unprofessional. I was annoyed because I put so much time in applying and readying for this interview, at least don’t show me that you’re not interested in me during the interview. Arrrrr

  2. OP1*

    Question #1 here. Your advice actually mirrors what my gut has been telling me, but I had other people advising me that if I asked about possible promotions it would make me look like I’m interested in a career there. I was starting to wonder if I was just being too timid. I’ll be sad if I have to give up on this job opportunity for financial reasons–it seems like it would be a really great place to work and I really do want to do the job that’s advertised–but I guess that’s life. Thank you.

    1. Anonymous*

      If there’s a chance of you managing with this position for a while, it’s worth going to the interview to check out the culture, so you’d know if it’s worth your time to apply to higher-level jobs in the future.

    2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      Hey Op1, great question. I’m a hiring manager and this situation comes up frequently.

      I don’t think it’s a deal killer to mention promotions during the process, but it’s a big mistake to take a job counting on one happening quickly.

      Here’s what happens next. A well intended interviewer who likes you and wants you to join the company says “Oh, absolutely, you’re great, we have things opening up frequently, there’s plenty of room for advancement here.”

      You take the job and nothing good ever happens next. From your first paycheck, you aren’t happy. When you can’t afford a weekend getaway for the first time, or you can only swing your credit card minimum payment, you aren’t happy. Meanwhile, I can guarantee that your timetable for promotion and the company’s timetable for promotion won’t be the same. And what if a promotion happens after a year and a half and it’s still not the minimum salary you need?

      Please negotiate for your minimum “I can be happy enough with this for the next two years” salary to start. If you impress people but they can’t pay $$ for X position, perhaps they will think of you for another position OR, if they can’t find a suitable candidate they might adjust the salary for the current position.

      Best wishes! I hope this works out well for you.

      1. Dang*

        I totally agree with you on all accounts!

        Just curious though.. Most of my jobs in academia have been somewhat dead end, as I don’t have a phd and don’t plan on getting one. I’ve been applying to in other fields and want to make sure there is at least somewhat of a career oath. I’ve been asking something like “if the person hired for this position is successful in this role, where would you see them 3 years down the road within the organization?” Does anyone have a better way of asking this because it always feels awkward to me.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          I think that’s a great question and I always appreciate hearing it. You could shorten the time span down to two years, and that would be fine also.

          Anything less than two years is a personal red flag. That gives me the impression that the person isn’t interested in the job at hand but the one after that (and I’m hiring for *this* job, not the next one atm).

          1. Dang*

            Thanks! I’d originally said 5 years but I thought 2-3 would shed a lot more light. I agree that anything less than 2 might come off negatively.

        2. Lindsay J*

          Wow, I like this question a lot. It’s kind of the reverse of the “Where do you see yourself in five years?” question, and will give better insight into the possible career trajectory you can take in this company than just whatever information you get from asking why the position is open/

      2. OP1*

        Thank you. I’ve had similar worries, and it’s actually good to hear a realistic take on the situation from someone else. I’ve gotten to a point at my current job where it’s just a paycheck to me, and it’s easy to be tempted by a job that sounds cool, even if it doesn’t pay much. It’s helpful right now to hear outsiders’ perspectives. I’m sure the interview will give me a clearer picture of how to proceed with this organization. I don’t know if they have room for salary negotiations for this position, but I guess we’ll see!

        1. KarenT*

          I think it’s all about the phrasing; if you come in asking how quickly you can get promoted, it makes it look like you’re not interested in the job that’s on the table.
          However, I think it would be perfectly reasonable to ask in vaguer terms, such as by asking what happened to the person who held the position prior (Answer might be “Oh, Jane had the position for a year and we promoted her” or “Jane had the job for six years and left for other opportunities”). Or you can ask what career path someone in that role could expect.

