my boss wants me to buy a client flowers with my own money, my interviewer contacted our mutual Facebook connections, and more

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

1. Interviewer contacted mutual Facebook connections before interviewing me

I applied for a part-time administrative job at a small business (3-4 employees). Social media is a component for the position, so I assumed that I would be googled before applying. What I didn’t expect was during my interview, one of the people interviewing me told me that she called our mutual friends that we had on Facebook, prior to contacting me for an interview. Is that not totally weird? I had no chance to give our mutual friends any warning and the ones she did called were acquaintances, at best.

Well, if a hiring manager knows people who knows you, it’s pretty common to reach out to them for an informal reference before bringing a candidate in for an interview. They’re looking for “OMG, she’s great, you need to hire her” or “she was a disaster when we worked together or “hmmm, she could be good; worth your talking to, at least” or whatever else, from someone whose opinion they trust. That’s just a normal part of hiring, and hiring managers aren’t going to stop doing that; it can save them (and candidates) time and give them loads more information than generally comes with a typical job application.

The part that I could see feeling a little weird about here is that she used Facebook connections to do it. Because Facebook is a social network, not a professional one, it’s easy to feel it should be off-limits for this kind of thing. But mutual connections are mutual connections, no matter how they’re spotted.

2. My boss wants me to buy a client flowers with my own money

My employee messed up a report and offended a client. Now my boss wants me, as her supervisor, to buy flowers to apologize using my own money. Is this legal?

Probably, unless you’re in a state like California that forbids employers from having employees cover business costs. But it’s ridiculous, and you should push back with something like, “Gifts for clients are a business expense that I don’t feel comfortable covering it myself.”

If your boss pushes back and says that it’s a mistake that you’re ultimately responsible for, then you should say, “I’m going to work with Jane to make sure this doesn’t happen again, but I’m not comfortable personally covering the costs of doing business and maintaining client relationships.”

3. My reference has job openings at his company, but I’m not interested

I left my last job in City A on good terms when my husband and I relocated to a different area. We are now returning to City A and I have contacted a manager at my old company and asked if he can be a reference for me. He was a big fan of my work and naturally said yes, but he also mentioned there may be opportunities at old company. Here comes the problem – I am not interested in working for old company again at this time. It is a good company that I respect, but it was a bad fit for me in terms of location and culture. I don’t want to lie to him, but I also don’t want to risk the reference by being too blunt about saying no. Any suggestions on how to word my response? I really appreciate that he would be excited to work with me again (that’s a sign of a good reference, right there) and absolutely don’t want to burn any bridges by not being honest.

“I so appreciate that, but I think I probably want to try something more like ____.” (Fill in with “closer to where we’ll be living,” “focusing more on X,” or whatever seems reasonable. The location thing is a really easy, understandable one.)

4. Hipster glasses at work

As a manager, what do you think of employees wearing hipster-like thick large frame glasses to work? Is it a yes or nay?

I think they’re fine, but there’s probably some highly conservative workplace out there where they would feel out of sync. But that’s true of most accessories.

5. Company reposted the job after making me an offer

I interviewed with a company two weeks ago and received an offer last Friday. I sent a counter-offer over the weekend because I needed time to think about it.

I was browsing jobs today still and saw that they re-posted the job listing for the position I was offered on the same day I received the offer. Do companies usually do this? Does this mean they’re still looking for potential candidates? I’m so confused!

Many companies keep job postings active (including refreshing them if they’re getting old) until an offer has been accepted. After all, you might decline the offer or they might not be able to come to terms with you salary. It’s smart to keep the search active until the position is officially filled.

There are other possible explanations too, like a junior-level HR assistant who’s responsible for keeping postings fresh and is totally out of the loop on the fact that they’re close to a hire. Ultimately, you can’t read anything into this kind of thing.

{ 299 comments… read them below }

  1. Jeanne*

    I have no idea what hipster-like glasses are but to me that’s pretty extreme micromanaging. Glasses go through style trends. Really huge glasses in the 80s. At some point those frames that weren’t really visible. Now thicker, darker frames are in vogue. What is so offensive about a pair of glasses that you feel the need to regulate them?

    This is another of those petty things Admin talks about where of course you have the right but it will lose you good performers for a silly reason.

    1. QK*

      I, too, am struggling to understand the “hipster” glasses question. So long as it’s a question of style (thick frames) and not something offensive (like swastikas drawn on the frames), I don’t see how it’s really any different from someone wearing an unflattering cut or color of clothing. As in, only mildly interesting at most, and in general pretty inconsequential. (So long as you’re not working in someplace with a strict dress code.)

      1. Jazzy Red*

        They’re Buddy Holly glasses. I guess they’re OK as long as the job candidate wears white socks and black shoes.

    2. Seal*

      Today’s hipster glasses are more or less the same ones worn by geeks in the 80s and by Buddy Holly in the 50s.

    3. Sally*

      the OP sounded like an employee ASKING A MANAGER if “hipster” glasses were too much for the office.

      It’s actually a valid question… especially if the office has a dress code that is enforced.

      1. CA Admin*

        Except that glasses frames run in the hundreds of dollars, even before you take into account lenses. Also, most insurance plans won’t cover new frames more than once every 2 years. They’re not really accessories, they’re more like medical devices in that you can’t really do without if your just employer hates the style.

        1. en pointe*

          Sure, but I think Sally still makes a valid point. I mean, they’re accessories in the sense that you get to choose your frames; the style’s not medically mandated. So if someone’s particular office isn’t thrilled about them, that could factor into their consideration next time they get new frames. Or if the OP is considering getting hipster frames now and is wondering whether it might be an issue at work, again, useful information to have.

          1. FourEyes*

            You are aware that people with genuine needs for glasses would need to wear those glasses all the time, not just at work and might not want to pick an unfashionable style just to please a boss right? I hate that I need glasses. I feel self conscious and unattractive in them. I hate that I don’t get to enjoy a lot of things people do (like swimming) because my eyesight is so awful and I resent that while my friends spend their tax refunds on shoes and holidays, I’m stuck buying glasses.

            So my boss mandating what kind of frame I need to have on my face for the next year or two would be another huge tub of salt in the wound. I don’t care if my boss likes my glasses or not. I’m the one who has to live with wearing them.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Where are y’all getting the idea that anyone is talking about banning them? The question was just whether they’re work-appropriate or not, and it could be an employee asking that (the question wasn’t clear on that).

              1. FourEyes*

                I read it ‘as a manager’ in the way they were asking as a manager, but on second reading, I see it could be asking you as a manager. I’m not a first language English speaker, I do that some times.

                But either way, I’m just throwing it out there why it would be an awful thing to police in the work force and extremely upsetting to those with a genuine need for glasses.

                1. Stephanie*

                  I don’t think it’s a ban per se, I think the OP was trying to figure out what would be appropriate in an office, just like unnatural hair colors or visible tattoos are ok in some offices and not ok in others (granted…no one has a medical need for bright blue hair or visible tattoos).

                2. en pointe*

                  I can understand that and I don’t think anyone has really disagreed with you there. It’s still a valid thing to wonder though about workplace appropriateness. If hipster glasses do happen to be out of place in someone’s particular office, they don’t HAVE to buy different ones (short of them being banned, which as several people have noted here would be unlikely), but it’s still useful information to have and perhaps factor into their considerations.

                  I think it’s useful information to know when you’re doing anything that’s out of sync with your office culture, whether or not you ultimately make the change.

                3. A Bug!*

                  I agree with your comparison to hairstyles, Stephanie. Just like I consider my employment possibilities when I change my hair, I do it when I replace my glasses. It’s a completely valid question even without bringing actual dress codes into the equation. An office might not have a rule against green hair, but coming to work (or an interview) with green hair could certainly have undesired consequences.

                  That said, for the most part, I don’t think thick-framed glasses would be a big deal in most office environments, especially office-casual ones.

            2. Kyrielle*

              I have terrible vision – near-sighted and astigmatism.

              I am able to use prescription swim goggles to go swimming – is this something you were aware of? I get the generic, not specific, ones – cost me less than $20 for the most recent pair. They’re not a precise match to my prescription, but I can safely walk around a pool, swim, and monitor my children in a pool with them on, so I count it a win.

              If you don’t have astigmatism, you can just get the closest match to your prescription that looks affordable. If you have astigmatism, you’d want to talk to your eye doctor – mine did some calculations and recommended an “adjusted” prescription for the goggles, since they can’t correct for the astigmatism. It seems to work pretty well.

              1. Clever Name*

                This is brilliant! I normally wear my prescription sunglasses at the outdoor pool and just squint when I take them off to go in the water.

            3. Lisa*

              As a full-time glasses-wearing geek (who also works as a manager and HR), I understand where everyone is coming from. I ordered a pair of glasses that have thick black frames and a white skull and crossbones on each temple. However, I also ordered a second pair that was still my style, but more professional. I wear the professional glasses when I do interviews, go to conferences, etc., but I wear my skull and crossbones glasses for daily in-office work. I did, however, clear it with the business owner by bringing them in first. As has been said, it really is an office culture issue that will be case-by-case.

              On a side note, I highly recommend for ordering glasses. You can get glasses for under $20/pair! This has allowed me to have my fun and work glasses both!

              1. peanut butter*

                I second the Zenni Optical recommendation. They had a sale where you could buy 2 pairs of glasses and get one free. I got three pairs for $180.00. The lenses were the most expensive part for me – $55.00 since I need progressive lenses. I now have back up glasses for the first time in my life. I have a pair of conservative looking glasses, a colorful fun pair of glasses, and a pair of retro looking glasses in the colors of my favorite team. I have a co-worker who needs just single vision glasses and her bottom line for her glasses was around $20.00.

            1. Jazzy Red*

              No kidding! Does any employer really care about things like that? I’m wracking my brain trying to think of any industry that wouldn’t approve of basic black frame specs.

          2. QualityControlFreak*

            Just wanted to point out that for some of us, we really don’t get to choose our frames. My prescription is such that I am limited to small, round frames (granny glasses). If my workplace determined that these are too unfashionable or make the wrong statement, I’d be SOL.

            1. A Bug!*

              I wear thick-framed glasses because my prescription results in very thick lenses unless I pay a lot extra for a fancy process. To be honest, I’m a bit grateful that hipster glasses are in because it’s resulted in a wider variety of frames for me to choose from. If thick glasses affected my employment options I’d have to switch to contacts!

          3. Relosa*

            I disagree. My glasses cost upwards of $400 – that I have to pay out of pocket. I’m required to wear them to drive and can’t do most things without them. They’re medically necessary, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to have to pick frames that don’t offend my office culture. Sorry, no.

            I’m paying for them; they’re mine; and it’s my face and appearance. Unless they’re so fancy they reach out and punch people in the face or like CA Admin said that they are decorated with hate speech or similar symbols; nobody gets to say a thing about my glasses.

            1. Joey*

              Why not? It falls under dress code, no. Same as losing your glasses and wanting to wear your Rx sport goggles at work.

              Why shouldn’t employers be able to enforce a dress code that includes “professional” eyewear?

              1. Tinker*

                “Same as losing your glasses and wanting to wear your Rx sport goggles at work.”

                By which you mean “of course if the only vision correction you have available has somehow ended up being prescription sport goggles, then prescription sport goggles will be what you will be wearing at work”… right?

                1. Joey*

                  Meaning “I understand that may be your only option right now, but those aren’t acceptable long term.”

          4. NoPantsFridays*

            Sometimes, the style IS medically mandated in the following way. I have very terribad eyesight and need thick-ass lenses even when I get the more expensive ones. When I got glasses in January, I was told that I need thick frames with large lens sockets to hold the thick lenses. I wanted the thin, modern, rectangular, metallic frames that look like they’re barely there…instead, I got thick, clunky, almost circular, huge plastic frames. I’m not sure what hipster glasses are, but I think they are the larger circular ones. So I can easily see why such a style would in effect be medically required for some people. I wear contacts, so my glasses are for backup and I don’t wear them at work, but obviously some people wear them regularly (by choice, because of their profession, because they’re medically ill-suited to contacts, etc.). It’s still good information for the OP to have, regardless, because if the frames are medically required she will probably need a new job.

