asking an interviewer about guns at work, when a department has fallen apart, and more

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

1. Asking an interviewer whether any employees bring guns to work

No really, this IS hypothetical! Maybe it’s a silly question, but it just occurred to me and I’m curious about your take.

A candidate, Jane, is contemplating a job offer at Firm “X”—just a standard office environment, nothing unusual or inherently dangerous. Firm X has no particular policy regarding weapons or firearms in the workplace, but is located in a place where concealed, permitted, firearms can be legally carried.

Jane wants the job but doesn’t want to work in a building where firearms may be present. It seems obvious that Jane can ASK if firearms are present in the workplace…and that, rational or not, she could take the response into account when considering whether to accept the offer. But should firms lacking a firearms or weapons policy have a ready answer to this question? If they don’t, should they find out the answer?

If I suddenly learned that coworkers down the hall were packing heat, I wonder how it would affect me.

I learned when answering a related question earlier this year that an employer might not even know the answer to this. In nearly all states that allow concealed gun carrying, if an employer wants to prohibit employees from bringing guns into the workplace, they have to post clear notices to that effect throughout their workplace (and in some cases, these notices must contain specific language defined by law). Beyond that, in a concealed carry state, they wouldn’t necessarily know if someone was bringing a gun to work.

You’ll probably find the comments on that post very interesting.

I’ll also repeat here the same request I made in that previous post: Because this issue is a heated one, I’m requesting that we refrain from a debate on gun laws in the comment section — where each side of the issue is highly unlikely to convince the other side — and instead stay focused on the question posed here by the letter-writer.

2. Will prospective employers contact my current employer without alerting me?

Although you say it is normal to say “no” when/if a potential future employer asks if they can contact your current employer, what do you say on your cover letter and/or resume, without being asked? Do I just assume that they would not contact my current employer until they meet me and ask me themselves?

Yes. Sane, reasonable employers don’t contact current employers, certainly not without permission. And even unreasonable employers don’t typically contact references before interviewing people (it would be a huge waste of time, since they don’t even know yet if they’re interested in hiring you; reference-checking normally takes place toward the end of the hiring process).

That said, there’s always some degree of risk that you’ll encounter a crazy employer who doesn’t abide by these practices and inadvertently outs you. It’s very, very rare, but the risk isn’t zero. It’s somewhere just above zero though.

3. Our Development department has fallen apart

Nearly a year ago, I started working at a large cultural institution, despite knowing that the institution has had a few years of serious financial trouble. While it truly does seem like the place is getting its finances in order in many ways, one thing has become increasingly daunting. Since I started (in a completely separate department), the Development department has dwindled from an already slim 6 people to just one person. While I do not work closely with the CEO, it does not seem like she has a sense of urgency in filling these positions. To the best of my knowledge, all five of these people resigned and took relevant jobs elsewhere. I believe that the HR department has been weakly recruiting these positions– some, for a few months– but none have been filled.

Needless to say, there is now no leadership in that department and I’m concerned that this does not bode well for an already struggling non-profit. Does this sound like a sinking ship? How long can a large non-profit go without a Development department? How would a pre-existing organization go about hiring a whole department at once, especially for something as critical as Development?

It depends on the organization’s funding model. If they’re funded primarily through a small number of large donors, and the CEO is the person who maintains the relationships with those funders, it might not be a problem at all to have a virtually non-existent Development department. On the other hand, if the Development department was responsible for bringing in significant funding (as opposed to merely supporting the CEO in doing it), then a decimated Development department would be a very big problem indeed.

Hiring a whole department all at once isn’t ideal, but it’s not impossible either — especially in an area like Development, where the CEO usually plays a big role and is going to have some at least some institutional knowledge.

4. Can I say I have a degree that I don’t quite have yet?

I’ve been working in a very competitive industry for the past three years, and am finishing an undergraduate degree at night. I’m writing the last exam next week and already know that I’m going to pass the final course, but I won’t have official confirmation of graduation for a while longer.

Due to my personal situation, I need to start looking for work and sending out resumes right away. I know that in this industry, applicants with a degree will stand a much better chance of being hired, and will make $5,000+ a year more than someone without one, regardless of experience. As well, there seems to be a big difference between “having a degree” and “almost having a degree,” at least in the minds of the hiring managers I’ve met. Is it still too premature to say I have a degree, seeing as how it’s more or less a done deal? If it is, how could I word my cover letter and resume in such a way that it isn’t instantly thrown on the trash heap?

Nope, you can’t say you have a degree that you don’t yet have. But you can make it clear that you’re about to have it, by putting something like this on your resume:

B.A., Dark Arts, Hogwarts (expected January 2015)

5. Thank-you notes when you haven’t applied for a particular job

I’ve just had a phone interview with a recruiter who put out a “cattle call” type job ad for job seekers in a specific industry. Your (awesome) advice says that thank you notes should be used to express your enthusiasm for the job — but I haven’t applied for a particular role so much as gone through my work history and strengths with a view to finding one. In this scenario, what is the best framing for a thank-you note to take?

Just adjust it slightly for this situation: Instead of talking about a particular job, talk about your enthusiasm for the work you do, and say that you’d love to work further with the recruiter. No need for anything long or fancy; just a few sentences in this context (phone interview, and recruiter rather than hiring manager) is fine.

{ 204 comments… read them below }

  1. Preston*

    I am only going to deal with the gun question. If someone is conceal carrying they need to keep it concealed. All those pro gun laws do not trump “at will employment” laws. Just someting to think about….

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Actually, in some states they do trump at-will laws (in that employers are constrained in what they must allow). Read that linked post about how they work!

      1. Preston*

        I did read the link originally. Here is the deal with bringing the gun. If you keep it concealed nobody knows about it. If you open carry it then follow the guidelines of your employer (doubt most places allow it). If the weapon comes out of it’s holster, one is brandishing. You are probably getting fired and maybe going to jail. Kentucky had case where a weapon came out in the parking lot, the employee was fired, the company won in the resulting lawsuit the terminated employee tried with the whole CCW trumps at will.
        He lost.

        Some of these laws have yet to be really challenged. I am still going with at will trumps CCW, but if it is concealed nobody should see it. Once the weapon is seen then the employer is not talking about a concealed weapon anymore.

        I own numerous firearms, no way is one going to work with me.

        1. Raine*

          Yeah but there’s the Second Amendment thing, and the last state ban on concealed firearms was overturned on constitutional grounds. My own workplace requires us to sign an agreement that we understand we will be immediately terminated if we have a weapon on the premises (and carrying pepper spray in certain threshold quantities can qualify as concealed carrying), but there are no postings and, as you said, there isn’t that much case law yet really putting at-will employment up against the constitutional provision.

          1. Raine*

            Adding: I’m not a lawyer but I would think many of the same arguments that allow private businesses to restrict employee speech and fire them for it would apply here too (private businesses v. public spaces and government infringement of constitutional protections).

          2. BethRA*

            Also not a lawyer, but I believe that like the First Amendment, the Second Amendment refers to what the government can do, and not necessarily what private entities can do. Just like it’s perfectly legal to fire someone for making statements that you are allowed to make in a public forum, even if one reads the Second Amendment as preventing the government from imposing any regulations on firearms, that’s not the same as preventing a company or private individual from banning firearms from their property.

          3. Red Chandler*

            When I was working for a State University in the 1990’s one of the guy’s in the shop carried a rifle in his truck. One day the boss had a chance to go pheasant hunting and his bother had his shotgun. I brought mine to work to loan it to him.

            Since then the state has passed concealed carry making it a felony to carry firearms on campus. It makes it a pain in the butt to go on campus and probably a felony to drive over a good number city streets under a strict interpretation of the law.

            I the case of the company not saying anything about carrying a gun and I felt I need to carry to be safe I would keep my mouth shut. I would rather be out of work than robbed, beaten or killed. I don’t expect to win all I want is a chance.


