is my employer suggesting I apply to other jobs, vacation time after giving notice, and more

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

1. Is my HR rep suggesting I apply to jobs at other companies?

I recently received a text message from the HR manager at my organization informing me of a job posting at a completely different organization. The bizarre thing about receiving this message is (a) I am not friends with this person outside of work so I question her motives and (b) the position she sent me is for a less qualified and part time position – opposite of my current full time, RSW position. Is this appropriate or I breach of some HR ethics and if so, do I inform my boss?

Wow. Sending you a random posting with no context is pretty insulting — it’s hard not to read that as “you should move on — and to something lower-level.”

Does she normally text you? If not, I’d wonder if she meant to send it to someone else. But regardless, you should just ask her about it: “Hey, Jane, I was surprised to receive that text from you with a job posting at ABC Corp. What was the context for that?” Who knows, maybe she’ll say, “Oh, I thought it was perfect for your sister.” But if her response doesn’t sit well with you, then yeah, it’s totally reasonable to mention it to your manager, framed as, “Are there concerns about how I’m doing that would lead Jane to be sending me other job openings?”

2. Should I ask to be introduced as Dr. ___?

I work/study at a university. So understandibly, there are different form of address for different groups of people amongst each other and by the students. The academics are either addressed as Dr. or Prof. The other workers of the support staff (laboratory technicians, department secretary, administrative assistant, maintenance guys) are addressed by their first names at times and title at times. Those titles, however, are Ms., Mrs. or Mr.

I work as a technician, but I acquired my Ph.D. a year ago. I am still being called by my first name by the academics, and while this is still ok with me as they are all still older than me anyway, I think that if I am being introduced to someone new who comes into the department, then I should be introduced by my title, “Dr. so-and-so, our Lab A lab-tech,” rather than “Mrs. so-and-so, lab tech” or “first name, lab tech.” Am I correct in my view? I was promoted to a higher position but it is not an academic position. My title still remains as Dr. regardless of in which capacity I work. What do you think?

I’m a terrible person to answer this because I think it’s silly when people insist on titles. But you’re in an environment where people use them, so if someone introduces you with a title, there’s nothing wrong with updating them with the correct title (just like you might say “It’s Ms., not Mrs.” or whatever). That said, there are weird issues around titles in university settings, so it’s entirely possible that academics would see this differently than I do.

3. Can I ask if everyone was on board with the decision to hire me?

I am amid a career change because my government job is ending at the end of the calendar year. I have second-interviewed for a position as a legal assistant with a small law firm, but have no experience in the legal field. This particular firm has a history of hiring “off the street” or from temp agencies, without always requiring that their assistants have legal experience.

In interviews, I met each of the two managing partners (A and B), one at a time, and the attorney I would work with the closest (C) attended both. Back channels indicated that after my first interview (with A and C), I was the front-runner other than one interview that had not occurred yet. In my second interview (B and C), it was quite obvious that B was reticent about my inexperience; C is rather new to the practice herself and B isn’t sure it’s a great idea to hire her an inexperienced assistant. B’s concerns were open and repetitive. It felt like, on paper, he already preferred another candidate before I walked in, and I can’t get a read on whether my responses mitigated enough of his reticence or not.

If I receive an offer, can/should I ask if all parties are on board with the hiring decision? I’m not sure I want to set myself up for extra relationship challenges if B loses a vote.

You could, although I’d be more inclined to ask it of C (who you’ll be working closely with and hopefully should have a good rapport with) than of anyone else. You could say, “I got the sense that B had real concerns about my experience, and I wondered if that’s something I should be concerned about.”

That said, B may have strong opinions during the process but not care particularly once the new hire — whoever it is — starts work, assuming B won’t be working closely with that person.

4. Giving notice when company doesn’t allow vacation time to be taken after you announce you’ll be leaving

My company has a separation policy that doesn’t allow people to take vacation after they submit their written notice. I recently accepted an offer for a new job, but it doesn’t start for a few months. I would like to give an advanced notice that I am leaving, but I am going on vacation next month.

All of my work has to be turned over to someone else. My group is already short one person, so management is going to have to bring in someone from another group to takeover my work. Should I go ahead and tell my boss informally that I plan on leaving the company so he can line up a replacement? Or should I just wait until I get back from my vacation when I hand in my two-week notice? I read your previous post on a similar subject.

These policies are usually designed for people giving two weeks notice, not for people giving months. Employers don’t want someone to give two weeks and then spend part of that already-limited transition time away from the office. It shouldn’t apply to you — but you don’t want to count on that and then find out that it does. Your best option is to talk to your boss about how to proceed — explaining that you want to give generous notice but don’t want to be penalized for doing that, and that you don’t want to give shorter notice just to protect your vacation time. If your boss is reasonable, he’ll ensure that you can openly give notice and that your vacation time won’t be revoked. But if your boss is unreasonable, all bets are off, so you want to let your knowledge of him be your guide here.

5. My sister-in-law doesn’t want me to look at her LinkedIn profile

I recently looked at my sister-in-law’s profile on LinkedIn and it sent an email to her that I had looked at it. She seemed to be upset about it because her husband (my brother-in-law) texted me about it. Is it a sin to look at someone’s profile?

What, no, that’s totally normal. The whole point of LinkedIn is to look at people’s profiles. I’m guessing this relationship is already strained to begin with? They’re being ridiculous.

{ 251 comments… read them below }

  1. Lizzie*

    #2: I would object to “Mrs. Last Name, our lab tech” because that’s an inaccurate title that doesn’t reflect your qualifications. However, I wouldn’t at all object to “Lizzie, our lab tech” since it just omits the title. If people are going to use titles, they should use the right ones- but I think it’s silly to stand on ceremony or insist on any titles in a professional environment, even academia.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yeah, my point is very much that you’d only make the correction if they were using the incorrect title for you — not if they were using no title at all.

      1. ProfessorA (was AdjunctForNow)*

        IME, this is done frequently to women and other underrepresented groups (black or Latino professors). My methods are not scientific, but this is what I’ve seen/heard amongst my colleagues, including complete surprise when I ask white guys if they’ve ever been addressed by a student as “Mr. Lastname.”

        1. fposte*

          Yes, absolutely, and it’s not just the students who get asymmetrical here–I’ve known it to happen with colleagues talking to students/outsiders about people in the department. I think people just don’t hear themselves.

        2. MK*

          In this particular case, though, it sounds like the issue is, if anything, the OP’s position as a non-academic. OP said that academics are always called “Professor X” or “Dr.X” and non-academics sometimes “Charles” and sometimes “Mr.X”. Apparently there is a distinction in the formality one addresses the academic staff (always formal) and the non-academic. This may seem snobbish, but apparently that’s the culture of this workplace.

          It’s reasonable to expect to be introduced as “Dr.X” in the type of situation when people would call the OP “Mr.X.”, but not in the situations when the OP would be called “Charles”. If the OP asks to be always addressed as “Dr.X”, they would basically be demanding to be treated with the formality afforded to the academics, perhaps giving the impression that they think the Ph.D affects their status in their job. In an environment that makes this distinction, the OP’s request might come off oddly.

          1. taco*

            I work in a large science department at a large university, and keeping track of what people prefer to be called takes way too much brain space, especially when some people want one form of address (ie FirstName) in private, and another around students (ie Dr. LastName).

            Professors are generally addressed by first name by colleagues and staff, but it is seen as particularly obnoxious when non-faculty insist that everyone call them Dr. LastName.

            Every place is different, though. OP, you might want to ask someone in the administrative staff how the situation has been handled in the past. Also, don’t forget that name changes can take a while for people to get used to.

        3. Anx*

          Yes to this.

          Even casually, without titles, women are referred to by their first names more than men are. Men are more likely to be referred to as simply “Last name.” Just another layer to a complex issue.

          1. Ms. Lemonade*

            Ugh, I hate this. So common.

            It gets internalized, too – I sometimes notice myself perpetuating things I hate and have to actively work against it.

          2. Cath in Canada*

            I had to Have Words with a guy who was consistently sending emails on which I was the only female recipient to “Dr. X, Dr. Y, Dr. Z, and Cath” :-/

      2. Titled girl*

        I like the idea that you both put about protesting only the incorrect titles are used. Thanks much.

    2. Eudora Wealthy*

      There’s a hell of a lot of insecurity in universities. And politically correct BS. At my last university employer, there were people who publicly referred to an administrator as “Dr. Jones” even though she received a J.D., not a Ph.D. or M.D. (or D.O. or D.D.S.). But it’s common in universities to walk on eggshells and not want to just refer to that person as “Sally.” Partly, I think it’s because a lot of people think it would make her appear to be the “house n—–” (she’s African-American). Just calling her “Sally” is not deemed respectable and formal enough. However, her white male counterparts (with J.D. or without) are much more often simply referred to by the first names or simply as “Mr. Smith” (never “Doctor Smith”).

      I liked Sally and I never felt that she had a duty to speak up and say, “Please stop calling me ‘Doctor’.” But it always seemed odd when people called her “Doctor Jones”.

      1. Anon*

        um what?! I think you could’ve omitted the house n language and made your point a different way.

        1. Eudora Wealthy*

          It goes both ways. It’s insulting to ask, “Miss or Mrs?” as described below. But it’s also insulting to overcompensate and swing the pendulum back in the other direction and call somebody “Your Highness Holy Wonderful Redeemer-Of-All Doctor Goddess Jones.” People already know that she has been disenfranchised in the past. The most respectable thing to do now is to avoid letting the pendulum swing to either extreme. She’s an excellent employee, so just treat her like the other excellent employees. Embellishing of titles is infantilizing and insulting.

          1. thingy*

            That’s . . . not really what Anon was saying. You don’t need to throw around racial slurs to make your point, that’s all.

            1. Eudora Wealthy*

              I didn’t spell it out and I don’t like that there are people who have those beliefs. I wrote it as I did (actually without spelling it all out) because there are people in that organization who really do feel that way, and there are other people who know that that perception is there and so many of them overcompensate by calling the person “Doctor Jones”. That, in itself, is an unfortunate implied acknowledgement of the perception. I wrote the truth. If I had watered it down, then it would not have done justice to this sad truth.