          5. K.*

            I think so-called hipster glasses only come across as “hipster” if the rest of your accessories enforce it as part of a youth-centric, edgy style (which I personally think is fine, but dress codes are dress codes). Otherwise, they’re just thick-framed glasses, which have been available in some capacity for decades and are worn by all types of people/generations. Heck, my mom wears black thick-framed glasses, but when paired with her Ann Taylor and Talbots, it would only be the oddest manager in the world who would scream, “AHHHH EDGY HIPSTER AHHHH!” at her (…or at anyone, but that’s another issue).

        2. Mike B.*

          I think the only types of workplace in which limited personal expression in eyewear would be frowned upon are also the ones in which an employee would have no trouble buying a few extra pairs of eyeglasses.

        3. Squirrel!*

          Glasses as accessories are very popular right now, and have been for the past couple of years. Accessory stores like Icing and Claire’s (not sure if men’s stores do it as well) sell hipster glasses with plain, non-Rx lenses in them. So you are right that some people wear them as a medical device, but it’s not necessarily correct to assume that everyone who has glasses actually needs them.

          1. Iro*

            Yes but it’s also incredibly dangerous to assume that someone wearing glasses doesn’t medically need them. I don’t know why any employer would ever want to get into the hot water of regulating what sort of frames can be worn on glasses as they are clearly not “just another accessory” since a sizable part of the population have glasses as a medical neccesity.

            1. Jamie*

              I agree – and it’s a ridiculous thing to police IMO. People who buy them for fashion (and this goes back to the 80s – I found a fabulous pair of frames I loved at the Limited and wanted to use them for my script so took them to my eye doctor but they couldn’t do it.)

              I have seen people on TV and facebook sporting them with no lenses which if people did irl would be asinine. But if there is a lens in there do we really care if it’s needed or not?

              And I cannot be the only one who needs glasses and forgets to wear them way too often, so the idea of wearing them if not needed baffles me. Reminds me I need to call and make appt so I can new ones before end of year as this is my “frames” year. (Insurance covers one pair new lenses each year and frames every other year but the fine print on which frames are covered and which lens options – and when you deviate how the percentages work requires a freaking law degree. I have accepted I will never fully understand either my vision or dental insurance.)

            2. Anna*

              It’s pretty obvious when someone is wearing glasses that are just accessories and when they aren’t. Most people who have worn glasses can tell the difference between prescription and non-prescription lenses just by looking at them.

              Having said that, if you want to wear non-prescription lenses as part of an outfit, as ridiculous as I think that may look, it doesn’t really matter to me. Your face, your accessory. And if you are required to wear glasses to correct your sight, then by all means choose the frames you like and rock them.

            3. Squirrel!*

              I’m not saying it’s OK to do so, I’m just pointing out that there are cases where it does happen. No need to jump on me.

        4. Pennalynn Lott*

          Glasses don’t have to cost hundreds of dollars. I’m wearing a pair of progressive bifocals right now in a stylish, rectangle-shape, with all the coatings on the lenses, for less than $90. If I’d purchased them at my local eyewear place, they would have cost $300. Over the past few years I have purchased all of my glasses from either or So has my dad, all of his friends, and most of my friends.

          I go the eye doctor, get a prescription, and check out the frames in their office (or the eyewear place next door). If I find something that is flattering to my face, I take several pictures of the frames and write down the manufacturer and model number (and lens and frame size), and then email all that info to Zenni and Goggles4u. They get back to me with either an exact match (including designer label) or with something so close as to be identical. I place an order and get my glasses in under 14 days for a quarter to a third of what I would have paid at the eyewear place. Easy-peasy.

          1. Pennalynn Lott*

            I see someone downthread has already mentioned Zenni. (Great minds think alike!) But I also wanted to note that both Zenni Optical and Goggles4u have a “try on” feature where you can upload a picture of your face and see how different frames would look on you.

        5. CharonPDX*

          Except that there is a fashion market for plain-glass-lens (I.e. no prescription,) thick-frame glasses.

          These are pure fashion accessory, not at all medical. Those would fall under dress code, where prescription lenses wouldn’t.

          Obviously, people with prescriptions can get them too. But just because someone is wearing glasses doesn’t mean they NEED to wear glasses.

      2. Observer*

        Technically, yes. But, as others have said, outside of really offensive, mandating the style of glasses frames seems like real micro-management. I simply can’t see an upside to it. And that’s despite the fact that I think those frames are hideous.

        1. Observer*

          By the way, the only reason I mention my preference is to make it clear that I’m not trying to say that it should be allowed because I like them. I just think that dress codes need to addressed with a fairly light touch.

      3. Vicki*

        Dress codes should _never_ cover glasses.

        I wear glasses because I am nearsighted and can’t get along without them. I choose frames that I like (and get new lenses for them as necessary).

        Worrying about glasses frame style is over the line.

        1. Jamie*

          Being old enough to remember Elton John from the 70’s I’d say there is a line…

          But in all seriousness, I just googled outrageous glasses and gaudy glasses and I didn’t see any (excluding sunglasses) that I would think cross a line in the office. I see glasses more in the spirit of make-up where unless a look is so bizarre as to be distracting from work it’s better to let people do what they want to do.

          I think the question is valid and the OP was right to ask it if they are unsure – it’s smart to look out for pitfalls before getting tripped up…but for me I can’t imagine having an issue with anyone’s eyewear choices.

          I will never understand Graham Elliotts choice to wear those white frames on Masterchef but I support his right to do so.

    4. en pointe*

      Well, the position of the OP is ambiguous; they could also easily be an employee wondering what their manager might think about them wearing hipster glasses. But regardless, I agree with you that this would be a pretty petty thing to regulate. Even for a conservative industry, I don’t think they have THAT much of a standout look. We’re not talking Dame Edna glasses here. Besides, hipster glasses are hot.

      1. Natalie*

        And really, any glasses that look natural on your face are probably not going to be noticed, not matter how “hipster” they seem on the rack.

        1. Miss Chanandler Bong*

          Yep, I was pretty damn excited when so-called “hipster” glasses came back into style, since they look awesome on me, and fit my personal style pretty well (which is otherwise not particularly hipster). I do think they can look out of place on some people, but that’s probably true of every popular style that’s come and gone.

          1. abby*

            Me, too. Even though they never really went away. I have a very strong prescription and my lenses are quite thick, which limits the frames I can select. I’ve always had to wear “hipster” style frames for that reason, so it’s nice that the style of frame I’ve had to wear for quite some time now is suddenly “hot”.

          2. Jamie*

            I remember when the black hornrimmed Buddy Holly frames were ALWAYS available in the very limited selection of frames 100% covered by insurance. (like 5 frames – none of which people would buy on purpose so they could upsell) and as soon as they became the cool thing they are now with the spendy frames and no longer covered 100%.

            I have been trying to get my glasses wearing son and husband into them because I think they are adorable and I can’t wear them, but they insist on sticking with their plain wire frames. My husband swears plastic frames make the bridge of his nose sweat too much which is so weird it has to be true – who would make that up?

            1. Stephanie*

              I used to have Spectera vision insurance. I went to this boutique near campus and was looking at all the cute frames. I tell the clerk I have Spectera and she’s like “Oh, Spectera? Get out the box.” The box was full of all pretty horrible frames. I was convinced the buyers had the choices in the box be terrible for upselling purposes.

            2. NoPantsFridays*

              I think your husband is right! I used to have metal frames and my nose didn’t sweat, and now that I have plastic frames it sweats whenever I wear my glasses (I wear contacts usually, thankfully).

          3. Jessica*

            Me too. I have a weird face and glasses with large lenses are the only kind that don’t look hideous on me.

    5. Another English Major*

      When I think of hipster glasses I’m picturing big thick rims (usually black, but I’ve seen different colors too) without lenses. To me that is definitely an accessory and would be weird for work depending on the industry. Now if they are an actual pair of glasses with lenses, then I agree with Alison they might be out of place in a more conservative office.

      1. en pointe*

        I think we’re talking about actual glasses. I feel like the OP would have mentioned it if they didn’t even have lenses, as I could see that being a game-changing detail for a lot of more conservative offices IMO, (but my opinion is biased because lensless glasses are tacky and I hate them).

      2. Tenley*

        +1. They usually don’t have frames. They’re accessories. The house guests on Big Brother shared one pair all summer this year, like a hat.

        1. Raine*

          And poked their fingers through the lense-less frame to rub their eyes. Yes. That’s what makes them hilarious (and hipster).

      3. Ethyl*

        I had no idea this was even a thing! But yeah, that is ridiculous. Although perhaps I shouldn’t talk, as I once owned multiple pairs of hammer pants :D

    6. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I don’t think anyone is talking about banning them. My sense is that the OP was saying that she’s curious to know if they’re something that would normally feel out of sync with a professional dress code or not. If the answer was yes (although I don’t think it is), that wouldn’t mean “people get in trouble for wearing them” or “they’re banned in some offices”; rather, it would more likely just mean that they’d stand out as odd in some offices.

      1. op1*

        Hi all, I’m the OP. I’m asking not because someone is banning those huge frame retro/hipster like glasses. I’m asking because I would to know how a manager might perceive them. I’m a 20-something recent graduate and these glasses have sometimes been frowned upon (partly because they are trendy or you see so many people wearing them).

        I sometimes wonder if black dark large frame glasses are perceived in the same manner (negatively) like prominent hair highlights. Especially in corporations as compared to places like creative agencies.

        1. op1*

          And I was asking about real glasses, for people who actually have a need to wear them.

          Thanks for your input! :)

          1. op1*

            And I’m sorry I don’t know why I put myself as op1 when I’m actually op4. So sorry for the confusion!

        2. AvonLady Barksdale*

          I think it depends on your industry. Advertising, PR, maybe software? Go for it. Finance, law, accounting? Probably not. It’s something you have to gauge for each environment. I know this doesn’t help if you only have the one pair of glasses, so if you have or can get a more traditional/conservative backup pair (and you should always have a backup pair!) then wear those until you have the lay of the land.

          1. JB*

            I work in law, in a pretty conservative environment, and nobody here is going to frown on anyone for their choice of eyeglasses, unless they are really strange. Like if they had huge artificial flowers glued on them or something outrageous like that. This isn’t like dying your hair blue or something like that.

            1. Iro*

              I’m in finance, work for big bank, thick frames are fine. As are the more “hipster style” round thick frames.

              I have thick, square cut, black and white frames that are frequently complimented.

          2. Ted Mosby*

            I agree that they’d be fine in law or finance, because paired with business clothes, they don’t look hipster anymore. It’s all about context.

          3. Episkey*

            Hmmm…my husband is a CPA in corporate accounting and he generally wears contacts day-to-day, but he also has a pair of what could be termed “hipster” glasses — he got them because they were cheap, not because he cares about looking “hip” lol. I can’t imagine anyone in his company saying anything if he had to wear them for awhile for whatever reason.

        3. jordanjay29*

          As someone who wears glasses, I don’t see them as an accessory. They’re as much a part of you as your nose, or your height. Sure, glasses change every so often, but I see them as part of someone’s identity just as some people gain or lose weight, or experience other changes to their person over the course of their lives. Glasses plus the person is a package deal, regardless of someone’s personal preferences. Perhaps someone hates a cleft chin, I wouldn’t expect them to ask an employee to get plastic surgery to change it. Nor would I expect them to say anything about a pair of glasses that are needed for corrective lenses.

          1. Cat*

            I think this is the difference between it being part of the dress code and an individual person deciding what will and will not promote the appearance they want at work. In a lot of industries there is a certain “look” that people find it useful to cultivate as part of their professional personal (and that varies among and within industries and among people in an industry – it’s not a black and white thing) and glasses can be part of that. If you can only buy one pair, it makes sense to think about whether it fits with the look you want at work as well as outside of work.

        4. Hillary*

          It depends both on the industry and the style you’re trying to project. I wore somewhat trendy glasses before I got lasik, but I have a very professional haircut and dress a little more formally than most of my coworkers. I tend to wear dresses or slacks, blazers, and heels in a business casual environment, so I can take a little more liberty with my other accessories. I’d put supertrendy glasses (like round 80s frames) in the same category as visible tattoos and hair colors not found in nature.

          1. Iro*

            I just can’t imagine any supervisors in my uber conservative company ever equating thick frames with a visible tatoo!

