I’m a bookkeeper for a company that doesn’t pay its bills on time, rejecting applicants who don’t meet basic qualifications, and more

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

1. I’m a bookkeeper for a company that doesn’t pay its bills on time

I have been working for a small company for a few months now as their bookkeeper. They are a small retail store and money is tight. They never pay their bills on time and have their vendors calling and even sending rude emails requesting payments. My boss has been directing their calls and emails to me, but my hands are tied. There is no money to pay them and payments have to be approved by her.

I am currently studying for my CPA and working towards being an independent bookkeeper for local companies in my area. Some of these vendors are local and I may want to solicit my service to them in the future. I feel that this is reflecting badly on me as they may think that I am not doing my job in keeping up with payments. What can I say to them when they are requesting payment so that it doesn’t reflect badly on me? I do not think that my boss would be happy if I tell these vendors that we simply do not have the money to pay them. However, I feel that I need to give an explanation so that it is not jeopardizing my reputation in the future as a bookkeeper.

Well, to some extent, I’m not sure that you can get out of it reflecting on you if you stay there long-term. While you’re not responsible for your boss’s decisions or lack of payment, being associated with that kind of thing over the long-term can color the way people see you. I realize that you might not have the ability to instantly change jobs or might have other reasons for staying there, but I’d give real thought to moving on. What your boss is doing is crappy and might be directly harming other small local businesses. If her cash flow doesn’t allow her to pay on time, she should be up-front with vendors about that from the start rather than agreeing to their terms and then breaking those terms.

As for what to say to vendors meanwhile, I’d say: “I’m so sorry. I’ve spoken to the owner about getting you paid, and as soon as she approves payment, I’ll get it out to you immediately.” I don’t think it’s your place to say “there’s no money to pay you” unless your boss okays that, but it’s entirely reasonable to make it clear that the hold-up is coming from your boss, not from you.

2. Should we bother sending rejections to applicants who don’t meet basic job requirements?

I know that you suggest that a hiring manager should always respond to every person who applies for a position, and I agree. However, if the applicant doesn’t meet the basic requirements, do I need to respond? For example, we require our applicants to have their own car, valid driver’s license, and insurance. This is stated in every job posting, but people without a car or license still apply. Do I need to send these applicants a response? I feel like I don’t need to because they are obviously not reading the ad and are applying anyway.

I suppose it’s not as imperative as sending rejections to people who did take the time to read about what you’re looking for, but … why not just send them anyway? It takes a few seconds to send a form rejection. Given how fast the process should be, it would actually add more time into most rejection processes to separate out some people into a “no response” group, rather than just putting everyone into the same system.

3. Reaching back out to an employer a few months after starting a new job with a competitor

I started working with my current company a couple of months ago and I’m thinking of changing jobs. Right before I got hired with my current company, I took an informational meeting with a competitor. I met with two of their partners and four other employees and I took a writing test; they loved me and said they would keep me in mind as positions opened up. Two weeks later, I got hired by my current company and received an email from the competitor congratulating me and saying they would love to stay in touch in case anything changes.

I would like to reach out to the other competitor again, flag that I’m looking to change jobs, and see if they’re currently hiring. Of course, the easiest way to do this would be to respond to a job opening, but this company does not advertise job openings. Could you give me some advice on how to best approach this? I’m worried about my current company finding out, I also want to avoid sounding negative about my current company and I’m having a hard time deciding whether I should include information about why I want to change jobs when I reach out to the company I’m hoping to work for.

Actually, even if they advertised their openings, it would be weird to just respond to a job opening when (a) you have a relationship with these people, (b) they know you accepted a new job a few months ago, and (c) they’ve encouraged you to let them know if anything changes. You should reach out to your contact there directly and explain that your new role isn’t turning out to be what you’d hoped and you’d love to talk if they think it would be worthwhile. Be prepared to be asked why you’re already thinking of moving on after only a couple of months; that’s unusual enough that you’ll need to have a fairly compelling explanation so that it doesn’t look like flakiness. Good luck!

4. How to handle lunch as a temp worker

The culture in my office is to have lunch at your desk while you work. However, I’m one of two temp workers and I am paid hourly – not for lunch. No one eats in the lunchroom, so the few times I have eaten in there have been awkward. I want to leave a good impression, but I’m also not paid to work through lunch. Is it ok for me to regularly leave the office? Mostly I go downstairs where there is a nice balcony, but is it ok to meet friends? I’m always back under an hour.

Sure, leaving the office for lunch is pretty normal in most offices. And even if no one else in the office does that, it’s still not something that would typically be frowned on. And it’s really up to you what you do with that time; it’s fine to meet friends if you want to, assuming that it’s not causing you to take a longer lunch break than you’re supposed to be taking. I suppose that it’s possible that there’s some office out there that would frown on you leaving the premises, but that would be pretty unusual. As long as you’re not getting signals to the contrary, head out for lunch without worry! (And if you do get signals to the contrary, just ask whoever is managing you about it: “Hey, is it okay for me to leave the office when I take lunch?”)

5. Resume wording when I’m applying for a position I used to have

I recently worked a contract position at a college. They have just re-posted this position and I’m planning to reapply for it. The new job description is identical to what it was last year.

I used a lot of the wording directly from this job description on my resume and cover letter. (I have been applying for similar positions with other organizations.) But now I’m not sure what to do about my application for this job because it is back at the college. Do I need to change the wording so that it’s not essentially copied and pasted from the job description? Or can I leave it because it is exactly what I had done while in that role? I’m nervous about changing the wording because I know it will be put through a keyword scanner.

You should change into your own language so that it doesn’t sound copied and pasted. Moreover, you should change it anyway because your resume shouldn’t read like a series of job descriptions; it should be far more about what you accomplished in a job than just what duties you were assigned.

Also, since you used to work there, you have contacts there. In addition to applying through the official process, you should also reach out to the hiring manager (who presumably you know) and let her know that you applied and would love to be considered for the role.

{ 196 comments… read them below }

  1. Kate*

    I have been in a very similar position as #1 but luckily the owner was open about cash flow issues with vendors. Have you asked your boss what she wants you to be saying? Alison’s wording is good and tells them your hands are tied and it isn’t your incompetence that is the issue.

    1. Dan*

      My mom used to have to deal with that, and she said she actually got on pretty good terms with the bill collectors by just being honest with them. She told me they didn’t give her any crap if she said they didn’t have any money, because when she said the check will be there on Friday, it was there on Friday. I can’t imagine how the business’s bad practices would have a negative impact on the OP’s future career choices.

      That said, if the OP is really bothered, maybe she can get a generic Accounts Payable account, without her name on it, or if that fails, a pseudonym. Nobody has to know her real name unless they’re really impressed and want to hire her away.

      After all, debt collectors use pseudonyms as well.

      1. BritCred*

        I agree with this. If a customer is honest with me (as a debt collector / business to business AR) then I had no issues and would work with them.

        If it was obvious that the clerk was being made not to pay stuff and it was the boss that was the issue then I also would work with them (even if it meant making sure the attention got focussed on the boss for the next round of collection calls…)

        The only thing that made me think any less of an AP is when I got a series of “lies” that suggested it had been paid or would be on certain dates and it came across as the AP was quite happily stringing me along themselves.

      2. MK*

        The people calling the OP aren’t professional debt collectors, they are local bussinesspeople who want to be paid for their services/products. I think they are more likely to take things personaly.

        1. Dan*

          It’s not clear from the OP’s post one way or the other. Besides, many companies have an “internal collections” department. It’s unclear to me who those people really are — are they accounts receivable, are they “professional” inhouse debt collectors?

          My mom was most certainly not dealing with professional debt collectors. And if the local folks are really taking things personally, then they’ll probably stop doing business with the OP’s company.

    2. Michele*

      I was also in a similiar position at my last company. It was one of the reasons I left. I hated having to say the invoice has been submitted to accounting for payment. I will advise once payment has been processed. Knowing full well it was not going to be paid any time in the near future. So glad that I am freelancing for a large company that has no problems paying me or their bills!

    3. AVP*

      I’m the first contact for invoices needing to be paid at my company, and our cash flow is not great because it’s really hard to get paid by our clients in a timely manner. I agree that being upfront and honest is the best policy if you can swing it, and if it doesn’t impact the rest of the business. For example, if a close freelancer who I get along well with were to call and ask for their check, I can usually just say “I know this is late, and I’m so sorry, but we’re not expecting the Major Job Invoice That Funds This Project to be paid until Friday, can you hold out until then?”

      The risk is that, knowing how close you are to the edge, they won’t want to work with you in the future (or if it’s a supplier, start asking for COD terms) but honestly that risk is there anyway, and if they know you’re trying really hard and feel terrible about it you’ll get a better reputation. And respond to them right away no matter what.

      What I can’t stand, as a few people have mentioned upthread, is when people try to obfuscate and lie and disappear at key moments and ignore you when they know they owe you money – that to me is a sign of shadiness and someone that I’d rather not do business with in the future if it can be helped.

      1. Lurking Today*

        “it’s really hard to get paid by our clients in a timely manner”
        AVP, so glad you said this. I am in a similar situation and it is frustrating as well. Happy to read others feel the same way and I will be utilizing ideas posted. Thank you.

    4. weasel007*

      I bet $100 that the owner is telling the callers that the bookkeeper is the hold up. I worked as the office manager of a doctor who was so in the red it wasn’t funny. He would go through the mail before I got it and take anything that looks like a check, stamp it, and cash it before I could even see it. I had people calling for refunds and yelling at me and I had no idea a payment had come in. It turns out the doctor was having the billing company change the pay to on the form to the provider. I got out of there so fast it would make your head spin.