              I didn’t “throw around” anything. I wrote the truth. There are people who imply that Sally is obviously inferior and not good enough (because she’s black or because she was only promoted due to affirmative action or whatever) to simply be addressed the same way that others are. It’s like if there are ten people working in an office and one of them is a dwarf, and everybody else gets called by the first name, but the dwarf is addressed as “Dr. Smith”. Doing that is an insult to the dwarf because it suggests that he is obviously fragile and inferior and needs to have his stature propped up by being addressed as “Dr. Smith” rather than just “Jimmy” like everybody else.

              P.s. “Sally Jones” is not her real name, and I don’t know any dwarfs named “Jimmy Smith,” either.

              1. thingy*

                It seems to me like unnecessarily and extremely strong wording to use. From what you wrote, it looks like the term “token minority” conveys what you’re trying to get at without using such offensive language (even implied.) Or you could have explained the way you did in your follow-up.

                The term that you used is not a common one nowadays, and it’s a little unsettling to me to see it used in a context when other wording is just as clear or more so.

                I understand and agree with your main point, but unless you belong to a marginalized group, it’s really not okay to use slurs to refer to them. (Quoting would be an exception, but it looks like you’re using it as a general term to describe that viewpoint, instead of directly quoting someone who said that.)

              2. Ms. Lemonade*

                I agree with thingy – there was absolutely no need to write that. You could have conveyed 100% of your meaning without alluding to a slur, even if you only wrote the first letter of it.

                1. Snork Maiden*

                  I agree with Ms. Lemonade and Thingy. By using, or even alluding to slurs, you’ve weakened your argument.

              3. iseeshiny*

                Yeah, I’m with everyone else that your argument is weird, bringing up the phrase you did in the way you did weird, and any possibly valid point you might have had completely lost in the weirdness of how you said it. Also, the polite/preferred term is little people, not dwarf. Just… whole thing. So weird.

                1. Eudora Wealthy*

                  oh, jesus h on a cracker. i give up on this one. we can’t say dwarf, but we can say little people? it’s ok for mark twain to write out the full words “n—— jim”, and thingy can refer to employees as “token minorities”? and thingy says i’m allowed to use a slur as long as i’m one of those token minorities?

                  don’t get me started. these criticisms fundamentally and subtly infantilize and insult the very people they ostensibly were meant to protect/defend/whatever.

                2. Melissa*

                  No, they do not infantilize the people they are meant to protect. I’m African American and it does not infantilize me to insist on people not using racial slurs when referring to me or others in my racial group.

              4. Melissa*

                ” If I had watered it down, then it would not have done justice to this sad truth.”

                No, you could’ve made the point perfectly fine without using the language. You did it here:

                “There are people who imply that Sally is obviously inferior and not good enough (because she’s black or because she was only promoted due to affirmative action or whatever) to simply be addressed the same way that others are.”

      2. Ruffingit*

        It’s also just weird to call anyone with a J.D. “Doctor.” I have a J.D. and have never been referred to as doctor, nor would I want to be. It’s not the norm in the legal profession to do that so doing so here puts even more of a spotlight on the fact that people are making an effort to call her doctor. It’s odd.

        1. Jon in the Nati, JD*

          It is beyond weird. Any JD who insists on being called “Doctor” on the basis of that degree has some serious delusions of grandeur and also really has no idea of how the JD fits into the academic context vis a vis other doctoral degrees. Heck, it isn’t even really an academic degree; it is a professional degree.

          No JD should ever ask to be called “Doctor” and anyone pompous and punctilious enough to ask or want it ought to be mocked mercilessly.

    3. Lisa*

      OP could mention it in the moment as in ‘actually it’s Dr. Lizzie Smith. I completed my PhD last year’ with a big proud smile. Its not bragging, just expressing that you finally completed it and you are proud of doing so.

      1. Titled girl*

        I like this idea. It gets the point across without seeming pompous. Will keep this in mind to try if I need to.

    4. ixiu*

      I work as a lab tech as well though I don’t have a PhD. Around here my colleagues and I address everyone by their first name (Professors, deans, other staff members) and everyone is happy like that. Only time we address someone as “Dr. Blah” is when we talk to students about a particular professor who introduced themselves as “Dr. Blah”, as the students don’t know the professor on first name bases. We also almost never introduce someone as “Mr. Blah”.

      OP#2, are you a lab tech manager? Is that why you would want to be introduced as “Dr. OP#2”?

      Personally, I would just go with first name and skip all the Dr. and Mr. naming, it’s just easier. Using titles as introducing yourself as “Dr.” title might come off as a bit snobby, and it’s like putting up a barrier to segregate and differentiate yourself. But hey, I am in California.

      1. Titled girl*

        Actually, yes I am the manager. But I don’t think the title should bu used just for people in ‘higher’ positions. I think that when titles are indeed being used, then mine should be used.

  2. DL*

    #2 Using Ms./Mr. is not standard for academia in the US. You’re usually only even referred to as Dr./Prof. by someone low in rank, like an undergrad, or in a formal setting.

    Plus in the South you might find admin types who are Miss first-name (regardless of marital state). But that doesn’t sound like the case here.

      1. US Academic*

        The LW is either not in the US or is in a medical school. I am a full time tenure track academic and I would cringe if *anyone* other than an undergraduate called me “Dr.”; however, I do have medical collaborators and when meeting folks in the medical profession I will often introduce myself as “Dr.” because I want to establish equal footing and folks in the medical community have a big Doctor-complex.

      2. Titled girl*

        You are correct! I am based in the Caribbean and my university is patterned after the British system. In our case, people are only referred to as ‘Professor’ after a number of years of teaching in academia and publishing nmerous articles in noteworthy journals.

    1. fposte*

      Though it’s becoming more true, that’s really variable–the long tradition, especially in the north, was the more academically prestigious the institution, the more they insisted “Dr.” not be used, and “Mr./Ms.” is acceptable. (There’s an Amanda Cross novel where the professorial protagonist schools somebody on this, though she prefers “Miss.”) Academia rivals in-laws for the “how do I address them?” problem, and we similarly get a lot of “Uhmmm” as a result.

      However, I really dislike the institutional practice of class division on the names that the OP describes; I think that’s the real problem here, and the OP is just the light that’s shining on it, because people are interpreting the titling as “faculty/non-faculty” rather than its being based on your educational degree. My impulse would be to muck it up by smiling and saying saying “Actually, it’s Dr. Bennet, but I go by Lizzy” to the new person–slot that, weird institutional policy–but you obviously need to be careful with who you’d essentially be correcting to their face.

      If there’s a single failure point involved here, like an office staffer who does department tours or something, that’s easier–just mention, next time you’re talking, that in your department you think that being introduced as “Ms.” is confusing and that you’d rather be Lizzy Bennet or Dr. Bennet. But if it’s coming from all quarters, the problem is that faculty/non-faculty divide, and I don’t think that’s going to be a habit you can break without becoming a PITA. One thing that might help a little is if people have nameplates on their offices including their title, and get “Dr. Lizzy Bennet” for yourself and display it prominently. (If they don’t generally display titles, though, I wouldn’t add the title to yours.)

      1. Mallory*

        Practices can even vary from school to school at the same university. I started off as a temp in engineering, and there was one incident in which several professors got into a shouting match right beside the secretarial desk over whether the admins should be allowed to address them by their first names or should have to call them “Dr. So-and-So”.

        Then I moved to my current department, and most of the professors are called by their first names even by the students (at least the studio faculty are; the history professors are more formal and are called “Dr. So-and-So” by the students, but by their first names by the staff and other faculty. The studio faculty had a movement a few years ago to start having the students call them “Professor So-and-So”, but it died out due to lack of interest in enforcing it by said faculty.

        1. fposte*

          Absolutely. It’s really complicated, and you need to be tonally attuned, because the last thing departments want to do is logically have an open acknowledgement of preferred styles.

          And what a lovely individual your former department must have had, who shouted that support staff should be required to address him by his title. Hope he wasn’t in a hurry for the processing of his travel reimbursements.

          1. Mallory*

            It was actually kind of funny. The department head in engineering had told the admins to call him by his first name. Three or four professors disagreed with that level of informality, and three or four other professors disagreed with those professors and held that staff should refer to professors as other colleagues do.

            Apparently their discussions about it came to a head one day and six or seven of them came en masse to settle it with the department head.

            The shouting match was between the two factions presenting their cases to the department head, with the department head attempting to mediate the verbal melee.

            The other admin and I were totally prepared to call any of them what-the-heck-ever they wanted to be called, so we were just watching with our eyebrows up in our hairlines, waiting for the verdict.

      2. Mia E*

        The practice at my school is calling only the professors and administrators who insist on it “Dr. SoandSo.” There are many other people with PhD’s who aren’t called “Dr.” because it doesn’t really make sense in their position. Similar example, I work there but not in a legal capacity, so although I have a J.D., I don’t even put that credential on business cards etc. because it doesn’t have anything to do with the position I’m in. Seems similar to the case here.
        I agree all of this seems classist and/or silly.

      3. AcademicAnon*

        This kind of classism about who should be called Dr. also hides a lot of sexism and racism, so people should be aware of that landmine. I have seen the sexism/racism part played out by who consistently gets referred to as Dr. to students/visiting profs/profs from other department and who doesn’t. Case in point: older white male is routinely referred to as Dr. while his wife, who has worked just as hard and even has more publications (and she wasn’t a trailing spouse to begin with), is routinely referred to as Dr. So and so’s wife. I’ve also overheard it when the department I’m in was hiring for several faculty positions at once. Routinely the white men were referred to as Dr. and woman and minority men people used their first names, and sometimes not even that. If the people who are deciding on whether or not to offer you a job can’t respect you enough to use same title they use for others, they’re not going to respect you in other ways after you get hired.

