I was asked to work more slowly so others don’t look bad, the purpose of a mentor, and more

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

1. I was asked to work more slowly so other people don’t look bad

I work in an editorial position for a major healthcare organization. I’ve been here about six months, I’ve gotten great feedback from my boss and coworkers, and I’m really enjoying being here. I’ve been particularly praised for my very quick turnaround and accurate work.

My boss’s boss spoke with me this morning, and he had a different take. While he said he’s heard my work is accurate, he’s concerned with how quickly I’m performing it. Essentially, he is concerned that if another member of the editorial team is asked to complete a task, they might not complete it as quickly as I can, and the requester might wonder why another member of the team can’t get it done as fast as I can. He asked that I do my editing work, save it, then look at it 30 minutes later, and THEN send it back.

Um, what? I’m being reprimanded for being TOO good at my job? Am I nuts for thinking he’s nuts?

Well, to be fair, it doesn’t sound you’re being reprimanded. You’re being asked to adjust a work habit to help manage other departments’ expectations. That’s not crazy on its face, but it’s crazy in this particular application, because he’s basically telling you not to let people know how fast you are (and that others aren’t as good as you).

I’d talk to your direct manager, explain what her boss asked you, explain your concerns, and see what she says. But if she’s on board with this, then you pretty much have to proceed that way. On the bright side, you now have a great piece of evidence that you’re faster than everyone else, which can be used in future interviews, if you’re delicate in how you present it.

One more thing: The instructions to save your work, then look at it 30 minutes later, and then send it back raise the possibility that your boss’s boss has concerns about accuracy or thinks that you’ll be able to improve the work on that second look. It’s worth getting clarification about whether he was burying that type of concern in what he said to you.

2. What’s the purpose of a mentor?

For so much of my working life, I’ve always just had my “job,” but with five years with my current company I can finally see a career path and a desire to move up (I have no formal qualifications and assumed near entry-level would be my lot in life).

You discuss mentoring fairly regularly, and I don’t know if it’s a country thing (I’m Aussie) but I’ve had very little exposure to the concept. I was wondering what makes a mentor, and what differentiates a mentor and someone you just regularly complain to? In my role, I’m a project-based employee, and usually that means I rarely work side-by-side with another person in my role. Usually there is just one of us on each project site (physical site), and so with colleagues all conversation usually degenerates into us each blowing off steam and venting about our frustrations on our individual projects. This is often the case with discussions with people a level above us too, as our frustrations are similar. So should I look higher in the ranks for a mentor? Our business is so varied that I would be a bit worried they would lose relevance to my job, but I understand my boss’ boss shouldn’t be a mentor either.

Mentoring definitely isn’t about venting. Mentors can give you advice on workplace and career issues and can provide a sounding board as you try to figure things out. For instance, you might blow off steam with a coworker about your annoying boss (although that’s not a great idea to do regularly, because it can become toxic and make you even more unhappy), but you might talk to a mentor about strategies for working well with that boss and seek her advice on what would and wouldn’t be effective.

Ideally your mentors are people a bit ahead of you in their careers — so that they have more experience and a different vantage point than you have. Your boss’s boss isn’t usually the right pick (since you want to be able to speak freely, even when it doesn’t reflect well on you or your boss), but I’d think about other contacts in your field.

Here are some articles that might shed a little more light.

3. Mentioning a journal article that I haven’t had published yet

I work for Organization X, and with a more senior colleague, am writing an invited publication to be put out in the journal produced by Organization Y. The publication contains confidential data and cannot be sent to Organization Y until our policy office at Organization X gives it their approval.

My dilemma is, Organization Y is hiring a full-time writer for this journal. I would love to work for them but I’m torn about whether or not to mention the upcoming publication in my application materials. It feels awkward to say, “You should hire me because I’m already writing an article for you–but I can’t share it yet!” They have no assurance that this article will be any good (it will be but I can’t expect them to take that on faith). I have other writing samples to share, but as this is a piece specifically for their journal it seems like a missed opportunity not to mention it. I have considered stripping out the confidential data but that’s not an option as the data analysis is the entire focus of the article. Do I mention I am writing this article or keep it to myself for now?

I don’t see any problem with mentioning it, but I don’t see how it helps you in any significant way since they can’t see it yet and presumably haven’t accepted it yet. So it’s fine to mention, but I would do so only in passing — not as an argument that you particularly lean on for your candidacy.

4. Explaining why I’m moving, when I’m following my boyfriend

My boyfriend is going to be starting graduate school out of state, and I will be leaving my current job to move with him. I’m reluctant to provide this as my reason for quitting when the time comes, however, as it just sounds childish to me to refer to “my boyfriend” in a professional context. Though we live together and have been together for 4 years, I don’t feel like attributing a career move to him will be taken seriously since we are not engaged or married. I happen to have a lot of issues with management, my work, and coworkers in this position and am happy to have the opportunity to move on anyway, but I’d prefer to leave my employer thinking, “She was great, too bad she had to move.”

Is there a professional way to convey my reason for leaving that will hopefully prevent inappropriate questions (one of my issues with management) and leave a better impression than talking about my personal life?

“I’ve decided to move to ___ to be closer to family.” If you’re moving with him, it’s not a stretch to put your boyfriend in the “family” category.

5. What’s up with this unprofessional interviewer?

I had a fairly unprofessional interview experience recently. The manager texted me for communication before the interview (we’ve never spoken) and was pretty inconsistent in following through with dates and times we agreed to speak. The experience left me questioning his level of professionalism, so I googled him, only to find more unprofessionalism in his profile on social media sites.

I would really like this job and I am shocked that a growing company recently acquired by a large public corporation would have someone respond to applicants in the way I was approached. I’ve concluded that I will continue with the process as long as they allow it to continue and make my judgments if I get an actual offer. That being said, do you think a company might relax their interview approach to see how you respond? I take my work very seriously and although I love to have a good time, I believe there is a time and a place.

This guy isn’t doing this intentionally to see how you respond; this is how he operates. What you’re learning about him is that he’s unprofessional, disorganized, and has bad judgment — something that exists in large public corporations as well as small places. You might end up deciding you’re willing to take the job anyway (everyone makes their calculations on stuff like this differently), but make sure you go into it with your eyes open about who this guy is.

{ 267 comments… read them below }

  1. Chocolate Teapot*

    1. It is true that putting a piece of work to one side, then looking at it again, can be an opportunity to make improvements which perhaps you didn’t see the first time around. I often do this and it can help me to clarify a passage.

      1. Cautionary tail*

        With out the benefit of additional information, it seems to me that your boss’s boss is saying, in the sweetest way possible, that if you put the work aside for a bit, you’ll notice things that you may have missed before. I call this the grandparent’s approach because grandmom and grandpa don’t need to reprimand the lil’ uns since that’s the parents’ job so they can say things in the most wonderful way and expect that the parents will follow through.

        BTW, on big things I will put them aside for a day or more and then look again with a fresh perspective. I produce much more professional output this way.

        1. AdAgencyChick*

          Could be true — if so, the boss needs to be better about giving clear, un-sugar-coated feedback.

          Or it could mean exactly what the boss said. I’m going to sound like an old cynic, but this sort of thing happens all the time in my industry. Our clients pay by the hour, and they pay the same hourly rate regardless of whether Susie Speedy or Andy Adagio is working on their stuff. Would the most honest way of doing things be to charge the clients a higher hourly rate for Susie’s time than for Andy’s? Sure. Would it cause intense headaches for the account and finance teams? Also yes. So the way the problem gets solved is to have Susie work on the project, but bill as much time as Andy would have for the same work.

          And sometimes, even internally, it makes sense to hold onto your work if you finish ahead of deadline. I’m one of the speedy ones, and I’ve discovered that if I turn in my work ahead of schedule, *of course* the next time we’re setting up a timeline, the account team says, “But last time you wrote me a 20-page document in six hours! Why can’t I have this 8-page document in four hours?” And they just are not hearing it if I respond with, “You got lucky, because there was nothing else on my plate that day, but now I have the XYZ job to look after on top of this.” So, as a measure of self-protection, I will often hold my work for hours or even days after I’m finished with it. It’s still done on time, and I get to not have people breathing down my neck to replicate my *fastest* speed *all* the time. OP’s boss may be looking out for him/her in this way.

          1. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

            It’s sort of like Scotty talking to Geordi on Star Trek: The Next Generation: “You didn’t tell him how long it would really take, did you? Oh, laddie. You’ve got a lot to learn if you want people to think of you as a miracle worker!”

              1. Lyda Rose*

                The problem with being a consistent miracle worker is that miracles become standard operating procedure, to no one’s benefit.

                1. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

                  The point is that you’re not actually working miracles– you’re doing it in a reasonable time, but you told them it would take longer. Scotty (and most of us that abide by his philosophy) says that a given task will take X time to do, where X is the time it will really take times 3 (in one of the movies, Scotty admits that he pads his estimates by a factor of 4). So if I’m asked to do something that, if I hurry and focus on it exclusively, I should be able to finish today, I say I can have it ready by 2 days from now. That gives me an extra day leeway if I get busy and/or something more urgent comes up, but if I’m able to get it to them by the end of the next day, it makes me look good. It’s only when you truly are promising miracles (“Oh, sure, I can get that usually-4-hour-project done in 2!”) that you run into problems.

            1. A Bug!*

              That’s the first thing that came to my mind, too! Hi-five!

              I actually consider it to be pretty good advice, despite Scotty’s questionable motives. (Also, it’s probably one of my top five favourite episodes of TNG.)

              1. Jessa*

                Not really, it can be good especially if something happens to you and Slower Susie has to take over the project (you get ill or sick and can’t come in the next day.) I’d rather tell someone for instance, that deliverable will be 4 days (when I know I can do it in 2,) and have it to them in 2, than tell them 2 and something happens and it ends up 3.

          2. Liz*

            I’ve had to do the same thing. There’s a reason I say regular data requests take a week, even if the majority of them can be done in a couple of hours… *if* I have nothing else on, and don’t get pulled off to work on other things. (Which always happens.)

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          The thing is, it’s not “the sweetest way possible.” There’s nothing at all kind about burying feedback like this so that the person doesn’t even realize it’s feedback. (If that’s what’s happening here; it might not be.)

          1. sunny-dee*

            Yeah, assuming that no one else (her manager or someone whose work she has edited) has complained of quality, I’d take this at face value — they are really trying to skew the metrics for completing the work by having you fake it.

            I work with technical documents, and I frequently have to do release notes, which takes 1-2 days working by myself. Other people in my department try to schedule a minimum of 3 weeks and pull in other people to assist. That kind of time difference is noticeable.

      2. Chloe*

        +1 – I started off in a purely editorial role, and was told in my feedback that I needed to take a little more time to do projects. It wasn’t that I was doing them badly, but if I took time to step back and let things marinate and come back to it with fresh eyes (and still hit deadline), I would be producing a BETTER product. I did extremely well in college and was used to being rushed and pulling all-nighters … that’s not going to fare well in the real world, so I had to retrain myself to slow down and smell the roses. Er, red pen.

        1. Vicki*

          There is a wide difference between “I work quickly” and “I’m used to being rushed and pulling all nighters.”

          (I know this because _I_ work quickly and I am rarely rushed and have never pulled an all-nighter.)

          Again, while it is _possible_ that the OP may improve on the work if she ‘lets it rest”, this may be exactly what it sounds like on the surface – a request to slow down so she’s operating at the same production speed as her co-workers.

    1. Eric*

      Putting something aside for a period of time and looking again later has major benefits. This is good advice.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Yes, that’s pretty much a necessity in editing. I’m often called upon to edit something quickly at work, but I try to build in the time to let it sit for a bit. I might add, editing onscreen often makes it more difficult to spot mistakes because our eyes see it differently. So the cooking time definitely helps.

    3. Vicki*

      This is a reasonable and sensible response, until you look at the letter and see ” I’ve been particularly praised for my very quick turnaround and accurate work.”

      The OP _might_ see something to improve or change. But the connotation here is “don’t look better / faster than your co-workers”.

      I worry about tis because the next (possible) action might be “leave a typo or two in” or “don;t proofread as carefully” because your co-workers look bad when your accuracy is higher.