  2. C3P0*

    Explaining why a car is needed may cut down on the non-qualified applicants — I’ve seen job ads that use “must own a car” in the same way as “college degree (in no subject in particular) required”; not as an actual job requirement, but as a professional-sounding euphemism for “No slackers!” :-)

    1. James M*

      I’m inclined to think that no amount of explanation will suffice when applicants don’t read the requirements (or don’t take them seriously). Your job ad might as well list “awareness of the obvious” as a requirement. I wouldn’t change ordinary business practices to make allowances for a select group of unqualified applicants.

      I don’t see how “No slackers!” would translate into requiring not only a vehicle, but also insurance and a valid license.

      1. Dan*

        What’s obvious to one is not obvious to another. Some employers say “reliable transportation required” and when they say that, supposedly that’s slang for “must have car.”

        I live in a big city with half-way decent mass transit. If an employer posts a position with the requirement “car required” (or the more dubious “reliable transportation”) they’d really have to justify themselves for me to take them seriously. I mean, why do they care how I get to work? Some will specifically say that the busses are unreliable, so a car is a must.

        I’m curious how the OP knows these people don’t have a car. Does the application specifically ask for it?

        1. Ani*

          It sounds like a driver position because of the need for all three — car, insurance and current license — so the candidate might well not be able to answer several questions on the application.

        2. KatieHR*

          OP here. We require a car because one of the job responsibilities is to transport clients to the grocery store, doctor spots, etc. it states this right in the ad. So when they go to apply they have to select if they have a car.

            1. tt*

              I’m not sure of the OPs exact situation, but it sounds similar to what some of my friends/acquaintances have done. It’s often one part of a larger job in a human services related field, such as working for a residential facility of some kind, whether it’s working with the elderly, individuals with traumatic brain injury, mental health diagnoses, etc. It usually doesn’t pay very well, at least for the friends I’ve known who’ve done it (though I don’t know the exact numbers).

              1. the_scientist*

                Right, to me this sounds like it’s something like a PSW role, which in my experience is backbreaking, exhausting labour that pays the absolute minimum wage. I don’t really know what to tell the OP- there’s probably not a lot of people out there who live on minimum wage and own their own (reliable) cars*, so you may need to adjust your expectations a bit.

                *I guess this is highly dependent on where you live, but cars are hell of expensive to maintain and insure, so if you live in a place where public transit is good enough to survive without a car…..people looking for minimum wage jobs there probably don’t own cars.

                1. fposte*

                  Might be worth keeping in mind that the OP was asking about rejections, not her hiring process overall; I’m guessing from that that she’s getting the people she needs from this ad and is just figuring out what to do about the outliers.

            2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

              I have no idea what this job pays, but I’m guessing you’re not just curious. Are you setting up to make the objection that it’s not reasonable to require an expensive investment (a car) for a job that doesn’t pay well enough to cover that kind of cost? A fair point, but not the OP’s question (and probably not her prerogative).

              1. Joey*

                Well no. There are plenty of low paying jobs that require a car like pizza or other food delivery that are perfectly decent jobs. I’m just wondering if the nature of this job makes a difference in pay.

          1. Natalie*

            If it’s a requirement, can you set your system up so that “no”s can’t progress further? No point in filling out the application if you’re just going to reject them out of hand?

            1. OhNo*

              I suspect that would result in more people selecting “Yes” who actually don’t have a car. Obviously, lying like that is a dumb thing for the applicant to do, but until the hiring people find out they don’t have a car, they might waste a lot of time reading the applications or even interviewing those people.

              1. Natalie*

                If you don’t tell people ahead of time “answer yes or your app will be rejected immediately” I don’t see how this would increase the percentage of people lying over the (likely >0) percentage of people lying now.

                1. OhNo*

                  I was thinking more that they will submit that page and get the “Sorry, you do not qualify….” message, and then go back and re-apply while checking “yes”.

                  It’s something I’ve seen people do before for paid quizzes and surveys and things, so I wouldn’t be too shocked if they did it on job applications as well.

                2. Natalie*

                  I suppose a few people might do that. I wonder if the application systems can decline multiple submissions by the same email address.

            2. Joey*

              In other words you’re saying applicants need to be told we really mean it when we say these are the minimum requirements?

              1. Cat*

                To be fair to the applicants, there is a ton of job search advice out there that goes: “Don’t worry if you don’t have all the qualifications! Apply if you have 80%! You never know what is important and what isn’t to them until you apply!”

                1. LBK*

                  Yes. And a lot of times that’s actually true, within reason, because a lot of employers are really bad at writing accurate job descriptions.

                2. NoPantsFridays*

                  I’ve even seen that on some job postings themselves! Doesn’t sound like the OP is doing this, but I’ve seen “please consider applying even if you only meet 80% of the qualifications” and basically the suggestion that some of the requirements can be overlooked for the right candidate, i.e. are not dealbreakers.

              2. Natalie*

                No, just that I don’t see any purpose is a system that allows them to fill out an application if they’re just going to be rejected out of hand.

                I’ve applied for more than one job that had such a screening at the very beginning – 3 or 4 questions about things that were absolutely critical. I found it helpful, considering so many job posts are half requirements and half wishlists.

            1. KatieHR*

              Yes, we reimburse mileage and we actually pay well over the minimum wage. We just fought and got our owners to increase the starting wage of employees. Pretty proud of that.

        3. Felicia*

          I’ve seen some jobs that say car required when they’re in the part of town where the subway would be much more reliable and easier than a car, especially in terms of parking, and very few people who work in that area drive to work. Then they can’t explain the business requirement.

        4. Lisa*

          I worked on a truck route and hired office workers and drivers all the time. Drivers needed to use their own cars so reliable meant ‘works 99% of the time’. I would ask drivers when the last time their car broke down rather than if they had a car. As for office workers without cars, the bus dropped people at the end of the street about 1.5 miles down. Walking down a street with no sidewalk where 53′ trucks would barrel down wasn’t something that we were willing to somehow be liable for. So I required a car or reliable transportation. I hired people who said ‘my mom will drop me off every morning before she goes to work, can I switch to 8am instead of 9am?’. I didn’t hire people who said they have plenty of friends who often give them rides. Reliable means reliable. As in – convince me that you can show up for the hours you are assigned and not rely on others or a bad public transport system that only runs every 3 hours. If you miss your train or bus, how will you get to work? As the hiring manager, I wanted an answer that seemed plausible and said with authority. ‘I’ll take cab’ or ‘I can ask my neighbor in a pinch’.

          1. Dan*

            Since when do employers assume liability for someone’s commute to and from work? At that point, they’re not on official company business, so the company is off the hook.

          2. Natalie*

            “Walking down a street with no sidewalk where 53′ trucks would barrel down wasn’t something that we were willing to somehow be liable for. ”

            You should fire your lawyers.

        5. Relosa*

          I’ve been car-less for awhile and it sucks, because our transit is…well, it’s okay. It’s not amazing but I’m fortunate to live in an area where it’s reliable and accessible. I also recently joined car2go and it’s a huge help in pinches or when I have a TON of errands to run and don’t feel like waiting on buses or walking to a rail line. But now I know that I have the membership and there’s literally always a car near me, I know I can actually say I have reliable transportation to get to and from work if something came up.

      2. Cantina Nina*

        I actually had to go to the sites where my last opening was posted to see for myself that it was correct because I was getting so many people who were in no way qualified. It’s baffling to me that they read the job description for that job posting and then actually took the time to apply online for it. It annoyed me having all of those in my list to review as it made it harder when I would go back to the list to find the ones that I might actually want to interview.

        To be clear, the position was for an experienced specialist with a very specific skill set with some very specific software. Those applicants had only the tiniest sliver of a connection with what the requirements were. A good comparison would be that your only job had been working for 2 years in a mall kiosk selling sunglasses and then you applied for an opening as an ophthalmologist.

        Just annoying.

        1. Library Library*

          I work in a library and we have had people apply for librarian positions that require a masters degree in library science who haven’t even completed college. They usually say that they like to read.

            1. Library Library*

              Not the ones I work with. Some people like it because they like to be organized and some people like finding things for other people.

    2. Just Visiting*

      I agree. It was always extremely frustrating to read descriptions for jobs that clearly don’t require owning a car (office work), but stated it was mandatory anyway. Even something as simple as “this position occasionally requires working off-site” would have made it seem like something other than a pointless hurdle that is also borderline ableist and classist. As a non-driver, I’m not going to apply for a job hauling around packages all day, but I am going to see if I can wriggle my way into a position as a file clerk, because there is nothing about that job that requires driving (assuming you can get to the work site). Luckily I now live in a city where owning a car is not a requirement for responsible adulthood.

      1. Mimmy*

        *fist bump* this is the bane of my existence as I am also a non-driver. I could probably write a novel about some of my job search snafus related to this :(

    3. GrumpyBoss*

      I disagree, and the reason being is that there are a lot of people who just ignore what is being asked and will apply to anything, regardless of if they are qualified or not. Call it a side effect of a bad economy, but being verbose won’t stop people from applying to stuff that doesn’t fit them.

      Applicants who waste my time is my #1 pet peeve as a manager, and as such, I captured some data about 3 years ago to make sure I was not losing my mind. Every position I posted I would receive at least 100 applications online within the first couple of weeks. Nearly 80% of them didn’t meet the basic requirements of the position, and I’m not even getting into the qualifications of the actual work.

      “Local candidates only; relocation will not be offered.” – over 1/2 of all resumes I receive are from other areas of the country.
      “Minimum of a bachelor degree in ” – about 1/3 don’t have the education requirements.
      “Must be authorized to work in the US – will not sponsor work visas” – about 10% are people who check in the ATS that they do require sponsorship.

