a secretary is holding up my job offer, I’m worried about how my peers will react to my promotion, and more

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

1. I’ve reached out to a company three times and haven’t heard back

I applied for a job that I’m very confident I can do to help the company achieve their vision. It’s in a creative field, and I believe that applying in this field takes a little more than just emailing over a CV and cover letter. My application was sent by post – a handmade boxed presentation containing my CV, cover letter, printed samples of my work, and a USB drive with all the documentation digitally.

Three weeks after sending the presentation, I emailed the company (only a general email is listed on their website) to check that the materials were received and to reiterate my passion for the job. Over two weeks have passed since that email, so I called the company. After a quick call where I didn’t get the impression the operator understood that I had sent my work by post, she informed me that she will find out who is “dealing with applications” and call me back. (It’s been 3 days since that call.)

Should I try and contact the director whom I know (from extensive research) is the hiring manager and whom I will be working with the most? I honestly think I this job is tailored to my skills, passion and vision and it’s remarkable (from my research) how similar the company and I are. The job listing is still up – it’s been up 8 weeks so far.

Noooo. You’ve already reached out three times — that’s two times more than they wanted you to. You also went way above what they asked for in your initial application. If you continue to try to circumvent the process they have set up for accepting and considering applications, you risk turning them off completely.

Frankly, that initial package was a risk on its own. Most employers want applicants to apply online for a reason, and aren’t thrilled when applicants sidestep clearly stated application instructions. Continuing to call after that carries a high risk of being labeled a nuisance.

They know that you’re interested. At this point, the ball is in their court. If they want to talk with you further, they’ll get in touch. Meanwhile, the best thing you can do is to put this job out of your head and move on. Do not contact them again.

2. I’m worried about how my peers will react to my promotion

I started my current job (let’s call it a senior teapot analyst) about three months ago. There are two divisions of senior teapot analysts; the first is just a “senior teapot analyst” and the second is a “senior teapot analyst” and “teapot program director” (they retain both titles). When I was hired for my position, I was told that in the future they’d like to consider me to take on the director role. In some ways, I disregarded this statement based on my previous experiences. I was told the same thing at my last job, with a definitive time frame (one year), yet when that time came, was told I didn’t have enough experience for that title. I assumed that the “future” meant at least a year, if not a few years, and I was fine with this.

My boss (the current director) has told me she wants to step down and wants me to take over, with the announcement being made next week and the official transfer happening in January. I am excited about this — my career goal for the past few years is to get the director title — but I am also worried I am going to receive ire from other staff, especially since I am only 29, have only had the credential I need for about 2.5 years (this credential is needed from analyst through senior and director) and have been working in a slightly different field for the last five years. Most of the analysts are the same age as I am and although I have more work experience (and a much bigger network), I feel really strange even being in the senior role, let alone as a director. To compound this, I now work with someone I went to school with, who is my exact same age and finished her credential two years after I did. She is only an analyst, rather than a senior. The other senior analysts are older than me and have been at the organization much longer than I am. They are, however, in other divisions, so it makes sense for me, as the only senior analyst in my division, to take the directorship.

My boss and the vice president seem confident and eager for me to take this role, but I want to do it in a way where I don’t make others feel cheated out of the opportunity or that I am too young and “green” to do this. Perhaps it’s because I myself feel this way, but I know I don’t want to forego this opportunity. My boss wants to stress, in the announcement, that this is her idea and its because she wants to step down, but I still feel there will be questions. What can I do to be successful with this promotion and avoid pissing off my coworkers in the process?

Read this, because you have imposter syndrome.

29 is not a child, so no, it is not outrageous that you’ve earned this. You acknowledge that you have more work experience than the other analysts. Your boss and your VP are confident that you’ll do well in the role. You don’t seem to have any qualms about that yourself; you’re only worried that it will be an issue for others. It’s highly unlikely to be an issue for others, but if it is, that’s a problem that’s 100% on their side. It’s not about you.

Read this about impostor syndrome, read this about managing former peers, and congratulate yourself on your promotion.

3. My job offer is being held up by an admin who doesn’t seem too concerned

I’ve been looking for a job for months. I hadn’t seen any light until recently, when I was called for an interview. It went great, and they called me for a second interview (I had to go in a hurry to the second interview since the secretary didn’t inform me quickly). The second interview also went great (it was last Thursday). The manager told me they’d send me a job offer as soon as possible and I would hear from them the very next day (last Friday).

I didn’t receive the offer Friday. I called on Monday to inquire what happened, and the secretary told me she first needed to email HR; after that, I would receive my job offer almost immediately. Furthermore, she told me she hadn’t had time to send HR the email as she had been rather busy but that she would take care of it the next day. I asked her if she wanted me to remind her, and she told me, “It’s okay, but if you want you can call me tomorrow afternoon.”

I’m pretty worried as I’m starting to think she doesn’t have the slightest interest in informing HR so they can send me the job offer. I’ve thought about emailing her with a follow up while cc’ing her supervisor, but I don’t want to come as a passive-aggressive problematic candidate or start with the wrong foot. Considering I don’t even work in the company yet, I believe that would be rather risky. I feel frustrated as I don’t know what to do. Should I move on and keep looking for other jobs? Should I send the secretary a follow up email, cc’ing the supervisor? Should I just email her and wait if she decides or feels like taking action? (It might never happen.)

If this organization wants to hire you, they’re going to make you an offer. They’re not going to just not notice that their secretary never bothered to get the offer out. That said, it certainly might take longer if they don’t realize that it hasn’t happened yet.

But instead of continuing to follow up with the secretary, who has shown she doesn’t have much of a sense of urgency about it, I’d send a quick email to the hiring manager, saying something like, “I just wanted to thank you again for meeting with me last week. I’m looking forward to receiving the formal offer you mentioned and am really excited about the prospect of working together. (In case we’ve crossed wires anywhere, I haven’t received the offer yet. Let me know if there’s anything you need on my side.)”

4. Where’s my promotion?

I work in nonprofit management and have been in the same role for over 1.5 years. I have been asking for a promotion for the past 6 months now, and each time have been told that my work is at the next level, but have also been given a series of hoops and hurdles to jump over, many unrelated to my job. Though I have managed to check off each of those arbitrary tasks, each time I bring promotion up, I get a similar response.

The last straw has been that while they want to promote me, our department did not have the budget or headcount for promotions until either someone leaves or they re-budget for the new year. That sounded reasonable, but today I learn that we have been sitting on headcount that we don’t plan on using. I’m not sure what my course of action should be now, as I don’t want to seem singularly focused on getting promoted, or accusatory towards management. I also know that being passive means not getting what I want or deserve. Thus, I’m leaning towards sending my manager an email expressing my confusion over the situation, but wasn’t sure.

If you want to talk to your manager about this, do it face to face, not in email. This is a conversation, not a one-way declaration.

But you know, you’ve only been there a year and a half. That’s not usually enough time to get promoted. And you apparently started asking about it six months ago, which for most jobs would be wildly premature. You’re very antsy over something that generally wouldn’t even be under consideration for at least another year or so.

Regardless, actions speak louder than words. Your manager has made it clear that she’s not jumping to promote you. Personally, I think that’s reasonable given how little time you’ve been in your role (although she should just tell you that directly if that’s where she’s coming from), but if you disagree, you can always try to promote yourself into a job outside the organization. But I’d relax and give it a more reasonable timeline.

5. Two weeks notice when a holiday falls during the notice period

I’m wondering what the proper etiquette is for submitting your two-week notice when the second week could potentially fall in the middle of a holiday. If the office is closed (for Thanksgiving) the last 2.5 days of your last week, are you obligated to make up those days in the following week?

Well, two weeks notice is a professional convention, not a requirement. So there aren’t laws or even formal rules that govern this stuff, and there’s often room to just work it out directly with your employer. In the case you describe, it wouldn’t be crazy to assume that those two days the office are closed are included in your notice period (and thus you don’t need to extent it to the following week) — but if you have flexibility on your end and your job would be helped by having the additional transition time, it would certainly be a nice gesture to ask your employer how they’d like you to handle it.

{ 288 comments… read them below }

  1. Sourire*

    #3 – I really like Alison’s advice and wording here and would go with that. Definitely do not email thw admin and cc her supervisor. The last thing you want is to annoy a coworker by making her feel undermined before you’ve even started.

    1. Kelly O*

      The other thing is, the admin may be making an excuse for something out of her control, but doesn’t really want you to know that the VP is out of the office, or someone else is not responding to her, and she’s trying to buy a little time. I’m not saying it makes it “right” but I’ve taken a lot of heat over the years for someone over my head stalling or being unavailable to sign something I needed signed.

      1. MK*

        I don’t want to alarm the OP, but it’s even possible that the manager was overly enthusiastic in the interview and the offer isn’t a done deal. They could be having second thoughts or the manager might not have the final say on this.

        1. Creag an Tuire*

          Seconding this, since the OP asked: “Should I move on and keep looking for other jobs?” Alison’s made the point before that you shouldn’t stop searching until you have a formal offer in hand (or even until your butt is firmly ensconced at your new desk). You have no idea what could be happening behind the scenes.

        2. Artemesia*

          This. It is very unlikely someone at the bottom of the hierarchy is somehow holding up a hire; it is much more likely that someone up the chain is unavailable or dragging their feet, or sadly that someone has decided not to go forward and no one has told the OP yet. One of the most awkward experiences of my life was attending a social event of a firm where my husband had been given what he thought was an offer and had been thus invited to this event — and then it fell apart in the firm and no one remembered we had been invited to the party and no one told him that it was no longer the done deal the hiring manager thought it was. We were getting this odd vibe — not being made welcome and I told my husband that the offer had obviously fallen through — he was incredulous, but I was right. Awful. Awful. Awful.

          If they want to hire you, they hire you. When you get the run around, it is not going to be the secretary who is the problem. Maybe they are slow or maybe they have changed their mind but the only way to be sure is to contact the hiring manager not go through the admin. It is the job of the admin to cover for the bosses — that is where the issue most probably is.

          1. Zubogaj*

            Thanks for sharing your story Artemesia. That event must’ve been awful indeed, and also sad. I hope the offer hasn’t fallen apart; yet, I’ve seen with my own eyes similar things to happen to very close friends. For one thing I completely agree: if they’re interested they will send me the offer.

          2. Miss Chnadler Bong*

            I don’t think your offer is necessarily going to fall through, OP, but I also wouldn’t keep bugging the admin. It really hasn’t been that long although I definitely feel your pain! I was underemployed and waiting awhile for my background checks and references to go through while the hiring manager told me they were planning to give me an offer for my current job. And they did, and yes the waiting SUCKED and I think I probably did contact my hiring manager too many times during that time period to say “Are you doing my reference checks? Have you done them?” And then she finally officially offered at to me the day BEFORE the HR assistant finally called my references. Candidate Time moves waaaayyyy slower than Employer Time. Waiting really stinks. It’s also what you need to do (while yes, not closing the door on other opportunities just yet– but I think you’ll probably get that offer soon).

            1. Zubogaj*

              Thank you for your input Miss Chnadler Bong. Yes, time is relative, and it feels different depending whether is the candidate’s side and the employer’s side. By the way, I have received answer. HR is working on my offer.

      2. Lily in NYC*

        I was coming to write this as well. I am a master at stalling and then blaming myself when in reality my boss has told me to hold off for some reason.

      3. SJP*

        KellyO I +1 this so much.

        As an admin/PA all my career I am always having to stall, fib or hold off people because of a higher up is super busy, out impromptu etc so yea… OP bare that in mind also.
        She may not be purposefully doing it, or is but having to due to instructions from someone above her..

        1. Kelly L.*

          I’ve had the experience where a boss was dodging someone’s calls, but wouldn’t just talk to the person directly and decline whatever it was they wanted. So this person would call several times a week, and I’d always tell them I would pass their message to the boss, and after a while the person started accusing me of lying and not relaying the message. Nope, I was relaying it each and every time, but I couldn’t make the boss call back.

          1. Mel*

            Oh yeah. I have had to do that SO MANY times. Most of the managers would eventually contact the people themselves, but I think it’s worse when they task you to do the dirty work of telling that person they aren’t interested. Inevitably they always blame the secretary/admin. I think people calling forget that it’s our job to be gate keepers and screen all the calls, though. It does make me laugh when people hang up because I dare ask them their name and reason for the call.
            I would have to say in this case, it really is two things: 1)the admin is stalling for the higher ups or 2) the admin was once again given too much to do in too little time and is simply prioritizing her tasks. I have been tasked with so many “urgent-I-need-this-done-yesterdays” all at once, so even something as simple as sending an email, took some time to get to. It stinks from the candidate standpoint, but such is the way of the business world sometimes.

    2. Zubogaj*

      Thanks for your input Sourire. Yes, I finally sent her an e-mail her “without cc’ing her supervisor”. It was a brief, concise, and courteous follow up e-mail. She answered my e-mail almost immediately in a polite and concise way. She informed she had already e-mailed HR yesterday so they can send me the offer.

  2. Mister Pickle*

    #4: maybe I’m just touchy tonight, but it bothers me that OP’s mgmt isn’t being honest with them, saying that yes, they’re performing at the next level … but always finding a reason to withold the promotion.

    If 1.5 years is too short of a time, mgmt should just tell them that. Although, my experience is that mgmt will frequently make a big deal over how “time in grade” doesn’t matter when it comes to promotion; the important thing is that the employee is working at the next level. Yadda yadda.

    To put it another way: it sounds like OP’s mgmt simply doesn’t want to promote them, but instead of giving a real reason, they’re just making up excuses. It does not leave me with a high opinion of OP’s mgmt.