        2. Brett*

          > If the weapon comes out of it’s holster, one is brandishing.

          Though one trend to pay attention to is the efforts to legalize brandishing. Missouri came within a few votes on a veto override of legalizing brandishing this year (as a constitutional amendment no less). The new bill is already in the works for next sessions and expected to pass with a veto proof majority.

          1. Rainy*

            It also depends on *why* it came out of the holster. If you drop something and your shirt comes up a bit, that isn’t brandishing.

        3. sally*

          If any building has the “no firearms allowed” sign a concealed carry permit holder must abide rules of establishment. That said, if it’s concealed…

          PS. Not sure about employment but in case of stores all they can do is request that you leave.

      2. Mister Pickle*


        In several states, employers are prohibited from conditioning an employee’s or applicant’s employment status on whether that individual either:
        „„Has a concealed firearm carry permit.
        „„Stores a firearm his vehicle.
        (See, for example, Fla. Stat. § 790.251(4)(c) (2012) and N.D. Cent. Code § 62.1-02-13(1)(c) (2011).) Florida also prohibits employers from terminating an employee on the basis that the employee chooses to exercise his right to bear arms as long as the firearm is not shown on company property other than for defensive purposes (Fla. Stat. § 790.251(4)(e) (2012)).


        … For example, under Kentucky law, an employer that fires, disciplines, demotes or punishes an employee who is exercising his right to possess a firearm is liable for civil damages (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 237.106(4) (2011)). In addition, under Kentucky law, an employee can seek an injunction against an employer who is violating the law (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 237.106(4) (2011)). Similarly, under North Dakota law, an applicant or employee can bring a civil action and recover reasonable costs, losses, court costs and attorneys’ fees (N.D. Cent. Code § 62.1-02-13(5) (2011)).

        In the words of Eric Burdon: “This really blew my mind”. My company is hands-down a no-gun workplace (and I’m not a gun person) but I’m curious if Texas law contains ‘interesting’ provisions like this. ‘Cause maybe I’m misreading it, but this does indeed appear to be “gun law trumps at-will”.

        1. Preston*

          Mr. Pickle,
          Owning, possessing a firearm. But once it comes out of it’s holister, it is brandishing. This is why you can’t point a weapon at someone and say you are exercising your second amendment rights. Also why open carry protests always have pistols holstered and rifles in a sling over the shoulder.

        2. HR Manager*

          If I’m reading this correctly, those laws are about discriminating against someone who owns a gun, or who has a license to carry a firearm. So I can’t use my anti-gun liberal views from the northeast not to hire someone just because he has a gun permit, nor can I decide to fire him just because he has a gun permit or owns a gun. That’s different from what to do about bringing a gun into the workplace.

          1. Mister Pickle*

            I dunno. I read this

            Florida also prohibits employers from terminating an employee on the basis that the employee chooses to exercise his right to bear arms as long as the firearm is not shown on company property other than for defensive purposes (Fla. Stat. § 790.251(4)(e) (2012)).

            as saying an employee can’t be fired for bringing a gun to work as long as it is concealed or actively being used for defense. *shrug* I’m not a lawyer, I could be wrong.

        3. Observer*

          From the perspective of an employer, the issue of gun ownership is really not relevant, in most cases. The idea is that what individuals do on their own time should not be relevant to the employer under most circumstances. All these laws are doing enshrining that concept into law for gun ownership. As per Allison’s request not to get into a gun rights debate, I am not expressing an opinion on the wisdom of choosing this over other items to protect.

        4. Erica*

          Wow – so sexual orientation is still not a protected class, but bringing a weapon to work is? That’s just… wow.

    2. Csarndt*

      If the potential employee is bothered that someone down the hall *could* be carrying…company policy against it won’t mean they *aren’t* carrying.

      But every workplace, at least in the US, should have a policy in place that either allows or disallows concealed carry based on the laws of their state and the needs of their business and employees. It’s responsible policy, just like you develop payroll policy based on the laws of your state and the needs of your business and employees. If you’re small and new and the situation hasn’t come up yet, you tell the candidate that you have no policy and that candidate has to decide that the lack of formal policy is or isn’t ok for them personally. If they ask about policy because they’re terrified of the idea that someone might be carrying and you show them your sidearm and tell them about the annual staff target shooting outing, they aren’t a good fit for your company.

      1. HeyNonnyNonny*

        “If they ask about policy because they’re terrified of the idea that someone might be carrying and you show them your sidearm and tell them about the annual staff target shooting outing, they aren’t a good fit for your company.”

        This is a good point, and I think the thing that OP was getting at. It’s not about what’s legal or not, but where the company culture is.

      2. stebuu*

        I did a few months of project work in Texas at a large bank. The bank’s office complex has “no guns” signs everywhere. However, one of the employees of the bank gleefully pointed out to me that the signs were the incorrect size (the verbiage was correct, but the sign was slightly too small) so I could feel free to legally carry my gun with me into the office.

          1. sally*

            No, I can guarantee you that unless said coworker is an MP he DOES NOT have a weapon. If he does than you need to report it to security. This is not permitted.

      3. Carey86*

        I found out a few months after starting my new job that the person in the cube next to me has a concealed weapon. Having just moved to the south from the northeast it never even occurred to me that a coworker would be carrying a weapon. Surprisingly, aside from the initial shock it doesn’t bother me. He keeps it locked in a safe and if someone hadn’t told me I wouldn’t have ever known it was there. Of course, I work on a military base where there is always the chance of seeing someone with an unconcealed weapon, so if I had a strong objection to being around weapons I wouldn’t be working here. In this environment it almost makes sense to have a weapon in case someone goes off the deep end. We’re always being asked to make escape plans in case of a shooter incident and I feel safer knowing there’s someone trustworthy on our team who could protect us in the event of something like that.

        1. The IT Manager*

          I would think, actually, in your situation on federal property that the only people carrying weapons should be doing so in the performance of their duties. There are usually signs about personal weapons not being allowed at the gate/main entrance. Federal laws would seem to trump state concealed carry laws on federal propery

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Unless your coworker has specialized training (military or LEO), I would never assume that he could protect you. If he’s just a civilian with a gun, especially if it’s locked in a safe, then no. That would not make me feel safe. The escape plan would make me feel better about it than the coworker with the gun.

          Common fallacy–having a gun makes you invincible against an active shooter! No. No it doesn’t.

        3. Vanishing Girl*

          I’m from the South and still live here, and I have never considered that, either! But if I worked in another place, it might come to mind.

          Reminds me to check what my employer’s gun policy is.

        4. Student*

          Why do you think that running around with a weapon out in an “active shooter” situation is a good idea? Especially on a military base!? Your co-worker would be much more likely to be mistaken for the gunman and shot by the responding authorities. In such situations, the authorities do not sit around yelling for an armed, random person to drop the weapon and then take the person into custody to sort out the mess. They shoot the armed person.

          Also, how fast do you think your co-worker can get his safe open and load his gun? Not likely to be much help at all if the shooter is within visual range. If the shooter is not within visual range, then we go back to your co-worker stalking around a military campus with a gun during an active shooter event.

        5. sally*

          No, I can guarantee you that unless said coworker is an MP he DOES NOT have a weapon. If he does than you need to report it to security. This is not permitted.

          1. sally*

            One other note. – either you do not truly work on a military base or your security officer should be fired. All personnel are not only briefed in this law but are required to sign the paperwork stating that you were briefed.

      4. AW*

        So far you’re the only person who’s answered the question that was actually asked “What should the company do?” as opposed to saying what the OP or hypothetical Jane should do.

        I agree with you. If the company doesn’t have a weapon’s policy for some reason, suddenly asking all of your employees which of them are armed is not going to go over well. That’s a good way to freak everyone out. People who aren’t armed are now wondering who is, people who are armed are wondering whether they’re in trouble for an unwritten/unspoken rule, and everyone’s wondering what incident occurred that caused you to ask.