      3. Marie*

        It may not be a deal killer everywhere but it will be a deal killer for some jobs. I recently ruled out two candidates because of that. I am looking for someone who will be around for awhile because it takes a couple of years to learn this particular job well enough to be able to do it without constant input from me. One candidate said he looked at our org chart and didn’t see many entry-level positions and wanted to know how long he would be in this position until he got “his” promotion. The other was changing careers and made the statement that she would be willing to take this job for a little while to get her foot in the door even though this job is “beneath” her prior position. Even though the person I hired could possibly leave after a short time, it was guaranteed that these two would leave at the drop of a hat so I passed on them.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          Right, I get that Marie. I don’t want someone is focused on the next job before they have even been offered this one.

          At the same time, it’s normal for people to want a feel for what happens next. When somebody asks about advancement, they aren’t necessarily asking can they leave the job in two year.

          If it takes a couple years to learn the job, I’d guess you want someone to be in the job 4 -5 years, ideally. I have jobs like this myself…if someone asks about promotion/advancement, we give an accurate description of what happens within that particular job — advanced responsibilities and independence over time, increased income opportunities, etc.

          That progression (which I assume you have also) can be exactly what they are looking for/what they were asking about.

    1. Clever Name*

      This. I don’t have social anxiety, but I still find it easier for me to relate to people one on one rather than in a group setting.

    2. Leslie Yep*

      Agreed. I’ve had success just calling this out to my colleagues too. We are a big happy-hours-and-big-parties type of office culture, and that’s really my worst nightmare. I’ve just mentioned to several colleagues that I much prefer getting to really talk 1:1 with people, rather than having many, more introductory conversations. Some people think it’s actual blasphemy, but for the most part it makes it clear that when I say no to happy hour, I’m not saying, “no, I don’t want to hang out with you.” I’m saying “I’d love to hang out with you in a different setting.”

    3. Cassie*

      Definitely – we have at least one person who doesn’t participate in parties but she chats with people regularly and doesn’t come across as anti-social.

      Unlike me – I don’t go to most parties, don’t like making small talk with people, and am kind of grumpy (by the handful of coworkers that actually know me, rather than as the pleasant meek employee that I seem to most people).

  3. Sara*

    #4 I know how it feels, to apply and then find out they had an internal candidate all along. In fact once, I was the internal candidate but it was their policy to always post positions (in my case they only went internal) still we had people apply, only for manager to turn them down. It seemed silly. Though on the opposite side, I have two jobs where I interviewed and then turned down and told they are going with an internal candidate (which makes me feel like they knew this all along, and a bit frustrated) but then, highly encouraged me to apply for another role that was up and coming (not yet posted). Strange I know, but always worth applying, as you never know the outcome unless you try.

    1. LisaLyn*

      I’ve been in both positions. Does anybody have any insight into why this practice seems to have gotten so common? Why can’t they just promote the internal candidate, and then do a search for the position left open? Where I work, they finally got to the point where they will indicate if there is a “preferred candidate” in the posting, which I appreciate.

      1. ExceptionToTheRule*

        I’ve got a co-worker dealing with this issue from the hiring manager end. He wants to promote a series of people and then hire for the part-time position that would be left at the end, for which we already have an external candidate in mind from our last round of hiring.

        Corporate told him no, he couldn’t do that. They said he had to post the position and interview external candidates. So, he’s gone through the motions and is no happier about it than any candidate would be if they knew. Why corporate insisted, I’m not sure, but they did.

      2. CAA*

        “why this practice seems to have gotten so common?”

        Well, if you’re interviewing at a public sector or government contractor, it’s required by law.

        1. Marie*

          I work for a state government and I got my last two promotions without them going through the motions of advertising the position. It is pretty common to advertise the position even though it isn’t really open, though, and my case was the exception rather than the rule. I’ve been on several interviews where they have admitted to me that they are hiring an internal candidate. It’s frustrating because had I known, I wouldn’t have wasted my vacation time interviewing with them.