            I’ve seen frames range in colore from hot pink to black to browns. They are made of a range of materials Metallics, plastics, and even wood. But no one could ever get away with a visible tatoo! No matter how sharp they dressed otherwise.

            1. JB*

              Same goes for my law job. Technicolor hair would not fly, but thick trendy frames are no problem. And I live in the South, not in a city known for being cutting edge and trendy.

              I’m not saying that there is no law firm or legal setting where people would look sideways at someone wearing them, because there probably is. But I just can’t think of anyone in my area who would care. It wouldn’t be in the same category as tattoos or wild hair color. At most, you’d get a “so that’s what the young folks like these days” shrug.

            2. Hillary*

              I was thinking about the circular or neon frames I’ve seen around college campuses lately – not thick frames in dark colors.

              A couple years ago the trend at my alma mater was neon frame sunglasses. All I could think was that I had a pair of those in elementary school in 1989.

              1. JB*

                I think even neon frames would be ok in my environment, except maybe if you were going to court for trial, and the jurors might be distracted by them. I just can’t see anyone I work with or around caring enough to form opinion about someone’s wearing them.

                I know what you mean about returning trends, though. Sometimes I see something that’s been dragged in from the 80s, and I think, “But we got rid of that! Why is it back?”

        5. Squirrel!*

          Go to ZenniOptical and get yourself a couple different pairs of cheap “business” frames if you’re worried about it. I’ve been buying my glasses on there for the last 5-6 years, and have never had an issue. All you need is your Rx and your pupillary distance and you’re good to go. You could get some rimless glasses (that’s what I wear as my main pair, I love them), or just some basic metal frames. That way, you could have dressy/conservative glasses to wear to an interview so you won’t be judged that way. Once you get the job, you can then suss out the dress code from there and either break out your hipster frames, or stick with the more conservative option. The great thing about Zenni is that their glasses are cheap (and they have sales often), so you won’t break the bank if you buy multiple pairs.

          1. JMegan*

            Or Clearly Contacts, if you’re in Canada. They have a “Try On” feature where you can upload a picture of yourself and see what the glasses would look like on your face.

        6. Meg Murry*

          I think one thing to consider with something trendy is that many trends tend to skew younger – so if you are concerned about being perceived as young (and therefore inexperienced) you should steer away from those trends in the workplace. I’m not saying you have to dress like your 60 year old aunt, but if your clothing, glasses, shoes and hairstyle all scream “college student age” to me, that isn’t going to help you trying to make a “young professional” image.

          If you work in an industry where being young, hip and trendy is a plus though -then by all means wear the trendy items, but it sounds like OP is in a more conservative environment. If you feel good in your glasses and confident, wear them, but keep the rest of your outfit more classic and less trendy. If you are self conscious or worried about them, and you have another pair of glasses that are less trendy or contact lenses that would make you feel less self conscious about the glasses, wear those instead.

        7. Observer*

          A lot is also going to depend on how they fit on your face and the rest of your presentation. Match them with a conservative suit? That’s one thing. Try jeans and a leather jacket or maybe some “retro” outfit? That’s going to be another whole ball game, but that will be true, glasses or not.

        8. Clever Name*

          I’m a GenX fuddy duddy, and I’ve worn glasses for over 15 years. My current frames are black, and somewhat thick, but I don’t think they really qualify as “hipster”. Anyhow, here are my thoughts on the hipster glasses: if you are concerned about perception, only wear them if you are 100% confident that you can pull it off without looking like you’re playing dress-up in mom or dad’s closet.

          For reference, I saw a young woman at a professional organization lunch meeting and she had those Buddy Holly glasses and a top knot (the bun on the very top of your head), and something about the way she looked and the way she carried herself said “playing dress-up” more than “I’m a professional”. I’m sure others out there will disagree with my perception.

          From what I understand about the hipster subculture is it’s about not caring what “the man” thinks, hence clothing and accessory choices that mainstream folk would perceive as “odd”. If you don’t care what people think about you, you don’t care, but if you are concerned about being perceived as less than professional when wearing a certain accessory, the safest bet is to steer clear.

          And I’m definitely not someone who is a conformist in terms of appearance. My hair is purple and I wear skinny jeans (sometimes in bright colors!) to the office. These are conscious choices I’ve made, and I believe that I have the gravitas in my career to look the way I want without being taken less seriously because I am no longer entry level, and frankly, I’m damn good at what I do.

        9. manybellsdown*

          I think it’s also possible that someone could have been wearing the same frame style for years. Some people are “unfashionable” – not in the sense that they look bad, but that they don’t really pay much attention to fashion trends. For example, I’ve noticed that knee-length skirts are coming back in vogue even for young women; I’ve seen full A-line skirts at places like Forever 21. I’ve always worn skirts like that because that’s what I like. I just happen to be coinciding with a fashion trend right now.

          1. Stephanie*

            Wait, knee-length skirts were out of style? Haha. That’s primarily all I wear since that’s what looks best. The maxi-skirt trend is horrible on me since I’m like 5’4″ and I just look shorter (and like I should be churning butter somewhere).

            1. manybellsdown*

              Yeah for awhile there it was maxi-skirts or above-the-knee. I’m okay with the maxis, but I dislike anything much above my knee. Then pencil skirts came back in a few years ago, and now it’s the fuller a-line skirts.

              I know what the trends *are*, I just don’t really have the energy to follow them.

    7. FourEyes*

      As someone who has a genuine need for glasses, I’d be really offended and annoyed if I was told I couldn’t wear the style of glasses I want. Not only would they be expensive to replace, but I feel self conscious enough needing to wear glasses that I try and wear ones that are as stylish and in line with current trends as possible so I feel as good as possible.

        1. HR Generalist*

          Ha! Reminds me of working at an entry level service job in college. My boss told my coworker, “Your pants are too long – are you going to buy another pair or get them hemmed?” and she quickly responded, “Are you going to pay me more than $10/hour?”

        2. abby*

          Even with insurance, depending on the prescription, glasses can be a significant expense. I have a very strong prescription and after insurance, I am still looking at hundreds of dollars. I have checked most online sites for glasses, as well, and most will not make glasses with my prescription.

          I would be livid if an employer commented on my choice of frames because my options are really very limited and expensive.

      1. Nerdling*

        Yeah, a single pair of glasses, before insurance, runs me about $600. I paid over $100 just to have my lenses replaced this year in an older pair of frames I love — and that was with insurance! If a workplace wanted to nitpick over which ones I wear, I wouldn’t mind knowing that — if only because that’s not a place I would have any desire to work.

              1. Squirrel!*

                Not really. My ex had a crazy Rx–both eyes were different, needed thick lenses, had astigmatism, etc., and his glasses only cost $55 plus shipping (including anti-reflective coating, high-index, compressed lenses), down from $300 when he bought the exact same thing without insurance.

            1. abby*

              Yeah, these sites don’t work for folks like me with really strong prescriptions. They won’t touch us. We are stuck with glasses that end up in the hundreds of dollars; well over $1000 if there is no vision insurance.

              1. Stephanie*

                Costco! Severe myopia here (around -8.00D) and I got a pair for $180 (plus the $50 annual membership).

              2. delurking*

                NOT TRUE! Warby as of last year does in fact take most strong prescriptions. I first looked into them about three years ago and they couldn’t do it, but now they can. I’m never going back.

              3. Sam*

                That’s because all of those places are owned by the same company, Luxottica. They own LensCrafters, Pearl Vision, Target optical, Sears optical, Budget eyewear, etc. as well as all the brands, like Oakley, Chanel, Tory Burch, Ralph Lauren, DKNY, so they can be as expensive as they want because there’s no real competition, it’s all the same brand, being sold in the brand’s retail shops, all under different names.
                Warby Parker and Costco aren’t part of Luxottica so they can have competitive and reasonable pricing.
                But to the OP’s actual question, yes, I think as a manager, if someone wore glasses that were out of sync with the rest of the company culture, whether they were prescription or not, I would definitely tell them if it was bad enough that it made it difficult for people to take them seriously. If it’s hard to picture with hipster glasses, think of cats eye glasses with rhinestones in the corners. If I had a direct report who wore glasses like that, and people referred to her as “the lady with the glasses” instead of by her outstanding work performance, I’d want her to know about, so she could make a decision about whether or not she wanted to make a change. Wearing any unusual accessory, especially a daily one on your face, increases the likelihood that you’ll be remembered for the accessory as much as for your work.

                1. jag*

                  Having people a little out of sync is frequently a good think. Out of sync is good. Extremely out of sync is bad, but just a bit out of sync is good.

              4. ivy*

                That hasn’t been my experience at Zenni. I’m -10 in one eye, -9.5 in the other, and I’m always under $100 per pair for lenses and frames combined.

            2. Ted Mosby*

              Mine used to be $300 for just the lenses. At Warby Parker it was only an extra $15 on top of the regular $150 for frames and “normal” lenses.

          1. Jamie*

            Interesting – I’ve heard of them before (maybe here?) and looked them up but their site for the Chicago store says high-end on their front page so I never went any further. I assumed high end meant take a second mortgage out to see.

            Not sure if that’s a good marketing strategy or not since it drove me away.

          2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

            I’ve had such bad luck with the online glasses retailers! Sad trombone because they are so cute (Warby Parker) and/or so cheap (Zenni). Sigh.

          3. Nerdling*

            Yeah, that would be lovely if my lenses alone weren’t $400 of that $600. And that’s not an exaggeration. Nor does it include stuff like progressive lenses (which is okay, as I don’t care for them personally) or the really nice anti-glare lenses, just anti-glare coating. It’s not always possible to go cheap when you’re well beyond legally blind uncorrected.

            1. Nerdling*

              Although I’ve gone looking, and they aren’t too bad (I didn’t have a copy of my script to upload to see how much more it would cost). Wouldn’t be covered by my insurance, though, so I’d be out of pocket more than normal for them now that I have coverage. A nice alternative for those of us who are blind.

              Also, amusingly, I would say that most of the glasses I saw seem to scream “hipster” to me than most of the ones I see at the eye doctor. Most of what I saw really doesn’t fit my style at all.

          4. Episkey*

            I’ll chime in with some support for Nerdling — I’m legally blind without glasses (-9.00 with astigmatism in my right eye, -8.00 in my left eye) and sometimes those online places just cannot handle these types of Rx.

            There was one place a few years back that was promoting your first pair of glasses through them for free, as long as you selected applicable frames. I tried to do that, but after I entered my Rx (which was even less cumbersome a few years ago), it was mandatory that I purchase the thinnest, lightest lenses and they wanted to charge me $100 for the lenses on my “free” pair of glasses. That’s not so free anymore. I already had contacts & 1 back-up pair of glasses, so I didn’t want to pay out-of-pocket for another pair.

            I’m going to try Warby Parker next time I need glasses — I’m curious to see how much they would charge for lenses in my Rx.

    8. Jessa*

      I am so glad for the hipster glasses craze. I wear trifocal progressive lenses and if I had to keep wearing those teensy tiny things that were in vogue a couple of years ago, I’d go crazy. I couldn’t see out of them and had to have two pairs of glasses to switch out. The larger frames mean that I only need one pair now. Thank goodness for the hipsters. Seriously, they may not be wearing them to look hip. They may be wearing them because for the longest time the style was way too small a lens size for a lot of people.

      1. hayling*

        I have the opposite problem. Terrible myopia and astigmatism, and my prescription only really works in smaller frames. Hard to find those right now!

        1. Kyrielle*

          Don’t ask me what my current pair of pleasantly petite glasses cost, even with insurance.

          And yes, I got a cheap backup pair from Zenni, but without all the options to keep it cheap…it’s good but not quite right, it had to be adjusted to fit my face, and oh yeah, it’s heavy enough that daily usage would give me headaches (since I didn’t opt for the ultra-thin plastic, etc., as I obviously would have for a primary pair).

      2. FourEyes*

        I’m SO glad the big chunky/hipster frames are back in fashion because I really need a strong frame of my heavy lenses and they actually cover my eye, unlike those tiny things from a few years ago that I forced myself to wear to try and look as cool as possible with glasses.

        1. ryn*

          Me too. I love when I find my old, thin rimmed glasses with my coke bottle lenses in them. I’m like…that just doesn’t look right. I mean, even if the thin rims do go back in style, I doubt I’m gonna go back with the trend, cause, I don’t ever wanna go back to that again haha.