        1. Jon*

          OP here. AW is spot on. Yes, I was wanting to know what the company should do, and yes, I agree that you can anticipate that suddenly surveying the employees on the topic is going to be fraught. It just seems to me bizarre that a firm might not know until something happens (and even if, in the horrible circumstance in which a firearm is brought out in the workplace, brandishing said firearm is justifiable).

        2. Rainy*

          Agreed. If there is no policy, the company should just tell “Jane” there is no policy.

          If “Jane” is that terrified, she need to get herself some education. Considering most states permit concealed and/or open carry, why isn’t she terrified to leave her own house? She “doesn’t want to work in a building where firearms may be present?” What about the security officers? She should see a psychiatrist, the irrational fear of inanimate objects may indicate deeper issues.

  2. Amy*

    #4 – in most jobs, telling a lie on your application is grounds for firing you later. Not worth it. If you feel you have to lie to get a job, then you’re not really ready for the job.

    1. Jeanne*

      It seems like salary is the big consideration here. Instead of lying, try negotiating. Get it in writing that they agree to bump your salary after you graduate.

      1. AVP*

        Since she’s expecting it in January, and only sending out resumes now, it’s pretty likely that OP will start at the higher salary anyway.

        1. I live to serve*

          Something mysterious could happen to the Dark Arts professor and your final grades were not submitted and therefore graduation was delayed. It happens. Don’t lie.

  3. Knitting Cat Lady*

    Re #1:

    I work in Germany. A few years ago my employer sent me to our US site (in Washington state) for two months for project work.

    On my first day there I was required to watch a security information video. It was 30 minutes long. 25 minutes were devoted to defining what is and isn’t considered a weapon and that weapons aren’t allowed on the premises.

    The remaining 5 minutes went through the list of possible alarms, how they sounded and that one needed to check the direction of the wind and pick the gathering point upwind of the plant for one particular alarm. The type of accident leading to that kind of alarm would make international news.

    I can’t be more specific about it as that would identify my employer.

    That video was very strange for me!

    1. Jeanne*

      Hmmm… I wonder if upwind would really help you in that sort of situation.

      I worked for a pharmaceutical manufacturer. We had large quantities of controlled substances on site. They made it clear that only security could have a weapon in the building.

      I have to agree with Admin. If someone is concealing a weapon, how would others know he was concealing a weapon? Asking the question would lead them to have questions about you. I would first wonder if you want to bring a gun to the workplace. That’s a bad first impression.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Upwind/downwind. There was a news article yesterday how someone used powdered chlorine to cause a problem in a building. There are many things out there that work with air currents and it pays to know “which way the wind blows”.

    2. Student*

      Sounds like the Hanford Site. Be glad you didn’t have to sit through the other safety training videos; that one’s just the tip of the iceberg.

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        Yup. When you hear an aooga-aooga alarm, go ahead and run for your life, if it makes you feel better. On the other hand, you’re still more likely to die from your pajamas catching on fire.

  4. Unanimously Anonymous*

    A riff on #4…what if you DO have a degree and suspect it’s making you look “overqualified” in this dog’s breakfast of a job market? In my particular case, it’s an MBA from an institution I’ll just call Nonprestigious State University. It never ended up adding much to my career in the first place, and am wondering if I should just omit it from resumes and applications.

    1. Dan*

      An MBA from a non prestigious university isn’t going to do much for your candidacy. It’s probably best to leave it off, unless a job requires it. I’m usually a big proponent of “it doesn’t matter where you go, just what you do when you get there.” Sadly, this isn’t the case for law and MBA’s.

    2. Stephanie*

      If it was part-time and you can account for other things during that period, definitely omit it. I’m unsure how you could cover the two-year gap if you did a full-time program. Perhaps others have suggestions for the latter case?

      1. Sigrid*

        This was my problem during my stint in the real world between graduate school and medical school. My graduate degree made me over-qualified for the available jobs in my area, but leaving it off my resume would have left a multi-year gap with no explanation. I still don’t have a solution to that.

    3. AnonyMouse*

      My opinion has always been that you can leave things off your resume if they’re not really relevant to your candidacy. A resume isn’t meant to be a comprehensive list of everything you’ve done but more like the highlights (for lack of a better word) – relevant education, work, skills etc. In your case, a degree that didn’t add much to your career could probably safely be left off, assuming it doesn’t leave a major gap. If it does, you’d have to decide whether leaving the degree off or not having any gaps was more important to you.

      1. Zillah*

        Agreed. There’s nothing wrong with leaving things off – it’s just that everything you do put on needs to be true.

  5. Preston*

    I have always wondered about these diploma mill MBAs. Your thoughts are pretty much what I think too.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Just to clarify, “non-prestigious state university” doesn’t mean diploma mill. Diploma mills are for-profit schools (not state u’s) that will basically award diplomas to anyone.

      1. Unanimously Anonymous*

        Thanks for that, Alison! My MBA is from a fully accredited state university – just one without any “pedigree.” I’m interested in your take on leaving the MBA off…acceptable strategy, or lying by omission?

        1. The IT Manager*

          The resume is marketing document for you so you can mention what you want and leave off what you want to leave off ( not mentioning everything is not a lie by ommission in this case because you are not listing everything in your life); however, if you are filling out an application that asks about your degrees you have to mention it because they almost always ask for all your degrees.

          1. Stephanie*

            Or if you’re doing a super-thorough background check (like for a security clearance). The investigators will want all time accounted for, so you’d have to list it then.

            But yeah, it’s a marketing document. Just like you might not list an old retail job, you don’t have to list this either.

      2. Dan*

        I think we should clarify further and say that if a school is accredited by one of the six regional accreditation boards, then it’s likely not a diploma mill (be it private for-profit, private non-profit, or public school.)

        A true diploma mill is accredited by a sleazy accreditation board (with limited exceptions, national accreditation is highly suspect. The few exceptions I’m aware of are ABET for engineering, CSAB for computer science, and a couple of others. But those schools pretty much all have programs that are accredited by the regional boards anyway.)

        The reason a true diploma mill is lousy isn’t that they basically award diplomas to anyone, it’s that they award them without requiring coursework to be completed or waive most of it with “life experience.” Many non-selective schools have what approximates an open-admissions policy, which means they basically award diplomas to anyone who completes the course requirements.

        1. Sarabeth*

          The “who completes the course requirements” part is important here – I’d also call schools diploma mills if their coursework is unusually easy compared to the standards of the field.

  6. Dan*


    The actual question isn’t clear. I must admit that I’m surprised that AAM posted a *hypotetical* question on an issue on something likely to be contentious.

    If working at a place in a state that permits someone to carry a weapon bothers the OP, the OP should assume that the coworkers carry unless signage indicates otherwise. Trying to answe any of the questions that the OP prefaces with “should” is asking to get into the contentious political debates that AAM wishes to avoid.

    1. BRR*

      I thought the same thing. I feel like some of the places I have worked have not even had a policy so in theory anybody could have been carrying in the state I was in. OP, you might have already worked with people carrying. Possibly just interview and ask to see the employee handbook before accepting and see if there is a weapons policy or if there isn’t you can ask about it.

    2. Cherry Scary*

      My office (Ohio, we also have locations in Texas) actually has a sign notifying that people onsite conceal carry. They also advertise taking the CCW courses as a company activity (totally optional.) I believe the Texas offices have a shooting league…

    3. louise*

      Yup, I assume everyone I work with is carrying unless they’ve specifically told me they aren’t. It is encouraged here. I’m not a huge fan of that, but it’s apparently not a deal breaker for me.

      1. Dan*

        I wrote that at 1am when there were like five posts. Considering there was a prior discussion that raised alarms, I’d say “yes, really.”