        1. Callie*

          In my department, there are professors in the same speciality who are husband and wife (he’s the trailing spouse). She is the one with much more clout because of her interests and the things with which she’s been involved, and when students talk about “Dr X” amongst themselves they mean her; if they mean him they clarify with “Mr Dr X”. I’m aware that this is usually not the case and in most situations it would be Dr. X and Mrs. Dr. X.

      4. Titled girl*

        Thank you so much for these suggestions. You gave me some good advice of how to handle being introduced by a single offendee or someone who does not know the happenings at my department. I was actually thinking about the name tag but I think that is a bit passive. I might still have to speak up especially to those who don’t come to my office and/or notice the name tag. I appreciate your advice about being careful abot whom I am correcting.

      5. Titled girl*

        I think, fposte, that you were quite astute to figure out the real issue. My experience has brought it to the forefront in my department because although I am not an academic member of staff, I still have a PhD. Mine has been the first incidence of it happening in my department. So it is a bit of a tug-and-pull because in theory I can do more involved work for the department but on the books, I am only being paid to be a technician!

  3. Anon*

    #5 – It’s only creepy if you look at someone’s profile repeatedly and you’re not on speaking terms, which usually means they’re not a first degree connection. A relative viewing your profile once is completely normal, first degree connection or not.

    1. Wildkitten*

      I agree with this. But looking at someone’s profile is SO normal that sending someone an email to tell them that you looked at their profile is not normal, and makes me wonder why she sent that email or what else she said in it. (Like, your profile sucks and you’re an idiot, or something).

      1. Daisy*

        LinkedIn sent the email, not the LW. Premium account allows you to know who viewed your profile.

      2. Sophie*

        LinkedIn has settings where if you look at someone’s profile, it automatically notifies the person that you looked at that profile. I think that is what happened here, not a case of an email being sent criticising the profile.

        1. Nodumbunny*

          Also, you can change the settings so that you can look at profiles anonymously, but then you won’t be told the ne of folks who are looking at your profile.

      3. Sadsack*

        If the last part of your statement were true, I kind of doubt that the LW would be writing in asking what is the problem.

    2. manybellsdown*

      And if said relative has a common name, you might be checking to see that it’s the right person before you send a request to connect. I sent a request to the wrong person who had the same name as a friend of mine by not checking his profile more carefully.

    3. Melissa*

      How is that creepy? I have looked several times at the LinkedIn profiles of people who have jobs that I want because I want to see how they got into those jobs. Obsessively checking every day, no, but looked at more than once? Yes. LinkedIn is a public resume, essentially; I think you should expect people you don’t know to look at it repeatedly for a variety of reasons.

  4. Nina*

    #2: While I would be fine with peers and friends at the university calling me by my first name, I don’t see a problem in introducing myself to people I didn’t know as Dr. That title wasn’t a gift, you’ve earned the right to use it. You can always tell them later that they can call you by your first name or whatever you choose.

    1. DL*

      Agree that you have the right to the title. But unless you’re introducing yourself to a class/individual whom you’re instructing, introducing yourself as Dr. X is going to come across as oddly formal.

      1. DL*

        I’d say the same thing about introducing oneself as Ms/Mr. So I would likely find this entire unit/institution oddly formal.

        So, at this formal place, introducing yourself as Dr. would be inline with the norms. Elsewhere not so much.

        1. Cat*

          Yeah, I’m with you. I have a friend who insists on writing “Dr.” on social correspondence and I think it’s pretentious; a lot of people accomplish a lot of things, and modern etiquette is that most of them aren’t socially relevant.

          1. fposte*

            Hey, I object on behalf of old-fashioned etiquette! This has long been considered socially inappropriate, well before the moderns came around.

            My argument against the “I worked hard for it” defense is that we work hard for our salaries too, and we don’t append those to our names. I should probably quit that before I find somebody who thinks that sounds like a great idea.

            1. Anon For This*

              Yeah, my family member who uses Dr. socially (and has a PhD) does so mainly to show off to other family members and acquaintances. It’s really embarrassing for me. Needless to say, I don’t share his values.

          2. Cat*

            Hah, I wasn’t trying to say old fashioned etiquette was the opposite; I just didn’t want to make a normative statement about it at all. It makes sense to me that this has long been a little gauche.

          3. Titled girl*

            I do think that introducing oneself as Dr. X is a bit pretentious so I usually introduce myself as first name-last name and correct the title later on in the conversation if it comes up. It is a good point that it may not be socially relevant but in my academic setting, it definitely is relevant.

        2. fposte*

          There’s background etiquette here–you’re not supposed to give yourself a title, period, so you’re not supposed to introduce yourself as Ms., Dr., Governor, etc.

      2. Nina*

        I don’t see the formality as necessarily being a bad thing, especially since all of her peers with PhDs are being referred to the same way.

    2. Lily in NYC*

      Just don’t use it outside of an academic setting. It’s embarrassing and pretentious.

  5. Artemesia*

    I have worked in Academia as a professor. Generally speaking I don’t use ‘Doctor’ and I worked at the kind of university where it was actually considered a bit gauche to use that title — you know everyone who teaches has one and so it was generally ‘Professor’ or first name.

    And I think it is totally pretentious to use one socially. When I see people who insist on it socially, they usually are not people with prestigious degrees or academic accomplishment.

    BUT there are times to insist. A woman in an academic environment may be one of those times. I remember very early on standing with a male colleague who had not yet completed his degree. We were introduced as Dr. Malecolleague and Mrs. Artemesia. Really pissed me off since it was clearly a sexist assumption. The fact that the OP does not have a job that calls for a PhD makes it difficult to insist but if all the PhDs she works around are Dr. then she should be introduced that way as well if she is being introduced as Ms. or Mrs. now.

    I worked in the south where very sexist men sometimes ask a woman ‘Is that Miss or Mrs? as in ‘have you accomplished the only thing that matters for a woman, catching a man.’ When asked that question I always answered ‘You can call me Dr.’ But other than that I was good with Ms. outside the classroom.

    1. Georgine*

      Artemesia, I am wondering about this part of your message above: “you know everyone who teaches has one and so it was generally ‘Professor’ or first name.”

      I and many of my colleagues teach at universities from time to time – we are notable experts in our field – and none of us have PhDs. Because (unlike most of those colleagues) I actually have a number of good friends who have earned doctorates, I take on the same annoyance of my friends with non-PhDs calling themselves “Professor.” Usually, they are lecturers or adjuncts or whatever. We may be in different fields, hence different norms, but I generally understand “Professor” to mean a full/tenured professor who has earned that title, partically through earning a Phd.

      1. Dan*

        At the undergraduate level, I have to be honest and say that I was completely ignorant as to the actual status of the people conducting my classes. Ok, we knew who the TA’s were and wouldn’t call them “professor”. But everybody else? I don’t think undergrads are even aware of, let alone care about the different between full professor, associate professor, assistant professor, lecturer, or what not.

        The funny thing with academic titles is that my non-academic field hires a lot of PhDs. And those guys are addressed as Bob, Frank, Justin, and even Katie and Michelle. TBH, we probably forget who has what credentials, except for the fact that my current company is rather large and puts degrees on your staff page. And we very often have non-PhDs managing/supervising PhDs.

        1. Zillah*

          Agreed. And – honestly, if you don’t use Professor, what do you use? I always hated the idea of using Mr. or Ms., because it didn’t seem respectful. Whether of not the professor had a PhD, they were my professor.

            1. MK*

              That might work if you are reffering to them to someone else, as in “John Smith is one of my instructors”. But would you really address someone as “Instructor Smith”?

              1. Onymouse*

                Now that I think about it, the lecturers or contract/sessional instructors (we didn’t have “adjunct professors” that others have mentioned) I’ve had were typically MBAs teaching a few business classes part-time, and they went by their first name, thus sidestepping this whole issue. This reminds me of the discussions on here about how weird it is to address workplace superiors by their first name. In the context of business education, perhaps it is just an extension of that norm.

          1. Nina*

            Same here. Years ago, I had no idea who was a professor vs. a lecturer and so on. I had read in some college prep book that out of respect, you should call all your teachers professor, so I did. It was only recently that a teacher corrected me on it because she did not have a PhD.

            Most teachers just had us call them by their first names, which I hated doing. It just felt weird.

            1. Elysian*

              Wait, there’s a difference? If they were teaching me in college, they were my professor. So I call them Professor. I don’t understand the distinction.

            2. Ellie H*

              I think there’s a difference using it as a title in an email salutation when writing to your own professor – “Dear Professor Bennet” or “Excuse me, Professor Bennet?” (OK to address a lecturer that way if you are in his or her class) and referring to someone that way “I’m writing on behalf of Professor Bennet from the History department” (you wouldn’t write that if you were referring to a lecturer, in such a situation I write “Dr. Bennet of the History department” if I need to refer more formally to a lecturer).

            3. Mints*

              Wait, really? I used professor the same as teacher-but-in–college. Anyone who taught class was a professor, and the TAs we called by first name

              1. Mints*

                Actually, in the Spanish department I think I had grad students teach classes. Like a TA, but there was no professor, either.
                But in Spanish, profesor/a just means teacher, so we could say profesor/a, profe, or Natalia/Juan/ etc. without the PhD question at all relevant

          2. Beebs*

            When I taught, I told my students to call me by my first name. If they didn’t like that, they could use Dr. LastName, Professor LastName, or some variant (I have a long last name that they’d shorten). But I told them that in an academic context, I earned my title so Mrs./Ms. LastName isn’t appropriate and they damn well better not try Miss LastName. (Obviously, I’m not from the southern US.)

        2. MK*

          This. I only found out the actual job title of the people who taught me at university when I happened to see a publication of theirs. And I usually didn’t care enough to retain the information, so it was very likely for it to slip my mind almost immediately. Not to mention that I was (and to some extent remain) pretty hazy about the exact order of academic hierarchy and what each job title means.

        3. C Average*

          Yep, exactly.

          My professors were always “Professor X,” unless they explicitly introduced themselves as “Dr. X” or “First Name.” I had (and mostly still have) little concept of the distinctions in rank among the people who taught my classes.

