how to tell someone their email font is unprofessional, letting a company know about their bad reputation, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Should I let a company know why I don’t want to interview with them?

I’m a freelance feature film VFX artist. Staff jobs in VFX are rare, even for well-experienced artists, so when I was approached directly by a hiring manager about a staff job at a relatively young company, I was quite excited. I agreed to come in for an interview (currently planned for next week). Since agreeing to that interview, I’ve talked to several people who have worked there (small industry, news travels fast) and the stories have ranged from bad to genuinely horrible. People I trust have accused them of lying during interviews about how their contracts are set up, forcing people to work lots of unpaid overtime (which may violate the law), and shaming underperformers in company-wide emails as “motivation.”

Needless to say, I don’t want to work at a company like that. My question is, should I tell them what I’ve heard? I have no desire to turn my nose up and tell them I’m too good for them — but I wonder if they know how bad their reputation is, and how badly that will affect their ability hire good people. Their careers website focuses heavily on the cool-factor of working in film, which won’t be a big sell to anyone with more than a couple years’ experience. I’m not sure if I should just stay away and let them figure it out, or if I should mention what I’ve heard.

My question for you would be: What do you hope to gain by explaining why you’re withdrawing? There are some risks to being candid (such as burning bridges with people who you might want to work with in the future if they turn up at a different company), and probably not much gain to you. Because of that, the safer approach is to simply cancel the interview and say you’ve decided it’s not the right fit for you. That said, knowing that their practices are costing them good candidates is something that can push a company to reassess how it operates, so there IS value in being candid, as you point out. But ultimately, it’s just not your responsibility to give them feedback about their reputation at your own (possible) expense, particularly when it’s something that should be able to figure out on their own, if they cared to do it.

Read an update to this letter here.

2. How to let someone know their email font is unprofessional

What would your advice be for someone who has their email signature in Comic Sans MS (plus a smiley face), and for their coworkers? This is someone in the manager role at my organization. It just surprises me that for the year that she’s been here, no one has let her know how childish and unprofessional it may look, especially coming from a manager.

My advice for her would be to stop using it, since it’s unprofessional. My advice for her manager would be to say, “Hey Jane, you probably don’t realize that that font that you’re using in your email signature is widely used as the poster child for unprofessional fonts. I’m not normally going to nitpick your email font choices, but in this case it’s probably distracting from your otherwise professional image.” My advice for the rest of her coworkers would be to give her a similar heads-up if you have the kind of relationship that makes it likely it would go over well (receptiveness to humor would be a plus here), or to ignore it if you don’t.

3. Is it bad to explain I’m job-searching because my company is moving?

I’m looking to leave my current role for two reasons: (1) I’m looking for a more senior position with greater responsibility (not possible in current company), and (2) my company is relocating to a distant state.

When I’m asked why I’m looking to leave, should I focus solely on my desire to grow into a bigger role and leave out the relocation factor? My concern is that saying, “I’m leaving because my company is relocating” is akin to saying on a date, “I’m interested in dating you because my now-boyfriend is moving out of state and I don’t want to move with him.” It’s not really expressing an interest in the new job, but rather, something wrong with the previous one.

I’m also concerned that the relocating factor might mar the primary reason I’m looking – i.e., make it look like that the “looking for greater responsibility” reason is just a pretext and the real reason is “I need to find a job in this state.” What do you think?

Well, this is one area where job hunting and dating aren’t similar. It’s okay to say that you’re looking for a new job because your old one is leaving. It’s a widely understandable reason and not one that reflects poorly on you. So it’s fine to say that. It’s also fine to add that you might have been thinking about moving on sometime soon anyway because you want to move into a more responsible role. (Although, obviously don’t say this if you’ve only been in your current job for a year or some other small amount of time where that statement would make you look flighty.)