  2. Journal Anon*

    For #3: I do editorial work for several high-end journals and magazines. I can guarantee you that most of them have an internal dialogue about who is publishing what and when, because they all have to coordinate fact-checking, proofreading, copy-editing, layout, and artwork among themselves. That is to say, if you’re being published by them, most of them know who you are and why you’re cool. Use this, and don’t let your window go by.

    If/when you apply to this organization, drop a line to the main editor that you have been working with and express interest in the position, saying that you have had a positive experience with the organization to this point and would love to learn more. I can speak from experience that magazine people LOVE to connect with people who have already “proven” themselves in the smallest of ways. So many people fight for our jobs that it is ridiculously difficult to get an “in”. You are on a good track for this already. S/he might be able to give you the inside scoop of what they are looking for and whether or not you would actually be a good fit…or if they already have an internal candidate.

    Please take this opportunity and run with it! Magazines/journals are really hard to crack, and if you are truly qualified–and especially if you’re so familiar with their content that you have been/will be published–they want to hear from you! Internally, you are not embargoed. You are on all of their To Do lists right now, and now is the time to take advantage of that.

    1. themmases*

      I agree with you. I used to assist a medical journal editor, and generally if someone was invited to write an article everyone knew. For example, if we were publishing on something that might be contentious in the field then a reviewer or someone else knowledgeable would be invited to write a response. Or someone with a long history of writing on a particular topic might be invited to write a review on it, summing up the current knowledge in that field. It’s definitely a good thing– at least in my field, it suggests that the editors think of you first when they think of a topic they want to publish on right now.

      IMO unless the letter writer was invited to write based on an outside accomplishment and has never worked with the journal at all, even to set this article up, then it suggests that people there have a very good impression of him or her, outside of this one article. Certainly good enough to mention when applying for a job.

  3. PEBCAK*

    #1 may be less about “making people look bad” and more about SLA’s. I don’t know what the workflow looks like, but boss’s boss may not want to constantly hear pushback.

      1. Joie de Vivre*

        Service Level Agreements.

        This was my thought as well. It’s all about managing customer expectations.

        Ex: A customer may be fine with a response time of 4 hours, which you’ve committed to as an organization. However, if they repeatedly get a response from one individual within 30 minutes, and then one day get a response in 3.5 hrs, they will feel that response is 3 hours late, not 30 minutes early.

        1. ali*

          This. I’ve been told my whole career that I work too fast, but now I’m in a job where my time is billable and it actually matters even more. Customers are given a certain estimated timeframe. If they are given an estimate of 2 hours for a certain type of job, and I only bill them for 1 because that’s what it takes me, then they come back the next time expecting 1 hour even if the person doing the job isn’t me. So more than anything else, I’ve learned how to adjust how much time I’m billing and when I send the notice of the job being complete. The key really is to doublecheck your accuracy, I bet you’re making more mistakes than you realize, I know I was.

        2. Lisa*

          YES! If you do this too often, you will get like 5 clients all asking at the same time, and then get upset when you can’t do their task instantly.

        3. hayling*

          This is a great way of explaining it. Sounds like maybe the boss’s boss just didn’t articulate it properly.

    1. Anonicorn*

      Exactly. I work for a healthcare system in a role similar to OP, and the interdepartmental expectations for when we can turn things around is already crazy. If they found out we’re actually more efficient and adaptable, we’d just be reinforcing some of the behaviors that make our jobs hard (not being told about policy changes until the day before they happen, for example).

    2. bad at online naming*

      Even without SLAs this sort of thing can happen.

      I actively manage others’ expectations in my organization, simply to make the work-lives of myself and my team more efficient and easier overall.

      It’s exactly what Joie de Vivre and Anonicorn said above: we don’t want to train people to think on time is late, or to make our lives more difficult by not informing us of tasks we have to complete until the last minute.

      The above can come into play when you’re new on the time and being ramped up, in an odd way. When I was new, I was given a lot of the small, fast requests with “oddly long” promised turn-around-times, because they were things I could easily complete without a lot of knowledge or training. Now that I’m no longer green as grass, I have the abilities to work on more important, complex tasks – and thus my time is generally spent there, instead of on the short, fast ones, like the rest of my team.

      Your managerial chain may be trying to make your life easier for when you get more responsibilities, and can no longer instantly respond to simple, low-priority tasks.

      1. Vicki*

        So.. in order not to ” train people to think on time is late” we pretend that we’re actually all as slow as the slowest person… and then when the customer grumbles that turnaround is never timely, we just hide behind our SLAs.

        Forgive me if I say “Ugh.”

  4. Neeta*

    #5 Some people just don’t put that much emphasis on “protocol”.
    For example, I’ve always been used to having the final interview discussing the salary in person, but then I encountered a company that just sent me an e-mail (very professionally worded, no doubt about it), and later followed up by phone.
    I found it a bit odd, but figured that perhaps the in-person approach is becoming dated or something.

    But when I got a salary offer via text message, my “spider senses” started going haywire. There had been other red flags here, but this last thing just struck me as incredibly unreliable.
    Thinking back on it, I’m thinking that maybe I was just very suspicious of the company and this sealed the deal, but perhaps just sending the offer via text message shouldn’t have ‘horrified’ me so much.

    1. Carpe Librarium*

      I’d be worried about how reliable a text message trail would be as evidence of the agreed pay rate or terms, in the event things weren’t quite as expected.

      1. Elysian*

        How would the hiring manager even know the text message was received? Or that the applicant had texting at all (I didn’t until last month)? Texting is just not a good way of making first contact, or discussing important things.

        1. LBK*

          But you don’t know if a voicemail or email was received either. Texting is pretty much on par with those two methods in terms of being sent properly at this point. The old “oh my texts aren’t working” excuse doesn’t exist anymore.

          1. DHD*

            For emails, if used properly, you do. The protocol that governs emails allows for read and delivery receipts. If an email is delayed or fails to send, that is traceable too.

            Voicemails – if you know that you left it on the persons voicemail and have a call record for the call, you have enough information – it is not as important to know that the person accessed their voicemail.

            As for “my texts aren’t working” – it depends upon the mobile network and the country in question. I know of networks in countries that send/receive over a billion texts per day and therefore decided to not guarantee delivery of messages and drop messages if there is congestion. re-sending messages that fail takes a lot of processing time and capacity that they are not prepared to support when dealing with over a billion messages.

            1. BCW*

              Read receipts are fairly annoying and you can choose to not send them. Yes you can see if the email failed, but if you just mistyped it or anything else, you will never know.

            2. LBK*

              You can decline to send a read receipt on an email, so that’s pretty useless. Yeah, you might get a bounceback message if the address is invalid, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t go to spam or you didn’t make a typo and it went to someone else or you have their old email they never check.

              As for voicemail, a lot of people don’t set up a personalized one with their name, so in that case you have no more guarantee that you left it for the right person. And I have a record of sending a text, too – I can literally see the text on my phone.

              I’ve never heard anything about the kind of texting issues you described or experienced it, and I send about 80-100 texts a day, but I suppose I don’t live in one of the countries or use one of the networks you’re talking about.

              1. LBK*

                Oh – and my texts also tell me if a message failed to go through, and I can visibly see the sending progress, so I know if it’s being delayed as well. If it’s an iMessage I can even see that it was successfully delivered.

                1. DHD*

                  Your own personal experience cannot be extended to all people, in all countries, or on all networks. it also cant account for changes in how these things will work in the future.

                  This conversation is getting a bit off track – the point made by OP was that the communication style and medium of communication was inappropriate.

                  If the corporate world thought that text messaging was appropriate and the best means of communicating text with a candidate, they would all do it. Instead, most recruitment firms and employers do NOT do this – why do you think this is?

                2. Elysian*

                  Everyone who has ever tried to text me tells me that their message just gets lost in the ether – never makes it to me and they never get an error message. So I wouldn’t rely on that service for important things. Of course its find for casual use, but if you’re extending a job offer or something, use a communications medium that you’re sure the recipient has access to.

                3. Koko*

                  Your phone can only show you that your text has left your phone successfully, not that it was received by another phone successfully. I still have a few budget-minded friends without texting plans. If I text them, I don’t get any sort of error or bounceback or warning, they just don’t receive it.

          2. Sunflower*

            I have a few friends who had iphones and switched over to android. If you have an iphone and message an iphone user, your phone identities you both and sends imessages, not SMS texts to each other. If one phone switches, the messages may still be getting sent as imessages and not going through to the new phone. EVERY single one of my friends who switched said this happened and they had to alert everyone to manually turn it off somehow.

          3. Elysian*

            No, I can’t be sure, but if you give me an email address on your application, I can probably safely assume you have email. If you give me a phone number, I can probably safely assume that you can receive a phone call (and if you have a voice mailbox set up, a voicemail). But just having a phone number doesn’t mean you can receive or send texts – I couldn’t receive or send texts with my last cell phone.

            People also text my landline all the time assuming that I’ll receive it – some horrible voice tries to read it to me, if it gets through at all and trust me, the message gets garbled. Plus, I can’t return your text.

            I’m just saying, texting is a lot less popular and reliable than people give it credit for, and so you shouldn’t rely on it for important stuff, like a salary negotiation or a job offer, unless you’re sure that the recipient can communicate that way. You can’t just assume that it will work for everyone.

          4. Ask a Manager* Post author

            People tend to assume any phone number they see can receive texts. I use my land line as my main number, and occasionally I find out someone has been texting me there … and I’ve obviously never received those messages.

            Texting is also way more informal than email or the phone at this point, regardless of how some people might prefer to use it. It’s really not appropriate for formal communication, particularly professional ones.

            1. Gene*

              I missed being on Portlandia because of this. I listed my land line for contact. One evening at ~2100 I got a call from Portland with the production assistant asking why I hadn’t replied to her texts. I explained that it was a landline and her response was essentially, “Why would you list that?!?” Since they needed me to be in Portland (4 hours away) for a 0600 call, I had to pass.

              1. Neeta(RO)*

                That’s interesting. Mobile numbers here all start with 07xx, while land lines have a county code as their first four digits (02xx or 03xx). So most people know if the phone number listed is for a landline or a mobile phone, based on that.

                Then again, I suppose this is more diverse in the US, with more phone line providers and area codes.

                1. Anne*

                  Neeta, it’s the same in the UK – there are specific area codes for mobile phones (or at least they were ~5 years ago) but in Canada, where I live now, and in the U.S., a mobile phone number is indistinguishable from a land line. I do miss the mobile-specific area codes, I have to admit.

        2. BCW*

          Do you know for sure I got the email, or that it didn’t go to my spam folder, etc? No. So I think that exact same logic applies. I think in the US, its a fair assumption that people who have cell phones have texting on those phones. They may choose not to use it often themselves, but they most likely have it. As I said below, it wasn’t that long ago that email wouldn’t be considered a good way of making first contact, now I’d say thats the preferred way to at least set up an initial call

          1. DHD*

            indeed read receipts can be disabled on the email program, but the server still records the successful sending of the email, and communication with the receiving server (delivery receipts), hence a better level of confidence than with text messaging, which does not give any assurances of guarantees, hence my point.

            If an email is never delivered, delayed, or sent to a non-existent reciptient, you will get an email back to say so. the email address in the recruitment process is supplied by the client (as is a phone number) so should be accurate (Ive never had an issue with employers failing to copy and paste my email address).

            The assumption for the American market is probably flawed given that a poster has already said that they did not (until recently) have texting on their phone, and that the idea of professionalism extends beyond all borders.

            Texting on a phone can be restrictive and more time consuming than sending email, in addition to the aforementioned lack of security and auditing (from a corporate communications & data protection policy perspective)

            Emails are used extensively in the recruitment process and have done for some years – texting is not as suitable for this purpose – and if I use your own argument: we should also consider that most phones support email too – why doesn’t this guy just send the same message via email on their phone when smartphone use is widespread in the USA, especially in the corporate environment?

            1. Jessa*

              Especially since some people may have the ability to text but do not pay for the service because they don’t USE it. Not every text capable phone is set up to use it.

