manager wants us constantly available on WhatsApp, leaving dates off a resume, and more

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

1. Manager wants us constantly available on WhatsApp

When our new manager started, he demanded that everyone download WhatsApp on our phone (that each employee pays for). It’s an instant messaging app, and he uses it to contact employees rather than calling or emailing. He has continued to try and contact us this way on our days off, before and after shifts, and late at night. He swears at us, berates us, and complains about us over WhatsApp. Considering this is a part-time job I use to help pay for university, I find this inappropriate.

We’ve tried not responding, but unfortunately, he does not like this. He expects all of us to be reached through WhatsApp at any time that is convenient for him. I’m not sure how to approach him and let him know that his behavior is not professional, for fear of a backlash. Any suggestions as to how I can bring this up and hopefully make it stop?

Try saying this to him: “I am fully available during the shifts that I’m scheduled for, but when I’m not working, I have other commitments, such as school. I cannot always respond outside of my scheduled hours, because I’m often away from my phone, in class, or otherwise not available. You’ve made it clear you want to be able to reach us when we’re not on the clock, but I’m not able to do that. How do you want me to handle this?”

That said, this guy is an ass — for the constant attempts to reach part-time workers, for the berating and complaining, and for the way he wants to use this app. Even if you get him to stop this particular behavior, you’ll still be working for an ass, and it will surely come out in other ways.

(And by the way, you need to be paid for any time you spend responding to him outside of your regular work hours.)

2. Manager is interviewing candidates for a job I’m already doing

I am currently temp to hire in my position. My manager informed me that I would need to apply like everyone else and have an interview. He just interviewed me, recently along with three other people (all external). Is it normal for a manager to interview other candidates, knowing I have been in this position for 5 months? I have been looking elsewhere while waiting to hear feedback since I know nothing is really guaranteed. I feel like if he was interested in me he wouldn’t need to interview others, so I have been getting mixed feelings on what might happen.

Yes, it’s normal for your employer to interview other candidates even when you’re already been doing the job. Your manager has an obligation to ensure he’s hiring the best person for the job, not just the person who already happens to be on hand. (Employers don’t always do this, but they actually should — unless the temporary person is so clearly outstanding that they can reasonably assume they’re not likely to find a more competitive candidate.) In any case, it’s not personal, and it doesn’t mean he’s not interested in you as a candidate — it just means he’s doing due diligence before making a decision.

3. A candidate for the job I was fired from wants me to tell her about the culture there

I wrote in a month ago about my boss who was obsessed with treating me like a millennial. Ironically, shortly after that post, I was fired for “not being passionate about my job.” Ultimately, it wasn’t a good fit and we both knew it. Since leaving, my stress level has decreased substantially and I’ve realized it was an unhealthy working environment and terrible management. Even if I was offered the position again, I would never return to the organization.

I received a message recently on LinkedIn from someone who I am assuming is applying for my former job: “I was wondering if you could tell me a little bit about your job and the organizational culture? I know it’s an odd question to ask but I am very interested to know.” During the initial interview process, I had asked the CEO a similar question. She hesitated at first but then explained that they have a “great culture, very relaxed office, flexible work environment.” All of which I eventually found to be untrue.

Should I respond? And if so, could you provide suggestions or ground rules to do it appropriately?

If you’re willing to take the relatively low risk of it getting back to your boss, I’d encourage you to talk with this person — since presumably we’d all appreciate people being candid with us in her situation. However, I’d do it over the phone — ask to give her a call rather than putting it in an email. There’s no reason to have a critical assessment of your old employer floating around out there in writing.

(For people wondering how this is different from the letter-writer last week who I advised not to meet with the person who had replaced her, that letter-writer was just recovering from job-related trauma, complete with panic attacks, and the person who had approached her was already working in the position, not wondering whether to take it.)

4. Explaining a change in job status during a job search

The wolves have been circling at my current job for a while: my job responsibilities have expanded greatly with little increase in pay, title, or (most importantly) training; there are credible rumors of impending layoffs; and I’ve received unsubtle hints from my new manager that he’s moving towards termination (asking if this job is still the right fit for me, etc.). The good news is I’ve been proactive in a job search and have had first interviews with a couple of prospects. The other good news is that I’m financially able (and emotionally prepared) to leave this job when and if the time comes.

My question relates to prospective jobs where I’m already mid-search: I’ve been presenting myself as currently employed (because I am) and responded to the “Why are you leaving CurrentJob?” question with a standard “excited for a new opportunity at JobProspect” answer; I remember your lessons about not bad-mouthing the old boss to the would-be new boss!

If, in between now and the next interview stage, I lose my current job, how do I bring that up with my prospects? Does that set off a huge red flag for hiring managers? Does the manner of my departure make a big difference here? It’s been indicated I can take a voluntary layoff and get a severance package and a decent reference out of it (…see “unsubtle hints” above), and I’m strongly considering taking it, but I’d hate to feel like I’m restarting my job search from scratch if I do.

You’re not obligated to proactively announce to employers who you’re already talking to that your job status has changed — although you are obligated not to be deceptive about it if they ask or it comes up naturally. (For instance, you can’t talk about your job in the present tense if you’re no longer there.) If it does come up, the fact that you’ll be able to explain you were laid off rather than fired is a very good thing in your favor.

5. Leaving dates off a resume

I’m helping my dad rework his resume and apply to positions after he was recently laid off — along with about 50 others — from his radiology job of 8 years. He is almost 66 years old.

His experience is so broad and all encompassing that I’ve decided to leave 4 positions on his resume. These are mostly in chronological order and within the last 15 years. However, because he’s also applying to oncology jobs, he’s left an oncology position on there that is quite old.

I’ve left all the dates off of these positions as it will be quite obvious that he is older. Instead of “2006-2014,” can I write “8 years?” I don’t want it to appear that he’s a job skipper, but I also don’t want to put dates.

Nooo, don’t do that. You really need to include dates for each job; it’s a big red flag if you don’t. It’s a neon sign screaming “trying to hide my age” — it actually draws more attention to it than if you just include the dates. (And the dates do matter. They show how recent the experience was and how long it lasted. It’s legitimately relevant.)

{ 245 comments… read them below }

  1. Nina*

    Alison, for #1, should that line read “You’ll still be working for AN ass, and it will surely come out in other ways?” :)

    That manager is a jerk. I’m concerned that he’s cursing and berating his employees through the app. Besides being cruel, it’s not very wise. His employees can save those texts and possibly use them against him in the future.

  2. EngineerGirl*


    uses it to contact employees rather than calling or emailing

    I’m wondering if psycho boss is using WhapsApp to avoid having discoverable evidence for a reputable company. Is there an IT or HR person you could contact? Attempts to avoid company e-mail could become a liability for the company, as it would look like they are trying to hide communications via other means.

          1. James M*

            How about working for WhapsAss? Sounds like the source of all sorts of letters to AAM.

    1. LBK*

      For retail or other shift-based service industry jobs it’s not that uncommon, part-time workers don’t always get a company email address and if someone doesn’t work for 3 or 4 days in a row they might miss important email messages by the time they come back. I’ve worked in a few different stores that used WhatsApp or GroupMe as a mass communication method, but it was never used to berated anyone or to badger them about work-related issues while they were off the clock like this.

      1. Mints*

        Yeah, I didn’t get a company email until last year, even though I’ve worked for places that had emails for management. It’s pretty common for shift work to rely on cell phones for communication. Although the requirement to have that specific app I find weird.

        But seriously, OP, look for a new job. You don’t have to deal with this ass

  3. Lizzy*

    2.) I am curious how you received the assignment. Most direct-to-hire positions I have seen involve interviewing and screening the candidate similarly to a direct hire. The only exception is a grace period for the candidate to prove his or herself and to give the employer the option to back out. I have met a few people who weren’t offered permanent positions but were explicitly informed of the employer’s decision before they looked for external candidates. The people I do know that received offers after the grace period didn’t have to reinterview or compete with external candidates.

    1. Jessa*

      Yeh, I’d be quite annoyed at being hired temp to perm and not going perm unless the position ended completely with the company. The idea of temp to perm is getting the right person in and vetting them by them DOING the job. Unless the person is not doing a good job, in which case they should have been let go sooner, this is a nasty thing for the company to do. There is an inherent promise in temp to perm that is not there during normal interviews.

      1. Traveler*

        It may be a company policy that regardless of a temp, whenever a position opens up they have to interview X number of people, too. Annoying, but it seems to happen.

        1. Heather*

          That’s my understanding Traveler. It is very annoying, that is why I am looking elsewhere and not waiting to hear back if I get the job or not. Nothing is guaranteed in this industry!

      2. Kate M*

        But there are jobs that are just plain temp jobs, and not temp to perm, right? Like it wasn’t a permanent position when they needed the temp to fill it. (So they might not have advertised it widely since they were just looking for a temporary fill to the position). And then later they decided that it needed to be a permanent position, so they’re doing the regular hiring process, including interviewing the temp. I can see how it would be frustrating, but temp positions don’t always come with a possibility for permanent hire, and they shouldn’t be expected to.

        1. Ruffingit*

          Yes, but when you know going in that it’s temp only, then you expect it to be either truly temporary or that you’ll be in a pool of candidates if it happens to go perm. But temp to perm is entirely a different set of expectations. A company should not take someone on as temp to perm and then start interviewing others for their job. That is not the way things are usually done in that scenario.