4. Thank-you notes when you already have another interview scheduled

I know how important it is to send thank-you notes after interviews but am unsure if/when to send one during a hiring process with multiple interviews. I just had a first interview with a manager and was called back for a second interview within hours. The second interview will be with the same manager as well as a director. While I certainly have some thoughts from our interview to follow up on in the thank-you note, I worry it will sound strange since we both know we will have a chance to discuss the thoughts in a week. What are your thoughts? Should a note be sent after each interview or only when there is no concrete plan to meet again?

Meh, I could go either way on this one. Since you already have a meeting scheduled for a week from now – and will presumably be sending a thank-you note (or follow-up note, which I think is a better way to view these) after that one — I think it’s fine to wait. But there would also be nothing wrong with sending them now too. I leave this one to you.

5. Is this a polite excuse to reject me?

I recently put in for a transfer for the same position in a different state. I did very well on the phone interview and was asked to drive up there to meet the team. The drive was 5 hours away, and I took that as a very good sign. The manager expressed her appreciation for my willingness to drive up there and than said she needed to speak to my current supervisor and would get back to me. Shouldn’t she have done that first before asking me to drive up there? Is this just a polite excuse to let me go without making an offer?

Yes, it would have been more considerate for her to do that before asking you to make the drive — but it’s also possible that she wanted to wait until you were a finalist before alerting your manager (which could also be considerate of her, depending on how your manager is likely to handle it).

But no, I wouldn’t assume that it’s just a polite excuse not to hire you. Polite excuses not to hire you generally contain clear statements of rejection, not an announcement of another step in the process. Another step in the process is … another step in the process. Not a rejection.

{ 80 comments… read them below }

  1. CK*

    For #1, I’ve been in a similar situation (excited about an interview, then find out company has a bad reputation for things causing me to not want to work there).

    I forget my exact wording, but I managed to bring it up more as an interview question from my side: “I’ve done a bit of research and found some people saying such and such about your organization. Can you shed some light on where these rumours/reputation may be coming from?” This brings it up in a way that assumes they are familiar with their reputation, and allows them to try to put their spin on it.

    You may have already written them off (like I did), but doing it like this puts you in the role of diligent interviewer. Don’t let this be the first or last question though…

    1. Elysian*

      If you bring it up at all, I think this is the way to do it. It gives them a chance to explain themselves (if there could be any explanation) while also clueing them in. Who knows, maybe they know about their reputation already and are making strides to change?

      1. OP#1*

        That’s exactly why I asked the question — I wondered if maybe they knew what was going on and were working hard to change things. And Alison makes a great point that I don’t want to risk burning a bridge in case they DO change things someday, and I want to work there then. Thanks for your advice Elysian & CK.

        1. neverjaunty*

          OP, in a world of Glassdoor and similar sites, if they want to know what kind of reputation they have, they can find out – and I’m sure that they already know.

          The thing about shady companies is, they don’t care that they’re shady. They’ll also lie to you about it: oh, that was a disgruntled employee who got fired for lying on her time sheets; yes, we had some issues but that manager quit, thank goodness, so it’s all better now…..

          So why on earth waste your time going to an interview at a company you don’t want to work for, to tell them what they already know? Just politely cancel the interview.

          1. Elysian*

            I mean, if they lie about it and the OP trusts the people he spoke to, then yeah, don’t work there. But if they take responsibility and discuss what they’re doing to correct things – “We know we had a few bad apples who were perpetuating these practices. When we found out what was going on, we started intensively training on these issues and so we hope they’re no longer a problem.” or something. Perhaps its not the most likely outcome, but if they give a good answer it could make the OP want to work there. It’s not about letting them know; it’s about getting the OP the best information in case this is really a good opportunity.

            1. neverjaunty*

              How is OP going to know if “Yes, we had a few bad apples, but we’ve gotten rid of them and we have a new training program now etc etc” is true or a lie? Not from the interview, particularly as OP has already noted that one of the problems with this company is lying to people in interviews. There are other ways OP could check up to see what the current situation is; if a trusted source said “VP Bob is a horrible, abusive person”, and an internet search shows that VP Bob left the company last month, that’s a good sign, for example.