          Like you, my husband works in a non-academic environment where virtually everyone has a Ph.D. He has a t-shirt he bought from ThinkGeek that says “not that kind of doctor” that he wears pretty often, and he always gets lots of comments and laughs when he does.

          The only time he’s ever called “Dr. Average” is by his father, who’s also a Ph.D. They have this schtick they do where they exchange really pompous banalities in a fake accent and call each other Dr. Average. It’s actually pretty hilarious. “How do you find the wine, Dr. Neiberg?” “Dr. Neiberg, it’s sublime. It has a hint of rhododendron–am I right?” That kind of thing.

          1. Liz T*

            This reminds me that Charles Xavier goes by “Professor” rather than “Doctor.” If it’s good enough for him…

            1. EB*

              That always made me wonder- what college does professor X teach at?

              In the US, “professor” is an actual job title for someone teaching at a university or college, so running his own school wouldn’t be enough.

              You can call yourself anything, but other academics would think it was weird. At some institutions the title professor is reserved for tenure track faculty. Also, if you see a faculty member putting just the title professor down in writing then they are a full professor.

              So is professor x a full professor somewhere?

      2. Long time lurker!*

        Some of us with PhDs are also ‘lecturers or adjuncts or whatever’ and deserve no less respect in the classroom, and no less the classroom title of professor, than those of our colleagues who have tenure track or tenured positions. this is a pretty hot button issue in academia since there are very, very few jobs and very, very many PhDs.

        I’m in an odd position because I have a PhD in one thing and currently teach occasionally at the Master’s level as an expert in a completely different field, in which I work professionally. But in the classroom, my non-PhD colleagues and I are all ‘professor’ to our students, and we would all find it pretty offensive for someone to suggest that our students shouldn’t call us ‘professor’ just because we aren’t tenured or TT.

        1. LouG*

          I know this is a hot button issue, so I don’t want to get in a back and forth here. But just to give another perspective…IMO professor is the title that you were hired under at the University. It is not a title that everyone has by teaching in a classroom. I agree that adjusts deserve just as much respect in the classroom as everyone else (I am an adjunct), but telling the students to call me Professor so and so is misleading. I was not hired as a professor, I am not a professor.

          1. Sarah in DC*

            We always called adjuncts “professor” because they were adjunct professors. I was taught that adjunct is not a title, it is a modifier. (This was at an American university that was not a large research institution, which I’m sure makes a difference in at least some cases.) Essentially all classroom instructors were called professor unless they were teaching assistants, who used their first names. Some profs introduced themselves as Dr. So-and-So, but Professor was always an acceptable alternative title (in my experience anyways, there were probably one or two people who insisted on Dr who I never met).

            1. LouG*

              There are Adjunct Professors, yes, but there are also Adjust Instructors and Adjunct Lecturers. At least at my university, the last two are much more common.

          2. Zed*

            I think there is a practical distinction here between academic rank and functional title of address. Yes, it would be misleading and dishonest for someone hired as a lecturer to present themselves as a full professor. That is because lecturer and full professor are both ranks that have very precise meanings and requirements. They denote very different levels of power and status as well.

            However, at least in every university I’ve attended or at which I’ve been employed, “professor” was also the generic term of address for any classroom instructor who did not have a PhD. This was true no matter their rank – graduate students (solo teaching), adjuncts/lecturers/instructors, and tenure-track professors were addressed as “Prof. Smith” if they had not earned a doctorate. It is a safe title to use when Dr. would be inaccurate and Mr./Ms. would be inappropriate.

            1. Libby*

              That’s my experience too. I’m on the faculty of a college strong in the performing and visual arts; many of those professors have MFAs, the highest degree in their fields. Those of us with PhDs don’t get hung up on “Dr.” because it would make it seem like we think of ourselves as superior.

            2. Mallory*

              Yes. There’s a difference between the academic rank/formal job title of “Professor” (which is a tenured member of the senior faculty above Associate Professors in rank) and the general moniker of “professor” for any member of the faculty, serving at any rank (adjunct professor, Clinical Assistant Professor, Clinical Associate Professor, Assistant . . . , Associate . . . , etc.).

          3. Cat*

            I think the issue is that professors rarely tell students to call them anything. The students default to “Professor” or “Doctor” and I’m not sure that’s a bad thing? Is it going to help the classroom environment if they decide that a certain subset of their instructors are entitled to less respect?

            1. LouG*

              I guess agree to disagree here. I do tell my students what they can call me on their first day. IMO it is a big deal if your students call you Dr. Cat, you do not have your PhD, and you do not correct them. They may default to Dr. or Professor and I understand that. But I believe you should politely correct them if that is not your title.

            2. Onymouse*

              That might be a cultural difference in play. I wouldn’t respect someone less for not being a “doctor”

              1. Cat*

                No of course not. I meant making a big deal of making sure students know who’s not a “real” professor.

        2. Onymouse*

          I’ll call you Dr. I’ll call you by your first name if you’d like. But why would you insist I call you by a title you didn’t earn?

          1. Long time lurker!*

            Because it’s a classroom honorific, not a job title. I got myself a PhD and a job teaching in a university classroom, I’ve earned the right in my cultural context to be called Professor. Do you insist that a pre-tenure professor should be called “Assistant Professor” in the classroom?

            In actual fact, I most often go by my first name in the classroom, because half the time I’m younger than my students and because I don’t want to deal with title weirdness. But “Professor” as a classroom honourific is something I have earned through my education, professional experience and ability to be hired onto the part time faculty of a competitive program at a good institution.

        3. Anx*

          Agreed on this. While I think the OP is in a strange position to insist on being referred to as doctor, I think it’s important that lab techs, teaching assistants, and non-tenure track instructors are recognized as having completed original research.

          Especially when adjuncts are doing so much of the same work so much of the time.

          The idea of having that distinciton erased doesn’t really upset me on a personal level, but rather on a systemic level. I don’t think it’s intentional, but by downplaying the credentials of supporting teaching and research staff I’m afraid that it sweeps the adjunct issue under the rug. If the new reality is a PhD for near-minimum wage work, these institutions need to own it.

        4. Titled girl*

          Very good point about few jobs and lots of PhDs. Because there are no vacancies currently in my department in academia, I have actually started up my own business online. I always wanted to have my own business and I am actually making products in line with my research area so I am feeling quite fulfilled doing that (in addition to my dept work!).

      3. Dr. Speakeasy*

        Professor is a reasonable catch-all for students to address lecturers, instructors, adjuncts, etc. regardless of degree level. They are professing.

        The Dr. thing – I wouldn’t insist on it in every interaction but if you’re being introduced I think it would be fine to say, oh, I’m Dr. Tech, like –
        Hey, this is Dr. NewProf, Dr. NewProf, this is Lab.
        Actually it’s Dr. Tech, too, but yeah call me Lab.

        1. fposte*

          Agreeing here. It’s also not like they call assistant professors “Assistant Professor.” “Professor” is a fine default address for somebody in front of a class at a college or university.

          The problem for the OP is that she’s not a professor, so she doesn’t have the convenient catch-all to use.

        2. Anx*

          My current instructor is the head of the program at my comm college. She teaches mostly practical skills or factual based information, and there is not a lot of discussion. Unlike many other adjunct instructors I have had, professor seems off and wouldn’t come my lips. She goes by Ms. ____ and went to graduate school and worked in industry, so I believe she has her masters.

          However if she was teaching more theoretical based classes I would probably call her Prof ____. I call her Ms. _____, which does feel a tad strange, and if I was on a campus (we’re in an industrial park off campus) I would probably feel weirder about it.

          But this is a pretty specific example, and so long as ‘instuctor’ or ‘lecturer’ doesn’t feel right I think ‘prof’ is perfectly reasonable.

      4. Artemesia*

        Professor is certainly in the US not confined to full professors and most people with PhDs are hired on as Assistant Professors the lowest professorial rank. Yes instructors or adjuncts may not have doctorates, but ‘professor’ tends to be the classroom honorific although they would not be referred to that way outside the classroom by staff or colleagues. Mr. or Ms would actually be correct in our out of the classroom. But generally speaking in the US ‘professor’ is not so stingily used. I am aware that in Europe it is an advanced level and used only for those who have attained wht here is ‘full professorship’. But then in Europe there are places where everyone with a bachelors degree calls themself ‘Dr.’ (sometimes even socially in Italy which I found totally weird)

        I worked at an institution that would never hire someone without a doctorate to teach; it was even exceedingly rare for an adjunct to be hired without a doctorate. The exception was new tenure track hires who were ABDs expecting the doctorate soon. In the example I gave of a male colleague being introduced as Dr. Malecolleague while I with a doctorate was introduced as Mrs. Myname, the colleague was one of those new ABD hires. (and to be fair this happened some long time ago but is an example of the underlying sexism) I remember at graduations while kitted out in gown and hood having board members congratulate my middle aged self for graduating — although I marched with faculty and of course my hood did not have the colors of the school I taught in but the school I graduated from. Women are not automatically viewed as professionals by many men, but easily viewed as students regardless of age. It is okay to ‘get your PhD’ just not to have it.

        The OP is probably getting this because she is staff in a position that doesn’t require a doctorate, but I always suspect a whiff of sexism as well. I just swam in those sexist waters so long.

        1. fposte*

          Yes, especially because support staff at most universities is preponderantly female. The OP therefore has two characteristics that lead the thoughtless to go with non-doctor–she’s not faculty, and she has a gender that maps onto support staff.

          Which is just annoyingly stupid for an institution devoted to thought and higher learning–not only is it sexist, it’s incredibly sloppy thinking. “Most support staff are women” doesn’t even have the logical consequence of “Most women are support staff.”

          1. Titled girl*

            I was pleasantly surprised to read this post and the one just above by Artemesia. There are indeed more male academics at my university! All of the cleaners are female, the office staff is female apart from the guy who goes to collect mail and when I was hired, I was the only female technician. Added to that is the fact that I got my degree when i was only 35.

