should I resign without notice since I’m making so many mistakes, how far out can I push my start date, and more

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

1. Should I resign without notice since I’m making so many mistakes?

I’ve recently started my first full-time job and have been working there for approximately three months. Two months in, my responsibilities piled up (disperate and having little real relation to my education in accountancy) and I started making mistakes. These continued to snowball, presumably because of the malaise that kicked in because of the stress and frustration. It has gotten to the point where I now associate work with failure and embarrassment.

My immediate supervisors have not caught onto these mistakes (or only have a small inkling), and I was hoping to resign (without notice) to prempt the awkward termination talk and the conniption fit my boss will have. I’m sure the company is better off without me. The only reason I’m even considering this is the short term of employment and already murky conditions of my departure would preclude me getting any positive recommendations from this place of employ even under ideal conditions. In this case, would resigning without notice be the ideal choice? Or at least, not as damaging to the company in most situations?

Don’t resign without notice. That will make a bad situation worse. You might think you won’t be using them as a reference anyway, but you never know when someone from there will pop up somewhere else you’d like to work in the future. Moreover, it’s just not a mature, professional thing to do.

Talk to your boss, explain the situation, say that you think you should resign if you’re really set on that, and offer two weeks of notice.

2. My company says managers can’t be Facebook friends with employees

Can a company tell you who you can and cannot be friends with on Facebook? My company recently adopted a policy that states that a supervisor cannot be friends on Facebook with someone who is not in a supervisory position. I was recently promoted and was told I would have to de-friend all of my former coworkers. Some of these people I have been friends with for years. Some are people I happen to work with – but have been friends with for years outside of work – long before I began working for this company. As long as I am not posting about work, do they have a right to interfere with social networking? As a side note, there is no policy regarding going out socially with people who are on different levels within the company and you are allowed to be connected through LinkedIn.

It’s legal.

A small number states, including New York and California, explicitly ban employers from mucking about in your private, lawful off-the-clock activities. But companies are absolutely allowed to make rules regarding relationships between managers and employees, and often have good reason to do so (bias, appearance of bias, conflict of interest, sexual harassment, and all sort of other complications that can arise from blurred boundaries between managers and employees).

While it feels like an annoying overreach when your company could instead hire managers who it trusted to use good judgment, it’s actually wouldn’t be a terrible thing to de-Facebook people you’re now going to be managing. You don’t need to see their bar photos from the night before they called in sick, hear them vent about work, or otherwise be exposed to the myriad ways Facebook can make this dynamic weird.

3. Hiring someone who doesn’t meet all the posted requirements

I just started a graduate program, and while my career services office seems well-intentioned, there have been a few situations where they’ve spread misinformation, like saying that asking about age or marital status is illegal (obviously ill-advised to ask, and discrimination is illegal, but they stated that asking at all was illegal). Recently my advisor told me that hiring someone who didn’t have a PhD was illegal if the job was advertised as requiring a PhD. This doesn’t sound right, and I can’t get a definitive answer on the internet. What say you?

No, that’s not illegal. There’s no law that binds you to the qualifications you list in a job ad. (It would be ridiculous if there were such a law — employers adjust job requirements on the fly all the time as they talk to candidates, the needs of the role evolve, and/or they find someone who’s great in ways slightly different from what they anticipated when writing the ad, and it would be craziness if they were prevented from doing that.)

I suspect the source of your advisor’s misinformation is this: If an employer appears to have a pattern of discriminating against candidates based on race, sex, religion, etc., and you’re able to show that they regularly lowered the job requirements for Race X but not for Race Y, you could potentially use that as part of your pattern of evidence. But outside of that context, there’s nothing at all wrong with hiring someone who doesn’t meet all the job posting’s requirements, and there’s certainly no law whatsoever against it.

At what point do we get to revoke college faculty and staff’s right to talk about career stuff, since they so often get it wrong?

4. How far out can I push the start date for my new job?

If I am moving across country for a job, how long can I ask the new employer for in time before starting? I know the typical timeline is two weeks but I’m wondering if it’s reasonable to ask for more time if I’m moving from Chicago to San Francisco, for example.

Sure. The amount of time they’ll give you will be vary by employer, the role, and how urgently they need someone to start, but it’s not uncommon or unreasonable to ask to set a start date for a month out. If they can’t do that, they’ll tell you — but it’s totally reasonable to ask.

5. Should I call to see what’s up with this job?

Last Wednesday, I had a second interview (in person) for a position. It followed a telephone interview a week earlier and went really well.

When I inquired about the timeline for a decision during the second interview, I was told that they would know by the end of the following week because they want the position to start during the week of September 8. I sent thank you notes (by mail) to both managers on Friday and haven’t yet received word back.

I would think that they would have told me earlier than Thursday or Friday of the week before, if they expected me to start next week. I also realize that one or both managers could have taken a few days off for Labor Day. Should I call today or tomorrow?

No. If they want to hire you, they’re not going to forget to tell you.

Hiring timelines are notorious for being pushed back from whatever they’re originally envisioned as. Wait two full weeks from your interview before following up (and then do it by email, not phone; phone is a bigger interruption). Other than that, put it out of your mind, or even pretend you didn’t get it and move on; you will be happier that way.

{ 346 comments… read them below }

  1. Dan*


    “You might think you won’t be using them as a reference anyway”

    AAM, Gonna split some hairs here. There’s references of the “name three people who can vouch for your employment skills” sort which you voluntarily furnish. There’s your resume, which one would leave this job off of, and then there’s references of the “list all employers you’ve worked for in the last X years, your manager’s name, and contact info” variety courtesy of the almighty ATS. You could forget to put this down hoping nobody would find out, but it’s a three-month head start on explaining gaps in your resume, which you probably don’t want.


    If you do run into former coworkers at future jobs, and somehow word gets around that you “forgot” to list this place, you could possibly get fired for falsifying those materials.

    At the same time, if you do list this company, you’ll be left explaining why you left your job after three months with nothing lined up. This is a proverbial “red flag” for hiring managers.

    You may be in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t position.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      You left out the fourth category of references, which is the one I had in mind with the second part of that sentence — the reference that you don’t expect and might not even know you’re getting (which can be the most important, when it comes into play). I’m talking about situations where the person screening resumes at the company you’re applying to in two years used to work at the company you quit without notice … or the hiring manager is close to someone at your old company and remembers them complaining about you after you quit without notice … or all the other many ways unprofessional behavior can come back to haunt you, even if you don’t include a particular job on your resume.

      1. Artemesia*

        Exactly. And admitting the job was a terrible fit for your skills while a red flag is not as bad as lying and being caught. Recognizing and owning up to the bad fit might even ‘work’ for some hiring managers when applying for an entirely different position.

        I can’t imagine leaving without notice in any situation short of personal danger (or of course serious personal crisis which would not be viewed as ‘quitting without notice’ in most cases.) Admitting you don’t have the skills may get you permission to leave immediately but just walking off is a terrible idea. And if it is possible to succeed with more training, then having this conversation will also facilitate that. (I realize that ship may have sailed for you because you can’t bear tackling this.)

    2. KarenT*

      I would normally agree about the gap but this is the OPs first job. Leaving this job off won’t raise the same red flags as it will look like she just hasn’t found a post graduation job yet.
      But there’s a real danger of your past following you in ways you don’t expect. If the OP stays in the same industry in the same city, she could easily run into any of her coworkers at another job.

      1. Traveler*

        Yeah. I agree – this employment gap shouldn’t raise a red flag. I don’t know many people that come out of their BA/BS with anything but the job they had in school, if that. It’s pretty common to be unemployed for a period of time after graduation. I also had a 3 month job I quit after college, and I’ve never listed it (but it wasn’t in my field and as the name implies I move around a lot so chances of hauntings are slim).

        Definitely don’t quit without notice OP. It’s gonna be painful to work out those two weeks, especially if they learn about your mistakes in the process, but it’s a part of the learning process with jobs.

      2. Observer*

        I agree that the gap itself is not that much of an issue. But I also agree with the idea that walking out might create all sorts of problems, if someone knows about it. It’s one thing if you have a great work history and this is one anomaly. Here, all you have is the stereotypical “spoiled gen y college who is a product of all the coddling these kids get” who just walked off the minute he (or she) hit a snag, without even giving the manager the courtesy of two weeks notice.

        I put my description in quotes because it should be obvious that it’s an unfair generalization. But, it’s a generalization that has a lot of currency. Walking out without notice will go a long way to convince a prospective employer who doesn’t know you that it applies to you.

        1. TrainerGirl*

          So true. I used to work as a trainer for a help desk for a very large corporation, and we staffed some part-time positions with college students. Most were professional and did their best, but we would sometimes have agents who would quit with no notice. They thought that because they’d been hired as contractors, it was no big deal. What they didn’t understand is that their profiles would be marked “ineligible for rehire” and they would never be able to work for the company in the future. That may not matter when you’re in college, but if 5-10 years down the road, you find a great job that you can’t apply for because you skipped our on a job in college? Those actions can definitely come back to haunt you.

    3. LBK*

      Huh? Who is going to fire someone for not listing a job on their resume? People do that all the time…no one needs to know about the 2 weeks I spent temping at my uncle’s company in high school. I don’t even list it on those “all inclusive” job history requests. I think you have an odd perception of the importance of hiring documents, unless you’re applying to work for the FBI or something.

      1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

        There definitely are applications that tell you that you must account for all time for the past X years, and you sign it to attest that you have not falsified anything or left anything out. On those sorts of applications (which I think are silly, but they absolutely exist), not listing a job is certainly a fireable offense. It happens.

        1. cuppa*

          I actually know someone who was fired for doing this. They were not good at their job, quit in the middle of the night, and went to another state. They left that job off their resume and found a new job in their new state. Somehow or another, the new job found out that the job was never mentioned, contacted my employer, who told them everything, and they were fired.
          They were at my employer for almost a year, so it wasn’t like a short stint in high school ten years ago. But it can happen, especially if it’s in your current field.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Just to clarify, no one expects you to list every job you’ve ever had on your resume. It’s when you leave it off an application that specifically tells you to list every job you’ve had for the X years (which is common in background checks) that it can become an issue.

            1. cuppa*

              I was actually going to ask you about this — thanks for the clarification! Although, could it sometimes be an issue if it’s not on a resume but appears on an application (for places that require both)? I would see that as a red flag.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                I was just answering this for someone last night! It’s not a red flag. It’s normal to leave things off that don’t strenghten your candidacy. You probably won’t even be asked about it (because the hiring manager — who is different from the person conducting a background check, usually — probably won’t cross reference it with your resume), but if you are asked about it, you can explain, “Oh, it was such a short job that I didn’t think it was relevant to my resume.” (Or whatever the reason was.)

                You weren’t being deceitful in not including it, just making a totally reasonable decision that it wasn’t a relevant part of your qualifications.

                1. Manager Anonymous*

                  OP letter one.
                  Everyone made mistakes.
                  The hiring manager made mistakes.
                  The employee made mistakes.
                  And this is where maturity and future good will can happen.
                  Employee “Can we talk? I really screwed this up. I know that I was supposed to do X and Y then not only did I do Z and A, I realized that I totally have no idea how to fix it and should have brought this to your attention 2 and 1/2 months ago.I’ve piled mistake on mistake and multiplied by neglect and anxiety. I am pretty sure that I am not a good fit for this job given my background and work style. I would like to resign but before I do is there anything I can do to fix this situation?”

                  Employer- goes ballistic , screams “your fired!” and has you escorted out of the building.
                  Same result only you walk out with your head held high.
                  Employer- Shakes head sadly, say oh lets see here. Yep, this is going to take many man-hours to untangle. I am not going to spend my or other’s time retraining (training) you. I accept your resignation.
                  Same result- okay references
                  Employer- Its not as bad as you think. Lets sit down and get some perspective. I can immediately see where you went wrong. In the future even though I look too busy to interrupt, lets set up times where you can feel comfortable updating me on your progress.

  2. response*

    Re interview questions

    Age and marital status are considered illegal except when it the question relates to the duties of the job.

    A change from PhD to no PhD does raise a big red flag . It is not illegal per se.

      1. response*

        I linked to a Findlaw article, but your moderation system blocked it. This Is a practical point about how the law would be applied. In application, there is almost no practical circumstances for why the question would be asked in screening applicants that wouldn’t be illegal as to the purpose for asking. The only circumstances that have passed muster is that it is critical to the performance of the job.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          If it’s being used to discriminate, yes, that’s illegal. But the question itself is not. Many interviewees get disconcerted when their interviewer ask these types of questions in an attempt to make small talk, thinking their interviewer has just broken the law — but it’s not the case, and it’s important to people to know that.

            1. Melissa*

              In my case, I went on an interview and the interviewer asked me if I was married. I was wary, but I answered that I was. The interviewer asked me because she was really interested in recruiting me to come to this position and she wanted to offer some advice and help for getting my husband a job and/or into a suitable graduate program in the area, given that it’s a small college town. The immediate follow-up questions were about what my husband did for a living.

              I mean, I’m not naive enough to think that’s always or even usually the case, but sometimes this question really isn’t being used to discriminate.

              1. Natalie*

                Of course, a much better approach for the hiring manager would be the lead with “If you have a trailing spouse or partner we have blah blah blah resources.”

              2. Jake*

                My current employer did that.

                They asked what my wife does (rn) and then used the fact that there were a lot of hospitals in the area as a main recruitment point.

                There are many times when these questions are completely innocent.

              3. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Interviewer: “Sorry about being a few minutes late, I had to take a call from my kids school. Do you have kids? It’s constant emergencies!”

                Interviewer: “You have such an unusual last name. Your husband isn’t Bob Snarkleboxboots, is he?”

                It can come up in lots of the ways it comes in a social situations. People are human and they talk like humans, not like guarded litigators.

            2. Jamie*

              The question itself is evidence. Why ask it an adjudicating body might ask?

              It’s not evidence in and of itself isn’t proof of using it to vet a candidate – especially the married/kids thing because that’s such common small talk so it could easily come up without caring about the answer.

              I don’t ask anything that even strays into this territory – even if they ask me if I have kids I just answer and don’t follow up with “do you?”

              It’s a bad idea to ask, but it doesn’t mean it was an issue for them.

              1. Mabel*

                I would appreciate it if interviewers didn’t get into personal stuff, but that’s because I’m gay, and I’m already nervous going into an interview, and it makes me more nervous, having to think about how to answer “conversational” questions when I’d rather be thinking about job-related things. And wondering if I’ll make the interviewer uncomfortable or be discriminated against (legally or not) if I mention a partner with female pronouns. I don’t generally have a problem coming out to just about anyone, but in an interview situation, it just adds another thing to worry about. I know this is my problem – I’m not advocating for interviewers to do anything different – just giving my feelings about these kinds of questions.

                1. Sarahnova*

                  Good point, although again, in most US jurisdictions, that’s a point of good practice rather than law, since LGBT+ is not specifically a protected class.

            3. Chinook*

              I too have been asked if I was married and it was because my resume showed jobs in three provinces in a span of a couple of years. The interviewer joked I was either married to a military spouse or on the run from the law! He also pointed out that I should put the reason for my moving so much in my cover letter otherwise my resume really does look weird and suspicious (he had hired trailing spouses before, so he recognized the communities I worked in as a sign but not everyone would).

              I followed his advice and may have precluded me from some interviews but I don’t think I would have wanted to work in those places if it was a mitigating factor. The places that have hired me, though, have never used the information against me and DH’s job doesn’t come up again until I have to use it as the reason for giving notice.

            4. Observer*

              You are right – which is why smart interviewers don’t ask. But that’s different from saying it’s illegal to ask.

              In practice, most of the time it really makes no difference, but sometimes it does.

              Say I walk into an interview for a job that requires three years of chocolate teapot making, at least on year specializing in Belgian milk chocolate. Interviewer makes small talk about family, in the process asking about my family status, etc. Then he finds out that I’ve never been near a chocolate, teapot or chocolate teapot factory in my life, and don’t even mess with chocolate teapots as a hobby. Forget about specialties. But, “I’m a fast learner”. They won’t hire me and the EEOC and any competent lawyer would laugh me out of their offices in seconds.

              On the other hand, if I happen to have decades of experience with all levels of chocolate teapot making, and have spent time with many varieties of specialty chocolates, including Belgian dark chocolate, and Swiss milk chocolate, but no Belgian milk chocolate – and “I’m a fast learner” with skills that translate within this domain, the results are going to be very different if they don’t hire me. There could still be valid reasons, but any adjudicating body will ask that questions, as you note.

          1. Joey*

            Well actual discrimination isn’t that clear. If I hire someone who is young and unqualified and say a current qualified long time employee gets passed over and he files a claim the burden is on me to prove I didn’t discriminate based on age. And hiring someone young who I defined as unqualified over an old qualified person isn’t an easy hurdle to overcome.

            1. Broke Philosopher*

              How on Earth can you prove a negative? If the person who didn’t get hired had a lot more evidence, then you would need to show evidence to the contrary (or show why the evidence they have is not compelling), but just because someone alleges discrimination, doesn’t put the onus on the person they’re accusing to prove that they’re not.

              1. jag*

                If you’d hired a very experienced person for another job that demonstrates that you’re not using age to discriminate.