      3. long time lurker!*

        Sometimes it’s union rules that specify all positions have to be posted. That happened once for a part-time teaching post I had: the department chair told me explicitly that I would be hired, but they were legally obliged due to the union contract to post the job (and I had to prepare application materials, which were significant, for the post as well to satisfy the contractual requirement). The position was a good one and I still feel bad for the people who, I’m sure, spent time and energy on inherently doomed applications.

      4. Anne*

        We recently had a position that in the end went to an internal candidate, but it wasn’t a deliberate bait and switch – we give preference to internal candidates, but the one the hiring manager was most interested in had a good personality fit with the department but no background in the department’s field. We opened up the position externally to see if we could find a cultural fit with the right background, but in the end the hiring manager decided that the internal candidate would be the best choice.

        I can definitely see how an external candidate who heard that the position went to an internal candidate could feel misled, but it’s not always the case that it’s already a done deal that just needs a rubber stamp.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yes! I get frustrated when I hear people talk about positions that went to internal candidates as if the process was rigged all along. Sometimes it is, but sometimes it isn’t, and you really can’t know from the outside which was the case. When people getting irked about it without actually knowing for sure if it happened, it’s needless negativity, and it bugs me to see.

      1. Cat*

        I think one thing to remember is that the OP’s co-workers are also flawed people with their own sets of insecurities and anxieties. They’re not picture-perfect extroverts who know exactly how to relate to people, because nobody is. They’re likely thinking “oh no, this person at work who has power over me seems to hate me. I am in major trouble here.” Or “I thought I was being nice, but maybe I was being a huge jerk.” Or “she canceled on me? I must have majorly screwed up on that project today.” The OP’s task here is to figure out a way to defuse those impressions in a way that works with her anxiety. Her co-workers and employees are not likely to be able to magically figure out that they just need to treat her like she’s in a hamster bubble and it has nothing to do with them unless they get some strong and deliberate signals in that direction; it has to be a two-way thing.

        1. the gold digger*

          Good point. When someone treats me in a way I don’t like or that makes me feel uncomfortable, my first reaction is almost always to wonder what I did to provoke the behavior.

      2. Leslie Yep*

        I love “interaction is expensive.” I’ve never heard it put that way exactly–that this is a very limited resource for me so I try to use it really, really wisely. Very cool!

    1. Anonymous*

      I have really bad social anxiety as well and even when I try really hard to talk to people they still think that I’m grumpy or a snob. I usually tell people about the anxiety, which nobody really understands but its better than being the snob.

  4. en pointe*

    #2 – By committing and then backing out you’re probably encouraging more invitations because your coworkers think that you really do want to go.

    There is a group of women I work with who have regular social get-togethers which I’m not interested in attending (mainly because they’re all my mum’s age and we don’t share the same interests). After I politely said no thank you the first few times they just stopped inviting me and then I didn’t have to worry about it anymore.
    It hasn’t affected our working relationship (at least not in any way that I’ve noticed).

    I realise your office might be different and they could possibly be affronted but hopefully not if they’re reasonable.

    1. en pointe*

      I should add that I’m pretty sure they only invited me in the first place to be polite / inclusive – probably part of why they weren’t offended by me not wanting to go.

      Obviously, I don’t know if it’s the same in your case but if they’re often calling you a “grump” then it might be.

  5. notshocked*

    #6 I am sorry. This is just another example of corps. thinking only of themselves-shortsighted at it is. They are screwing you over, so I’d look elsewhere. If you complain you may be fired. Who knows? They know what they did- and, as low as it is, I’d fear what’s next.

  6. ExceptionToTheRule*

    #2 – I’m not a after work big socializer for a lot of reasons. If they invite me to go out, I usually say “thanks but no thanks” and leave it at that. If they get pushy I’ll give them a “maybe, but don’t count on me.” What I don’t do is say “yes I’ll go” and then not show up. That’s the part where things are getting sideways.

    If you’re having anxiety over how to say no to the request, I’d suggest – CA has a lot of great scripts for people in that type of situation.