        2. MK*

          This can differ very much from country to country. In my own country (Europe), a Ph.D is the minimum requirement to get a teaching position at a university, so all university instructors are Dr. The only people who teach university students without a Ph.D are doctoral students, and their classes are suplamentary to the main class and called tutotials to distinguish them. However, no one is ever called “doctor”; the word doesn’t even have an exact translation in my language (there is a distinct word for medical doctors and another for Ph.Ds, the latter’s meaning being closer to “prefessor”). On the other hand, the custom is to call highschool-level teachers “professor”, only elementary shcool teachers are called Mr./Ms.

      5. Rana*

        When I was adjuncting, I tended to object (mildly) to being called “Professor” rather than “Dr.” because, strictly speaking, it was an untruth. I wasn’t a professor; I was an adjunct instructor. To my mind, it would be like an administrative assistant being called by the CEO’s title – a misrepresentation of one’s position.

        But I do have the Ph.D., and my position did warrant the use of that as a title of address by students (who would otherwise call me Mrs. Lastname – problematic, since my last name is my maiden name).

        Having students call me by my first name would have been a possible solution, but I found that some students were uncomfortable with that level of informality, and having a class in which some of the students are calling me Dr. and some are calling me Rana sets up weird imbalances. (Plus there was that time one of my students called out “Yo, Rana, what’s up?” at me as I was talking to the dean… awkward…).

        That said, among colleagues I am always just Rana. It seems pretentious to insist on the title among equals.

        (I do use the title as the signature line in my emails, though I sign above it with Dr. Lastname or Rana depending on who is being addressed.)

      6. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

        me too – I hear PhD when someone is called “professor”. I’m an and the only instructor without a PhD. I specifically asked to be called by my first name to avoid the awkwardness….if someone asked for my title, I would say “instructor” or “adjunct faculty”. I always prefer to be called by my first name though, so this just works for me anyway. and my students are grad students, mostly established professionals (some of whom I interact with professionally as peers).

        At the same time, this is a part-time thing I do in addition to my full time job (because of skills and knowledge from my FT job) – I have zero interest in working in academia in the long term – I suppose I could understand how a distinction might be offensive if this was my career.

      7. Arthur*

        That may be your understanding of it, but that is not necessarily the case. For instance, I am an assistant professor at a large research university and I do not have a PhD. I am a librarian with an MLS (the terminal degree in my field). Also, no one refers to me as “Assistant Professor Arthur.” If they use my academic title, they refer to me as “Professor Arthur.” Professors come in all shapes and sizes.

        1. Artemesia*

          Yes there are exceptions from the PhD requirement when hiring in a field like art where an MFA is the terminal degree. This person would of course not be addressed as doctor but as professor. I know an MFA who was just hired in a tenure track position as an assistant professor. And while as an assistant professor you are discussed orally as ‘Professor Arthur’ you would certainly never have that on your card where the correct title whatever it may be would be printed. (and believe me anyone who knows the cast of characters in a department is acutely aware of rank descriptions and the fact that some have voting authority on many matters and others don’t.

      8. Melissa*

        At some universities virtually everyone who teaches has a PhD. I currently attend/work at a university like that – even our adjuncts have PhDs. So generally, nobody uses Dr. as a title.

        The undergraduates generally use Professor to refer to all teaching faculty, from adjunct professors and lecturers to full professors. Here it’s simply understood to mean “someone who teaches me in a class”.

    2. EE*

      If the poster isn’t from the US, ‘Professor’ may not be in use. In Ireland everybody was ‘Dr’ or Firstname. I remember a lecturer of mine commenting to me wistfully how he loved it when American students would call him ‘Professor’!

      1. Lisa*

        I was Lisa to years’ worth of students in a specialized vocational program until I started teaching in northern Europe, where many of my students were from southern Europe and the Middle East, and they just couldn’t bring themselves to address me by my first name. So I was “miss” or “ma’am” – and once, notably, “madam” but I had to put a stop to that. Now, at a private design school, I introduce myself as Ms LastName but plenty of students call me “Professor.” It was a weird shift going to the more formal address in the classroom after so long doing it the other way, but it works for reasons I haven’t fully unpicked, and I think it makes it easier for the students from more traditional/formal cultures.

        Hmmm, a question to ask the class next week…

      2. Titled girl*

        I am not from the US so our use of ‘Professor’ is vastly different. This title is only awarded after a lecturer serves many years in my university and has had many post-grads and publications.

    3. Titled girl*

      I have experienced some of this sexism also and it is a bit surprising! Everyone seemed fine with me before I was titled but now it seems that it is difficult for some people to accept that I am titled. While we all work at the university as lab techs, I decided to pursue further studies and was successful! That did not take away and value from the other workers, it just meant that I wanted self-advancement for myself so I do become a bit annoyed that people assume that because I am (only?) a technician, I can’t be a PhD. I am also married but there are a few people who try to call me Miss first-name. Go figure!

  6. Artemesia*

    ps to clarify — when using the title ‘Ms’ in the south I was asked several times ‘Is that Miss or Mrs?’ with that sort of smarmy condescending good old boy smirk. To that the answer was always “oh that would be Dr.’

    1. DL*

      Humorous aside – I once used that line on a repairman who repeatedly called me “Sweetie”. He replied, “Ok, Dr. Sweetie.”. Um, no.

      1. Lillie Lane*

        Mine was a coworker who called me “chicky”. I said, that’s “Dr. Chicky, get it straight.” But it was lighthearted teasing.

      2. periwinkle*

        My husband promised that if I survive the PhD program (starts next winter), he will refer to me as Dr. Sweetie.

    2. Corporate Attorney*

      Interesting, as a life-long southerner and user of that title, I’ve never encountered that reaction.

    3. Cath in Canada*

      The first time I ever got to answer that question with “actually, it’s Doctor” was SO MUCH FUN! It made the years of study feel totally worth it :)

      It still happens from time to time, and it’s still fun, but you never forget your first time…

  7. Adam*

    #1 I’m trying to think of scenario where this would not either be underhanded or a some kind of joke, and I’m not getting anything.

    #5 If she didn’t want you to see her profile why did she accept your request to connect? Or even weirder, if she was the one to link to you?

    1. Anon*

      You can view someone’s profile without connecting. Whether or not you’re connected, LinkedIn notifies people when you’ve viewed their profile. There’s a privacy setting where you can turn that off, but by default it’s enabled.

  8. Anon*

    #5 – Look at your LinkedIn Privacy settings. You can set it so that people can’t tell who viewed their profile when you do it. The downside is you can’t tell who’s viewed yours, either, but I prefer it this way. It’s more anonymous.

  9. Anon2*

    #1 – I’m really curious as to whether this was accidentally sent to the wrong person or not. If it was meant for the OP, maybe there’s a misunderstanding behind it?

    1. Sara M*

      I have to think it’s a mistake. I can’t think of any reasonable explanation from a reasonable person. If she’s insane, all bets are off. :) Either a mis-text, or trying to fill something in and it texted you by mistake, or she wanted you to see something about the position because they’re opening headcount and want you to write the description…. but I doubt it’s a message for you to move along. I think the advice given here is great.

    2. Kay*

      Yes! I was just thinking this. Maybe she has two Janes in their phone and accidentally selected the wrong one.

      1. Vanilla*

        I think it was a mistake as well. I recently got a call on my cell phone on a Saturday morning from an HR person for a job I interviewed with months ago. It struck me as odd at first because it had been months ago and I had never heard from this particular company again even several interviews. The HR person didn’t leave a message, so I can only assume that it was an accident.

    3. Mints*

      I think so too. Especially without context, my guess is she talked to “OP Smith” about a job she should apply to, and said “I’ll text it to you” then accidentally texted “OP Jones” (OP)
      Because even if she was nuts or really rude, I think there would be a sentence explaining it

  10. Variation*

    #4, I’m curious to the upside of you providing an extended notice period. This situation seems entirely set up against you: too many variables, and a policy that could turn around and bite you. Is it possible to take your vacation, return, and give longer notice? Even just one month instead of two?

    1. AB Normal*

      I interpreted the letter as saying that the vacation will end 2 weeks before her desired last day, so if the OP waits until her (his) return, s/he’ll only be able to give a 2-week notice.

      1. OP #4*

        Yes, once I get back from vacation, I have two weeks before my start date for my new job. I will have time to give my full two week notice but nothing more.

        1. CartoonCharacter*

          I’d do that, unless you are totally sure they will honor your vacation plans. Or be willing to accept loss of vacation.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      In offices that makes it safe for you to give a generous notice period (i.e., don’t penalize you for it), the advantages are:
      * builds good will / helps the relationship
      * allows a smoother transition, which you might care about if you care about the work you’ve been doing (this is especially true in cases like nonprofits where you often have a personal investment)
      * often allows you to train your replacement (which is a subset of the point above)

      And plenty of jobs expect more than two weeks notice — plenty expect three or four. My last couple of jobs, I can’t imagine having left with only two weeks notice. It just depends.

      Of course, as I’ve written here lots of time before, this depends on how your employer handles notice periods. If they in any way penalize you for giving a longer one (by pushing people out earlier, not letting you take time off during that period, etc.), then they don’t get the benefit of receiving generous notice.

      I don’t know which the OP is dealing with. It’s entirely possible that policy only applies to people who give two weeks and wouldn’t apply to her. She needs to find out in order to make a good decision.

      1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

        Allison – So, I really have taken your advice here to heart and make sure that people feel safe giving long notice periods because it’s a huge help. In some cases, though, when the person is not doing a good job, I do move them out more quickly (like when I was already getting ready to fire them). How do you suggest reassuring others when this happens? It feels like there’s no nice way to say “we sure are glad to get John out of here as fast as possible so we’re not going to let him work his notice period because he’s doing a terrible job and was about to be fired…but please trust that you could give a long notice and we’d be pleased to have you as long as you were able to stay”. How would you communicate the difference without taking the unnecessary step of saying negative [unnecessary] things about the employee who is leaving faster than they wanted to? Assume that there are some people in the agency who don’t work closely enough with John to be aware that the quality of his work was low.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          This is tricky, and it’s more art than science, I think. But in general, I’d say it depends on how long the notice period of the low performer is. If it’s two months, it’s probably worth just waiting it out and considering it worth not having to fire them. But if it’s six months, I’d say to talk candidly with the person, referencing the fact that you’d already been discussing the performance issues and saying that it doesn’t make sense for either of you to put major development energy into trying to get them up to where you need them if they’re already planning on leaving, but you also can’t leave things are they are for six months, and so what alternate arrangement can you come up with that meets both sides’ needs?