      It isn’t my job to explain why I require these things, just as it isn’t the OP’s to explain the license and the car. If it isn’t a requirement and there is flexibility, then don’t put it in the job posting. Otherwise, these applicants that willfully ignore requirements spelled out clearly deserve to be rejected with no explanation.

          1. tt*

            Having been on numerous search committees, it is unfortunately common for people to apply to jobs for which they have no remote qualifications. It can be so time consuming some times.

          2. HR Manager*

            Yes, yes, yes, yes! I have the exact same experience. I recently posted a Sr Product Manager role (for a tech product) that clearly requires previous experience and actual know-how on product management. 90% of the applications where people whose work experience were things like ‘teller’, ‘babysitter’, ‘server’. These are not bad jobs – but clearly not even remotely close to what we needed and articulated in the posting.

            1. Kyrielle*

              I work on computer aided dispatch systems. Years ago, we had one posting that mentioned “Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) knowledge a plus” – after requirements were listed, including specific programming language, a bachelor’s degree or equivalent work experience in programming, etc.

              We had *several* people apply who had _used_ Computer Aided Design (CAD) tools, and had never studied nor had a job involving programming. They saw the familiar acronym and read _nothing_ else, apparently. And we changed our posting to mention “programs for 911 dispatch centers” or just not mention the nice-to-have (but very rare among programmers – and the ones who have it generally work or have worked for us or a competitor!) extra.

              Lesson for employers: watch your keywords/takeaway on a skim.

              Lesson for job seekers: if skimming says it’s a good fit…read it. It’s not going to take that much longer.

          3. Traveler*

            I think a number of these are probably unemployed that are either required to apply to X number of jobs per week or simply desperate.

            1. ThursdaysGeek*

              I admit that when I was unemployed I sometimes applied for jobs that I was not qualified for. Unemployment required that I apply for 3 jobs a week, and many weeks I couldn’t find one I would be interested in taking, and sometimes couldn’t find even one I was reasonably qualified for. I did try to find jobs where the hiring manager would not be completely confused as to why I applied.

              My current job was found because of one of those non-qualified job applications. Someone saw the resume and where I attended college (the same as his son), and let me know that while I wasn’t qualified for the applied job, another was opening that I would be qualified for, and should he send it to that department?

      1. jag*

        ““Local candidates only; relocation will not be offered.”

        This is annoyingly written. Someone might be willing to move themselves even if you don’t offer relocation. Or they might be moving anyway but are being honest/accurate about where they live.

        1. Elysian*

          I agree – just because they’re applying from other parts of the country doesn’t mean they’ll want relocation expenses. Who cares where they’re living now as long as they’ll move nearby if they get the job?

        2. BRR*

          I agree with this. When I was job hunting last I would have paid to move myself for the right city. I do however think it is good to write that relocation will not be offered.

        3. Oryx*

          I completely agree with this, as someone who has relocated twice. Someone may be looking to move to an area but wants a job first (which makes sense, it’s scary to completely move your entire life without any job security waiting for you) and the fact that you’re not offering relocation assistance wouldn’t matter to them, but they still want to apply to jobs in that city.

          1. MaggietheCat*

            Agree! Or as someone who moved cross country for a spouses career (we were given relocation by his company) I was job searching out of state and did not need relocation help.

        4. SA*

          Seriously. Biggest pet peeve right here, as someone who is applying for jobs on the opposite coast (and wouldn’t dream of asking for relocation assistance since I’m fairly entry-level). Just say you don’t offer relocation assistance (or need people to start on short notice, or whatever else the obstacle is for long-distance candidates) and leave it at that.

        5. LBK*

          Agreed. If what you really mean is “only local candidates will not be considered; not accepting applications from candidates who would be required to relocate” then that’s what it should say. The clause after the semicolon doesn’t adequately qualifying the clause before, it just says you won’t pay for it, which is something most candidates probably assume anyway.

          Out of curiosity, what’s the reason behind only wanting local candidates? My guess is you have a short hiring turnaround that wouldn’t include time for someone to find a new place to live and move there?

        6. dawbs*

          I live in a part of the country with a tremendously awful economy.
          I’m not looking to have someone pay all my relocation costs; I’m looking for the right job–which is one I’d move for.

          Where I live is more-or-less immaterial to the job–for the right job and right pay, I can make myself ‘local’.

        7. Relosa*

          This. It’s disheartening when I go to length to make myself a viable candidate that is just as available as anyone else – save for an unannounced same-day interview (and I would then say no thanks anyway). Employers don’t know that I’ve already gotten myself ready to move or to be on short notice to get across the country if need be. I hate “local candidates only.” I seriously hate it. I want to BE a local candidate…in the city I want to move to!

        8. Dan*

          Since the obvious has been well-stated, I’ll ask the slippery slope question:

          How local is local? In some major metro areas, people can commute up to two hours each way. If I’m less than a day drive from your interview site, I can do it short notice and you may never be the wiser. If I’m offered the job, I might move closer. And if you’re willing to deal with a guy two hours away, why not six?

          So even if “local candidates only” might seem clear, it’s really not.

          1. dawbs*

            I commute 70+ miles. I know that at lest on person on the hiring committee was unsure about hiring me because of that (they thought I’d quit after 1 winter).

            I’ve been successfully making that commute for almost 10 years now–with a *very* few snow days (no more than what normal people get for sick days) and 1 trip into the ditch in there.

      2. MaryMary*

        I also take issue with your local applicants only language. If an applicant is willing to pay for her own travel during the interview process and doesn’t expect relocation, I don’t see the problem. You’re also excluding people who are in the process of moving to the area but don’t have a local address yet.

        1. Colette*

          She is excluding people in the process of moving, but there are reasons why she might want to do that. For example, you may be able to more easily arrange interviews for local candidates (after hours, perhaps) than non-local candidates, who will take time to get there in addition to the interview.

          Even if she were to hire a non-local candidate, they may want to start later to allow for moving (packing, finding a new place, getting all of their stuff to the new location, unpacking, getting utilities hooked up, etc.). And that’s without considering the number of people who move, discover the new location is not somewhere they want to live, and move again.

          Employers don’t have an obligation to look at people who live somewhere else. They may want to, especially if they are hiring for specialized skills, but it’s not required.

          1. SA*

            They’re also not required to look at people whose astrological signs they don’t like, or whose height is over 5’10”, or any other random criteria they pick – but in my opinion, it’s jerky and not smart to do so. I get that location can be more important than random factors like that, for all the reasons you stated, but why not just say something in the job ad like “Local candidates preferred; relocation assistance will not be provided and start date is [date]”? I see it as being just like salary – a major, potentially prohibiting factor that you should state upfront to avoid problems.

            1. Relosa*

              Exactly. If an applicant is excited enough about a position to apply for it long-distance, do you not think that she already knows the difficulty/risk in relocation and applying for a long-distance job? If it’s spelled out in the fashion mentioned above, that puts a clear disclaimer on it and you’re not shunning possibly great candidates. You wouldn’t tell someone local that you’re not going to provide their transportation or wardrobe for the interview, (Responsible) long-distance candidates are usually pretty aware of that too.

              1. SA*

                A wider candidate base, naturally. If the best candidate lives next door, great, and if the best candidate lives two states away but says they can start in a week, why rule them out?

                1. Colette*

                  It’s true that there could be great candidates elsewhere, so if the employer isn’t getting enough great candidates locally, it would make sense to open it up – but if they’re already getting, say, 20 solid candidates, all they’re doing is increasing the complexity of their hiring process with no discernible benefit to them.

              2. Jolie*

                If the best candidate in the pool happens to be one who isn’t local, then what’s in it for the employer is … the best possible candidate for the job! If you rule out great candidates because of their current address, you’re harming your own interests. And to say you’re doing it to save everyone trouble because of logistical difficulties the candidate *might* run into is a bit like trying to parent them, IMO – meaning, it’s not your responsibility to preemptively dodge obstacles for your candidates. Let the candidates try to dodge them. If they can’t (can’t make it to the interview at a convenient time, can’t move to your location in time for the start date), then you move on to the next best person.

                1. Colette*

                  But those are also obstacles for the employer – they will make their own hiring more complex, especially if the applicant is in a different timezone.

                  I don’t think it’s possible to know who the best possible employee will be during hiring – there could be multiple people who could be great in the role – so unless the employer has a shortage of great candidates, all they’re doing is making life difficult for themselves and chancing making an offer to a candidate who then asks for relocation assistance (even if it was clear from the front that the company wasn’t offering it).

          2. BethRA*

            Of course they’re not required to look at people who aren’t local, but it seems silly to rule them out because of logistical problems that MIGHT happen.

            Yes, they MIGHT have a hard time arranging and interview, and they MIGHT want a later start date – but so might local candidates. But you can screen for those issues by simply specifying that A,B, and C are the dates and times available for interviews, and that you would need candidates to start by D.

            1. Relosa*

              Yup, this. I applied for a long-shot position cross country, knowing full well when the closing and interview dates were – they didn’t offer relocation but did offer a pretty flexible start date range. I was very excited for it but didn’t think about it until I got a call for an interview two days after applying. I was on a flight the next week, because of the exam dates. I didn’t get the job but I was one of the primary candidates. I was the only long-distance candidate they considered.

            2. jennie*

              In my case, these aren’t just issues that might happen. I have tracked non-local candidate results and fully 50% had delays in start date due to relocation or ended up finding another job and didn’t start at all. Of those who did start, 60% remained employed less than one year which is much higher than our turnover for local candidates. I wouldn’t put “local candidates only” in the ad, but the there has to be a really compelling reason for me to consider a non-local candidate based on past issues with them. We don’t pay for relocation.