    1. SJP*

      Mister Pickle, second that although it could be that the OP is working at the next level but doesn’t either have the right personality to be a (good) manager or that they may not be a good people person, or short temperated or whatever other reason which could be making management say no

      The OP may feel entitled to a promotion after 1.5 years but that persons manager may not have had enough time yet to really judge them on how well they could manage someone.
      Food for thought OP – Have do you interact with your peers? Or people in lower levels that you..? Are you short with them, or a little abrupt. Sometimes things happen which you might not see as a problem, that your manager does see that they do see as a problem..

      1. straws*

        The personality option strikes a chord with me. I have a couple of brilliant employees who would (currently) make poor managers; either they don’t treat others well or aren’t assertive enough. The manager still needs to be honest, but conversations about personality are some of the hardest and often avoided or danced around.

      2. MK*

        In that case, the OP’s manager should give them this feedback. “You are performing at the next level, but we need to see A from you/ you need to correct B/you need to aquire C, before the promotion happens” is perfectly reasonable responce.

        However, what may be happening is that the OP is getting feedback and disregarding it. All those “arbitrary and unrelated to the job hoops and hurdles” could actually be what the manager is expecting from the OP before feeling that they are ready for the promotion; and they could be expecting excellence at them, not just “checking them off”.

        1. Artemesia*

          But this would require competent management that gives clear feedback which is a rarity in my semi vast experience.

        2. OhNo*

          That was my thought as well – it sounds like management might be giving the OP some guidance on changes they would like to see before they promote, but the OP may not be taking these suggestions as seriously as they should. If management says “you need to do X before I can promote you”, they shouldn’t be just “checking off” the tasks. They should be owning those tasks completely, really putting in as much effort as they can for each, as a demonstration that they take feedback seriously and are willing to do the necessary work and make the necessary changes that come with moving up in the organization.

          So, OP, maybe take another look at those tasks that you’ve “checked off”. Did you go above and beyond on them, or did you do the bare minimum? Do you think there was something management wanted you to learn from them, that you can demonstrate that you learned?

          Also, perhaps it would be worth approaching this with a different tactic. Instead of pushing for a promotion, try going to someone on the management team and saying, “I understand that we can’t promote anyone right now, but is there anyway that I could get a mentor who can help prepare me for the promotion when it does become possible? When we are ready to do this, I want to really make sure I’m ready to move into the role.”

        3. Miss Where's My Promotion*

          Good point MK! I can add a little more detail to the situation. For instance, I was told one thing I needed to be better at was public speaking/presenting, despite the fact that my role is 100% internal facing. I took that feedback and sought out opportunities to present sessions for anywhere from 5-25 employees, several times each quarter. I’ve asked to practice with my manager before each of those and have gotten better and better feedback each time, to the point where I’ve been asked to present for other teams independently. Perhaps if I knew the true job description of the role I want to be in, it would be easier for me to make those connections between expectations and the actual role?

          1. Artemesia*

            I think they are telling you that ‘asking for promotion’ is not the way they really do things. They like your work but you aren’t ready for promotion.

          2. Zillah*

            Hmm. Your role may be 100% internal, but it doesn’t seem like you know exactly what would be entailed in the role you hope to be promoted into. It seems like that role may include public speaking/presenting. I can understand your frustration since it seems like you’ve been seeking out opportunities to develop this as much as you can, but a couple things are giving me pause:

            1) That you’ve asked to practice with your manager before each of these. It makes sense that you would do so if you don’t have much experience with public speaking/presenting, don’t get me wrong, but if a potential promotion would put you in a role that requires you to do that on a regular basis, they may want more of a track record than you have right now. I get that you’ve been asked to present for other teams independently, but to me, that actually seems like a good sign – there’s an effort being made to give you opportunities to develop those skills and build that track record.

            2) You don’t seem clear on what role you would be promoted to. If that’s the case, how are you confident that you’ll be able to do the job well, or even that you’ll want it at all? Why the rush for a promotion?

          3. Mel*

            I feel like this is very telling. How can you expect to be promoted if you do not know what position you would be promoted to? And how do you know you want the job if you do not know what it is? As an HR Manager, I would view this as just wanting a promotion for the sake of the promotion. I think it would be more beneficial to sit down and discuss what types of growth opportunities are available, as well as elaborate what type of work you are looking to do with the organization. I think what is happening here is not fully a run around, as much as they are testing your skills. It sounds like there may really only be one current promotion opportunity that is focused on public speaking and they are not confident that you would be a good fit. I think you need to sit down and evaluate if it is something that would be a good fit for you as well. If you are uncomfortable with public speaking, would you really enjoy doing a job that is heavy on it? Possibly doing several speaking events every day or week? I think it’s something you really need to consider. I would also advise you to try going to something like Toastmasters if you want to improve your skills without depending on your manager to teach you.

        4. LawBee*

          Yeah, I’m really curious about what the “job hoops and hurdles” could be that are both arbitrary and necessary for promotion. I suspect they’re not so much arbitrary. . .

      3. Not So NewReader*

        My question for OP is what is the norm in your company? If people have been waiting on promotions for 5, 6,7 years, you are going to look a little odd to them.

        And it could be that they are grooming you for a promotion by making you “jump through hoops”, and you don’t realize how you need to have those experiences under your belt before you move forward.

        Or it could be the company is run by a bunch of fools. I can’t really tell from what is said here. While you are mulling over what to do next, please consider looking your question at from different angles. If you can, figure out what the norm is for promotions at your company. I worked for one place where the norm was to zip your lip and wait 10-15 YEARS for a promotion. The more you talked about it, the further and further away you drifted from that promotion. Lots of people left, because of this. And yeah, they made you jump through some major hoops- it was easier and less painful to just go bang your head against a wall for hours.

      4. the_scientist*

        It’s hard to generalize about what length of time is reasonable before getting a promotion, though. In my boyfriend’s company, it’s about every year through the more junior roles, and then 3 years or so once you reach more senior levels. I’ve been at my job for just over a year- my title is analyst 1 (entry level in research) but functionally, since the summer I’ve been operating at a project coordinator level which is a more senior position and obviously pays more. My boss was 100% in agreement with me that I should have a coordinator title, but in my case there are union rules preventing this from happening. According to the rules of my union, you must have three years experience for a project coordinator position (they won’t count two years of grad school, even though a graduate degree is a requirement), so I’m basically stuck*. So while six months might be premature for promotion, one year isn’t always.

        * generally speaking I am a proponent of unions but this rule means I’ll basically need to leave the company because I’ll be bored out of my skull and completely unchallenged remaining at this level for another two years.

        1. ack!*

          Have you asked the union directly about those “union rules?” I say this because management frequently uses “union rules” as a justification for all kinds of questionable decisions, when the union actually wouldn’t have a problem with an employee being promoted, etc. The union is there to advocate for employees and help them increase their wages and improve their working conditions. So unless your promotion would cut somebody else out, I highly doubt that a union would stop the promotion of a good employee. I don’t know your specific situation, but I would be skeptical of management saying their hands are tied by the union. In many cases, that’s just not true, and it’s worthwhile to ask the union directly about it or check the contract.

      5. HigherEd Admin*

        Am I missing the part where OP indicates that a promotion means s/he would be managing someone?

        1. Colette*

          She says she’s in nonprofit management, but doesn’t specify the roles – but many higher level roles involve increased contact with other people, even if you’re not a manager, so interpersonal/soft skills could still be an issue.

      6. Angora*

        Sometimes when someone is a superstar at their current position employers will not advance them because they suspect that someone will never do as well. Or it’s a hard to fill position or they are afraid of losing someone in said position with institutional knowledge.

    2. Melly*

      The other semi-red flag to me was in the OP’s writing “I’ve been asking for a promotion…” The short time frame that Alison pointed out already is one thing, but it seems like another to be asking for a promotion. Asking for more opportunity or responsibility seems more appropriate than asking directly for a promotion? I totally, totally support people representing themselves and their work to their management but there are other ways to be more political about it. Maybe I’m off base though.

      1. puddin*

        I concur. Asking for a promotion at less than 1.5 years in a role could be short hand for ‘went above and beyond, consistently requested and received greater responsibility and soared at my performance levels thus earning the chance at a promotion’ and it could also mean, ‘I’ve been here a whole year and a half, can I have a promotion?’ Of course there are nuances in between as well. The OP’s wording has me wondering where we are on this spectrum…

      2. Miss Where's My Promotion*

        You are totally right Melly – I guess I felt like being straightforward about asking for a promotion because in my organization people get promoted left and right. In the 1.5 years I’ve been there several people have been promoted multiple times already! Also, as a women, I’ve heard all the statistics about how women ask for promotions less than men do and felt the sense of urgency to be proactive in my own progression.

        1. Melly*

          Oh, I totally hear you. I went through a similar situation at my last job, where I worked my butt off, and even had an external job offer that I used to negotiate for the promotion I felt I deserved (especially watching others (particularly men) around me get promoted!) and it never materialized. I get it. I left my last company once a better external offer came in.

        2. Zillah*

          Ahh, that’s important context. If promotions are very regular occurrences in your organization and role, and you’re getting good feedback, I can understand why you’d push for one a little more.

        3. Mister Pickle*

          Take this advice at your own risk: it seems to me that what you really need is for someone in management to level with you on the topic of promotion. And – if you can find someone to do that for you – you need to be prepared that you might not hear what you like.

        4. NoneyNoney*

          Several people getting promotions in the time that you’ve been there doesn’t necessary mean that they just promote people regularly. There isn’t enough information in that statement for it to really mean anything. How long were those people there? What were they promoted to? Was there a need in the department for the promotions? How long were they asking for the promotions? Were they even asking at all? Maybe their primary focus was developing professionally.

          And frankly, I think that last part may be key. Are you interested in developing professionally and genuinely improving your skills, or is it just about getting a better title/pay? I think you need to show them you want to improve your performance out of a true interest to learn and grow as an employee, rather than constantly focusing on the promotion.

          1. Zillah*

            I think the OP meant that several people have received multiple promotions in her year and a half there. I don’t think their tenure at the company or area of focus is irrelevant, but I can see how she would see that and push for one herself.

            1. NoneyNoney*

              Oh, I see. I didn’t read it quite like that but now that you phrase it that way… under that circumstance I can see advocating for one. But as you said, I still don’t think their tenure or focus is irrelevant. Without knowing those things, its hard to compare.

    3. Observer*

      I mostly agree. What I wonder about though, is what MK said. Are those things REALLY “totally unrelated”, or are they just “unrelated” in the LW’s mind. Without any context other than the letter, either could be right.

    4. Graciosa*

      In our company, performing at the next level is a qualifier for a promotion, not a guarantee of one. We have a certain number of positions at various levels, and when one opens up there are generally multiple internal applicants. Many or all of those applicants have been performing at the higher level, but only one of them can get the job.

      Looking for a promotion after a year seems pretty aggressive, and I would be concerned about anyone thinking this procedure merely requires checking sufficient boxes or performing arbitrary tasks unrelated to the job. If I have an opening, I want it to go to the best candidate available at the time.

  3. Sarah*

    #1-I admire your passion however…you are not in control here. The company is. You can’t make them hire you. You are coming across as manipulative and obsessive and those behaviors won’t endear you to a hiring manager, your future boss or colleagues should you get hired. If it’s to be it will be. If not, there are other companies out there.

    1. Designer*

      Thanks for your comment and thank you too Alison. I’ve realised I need to let go and just be patient. The company have another ad which is still available too so perhaps they are waiting a longer time than usual. (Job postings for 8 weeks is right at the top of where I read most employers length of searching)

      In response to how I applied for the job; there wasn’t actually any details of how to submit applications, just a separate contact page with their address and general email.

      It’s accurate to say I’m obsessing about this. Past experiences in this particular industry need that mentality to succeed. It’s a mad, mad industry and I really want to make a difference.

      I can see now that calling again isn’t the right thing to do. Being patient is.

      1. Cheesecake*

        I understand your frustration, because you have sent them a whole package (read over-invested) and heard nothing. It is much easier to mentally move on when you just send an email with digital version of your work. And i understand creative field is much much different, but still i am not sure they get mad by just opening “CV boxes” every day and just want an email instead :)

        1. Designer*

          Thanks for your comment. The “over-invested”, for an outsider probably seems accurate but I see it more about pushing what is normally accepted to grab attention. This company is all about a bespoke service, nothing is “one-off” and equally I don’t see why my application should stem far from their business model either. I can definitely see how mentally, clicking ‘send’ and hoping the application isn’t just filed away makes it easier to forget about it but that idea went out the window as soon as I read the position. The “mad” part was relating to the design industry itself, not the business and luckily, the person whom signed for my parcel was the head of design and appreciate details :).

          I don’t regret my method of application (which was actually an idea found from researching how creative employers like how potential employees go beyond the norm) – I doubt I’ll put as much effort in, should I not get the job. (and I’ll keep this thread posted!)

          1. MK*

            The problem is that people who go to unusual lengths to grab attention often get the negative kind. Also, I doubt your reasoning about the application mirroring the business model holds water; you see, the people who engage theis bespoke service actually asked (and are paying) for uniqueness, while the company didn’t ask for the same thing in the application process.

            I hope you are right that your approach will be an advantage in your particular field, but in that case you may want to consider that you are probably not the only candidate to have thought of doing something like that. Also, that the company may have reviewed your application and doesn’t share your conviction that you are a match made in heaven.

            1. Designer*

              I wouldn’t consider printing out some work and mailing it to be “an unusual length”. I believe that this slightly “traditional” approach if you can call it that, hold some qualities that are all too missed these days. (In Architecture school we wouldn’t even be given feedback if our work wasn’t printed out. Everyone hated that but by year 5 we understood why it’s so important to print things)

              “The people who engage theis bespoke service actually asked (and are paying) for uniqueness, while the company didn’t ask for the same thing in the application process.”