  7. Maggie*

    Speaking of workplace social events…I just started a new job & am hearing the company has a yearly holiday party. This is a small company, less than 30 employees. It sounds like this party is a huge booze-fest, and I don’t drink. To me it sounds like a horrible way to spend an evening, watching a roomful of drunks while I sip on ice water. I’m wondering how I can gracefully get out of attending the party?

    1. ExceptionToTheRule*

      My strategy for events like that I feel I have to put an appearance in at is to go early (before everyone is drunk) and leave early. And when you leave, just go – you can say your thank you’s at the office the next day.

      1. CAA*

        Yes, this. If you feel you need to say your good-byes, then “there’s something I’d already committed to do later on, but I really wanted to stop by for a while.”

        Doesn’t matter if your commitment is to watch your favorite old movie or attend another party.

      2. Jen in RO*

        This. Although I was expecting the same from my new company’s party and it was… just a bunch of people sitting in a restaurant, having drinks (alcoholic or not). I’d say you should plan to leave early, but make sure you can also break the plan if the party turns out more fun than it sounds.

    2. some1*

      Just because alcohol is provided doesn’t mean everyone but you will get trashed. And I’m sure there are other people who don’t or won’t be drinking at the party. And I’m sure they will provide more beverages besides alcohol and water.

      That being said, I agree with the suggestions that say just plan to leave early. I have found at functions like this you have to play it by ear as to when the *official* party ends (if there’s a meal, I’d say after most people are done eating), but slipping out then is usually fine and may not even be noticed and probably won’t be held against you.

    3. AdAgencyChick*

      Ugh, I feel your pain. If it seems like you’ll be branded unsociable if you don’t go, I recommend seltzer with lime. At least it looks enough like an alcoholic drink that you can fend off the ones who try to push drinks on you with all the subtlety of a Mack truck.

      1. ExceptionToTheRule*

        What is with those people who think you HAVE to be drinking? I drink, but sometimes I don’t because I’m driving or on medication or because I’m a beer snob & the only thing they’re serving is Bud Light…

        1. AdAgencyChick*

          SRSLY. Sometimes I feel like going to the annual office party (thank goodness there’s only one; there used to be two) in a dress with a very relaxed fit and then refuse to drink, just to see how long it would take to get the pregnancy rumors started.

    4. MissDisplaced*

      You need to GO, but you needn’t spend all night there.
      Put in your appearance, enjoy a mock-tail and then high tail it on ‘outta there when things get crazy. Gracefully, of course.

      I agree in that I also find these things a bit draining, but you know give it a chance and get to know some of your new coworkers. I think this is especially important as you are new.

  8. LouG*

    OP #6 doesn’t say in his/her letter that the job they left had benefits either. Not that it changes how awful the situation is, OP.

  9. AnonHR*

    #2- On the point about being a “grump”, it may be just friendly ribbing that you don’t need to do much more about. I like going out occasionally, and I like my co-workers, but a combination of simply preferring to get home at the end of the day and not wanting to blur too many personal/professional lines, I usually say yes to 1 out of 10 or so invitations and always get some kind of teasing feedback when I say no. I just choose take it as their way of telling me they’ll miss me! But, I would agree you should try to stick with your original answer when you can. Best of luck!

    1. Jessa*

      It may also be that they’re picking up on the OP’s social anxiety and thinking the OP doesn’t want anything to do with them when that’s really not true. They’re misinterpreting the signals being sent.

  10. Katie**

    #4 is incredibly common. My partner saw a brand new posting for a state university on Friday, spent all weekend working on an app, and on Monday it had disappeared. He called and they said they had the internal candidate and they just needed to post. This has happened to both of us, and we have juggled the “Do I really want to apply? They might have someone in mind, like their current intern” thoughts. We just kept applying, unfortunately, and took the hits. You’re in plenty of good company!

  11. Brett*

    #4 For my current job, it was advertised internally first and there was a single internal candidate who applied. The candidate actually asked in the interview when their start date would be! That candidate has some of the skillset needed, but no formal training in the area and limited experience.