                Where I work we just passed over hiring a person who was gay for someone whose sexuality we don’t know, but odds are is straight. If we were sued or threatened with a lawsuit about by the gay person saying that contributed to his not being hired, we’ve got strong evidence that we don’t use sexuality to discriminate: some staff at all levels who are gay.

          2. AB Normal*

            Here is an example that help explain why the question itself is not illegal:

            Suppose you ask all your applicants their marital status. Every single one of them answer they are single. You hire one for the job. How on earth would any other candidate be able to claim that they were discriminated against based on the question about marital status?

            1. LBK*

              Or even a less improbably example than that…maybe someone is just making conversation because they’re a human and they’d like to get to know the other human they’re potentially considering working with, which could lead to them spending years of their lives together.

              It’s so weird that a question that would be completely normal in any other conversation at any other time throws people into a litigious frenzy when it’s done in an interview.

              1. Joey*

                Its natural though. People fill in the gaps when they don’t know the answer. And plenty of people want to believe they should have been hired.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  In this case, though, part of the reason it throws them into a frenzy is sometimes because they’ve incorrectly heard that the mere act of asking the question is illegal.

              2. Sarahnova*

                Well, an interview is a high-stakes testing situation. It’s not the same as casual party conversation. Also, discrimination is real. Yes, people sometimes get thrown into a frenzy unnecessarily, but it’s not really all that weird that people react differently to being asked this in an interview vs. while chatting over the tomatoes in a supermarket.

            2. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

              yes. I once accidentally asked a candidate how old her kids were. I had just asked about a gap on her resume, and she said that she was a stay-at-home mom. I said- “oh – that’s great. How old are your kids?” – out of friendliness and curiosity – an effort to get to know her. It wasn’t the wisest question to ask, but I didn’t break the law with this chatty question either (I did apologize). I didn’t hire her, but I did end up hiring someone else it turned out had kids about the same age, so it would have been pretty hard for her to make an argument that I used her answer to discriminate.

          3. De Minimis*

            I was asked about my age once…it was probably inappropriate, but I went along with it.

            It was a while ago so I don’t remember the exact question, but I believe he asked my age, and then asked if I would have a problem working with and reporting to people who were considerably younger. He also pointed out the example of a classmate of mine who was in my age group who had gone there and done well.

            That market tends to hire traditional age grads almost exclusively, so if someone moves up they are usually around 24-25 when they start supervising the work of others. I was 35 at the time of the interview.

            Of course…I was still under 40, so maybe it was technically okay? Had I been over 40 maybe he would have asked something else instead….

            1. attornaut*

              Yeah, there are no (US federal) protections against age discrimination when the discriminated party is under 40. So maybe the question is inappropriate, but it doesn’t suggest any illegal motivations.

        2. AcademicAnon*

          It can be a legit question. Hiring faculty for example, if the spouse if also looking for a position that factors into the offer. Even if the spouse is not looking for a faculty job most universities provide relocation assistance.

        3. Employment Litigator*

          AAM’s analysis is correct.

          The questions themselves are NOT prima facie evidence that there is illegal intent behind them. Employment is an area of law that is HIGHLY fact specific and variable from state to state. A single fact pattern could have wildly differing outcomes depending on the applicable state law. There is no one way “the law” applies when analyzing an employment matter. To suggest that there is ignores an entire body of law that is both fascinating and nuanced.

          In its attempt to make legal concepts more accessible, FindLaw often oversimplifies or leaves room for people to jump to incorrect or only half-true conclusions. Its articles should not be considered gospel.

          1. AVP*

            I see it as being the WebMD of the legal field. If you click on enough links, it will tell you that you have cancer (or that you should definitely sue).

            1. Employment Litigator*

              Exactly. A good Plaintiff’s attorney should be rejecting 90% of inquiries because the vast majority of what people believe to be illegal/wrong/actionable just isn’t.

      2. GrumpyBoss*

        I used to have a manager who would ask. I never knew if it was legal or not, but once I understood his reasoning, it was clear that the issue wasn’t sinister at all. He simply wanted to ascertain if someone was open to discussing certain aspects of their personal life. He liked knowing the names of his employees spouses, children, hobbies, etc. He was a big “work is an extended family” guy. When we had someone on the team who didn’t like to make small talk about his personal life, there were some cultural fit issues. So he was simply looking to avoid repeating that situation. To my knowledge, he never was reprimanded or even challenged for asking the questions.

        1. en pointe*

          Ugh. We interview college students for internships periodically. We have one manager who, if she doesn’t meet a female applicant when they’re here, always asks afterward, “Is she pretty?” Just the female applicants. She doesn’t seem to care if the guys are handsome.

          I think it’s just meant as a throwaway question and not to influence the actual hiring or anything – so no nefarious purposes; she’s just weirdly focused on beauty. I realise it’s not a protected class in the US or my country’s equivalent anyway, but it still makes me pretty uncomfortable.

          1. Eliza Jane*

            Oh, gross, gross, gross. I don’t want to trigger a derailing argument, so I’m not going to go into more detail, but that’s gross on so many fronts.

          2. TheSnarkyB*

            In the US, this would be used in evidence in a sex discrimination case. So it is related to a protected class.

              1. Eliza Jane*

                Yeah, I would say that if they assess female candidates in part based on looks and not male candidates, that’s pretty obvious sex discrimination. And (although I said above I wasn’t going to go deep into this) whether she intends it or not, just by asking the question she’s priming people to evaluate the candidates by appearance. Not only does this make them think the less attractive women are weaker candidates, just being asked to assess a female’s appearance may make people think less of her competence and intelligence.

            1. en pointe*

              Good point, but this manager doesn’t actually make the final hiring decision; my boss does. She is our longest serving employee though, and my boss does discuss most hiring decisions with her. That said, I really think she just doesn’t get why it’s not okay to ask. Like, she’s probably never thought it through properly.

              She is just weirdly preoccupied with other people’s looks in general – she sometimes talks about the fact that her daughter is a model, even though the girl quit modelling like seven years ago, which makes me feel bad for her daughter. And she’s also the same woman who told me in like my third week at this job, when I stopped by the office in a hoodie from my school, that “a girl like you shouldn’t advertise where she goes to school”. WT actual F? Who even says that? If she was a bloke, I might have been mildly freaking out. She also has, on more than one occasion, felt the need to point out that I had a pimple on my face, like she’s being helpful or something. Like I totally hadn’t already noticed… She is a kind person with a good heart though; she just has… quirks. But no malice behind them.

              1. JB*

                She can’t be *that* kind if she never thinks about something from another person’s point of view–like maybe people don’t want their flaws pointed out to them. To me it seems like YOU are the kind person, giving her the benefit of the doubt. :)

              2. Joey*

                Hmm, I wonder how she defines pretty as it relates to race, color, weight, visible disability, disfigurement, etc.

                1. en pointe*

                  I can’t answer that one definitively, but I think the answer would be… problematic. She once said during a group morning tea that the reason this fashion blogger we were talking about was doing so well was because there “aren’t that many pretty or stylish Aboriginal girls”. Like just with no acknowledgement at all that that statement might be a teensy bit racist… I was like, “Really? How many Aboriginal girls do you even know? Because I know plenty who are both those things.”

                  As I said, I think she just really doesn’t think through the things she says and what they really mean, and where they’re really coming from. Like, that’s what I mean by her having a good heart, even though she says horrible things, because I’m almost certain she’s not saying them intentionally with malice, but rather with ignorance. Still reprehensible, but she doesn’t have malice in her heart.

            1. en pointe*

              Ha, no need – she is married to a very rich man. Like CEO Asia Pacific of an international company rich. Wouldn’t it be nice.

                1. en pointe*

                  Oh good point, but I don’t think that’s it in this case because I think she actually wants people to be pretty. With the pointing out flaws thing, she like compliment sandwiches me. She’ll tell me I’m beautiful and then be like “but you have a pimple right here”, and touch her face. (Hmm, that’s not a compliment sandwich because it’s only half the bread, but I don’t know what the right term is.) And she told me that a girl like me should be careful about wearing school stuff because it advertises to people where I go to school. Like, hello creepy. She’s just really weird.

        2. Joey*

          That’s shady. That’s so ripe for biased decisions or at least the appearance of biased decisions. Pregnancy, children, motherhood roles, untraditional marriages, religion, etc. I wouldn’t ever want people to think those things matter to me.

        3. tt*

          I wonder if that’s an accurate reflection of how someone would actually be on the job? I discuss these types of subjects with my co-workers all the time, but would not normally share information about my husband and family the first time I met someone, at least not in a business setting. Especially in the case of an interview, where I don’t even know if I’ll ever see the person again.

          1. Kelly L.*

            Yes! I got asked about my marital status once in an interview, and though the whole interview was pretty congenial, as soon as that question was asked, my antennae were up and I was wondering what the guy was driving at. Was he just making conversation? Worried I’d take maternity leave or quit entirely because of a baby (I’m a woman of childbearing age)? Wanting to suss out if I was “living in sin” or if I was gay? There are so many possible motives for bringing it up in an interview, some of them nefarious, that I was pretty on edge after it came up. Once I’m hired, while I’m fairly reticent about my personal life, I will at least tell people a few basics to make conversation. :)

            (I’m reticent, in part, because of a past experience where co-workers got waaaay too invested in the relationship I was having at the time, asking some really inappropriate questions and constantly speculating that one or the other of us was cheating if they saw us around town with various friends. But that place had boundary issues in so many ways.)

            1. Elizabeth West*

              I was asked the same thing once–and the children question too. Ugh. I wouldn’t have taken the job anyway, since it was minimum wage and six days a week (I have commitments on Saturdays). But that definitely left a bad taste in my mouth.

  3. Eric*

    Re #1, I feel like there are some underlying issues in the letter that aren’t addressed in the answer (nor asked about). OP is 3 months in to their first full-time job (i.e. brand new to the work force). The mistakes being made haven’t reached the level where management has brought them up as a major issue. It sounds like OP hasn’t even addressed their concerns with their manager to figure out if these mistakes are a big deal, or how to avoid making them in the future. Based on what’s in the letter, it seems a big leap to conclude that they should be resigning at all at this point, irrespective of whether or not notice is given.

    1. Jillociraptor*

      Completely agree. As a manager I’d want my employee to come to me with this concern long before even considering resignation! The op could be way overestimating the severity of the mistakes, or could be right that they’re really concerning, but unless the manager seems to be otherwise unreasonable, I would definitely tell them. At the very least, if you messed up big time you look a lot better by saying so proactively and at least offering to make it right rather than just bailing.

      1. Monodon monoceros*

        I totally agree. OP, why not try to talk to your manager about this? Maybe the mistakes aren’t that bad, or you talk to her and she realises there’s something easy she can do to help you out (more training, take a few things off your plate until you are more comfortable with the main duties, etc)

        If you are at the point of wanting to bail, and might leave this off your resume if you do, you might as well have the talk. Yes it could be awkward. But this is your first job. Even if it doesn’t work out, you may learn something that will help you in your next job.

        1. AnonyMouse*

          Yes, definitely in the camp that these mistakes may not be as bad as you’re making them out to be. When I’ve approached bosses/supervisors about how I could improve as a young employee in an entry-level position, I’ve typically found that they’re pretty open to giving you advice on how things should be done – they hired you for your first full-time job, so they probably expect to have to show you the ropes a little!

          1. Jessa*

            Plus honestly if you’re in accounting and you know there are errors, you really should get them corrected or tell someone. Errors multiply down the line, who knows what people are using that stuff for. Someone beyond you on another team may end up with issues later. If you do choose to resign, you kind of owe a duty to get those errors fixed first.

            1. cuppa*

              Completely agree. Even if it did end up with a resignation, I would feel much more charitable (and so would your coworkers) if the issues were owned up to and there was an attempt or offer to fix them rather than just a flat out resignation (and maybe you were planning this anyway, I got a hint of it in your letter).
              This could also be a big opportunity for a learning experience. It actually could end well, even though you may not see it this way right now. Either way, good luck, OP.

          2. Poe*

            I’m in an entry level job in accounts payable, and in my first month I made 2 mistakes that I thought were devastating. I found them and fixed them, but my manager definitely knew. Going into my 3 month probation review I was convinced that I was due to be fired or at least ripped to shreds. Turns out my version of “devastating” was different. Yes, they were unfortunate mistakes, but I did deal with them, and when I confessed to my manager I was terrified that I was unable to do the job properly, he told me about how he made one of the same mistakes THREE YEARS into the position, and how it was someone else who found it. I felt so, so much better, learned how to improve my workflow to avoid making the same mistakes again, and my manager (who is new to managing) now deals with mistakes by his staff better by addressing whether they are OMG or not in a more timely fashion so nobody else freaks out.

            1. Tax Nerd*

              Everyone in accounting makes mistakes their first year. That’s why there is almost always a second level of review. Heck, I’ve been doing this for double-digit years, and I still make mistakes occasionally. (Hopefully not too often.) Yesterday I caught mistakes of my boss’s boss.

              Until you know the company’s processes and procedures, you’re still in learning mode, and you’re expected to be in learning mode for a while. If they hired you with the expectation of absolute perfection from the outset, they should be paying you a very large sum that would preclude you from thinking of resigning.

              I tell all new hires and interns that I work with that they will spend their first few months feeling like they have a TON(NE) to learn, but in 6-12 months, they will feel like an accounting rock star. They’ve all conceded that that’s exactly what happens.

              Talk to your manager, and say that you’re concerned about mistakes you’re making. If they are any good, they will reassure, and/or be reminded that you probably need some hands-on training/guidance.

              1. Natalie*

                We had a lease once go through multiple reviewers (an admin [me], the property manager, my boss the area director, our RVP, our broker, an in-house attorney, the outside attorney who wrote the lease, the tenant, the tenant’s broker, and the tenant’s attorney) and no one noticed that a series of dates was repeated, instead of stepping up by one year each. We had to draft a whole new document to correct “scriveners errors”. (I love lawyers sometimes.)

    2. West Coast Reader*

      I agree that the OP should ask about her performance. At my first eight-month co-op, I thought I wasn’t doing well for the first two months. I was doing alright, but was still worried that I wasn’t up to snuff and might be let go. It wasn’t until my mid-term evaluation that I found out that from my co-op coordinator that my manager was very pleased with me. What a relief that was!

      1. AVP*

        I had the same experience when I started working. My manager was a nitpicker (which was definitely her prerogative as I needed nitpicking sometimes!) and I would make small mistakes on a daily basis. One day it was so bad I took myself out for a drink alone after work because I was convinced I was going to be let go. A month later, I go promoted and she told me how happy she was to have found me – it turns out she wasn’t looking for someone to come in and do everything perfectly, but someone she could mold and who would be willing to learn and do things her way. So you never know…

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Throwing in my two cents here, OP. Please talk to your boss. Please. I have a job in a field that is new to me. My boss is super-amazing about handling my mistakes. She realizes that an employee needs to be able to report their own errors. There’s no lectures, she skips right to problem solving mode. I correct the error, vow not to make THAT mistake again and life goes on.
      Three months is close to no time on the job. I would expect it to be at least a year to learn some jobs.
      Give the boss a chance. Not all bosses react poorly. It sounds like you have too much of a workload for a newbie, not enough training in how the company likes things handled, no informal mentor and it almost sounds like you have no formal mentor, either. There are just so many things wrong with this picture that have very little to do with your abilities. I would add, of course, you are upset. It’s too much for any one person to handle. Most people would be upset like you are at this point.
      Do what Alison says to do. And do not be surprised if they try to help you to stay on. It could be that the boss asks you for examples of what is going on. And it could be the boss says, “Oh, every new employee makes those mistakes, here’s how we fix them.”

      At the six month mark in my job I was just starting to feel like I had a handle on some of the basics. I walked in one day and the wheels fell off. “I will never learn this job,” I thought. In talking to my peers and my boss, I learned that is the nature of our work. One never feels that they are mastering the work. The six month mark seems to be the point where people decide, “I will just get used to knowing that I will never fully know my job”. And that is when the REAL learning starts.

      1. Ruffingit*

        Completely agreed. I’m not quite three months into my new gig and while I have learned quite a few things, there are still things I don’t get at all. I’ve had little to no training and a ton of work piled on so at this point it’s just about getting things done, trying my best to keep my head above water and trying to minimize mistakes. I’m going to make them, I’ve accepted that. Helps if you do that so you’re not too hard on yourself. I would not quit a job three months in just because I was making some mistakes on the regular. That is to be expected at this point really.

    4. BRR*

      Three months into a job is pretty new and especially if it’s your first full-time job you might be overthinking this. New job jitters are normal.

      1. en pointe*

        Yeah, agreed. As it’s her first job, she also may not have much to compare it to. (Even if she’s done internships, they very likely wouldn’t be to the level of this full time job in terms of workload and expectations.)

        OP, if it’s your first full-time job they’re probably expecting you to be making mistakes at first, and the situation may not be as dire as you think it is. It feels like you’re skipping steps by jumping straight to considering resigning. Make the next step talking to your manager. Good luck!

        1. BRR*

          It sounds like the OP is just a little overwhelmed. This happened to me when I started, so much new information. I feel new employees should get a day or two off just to mentally regroup instead of waiting to take vacation.

    5. The Other Dawn*

      This is what I came here to say. OP needs to sit down with her manager and explain what’s going on. I wouldn’t want an employee to suffer in silence like this.