      3. Adonday Veeah*

        Yay for large frames! I was in the same boat with multiple pairs. I can now drive with my regular glasses, no small thing. And they’re cute, even on us old folks. I get lots of compliments.

    9. HR Generalist*

      My bet is that the OP is a young person entering the market. I took my first career job a year ago at 22 and found myself anxious about anything considered hip by our generation. I kept asking my mom, “Is long hair unprofessional?” “Should I wear my big hipster glasses or those little ones I hate?” “Are chunky necklaces unprofessional?” “Can I wear hair turbans?”
      For young people moving into office settings, most of our coworkers are from a different generation (I’m the youngest by 3 decades here) so their style is very different. As someone wanting to make a good impression, it’s hard to know what’s unprofessional/unacceptable at work and what’s just not in style for those people we’re looking up to.

      1. Tinker*

        Yeah, I think in a world where people seriously ponder the question of what water bottles and cell phone cases are professional — and, for that matter, when people debate the eyeglass frame question as if it is one that has two sides when it is raised — it’s not so surprising that a young person might be nervous about their glasses. I certainly had similar concerns when I entered the workforce.

      2. themmases*

        Definitely this. As a new grad, I had tons of casual clothes, a handful of special occasion outfits, and not much in between. The fancy stuff felt much dressier than it probably was since I spent much of my time in jeans. Then I went to work in a hospital, where most people my own age either wore scrubs or had very different levels of income and authority than I did. Coming from a college environment where most people are their own age and the academic professionals they meet don’t really dress up either, I think a lot of people at their first job just don’t know what aspects of their own style are mainstream and which aren’t. And in the current job market many people, not just new grads, seem to expect that employers can and will judge them on these incredibly trivial and unfair aspects of personal appearance.

        I wear such a strong prescription that I need it to work or even walk around my own apartment, and I need the expensive thin lenses because there would be too much distortion without them. Thin, conservative glasses look crazy at this lens thickness, even with high index lenses. Not all sites will make my prescription, and yes, I’ve checked a lot of them, and a good deal for me is paying a website what most people would pay at an optometrist. And while I have some internet glasses I like, they are definitely not as good as the ones I picked out in person. Buying extra glasses just in case your coworkers don’t like your style just isn’t realistic for everyone, either financially or in terms of comfortably correcting your vision. I’m glad it works for some people but it is really not for everyone.

    10. Hopple Popple*

      The thing that’s weird to me about the glasses question is that I would have said that some form of “hipster” glasses (i.e. biggish retro-looking plastic frames) would be more professional, as the wire-framed ones from my youth are significantly out of style (at least around here). To me this is like asking “Is it OK to wear a modern-cut slimmer-fitting suit, or do I need to wear one of those baggy, extra-long suits from the 90s?” The whole thing just seems backwards to me. Like of course it’s OK to wear thick plastic frames, that’s just what glasses look like today.

      But I work in academia so it’s possible I’m totally off-base here with respect to corporate norms?

    11. soapyme*

      I recently went shopping for new frames after having the same ones for about seven years – wire frames with a cat-eye shape. I really didn’t want heavy plastic frames but I went to three or four stores and that’s all there was. I found one pair of wire frames, but my prescription was too strong to use with them. So now I have black hipster glasses like everyone else. Sigh.

    12. Nanani*

      This. I’m not going to buy new glasses – they’re expensive and I need them to SEE – just to fit in with some workplace vibe. Ridiculous question.
      What’s next, questions about the acceptable colours for bandages if you come in to work injured?

  2. Natalie*

    On #2, I think your response mixes up the employee and supervisor in this scenario. Or maybe the LW got mixed up?

    If the LW is the supervisor, they should be able to approve this as a client-relations expense.

    1. Natalie*

      Oh, nurts, I missed that the boss wants LW to buy flowers to apologize for another employee’s mistake. Never mind.

  3. sab*

    As someone who’s so horribly far-sighted that her super thick lenses require super thick frames (mine are cute Ray-Bans, which are in the smaller side but still in the realm of glasses size we’re discussing), that idea that someone would want to ban “hipster glasses” is really baffling. I guess it’d be different if they weren’t prescription glasses, but..geez. Not the battle I’d want to wage with my staff.

    1. Raine*

      Hipster glasses really usually are without lenses at all, or if there are lenses they’re just clear glass/plastic and not prescription. Which is why the question about whether they’re appropriate for a workplace makes some sense.

        1. en pointe*

          Yeah, I have several friends who wear hipster glasses and they’re all prescription. That’s what hipster glasses means to me. I didn’t even know people still did the lensless thing after like Year 9. But Google is indicating it’s more a US and Asia thing, so maybe it’s just my context.

          1. HR Generalist*

            Lens-less hipster frames (or fake lenses) are definitely a thing in Canada. I saw it a lot in college (graduated about 4 years ago now), less in university. I wear hipster-style frames but they are certainly prescription lenses.

          2. NoPantsFridays*

            I live in the US and TBH I’d never even heard of lenseless glasses until this thread — I’ve only known people to wear prescription glasses (or sunglasses, but that’s beside this conversation). This is baffling!

        1. Chris80*

          Wearing fake glasses is definitely back in, at least here in the Midwest US, but I’ve never known an adult to be part of the trend. I only see preteens/teens with nonprescription glasses for style purposes.

          1. Judy*

            Yes, in my girl scout troop, there are 3 of 11 8 year old girls who have prescription glasses. I’ve seen at least 3 others who have at times had “glasses” on.

          2. Michele*

            Must be a tweenie thing. I am in NYC and work in fashion the area I work there is definitely not fake glasses in the line.

        2. Cherry Scary*

          (I guess this was the late 90’s) I had a classmate tell me shortly after I got glasses that they were uncool because they weren’t fake.

          Apparently glasses are only cool if you don’t need them?

        3. Emmy*

          A couple years ago I worked in this restaurant where the servers sometimes wore fake glasses because there was this study that had just come out about servers with glasses making more tips. I think most people gave it up, though, since wearing glasses is annoying.

    2. Squirrel!*

      My ex always needed thick lenses because of his astigmatism. I’m sure I’m going to sound like a shill at this point but, Zenni Optical has high-index compressed for cheap. His first pair of glasses he bought when not on his parents’ insurance cost him $300. On Zenni, the same pair was $55 with shipping.

      1. NoPantsFridays*

        This is actually very helpful. I’ve bookmarked this site and will check them out the next time I need glasses. My insurance doesn’t cover at all (covers eye exam, not glasses or contacts) and I pay with HSA. $200 for lenses + free frames at a local “factory outlet” vision store — this will probably beat that.

  4. Cube Ninja*

    #4, For nearly all dress code issues, my measuring stick is “will this affect the employee’s ability to do their job” and “would I be mortified to put them in front of a client”. Now, I’m blessed with a fairly liberal workplace despite being in the financial industry, but I’ve attending client meetings with executives from some of the larger banks in the country and have 00ga lobe piercings and inner conch (the thick part of the ear) piercings. I’ve hardly had a second glance at them, never had clients comment (other than to ask if it hurt) and I’ve been promoted multiple times.

    Barring anything that’s clearly outside your employer’s dress code, the vast majority of employers are going to care far more about results than about something as trivial as what style of frames you prefer for your glasses.

  5. Just tea for me, thanks*

    The Hipster glasses questions baffles me: the type of glasses one wears can be a potential problem now? Doesn’t seems like a problem to me. There will always be someone who doesn’t like what you are wearing. Also, as someone already pointed out, they are kind of Buddy Holly-type glasses, which is old-fashioned turned fashionable, they are hardly a “shockingly modern” invention/design. My personal opinion: I love hipster glasses, I quite like the nerdy look. :)

    1. Kelly L.*

      This is what I thought of too–you’d think they might go over even <better at a conservative workplace because they’re old-fashioned, but maybe not.

      1. op1*

        Hi! I like the nerdy look and the retroness of some glasses, before they actually became so mainstream. While glasses may just be glasses for most, I feel glasses are something like clothes and hair colour that employer might judge one on, hence the question.

        And I’m definitely not talking about fake glasses without prescription.

        1. JayDee*

          If it helps, I totally get where you are coming from. I have worn glasses since early elementary school. They are a necessary piece of medical equipment (so it makes me mad my insurance does nothing to cover them). But I also buy frames that I think are fashionable and look good on me. I think most people who wear glasses and can afford to do so try to do that. I don’t think anyone really would ban “hipster” glasses, and I don’t think that’s what you were asking. I think you were asking whether they might be out of place in certain workplaces. Like any fashion choice, sure, there are probably workplaces where they will be a bit out of place. The twee Zoey Deschanel look-a-like or young gentleman with a handlebar moustache and penchant for skinny jeans is probably going to be perceived differently in a more traditional, conservative office than in a more trendy office. This is a matter of knowing the culture of your workplace. I doubt hipster glasses by themselves will be a deal breaker for an employer, but they may signal a cultural incompatibility between employer and employee in a small percentage of settings.

        2. Andrea*

          I understood why you asked the question :) I work with a lot of people who are in their first professional office job and worried about dress code. For the kind of place I work (medium size non-profits) the dress code is not too formal and your choices in vision correction or clothes aren’t a worry for us with clients/funders other than making sure you can see and move to do your job, and are covered appropriately.

          1. HR Generalist*

            My situation exactly. I send countless texts to my mom, a seasoned office worker, asking if certain ‘trendy’ things are appropriate/professional. Big glasses, hair turbans, chunky accessories, maxi dresses, long hair, I think I’ve asked about it all.

            When you’re working with such a generational gap, it’s hard to tell if those things aren’t accepted or if they just aren’t being worn by the more seasoned office workers.

      2. Allison*

        Conservative doesn’t mean old-fashioned, it means conventional. As I understand it, vintage attire isn’t normally considered professional in conservative environments, so I can see how a 50’s-esque accessory could get someone the side-eye in such a place.

    2. MK*

      Plus, it’s not as if they have some kind of eccentric or flashy design; they are just plain black, thick frames. The only way I would even notice them was if they were truly oversized.

  6. en pointe*

    #2 – I’m wondering, is that a common thing? To buy apology flowers for a client? If I were the offended client in this situation, I would expect the OP’s company to apologise and explain that they’re taking steps to make sure the mistake doesn’t happen again or whatever. But I can’t imagine I would be interested in begonias.

    I have no experience in this area though, so my feelings are quite probably far off the norm. And I suppose flowers can be a nice gesture to accompany an apology. Do people who are actually clients feel differently?

    1. Stephanie*

      Plus, flowers aren’t cheap. I would find it weird to receive flowers as well–it just smacks of boyfriend apologizing to girlfriend: “Sorry we screwed up your teapot coating landscape study. Here’s some peonies and a card. Please forgive us and hire us again. This is the last time we leave out international markets, we promise.”

      I don’t have any experience really with this either, but when we had upset clients at OldJob, usually an acknowledgement of the error and correction at our expense solved things.

      1. Grand Mouse*

        Yes! Given how we use flowers (wedding, funerals, romantic gestures), giving them in a business relationship seems overly intimate? I would be slightly weirded out, especially receiving them from the boss instead of the employee. I’d be wondering are they trying to court me?

        1. en pointe*

          Yeah, the overly intimate thing is where I was coming from. Like we’re not in a relationship, I haven’t just had a baby, my loved one hasn’t just died, etc. Flowers feel more personal, and this is business. I wouldn’t want flowers from a vendor. I would just want them to apologise, fix the mistake, and if possible, take some action to ensure it doesn’t happen again. I don’t know – some companies like to talk about how they put the ‘personal touch’ to customer relations, but if this is a manifestation of that, I don’t think I would appreciate it.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Totally agree. It would also make me feel like they were focusing on the wrong thing, which would worry me in regard to their ability to understand what was important as far as mistakes going forward.

        2. AnonyMouse*

          I’d be a little uncomfortable getting flowers from a business partner (and it certainly wouldn’t be my preferred way to apologise for a mistake), but I guess maybe if they were decidedly unromantic flowers it would come across better? Like, roses/carnations/anything soft or fluffy or pretty 100% no, something mostly monochrome/dignified that wouldn’t look out of place in an office lobby *maybe* yes.