              The company could potentially be paying for my uniqueness, this is an example of it – why be another Joe Bloggs who does the same bare minimum as everyone else when the company prides themselves on being completely unique? I didn’t do it to mirror the company, I did it because it has worked so well in the past: I sent in a similar presentation and the first response was “We were all very impressed with your presentation skills in the office and appreciate your efforts”. Did this materialise into anything? Yes, my work is now mass produced. (again in the creative field, I wish I could name the company but I won’t)

              1. LBK*

                I believe that this slightly “traditional” approach if you can call it that, hold some qualities that are all too missed these days.

                They aren’t done anymore because they don’t fit with the way people want to receive and handle applications. You didn’t type your resume on a typewriter, right? Sometimes things stop being done the old way because the new way is better and easier for everyone involved.

                Uniqueness is great to some extent, but also remember that once you work for a company, they’re going to want you to design things in line with their style, not yours. Pushing your own design ideals too hard can hurt more than help if it seems like you’re not going to be able to flex and work the way they want.

                When you had that successful presentation, were you trying to get a job there?

                1. Designer*

                  I guess that would be down to perception and each individual. I also wanted to make sure as many people as possible saw my application. No offence to HR, but I’d rather the CEO/COO/Head of designer evaluate my work – those people listed on whom I would work and truly understand the field.

                  I’m not pushing my ideas, I’m presenting my work that has been successful. I’m almost laughing (not in a critical way) how misguided this thread is becoming. It would be so much easier if I could share the link to the work and presentation but I can’t do that.

                  The other successful presentation wasn’t to get a job, it was to get my work produced. And it did.

                2. fposte*

                  Mailing your application doesn’t make it likelier that the CEO sees it, though; it’s not like she’s running the mailroom.

                3. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Mailing it doesn’t make it likely more people will see it. Typically one person will see it and decide what to do with it — which in most cases is figuring out a way to get it into their electronic system along with all the other applications or, in some cases, tossing it if it doesn’t seem worth doing that.

                4. Koko*

                  I would also say that desiring someone who can produce original/unique ideas in a creative assignment doesn’t necessarily mean that the application process is considered a creative assignment. Even creative workers have to occasionally fill out forms and follow instructions. Your portfolio shows that you can be creative, original, and unique. Following the rules of the application process shows you can follow instructions when asked.

                  It’s a bit grayer here since it seems they didn’t provide any application instructions, which strikes me quite oddly. But especially if the employer expressed a preference for materials to be submitted in a particular way, like, “Please submit CV and cover letter to jobs@company.com,” doing anything else might come across less “I’m creative!” and more, “I’m so special I don’t think I have to follow the same rules as everyone else.”

                5. LBK*

                  I’m not pushing my ideas, I’m presenting my work that has been successful. I’m almost laughing (not in a critical way) how misguided this thread is becoming. It would be so much easier if I could share the link to the work and presentation but I can’t do that.

                  The other successful presentation wasn’t to get a job, it was to get my work produced. And it did.

                  I have no idea why you’re equating this to your job search then. You’re talking about two completely different things – one is more like a sales pitch, where yes, examples and presentation are huge. A job application is not a sales pitch.

                6. some1*

                  “No offence to HR, but I’d rather the CEO/COO/Head of designer evaluate my work – those people listed on whom I would work and truly understand the field.”

                  No offense to you, but this is pretty entitled and also pretty naive about how the business world works.

              2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

                Since I hire designers (and have for the last 2 years), let me chime in here.

                For a designer, mailing a package isn’t a big faux paus, although I don’t think I’ve seen it done in the last decade. A designer mailing a package isn’t the same as the creepiness from some other applicant sending a cookie basket.

                There’s a couple points here, though.

                1) It’s old fashioned. What’s really impressive from a designer is having a link to sharp online portfolio.

                2) It’s awkward for sharing. When we’re discussing a design candidate, we don’t do it a room with print material, we do it via email with links to the designer’s online portfolio.

                So, it’s not wrong to send it, but it’s old fashioned, unless you’re in a field that is dimensional, like packaging, where you are sending dimensional samples.

            2. Dmented Kitty*

              Personally, I would’ve submitted just an impressive CV and resume, and if they’re interested enough to interview me, then that’s when I would wow them with samples of my work. Kind of like trying to hold on to your cards until the appropriate time to lay them all out.

              1. Dmented Kitty*

                I’ve never worked creative design, but yes, a URL to your online portfolio tucked into your CV is included.

          2. Sue*

            I am in an interview process and I have recently got the feedback that I have too much enthusiasm. And I didn’t send a parcel! I think this feedback came about because I was over communicating. I got the feedback through the grapevine by the person that referred me. I frequently e-mailed the person who referred me with updates, I sent a thank you e-mail to the hiring manager, I e-mailed a week after the interview to follow up and finally, I sent the hiring manager a paper thank you card. I have since calmed down and communicated less in the hiring process. I keep Alison’s advice in mind to stand out with a solid resume, tailored cover letter and by being well prepared in my interviews.

            Also, on a practical note, applying by post is risky because what if someone misplaces your parcel? If your CV and cover letter were sent via e-mail, they would be easier to reference, forward, etc.

            1. Designer*

              I know it’s hard to control! These opportunities very rarely come up and everyday I think about working with the people who share my views and vision on the path of the business. I’ve started to calm down (after 5 weeks after applying) and I’m silently telling myself I won’t get the job, move on an wait for a difference opportunity. I don’t want just another job. (I currently earn on royalties of the products I sell))

              When I emailed the company (for the first and only time) to followup that my work was received in good order, I provided a link to everything I sent so they have it digitally in two ways. (USB drive in the parcel too)

              1. sally-o*

                At my company, we would not be allowed to insert that USB drive into our computers, unless we knew it was encrypted and personally knew the person who gave it to us. Definitely couldn’t insert a USB drive we got in the mail.

                Good idea to send a link to your materials as well.

              2. Elizabeth West*

                I would have just sent the link in the body of my cover letter in the first place and that’s it. It’s unlikely they would plug in a USB drive from a complete stranger.

                It’s so annoying when companies don’t specify what application materials they require.

          3. Zillah*

            Just a point – while we can’t know the exact situation and it’s certainly possible that you’re right about this, finding the idea in the course of researching job searching strategies does not make it a good idea. There are a lot of tips about job searching that are pretty awful, and I have to question any advice that told you that sending a parcel that required a signature upon delivery (!) was a good idea. My supervisor really appreciates detail, too, but I have a feeling that she would have been pretty irritated by this.

            I’m sorry, and I don’t mean to be overly harsh… but I’m having a hard time seeing this as a great idea.

            1. Designer*

              It’s a good point and one only has to visit a few website to find contradictory information on applying for a job. This method was mostly informed by my studies (in Architecture) that printing offers a quality that computer monitors just don’t do justice. The researching came from many sources but they were all in the Fortune 500 and/or creative field.

              On a side note: Isn’t it exciting and surprising to receive a package you don’t expect? Isn’t that why Christmas exists!!! No seriously, out of the many applications the company has to go through, don’t you think it’s refreshing to see something different, and not just the typeface?

              1. Diet Coke Addict*

                It can be exciting–at home. At work, an unexpected package frequently means “unsolicited vendor items,” or who knows what, and gets put onto someone’s desk or somewhere else in the mailroom and doesn’t get entered as an application at all. It may not even get to the correct people.

                1. Designer*

                  It was signed by the head of design. That doesn’t mean they opened it but this is a small company in a tiny building whom I know all share the same office space.

                2. Natalie*

                  OK, so you say you’re young, and I’m assuming you haven’t done any hiring.

                  Why are you ignoring the many people here who HAVE done hiring in your field and insisting that you must be right? What evidence are you basing your position on?

                3. Natalie*

                  Dangit, that threaded in the wrong place. Anyway, that was (probably obviously) directed at the letter writer.

              2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                As someone who has been on the receiving end of those packages, no, it’s not exciting. It’s annoying. Now I have to figure out how to get this person into our electronic applicant system. If they’re not in the top 5% of candidates, they’re probably just getting thrown out at that point.

                It bears no resemblance to Christmas. I think you’re reading into this a lot of stuff that just isn’t accurate.

                1. Designer*

                  Oh really, what did you receive? Which industry was it in? Didn’t they send anything digitally?

                  Perception is everything I guess. I’m probably too young and enthusiastic to be upset about receiving something I never asked for, wether it’s for the betterment of the company or not.

                2. LBK*

                  Just how young are you and what’s your work history look like? I’m only 25, I consider myself a very enthusiastic worker and I don’t want random crap in the mail at my office that I didn’t ask for. It’s usually just more effort and time spent for me on something that is not my main job responsibility. Work mail is not equivalent to personal mail.

                3. esra*

                  @Designer, as someone who is also in a design industry where sending this kind of portfolio can be a plus, it’s still a shot in the dark. I’ve been on the hiring side for design and seen some really great portfolio packaging. But it’s about more than that, it’s experience, fit, type of projects/experience. So they may have loved your presentation, but had more qualified candidates or a better fit. Or they might have been just annoyed at a package instead of a digital application.

                  I think you need to just accept that you can’t really know what’s going on on their end.

                4. LBK*

                  That’s a great point, esra – even if they like your delivery method, that’s still not any kind of guarantee they’re even going to call you for an interview if the rest of your qualifications aren’t what they’re looking for.

              3. LBK*

                No seriously, out of the many applications the company has to go through, don’t you think it’s refreshing to see something different, and not just the typeface?

                No, because I want to be able to flip through them relatively quickly, probably via PDFs on my computer. I don’t want to have 20 electronic versions, 4 that got mailed in, 7 weird “creative” versions that I can barely understand…if I want your resume, I want to get the info off it. If I want an example of your work, I will ask for that.

                1. Koko*


                  Most people who screen resumes do other things too. Anything that makes it take unnecessarily long is taking time away from work they probably consider more important than resume-screening, and thereby annoying them.

              4. Observer*

                In the office?! Not by a long shot. If I didn’t order it, odds are that it’s something I don’t need or want. In any case, it’s almost certainly something someone wants to sell me or get from me. Why would I be excited about that?

                1. sam*

                  Seriously. the last time I got an unsolicited “thing” from a vendor it was sugar cookies covered in powdered sugar from a “startup” financial printer who thought they were being clever. There was no note.

                  Before we figured out what was going on, my mailroom didn’t know whether to call the police to have me arrested for having cocaine shipped through the mail, or whether to call hazmat for an anthrax threat.

                  Needless to say, that printer did not get any of my clients’ business.

                2. Observer*

                  Sam, I know this must have been very not amusing at the time it happened. But, it sure makes a great story!

              5. Zillah*

                It can certainly be exciting to receive a package I wasn’t expecting, and it’s often exciting to receive gifts… but those are exciting occurrences because I’m getting something that in some way benefits me, directly.

                At work, if I get a response confirming that the paint we want won’t crack if exposed to water or heat, I will be excited, because it means that we can move ahead with our designs for new teapots. At home, if my friend sent me a book for my birthday, I will be excited, because new book!

                A job application doesn’t do those things. No matter how cool or exciting the applicant is, they will not make my day the way these things can, because it’s just an application – any benefit is pretty far removed from receiving the package. And, speaking personally, when I’m dealing with anything in mass, format or presentation that differs from most of the materials is more exhausting than refreshing, because it means that I need to do extra work.

                I understand what you’re saying with printing v. monitors. But, here’s the thing – this is your initial application. The strength of your materials should be enough to get you an interview without gimmicks like preparing a presentation and mailing it, or printing out teapot designs. When you get an interview, then it might make sense to give them printouts, but for the initial contact? It’s overkill, and not in a good way, IMO.

                1. NoneyNoney*

                  “but those are exciting occurrences because I’m getting something that in some way benefits me, directly.”

                  Good point. A hiring manager might actually be disappointed to open an unexpected package thinking its something special for them, only to find out its a job application.

                1. Elizabeth West*

                  LOL I’ve seen agent and writer blogs where people talk about some of the bizarre items they received in submissions. “This is my book. Here are some chocolate things. Please publish it!”

              6. Ezri*

                “Isn’t that why Christmas exists!!!”

                I’m sorry, I had to address this – no, presents are not why Christmas exists. :(

                And when presents are sent in the mail, they are not generally sent by total strangers. Think about it this way – when strangers send you gift boxes in the mail, it’s creepy, right (well, it would be for me)? I get that the instructions were unclear in this instance, but it still seems like you might have gone a *little* overboard with the fancy box and usb drive. As I’ve learned from this site, there are a lot of ways that the job search process is like dating. It’s very possible to come across too strongly.

          4. Cheesecake*

            I said “over-invested” not as a negative term, just stating the fact you’ve described – pushing the norms. Even for creative fields it is not usual to get such applications. If you want to stick to this way of applying, which I btw find awesome and appropriate for design field, you need to be patient and find an employer who appreciates your effort and not get yourself worked up on the employer who does not (even though there might be 1mln legit reasons why they don’t reply).

            Btw, even in design companies there is HR and if there is, all these applications end up on their table. They have no time/knowledge/interest in dealing with unusual application. So either aim at smaller companies or research the name of hiring manager.(that is a bad advice for anyone not in a creative field and will make more harm than good)

            1. AdAgencyChick*

              Yup. The applications my art-director colleagues get are simply nicely designed resumes with PDFs of their portfolios. I would raise an eyebrow if I saw a more elaborate “package” than that, even if it were beautifully designed. It would make me wonder whether this candidate has some kind of working style or personality issue that made her have to try that hard. The portfolio should be doing most of the talking, the resume the rest.