    4. cuppa*

      Actually, I would assume that even in some buildings where concealed carry is not permitted, someone might still be. There are people who think along these lines of “I shouldn’t get caught”.

    5. Zillah*

      I hope Alison doesn’t choose topics based on fears that we won’t be able to control ourselves!

  7. Jen RO*

    #1 – I am European so obviously nowhere near an expert in gun laws… but if the state allows concealed carry, doesn’t that mean that anywhere you go could be people with guns? Why would the location (work vs non-work) make a difference?

    1. RobbyJ*

      Jen RO that’s true, there are only very few places you can’t carry (notably courthouses, police stations, and businesses that post “no firearms allowed” signs).

    2. Stephanie*

      In my state (Arizona), I believe you can carry (conceal or open) most places unless there’s a sign prohibiting it and some obvious places (like schools, courthouses, etc). That being said, most big offices I’ve been to have signs prohibiting firearms and/or metal detectors that would catch a concealed firearm.

      To OP #1’s question, I think it would come across as kind of strange if someone asked that during an interview.

    3. Sabrina*

      I live in Nebraska and most businesses, stores, offices, restaurants, etc. have signs up saying you can’t bring guns in. But yes, just about anywhere else that doesn’t have a sign, it makes no difference. And someone who’s disgruntled and really wants to do harm is going to ignore those signs.

      1. Mister Pickle*

        Yeah. And this is just me, but the person who quietly brings a gun into work every day, never shows it to anyone, is properly trained and licensed, and practices once a month at the firing range – I have no problem whatsoever working with this person.

        It’s the guy who makes a big freakin’ deal out of “Look, I have a gun!”, or the security guard who got their job via a billboard that said “COMMAND RESPECT”, or the cop who thinks I look like white trash – these are the people who scare the s**t outta me.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Me too, and those open-carry nuts who bring their rifles to a store just because they can. In fact the whole thing makes me feel less safe, because the licensing and training requirements are so lax, and there are so many fallacies about self-defence.

          1. Ann without an e*

            I would prefer a hunter, or hobbyist to carry the rifle through the grocery store than risk it being seen in their car and have it stolen.

        2. Bea W*

          Totally, and I really believe your average legal gun owner is sane and responsible or we’d be hearing way more often about workplace shootings. This isn’t the wild west.

        3. Mister Pickle*

          Strangely enough, the very best anti-gun song ever written was opposed by the Academy Award-winning singer and composer Trent Reznor, and it directly addresses the core of the gun problem:

          “Big Man With A Gun”

          I am a big man
          (yes I am)
          and I have a big gun
          got me a big old d**k and I
          I like to have fun
          held against your forehead
          I’ll make you suck it
          maybe I’ll put a hole in your head
          you know, just for the f**k of it
          I can reduce you if I want
          I can devour
          I’m hard as f**king steel, and I’ve got the power
          I’m every inch a man, and I’ll show you somehow
          me and my f**king gun
          nothing can stop me now
          shoot shoot shoot shoot shoot
          I’m going to c*m all over you
          me and my f**king gun
          me and my f**king gun

          Alas, the song can’t be played uncensored on US radio or television.

      2. Agile Phalanges*

        That last sentence is kind of the crux of it. There is a coalition of moms who want a local store to ban all carrying of guns, because “what about the kids,” but that’s the whole problem with banning guns from anywhere–you’re just banning the responsible people who weren’t going to brandish or discharge it except in the direst of emergencies, you’re not actually keeping the crazies from bringing in an assault weapon and shooting up the place. It is hard to feel powerless to stop those crazies, but unfortunately there isn’t a whole lot you can do…

        1. Anna*

          The thing about these bans though is that they aren’t enforceable if the people who have concealed carry permits are following the rules. If you have a concealed weapon, and are not making it obvious, then nobody around you should know you’re carrying, right? So how would the officials know to enforce the ban? I feel like it’s this weird circular logic puzzle.

          1. sstabeler*

            because the policies aren’t actually designed as such to stop the people who are concealing and making it obvious- it’s more about someone who is making a big deal about having a gun- basically, the idea is that if an employee is being a nuisance about being armed, they cna be fired without risking a protracted lawsuit.

    4. Jazzy Red*

      Jen, there have been way too many incidents in the U. S. where a coworker with a gun goes on a rampage and kills people. Tensions in most workplaces are high enough – allowing a weapon that can kill lots of people is a bad idea.

      Frankly, when I go into a new place, I always look around for all emergency escapes and/or good hiding places. Things like, I could use that big trash can to break that window and run away, or I could hid in the janitor’s closet and lock that door until it’s safe to come out. (Maybe I watch too much of The Walking Dead, but I do have more good ideas about how to get away from danger now.)

      1. Elizabeth West*

        You know, because of the 1980 McDonald’s shooting in San Ysidro, CA, to this day I cannot sit with my back to the door in a restaurant. (I wasn’t there, but it really woke me up.) Seriously, I will actually ask my dining companion(s) to move so I can sit facing the door. I’m also that person who, standing in line at the post office, is always looking for exits/improvised weapons/shelter. The Walking Dead only made more interesting what I was already doing!

      2. Elsajeni*

        That’s true, but there have also been mass shootings in malls, libraries, movie theaters, out on the street… etc. And if one of your coworkers is violently angry and unhinged enough to rampage through the workplace with a gun, they’re probably past worrying about whether there’s a company policy against concealed weapons. I think Jen makes a good point — realistically, you’re not at higher risk in your office than you are anywhere else, and you’re not at much higher risk in an office that allows concealed weapons than in one that disallows them (unless they install metal detectors or take other serious security measures to prevent people from disobeying the policy). The hypothetical Jane is certainly entitled to her feelings and opinions on the subject, whether or not they’re rational — but depending on where she is, she might find that it’s easier to address the irrational-fear component than to actually avoid any workplace where someone in the building might be carrying a gun.

        1. I live to serve*

          Having been through a few traumatic incidences including 9/11. I alway know where the exit is and an alternative route. I always wear clothes that I can walk ten miles in. I always have a go-bag at work and one at home near the front entrance. I have duplicate prescriptions in my go-bag as well as a stash of money. I have a weeks supply of prescriptions on me at all times as well as a few protein bars.

          When an alarm goes off in a building I am in I leave immediately. I do not wait to see if it was a “drill” or burnt popcorn.

          I and my family have an emergency plan in place if we are separated and cannot communicate by email and phone.

          I do not work on or stay in hotels on floors higher than five.

    5. HR Manager*

      That is true, Jen, but we have had media coverage of a few work-related incidents that I’m sure has heightened sensitivity to guns in a workplace. You can probably tell from the posts on this board that workplace relationships can often be fraught with tension, so that might make folks nervous. Right after 9/11, I had numerous candidates call to cancel interviews with my company at the time, because our office was located right next to the tallest building in the city.

      Lest all non-US readers think the US is pure 100% crazy (we’re only 75-80% there), I have never worked in a place where I felt I needed to worry about that. Maybe I’m naive? I live in the northeast, which doesn’t have as strong of a gun culture here.

      The closest call I had was doing a contentious termination where we asked the person to leave that day, without packing up his stuff. As I cleaned his desk, I found a huge stack of National Rifleman Magazine. :/ Nothing happened, but his boss and I were just glad to have removed him from the premises, and we did alert the security to keep watch for him over the next few days.

      1. C Average*


        Maybe I’m naive, too. I’ve lived in red states where there probably WERE people carrying (Montana, Idaho) and in bluish-purple states where people might have been carrying (Washington) and in a blue state with some red outposts where I don’t think about it all that much (Oregon).

        I’ve never been afraid specifically of guns in the workplace, or guns in general.

        If you watch the news, you’ll see a zillion reasons to wake up afraid every morning.