    2. LA*

      Thanks (from the one that asked the question) I think I would definitely draw the line at discussing specifics. I normally would never text in these cases either, though last week when the same manager asked me to follow up and didn’t answer I sent an additional follow up via text. I figured he opened it up to texts in the first place!

  5. Claire*

    #1. I have the same problem, I’m told my work is great, very accurate, good quality, but I am too fast and I should take my time. Which is annoying considering that I am a contractor, paid by the hour. Since when people complain that contractors work too fast?!?
    Still, thanks for the advice, it never hurts to have a second look at work, I never considerated things under that angle.

    1. Lisa*

      Some people equate fast as not accurate even if it is. I once told an interviewer that I was a quick learner and that I had a fast turnaround time according to my past bosses. He shut down the interview saying ‘that we want accurate, not fast’. It never occurred to me that fast automatically meant inaccurate, I was a new grad though, and learned that I had just had to say I was relatively fast, but meticulous about accuracy and doing things right the first time in later interviews.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        I had a similar phone interview once, and I was glad not to end up working for that manager. In general, I’m wary of anyone who utilize a gotcha style of interviewing, where everything you say is taken with suspicion or interpreted with whatever the opposite of the benefit of the doubt is.

  6. UK Anon*

    #4 – it is also ok to say partner. Marriage doesn’t automatically validate a relationship, and I think that most people will accept that you can have a committed relationship without needing the “husband” and “wife” label =)

    Not that you need to use interviews to test the water! Pet peeve of mine is all.

    1. Kate*

      I agree that using the phrase “partner” might be the better choice here. Especially if you’re close enough to your manager and coworkers for them to know you visit your family in North Carolina every year, but you’re moving to, say, San Francisco.

    2. Sarahnova*

      Yes, I think this is as simple as describing your bf as your “partner”. “My partner and I are moving for his job.” It conveys that your relationship is serious and committed and you approach life as a pair. Most people now know serious, long-established couples for whom marriage simply isn’t a priority, or something they value, and “partner” essentially has the same status as “spouse”.

      1. Another Kate*

        Agree that using the term partner is appropriate. Significant other or something along those lines would be fine. I agree that boyfriend/girlfriend might be open to misinterpretation that the relationship is not very serious. That is purely subjective! But it would be better to remove any possibility your employer might have the same subjective way of thinking as the random commenter on the interwebs :)

    3. Fucshia*

      Depending on where you live, partner is not generally used for different sex couples. I don’t know or care the OP’s sex or gender, and they may not care how it is interpreted, but it is good to understand the connotations of the word if you are going to use it.

      1. UK Anon*

        I think that that was typically the case in a lot of places, but that it’s more frequently becoming a connotation of any committed couple, whether married or not, so I think that it would be understood that way by the vast majority of people.

        1. Anonymint*

          I agree with UK Anon – I’m in a fairly conservative city in the Midwest, and my partner (we’re a heterosexual couple) and I have been using that terminology since we moved in together. We’re absolutely committed to one another, though we have no immediate plans for marriage, and felt like calling each other “boyfriend and girlfriend” felt too temporary (and young – I’m in my late 20’s and he’s in his mid 30’s).

          When I’m talking about him to someone I don’t know well, I just refer to him as “My partner, Bob,…”

          1. Anonymint*

            I MEANT to also say – we’ve never had any issues or assumptions (that I know of) come up from referring to each other as Partners.

            That was my whole point and it got lost :-)

        2. fposte*

          That’s a use that’s more common in the UK, in my experience. It happens in the US too, but the default is generally to same-sex partner.

          1. Laura*

            Interesting. I’m in Oregon, and I’d say that if you tell me your “partner” – I have no idea if it’s same or opposite gender. I wouldn’t assume either, without additional knowledge.

            1. class factotum*

              If you introduce me to your same-sex partner as “partner,” I assume a romantic relationship. If you introduce me to your opposite sex partner as “partner,” I assume you are in business together.

              1. Jamie*

                That’s exactly how I would interpret those words as well – not that I care, but due to common usage here I’d assume partners of the opposite sex were in business together, not a couple.

                1. Koko*

                  Yes, this word is still in transition. In certain regions/demographic groups nobody bats an eye at it describing a het relationship with some level of seriousness, but in other regions/demo groups nobody considers that an opposite sex “partner” is a romantic partner. OP would need to know her audience.

                2. class factotum*

                  Which is why I was confused that a classmate brought the other doctor in his practice to our class reunion. He introduced her as his partner and I thought, “Why would you bring someone you work with to a social event like this?”

                3. Rose*

                  Totally agree! But in this context, that shouldn’t be an issue, since OP’s boss will know it’s not a buisness partner.

          2. AAA*

            I’m in a same-sex relationship and we use the word “partner” but more often than not (if my partner isn’t with me) the person I’m talking to still assumes my partner to be of the opposite sex. I have to clarify with a pronoun. Heteronormativity is the default here. I’m in California.

            1. Anonathon*

              Yup, same here! (East Coast though) I usually have to clarify with “My partner, she …”

      2. Kate*

        If the OP wants to prevent misinterpretation of his/her sexual orientation, dropping pronoun (as with the wording Sarahnova suggests) would do the trick. “My partner got an amazing job offer in Boston he couldn’t pass up, so we’ll be moving up there soon” makes things pretty clear one way or the other.

        Also, saying “we” instead of something like “I’m going with him” makes it sound less like you’re following him, and more like you reached a joint decision as a serious and legitimate couple.

      3. Cautionary tail*

        I laugh whenever I see “different sex” because all I see is elbows. Apologies to Rocky Horror Picture Show fans.

      4. Mimmy*

        I was thinking the same thing. For heterosexual couples, I’ve heard “significant other”, as someone below also suggested.

    4. ClaireS*

      Another vote for “partner.” I work in a fairly old fashioned industry and get some funny looks when I refer to my partner but people I work with regularly have come to accept it. In my experience (where it’s not commonly used), you’ve really got to own it. Sometimes people think I’m in a same-sex relationship which, depending on my mood, I either clarify with a pro-noun drop or just let them be unsure. You also may want to be prepared with an answer to the question, “why do you use the term partner.” I get this quite often and although I find it overly personal, I appreciate someone asking instead of being weird about the term. My answer is typically, “we’re not married but he stopped being my boyfriend 4 years into our 9 year relationship.”

    5. Graciosa*

      I realize I’m going to be ducking tomatoes for saying this, but there are still people like me who think that those who can get married but choose not to do so have a lower level of commitment to each other than those who do.

      Before grabbing the fruit, please read through that statement again carefully. I don’t think this about people who cannot marry (the more traditional use of partner) although I fully support changes in the law to allow them to marry.

      However, others who could get married are choosing NOT to make the other person their next of kin. They choose NOT to give that person default priority over all others (including parents, siblings, and children) to make medical decisions when they are incapacitated. They choose NOT to enable that person to collect social security benefits based on their income as a surviving spouse. The list goes on and on –

      I am not saying that unmarried people cannot be committed to each other, and I’m perfectly willing to treat those who live together as a social unit and invite them to dinner jointly. I am saying that marriage matters. The legal status matters. The final commitment matters. I don’t believe that those who choose not to make that commitment have relationships that are equivalent to those who do.

      A marriage license tends to run less than $100. This is an amazingly cheap way to give someone you are committed to above all others and for life a huge amount of legal protection at a very small cost. I accept that not everyone chooses to do this or should – not all relationships are that committed.

      But for purposes of this discussion about how to position a decision to move because of a boyfriend, I would go with Alison’s wording. I’m not going to ask for more detail, and as a hiring manager, I care about your work and not your domestic arrangements. However “partner” would not convey to me that this is a relationship on the same level as a legal one when the two of you have not demonstrated that you are willing to make that final commitment.

      1. some1*

        It doesn’t sound like the LW is wondering how the move may look to potential employers, just the present one, although it may be something to consider if they ask why she moved.

      2. KerryOwl*

        That’s a lot of judgey talk for no real purpose. What does a manager care about whether your partner can make medical decisions when you’re incapacitated? The OP is just trying to get across the idea that her relationship is serious and committed. Does using the term “partner” get in the way of that? She can’t say “husband” (even though that’s so much more important to you) if he isn’t her actual husband. Since they’re not married and other people’s marriage means so much to you, do you object to the term “family”?

          1. KerryOwl*

            I think I do disagree with (hetero) couples referring to each other, in general, as “husband” and “wife” — there is a (legal) distinction to be made, in my opinion. Regardless of how I feel, though, in this situation it doesn’t make a lot of sense. She’s talking to people with whom she is already employed. If she says “husband” they’re going to ask when she got married.

            1. Jamie*

              I find it disingenuous, and I think it’s odd that people do it. However, I don’t care in a real way what people choose to call themselves – but I do find it off putting.

              1. al*

                ugh. there are so many reasons straight people don’t get married, not the least of which is the fact that all the stuff you get from marrying someone (next of kin, etc.) should be afforded to whoever you want, not just people you are romantically entangled with.

                what’s really messed up about the commitment assumption business is that being legally married isn’t much of commitment anyway. I know lots of folks who met, married and divorced in the 10 years I was with my ex-partner. that someone would assume we were less committed than those folks is incredibly insulting.

                as for using ‘husband’ and ‘wife’, in states with common law marriage, referring to eachother that way for a certain period of time is -how- you become common law married.

          2. AnotherAlison*

            In my state, if the OP were to present herself and her partner as husband and wife, they would be considered married, and I don’t think that’s what the OP is going for.

            A common law marriage is a marriage by agreement of the two persons without any formal ceremony or license. A common law marriage will be recognized in [state] if the couple considers themselves to be married and publicly holds themselves out to be married and if they are legally eligible to marry. No minimum period of cohabitation is required.

            1. Jamie*

              What does this apply to, though? I doubt very much social security or private pensions are going to pay out because people moved in together last week and referred to each other as husband and wife at a party.

              Ditto getting on insurance at work.

              This seems really vague so I’m curious, does the state need to recognize this and how does one prove they consider themselves to be married? Do they need to post an ad in the papers of their intent to consider themselves married, as you need to do for a name change and let it run a number of weeks? I’m not being snarky, I’m trying to figure out how this works from a legal standpoint. And how is this dissolved – my ceasing cohabitation?

              Because if I was single and move in with one guy and consider myself married, break up and do it again, I can’t imagine the government has time to wade through that mess to determine who gets my SS or whatever.

              1. AnotherAlison*

                IANAL, so yeah, I don’t know the threshold to be considered married, but they do have to get divorced. I was being kind of snarky myself, as I’m sure presenting her S.O. once as her husband wouldn’t count. Also, “both parties” have to present themselves as a married couple.

                We knew a couple who got legally married in 1990, divorced in 1991, did not remarry but got back together and lived as husband and wife, and then got legally divorced in 2009. They had one kid together in the ’90-91 timeframe and another in 1997. They lived together, and she kept his name from when they were legally married the first time.

              2. AnotherAlison*

                Also, my work allows insurance for domestic partners. I think lots of companies have moved this direction.

                I did find an affadavit form from the state for getting coverage on a state employee’s health insurance for the common law spouse. It looks like owning property together, having a joint bank account, and filing a joint tax return are some of the things they look at, as well as “being known in your community as husband and wife.” It’s pretty redneck. Me an my ol’ man could just buy a trailer together and call ourselves married, and boom, we’re married.

              3. Anonsie*

                My parents did this and indeed had to get a real divorce and separate everything as if they had been married officially. Took years. Common law rules vary from place to place, but where they were the couple of years they lived together and called each other married after I was born was just as official as anything.

              4. Andrea*

                In states that have common-law, Social Security would pay out to the surviving spouse or whatever but there’s a fairly high threshold that must be met and documentation is necessary. Usually it has to do with how many years they’ve lived together and presented themselves that way; in many states, it’s about 8 years. It’s not as simple as saying “husband” and “wife.” (Source: I worked for Social Security in disability investigations, but early in my career there, I took retirement and survivors’ claims.) However, only a few states even have common law relationships on the books. I know Kansas and Pennsylvania do, or used to, and there are only a handful of others.