              1. the gold digger*

                Are you saying that the video I made (in 1993) with a friend’s nine year old daughter where the daughter mock interviews me and asks me if I were a pizza topping, what would I be and then sent to Leo Burnett was not a good idea?

              2. Designer*

                That’s exactly what I sent to them. A nicely designed (non gimmicky) CV, cover letter and a few images/drawings relating to the position on very successful projects.

                It’s more about branding than “some kind of working style or personality issue”. Printing work and sending it in the post isn’t a personality issue, it’s a forgotten traditional approach in applying for a job. The portfolio and CV does all of the talking, I just simply printed it out so I can be sure it looks the way I want it to and so they can physically remember who I am.

                1. AvonLady Barksdale*

                  What everyone is trying to tell you is that the “forgotten traditional approach” is often forgotten– or, rather, no longer used– because there are more efficient ways to do this that companies now prefer to use. I know you think it’s wonderful to receive a package and that you see yourself as standing out, but it didn’t work this time. It may have worked in the past, but not this time. If the head of design opened your package and was truly wowed, I think you would have heard by now. I just think it’s best to move on and see this as a lesson learned– resume/CV and portfolio come first, and if they want to see more, they’ll ask for it.

                2. LBK*

                  So if the portfolio and CV do all the talking, what’s the point of not just sending them via email? Or if via mail, in a normal envelope instead of a fancy box?

                3. Elysian*

                  “Printing work and sending it in the post isn’t a personality issue, it’s a forgotten traditional approach in applying for a job.”

                  It isn’t forgotten – it has fallen out of favor. Those are different. The inability to recognize that could be indicative of a personality/fit issue.

                4. Zillah*

                  Faxing is a traditional approach for communicating information, but the majority of people will be pretty annoyed if you tell them that they can’t email you a document, only fax it. ‘Traditional’ is not necessarily a plus.

                  If they need to handle physical documents to remember you, either you are not a strong candidate, or they are not good hiring managers (or both).

                  I’m not trying to be harsh, Designer, but… come on. I hate the concept of ‘branding,’ but even if I didn’t, I’d be a little skeptical of the idea that sending an application in in a weird way ‘built a brand.’

          5. marci*

            Are you really sure that this employer would prefer a creative package? Where would they put all these things they would receive? I’ve seen websites that demo sample creative application packages, and they are not being run by people who hire creative field employees. And most of the ideas are just imitations of existing stuff (like making your resume look like a Hershey bar or an Amazon page). That’s actually not too creative.

            1. Designer*

              It’s an A4 size box. I’m totally with you on that, I hate that: gimmicky imitations of other work or branding. The presentation I sent it wasn’t covered in glitter and fairy lights, it’s black and white and hints of colours in product renderings. It’s those kinds of “presentations” you mention that have me wondering why most people are feeling this is a bad method. Again, the work was sent on a USB drive too. (and yes it is formatted for Mac and PC)

              1. Observer*

                Well, as an IT person, I can tell you I would clobber anyone who put a USB drive that they got in the mail into their computer without either bringing it to me or scanning it first. In other words, it’s an extra piece of work. And, that’s assuming that the right person saw the package, realized what it was and took the time to open it and decide that they wanted to get your info into the system.

              2. Elizabeth*

                If you’d applied at my employer with that, the HR department would have looked at it and said “we can’t do anything with A4 paper”, then rolled their eyes about a USB drive, since they all have been disabled. If they did anything beside just pitch the entire thing, it would be noted in the file that you used something that wasn’t 8.5×11 paper and sent an electronic device that didn’t comply with our security policies.

                We have a standard application system with the opportunity to upload a pdf resume and any supporting files as pdf’s. Yes, it is boring. It is a standard for a reason.

                1. Cath in Canada*

                  Well, in some countries A4 (and other sizes from the same system) are the universal standard. I’m from the UK and we always used A4 – as an example, my university’s thesis guidelines specified A4. I didn’t realise there even were other systems until I moved to Canada! The OP used the word posted instead of mailed, so I’m guessing(s)he is in the UK or other Commonwealth country.

                  I agree about the USB though – no way would I ever plug an unknown USB into a work computer OR my personal laptop!

          6. AVP*

            Hmmm…I’m in an art field and often hire artists and creative people and this wouldn’t fly at my job, just because I would have to type your application into the system by hand and unless you are really high profile, it’s not gonna happen. I sometimes get people who try to do “out of the box” applications but the issue is that unless they are absolutely flawless AND you are one of the top candidates with a quick glance at your resume, you actually end up being held to a much higher standard than if you had just applied normally. It also puts the pressure on you in the sense that you’re now competing with the “out of the box” people for the most attention-grabbing application, which you might not even have.

            1. GigglyPuff*

              When I read “type your application into the system by hand”, I thought, well they did send a USB drive, course then I did a mental head-slap. Duh, no one is probably going to plug in a usb drive they received in the mail, especially on a company networked computer.

              So OP, you might feel like the physical application was okay, since you also sent digital copies, but seriously, I doubt anyone plugged in that usb drive cause they weren’t going to take the time to virus scan it.

            2. Designer*

              You should probably re-read the post: I send printed sample of my work and a USB drive containing the cover letter, CV and work samples.

              1. Fleur*

                Lots of workplaces don’t allow use of USB sticks, in mine the USB ports are all disabled for security purposes.

              2. AVP*

                I understood you, but what I meant was that I have a certain email that applicants send their applications to, which I use to organize who I’m going to interview, who is a maybe, etc. Many, many companies use informal systems like this, even if they just suggest you email them your resume as the application. So if someone doesn’t send me their application the normal way, then I have to get it into my system by hand, which is an extra few steps and not everyone is going to get that treatment.

            3. Designer*

              This presentation was flawless. Anyone would think it was made by a robot! Not one imperfection on the packaging I made by hand. It’s very classy if I do say so myself. I have no issue with competing with “out of the box” people. I guess when you know, you know. (not to sound big headed!)

              1. HumbleOnion*

                What is it exactly that you want to hear from people here? You’re getting a lot of honest, constructive feedback, and you don’t seem to be absorbing it.

              2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Okay, but in this case it didn’t work. If it’s as impressive as you feel it is, then it will stand on its own. You don’t need to keep calling them. For them, it didn’t work, and you should move on.

                1. Designer*

                  What a bunch of negative people live on here. How do YOU know it didn’t work? I’m not going to “keep calling” them. I’ve stated many times I’m going to let this take its course. Feedback is becoming “you are wrong, give up”. I can’t go back in time and retrieve the parcel.

                2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  We know it didn’t work so far because they haven’t contacted you and haven’t responded to your multiple follow-ups.

                  The reason you’re getting so much push-back is because you don’t seem to be listening to anyone who isn’t telling you what you want to hear.

                  Sorry you find it negative. I find it pretty damn life-affirming to understand how stuff works so that people can make decisions that will get them the best outcomes.

                3. AvonLady Barksdale*

                  For some reason I can’t reply to Designer’s comment, so my apologies, Alison. But I’m going to say this: we can assume it didn’t work because no one has called you! That is all the information you have, and all you’ve given Alison (and us). This means that the fair assumption is that it didn’t work, and while it would be great if this is proven otherwise, this is what we have. What we know is that you haven’t been called.

                  You cannot go back in time, but you could at least accept that your method didn’t get the desired result. This is not about negativity, this is about accepting that in job searching, as in many things, one must take the information given and move on.

                  It’s another instance in which job-hunting is like dating. “OMG, he didn’t call!” Well, OK, so what if he doesn’t? There is no use watching the phone. You reach out yourself, you get a response that may be unsatisfactory, ball is in his court, you move on and continue to live your life. If he calls, great, but if not… oh, well.

                4. Zillah*

                  Sorry you find it negative. I find it pretty damn life-affirming to understand how stuff works so that people can make decisions that will get them the best outcomes.

                  It’s awesome. I was just saying the other day that I love AAM because it’s helped me understand what’s going to get me the best results and reading regularly has helped me feel more able to handle situations that might arise without getting quite so flustered. Knowledge is power.

              3. Ezri*

                Think of it this way – a job application provides a physical ‘first impression’ of you to a company. Presentation really is everything – but that doesn’t necessarily mean flashy is better. You are focusing on the container and the ‘out-of-the-box’ approach, and it seems like your are emphasizing that OVER your accomplishments. You seem to think that your skills and past work qualify you for the role, so why not let them speak for themselves? If you’ve got the experience, a good hiring manager will figure that out from a regular application.

                PS – I work in IT, and most people aren’t going to feel okay plugging in a flash drive some random person sends in the mail.

          7. Observer*

            Not to pile on, but it’s fairly obvious that your method of applying doesn’t mesh too well with their application and hiring process. The fact that there is only a general information email and number should have been your first clue. They clearly haven’t set up their process for individualized applications and responses. Your conversation with the operator indicates that your application didn’t generate any buzz, and that it probably just came in to the mail room or office manager’s desk, and then got dumped into HR along with all of the envelopes and packages (including unsolicited marketing materials) that come into any busy department on a given day. I hope that the person handling the applications didn’t accidentally throw it out along with all of the other advertising packages… Unless your package was clearly marked on the outside as an application, I would say it’s a real possibility. The fact that it was addressed to the hiring department isn’t enough to insure that it even got opened.

            Do yourself a favor and move on. If it works out, great. But additional calls aren’t likely to move it along.

            1. Designer*

              No instructions were given, re-read the post. The ‘options’ on the job description were in this order: Phone number, physical address, email. This is a tiny company in one building who I know for a fact all share the same office space/floor.

              1. Cate*

                @Designer, you’re clearly excited about the opportunity and the company. For a second, forget about the job application. You’ve already received a lot of feedback about your application method, and as you pointed out, you can’t take back what you’ve already done. Have you thought about networking with people at the organization? Not to push your candidacy for this position, but because you really like what they do and find that it really resonates with you. It sounds like you have already had a measure of success, so you might find that your enthusiasm, passion and talent are better suited to the in-person meetings that you might be able to arrange through networking.

                Regardless of whether this position pans out, if you are this passionate about the organization, then start cultivating those relationships and sounding them out for their needs.

          8. CAA*

            “creative employers like how potential employees go beyond the norm”

            That’s mostly a myth.

            I’ve hired in a small digital agency where we had print and web designers, developers, account managers, etc. Designer was the only position that could get away with a graphic resume submitted via email. Everyone else needed a normal resume. No packages. No photoshop resumes. No videos. No gifts. Any of those would be discarded immediately and the submitter wouldn’t even be added to the list of candidates under consideration.

            Maybe things are different if you’re a fashion designer applying at a couturier; but if you’re a web designer, stick to email.

            1. Designer*

              I’m not a web designer. The company creates bespoke physical and very large projects.

              Creatives in most fields appreciate and understand the lengths some people will go to. They are highly passionate, perhaps slightly obsessive and insane people. Read: Apple; the crazy ones… genius.

              1. fposte*

                And if it works for you there, then great, you were right and we were wrong.

                But my reservations are that it’s not really creative enough to hit the creativity exception either–basically, you submitted your materials by mail. That’s not crazy or highly passionate; you were literally thinking inside the box :-). My other concern is that you seem to get pretty dug in on things, and that if you get rejected this time you may still not be willing to change your approach next time. So if they don’t call you, I hope you’ll give it a little time but try reconsidering.

              2. Ezri*

                Eh, that’s a pretty big generalization. ‘Creatives’ don’t have a monopoly on eccentricity and randomness any more than IT folks do. Interesting and passionate people belong to every field. And even if the arts are more accepting, it doesn’t necessarily mean the job application process is the place to bring that up. All companies don’t operate like Apple.

                1. Anon-*

                  Also, I’ve interviewed with Apple and their process is entirely generic and computerized. Pretty formal and impersonal. Not at all what I expected from what I’ve read on the web. If I’d sent in a printed application I’m damned sure it would have been thrown in the trash and I’d never have heard from them.

              3. Zillah*

                But something that comes up on here all the time is that ultimately, you don’t want to work for a place where gimmicks get you a job, because it means that the people they hire likely won’t be the strongest applicants. If you needed the weird presentation to stand out from other applicants, that indicates that you aren’t a particularly strong applicant. Otherwise, you’d have gotten an interview on the merits of your application rather than the presentation.

                And yes, mailing it and printing things out is presentation.

              4. CAA*

                Hmm. Do you know anyone who works in a creative discipline at Apple? I do. It’s not how you seem to think it is. The “obsessive” fan-boy types are mostly on the retail side and not so much elsewhere in the company, though I suppose a few may be found anywhere. As far as I know, everyone hired at Apple applies through the normal online method.

              5. Anon-*

                I think it’s hard to say anything definitively about anyone in any field. You simply don’t know that that’s true. The best thing to do is to find out what the masses thing, meaning people in general. And in general, the people here, who have a magnitude more experience hiring than you do, are telling you that what you are saying/doing doesn’t work for most people and in most fields.

                I don’t understand the resistance to hearing what so many people are saying.

          9. Liz*

            I work in a creative industry and we’ve gotten several of these “above and beyond” packages from potential applications. To be frank, they don’t impress us. All we care about is seeing your work samples as quickly and easily as possible — e.g. a simple online portfolio. Your work has to be strong enough to stand on its own, and if it’s not, no extra packaging is going to make up for that. Also, these types of packages are very easily misplaced in our office.

            I don’t mean to discourage you, but in the future I would recommend letting your work speak for itself and save the “standing out” for the interview (by coming prepared).

            1. Andrea*

              My office has similar preferences when hiring creatives. We also need multiple people to view materials, often at the same time, so we tend to prefer digital.