      3. Aunt Vixen*

        I don’t disagree with anything you say (except that it’s wrong for non-local people to apply when you specifically say you’re not offering relo – if I’m prepared to move to your city on my own dime, then where I live now shouldn’t be an issue for you w/r/t my candidacy). And the whole point is that yes, these people do deserve to be rejected with no explanation – but they do deserve to be rejected, rather than just left to twist in the wind. “Thanks for applying. Your application is no longer being considered. Good luck.” Simple as that.

      4. Dan*

        Since you’ve gotten plenty of feedback on the local candidates issue, I’ll ask:

        “Minimum of a bachelor degree in ..”

        Do you mean that the candidates don’t have a BS/BA at all, or that they have a four-year degree in something that they might think is transferable?

        Education requirements outside of STEM can be rather dubious.

        BTW, why can’t your ATS be set up to filter on those things, so you only see qualified applicants?

      5. Mephyle*

        It isn’t my job to explain why I require these things, just as it isn’t the OP’s to explain the license and the car.
        I don’t see it those things same way. Explaining that it’s a requirement to have a license and car is because the duties of the job involve driving is in a different category, and it would be reasonable not to keep that a mystery.

      6. SA*

        “It isn’t my job to explain why I require these things”

        Actually, I’d argue that that’s *exactly* what your job is when you’re writing a job ad. The entire point is to convey a) what the job comprises and b) what skills, experience, and other factors a candidate would need to be well-qualified and excel in the role. While I can definitely see why you’d be so frustrated by being inundated with candidates who aren’t remotely qualified, I really can’t understand why you think it’s not your job to explain these things.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I think a better way of putting it might have been “if my hiring process is working well for me and I’m able to find and hire great candidates, I don’t feel any particular need to change the ad.”

          That’s a piece that I’m seeing missing from lots of the comments on this post, and which Colette has also been pointing out: If the employer is hiring great candidates, it’s not crazy for them to continue to use ads or requirements that job seekers or uninvolved bystanders might think they should alter.

          1. SA*

            To me, that attitude makes a lot of sense when it comes to the location issue – frustrating on the candidate side of things, yes, but still a logical and fair position for the employer to take – but not when it comes to things like needing your own car to carry out job duties. To me that seems like a factor that really needs to be explicitly spelled out in the ad – “you will need your own reliable vehicle for transporting clients” or similar wording, for example – rather than just saying that you require candidates to have a vehicle but not explaining why.

    4. Carrie in Scotland*

      My friend was saying something similar, only that people were applying and then cancelling their interviews – she put it down to the jobcentre requirements to receive benefits, that they have to show evidence of applying for x amount of jobs per week or their benefit is sanctioned. Possibly might be a thought to consider with this?

    5. JC*

      I see from responses further up that this isn’t a “professional” (if that’s the word for it) desk-sitting type of job, but as a person who works in professional roles, does not own a car, but is a licensed driver, if I saw that kind of requirement in an ad looking for someone with my skills I would definitely wonder why. Is it because I would occasionally need to travel to other sites (assuming the main job site is public transit accessible), and if so, is this something I could accomplish with a rental? My job now requires occasional local travel, which I do in a rental car, with the price for a one day rental often being less than or similar to the cost of mileage reimbursement for a personal vehicle. I also have the means to buy a car, and for the right job I would consider doing so if I needed to.

      Obviously these situations don’t apply to the letter-writer, but I wanted to point out that there are valid reasons why someone without a car would still potentially be interested in a job ad that mentions needing one.

    6. ella*

      I don’t own a car (I would like to, but I don’t have the money for one right now, and I only live six miles from my work), but I’ve been known to apply for “car required” positions for the exact reason that they would pay me enough that I could get a car on pretty short notice. (I mean, I was applying for the job because it was a job that sounded interesting and challenging; I ignored the car requirement part because I knew that was a solvable problem even if they started me out at the minimum salary range.) I could get to their training center by bus and by the time the training part was over (and the car-needed part began), I would’ve had a car.

  3. Gene*

    For #4, if you are at your desk working through lunch, you have to be paid for it. That would likely push you over 8 hours and into overtime.

    1. Elysian*

      One isn’t necessarily “working through lunch” if they’re sitting at their desk. Sometimes the office culture is just to take lunch at your desk, but I’ve watched Netflix or online shopped or read AAM while I was sitting at my desk. All of those are “lunch” things and not things that should push me into overtime just because I’m doing them at my desk.

      1. Poe*

        Yup! I’m eating lunch at my desk right now. I usually go outside or to the little café in the building, but rain and special event have kept me here. Definitely not working!

      2. Korona*

        Original poster here: eating lunch at my desk is super awkward for me, even if I wasn’t a temp, because my office is in the copy room, which is sometimes convenient, but mostly awful. It’s weird to eat, and have people coming in…and then they see that I’m not working and it’s worse… So it just looks bad, like I’m slacking?

        1. Colette*

          Is there a quiet area (chairs in the lobby, local park, etc.) where you could go and read a book or just eat lunch out of the way?
          Could you eat quickly and then go for a walk?

          1. Korona*

            That’s what I normally do – there’s an area on the first floor that’s great to chill (it’s outside and on nice days, it’s really lovely) and on rainy days, there are some chairs inside. I just felt awkward leaving, when no one else does, so I wanted a few other POVS.

            1. Elysian*

              I understand why you would feel weird taking a non-working lunch in your office if its in the copy room! I agree with others – its not weird to leave. It might not be what most people in your office do, but in the world at large leaving for lunch is pretty normal. Feel free to meet up with friends, run some errands, or even just camp out at the local coffee/sandwich shop with a book and get away from your desk for a while. All these things are totally part of the lunch “norm” in a global sense.

            2. OhNo*

              My suggestion would be to try it a few times, and see if you get any raised eyebrows or comments from anybody. If not, then no problem. If you do, double-check with your manager and make sure it is okay with them. This is the kind of thing that should be totally fine, even if it goes counter to your office’s culture, so you can assume it is okay unless you get some indication otherwise.

              I don’t understand the kind of office culture where people take lunch at their desks everyday. I work in a similar environment right now, and I don’t care for it. I want to go out and do something on my lunch break, or at least get out of my little cubicle for a few minutes!

            3. Episkey*

              I worked in a small office for awhile where lunch was the same situation — most of my co-workers didn’t leave the office. We did have a small break room with a microwave, fridge, etc — but what made it worse was the business owner expected us to still answer the phones and talk to/help clients when we were on lunch. So even sitting in the break room — if we heard the phone ring, one of us would have to dash back to our desk to answer the phone.

              I hated it. In my previous job, I had almost always left the office for lunch and I enjoyed getting out of the building. I decided that even though it seemed awkward (and it was), I would just start leaving. I would get my things together and say something like, “I’m running out, be back soon!” and just leave. It was really the only way I could get an actual break since I couldn’t answer the phone if I was physically out of the office. It got better after awhile, but it was definitely weird/awkward at first.

            4. Colette*

              In my area, I’m the only one who leaves my desk at lunch, and it’s totally fine – it feels a little weird at first, but it has not been a problem.

        2. SH*

          I think most people will understand that you’re taking a little break to eat lunch and it won’t reflect poorly on you. I’d probably stay off any non-work related websites since there are people coming and going in your area though.

          1. Ethyl*

            But then she isn’t really taking her allotted lunch break. She’s working. Which she needs to not be doing as she isn’t getting paid for it.

        3. Hlyssande*

          I’ve mostly dealt with this issue by putting up a sign on my desk. I wrote “On Lunch” on some heavy cardstock we had around so it can be folded and stand up on its own.

          That really cuts down on the number of people who ask me for things and I like to think it lets them know that I’m not just slacking.

          On the other hand, I had a friend temping who was let go after someone walked by her desk while she was on lunch and reading the news, despite the fact that her supervisor knew she was on lunch and had okayed it.

          So…good luck? :(

          1. Agile Phalanges*

            That really sucks for your friend. I had a boss that was worried about optics when I would spend my lunch break online on non-work-related sites. He suggested I put up a sign that said “On Lunch” or similar–maybe that could work for the OP? That way, when people see you’re on AAM or eBay or whatever, they’ll know you’re not slacking on your normal duties. Or even get one of those little clock face signs that say “back at __:__” so they know you’re not just indefinitely “at lunch” so you can slack off, but rather on a define break and will be back on duty within X minutes.

        4. Cautionary tail*

          Be careful of that copy room. I would bet that when the building layout was designed, the copy room was created to keep the noise out of the regular working area. My wife was put in the copy room like you and due to the constant noise of the copiers and printers, she now has hearing damage. She only spent one year in that room and 25 years later she still has the problems from it.

    2. LBK*

      I don’t think that’s really the question. The OP doesn’t want to work through lunch, she just wants a non-awkward way to take her break that’s not uncomfortable for her but still in line with the culture. I’m assuming the OP’s coworkers are all salaried, so they’ve just developed a culture of taking working lunches since their hours don’t matter.

  4. Kerr*

    #4: Speaking as a regular temp, yes, it’s absolutely fine to go out of the office for lunch! Your lunch is unpaid, so your time is 100% yours. As long as you’re back on time, there’s usually no particular benefit to staying on site (unless the break room is more comfortable than going out, or other employees lunch there and you want to be social/network). Go forth and enjoy your lunches. :)

    1. Korona*

      I would love to network! But it seems like people avoid the break room like the plague, except when they get coffee, and then they go back to hiding. And unfortunately, I’m not someone who bonds with people very quickly, and I also don’t drink coffee. Working in the copy room has worked in my favor, though – people are always coming in, and asking questions!