                1. Andrea*

                  And oh, yeah, that’s true—if a common-law couple breaks up, they have to get a divorce or it’s not official.

              5. Cath in Canada*

                In Canada, a common-law partnership becomes “official” for the purposes of immigration, inheritance, alimony, and I think other stuff, after one year of co-habitation. For immigration you do have to prove that you’ve been living together that long, for example by providing dated bank statements for both people sent to the same address – I don’t know what the requirements are for other areas of law. (I didn’t use this myself – I wanted to immigrate on my own merits, through the points-based skilled worker system, rather than being sponsored by my then-common-law-now-actually-married husband – but I did look up the requirements!)

                1. De Minimis*

                  I think it’s done by one of those “preponderance of evidence” standards….things like owning property jointly, having a joint bank account…naming the spouse as a beneficiary on an insurance policy.

                  I know my state used to have common law marriage several years ago, I don’t know if it still does.

                  I just checked….apparently we’re the only state where the status is unclear even to legal experts.

                2. Felicia*

                  It varies by province in Canada – in Ontario you have to have been living together for 3 years to be considered common law spouses – I only know because my friend just reached the common law point with her boyfriend. For most things you just need to prove how long you live together. – I believe if you have a child together the amount you have to live together is less.

      3. LBK*

        I agree with this but not so much from the “you’re not willing to commit yourself to this person getting all these rights/privileges by being your legal spouse” perspective, but rather “there is stuff that you will probably want this person to legally be in charge of and they aren’t if you aren’t actually married.”

        I fully understand people who don’t want a wedding and who don’t even want all the social implications of being married, but if you plan to be with this person for the rest of your life, you might as well spend a day at city hall so you can get the legal perks of a lifelong relationship.

      4. Monodon monoceros*

        Regarding your last sentence, though, I think you can be committed enough to make a life change such as a move without being ready for the legal commitment that you describe in the first paragraphs. It doesn’t have to go from Step 1- dating to Step 2- married. To me, there are a bunch of different levels in the middle. My point is that the OP is serious enough to make a life change, and that’s all that matters in this case. I would also agree with you that it’s none of the manager’s beeswax, but if someone is judging the level of commitment, I don’t think a legal commitment is required for leaving a job.

        1. Graciosa*

          I don’t think a legal commitment is required to leave a job either. And again, this really isn’t something I care about as a manager, and it isn’t meant to be judgmental – although it is a reaction to a plethora of posts about the validity of committed relationships without marriage. Yes to committed – but no, they are not the same, and I admit that I find it a little frustrating that people don’t bother to think about the differences.

          Part of this may be my legal training – a spouse is just not the same as a non-spouse at law. For most legal purposes, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been living together or how committed you are “in your hearts” or how much Chris Doe would have wanted Sidney Roe to make medical decisions instead of Chris’ alcoholic father who has been absent for twenty years. Guess who gets to kick Sidney out of the hospital room?

          Chris and Sidney could have solved this pretty cheaply and easily a long time ago, but didn’t. Courts assume that this was a matter of choice in most cases, and everyone lives with the consequences.

          There are also consequences to marriage – undoing it is a lot harder than finding some friends to help you move to a new apartment over the weekend. Some people don’t want to take that risk and again, I understand – but I can’t agree that they are just as committed to each other as those that do.

          I completely agree that this is none of my business as a manager, and I think my employees universally find me supportive about whatever comes up and whoever is involved without distinction. I posted originally because treating non-marriage as equivalent to marriage rubs me the wrong way (I admit it), and because how this is presented by the OP can have an impact on how it is perceived, whether or not anything is ever said.

          1. UK Anon*

            I understand completely that marriage is a legal institution (I have a law degree myself) and that it does make a difference legally, but I think that the point is that that doesn’t make it better (/insert evaluative word of choice) than a committed and non-married couple, not that it’s *the same* as a non-married couple. There are all sorts of reasons for people not to get married and their relationships aren’t worth more/less than a married couple.

            How many stories do we see on here of married people causing havoc in the workplace with affairs and goodness knows what else? Indeed, being married is still a barrier to women in the workplace in some ways, so there may be perfectly good reasons why particularly women don’t want to tell their work that they’re married.

            Like you, I would never base any judgment on anyone’s relationship status, but I know of places that would, so unfortunately, it is still something that you have to be aware of the in the workplace. And that’s where language can become important.

          2. Andrea*

            I get what you’re saying. Though of course it shouldn’t matter at all in a work setting or from a management standpoint. I personally wouldn’t think of a couple as less committed, and I wouldn’t care if they wanted to argue that their relationship is as important as my marriage (maybe it is; I don’t really care about that). But I have to admit that I do think about these things—inheritance and property rights, survivorship, pensions and Social Security, end-of-life and medical decisions, insurance, taxes, etc., etc.—when I meet a committed couple that chooses not to get married (and who otherwise could). And I worry about what would happen to them in a terrible situation (even though I suppose it isn’t my problem). Maybe unmarried but committed couples like that have already thought of those things and have gone ahead and gotten all of that other paperwork done to protect themselves…but I know some specific couples who choose not to marry and who I seriously doubt have done these things. For me, getting married was important because it was the most efficient way for me to say, this person is my next of kin, this person is my family. I mean, yes, I was also in love with him, but love doesn’t require paperwork. That one piece of paper—the marriage license—eliminates the need for those other things and automatically gives us recognized legal status (which I believe all couples should be able to attain, too, just to be clear). It also concerns me that so many people seem to believe that a common-law spouse is a universally legally recognized status, when in fact it only applies in a few states (8, I think) and can be a difficult status to prove. But just in terms of whether unmarried couples are committed to each other–I don’t doubt they are, it’s not my business. I just hope they have taken the right measures to protect themselves for the inevitable and for unlikely but tragic scenarios. This is why marriage rights are so important: It’s not just about love, it’s about choosing your family and having that choice recognized by law in every state.

          3. Lora*

            But you don’t know what legal commitments they HAVE made–they may have health care proxies, they may co-own property or a business, they may have named each other as insurance beneficiaries, they may have adopted one another, they may have given each other power of attorney…all of which add up to a marriage-level legal commitment, with a LOT less legal hassle should they want to split up. Just because they didn’t do it via marriage certificate–and there are excellent reasons to do so, ranging from “my state doesn’t let me” to “family court is THE WORST”–doesn’t mean they do not have the legal ties.

            If you want to split up ownership of a property and change your insurance beneficiary and revoke power of attorney, that can be done in an afternoon at your lawyer’s office. Getting divorced, on the other hand, usually has waiting periods, extensive financial messes from the deepest pits of heck, all kinds of other nasty things that are exclusive to divorce law and family court.

            Plus, honestly? When you walk into a hospital where your beloved is on their deathbed, just tell them you’re the spouse. They’re not gonna ask to see your marriage license, they will say “oh OK” and get down to business.

            1. Andrea*

              Sure, that’s why I said that any couple that can’t or doesn’t want to choose marriage should make sure that they are protected. It doesn’t matter to me how they get those protections and rights—but I do care that 1) everyone should have the option to marry in order to get them, and 2) those who choose not to marry should get those legal documents drawn up ahead of time.

              Because in your last example—-what if the not-really-spouse dies and the parents (actual next of kin) come after the deceased’s property and kick the “committed but not married” spouse out of the house that they shared? It can and does happen, is what I’m saying, and with or without a marriage license, I hope that people protect themselves against these scenarios.

              1. Lora*

                Oh, I agree, it can and does happen, absolutely. I’m all for legal protections, I (heart) my lawyer! I wish more people knew about what getting married really means legally–it was all about acquisition of property for a very long time, only recently about love.

            2. Chinook*

              “When you walk into a hospital where your beloved is on their deathbed, just tell them you’re the spouse. They’re not gonna ask to see your marriage license, they will say “oh OK” and get down to business.”

              That’s where you are wrong – if someone contests your legal rights as spouse (i.e. the alcoholic father mentioned by someone else) because you haven’t been married, then you can be barred from their deathbed and making any end of life decisions kicked out of the home you have been living in (unless you are on the lease or deed). As well, if you the relationship turns abusive or controlling, the abusive partner can claim the shared home as their own and that you have no rights to shared investments (like retirement plans) because you are not married. The flip side is that there are laws in place (atleast in parts of Canada) where a spouse can’t sell the communal home without the other person’s approval (regardless of whose name is on the deed) and can’t remove them as a beneficiary from life insurance policies without their signature.

      5. Cautionary tail*

        I have a friend who was abused by her father (married to her mother), and then later was abused by her mother’s new husband. These scarred her for life so equates marriage with abuse. She has been in a heterosexual monogamous partner relationship with the same person for over 25 years and because of her history will never get married. Their level of commitment to each other is the same as if they had a piece of paper.

        1. LBK*

          But isn’t this a perfect example of why the legal benefits of marriage are so important? Unless there’s been court action detaching your friend from her father, he still legally has more control over her life or assets than her partner. If she were in the hospital, the abusive father would have control over medical decisions. The partner would have no more control over that than any random person off the street.

          (This is assuming no other contracts/agreements/whatever have been drawn up to legally assign those rights to someone else, but I have no clue if that would even hold up in court.”

          1. Sunflower*

            Aren’t there legal documents you can have to have your medical decision and next of kin handed over to other people? I’m not a lawyer so not sure about how well they stand up in a court of law but I’d have to imagine they exist

            1. Andrea*

              Oh sure, there are. But it’s expensive and complicated and different states have different laws and things like that. It’s an expensive hassle to get these rights and protections without a marriage license, is the point, and by avoiding that one piece of paper, couples are creating the need for lots of others. Which is fine, if everyone has the right to marry and some choose not to. But a marriage license grants rights and protections automatically and means that I don’t have to go to a lawyer and spell out in legal documents that my husband can make medical decisions for me and that my husband’s property becomes mine when he dies or whatever (among other things).

              1. Lora*

                Not as expensive as getting divorced. And while lots of people think THEIR divorce would be all amicable and nice because they are nice people–no guarantee of that when it actually happens. People change, situations change.

                Using myself as an example:
                Marriage license: $45
                Divorce attorney: $12,000
                Getting husband’s name off house: $18,000
                Cost of an afternoon at the lawyer’s office setting up POA, health care proxy, etc. documents: $1200.

                For what it’s worth, lots of married couples think “tra la la, it won’t happen to meeeee” as well–I know I did!

              2. De Minimis*

                Also, even if you have these protections many times medical staff will assume the “traditional” next of kin is the one who can authorize care, make decisions, etc. We ran into this a lot with my late father-in-law. He was still married to my mother-in-law, but did not want her to be responsible for medical decisions [looong story as to why…] We always had a really tough time getting medical staff to understand that his daughter was the one who needed to talking to the doctor about what to do [don’t know how common this is, but the ER at his provider only would allow one family member at a time to be in the ER with a patient.]

            2. class factotum*

              Yes, you can set up power of attorney – but if you are married, a lot of those things come automatically.

              I don’t care if people get married or not, but I do wonder about couples who have children and don’t get married. Not about the morality of it but the legal aspects – what if one of the parents dies? Will the children automatically get what they should? (ie, social security benefits, inheritance)

              1. Carrie in Scotland*

                My parent’s didn’t get married until I was 7 and my brother almost 3 – and this is exactly why they did, in case anything happened to either one of them when we were young.

              2. Jamie*

                I would think when it comes to inherentance the kids would be better off if the parents weren’t married – and they died intestate. They would then be their parent’s next of kin, get everything, and the other parent would be the one with no legal claim.

                And social security is based on the parent/child relationship – not the marital status of the parent. Again, it’s the other parent who would be left out because they aren’t a spouse.

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            That’s exactly what I was thinking. I hope she’s done the legal paperwork to give her partner the same benefits marriage would, so that it’s removed from her parents.

        2. Queen Anon*

          Their level of commitment to each other may be the same as a married couples but society’s commitment to them isn’t.