          2. some1*

            I’m late to the party, but I totally agree with this. I used to work for a toxic company, and more than a few people who resigned indicated in their exit interviews that they loved the work but didn’t like working for the toxic Senior Management – and they laid out specific examples and nothing changed.

  2. Anonymous*

    Lol at OP#1. What VFX company *doesn’t* do those things to their staff? Seriously, and I’m speaking from professional experience, not a rumor mill, there is a very valid reason that the VFX industry has such a wretched reputation overall and there have been so many large public protests in the past few years. Companies lie ALL THE TIME about time commitments, so understand that if you are going to work full time in VFX the odds are high that you will spend 12 hour days in the studio during “slow” times, and be grabbing 2 hours sleep on the floor during busy times. What you fail to mention is the likelihood that the company will either unexpectedly close it’s doors or string you along for weeks at a time promising they just need the check from X job to pay you your wages. All of this happens in an environment where there is a constant stream of young 20 year olds who are up on the latest technology and convinced that the oldsters (30 year olds, lmfao) don’t have a clue. This constant youthful turnover is a big reason why there are so many horror stories about management in the industry. In my 40s, fewer than 10% of my colleagues have remained in the industry because it is so heartless. Most of the companies can’t make ends meet in the first place (see: Digital Domain, Rhythm & Hues, etc for a better recounting of the finances in the industry) and workers are the most expendable resource they have. It also doesn’t help that desktop computers are so cheap now and the barriers to producing professional grade work are so much lower.

    I know you are convinced that “things are different now!” and tbh, I hope they are. But anytime you have a high profile industry with an abundance of entry-level workers, there is a high chance of abuse. It’s why the fashion industry is also miserable to start out in. Yes, there are certainly people who get steady long term jobs in the industry, but those positions are not nearly as common as they were even 10 years ago. I hate to sound unrelentingly negative but it’s hard not to be cynical when you’ ve first handedly witnessed this dynamic for over 20 years.

    BTW, there was a depressing blog about video game developer and VFX teams that chronicled the regular abuse that goes on. I don’t remember the name, but I found it after a company took the staff to an amusement park to celebrate the end of a project. While they were there, the company closed up shop (locking in personal belongings of the staff) and then proceeded to abandon them with no ride home hours away from their cars. The company my spouse worked for was cheering on mandatory unpaid OT (yay salaried positions!) while surreptitiously calling around to local schools to see about liquidating their systems once the job was done bc they were planning on closing. And those horror stories are just two I can think of at 5:30am on a Saturday, lol.

    1. OP#1*

      Your comments seem to be very personal and assume a few things about me that you don’t really know. I’ve been through big shop bankruptcy and anyone who knows me is very familiar with my laments about the bigger picture of the industry. There are a lot of people young and old who care about changing it, but you’re right that the depths of dysfunction might be too much. Time will tell.

      In the short term, I can tell you that I’ve never been subject to the behavior I mentioned in my story to AAM. I’m neither a youngster nor a 20yr guy (I’m in my first supervisory job). 12/14/16hr days? Yeah, par for the course. I haven’t had a Saturday off since November and lately my Sundays have gone too. But to this point, I’ve never been asked to work unpaid OT. Perhaps I’ve just had good luck. But I spoke to many people at my current employer and I got a good mix of people who have and have not experienced that.

      I never said “things are different now”. I know the industry is unhealthy. I’ve actually quit VFX twice, but I keep coming back because of real contracts, good pay, and amazing work. So to answer your question of what VFX companies don’t do that to their staff? The ones I’ve worked at.

    2. coffeeless*

      Wasn’t that from the penny arcade/ pvp game developer comic? They accompanied each comic with a reader submitted horror story about working in game development. I seem to remember this story from there.