    I came in with 4 years experience, a directly relevant bachelors from a top 20 school, a directly relevant masters from a top 5 school working under a highly recognized researcher, multiple publications, and high profile volunteer experience with the same work duties as the job. So yeah, the internal candidate might have been groomed for the position, but they didn’t get it.

    I don’t think you even have to blow away the internal candidates that extreme to get a position over an internal candidate. Most public organizations allow a position to be hired without being advertised externally if a qualified internal candidate is available. The fact the position got advertised means that there is no qualified internal candidate, and really the internal connection is just another networking factor to overcome rather than a complete roadblock. You can still be the better candidate.

    1. fposte*

      “Most public organizations allow a position to be hired without being advertised externally if a qualified internal candidate is available.”

      Ours doesn’t. Wish it did. I’m not sure this is actually the norm, but I’ll be interested to hear what other people say.

      1. doreen*

        In my experience it’s true. Most positions are filled by a civil service list and there is often a separate “promotional” list which is used before the “open- competitive list” for entry-point jobs.* There are other jobs only open to internal candidates which require a certain amount of experience in a particular title in state service .

        The non-civil service jobs don’t really get advertised at all- depending on the politics at the time either certain people are encouraged to apply, or the job is filled by someone owed a favor.

        *I said entry-point because they are not always entry-level. For example, I needed three years relevant experience to get my first state job. Not really entry-level, but none of the three positions I’ve held after that one were open to outside candidates.

      2. The IT Manager*

        +1 I would actually say in my experience that most US gov’t jobs DO NOT allow internal candidates to be hired without posting the job. The posting may say the job opening is limited to only people of the agency or gov’t employees, but they can’t just fill the position internally without going through the motions which frustrates not only applicants but the hiring managers and the internal candidate hoping/expecting the job.

        1. some1*

          This happened when I worked in govt, too. The only bright side was as an internal candidate, when the posting was just a formality, most people connected to the position knew so you could do some casual inquiring before wasting your time.

      3. myswtghst*

        It’s a mixed bag at my company – for a lot of sales roles, for example, it helps if you’ve already worked some in customer service, because you’re much more familiar with the products / services we sell than someone external would be. But there are plenty of positions that could go either way, or commonly go to external candidates.

    2. Brett*

      I guess I should add that I am specifically talking about non-civil service jobs. Civil service jobs are their own different beast altogether and even with my current experience I would probably not be able to compete for a civil service job without a clearance.

  12. Mike C.*


    Actually, I think there is a way to see if the job already has someone in mind. Look out for lengthy lists of overly specific job requirements, especially requirements which utilize internally developed systems.

    Think of it like this – if you were the hiring manager, how would you ensure that the job went to the person you already had in mind? Then you’d go and write the job opening to match that perfectly so that the person you like is already “the perfect fit”.

    1. Anonymous*

      I’m not sure if this is a sign that all of the jobs I’ve applied for have been intended for internal candidates, but most – if not all – of the lab tech jobs I’ve seen have had such lengthy lists of oddly specific qualifications.

      1. Anonymous*

        Yep, if the job description and qualifications read too specific as if they’re rehashing someone’s resume, then the job is perhaps slated for someone in particular OR as I’ve seen, it’s merely a description of what the current/last person did in that job and of the qualifications they had.

      2. TL*

        Eh, lab tech’s a bit of a different beast because they usually post their dream list of skills you know – well, at least for the lab tech jobs I’ve applied for. So they’ll list every skill they think you might use, even if it’s highly unlikely an entry-level candidate will know coding and mouse work and have extensive protein experience.

        I had one interviewer ask me if I had experience with X machine/software and I said no but I was good with computers. His response was “That’s fair. There’s only two of X machine in the country.”

        1. Mike C.*

          Yeah I was thinking about this as well. I used to be a lab monkey as well, and seeing that could simply indicate a wish list and a complete unwillingness to train new people in whatever random technique is hot right now.