          KerryOwl is correct in that without that piece of paper, they don’t have the legal protections that a married couple has Her partner isn’t her legal next of kin – her mother is (or her children, and if they’re not adults, decisions will go to her mother). Does your friend really want someone who allowed two different husbands to abuse her be the one who, if her mom really pushed it, be the one who’s allowed to make decisions for her should she become incapacitated? Her mom – the one who allowed abuse at the hands of two different men – could, if she chose, prevent your friend’s partner from being present if she ends up in the hospital. That’s what KerryOwl was talking about. (I hope your friend and her partner have set up legal and medical powers of attorney for each other, which can help prevent those scenarios.)

          Unmarried couples may be as committed to their partners as married couples are, but they don’t have the same legal rights and protections and by not getting married if they’re legally able, they’re making a choice not to have those rights and protections.

          1. Andrea*

            Exactly—I said some of this same stuff, above, before I saw this. But yes: I hate to see folks get hurt because they chose not to have the rights and protections that come along with a marriage license. Other than that, I don’t know or care what their commitment level is. I guess I just hope that they take measures to avoid the worst, but I know some couples in this situation who seem to be operating under the “Nothing Bad Will Happen, Ever” plan. I hate to think of the pain and regret that will certainly eventually occur.

            1. Judy*

              I heard at one time, even if you have a medical power of attorney, that doesn’t make you next of kin. You can make the medical decisions, but the hospitals and/or rest of family can still choose to not allow you in there.

        3. MK*

          If your friend and her partner are content with their choises, that’s all that needs to be said about it. But I have to say that this makes very little sense: her father and her stepfather could have abused her just as easily if they weren’t legally married to her mother. And if “their level of commitment to each other is the same as if they had a piece of paper”, why exactly does she feel safer/better not being married?

          speaking solely for myself, if after 25 years of shared life my partner didn’t trust me enough to get a piece of paper that would make our lives easier, I wouldn’t be all that confident about

      6. Team Player*

        It doesn’t matter the slightest bit to me, since I believe commitment is a matter of my mind and heart and not a bit of paper. I have better things to spend that money on than a meaningless bit of paper so that a judgemental person like you can decide how serious my relationship actually is.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Hey, that’s out of line. She was clear that she doesn’t care what people do. I’d prefer we not call people judgmental here unless there’s far more evidence of it, not just a disagreement.

          1. LV*

            Not disagreeing that Team Player was out of line with their comment, but I think that when a person writes a 6-paragraph screed about how they strongly believe that people should do X, and they consider those who don’t to be “less than” people who do, they can’t just put up a disclaimer that they don’t care what people do.

            There’s a difference between “I think it’s a good idea for couples to marry for legal reasons” and “I think couples who don’t get married aren’t truly committed to each other.”

          2. Sarah*

            But that commenter WAS actually being judgemental, so I’m surprised that you, Alison, weren’t actually harsher on her- she was judging everyone, she made that clear and I actually expected you to react to her and tell her that her behavior was inappropriate. Because you didn’t, I expected a lot of responses along these lines; she pretty much said “your relationships aren’t as good as mine.” That’s a pretty intolerant response. Nowhere are we required to meet intolerance with tolerance; we are allowed to have opinions, and that’s why I’m surprised you didn’t react to the comment.

            1. Sarah*

              (Meaning, that we can express our own opinions in return and our displeasure at her being judgmental, and that’s not ok, but she can be judgemental and that’s ok? that’s a high double standard.)

            2. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I didn’t read it that way at all. She said she doesn’t equate being married (for those with the choice) to being not-married, which is a pretty dry, factual statement that X is not Y. She didn’t say she looks down on people who aren’t married; she says they’re different things.

        2. class factotum*

          I don’t doubt you are committed and serious. I worry about legal ramifications. For various logistical and legal reasons, my husband and I bought our house together before we got married. It was worth it to get a lawyer involved to make sure the contract was set up such that if my husband died before we got married, that house was all mine and not his parents. The entire down payment – 50% of the price of the house – came from me from the sale of my old house (husband had been in an apartment) – and I feared what would happen if his parents, who do not like me (to put it mildly) became involved as his next of kin.

          1. Chinook*

            And it is the unforseen ramifications of not having a legal marriage document that are what is most worrying to those who have friends who aren’t married but in committed relationships. They may be fully committed to each other, but if something changes or if the families decided to put up a legal fight for their rights as next of kin, then the committed partner may have no protection. You can go to the lawyer and have all sorts of paperwork filled out for much cheaper than a divorce, true, but the marriage certificate can be quite powerful blanket document when something happens that nobody expected (i.e. spouse wins the lottery or disappears). Heck, without it I wouldn’t have been eligible to get the pass to pick up DH on a secure military base (especially since we didn’t technically live together until 3 months after we were married and had nothing else to prove our commitment).

      7. Sunflower*

        I’m not sure OP is saying she feels they are at the same commitment level as being married. ‘Boyfriend’ can have a very naive, youthful sound to it. I think OP is trying to say she doesn’t want to sound like a teenager who is following her boyfriend ‘because, like, idk it sounds like fun!’ She is just looking for her move to be respected and feels that without the engaged or married title, it can SOUND like it isn’t serious.

        Also, as you mentioned later, getting unmarried is very expensive and when half of all marriages end in divorce, it’s not unsmart to not get married.

        Sidenote and not to spurn a discussion: Commitment is not the same as love. Lots of people are committed and not in love and lots of people are in love but not committed. I’d rather be in love than committed- end note

        1. OP*

          Yeah, I’m definitely not. The conversation took a turn here about the commitment level of the relationship, but I think I should have been clearer in my question that all I’m trying to do is avoid inappropriate questions from my less than professional management by avoiding getting too personal when I let them know I’m leaving. Don’t know if it matters to anyone that I’m 24–and that’s pretty much my reason for not being married :) I fully understand that our relationship is not the same as a marriage, legally or otherwise. But since I’m making a life change based on it, I want to talk about it a certain way at work, even if I’m the only one doing so.

          1. Paige Turner*

            Good luck OP :) I am in a very similar situation, and at least two friends of mine have also recently moved due to their boyfriend/girlfriend going to grad school/getting a new job, so it’s useful to read Alison’s advice and to realize that this is a pretty common situation. I have been in my new city for about a year, and while I have a lot to say about job searching here, moving for a partner’s job, etc, that’s a topic for another post. Hope your move goes well and that you love your new city!

          2. Anonsie*

            I get it. I hate saying “boyfriend” at work because, as you an Sunflower say, it sounds immature somehow. We need some terms that can apply to people who, perhaps, are too old to be called “boy?”

          3. Lanya*

            In that case, OP – stick to what AAM originally said, and use the words “moving to be closer to family” or something similar. Nobody will question that and nobody will have the opportunity to judge the level of commitment of your relationship.

      8. Sue Wilson*

        Half or more of the things you are saying cannot be gotten without marriage, actually can be. But you actually have to be deliberate about it, instead of the near instantaneous acquisitions of those benefits you can get for $100 with license. I’d actually think that the deliberate entanglement of financial and legal prospects seems like more of a commitment.

      9. Sarahnova*

        …okay, so… that’s your view. But it’s not a universal one and increasingly becoming a minority one, and I think in this case falls squarely in the territory of “your problem”, not a reason for LW#4 not to use the word. Her relationship is serious enough to move for, he is her life partner, endov. The discussion is about how the LW can rephrase to avoid the rather juvenile connotations of “boyfriend”, but she can always lie and say “husband” if she’s comfortable with it and really worried about people with your views.

      10. Elizabeth West*

        I’m sorry, but I fail to see how this has any bearing on the OP’s question whatsoever. All she wanted to know was how to frame her reason for leaving without getting into her personal life (and “boyfriend” does tend to sound a little junior high if she were to mention it as a reason).

        You’re right about the legalities, but I believe you are wrong about the level of commitment, especially as a generalization.

        1. Monodon monoceros*

          Yes! This was my point way above. I understand all the legal issues, etc. etc., but this is not the OP’s issue.

      11. Jamie*

        The flip side of the commitment thing is people not legally married could leave more easily and choose not to.

        They are committed to each other emotionally and are together because they choose to be, not because it’s a huge pita to get divorced.

        But tbf I have no doubt there are tons of couples both married and not who are together because of complacency and the complications of disentangling and even more, both married and not, who are truly committed.

        Don’t get me wrong, I needed the piece of paper – and personally I think marriage is a sacred thing. For me. Everyone has to follow their own hearts on this kind of time.

        I just think the concept of judging the commitment of others relationships is foreign to me. Socially, like you, I’d treat anyone defining themselves as a couple as a unit and I don’t spend any time worried about the state of relationships I’m not involved in (unless it’s someone I love, but those people are close enough to me I’m making judgements based on actions and individuals and not the status.)

        1. Ruffingit*

          Agreed with all of this. Marriage was important to me, but that doesn’t mean it will be to everyone. The only thing I tell people is to be sure and understand the legal ramifications of marriage vs. non-marriage if they’re going to buy property together or what have you. I tell them to get their legal paperwork in order if they want to be the ones making healthcare decisions for their partner, etc. Other than that though, I could not care less what people choose to do. Married, not married, living together, living separate, whatever. People are different, more power to them for whatever works for them.

        2. Chinook*

          “Socially, like you, I’d treat anyone defining themselves as a couple as a unit and I don’t spend any time worried about the state of relationships I’m not involved in.” Add me to these voices. Legall and personally, marriage means one thing but, if you present yourself as a committed couple, I am not going to ask for details. Boyfriend/girlfriend does feel more temporary, though, so I like AAM’s wording of calling him family. If anything, it tells future employers where your loyalty lies (for better or worse) and that you are willing to make sacrifices for that which is important to you. Having mover to follow a spouse numerous times, it is important that employers who would have a problem with this decision to self self themselves out of hiring you – you don’t want to work for them.

      12. Anonsie*

        Man I knew someone was going to start this as soon as I saw the earlier comment.

        People have preferences that are not yours and it’s beyond silly to try to dictate what counts as commitment and when exactly it should or should not happen. Does this really, deeply concern you? Really?

        If someone wants to be with their significant other, they don’t owe you a personal debt to have a quickie courthouse ceremony just to get your approval. Even for people that agree with you about the significance of the legal status, deciding you’re going to get married doesn’t mean making a bee line for the courthouse first thing the next morning.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I think she’s made it clear that it doesn’t really, deeply concern her and that she’s not interested in dictating what other people do. She’s pointing out another side to the issues being discussed here.

          1. Anonsie*

            Like LV says above, it’s kind of hard for someone to say they really don’t care about what other people do when the very idea that some people think unmarried couples still have valid relationships elicits an argument from them.

            To say there are sides to represent indicates there’s a core disagreement with viewpoints to balance, and that wasn’t the case here before. All the UK Anon said was that a relationship can be important to you before you get married.

            1. al*

              the thing she doesn’t care much about is deeply offensive to me as someone who was in a committed relationship for 10 years without marrying. it’s not ok that this poster assumes anything about anyone’s commitment levels, but to assume that the number of people who meet, marry and divorce (sometimes with children) in the time I was unmarried are more committed than me is insulting.

              leaving my partner didn’t have the legal ramifications it would have had I been married to him but that doesn’t mean I made the decision lightly. and if I’d’ve been more inclined to stay just because of legal entanglements, well that has little to do with real commitment to a relationship.

      13. AmyNYC*

        I just want to stick up for Graciosa! I don’t agree with everything said, but if you can get married an choose not to it does says something.

        1. al*

          it may say something but it could be saying many different things. assuming which statement their making is the problem.

          1. AmyNYC*

            Very good point; choosing not to get married can say many different things about you and your relationship. I just wanted to help out Graciosa, who was getting a bit of a beat down.

    6. My 2 Cents*

      Be careful though, using the term “partner” will generally make people think you are gay. That may be fine with you, but it also gives the wrong impression, and not all employers will be okay hiring a gay person (and shame on them for it!) but it’s the reality.

      1. CanadianWriter*

        Gay people say husband/wife too so employers can still make that assumption if you don’t say partner.

        1. Eric*

          True, but if a man refers to his husband or a woman refers to her wife, that’s a pretty clear indication that they’re gay or bi!

          1. CanadianWriter*

            Obviously. The point was that saying partner isn’t the equivalent of having a big neon sign on your forehead that says “GAY” as some people seem to think.