    6. MR*

      My first job out of school required a minimum of six months to have a handle on what I was doing. It may be a similar situation here.

      It also seems as though you may have some unreasonable high expectations about your performance. After all, if you were doing things that were so bad, your manager would have let you know at this point.

      So calm down. Don’t quit. Talk with your manager about what is going on from your perspective. If you don’t let your manager know you have a problem, then they can’t help you.

    7. Anonanom*

      As someone who has moments of severe impostor syndrome, that was my first thought on this email too. Maybe it’s a terrible fit, or maybe you just have very high expectations of yourself and aren’t allowing yourself time to learn the new aspects of the position. Be honest about the things you don’t know, talk to your supervisor about your concerns, get the mistakes fixed. If your supervisor reacts badly, then you work out the exit plan.

      To tie to the dating metaphor, don’t preemptively breakup with someone over an argument that has only happened in your head.

      1. Kai*

        Great metaphor!

        I’m one of those people who always thinks I’m going to get fired every time my boss asks to speak with me (even though I get glowing reviews and have no logical reason to think I’m going to be let go). So I completely get the anxiety and the impostor syndrome stuff. OP, do what you need to do–but it sounds like you’re jumping the gun by thinking about resigning. If your manager is at all reasonable, she’d rather work with you and fix the problem than have you leave over mistakes that management seemingly doesn’t even know or care much about.

    8. Anonicorn*

      +100! I’m jumping on to the “talk to your manager” bandwagon too. It’s entirely possible that OP’s manager can offer more training and guidance.

    9. CTO*

      Agreed. If I had an employee who was unhappy, struggling, and planning to resign, I’d feel blindsided and upset if they just gave notice without my having any clue that there was a problem. OP, the way you’re feeling is very, very normal when starting a new job (especially your first one out of college). That doesn’t mean you’re a failure. Read some of the posts here on impostor syndrome and see if they ring true for you. Bring your struggles to your boss, mentor, or someone else at work that you have a good relationship with. If you have an Employee Assistance Program at work that could also be a helpful route to some neutral coaching and advice.

      It could be that this really is the wrong job for you, and your gut is telling you that. But it also could be that you’re just having a very normal tough adjustment to the workforce and the same problems will follow you everywhere if you don’t learn to deal with them. If, after seeking some advice and support, you still know that this just isn’t the right job, you can start looking for something else. But give proper notice when you leave.

      1. Ethyl*

        Second talking to EAP. It sounds like LW1 is really anxious and panicky about this situation and needs some outside perspective. Plus, having a person to practice having these conversations with could help too! LW1, it’s almost certainly not as bad as you think. Bailing with no notice is a MUCH worse idea and will cause so much more discomfort and problems in the long term than the short-term discomfort of being honest with your manager.

    10. HarperC*

      Yep, I totally agree and hope the OP is reading this. Also, I would guess the OP was an excellent student and isn’t used to making mistakes, so even small ones on the job seem like a huge deal. Maybe they are, but I am suspecting perhaps they are not. Making mistakes when you are new to a job is part of the process. Please, talk to your manager. Tell him/her what you feel is going on and get their feedback. You may be surprised!

    11. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      Absolutely. Accounting errors need to be brought to light… it sounds like OP is skating by based on the fact that his/her errors have not been discovered.

      Being kinda crappy at your first job out of school, but owning your errors, working with your manager on them, and being willing to leave if it’s just not a great fit? Fine. You might not keep your job, but at least your manager can say good things about your character and ethics.

      Peacing out of a job where you stayed for three months, completely wrecked the books, *and* they’re still discovering the damage you did months, perhaps years, later? They’re gonna be spending many times the person-hours finding and fixing those mistakes as they spent on you to make them. I would almost certainly never hire you. There is so little you could do in the subsequent years to make up for that.

      1. ella*

        I wouldn’t assume that the OP is making accounting errors, since they say in the letter that they’re getting a lot of disparate responsibilities that have little to do with OP’s education in accounting. I know nothing about the world of accounting, but I’d also hope that a company wouldn’t give a newbie fresh out of college so much unsupervised access to the books that they could do terrible damage without anyone noticing. But yeah, specifics aside, OP needs to talk to their boss (or somebody) and start to work on rectifying mistakes instead of running away from them.

        1. ella*

          Just read further down and apparently she is, but she also hasn’t been trained on the systems and isn’t being supervised and just…yeah.

    12. ella*

      Also agree. I’m probably reading too much of myself into the letter, but as a person who did well in school, and was really comfortable there, and was used to succeeding, when I first got into the job market I was not only unprepared for how hard it would be, but was also unprepared for feeling like I was bad at it. And it’s really easy to go from “I am struggling” to “I have failed” when you’re mostly only talking to yourself inside your head, and you’re in a new situation, and have very little perspective.

      Talk to your boss, OP. They want to help you. And even if they do have the conniption fit that you fear, that will tell you more about your boss and the climate in your workplace and will help you inform your decision about leaving. But don’t quit without notice. Part of being an adult is learning to take responsibility, and learning to fix mistakes (instead of quitting), or at least to give notice (if you have to quit) is a pretty fundamental part of that. You’ll have a way easier time learning that now than later.

    13. Jamie*

      Totally agree with Eric. The letter reads as if the mistakes didn’t start until 2 months in, and she’s only been there 3 months. A month of mistakes isn’t ideal, but if they aren’t to the level where they’ve been noticed yet the OP might be pulling the trigger on a job when all she needs to do is have a candid conversation with the boss about what happened, how she plans on fixing it (and if she needs help with that, ask for advice on best plan to fix it and be super engaged about doing so), and what things she has in place to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

      I can think of some mistakes that if hidden for a month would be a bfd, but not many…and even fewer that an entry level employee would have the access to make.

      If the mistakes were actually shortcuts or sloppiness that resulted in non-compliance of mandated regulations…much bigger deal. But I don’t consider those “mistakes.”

    14. Chinook*

      OP #1, this is defintiely a time to ask for help. I had a brand new high school English teacher once. Within a month of him being there, a my classmates and I realized he had no clue how to create a lesson plan and no long range goals. We weren’t so concerned for us as we were for the students in his next semester whom he would be preparing for diploma exams. (It was a small school and we truly did know everyon there). It was decided as a class that I should be the one to ask him if he knew what he was doing (because I was mouthy) and, when I did, he paused and said no. He then gave me the English curriculum guide and asked if I could figure it out and I replied that it wasn’t my job to do it but it was his. This must have made him reconsider how bad he was if even the students expressed concerned and then found the most experienced English teacher at the other school (because he was the only one in ours) and she mentored him for the rest of the year and he ended up becoming the most amazing teacher my sister ever had.

      I got to see the other side of this scenario when that mentor teacher became my practicum supervisor 5 years later (it is a small town). She related the story from her perspective about how you truly need to admit when you have no clue and ask for help and be willing to learn and cited him as an example. She laughed outloud when I told her that I was the student who spoke up and she said that I was right – he really had no clue what he was doing because he hand’t been taught correctly by his professors.

      Long story short – swallow your pride, admit your mistakes to someone you can trust who can mentor you and you may go farther than those who never saw the cost of doing something poorly.

    15. Mephyle*

      OP, you may still be thinking in ‘school mode’ where it’s up to you alone to prove yourself and not ‘get a failing grade.’ But the workplace is different – in your situation, your first step should be to go to your manager and get help – training and/or support in the areas you might be underperforming, or assurance that you are doing ok in spite of what if feels like. Unlike school, it’s not ‘cheating’ if you get help. And the end goal isn’t to prove yourself and ‘pass the course’, it’s to get the work done.

  4. Callie30*

    #2 – While it’s legal (and understandable in many situations), this really sounds ridiculous, especially if a friendship pre-empted a workplace relationship. Can people maintain a separate profile for personal only (maybe even with an altered name that’s restricted viewing for friends only)? – I know many who have 2 FB profiles – 1 business and 1 strictly personal. I’m not a serious FB person, but I know that’s how many communicate with their friends and family. In my area of work (wildlife), we are all friends with our colleagues and people we manage because we share our wildlife stories and photos, so this type of restriction is new to me.

    Can you speak with your supervisors and see if they can make an exception – for those people you’ve known before you started working with them? You’d think there could be some waiver used for exceptions, if their worried about legal implications and liability. With a waiver, the company is no longer facing liability. IE – you can tell them you respect the rule for most, but have been friends with Jane and Tom for 10 years, before working together, etc?

    Question – Are they also trying to regulate tagging (say if you tag a friend that you are physically out with that you’re not friends with on FB and not supposed to be), associating and communicating with each other in FB groups, etc? This seems like a policy with many loopholes unless they really covered their bases in the social media policy – that may actually be worth a very thorough read, based on what the OP said above.

    1. Beth*

      I guess I can understand not being friends with the people I directly supervise – but I can no longer be friends with anyone throughout the company (in different buildings throughout the city) that is either on a higher or lower level than me. They made no exception to a friend who I have known for over 20 years. The only exception they made (begrudgingly) is to relatives that work within the company. There are a wide range of people that work throughout the company. I don’t know for sure – but I think they are trying to make sure there are no inappropriate relationships between managers and people they supervise. However, forbidding friendship on Facebook does not prevent people from going out together, getting drunk together or sleeping together. It limits one small aspect of their private lives. I, like you, share stories and interests with my coworkers. They are like my extended family. With how busy life is – it’s much easier to catch up, read posts and look at pictures online than it is to find time to get together. I like your idea about maintaining a work profile. I’m going to suggest it and see what happens….

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        That sounds more like how totalitarian regimes try to quash dissent by preventing people from assembling or meeting. Geez. Half of my company are my friends on one form of social media or another.

    2. majigail*

      As someone who made a similar move from peer to boss, I can tell you that policy or not, de-friending those who report to you will make your life better. You don’t want to know that your admin is playing Farmville at 2:30 when she’s supposed to be generating the TPS report you needed 20 minutes ago but still don’t have. You don’t want to know when another employee is frustrated with the other and jokingly mentions to a friend that they have a voodoo doll with their name on it. You don’t want to know just how much they hate the political candidate you support by reading the “funny” poems they post about him. You don’t want to see their possibly racist posts about an inflammatory situation in your community.
      Seeing all of these things led me to quietly unfriend my subordinates on Facebook. I’m still LinkedIn with some and I’m not personally very active on other social media, but I can’t imagine Twitter following or Instagram would be good either. Pinterest might be ok…
      I wasn’t so much worried about what I posted (because I’m perfect, right?), but the perceptions that were forming in my head about them regarding what they posted and the fact that since much of it (except the day time Farmville) had nothing to do with their work.

      1. Gina*

        You don’t want to know just how much they hate the political candidate you support by reading the “funny” poems they post about him. You don’t want to see their possibly racist posts about an inflammatory situation in your community.

        This is actually why I don’t use social media at all. If someone I knew posted any of that, I could never really feel the same about them. Sure, maybe it’s better to know, but I’m very introverted and have enough trouble making friends without coming to hate the ones I have made.

        1. en pointe*

          Ugh, I’m pretty guilty of the political one. But the people running my country right now are a special brand of idiots. Like a special, special brand. A few weeks ago, we had our education minister say that women won’t be affected by rising uni fees because they don’t study expensive degrees like law. Then our attorney general tried to explain metadata by saying ‘we don’t want to know what websites you’re visiting – just the web address’. Then our treasurer said that poor people won’t be affected by the fuel excise because they don’t drive cars, (despite the fact that statistics show our poorest spend the greatest proportion of their income on fuel). Then one of our liberal senators tried to link abortion to breast cancer citing studies from the 1950’s. Which is apparently where he’s living. In ONE WEEK.

          I can’t seriously be expected to leave those alone, can I? Yeah… I think I might be an obnoxious Facebook user.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Me too, actually. I have used the phrases “Are you f***ing kidding me?!” and “That’s it; I’m leaving!” quite a bit lately. I typically don’t friend coworkers on Facebook, though, so that’s not a problem.

            1. en pointe*

              Indeed I am, and indeed we do.

              It’s particularly bad at the moment though. Dan Savage pretty much nailed it last year. He came down here and was like ‘Wow, you guys are having your George W Bush moment.’

      2. Anonanom*

        Oh god, the daytime farmville. It will make you resentful, you will dwell on whether or not you should turn it into a write up, even though you only know because you’re friends and chances are half the other staff is equally goofing off you just don’t know it. Not speaking from experience or anything :) I went the route of staying friends, but unfollowing my subordinates so at least I’d have to purposely go looking for that info. Had I not been friends with them before though…

        1. Beth*

          The dreaded farmville haha – I think it’s better not to know that someone is farming instead of working. That can definitely get awkward :-) I don’t even think the policy was made because of that. There has only been one person who has ever gotten in trouble for something that was posted on facebook – and it was because there was a breach in confidentiality. I just think they made this policy because they don’t really understand social media and thought it would be easier to have one blanket policy.

      3. AdAgencyChick*

        I also have a policy of not being FB friends with any direct reports — once, this meant unfriending a not-close friend whom I hired, then adding him back to my flist after he moved to another team within my agency. I don’t ever want a direct report of mine to feel like she has to share information with me about her life outside of work in order to get ahead. I also think it’s just better for me and for them not to see each other’s respective drunken/sweaty workout/otherwise unflattering photos or, if they like to blow off steam on FB games, for me not to know that.

        For the OP — the bigger question is not just “can/should your company tell you you can’t be friends on Facebook?” but rather “can you be friends at all?” I don’t put a blanket ban on it myself, since I’ve had a great experience with a boss who’s a close enough friend that I asked him to be in my wedding party. (And lots of others who have worked for him are just as tight with him, because he’s a kickass boss as well as a loyal friend.) But I would say he has PhD-level skill in having difficult conversations — and I think you need that in order to manage a friend, because you have to be willing to manage even if it might damage the friendship. I think most people can’t do it, but more power to the ones who can.

        1. Beth*

          I really understand not being facebook friends with direct reports. Truthfully – most of my direct reports are quite a bit younger than me – so I’m not exactly going out with them for happy hour anyway. I’m more annoyed because I have to defriend people that I do not directly work with – that are within my building or other buildings throughout the community, that are at a lower level than I am. They are people that do not report to me – will never report to me – that I never see during the day. That is what is annoying me. I don’t think they should be able to do that.

  5. You Graze Me Up*

    #3, It’s easy to blame faculty, career offices, etc. – higher education gets maligned for a lot of reasons – but give many of them credit. I mean, come on! They’re not all (or even mostly) bad!

    I rarely got any good career advice in my college, but really… they’re not all bad! Okay, rant over.

    4, I’ve heard of cases where the start date is 2-3 months later. And this was for a mid-level position. (I suspect that start times can be even more delayed for executive roles.)

    5, I gotta say, Alison’s the only manager I’ve seen or heard say that following up isn’t a great idea. Some will say that it helps them remember you – or at least it puts a human voice to the application (if you get my drift – it’s past midnight here). Different strokes, I guess?

      1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

        Yep. Follow ups drive me nuts, although I will tolerate them via email. The only exception I can think of might be the types of jobs that often hire teenagers (like grocery store baggers or bussers at lower end restaurants) where they might just hire the person standing in front of them because it’s simple and fast and the job can be done by most anyone. But for professional jobs, there’s usually a process they are following, and they are thinking more carefully about their selection.

        1. fposte*

          Thirding on the “don’t follow up.” And does “putting a voice” really mean that you’re calling to follow up? Yeah, really don’t do that.

          1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

            People are usually so awkward when they make follow up phone calls anyway that it doesn’t do them any favors. It’s a rare person who can avoid all implications of entitlement/irritation/impatience/anxiety, etc. It’s probably because they are only calling because someone told them they should (or because they actually are feeling entitled/irritated/impatient/anxious), and it usually sounds like they are reading from a script – not the impression you want to give.

          2. Joey*

            I’ve rarely heard a reasonable reason for a follow up. It’s usually:

            Hi, just calling to check the status of my résumé. Or;

            I just wanted to make sure you received my résumé.

            Both of those come off as if you don’t think I’m competent at my job.

            1. former NYC Librarian*

              okay it was 30 years ago. Went on an interview for an entry level librarian job for a big public system. Two weeks later….heard nothing. Called HR office to follow up on the status of my application and/or their hiring timeline. HR person put me on hold for twenty minutes. He returned to the phone and said, yes, we need you to start Monday at 9:00 am for orientation. ” I asked for two weeks. He said no, it was a group orientation and if I wanted the position, I had to show up then.

              For the next three weeks, I went to my new job during the day and I went to my old job in the evenings to follow up with our clients.

        2. Jamie*

          Yes – those types of jobs have different rules for this. When my kids were applying I gave them the follow up rules which work for me, but once they started working retail/food service they saw the people who called got in.

          My daughter just this week applied to a retail place, called to tell them she applied on line and they scheduled an interview for her right then.

          What works in retail/food service will KILL you in an office.

      2. Poe*

        My phone number at work is very, very close to a manager’s who is currently doing a ton of hiring. She has asked me to just tell all the “follow up” people that I will pass their message along (at least half of them mis-dial…and the other half just call the main line which I usually answer) because she doesn’t have time in her day to deal with the awkward calls.