        If you pay attention to actual statistics, you’ll see a zillion reasons to quietly go about your life without being afraid of things that are unlikely to happen to you (and that you’d never be able to foresee and prevent if you did happen to have the bad luck to have them happen to you).

        1. puddin*

          If you watch the news, you’ll see a zillion reasons to wake up afraid every morning.

          If you pay attention to actual statistics, you’ll see a zillion reasons to quietly go about your life without being afraid of things that are unlikely to happen to you

          Very very well said!

  8. RobbyJ*

    #1 I work in an environment where no weapons* are allowed to be carried by the staff. However, I know of many customers who carry or have carried on premise. I’m sure vendors, people outside the window, etc., have also carried.

    I think it boils down to this: If the employer has a policy against weapons, you know where they stand .. if they have no policy, you know that weapons may be present, and need to decide if you can accept the job under those conditions. I think it is highly unlikely that the company will question all employees to determine if anyone frequently brings weapons to the workplace, and equally unlikely that they will institute a new policy for the sake of hiring you (unless you are extremely desirable).

    *I remember reading a while back about the TSA relaxing knife restrictions, allowing up to a certain length of folding blade on the plane or something similar. Still can’t have one of those at work though, unless it’s the one provided in the kitchen!

    1. NoPantsFridays*

      Yes, I think this is right. OP should assume at least some of the employees are carrying in the absence of policies or evidence to the contrary. In the US, in most places, the default is that you *can* carry unless it’s explicitly prohibited. My office has no signage or policy against firearms, so I just assume that some of my coworkers are carrying. Certainly not all of them, or even most of them, but some proportion. That’s fine by me, but if it weren’t, I’d have to find a company with explicit signage.

    2. Mister Pickle*

      It pains me to tell you this, RobbyJ, but the TSA ended up not relaxing their rules on knives. Which did not make me happy, but oh well.

      1. Bea W*

        When I was younger just about every boy and every grown man carried some kind of pocket knife or Swiss Army type tool, not for protection but because it was handy to have a tool that could cut things like tape, rope, boxes, etc. A lot of men my age and older still do this, and have many tales of woe losing a favorite knife passing through the airport and speculation on the piles of knives TSA must have to discard. Airports need a tray similar to the “Take a penny” ones seen at cash registers, “Leave a knife, take a knife.” That knife you lost because you forgot to take it out of your pocket before flying? Don’t be bummed out. Just pick up one confiscated from a passenger at your final destination. What’s that saying? Reduce, reuse, recycle!

        1. Stephanie*

          If you are an Instagram user, the TSA Instagram account is amazing. It’s like confiscated creatively repurposed knives and drug dogs. Some of these people need to be working for Fred or Method.

        2. cuppa*

          I’m pretty sure my brothers and father have all had their keychain knives confiscasted at airport security.

        3. sally*

          I believe they will tag it for you so you can get it when you return. Course that was years ago so they may just “dispose” of everything now.

    3. Chinook*

      “I remember reading a while back about the TSA relaxing knife restrictions, allowing up to a certain length of folding blade on the plane or something similar. Still can’t have one of those at work though, unless it’s the one provided in the kitchen!”

      I remember when I worked out east in a big city when I had trouble opening a box that was delivered. I went into my purse and pulled out my Swiss army knife (DH acutally bought it from the Swiss army canteen), opened the big blade and cut right through. I looked up to see 4 women looking at me in shock. My boss asked me why I carried a weapon. I looked at her, then at the knife and pointed out that it made a poor weapon because it took two hands to flick the blade open and that there were 5 other items I could use more easily in my office to protect myself. We then went on to have an interesting discussion about how different tools are perceived in rural areas versus urban ones.

      Really, a weapon is just a tool being used for defensive or offensive purposes.

    4. T*

      I find it interesting that the OP asks about the employer having a ready answer. I could imagine an employer saying, “Nobody here carries weapons/firearms,” or “That’s against company policy,” both of which might not be true. The interviewers might just assume that there’s a policy or that nobody carries anything. As you mentioned, if they don’t have a stated and posted policy, it may be best to assume someone is carrying.

  9. The Earl Marshal*

    #4: In many cases the employer will not mind if you tell them you are almost done with the degree requirements and will receive the degree within a few weeks. I had originally applied to graduate in late 2013 but I had one make-up paper to turn in for an elective course. I kept procrastinating on the paper (which you could turn in whenever you want) and turned it in around October 2014. After that the clearance procedure started with the registrar and graduate school, and the degree officially posted this month.

    Two weeks ago I got offered a position with a very large company and my graduate degree had to be verified by the background check company. During the initial interview, I told the recruiter I am in the process of finalizing that one course and should have my degree that semester. I emphasized I do not have to attend classes anymore and that my degree will be granted before I start work (January 2015). She was ok with that and no mention was made of the degree/degree completion until the day after I accepted their offer. The background check company called and told me I needed to send them proof I met all degree requirements. Since my make-up paper had already been graded, I approached my department and asked for a letter stating I met all requirements and that the degree is being processed. The letter included my program director’s contact information in case they wanted to follow up with her (they did).

    As long as you are honest with the recruiter you should be fine. Worse would be if you tell them you 100% have the degree and the background check points out that you don’t, which might lead them to rescind the offer.

    1. Poohbear McGriddles*

      Nah, Hogwarts has become one heck of a diploma mill. It’s not like industry is looking to hire a bunch of PhDs in Hocus Pocus.

      1. Kelly L.*

        I’ve always felt there was a distinct lack of variety in wizarding jobs. Everybody seems to either teach, run a shop, or work in the Ministry.

        1. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

          Well, you could also drive and/or be a conductor on the Knight Bus, report for the Daily Prophet, work for Gringott’s as a curse-breaker, work in Romania with dragons, play professional Quidditch, and train security trolls. :)

          1. Jen S. 2.0*

            Healers. I distinctly recall Ron saying something about doctors being the Muggle nutters that cut people open.

        2. Naomi*

          Not to mentionHogwarts is more like a trade school than a good secondary school–I’m amazed the purebloods can read and write :)
          (Just to clarify I have no problem with trade school for adults, but not eleven-year-olds!)

          1. Laufey*

            It always really bothered me that wizards seem, to have no education in mathematics after age 11 (And that’s assuming they went to muggle schools beforehand, which most of them likely don’t, judging from the misconceptions of muggle culture.) Does no one need to finance a broomstick or take out dragon-preventative insurance on their hourse or maintain splinching insurance in case of accidents?

    2. jhhj*

      Honestly though, you know the one in the post is fake, because they only taught Dark Arts that one year, it was always Defense Against the Dark Arts. There’s no shame in having gone to Durmstrang.

      1. Evan Þ*

        But if someone graduated after that one year, mightn’t that be what his diploma said? Or did the *ahem* administrative changes go through before graduation?

    3. ali*

      my boss always asks me when I’m getting my degree in Mind-reading so I always know what the customers are asking for before they ask for it. Guess I’ll go apply at Hogwarts.

      1. Sigrid*

        Their Divination program is a little iffy, frankly. You might be better off at one of the other Wizarding schools.

  10. jordanjay29*

    Regarding #4, I’m in the same boat as I’m graduating this month from college. But many employer applications don’t give a place to indicate that my degree is in progress. My choice is usually the difference between High School diploma and College degree, or sometimes Some College if they’re being nice. In that case, I’ll usually put down College/Bachelor degree, but make it very clear in my cover letter and resume that my degree is in progress and my graduation is expected this month.

    For any employers that decide to call or interview me, I reiterate (and they usually ask, anyway) that I will be graduating this month. Never do I give the impression that I have the degree already.

    Here’s the line from my cover letter, if you’re interested, OP: “I am currently a Teapot Studies Major student at the University of State Awesome (USA) in my senior year, and I expect to graduate in December of 2014.”