      2. Sarahnova*

        As noted above, the LW can easily counter this by including a pronoun. “My partner and I are moving, he got a really amazing job offer.”

    7. LBK*

      See, I personally hate the word partner, but it seems I’m the outlier here. It makes me think of either (a) life partners, aka gay couples who were historically forced to use a term other than “spouse” because they couldn’t legally get married, or (b) business partners that run a company together. Either way it comes off weirdly to me. If boyfriend/girlfriend doesn’t feel official or serious enough, I’d rather someone just say husband/wife even if you’re not technically married.

      1. UK Anon*

        Interesting! I see the adoption of partner as a way for people who disagree with marriage or just don’t want to get married as a positive way of describing their relationship outside of religion-defined, legal status-esque labels.

        Sorry. That’s a bit off topic. But language use/evolution is fascinating, and I can never resist!

        1. Aunt Vixen*

          Or people who disagree with the fact that not everyone can get married. I’ve known people who refer to their opposite-sex partners as “partner” because (a) it is literally true and (b) it’s what they’d call the other individual if they were both the same sex, and why should there be different terminology depending on the composition of the couple?

          The fact that same-sex couples have increased their use of “husband” and “wife” even in situations where they can’t be legally married accomplishes this as well, of course, and more pointedly (in my view).

        2. al*

          the other thing is, married people are partners. so partner works on every committed relationship level. since marital status (and your partner’s gender) shouldn’t actually be anyone’s concern but your own, it makes sense to say partner even if you are married. like using ms. instead of miss or mrs.

      2. Elysian*

        I like “partner” as a non-gendered descriptor of a committed relationship. I know that in some places its still assumed to mean a homosexual couple, but sometimes you just don’t need to get into the details of your relationship (like in the question here). I’m glad the word is transitioning into more common use.

        Plus, there must come an age when its just weird to call someone your “girlfriend.” My great-uncle had a “special friend,” Lynda, after his wife died. Uncle and Lynda were never married, and I don’t think they wanted to be – Uncle wanted his adult children to be making all those important hospital/inheritance/etc decisions, I think. But my grandma insisted that Lynda would be called his “special friend.” I think “partner” eliminates so much of this unnecessary confusion/awkwardness, and I’m all for expanding its usage.

        1. Ruffingit*

          Special friend sounds so bizarre to me as if the relationship is being cloaked for some reason. “Oh, we just call her Uncle’s SPECIAL friend…” Really?? I don’t know, just seems weird to my ears.

          1. Jamie*

            The older people in my family would use “lady friend” or “gentleman friend” to indicate someone with whom they kept steady company, but were not going to marry.

            There are a lot of older people in very committed relationships that don’t marry. Sometimes they live together, sometimes not, but there is a whole subset of people that doesn’t see the point once they are past the childbearing years.

            Just like one needs to know the legal ramification of not marrying, one also needs to know the same for marrying because if you don’t lock things down in regards to your estate it changes everything regarding your kids’ inheritance.

            1. Ruffingit*

              Yes, this is also true and something I’ve told older couples as well. Marriage (or not) has tons of legal ramifications and it’s good to be aware of those.

            2. class factotum*

              Yes – my mom had her gentleman caller. There were many reasons she did not want to marry him, one of which if she did, she would lose all her military and VA benefits related to my dad’s death. (The VA benefits are not insignificant, as his death was deemed service related.)

              It would not have been a big deal if she were married – her GC was quite well off – but if he divorced her or died, then she could never have those benefits restored. I trust Jack would have made the appropriate provisions for my mom in his will had they married, but still – you have to consider these things.

        2. LPBB*

          That’s funny…I don’t automatically assume someone is gay if they use the word “partner” to refer to a significant other, especially since I have been referring to my opposite sex SO that way for several years now, but I do automatically think someone is gay if I hear the term “special friend.” I think it comes from reading obituaries of individuals of a certain age who had a same sex “special friend” specifically listed as a survivor.

      3. Ellie H.*

        I find it really unromantic, but that’s probably solely due to personal bias, because I think I find it unromantic because it’s so gender neutral sounding and, as a heterosexual person, I associate romance with some implicit differentiation of gender roles. I of course have no issue with people using it and I’m glad it works for many, it just kind of hits my ear unattractively for use in application to myself.

      4. Eric*

        I hate the word partner too, it’s entirely too clinical for me. Really, there aren’t any good options for committed non-married couples.

        1. LBK*

          Yes, that’s part of what bothers me too – so clinical. It’s like one step above “mate,” the way you would describe two animals.

        2. OP*

          I think the solution is just posing it as “we are moving” instead of “I am moving with him.” That really relieves a lot of stress when I think about posing it that way. It automatically implies the relationship without having to label it, and I think it sounds final enough that it won’t invite any uncomfortable personal prodding.

          1. Jamie*

            That is perfect – I like that, too.

            I also really liked Alison’s suggestion to use family. Family can have as broad or narrow a definition as one likes. For crying out loud if a million business owners can call their employees family I think it certainly applies to someone you love enough to move with.

        3. Tinker*

          I actually really like it — it’s kind of the standard usage in my social circles, including for hetero or nominally-hetero couples. It seems like it reflects the part of the relationship that is “working together”, and that’s a part that has a fair amount of significance to me. Then again, I think I’m a bit odd sometimes in what I consider to be the emotionally significant part of any given relationship.

      5. Jennifer*

        I’m with you LBK: partner is too vague. I prefer “significant other,” but nobody actually uses it in conversation.

      6. Eden*

        I’m in the minority here too, “partner” sounds stilted and odd to me. I’m with Alison, why not just say “to be closer to family”? There are a million reasons you might want to do that, and unless the manager is completely insensitive, he or she shouldn’t probe for details of what might be an illness in the family.

  7. FiveNine*

    No. 1 is bothering me because a half hour doesn’t really make sense as any real difference in how fast even news reporters are perceived as turning around copy, so it doesn’t seem like that is really the issue. Could it be the boss is uncomfortable that the subject matter might not be being given the careful deliberation or weight it deserves?

    1. Cautionary tail*

      Having worked in an industry that was the recipient of fast-turnaround news reporting I can give countless examples of these early news stories having 2, 3, 4 and more later corrections. Fast does not always equal accurate. Fact checking takes time so the organizations publish first then correct. Reuters is particularly egregious for this. Dow Jones tends to publish later but with better information.

    2. some1*

      Imo, you don’t need to provide a “professional enough” reason to your employer as to why you’re moving. I can’t imagine they’d give you a poor reference because they didn’t think you had a good enough reason for moving away.

  8. Chuck*

    Re #1 – I would also want to have this remembered when it comes to review time. Seems this s/b evidence for getting a larger raise…

  9. OP#2*

    Thanks Alison, appreciate the quick response. What about a previous boss who moved laterally?

    1. Another Kate*

      I have a mentoring relationship with one such previous manager. It comes with the added bonus that he knows exactly what makes me tick, what my strengths and weaknesses are, and what my biases are. The one caution I’d offer is to be sure you there’s a strong likelihood that you won’t be working for this person again in the foreseeable future. IMO, while an immediate manager can certainly help your skills and broader career development, it’s better to keep management separate to mentoring!

      1. OP#2*

        Hmm thats a good point. As the person I had in mind probably will be my boss’ boss again in the next 12 months.
        I think I’m finding my company structure hard to work with this concept! As the only people that really get what my role does are people in my reporting chain. Hmmm…
        Thanks Another Kate.

        1. pgh_adventurer*

          OP#2- also keep in mind that your mentor doesn’t have to be someone in your organization. I have 2, one is a former boss who now works somewhere else, and another is someone I started off just knowing socially. It’s more about finding someone you click with, who you think can provide some perspective and words of wisdom on your career moves.

        2. Graciosa*

          There is a difference between what I will loosely label as technical mentoring and other types of mentoring that you might want to think about here. What I mean by technical mentoring is someone with a superior understanding of your work who can help you solve technical challenges. Other mentoring does not require the same technical guidance.

          If you would like career assistance – how do I manage my boss, position myself for promotion, do a better job with presentations, make myself more visible in the industry, etc. – you can probably get this from a mentor who may not be technically qualified in your field. These issues are pretty common ones, and they cross industries very easily.

          Admittedly, someone who is in or at least familiar with your company will be better able to assist you because of familiarity with the company culture, but you can look outside your company as well.

          I mentioned this because you seem very focused on individuals who may be part of your chain of command. If you think about what you want from the mentoring relationship, you may be able to think a bit more broadly and identify other potential mentors a little further afield.

          Good luck.

          1. OP#2*

            Great idea, thanks. I suppose I have focused on individuals because this is my first job in this industry and its quite different to the other industries I have been in before, so I was thinking someone in the company would be the logical starting point (just didn’t know who!)
            That plus there are lots of people in my type of role that haven’t progressed at all. While they are regarded as the “senior” people, they are still just doing the same job and I don’t want that to be me in ten years.

    2. Sunflower*

      I also want to chime in that people who are only a couple years of experience ahead of you can also make for great mentors. It’s great to have people who are well-established in their career that you can turn to for advice but I’ve found that those only slightly ahead of you have a lot to offer too. I met someone at a networking event who was great but came into the workforce at a very different time than me and faced different barriers. I ended up talking to one of her direct reports who had about 6 more years of experience than me and she gave me great advice and talked to me about other career paths she considered.

      1. Paige Turner*

        Good point! I was recently thinking about mentoring, because I feel like people who are much further along in their careers than I am had such a different experience when they were getting started that it can be hard to apply their advice. I wouldn’t say that they can’t be good mentors in many areas, but I never really thought about talking to someone just a few years ahead of me…that person probably has a closer background to me (the age of student loan debt, internships, bad job market, etc) so their advice in terms of finding a good career path and moving out of entry level may be more helpful to me.

  10. Katie NYC*

    #1. I also think it’s really possible that this is indirect, vague feedback on quality or accuracy. Follow up with your direct manager to find out what’s up.

  11. Apple22Over7*

    #1 I have had a similar issue in my current job – 3 months in I seemed to be racing through my assigned work with barely any mistakes and was starting to get bored and frustrated by the pace of the work. After a frank and candid conversation with my manager, he told me (as you have been) to cool it down a little, for a couple of reasons.

    1- Not because it’s making others look bad, but because my manager needed to manage expectations – if I was going through work so fast, other departments would get used to such a pace and then complain when such a turnaround wasn’t possible. This makes sense.

    2- I was only a few months into the role (as you are). I would soon be tackling bigger projects which would take up more time, and my boss didn’t want me to get in the habit of racing through tasks and potentially sacrificing quality and accuracy. Whilst the small stuff it wasn’t an issue for, it could have been for bigger and more important projects. Breaking the habit early was key to me ensuring quality was maintained in the larger projects I was assigned.

    3- As long as stuff is getting done before deadlines, then there’s no need to run yourself ragged trying to get things done as fast as you can. You don’t get extra points for being the first to turn in your work. Slow down, take your time and turn “good work completed really fast” into “great work that was completed on time”.

    Also, others have already said it but I’ll reiterate it – putting something down for 30-60mins and coming back to it is a really good strategy for proof reading. After working on something for a couple of hours straight, it’s so easy to get lost in the minutiae of the document. Coming back to it a little while later gives you chance to look over it as a whole with a fresher pair of eyes.

    I understand it can be frustrating to be told you’re going too fast, but use this as an opportunity to learn how to effectively use the time given to create the best work you can.

    1. plain jane*

      One more item on #2 – that you’re new to this role & will possibly be getting bigger projects. This means that in the future something might still only take you half an hour, but you won’t be able to get to it for 2 hours because you have other commitments. So it’s managing others’ expectations not just for your co-workers, but also for yourself.

      1. Lisa*

        Very good point, this is what my old director never could understand, I have 5 other things I promised and she kept promising things that take 30 min, but I had 5 things to do first. But would tell clients, to expect it EOD. I quit recently.

    2. Del*

      This is a really good way of putting it! #2 I think is an especially valid point — even if your work now lets you maintain the fast pace, you need to manage your own expectations of yourself as much as you need to manage other people’s expectations as to your turnaround time.