    1. Eric*

      #5, at this point they already have had a phone interview and an in person interview. The hiring manager has a voice to go with the name. I doubt you will find anyone who does hiring who has forgotten to make an offer to their first choice candidate or has forgotten about the existence of someone they interviewed before deciding if they should go ahead and hire them.

    2. Carolum*

      Why didn’t I think of that name? You must be from the Plains. :-)

      Higher education is everybody’s favorite piñata these days… well, one of their favorites. Students, parents, commentators, liberals, conservatives, even some faculty and staff who work there – they all just love to pick on colleges.

      To be fair, some of that criticism is warranted – for some colleges, anyway.

      But still…

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        If colleges are going to hold themselves up as a source of knowledge on these topics, they have an obligation to ensure that they’re giving out correct info. And it’s not just a few here and there that give out truly awful advice; it’s loads of them. We hear about it here all the time, and it’s really a disservice to students and new grads, who are understandably relying on schools to steer them in the right direction — and being actively harmed as a result. It’s true negligence, in my opinion.

        1. Dan*

          Not just that, but for the vast amounts of money that they pillage from your wallet these days, they owe you the best that your $200k could buy.

          But they weasel out of it by saying that they “give you and education” or “teach you how to think” not “give you job training.”

          1. en pointe*

            This is tangential and not meant to start any arguments on education systems or anything, but I genuinely want to know – $200k? Are you f*cking serious or is that an exaggeration?

            1. Loose Seal*

              Private colleges can be heart-stoppingly expensive. Sarah Lawrence is over $60K a year. Dartmouth, Columbia, Johns Hopkins, and Northwestern are all over $55K. Google “most expensive U.S. colleges” if you want a bigger list. So for a four-year degree, that’s well over $200K, although mileage may vary depending if the student lives at home vs. the dorms.

              There are cheaper options, of course. A public university in your state (or if your state has a reciprocal agreement with another state) will generally be cheaper than private colleges. I looked up the largest state uni in my state, Univ. of Tennessee (Knoxville) and their in state tuition for this year is just over $11K but they estimate that with books, room and board, transportation and personal spending, that a student would spend almost $28K, which leads us to a four-year total of over $100K.

              You could further cut cost by attending a community college for your first two years but you have to be very careful that all your credits will transfer with you, otherwise you could end up paying for some classes twice. In my state, if you go to an in-state public community college for your first two years (at $4k a year, no room and board as it’s not generally available at community colleges), then they guarantee that all your credits will transfer to your in-state public university. So you could cut your four-year total down to $64K or so. Still pretty expensive, though. And costs go up a bit every year.

              (Apologies that this got long.)

              1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

                Son #2 is doing exactly that, btw, getting an engineering degree from a good university who has partnered with our local community college.

                The cost for the degree at that university for four years is $200K.

                The cost for the degree partnered with the CC is about $70K and his GPA at the CC earned him an academic scholarship for the final two years at university, cutting $25K off of the $70K.

                I am: The. Luckiest. Mother. On. Earth. to have birthed such a practical son.

              2. Natalie*

                One note on private colleges – it’s pretty uncommon to pay full freight. Most private colleges have a fair bit of both need and merit based aid to pass around on top of whatever the student gets from FAFSA. Theoretically, state colleges should be really cheap because their being subsidized, but that isn’t the case in every state.

                In short, the whole system has gotten pretty messed up.

                1. Cindi*

                  Yeah, that theory doesn’t work in PA. We have the most expensive state schools in the country (Penn State and Pitt) because they aren’t really state schools, they are “state-related”. PSU, I believe, gets less than 7% of its budget from the state.

                  So PA residents don’t get the preferential admissions other states give their tax-paying residents, we pay ridiculous tuition, and at least for PSU, have some of the worst financial aid.

                  And for the actual state schools, such as West Chester or Bloomsburg, they are around $20,000 a year, including room and board. Better than PSU and Pitt and Temple, but still much more expensive than other states’ standout universities — in Virginia and Florida, for example.

                  And PA is one of the few states not in any inter-state agreements for reduced tuition.

                  My daughter is a senior in high school, if you didn’t already guess …

              3. Gina*

                No worries that it got long; thanks for not being one of those people who went to school before the price tag went kablooey and wonders bewildered-ly why you can’t “just go to a community college first” or “go to a state school, you snob.” For the reasons you pointed out, it’s not that simple.

              4. en pointe*

                Thanks so much for explaining that! That’s very different to my country. The bit where you mentioned room and board, books, transport, personal spending, etc. – I’ve heard that most college students move on campus in the US, but who pays for that? Do you guys front it or is that included in your student loans?

                In my country, we have a federal loans scheme, but it only covers tuition fees to the cent – you can’t borrow living expenses or room and board, or textbook expenses, or anything like that – you have to front those yourself. You can get a bit of Youth Allowance from the government if your parents don’t make much money, but the crazy COL means you pretty much can’t move on campus unless you have rich parents. Almost everybody lives at home and gets a job to pay for textbooks, food, transport, etc., and some people try and save up enough money to move out a few years into their degree. I love hearing about how things are done elsewhere.

                1. reader*

                  Yes, you can use loan money for living expenses, etc. There are actually more restrictions with the free money like scholarships and grants. Most of them are for tuition and fees only.

                2. Traveler*

                  Student grants/loans cover the cost of room and board as well as transportation but it will greatly increase your overall debt at the end if you are using loans to cover it. US schools frown on first year students living off campus for the most part, as they want them to be fully immersed in the life/culture/education. Though there are a lot of universities known for being commuter colleges (where living off campus is the norm).

                3. SA*

                  I think the main difference in the US though is that since things are so spread out, it’s quite unusual to go to college in the same city where you grew up/where your parents live. So it’s not just that colleges “want them to be fully immersed in the life/culture/education,” although that’s definitely true – it’s also that living at home is simply impossible for most college students.

                4. Traveler*

                  That’s true – but then they also ban college freshmen having cars at a lot of campuses too. If it was primarily a concern of them living away from home/things being spread out – you’d think they wouldn’t mind them having convenient access to transportation. They use the “not enough parking” rationale, but follow it up with things like “food, jobs and entertainment” are available on campus anyway.

                  It’s actually not all that unusual to go close to home. I grew up in the Midwest where colleges are a dime a dozen, so it was actually more unusual to go far away. Though I’d guess in places where they are more sparse that’s the case. A quick google search:
                  “According to Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA, 38% of college students attend a school within 50 miles or less, 15% within 51 to 100 miles and 37% within 101 to 500 miles”

              5. Red*

                Another Tennessean! To my eternal regret, I didn’t do the smart thing and take the probably free ride I could have had at UTK.

                One thing I’ve noticed about college career resource centers is that most of the advising staff I’ve encountered have degrees and experience in counseling rather than HR or recruitment backgrounds. For my grad school, our career advisor was actually a former HS counselor. He had no experience or education in HR or recruitment outside of whatever he may have studied in the course of gaining his MBA. Most of our HR/Payroll/Recruitment staff are actually quite knowledgeable and well-experienced.

                1. Anon College AA*

                  Yes, that’s something that amazes me – how can you hire a full staff of career services counselors that have never actually interviewed or held a job anywhere outside academia? But so many schools do it. I just looked at the staff biographies for the career services at the small liberal arts college I work at – out of 8 employees only 1 lists any experience that isn’t in teaching or academia, and more than half came there straight from school. It is totally the blind leading the blind.

              6. Zelocity*

                Many of the most expensive schools in the country actually have some of the best financial aid packages simply because they have larger endowments. If you can get into a top-ranked university, most of them pledge to meet 100% of demonstrated financial need. They often wind up being either on-par or significantly cheaper than state schools.

            2. College Career Counselor*

              That is completely serious, and possibly an underestimate for the cost of private education. The full cost of a year’s attendance (tuition, room & board, fees) where I work is less than $100 short of $60k. Average grant (not loan) aid to the class of 2015 when they entered was approximately $27k per student. 95%+ of our students receive some financial assistance, although the amount obviously varies.

              1. en pointe*

                I don’t get it. Is that money from the government or the school? If the school is giving 95%+ of students thousands of dollars, why don’t they just lower the fees?

                1. Natalie*

                  The average grant number is probably a mix of government aid, institutional aid, and merit or need based scholarships.

                  As far as institutional aid is concerned, they often don’t lower the tuition because they want to means-test their giving. If you happen to be filthy rich, they would like the full bill, please! It also allows them to adjust what they are giving away based on market conditions, the health of their endowment, and so forth. You get less pushback if you reduce the amount of aid (because it’s a “gift”) than you do for raising tuition.

                2. Eliza Jane*

                  What I hate about it is that saving for college is penalized in the need/merit aid game. If I save for my kids’ education, I wind up with enough to pay the full load, and I pay the full load. If I don’t save at all, then my kid winds up with need-based aid, and that is subsidized by those who can pay the full load.

                  There are a number of financial advisors who suggest you not save any money at all for your kids’ college, because the more you’ve saved, the higher your price tag will be.

            3. Cassie*

              State school in California – for non-residents/out-of-state graduate students, it costs $30K per year (not including room/board or textbooks). For in-state grad students, it’s $15K per year. Not sure how much it is for undergrads, though. Apartments costs $800 and up per month, and that’s living a bit farther from campus and having roommates. Apartments next to campus cost about $2000 and up.

    3. Callie30*

      #5 – Yeah – different strokes. I’m in the process of hiring people. Dates do get pushed back, especially if a Holiday is in the vicinity and multiple people are deciding. If someone is really in the running, they won’t forget to contact you, as Alison said above. In fact, if you follow up too soon (or right on the dot, as they say), you may risk annoying them, although I see how the applicant would be worried about looking irresponsible if they don’t follow up. I agree with Alison that email is the better choice when you do follow up (for most) – many people need to schedule phone calls, so calling can definitely be invasive – 2 weeks seems like a suitable time frame and not too pushy. Job seekers/applicants – Definitely give the people hiring some leeway.

      And in this case, the OP sent thank you letters already. So, they know she is waiting for an answer.

      1. Jillociraptor*

        I have two candidates in my pool right now who have followed up before I said I would contact them at both stages of the process. I’m not going to discount them, but it is irritating for sure.

        1. Dan*

          I once passed along a resume from a fellow alumnus from my grad school. He’d check in frequently about the status, but what really took the cake was when I was out of the office for three days attending my grandfather’s funeral. I come back to 13 missed calls with no vm. All from this kid.

          Peeps, y’all gotta understand that when somebody is passing along your resume, they’re doing just that.

          My memory is fuzzy, but at some point we did interview the guy, but really, really dragged our feet sending him a rejection. We had a new HR person start, and of the first things we did was made her draft a rejection letter for him.

      2. BRR*

        We are hiring for a position and found out that Jane is now on hiring committees for people of a certain level. We found that out in the same email that Jane was on vacation. Just one of many things that push the process back.

        I think the general rule should be to lean towards not contacting the company and start with email unless it’s truly urgent. Most people who write in wanting to reach out tend to do so thinking it will advance their candidacy when usually it won’t help and sometimes can hurt.

      3. La munieca*

        Another possibility is that they made an offer to another candidate and are waiting to hear back. Should negotiations fall through with their first choice, they want to keep the door open with their other top candidates. If this is the case, Alison’s advice to mentally move on is still spot on.

    4. OP 3*

      I’m the third OP. I agree, some aren’t all bad. However, this is a professional master’s program and so I came expecting career help. That’s why it’s so disappointing to see incorrect information spread.

    5. AVP*

      Adding one more hiring manager who doesn’t like follow ups to the mix…just so you can see that there are a lot of us :)

    1. Callie30*

      It’s probably not more common because it’s hard to regulate and to actually police it. Many people use alternative names on social media and have their profiles set to private, even to certain friends, etc.

      It would take quite a bit of effort for someone to check up on all of their employees to enforce it.

      1. Beth*

        I agree…Because even though it is our rule at our company – I know there are many people who have not de-friended people. Nothing has happened. But I know with my luck – I’d be the one that would get caught and get in trouble.

        1. en pointe*

          Callie30 made a good point about lots of people using alternative names though. I go by my first and middle name on Facebook because I’m involved in some activism and don’t want pictures or info being pilfered off my Facebook page if I’m arrested for anything that ends up being high profile. I’d rather control what goes out to the media at that time. Not foolproof obviously, but journalists don’t have a lot of time to be detectives on smaller stories so it does work – one of my friends is on trial at the moment for a hacking/whistleblowing thing involving our prime minister, and they had her full name, school etc. but couldn’t find a single photo of her for the news reports. Half the articles even said something like “Jane Smith appears not to be active on Facebook”, so we know they tried.

          Obviously, with a bit of effort your company could probably work out it’s you, but it sounds like a fairly large company, and that bit of effort is going to multiply quickly. If you’re willing to change your name on Facebook and you know there are many people who’ve avoided de-friending people, I wouldn’t worry too much about this.

  6. CoffeeLover*

    1) I’m a little surprised at this kind of reaction (and OP, you’re not the only one I’ve seen it from), but it’s important to have open communication with your boss. Especially if you’re struggling. I guess this comes from a place of not wanting to “get in trouble”, but well… this is the adult world. Accountability is something that’s hugely valued. When you mess up and can’t fix it, then it’s best to own up and figure out how to do things going forward rather than waiting for it to blow up in your face.

    I don’t know the scale of your mistakes, but I think going in there saying you think you should resign is a little… over-dramatic. Tell you’re manager you’ve been struggling with a, b and c and as a result x, y and z have happened. You can say you think you might not be a good fit for this position, but see if she has other suggestions on how to handle the situation (like better ways to manage you’re work load, additional training, etc.)

    1. Dan*

      A lot of this can be traced back to certain types of professors. I had some who would *not* help you debug your code, and would tell you that you were on your own. Others would look at you like you’re stupid because you couldn’t master a concept on the first go.

      In college, you’re supposed to take care of your own crap. Making the transition to the real world can be quite an adjustment. My boss doesn’t pay me for “original” work, she pays may to get my job done, even if that means googling some stuff off of stack overflow.

      1. Red*

        It’s certainly true that you can be socialized into thinking of asking questions or asking for help as weakness. Sadly, some colleagues and managers will treat questions the same way.

      2. Kelly L.*

        I got into so much trouble in college by not being willing to ask questions and being afraid to look stupid. An example that always sticks in my mind was that I had to buy a subscription to a certain newspaper for a class. The first few issues came in my campus mailbox, all fine and good. Then they stopped appearing there. I was convinced the newspaper company had simply quit sending them. I didn’t ask any questions of the dorm front desk, the newspaper company, or the professor, instead BS’ing my way through the work that was supposed to be related to the paper and probably getting a worse grade than if I’d had the paper.

        And a floormate who worked at the front desk mentioned, the next year, that she’d always wondered why I never picked up any of my newspapers at the desk, that they’d just been piling up there all along.

      3. LBK*

        This is a little bit off-topic, but can I say how annoying it is that so many programming jobs want formal training and certifications when it seems like 90% of solving programming problems is googling how someone else did it? As long as I can read the syntax of the examples and understand how to adapt them to my work, why do I need 4 years of college teaching me how to write code? I seriously doubt any programmer these days starts with a completely clean slate and just pours out original C++ from their hands until the project is done.

        1. Susan*

          The language + structures may be documented, but programming involves understanding the problem you are trying to solve for and the associated technical requirements. For example, if I am writing a real-time data app that is used for operational problem solving, I need to know how to use message queuing effectively so that the information needed to bring our service back up is available immediately. On the other hand if the code is for a batch financial process I need to be more concerned with security of information and avoiding mistakes in billing the customer. Two of many problem sets, probably using different languages, definitely using different error acceptance criteria.

          I would also disagree with your final statement; I work at a very high tech company, and I know that the people here write their own code (and are paid very well because of it).

          (Former coder, now project manager)

          1. De (Germany)*

            I am on Stack Overflow a lot, but even that means I adapt stuff to my needs – copying more than a single line would be very unusual.

        2. De (Germany)*

          Well, while the actual code is usually easily found, architectural design, performance and stuff like that is not something you can just get off the Internet. If colleges teach students how to code for 4 years they are doing something very wrong. And I say that as someone working as a software developer without any certification and with a degree in a natural science.

        3. Mephyle*

          Googling how someone else did it and repeating their inefficient algorithms may not lead to best practices. A good programmer should at least know what is meant by efficiency of an algorithm (in the mathematical sense) and be able to apply that knowledge, something I doubt many people learn outside of university. Some first-semester students manage to design O(n**3) sorting algorithms in their first assignment. By the end of the first term they know why that’s funny.

          1. ThursdaysGeek*

            Yeah, I worked with a self-taught guy who used a bubble sort in his code, and it worked for his testing. But he’d never encountered that 100 level knowledge that you never use a bubble sort if there will be lots of data.

            There’s some foundational knowledge you get in college that you may not get if you’re picking it up on your own. You learn ways of looking at problems, so you can recognize if that googled solution is reasonable. In addition, people with that degree are often taught in a fairly consistent way. The wildly original and unreadable code often comes from the self-taught, who may never consider that someone else will need to maintain their work.

  7. polarar*

    #1 – everyone makes mistakes. What I’ve found is what really matters is how you handle them. First, be honest. This doesn’t mean you need to tell your boss everything, but if the mistake is going to impact others, it’s better if it comes from you. When you do tell, don’t make excuses and always take responsibility. Second, if at all possible, have a proposed solution on how to fix or mitigate the error. Third, investigate how to prevent the error in the future. Don’t just think to be more careful, think about what processes you could put in place. This could be a checklist, a second set of eyes, better documentation, improved process, etc.