      1. Esra*

        And then later posted their own hilariously awful, poorly paid job opening. Entertainment is a rough industry.

  3. Wren*

    I think CK had a good idea, with framing it as an interview question during the interview process. But if no one does that, and they don’t tell the company that based on their reputation within the industry they are driving away more prospects than they are hiring, then the company will just continue on. I know it’s not on the OP to enlighten them, but at the same time, perhaps the company needs to hear it a few times to have it sink in that they’re driving people away with their reputation.

    As for Anon’s response, I’m not sure they read the OP’s message clearly, as the OP doesn’t say anything about time commitments or that ‘things are different now’, but rather mentions things the company does like shaming coworkers for mistakes and claiming it’s motivational, not paying people for overtime, and lying about their contracts. It almost read as more of a general screed against VFX companies in general. Fine enough, but it didn’t seem to actually address anything in the OP’s post. Which, based on what we have to go on, it does sound like the OP knows the industry, and perhaps has worked in it for a while. But perhaps I missed something…

    1. ArtsNerd*

      I agree with your second point. OP #1 presents themselves as an established professional, and clearly is happy to stay in the industry. I don’t work in VFX and I’ve heard about Rhythm & Hues because of the Life of Pi Oscar – I think it’s somewhat safe to assume OP is also familiar. There’s a difference between “every employer in this field is wildly dysfunctional, so you find the flavor dysfunction that you can work with” (which is true in my field too) and “this employer has a particularly horrible reputation.” That said, in a small industry in particular, I feel like the OP should not mention reasons for withdrawing from the interview.

      1. OP#1*

        Yes, I’m all too familiar unfortunately. I didn’t work there during the bankruptcy, but I know a handful of people who did. You & the other commenters & Alison are right: there’s just no real gain from telling them. I appreciate getting such thoughtful advice from everyone.

    2. OP#1*

      Thank you for saying that. There is a lot to rant about in the industry — a lot of people have been treated very poorly. Just not me.

  4. Zillah*

    OP #1 – If the complaints were something else, I’d understand giving them the heads up, but these are all things that they should know are serious problems. I’m not sure what you’d gain by telling them about it, you know?

  5. LouG*

    A smiley face in their signature! What!? As in Jane Smith :) ? I would notice that before the font…

    1. Puffle*

      Me too! It seems more like something a twelve-year old would put in their IM signature than a professional adult. It would definitely take me aback

    2. Meg Murry*

      It is also possible the signature was written in a different font (not comic sans) but its not a common one, so OP#2’s computer replaced that with Comic Sans – I’ve seen it happen. Unfortunately, it probably means most of Jane Smith’s email correspondents are seeing Comic Sans. I’d point it out that way “Jane, did you know that computers that don’t have your signature font replace it with Comic Sans? You might want to just go with a plain standard font instead.”

    3. Except in California*

      I would like to disagree here. Unless OP is the direct report or a dear friend, I’d advise letting her do her own thing. If you are a coworker, what’s the upside for you? Getting to tell someone else how to do something (out of the goodness of your heart and strictly for their benefit, naturally)? The potential downside is more difficult work relationships. Don’t assign yourself the job of Grammar, Spelling, & Font Police. No one likes the GSF Police. (Full disclosure: my favorite font is “Ebola,” and as a designer I have to say Comic Sans and other comic-y fonts have their place in society, as does Ebola.)

  6. Juni*

    OP2, if you have a communications department, this is a good opportunity to make a case for standardized external email signatures.

    1. Caroline*

      This was going to be my suggestion. It drives me crazy when people from the same organization have a wide array of email signatures. It looks much more professional to standardize them.

    2. tango*

      That’s what we did at my company. I thought good, that will take care of the goofy font problem my coworker has going on. But no. The signature is now correct and in the right font but she still writes the body of her emails in some sort of cursive curly font that drives me bonkers.