          But to be honest if you have to qualify it that much, the answer’s probably just no.

          1. Anna*

            Daisies. Daisies are pretty and fairly unromantic. I might be extrapolating a lot from the boss’s request, but it sounds like the boss is asking the supervisor to buy the flowers as if to apologize for his/her bad employee. It’s so weird! One, it’s a business expense. Two, the company is the one that should be held accountable to the client, not an individual. Three, since it’s the company’s rep on the line, the company should do what’s necessary to make it right with the client, but somehow I don’t think flowers enter in to that. Four, it’s just so weird!

            1. AnonyMouse*

              Yep, agreed…I got distracted by the question of whether it’s ever appropriate to send flowers in a business context, but in this case it’s completely weird!

        3. Elysian*

          I’ve had clients send me flowers when I do work for them and don’t charge. That’s more of a ‘thank you’ though, I think flowers are more out-of-place as an apology. Also, they’re a bad apology because they don’t explain what steps you’re taking to make sure the problem doesn’t happen again. They signal “let me buy you affections,” which is bad in both a romantic and business context.

        4. SH*

          Maybe I’m a little too green but my boss gives flowers on birthdays and I think that’s a nice gesture. However, giving them to a client as an apology sounds uncomfortable.

        5. Natalie*

          Indeed. We send flowers to new tenants, but they’re business flowers (not a dozen roses) and meant to be put in the tenant’s new office for all the staff.

        6. Dan*

          When the post went live, I was going to ask something along the lines of the flowers being some sort of weird gendered thing, but couldn’t get the wording to come out right. By and large, flowers are given from a male to a female, or more generally, during a wedding or funeral. In a business context, I guess I’ve seen them used as a celebratory gesture when one company is trying to acknowledge the success of another.

          But as an apology, it’s weirdly intimate, and doesn’t fix the underlying problem. Which needs to get fixed — quickly, and at no expense to the client.

    2. V. Meadowsweet*

      Flowers would make me less likely to continue with the company – it would appear to me that they weren’t taking the mistake seriously and reacting as professionals.
      An apology and assurances it won’t happen again, perhaps some sort of explanation of what happened and how the procedure has changed so it won’t again (instead of sending new teapots through the ‘hungry toddler’ room they’re going straight to packaging), and most particularly it not happening again are the way to keep me as a client.

      1. en pointe*

        Thanks for weighing in from a more knowledgeable perspective. Maybe the OP should amend Alison’s script then, and avoid saying that they think sending flowers is a great idea, as it sounds like that’s not really the most professional response to the mistake, and could possibly even make the situation worse.

        The OP could push back on the idea of apology flowers being the best move, instead of pushing back on personally paying for them. (Or maybe, if they’d feel comfortable, in addition to pushing back on personally paying for them, because that’s still ridiculous, which is worth pointing out regardless.)

        1. LBK*

          I think it depends on how set on this idea the boss seems, but I agree. If she gets the sense the boss is totally into sending the flowers and that’s not a fight she can win, then arguing to not pay for it is probably a better route, but if the boss seems open to nixing the idea as a whole I would say that makes more sense overall.

      2. Christine*

        Agreed. I can’t think of a business situation where this would be appropriate. Flowers are personal – to me, it would signal that the business was trying to invoke a personal side of the relationship to smooth over the business problem that occurred, which is completely the wrong note to hit.

        It reminds me of the time we had a recurring service contract out for bid, and the longtime contract holder did a sloppy job of putting their bid together, but made sure to take the time to send a huge box of cookies to our office and made a point of bringing up personal history with members of the evaluation team (remember that great Chinese food we ordered when you traveled to us for training five years ago?)

        I honestly do treasure some personal relationships in business, but it stops me short when you indicate that you think that my judgement is poor enough to base business decisions on those relationships instead of on good business.

        1. Observer*

          Oh, wow!

          That would work VERY strongly against any bid, in our office. But, it also helps to explain the VERY strict rules that many government agencies and funding streams have around gifts.

    3. Lizzy*

      Maybe I am reaching here, but the suggestion of flowers as a means to alleviate a problem makes me assume the client is female (or at least key contact person on the client’s staff). And if that is the case, this gesture plays into silly gender stereotypes that women are willing to forgive wrongdoings over a nice bouquet of roses mixed with some baby breath. But even if the client is male (which is weird in its own right), flowers are rarely, if ever, appropriate in a professional setting.

      1. Dan*

        I was going to write something about that when the post went live, but couldn’t get the words to come out right. As a dude, if I were the decision maker for my company, and I got flowers as an apology, I’d think it very weird. Which leads me to believe the receiver in this instance is female, which means that gendered things in the work place are a no-no. (Other than separate bathrooms.)

      2. NoPantsFridays*

        This is kind of the impression I got. The flowers seem more like “I’m sorry you’re upset” vs. actually fixing the mistake and actually recognizing that you are at fault, i.e. “I’m sorry for the mistake and will fix it” vs. “I’m sorry you were upset”

    4. Gina*

      It would make me uncomfortable too. I would feel like they were saying the flowers made us even and I would be a bad person if I decided to tka e my business elsewhere. It reminds me of charities that send you something, like easter seals or those donation requests with a dime stuck to the letter. Here, here’s a dime or a sheet of address labels, now you can either keep it like a miser or send us a donation of at least $25.

    5. AdAgencyChick*

      This is weird to me, too. At every agency I’ve worked at, when someone makes a severe enough mistake that the client notices and is mad, the response is to have an immediate fire drill/post mortem (that usually turns into a blame game, unfortunately), everyone runs around devising new processes to make sure the mistake Never Happens Again, the account executive (or someone higher up the food chain, depending on how bad the mistake was) calls up the client and grovels profusely, and the agency usually ends up writing off being paid for some of the work on that project (or has to pay for reprinting costs). But flowers are not sent. The client doesn’t want a gift; the client wants to be “made whole” (ie, paying for reprinting costs or paying less for the project overall) and to know that she’s not going to have to deal with the same mistake again.

      The only times we send clients flowers are for condolences or special occasions (congratulations on your new baby, etc.).

      The one exception I’ve heard of is when the mistake was someone accidentally copying a client on an email to a coworker, bitching about that client. (NEVER, NEVER put it in writing! Sheesh!) The email sender’s boss groveled to the client’s admin, who was kind enough to delete the email before the client saw it. The admin, I am told, got LOTS of flowers (and the email sender kept his job)!

    6. Felicia*

      Ya a company we worked with made a big mistake and they appologized and outlined the steps they were taking to maek sure it doesn’t happen again, and we agreed those steps seemed logical so we’re giving them another chance. If it had been flowers, especially without the meeting, we wouldn’t have hired them again.

      1. Flowers_Apology*

        The whole idea of flowers is a problem but to me more so is the issue of making a person use their own money as a means to atone for a subordinates mistake. Leads me to think the supervisor in this case is a bit of a bully. Either way it is a clear red flag, for the future.
        Thanks Askamanager for answering my question !

    7. LBK*

      Just what I was going to say – as a client, I don’t want flowers if you mess up. I want you to fix it, give a genuine apology, maybe comp me some way in a business sense (like free shipping on my next order), but I don’t want a weird gift that I’m probably going to throw out immediately.

      This strikes me as the same as weird job candidate presents – don’t send me a box of chocolates, just show me you’re a good and reliable work partner that can handle screw ups if they happen.

    8. hayling*

      I agree that flowers is a weird response. But giving a gift after a major screw-up isn’t totally out of line. I used to work with a major vendor and they really messed up some things, and I gave my rep an earful. She and her boss showed up at my office with tickets to their box at a major sports team game. I now remember the freakin awesome game way more than the mistake they made.

    9. Jamie*

      Yep. I love, love, love receiving flowers but way too personal for business – it would creep me out from a vendor.

      Imo it’s okay for a business to send flowers to clients or customers for an occasion (holiday arrangement, etc.) or if someone experienced a death either of someone you know at that business or personal loss for someone with whom you work there. For death of someone you don’t know well it’s always the safest option, unless they’ve published their charity in lieu of.

      It strikes me as wildly unprofessional to send them for a work mistake – if a vendor wanted to try to make that up to me in a tangible way a credit or discount is the way to do it.

    10. peanut butter*

      I have bad allergies so when I have received flowers in the past, I almost always give them to someone else who sits far away from me. If I had received them from a business, I would think less of the business because it seems that if you send someone flowers, you should know them well enough to find out if they are allergic to them or not.

  7. Stephanie*

    #4 – I think as long as they’re proportional to your face size and shape and compliment your skin tone (and aren’t something really dramatic like white or a neon color) most people will not notice. I’ve done some pretty dramatic lens changes (wire to plastic, different colors, etc) and few people comment. I’d guess the hipster glasses would have to be really egregious and take up half your face to stick out. Could you take a look to see what everyone else is wearing?

    1. Kelly L.*

      I’ve worn subtly purple frames for about 15 years with no trouble. I haven’t worked in investment banking or the like, so I can’t speak to those areas, but in a lot of other areas it’s no big deal IMO.

      1. Nerdling*

        Both my current pairs are purple. This is a conservative field. Most of the time, people don’t even notice; heck, the person doing my hair and makeup for a wedding this weekend only noticed because I inadvertently wore a shirt the same color as the lighter purple on the inside of the frames. I honestly think there’s a lot more leeway with glasses frames than people sometimes think, because people take them in as part of the whole picture of you. Unless they’re glowing like you’ve been exposed to radiation or something.

      2. Karowen*

        Until I read this comment, I had actually forgotten that mine were purple…And when I took them off to confirm that, I realized that they also have zebra-ish striping on the ear-piece parts (just darker purple on top of the regular dark purple). I think my co-workers only noticed when I first got them because I was SO excited about getting new glasses. And I work in a relatively conservative company.

  8. AnonyMouse*

    #1: This is a little weird, but like Alison says probably not totally out of line. I like to keep work and my personal social media pretty separate but it’s normally a good idea to ask mutual acquaintances about someone you’re considering hiring for a full picture. That said, like the OP mentioned, if I was hiring I’m not sure I’d bother reaching out to mutual facebook connections just because it’s so common to have facebook friends you don’t really know all that well, especially in a professional context. The vast majority of my friends on facebook wouldn’t know where to begin talking about my work. LinkedIn connections are another story, though – I wouldn’t think it was weird at all if a hiring manager contacted a mutual connection from there.

    #5: Until you’ve accepted the offer, they kind of have to assume they haven’t found anyone yet. You could still turn them down, or it could be impossible to come to terms in salary negotiations etc. Even if they keep it up after you take the offer, it could mean they’re looking for more than one Teapot Designer (or what have you). When I accepted my current job, I found out someone else would be starting in the same role at the same time as me. I thought there was only one vacancy, but it turns out they had enough work for two people – so if they hadn’t found her at the same time as me, they might have kept the post up even after I accepted my offer.

  9. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

    #1 isn’t that weird.

    The other month I was flipping through a stack of resumes while talking to our recruiter. The stack was her pass overs — I was idly flipping just to see if she’d missed anybody I would like to call in. Saw one – wait my husband knows this guy. Called him and then he called one of our best friends who really knows the guy.

    If we’d gotten a rave back, we’d have called the pass over in. We’re always interested in candidates that we can get a trusted personal reference for, despite qualification mismatches. One of our key people who happens on a resume says, wait, he would have been on wrestling team with my buddy XYZ at Y college, I’ll call the guy. (We got somebody awesome exactly that way.)

    It kinda works in the candidate’s favor because if they are good then they are getting the benefit of a personal “in” in the company that they didn’t know they had.

    The Facebook part feels slightly odd but I don’t know why. It’s more of the same.

    1. en pointe*

      I think the difference between using Facebook connections and what you just described is that you already knew you were actually calling people who could properly speak to what the applicant was like. This is going to vary hugely between people, but as AnonyMouse notes above, it’s common to have Facebook friends who you don’t really know all that well. So less likely to prove fruitful in garnering useful information, and more likely to just be generally awkward. That’s why it seems weird to me, anyway.