          1. Kate M*

            Ah I missed in the question where it said it was temp to hire. That is different then, and I would not be ok with being put into an interview situation again. Like if you’re going to do that, do all the interviews before you hire a temp, hire the best one, and then see if they work out (instead of indicating that it’s temp to hire while you just you a temp to be able to draw out the hiring process longer).

          2. Heather*

            Ruffingit – I was already told by my mgr. that he will still need to interview other candidates even though I was already on the job. I understand that is the policy, but sometimes it just sucks that you work your butt off but you could not be the potential candidate the manager is looking for.

        2. Heather*

          Kate – It was supposed to be a permanent position, but they didn’t get the approval quick enough by the time the person in that role left so it became permanent in March. I am not sure if the mgr. has informed the other candidates there is someone already currently in the role. The only thing I have is I’ve been in the position for 5 months.

      3. Lynn Whitehat*

        Most companies see it that way, but some don’t. Or possibly they are setting a REALLY high bar for “doing a good job”. I’ve taken a couple of jobs this way, and I have found it rewarding to ask during the interview what percentage of temps “convert”.

      4. Heather*

        Jessa – I agree! I feel like instead of being a Temp to Hire, it should be Temp to Possible Hire because instead of molding you to become the permanent employee, you are on this trial basis until someone or myself fills the position.

      5. MM*

        Be sure to read the job postings on the company’s site. An employer may advertise a position you are in, plan to hire you if you are temp. But never tell you the position was open because they expect you “read their minds” or just don’t be think. Then will turn around and ask why you didn’t put in for it. Some expect you to be watching the job postings if you’re interested. They feel it’s up to you to follow through if you want the job. Many times a job is “temp-to-perm” with no expectations of keeping that individual on past a certain time frame. They say it’s TTP hoping you’ll stay, and not look elsewhere. It’s dirty pool … with some companies it’s standard behavior, tell you that with no plan to keep you once the project or contract they are filling is completed. But it’s a resume plug. View it as that, and you are less apt to find it so frustrating.

    2. MM*

      In the university setting they have what’s called an emergency hire pool. They pull people from there to cover when someone has quit or been fired, or out on FMLA or it’s a new position and the individuals that would be part of the hiring process are not available for the summer, etc.

      We are a state university and there are policies in place that require a minimum of 3 interviews for each position advertised. Many times they will do phone interviews for up to 5 – 7 individuals to narrow it down to 2 – 3. They are required to document each telephone and in-person interview.

      Do not take it as an insult. The position I am in now, they had an emergency hire individual in my place. She had less than one year experience, and I have nearly 20 years experience in the university setting along with a degree in accounting. From what I heard she was upset that the position didn’t get offered to her. It’s like comparing apples to oranges in some situations.

      I had an emergency hire job a couple of years ago, and it was one of the worse experiences in my life. I just up and quit .. I was the third person there in one year. One quit like I did, but she stayed the full two weeks after giving notice. The other they fired. They had someone in the position over 20 years; and treated her replacements like dirt.

      Look at this job as a filler, an experience gained. I interviewed for something I really wanted but it went to the emergency hire. You never know. Do not take it personal; it’s hard not to. Unless you did something that totally turned them off. Many times an employer is looking for something that is never written in the job advertisement.

    3. Heather*

      Lizzy – I received the assignment because someone in the group was leaving (they were permanent at the time). The mgr. was trying to get this position to be permanent but it was taking to long to get it approved; hence why it became temp to hire. I guess you can say my grace period ends end of June as that’s when my assignment will end. I never interviewed formally until the position was posted permanently because I was given as a recommendation from another coworker to the mgr.

  4. Neeta*


    For instance, you can’t talk about your job in the present tense if you’re no longer there.

    So if someone asks you the standard “why do you want to leave?” question, instead of “I’m looking for a new challenge” you’ll have to ask “Actually, I am not working there anymore”?

    1. Del*

      Yeah, and there are ways to work the “I’m not working there anymore” answer to be sympathetic and understandable.

      1. Ethyl*

        Exactly. Just be straightforward. Layoffs happen, it’s not like it’s some shameful secret or something, which is yet another point in the “take the voluntary layoff option when the time comes” column.

        1. Skippy Larou*

          When I was laid off, I answered the why-did-you-leave question,”I survived four rounds of lay offs, but not the fifth round”. This lets them know that I wasn’t the company’s first choice to let go.

          Next time I might answer,”They tried to make me work for ass, and I wasn’t comfortable with that…”

          Just kidding; I’m enjoying today’s typos.

        2. en pointe*

          This. If the interviewer is reasonable, I can’t see a recent layoff being a big problem.

          It could even possibly be helpful, if the company happened to be looking to fill the position promptly – the OP would no longer have a current employer to give notice to, making them available to start sooner.

          1. Jax*

            Exactly. Nothing is worse than being hard up for income, getting a job offer, and then accepting a start date 2 weeks later because your “current position” needs a notice.

      2. some1*

        Yes, this happened to me when I was laid off from my last job between the phone screen with the. HR recruited and the in-person interview with the same recruiter and the hiring manager and I handled it just like Celeste suggested. It didn’t harm me, but it helped that I was laid off with 15 other people.

    2. Ellie H.*

      I think you could also answer that with why you had started job searching even before being laid off, which is really what the question is about.

    3. Lynn Whitehat*

      I kind of didn’t understand the point of the question. I know you’re not supposed to badmouth your current employer. But does a quick comment about “financial instability” before diving into the part about “and I am specifically interested in YOUR fine firm because of reasons” really count as badmouthing?

  5. PEBCAK*

    #3 Even via phone, though, I’d do my best to make objective statements and try not to editorialize too much, and definitely don’t bad-mouth the employer.

    1. College Career Counselor*

      Agreed. I’ve spoken to candidates about previous employers and gave my answers in terms of the skills a successful candidate would need. (“In my opinion, the successful candidate will need to be extremely adept at managing up.”) I’ve also talked reasonably candidly about the challenges I faced without editorializing about personalities. (“I experienced difficulty obtaining support from the division head for my vision for the department.”)

      That is an objective statement of fact, not an opinion about the competence of the division head or how employees are treated.

    2. Us, Too*


      I’m always surprised at employers who aren’t VERY clear with interviewees about the work environment and expectations, good and bad. I worked in an organization that had a very passionate, enthusiastic team environment. To the right candidate, this is invigorating and exciting. To the wrong candidate, we’d have been perceived as a cliquish sweatshop.

      All this is to say, every employer has its demons as does every employee. The trick is to match up in a way such that your demons play well together.

  6. Puffle*

    #5 if I were a hiring manager, I would be far more interested in how recent your dad’s experience in x field was rather than his age. If someone put “xyz position at abc company, 8 years” on a resume, my first thought would be that they’re trying to cover up that this wasn’t a recent job. Without dates, I’d be thinking, “Is this experience from thirty years ago? Forty? Fifty? Are they trying to hide a long employment gap? Are they still up-to-date with the field and the technology that we’re using now? Why wouldn’t they just put the dates in?” It just raises too many questions, a big one being: “What are you trying to hide?”

    Also, with the dates, it gives a clearer picture of how the candidate has developed and branched out into different fields over time. How have they progressed career-wise? What crossover skills have they learned? What sort of direction are they moving in professionally? Dates help to give a better idea of all of this stuff.

    1. Frances*

      Yes, particularly since oncology as a field has undergone some pretty significant changes in terms of available treatments and how they are administered in the last decade. Your dad should make sure he not only puts dates but explains how he’s been keeping up with recent developments in the field.

      (Disclosure, IANAD, but I work for an org that provides professional education in the oncology field.)

      1. Julie*

        And if his experience in oncology was so long ago, he’s probably better off leaving it off his resume (unless, as Frances says, he’s been keeping up to date). If it makes sense, he can bring it up in a cover letter and/or the interview.

    2. The Maple Teacup*

      Yup. Put the dates in for all the above reasons. If I saw a résumé without dates I’d automatically be confused and suspicious. Dates are so ubiquitous that their lack would bring negative attention.

      1. Janis*

        Any Federal govt hiring managers out there? I’m trying to get a fed job in the DC area (which has been about as successful as mining for gold, but never mind) and I recently wanted to submit a resume thru USAJobs. When I hit the submit resume button, a message appeared that the agency in question *required* certain data on resumes, including the exact start and end dates of jobs, that is MM/DD/YR.

        What the what? I think most of us are doing pretty well if we can remember that we started sometime in May 2001 and left in October 2006. How can anyone be expected to recall the day? The answer is, of course, that they cannot so I suspect most people just enter anything and will gloss it over in the unlikely event of getting an interview.

        Why would an agency make something pretty darn irrelevant a deal breaker? Honestly, I just decided not to apply.

        1. The IT Manager*

          I don’t think it is the agency. I think it is the USAjobs interface. If you can’t understandably remember, I would pick either the last day or the 15th of the month to end one job and start the next the next day.

          I had to do that for my security clearance paperwork. Who remembers the exact day you moved or started a new job?

          1. MM*

            When I used that application I used the 1st as start dates, and 30th for end dates.

            I have had to do security background checks as a defense contractor, and my incorrect dates has never hurt me.