              1. Designer*

                Please re-read the post. The documentation / samples were also sent within the small package to the small company via a Mac and PC compatible USB drive.

                1. Observer*

                  Which may have gotten tossed / broken by mistake. And which may not even have been plugged in, even if it did reach the right person. YOU know that you would never send an infected drive, but how do they? So, that means another step – one that can actually affect their work, as scanning a drive, even a small one, can take time and it’s not something you want to have running in the background if your computer is slow or you are running a high demand application.

                2. Liz*

                  But now I have to open this package, figure out what is in it, understand what’s on the USB drive, remember to take it into my office, plug it into my computer (and, if I’m the paranoid type, risk that it could contain a virus or something similar), open the files… this is not helpful. At my company, there’s a big chance no one will end up doing that.

                  If you send it by email, I’m already at my computer, the context for the files are right above the attachment, I can see what kind of file it is before I download it. It’s all much more easy and straightforward.

                3. Elizabeth West*

                  Again, most companies will not allow anyone to plug in a random USB drive that came in the mail. They don’t know you, and they don’t know that your computer doesn’t have viruses/malware, etc. on it that you might not be aware of.

                  Agents and publishers are usually pretty specific about how they like to receive submission materials (e.g. by mail or in email). They usually ask writers to post samples in the body of the email. Then they can read the sample and either they like it and they ask for more, or they don’t answer (I’ve moved on to the next one by then), or it’s not their thing and they reject it outright. Almost NONE of them will take email attachments because they can contain viruses and/or malware.

                  A USB drive is like a physical attachment. Could be anything on there, for all they know.

                  If I were querying someone and they did not specify what to send and I wanted to include a sample (though I probably wouldn’t unless they asked for it), I would paste it into the email. They would be far less likely to delete my query than if I attached something. It’s better to have your creative work do the talking for you.

                4. Observer*

                  And another thing about the USB drive. On top of all of the issues mentioned, dong the shared thing is still probably extra work over sending an email with attachments or a link. Not a LOT, but every extra step someone needs to take for you is something that makes you memorable in a negative way.

          10. NoneyNoney*

            I also think it’s worth considering that applying this way may not actually grab attention. In this case you know your package was delivered to the right person, but with post mail there is a possibility of it never getting to the intended party once it arrives at the company. Plus, the head of design may not have even opened it. It could still be sitting in a pile of unopened boxes for all you know.

      2. Artemesia*

        You seem to assume that if only they would read your material they would hire you, that the problem is process. Odds are always against in any hiring situation; it is quite possible someone has looked over your materials and not put you in the running for the position. This is possible even if you are the ‘best person’ in the pool; all hiring decisions are not wise. But it is also possible that you are not in the top tier of applicants.

        Really really truly wanting something doesn’t mean you get it or that you are even the best person for it and most job applications result in nothing, even a rejection. It is a rough process.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      This. Alison has a long history of not being a fan of “attention getting” techniques when applying for jobs. In numerous instances, she has said that it is the content of the resume that matters the most. So I would expect her to say more of the same in this situation.

      OP, I understand that you are saying it’s different in your arena. Perhaps there is someone around you who can offer more specific insight- tailored to your circumstances. But I think that it is fairly universal that no one likes to be nagged about anything. Additionally, you can’t make people call you quicker. So even if they do not mind your approach, if they are busy/distracted they are not going to dial the phone any faster. I think you have your heart set on this job and it might ease your mind some to take a step back and let the nature of things run its course. Trust that you have done your the best of your best and what will be is what will be. (Stupid sayings, sorry. I know what it is like to really, really want something and I know it can throw a monkey wrench into your day/week/life. For your own peace of mind assume you will get the best possible outcome- whatever that might be.)

      1. Cheesecake*

        Absolutely agree with your 1st paragraph, it was noted by AAM and it was proven that “attention grabbing techniques” can do more harm than good. BUT we are talking about creative field, so i think rules are slightly different there. However, yes, no nagging is a rule for everyone

    3. HAnon*

      I hardly think those behaviors are “manipulative and obsessive.” Maybe not what the hiring manager asked for, but your terms have a much more sinister connotation than someone who wants to demonstrate outstanding work in their field with a physical presentation. I work in this field (have worked for a few agencies) and the preference varies. Sometimes the employer “likes” gimmicky stuff (these tend to be cheesier people who are not traditional managers) and sometimes all they want to see is an online portfolio. I’ve sat through the hiring process for this myself as part of a team selecting candidates, and we wouldn’t turn anyone away based on that. However, to be fair I don’t know that the special mailed presentation would give a candidate a leg up unless the work in the package was SO spectacular that we felt like “we must call them right away before someone else does!” I’d suggest applying online but saving that actual physical components for your in person interview. That’s an appropriate time to demonstrate your skills in a non-conventional way (for creative roles).

      1. HAnon*

        I take back what I said about obsessive…didn’t appear that way in the original letter, but it does in the thread.

        1. Cheesecake*

          I was very much sympathizing with OP and, judging by other comments, quite some readers were as well. But reading his answers, i wouldn’t hire him even for “mailing boxes full of creative content to strangers” assignment .

  4. CoffeeLover*

    OP 3, it’s a bit… insulting (maybe too strong of a word here) to ask someone if they want you to remind them to do something when it clearly falls within the scope of their job. In a way you’re questioning the secretary’s ability to do her job, and I can see her being a bit miffed by it. Her response makes me think she was though maybe I’m projecting.

    1. Lizzy*

      I can understand the OP’s frustration –I had to wait two weeks to receive my official letter after being told I was getting an offer in my current position–but I agree. I don’t think it was the OP’s intention, but it did seem a little unfair that he/she didn’t consider the admin’s time as valuable either; perhaps she was very busy and had a lot of timely/pressing matters to attend to first.

    2. SJP*

      +1 on that Coffeelover, but can see the frustration. Just remember, good things often come to those who wait

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I can just picture OP being the third caller in a row that was reminding the admin to do something. She could be sitting there saying. “Jeepers, if people STOPPED calling me to remind me to do something, I would actually have TIME to go do it!”

      1. Kelly L.*

        I have definitely had those days. “I can’t get anything done because everybody and their brother is blowing up my phone!” I try to reframe it as “well, answering a million phone calls is part of the job and somebody’s gotta do it” and to remind myself that almost nothing at my job is an actual emergency, but some days I sure would like to introduce the phone to a sledgehammer.

      2. Dmented Kitty*

        You tell me — I work in IT and if a critical app crashes everyone wants to setup meetings every 15 minutes to talk about the status of the issue that you would’ve fixed five minutes ago if everyone didn’t try to constantly pester you about “how’s it goin’?”.

    4. Calla*

      Agreed. Sure it’s possible the admin is just slacking on it! But it’s also very possible they are very busy right now, and she already has a ton on her plate, and getting the offer letter to the OP isn’t as an immediate need as the other things. Or as others have mentioned, she’s covering for other delays behind the scenes. Or a million other things. Although I definitely understand the frustration or impatience, there’s also a bit of an undercurrent (perhaps unintentional from a non-admin perspective) of already treating the secretary like “why aren’t you doing this for me immediately.”

      1. Chinook*

        “Although I definitely understand the frustration or impatience, there’s also a bit of an undercurrent (perhaps unintentional from a non-admin perspective) of already treating the secretary like “why aren’t you doing this for me immediately.””

        And be warned – some hiring managers will ask the admins who interact with candidates what they of the candidates based on their interactions because they know everyone is on their best behaviour when interacting with the hiring manager. If you are already making the secretary feel like she has to jump at your requests even though you don’t work there yet, she just may be in a position to point this out to the hiring manager.

    5. Mimmy*

      That’s a really good point. I can also understand the OP’s frustration, but I worry s/he may’ve shot him/herself in the foot by saying that to the secretary.

  5. Chocolate Teapot*

    3. Sometimes there is a feeling that an administrative role is not as important as that of the other people in the team. I was wondering whether the new job is being filled in order to reduce a large workload and all the existing employees are busy trying to keep the company functioning in the meantime.

  6. Buffay the Vampire Layer*

    FYI – you linked the impostor syndrome article twice in your response to #2 (feel free to delete).

  7. BRR*

    I have a hunch with #3 that something got held up or perhaps the hiring manager spoke too soon about offering you the job. I’m going to flack for this but I hate when people make the excuse they didn’t have time to do “short task.” Can you really not fit an email into your busy day? I know some people who have so much piled on their plate they don’t have time to breath but they’re far and few between when they actually can’t adjust their schedule or squeeze something small in.

    1. MK*

      As I said above, I agree that something may be happening behind the scenes. But this particular “short task” is probably not the only one the assistant has to deal with; these tiny little jobs add up and, if they are not urgent, it’s sensible to put them off while one is concentrating on something more important.

      1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

        Yes yes. I am a person who sometimes cannot get to a tiny little task that would take two minutes….because there are 100 other 2 minute tasks and that one isn’t the highest priority. Or, I have a big task that is truly urgent and I can’t sacrifice the concentration or time. It can drive other people nuts because they feel they are asking so little….but they don’t see the full picture.

        1. Colette*

          Agreed. Typing up an email is fast. Making sure that the info in that email is correct is not as fast, and sometimes it’s not as high priority as something else.

          Implying that something someone else needs to do should be fast implies that you believe you have a better understanding of their workload than they do – and that’s a good way to get yourself moved down their priority list.

        2. Zillah*

          Yes. For me, it’s not even so much the time it would take to do a minor thing, it’s having to divert my attention from what I am doing. If I’m in one mindset, it’s hard for me to change gears.

        3. C Average*

          Yeah, it’s not literally a time thing most of the time; it’s a fragmentation of concentration thing. There are days when I have one BIG mind-eating thing that must must must get done, and I have to wall myself off from the thousand tiny little things that might get in the way. This is a real thing.

          There are few things in the workplace that make me madder than when someone with no actual deliverables of his or her own not-so-subtly implies that I’m lazy or incompetent for putting off a request to do some small thing immediately because I’m trying to focus on a big thing of higher importance.

          1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

            YES! Last week, I asked my admin to be be 100% sure that nobody knocked on my door or asked me any questions for 45 minutes so I could finish a 1 hour task I’d been trying to get to for three hours. During that 45 minutes she had to stop seven – yes SEVEN people who just “had one really quick thing”. People just don’t realize it’s not just them – it’s 15 other people who also have “one quick thing” – and if I let that happen, I can’t get anything done.

            1. Dmented Kitty*

              LOL — it gets really irksome when someone abuses the phrase “one more thing”. “One more thing” mentioned several times isn’t really just one thing duh, so cut the crap.

        4. Jessica*


          And also, sad to say, if your not my boss, your tiny tasks are going to be a lower priority than those from my actual boss, because you don’t do my performance evaluations. Which is not to say I won’t try to get to it as soon as possible.

    2. Kathryn*

      Projecting my own HR process, while I get told sending an offer out is as simple as sending an email, it’s often days of back and forth with HR, finance, another exec approval… All of the information and approvals that had been gathered to post the req to begin with, plus whatever new steps have been added since the last time we hired, and frequently I can attach them (and do now that I’ve been down this road a few times) but the instructions I’m given are “Oh just drop a note and we’ll get an offer out right then!” Which is NOT how it works in practice.

      I can absolutely see something that was billed as a one step process requiring about 17 “short tasks” that need to be followed up on and not lost and… And it taking days instead of minutes.

      1. Mimmy*

        If this is the case with the OP, then I fault the hiring manager. If there’s even the slightest chance that the process will take days rather than minutes, the HM shouldn’t have promised that s/he’d hear from them the very next day. Perhaps the HM doesn’t fully understand the hiring process if that’s what’s really happening.

      2. Judy*

        I’ve never gotten an “offer letter” until after having several negotiating conversations on the phone.

        1. A call offering me the job, with some details, including salary and vacation. I would respond with items I’m concerned about. An agreed upon time to talk again.
        2. At least one more call, with changes to some details, maybe more information.

        When we reach agreement, then an offer letter is sent (or more recently a pdf of an offer letter is emailed.)

    3. fposte*

      You should see my list of a hundred short things I still haven’t had time to get to :-). It’s not about squeezing something small in, it’s about jumping it past all the other things that are waiting for this person to complete them–which means leaving something else uncompleted instead. It’s likely that person knows her office priorities better than an outsider making a request and knows that it’s better to leave this undone than something that’s a higher priority.

    4. BRR*

      My irritation at when people say didn’t have time is similar to the past articles posted on here about people who claim they’re busy. There are certainly people who don’t have time. I think my particular problem with this scenario is that my gut tells me it was an excuse.

      1. fposte*

        I think this is the equivalent of people’s frustration at hearing “We went with somebody with more experience” when they interviewed you with the experience you have. They read it as an untruth, when it’s not; it’s a just a truthful piece of a larger picture. Kind of like if you’re asked to give money to something and you say you don’t have money to give–you’re actually just exercising your perfect right to prioritize a decent dinner, a loan payment, a night out, over handing your money to that person. Because money and time belong to their keepers, and it’s not for the rest of us to assess what they’re required to be spending it on.

        (I also suspect Kelly O has called it and that the admin isn’t really the holdup anyway.)

    5. Sadsack*

      Right, your short task is more important than every one else’s. There are actually some days where I intend to do something quick, but other, more important, just as short and even longer tasks take precedence. Keep in mind that admins are also few and far between these days, at least in the corporations where I have worked, due to cost-cutting job elimination. One admin position may be supporting two or three times as many people as it did a few years ago. That’s a lot of short tasks to manage.