      After I interviewed for my current job, our office manager tracked down her friend’s daughter to interrogate her about me, because we’d just finished high school together. She said really nice things, which was sweet but a little weird, because we were in polar opposite social groups and had barely hung out. I guess I just doubt the value in it unless you know the people actually know each other properly.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        For me, the difference would be how much I trusted the mutual friend/contact I was reaching out to. Obviously, I trust my husband :), but then the best friend that we contacted who knew the candidate, the friend was the key. He’s someone I respect that I ask for business advice from just generally. So, it wouldn’t have mattered how I found out he knew this guy, I would have asked him. (And the FB connection thing would have come up if I’d looked the guy up on FB.)

        In this case, the guy was already a pass over so the personal connection was a bit of a bonus round for him, giving a chance to hear “do NOT miss calling this guy in, he is dynamite”. I agree the FB connection thing would seem a little weird, but I’m still stuck on why. It only helps.

        A candidate can use it in the reverse. If you google my company, my name will come up. Check me on FB, see if we have personal connections, then you get an in yes? As long as all parties are solid, isn’t that just a win? I’d love to hear from a friend of mine that somebody they know just submitted a resume.

    2. Dan*

      I got my current job that way. I was laid off last fall. Manager #1 was an in at several jobs I looked at. But when I interviewed at current job (through no help from Manager #1) the first thing my HM says to me is VP #2 is my neighbor. I got your number.

      I love these stories in the context of “fair” interviews — as if the best way to find out if a candidate is the right fit is to grill them for half day and take those answers at face value… when you know someone (whom you trust) that’s managed that person for years. But you can’t talk to that person’s former manager because it wouldn’t be “fair.”

      What people don’t understand is that “knowing somebody” cuts both ways. I’ve got two friends (former coworkers) who I’ve referred to my company. One got a “I’d move heaven and earth to get this guy on my team. He gets the highest recommendation I could ever give somebody.” Another got something more subtle “very inquisitive and does great technical work.” Person #2 needs to be screened for fit in ways that Person #1 doesn’t. If Person #2 were on my team, I’d go nuts. Person #2 doesn’t receive feedback all that well. Tell them something they don’t want to hear, and damn. It’s An Event.

      1. Jamie*

        Good point about it cutting both ways. Got a resume from someone whom had been a very high level exec at my first job in a department where I was familiar with his reputation and work to the extent it impacted my job, but I would have bet anything he wouldn’t have known who I was. I also knew a lot about his management style informally because my best work buddy worked directly under him and we talked shop a lot.

        I forwarded it to everyone tangentially relevant to this hiring process in my company strongly encouraging them to call him. I thought he would have been a great addition, although I was surprised he was applying given the level of the job was much lower than he had previously. But people do this so why rule it out – if he has reasons he can explain.

        Turns out the ad wasn’t specific enough and indeed it wasn’t the level he was looking for – but to my surprise when they told him they called on my recommendation he had a lot of glowing things to say about me…which were specific enough that it wasn’t just generic smoke blowing. Shocked he knew who he was much less had such a strong and favorable opinion of me. Now, didn’t help me since I wasn’t the one looking but was a good lesson in how important reputation is and how it extends far beyond the 1st degree working relationships.

        If I had a bad reputation and applied for a job where he was the hiring manager I’d assume he wouldn’t have known who I was and not given it a second thought, but I’d have been wrong.

  10. SJP*

    Does anyone else posting about OP1 – What if those mutual friends were total acquaintances or people she went to school with years ago that she didn’t keep in contact with?
    I’m just kinda thinking that she could be like “what are your thoughts on Jane” and they be like “oh I met her through a mutual friend once, she seemed ok she didn’t really talk to me” and would that maybe hurt her chances? Or that the interview dismissed it as not really knowing her very well?
    I can get why interviewers do it, I really do.. But part of me thinking it could be a little bit of a mine field if they’ve never worked with her and didn’t really know her well but said something not so nice about her which the interview took into account before interviewing her…
    Please others, feel free to weight in

    1. GrumpyBoss*

      It’s really no different than LinkedIn – so many people there collect contacts that cannot speak with authority upon them. It’s just another data point for a manager to use. If the data is noise, the manager will/should disregard.

      1. Illini02*

        I think with LinkedIN though you can at least tell if they worked at the place at the same time. So thats at least a logical thing, even if they never actually worked together

    2. Mike B.*

      I’d be wary of doing it simply because you don’t have any idea what you’re going to get on Facebook–maybe “we worked together a few years ago and she was great,” or maybe “I baby-sat him when he was a kid, and he was a nightmare,” or maybe “we had a one-nighter three years ago and never spoke again after we connected here.” I probably wouldn’t do it unless we were connected through a close friend or a solid professional acquaintance whom I could trust to give me useful information if they had any.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Right, but a hiring manager will discount “he was a nightmare when I babysat him as a kid” or “we don’t really know each other” because those aren’t relevant. Just like you can tell they’re irrelevant, so can hiring managers :)

    3. Carrie in Scotland*

      …which is why I only have 34 FB friends. I’ve culled all the people I don’t speak to, except from distant family members.

    4. JC*

      Yeah, that’s why #1 gives me the heebie jeebies too. I totally get talking to a mutual friend to see if they’d recommend me. But the large majority of my facebook friends are people I met once, or people I had classes with in high school and have not seen in 15 years. Chances are low that the interviewer would talk to someone who’d be able to say anything at all about me. At least my LinkedIn connections are (mostly) people I have known as an adult.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        But then they’d explain they don’t really know you and it wouldn’t count for anything either way. You’re not going to be judged for not being well-known by a random person.

        1. JC*

          That’s true. But it still feels oddly creepy that they’d go through the trouble when the chances that a facebook connection would give you meaningful information is low.

          And while I’d hope that a reasonable hiring manager would discount input from someone who said they didn’t know me well, you never know what kinds of information will stand out to someone making judgments of you who doesn’t have much information to begin with. Often on this site we talk about how small mistakes you might make in the hiring process (e.g., being late, having a freak emergency come up) can seem very different to a hiring manager who does not have many data points on you, compared with someone who knows you well. The same can potentially be true of random information gleaned from an acquaintance; it might seem trivial when combined with other data points, but more important when data is scarce. (I’m not talking about an old acquaintance saying they didn’t really know me being something that stands out, but if they said something like “I didn’t really know her well, but she sure was quiet in high school.”)

          1. Jamie*

            I don’t think it’s creepy as much as it’s an outgrowth of the social change of having access to more of your family/friends/acquaintances families/friends/and acquaintances.

            Unless people are completely irrational they’d be met with any questions about someone they don’t know well with honesty, ditto if they know them in a context which wouldn’t shed any light on how they are at work. If I knew you from grade-school and someone asked me about you I wouldn’t tell embarrassing stories (or any stories) just point out how I knew you.

            Before the internet people wouldn’t know who you knew casually because they were your cousin’s cousin on their other side and you met once at a christening in 1993 and your Facebook friends because they post cute pics about their pups and YAY dogs!

            For people who have an expanded Facebook network you can easily play the Kevin Bacon game with non-famous people.

            1. Dan*

              Even after facebook (and LinkedIn) I had no idea how small my professional world is. I got laid off in the fall — every job in my industry I applied for, the hiring managers knew somebody in management at my old company.

              Which is why you hold your head high when you leave, no matter what the circumstances. I had the offers I did because the hiring managers knew my managers at my previous jobs.

          2. Traveler*

            I agree that its creepy. In a normal context, trying to gain more information about a person from the internet is one thing (I still don’t agree, but I get that what you put out there is out there permanently). Taking it to the next level like this hiring manager/committee person did? No. It’s akin to stalking. Linked In is something you volunteer/commit to, people you work with that they’ve also worked with is understood – randomly contacting my Aunt Ginny and my 5th grade soccer coach? Going way too far.

            I was actually shocked that all the debate here was about hipster glasses and not the FB thing.

  11. GrumpyBoss*

    #1: The only concern I have here is this was done before you were brought in for an interview. Based on Alison’s response, it sounds like checking mutual acquaintances prior to an interview is a normal tactic. I personally do this after an interview. Reaching out to people will tip your hand that you are looking for a job – and that mutual acquaintance may not be someone who you want to know that. I want to make sure I have interest in you before potentially causing you disruption in your life. If I want reinforcing information after an interview, then I’ll contact people. The risk of putting you in an awkward position is still there, but I think it’s a little more respectful to a candidate’s privacy to wait for this stage.

    1. SJP*

      That is a super good point that I didn’t think of! Yea..I can see this happening and someone being left burnt by it

    2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      Ah, thank you very much. That is what was bugging me, not the FB part. Not enough coffee yet to figure out what was nagging at me in that post.

      I told a story above about calling a mutual friend before an interview was extended, but it was a mostly isolated case where the mutual friend was someone I could trust 100% with discretion.

      I agree that in almost all cases it doesn’t sit right to make contacts before the job seeker has reconfirmed their interest with an interview — whether the medium for contacts is Linked In, FB, or your neighbor down the street.

      1. Jamie*

        I can see things from both sides on this but I’d always err on never tipping the hand that anyone is looking – unless their Facebook page was covered with posts about how they are job hunting and clearly open about it I would definitely not reach out before the interview stage.

        That said if someone whose professional judgement I really trusted and wanted a heads up for a critical position and I saw that they used to work together….it would be really tough not to try to get a heads up. But I’d have to know 100% that they had no current professional ties to each other and that my friend would keep it totally confidential…I can see some circumstances where it would be okay.

        Thinking of myself, anyone who knows me would know I’d never out someone for looking – even if they were currently at my company – lines I wouldn’t cross. By the same token if you asked me about a current co-worker I’d be pissed for you putting me in the position to not say something and making it awkward…so people who know me well would know not to ask about anyone I currently work with (as I’d be unhappy) but that I’m safe to ask about people with whom I used to work as I’d never say anything.

        TLDR – ITA

    3. Chris80*

      This bothered me, too. I have coworkers as Facebook friends that I wouldn’t want to know I was job searching. A couple of them would probably run straight to my manager with that info if they found out.
      I really hope this wouldn’t happen again to you, OP, but just in case, you can set your Facebook privacy settings to make your friend list invisible to those who aren’t your FB friends, or even to make it viewable by only yourself.

      1. LSmith2114*

        I have a big problem with anyone contacting friends of mine before an interview. That seems to me a huge invasion of privacy. Honestly, I think that’s going too far and makes me want to get the heck off Facebook!
        Separately, I’m not sure you can hide your mutual friend list. I know you can hide all non mutual friends but I think mutual friends are excluded. Going to check soon, that’s for sure!

        1. SI*

          OP of # 1 here – I appreciate everyone’s response, makes me feel better about the situation. I had provided professional references but none of them were contacted. It was so awkward when it was brought up in the interview and I had to rack my brain to think of who she was talking about.

          1. SI*

            Also, I would like to say this person was not a hiring manager, but an employee. But I can guess these lines can be blurred when it’s a company of 4 people. I was not aware this person was going to be in the interview prior to coming in.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              That part is very normal. Employers often have people who aren’t hiring decision-makers involved in the interview process, and you don’t always know ahead of time who you’ll be meeting with.

        2. EarlGrey*

          Agreed, it feels like a huge misunderstanding of how most people use Facebook. “I’m friends with ___ on Facebook and that information is public” != “I have a meaningful connection with ___ and I’m intentionally giving you that information to use.” Not an invasion of privacy per se, because that information isn’t *private*, but a way of using that information that’s outside normal boundaries.

          1. Jamie*

            Is that really much different than seeing on a resume that the candidate worked at company Y at the same time your friend worked there and asking your buddy if they knew them?

            Or if a candidate has an unusual last name the same as a friend and asking if they are related?

            They may or may not have information – but it’s totally normal and expected that people would talk to their friends, business contacts, etc if they might have valuable information. (at the right time – not outing someone for looking prematurely.)

            References are never going to be limited to those the candidate intentionally gave you info to use – in fact they shouldn’t be IMO.

            1. Dan*

              Nope. I work in a very small world. Previous employer is going through tough times and people are leaving in droves. Current employer is in a league above, and I already work with two of my previous coworkers. More are on the way.

              If my boss is interviewing someone who was at OldJob at the same time I was, I’d fully expect him to ask me if I knew him. It’s kinda funny how fast word is getting out internally about who from OldJob is interviewing at NewJob. The only reason my current boss wouldn’t ask me is because he’s neighbors with OldVP, who is in a better position to give a management perspective than me.