        2. Enid*

          As a federal contractor for eight years, I’d just assume it’s because a lot of what gets put out by the federal government is never reviewed by anyone with any actual standards or a lick of common sense. (Not trying to be political, that’s just my experience.) Honestly I still get ticked off thinking of the online security form where, if you simply started at the top and worked your way down, when you tried to enter a response to the third question, it would beep angrily and give you a pop-up lecturing you that you had to answer the fifth question before answering the third question.

          What you describe wouldn’t even faze me. I’d just enter the date as the 1st of the month. (I’d also assume that any instructions accompanying the form had probably never been looked at by anyone dispensing or receiving the form, and likely bore no resemblance to what they were actually expecting you to do.)

          1. Elysian*

            I agree – when I did the character and fitness form for my state bar, they wanted to know dates for jobs and moves and stuff. The reviewers even advised that I put down the first of the month for the dates I didn’t know. I would just put the 1st down.

            1. Ruffingit*

              OMG, character and fitness for the state bar is an exercise in horror. I filled that out when I started law school and then when I applied to take the bar, I had to do an updated version in case anything had changed. They asked if I had mental hospital/drugs/alcohol issues, etc. I wanted to answer that I hadn’t before, but I did now thanks to law school ;)

        3. Kelly L.*

          I lucked out during my job search last year–I was a prolific LiveJournaler back in my twenties, and whenever an application wanted a date with the actual day, I dug around my LiveJournal and sure enough, there was usually a post like:

          September 9, 2004
          Started my new job today! Yay!

          Thanks to my old emo-journaling self. ;)

          1. De Minimis*

            Just do the best you can with USAJobs. I don’t think it’s a situation where anyone is really going to check the information you submit there.

            However, if the job does require some level of background check you will want to prepare any jobs and residences going back at least 7-8 years [a decade is probably better] depending on the level.

            Sadly, USAJobs is still way easier and more user friendly than what they had the in past.

          2. Brittany*

            Oh god, LiveJournal. That takes me back to those good ol’ emotional high school days…

          3. AmyNYC*

            I generally know the month I started jobs, but not the actual date. I use the 1st, 15th or 30th if I can remember *around* when I started.

            1. Ruffingit*

              I do the same. There’s just no way for me to remember that level of detail especially since I’ve been working for 20+ years now.

          4. Anx*

            I use my online banking for dates within the past year. Receipts are better because banking can have a few days. I get out a calendar, go through my receipts, and try to connect the dots.

          5. Cath in Canada*

            When I applied for Canadian citizenship I had to list every single day I was out of the country between getting permanent residence and the date of the application. I was able to use passport stamps for some of the trips, but not all (e.g. there aren’t any entrance stamps in my British passport for trips to EU countries). I found all the dates by searching my Gmail for messages sent to my Mum saying “landed safely!” – she was delighted to learn that her fear of anyone in the family flying anywhere was actually useful for something!

            1. Al Lo*

              I have dual Canadian/American citizenship, but grew up in Canada, which will impact giving our future kids dual citizenships if we’re in Canada when they’re born. As a dual (not born in the U.S.), I can’t give them automatic U.S. citizenship, but it’s dependent on my physical presence in the U.S., so at some point, I’m going to have to calculate the exact number of days in my lifetime that I’ve spent — family vacations, the time I spent living there, other trips, etc — to determine whether my physical presence requirements are met to pass on that dual citizenship.

              I’ll be relying a lot on my parents for that one, as well as old emails and other online records of travel plans!

        4. NavyLT*

          Like others have said, use first day of the month for start date/last day of the month for end date. It’ll keep the electronic form happy, and the humans who look at it aren’t going to care whether your actual start date was the third, or the 10th, or the 29th.

        5. Allison*

          Realistically, I agree that most of us can’t remember start and end dates. From their perspective, I wonder if they’re trying to get an accurate idea of just how long you worked, to make sure you have “enough” experience. But yeah, I’d just put down a number that seems close. First of the month if you started in the beginning, 15th if somewhere in the middle, and 25th if toward the end. If they tried to verify, either the former employer won’t remember or, if they do dig up the start date, you can play it off as an honest mistake – which it is, sort of.

          1. Janis*

            Thanks, everyone. I was so surprised by the requirement and the imposing deadline that I just dropped the whole thing. I will take the advice given.

        6. Anx*

          I always thought of it as a way to get you to lie on your application in case they want to fire you later. Few people know their start dates and end dates. If they don’t investigate it, it could be chalked up to laziness, so maybe they could say everyone should know it.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            No :)

            It’s really just bureaucratic laziness — not thinking through that they don’t need the exact day of the month and that most people won’t have it. It’s not to set you up.

  7. Matt*

    Employers demanding to reach their employees 24/7 have been so far the greatest plague of this still beginning century, no matter if it’s by phone, mail, WhatsApp or smoke signals.

    1. A Kate*

      Yeah, I was also thinking the nature of the communication is a much bigger problem than the fact that it’s happening over WhatsApp.

      1. MM*

        What exactly is WhatsApp? Is it like yahoo messenger?
        If I was the student I would go to HR & Payroll, notify them of the situation & file for the time spent responding to him afterhours. Is there anyway to forward his texts to HR? to an e-mail address?

        Start job searching. You may have to go to the labor board to get those hours you spent corresponding with the *ASS*. That might rain his behavior in … file for your time dealing within him in your off hours; and contact the Labor Board. Most companies pay a minimum dollar rate if you are on call? required to be available? If you get a new job … it would be a great parting shot. But file for the time; because you’ll need to have to prove to the labor board that you tried to claim the time.

        1. Jen RO*

          It’s like SMS, but using your phone 3G/WiFi instead of your phone plan. (Of course, this might be completely different in the US – I admit I am confused by the US mobile phone system, sorry!)

    2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      I’m once again left asking, what is so all fired important to ask that you need to flag down a part time employee late at night?

      I wish that one time one of these letters came with examples of the questions being asked because I don’t get it! The only thing I can come up with is, omg we are out of ketchup, where did you put the barrels of ketchup, I can’t find them.

      1. Matt*

        This. And if the employer deems whatever it is that important, a rotating on-call schedule covering those times has to be established.

      2. ExceptionToTheRule*

        The only thing I contact employees about during their off hours is if someone is sick & I’m trying to find coverage. Anything else can be addressed later.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          I came up with another one. “Help, I set off the building alarm. What’s the code I punch in to stop the sirens?”

      3. Apostrophina*

        I suppose in some positions, a version of “[Big thing] just happened at [office in another time zone], and they need immediate help!” might qualify, but I’d hope it would be rare, or a specific part of someone’s job description already.

      4. Natalie*

        Given the manager’s behavior, I imagine he likes the feeling of control he gets by disrupting their lives to yell at them.

          1. Ruffingit*

            I read it that way too, but someone down thread said the app is free so I think the OP means they’re paying for the phone. Still this situation stinks on many levels.

          2. Lindsay the Temp*

            To be fair…It’s a $1.00. Not that that makes it right, but it’s not like, a $5.00 app or anything. Also, if you’re an Android user, the first year is free (for now).

            1. Mephyle*

              oops, I answered before I saw your post.
              The first year is free for iDevice users, too.

      5. Shell*

        I had a coworker flag me down at 1 am a couple of times. In his defense, I offered…and he texted first to make sure I was awake. :)

        He was a new guy and working the newly-minted graveyard shift, and the 10 people on site were all on different teams/departments, so if he screwed up something no one there could help him. (And management decided he only needed about 2.5 weeks of training before he could go solo.) Since we had a lot of rush orders (which was the entire reason the graveyard shift was implemented), a delay or screwup could really hurt the morning people. So I told him to call me if he had questions.

        But that’s more of a special case, I know…and it wasn’t mandated by management. (I wasn’t management, just a coworker who’d been there longer.)

    3. ConstructionHR*

      So, the phone call from my boss @ 8:00 Sunday AM ( after working 13 days & 151 hours) was out of line?

      Who knew? ;-)

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        You probably did when it woke you up! :)

        You’re in construction. Okay, my buddy who is a Boilermaker, he runs jobs, he’s paid by the hour and yeah, he’s pretty much on call whenever from the job sites. They can call him anytime.

        He’s well compensated hourly + Boilermakers deal with hazardous elements so it does make sense to me that he carries a phone and accepts it as part of his job that he’s going to get calls.

        In other news, there better be a chemical fire if somebody called him at Sunday 8am after working those hours.

        Was there at least a reason you got the phone call?

    4. TychaBrahe*

      “It took about 200 years for unions to get us a forty-hour workweek, and it took smart phones about five years to completely take them away.” —Bob Sullivan

    5. Anon Accountant*

      My old boss had printed employees personal cell phone numbers on their business cards without asking first. Those who objected were told that’s the policy. You weren’t reimbursed for your cell phone bill in any way.

      Most clients were respectful but you had a few pains in the ass that contacted you all weekend long over silly, non-essential stuff. Then if you didn’t answer your phone, they contacted the boss to complain you weren’t answering your phone. Then he was contacting you, asking why you weren’t taking calls.

      Being accessible 24/7 isn’t a good thing at all. I cannot imagine why in a service industry environment that a manager would need to contact employees during non-scheduled shift times.

  8. nightsurfer*

    OP could always email the abusive WhatsApp conversations out to another person… say the manager’s boss? Or a copy to themselves for their own records. Just a thought.