      3. Lora*

        Lab tech stuff is different. Often they have a central HR department that believes lab techs dissect frogs all day, because that’s what they did in science class, right? So when we hiring managers send them a job description and they want it to be more specific, it’s like playing Whisper Down The Lane and a bunch of random job duties pop out. For example, “the candidate has to be OK with the fact that we do toxicology testing on cute furry animals here” becomes “animal toxicology testing” as a job duty, even if the actual position involves running an LC/MS all day and the only animal you ever set eyes on is a butterfly out in the parking lot.

        There’s a reason science & tech headhunters tend to be highly specialized.

    2. Stephanie*


      I find federal jobs are the worst for this. “17 years experience desired in drafting contracts…”

    3. One of the Annes*

      This (requiring experience with specific processes and programs that only an internal candidate could have) is what I’ve seen too with postings for which the organization has an internal candidate in mind.

      I found it surprising that the OP said the manager that (s)he spoke with said the opposite–that the manager’s organization would make the posting’s requirements broad and easy to meet when the organization had a specific candidate in mind. That’s really strange.

      1. doreen*

        I think I know what (s)he means. Postings for certain jobs in my agency will typically require something like “x years of supervisory experience in a program providing direct services in a criminal justice agency”. If the preferred candidate’s only supervisory experience was in some other area ( a foster-care agency, a day camp, a summer job at an amusement park, IT in the same agency) the posting will simply require “x years of supervisory experience” . They could never get away with a specific requirement of “2 years of experience supervising lifeguards” but they can get away with requiring two years of general supervisory experience.

        1. Tina*

          Just speaking from my own experience in a particular university, the job description wouldn’t really be indicative of having an internal candidate or not. The review and approval process for rewriting a job description, now matter how slight the change, is so cumbersome and time-consuming that we rarely rewrite a job description, unless it needs major overhauling.

          I can see why candidates would feel like it’s a waste of time and effort to put together an application when there’s already an internal candidate, but the same could be said for never getting interviewed and losing out to another external candidate, couldn’t it? When it comes down to it, if you don’t apply, you have no shot at all.

        2. OP4*

          Exactly what I meant. The specific example my hiring friend and I were discussing was one where they dummied down the qualifications because their candidate wasn’t going to meet the original requirements for the job opening… (in fact she told me they had to repost the position again–even after simplifying the qualifications he still didn’t meet the bar so they dummied down further until he did!)

      2. Marie*

        I agree. Our organization asks for very specific skills when posting an ad for a job they plan to give to someone internal.

  13. E.R*

    #6. I feel for you – I’m in a similiar situation. I left my last job for this current one with a pretty good package – fair salary, retention bonus, great benefits, vacattion etc., and was recently told that they changed the compensation package for myself and the other guy in my department. I know our company is having some hard times, but I would not have taken this positions as is it now, and feel a bit cheated, and rather stuck.
    I also feel like it will be hard to explain this situation to interviewers, as I’ve been here just less than a year and the whole thing is bizarre.

  14. Anon*

    #6 – when you say you have it all in writing, do you mean you have a signed contract? Because that could be a game-changer.

    1. Elysian*

      Agree – signed contract is very different from an offer letter for at-will employment. I would guess that OP has an offer letter, but you never know. If its just an offer letter for at-will employment, or an email chain discussing benefits, or something, the employer is still free to change the terms of employment at any time (just like they can fire you at any time, or you can leave at any time). It’s a lame situation, though, I’m sorry its happening to you, OP.

  15. V*

    #4 – my company does this all the time; I’ve been on both ends of it. While in theory managers can get a waiver to hire directly, in practice nobody does because it requires 3-4 layers of reviews and justifications.