    And my resume:
    “University of State Awesome (USA)
    Bachelor of Science, Fall 2014
    Major in Teapot Studies”

    1. Kelly L.*

      Yeah, I was also wondering if this was a case of a Taleo (or similar) application with little flexibility in its ticky boxes. You seem to have a good strategy.

      1. jordanjay29*

        When I started applying, Taleo confused me so much. Every employer that used it had a site hosted by Taleo, but somehow wanted me to register a new username. What?! It’s the same platform, guys, why can’t we share username details so I don’t have to make a new one each time.

        1. Kelly L.*

          OMG THIS SO MUCH. My fantasy-Taleo could even store all my past employment details, etc., so I don’t have to type in all the same crap every time.

          1. TheExchequer*

            Can I just say I love that you have a fantasy Taleo? In my fantasy Taleo, I would not be required to upload my resume then spend hours filling out boxes with the exact same information.

        2. HR Manager*

          Candidate info (especially such sensitive info as SSN, address, etc.) is proprietary info to each client. Taleo doesn’t own or touch it (nor any other ATS system).

            1. HR Manager*

              I agree with you there! :) I don’t like Taleo at all – from a job applicant, and from an employer perspective.

      2. HoHoHo*

        I think if they force you into boxes and youre going to graduate this semester it’s fine. Just make it clear elsewhere in your application that it’s pending.

        But writing BS, Fall 2014 is dishonest. If you don’t have the degree, you need to write “expected.”

    2. HR Manager*

      Most of the systems I’ve seen allow for a date of graduation though – you should be able to enter a future date.

      1. themmases*

        But most people just give a month and a year. If you write in December 2014 with no place to specify that the degree is expected, that could also mean you just graduated. It doesn’t look like a future date at all.

        1. jordanjay29*

          Well, it likely looked more like a future date when I was handing out my resume in September and October. I haven’t applied anywhere since November, so it really never became an issue.

  11. Stephanie*

    #4 – If you’re applying to jobs that recruit recent grads, applying while the degree is still in progress is pretty common. Don’t lie and say you have the degree. When I got a job offer senior year, one of the conditions of the offer (along with passing a background screen) was successful degree completion.

  12. AnonyMouse*

    #4: If you’re going to be done with your programme next week, you pretty much know you’re going to graduate. I agree with everyone else that you shouldn’t lie and say you have the degree, but when you indicate your expected graduation date and/or reference that you’re finishing up the final coursework next week, reasonable employers will probably be willing to treat you as though you’ll have the degree by the time you start (though they might make the offer or a certain salary etc contingent on successful graduation). It’s not really the same as applying and saying “in progress” when you’re halfway through a degree, at which point you might not actually finish. I don’t think you should worry about it too much as long as you’re clear about the situation.

  13. super anon*

    No. 4: Even after your graduation is confirmed, you still haven’t gotten your degree. Depending on your university’s graduation cycle, degrees likely will not be conferred by the senate until April or whenever the next graduation cycle is – so you will not actually have you degree until then (and you can’t write that you have it on your resume either). The way I’ve gotten around this is to write “Completion: Date”, because while I’m done and my graduation is confirmed – I won’t actually have the degree until April.

    It seems like a silly difference, but after working at a university I realized it isn’t. Academic advising offices won’t even say that you have your degree if you need a letter for a job offer, they’ll just write you a degree completion letter instead.

    1. Noelle*

      I am confused by this “approved by the Senate” business. Maybe that’s just relevant for your university/state? When I graduated, I needed an official transcript showing degree conferred, and I received mine approximately 3 weeks after graduation, in August amd my diploma a week later. I don’t know anyone who had to wait months after graduation for their university to acknowledge they had received their degree.

      1. Samantha*

        Same here. It only took a couple of months for me to get my diploma and official transcript showing I had attained my degree. I assumed that was just how long it took to prepare all the diplomas and mail them out.

        1. cv*

          I think that’s typical for the times of year when a ton of people graduate, particularly May/June. If you graduate off-cycle, universities handle it differently – some have 2-3 designated times a year and you’ll have to wait until the next one, some will just process everything right away but at off-cycle times it may take longer than if you graduate with everyone else, etc. I know a lot of people in my master’s program take a few weeks or a couple of months past the end of spring semester to finish their thesis, so they graduate at the next opportunity, which I think is in September at my school.

          1. Anna*

            I graduated in January and my official transcripts show I graduated in January. I’ve never heard of anyone having to wait until three or four month later because of it being the off-season for graduation. As soon as my department head had signed my MA signature page, I had conferred my degree.

            1. Doreen*

              It almost happened to my daughter. She finished her field placement in July , and if her department had missed the deadline for submitting her grade for an August conferral (and they almost did) , she would not have graduated until the next conferral date in January. Her university grants degrees only at the end of semesters (May, August and January)

            2. Jennifer*

              That’s a master’s degree though, right? They might be handled differently.

              Transcripts will always show the official graduation date, which is the last day of your finals week on your last quarter. It just won’t show up on your transcript for two months AFTER that date until it’s been Made Official.

              Yeah, it’s weird.

        2. Jennifer*

          Well, that too. It takes a week or two to compile and proofread all of the graduates every season, and then it takes the diploma company probably around a month-ish to do every graduation cycle.

      2. Persephone Mulberry*

        What I have often seen is that Local Very Popular Degree Program runs on trimesters while Local University processes graduations twice a year. So you may complete your coursework in March but your diploma and transcript will say June. Since part of my job involves submitting degree info that will be verified by a third party (and a discrepancy of >30 days gets flagged), I’ve learned to clarify when someone reports an off-cycle completion date.

        1. College Career Counselor*

          Some higher education institutions only have ONE graduation per year. So, if you finish your coursework/incomplete/thesis/whatever in July, you might not have graduation status conferred upon you until the following JUNE. That’s when the “degree completion” letter (or “has satisfied all requirements for the degree” or other local language) becomes very important.

      3. Jennifer*

        I’m told that of all our sister universities, only my campus still has to be approved by the Academic Senate. We would like to eliminate that step, but the Senate Has The Power and won’t give it up, so….yeah. It does vary by school. And we do have a large school, so we can’t be quick about getting all the thousands of graduates per quarter done in the way that a smaller place might.

    2. Jennifer*

      Where I work, it takes a month for all of the college/dean’s offices to approve everyone’s submitted grades for graduation. Then it goes to my office for various levels of proofreading for two weeks. Then it goes to the Academic Senate, where they wave a magic wand of power around and do…whatever it is that they do, but you don’t have a degree until they say so. So it takes almost two months here to degree award people.

      And yeah, seconding that we have to ask the dean’s office to confirm that you’re on the grad list and then write a letter saying your graduation date is X and the official degree shall be posted by 2 months later. Until then, if a job calls to confirm that you have a degree, nobody can say that you have one and Problems Arise.

  14. immaterial*

    #4: you may want to consider using the term “graduand” to indicate that all graduation requirements have been met and you are simply waiting for the degree to be awarded. However, in some areas, people are not aware of the meaning of the term, so I guess this is a case of knowing your job market well. I’d also highlight the fact that all coursework is complete in your cover letter, so that prospective employers know they’re not waiting for you to finish more classes between now and, say, May 2015, or whenever your degree will be complete.

    1. College Career Counselor*

      I’ve worked in higher education for 25 years (and consider myself reasonably well-versed in the arcane terminology of the academy) and had *never* seen/heard that term before! While I’m glad to know it now, I suspect that you’re liable to confuse most prospective employers with that term and would recommend one stick to the “expected/anticipated graduation” convention. Cool term, though!

      1. TotesMaGoats*

        They might only have one ceremony but holding all degree conferrals until the next year would be pretty unusual. That’s a lot of data that needs to be reported to the state/feds/other groups to hold for a whole year. Most institutions will confer degrees twice, at least. Many do it 3 times a year.