      In my current department, we start new hires on the easiest work, which means they can often blow through the PPH expectations our department sets. As we add on more difficult cases, their PPH drops, and it can be a difficult thing to transition from “asking for extra work every day” to “having to push and work hard to finish assigned work.” I know a couple of the newbies I’ve helped train have struggled with that.

    3. Pip*

      Point #2 is very good. At OldJob I was tearing through the tasks too when I was new and had no projects of my own to manage. Once I was assigned projects, I not only got more administration to do, but also gained a deeper understanding of how the “small stuff” can snowball. Quality assurance processes in UI translation is like falling down the rabbit hole, I tell ya!

      Also, +1 on the “managing expectations” stuff that so many others have mentioned. Deadlines and turnaround rates have tightened considerably in the language services industry this last decade, so it makes sense to try and counter that development.

  12. r*

    For Op #2– instead of looking for a mentor, you may want to initially reach out to people for short coffee meetings. These kind of informal meetings can be a good way to understand yur colleagues’ jobs, their background, and personalities, which can be extremely helpful in understanding the variety of work in the company and give you ideas for your career path. If you click with someone in particular, then all the better!

    1. Robin*

      I like this idea. For me, the best mentorships have been the ones that came about organically, because I clicked with someone, not the “will you be my mentor?” ones.

    2. OP#2*

      Thanks for the suggestion! Is finding a mentor generally meant to be awkward do you think? Because people would definitely think something was up if I started randomly asking them to coffee, only because of how our work is long term project based and I would have no reason to ask them really

  13. BCW*

    #5 I think there are 2 separate issues here. There is the texting issues and the not following through on agreed upon dates and times issue. To me, texting isn’t that big of a deal. Yes, you have some people who very much want the old fashioned way of doing things. Others prefer communicating by text. Aside from my mother, I’d say the majority of my personal communication is by text message. Professionally, I’m not in a position really to text now because I’m calling people at work. However many teachers text their kids parents, etc. There was probably a time when email was considered unprofessional. Now its accepted. So I think that part shouldn’t be considered bad.

    Now the inconsistencies is bad, but I’ve seen it happen before. It would really depend on how often, how bad, and the follow up. On this blog I’ve read plenty of stories of people that have been told an interview time and then the person not being ready. It happens. Was he apologetic? That kind of stuff to me is what matters more.

    1. Alex*

      I agreed.
      During the initial state of communication with the company I am currently workin for, which is a very large corporate, I was put in contact with the CTO (because a friend of his had referred me to him), and we used text messages as the main mean of communication.
      I don’t think texting is necessarily unprofessional, of course except for cases when you use slangs or otherwise inappropriate acronyms that college kids like to put in their text nowadays!

        1. CanadianWriter*

          Same! My mother always writes “u” instead of “you” and every time I see it, I break out in hives. She refuses to stop.

            1. Jean*

              This notation has been around for a long time. My grandmother used it to communicate hugs and kisses–in old-fashioned, handwritten, letters _on paper_, decades ago.

              1. DHD*

                no doubt, but it stopped being used, and is now being used by kids! My mother never used to write like this so its new to her, and I know she got it from one of the grand-kids or cousins – I will find them! :)

                1. class factotum*

                  What? I have always used xoxox!

                  And my mom, who is 71, just got a cellphone with a text plan (thank you, brother in law) and now she is texting me about what am I eating for lunch, etc.

                  Bless her heart.

                  She did ask if the texts were annoying and I told her that I preferred to email because I hate typing one letter at a time with my index finger. So she has stopped.

                2. Monodon monoceros*

                  My mom’s retirement coincided with her getting a smartphone…which resulted in too much time on her hands (i.e., boredom) + the ability to shoot off texts and emails anytime anywhere= family drama. It has calmed down in the past year but those first couple of years were a little insane.

              2. Bea W*

                I learned this as a kid writing cards to family. It was common to sign a card or letter “Love, Wakeen XOXO” to family or a romantic interest. Everyone did it. I’m not that old!

    2. DHD*

      I agree regarding the two main issues but I think the contextual importance of communication medium (texting in this case) is not being appreciated in the comments.

      Text messaging is not easily subject to audit and control as emails and letters are. If the phone does not belong to the organisation then it’s even worse. How does the organisation know what he is saying? What if he promises, agrees or says something that the organisation does not agree with? What if you accept the offer based upon this?

      There are implications to other areas of law in addition to contract law!

      In todays society we have many more means of communications then we did only 10 years ago, and even less 20 years ago. People are very relaxed about ‘blending’ their communication but they need to be aware of the implications of doing so (as we should do for all of our actions in life!), especially in our professional lives. If I were being interviewed this way and important things were being said, I’d suggest then insist that the communication is performed/confirmed in writing, in the same way business deals are!

      1. LA*

        Hi. Yeah so far the texts were just a quick way to keep me in the loop. Nothing like the example above with salary agreement. Also, it is more common for the “Millennial” generation to communicate through texts an emails. It’s funny though that I am considered to be among the older Millenials and I think my approach is more traditional. I think twice before texting.

    3. LA*

      Hi. Yes that’s one of the thoughts I had about texting. Although it wasn’t common in the past, maybe this is the culture of their organization. Since he opened it up to texting, I also responded with texts when I thought it was appropriate. He did apologize for a last min cancelation but for all I know it could have been a personal emergency or last min work headache taking priority. I realize that recruiting may not be a manager’s first priority. He’s been prompt in responding about half of the time. Other than that, there was a bit of a careless tone during the phone interview and he didn’t really answer several of my questions – giving a kind of vague answer to several of them. So that put up a bit of a red flag after all the inconsistency. I don’t know, maybe he’s a new manager trying to figure it all out.

      1. DHD*

        He sounds like a poor & unprofessional communicator. Plus you said that you found him “more unprofessionalism in his profile on social media sites.”

        I am freelance so have worked with at least 100 recruitment consultants and hiring managers around Europe and the middle east and I have never had an experience like yours.

        The author of the blog said something about his poor judgement.

        This is evident in his choice to email you: from the corporate perspective they tend to prefer communication through their communication systems (email etc) so that they can track and access the communication.

        What if he got hit by a bus? What if his phone was lost/stolen? (my ‘smart phone’ wiped itself 2 weeks ago and I lost all of my messages). what if you sued them over things he wrote?
        They need access to the messages so that they can maintain business continuity in the event that he is unavailable (as he was when he cancelled) or if they need to audit communication (some countries mandate this).

        1. BCW*

          Well, I don’t necessarily agree on the social media thing. Was it LinkedIn or Facebook? That to me definitely makes a difference. If its LinkedIn, then yes, a level of professionalism is expected. If its FB or twitter, I think thats not really a big deal.

          1. #5*

            On that note, a public Facebook profile reflects on someone personally. His LinkedIn was professional enough. I don’t think there was anything wrong with his facebook or twitter posts themselves on a personal note but he mentioned activities I would not want my clients or people hiring me to see. If I am that careful with my profile ( out of necessity in the competitive job market and professional reputation) I would expect my potential manager to be as well. I keep my Facebook private for that reason.

            1. #5*

              Also, if you don’t see your CEO tweeting about given activities out of professionalism why would those activities be okay for other leaders to display publicly in the same organization, no matter how relaxed the culture?

        2. #5*

          I tend to agree and think more along the lines that the experience leans toward unprofessional overall. Also, I have a lot of recruiting experience and I would never respond the way he did. I see your point about needing a paper trail but you’re right that texting opens up potential for misunderstanding.

      2. Paige Turner*

        OP, if I were in a similar situation, I might accept a job offer from this manager if I were unemployed and struggling, but not if I were mostly content with my current job (and if I were mostly dissatisfied with my current job, I probably still wouldn’t take it). I think you should trust your instincts and not take this job if offered unless you feel like you have nothing to lose. All this is assuming, however, that this manager would be your direct boss- if you’d actually be working under someone else, that changes things a bit (but not completely).

        1. #5*

          I spoke with a former manager I respect about this issue and she pointed out the same thing – would he be my direct supervisor. I don’t know but if the process moves forward and he is, I would decide then. I don’t know enough about it at this point to make that decision although he do far isn’t setting them up in the most professional light. I’m gathering from all of this that he is inexperienced in his role.

  14. JML*

    #1: When I started in my first job in my current field, someone had that conversation with me… and I had to have it when I had people to manage. However, we always framed it in a client-facing way, even if the truth was that it made the rest of the department look slow. We had a bunch of unreasonable internal clients who wanted things NOW NOW NOW, so we were in a constant state of managing expectations– sometimes things were quick, sometimes they took more time. Every single analyst in my department had to be told to hold off on sending work, and every single one of us got offended or affronted until we’d been around for a while and truly understood it. So I get why she’s miffed, and I wish the manager had been savvy enough to modify the advice, but slowing down can be really important.

    #4: I’m in a verrrrry similar situation right now– moving with my boyfriend so he can start a PhD. And I’m 35 years old, we’ve been together nearly 3 years, we have a dog together, and we expect to get married at some point in the next two years. Like many commenters said above, I call him my “partner”– “boyfriend” just sounds silly at this point. I state in my cover letters (hoping to work remotely but planning ahead just in case) that “my partner and I are moving to [X] in July; he is pursuing a doctorate at [State U].” Good luck!

    1. Tiff*

      I was just thinking this. I met the man who is now my husband at 29 and we got married at 31. My mom was widowed at 57 and has been dating the same man for years although neither of them wants to marry. She certainly wasn’t willing to call a 58 yr old man her “boyfriend”. So I took my cue from her: I just started introducing him and referring to him as “my man”. Plus, I just really enjoyed calling him that.

  15. Anonicorn*

    OP #1

    If your boss isn’t concerned about the accuracy of your work as Allison suggested, then I wonder if he/she is concerned that you’ll get bored or burn out by finishing your work so quickly.

    1. Anonicorn*

      Woops. I always want to put the double-Ls in Alison. Maybe I should slow down and proofread. :)

  16. Gilby*

    OP, You are giving them your notice? You don’t owe them didely squat other than…..

    ” I am respectfully giving you my “X weeks notice. Thank you for the opportuniuty to have worked at…..”

    If they ask why…… ” I am moving for personal/family reasons”.

    I am not sure what type of ” inappropriate” questions you are referrring to. If they already know you are seeing someone it shouldn’t come as a surprise if you want to move with that person.
    If they don’t know then who cares what they think? AND you still don’t owe them an explanation any more than what you are comfortable with.

    Are you concerened with references?

  17. Ali*

    I am an editor too and had to be told to slow down a couple of times in feedback from my bosses. It has made a difference in my work, as I now take more time to scan my edits before I submit them and my boss has started leaving me alone about things like typos that seemed petty to me at first. I still am among the best on my team in edits completed, but my manager hasn’t pointed out any big errors in my work in a while. I’d go with the others who say to make sure this is about accuracy and high-quality work, not making others feel bad.

  18. OP #1*

    Thanks for the feedback, everyone. I talked to my direct boss, and she agreed with her boss. She gave me the reasoning that upper management can’t expect us to turn something around in an instant (even though oftentimes we are told to drop everything and address their project immediately), and that we don’t want to fall into that precedent again.

    I then talked to my coworker–he’s been here for a few years, and he once held my position. He said he talked to my boss’s boss and our boss and was confused with the feedback–he doesn’t have a concern about speed. But he did say that there were two instances where there was institutional knowledge that needed to be applied on my part, but that there was no way for me to know that this knowledge existed, since I’m still fairly new. Essentially, he just said to ask questions more often. I talked to my boss afterward and she thought that was a good idea.

    Fine, OK, great. AN ANSWER! BUT what peeves me the most here is that my boss’s boss and boss made up reasons for why I should slow down, or at least didn’t share the main reason. How am I supposed to improve if you don’t tell me directly what the issue is?

    1. Sal*

      Well, you could just do what they say (i.e., slow down). Technically, you don’t need to know why to do what they ask.

      1. Tiff*

        I agree, that often you don’t need to know the reason – but ime it usually helps. Knowing the “why” of something can be the difference between resistance and compliance, especially when there’s conflicting information re: working quickly and accurately is good vs. working too quickly is bad because it could be more accurate.