  9. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*


    Alison said: (Employers don’t always do this, but they actually should — unless the temporary person is so clearly outstanding that they can reasonably assume they’re not likely to find a more competitive candidate.)

    May I quibble with this?

    There are so many things we could do better, but our temp to hire process is effective.

    We have several temp agencies who look out for us and understand the kind of people who do well in our company. We interview temp candidates the same as we would straight hire candidates, albeit with one interview instead of two or three. We bring the chosen candidates on for a three month period, and at the end of the three months we either hire them or we don’t.

    The failure rate of temp to hire candidates with this method is significantly lower than people hired without temping first.

    We use both methods, straight hire and temp to hire, to bring new people on but the methods compliment each other, they don’t compete with each other.

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      p.s. if we don’t hire them at the end of three months, we release them. If we know we aren’t going to offer them a position at any point in, we usually release them at the point that we are sure there will be no offer. People gotta eat. We don’t string folks along.

      1. Heather*

        I wish it was like that for my situation. It’s hard to standby watching others interview. That’s why I’m looking elsewhere. I’m under contract until end of June so if I don’t get it then I’m out of a job.

    2. Betsy*

      Seconded. I have been in temp to hire situations before, and what they usually are is a kind of extended vetting period, almost like a reference check. They’ve been done most often when either A) you need someone right away, so you can’t be as choosy as you might like, but you’re not sure the person will work out long term, B) the skills needed to do the job are hard to test for, or C) the job is emotionally demanding, and you’re not sure whether people will be up for it.

      There’s always a risk factor with interviews, that you’re going to get someone who interviews well but can’t do the job well. If you have someone who is proven to do the job well (via a 5-month trial period) cutting them loose in favor of someone you’ve had a few hours of conversation with and some reference checks you can maybe trust/maybe not seems like a bad risk to me.

      OP2: I would guess one of 2 things is going on: there’s some sort of company rule that says at least X people have to be interviewed for a full-time position, or the company is on the fence about you. They think you can probably do the job, but they aren’t in love with you, and are hoping they can find someone better.

      1. Heather*

        Betsy – I like what you had to say. The weird thing is the manager told me during the interview was the reason why I was in the chair was because of my degree otherwise I wouldn’t of been in the chair. I had someone job shadow me for a little while because she was interested in the job, but she ended up not getting a call because of her lack of experience.

    3. Bea W*

      This is a very sensible process that would work really well for my group, if only any of us had a say in the matter.

      We do temp with renewable contract. So our temp people are considered external candidates when a perm slot opens up. We’d love to do temp to perm but the number crunchers sitting up in the Intregrated Office of Tight Fists haven’t allowed a perm hire for our group since 2011, not even to fill vacated perm slots.

    4. LQ*

      I honestly love this policy and wish more companies would do it. Most of my jobs I’ve gotten have been times when I was temping. (I think I’m a much better employee than I am a piece of paper or an interviewee.) It also lets me decide if a company works for me and move on when it hasn’t.

    5. HM in Atlanta*

      There’s a very real difference between having someone as temporary coverage, that you might consider for the job, and hiring someone temp-to-perm.

      The OPs letter sounded to me like the former, rather than true temp-to-perm.

  10. Kate*

    #1 I would start taking screenshots and saving abusive conversations incase you need evidence of anything. This guy is an idiot to be harassing you in writing and you should take advantage of that.

    1. ella*

      This. I don’t know anything about WhatsApp or if it saves data, but if the boss is using this app to get around a corporate paper/data trail, screen shots are great.

      If you can get a few of your coworkers to also take screen shots, you can send them in a bundle to the boss’s boss, with names obscured, and that way you have a legitimate way to say, “Though this is coming from my individual email, multiple people have been subjected to this treatment,” which might give you a certain amount of herd immunity.

      1. fposte*

        Though keep in mind that his being abusive isn’t illegal, so it doesn’t expose the company to liability risk. What is illegal is requiring the employees to work unpaid.

        1. Sparky*

          Depending on where you are and what’s being said, it may not be criminal, but it could actually be violation of labour laws.

          In Ontario (where I am), workplace harassment is a violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The act defines workplace harassment as a course of “vexatious” comment or conduct directed to a worker that is or ought reasonably be known to be unwelcome. So, your boss repeatedly calling you names or humiliating you could be construed as harassing behaviour.

          In this circumstance, it could open the company to liability risk under the Act… now, depending on the company, the fines may not be significant enough for them to care, but it would open an investigation through the Ministry, which is basically paperwork hell.

          I would reccomend the following:
          1) Document everything. More than taking screen shots or saving files: physically write down the time and date of each instance, what was said, and in what context.
          2) The next time your boss gets beligerant, respond with a clear statement that what he’s saying is unwelcome and unacceptable under____ (applicable law).
          3) If you’re not comfortable going to HR, you should be able to go to your local labour enforcement office (there are several for Ontario, but I don’t know how this works in the states), and ask them for help. They may tell you that you have to go to HR, or they may get you in touch with an advocate that can help.

            1. KarenT*

              It wouldn’t be illegal in Ontario either. It would have to be quite severe for the labour to open an investigation or even to follow up with your company. They’d most likely refer you to your own HR department, or send you to one of their coaches for advice on how to handle the situation.

            2. KrisL*

              Maybe someone above the boss has figured out that abusive managers are bad for the bottom line in the long run and will deal with this one. Can always hope!

        2. Haikatrine*

          There is such a thing as a hostile work environment, and that manager is definitely creating one. You should be aware that any type of verbal abuse is not acceptable and could be construed as harassment.

  11. John*

    #2 — had a colleague in this situation. We all advised her to sit tight and last week she got the job.

  12. Someone Else*

    Yeah, at my company they utilize temps for a lot of the positioins so they can test them out, some have to compete in the interview process to go perm, but others, like myself, are converted. Like Allison said, they were pretty sure they couldn’t find an outside candidate to compete with the outstanding job I did while I was in the temp postion (Their words, not mine).

    1. Cautionary tail*

      From my personal point of view, I have turned down every temp to hire position that was offered to me. I appreciate that many people are willing to take these but I wonder how you can live without medical insurance (USA) and other benefits for 3 -6 months or more. If a medical situation happens during this timeframe, you’re screwed. Please help me to understand this situation better. Is it simply that the state of the economy is still such that you either take a temp to hire position or you don’t eat and since you already have no insurance that continuing with no insurance but having food is a step up? I see temp to hire as 100% biased in favor of the employer who can toss the temp to the curb but there is no corresponding tit for tat. And yes I understand that in right to work states employers can terminate you for any reason or no reason at all with no notice and no recompense, but at least up to that point you get benefits including medical insurance. Please enlighten me.

        1. StevenO*

          There are Dickensian stories to tell, and I’ve considered writing some, but it’s just so damn depressing.

      1. Too early*

        I wouldn’t take a temp to hire position, unless I was unemployed and needed a job. That happened with my current position and I did end up getting hired. That being said, actually, some temp agencies will offer health insurance for their employees. The one I worked through did, but I opted out because I was eligible to be on my dad’s insurance.

        1. Janis*

          Yep. In the 90s after I finished grad school I had to temp to pay the bills. While it was a good experience overall and I learned a lot, I was nervous every single day w/o insurance. I did it for about 18 months, too.

        2. Heather*

          Too Early – I took the temp to hire position because I got furloughed last year and I was unemployed for about two months (this was over Thanksgiving/Christmas). Plus I knew the person was leaving from what my coworker was saying so that was another reason why I got the job. In addition, I have been paying my own insurance for the past couple of years.

      2. Sunflower*

        In the US, I’ve seen a lot of recent grads go for positions where benefits aren’t available since they can stay on their parents health insurance til age 26. I’m turning 26 in the next couple months and it’s totally changed my feelings about my job search. I’ve always figured if I lose my job, I’ll just go back to waiting tables while I search. That will still be my game plan but worrying about how I’ll pay for medical insurance is a biggie. So yea, I guess it’s better to have some income and no insurance than no income and no insurance.

        Also, there’s no way in hell I’d take a temp-t0-hire and stop job searching. I know some agencies will ask you to stop looking but noway I’d risk it.

        1. Cautionary tail*

          Perhaps I’m viewing this with a different set of lenses. I am a sole provider for my family and have no fallback onto anyone else. The agencies that have reached out to me for these temp-to-hire positions wanted me to sign exclusive contracts with them where I would be locked in for an initial timeframe of 3-6 months with 3 month extensions if they desired (yes extensions in a temp-to-hire situation). These were for highly professional positions and required my extensive experience and advanced degrees.

          1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

            Oh yeah, that’s different. That’s a contract employee, not the temp to perm I’m speaking about.

            1. Cautionary tail*

              Actually they’ve been temp-to-perm (all from the same place) but they wanted to lock me in and stretch out the temp part for as long as they could. I just said no.

              It certainly seemed like a contract employee but it wasn’t. I vetted this.

              1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

                Okay, then that is something just out of my realm of experience.

                Our agreements are much simpler – you show up for work, we pay the temp agency, the temp agency pays you. There’s nothing binding other than the temp agency likely dropping you if you don’t show up for work when you are supposed to.

      3. Kelly L.*

        I didn’t have insurance as an adult until I was 36. If the jobs that are available don’t offer it, you just…don’t have it, and hope nothing happens. This is changing somewhat, due to new laws (which i don’t want to get into a debate about here, so I’m not going to get too specific–they’re a big political football right now).