    Finally, take your lumps graciously, apologize, but try not to dwell. That’s always the hardest part for me. Believe me, I’ve made some massive mistakes. They suck. But I think I’m a better employee because of them.

    1. A.C.*

      From #1, the problem is, I’ve tried for the last 2 weeks to recover but its not working. In fact, the snowball effect seems to have started and that its even starting to mentally affect other portions of my work that I’m normally have no problem with. At this point, I don’t think I could deal with the shame.

      > When you do tell, don’t make excuses and always take responsibility.

      I was hoping that my resignation would be penance….

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Managers usually don’t want penance or resignations; they want to work with you to get problems fixed! If you’re thinking of this as penance (versus being convinced that this work isn’t for you), I join everyone else in urging you to reconsider.

        People make mistakes. Managers rarely want people to peremptorily resign over that.

      2. Chrl268*

        Penance doesn’t come into it – you need to reframe your thinking.

        Is there any reason you’re struggling? Too much work but not enough time? Haven’t had enough training? System your using causes random glitches?

        I work with someone who makes constant errors. She doesn’t care. Thank you for caring about doing your work properly – but by worrying about it, it makes me think you aren’t failing as badly as you think you are.

        Talk to your boss, have a frank conversation of why you think these things are happening and what if you were to continue working with them would improve your ability to complete your work.

        1. A.C.*

          > Is there any reason you’re struggling? Too much work but not enough time? Haven’t had enough training? System your using causes random glitches?

          I really don’t know? For all intents and purposes my job should be straightforward. The position as I understood it was primarily A/P and at first it was? Maybe I underestimated the amount of payables I needed to handle in addition to the bookkeeping I had to do but honestly, its simple stuff that I shouldn’t be making stupid mistakes on. Which is wierd because I’ve handled a fair workload when I was working P/T as a bookkeeper who had to handle A/R, A/P, Bank Rec, Inventory Rec. while taking a F/T college course load. But for some reason, after starting this new Jr. Staff position it seems I can’t even pay our utilities right (about 18+ coned/TWC accounts) and late fees/deposit requests have been incurred. In my haste to prevent further late payments, I e-paid several bills w/o prior approval and in turn, paid a bill on a non-existing meter on a building that has been having major billing issue (an issue spanning since February, handed over to me in June when I started, of which I’ve been utterly useless in fixing b/c I’m not an assertive individual).

          More glaringly, I spent 2 months thinking what I was doing was correct (i.e. everything was going smoothly la-dee-da) until I was informed by a co-worker, not a manager, that I needed approval from the top to disburse any amount to pay an invoice (something I have not done, I’ve assumed wrongly that delegated authorization by the separate managers would be enough).

          1. Chrl268*

            Could it help if you had documentation of how to do things? Like checklists – to pay this invoice I need to 1. Get approval, 2. Pay through e-payments, 3. Post to software etc

            All I can think is stop being so mean to yourself! The fact that you didn’t know isn’t something you could have known without someone telling you – you made a mistake and now you’re not making the mistake any more. How about you aim to spend another 3 months and see how you go? I think leaving without notice is a way of running away from the situation and I can empathise feeling like everything is going wrong.

          2. ABC1*

            Ah well, yes its mess for sure but not catastrophic. Can be fixed – if you make the effort.
            Anyway the best thing now would be to take responsibility to start cleaning up the mess rather than just jumping ship & so avoid facing the music. Its gonna be messy & not easy, but thats the adult thing to do.
            Plus if you don’t learn now, how is it going to be different in the next job?
            Coming clean might end up in your getting fired so yes its a good strategy to be ready, but its infinitely better face it head on, rather than just give up and expect others to sort out the mess.
            I get that you think you are paying for your sins by resigning but lets face it….you are escaping from it.
            Please please – speak to your manager. Ask for a meeting. Lay down all your errors & concerns and face the situation like an adult. Trust me, you will feel better about yourself in the long run even its going to be a tough few months now.

            1. ABC1*

              And yes, ask for help.
              Ask for specific guidelines, checklist. If not available prepare them with help from senior members.
              Ask for training openly in areas you don’t know enough.
              Don’t hesitate to ask for clarifications(policies etc). Its better to annoy someone (within reason!) than assume and make errors.
              Good luck …you can do it. Just dont run away.

              1. Manager Anonymous*

                I had an employee who I overheard telling a peer snarkily, “oh, she just loves checklists” and it was all I could do not to leap over the cube and say,” Yep, I do, because with a checklist at least I know that you understand the steps of the work assigned, I know that I have communicated clearly and I can document your failing to conform to the norm.” Said employee is no longer working with us.

                1. fposte*

                  Have you by any chance read Atul Gawande’s The Checklist Manifesto? It’s about the benefits of a checklist for surgery, but it made me want to create checklists for *everything.*

          3. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

            (My separate response below was written before your post here. Your input changes things! )

            This is messy but not unsortable. Your thinking isn’t helping you because it sounds like you are being too hard on yourself. Not that you don’t have responsibility but:

            1) people make mistakes
            2) new people make more mistakes and
            3) people are always going to make mistakes in bad systems


            I needed approval from the top to disburse any amount to pay an invoice, and a co-worker told you this and not a manager?

            How is that your mistake?

            I don’t even understand the system in your company. Honestly, our company accounting dept systems aren’t a gold standard, but it does have systems. Authorized dept heads/managers/buyers sign off on invoices, accounting people vouch and pay them, and then the CFO has a system in place where he or our director of finance review all disbursements. A junior person, especially a new one, can only do what she is told to do.

            So you go to your boss and say, I had no idea. Gladys says that there’s an entirely extra step that I should have been doing here and I haven’t been doing it. What is that step? Then your boss says, okay, here’s the system, sorry we didn’t tell you about it sooner, or whatever she says next. It’s a for crap manager who would sit someone down with payment authority and then not review payments in some way for several months.

            The utility bill thing is a mess but it is no messier than other scrapes that our A/P people have found themselves in and not lost their jobs over. Utility bills are messy, and you’ve had billing errors and the entire thing can be unwound.

            It’s not like you left a $25,000 cash deposit by the side of the road. It’s fixable.

            Please calm down and be nicer to yourself. Ask for management support in fixing things.

            Barrel through this. Maybe the job ends in a way you don’t want or maybe 6 months from now, everything is sorted up well and you are happy and can’t believe you panicked 3 months in and wanted to quit.

            1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

              oh and P.S.

              My worst mistake ever on the job *was* like leaving a giant amount of money by the side of the road. I forgot to mail a huge, gigundo quantity of catalogs worth tens of thousands of dollars and they went out of date. Horror, completely my mistake alone.

              The worst mistake ever made in our division was the wrong phone number printed on every page of 200,000 catalogs, not discovered until all were in the mail. And nobody lost their job over that. Although that was a week’s wrangle finding the owner of that phone number and buying it.

              1. Loose Seal*

                Isn’t there a thread around here where everyone posted their worst mistake ever? I am terrible at finding old threads on this site but if I’m not imagining that, if someone could find it, it might help OP put their mistakes in perspective.

                1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

                  I don’t remember it but there should be one. I seem to remember one for management mistakes maybe.

                  Everybody makes mistakes. Even people who are careful and don’t make many mistakes are capable of glorious eff ups.

                2. Monodon monoceros*

                  I posted a link but in case moderation takes a bit, just search for “cringe-worthy”. OP, you should read some of these to make yourself feel better!

                3. Monodon monoceros*

                  I just re-read some of those, and actually, that’s the post where “Wakeen” comes from! I knew it was someone who didn’t know how Joaquin was pronounced, but the original comment was in there. Too funny.

                4. Kelly L.*

                  The thing that popped to my mind was when someone pulled over by the side of the road and lit a bunch of paperwork on fire instead of dealing with it. Best story EVER.

              2. Gina*

                A company I used to work for accidentally transposed a digit on their phone number in a catalog and the transposed number happened to be for a sex service. That was fun to field calls about.

                1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

                  We transposed a digit and the number went to somebody’s personal 800# they had had for 20 years, yep, an answering machine in somebody’s home.

                  They wouldn’t relinquish the number until we coughed up $5000. Which, we paid.

                2. Hooptie*

                  That happened to a design co-worker once, but the printing error was on a milk carton. The call reports from Consumer Relations were equally hilarious and horrifying. True story.

                3. LBK*

                  This kind of makes me want to scope out a bunch of big companies’ phone numbers and see if I can claim similar ones…kinda like how people buy website domains they think companies may want in the future.

              3. Calla*

                Speaking of phone numbers, how’s this for a major mistake: in my first job ever as a teenager, I gave a customer my manager’s personal cell phone number (the customer had been in the store chatting with her on multiple occasions before, told me they were friends, and was pressuring me that it was important). My manager was pretty darn mad, but I did not get fired, and I worked there successfully until I moved for college!

                OP, I agree with everyone who says these seem like normal mistakes (that should have been corrected by management earlier), and the anxiety is 100% understandable, but totally not dooming you to resignation!

            2. AVP*

              It seems to me that this is a case of an inexperienced person, a little overwhelmed and new to a bad/confusing system. OP, take a breath – this isn’t that bad, and you might actually be handling it better than others have in the past. Definitely talk to your manager. I know in my business, I would not mind having a staffer who makes mistakes but is honest about them and wants to do their job right and learn. What I would mind is having to replace that person with no notice and train a new hire and deal with the fallout with no warning.

          4. Aardvark*

            I’m not a manager, but I’ve dealt with messes left by people who resigned suddenly and helped people fix issues that they’ve accidentally instigated (and, uh, made and gotten help with some mistakes of my own over the years…). I can tell you that as a coworker, I prefer, by a *ginormous* margin, working with people who admit when they make mistakes and correct them than someone who resigns without notice.

            While I wish the people who left suddenly well in their future endeavors, I’d never want to work with them again. I like working with people I can respect and trust, and it’s hard for me to trust someone who leaves me with a mess. I consider the people who have made mistakes, admitted them, and created a plan to fix them (even if that’s just laying out x, y, and z and asking for help) valued colleagues.

          5. Loose Seal*

            I would expect that three months into almost any job, a new hire would still be making mistakes and not be quite up on all the office policies. It takes time to learn how to do your job and most (sane) managers expect that. But you need to be the one to go to your manager and tell them what mistakes you see that you’ve made and any solutions you propose, if you see any. However, it’s perfectly ok if you don’t know why you are making these mistakes and how to fix them. The skill you need to learn Right Now is how to talk to your manager about this.

            I’ve found the best way to admit to mistakes is to calmly explain the problem but make sure I stick to the facts. For instance, you can say that you were not previously aware that you had to get approval from the top before paying an invoice but since co-worker has let you know, you will be sure to do that going forward. You should have available which invoices you’ve already paid without approval so that your manager is prepared to answer questions in case they are asked why those invoices were paid. Apologize once — no need for mea culpas, a simple apology will do — and ask if there is anything else about this procedure you need to know about in order to do your job. Rinse, repeat for other mistakes.

            I have a feeling, based on the mistakes you’ve mentioned, that while you think these are huge mistakes, they aren’t. At least not in the overall scheme of things. This doesn’t mean that you don’t take responsibility for them and learn how to do these tasks correctly for the future; of course you do. But you are demanding perfection from yourself straight out of the gate and that rarely works. It can take up to a year to really learn the ins and outs of a new job, depending on what you do. I’m afraid that if you leave this job without learning the skill of owning up to your mistakes (and being kinder to yourself when you do make a mistake), you will find yourself in the same boat again and again.

          6. Natalie*

            Do you notice this kind of thinking in other places in your life? Are you typically really hard on yourself over small things?

            Your description is reminiscent of some of the ways my brain goes off the rails when my anxiety disorder is driving the train. I spent my teens and 20s struggling way more than I needed to, and getting increasingly depressed, because I didn’t even realize anything could be different. I thought everyone thought the way I though, but they were clearly better at it than me! Anyway, it took a couple of career setbacks, a messed up relationship, and the summer of drinking to keep panic attacks at bay before I took it seriously.

            This may not apply, of course, but if it does perhaps it would be helpful to look at some strategies at managing anxiety and other brain weasels. CBT and similar therapy techniques are good options. Mindfulness practice is really helpful and can be done on your own if counseling doesn’t appeal or isn’t an option.

            1. fposte*

              I was thinking this as well. My impression is that one thing driving the OP is that she just wants this feeling to stop, and walking away seems like it might do that.

              But I don’t think it’s going to replace it with a better feeling, and you’re going to be in situations where you make repeated mistakes again in the future, and ultimately you have to find a way to deal with that other than walking away if you want to have a career. A therapist might be able to help you negotiate the difference between “I made mistakes” and “I’m a failure” and help you focus on moving forward instead of looking back.

              1. Hooptie*

                +1000. OP, please believe that every time you confront a difficulty, it gets easier each time after that, mostly because you figure out that IT WAS NOT THAT BAD.

                1. ThursdaysGeek*

                  That, and even if it was that bad, you faced it and handled it, so you know you can do it the next time.

              1. Natalie*

                Cool, I hope it helps!

                My favorite resources (I’m still very much a beginner) are Jon Kabat-Zinn and this app I found called Headspace. .

                Jon Kabat-Zinn is one of the biggies in mindfulness, especially as it relates to dealing with depression and anxiety. Either Mindfulness for Beginners or The Mindful Way Through Depression are good books to start with. (He has an anxiety one, too, but it basically covers the same topics as the depression one.)

                Headspace is my new favorite app. Free to try, but I think there’s a subscription component after 10 sessions. It’s basically a guided meditation app, with some funny animations to explain concepts and a delightful British guy voicing the guides. I have been doing it every morning and it’s AMAZING.

            2. Sarahnova*

              Yes, I agree; OP, I think you could really use some professional help with your patterns of thinking here, because I think they’re distorted; you’re expecting way too much of yourself, you think you can’t ask for help, and you feel you have to make some kind of “penance”. Please consider seeing a therapist or your primary health care provider and discussing whether you could benefit from some support to untangle these patterns.

          7. CTO*

            These mistakes really don’t sound that awful–I promise. They are really common new-employee mistakes and are not irreparable. It sounds like many of them even predate you.

            What concerns me more is that you speak about getting caught in a spiral of crippling shame and anxiety. I’ve been there, it sucks, and it often can feel like quitting is the best (or only) option. But it’s not. You don’t have to live this way. If this is a feeling that you’ve experienced in other realms of your life, or even if you haven’t, I’d strongly suggest a bit of counseling or help from your EAP. Counseling doesn’t have to require digging into your entire past to uncover the most painful moments, or dwelling on your perceived shortfalls. An effective counselor is future-focused and helps you discover your own natural resilience and tools to feel better and cope better. You might be amazed at what can change within even a few sessions. Believe me–I thought these anxious feelings were just what we had to feel in life. Counseling changed all of that and I feel and function so much better in every area of my life.

            1. Natalie*

              “Counseling doesn’t have to require digging into your entire past to uncover the most painful moments, or dwelling on your perceived shortfalls.”

              Want to highlight this, and add – there’s no minimum trauma requirement for counseling. You can go just because you need a neutral third party. It’s not restricted to people with Real Problems ™.

          8. SA*

            “More glaringly, I spent 2 months thinking what I was doing was correct (i.e. everything was going smoothly la-dee-da) until I was informed by a co-worker, not a manager, that I needed approval from the top to disburse any amount to pay an invoice.”

            That piece implies to me that a big part of this situation is not your fault – or at least, not primarily your fault. If you’re not receiving adequate instructions, then I think that’s an indication you need to ask more questions to make sure you’re clear on everything – not an indication that you’re not cut out for this job, and *definitely* not an indication that you need to resign!

            1. Not So NewReader*

              I have jobs where I thought I did certain processes correctly for YEARS. One day someone spoke up, “Are we supposed to do X, Y then Z? Or are we supposed to Y,X then Z?” When the boss answered that question I suddenly realized “yikes!”.

              1. fposte*

                There’s a book about the New York City Ballet wherein one of the longterm dancers in the chorus, who’d been dancing this very popular ballet for years, gasped about a sequence “That way? I’ve never done it that way before.” She’d been doing it wrong in performance the whole time.

      3. Graciosa*

        The key to being a good employee is not doing everything perfectly the first time. Open communication with your managers and learning from your mistakes counts for more than I think you realize with only a few months experience.

        There is an apocryphal story about an employee who made a big mistake – a $10,000,000 mistake – and owned up to his boss and offered his resignation.

        The boss reportedly looked at him and said, “Why would I want you to leave? I just invested ten million dollars in your education.”

        1. Natalie*

          Hell, the key to being a good *person* is not doing everything perfectly the first time. Or sometimes ever!

      4. Elsajeni*

        I really, really strongly encourage you to talk to your manager about these mistakes without saying “… so I want to offer you my resignation.” Here’s my thinking: the worst-case scenario here is that you’ll be fired or asked to resign, a possibility that you’re already considering volunteering for. You can keep that option in your back pocket when you go in to have the talk, to be pulled out if your manager really does react that badly — but if they say something like, “Oh dear, I must have forgotten to tell you about that step. My fault entirely! Here’s how to do it next time…” or “Oh, yes, everyone makes that mistake sometime in their first couple of months. Here’s how we fix it…”, you haven’t already painted yourself into a corner of having to leave.