  5. Dan*


    While you do state that you believe *every* applicant deserves a rejection, I wouldn’t worry too much, as long as your applications are brief. Follow up at the application stage just isn’t the norm, and I think that’s doubly true for the kinds of jobs where “car required” is in the job ad.

    But in my field, employers tend to want your life history (no joke, 10 year employment record at application time please, and also someone to account for your whereabouts during any employment gaps in said time frame.) Some want me to spend an hour taking “skills tests” that have nothing to do with my job.

    So yeah, if I’ve spent more than 15 minutes on my application materials, I’ve shown you that I’m somewhat serious in your company, and not just spamming you. Some feedback is nice, no matter how unqualified I am, and no matter how I plan to get to work. And for the love of god, please don’t wait 6 months to send rejections. At that point, I’ve figured it out, and you get no points for being “Captain Obvious.”

    1. GrumpyBoss*

      I just got a rejection yesterday for a position I applied to 18 months ago! Why bother at that point?

      1. KatieHR*

        Wow! That is insane. We try to contact applicants within a few days. And get a rejection email out shorty after that. 18 months is crazy. You dodged a bullet on that one.

      2. OriginalYup*

        I once got a call 12 months after I applied, asking if I was still interested in the position. They’d never responded to my original application.

        I still chuckle. Sure, I’d love to work somewhere with an email response time of 8,760 hours. You guys sound super efficient and on top of your game.

        1. Joey*

          I wonder if they hired someone that didn’t work out and instead of readvertising decided to go through their old resumes first.. That’s not so unreasonable and some would consider it efficient.

        2. Dan*

          I’ve actually gotten calls 4-6 after applying. I do push for a reason for the delay, and sometimes the answer is “we overlooked you, sorry” and other times the answer is “the quarter’s profits were bad, so we had to postpone hiring”.

          1. OriginalYup*

            Have you ever moved ahead with any after they explained, or did you just ask out of curiosity before saying thanks no thanks?

            1. Dan*

              I’ve done the phone screens, but never moved past that. The first time I was in my job for awhile, so the fact that it was 5 years into it vs 4 years into it, didn’t really matter.

              The second time, I was two months into a new job. I was actually curious about the position (one of the few left with a pension), because if it was an offer I couldn’t refuse, yeah, I’d burn the bridge at current job and go.

              But I blew the screen and didn’t progress.

  6. al fair*

    wow #1 sounds just like my old toxic workplace. luckily I just did IT but the buyer was constantly unable to order merchandise because the owner (who was doing bookkeeping herself and was completely inexperienced and consistently bad at it) hadn’t paid the bills. of course then she’d turn around and yell at the buyer because the store was out of merchandise. it was the worst.

    if I was the LW, I’d look for a new place to work. there’s nothing wrong with money being tight, but the boss is passing the emails onto the LW without direction on what to say, like it’s the bookkeeper’s job to figure that out is not a good sign in a boss.

    also if by some strange coincidence this was my old workplace? I’d run for the hills.

  7. EE*

    On not meeting basic job requirements…

    In the accountancy job market here in Sydney the ‘requirements’ that employers sometimes put up are ludicrous. Most recruitment is done through 3rd-party recruiters and the process goes like this:

    Employer: OK, we want somebody for these fairly basic job duties, and they need 4-5 years of post-qual experience in a similar role. We’re offering about 85K.
    Recruiter: Sure, I’ll put all of that in the ad.
    Fast-forward a week or two and the recruiter presents the employer with a shortlist of people who qualified as accoutant less than a year ago, explaining diplomatically that the experienced people a) would want at least 30K more and b) wouldn’t take a job so far behind their career path anyway.
    Employer eventually realizes that their ‘requirement’ was ridiculous and hires one of the people on the shortlist.

    1. AnonyMouse*

      Yep, I’ve definitely observed seemingly inflated job requirements too – such as, no, you probably don’t need 5-7 years of experience and a master’s or PhD to do data entry. I think some of it is because the job market in a lot of places means employers can basically have their pick of candidates, but sometimes they do end up needing to adjust their expectations. Either way, some candidates who seem not to meet the posted requirements may be applying anyway because their experience leads them to believe these requirements aren’t reasonable.

      And I’m not sure whether this really applies to the OP’s question or not – there are some jobs where you really do need your own car, and plenty where you wouldn’t. For instance, I’m in a major European city, and I’ve rolled my eyes at a few “driver’s license required” postings because of the extreme prevalence of public transit/trains/etc here. But I’ve also seen several where it made sense.

    2. Aunt Vixen*

      What I learn from this posting is that I have absolutely. no. concept. of the purchasing power of the Australian dollar. I learned some things when I was living in Britain about different expectations regarding the pound vs. the US dollar. A guy in my year was saying he hoped to emerge with his graduate degree, move to London, and get a sweet job making 25K GBP – which I understood from his tone was a completely unreasonable thing to expect and he was shooting for the moon. A not-unreasonable starting salary in an east-coast US city at that time was in the low-to-mid 40’s. This was about ten years ago, so I’ll bump the UK figure up by 5K and the US one by 10K for 2014 purposes, but even so, an 85K starting salary sounds like another world. (I see from today’s exchange rates that the US dollar is worth .62 GBP today – and the Australian dollar is worth .88 USD, so something else general-cost-of-living-related is going on there.)

      Sorry for the complete tangent. :-D

      1. HR Manager*

        Salaries are a whole different ball park though when dealing with international salaries. COLA certainly is a big part of that, but also local market/talent. We used to have a marketing director who earned a pretty good wage here, but for some reason was not so hard to find in Amsterdam, and so it was actually cheaper to hire someone there than in New York where he was even though cost of living was technically higher in Amsterdam. On the opposite end, entry level employees in London were almost at another 25% premium over the converted salary rate, because of COLA but also competition for this pool of employees.

      2. EE*

        It’s not a starting salary – you’ve already worked at a chartered firm for 3-4 years and then you pass your exams.

    3. Graciosa*

      This example did not impress me with the professionalism of the recruiter. Why didn’t he or she have the conversation about the mismatch of requirements and salary immediately? Waiting a couple weeks and either posting a poor set of requirements or posting market-appropriate ones which weren’t what the employer approved is not helpful.

      I want professionals to tell me the truth without wasting my time. I would have concluded that this one either didn’t know the market or was unwilling to risk a commission by telling me what I needed to know. In either case, I wouldn’t use that recruiter again.

  8. AnonyMouse*

    #4: Definitely don’t work through lunch if you don’t get paid for it. This can be an awkward situation (because normally you do want to pay attention to the office culture about lunch) but as a temp worker who won’t be paid for that time, there’s no reason for you to feel bad about going out. And for the record, I’d say the same thing if you were salaried but finding you could get your work done just as well if you took a lunch break – personally, I think people should work through lunch if they need to, but shouldn’t feel bad about taking a break if they don’t.

    #5: I wouldn’t just copy and paste from the job description, especially because it’s a position you’ve held before. As a returning applicant, they’ll probably expect you to have a more in-depth understanding of the position than just the few sentences they put online for everyone to see. In addition to covering the basics of what’s there, I’d think back to your previous time in this contract role, and try to remember if there were any qualities that really helped you succeed and aren’t explicitly mentioned in the description.

  9. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*


    Hey! We’re trying to collect money from you right now. Where’s my check???

    :) Relax, if that’s at all possible. This happens to every business. There are a (hopefully very small) percent of accounts going bad at any time, and we’re managing a handful of folks in a position such as yours at any time.

    I love Alison’s advice. I have to pay people to call you. What you can do to make things as easy as possible on them is to be as honest as you can. If you duck their phone calls, they have to call you every day. If you promise payment that you know isn’t coming, that wastes a lot of time and makes them quite miserable because they have procedures to look for the payments at a certain time and things they have to do next if it doesn’t arrive.

    Alison’s line is great because we’d pick up on the coded language and the person calling you is going to feel sorry for *you*. (Mind, we’d probably write it off to a collection agency sooner, but it’s the right thing to do on your end. We’re already going to have lost the $1000 your boss owes us. Sucking a bunch of paid employee time on top of that is more loss.)

    Best wishes for finding a business where they pay their bills shortly. This is so stressful for you and I’m sorry you are in that spot.

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      I thought of another thing, since the question you asked was about what impression you are leaving.

      99% of our business to business collection issues are paperwork. The fault is either ours (because we didn’t use the right bill to contact, for example) or more often the customer’s (because they have tortuous internal approval procedures or their accounting dept is disorganized/uncooperative).

      You will leave a good impression on the caller if your tone is organized and efficient. “Yes, I have the $1218.13 invoice from Wakeen’s dated 7/7/14 right here. And (Alison’s line). ” Not only are you making it clear to the caller that you have everything completely under control as far as you can, but you aren’t wasting people’s time with the “I never got that, can you email it to me again” ruse.

      1. Diet Coke Addict*

        Oh, yes. Please, please, please don’t give the other people the run-around with “I never got that invoice” or “When was it sent, it must have been lost” or “I know we said email was OK, but can you send a paper copy, we’ll pay that” and so on. Yes, very occasionally an invoice will get lost or misfiled or. I don’t know, fall behind your desk and get lost. But please don’t hassle people by making up a story. If you’re making up a different story every time, we can tell, and it’s doubly frustrating on both ends.

        1. Natalie*

          Similarly, if you’re a vendor as you hear a lot of “I never receive that”, check your own processes. I have a couple of vendors that are atrocious at sending me invoices (they’re emailed, so I can check) but somehow always remember to send dunning notices.

          1. Natalie*

            Oh, and if you send it September 1st, I don’t give a fig if it’s dated August 1st. I don’t have a time machine, and if I did I wouldn’t use it for something so mundane.