    2. EB*

      This, I complete a program a month early (completion=submit thesis), so I technically didn’t have my degree until the day of graduation. I wrote “all requirements completed” on my resume. Thankfully, finishing requirements “off-cycle” is pretty common for the degree I was in, and there was a form letter that was also generated for me certifying I had completed all requirements and would receive the degree on X date.

  15. BRR*

    #3 I would look at your organization’s annual report if it includes financials or look at its form 990 (you can do this by going to guidestar) and see how much is brought in via contributions vs. program revenue. 6 people for what is being described as a large nonprofit is not that many.

    1. ali*

      very good advice here for anyone who works at a nonprofit. You should know how your org is funded, and as it’s public information, very easy to find.

  16. Mal*

    #4 – My husband has listed his degree as Allison has suggested above over the past couple of years as he has submitted resumes at career fairs through his university for internships. This year is his senior year(graduation in May) and he started applying for positions and attending the school wide career fair in September. He just accepted a position in early November to start June 1.
    To clarify, his grad date is mid May and I believe his degree isn’t able to be confirmed until July. At that time I’m sure his employer will confirm his degree as it is relevant and needed for his line of work.
    Good luck on your job search!

  17. Not So NewReader*

    For OP #1, I think Jane should look at her line of work and try to logically deduce which places would be less apt to have guns present. Jane could also ask if she could see the personnel manual for a particular company once she has verified that she has a definite interest in obtaining work there.

    I think it would wise/realistic of Jane to tell herself that in the end she is only making her best guess, but forethought/planning does pay off most times. However, just because a place has rules about guns and a history of no one ever bringing a gun to work does not “prove” the future will be the same.

    Knowledge is power. If Jane is concerned about guns, it would behoove her to learn something about what to do if there is a random shooter. This is a good life habit- take what concerns you and learn how to protect yourself and possibly others around you. I know a lot of communities are doing drills now regarding this so that police and rescue personnel can get in some training should such a situation occur. By learning more, Jane can fortify herself. I do not think that any major concern a person has totally goes away, but I do believe that small steps can be taken that will definitely assist us with our concerns.

    So my suggestion comes in at two different angles: Think about the type of employers that are out there and do some reading/research on how one should try to protect one’s self in the event of a random shooting.

  18. Not So NewReader*

    OP#3, do you see any other symptoms of a problem? For example they are having a hard time meeting payroll, you are being told not to order supplies, or you hear that the company’s credit with local businesses is no good. There are other clues in a similar vein. I think you are wise to keep your eyes wide open here. It could be nothing or it could be something – time will probably reveal more information.

  19. Sabrina*

    #4 That’s how I listed my degree before I graduated. A BA in Dark Arts from Hogwarts would likely be more useful than what I really did get. How well does He Who Must Not Be Named pay, and does he have health and dental?

    1. Laufey*

      You’re set on dental, but the deductibles on health insurance are ridiculous. I couldn’t even to afford to buy a new nose after a spell backfired on my.

        1. Kelly L.*

          On the upside, if you manage to lose your nose while hiding undercover as a Hogwarts teacher, the outlook is better. Just see Madam Pomfrey. She got poor Eloise Midgen all fixed up. Just make sure you haven’t already been unmasked as a bad guy.

          1. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

            Ah, but if the nose is removed by dark magic (rather than undiluted bubotuber pus) than it’s not always possible to fix it. See: George Weasley, whose ear was removed by the Sectumsempra curse.

              1. Elsajeni*

                There’s a fair number of wizards who wear glasses — mostly Hogwarts faculty and other adults, but a few other students besides Harry, too. Theories: the types of vision problems corrected by glasses can’t be magically cured; or, they can, but it requires such complicated spells or expensive potions ingredients that it’s easier or cheaper just to wear glasses.

                1. Anna*

                  Also, Harry grew up with Muggles, so his glasses were sort of part of his identity by the time he found out he was a wizard.

                2. Zillah*

                  Maybe magic can generally only get you to where you would be naturally. So you can heal someone, but not change them. I mean, Hermione couldn’t just do a simple charm to make her hair behave, either. I don’t think we ever really see people making drastic permanent changes to their appearance.

                3. Elsajeni*

                  But you’re right, Zillah — there are Metamorphmagi, who seem to be born with that ability, and there’s Polyjuice Potion, which is complicated and costly to brew, but outside of that we don’t see much evidence that wizards can change their own appearance. (After all, if it were easy to magically change your appearance, why would fugitive wizard criminals ever be found looking like themselves?) My new theory is that it’s possible to magically alter your own appearance, but it’s difficult, and also culturally taboo among wizardkind.

                  (Unfortunately I think the real answer is “the Harry Potter universe is just not that internally consistent,” but it’s fun trying to come up with explanations to work around that.)

                4. jhhj*

                  But OTHER people can cure you. Why can they cure teeth but not eyes?

                  Also I’m not clear why Gilderoy Lockhart’s magically removing Harry’s bones is magically curable but Snape’s magically removing George’s ear isn’t. I know the claim is dark magic vs not, but I’m not clear how removing bones isn’t. There are good reasons to cut off extremities, too, at least in normal muggle medicine.

  20. Jack*

    #4 OP here – Thanks for all the feedback everyone.

    So in the end, I was able to secure a good job w/o having to change my resume, although I did have to change industries to get any kind of a meaningful raise. I actually did know a few MBA holders at a previous job that were doing fairly menial work – I think that’s when I knew it was time to shift gears career-wise.

  21. Bwmn*

    #3 – The only way I could imagine a necessary department of 6 going to 1 and still functioning reasonably would be if the organization is being largely supported by a few, large donors with limited reporting requirements. And while this could suffice for a while, it’s an incredibly risky development strategy because if at any point one donor leaves or largely decreases their support, there then isn’t the development staff in place to replace that support. And there likely is only very minimal prospecting occurring at the present to try and locate and develop new relationships.

    Having been the lone development staff member of a midsized organization with a $2.5 mil budget, there’s a period of time after a fundraiser/development staff leaves where things can somewhat “float” with basic caretaking. Whether that floating means that whenever a replacement comes on, things can cruise until the new staff get oriented and successful or things cruise for a while and then hit the iceberg….it can go either way. I used to work with a few colleagues at other organizations that had reputations for being very good at bringing project money in – and then very poor at actually managing the projects, reporting, renewing support etc. In some cases the organizational structure was strong enough to have minimal impact on the rest of the staff (raises slowed down, desired new hires postponed), and in other cases it’s meant downsizing, letting some staff go, etc.

    If 5 of 6 development staff have left, I would be very worried. It might mean that it wouldn’t impact you until 1-3 years from now, it might mean that your opportunities for raises might slow down, it might mean that in 9 months a new department will be hired and everything will be ok, or worse. But the OP’s organization was either hiring needless development staff and was too poorly run to realize they didn’t need 6 people, or at best they’re treading water.

    If the organization recently got a long term government contract or a massive legacy gift, then that may warrant having a skeleton staff for a period of time. But unlike AAM, I would be really concerned. And if I was being left alone in that development department, my resume would be circulating heavily right now.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I didn’t mean to imply I wouldn’t be concerned. But I think there are a few different scenarios that could be going on, and the OP needs to figure out which it is.

    2. Observer*

      I would be concerned, but I think you have an overly narrow view of how an organization might work. For instance, in terms of reporting, that might not be part of the development department’s work – or it was and it isn’t anymore. Perhaps grant writing is being done by a combination of consultants and program staff and program staff and the ED / Board are keeping key relationships alive and even flourishing.

      The point is not that everything is great at this organization, but that it’s hard to know what the real situation is. For the OP to really know how concerned to be he (she) needs to get a better sense of where the money comes from and how it’s being generated and reported on.

  22. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    #1 – many companies have a “no firearms on the premises” rule. It is NOT an unreasonable question to ask.