      5. Chinook*

        “I was hoping that my resignation would be penance….”

        This is a misunderstanding of penance. Penance should include making ammends and ensuring you never do it again. This can only be done by speaking up and taking responsibility. What you are proposing is running away and leaving others to have to fix unknown problems at probably the last minute (which, IMHO, is a greater sin).

        As well, how are you going to know you aren’t going to run into the same problems in a future job? And, if/when you do, are you going to handle it the same way?

        1. Chinook*

          Also, after reading what everyone else has said, I should also point out that I wanted you to change your outlook and didn’t mean for it to sound so harsh. I also don’t want you to sweep your mistakes under the rug as if it is no big deal. This is all fixable and a great learning experience.

      6. Tinker*

        “I was hoping that my resignation would be penance….”

        Word to the wise:

        Whenever I find myself having thoughts of this form, it means my brain is not operating correctly. In my case, what is called for is to keep my mouth shut regarding precipitous declarations, find something productive or productive-looking somewhere to work on, and wait until the problem goes away. Other people may require more or less involved solutions, but the basic principle is the same: when you’re thinking that you have to burn some aspect of your life on the altar as penance (as contrasted, say, with thinking you need to correct a problem or thinking that you need to forthrightly deal with the fallout of some action), the first problem is the thinking.

        I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if there does turn out to be a unbridgeable gap in fit here — it kind of sounds like my own Disaster Job (in which I had all of the thoughts previously described, including a very vivid dream of throwing a set of plans on my boss’s desk and walking straight out the door). I can’t even imagine dealing with something like that as my first job, and I’m so incredibly sorry if that’s what’s happening to you.

        Other thing that I’ve found:

        In cases like this where I see a confrontation with my own “irresponsibility” looming — actually quite a lot over things like utility bills and the like — there’s a certain curve to the amount of stress involved relative to my distance from the thing. It’s something along the lines of that when it’s present but I’m not dealing with it, there is a substantial background level of stress — say, 25% of some scale from zero to complete freakout. As I approach the thing to deal with it the amount of stress increases to the point where it may get to 98% or 99% on that scale (or 101%, I guess) as I’m actually confronting the issue… and then immediately after the thing is confronted, the level of stress from that thing rapidly drops to zero.

        The catch here is that if I end up letting my fear of that high level of distress in the moment of confrontation keep me from dealing with the thing, I end up having eight different items in the “constant source of low levels of stress” category and that is not a good place to be. At all.

        How this applies to your situation — I don’t want to say necessarily it’s the same, lest you go out and break your brain trying to be all hardcore and shit, but what I’ve experienced here matches up fairly well with more learned descriptions of anxiety issues and the solution thereof. You probably want to find someone to talk to about this, or at the very least do some research, before you make any decisions. That said, it really does sound like the discussion you want to avoid with your boss is probably exactly the discussion you want to have. Even if it’s distressing in the moment to contemplate it, and even if it is extremely unpleasant to actually do, you will probably come away from it having found one of a) that things are not in fact what you think they are regarding your performance b) you have a hook to stand up forthrightly and negotiate a mutually agreed exit (which is something of an odd gem in one’s career, I think, considering that it produces and reflects strength of character) c) you find out that your employers are objectively jerks and not to be bothered with.

        If that really is beyond you for whatever reason — and that’s a thing that happens, and doesn’t reflect badly on you as a person — then by all means offer your resignation, but offer notice. You’ve dealt with this for three months so far, and two more weeks can be endured (if they can’t be, we’re at “outright emergency” levels of problem and it should be put that way to the company). If your boss doesn’t want you around for two weeks, they have the power to make that happen — otherwise, sticking it out will usually earn you a certain sort of respect.

        Good luck! Regardless of how it goes, this sort of thing has a way of looking a lot better in the rear view window from the perspective of a person now tempered by harsh experience.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Love the scale of zero to freak out. Tinker’s got some good stuff here, OP. It’s true that sometimes the very thing we don’t want to do is the very thing we have to do to get out of the situation we are in. I have seen that one too many times. sigh. Very rarely, if ever, have I found that confrontation to be what I thought it would be inside my head.

    2. E.R.*

      OP #1, I don’t know the mistakes you’re making, obviously, but first jobs are really hard. I made soooo many mistakes. When we hire new grads, we know they are going to make more mistakes than average. Please don’t rush to quitting, even though I understand that feeling that makes you want to.

  8. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

    You need to reboot your line of thinking ASAP as in really, ASAP. ASAP.

    This is your first job. Unless the mistakes you are making are putting someone’s life in danger, cut this line of thinking out. You may be badly misplaced in this job, but I will guarantee you that you will be badly misplaced in many jobs after this one if you don’t calm down, stop being so dramatic, and figure out what to do next instead of cutting and running.

    I suggest you leave aside whether this is a good job for you not and spend one month with one goal: reducing your error rate. Work on this. Look at your process, backtrack mistakes you have made to figure out why. I practice “error cause removal” on my own work and the larger work of my division every single day and have done so for 25 years.

    The answer to why you are making mistakes can’t be “oh, I’m just horribly inaccurate and incapable of doing things correct and doubly incapable of figuring out why I make any mistakes at all” because, your degree is in accounting. Come on! If you won’t even try to sort this first job before you sneak out the back door, well, it’s basically the worst thing you could do for the rest of your career.

    Work on it for one month. I’ll give you the number one reason I see for mistakes from some newer people who join us: They don’t review their work before they hit submit. Damndest thing and even odder, some of them fail at the job because even after being coached, they still can’t get in the habit of the second check. I promise you that if you develop a habit of a quick second check before submitting work, I promise, that habit is going to serve you well for the rest of your life.

    One month.

    Even if this job ends in a way you would not like, learning how to reduce your errors, and to make a habit of error cause removal is going to serve you for the rest of your life.

    1. Tmarie*

      #1 – Wakeen’s comment is so spot on!

      As an accounting professional, nobody expects perfection right away. Give yourself ONE MONTH to calm down. Make a spreadsheet that lists all the utility accounts, payments made, dates, and all other information. Once you do that, you might find that you are not be as bad off as you think.

      Give yourself time, don’t cut and run. Please.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      And Wakeen’s got more good advice, OP. Just keep this in the back of your mind: You correct your mistakes, learn what went wrong and how to fix it. As you go on in your career, you will see other people have the same darn hurdle you are facing now. And you will smile knowingly and say, “Here’s what to do…”
      People commenting here know this because they have had their own version of your story. If employers only hired mistake-free people, no one would have a job. No one.

      1. Azumi*

        I’m in the same boat as the OP (1). First job, two/three months isn in, and I’m making a bunch of small mistakes and my manager, without previous warning or discussion, calls me into an HR meeting. Now I’m jittery and unhappy, and feeling like I want to quit because the whole office is talking about me. My manager’s attitude towards me has gone completely cold, and its hard for me to be cheerful or positive when doing things, which I know is a real problem. I’m trying to adjust my attitude, but it feels like leaving would be the best option.

        1. LBK*

          What was the discussion in the HR meeting? Was it “You need to fix this in 2 weeks or you’re fired” or was it just a talk about how things are going with suggestions for improvement? HR’s presence may have just been a matter of procedure, not necessarily an indication of the severity of the conversation.

          Although FWIW, if you really do get fired without receiving feedback and assistance first, you probably have kind of a crappy manager. Consider it a bullet dodged and a lesson learned.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Chin up- don’t let them wear you down. Probably part of what your office mates are saying is “Damn, Azumi is getting screwed over just like I did.” Yes, that is always possible that they are talking negatively, but we forget to remind ourselves that they could be saying supportive things, too.

          What is disappointing here is that your manager had to go to HR first rather than to you. It is entirely possible that you have a sucky manager.
          It might help for you to go in on a second conversation with your boss. Or you could find out if you can sit down again in a short time and go over your progress with the boss’ complaints.
          Instead of dwelling on this stuff- take what the boss said one mistake at a time and develop a plan for preventing that mistake again. I have all kinds of stupid memory triggers. I am the type of person who is doing one thing and planning the next thing in my head. This means my concentration is not where it should be. So I have specific points that I check on each task before moving to the next task. I make sure that I have wrapped up that one thing correctly before moving to the next thing. It does help.
          I have one weekly report in particular that MUST be right each and every time. I allot extra time for that so I can check it thoroughly before passing it to my boss. I have gotten faster at doing this since I do it the same way each time.

          1. Azumi*

            Thanks everybody! It was pretty serious- the HR manager started talking about fit and speculating about these problems happening two months and a couple weeks in, but my boss headed her off. I also tried to bring up the question of fit later on in the meeting, but my boss said she just wanted to “Open a dialogue,” and cut me off again. I’m not sure, but the HR manager seems iffy, so the question of being fired is definitely on the table in my mind! I’m trying very hard to improve and do everything they mentioned with a positive attitude, but I’m also job hunting.
            I was very disappointed in my boss, especially because I had asked her for feedback several times, and each time the problems mentioned in the meeting came up, she had said they were no big deal at that time. I can understand seeing them in retrospect but going to HR without talking to me privately was upsetting.

  9. Loose Seal*

    Alison, I wish you’d write a textbook for colleges to use when they teach this stuff (you know, in all your spare time!). My uni requires seniors to take a semester of “how to get a job” (not its real name, which is not descriptive of the course at all) — and they use What Color is Your Parachute as the text along with whatever tidbits of information the professor doles out. I’ve seen students told that they will never get hired if they show up to an interview without a wristwatch, asked the “if you were a tree” question, and taught to write the stuffiest cover letters you’ve ever seen. Resume teaching is rife with objectives and the education section takes up the top third of the page. Professors that are assigned to teach these courses are not hiring professionals; each department picks a professor to teach it to the students in their major and most departments rotate because it’s not a choice assignment. It is the worst mess I’ve ever seen.

    1. Jen RO*

      “I’ve seen students told that they will never get hired if they show up to an interview without a wristwatch”… what? Do you know what the logic behind this is supposed to be?

      1. BRR*

        Ugh that’s like some article I read where this person said they check someone’s shoes for scuff marks because most people drive to the interview and it marks their shoes. This shows attention to detail. Great, glad you hired me for the ability to polish my shoes, that’s exactly like chocolate teapot making.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          That one is an old one. I thought it came out of the Great Depression where not many people had decent shoes. Everyone fretted over their shoes at job interviews. My father said you might know someone with good shoes and borrow their shoes just to get to through the interview. If the shoes were a little tight you ignored it and carried on.

      2. College Career Counselor*

        It’s supposed to demonstrate that you care enough about being punctual to have a watch. I gather it’s a proxy for attention to detail and “preparedness.” While there ARE things that you should do with your wardrobe and appearance to demonstrate you understand the industry/organizational culture and are taking your interview seriously, wearing a watch is a completely bogus “requirement.” I’ve never worn a watch or counseled anyone else to wear a watch to an interview. However, I certainly have counseled them to turn their phone off, not to leave it on the table, or to use it during an interview (unless the interviewer asks YOU what time it is) because it’s distracting to the interviewer and the interviewee. I can’t tell you how many students who have had their phones go off in the middle of a mock interview with me (it’s usually Mom or Dad). I remind them to turn it off, and then the thing buzzes again in three minutes because all they did was put it on mute.

        1. LBK*

          That is hilariously stupid. From where I sit at my desk I can see 3 clocks and none of them are on my wrist. Who needs a watch these days to know what time it is?

          1. Kelly L.*

            Yeah, I think it’s really outdated in the age of cell phones. I haven’t worn a watch since I first obtained a cell phone. (And of course don’t use it in the interview, but it works perfectly fine for keeping you on time as you’re going there.)

    2. OP 3*

      Agreed, that’d be an awesome contribution. As I said above, this is a professional MS, so it’s even more frustrating.

    3. tt*

      I’ve never heard the “if you were a tree” question, that made me laugh. I have, however, had students tell me they genuinely received questions in interviews such as “What utensil would you be and why?” (which would totally make me roll my eyes) and “What song best represents you,” where the student ended up singing “she works hard for the money” by Donna Summer (and this was only about 5 years ago, I was surprised the student even knew that song.) It would never even occur to me to prep students for those kind of off-the-wall questions.

      1. LBK*

        Ha, well that is a pretty excellent answer for the song question. I don’t think I would be that quick on my feet.

        1. Monodon monoceros*

          Good answer until you give it to some employer who wants you to work there just for the love of working there! (How dare we want to make money, too!)

            1. tt*

              hmmmm I’m not sure, I’m trying to remember the video, I thought it was more about a woman struggling to care for her family in general, not specifically a prostitute. Now I want to look it up!

                1. TK*

                  Wow, according to Wikipedia’s description it’s clearly not about prostitution at all. This must be something I (who have never seen the video) just heard sometime and assumed as truth. Shows the trouble with assuming…

    4. Elizabeth West*

      This is a fabulous idea. Alison you should totally do it!

      I have been waiting forever to get the tree question, and it never happened. I had the best answer for that and I never got to use it. :P

      1. Not So NewReader*

        No, but their students never pay off their college tuition because they can’t get a job. Somehow that is almost worse than being illegal.

  10. GrumpyBoss*

    #1: please don’t take this the wrong way, but in reading your letter and replies in the comments, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anyone so emotionally and mentally unprepared for what full time employment is like. Your school did you a real disservice in preparing you here. I’m so sorry you are struggling with this.

    The good news – you are not doing anything that sounds unfixable! Everybody takes some time coming into a new job to learn the ropes, regardless if it is your first job or if you have 30+ years experience! We all make mistakes, it is part of the learning and growth process. It is important to look at a mistake as an opportunity to improve, rather than an indictment of your ability and fit. You are internalizing some of these issues to the point of it causing you stress and impacting your self esteem. Instead, externalize the mistakes. Seek understanding of why what you did was wrong. Find alternatives to prevent them from recurring. Being open and collaborative with your coworkers and supervisors here will go a long way to making you feel better.

    I really hope you are able to stick it out.

    1. Loose Seal*

      I actually agree about the emotional component, especially when OP uses words like “shame” and “penance” to talk about what seems to be fairly normal new employee errors. I am a huge proponent for therapy so it’s no surprise that’s what I’m going to recommend. One of the things your therapist could help you with is the difference between “guilt” and “shame.” Guilt means “I *did* something wrong/bad,” which you did. Shame means “I *am* wrong/bad,” which is a state of being. Feeling guilty is actually productive as it tends to lead one to seek solutions and offer apologies when necessary. I can’t imagine that you are truly a bad person so your sense of shame is misplaced here but when we find ourselves in a shame spiral, it’s hard to kick ourselves in the seat of the pants to get us out. That’s why you need an outside, unbiased person to help you do it.

      1. Ezri*

        I’ve never seen the difference between guilt and shame articulated like that… as someone who does succumb to shame spirals, that’s a really helpful way of looking at it.

    2. Sarahnova*

      Grumpy, I agree on the whole, but I do think a few responses here are a bit too heavy in tone for someone whom I strongly suspect is struggling with anxiety and/or depression issues. While I know your tone and intent are both kind, I could see myself in that situation reading “emotionally and mentally unprepared for work” and panicking further.

      OP#1, whatever’s going on with you and whether a doctor would diagnose you as having anxiety/depression issues or not, I think Step #1 for you is still to go to a therapist or doctor – and, if you can possibly handle the idea at this stage, to make an appointment to discuss your mistakes with your boss. That idea probably sounds like the most horrifying thing ever, and that’s why you need to do it, because there’s no possible way it can be worse than you’re imagining it is, and it’s very likely to be not nearly as bad. But one step at a time. It’ll be OK, and you will live.

  11. OP #5*

    Hi Alison,
    Thank you for answering my question. I called before I saw your answer and the hiring manager said “it’s only Thursday morning, we haven’t sorted it out yet and won’t know until next week; is there something I should know about your situation that would be impacted by our timeline that you want to tell me about?” I told her that there wasn’t and thanked her for her time. I may have hurt my chances and I’ve been a pretty strong candidate up until now. I’m extremely overqualified for the position – this was the first topic in the 2nd interview – but I really believe I could learn something significant to my career in the role, so I’m hoping to get this job.

    I’m concerned about the call’s impact on my chances but have set about applying for other positions.
    After the call I applied for another position at the same company. I’ve now been contacted for interviews by two different departments at this company and they don’t seem to be aware of my applications; I’m assuming that I’m safe so long as the departments vary.

    1. PEBCAK*

      Relax. If you are indeed their top candidate, a follow-up phone call isn’t going to change that. You need to take AAM’s regular advice to move on mentally.

      1. LBK*


        No matter how much you want a job or how perfect you think you are for it, always assume you won’t hear anything back after each step of the process and then move on. Sitting around fretting about something that is 100% out of your control will drive you crazy.

    2. LBK*

      I may have hurt my chances and I’ve been a pretty strong candidate up until now.