    So when I moved back to the group I’d worked for previously after 2 years off, I officially submitted a resume and a cover letter. The “interview” was 5 minutes chatting with the manager who desperately wanted me back ASAP. I had been one of their top performers for the 4 years I worked there, and was able to hit the ground running and produce immediately, when there’s a 3-6 month training period for anyone who hasn’t worked there before. The only other person available with those qualifications was hired back at the same time I was.

    That said, other applications from good candidates would have been kept around, and considered when we needed to add more people and didn’t have former employees to go pull in. So it can still be worth applying.

    My one recommendation for avoiding those posts would be to look for positions which required or prefer lots of experience in unrelated topics; I’ve known several managers to write the position requirements with the candidate’s resume in front of them, so you see things like “Chocolate Teapot designer wanted. Should have 3 years experience with our proprietary chocolate teapot design software, 4 years experience working at a circus preferred.” Sometimes that means they want to expand into circus themed teapots, but frequently it’s an easy way for them to make their preferred internal candidate the top choice.

  16. Former LEO*

    For #5 – Potential employer looking at your LinkedIn Profile

    I wouldn’t read too much into it. I’ll look at LinkedIn if I have so much as a decent resume. Often it’s too see how well a candidate can keep their story straight (Job titles, descriptions, general timeframes, etc.) and to see what kind of recommendations have been written for them.

    As I am generally looking for an excuse to do a phone screen (I’ll phone screen roughly 50% of the resumes I receive but bring in very few for a face-to-face) a decent LinkedIn profile coupled with a promising resume could be the tipping point for getting that phone call.

    What I will not do is look at any personal websites, social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) as it is usually not relevant to the positions I hire for and feel like there is a fine line between doing due diligence and just being flat out nosy.

    1. WorkingMom*

      Agreed – once I get a candidate’s resume to interview – I google them. I look up their linked in, their FB page, whatever else I can find. I’m really scanning for inappropriateness and red flags.

  17. AB*

    To OP#2: I slightly disagree with AAM’s advice, for one reason: you’ve already accepted some invitations, then offered an excuse for not going.

    For this reason, I’d try to at least go to one event first — leaving soon if you can’t stand staying for more than a few minutes — and then follow her advice to be warm to people. Then the next time you get an invitation, say something like “I had a great time in the last outing, but it’s really hard for me to go out after work because of X. Perhaps we can have coffee some of these days.” Like AAM and others said, it’s best to be clear that you won’t be joining future events, so people can reset their expectations, and stop asking. If you make an effort to reach out to make small talk from time to time, and even ask if they had a good time when they go out, people will be fine with you not joining.

    But because you said yes to some invitations, I do feel that making an effort to go just once (telling yourself it will be over soon, as you don’t have to commit for more than a few minutes of your presence) would be helpful. Of course, if your social anxiety prevents you even from making a small appearance, then there’s nothing much to do, but I’d at least try (and I say that as someone who hates to go to social functions after work as well, and only rarely accept an invitation from the team).

  18. MrsG*

    #2 as a fellow GAD sufferer here is what I do when I want to go, but find myself getting nervous:

    Pretend it is mandatory for work. When I get there I set an alarm on my phone for 30 to 60 minutes and use my ringtone as the alarm sound. This is enough time to make a good solid appearance and also gives time for one bathroom escape break if I need to chill out. When the alarm sounds you can do several things: pretend to take a call then say you have to go, acknowledge the alarm as warning that you need to get home and feed the dog or whatever, or ignore the alarm if you’re having a good time and continue to eat ALL THE FOOD (the #1 reason I stay. No shame.)

    I Get the grump thing too. I’ve even been asked if I’m arrogant. A lot of people can’t understand us, and all we can do is try.

    1. Anonymous*

      People always think I’m a major snob no matter how hard I try to be social. Even when I think I’m doing really well and being “normal” people still pick up on it, and its really discouraging.

    2. Lora*

      I’m having a hard time envisioning this conversation.
      “Why didn’t you go to the Leif Erikson Day picnic?”
      “Oh, I was sorry to miss the picnic but I wasn’t feeling up to it. Some other time maybe.”
      “Are you, like, arrogant or something?”
      “Why no, not at all, in fact I spend my evenings shoveling dog poop off sidewalks and donating my paycheck to orphanages. I live in a large ceramic jar behind the WalMart. My lantern seems to have gone out, do you have any matches?”