      1. FiveNine*

        Then there are the groups that send out PR-type email where the body of the email containing the news-release stuff is black with just their logo or borders in color. Sometimes a link will be highlighted but I don’t bother anymore. I don’t get it. It tends to be non-profits, like a taxpayer group trying to publicize their position on a story in the news.

  7. Ruffingit*

    Their careers website focuses heavily on the cool-factor of working in film, which won’t be a big sell to anyone with more than a couple years’ experience.

    I wonder if that is what they are going for – finding people (for the most part) who are totally green so they won’t likely have knowledge of illegal pay practices and who they can treat poorly. Some companies do look for the young just so they can eat them.

    1. OP#1*

      I think you are exactly right. I meant to mention that in my initial email. Perhaps I should take that as evidence that they know exactly what they are doing, and just stay away.

      1. Ruffingit*

        Sometimes it can be hard to tell if what you’re hearing about a company is the overall reality or if it’s just the reality of the people who have worked there, which can be two different things because sometimes the employees are bitter due to things that were their own fault. In this case though, it sounds like you’ve spoken to a number of people who you trust. You described their stories as ranging from bad to horrible. I would take that as the red flag it is and stay away. You could go to the interview and see what kind of vibe you get from the interviewers. You can also ask to speak to people who work there. Their reaction to that request would tell you a lot. Overall though, this is sounding like something that may not be the best use of your time and energy.

  8. ArtsNerd*

    OP#3 – company moving

    (Alison, in the last few words I think you meant to say “*make you look flighty.”)

    I’m a little bit jealous of how easy of a response OP has to “why are you looking to leave?” question! “Things are really fucked up here – I need to escape” was much harder for me to spin into a professional and appealing reply.

    In terms of focusing on oldjob vs. new opportunity, I think the phrasing of the question is important here. Sometimes interviewers ask you specifically why you’re looking to move on from your current role – it’d be awkward NOT to mention the company’s relocation in that case.

    Out of sheer curiosity, what’s a length of time to be looking for “more responsibility” without seeming to have unrealistic expectations? 3 years?

    1. Ruffingit*

      I think 2 years is OK in general, but it also depends heavily on the industry too. There are some industries where you’re just getting your feet wet for the first 5 years because it can take that long or longer to really know the nuances of the job. In others, you hit the ground running and after a year or two you can look to move up.

    2. OP #3*

      Thanks, ArtsNerd. Funny you ask, I’ve been at this job for 3 years. I did get a promotion after 2 years, but the structure of the department is such that I’ll never reach a certain level because the people above me are established in their director/executive roles. As a result, I’ll never be able to make the final call on high-level decisions or projects.

      (Oh, I won’t deny the fact that my current role has its share of dysfunction.)

      1. Short'n'stout*

        It occurs to me that “seeking more responsibility” is a good explanation for WHY you (OP#3) are looking for a new position, and “current employer moving” explains the WHEN.

    3. Mike*

      During my recent search I had the perfect response for why I was leaving: The company is shutting down and the position ends on suchandsuch date.

      It was kinda amusing seeing the reaction from the people expecting the typical BS response.

      1. Ruffingit*

        LOL! I’d have like to see that reaction. I always picture how funny it would be to say things like “Well, the CEO was recently caught in that prostitution sting we’ve all been hearing about and his rich wife who was funding the company is selling it…” Just random stuff like that. :)

  9. Anon Exchange Email Admin*

    OP #2 this is how you know your company needs a standardized communications policy that covers uniformity in emails and email signatures. Try to find out if your company already has one and this person isn’t following it, but if they don’t perhaps your marketing, communications, or IT department can start the push for one.

  10. mel*

    #1. I think it would be really sad if it turned out that you refused an interview to a job that might actually have worked out well for you only to find out that the horror stories were exaggerated or from the perception of people who were worst fit for the industry than you are. The loudest reviews on a product/service/company will always be the negative ones.