    6. NoneyNoney*

      It’s not so simple as that. I was an admin for a large corporate company (20,000+ employees) and I would come in to hundreds of emails in the morning. It literally took me an hour every morning just to get through them and make sure there was nothing urgent. The process when you’re working with such a number of people is very specific, at least for me. I used color coded flags and scheduled due dates for every task. After checking my email in the morning I would tackle my red (urgent) flags first, followed by anything that I had scheduled as due that day.

      Some days I would have nothing but red flags and and inquiries like OP #3 wouldn’t even get a second thought. Sometimes the phone didn’t get answered because there was some emergency and a $2M contract was on the line and I had to handle admin work for that first. A job offer wouldn’t even fall on my radar on days like that. It would absolutely fall into the “it can wait until I have a moment” category.

      1. CA Admin*

        Or travel emergencies with cancelled flights and stranded professionals at airports. Sometimes you’re typing emails while on the phone with the airline while also searching for nearby hotels on the internet. In those cases, hell no am I going to do that one little thing for you. It simply isn’t a priority compared to cancelled flights and people stranded at an airport far from home.

        1. NoneyNoney*

          Exactly. Someone in my group had their laptop stolen out of their car one time. You can imagine the nightmare that turned out to be.

          I think a lot of people just assume that admins do a lot of menial task work and there isn’t anything that takes up a significant portion of their time. While it’s true that I did little things like asking the staff for their proposed time off for the month and collating it or scheduling meetings and order lunch, I also had my hands in revenue data, metrics, product timelines and roadmaps, product databases and lifecycle software, inventory, purchases orders, etc. A lot of people just don’t get that admins do a lot of technical stuff these days.

  8. some1*

    “I believe that applying in this field takes a little more than just emailing over a CV and cover letter.”

    I used to work with designers in publishing and if the company didn’t ask for samples of your work, I am guessing they plan to give designers a test at some point in the application process. Samples of your work are helpful, but not as helpful as giving you a a small design assignment that relates to what you would actually be day to day. It also gives them a clear idea on how quickly and accurate your first draft would be — not something they can tell from your finished submission.

    1. MJH*

      The thing that makes the most sense to me is a well-designed website with online portfolio. Your cover letter can invite them to check out your work. When I worked at a marketing-design firm, we’d always look at potential candidates’ websites. Generally we were looking for entry-level designers, so a good interview (where the designer brought physical copies of their work) and a good website made a huge impact.

      1. Felicia*

        I was involved in hiring a graphic designer, and samples of your work are definitely required – but submitted in a less flashy, more traditional way like a link to your website. We didn’t expect creativity in the way they applied, and for the one candidate who did it made us wonder if there was something lacking in their actual work samples that they were trying to make up for. That candidate ended up not having experience doing the particular kind of design work we were looking for but if anything their method of application hindered them and they were memorable in a bad way. Generally the work samples were more important than the resume and cover letter – though we did want to know the person could write coherently – but flashy methods of application were not. Out of 200 ish applicants there was only one of those though, so i guess he achieved his goal of being memorable.

        1. Artemesia*

          I would think a ‘package’ in the traditional sense — i.e. send them a box of stuff, would be viewed not so much creative as old fashioned. Everyone I know who applies in this type field has their own web site that showcases their work. No one would send a box of stuff, they would provide pdf links in their cover letter or a link to their website and mention some of the relevant work they have done. I fear like AAM that the ‘package’ might literally have been tossed and not even perceived as an application in a busy HR office that gets a lot of vendors sending stuff.

          1. GigglyPuff*

            This. I couldn’t help but think “diorama” when I read package, or some kind of cutesie thing you might do in college for a friend’s gift. Plus (and I have no idea what “creative field” they are in, or have experience in any creative field), but it struck me as weird that the OP printed out samples since so many things are digital now, even people who do physical creative items versus digital, usually make them digital for viewing in a portfolio.

            OP, next time, make some kind of online portfolio and include a link in your resume. It’s much more professional, and if you want to show how creative you are, work on the portfolio presentation. That’s what I would pay attention to if I was hiring for a creative position, not just the work samples but how well they are presented.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          We didn’t expect creativity in the way they applied, and for the one candidate who did it made us wonder if there was something lacking in their actual work samples that they were trying to make up for.

          I think this nails it. It would be like sending cookies with the book I just submitted. “Here, eat these and ignore any typos in my manuscript!”*

          *Disclaimer: I THINK I got them all out!

          1. Artemesia*

            No no you didn’t — in fact when it is published and you crack it open, the first thing you see will be a typo; publishing is like that.

      2. Designer*

        I have the online portfolio too. The point is nothing is physical anymore. Everyone has a website, social media email address. I doubt the HR are forgetful but it’s easier to remember a application in a physical world than it is digital – it’s like I showed up. (not to start a debate on wether it’s now considered bad to make eye contact with a potential employer these days).

        1. fposte*

          Ah. You don’t want it to be like you showed up, though. What’s been confusing me is why you physically sent stuff that’s so easy to send virtually, and this seems to get to what you were hoping–and I think it was misplaced. It’s easier to lose a physical application than a virtual one, and it’s making people do more work (they had to dig into a box to get your application?).

          Obviously, different fields vary, and you’re also clearly not in the US; however, it sounds to me like you were basing your plan on ideas that aren’t tied to what this industry actually *does*, but rather to how you hoped this would make you appear.

            1. Diet Coke Addict*

              Your use of “CV” is not typically American–in the States people use “resume” when referring to a typical work document, and CV is saved for academic setups.

              A couple other phrases–“A4 box” and “A3” and so on, are not in common parlance in North America.

                1. fposte*

                  Also “post” and “bespoke.” Amusingly, the UK has Royal *Mail* and “posts” things, while the US has the *Post* Office and “mails” things.

        2. Elsajeni*

          Hmm. It’s certainly true that a physical application might stand out against a stack of digital applications, but I’m not sure that makes it easier to remember — I think it’s just as possible that being the “odd one out” would make that application more likely to be overlooked, because it’s outside of the normal process.

          1. Artemesia*

            I have been in the position of pre-screening 100 applications — believe me the ones that are not easy to scan or are in weird shapes, don’t end up in the top pile.

    2. MsM*

      Also, if you really want to demonstrate creativity, aren’t you missing an opportunity if you don’t use your CV and cover letter to show what you can do even in that limited space and restrictive format? (While still conveying all the information in a clear and persuasive fashion, of course.)

      1. Designer*

        The CV was one page. The cover letter was slightly less. There were 5 A3 sheets of printed work. CV and Cover letter are formalities, and are these to introduce who I am. he work speaks for me and shows what I can do.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          So … why send in the question? You’re argued with every piece of input you’ve received here, and you seem to be convinced that you’re right and you’re unshakable in that belief. So why ask for advice in the first place?

          1. Designer*

            I asked if I should directly contact the one of two people I will be working with, should I get the part. (again it’s a tiny company).

            I’ve already know from a even younger age that I’m “different”, like I don’t even belong in this world. Perhaps I should listen to all these experts, and care less, apply to more places and forget about my dreams.

            Good day.

            1. Koko*

              Whoa, don’t swing too far the other direction there! Find a happy medium. Still care and still try your best, but consider the advice that the application process is not the best area to demonstrate uniqueness and save that for your CV and portfolio. Even creative jobs require both creative talent AND professional office-worker skills. It’s important to show an employer that you have both. Following application conventions demonstrates that you understand professional office norms.

            2. LBK*

              Hoo boy.

              This is literally the exact opposite of the purpose of the advice you’re getting here. The point isn’t to make you forgot your dreams, it’s actually to help you achieve them by providing advice on how to be more successful at getting the job you want.

              You don’t seem to have achieved your dream of working at this company since they haven’t called you – wouldn’t it have been helpful to know beforehand that they probably wouldn’t appreciate a “unique” method of submitting your application, and ergo get a better shot at getting the job?

            3. esra*

              No one is saying that at all.

              One of the things I love about this blog is the amount of creatives here, because our industries are a little different. All of us care and have dreams and thrive on creativity.

              What us olds are telling you is that applying to more places + appreciating that online submissions are easier for an employer does not equal caring less, it equals being a professional.

            4. Kat M*

              Hey, I was a “different” kid, too. Being different is great and you can definitely get jobs in fields and companies that value that. But to do so, you have to follow standard job conventions. That doesn’t mean don’t ever create a beautiful piece-it means wait for them to ask you for an example of your work (or including links on your CV and cover letter) rather than sending them hard copy.

              The people responding to you come from a variety of fields (creative and not) and are very much on your side. If they didn’t care, they wouldn’t put time into responding to you and giving you feedback that can only help you. Being receptive to feedback is one of the best things you can do for yourself-both personally and professionally. And yes, we all have to follow real world conventions, even if we’re not as much fans of them. That doesn’t mean you can’t be yourself. It means you have to use them to put yourself in a position where you can be yourself and do your best.

            5. Elizabeth West*

              Hey, don’t give up!

              Just remember–the conventions are there for a reason–to make it easier for the recipients to handle all the material they receive. You’re obviously creative, but your work needs to speak for itself. Concentrate on that and you’ll find what you’re looking for. :)

              I would not have published writers who just won big-ass awards publicly encouraging me on Twitter if I’d spent more time on my tweets than my actual manuscripts. The best thing I can do to ensure eventual publication is to make sure my work is the best it can be. (And submit of course—without cookies!)

            6. Sandrine (France)*

              So, I’m going to be really harsh here, and I hope you do read the comments that are posted, Designer OP.

              You need to grow up. Like, yesterday.

              1) You sent in a question on a public blog whose owner is known not to sugar coat her advice.
              2) You are very, very defensive in the way you reply to posters, no matter what they tell you. Remember that this is a community.
              3) You keep alluding to your differences. As if you thought you were better than others, because everything is so “well done” and “impeccable” . We can’t judge of this here. YOU may think your materials are impeccable. We have no way of knowing that exactly, but even that employer may not agree.

              No, this community isn’t about squashing dreams. It’s about telling you that dreams are beautiful, but the real world is… the real world. And in the real world, you have to learn how to interact with others even if what happens doesn’t please you. In a community like the AAM comments, that means taking things in and asking for clarification.

              That doesn’t mean you make condescending replies as if we were peons that don’t understand your greatness.

              1. Dmented Kitty*

                I’m sorry for the earworm, but I couldn’t help it:
                “Let it go… Let it go…”

                Put simply, the best advice for OP. :)

            7. toxicnudibranch*

              To put it bluntly, your idea that you are too “special” and “different” to be passed up, and also that that somehow exempts you from the general rules of social interaction would be very offputting to me as a potential employer. You aren’t *that* special. No one is.

              That doesn’t mean you’re worthless, or that you don’t do good work, or even that you should put your head down and abandon all motivation, but it does mean that you should develop a healthy sense of perspective. Be great at stuff, and don’t sell yourself short, but never make the mistake of thinking you’re just too fantastic and amazing not to hire, or think that you can argue your way into a job. Because that’s exactly what the pushy follow ups will come across as.

            8. Observer*

              Some differences are good. But some are NOT especially good -and some are an active disadvantage. Inability to read and comprehend what you have read is a distinct disadvantage in the modern world. And that seems to be one of your differences. You also seem to think that being different and caring a lot means you are always right and entitles you to do things the way you want to regardless of how it affects others, and without even thinking about the possibility that what you want to do might actually not work for the other person. That’s what most people would consider highly self centered – and in any case, it’s far from unique.

              This response also comes off as a lazy excuse for having done something ineffective. The fact is that plenty of passionate people are perfectly capable of thinking through the effect of their actions on others, and even modifying their planned course of action if it’s likely to be ineffective. I’d go further and say that it’s the reverse. The people that care the most are the people most likely to think these things through, because they want to accomplish something, and they are not going to let inconsequentials keep them form that.

              The thought process tends to go like this (in VERY general terms): I have this need to create unique teapots out of unusual materials. If I need to fill out stupid forms in triplicate / submit inane application / do whatever other stupid thing it takes, in order to create those teapots, I’ll do it. As long as I can create my teapots!

    1. Sandrine (France)*

      1) Blow up balloon.
      2) Heat up some chocolate.
      3) Make little “base” chocolate circles on a piece of parchment paper.
      4) Dip part of balloon in chocolate to make a bowl.
      5) Stick balloon on a chocolate circle you made in 3) .
      6) Coat anything you like that might be handle shaped in chocolate (pretzel ? candied orange ?) and attach it to the bowl.
      7) Refrigerate.
      8) Get out of fridge. Blow up the balloons. Scream like a kid. Fill with whatever you like.

      …… Okay, okay. I got the balloon part from the Japanese cooking channel mosogourmet on Youtube xD !

  9. Ali*

    I really do understand how the OP in #1 feels about honestly wanting a job, but this blog has really shown me the importance of backing off and realize that if it’s meant to happen, it will when it comes to job searching. Before I read here, I too had made the mistakes of calling frequently, writing in my cover letters that I’d call and schedule interviews and being too pushy.

    At my company, my boss won’t even entertain talking to candidates when he’s the one hiring for a role. One candidate tried to ask me for my manager’s e-mail when a position on my team was last open, and my boss came back and said he doesn’t speak with candidates unless they are being interviewed because he doesn’t want to lead anyone on or give false hopes. I appreciated his honesty with that and respected him even more for not falling prey to any gimmicks or pushiness candidates might try.

  10. Colette*

    #4 – The last straw has been that while they want to promote me, our department did not have the budget or headcount for promotions until either someone leaves or they re-budget for the new year. That sounded reasonable, but today I learn that we have been sitting on headcount that we don’t plan on using.

    It’s possible that there legitimately not room/budget to move up, even if they have unused headcount. Most places don’t decide not to use headcount for fun – there’s a reason why they don’t plan to use it.