  11. GrumpyBoss*

    #1: I’m not big on pointing out when you are offended in the office, but this sort of passive aggressive hostility may warrant you bringing it to your boss. I’d even use it to frame a discussion around performance. “I’m not sure why I received this, but it was pretty shocking to find out that I’m viewed as someone who should leave the company and to a lower position. Do you have concerns with my performance and fit here?”

    I’d want to determine pretty quickly if this perception from HR is shared. And if it isn’t, it let’s your manager know that HR isn’t behaving in a way conducive to retaining talent.

    1. AB Normal*

      I think that AAM’s approach is best, though — first confirming with the sender whether the text message was truly intended for the OP. Mistakes happen, and if the HR person intended to send the job opening to a friend of the same name, for example, it would be embarrassing to have involved the OP’s manager for no reason.

      1. Befuddled Squirrel*

        Yeah, if I were the OP, I’d text the person back and ask why they let me know about the opening.

    2. tango*

      It’s also totally possible it’s the right recipient but wrong job. It’s easy when you have a list of jobs on a website to choose the wrong one – especially when a few next to each other have very similar titles. The HR person could come back and say, oops wrong job or not even realize they sent the wrong link. Meant to send a link to the tea pot analyst job, not the tea pot assistant job for example. So I’d confirm both I was the intended recipient of the email and the job link that was sent was the one they intended. And if both those answers are yes, then take it up with the supervisor.

  12. D. Dee*

    “The whole point of LinkedIn is to look at people’s profiles.”

    Is it? I confess I joined LinkedIn sometime ago because I got an email invite, I signed up and… forgot about it/didn’t care much about it, until recently.

    Now that I am no longer neglecting it (mostly because I read it about it in passing here), I am not sure what exactly it is good for, or what I should be doing with it and nobody else around here uses it.

    If that is all LinkedIn is, maybe I should discontinue it? So far I have really only used it to “Link” people I used to know (which left me feeling stalkery).

    What now?

    1. AB Normal*

      Join relevant groups! I met great people through LinkedIn and have exchanged ideas with many peers, some of whom have already forwarded me good job opportunities.

      You may need to do a search by keyword and find some groups in an area of interest, and then remove the ones you see are spammy (some are not moderated and end up with lots of irrelevant promotional posts, but some are really great as a professional development and networking tools).

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I am laughing. I have a LI account because of my friends and family. I never look at it. Seriously. I just don’t have the time to figure out what is going on and how the site works.
      If someone jumped on here with a Reader’s Digest version or a cheat sheet, I would be totally interested in that.

    3. PizzaSquared*

      For me, LinkedIn has two primary (and very useful) purposes:

      1. Keeping in touch with professional contacts in the long run. LinkedIn makes it much easier for me to keep track of where former coworkers and business partners are, and to contact them in the future if I need to. I don’t have to worry about their email address or phone number changing, etc.

      2. Finding people I know (or can get introduced to by someone I know) at a specific company or in a specific industry. If I’m thinking of applying for a job somewhere, it’s incredibly useful to be able to quickly find that three of my old coworkers are now at that company, or that a college classmate knows the CEO. This is also regularly useful when I need a contact somewhere for other business reasons. Really, this is the killer application of LinkedIn for me, and I wouldn’t want to live without it.

      Recently I’ve been looking for a new job, and it has also been great to be able to directly contact the recruiter who posted an opening (many of the postings have a link to the recruiter’s profile with contact info). I’ve had at least half a dozen helpful phone conversations with recruiters by doing this, where otherwise I would have had to simply apply online and hope (sometimes only to find out that the position isn’t a good fit, the comp isn’t right, etc.).

      I think LinkedIn is a great tool despite some of it’s annoying features.

    4. Liz T*

      Can I just pause to complain about LinkedIn? Or rather, about people on LinkedIn. Distant friends who are in nothing RESEMBLING my field will connect to me and then endorse me for skills they have NO way of knowing I possess. It drives me crazy. These people are usually already my Facebook friends, so there is no reason whatsoever for them to do this.

      1. manybellsdown*

        Oooh yeah, I had an old friend from church – a woman my parents’ age – who did that. Endorsed me for literally everything she could think of, including a few things I’d never even heard of, let alone actually done.

      2. Windchime*

        Yes, this! I have an endorsement for skill X by someone I used to work with; he wouldn’t know skill X if it bit him in the butt. It’s a worthless feature of Linked-In, as far as I’m concerned.

      3. Christine*

        I ignore connection requests from people I know only socially, with a couple of exceptions where their fields are related to mine and they might be useful someday as a professional contact.

      4. KrisL*

        I find it very annoying when people endorse me for skills that either I don’t have or that I’m really just learning.

      5. Laura*

        This drives me nuts, but I will bet you that it is due to LI’s *horrible* interface for this.

        It pops up a “do you want to endorse person X for skill Y?” at you and will keep prompting. Better still, it does it in groups of four, and you can do all four at once with the press of a button.

        I would bet some people endorse without seeing what it’s for, some hit for all four when they only know about 2-3, and some just click without thinking.

        And it makes the endorsements meaningless.

        But I truly think that the horrible presentation of “endorse skills!” all the time encourages this, sadly. Yes, people should be more careful…but LI encourages it. :(

        1. JMegan*

          I agree with all of this! I think the “endorsements” are pretty useless, for that exact reason. But I blame LI for pestering the users to make them, as much as I blame the users.

    5. Befuddled Squirrel*

      LinkedIn is annoying in many ways. For me, the main benefit is being contacted by recruiters. Also, it tends to work in your favor when applying for jobs. Hiring managers like to see what you look like and who you know (although I think that’s unfair and disagree with it).

    6. Felicia*

      I use it for applying to jobs – there are jobs posted on LinkedIn itself, and at least in my field and area a lot of them are good. It also makes it much easier (for me at least!) , to keep track of people in my network, particularly people that I used to work with but wouldn’t be acting as my reference, because it’s happened a few times where that person has moved onto a different company that I would also like to work at.

    7. Mallory*

      I’m not exactly sure what to do with Linked In either. I, too, joined just because someone sent me an invitation to do so, and I put it off for a long time because I thought, “I don’t even have a network!”

      For some reason, I imagined that my so-called “network” was a bunch of other administrative assistants (in other words, people in roughly the same boat as me: doing similar work for similar pay, etc.).

      Then after I joined Linked In, it turns out that my network is not at all who I thought it was. It is mostly principals and associates in professional firms across the country whom I’ve come in contact with through my university department. I arrange travel for guest lecturers (people who are prominent nationally and internationally in my department’s field, guest critics (who come from other universities or from professional firms to give critical feedback on our students’ final projects each semester), and various other guests of the school.

      I guess that if I ever wanted to relocate somewhere, I have a good start with a network of professionals and business owners who know me and know my boss. I’m not sure what else to do with it.

    8. Laura*

      Linking to people you know is part of what it’s for! You can think of it as having five purposes, at least:

      1. Networking for your current or future job search, if you want one. (This includes looking at contacts-of-your-contacts, but also using groups.)

      2. Networking for your friends’ current or future job searches – if you are linked to them and to other people you know, they can see possibilities through you.

      3. Learning/informational opportunities via your connections and any groups you join.

      4. Making yourself look shiny and professional, to reflect well on you and your company. I actually use it for this purpose fairly deliberately – my achievements, my endorsements, and so on are up there, because it makes me and my employer look shinier. I do get views from clients, and maybe sometimes what I have up there is at least vaguely relevant or helpful. :)

      5. Making your management paranoid. This is NOT a desirable purpose, in my book, but it can happen. The first time I did a really good polish on my profile for the purpose of #4, I also gave some recommendations to others and got some in return, resulting in my profile suddenly becoming very shiny compared to what it had been. Also resulting in a VP of our company, who was connected to me, sending the query down the food chain about whether I was about to jump ship! (I told the truth: nope, I just wanted my profile to reflect well on us and was happy where I was. Yes, I wanted a raise, but no, I didn’t want one badly enough to leave. Fortunately, they believed me.)

  13. Zillah*

    #1 – is it possible that the text was sent to you when it was meant for someone else entirely? I know I’ve done that before. Thankfully, it was never anything particularly awkward, but that was the first thing that popped into my mind.

    1. Long time lurker!*

      Yeah – this is so bizarre that it makes the most sense for it to be a mistake.

    2. ExceptionToTheRule*

      This is my thought as well. In fact, something very similar happened with some of my co-workers. Former Co-Worker A emailed Co-Worker C about a job outside our industry. Co-Worker C meant to email Former Co-Worker A but instead of using the reply function in her email, she started a new email asking about the job info and sent it to Current Co-Worker A (who has the same first name as the other A).

      The second A is a department head in a different department and could be counted on to share that information with all of the department heads.

      OP 1 – I’d either ignore it or go to the person who texted you and ask if that was meant for someone else.

    3. UKJo*

      This was my thought too. If HR has something like a big spreadsheet of phone nos for emergency contact or similar then it might be a copying error (wrong cell etc). Worth going straight back to the contact and asking if it was meant for someone else – then take it from there!

    4. KrisL*

      Just yesterday someone sent me an IM that was intended for someone else. It wasn’t awkward, just confusing.

  14. JSearcher*

    I’m #3. First of all, thanks so much Alison for your input!

    During the time since I submitted the question, two developments have occurred: 1) the same back channel indicated that the attitude I perceived from B is not an everyday thing, merely a quirk of personality he displays occasionally, and I therefore shouldn’t read much into it; and 2) C called with an offer!

    1. Artemesia*

      When I was hiring I had one colleague who pulled this crap during group interviews often turning off candidates. He was not important. It is still always prudent to let your spidey sense guide you and at least bring it up; it would be a bummer to get hired and then find out this guy could make your life miserable.