          2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

            Absolutely. I ended up having to blow up (figuratively, not literally) our collections process and start all over, with new staff, because the process wasn’t adequately identifying the things that were our fault, and letting us fix them.

            The previous staff were all about sighing and complaining re the awful job they had to do getting these awful people to pay. Really poor judgement.

            My favorite story: they sent the United States Army to collections.
            When we had a purchase order.
            For $11,000

            Really? That’s really what you think to do before you check to make sure that we actually followed the instructions on the purchase order so that we could get paid?

            (Hint: we hadn’t.)


            Anyway, agreed and new era does just fine.

              1. Briefly A Non-mouse*

                Speaking as somebody who spends half her time trying to get vendors to do my state’s five minute paperwork so we can pay… YES. Do the form correctly, on the first try, and we are ever so happy to pay you.

                Nothing makes me sad quite as much as bills going unpaid for more than a year, simply because nobody. Will do. My freaking. FORM. (Then they call every month and whine at me because it’s unpaid. Argh! Why are medical billing companies so awful about helping us pay?)

                1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

                  I am team You Guys on this one. We do a fair amount of business on all government levels, across the US. Sure, it’s annoying that there can be specific procedures that differ per government customer, but it’s a cost of doing business. One sure way to avoid the “hassle” if ya’ll never send me any more orders, right?

                  Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems.

                  The blow up that I did in our collections process was to staff with people who are sales and customer service friendly in mindset. There are so many moving pieces that we’re unlikely to ever get all issues solved at invoice, but if I have a friendly group of people who solve at 31 days at least, that’s a vast improvement over what was going on previously.

                2. Briefly A Non-mouse*

                  I hope it didn’t sound like I don’t believe you, Wakeen’s. I just would be such a happy camper if you could export your blow up skills to the companies I work with! That would solve many problems for me and make me happy and offer you cookies or a puppy/kitten to snuggle. Or whatever you prefer.

    2. AnonForThisOne*

      You are not alone! I work for a multi-national company and we can’t pay our bills on time! For us, it’s not lack of funds, it’s an asinine finance system that means invoices have to go across the world 8 times and then be folded into paper airplanes and expertly sailed through rings of fire in order to be paid.

      I often have vendors calling me and it sucks a lot. Honesty is usually best, “I’m so sorry, our system is horrible and your invoice is stuck in the 4th rig of fire due to a clerical error in Bangladesh. I will follow this through personally and keep you posted as it progresses.”

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        Ah, you are indeed my customer.

        Thanks for the business! And my collections staff thanks you for keeping them employed because, mostly, what their job is is to chase paper on people who actually do have money.

        Please come back again.

      2. BadPlanning*

        I imagine you hanging up the phone, sighing dramatically, then getting on a fire proof jumpsuit, clipping on some ropes and rappelling into a pit in your office to seek out Vendor’s bill.

      3. LBK*

        go across the world 8 times and then be folded into paper airplanes and expertly sailed through rings of fire in order to be paid.

        I laughed out loud at this. Super.

      4. the gold digger*

        I work for a multi-national company and we can’t pay our bills on time!

        I worked for a multi-national company that wouldn’t pay its bills on time. Payables deliberately waited 100 days to pay. I worked with a small ad agency – just two people – and the owner would call me and beg me to get payables to pay their invoice. It really angered me that my company treated the vendors this way, especially the super small businesses that live and die on cash flow.

        1. AVP*

          Ugh, and I am the person waiting to be paid by that agency…it all just compounds.

          And not to rant too much, but now that most agencies have sequential liability built into their contracts (meaning that legally, they don’t have to pay you until their bills get paid out from the client, no matter how overdue they are) the tiny companies at the bottom are not long for this world.

          1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

            We sell some nice orders to agencies. They are good clients.

            Credit. Card. Only.

            Great clients even, as long as we charge their CC.

      5. Meredith*

        I work for a state university, and it takes us an unacceptably long time to pay our contract instructors. It makes me very grouchy, because for accountability reasons our payments have to travel through several strata of approvals, where it could be stalled at any point and then kicked back to the beginning. This is exacerbated by high turnover in the already understaffed office that actually cuts the checks. These are all payments that are $3000 or less, and the time it takes to pay this stuff costs us so much more in time and energy.

      6. anon right now*

        Yes! I’ve worked for a major company that used the same paper airplane system to pay the bills. They often encouraged local branches to get products and services from small local businesses, which is a good way to build community connections. That is, until Mom & Pop Shop have to wait six months to get paid. And yet, when the company billed out for its services, it demanded payment in 90 days, or straight to the collections agency. And big companies wonder why there’s a disconnect between local branches and corporate HQ…

    3. LBK*

      I agree completely with this. My last job was 95% following up with people to make sure paperwork was being reviewed, signed and sent back. The worst people were the ones who never answered calls/emails or amazingly never received the paperwork after trying 2 email addresses, a fax number, mail, FedEx, owl, horseback courier service, etc.

      My favorite people were the ones who were very upfront about what was going on and set timelines with me – even just timelines for the next follow up if they didn’t have a good idea of when the paperwork would be completed. I would strongly recommend adding something on to Alison’s phrasing like “If you haven’t received or heard anything from me in a week, can you check back in then and I’ll let you know where we stand on that approval?”

      As Wakeen points out, the person calling you is usually just doing their job too, and they have a manager that sets expectations that they’ll follow up with you every X days until they get the payment. Setting your own timeline for those follow ups gets them off your back for a bit longer and also gives them justification to take back to whoever’s overseeing them for not hounding you every day – because that might be what they’re expected to do unless you tell them otherwise.

  10. KatieHR*

    #2 we require the car as it is part of the job. You transport clients during your shift. It states this clearly in the job posting. People just don’t read ads and blindly apply.

    1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

      I have a short paragraph that I cut and paste into a reply email in these situations. I do add ” Dear (first name)” at the beginning. I can do about 20 replies in 5 minutes. Perhaps they don’t deserve the courtesy of a reply if they didn’t read the ad, but some of these folks will eventually follow up, and those contacts are more time consuming for me than. If I interviewed or phone screened someone, I send something with a tiny bit of customization. Also, depending on your line of work, these applicants might be current or future customers or clients, so a tiny courtesy might be a worthwhile effort in the name of PR.

      1. Mike C.*

        Two words: mail merge. You could do several thousand replies in five minutes, and go get coffee while it happens. :D

    2. soitgoes*

      I think part of the miscommunication has to do with the seemingly “understood” fact that employees will be using their own cars to drive clients around. I haven’t come up though any kind of human services/social work program, nor do I have any experience in that field, and that simply would not occur to me. It actually skeeves me out a bit to think about having strangers in my own personal car. Is there a way you could really hammer that point home? Because if your application says something like “Employees drive clients to appointments and take them on errands,” my assumption is that there’s a company car or van for that purpose. My thoughts even extend to the IS THIS LEGAL line of absurdity, due to the ongoing expense of car insurance and gas costs that employees might be expected to pay themselves.

      1. fposte*

        I don’t think it’s miscommunication, though; I think sometimes people just zip past details, and that you’ll almost always get some responses like that when you post a job ad. The ad apparently says applicants will need a car and relevant papers because the job involves driving people around, and if you prioritize making that absolutely unmissable by saying it in all caps or repeatedly, that’s going to legitimately alarm people who got the point and were reasonable candidates. The goal isn’t to write an ad that ensures nobody anywhere misses key details; the goal is to write an ad that gets you the employees you need.

        1. soitgoes*

          I still think it makes sense to clarify that people will be using THEIR OWN CARS to drive clients. “Must have own car” and “Applicants will be driving clients” do not necessarily correlate. Adding a line like “Must have own car, as employees use their own cars to drive clients” would solve a lot of these issues, especially if the OP is advertising the job in a way that reaches people who are unfamiliar with industry norms. Until this very post, I had no clue that human service workers essentially volunteered their own cars for work. I would have shown up for that job in my car and expected to find a company car or van waiting for me.

          1. fposte*

            She says it states this clearly, and especially given her specifics I’m inclined to take her at her word. I think people are tarring her with the brush of bad postings they’ve seen, when there’s really no indication this is a bad posting. Getting unqualified outliers doesn’t mean you’ve been unclear; it’s endemic to posting jobs, period.

            I think you’re trying to solve a different problem than the OP is.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Thanks for saying this! It’s been interesting to watch the responses to this letter — people are really growly about all sorts of issues that the OP isn’t asking about and which we have no indications that she’s handling anything other than perfectly. I think people are reacting to crappy ads or job set-ups they’ve seen in the past, but nothing in the OP’s letter indicates that stuff should be pinned on her.

              1. KatieHR*

                It’s very funny to me that I run into people who don’t read my ad’s that clearly state why a car in needed and what it is for. And when I ask a question here, that is clearly started, and people react all over the place and you can tell that they haven’t read the original question. It just makes me wonder if people need to slow down these days and actually read before reacting.

          2. Oryx*

            You said you aren’t familiar with the field of social services, so it stands to reason that you would have no reason to know that sort of information. I have friends who are social workers or work in that field and this is a pretty standard part of many positions. Like fposte said, overemphasizing this point may cause perfectly qualified candidates to give a bit of a side-eye. I’m sure there are things in every field that are taken for granted by those that work in the field but people not familiar with it would find weird or non-traditional or whatever.

            1. soitgoes*

              It depends on where the job ads are being posted. It would seem that the listing is attracting a bunch of people who are as unfamiliar with this norm as I am. If this organization has a habit of hiring people who don’t have social work degrees (I know of a few local orgs who allow people with teaching degrees to apply for social work positions), it makes sense to clarify this point. Logical or not, it’s become a problem that these ads are attracting people from far outside the field who are not aware of the reason behind this requirement.