        1. ella*

          I just got health insurance last month for the first time in seven years. So happy! (Also so happy I didn’t get hit by a truck in the intervening seven years.)

        2. RG*

          I know health insurance options differ from state to state, but there are individual plans available (even before ACA), so you don’t HAVE to get it through work. Maybe you pay more (sometimes you don’t) but it’s not like it’s an all or nothing proposition.

          1. Kelly L.*

            Well, but the thing is, the price was out of reach for a lot of people, depending on what you made, whether you had pre-existing conditions that would hike up the price, etc. You didn’t have to get it through work, but for many people, it really was a choice between that and food.

          2. StevenO*

            It’s basically an all-or-nothing proposition. A few years ago when I was still in my early 30s with no pre-existing conditions, no health issues, and no family history of health issues I bought my own coverage when I worked in the service industry. The best and least expensive was close to $250 a month — and it essentially covered nothing. I truly mean nothing. It’s pretty much criminal what insurance companies charge individuals (and a crime that individuals in entire industries already couldn’t go on group plans before the ACA — why didn’t WalMart come up with something like that instead of doing the opposite and working hard to ensure low-income workers have poor coverage or taxpayer-funded coverage?). I now refer to that former plan as the Blue Cross BS plan.

            1. AVP*

              Wow! I’m still kind of impressed by that. I had no pre-existing conditions at all, but I being in New York City and a woman of potential child-bearing age, the quotes I got for a solo plan started around $500/m.

          3. Case of the Mondays*

            Pre – ACA I was “uninsurable” in my state on the private market. No high risk pool. Just “denied” due to my pre-existing condition. Options were group employer, marry someone with a group employer, get on a disability, get on welfare. I chose marry someone with a group employer.

            1. Lora*

              Yeah, I had this while spouse was still in college in a state that happily denied people coverage at all for pre-existing conditions. You used to be absolutely screwed. I found ONE insurer who said they’d consider covering me IF I was willing to pay their premiums for five years before receiving coverage. Not, “please give us a lump sum of (five years’ worth of premiums) to sign up,” but “you will be paying us for five years before we will even consider covering you.” I told them thanks but no thanks, I need to see doctors NOW, I might as well pay cash until I get a group employer.

          4. Allison*

            and my state (MA) has a public option. it costs money, but it’s priced to be affordable for low income families. I feel very lucky to live here, because it means I may not be totally screwed if I’m still a contractor when I’m 26.

        3. Elizabeth West*

          I remember this. Planned Parenthood was my go-to for yearly care, but I had no coverage for anything else. It was scary, especially when I started feeling unwell. I ended up going to Medicaid , but they never found out I had thyroid disease; a doctor in my hometown finally diagnosed it.

          That’s pretty much it–you just hope you don’t get sick or injured.

      4. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        Mmmmm, actually, temp to hire can be an advantageous choice for a person, depending on their circumstances.

        A chunk of people have health insurance anyway – up to 26 covered on parent’s plan or covered on spouse’s plan. COBRA (crazy expensive usually) or the new health exchanges are a self pay option during a period of unemployment.

        Pushing “how am I health covered for a temp period” aside, temp to hire for someone already unemployed or looking for their first job can be good.

        You haven’t committed so you can still job hunt as you would have normally + you get the power to decide whether you really want this job and to work with this company after you’ve test driven them for three months.

        It’s not a bad deal for a good chunk of people looking for work. Differentiate from contract work which can be year to year and carry no benefits at the same time.

        1. John*

          Good points. Both sides know what they’re getting into, so the match is pretty likely to work out well.

          That’s how I started my career…and one thing led to another and then another and it’s worked out great. I wouldn’t be where I am today without that temp-to-perm opportunity.

      5. anonnypants*

        Well, you may have your own insurance through other means (spouse/parents). Also, I took a temp-to-hire position because it was literally the only thing that was offered (I got offered the full-time job but didn’t take it because something better came along). And a lot of people just temp, period. I was without insurance for 2 full years, so it’s not like it was some huge change for me. You gotta do what’s best for you. I did keep job searching during all of my temp positions.

      6. Hous*

        I got my current job through a temp agency; the agency provided insurance once I’d been with them for I think three months.

        1. Sunflower*

          FWIW A lot of regular, full-time jobs don’t allow benefits to start right away- they make you wait 30-90 days. At a good handful of companies, your first 30-90 days are considered probationary.

      7. Traveler*

        I’m not saying its right – but you do understand there are entire fields where no health insurance/benefits is standard? It’s not even a temp to hire situation, but endemic. The non-profit world is rife with them, because they often justify it with “well we are poor, and you love this work, so… that’s how it is!”

        1. Cautionary tail*

          Wow (jaw drop).

          My spouse has had serious medical issues over an extended period and would no longer be alive in the situation you describe.

          1. Cat*

            Or he’d have crushing medical bills; half of all bankruptcies in the U.S. are due to medical expenses, apparently.

          2. Traveler*

            Right – as is the case for a lot of people, not necessarily life threatening, but a serious struggle. I understand its a personal choice to go in knowing its underpaid and under-benefitted sector, and certainly you have to take on responsibility for that decision. I still don’t think it should be an accepted practice and I’ll leave it at that (as someone else commented, not wanting to get in to the large debate of said political reforms).

          3. AVP*

            I work in entertainment, where this is very very common.

            Luckily the Freelancer’s Union saw this coming and set up their own plans which are somewhat affordable and have broad enough eligibility requirements that most people in the industry can get into them (even if you’re not technically a freelancer).

          4. Jen S. 2.0*

            That’s a pretty specific situation, though. For a lot of people, health insurance is just not a huge determining factor in whether they accept a certain job. It’s a nice-to-have, not a need-to-have, either because they have it through other means (spouse, state plan, Medicaid, etc), and/or because they are healthy enough to get by without it (…until they’re not. But again, a lot of healthy people just hope they’ll keep being healthy.).

            Indeed, anyone could get hit by a bus, and health insurance becomes a critical issue then, but until then, if you need a job, sometimes you worry less about benefits and more about a paycheck.

        2. fposte*

          Plus lots of non-exempt work in retail and food service; something like 70% of part-timers don’t have health insurance through work.

        3. CTO*

          I think that varies widely. A lot of nonprofits in my area (I’ve worked for several) offer excellent insurance benefits. And yes, some offer none, though most offer something decent for FT employees, if not PT.

        4. Ask a Manager* Post author

          As a nonprofitter, I just want to say that I’ve never seen a decent-sized organization that didn’t offer health insurance. I’m sure they’re out there, but it’s not the norm. (Want to mention that so people don’t get the wrong idea about nonprofit work.)

          1. QualityControlFreak*

            I work for a nonprofit organization, on a union contract, and we have excellent medical benefits.

          2. Traveler*

            True. I shouldn’t speak for all nonprofits – as its an incredibly wide ranging sector, and should qualify as “in my experience”- but at least in my are of the nonprofit world they love to hire “contractors” and any other classification that provides a loophole to avoid paying insurance/benefits to anyone but the highest tiered employees. It’s a running joke in my field that after grad school you’ll be broke, and health insurance will consist of neosporin and bandaids until you’ve put your time in. (This is though again, rapidly changing with healthcare reform – as larger orgs can no longer get away with it as easily.)

        5. Sharm*

          I think this depends on the size of the non-profit. I worked at a larger non-profit, and the benefits were EXCELLENT. My colleagues and industry peers told me that was because the pay was lower, but the benefits package offset it. We hired lots of great people, and it was a huge attracting factor.

          I was lucky enough to walk into that at 23, and had no idea how lucky I was until now, having been in the corporate world, where my benefits are nowhere near as good.

      8. Bea W*

        Pretty much. I could risk it a few years ago, but wouldn’t do it now for this reason. In my field in particular you are more likely to just remain as a contractor indefinately. Perm positions are fewer and farther between. I am lucky I have one I really like because the options that existed even 5 years ago are gone.

      9. aebhel*

        Is it simply that the state of the economy is still such that you either take a temp to hire position or you don’t eat and since you already have no insurance that continuing with no insurance but having food is a step up?


        1. Heather*

          I try to always be grateful that I have a full time employee (as opposed to contractor) job that pays well and has good benefits, but this thread is really driving that home.

          It makes me so angry that so many people are busting their asses for companies that see them as disposable and that as a country we’re willing to let them walk a tightrope over an abyss with no net.

          1. Heather*

            I agree Heather!! I feel like I am just another number in this contracting industry. Sometimes I feel like why do I bother to work so hard when there is a chance that I might not get the job. This economy isn’t as good as use to be that is for sure.

      10. C Average*

        I know at least one population that loves temp to hire options: Starbucks employees. I worked for Starbucks for several years and honestly rather enjoyed it. I was surrounded by fellow liberal arts grads, many of whom had (like me) taken the job because it offered health benefits for anyone working over 40 hours per week.

        None of us planned to make a career of it there. Most of us aspired to work in an office environment with stable hours. A temp-to-hire office gig for weekdays let us work a couple weekend shifts a week and pick up some evening hours and keep our benefits. It was potentially a foot in the door with an employer. It was also a way for us to suss out a potential employer without committing.