  15. MR*

    If I obtained a Ph.D., I would want to be called ‘Dr.’ and I would use that as my title. It’s the highest degree obtainable, and I would have worked my ass off for what I accomplished. No more Mr. in my case…Dr. it would be.

    That being said (and I guess along the same lines), I earned a MBA, and I cringe every time I see someone use ‘M.B.A.’ after their name. I hate it for them, and never did it myself. It honestly looks stupid.

    But referring to yourself as Dr.? I have no problem with it and I doubt many others would as well.

    1. EE*

      Couldn’t agree more with post-nominals! Every so often my husband pushes me to add post-nominals to my signature to indicate that I’m a chartered accountant. I tell him that ABSOLUTELY NOBODY DOES THAT, but the information never seems to settle in his brain.

      Post-nominals have their place, like in a formal bio, or company materials if you’re running your own shop, but as part of your actual signature, no. Just no.

      1. GreatLakesGal*

        Post-nominals in sig lines are the norm in Company (95,000 employees. )

        To me, it gets weird when people include their undergrad (bachelors or associates) in their sig lines, but I go with it.

        1. Liz in a Library*

          Yep…they were a required part of my signature two jobs ago (and yes, even undergrad credentials, which I always thought was ridiculous). At my last job, it was the norm in our department as we were customer facing and our customers liked to see that we shared the same credentials and field knowledge that they did. That’s an exception situation though, and generally I think it’s weird.

        2. Melissa*

          I work in a lab and for a while I was one of the few people in the lab with just undergraduate credentials (I came straight to a PhD program from undergrad). Our lab coordinator used to write Melissa, BA on our website and it drove me nuts. I also see it from other people on posters at conferences from time to time – and sometimes on published articles – and still drives me nuts.

          The only thing worse than that is once I did get my master’s here and entered doctoral candidacy, they put Melissa, MA, PhD(c). The “c” is supposed to be for candidate, but I think it’s pretentious when people use that – not to mention misleading.

      2. Sigh*

        I used to volunteer at a hospital where most people had an email sig with their title, like X-ray Tech or whatever, which I figured was probably necessary in a large hospital where you can’t place everyone by name. But there was a woman who’d started in reception and gotten her associate’s in medical assisting, and as soon as she finished her course she started signing emails as Jane Doe, A.S., RMA (which she wasn’t, since you had to work as one for five years to be certified. I think she thought that getting the degree meant she was “registered.”) I felt bad because she had kids and was a little slow to learn things so the course was probably really hard for her, what with juggling the studying and kids and work, but I cringed on her behalf because I knew how pompous it would look to everyone else.

    2. AB Normal*

      “But referring to yourself as Dr.? I have no problem with it and I doubt many others would as well.”

      I wouldn’t necessarily have a problem with that, but hearing someone referring to him/herself as a Dr. would make me wonder if they have a self-esteem problem. In my circles 90% of people have a PhD, and everybody would laugh if someone started using the title, even in more formal professional conversations.

      In a social occasion, I’d be mortified if someone introduced me as Dr. LastName instead of my first name. Who cares about titles outside very specific professional settings? One of my husband’s most accomplished colleagues at his lab is the only person without a PhD on the entire team (everybody is called by their first names). I never met anyone who has achieved great accomplishments in life (Nobel laureates comes to mind) who would insist on being called by their honorific title.

      1. fposte*

        Yeah, referring to yourself as “doctor” would be a real tone-deaf move at my institution. It would suggest naivete and self-importance, kind of on a par with a lawyer who insisted on being called “Esquire.”

      2. Artemesia*

        It is gauche to use Dr. socially unless perhaps if you are a medical doctor. It just makes people look pretentious and in my experience in the US south it is invariably people with diploma mill or very lame degrees (sometimes amazingly even honorary degrees) who insist on it socially.

        1. Judy*

          The only time my sister (MD) gets frustrated about it is when it is written Dr and Mrs Smith, when both of them are MDs.

      3. Anx*

        It wouldn’t struck me as odd to be introduced to somebody with a doctorate as “Dr. X,” but I would be weirded out if they were continually referred to as such.

      4. Melissa*

        I come from a working-class/lower-middle-class community and everyone is really excited about me finishing my PhD – which feels nice – but they also keep saying “So you’re going to be Dr.! We’re going to have to call you Dr. Melissa now.” And I’m like er, no, you can just keep on calling me Melissa. I’m still me, just with a new degree.

    3. De (Germany)*

      Maybe interesting info from another country – here in Germany, the Dr. becomes an addition to your of your name. As in, you have to get a new ID card and it gets listed there. I don’t think that’s the case in the US.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Nope! In fact, I don’t think U.S. driver’s licenses (which serve as our IDs) even allow for a title to be listed at all! But I might be wrong about that. I’ve never seen one with Mr. or Ms. though.

        1. anonintheUK*

          Is medicine a postgraduate degree in the US? In the UK, medicine is an undergraduate degree, so I find it bizarre when medical doctors expect to be Dr Whatsit when they are not in their surgery, because it’s a job title. I am only Tax Lawyer Whosit at work.

          1. Mpls*

            Medicine and law are both post graduate degrees in the US. You have to complete an undergraduate degree before you can be admitted to medical, law, veterinary, dentistry or pharmacy school (did I forget any?)

            1. Artemesia*

              Lawyers today are mostly all ‘JDs’ since it has long since been a post grad degree, but I have not yet knowns a lawyer who alls himself ‘Dr.’ as a result. This actually surprises me because it is a profession which revels a bit in pompous.

              1. Sue Wilson*

                That’s partially because there are higher law degrees you can get (a master of laws, and a doctorate in jurisprudence, and a doctorate in law, i.e. a Ph.D) and also because the proper address is esquire, not doctor.

            2. JSearcher*

              Technically, while Pharmacists get what is called a PharmD, it’s not a 4 year undergrad degree and then an additional degree. After 2 years of “pre-pharmacy” you have to get admitted into the professional program for an additional 4 years, for a total of 6. It’s only one degree, though. (My mom worked in the pharmacy school of a university most of my life)

          2. Kiwi*

            Yeah, but if someone collapses on the street they’re walking, they’ll probably step in with some (free) medical assistance. Someone needs some serious urgent (free) tax advice on the street and I expect you’ll keep walking. That’s the difference. Drs are always doctors. Accountants/lawyers/engineers are only professionals when there is billable time.

            (I’m allowed to say this – I’m one of you!)

    4. Eudora Wealthy*

      I saw an old friend’s LinkedIn page the other day and she had about a hundred letters behind her name. I had to do google searches on them to even figure out what field she might be in.

      Eudora Wealthy, DcS, JGsoeD, LKA, LLD, PhDee, MCSE, CIA, LdseC, KAPw, LxsZZ, MSe, HRC, CCSDW, QRSTUV, ZZtop, M.Ed., BSc, zxcvbnm, TTYL

    5. Christine*

      I had a former colleaugue who was out of touch enough to use his alphabet soup in his email signature. “John Smith, MBA, CPSM, CPIM”. He’s been gone a year, but still whenever his name comes up, we jokingly refer to him by first name, last name, and his complete list of post nominals, because we found it funny.

  16. Lillie Lane*

    #2: My husband and I both have PhDs and we do not advertise it. Select people know, and the designation is on our business cards (for credibility), but sooooo many people have commented to us that they respect us more for not making it a big deal. People I have known for years have come up to me one day to say, “I had no idea you were *Dr.* X!” Sometimes it’s a good way to get a conversation going.

    However, I will say that getting the degree is a long road with blood, sweat, and tears (literally all of those in my case), so if you want to correct people all day, go right ahead. And in some cases, I will lead with the Dr. (I have two email sigs, one with PhD, one without. I’ll trot out the one with the degree if I need respect or a quick response.)

    1. Artemesia*

      I used to use it when reserving airline tickets after this experience. I missed a plane due to a shuttle no show and was wait listed; there were a bunch of people wait listed as well as a lot of standbys The plane was very full and the standbys were all standing around the desk when it became apparent that there was one seat. The agent picked up one ticket and said ‘Dr. Myname’ and handed my ticket to a distinguished looking grey haired man. I swooped in and grabbed the ticket, thanked her and was the only one in the group who made it home that night.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        They were almost certainly giving you that treatment because they assumed you were a medical doctor though (if it was connected). That would bug me :)

        1. Student*

          Actually, it was probably because she had the most frequent flier miles. Airlines don’t give out perks like that unless you come to a teller with a good, convincing sob story.

          Miles are roughly correlated with PhDs, depending on the field – either you have a bit more disposable income than average to throw at vacation plans, or you have frequent conferences to attend (sometimes out of the US, which is always great for racking up the miles), or you have a lot of non-conference business travel.

          Personally, I emphasize my title on hotel reservations and don’t bother with the airlines, because I know the airlines will only look at my miles. Some of the hotel clerks have treated me notably nicer once they see I’m Dr. Student instead of Ms. Student. I never get the call-girl glare at hotels when they notice I’m a Dr., but sometimes I get it when they don’t.

          1. Melissa*

            Sometimes they do. Two good friends of mine just got upgraded to first-class when one of them explained to the clerk that they were on their honeymoon. And my husband and I used to get upgraded to first class pretty often when he was on active duty in the Air Force. Asking nicely (or sometimes, just standing around being nice) has also gotten me switched to a later flight free of charge when I missed my earlier flight and a bag over the luggage limit. It depends on the airline, what it is they’re giving you, and who’s working.

      2. Loose Seal*

        Aren’t you afraid that one day there might be a medical emergency on the plane and they will remember they have a “Dr.” on the passenger manifest? Then you’d have to explain you’re not a medical doctor.

        1. De Minimis*

          This actually happened to one of my wife’s co-workers. He was given a stern talking-to by the pilot when he had to tell them he could not provide medical assistence to a passenger.

          1. Melissa*

            I mean, on the one hand I do think it’s pretentious for people with PhDs to use them in social/non-professional settings. I personally will avoid it to avoid confusion.