      Here’s something else that’s going to help you in the long run – never assume anything about the strength of your candidacy. Be confident and put your best foot forward, sure, but remember that you have no idea what the rest of the hiring pool looks like or what the hiring manager really wants. There could be qualifications that weren’t listed in the job posting. They could be looking for a really specific cultural fit that you aren’t a match for. They could decide halfway through the process that they really want X experience more than Y experience, and now you’re back at the bottom of the list. Or there could be 30 other applicants with your exact experience, so it’s going to come down to personality. Or the CEO’s daughter could apply and she’ll get the job no matter how qualified you are. You can’t tell any of that from the outside, so don’t try judging where you stand in the process. It’s a recipe for stress and leads you to react in ways you wouldn’t normally, like reaching out after such a short time as you did here.

  12. FD*

    OP #1:

    This is your first full-time job, right? Did you do really well in school, by any chance?

    The reason I ask is that I was a very strong student in school, and I really struggled with handling mistakes when I was new to the workforce. In school, every mistake counts against you, and you’re trained that perfection is your goal. This can cause you to magnify the effects of your own mistakes when you’re new to the workforce.

    To clarify, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care about mistakes, but it baffles me how much time and energy I spent obsessing over having forgotten the fries and having to go back for them. Managers tend to be more concerned about serious mistakes or a pattern of making a lot of errors without caring that you are.

    Also, in school, you’re trained that the teacher doesn’t really care what your workload is like. They assign what they assign, and you either get it done or you don’t. Your manager has a vested interest in your work getting done. That means that a good manager will be more willing to work with you if your workload is truly getting unmanageable.

    I would say, talk to your manager! Say, “Jane, it’s important to me to do well for the company. I know this is my first professional job and I want to make a good impression. However, I am struggling to get everything done, and I know it’s leading to me making some mistakes. Do you think we can look at my workload and prioritize things?” Something that’s taking a lot of time and energy might be something that can be relegated to a lower priority.

    1. Eliza Jane*

      This is a really insightful comment. There’s a lot of literature about there about the value of needing to struggle for achievement. When you’re really bright/good at school, it feels like an inherent part of you: you are the smart one. Because your intelligence feels like a part of you, when you run up against the first wall that needs major work to scale, it shakes your self-image. The younger you are when you hit that point, the easier it is to get past it.

      My brother hit it early in high school, and had a bad week or two, then developed habits that let him succeed in stressful, challenging situations. I hit it my senior year of college, and it nearly destroyed my semester. My cousin hit it in first grade, and it never phased her.

      If you don’t get there until someone is paying you to do a job, I imagine it’s horrific, since you can’t keep from feeling like they’re paying you for the inherent brilliance which is a part of you instead of for the work you can do for them. If you feel like they’re paying you for inherent qualities, asking for help and admitting mistakes are failure. If they’re paying for work, you want to own up to ignorance or error as soon as possible, to correct it and get better.

      1. CTO*

        So true. I remember really struggling the first time I was no longer the smartest kid in the room and actually sort-of failed at something in school (about age 12). Now it doesn’t bother me nearly so much (but I’m still too hard on myself). When intelligence and book smarts are so prized and praised for the formative years of our lives, it’s challenging to find ourselves at a place where those book smarts are no longer enough. Failure is hard, but happens to all of us. It’s how you cope that matters.

        1. Poe*

          I hear this too, I was the really smart kid in class until I hit the wall in about 9th or 10th grade and suddenly school was hard for me and I felt like I was letting everyone down. Cue rather impressive spiral into impossible teenage behaviour and some really questionable (and occasionally harmful, though thankfully only to me) choices, and 10 years later I managed to somewhat extract myself from the mess.

      2. Kelly L.*

        This is really insightful to me as well, and I’ll add that I had sort of an epiphany about this a few years ago. It’s not even that being one of the Smart Kids ™ and easily doing well in school makes you consciously lazy, as is sometimes the conventional wisdom. It’s that you (and I’m talking about myself here too) think that you are working hard at it; you think you’re putting out the same amount of effort as anyone else. And when you finally do hit that wall and find something that’s heavy, heavy work for you, you don’t have anything to compare it to.

      3. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

        I hit that wall in grad school, at age 24. It took me five years and therapy to get past it and finish my degree, and even though I’m mostly past it now, the memory of my failures still comes back to (try) to bite me in the butt sometimes.

        OP, think about how you will feel about this job if you just quit. You will never get the chance to correct these mistakes, to turn these failures into victories. Instead, the fact that you tried, and failed, and quit, will gnaw at you. It will eat away at your self-esteem, it will manifest itself as self-doubt in future interviews, it will sabotage your efforts at any future job. You’ll always be thinking “I tried to do this once, and I failed. What if I fail again?” And then you will fail, because fear of failure is pretty much a guarantee that you will fail. You might even decide that it’s easier just not to try, and you’ll end up in a job far below your abilities because you don’t think you can do any better. It’s a vicious cycle, that only ends in spiraling down to total despair. Ask me how I know.

        Quitting may seem like the easy way out, but believe me, it is not. Running away from your problems will never help you to overcome them. Own up to your manager, make a plan to improve, and conquer this. You can do it.

        The OP (and anyone else that has/had the Smart Kid syndrome) might want to check out the book “Your Own Worst Enemy: Breaking the Habit of Adult Underacheivement” by Ken Christian. I’ve recommended it here before, and I was stunned by Christian’s insights when I first read it. Still trying to apply all the principles– more than 30 years of habits and ways of thinking are hard to break– but at least I know why I do the things I do, and can learn from my past instead of allowing it to haunt me.

        1. Natalie*

          I think I got this book from the library once when it was recommended here, a few years ago. And, amusingly enough given the topic of the book, I procrastinated on reading it until I had to send it back.

          I’ll have to check that book out again!

      4. Fruitfly*

        I totally agree, as someone who is good at school but bad at social situations/social norms. I am now working on a job that has nothing to do with what I learn in school, so the skills I need to learn for my job are communication and etiquette. I felt like a child trying to navigate in the workplace social environment, but I have to experience this sooner than later.

    2. fposte*

      I was thinking along these lines. I think this is a good example of what therapists mean when they say it’s important to have experience of failing so you know you can recover from it. I feel like OP is seeing ending the job as the only way to change the situation. And in reality, this is something a lot of us face in work over and over again, and it’s a really important skill to be able to pull yourself out of a spin, especially if it’s a self-imposed spin. So it’s not good for the OP or for the company to walk off this job.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Right. Taking this misconception (do to whatever basis) to the next job is only going to assure the OP of a replay of the previous job. Better to deal with the misconception itself and adjust your perspective.

        Just an aside, OP, if no one had problems at work then Alison would not have a job. Look at how long people have kept her on the internet and writing this blog. Someone is always writing in with something.

  13. Brett*

    #2 I think there is a subtle issue here that might make the policy more problematic than it seems. The policy is not just that you cannot be facebook friends with your subordinates. It says you cannot be facebook friends with _any_ non-supervisory employee anywhere in the company. As an extreme example, if the company were McDonald’s and you were in a supervisory position at one McDonald’s and your teenage son in college starts working for a McDonald’s in another state, you would have to unfriend him on facebook.

    I use this extreme example because it points to a critical reason that the facebook teacher law in Missouri was suspended by the courts in 2011, because there were theoretical situations that mandated that parents unfriend their children on facebook. The law itself imposed no restriction, it just required all schools to develop a policy that could include restrictions that would prevent an employee from being facebook friends with their own child.

    Obviously you do not want a parent directly supervising their child, but since the policy applies to all non-supervisory employees, it basically says you do not want that child working anywhere within the organization either. Not well thought out, and maybe not something that would do well in court.

    1. Beth*

      Yes!!! You understand my situation completely. It’s funny that you mention the parent/child situation. It isn’t my situation personally – but that situation does exist. As well as a husband and wife situation (they work in different buildings). I also agree it is problematic and would not hold up in court. I think the policy was made haphazardly after the result of 1 thing that happened that was inappropriate.

  14. Magda*

    I have actually quit a job because I knew I had problems piled up beyond repair. It’s not something I’m really proud of, but it was ultimately exactly what I needed to do. I would definitely not quit without notice, though. I understand wanting to slink out before anyone notices, but it is ultimately better to do it the right way.

    In my case, I think the problem was 50% me (I was also raised to think in terms of shame/penance and it’s something I have to actively fight off). But after I left and was able to look back more clear-headedly, I think it was also 50% the job. I realized, looking back, how much of a departing supervisor’s duties had slowly crept onto my plate, and how much of the information I was responsible for gathering was undercut by other people’s horrible record-keeping, and how frustrating it was that my hours remained part-time despite taking on a second person’s work. I should have spoken up, but there was a little bit of a “frog in boiling water” effect, where the bad stuff piled up in such tiny increments that I didn’t notice at first.

    The situation was actually more salvageable than I realized — when I had the “I’m quitting” conversation, my manager actually told me they knew they had messed up on staffing and were getting someone to take over the supervisor duties, and were actually considering me for another position! But I didn’t take it because I just couldn’t navigate the company’s dysfunction for another second. It was an honest to god mental health hazard. Walking away didn’t lead me to an awesome job right away, but I did land at a place I genuinely love six months later. There is a galaxy of difference between a workplace where you are given the time and tools to do your job and good communication from your manager, and one where you aren’t.

    So, I agree that some of this might be down to the OP’s need to have a real, honest conversation with their boss. A reality check might actually reveal that you’re doing better than you think you are. That’s almost always how it’s been for me. But, I’d also raise the possibility that you might be accurately sensing problems in your workplace. I don’t know if those problems are resignation-worthy. But I know that as part of my shame-penance-anxiety way of thinking, I have often personalized things that were actually problems with my workplace and not with me. As much as you can, try to step back and see if that’s what’s happening.

  15. Allison*

    2: I’ve always tried to maintain boundaries between my managers and my personal life, which usually means not “friending” a manager until after I’ve moved on to another job. But I did actually have a manager give me a hard time for not being his friend, on Facebook or in real life, and sometimes I wonder if in that case those boundaries hurt me rather than helped. I think problems can arise when people feel pressured to be best buds with their bosses.

    3: Interesting, at FirstJob I had a co-worker tell me something similar, that we weren’t legally allowed to hire someone who didn’t fit the stated job requirements. It seemed ridiculous, but I didn’t question it at the time, because I was sure it came from a higher up who knew what they were doing. I wonder where people get that idea?

    1. TK*

      I’m wondering if it this particular university or at public universities in this particular state, there actually was some kind of legal requirement when it came to faculty qualifications when hiring. That sounds weird, but not totally off-the-wall, and it would explain the professor’s impression.

      1. fposte*

        That’s pretty unlikely, though. It’s just not something the law generally gets up to, and I think it would be more publicized if it were true.

        1. Manager Anonymous*

          When I was writing a job description for a new hire, I was told by HR person who was guiding me that there were certain requirements that I couldn’t legally include like level of education for this certain position.

          I think it was less about legal and more about pay scale… I could hire someone with a masters (and I did) but I couldn’t “require” one.

  16. MT*

    #2. We had an incident where an hourly employee posted something on facebook, during company time and we had to fire them. His manager who he was friends with on facebook, found the picture and we had no choice but to remove him. We had a long debate within our group and with HR, about what to do. I don’t know why someone would be friends with a supervisor on facebook.

    1. Kelly L.*

      Was this for posting on FB at all, or was the actual picture inappropriate? If the former, then obviously he was wasting time and it might have been worth a warning, but I would see immediate termination as an overreaction.

      1. MT*

        It was both. They posted a picture of themselves driving in a company car, driving well above the speed limit.

        1. MT*

          We do have a no person cell phone policy while on the clock. If they would have posted any picture while on the clock, they would just been written up for that, but not fired.

    2. Ezri*

      We had a facebook-firing at my undergraduate job, when a supervisor ditched a graveyard shift for a concert and posted a picture of himself there. That was a cautionary tale for the rest of us for some time to come.

    3. Beth*

      I probably should have been more specific…. the people I had to unfriend are not people I directly supervise – ever. They work in other parts of the company and even other buildings. There is a blanket policy of not being able to be friends on facebook with people who are on a different level than you. So I have a friend – who works for the same parent company – but I different agency. For argument sake – think about 2 companies that Landry’s owns: Morton’s and Charley’s crab. If one person is a manager at Mortons and one is a waitress at Charley’s crab – they cannot be friends on Facebook. I just think it’s a little much….

  17. Katie the Fed*

    OP #1 – you seem to be thinking about this in a very all-or-nothing way.

    You know, your manager probably expects you to make mistakes as you learn. It’s part of the process.

    Here’s the thing – they’re probably going to find out sooner than later, so you need to have the conversation. It’s far better for them to hear it from you than to find out later and question your integrity. And you might be making mistakes because your workload is too much, or something else your manager can adjust.

    You need to talk to your boss, ASAP. Lay it all out there. The mistakes you made, why you didn’t tell her previously, etc. Apologize for not coming to her sooner. Then ask what she wants you to do.

    Unless these were the kinds of mistakes that will cost the company a buttload of money or get them in legal trouble, I don’t think it’s unsalvageable. But it DEFINITELY is if you don’t have the conversation. Do it today.

    1. Meg Murry*

      And I would add – don’t forget that a buttload of money to you may only be drops in the bucket to your company. So yes, even if your screwup is in the relm of thousands of dollars – that’s less than 1% if they have a $1M in annual expenditures. So look at the bigger picture – its not “oh my gosh I’ve cost the company hundred of dollars in late fees” its “the late fees will increase the overall payments to TWC by a few % this year, and I’ll put a system in place to avoid this kind of thing from happening in the future.”

    2. Windchime*

      Yes, this. Would you rather be remembered as the new person who asked lots of questions and came up with some cool new process to prevent mistakes (and handled mistakes professionally and maturely), or as the person who made errors and then slunk out into the night without admitting or attempting to fix anything?

  18. TotesMaGoats*

    #1-I’m hearing a lot of really negative self-talk in your letter. You may not even realize how much anxiety and doubt is coming across. Please don’t just resign. Sit down and outline the things you think you are royally screwing up. Don’t do this to make a list of your short comings but for two reasons. 1) So, when you go and talk with your boss about how you think you are doing you’ll have somewhere to work from 2) You can properly categorize the mistakes you are making and their impact/priority level. Your boss can help with this.

    You may not have heard anything from your boss because 1)the mistakes aren’t that big or are expected from a newbie 2)they know you need training in a certain area and you don’t have it yet. There is the option that your boss is clueless but I’d say that it’s more likely that they are giving a new employee the benefit of the doubt.

    Key takeaway: Go talk to your boss. Don’t resign.

    #5-Please be patient. Those dates we tell you are what we are hoping for but we know it’s possible that it will get pushed. I can think of maybe 2 hires out of 20 that the person started on the first date we gave them. I promise they haven’t forgotten. They do have other jobs to do.

    1. Sadsack*

      I agree, I think OP1 will be relieved after talking to the manager and creating a plan for tackling the issues. Good luck!

  19. The Other Dawn*


    OP, you need to get out of your head and into your job. Meaning, stop thinking about all the mistakes you’re making, how you’re a liability to the company, how you should quit, how you’re not good enough and that something is “wrong” with you, etc. All that does is create a big black hole of crappy feelings and low self esteem, which will then lead to even more mistakes. Start double checking your work before you hit the Submit button, or have someone else check it; ask for help when you need it; and come clean with your boss. Don’t take the easy way out and run. It might be easy for you, but your former coworkers will resent you for leaving a mess behind that you didn’t have the guts to come clean about. At that company you’ll be forever known as the person who ran away and left a big mess for others to clean up. And those former coworkers may pop up somewhere in the future and dash your chances of getting that job you really want.

  20. The Other Dawn*


    How does your company know that people are friends on Facebook anyway? If people have their privacy settings set correctly, they wouldn’t be able to see your friends. Any are they really checking everyone’s profiles to make sure people aren’t friends?? Sounds like someone has too much time on their hands.

  21. Big10Professor (was AdjunctForNow)*

    #3) This reads as a comment about a government job. Saying it’s “illegal” to hire a non-PhD is a little too strong, but in most cases, it can’t happen until the job is re-categorized and so on. So, I’d be interested in more context…did the OP lose out on a job to a non-PhD and wants to bring a lawsuit? The comment from your advisor is nonsense; ignore her. Is the OP hiring, and wants to put a non-PhD in a job that was advertised as requiring a PhD? Now the comment from your advisor makes sense…if you are a state university, it is very likely that you’d have to repost, readvertise, and rescreen applicants.

    1. reader*

      Big difference between company policy and procedures and legality. Most things are legal but against policy.

      1. LBK*

        I don’t know if this applies to hiring, but there are actually laws about firing someone without following the company’s written policy (although most policies also include a clause about managers having discretionary authority to fire outside the written process, so it circumvents the law).

        1. fposte*

          My impression is that there aren’t specific laws saying that (especially not federally); it’s that there are situations and locales where a company’s policy has been considered to have the status of a contract, so employees fired outside of company policy have had a contract breach.

          But could be there’s something weird and Californian in there :-). So do expand if so.

          1. LBK*

            Yeah, my Google results were murky the last time I looked this up; I couldn’t find anything that seemed totally reputable that backed it up, but my impression was like yours – that there is at least precedent for someone winning a wrongful termination suit based on a company violating their own policy, not based on a discrimination claim, even though it may not be specifically outlined in EEOC etc. guidelines.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Promises made in employee handbooks are generally found to be binding, which is why smart companies use wording like “we may do XYZ” rather than “we shall do XYZ”; the latter can be legally binding in a handbook.