        I spent a few years teaching before I got into my current field, and I remember the advanced students ALWAYS needing more in the way of explanation of why something is done, rather than just following instructions. It was annoying, but necessary.

        1. Sal*

          Oh, I completely agree with you. If I’m in the manager position, I have less than no problem explaining the why (at least in theory) because I understand how helpful it is. But if I’m in the employee position, it would behoove me to remember that just because I’d like to know the why doesn’t mean I’m entitled to get the explanation how, when, and from who I’d like it.

      2. Mephyle*

        Speaking generally, not just about slowing down, you almost always need to know, technically and otherwise, •why• you are doing something. Otherwise if the situation varies by any parameter, and you have to adjust your actions, you are just as likely to make the wrong choice as the right one because you don’t know what the purpose and target outcome are supposed to be.

    2. Us, Too*

      Are you sure that the main reason isn’t the one given to you both times: setting internal stakeholder expectations realistically? I actually think this is a very valid reason. When I’ve worked in client services if I tell a client that a deliverable will be ready on Friday by 5 pm, I rarely send it to them before then even if it’s been done for a day or two. Doing so puts some clients into a “she sandbags!” thinking pattern which is, of course, absolutely true, but which damages the relationship. Good stakeholder management involves setting an expectation and then delivering EXACTLY to that expectation. No more, no less.

    3. Tiff*

      I’m laughing because you just uncovered a “secret” of middle and upper management (at least that I’ve noticed) – don’t let ignorance of a topic stop you from sounding confident. :-)

      Fortunately, your direct manager knows what is going on and gave you a reason for the business process that makes sense. Also, they’re letting you know that your work product can be improved – especially since the improvement is related to institutional knowledge. But hey – at least your boss knows that you are a rock star at getting it done, now just make sure she knows that you’re good at accepting feedback. Good luck, I love it when the OP situation works out.

    4. Pip*

      Well, different people have different communication styles, and that is something we all have to learn to deal with. Your boss’s boss probably thought that you would get the implication about managing expectations – just look at all the people in this thread who guessed that this was the underlying issue!

      Look at it this way: You have enough life experience to notice something was odd about the feedback you got, and you dealt with that in a good way – asking AAM, your bosses and your co-workers to gain more insight – and now you understand what the boss’s boss implied.

      This is pretty much how you are supposed to go about improving yourself. Gain enough experience to start noticing patterns, notice oddities, go to the right persons and ask probing questions to learn more about what’s going on. A wild guess, but your manager probably expects you to take some time with each task to ask these questions, gain the necessary institutional knowledge and get the bigger picture. So this is what I would focus on now – learning more about the organisation and its business and what role you and your department is expected to play.

  19. Sunflower*

    #4- OP, I hope you know that it’s your manager or work places place to judge why you move. I understand your feelings and concerns though- no one wants to be not be taken seriously or judged in the work place. The best you can do is go with with Allison said and then forget about it. If people are going to judge, all you can do is stay above them and be the bigger person. And if your manager is going to use this against you in references, she is going to sound like the crazy one. And if you are at a point in an interview where someone is calling references, good chance the interviewer has already asked why you quit your job and you would have already explained the move.

    If I was in this situation, at my company, I think my one boss would have mixed feelings on this. He would probably hope or assume we were getting married- he has openly said he doesn’t approve of one of the our admins situations (living with the bf for 8 years and no plans of marriage). Everyone has different work place ticks- there are certain things that I would hide from coworkers that other’s wouldn’t. For me, this would be something I would tell my boss to screw you on because it’s none of his business and in no way does my decision to not be married affect his life or views. Hopefully this goes smoothly for you though. Enjoy your move and good luck with your job search!

  20. Used to Publish in Journals*

    The professional rule here is “If the publication is accepted, list it; if only submitted, don’t.” The form I have used is (to appear in volume/date)

    So I have publications like
    – PinJ, Usedto, “Something Relevant to This Job”, Journal of Chocolate Teapots, August 2013
    – PinJ, Usedto, “Something Else Relevant”, Journal of Chocolate Teapots, August 2014 (to appear)

    Also, many (most?) publications will not object to you showing accepted articles as writing samples, as long as you’re not publishing it someplace like on your Web site.

    1. Colleen*

      In my field, for entry level candidates, it is considered acceptable to list papers as “in prep” if their submission is imminent (within the next few months). It may be because projects in my field (cognitive neuroscience research) can take a long time to complete (easily a year on average). For a potential employer, knowing what you have up next in the pipeline is relevant. But I’ve also been advised to not abuse this (i.e. listing more than maybe 2-3 things as “in prep” especially if you have more “in prep” than actually published!)

      1. Aunt Vixen*

        I’ve also seen “(manuscript)” in reference lists. May not do as well as a submission sample, since by definition it hasn’t been published, but there’s a way to cite it, which means it’s a real thing that counts, right? (Although such things are seldom if ever written by hand any more – which just goes to show how language evolves and changes, amirite?)

    2. Sophia*

      I think this is something that depends on industry. In academia, it is the norm to include published, accepted, R&R, under review and in progress papers

  21. Bea W*

    Unfortunately this happens. You get one team member or a team who is super awesome fast and the client gets used to that and gets all frustrated when having to deal with what is actually a normal pace or a normal response, and that causes trouble for everyone. You may even have people who will contact the super performer rather than the person they really need to work with, and that’s a problem not just to the group but you because you end up at the least having to stop and reroute the request and let the client know they need to contact Wakeen for that. At worst you get sucked into something that’s not your job. There may also be times where you have a larger work load and can’t respond as quickly. It’s all about setting expectations. You want to do your best work but you don’t want the bar to be set do high from the get-go that it becomes unsustainable. BTDT in all cases. Timing is tough for me to manage as is getting sidetracked on requests that aren’t my job.

    There’s nothing wrong with setting work aside for a time after completing it. You can use it to your advantage by looking it over again after getting a break from it. That will actually enhance the quality of your work, and quality is even more important than quantity. If you finish early, this is a wise use of holding off on delivery.

    1. Us, Too*

      Yes, exactly. I’ve had numerous conversations with stakeholders that go like this:

      Stakeholder: Bob didn’t get me the TPS report until Friday!
      Me: When did he say he’d do it by?
      Stakeholder: Friday.
      Me: So… what’s the problem here?
      Stakeholder: Although Bob always tells me Friday, he’s usually a couple days earlier than that. Bob’s falling down on the job, it seems.

      And to illustrate that exceeding expectations isn’t always a good thing, I’ll give you this real life example from my teen years in fast food. I had customers who complained that they got their food TOO FAST – clearly it wasn’t “fresh” if we could get it to them so quickly. No joke!

      1. Bea W*

        I can’t say I’ve ever walked into a fast food restaurant expecting my food to be “fresh”. The whole point is to get it fast. If I wanted it fresh and hot off the grill I wouldn’t be ordering from the combo menu at McQuickburger. Not sure what those people were thinking.

    2. AMT*

      I’ve had my supervisor say much the same thing. Essentially, he was saying, “Don’t make it hard on yourself in the future in case you need to take longer on a project and the teapot polisher berates you for being regular-fast rather than super-duper-fast.”

  22. Fabulously Anonymous*

    #4. Does your employer know you SO’s name? If so, I’d just say, “Bob and I are moving out of state.” And if they judge you for moving with a SO, there’s not really much you can do about it. I don’t think it matters if you use the term “family” or “partner” or “BF.” Some people just like to judge.

    1. Gilby*


      The OP is giving too much power to her company.

      ” Here is my “X” week notice… see ya…..”

        1. Gilby*

          I am not saying she shouldn’t say anything. I am saying she doesn’t need to over explain or state anything she is not comfortable with.

          My above post says that .

            1. Jamie*

              Right. Just like you aren’t technically required to tell your co-workers if you had a nice weekend or not…but if you answer “nice weekend?” with “I don’t have to tell you that” it won’t do much for your standing at the office.

              1. Ruffingit*

                Yeah, if someone answered the nice weekend question with “I don’t have to tell you that” I’d think they were off their meds. It’s bizarre in our social set-up to do that. Sort of like when someone asks “How are you” in passing, they don’t really care. I’ve known people who actually answered that question truthfully and I had to tell them “It’s a social nicety, the person asking doesn’t really want to know how you are so you can keep that info about your recent anal operation to yourself.”

            2. Ruffingit*

              I think she should say “I’m giving notice, my last day will be Friday, the 22nd. I’m moving out of state with Bob.” Any questions beyond that don’t have to be answered. She can just repeat “I’m moving out of state with Bob.” Anything that is asked in a probing fashion after that can be answered with “It’s the best decision for us” and leave it at that. The problem many people run into is thinking you have to answer questions people ask. You don’t. Some people may say “Well, do you think that’s the best choice because….” which often leads people into defending their choices. Not necessary. Don’t get sucked into that. Just say “It’s the best decision for us.” People may or may not be judgmental of that, but if they are, there’s nothing you can do about it. Let them be judgmental. You don’t owe anyone a deep explanation or a defense. You’re not on trial no matter how much some people want to make you think you are. Just saying.

  23. Ruffingit*

    #5 – Unprofessional Interviewer

    OP, you found unprofessional items on this guy’s social media profiles so that pretty much tells you he’s just unprofessional in general. That said though, even if this was a situation where the rules were being relaxed to see how you’d respond, that would be a giant red flag to me. Because hiring should not involve playing games like that. Correct me if I’m wrong Alison please, but it just seems so ridiculous to me and as though you’re not going to find the candidates you need if you do a version of Workplace Survivor as in “Let’s mess with their heads and see who comes out on top…”

    TL:DR Game playing in interviews is a red flag. Take that data into consideration as you would any other knowledge about the possible job.

    1. #5*

      I agree, no place for mind games and if that’s what this is, I would question working for someone that uses manipulative tactics from the start. Thanks – #5

  24. #5*

    To #1, I work quickly myself. It can be aggravating when someone acts as if there is something wrong with your quick pace. Taking the chance to look over your work once more after you finish can only help.

  25. anon-2*

    #1 – someone is trying to turn a positive into a negative. It’s often done – managers are out to “find a negative spin” at times.

    I’ve been subject to the same things – when there were critical projects I needed to know information on, I sometimes had to go into “stealth” mode. Not a problem. Usually those who excluded you are too stupid to pick up on the fact – you might learn it on your own – and it is so much fun to surprise them with your knowledge and skill.

  26. Zanthia*

    OP #4, I’m going through the EXACT same situation. I’ve been with my boyfriend for almost 10 years, I’ve lived with him for 5, and his job is moving 6 hours away. We are personally against the institute of marriage, but we are absolutely committed to each other.

    It was indeed kind of awkward to tell people why I was moving. For anyone who didn’t know my romantic situation, I simply said “We are moving” or “Bob and I are moving” and this worked well for me. However, a couple people called me out and said, “Wait… Who is Bob?!” and I usually ended up saying “boyfriend” anyway.

    My new employers have no idea that Bob even exists and my relationship status has not been discussed at all, so I’m kind of apprehensive about how they will respond when they eventually find out the true catalyst behind my job change.

    Anyway, you are not alone!! Best of luck to you, and don’t let people make you feel lessor for your personal choices.

    1. Zanthia*

      And now here’s my tips for having an “unusual family situation”
      in a professional world:
      -Know exactly which HR policies apply to you as an unmarried couple, and which ones don’t, and be prepared to discuss with management
      -Be as transparent as you are comfortable with
      -“Wow, that’s a pretty personal question!” can diffuse a situation that is getting awkward
      -Try not to be offended by curiosity
      -If someone says something truly inappropriate, don’t hesitate to report it to HR
      -Please, please, please don’t let anyone make you feel ashamed or embarassed to be living your life the way you want to live it

      1. Ruffingit*

        Please, please, please don’t let anyone make you feel ashamed or embarrassed to be living your life the way you want to live it

        THIS!! So much this.

  27. Lily in NYC*

    #1, WTF? Reminds me of that gym that was in the news recently for telling a woman that she had to stop wearing tank tops and short shorts because her being in such good shape intimidated other people there.

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