              1. fposte*

                But the OP hasn’t identified this as a problem. That’s been a commenter refocus from the OP’s original question.

                I also don’t think we know if the applications are not aware of the reason behind this requirement–being aware of the reason doesn’t necessarily stop people from thinking they can get around it or compensate for it, or from skipping that part of the application. That’s just how applications are.

                I think we’re probably pretty fixed on our different points here, so I’ll let it drop now.

              2. Oryx*

                I’ll second everything that fposte said and add that in a world of meta-search engines like Indeed which pull job ads from all over the web, it’s not really quite fair to say that if an organization is having an ongoing problem like this then it clearly must originate in where they are posting their ads.

                I’ve searched specific keywords and some of the results that come back aren’t really relevant so I don’t apply, but not everyone is me and they may apply anyway without fully reading the ad or because they have to apply for a certain amount of jobs each week for benefits, etc. Outliers like this happen with every job application that gets posted, regardless of where it gets posted, because just because it’s only posted on X and Y sites doesn’t mean it’s only going to be seen on X and Y

            2. Case of the Mondays*

              Exactly. If you are in the field you know you use your own car. And yes, it can be sketchy. Particularly when a rival gang is looking for your client and now following your car. Thank God that career was in a past life.

          3. Bea W*

            Exactly. Some agencies provide cars for this. Some don’t. It’s not always clear in the ad. A sampling of my experience.

            Back in the day, when I was young and trouble, state case workers always had a state car. If one wasn’t available they didn’t drive.
            When I worked with clients in group homes run by a private company, each home had its own van. We never drove clients in our own cars.
            The home health aids and hospice workers who worked with my mother drove her around in their own cars.
            My sister, who works in another state and for the county, does have to drive her own car.

            Some of those applications may also be coming from people on unemployment who are just required to apply for jobs to keep their checks. So they don’t care if they meet the requirements, especially if there are no new jobs they can apply for where they do meet the requirements. They just need to show they’ve applied for jobs.

            Then there are the ones that just don’t pay attention or think they can be the exception to the rule. There are always the people who think the rules don’t apply to them.

      2. SouthernBelle*

        Rest assured, it is completely legal and is a completely normal part of many human services positions. It’s truly no different than being a food delivery driver or a courier, instead of in this instance, you’re not transporting food or packages, you’re transporting people. And while reimbursement for mileage is included in some positions, there are many others where it’s not, and all of that is communicated to employees when they accept the position.

      3. littlemoose*

        Re is it legal: yes, it’s probably legal, unless there’s some specific state law about it, which I doubt. If the employee and/or client were injured in an accident, or if the employer’s car was damaged in an accident while driving to a client’s house, the employer probably would be liable for the damages, because they occurred in the scope and course of employment (Google respondeat superior if you feel like killing some time). The employee is acting as an agent of the employer while driving clients around. (YMMV, this is not legal advice, consult your attorney for specific questions, etc.)

  11. Rebecca*

    #1 – As someone who called customers and pressed them to pay past due invoices, I can assure you that I would know this isn’t your fault specifically. The small business owner is responsible for paying the bills, and making sure the funds are there to pay the bills. You are the bookkeeper. I would start looking for another position, though, because if the owner is in the habit of not paying, the store’s credit standing with its vendors is in the toilet. They’ll start asking for cash in advance or credit card payment, because obviously your owner can’t adhere to standard payment terms. Even if they’ve place orders up front with vendors, we’ll take merchandise from their orders if a paying customer wants it. Less merchandise on the floor = less sales = less money to pay the bills, and it’s just a death spiral after that.

    One situation comes to mind – I had been after a customer to pay invoices that were 4 months past due. I’d call, ask politely about payment status, make sure invoice copies had been received, etc. This went on for weeks. One day I asked to speak directly with the owner. Bookkeeper replied “Oh, I’m sorry, they’re on vacation in Greece and won’t return for 3 weeks”. Sent the account to collection right then and there. My feeling was if you have enough money to vacation in Greece for a month or more, you can pay a few thousand in outstanding invoices.

    1. Cheesecake*

      If OP worked in a big company and contacted by a representative of another big company then i agree – it would be perfectly clear that both are just doing the job and have no accountability on availability of cash. Now, as OP works in a small retail store i doubt their suppliers have collections department of 50 people, thus they tend to blame OP, because, well s/he is a part of this. So agree with Alison: this can affect future business with these local vendors. OP should take it very seriously.

      1. Rebecca*

        I truly believe if this is a small area, the other potential employers know this shop doesn’t pay its bills. I doubt they would blame the OP specifically. If the owner does this with his or her business, it probably spills into their personal life as well. I do think the OP needs to find another job ASAP before there is no money to pay him or her.

  12. MaryMary*

    OP4, many years ago I had a temp job where an hour long lunch was written into the staffing agreement. I would have much rather taken a half hour lunch and either started later or left early, but it was not permitted. The company actually encouraged me to leave the building for lunch, so there was no confusion as to whether I was “working” during my lunch break.

    1. Korona*

      How weird! Luckily, my hours are pretty flexible, and it seems like I can come and go whenever I want. I came in an hour earlier today, just so I could hog the printer without anyone complaining, and I’ll probably keep doing that until this project is done.

    2. some1*

      Ugh, I had a forced hour-long lunch hour at a previous job and we all hated it. Especially because the office was located in a downtown area and the company didn’t pay for parking, so most people took public transportation. The public transportation in my area is decent, but it definitely adds time to the commute.

    3. Bea W*

      We have a state law that mandates a 30 min break. However, some people don’t take it and many employers don’t police it. I only had one employer who said anything, and I suspect it was because they’d been sued for various infractions. The woman overseeing payroll had sketchy practices.

    4. soitgoes*

      The only jobs I had that required long lunches were at businesses that were deliberately keeping us under 35 hours.

      1. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

        When I was a receptionist, I’d have to take an hour lunch. Business hours were 8:00 to 5:00 every day, and I had to cover the phones for that time, which meant an hour lunch, no exceptions. I was very relieved when I moved off the front desk and could start taking half hour lunches and leaving half an hour early if I wanted to.

  13. Bea W*

    Everyone I work with eats at their desks, for the same reason you don’t want to. They are hourly temps and don’t get paid for time not worked. It’s a bit lonely, but doesn’t stop me from taking a real break. I find that if I try to work and eat I just work while my lunch get cold or stale. Not eating is not good for me so I avoid eating lunch at my desk as much as possible. I have decided to frame this in my mind as a personal health issue, because it really is. That helps to assuage the weirdness. The weirdness is all in my head. My co-workers don’t care. They’d eat through working less if they were regular employees. Sometime I can convince them to take a real break.

  14. soitgoes*

    For #2, I wonder if the job ads are clear about what the job even is. Is a car really required for the job (and is the company covering gas costs?) or is the office just in an area with no public transportation? I’ve worked $9/hr retail jobs that required we all have cars as a way of making sure that we could get there on time. They had trouble finding decent applicants because $9/hr isn’t enough to sustain a car payment plus insurance. If you require cars that are not essential to the work at hand, try doing the math and seeing if the pay lines up with local car insurance and the average payment for a new-ish car, plus other life expenses.

    That said, if this is a sales job and you’re using a lot of fluff language to keep people from reading the ad and figuring that out, that’s a whole other issue.

  15. Felicia*

    I had a similar issue to #5, except my boss told everyone doing the student contracts they had to reapply for their jobs using the application system. The interview was so weird too…I had been doing the exact same job for a year, and she gave me a fairly good annual review, and yet she said during the interview that i couldn’t mention doing the actual job adn could only talk about other experience. So when she asked me how I dealt with x situation, I had in fact dealt with x situation doing the exact same job that I was interviewing for, and I started to explain that to her the time I had done the exact thing in that exact job. She stopped me and said she wanted to hear about different experience. That really upset me, especially when I was rejected with a form letter after I’d been there a year.

    1. Graciosa*

      If it’s any comfort, this was a really weird experience and your former boss was a very bad manager.

      Best wishes –

  16. hayling*

    If your company isn’t able to pay its vendors, start looking for another job now. It won’t be long before your paycheck bounces.

    1. Agile Phalanges*

      This isn’t necessarily true–the OP (and anyone in this situation) needs to suss out the individual situation. I currently work for a TINY company, and due to delays in insurance payouts (we paid the bills to our vendors, insurance isn’t reimbursing us timely), we’re a little behind in our payables. We were rather behind when I first started, and we’re catching up slowly. I CAN be a bad sign, but needs to be taken in context.

      And I think in most cases, the people on the other end of the transaction (AR at the vendor) don’t blame the messenger. Most people will know it’s not the bookkeeper’s personal fault that the bills aren’t being paid on time–it’s due to approvals and/or cash flow, neither of which the bookkeeper (or AP in a bigger company) have any control over. The OP should do what s/he can to smooth things over, using the means discussed in this thread, but I wouldn’t quit JUST over this issue, nor would I worry too much about it affecting the OP’s personal reputation.

      If there are other red flags, or their payables have been behind for forever, or they’ve ever missed payroll, then yes, get out!

  17. INTP*

    #2: I’m going to dissent and say that it’s not an obligation and likely doesn’t even make business sense. Maybe things vary by industry and region, but my experience (tech industry, private sector, highly desirable West coast city) was that at least 90% of applicants were not remotely qualified. Either they were in entirely different industries, out of the country (not like just across the border, but across the world, and the hiring process would have to involve a trans-oceanic relocation and initializing a work visa), or grossly over/under qualified (like for a midlevel position where we’d consider anything from 5-15 years experience, we’d have Director-level people as well as current students with no work experience). Once I got a resume from a girl in Florida whose objective was to be a model for our software engineer position in California.