      Alternatively, “Yes, yes I am, arrogant and proud! You all should have a MrsG picnic, and I will graciously distribute framed photographs of myself to everyone.”

      1. MrsG*


        Yeah the arrogance question came from my boss’s boss during a “performance review”. He told me a bunch of stuff I was doing wrong, some of which involved a bully, and he asked me that. I just sort of stared at him and started crying. It wasn’t my finest moment, but I was worn out from being tormented. I left a few months after.

  19. Anonymous*

    #2. I don’t go to social events either and I’m called a ‘buzz kill’ or ‘killjoy’ by and and all. Not because I suffer from anxiety but because I really don’t want to ‘waste’ my time rehashing the same stuff we already do in the office. Now, if I suspect that my job or promotion depended upon my level of socialization, I’d suck it up and attend. Culturally, I don’t believe it’s the case here, though there are inklings of that.

    However, I do make an effort to be super friendly in the office, often buying and leaving treats in the kitchen. For a few select people, I’d visit them at their desk with a plate of goodies. This way they at least have competing, diametrically opposed views of you in their minds that they have to wrestle with and I get to skip these forced socialization events.

  20. EvilQueenRegina*

    #4 – There is a policy where I work (UK local government) that all vacancies have to be initially offered to anyone who is at risk of redundancy. If the at risk candidate is appointable they have to be offered the job first. If no suitable candidate is found that way, it can then go out to others.

    I know someone who applied for a job as an at risk candidate, got to the interview and immediately got the feeling from the way the interviewers were with her that they really wanted some other internal candidate (who wasn’t at risk at the time) to get it (I later found out that it was true). Right before the interview, her circumstances changed so she was no longer at risk, and when she admitted that to the interviewers, apparently it was the biggest smile she got in the interview!

  21. glennis*

    #4 – I think it’s less likely that they “dummy it down” for the desired candidate than that they customize it so it matches the specific skills of the person they had in mind, as in requiring “experience with flared-spout chocolate teapots” or “proven track record with chocolate demi-tasse cups”.

    Frankly, there are other indicators that show a job has an internal candidate in mind, including shortening the amount of time before the posting closes (I’ve seen them posted with only a couple of days’ time to apply!), and making the listing “promotional only” instead of to the general public.

  22. Jake*


    I had the exact same thing coming out of college. It was an administrative role that eventually leads to a construction management role, which was right up my alley. However, when they made the offer, after taxes I would not have been able to pay my monthly student loan payment and rent, let alone food, electricity, water, etc.

    Alison is right, even if you can manage to swing it for a while, it isn’t worth your sanity, at all.

  23. Cassie*

    #4: Being a state university, we are required to post job openings for fairness and all that. But of course, there are always ways for hiring managers to “rig” the system to get their favored candidate (whether internal or not) to get the job.

    For example, when choosing candidates for the second round of interviews, I picked a highly qualified candidate and the internal candidate (coachable but had less experience) as my top two. My coworker deliberately did not pick the highly qualified candidate even though she agreed with me that the candidate was perfect, all because she wanted the internal candidate to be hired. I thought that was wrong wrong wrong but since my coworker would be the direct supervisor, it’s her call.

  24. Sabrina*

    #6 – Similar thing happened to me. When I interviewed, they said it would probably be only part time. The posting had said full time. So I wasn’t interested in that. Then the offer came in and they said it would now be full time. So I said OK. Then I started and they said, well we can do full time through your six week training, and after that we’re not sure. After the training came up their solution was to send me to another office for half the week. It wasn’t as far away as your situation, but it was in a really bad part of town. Luckily I didn’t lose any benefits. All around though, it was the worst job I ever had (for other reasons). I feel for you!

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