    I’m concerned that the OP is seeing this as a situation where she can convince them to promote her by shooting down all of the reasons they’re giving her, but that’s unlikely to work and, if it did work, would not be a good situation.

    It would be reasonable for the OP to have a face to face conversation with her manager asking what she needs to do to be ready for a promotion and possibly asking what her manager thinks a possible timeline would be – but this should be an interested conversation, not an adversarial one, and the OP needs to understand that even if she’s ready for promotion, other people might be more qualified for the specific opportunities that open up.

    1. BRR*

      In terms of headcount there may not be a position to promote her to. I’m a chocolate teapot analyst and there are two senior chocolate teapot analysts above me who are amazing at their jobs. There’s really nowhere for them to go unless someone quits or a new position is created (which I have 0 idea what could be added to our organizational structure).

      1. Colette*

        Yeah, I don’t get the impression that the OP understands that – she seems to be viewing it as if she should get a promotion regardless of whether there is a need for someone in a higher-level role.

    2. cuppa*

      Our unused headcount is designated. Meaning, if I have an Assistant Teapot Designer spot that is unused, I can’t just make it a Teapot Manager because the spot is unused. I have to officially take the one off the books (and get approval for that) and then add the Teapot Manager back to the budget in the next year.

  11. Brett*

    #2 So, you have had senior level credentials for 2.5 yrs. You are the same age but have more work experience than everyone at the junior level. You finished your credential significantly quicker than people the same age from the same school.
    And you are the only person in your entire division with this type of experience.

    So, you have lots of work experience, relevant experience outside the company and in other fields, and you are achieving the same thing expected of high performers but at a younger age.

    If I were your boss and VP, I would think I have a potential rock star on my hands and would definitely want to promote you and move you up into more responsibilities. Your boss has so much confidence in you, that she literally wants to make you her designate successor to her work.

    Realize that your peers are probably really happy that the role is being passed on to a rock star in the making (especially when the alternative is to bring in a long tenured employee from another division, no analyst was going to get promoted up two levels to take the position). Now you definitely need to get comfortable with being a company rock star.

    1. This is OP2*

      Thanks for the bode of confidence Brett and Alison. The issue is that while I’ve been in this field (sort of) I’ve been doing very different work for the last 5ish years, so yes, I definitely have impostor syndrome right now. The announcement to my team was made yesterday and the announcement to the broader staff is likely going to be made today. My team seemed fine with it, but we’ll see how the other senior analysts react today…

      1. Artemesia*

        Why are you concerned about how everyone is going to react? If I were you I would be putting my nervous energy into figuring out how I am going to do a great job and not second guessing. Even if some senior whatevers are not thrilled — what can you do about that except exude confidence, be easy to work with and march ahead? Nothing shoots down progress like nervously asking or projecting ‘how am I doing? how am I doing? are you okay with this?’

      2. fposte*

        I’m with Artemesia–it sounds like you’re going out of your way to focus on negative possibilities without regard to their likelihood. So your team was fine, and likely the broader staff will be too–situations where people stomp out in high dudgeon are really pretty unusual :-). And if there’s a mild grumble anywhere, so what? People are always mildly grumbling about something, and there’s no immediate reason for you to take it personally or, frankly, to care.

      3. puddin*

        Perhaps it is precisely because you have extended experience (outside the field) that you are being promoted.

  12. Joey*

    #4 it’s totally possible that sitting on vacancies is required for budgetary purposes. I know there have been times when my budget folks haven’t allowed me to fill positions for a period of time (sometimes indefinitely). Employees don’t always grasp that we are purposefully not filling a position for a legitimate business reason. They sometimes feel it’s personal.

  13. HR Manager*

    I worked at a publishing company and had to hire designers and other “creative” workers too, and while some creativity was appreciated – it wasn’t helpful to completely subvert the process in a HEY, LOOOK AT ME!! kind of way. It was more appreciated that you be creative within the confines of the process or system that was set up. I never understood why the candidate couldn’t submit a resume as requested, and then follow up with something different. The applicants who rejected the process wasn’t creative enough for him/her at the start never got anywhere with us.

    As others noted, samples and a portfolio were always requested for design positions, so it wasn’t as if someone wasn’t able to show his or her stuff when the opportunity came.

    1. Designer*

      A small A4 black box with a refined typeface and impeccable presentation don’t shout “Look at me”. Again, the job description listed first the phone number, then the physical office, then the email address. Again this is a tiny and incredibly personal/bespoke company.

      1. Colette*

        Your goal in doing it was to stand out, right? That’s basically saying “look at me!”

        Some companies will appreciate that, but others will find it annoying. For example, the hiring manager has a mailbox of emailed resumes, and then there’s your resume, which has to be scanned in or else handled via a separate process. Someone has to scan that in, and if it’s the admin, it might take a month for that to happen, since it’s unlikely to be her highest priority task. If it’s the hiring manager, you’ve given them a task that makes it more difficult to accomplish their goal.

      2. Betty*

        While it seems like your package is well-designed and may have gotten you an initial second look, it’s also not something that fits into the computer-centric world. So your package may be sitting on someone’s file cabinet or in the mail room while other emailed CVs have been forwarded to the hiring manager or otherwise put into the company’s “application system.”

        I notice that you said you included a USB drive with the info: that means someone has to take the extra step to put your drive into their computer (if they are allowed to and they are not worried that it may have come with a virus), find your CV, and copy it into the system. Or they might have missed the USB drive and your printed CV is sitting on a pile of “things to scan.”

        It might be too late this time, but next time consider applying online/via email and then, if you think it is important, sending a package as an extra follow up.

        And good luck on the job search!

        1. HAnon*

          I agree that OP should also apply online and submit online materials first and foremost, but again, this is a creative field and the rules are a little different. Depending on what kind of boutique agency OP is applying for, they might not even have a “hiring department” or HR. The one I worked for didn’t, and boss (the creative director reviewing the applicants) would have thought that the package was pretty cool. She LOVED “swag.” Then again, this boss insisted I wear jeans for my interview because she was that non-traditional. But you really have to know the agency to see whether or not breaking the rules would fly…do as much research beforehand as you can about the culture of the agency.

          I do agree that applying for creative jobs in a more “structured” environment may have more traditional rules you have to abide by. Non-creative types don’t really tend to think outside the box as much as extremely creative people, so the reception to out-of-the-box thinking can be a bit frosty.

          1. Betty*

            FWIW I am a designer. I run my own company. When I am looking for new designers, I prefer an email with a link to a portfolio. I might think a box of stuff is cool, but it wouldn’t fit into my system for tracking applicants. I’d rather get something like that when I interview someone.

      3. HR Manager*

        But I’ve seen much worse, and the same thought applies to anyone who are tempted to use these methods to ‘stand out’ from the other resumes. I’ve had people send me USBs (I don’t favor plugging in random devices that may or may not have viruses into my PC), presentations on cd-rom (which was particularly memorable since I couldn’t read the darn thing on my computer), and all sorts of stuff that to be honest made it actually more difficult for me to consider this person’s application.

        Since you appear to feel very strongly that you made the right move, there’s nothing I can add about your scenario. I just hope other designer applicants can read these feedback posts from those who recruit, and have consideration for what is more or less likely to get their application noticed.

      4. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Sending it by postal mail shouts “look at me.”

        I’d appreciate it if you’d try actually hearing other people’s input rather than reflexively arguing back with everyone here.

        1. HAnon*

          I think part of the disconnect (not commenting on the delivery of the comments) is that OP is applying to a small, boutique type agency that specializes in high-end, unique printed pieces (if I’m understanding correctly), which is a different experience entirely than applying to a creative position within a corporate, established company that has HR and a hiring manager…and we’ve seen a lot of commenters weigh in on hiring for creatives within established, corporate company departments with HR protocols, but not a lot of people comment from the boutique agency side of things, where the process may be (from my experience, is) different. As someone who has worked in the same field for both types of companies, I can verify that the process can look very different, depending on the culture of the company, and that’s something people have to weigh before they dismiss the non-traditional approach entirely. If the consensus from creative hiring managers at boutique agencies is that the package is a no-no, I’m fine with being overruled. But I do understand OP’s frustration here. She is asking about apples, and getting oranges in return.

          1. HAnon*

            Just want to clarify I did not read all of the comments in the chain, and I can see where it’s gotten out of hand. But I still think that it’s worth finding out if there is a difference in hiring process from Creative Directors at boutique agencies vs. Corporate creative departments. As someone in this field I’m still interested in hearing about other perspectives on this.

            1. fposte*

              I think that it’s possible, especially when you factor in the national difference. But–and here are two big buts for me–the OP doesn’t seem to be holding this view out of familiarity with procedures but rather an imagined characterization, and it doesn’t seem to be paying off.

              It’s one thing to know that a company or industry favors certain hiring practices, the way Zappo’s seeks creative individuality and academia uses letters of recommendation rather than phoned references. It’s another thing to decide that this seems like the kind of place that should follow a creative path without knowing whether it does.

              1. HAnon*

                I agree…it doesn’t sound like OP has a lot of work experience, hence the wish-fulfillment type of thinking. But I don’t think you can rule out the process as ineffective entirely. The package may not have worked for OP because they are looking for a different design style or her work might not be as strong as the other candidates. We don’t know whether or not this would have worked if it was from a more seasoned, stronger candidate, and OP isn’t in a position to judge her own work in this regard. Additionally, some agencies still tell candidates that they need to mount their work and have a physical presentation of their brand to show. So it’s not entirely mythical. How effective it is in giving one client a leg up over another one…probably not very, unless it’s executed in an extremely creative way.

            2. esra*

              The thing about small design shops is they still get a TON of applications. I was hiring for a jr designer at a non-profit and we had a hundred applications. Some of which were custom pieces like Designer is describing.

              We took into consideration the ones that reflected the work in their presentation, but that was just one facet of the hiring decision.

              1. HAnon*

                We had a similar approach…didn’t necessarily hurt your chances, but didn’t help them unless the package was really strong.

          2. Liv*

            I work for a small agency, and we wouldn’t be any more appreciative of a physical application. For one thing, we don’t have an admin to deal with stuff like scanning or typing it in. (Certainly not an IT guy to check the USB for viruses.)

            Also, I’m not sure about their impeccable materials. If this is a company that works with offset printing, for instance, they aren’t going to be impressed by anything you printed at home.

          3. Observer*

            Downthread there are a number of responses from small, boutique types of places. They all agree that this method is mot a plus.

            Here is the thing to keep in mind. If this is a successful business, even a “boutique” and “creative” one, in all probability, there are some very practical people on staff – and they may even be the creative geniuses. Practical people tend to not like things that create extra work without a clear benefit and are capable of recognizing things like the danger of things like unsolicited USB drives, or drives coming from someone whose security practices you know nothing about. And, if it’s a small company, the person who is (Designer put it) “handling applications” is almost certainly doing this IN ADDITION to some other significant responsibilities. In fact, in this case that is almost certainly the case, as there is no one person whose job this is. That means that that person is NOT going to be “excited” to see an unsolicited package.

  14. LawBee*

    #2 – I’m always kind of bummed when I read letters where people apologize for their age. You’re not “just 29”, OP. Instead of defining your work self by your age, define your work self by your (apparently great) work product! Which is clearly what your managers do, and that’s what matters most. Congratulations! Take yourself out for a fantastic celebration of whatever way you celebrate!

    #4 – first, I admire your chutzpah for advocating for a promotion after six months! And I’m completely serious; I’m the worst self-advocate in the world and I love hearing about people who are better at it than I am. Having said that, though, I think the OP needs to remember that promotions aren’t something that happens on a schedule every six months, or year, or whatever. There are so many factors that play into promotions, many of which have nothing to do with the OP but instead look at the business as a whole. OP, keep being awesome at your job (assuming you are awesome at your job), and chill about the promotion for a while. Unless you’re the one running the company, you’re not working with a full picture.

  15. soitgoes*

    I’m not sure that #3 has anything to do with the secretary at all. The manager was supposed to put the job offer in motion. OP called and asked the secretary about something that she may not have been privy to. What’s she supposed to say? “Hey manager, someone I don’t know called about a job offer for a position I don’t know anything about. I guess, can you get in touch or something? I’m not sure though.”

    IMO it was weird to go through the secretary in the first place instead of directly emailing the manager who made the informal verbal offer. OP isn’t a customer/client, and the secretary isn’t a hiring manager/HR.

  16. NK*

    #5 – You probably also have a good idea of what impact your absence will cause and how big of a deal it would be to transition the work. I’ve worked on 4-person teams where we had our own work and would have things to transition, so a full 10 business days was really helpful to do that. I also once worked on a 30-person team where work constantly rotated and no one really owned anything. I quit that job in November, and the last day of a 2-week notice would have been the day before Thanksgiving. Given the nature of the work, I told my supervisor that I would absolutely honor a 2-week notice if she wanted me to, but if my last day could be the Friday before Thanksgiving, I would love to be able to spend a whole week with my family (who was out of the area). She was completely fine with that.

    1. OP #5*

      Thanks for the reply. I put my resignation in last Thursday and my last day will be next Tuesday. They are not making me come in for 4 hours (the office closes at noon) on Wednesday and they are giving me holiday pay, which is awesome!

  17. cuppa*

    #2 I once managed someone on my team that I went to college with. Same age, same degree program, we had classes together, everything. I felt a little weird about it too, but it was fine. Your superiors absolutely have the confidence in you, and the resources Alison linked to are great. Good luck!

    1. Jessica*

      Really? I’m an admin/secretary myself and I always thought they were interchangeable and that the first term had just fallen out of favor like stewardess/flight attendant.

      1. fposte*

        That’s what’s happened around here. But some places may have both and distinguish the positions. (If a workplace doesn’t have both, then I’m with Jessica–it’s a nomenclature change, not a position distinction.)