    You haven’t even gone to the interview yet! You can go in, take a look, ask questions and still turn down the job if you want to. You even now know what kind of questions to ask (overtime policy, management style, etc).

    1. neverjaunty*

      OP #1 describes this information as coming from “people I trust”. That is really different than getting information from a bad Yelp review.

      1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

        It definitely is, and it would be crazy for OP not to take those comments into account. But it also seems like it might be worth going to the interview, asking the questions, and getting another perspective; doing so certainly doesn’t preclude OP from declining an offer later.

  11. Anon*

    Comic sans is actually one of the most accessible fonts for people with dyslexia and similar learning difficulties. I agree the smiley face is probably pushing in, but the fact that Comic Sans is universally mocked as being unprofessional is pretty bad for people who find it helps them read. Maybe said coworker is one of them.

      1. Jen RO*

        This. Out of thousands of fonts out there, there must be one that’s just as easy to read and isn’t Comic Sans.

    1. Jean*

      Intriguing! What makes a font more or less accessible? Is it having letters with very clean lines? Do some fonts “scan” more easily than others into a program that reads the text aloud (for someone legally blind)?

      Alison, if this is too far off-topic I’ll go do online research. I thought I’d start here because a) I’m lazy today; b) the folks here know about so many other topics that it seemed reasonable to ask.
      :-) (Yes, that was a smiley face. But I’m not typing in Comic Sans. Actually I think Comic Sans is kind of cute, in small doses.)

      1. Esra*

        Part of it is letter spacing. So mono-spaced typefaces can be more accessible. Sans serif typefaces, sentence-case rather than caps, etc. There are some interesting studies on it.

      2. Vicki*

        Come visit my web page. It’s in Comic Sans. Anyone who doesn’t like CS on principle is welcome to go elsewhere.

        As a friend of mine once said “That’s a happy little font!”

    2. Vicki*

      I really wish people would stop picking on Comic Sans. OK, it’s not a god resume font. But it’s not a bad font. The people who complain abut it are usually font designers. They nitpick things like the shape of a given letter.

      I could nitpick about the programming language that WordPress is written in, or go one abut how “real professional writers use Zot”, but that doesn’t affect the usability of WordPress.

      Why is it your problem of a manager uses Comic Sans in her signature? You might get away with telling an intern that this could be seen as less than professional, but I think a manager has already succeeded in getting work and promotions. Perhaps those are based more on her work and less on her font choice?

      Unless you’re _her_ manager and she’s fresh out of College, let it go.

      1. neverjaunty*

        There’s nothing wrong with cat memes, either, but I wouldn’t put one in the signature block of my work email.

      2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        If it is going external to clients at all, it is bad branding for the company.

        If it is internal only, then it is just bad personal branding and let the chips fall where they may.

        External, just no.

        1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

          This. The fact that comic sans has good uses doesn’t make it professional. If OP’s workplace specifically does a lot of work with people with learning disabilities, then maybe it would be OK. But even still, what I’m seeing on this thread indicates that there are tons of other normal fonts that are easily read by people with dyslexia, etc.

          And I’m definitely not a font designer, but I literally cringe every time I see comic sans in anything official or professional. Other than a comic book. :)

      3. Editor*

        Bryan Garner (Garner’s Modern American Usage, plus a lot of writing about legal editing) talks about “skunked” words. Basically, they’re words that people disagree about so often that it isn’t worth defending the proper usage of the word — the complaints and arguments take up too much time — particularly at work where such arguments may not be the hill an editor or writer wants to die on. Some words get skunked and dropped because they are linked to taboo words (niggardly, for example, which did not come from the racist epithet but has lost out do to similarities) or changes in usage that lead to disputes about the word (Garner cites hopefully as a skunked word).

        All of this is a roundabout way to say that Comic Sans’ merits as a typeface don’t matter. The font is skunked, and people using it invite all kinds of inferences about their taste and maturity — so the best thing to do is avoid it.