            2. EarlGrey*

              I think what squicks me out is the combination of not knowing those mutual friends’ relationship to OP (like your resume example – in that case, the interviewer knows that’s a professional relationship, not a personal or barely-an-acquaintance one) and not giving the OP a chance to say “hey, please don’t contact ___, he can’t know I’m job hunting.” “

            3. Traveler*

              If anyone I ever new could possibly be contacted as a job reference for me – who do I get to complain to about my job being crappy? Or reveal I used a sick day once for a mental health day to just stay home in bed and get some extra sleep because my job has been leaving me sleepless? Should I never drink in front of anyone as well? Because what if Sally who is a friend of a friend and friended me on FB saw me at a holiday party and thinks that 2 glasses of wine is 2 glasses to much and thinks I’m an alcoholic?

              Theres a huge gap between only using references a candidate intentionally gave, and being a creeper on the internet to contact someone who attended the same book club as me once 3 years ago.

    4. hayling*

      Yeah I would probably do it after the interview. And not *tell* the candidate about it in the interview, that’s awkward.

    5. Mouse of Evil*

      That part bothered me too. If I provide references as part of the job application, I’m giving permission for those references to be contacted. Contacting people on Facebook who show up as mutual friends seems like an invasion of privacy, on top of being a really bad way of getting accurate information. I have a dismaying number of FB friends who are fine people, but are overcritical of everyone and everything, and I’d never use them as references. I can just see it: “Mouse is a nice person, but she lets balloons go WAY past the time when she should just pop them and throw them away, and it drives me NUTS.” [That’s an actual criticism from a former roommate.]

      In addition, I think it could open an employer up to issues of bias. What if the mutual friend knows me because our kids go to school together? Then the employer knows I have kids (and how old they are). What if the friend knows my husband? Then the employer knows I’m married. If I went to high school with the friend, then the employer knows my age. If I know the friend from church, the employer knows my religion (even if, say, I went to a church for a few months, met a lot of people I liked and became FB friends with, and then ultimately decided that church wasn’t for me). It just seems like a bad idea to me.

      1. Jamie*

        I think there is a common misconception that only people given as references can/should be contacted – like it needs the permission of the candidate.

        Yes, you should ask the references you’re offering up and let them know if they can expect to be called when possible – but we all know if you’re offering someone they will likely speak positively for you. That’s why it’s important, especially in critical position, to try to get references which haven’t been vetted when possible.

        Like other managers/people in the position to have an opinion at a former company for example. You list that it’s cool if I call the Director of Teapots which I do…but maybe this position needs to work closely with finance so I also ask to speak to the Lead Accountant in charge of teapot production if she would speak to your work in relation to her department.

        People will go off the path.

      2. Dan*

        Yeah… it cuts both ways. While the ramifications are different, if I have a friend who works in Department X, I’m going to ask that friend to turn in a resume, talk to the hiring manager, or something. It’s not like the company needs to give permission for that conversation to happen.

    6. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yep, that is absolutely a risk with this. But hiring managers routinely reach out to mutual connections to get the inside scoop on candidates; it’s very, very common. They don’t reach out to mutual connections who are at the person’s current employer because everyone understands you can’t do that, and ones who are halfway sensible don’t do it if it’s a tiny field (at least not without checking with the candidate first for permission), but yes, it’s totally possible that doing this could result in tipping someone’s hand to someone they don’t want it tipped to. I don’t think people think about that.

      (Weirdly, we have a letter sort of related to this coming up later today.)

      1. Angora*

        We are going have to get use to the fact that people will use social media & network sites during the interview process. I have my FB account locked down quite heavily because I do wish to eliminate some of that. But one of your prior articles talked about the “photos of xxx” option on facebook. I have my supervisor and any prospective employer totally blocked on FB, including some of my co-workers. Some with good reason, they are the type to read it and tell everyone in the office. It’s not like I have anything out posted that would hurt my job search, but I do have photos showing my facial injuries from when I tripped while speed walking. I shared your article regarding social media and job searching with my work studies, you should have seen their face when they were reading it, and used the “photos of xx” feature on FB. Hopefully they’ll consider what they post while at the university.

      2. Traveler*

        And what if the person they’re contacting is the candidate’s Mother-In-Law? Or an ex-partners new partner? I feel there are all kinds of ways this could go terribly wrong, and reflect badly on the candidate – through no fault of their own.

    7. Kyrielle*

      Yeah, this would be my worry. Some people do and some people don’t have co-workers or even bosses (or people who know them) friended on FB.

      It is completely possible that an interviewer reaching out to someone they knew from my FB profile would pick up my current supervisor or any of several co-workers. (But I’d be really baffled, since I’m not job searching. Heh.)

  12. Career Counselorette*

    Is it possible that #4 meant a pair of fashion glasses that have no medical necessity, and wouldn’t be a daily thing? I have such a pair of glasses (with lenses). I don’t feel comfortable wearing them in my office because I have a feeling my clients would get distracted by them, since they’re not normal for me, particularly once I explain, “Yeah, I don’t NEED them, I just like the way they look…”

    1. Amanda2*

      This is my understanding of “hipster” glasses…. not medically necessary, worn for style, and typically have a thick rimmed look.

      1. op1*

        Hi! Im the op and apologies for the confusion. I was actually referring to real glasses with persciptions. What I meant by hipster are those thick frame kinds that are pretty popular now. One of my concerns over these glasses was actually because I’m in my 20s and have just started working and was worried the more senior colleagues might perceive me as not-serious-enough or too way hipster/flippant.

        1. Allison*

          If you’re new, it may be best to err on the side of normalcy and conventionalism until you’ve established yourself a mature, serious, hard-working employee. Once people see that side of you, you can start to incorporate quirky elements into your look.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              The OP is asking about professional norms for this, which implies she wants to factor it into a choice of eyewear for work. It doesn’t sound like she’s wondering if she won’t be able to wear her one and only pair of glasses (and I don’t think anyone is saying she couldn’t if that were the case). It’s about which options might be better, if it’s a consideration at all.

        2. Betty*

          Thick frames have been popular for decades. I think as long as they’re not ridiculously oversized, no one will care.

        3. HeyNonnyNonny*

          I’d say that unfortunately it is such a “thing” now that some people might see you as manic-pixie-dream-girl/flakey Zoey Deschanel with the look. Which ain’t right, but still. I’d say err on the side of super-conservative for interviews– just like how you’d wear a suit even if your work style isn’t that formal. But of course, once you start working at a job you’d wear whatever matches the company culture instead.

          1. Kate*

            If a workplace automatically thought of me as flaky because I wear hipster-style glasses, I wouldn’t want to work there anyway.

        4. Michele*

          IMO you are over thinking this. They are glasses, you need to wear them, so wear them. I know I work in fashion and for the most part depending on the company anything goes. I have interviewed plenty of people in your age group and have never judged them or based my hiring decisions on the style of glasses they have on. It sounds like they are a traditional style so go for it.

        5. Xay*

          Wear the glasses. If anything comes up, just say that they are prescription glasses.

          I am severely near sighted, so all of my glasses are thick framed. I’ve never been questioned about them.

        6. Mike B.*

          I think it’s exceedingly unlikely to matter. People don’t think of eyewear the same way they think of other accessories or haircuts–it’s understood that they’re expensive and you will probably only have a single pair, and you’re not talking about a particularly outlandish style. If you happen to have a spare pair that’s more conventional, you might want to wear those for your first day to test the waters. But I’d recommend throwing caution to the wind and counting on your standards of professional behavior to build your reputation.

          I would definitely NOT pass over the style that appeals to you on the off chance that a coworker won’t approve of it–eyeglasses are something you are in constant contact with every day, so choose the one you want! We already sacrifice enough for our employers’ benefit without volunteering unnecessary things.

    2. TL -*

      I have glasses that are prescribed (but it’s seriously the world’s lightest prescription – I’ve had multiple optometrists ask why I bother) and I definitely only wear them when I’m getting headaches (why I bother – they really help) or if they look really good with my outfit. Nobody’s really cared.

  13. Chloe Silverado*

    #5 – My company has a policy to keep job openings active until the person hired starts their first day. The way our hiring process works, the job offer is contingent upon passing background check and drug screen, so someone can accept their offer then fail one of these screens and have the offer rescinded. We’ve also been burned in the past by new hires backing out at the last second, so we wait until the person actually shows up and starts training before we take the posting down. I didn’t make the policy (and I can definitely see how it would stress a new hire out!) but I can understand why they do it that way.

  14. Jack*

    I’ve been curious about this for a while – can anyone shed some light on why California is often the exception when we’re talking about employment legislation? Is it more tightly regulated? Is there some historical reason for this?

    1. Helka*

      California is culturally pretty distinct from the rest of the US, and it’s large enough that it pretty much holds all of its own unique culture within its borders (as opposed to, say, New England, where the region has its own culture but it’s a group of small states as opposed to one very large one).

      1. Judy*

        It also has a lot more state laws that protect workers over employers. Many other states rely on the federal laws, but California has more restrictive laws in some areas. (More restrictive overtime laws, I think federal law states OT must be paid for over 40 in a week, but California says over 40 hrs in a week or over 9 (or 10?) hours in a day. The also require vacation payout when someone leaves, which a few other states do, but not most, I think.)

        1. Helka*

          Well, yes. My point was that California has those laws because they have a pretty distinct culture that values worker protections a lot more than the rest of the country. (Also consumer protections, environmental, etc…)

          1. Dan*

            Yeah, and the follow up question is “what is it about California culture where the legislature decided they wanted to pass more restrictive laws.”

    2. CAA*

      Historically, employers have a history of abusing employees. The government has stepped in to take the place of unions, which were never as strong here as they were/are in some other parts of the country.

      You can look at CA laws on non-compete agreements, minimum salaries for tech workers, overtime, etc, and see the real life scenarios that led the legislature to act. As with most laws that have to be interpreted by courts or the DLSE, sometimes there can be unforeseen consequences. The recent cell phone decision may be one of those.

      1. Mike C.*

        Yeah, this is an area of history that gets left out of a lot of US history courses. Folks generally know about the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, but fewer know about the Battle of Blair Mountain or how the Taft-Hartley Act forces unions to act in ways that many today find objectionable or inefficient.

        1. Mike C.*

          Heck, many folks don’t even realize that the whole point of Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” was to expose inhumane working conditions, not a lack safety in food production.

          1. Leah*

            Yes, this is one of my favorite American history “did you know?” Sinclair wrote about people standing outside the meat factories, hoping for a chance to come in and work in horribly dangerous facilities under appalling conditions, but the general public was just like, “WHAT? There is human fresh and rat poison in my meat?” and boom, we get the FDA.

          2. Jamie*

            In 1906, author Upton Sinclair wrote The Jungle, an unflattering portrait of America’s meat packing industry. In it, he reported on the state of Bubbly Creek, writing that:
            “ “Bubbly Creek” is an arm of the Chicago River, and forms the southern boundary of the Union Stock Yards; all the drainage of the square mile of packing-houses empties into it, so that it is really a great open sewer a hundred or two feet wide. One long arm of it is blind, and the filth stays there forever and a day. The grease and chemicals that are poured into it undergo all sorts of strange transformations, which are the cause of its name; it is constantly in motion, as if huge fish were feeding in it, or great leviathans disporting themselves in its depths. Bubbles of carbonic gas will rise to the surface and burst, and make rings two or three feet wide. Here and there the grease and filth have caked solid, and the creek looks like a bed of lava; chickens walk about on it, feeding, and many times an unwary stranger has started to stroll across, and vanished temporarily. The packers used to leave the creek that way, till every now and then the surface would catch on fire and burn furiously, and the fire department would have to come and put it out. Once, however, an ingenious stranger came and started to gather this filth in scows, to make lard out of; then the packers took the cue, and got out an injunction to stop him, and afterwards gathered it themselves. The banks of “Bubbly Creek” are plastered thick with hairs, and this also the packers gather and clean. —Upton Sinclair, The Jungle ”

            Right now my car is parked about 30 feet off the banks of Bubbly Creek and I could feel the stench in my eyes this am. Some days you can’t smell it at all, some days it is absolutely nauseating. And there is a baking factory down the street which means sometimes the whole area smells like blueberry muffins, sometimes the sewage rotting smell of the bubbly creek, and sometimes a combo of the two that will put you off muffins for a while.