        If you’ve been in retail or food services for a long time and despair of ever escaping, temp-to-hire offers one of the few clear on-ramps to an office or corporate job.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          Perfect profile of someone who might be happy with us and succeed in temp to perm.

          We’re having a good run lately with English major hires btw. Liberal arts FTW!

        2. Sunflower*

          In case anyone is interested, I think Cheesecake Factory offers insurance to anyone who works over 25 hours(Heard this from an employee at a conference so don’t quote me on this!)

          1. KLH*

            At Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack you’re eligible for health insurance if you work an average of 32 hours a week for 3 months.

        3. Sharm*

          This is the reason why I’ve never really been able to hate Starbucks like it’s so popular to do. I’m sure I’ll get a deluge of comments telling me why I should, but for so many friends and peers, the benefits Starbucks offered were so helpful.

      11. Betsy*

        In a lot of industries, they’re becoming really common. I’m in software engineering, and I would say probably 1/2-2/3 of the jobs out there are either contract or temp-to-hire. I refused to consider them in my more recent job searches for much the same reasons you stated above, but I’m somewhat privileged in that I can do that, because I am very good at what I do and was already employed.

        Many of my coworkers and friends can’t afford to discount 50%+ of the opportunities out there, so they wind up jumping from contract to contract, with no security, no benefits, a lot of stress, and no ability to build the kind of skills they need to advance, since it takes more than the 3-6 month contract period to build trust and rapport.

        It is a very, very, very good deal for companies, and they are absolutely exploiting it, but the reality is that the need to feed yourself and your family trumps your desire to protest against being taken advantage of by corporate greed.

        I think it because a really big thing during the dotcom bust, when people realized that contract workers let them vary their available manpower more easily in response to market conditions. Lots of people got laid off, and then a company had a good quarter and brought in contract employees to push towards a goal without making a long-term commitment. And now there are huge numbers of companies that keep a constant rotating pool of contract employees who they treat as more or less disposable.

        It makes me cranky.

        1. C Average*

          My company does this. I really wish we didn’t. I think it’s a shabby way to treat workers.

        2. Bea W*

          This is how my current employer has been operating since being acquired. They have not even let us fill long standing perm positions that have been vacated. They have forced entire departments of employees to convert to contract and negotiate their rate through an outside agency to keep their jobs. Uber nasty ridiculous is an understatement.

          I really like my job so I just keep doing what i’m doing, but if I was told I could only continue working as a contractor with no benefits I’d have to start looking elsewhere.

      12. Kate*

        I am very lucky and get good benefits through my spouse’s company. If I was the soul provider and had another full time/permanent position I would feel differently. Also some temp agencies do provide medical.

      13. Lindsay the Temp*

        Not all of us have the luxury of employer paid benefits. It’s not like this is a first choice career move that I left a sweet cushy job for. I haven’t had health insurance since I timed out on my mom’s 7 years ago. It sucks!

      14. Lynn Whitehat*

        When I’ve done it, I was eligible for COBRA (which yeah, is expensive, but it’s not like it got more expensive if I took a contract job). Some of the temp agencies also had a group plan, which was also fairly expensive, but typically a little better than COBRA. I just made sure to be completely clear that this was truly a temp-to-hire position and not a straight contract.

      15. Chinook*

        Whenever I have taken a temp to hire position and been hired, I always negotiated away the waiting period for benefits by pointing out they already had their trial period and know that I am worth it (otherwise they wouldn’t have offered me the job). I know part of that depends on whether or not the insurance company will allow you to waive it, but it also helped with littel things like paid stat holidays and vacation days.

  13. JaneDoe*

    Oh man, I can totally relate to #1. Not so much for the app, but for my boss contacting me outside my working hours to ask me questions. He’s always sending me text messages on the weekends, with questions ranging from serious to mundane, even one time asking me what the password to my computer was (even though it’s on a sheet of paper on the wall right in front of him). Sometimes, I’ll be taking my lunch break, and he’ll barge into the break room with a stack of files and more questions.

    I never know how to approach the situation or tell him that when I’m off the clock, I don’t want to be disturbed. Alison mentioned to OP #1 to ask to be paid for time spent responding to questions outside of work, but I just don’t know how that would even happen. What does one or two questions even “cost”? And unlike OP #1, my boss is a nice guy, so I wouldn’t want to suddenly look like a jerk. Ugh, why do bosses do this kinda stuff? -_-

    1. KellyK*

      As far as what the questions cost, that’s easy—your normal hourly wage for however long you spend on it. Actually getting that onto your timesheet and not getting a reputation as greedy and horrible (for wanting to be paid for your work) is another matter.

      1. JaneDoe*

        Well that’s the problem. If he asks me a “complicated” question that takes, say, 10 minutes to answer, am I really gonna charge him for 10 minutes of my time? What’s that gonna be, a few dollars? Like you said, I’m just gonna end up looking greedy, even though I have every right to be compensated for the work I do. I’m sure the same thing goes for OP #1. Even if you get several messages from your boss, I doubt it would be anything substantial enough to warrant asking to be paid for it.

        1. Bea W*

          If you are answering just 6 10 min questions a week that’s a full hour. They add up.

          I’m exempt. I wish most of the questions I got asked had 10 solutions.

        2. Zahra*

          A solution could be to tally how much time (outside of paid time) you spend answering his questions during a week. Then you can go back and make a business case of being paid for this time, because it’ll be more than 10 minutes.

        3. TK*

          Yeah, this is a situation my mom runs into a lot. She’s part-time and hourly, but a perk of her job is that she’s not required to keep any regular office hours as long as she gets her time in. And much of her work involves evening/weekend meetings and events. So in a given week she’s often only in the office during regular 8-5 office hours maybe half of the hours she’s working.

          But this all means that the easiest way to get a hold of her is via cell phone. Much of her role is coordinating volunteers and teenage program participants, so lots of people call or text her at lots of random times. She’s doesn’t mind this at all, but said one time that an HR seminar once told her that the employer’s policy was that she should be clocking *an hour* of work time every time she took a work-related call. She was like, “I could never get away with doing that.” She works in a small local office of a huge organization; the nearest HR person is literally 100+ miles away, so I doubt anyone will notice.

        4. Sunflower*

          Allison might have to weigh in on this but there might be a law for this? My friend was a supervisor for a hotel chain, and hourly, and she had to be paid for a minimum of 4 hours regardless of how long she actually worked- so if she came in for a 1 hour meeting, they had to pay her for at least 4 hours. Not sure if that was a law or company policy though.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            There’s at least one state with a law like that (but most don’t have that). It’s for when you actually come in to work though (as opposed to taking a call outside work).

        5. Chinook*

          “If he asks me a “complicated” question that takes, say, 10 minutes to answer, am I really gonna charge him for 10 minutes of my time?”

          Check your local laws. If there is a min. call-in time they have to pay you for a shift (i.e. around here, they have to pay you for min. 3 hours even if they let you go earlier), then charge them that.

      2. Traveler*

        This. I love Alison’s point and agree with it wholeheartedly, but I think in practice if you actually asked to be paid for answering questions outside of work hours it would get ugly. You’d be seen as that person who is selfish and won’t “go above and beyond”.

        1. tesyaa*

          The company could be sued for unpaid wages. It’s a big liability for them, especially when a lot of people are involved. You’re doing them a favor by insisting that they pay you. (No, really).

          1. fposte*

            I agree in theory, but there seem to be companies that rely on exactly this practice, so it doesn’t happen only because the higher-ups don’t know.

          2. Traveler*

            Yes – but the moment you sue a company, you will likely lose your job because of conflict of interest, and then beyond that – getting another job with a firing/lawsuit of your previous company? They can call your old employer for a reference, and as long as it’s true it’s not illegal to tell them you were fired, and you brought a lawsuit against the company. I get that you would be in the absolute right in doing all of those things – however, in practice, it’s not that easy.

      1. JaneDoe*

        Well one time I didn’t answer, and the next day he came up to me and asked me to show him my phone (the text messaging screen) to see if I got his message. It was super weird/awkward, and I was like “oh, I guess I must’ve forgotten to reply.” I guess his annoying technique worked, because now I reply to every message he sends.

        Btw, I know I just made him sound like a creeper, but he’s actually a bit naive and odd. Doesn’t mean I wanna interrupt my weekends to talk to him, though. lol

        1. fposte*

          He asked you to show him your phone? Yeah, he’s not sounding very good.

          You’re the one there, so it’s your call, but I could certainly see either politely raising the fact that it’s actually not legal for you to be working off the clock, or say that you’re not likely to be as phone-accessible off hours so he might not get responses until you’re back at work.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      “I read that the government is really strict on making sure that non-exempt employees accurately record their time for stuff like this. What’s the best way for me to do it?”

      1. LBK*

        I love this – the question is about the logistics, not “Are you actually going to follow this law I just told you about?” It presumes they’ll comply and makes it harder for them to give you a negative response.

    3. Vicki*

      “And by the way, you need to be paid for any time you spend responding to him outside of your regular work hours.”

      Perhaps that should be added to the OP’s (and all of his coworkers’) response to the boss:

      “I’m sure you realize that as a non-exempt hourly employee, I need to be paid for all work I do, whether it’s during my shift or not. Reading your messages in WhatsApp and responding to them is work. What forms should I use to bill for overtime?”