      4. Elizabeth West*

        Comic Sans has its place, but I wouldn’t say that place is in professional communication. It’s too jaunty and casual. I wouldn’t use Aniron (a LOTR font I happen to love), Jokerman, or Harry Potter for my email signature either.

    3. HR Manager*

      I have read and understand all the anti-Comic Sans sentiments on the web, from a design and over-use perspective. I agree with many of those ideas, but unless I worked in a design company or some aesthetically focused industry where comic sans font is likely to elicit a gasp or an ‘OMG’, I don’t get why this has to be mentioned at all.

      If someone does their job well, presents him/herself well in person, and does quality work, I personally would find it petty that a manager or coworker is picking on a font choice in a signature. Does it really bother you that much? I would love a work environment where my only gripe over employees is typing in comic sans. Unless they’re typing their signature in wingdings or something nonsensical, I don’t see why it matters. Smiley is different…that sends a tone that does not connote professionalism.

  12. PuppyKat*

    Regarding #2 Unprofessional font

    I think Alison’s answer is spot-on. My hope would be for the employee’s manager to address it, approaching it as a chance to coach the person to continue building her professional reputation.

    Based on the comments already posted, though, it looks like I’m going to be a party of one in my feelings about standardized e-mail signatures. I loathe when organizations make everyone use the same font, e-mail signature (usually long and unwieldy), etc. Perhaps that’s because I work in the performing arts and we’re all non-conformists (at heart, if not always in practice).

    I used to work for an organization that not only dictated the type of font for e-mails and the composition of the signature, but also the color of the font for the initial e-mail, a different color for the first reply, another color for the second reply, and so on. That plus a myriad of other things informed me that I wasn’t a good fit for their company.

    1. Rayner*

      I like standardised signatures to a degree. When everybody uses the same fonts, and colour (ours are black. Boring but practical), and it’s set out in the same way –

      title + department,
      company (and address, if necessary if it’s a customer facing department),
      direct line / central email address.

      it looks far far more professional than if everybody has their own font, and their own interpretation of what’s necessary in the contact information. I’ve seen others where people have included everything short of their first school’s address, and then other people who have just a phone number. No context, just numbers.

      That is awful.

      1. Jean*

        I’ve always liked seeing the message-sender’s direct email address in his/her signature block. Is it a recent trend not to include this–on the theory that the recipient already has this information by virtue of the fact that he/she is reading the message from the sender?

        If this is a trend, it’s not exactly helpful for us admin assistants when–after a message has bounced through several people–our supervisors ask us to get back to somebody in the middle of the communication chain, and either Outlook or one of the people forwarding the original message(s) has stripped out the message header containing the email address(es) of the original sender and/or subsequent forwarders.

        1. Rayner*

          In my situation, it’s easier not to do that, because we don’t chain mails, and I don’t need to start it. It’s rare that I’ll get copied a single time, to be honest. We’re a bit independent here XD But I can completely understand that it’s helpful. Maybe I should suggest at the next department meeting. Could be interesting.

    2. anon333*

      Party of two. . . I’m a nitpicky OCD kind of person, but the idea of someone dictating how an email signature reads just seems . . . anal retentive to me. I’m coming from a conservative industry too.

  13. Koko*

    I can’t tell if #5 actually drove up there, or if the manager said, “Oh, that’s great you’re willing to drive, let me check with your manager,” before the drive happened.

    “I…was asked to drive up there to meet the team. The drive was 5 hours away, and I took that as a very good sign. The manager expressed her appreciation for my willingness to drive up there and than said she needed to speak to my current supervisor and would get back to me. Shouldn’t she have done that first before asking me to drive up there?”

    The OP isn’t clear whether she expressed her appreciation immediately after he agreed to make the drive, or if she expressed her appreciation on-site at interview. He even says, shouldn’t she have done that before she asked me to drive instead of shouldn’t she have done that before I drove up there. I could see this reading either way. If he didn’t actually make the drive, maybe he’s paranoid that the “you’d have to drive 5 hours to interview” was initially meant to be a deterrent, thinking he wouldn’t make the drive.