        1. Steve G*

          +1. now I’ve even heard a couple of people in the office manager role at my job say they don’t want to be labelled as the office manager. If that’s what you do though, that’s your title. And I still don’t see what is wrong with it. Everyone seems to want “analyst” in their title, but just because your job may involve typing #s into excel, does not an Analyst make…..

          1. Elsajeni*

            Interesting. I wonder if it’s related to the phenomenon of “euphemism creep,” where the original polite, euphemistic term that replaced a slur or insult comes to be used as a slur or insult itself, necessitating a new euphemism, which eventually comes to be used as an insult, which… etc. “Condescension creep,” maybe, where people found that having a “secretary” title meant others didn’t take them or their work seriously, managed to change the standard title to something like “admin assistant” or “office manager”, but are now finding that those titles are being devalued in turn.

            1. fposte*

              I was thinking this very thing. The problem is people not understanding the value of the work–good secretaries kick ass same as good admin assistants.

              1. Emmers*

                Yeah, definitely slur creep here.

                At my company, it’s “exec” for “executive assistant,” which drives me up the wall because I always assume it’s short for just plain “executive.”

      2. HR Manager*

        Probably depends on organization and the job. Secretary is an old-school term, and most candidates I’ve talked to do not like to be called secretaries. At an executive assistant level, I do think the term is fairly interchangeable – it’s a dedicated resource for a certain executive or senior manager to help coordinate his/her schedule, type up letters, make presentations, and general assistant/coordination type of responsibilities.

        Admin at a department/team level may not be dedicated to one person, and could be responsible for a separate set of discrete tasks that aren’t tied to anyone in particular (e.g., we used to have an HR assistant who was responsible for a much of the HRIS entry and updating). This person could also help coordinate projects or help a manager with travel if needed, but that was more atypical.

        1. LBK*

          This definitely varies by company – at my org, EA outranks AA. The EA in my department handles travel, scheduling, etc. for our execs but she also act as office manager and coordinates other department-wide initiatives (right now she’s the coordinator for our move to a new office).

    2. Joey*

      What’s wrong with secretary? Itsort of reminds me of people with executive in their title that aren’t executives.

    3. Artemesia*

      When I was young all the people doing the work admins do now were called ‘secretaries’; it is in fact a generational change of vocabulary. There are also levels of authority and expertise among admins just as there were among secretaries.

  18. Steve G*

    I am curious what type of worse OP #2 does, as I would feel the same way being promoted to a director at 29. I guess all companies are different, but my energy industry runs on a 12 month calendar, and prepping for and closing one period takes about 18 months. The themes/”drama” of each year are different, you usually need to live through 3 to experience enough of the different types of problems that occur and to become seasoned…so it usually takes 4+ years to get a promotion even from regular xyz to senior xyz, let alone higher in the org. Of course, director at my company is a really high level job that pays alllooottt, so maybe there are different levels of “director” at different companies, as was pointed out by some readers yesterday.

    1. Judy*

      There certainly are different levels of the title director. Two companies I’ve worked for, a director was the level above manager. A manager would have 10-20 people working for them, and a director would have 5-20 managers working directly for them. Usually a director would have 100+ people in their chain of command. I’m now at a company with less than 100 employees and there are 4 directors, which is the level just below the president. My Girl Scout Council has maybe 20 employees, many of them part time, and there are 5 or 6 directors.

  19. Riri*

    “Should I try and contact the director whom I know (from extensive research) is the hiring manager and whom I will be working with the most?”
    You “will be working with the most”? You haven’t even been interviewed and you already think the job is yours? Entitled at least, delusional at worst. RED FLAGS ALL OVER THIS ONE.

    1. Anon-*

      Agreed. Designer seems very arrogant and unwilling to take criticism/feedback. If that came off in his/her presentation I am not surprised s/he wasn’t contacted.

  20. Interviewer*

    #1 – read the posts, many of the comments, and responses from Designer.

    Designer, you asked about following up again with the company, and you got your clear answer. You are also, separately, getting a lot of feedback on theories why you might not have heard back. Do you understand the difference? We are trying to help you here.

    I had to look up a bespoke company, as I’m in the US and had never heard that term before. I work for a law firm, which is only slightly less paper-based than a stationery store, and we use an HR software program to track all candidates. If you don’t apply through the program, but choose to mail or email a resume to someone in the company, we upload it and send the candidate an email with a link to enter more info in the system. We can track everything in that area – phone screens, interviews, follow ups, background checks – and push that candidate over to the hiring system when that decision is made.

    Maybe this bespoke company doesn’t have a fancy software program. Maybe everyone who emails a resume gets put into an electronic folder for later review. So yours has to be handled differently from the bulk of the candidates. It’s memorable for creating more work or hassle, not for its elegance or perfection. I guarantee the woman who signed for it immediately handed it off when she realized a candidate had tried to make her think it was Christmas.

    Agree with others who say that focusing on the method of delivery means you may have some gaps in skills or experience that you are trying to divert attention away from, by focusing on the presentation. Don’t do that. Focus on your resume as a document to wow them with information about your work history and education – not the samples. As an example, maybe you’ve built this amazing box, and included sample materials for an entire rebranding effort you did this summer, and talked all about your commitment to perfection and elegance and look at this beautiful font you created, and see how that palette works so well? – but told them nothing about the work you did with a constantly shifting management team to get those materials approved under tight deadlines and a tiny budget. Maybe you didn’t realize that a key internship in school would make the difference. Maybe you work for several clients in the same industry, or you’re using software they just bought. Wouldn’t those skills and experience be good info – nay, the RIGHT info – to have when comparing different candidates, and choosing who to interview? Other candidates have put it on their resumes and in their cover letters. I bet they’re the ones getting interviews.

    I hope someone who swims upstream like you can take a moment to breathe and hear the feedback. You flouted the norms, and tried to revive the “forgotten tradition” and then complained when no one called back. To me, that equals a response. It wasn’t the one you wanted to hear, but it was loud & clear. We’re all confirming it. Your application did not get you the interview. To try it again would be trying to invite very similar results.

    Good luck in your job search.

  21. Bespoke Teapot Maker*

    I run a small company which does large bespoke art projects (although we’re in Canada so we wouldn’t necessarily call them bespoke…). I occasionally want to hire people. When I hire, I need talented people with a very high level of artistic skill. Someone like Designer here, by the sound of it.

    But. BUT. When I’m looking for an employee, I’m looking for someone I can work with. And so, when people try to stand out by sending me animated presentations, hand-calligraphed CVs (calligraphy is one of our things; you might think that this demonstrates calligraphy skills and is therefore a great way of presenting yourself, but believe me it is not), work-related presents, Facebook friend requests…all red flags. Sending an application in a conventional way is the paperwork equivalent of turning up to an interview in appropriate clothes–it’s a way of telling me that you understand that I’m running a business here. I get a fair number of applicants who don’t seem to understand that, one way or another. We may be an unusual business but we are a business, not a dream studio.

    Dreams are great; some of my best people have dreams, and as an employer I get a kick out of helping my people grow into their dreams, but I need to hire people who can harness their dreams to the revenue horse, and showing me that you understand how businesses work is the best way to get into the stable.

  22. Resumesfordays*

    I don’t *think* was covered but what I would recommend this silly designer to do now is to just apply traditionally online like the whole misguided mail thing never happened. She’s likely not even in their ATS because of her bizarre approach. Like Allison mentioned, there’s a good possibility it was pitched out or just thrown in a corner to be dealt with later aka never. The If she just applies online and her resume and work speak for itself, they may never put two and two together that she is also “box girl.”

  23. OP1*

    Just a quick update for anyone who think I’m even worth listening to now after those defensive comments (some which I still stand by)

    The marketing and PR associate from the company emailed me yesterday asking if I’m willing to relocate, which I am.

    They said I should call the CEO on Monday for a “quick chat”. It’s too early to say yet, but it seems that the issue perhaps wasn’t my method, of applying, but my location!

    Either way, I think it’s wise to state that this “traditional” idea wasn’t so great in this particular case. I say this now because the company has just this evening also posted “Please email your cover letter and CV to…) Again if anyone thinks I deserve a few words, would some kind of apology right of the bat look pathetic?

    1. marci*

      Do not stand by any of those defensive comments because they demonstrate nothing that anyone would want to employ. You got sound advice here and that’s nothing to apologize for. Essentially people told you to separate your feelings from the jobseeking process, (which is different from your passion for your work) and that process isn’t over yet. Best of luck.

      1. OP1*

        I’m not sure I follow you. When I call the company, I need to refrain from my feelings of passion for the position and continue with the for lack of better word “paper work” side of things? So if they ask “Why should we hire your”, and I reply “We both have the same goals and I think my skills and experience would help to realise the goals within the company” would not be so smart? (As an outsider of the company I have a general scope of their goals and my skills relate to their requirements on the job page)

        1. Rain*

          You don’t know that you both have the same goals. “I think my skills and experience would help to realise the goals within the company” would be fine. You can’t speak on behalf of the company.

        2. marci*

          Don’t get yourself emotionally worked up about everything in the process. Decision making can be very impersonal on their side, while you freak out at home, reading into everything they say and do. “Omigod, they didn’t get back to me when they said they would. Omigod, they took me on a tour of the office, and now they won’t call. Omigod, they said they were looking at other people. What should I do to convince them I am their obvious, perfect choice?”

          If you read this blog frequently, you will find many stories of managers behaving badly and acting unreasonably. These are the people who hire people. There is only so much you can figure out from a company through research. Companies love to post glowing descriptions of themselves and potential jobs. They have mission statements that are never lived up to.

          I recently asked an industrial/organization psychologist if there were certain things I could be more aware of as I tried to assess a company’s culture. He said not really. Companies are not going to tell you, “Well, to succeed in this job you’ll need to work well with lazy people/backstabbers/manipulative people.” My experience has shown that the job/company described and the job/company you’re interviewing for are often very different entities and your research is only marginally helpful.

          And for goodness sakes, please drop the “I’m not really of this world routine.” It’s a company, not an ashram. This process is about them–yes them–not how wonderful your stuff is. If you’re not right for a role, they can’t use you. You must not suffer because of a job search. Do not give them the power.

          1. OP1*

            I have a huge smile on my face right now :) AND a huge sigh of relief.

            I’ve become emotionally involved with this company and began to think they are ‘friendly’ due to the nature of their work. (not nudism!) The truth is, they are not my friends, they don’t even know who I am and any and every company aren’t ‘friends’ just people of whom we share common interests.

            I’ve learnt a vast amount about the company, perhaps too much and I’ve become attached and obsessed because it *looks* ideal on paper. Yes, on paper…

            I’ll give them a call on Monday and see what’s happening. What’s the worse they can do, not interview me? I think believing in something too much cast a shadow on what probably isn’t a reality.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Please don’t call them. You’ve already reached out multiple times. You’re at the point where you risk them putting you on a mental Never Hire list for being inappropriately pushy.

    2. Cheesecake*

      I have subscribed for this thread, it absolutely makes my day (well, dayS).

      Look, i love the way you troll. But if you are for realz, there are two things. One is you as a professional: your work. Two is how you behave: your attitude. I saw numerous cases of brilliant people, yet, they thought they are too great for this miserable world and this diminished every and any amazing piece of their work. As my exboss said “once a jerk, always a jerk”; people are not going to talk about your amazing design work if you behave like an asshole , once you do something that put them off, they will write you off. Don’t make it difficult for you. And good luck!

      1. OP1*

        Thanks for the words and good luck, I appreciate that. Being defined as an asshole, I don’t and it’s not called for since we don’t even know each other.

  24. OP1*

    Ok so I called the company. The CEO called me back as he was in meetings all day.

    They said they were very impressed with my CV and the presentation was a nice addition to that. They said my skills and very clear passion for the job are a great match but they have just one issue right now: Location.

    I live 200 miles away from the company and I would need to relocate which I have no issue with. However, in the past 2 previous employees said the same thing but left within 1 year of moving location purely for the job. Obviously this costs the company time and money and this isn’t a £100K salary so there’s not a huge financial incentive to stay.

    I reiterated my interest for the job and made a point of saying it’s not my intention to push their decision or come across as annoying. He cut me off and said that’s not the case and they get a very good feel for who I am.

    The company said I should email both directors and explain my living situation or whatever else I feel is relevant. (I have no dependants, live on £3k a year right now and my only reason for living with parents is due to money and well, because I love my family!) I mentored I live by very little means and as long as I can afford basic things, money doesn’t bother me. I also said I’ve kept my current job for almost a decade and have no interest in jumping from job to job as this is a career and lifestyle change.

    Anyway, that’s where it stands right now. I said I will get an email with my thoughts by tomorrow afternoon and go from there. If anyone has experience with this, I’d greatly appreciate advice on how I should address their concerns. Again, there is absolutely nothing in my hometown that I want to stay for – it’s far too limiting for my career needs and missing my parents can be minimised with video calls :). (and bi-weekly train journeys)

  25. OP1*

    Shortly after I emailed the company, they replied saying they will discuss it in their next meeting in January and we can take it further.

    I’ll continue with the job search and forget about it for the next month… I’ll keep this thread updated whatever happens.

  26. Kassy*

    #3 – I would also examine what the admin means when she says she has to “email HR,” because it may be more than a few lines of “we like John Smith, we want to hire him, here’s his salary and title.” I have done personnel work at my job and getting new hire paperwork sent to HR can take hours (and that’s uninterrupted hours, which is not the case for a lot of us). The reason HR would be able to offer it “instantly” after that may be because the admin is doing all of the work beforehand. She may have to compile the records of the rejected candidates and send it all at once (we do).

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