  22. Bea W*

    Dear AAM,
    Is it legal for colleges to give stunning awful career advise? Some of it is so bad it feels like it should be criminal.

  23. Who are you?*

    #2 – I worked for a company that didn’t have a policy in place for social media. I was “friends” with several people including a woman who had just been promoted to a manager position. She wasn’t my manager, but did work under my manager. I’ve always made it a point to keep my Facebook posts positive because my mother drilled Thumper’s words into my head from birth: if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. It was a snowy winter and I lived in nothern New England. I made a comment about how the snow falling meant yet another school cancellation. Nothing negative about my job. In fact, my job wasn’t even mentioned. During my review my manager (who I wasn’t “friends” with) pulled out a printed screen shot of that status update and put into my review that I was badmouthing the company on social media. Turns out that the recently promoted manager was keeping tabs on the employees Facebook pages and turning people in for what she perceived as negative to the company comments. No amount of my arguing that I hadn’t done that changed the fact that this was now in my file. I was pissed. I unfriended everyone I worked with and have made it my own policy to keep my Facebook page work free.

    1. Observer*

      I don’t think I would worry about this being in your file, especially if the actual screen shot is there as well.. Your manager sounds like a raving lunatic, though. If anyone else in a position of authority actually agrees that a comment about school snow days constitutes bad mouthing the company, then I would really think about starting an under-the-radar job search.

      But, unfriending people you work with was a reasonable response to this kind of stupidity.

      1. Beth*

        wow – this is not anything that has happened at my work or why they are asking people to unfriend people. But that would definitely piss me off to no end!!! Sounds like people have too much time on their hands if they are concerned with you making comments about the weather.

  24. Accountant*

    To OP #1– Whoa nelly! I am not sure whether you work in public accounting or private, but from the public accounting viewpoint, I’ve been told that I won’t feel like I know what I’m doing on a basic level until I’ve been doing the job for 2-3 years. And you’re about to quit after three months? I felt completely stupid pretty much every day of my first year and made tons of mistakes. Now that I’m nearing the end of my second year, I’m finally starting to “get it”, which is an extremely rewarding feeling. I still make a lot of mistakes, but I am learning, I am understanding, and I am getting better.

    Accounting can be extremely complex, and I wouldn’t give up so easily. I was always really good at school, and really good at the “easy” jobs I had before this, so it was a bit of a shock to my system (and a blow to my ego) to come into an environment where the work is so challenging. What has really helped is taking full advantage of my coworkers’ and bosses’ years of experience and knowledge. We all help each other. I’d really urge you to stick it out for at least a few more months (or years!) if you can.

    1. De Minimis*

      This sounds more like private. You can learn a ton at these type of jobs, because you get to see a lot of financial processes first hand instead of just seeing them as totals on a balance sheet.

  25. Poohbear McGriddles*

    Re: #3

    The requirements in the job posting are what define your qualified applicant pool. If a PhD is listed as a requirement, then considering a non-PhD for the position is the same as scrubbing that qualification from the list (or making it optional at least). Now you have to consider all non-PhD’s who are otherwise qualified, which could significantly widen your applicant pool. This would make a discrimination claim more likely, IMO, and would certainly make the process more complicated.

    1. fposte*

      Sure, but it still doesn’t make it illegal. Heck, I could probably do that on a state search as long as I completed a waiver.

      1. Joey*

        Not automatically illegal, but possibly illegal upon a review of the facts.

        Managers will scream from the mountain tops that they aren’t considering illegal factors, but they have no idea what the data actually illustrates.

        1. fposte*

          Sure, lots of things could be illegal on review of the facts. But the professor’s outright statement that this is illegal is wrong. (And the marital status thing isn’t even a federally protected category, for heaven’s sake–not only is it legal to ask, it’s legal to hire based on the answer, provided you’re not under more stringent local laws and it doesn’t have disparate impact on a group for illegal reasons.)

          I think it’s important to differentiate the things that are outright illegal from those that aren’t.

    2. LBK*

      Now you have to consider all non-PhD’s who are otherwise qualified, which could significantly widen your applicant pool.

      But obviously I would already be considering non-PhDs who are otherwise qualified. If I weren’t, how would I have even found the first person who fit that description?

      1. Joey*

        Managers make one off exceptions all the time. All you have to say is “I know someone who’d be great” and qualifications won’t usually stop them from persuing that candidate.

        1. LBK*

          That doesn’t disprove my point, though – if you are truly, purely looking only for people with PhDs, you wouldn’t consider an applicant who didn’t have one even if given a glowing recommendation by a trusted colleague. If you were willing to accept that person as a candidate, you’ve clearly already made the mental caveat that there are exceptions to the requirements listed in the posting.

          I always assume that unless required by law, any job qualification has an implied footnote that says something like “or comparable experience/ability”. Even ones that say they’re required for consideration.

      2. Poohbear McGriddles*

        I would imagine people apply for jobs all the time without having all of the listed qualifications, with the hope that the hiring manager will overlook the fact that they don’t have the 20 years of experience required for the entry level position. Especially with all of the typos in online listings these days, it’s easy to convince yourself that surely they don’t want all that they say they want.

        1. LBK*

          Right – I think that agrees with my point, though, not disagrees. Maybe I’m wrong but I thought it was just culturally understood on both the hiring and application side that the qualifications listed on job posting are never set in stone (unless it’s something like a certification/license that’s legally required to do the job).

          Is that not a common perception? I’ve applied for a lot of positions where I didn’t meet the exact list of requirements, especially the requested number of years of experience…

          1. Poohbear McGriddles*

            The listed requirements (as opposed to “pluses” or “nice-to-haves”) determine who is qualified. So if a PhD is listed and you reject a non-PhD as unqualified, no problem. Unless you interview another non-PhD, because the assumption is that you are only interviewing applicants you deem qualified.
            It’s certainly your prerogative to interview people who lack the listed qualifications – you just can’t reject others who lack them solely on the basis that they lack them anymore. But you don’t have to interview even all fully qualified candidates.
            This is why employment law is such a big business (accompanied by the standard – and possible dirty looking – IANAL disclaimer).

            1. Big10Professor (was AdjunctForNow)*

              You CAN reject others who lack the PhD solely on the listed qualifications. It only becomes a problem if those rejections disproportionately affect a protected group.

              Ex: you have applications from 9 PhD-holding men and 1 PhD-holding woman, and 1 MS-holding man and 9 MS-holding women. If you say a PhD is a requirement, and choose to interview 5 candidates, and all 5 are PhD-holding men, you are probably okay…there is a decent probability of randomly choosing 5 men out of a pool of 9 men and 1 woman (50%, if I’m doing my combinatorics correctly).

              Now, if you interview 4 PhD-holding men and 1 MS-holding man, suddenly there is no distinction, and you’ve now interviewed 5 men and no women out of a pool of 10 of each. The probability of that happening by pure chance is only 1.6%. Now you are opening yourself up to trouble.

            2. LBK*

              Unless you interview another non-PhD, because the assumption is that you are only interviewing applicants you deem qualified.
              It’s certainly your prerogative to interview people who lack the listed qualifications – you just can’t reject others who lack them solely on the basis that they lack them anymore.

              That’s completely untrue. Listed requirements are not legally binding by any stretch of the imagination. I can say in the job posting that I want you to have 3 PhDs and 20 years of experience and then hire an 18-year-old off the street who’s never worked a day in her life without interviewing anyone else and there’s nothing illegal about that. And I can also take 10 people who have exactly the same qualifications and choose to only interview 1 of them because his resume is scented and I think that’s funny, and that’s not illegal either.

              Hiring processes are designed around getting the person in the door who will do the job the best. They aren’t designed around being fair to every person that applies. It’s certainly not illegal to screen out some people who lack certain qualifications while interviewing people who also lack those qualifications, and I wouldn’t even consider it unethical.

            3. Ask a Manager* Post author

              So this isn’t quite correct :)

              IF you faced a discrimination lawsuit for other reasons, it’s possible that they could point this out as part of a larger pattern of evidence — but it’s not on its own inherently something that you “can’t do.” It’s very, very common and very legal to do it.

    3. Observer*

      “Now you have to consider all non-PhD’s who are otherwise qualified, which could significantly widen your applicant pool”

      Not necessarily. Yes, if this were part of a larger pattern, that could be a problem. But this fact certainly could not be the sole grounds for a lawsuit.

  26. HigherEd Admin*

    At what point do we get to revoke college faculty and staff’s right to talk about career stuff, since they so often get it wrong?

    :( AAM hurts my heart this morning. Not all of us are bad! Some of us go through GREAT pains to make sure we are keeping current on hiring trends and talk to actual hiring managers about what they do and what is important to them.

    1. Eden*

      It bears noting also that LOTS of career advice websites get it wrong, job seeking advice books get it wrong–college career counselors are certainly not the only presumed ‘experts’ who give out terrible, outdated advice. I don’t mean to excuse it, but it’s widespread, and the reason I am so grateful to have found this site.

    2. tt*

      I know, every time I read these types of comments on this site, I’m depressed for the rest of the day. Then I have to stop and remind myself that I work very hard to be thorough and accurate, that I’ve received positive feedback from students AND employers that I’ve collaborated with, and most if not all of the advice I give people aligns with what Alison says, so I must be doing something right!

  27. De Minimis*

    For #1…I was a really bad employee at several jobs both during and right after school, and was really irresponsible as far as quitting with no notice. I eventually became better, and thankfully those days are long enough ago now where I don’t think they’d ever come up again, but I would have had a much easier time during my 20s if I’d at least attempted to do things right as far as leaving a job and also how to handle mistakes. This situation sounds like a professional office type job, so it’s more likely to have bearing on what you do in the future.

    Try to work with your supervisor to see about how to address the issues you’re having.

  28. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    #1 – In rare circumstances, you would leave an office immediately. But in this one, still offer the two-week notice. There could also be offers to assist in shifting to another job, help you out, etc. And as AAM said – somewhere down the road you might bump into someone at a company where you’re a candidate and the fact that you walked out could come back to haunt you.

    #3 – sometimes a company will assemble a job description and requirements set that no one can meet. Example – what if someone wanted six years of specific experience in a computing platform that has only been available for two years? This occurs – and is sometimes used by employers to defend “we couldn’t find anyone in the United States to fill these positions, we need more H1B visas, see?”

  29. Susan*

    #1 – I agree with a lot of people that posted before me; do not walk in to talk to your manager expecting to resign. Talk to your manager about your performance concerns. Listen to what he or she has to say. You might be overemphasizing the importance of these errors or you may not but the important part is being up front. No one is expected to be perfect, especially at the start of a new job.

    I also want to suggest that when you talk to your boss you come in with the following:
    1. Here’s the mistake (or problem)
    2. Here’s what I think should be done to fix it, do you agree?

    It’s step 2 that is the important part. Mistakes are not the issue, it’s owning up to them and thinking through what can be done to fix them that is critical.

  30. Jake*


    Is it possible that since this is your first job out of school that you are not doing nearly as bad as you think? I’ve been out for over 3 years and I STILL feel like I’m a colossal fuck up most of the time.

    This is in spite of a couple promotions, top tier raises, positive feedback and reviews. I’ve found that a candid conversation with my manager about my many failings end up with them saying that mistakes are just part of the learning process. I’d try to talk with them first.

  31. Observer*

    #1 No time to read everything, so I’m surely repeating what others have said. But, I agree with others that you need to speak to your manager. DO NOT leave without notice, because that feeds all the negative stereotypes. On the other hand, the worst case scenario – getting fired because you didn’t pick up all the important but never communicated rules in three months on the job – is going to be much better for you. Also, if your manager is at all reasonable, you won’t lose your job.

    Be specific, factual and solution oriented. eg “Jane told me I need approvals for each bill, even the monthly recurring ones. Is that correct? Are there any other procedures I need to know about?” “Could I have a list of all accounts for which there are issues, so I can take precautions with them?” “If I overpaid a bill, what is our normal process for handling that?” etc.

    Lots of luck with this.

    1. De Minimis*

      It seems like a lot of the problem is just trying to adjust to an organization that may have poor communication or inconsistent policies and practices. Often that’s just part of working life, and I don’t think many managers would expect someone to have everything down in a few month’s time.

  32. Mason*

    #3 – In some regulated industries (for example medical devices regulated by the FDA), job descriptions define a role and can define requirements.
    So if you have a position where someone doesn’t meet the requirements, you can be in violation of a regulation.
    I’m not saying it’s common, I’m saying it’s possible.

    1. Anonymous*

      Teaching also can work for this, as public schools will often be required by law to employ teachers with certification of some sort. Dropping the certification would be legally problematic.

      Another possibility could be if a qualification was required based on immigration law. For example, many professions listed in NAFTA have certain qualifications required and if you hired a foreign worker without it it’d be illegal. Though not so much for dropping the qualification as it would be for hiring a worker who wasn’t legally allowed to work in the country.

  33. Mabel*

    RE: 1. Should I resign without notice since I’m making so many mistakes?
    About 10 years ago I got my first job as a manager, and it was a stretch for me. After I got started, I realized there was so much to keep track of and so many aspects to the job that I hadn’t realized (I had very little transition time from the previous manager). I worked a LOT of overtime in the first three or four months to keep my head above water, and what really helped was – instead of constantly worrying “what if I can’t do this job?”, I finally decided that if I couldn’t do the job, I would get fired. It might sound weird, but that was a big relief, and I could then focus on doing the job and not waste so much energy worrying. I also decided that I would ask my manager for help if/when I needed it. I don’t know what the issues/mistakes are for the OP of question #1, but if there are skills the OP could learn (ways to keep track of what needs to get done and when, for example), it’s possible that the OP’s manager would be happy to help the OP learn what s/he needs to do in order to succeed. Managers don’t generally want to fire people who are making mistakes if they’re willing to work on issues and improve. Sure, sometimes the person just can’t do the job, but it doesn’t sound like the OP has done anything yet to find out if that’s the case. I can completely understand being mortified to find out I’m not as good as I thought I was at something and hoping no one would ever find out, but I think it would be good for the OP to put aside his/her humiliation and see if s/he can get some help from the manager. I hope it works out well, whatever happens!

  34. newbie*

    Ever since my old, luddite boss was let go in the purge of a few years ago, the first thing I do when I get a new boss is block them on facebook. I have no interest in anyone perusing my feed, even though i never post about work. I think it’s just completely inappropriate when we have no relationship outside work.

    To the OP, I don’t think anyone is saying to *ask* your bosses if it’s ok to have a separate ‘work-only’ facebook. I think they’re saying to just do it and make sure that’s the only one they can see. It’s preposterous to expect you to unfriend actual RL friends who predate your job and aren’t your direct reports.

  35. Rich*


    I went on an interview last November. My employer said they would be in touch with me with a definite answer during the Thanksgiving weekend. The weekend passed, and nothing. Monday came, and nothing. Tuesday came… and they called me at6:30 pm and asked if I could start Wednesday at 8:00 am. Their timelines will never be definite, as they’re not usually definitive. Best of luck!

    1. fposte*

      That’s about holding the job, though, not about the words in the ad being legally binding. All kinds of jobs require you to hold various certifications–that’s not the same thing as being bound by the terms of the ad.

    2. Twentymilehike*

      I’m a little late to the party here, but this is kind of what I was thinking … Like if you are hiring a medical doctor, it is probably not legal to hire a person without a medical degree and just decide to call them a doctor.

      Unless you are Homer Wells and you have very good fakes.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes, but as fposte points out, that’s about legal regulations for who can actually perform that job, not for what you advertise. You could advertise for doctors who didn’t have any post high school training or who had a background in fine arts. That would be perfectly legal to do, as long as you didn’t actually hire doctors without a medical degree.

  36. Ck*

    For #4 – how far out your start date is can vary dramatically based on company needs and your needs.

    I’ve taken a job before where the employer wanted a start date of “this afternoon”, while for my most recent job, I asked for and received a start date about 4 months after I accepted the offer.

    Huge differences. Ask and find out.

  37. Willow Sunstar*

    Personally, I would never rant about work on Facebook. I have former coworkers as my friends, so it would be too easy to get back to the boss. I use an anonymous blog without my real name or other details attached, and I always sub in names for people I talk about. I actually have an identity on that blog that I don’t use anywhere else on the web. Additionally, I don’t post anything negative on Facebook because it’s under my real name, and I have mostly real-life friends on it. Mostly, I use it for the flower photos I like to take, or my fractal art that I do, or Star Trek/Star Wars memes. That’s it.

  38. OP #5*


    I just received an email from the hiring manager notifying me of their decision to go with another candidate. The timeline apparently had not changed as the start date is the 8th and the candidate they chose was notified EOW just as they told he/she would be during my 2nd interview.

    I have done hiring before and I was pretty straight forward but kind when I served in the role. I guess I don’t quite understand the lack of transparency with some managers today. The hiring manager clearly knew they would have a decision by Friday and chose to tell me something else. I didn’t call too early, I called right on time; I think their decision coming today proves that.
    That said, I’m not terribly disappointed about not getting the job as I was overqualified for it and looking to gain experience at a smaller company when, per an EVP in my field, I’ll need to put in my dues for promotion at one of the bigger firms, not at a nonprofit in a position with less responsibility.

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