            Anyway he wrote that in 1906 and we’re still dealing with the aftermath – although thankfully the grease is no longer there.

        2. Vladimir*

          History in this matter is very sad. Hundrets of workers were killed by soldiers, sheriffs and strike breakes even in last century. Truly disgusting.

    3. Mike C.*

      The west coast in general has a lot more labor protections and higher minimum wages than you’ll see nation wide.

    4. Natalie*

      I suspect a significant factor is procedural, rather than cultural. There are plenty of states that are equally or more progressive than California, but California’s constitution and state code are legendarily easy to amend. You can amend the constitution or ordinary laws by direct vote – 700,000 signature to get something on the ballot (out of a state population of roughly 35 million) and simple majority to pass. Congratulations, you’ve now changed state law!

  15. Allison*

    #4, I’m a little biased as I do typically sport vintage(ish) attire at work, but I see nothing wrong with hipster glasses. It’s an accessory, and a subtle one at that, and if a manager did take issue with them they’re pretty easy to just take off and put in your bag. Even then, I can’t see how someone would actually get in trouble for wearing them.

    1. Diet Coke Addict*

      I think the struggle comes in when they’re prescription glasses. There is no way I could take off my glasses (well, contacts) at work and continue to work at all–I’d have to go home. Prescriptions are usually expensive–so it makes sense that someone would want to know a sort of general perception of them before spending $200 on a pair or whatever.

      1. Judy*

        My eyesight is bad enough, that if it couldn’t be corrected, I’d be legally blind.

        At times I wonder about the tweens who are wearing glasses as accessories, are they mocking the kids who wear glasses? 3 of the 11 8 year olds in my girl scout troop wear glasses, I’ve seen several of the other girls wear “glasses” also.

        1. Kelly L.*

          Not necessarily. I needed glasses starting when I was about 8, and my next oldest sister did too at the same age, and when the next sister got to that age, she was terribly disappointed to find that her vision was perfect, because she thought we looked cool with our glasses. :D So my parents let her buy a cheap pair of glasses with lenses but no prescription (and I do mean cheap; I think they were like 5 bucks at Claire’s, so we’re not talking about buying fake glasses from an actual optometrist).

          I think sometimes people just like the look. Especially since more celebs are wearing glasses in public now too.

          1. bkanon*

            My brother used to poke fun at my parents and me because he was the only one with good eyes. And then he got older and fell prey to the Family Tradition. One of my favorite family photos is a portrait of four nearsighted people. Glasses, glasses everywhere. (And speaking of liking the look, A. I think I look weird *without* my glasses! and B. A guy in a nice pair of metal-rimmed glasses will turn my head nearly every time.)

    2. op1*

      Hi I’m the op about the glasses! No manager is actually banning me and I was actually referring to real glasses. My concern is mainly because I see glasses as something as much like attire and hair colour (e.g. since blue hair might be frowned upon, so would glasses). Since some people really frown upon such glasses, especially when they are on 20s/millenials, I would like to get some feedback. But most feedback here put me at ease with my glasses now :)

      1. Betty*

        Is this really a thing? People frown upon glasses? I ‘ll admit, I’ve been in a liberal academic setting for 7 years so I may be out of touch…

        1. Helka*

          It depends a lot. While glasses themselves can be a medical necessity, there is a lot of variation in how the frames can look, and that variation does relate to someone’s personal style and how they present.

          Someone with large rhinestone-crusted batwing glasses in a bright color, to use an extreme example, will look less professional than someone with sleek and minimalist frames in a neutral color.

      2. Fabulously Anonymous*

        I realize this is anecdotal, but most of the people I know that are managers don’t even know what hipsters are. My FIL is a 70+ year old manager and not only has he never heard the term before, but he likes those glasses as he used to be wear a pair when he was a 20-something engineer.

        1. Decimus*

          Hah! I was thinking the same thing about conservative law firms. I used to work for some. They’d be fine with “hipster” glasses because the older partners would be thinking “hey those glasses I like are back in style!” not “How horrible!”

      3. LawBee*

        FWIW, I’ve got bright purple streaks in my hair. :D (Plaintiff lawyers get away with a lot more as far as personal style than corporate defense attorneys do. I don’t think I even own a suit.)

  16. Helka*

    #4 – There is a lot of variation even within the category of “thick-rimmed black frames.” So I think you’re fine to go for something within that look, but maybe try not to go for the more extreme end of it? A lot of the make-or-break on it will have to do with how good the glasses actually look on you, so if you try for less of the hipster “I’m wearing these to deliberately look clunky and obtrusive” look and try for something that flatters your facial shape & size, you should be fine.

  17. Fabulously Anonymous*

    OP4 – perhaps it would help if you could share a link to the type of frames you are considering?

  18. A.*

    Organizations that care about the type of eyeglasses their employees are wearing have way too much time on their hands.

    1. Mike C.*

      The only exception I can think of are places that require safety glasses, but I think your sentiment is spot on. My wife loves to wear funky/retro frames, and she gets nothing but compliments everywhere she goes.

      Incidentally, the retro/hipster type frames are perfect for prescription safety glasses, as you generally need good supportive frames that wrap around the entire lens.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think you’re overlooking the fact that there are some offices/industries that care about the image you present visually (banking, some areas of law — and on the other side, fashion). It’s not about bans; it’s about whether or not colleagues and clients are comfortable with your overall image and whether you fit into the culture. It’s just as true of fashion as it is of tax law.

      So it’s not crazy for someone new to the workforce to be curious about how glasses might or might not play into those sorts of images, which is all I think was going on here.

      1. Natalie*

        Also, a hiring manager doesn’t have to consciously think “ew, hipster glasses” for it to affect an interviewee. Unconscious bias can come into play with anything.

        That’s not to say I think OP should worry about their glasses. Unless they’re going into a conservative segment of an already conservative field, what they’ve described are probably fine.

    3. Us, Too*

      Pretty much. If you can afford to be choosy about jobs, this would be an excellent screening tool.

      I’m sure that somewhere there is a job where the style of your glasses will be a deal-breaker, but honestly in the vast majority of cases it really won’t and shouldn’t matter. What WILL matter is that you look professional and put-together with a level of conservatism appropriate for the job. But glasses aren’t typically “out there” enough to begin with compared to what you could do with hair, jewelry, clothing, etc. JMO. :)

      Now, having said that, I have seen folks who wear the frames only (no lenses at all) and think this is absolutely ridiculous. I would think less of a candidate doing this. But as long as there was something in the frames, I really don’t care.

  19. Canadian Info Pro*

    Re the hipster glasses issue, to me it comes across like they’re asking about the people who just wear those frames, without lenses, as fashion accessories. I have seen people do that and it seems so silly, I could see asking if that was appropriate for a work environment, but not actual prescription glasses that the employee actually needs to see with.

  20. Arjay*

    Have you guys seen the commercial for some eyeglass company where the woman asks “Who do I want to be today?” and opens a drawer with something like 8 pair of glasses in it? “Kickboxer!” “Professional – where are my pie charts?” It baffles me because I don’t know anyone who has that many pairs of glasses to choose from. The fact that I can’t really tell what makes the kickboxer style any different from the office professional style doesn’t help me. In my experience, most people have one pair of everyday glasses, and maybe one backup pair. I wouldn’t question anyone’s choice of frames, unless they truly had no lenses at all.

    1. Fabulously Anonymous*

      The only person I knew that had multiple frames worked for a frame company. Not only was she required to wear glasses on the job (with clear lenses as she had perfect vision), she was also required to vary the frames. All of the frames were supplied by her employer at no cost. I believe she had to return them after a certain point.

      1. Rae*

        I have 4 pairs, buying my 5th next month. I’ve worn glasses since I was 8, and even though my prescription has changed a bit, a glasses Rx is pretty forgiving. I definitely don’t have the same pair as when I was 8, but I do have a pair from when I was 14. What else would you do with old glasses? Do they get lost? Recycled?

        I wear them to work sometimes, and pick a pair depending on my outfit. I work in banking and my bright purple pair usually are worn on a Friday!

        1. Diet Coke Addict*

          There are programs that take old glasses–I know Lions’ Clubs take no-longer-needed glasses and redistribute them to people in developing countries who otherwise wouldn’t have access to any sort of glasses.

            1. Judy*

              I usually keep one pair in the glove compartment of my car and take them with me on trips, because I’m paranoid of breaking my glasses and not being able to drive home. I do have some quite lovely safety glasses from my last job, but beyond that, the rest of my glasses have been donated. Locally, most glasses shops have bins that the Lions club collects from.

        2. LawBee*

          I remember in my pre-PRK days, my prescription changed all the time. Almost monthly. It was so expensive to keep up that I only switched out glasses every other year, and sucked it up when I had to wear the old pair. I would have envied you a lot.

          I gave my old ones to the Lions Club, and they somehow get them out to people who need them. I don’t know the details.

        3. Natalie*

          I tried to wear my backup pair a couple of months ago and it gave me a headache. I guess my prescription is still shifting. :(

    2. Natalie*

      I would guess it’s something like Warby Parker, advertising that their frames are so cheap you can own 8 pairs.

    3. Gwen*

      Alternately, I have 4 pairs of glasses (3 I rotate through regularly) and plan to buy more! I wear them all day every day – why shouldn’t they be as much of an accessory as jewelry? I wouldn’t wear the same necklace every day, and these are right on my face.

      1. JMegan*

        Yep, I’m the same. I wear contacts about 80% of the time, but I also make a point of having glasses that I like and look good in, so I can change up the look once in a while if I want. I currently have two very different pairs of glasses*, although if I had all the money in the world I would probably get a couple of others for even more variety.

        *via my generous workplace benefits package

    4. Tinker*

      Heh. My eyes have been more or less stable for the past several years, so I have about four pairs of glasses that will more or less do even without getting into the whole online glasses shop thing.

      I will say, as a person whose “better” eye is well outside the range for what is billed as high myopia options for things like goggle inserts (and that eye also has quite a lot of astigmatism), I officially DNGAF what anyone thinks about the solution I land on regarding frames.

  21. HR Manager*

    #4 – Apparently as very uncool person, I would advocate we ban the term hipster glasses! I didn’t even know that was a thing. I guess getting Lasik just removes you from the whole glasses scene. *tongue in cheek here, folks* I used to work in a financial services firm with a classic conservative office culture, and no one cared what glasses people wore.

    #1 – Presumably those FB connections are her ‘real’ friends whose opinion she values and trusts so I don’t find it odd. Since FB is not a professional network, I wouldn’t mention it as a recruiter though – more for what it implies about me, than about the candidate (no one needs to know my hours of playing Bejewelled Blitz on FB).

    #5 – Could a new position with the same title just have opened up? I wouldn’t read to much into it, unless they rescind your offer.

  22. GrandCanyonJen*

    Re: #2 – I think we’re losing sight of the original question – not is it appropriate to send flowers, but is it appropriate to ask an employee to pay for a business expense without reimbursement? I’d say no. As someone who works in a school and has spent plenty of my own money for stuff at work, I do it because I get to choose when I spend my own money and on what. If someone told me I had to spend my own money for something I didn’t agree with, I would bristle.

    1. Vicki*

      I am, once again, very happy to live in California.

      Apology? Definitely

      Flowers? Maybe. (Please don’t give me flowers; my cats would try to eat them. SOme people are allergic. Also: flowers die.)

      Personal expense? No way.

  23. Joey*

    #4. All fashion items fall into the same category. Slim fitting and somewhat high water suits are trendy right now, but I know plenty of work places where theyd look at you weird for that. Frankly, I prefer the weird looks over wearing boring stuff.

  24. Just Visiting*

    My eyes are too bad for glasses (yes, this can happen) but if I ever have to get glasses on top of my contacts (and my contacts are about as strong as you can make them, and no I can’t get Lasik), I’m totally getting cat-eye frames. I’ve always loved the way they look, and I’m the one who has to live with them, not my employer. Not black frames, either. I agree with the people above who say that medical devices, which glasses ARE, should be off-limits because it’s a more integral part of your body than hair, clothing, even skin (meaning tattoos, not skin color). You want to put flame decals on your wheelchair? Rock on with your bad self.

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