    In an ideal situation, you have an ATS that can generate an automatic email when you remove someone from the candidate list, but sometimes the ATS won’t do that or it’s a smaller company that has no ATS. And if someone is local and in the industry, it’s good to send a nice rejection because A) word-of-mouth and B) they might have referrals who are a better fit. But the people who are sending out resumes all over the world and to positions they aren’t remotely a fit for are applying to too many companies to keep track, let alone bad mouth the ones they don’t hear back from. At my old employer with no ATS, if I had to send a rejection email to every grossly irrelevant application I received, as a busy salaried employee, that would have me going home 15 minutes later than necessary every night with no payoff to myself or my employer, just so people who probably forgot they applied to us can get a rejection email. And this was a tiny company with pretty specialized positions. I can only imagine if we had to hire for, say, an admin assistant or one of those kinds of positions that everyone who’s ever had a desk job seems to think they’re qualified for.

    1. soitgoes*

      I think people responded to the actual email instead of reading through the whole comments section to see if the OP clarified first. Most of us have responded to “must have own car” job postings, only to find out that the employer was using that as a way of weeding out candidates who were below middle class or horribly, candidates who weren’t white or had “undesirable” family/living situations. It’s also a way of weeding out people who’ve had DUIs and whatnot without having to run a full background check. That’s a very different scenario than “The employees use their cars to cart people around,” and I would argue that the phrasing of the original email directed Alison and the commenters to answer an entirely different question than the one that was actually being asked. Most of us don’t scan 100+ comment sections for clarifications from OPs before responding.

      I would argue that if the OP is posting in places like Craigslist, she needs to be more clear and specific if she wants to solve this problem (and I agree with you that it’s not her problem to solve, except that she did write in and ask for help solving it). I’ve applied for jobs via Craigslist and gotten rejected after interviewing….and then inadvertently re-applied to the same company’s vague ad a month later when it was reposted. Being specific might not weed out the people who apply for jobs despite being unqualified, but it would weed out people who recognize the ad and prevent them from applying for the second or third time. Companies that post vague ads on public forums inevitably get hit with the same resumes over and over because they never bother identifying themselves or making the job duties clear.

      1. fposte*

        But she *didn’t* ask for help in reducing the unqualified applications. She asked if she needed to write them rejections.

          1. soitgoes*

            My thinking (and I assume others’ thinking) was along the lines of “I’ve dealt with this seemingly arbitrary requirement in the past, so if you’re going to send out rejection emails stating this as the reason for rejection, it should be stated that it’s a legit reason for pulling someone out of the running.” Which obviously spins out into general conversation about this requirement and the ways it’s used to eliminate candidates.

            TBH, it’s not a big huge problem, but we’ve seen it happen a lot where someone writes in with a vaguely-worded question, doesn’t like the answers that are being shot out, and then steps into the comments section to make the necessary qualifications. Based on the initial email, I don’t think it’s wholly wrong that the commenters began talking about the broader job hunting problem of needing a car to apply for office or retail jobs. This discussion would have gone in an entirely different direction had the OP specified that she was hiring for social work jobs.

            1. Oryx*

              I think you’re confusing someone who responded to #2’s question and the person who actually asked the question.

        1. Dan*

          One thing you learn in consulting is that sometimes (er most of the time) the problems that people *say* they have, are in fact, not the problems they *do* have. If I were to really parse words, I’d note that the OP opens with “I believe everybody deserves a rejection.” So why does she continue to ask a question that she’s already answered?

          When you want really specific tailored advice, you hire a consultant and draft a statement of work. If they give you something you don’t want and didn’t ask for, you don’t have to pay.

          1. soitgoes*

            I agree. A lot of times, “How can I solve this problem?” really means, “How can I eliminate this problem so it no longer needs to be solved?” This is especially true in job scenarios. Plus, it occasionally happens that an OP really is out the one in the wrong, or at the very least is in need of perspective from people on the outside. AAM commenters are used to looking for the cracks in any question. In any case, wouldn’t the OP like to know if there’s a fundamental problem with her hiring process? I’m not saying that’s what’s going on here, but sometimes I feel like it’s irresponsible to not offer solutions to bigger problems, or to refrain from sharing similar experiences. The OP wanted to know how to formally reject applicants for not owning cars, with the implied insult toward (or at least frustration with) applicants who knowingly do not meet that requirement. In my opinion, it’s curious that this seems to be an ongoing problem (are applications accepted at any time? Is there constant turnover?) and that soooooo many applicants do not have insured cars….and that THAT is the clincher for her. Do these social work applicants have all of the requisite educational requirements while also not owning cars? It’s rare to find someone with a social work-ready pedigree who doesn’t own a car. Maybe the solution is to make the other requirements more stringent so that the car issue becomes moot, because the recurring theme here is that we’re all so used to having employers needlessly require car ownership that none of us take that requirement at face value.

            1. Elsajeni*

              I’m not sure where you’re getting the idea that these positions have a lot of educational requirements — it seems equally likely to me that they could be home health aide or CNA-type positions. Anyway, even if they do require lots of education, it could be that the lack of a car is just the first and most obvious thing that rules out a lot of applicants, and that, if you dug into their applications further, you’d find that a lot of them didn’t have the requisite educational background either.

              1. soitgoes*

                That’s exactly what I’m saying though – the car thing is obviously a contentious issue and invites feedback. Why bring up that one when it’s likely that the applicants might not be certified either? The car thing seems arguable until you know the specifics of the job. “You do not have the proper degrees or certifications” is more cut-and-dry.

            2. Ask a Manager* Post author

              That’s a good explanation, and that makes sense to me. That said, some of the comments have felt like attempted gotcha’s — like “do you pay mileage?” which is hardly relevant to the query.

    2. AVP*

      FWIW, I wrote it an asked Alison that exact question a few years ago – I didn’t have an ATS and I was like, what is the point of this? She rightly pointed out that it would take maybe 20 minutes, and I realized on my own that sending emails to everyone in a rote copy/paste way was a lot faster than picking and choosing who does and doesn’t get one. It didn’t take more than half an hour, and I got a lot of good responses from people who were rally pleased and surprised to have been formally rejected instead of left hanging. Good experience, would do again!

      1. INTP*

        In my case I wasn’t spending any time thinking about who deserved a rejection email. I was clicking through the vast majority of resumes/applications within 3-5 seconds. If a resume was relevant enough to invite a detailed reading, but there was some small dealbreaker after I did, then I’d sometimes send an email to say that the position requires [detail of skill set or experience] but I’d love to give them a call if a different position opened up, and do they know anyone who might have that experience? In my situation, it made more sense to spend time on the people who were local, in-industry, and could help us with referrals or word-of-mouth or even be a candidate for a different position than to spend time copying and pasting generic rejection emails to 50 people who live on different continents or work in entirely different industries. But I do understand that this varies by situation and especially with non-technical positions, separating the relevant from the irrelevant my be less cut and dry.

  18. Malissa*

    #1. Alison has given you the perfect line. It says that you are sympathetic to them wanting to be paid, but it really is out of your control. Also realize this is the first of what will probably be many times in your career that you’ll work with a company that can’t always pay it’s bill’s on time. And if your lucky it will be because there’s no money. That’s at least easier to explain. Everybody understands a tight cash flow. Nobody understands an missing boss who just won’t sign off on the bills.

    Talk with the owners about opening a business line of credit with their bank. Very few retail operations can survive with-out one. If you work out the numbers you can actually put the cost of the late fees in black and white in front of the owner with a comparison of the interest on a line of credit. 9 times out of 10, it’s cheaper to have the line of credit.

  19. Lore*

    It’s also fair, for #2, I think, to set up an auto-response to all submissions that says “Thank you for applying for X position. We look forward to reviewing your application. Should your background align with the qualifications of this position, we will contact you directly.” It lets people know what to expect, and I think absolves you of the need for any further contact with the completely unqualified.

  20. The _artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    #2 – yes, definitely, categorically – DO send a courteous rejection. It can’t hurt. NOT doing so could come back to haunt your company. Someone – a rejected candidate – may someday be in the position to do business with your company – and might remember that you did not give him/her the courtesy of a reply.

    1. Colette*

      If someone refused to do business with companies who didn’t reply to an application they applied for but did not qualify for, they’re going to be limited to mostly doing business with companies they have never applied for. And if they were making that decision on behalf of their employer, they wouldn’t be very good at their job.

      I agree the company should reply, but I don’t think not doing so will have any practical effect on the company.

  21. JoAnna*

    #2 – My husband is currently job-searching, and it’d be a pleasant change of pace if he got a rejection after sending in an application (obviously, a call for an interview would be even better, but YKWIM). 99% of the time he sends in an application and then hears nothing back, ever – even for jobs for which he is perfectly qualified or even overqualified. And yes, as others have said above, he needs to submit a minimum of four applications per week to keep his unemployment benefits coming, so sometimes he will apply for something for which he is not qualified just to have those four contacts.

  22. Courtney*

    #1 – if you’re responding to their calls/e-mails in a timely manner, i sincerely doubt they suspect that the reason they’re not getting paid is because you’re inept at your job. i’m not a bookkeeper, but i was close friends with the bookkeeper at my previous place of employment and that situation was almost exactly like what you’re describing here. we were a small business, owned by a boss who kept putting off payments. this type of thing isn’t unique – while i’m not excusing it, vendors should understand that small businesses typically struggle in these types of economic climates and that prompt payment isn’t always possible.

  23. Lamington*

    For plantar fasciitis take those strechy gym bands so you can stretch your feets before and after. They virtually take no space.

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