            But on the other hand, in the unlikely case I did use it, I would take exception to someone giving me a “stern talking-to” because I chose to use my title on a plane ticket. Dr. IS still an acceptable, correct title for someone with a PhD, and it’s not my fault that someone assumes everyone with that title is an MD. Dentists also go by Dr., but they would also be unable to assist in a true medical emergency on a plane.

        2. Titled girl*

          People are keeping up with the new degrees though. I travelled to Michigan a few months ago and there was a medical emergency on one of my flights. The flight attendant asked via the intercom whether there were any MDs aboard and that their assistance was needed and that they wanted a MD and not a PhD.

  17. NylaW*

    I keep reading through these discussions about the title of doctor and my brain just keeps wondering why it’s such a faux pas to use that title, but I come at it from the medical world where to not use that title would be near blasphemous depending on the situation. I guess I never realized how different the world of PhDs and MDs was.

    1. fposte*

      It’s mostly snobbery, but it’s a snobbery I embrace, so I can’t be too dismissive of it :-). Exaggeratedly speaking, the idea is that at your institution, the PhD is taken as a given, and publicly using it would be displaying some desperate need to assert that you have a minimum qualification. In my experience, there’s also a feeling that it positively distinguishes academic achievement from those grubby little vocational degrees like MDs and DDSes–it’s that “Dr.” isn’t just wrong, it’s genuinely lower-status. It’s kind of old-school WASPy/upper-class English, where the person who shows up in the shiny new Mercedes has less status than the person keeping dogs in the back of the muddy Rolls.

      I think the arcaneness of it is fascinating, and I like any etiquette that says “Random people don’t need to know what you’ve achieved–that’s your business,” so it works for me.

      1. Artemesia*

        +1 agreed. And so those of us who don’t use it socially are actually secretly more pretentious than those who insist on it. LOL.

        1. fposte*

          I know! It’s like the wonky equivalent of concealed carry. Next I’m going to eat asparagus in public with my hands and exult in my secret rectitude.

          1. Befuddled Squirrel*

            Another concealed carrier here. I have a masters degree and I don’t tell anyone unless it comes up in conversation.

            1. Rana*

              I’ll use it in my email sig line in professional circumstances, and if I have students needing to address me, but, yeah, it doesn’t get trotted out in other situations.

              In my experience, the people who understand what a Ph.D. entails will think you’re insecure or pompous for insisting on the title in social settings; those who don’t either don’t care about your degree or think you’re a snob.

      2. Anon For This*

        My dad has a PhD in an academic field and has always expected people to address him as Dr. It was pretty awkward growing up, having to explain to the other kids that my dad wasn’t a medical doctor.

  18. Red Librarian*

    With #4, I can’t tell if the vacation has already been approved prior to the new job. I think those policies are in place for situations Alison mentioned: an employee putting in their notice and THEN asking for time off. But if you’ve already had the time off approved it’s a bit different and just unfortunate timing with the new job.

    I think Alison’s advice about letting your knowledge of your boss guide you to be best, because that would be the determining factor. We have multiple managers in our building and it’s pretty obvious knowing how each one would respond, positively or negatively, to this situation.

    1. Artemesia*

      With a boss you have confidence in could you threat the needle i.e. let him or her know that you will be giving notice after your vacation but not actually officially put it in till the two week period?

      1. OP #4*

        My boss is someone that feel I can trust. My real concern is that upper management or HR will get wind of my departure & then try to prevent me from taking vacation or worse.

        1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

          That is a valid concern. Any chance you trust your boss enough to give him/her a head’s up, and ask if it would be wise to wait before you make it official with HR? I guess this kind of depends on whether or not your boss would be seen as deceptive for keeping it a secret for you.

    2. OP #4*

      Our vacations don’t need to be “approved” per any written policy, we just let our boss know when we are going to be off.

      I think you are right that the policy is to prevent people from putting in a two-week notice & then taking vacation for two weeks, but the policy is worded so broadly that I don’t think there is any leeway.

        1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

          We have this policy too – I’m normally pretty firm, but I have absolutely made exceptions – most recently for a honeymoon. If I hadn’t the person would have just quite earlier and I needed her for her full notice period.

        2. Artemesia*

          And there is a difference between telling the boss and putting in the official two weeks notice. Perhaps.

  19. Sophia*

    I’m a bit confused – how can OP #5 have a brother in law married to a sister in law? Shouldn’t one of those be the sibling?

    Re: Dr/Prof discussion – nothing to add, my institution runs very much like fposte: add classroom instructors, regardless of title, are generally a referred to as professor by the undergrads and using Dr socially is a faux pas for tenured and tenure track faculty

  20. Sigrid*

    I have a PhD and used to work in academia, at an institution where no one would dream of referring to anyone with a PhD as “Doctor So-and-so”. My husband also has a PhD, but works as an engineer for a consulting firm, where he is known as “Doctor”. Not “Doctor Lastname”, just “Doctor”! Engineering PhDs are rare enough (at least outside of academia) that his company makes a pretty big deal out of the few they have. It’s definitely a cultural thing.

    Actually, I’m heading back to school for an MD in a couple weeks, and I’m guessing it’s going to be weird to be referred to as “Dr. Sigrid” when I finally achieve it, as I was trained by my academic institution to reflexively answer, “oh, just Sigrid is fine” or “oh, I just have a PhD” because calling oneself “Doctor” is pretentious.

    1. fposte*

      Heh. Now you have to complicate it further by going into surgery in the UK. Which convention rules then?

  21. Thebe*

    A sidenote to the whole Dr. title thing: Some of the men in our office (a non-academic office where nobody is a PhD) have started to address coworkers as “Dr. Smith” and “Dr. Jones,” apparently a humorous tribute to their expertise in various manners, or something. The interesting thing is that they only address male coworkers as “Dr.” and never women. Honestly, I roll my eyes so frequently in this office that sometimes I fear they will pop out of my head.

    1. Mallory*

      Ha. On a similar note, we recently had a basic sexual harassment training course for all faculty members (I was there in my role as departmental admin) and ever since then, all the male faculty members have been calling each other “Sugar”.

  22. FD*

    #1: My guess is that this was meant to be sent to someone who’s name/number is close to yours, especially if her phone is synched to a company database of some kind.

    For example, she knows someone who wants to get the foot in the door in your industry. Your company doesn’t have an opening, but she heard about one that might be good at another one, so she passes it on, except she sends it to you by mistake.

    If it were me, maybe I’d text or talk to her back and say, “Hey, I got this message from you, and I was thinking maybe it was meant for someone else?” You could ask your manager directly if there are concerns about your work, but I’m pretty sure this was a simple case of texting the wrong person.

    1. Artemesia*

      This. Unless the OP has a history with this HR person that suggests harassment, this is the most likely thing. I got emails from time to time clearly meant for other people, perhaps who had the same first name (my last name is quite distinctive). I just always replied with ‘I think this was meant for someone else’ so the person wouldn’t be left thinking they had communicated having failed to do so.

      1. FD*

        Exactly. I have a really common name, so this has happened to me. I’ve also done it by e-mail, especially where you’re trusting Outlook to select the right person.

        It can happen so easily by phone too, especially if two people are in your phone with the same first name.

    2. C Average*

      Oh my gosh, yes. Just ask! It would be awful to stress out so much over something like this if the truth was that she just plain fat-fingered your name in her contact list.

      (My work phone is also my personal phone, and I once accidentally sent a text to the colleague just below my husband in my contact list asking him to pick up milk and bananas on the way home, and signing off ‘xoxoxoxo’. Awkward. I’m very glad this colleague happens to be a good friend with a sense of humor and not, say, our director.)

  23. Cassie*

    In our school, all of our instructors have PhDs. I call non-tenure-track faculty “Dr. So and So” but I know some students call those instructors “Professor So and So”. The faculty and maybe most of the staff know who is a tenure-track faculty member and who is not, but I doubt many students (especially undergrads) do.

    As for lab techs, many (most?) of our lab techs also have PhDs. None of them are called Dr. They are just called by their first names. The way I see it, using the titles “Professor” or “Dr.” are for people with academic titles. Even though these lab techs are technically using their doctorate degrees for their jobs (I assume), it’s just somehow different…

    I sometimes get addressed as Dr. Cassie in emails from visiting students/scientists (even though I have been introduced as being my boss’s assistant). I don’t correct them, though. Not because I like pretending to have an advanced degree, but it seems like such a minor thing.

  24. Kiwi*

    What on earth could be wrong with using your professional credentials after your name in a *professional* email? Surely that’s exactly where they belong – reassuring the recipient that, just perhaps, you actually know what you’re talking about. It’s not like you’re signing your Christmas cards off with it. Why are we no longer allowed to acknowledge our own educational position, for fear of appearing too proud of our own (shameful?) success?

    The world has gone completely mad.

  25. Not a PhD*

    Getting a doctorate is hard work, a commitment full of sacrifices and I don’t think there is anything pretentious about being proud of that title. I’m surprised so many people think so. It’s a little sad that people need to underplay their achievements so as not to offend others.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Lots of things are hard work and full of sacrifices, but you don’t go trumpeting them as part of your name. I don’t ask to be called Blogger Green, for instance.

      1. Not a PhD*

        My point is, those with a doctorate are totally allowed to use the title Dr. if they wish, as achieving a doctorate confers that title. Those who don’t, fine, don’t. I’m surprised it’s such an issue with people when it’s always been ok in my experience and I don’t have a problem with it. Perhaps it’s a cultural thing, as I’m not originally from the US but I don’t find it snobbish at all.

        1. Melissa*

          I’m pretty much finished with my PhD – the dissertation is complete, and I’m just waiting to defend it in 2-3 weeks. So I know about the hard work that goes into getting one.

          But I think it’s more just a social etiquette thing. Socially, the only people who go by Dr. in the U.S. are physicians and probably dentists. PhDs go by Dr. professionally but not in social settings. I’m not sure why that arose, but it’s a thing, and so it does kind of come off snobby when you’re insisting to be called Dr. in a social setting – especially since nobody is ever going to urgently need some Foucauldian analysis or a statistical model.

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