  14. Suzanne*

    #3-I had a similar experience, only I was still working at the place when someone who was interviewing called me at work to ask about the workplace culture (which was a hot mess). I told her to look at the reviews on as there were several and most were not complimentary. She ended up taking the job and ended up being fired (which happened to probably 40% of the people who worked there-yes, a hot mess), so I felt bad I couldn’t tell her more. Had I been a former employee, yes, I would have been up front with her, a saving her a whole lotta stress & a firing on her record.

    1. Ruffingit*

      She could have saved herself a whole lot of stress by believing the Glassdoor reviews. It’s not like she didn’t know going in. Absolve yourself here because you did what you could in telling her to look at a source that was helpful. Her not doing so/not believing it enough to pass on the job is on her. Just saying :)

    2. TK*

      Forty percent of employees ended up getting fired?!!? That sounds like a frightening organization!

    3. Sunflower*

      I think this is the perfect thing to say if possible. Sometimes Glassdoor reviews can be biased so if you have an inside source who says ‘look at glassdoor, that will answer all your questions.’ than you know the reviews are legit. And the source doesn’t really put themselves in a spot where the company can trace it back to them.

      1. AVP*

        Yes- usually I wouldn’t put much stock in reviews like that, but if you have an inside connection who points you in that direction and says “you know, you should really take a strong look at this….” that’s a different story.

    4. Allison*

      Glassdoor can be misleading though. a lot of companies compel their employees to write positive reviews, and other places have negative reviews that are sort of unique to a former employee’s situation (e.g. they got the one bad manager in the company, they worked there for a short time when things were extra crazy, etc.). it’s definitely good to read the reviews, but also take them with a grain of salt.

    5. MissDisplaced*

      Glassdoor is great, but it does not cover many smaller companies.
      Talk to her on the phone and be honest, but also be sure to state that it wasn’t a good fit. For some people, it might be.

  15. Bea W*

    #2 Some companies have policies that require interviewing a minimum number of other candidates even if the hiring manager is set on hiring an internal applicant. One of my former supervisors had to go through this farce when she wanted to hire me into an internal position.

    It is smart practice in any case for the reasons AAM mentions. It’s not personal and it doesn’t mean your manager doubts your abilities or doesn’t think you are right for the job.

    1. Seal*

      That was the case for the large public university where I worked for many years. In the interest of “fairness” you had to post jobs for a minimum number of days and interview a certain number of people. At some point the rules changed and we were allowed to indicate there was an internal candidate for posted positions, but people still applied for those jobs. If they were qualified on paper, you had to interview them even if you had no intention of hiring them. That often lead to very frustrating situations, particularly when great candidates were passed up in favor of marginal internal hires.

      At my current institution, everyone is required to go through the interview process to get hired, but once you are an employee our director can reassign and promote people as he sees fit. Much better than having to waste time and money on faux searches, although some people get bent out of shape because they think everyone should have the opportunity to apply for every job.

    2. Sunflower*

      These things are such a Catch 22. You need to make sure you’re getting the best candidates but at the same time, I think it can be obvious to external candidates that you’re only interviewing them because you have to. I was at an interview once where the interviewer seemed preoccupied and didn’t really ask any probing questions or write anything down. She also kept mentioning she was in a rush and had a meeting afterwards- Thought it was weird since I was unemployed and had told her assistant my schedule was wide open. Anyway, she told me they went with an internal candidate and it became very obvious they had no intention of hiring me the whole time. Even if they hadn’t gone with an internal candidate, I was pissed for obvious reasons.

      If you HAVE to interview other people, at least take the time to get to know them and see if you think they would be a good fit elsewhere.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      The caveat I’d add there, though, is that those policies are worse than useless if people aren’t following the spirit of them. If they’re just going through the motions because of the policy, it’s a waste of everyone’s time and incredibly rude to the other candidates. If the rule is there, you should follow the spirit of it and genuinely consider the other candidates.

      1. Bea W*

        Absolutely this. It was a huge waste of everyone’s time. No one was happy about it.

    4. Heather*

      Thanks Bea for your advice. That is my understanding too, but as I mentioned before, it’s hard to see other candidates interviewing with my manager and it’s weird too. From what my agency said is my manager finds my performance “satisfactory”, which I guess is a good thing and he’s mentioned that I have a leg up since I am already there, but I lack in some aspects (of course that can be at any interview). He even said the reason why I was there was because of my degree, didn’t even mention the fact that I was there for 5 months. Because I am a contractor, I don’t get any feedback from him or the agency so I just assume as long as I am there, that means I’m doing a good job. My contract ends in June and I am trying to find another job in case this one falls through.

  16. LV*

    I was in the same situation as #2 at a previous position, except my bosses had made it as obvious as they could without explicitly telling me that they were going to hire me for the “new” position. They had to interview other candidates to fulfill legal/CYA obligations.

    If you’re one of only 4 candidates being interviewed, I’d say you have a good chance!

    1. Heather*

      Thanks LV – The manager already informed me that he would be interviewing me and along with other candidate so it wasn’t a surprise or anything like that.

      I talked to another coworker and she said already got the job, just had to interview, so maybe it just depends on the situation. I am not sure if my mgr. is looking for a different sort of experience, he hasn’t really told me anything on my performance. I just continue to look elsewhere until I get feedback.

  17. Rat Racer*

    #4: I also think it’s OK to say “I’m concerned that my current position may be eliminated” when asked why you are job hunting. (Note: that’s NOT a good answer to the question “what attracts you to this particular opportunity”)

    1. some1*

      Yup. “Credible rumors of layoffs” are a perfectly legitimate reason to be job, and sounds way better than other perfectly legitimate reasons like “My boss is an ass” or “I got turned down for a raise” which might not go over as well on the other side of the table.

  18. Totally Normal Person*

    This is a crazy idea, but I would totally support a movement on these AAM comment boards where folks start naming names of these companies that employ such awful managers. I’d love to see kind of a “Glassdoor” effect on here.

    Granted, there are many situations where a company is so small, or a situation so specific, that people could not identify the organization without also outing themselves, but I doubt that is always the case. I used to use GlassDoor for this purpose, but the entire website seems to be overrun with fake positive reviews written by business owners and their HR departments.

    I was given a little hope when the Operation Smile fiasco was outed on this website a few months ago.

    If we are all posting anonymously, or have the capacity to do so, what would it hurt to name names in a case where the poster could never be identified?

    I pledge to do this the very next time it is appropriate for me to do so in a comment I am writing on this site. Who’s with me?

    1. A Fundraiser*

      I get the thought, but I have to say I don’t think it’s a good idea. Frankly, there are many disgruntled employees who would gladly badmouth managers online at any opportunity, but their complaints wouldn’t stand up to scrutiny.

      Using this site as a forum to “out” people and give them bad reputations that may be entirely undeserved would lower the quality and professionalism of this site, and damage the reputations of people who don’t deserve it.

      1. Totally Normal Person*

        Point taken. But, I would say that this site is not Yelp, YouTube, or Yahoo Answers or any of a smorgasbord of other low-quality sites that only seem to attract the lowest common denominator of commenters. I think everyone that comments here is, for the most part, intelligent, respectful, thoughtful and genuinely trying to help the letter writers. Of course, I too, would hate to see this site turned into a vomitorium. But I would be willing to bet, that anybody that just wants to do that is just going to go elsewhere.

        For myself, I would find it very helpful to know about general experiences (positive or negative) that people have had at various employers. I’m not interested in knowing about specific managers by name. I feel like, as an employee, we are at such an extraordinary disadvantage when it comes to finding out what it is really like to work for a particular business and any insight that can be gained from a group of reasonable people (as most AAM commenters seem to be) would be extremely valuable.

        Every once in a while we get a troll on here, but they don’t seem to last very long. I think everyone here has enough brain power to tell the difference between a commenter just trying to relay some facts or experiences about an employer and someone that just has an axe to grind.

        Oh well, I suppose people that want to do it can, and those that don’t are under no obligation to do so.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I hear what you’re saying, but ultimately it’s not really the purpose of the site. Also, there would be no checks and balances with something like that — someone might have scathing things to say about a particular employer, but it could turn out that they were simply wrong.

          The reality is that the way people report their experiences isn’t always right. Think, for example, to the common example of people who get fired and tell their coworkers that they had no idea there were problems, that they were blindsided and didn’t see it coming, and that they’d been praised for their work — when in fact their work was subpar and they’d been clearly warned multiple times.

          People sometimes have on ego-goggles that make it really hard for them to report accurately on this stuff. That’s just life, but it would make naming companies here unreliable, and would put me in a pretty awkward spot.

          1. Totally Normal Person*

            Well, OK, fair enough. I can see the wisdom in all of your points and I definitely don’t want to jack up your site or your readership.

            I guess I am just often surprised by how extremely reluctant many of the anonymous commenters on here are to even state what industry they work in. I guess I was just thinking that a little more detail about what industry someone works in or what type of organization they work for would be extremely helpful for all of us.

            For example, it wouldn’t bother me in the slightest to say that I had a particular experience at a large, state-funded university in Texas because there are quite a few of them.

            Perhaps I was a bit overzealous in my desire for people to name names, but I see many of the letters and comments and I often think people could offer much higher quality advice if they had at least a little more knowledge about what type of company they work for or what industry the company operates in. People may have much more to offer about the cultural norms of a particular industry, for example. I have just perceived an extreme reluctance on this site for people to offer even this much information and I guess I was reacting to that.