    1. HR "Gumtion"*

      I read it as the OP already making the drive since “drive was 5 hours away” is past tense.

  14. HR "Gumtion"*

    Email professionalism- Please provide the input, it will do her a great service.

    I had a direct report That Capitalized Every Word In A Sentence. Don’t know why it annoyed my so much but it was corrected.

    Comic Sans, flowery stationary background, large blocks of text with no line or paragraph spacing, emoticons, overuse of exclamation points, all are distracting and detract from the message.

    1. CanadianWriter*

      People who capitalize every word in a sentence should be sent back to kindergarten, because the education system clearly failed them the first time.

    2. Mallory*

      Why Would Someone Capitalize Every Word In A Sentence?

      Wow, that was a pain in the a** to type. I don’t see why anyone would create a reason to add that many more keystrokes to their communication.

      1. Lee*

        I think it’s got something to do with people not knowing which words should be capitalised and which shouldn’t (such as personal nouns etc). Capitalising every letter takes out the guess work. I’m not saying it makes sense to me, but it obviously makes sense to someone.

      2. Hides for this one*

        Because they don’t know any better.

        A former boss asked my colleague to get a sign for the office that said “Welcome To The Best Widget Company In The World!” He had to order it exactly that way “because it will get attention!” Yeah it did–the wrong kind of attention. One English class in college made the boss an expert, I suppose. I can only imagine what the sign company said behind our backs.

        1. Alison Green* Post author

          Well, on signs it’s typical to do that because it’s more like a headline (although capitalizing things like “the” is a bit excessive); that wouldn’t put me off the way it would in regular writing.

  15. KrisL*

    This is completely off the subject, sorry, but have you thought about changing the background color from white to a softer color, maybe a very light gray? I discovered your blog recently and am catching up on the old entries, and after reading a certain number of entries, that bright white starts to get to me. I don’t know if anyone else has this issue though.


      1. KrisL*

        That’s great! I really enjoy this blog (I guess if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have read enough to tire my eyes). It’s interesting and useful.

        1. Transformer*

          I really hope you dont change the background color. The black background color is the only reason I stopped reading EHRL. I love this article on background colors. Yes, its for data visualizations (i.e. graphs and reports) but I think the design implications of color are still relevent here.

  16. Lindrine*

    We standardize things like fonts and what to put in an email signature because of crazy shenanigans like many people mentioned above. The email signature is one of the most commonly seen part of a B2B company’s branding. I am pretty laid back as far as designers go, and I can fill your ears with war stories about standardizing email signatures. We aren’t trying to be annoying – having a branding standard on this makes one less thing everyone has to think about and makes all of us look more professional.

    1. Editor*

      One of the places I worked at did a standardized font with colors, so the signature was about the three inches wide and two inches deep. I just thought it was enormous, especially for routine, brief in-house messages. Yet we were supposed to use it on everything. I was glad I left shortly after they laid down the law about using it.

    2. Arjay*

      I wish we had someone to lay down the law. We have a standard signature that is clean and informative, but nobody uses it. I do. And I share it with people who ask me about the guidelines, but that’s about it. We have executive assistants, who you would think would be the early adopters, who just do their own horribly, ugly things.

  17. Agile Phalanges*

    #3 – Company is moving out of state

    I can totally sympathize with this one–my company is doing the same, except in my case only a few people were offered automatic relocation with the move of the headquarters (I wasn’t one of them) and the rest were offered the chance to apply for the open positions. However, in our company’s case, not a single person is choosing to relocate, and anyone local understands that the second it’s mentioned where it’s relocating to. Not that it’s a BAD location, just not at all comparable to where we live now. So I use that reasoning as why I’m leaving and people completely understand. I agree with Alison that it’s not the same as your dating analogy.

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