            Either way, this is your site and if you don’t want people doing that on here, I will respect your wishes.

          2. Colette*

            That’s just it – but also, that’s not why I’m here. I’m here for general workplace advice/discussions, not for information on specific companies (many of which would be in a country I don’t live in and too small for me to have heard of).

          3. Lora*

            I’m thinking here of Amazon reviews where people write interesting fictional reviews, like the Three Wolf Moon Shirt and Tuscan Whole Milk, and wondering what the company/employer version of that would be.

    2. Colette*

      I don’t see a lot of value in doing that and a potential downside.

      Here’s the thing – this isn’t a place anyone goes for reviews of companies or managers. On Glassdoor, you get the benefit of multiple comments (I assume, not that I’ve ever gone there), which you can use like you’d use any online review site to get an aggregate picture of the company. Here you’d get one person’s opinion – and depending on what the comments were and how well you could identify the person or business, they could result in threats of legal action.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Very true–and enough experiences are the same across various industries and even companies that commenters can help other commenters with the situation without naming names.

      2. Totally Normal Person*

        Well, clearly nobody is obligated to do this and I, for one, would welcome the opportunity to identify some of these incidents with specific employers.

        GlassDoor really does not provide the benefit of multiple comments. The comments for most companies are now so skewed by fake positive reviews that the site is virtually useless.

        True, we would only be getting one person’s opinion on here, but if it is a thoughtful, reasonable opinion I would love to hear it.

        And, of course, anybody that goes overboard with employer-bashing, or is dumb enough to post information that makes themselves identifiable, will be the one that may face legal action due to their own fault.

        I am in no way suggesting that everybody do this or that it be some kind of requirement. I’m merely suggesting that if a poster or commenter finds themselves in a position where they could safely talk about a situation with a specific employer, there is no harm in naming that employer so perhaps the rest of us could avoid a similar difficulty. I think the first line of defense in avoiding many of the problems we read about on AAM is not winding up in the situation in the first place. I would really welcome an online environment where reasonable adults can freely exchange information and thoughts so that we can all benefit from it. Unfortunately, GlassDoor no longer serves this purpose.

    3. Bend & Snap*

      I wonder if it would open AAM up to legal action.

      However I would happily out my crappy former employers on this blog. I also write Glassdoor reviews but a couple of my contributions were never published, which makes me wonder what the criteria is for credible info.

      1. Sunflower*

        I don’t know much about Glassdoor. I do know that I applied to some great looking jobs on the surface that felt like scams once I was contacted so I looked them up on Glassdoor. A lot had gotten positive reviews but I always google ‘company name + scam’ and Volia! tons of ripoff reports showed up. Obviously bigger, more well established companies that just suck to work at won’t produce much for scams but Glassdoor, like Yelp and other sites, just don’t have the capabilities to decipher between the real and BS.

        Certain company’s might be flagged on the site to keep an eye out for. I know at some point Glassdoor required me to fill out a review to keep my profile active but that was years ago- that might have been a way for Glassdoor to make sure not only bad places were getting reviewed(since you’re much more likely to post bad reviews than good)

    4. Xay*

      I think that the anonymity factor would create liability issues for Alison. Many review sites have been sued over reviews and Alison may not have the resources of a Yelp to fight those suits, whether they are justified or not. Furthermore, there are plenty of other sites like Glassdoor, Vault, Indeed, etc to review companies.

    5. Bea W*

      My favorite ones are the glowing reviews posted by senior manahement’s children, oops I mean “interns”, at one former employer.

  19. Anonicorn*


    Considering this is a part-time job I use to help pay for university, I find this inappropriate.

    This is an inappropriate way to treat both full- and part-time employees.

  20. Ruffingit*

    #1: Alison, at what point is it appropriate to go above this manager’s head and speak to his boss about this? These people are being required to pay for an app for the express purpose of this guy contacting them after-hours and berating them. I’m thinking someone above him needs to know about this. It seems wrong on so many levels.

    1. fposte*

      Looks like WhatsApp is free, so I don’t think the pay thing factors in (and I don’t think it would matter much anyway, given that people can be required to buy uniforms). But the notion that this is all for after hours work communication is pretty troubling, and I do wonder if other people in the organization are aware.

      1. LV*

        Whatsapp is free for the first year and after that there’s a $0.99 yearly fee. That might change now that they’ve been purchased by Facebook, though.

    2. Persephone Mulberry*

      Fposte is correct that the app itself is free; I think the LW’s “which we personally pay for” comment was making the point that they are being required to use their personal phones for company communication without any financial contribution from the company for said use. (Which, IMO, is more of an “adding insult to injury” issue than a primary concern.)

      1. Ruffingit*

        Paying for the app isn’t the main issue for me. It was part of a larger issue which I still think needs to be addressed and that is after hours contact and berating. That is not acceptable and it may be something worth bringing to the attention of higher ups. Might not be worth it depending on how this company operates. But I’m interested in general about Alison’s or commenters thoughts on it. When is it worth addressing with those above the boss?

      2. Library Jen*

        Also there are some concerns with Whatsapp (like loads of other apps and sites) using your data. If you didn’t want to use them in the first place, then your manager is forcing you to connect your phone and allow it to access your contacts and mine your information. It also keeps all your conversations so it’s not impossible that you could tell him something personal (e.g. hospital appointment, disability, pregnancy, holiday) and that information is against your name forever. Not to sound like a paranoid crazy person here but it is something to consider and a topic that has come up a lot on the news recently.

        I get that your company can ask you to do other things to expose your data but he’s asking you to use your personal phone and allow this app access to the information on it.

      3. Sunflower*

        Also WhatsApp probably runs through your data plan which I sometimes go over and that gets really expensive

        1. fposte*

          I can see that it would be frustrating, but it’s not something that’s in itself out of line; as Ruffingit says, it’s the after-hours demands and berating that are the problem.

  21. E.R*

    #3. I do wish that people would try to give an honest assessment of their former workplace to people who ask, whenever possible. Obviously there are a lot of situations where its too risky, or perhaps you even sign an agreement where you agree not to talk about the company after you leave, in exchange for money or references or whatever, but there is such a power imbalance in between management and the labour force, and it really is one of our best ways to reward / punish (for lack of a better word) companies that treat their employees poorly,. And with Linkedin, it’s easier than ever to connect with former employees, which balances things back in our favour. I’ve shared with people policies and practices that a company has, and described the culture, without naming anyone at the company or telling “stories” – just the facts.

    Although I just got weird looks when I was talking to a colleague and suggested that if we all stopped tip-toeing around “speaking ill of the dead”, people might be less inclined to be jerks in real life. So maybe my ideas are weird.

    1. Colette*

      it really is one of our best ways to reward / punish (for lack of a better word) companies that treat their employees poorly

      I think that’s over-simplified. First of all, I don’t think there are that many companies who deliberately treat their employees poorly. (There are some companies I know I wouldn’t be happy at, but that’s because the culture isn’t a fit for me, not because they are factories of evil.) Secondly, people who take jobs at companies where they are treated poorly are not doing that because they’re fools – they’re doing it because it’s their best available option – so even if they know going in that it’s not a great place to work, they may take the job so that they can afford to eat. In fact, going in expecting it to be a bad place to work might end up being a self-fulfilling prophecy.

      That doesn’t mean people shouldn’t be honest about their experiences – if someone I know asks what it was like to work at my current company or a previous company, I’ll tell them – but it’s not about punishing the company, it’s about helping everyone find a good fit.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        What you’re saying is often true, but that’s not always the case. There are also situations in which one thinks a job is her best available option, and she may actually be excited about the job, but then she realizes only after she gets there that the workplace is toxic.

        1. Colette*

          That’s possible, of course, but not all workplaces are toxic in the same way nor are they toxic to everyone. Whether she takes the job or not isn’t about whether to reward or punish the workplace – it’s about finding a job she is a good fit for, and the best way for her to get the information about a company she’s considering is to make it easy and safe for people to give her that information.

      2. E.R*

        Oh for sure, sometimes it’s still the best option available. It has been for me. But at least they are going in with full information; and I’ve given objective information (ie. the company will write you up if you are literally one minute late in the morning – and that policy applied to everyone) that has stopped great talent from bothering to continue the interview process at a company. I don’t think the companies are evil, but if they imagined all of their future employees would have full, full information before applying or accepting an offer, hey, maybe they’d think twice about some stupid things, because it would eventually catch up.

    2. Ruffingit*

      I’m with you. I’m honest when asked about places I’ve worked. Not for the purpose of punishment of the employer, but rather to give a clear idea of what they are walking into. Some places are bastions of evil and PTSD just waiting to happen. Others are ok but have issues that make it not a fit for everyone. Honest feedback and then the person can use it or not as they see fit.

  22. This is me*


    You can’t keep someone from discriminating against you (or your father in this case). All you can do is present the facts and assume the employer is reasonable. If you find out otherwise, then you can proceed with other options.

  23. Sunny*

    This place of business needs to be sued for forcing employees to download and activate a software that forces the employee they expose ALL of their contacts. An employer or their agent (the boss) does not have a right to force any employee to divulge ANY or their personal contacts to anyone, and in this case to WhatsApp, and also potentially expose those contacts to various security breach issues. If they issue employees work phones that have only work contacts that might be a different story.

Comments are closed.