  23. C Average*

    What I want to know is, if you have a degree in the Dark Arts and you do not list it on your resume or otherwise disclose it to a prospective employer, could they consider your magic skills a concealed weapon?

    Asking for a friend.

  24. Juni*

    OP3 – it depends on the sources of funding. If you’re mostly covered by government/public grants, it’s not going to be too bad in the short term. But long-term, yes, it is a problem. It’s possible, though, that your CEO is outsourcing development to a consultant that you’re just not seeing. That’s really common. It’s not super crazy to just ask your supervisor, “If we only have one person in our development department, how are we raising money to keep the lights on? Is this something I need to be concerned about?” You might even ask if the openings are currently hiring at all, since you know someone who is looking. They might say no – the positions are on hold, they’re using a consulting firm, they’re reconsidering the structure of the department, etc. – some other reason for why the department is empty.

  25. Elizabeth West*

    Re contacting your current employer:
    If some employers weren’t so unreasonable about people looking (or just unreasonable to begin with, thus causing people to look), this might not be a problem. But you can’t fix that stuff. And as AAM has pointed out many times, it’s not illegal to be a jerk, so we can’t make that a law or anything.

    This is one reason at-will employment isn’t altogether bad. Yes, employers are free to ditch us at any time, but we’re also free to leave without being bound like indentured servants (if financially feasible).

      1. Jen RO*

        Yeah, I don’t really understand the argument! Here the standard notice period is one month (20 working days) regardless whether it’s you being fired or you quitting.

  26. Train Wreck*

    #3 – What is it with Development? I’ve been working in the non-profit world for a long time now and have encountered many Development departments that are absolute train wrecks, including at large universities. I’ve seen a few orgs raise money even with a skinny staff. Some non-profits are able to attract donors based on their mission alone. Of course it always helps to have someone do the cultivation, but maybe your org is one in which there is a steady stream of contributions from a loyal base, and maybe it’s just enough to survive for now?

    1. Juni*

      If someone definitively could answer the question “What is it with Development?!?” he or she would be a millionaire.


  27. Student*

    #1 – If you are in the US, then it would be best to realize you can’t escape nor control the US gun culture except within your own personal residence. If you have very strong feelings on the matter to the point where you’re making career choices on this, I would honestly advise you to go to another country with a different type of gun culture. I’ve heard Canada is actually similar to the US on guns, but much of Europe has an extremely different cultural and legal view on guns more in line with your expressed preferences.

    It is a deeply embedded part of our culture, whether you like that or not. We go through phases or regulations, but over most of the country you’re not going to find an employer who will actually have no guns on the premises; most places with an explicit gun policy have a security force with guns, and the point of the policy is to keep cube-farm yahoos from getting shot by your own security forces.

    Legally, you absolutely CAN bar people from having guns at your business in every state. Specifically, most state capitols, all prisons, courtrooms, and several pieces of key infrastructure have rules against bringing weapons in. The hoops you have to jump through vary by state, so consult a lawyer if you want to do so.

    1. Jennifer*

      In the US, it really depends on what state you live in. If you are in a gun-friendly, gun-popular state, yeah, you should consider moving. But other states may have more restrictive gun laws on concealed carry, etc. and it may not be so cool and froody to be carrying every day.

      When a friend of mine moved to Arizona, the whole family REALLY embraced gun culture and yes, now her husband has a gun on him every day at work. I was all, since when do you have a lifestyle where you need to be armed at all times?* Well, he’s paranoid after getting mugged when they lived in SoCal, and I gather there’s a lot more drug crime going on in Arizona. But Arizona in general is very gun-friendly, and they were telling me about restaurants that would go out of business if they banned guns in them. Hoo boy.

      * The one person I know in my state who carries is a corrections officer and says he runs into a lot of former ah, clients at the mall.

      1. Anna*

        I was actually more worried AFTER the shooting that took place at a mall outside Portland. People were jumpy and I knew there were more people walking around with their weapons than there had been before so I was more concerned that someone would react badly to something.

      2. Student*

        The only cities with major, significant gun restrictions had them struck down by the Supreme Court.

        People who care strongly about being around guns generally don’t care about the concealed-carry thing, so that’s a bit of a red herring. They care about being shot. I assure you, last time I was held at gunpoint I did not give one thought as to whether the guy on the other end of the gun had a concealed carry permit.

      3. Zillah*

        And what city, too. This country is a very large and diverse place, and I think it’s generally good to avoid making categorical statements on the magnitude that Student did. I’m in NYC, and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a regular civilian here openly carrying a gun, nor have I known many people who talked about owning or carrying guns (concealed or openly).

        1. Student*

          In NYC, there are 3 to 4 recorded shootings every single day, on average. Just because the regular civilians you walk by are kind enough not to point their guns at you doesn’t mean they don’t own them.

          You also seem to draw some bizarre distinction between so-called “civilians” and authority figures with guns. I am sure you pass by cops on a daily basis if you live and work in a “nice” part of NYC. They’re all armed. Frankly, I won’t feel any better if a cop shoots me than if a “civilian” does. Did you know in some countries, cops don’t regularly carry guns? British cops don’t. You’re so deeply immersed in US gun culture and gun norms that you don’t even consider those to be guns.

          1. doreen*

            It’s not a bizarre distinction. Zillah has never seen a civilian openly carrying a gun, which is a common sight in some parts of the US but not in NYC. It is uncommon to see anyone not in uniform openly carrying a gun in NYC – open carry is not legal in NY C (or most of NYS) so that people who can legally carry firearms do so concealed – and of course so do those who illegally carry them. But you wouldn’t necessarily know if someone is carrying concealed- somehow, no one ever notices I am, even those who should. Carry permits are extremely difficult to obtain in NYC, so most NYC residents don’t know anyone who owns or talks about owning guns. Oh, and the apparently very restrictive gun laws in NYC and NYS have not been struck down by the Supreme Court. The US is a very diverse place, and you shouldn’t assume one city/state is anything like another.

          2. Zillah*

            Okay, so I really don’t know how to respond to this post. You’re being both condescending and really insistent that everywhere in the United States is exactly the same when it comes to gun culture. I find that strange, given that the country is totally united on just about nothing.

            You told another poster that if they were uncomfortable with gun culture, they should leave the country. I disagree, because this country is not a monolith, and my experience with guns is not what others have described in this thread.

            I get the impression that you aren’t really familiar with New York City. I’d like to see a source, but 3-4 shootings a day is one shooting for every 2.5 million people – so I’m not sure why you’re presenting it as some sort of evidence that a lot of people own guns. And no – I do not walk by cops on a daily basis, and I have no idea why you think it’s a given that I do or that I would be more likely to if they live in “nice” neighborhoods. (What does “nice” even mean here??)

            1. Rainy*

              Well, New York reports it has about six million gun owners so…I’d say there are probably a lot of guns there?

              But I agree. If the OP is SO uncomfortable with firearms she can’t be in a building with them, she might want to find a new country. That pesky 2nd Amendment ensures that, even in the most anti-gun states, there will still be firearms present in some form or another.

              And when someone says “oh, but police can have them, that’s fine with me”? Have you ever seen the marksmanship of most police officers? They re-qualify on their firearms maybe once, twice per year, and the thing never comes out of the holster otherwise (they might, but they aren’t required to). I’d trust the trained civilian that has a weekly practice session over most police.

  28. Bwmn*

    To speak in defense of development – usually it’s directly linked to “what is wrong with the board” and “what is wrong with the executive director/CEO”.

    But beyond pointing the finger elsewhere, I think it’s largely because I think there aren’t a lot of ‘natural fundraisers’ out there. Basically people end up in development on accident and a bit passive aggressive towards their job. If I had a nickel for every development person I’ve met who’s said their next job won’t be in development….

    1. I live to serve*

      or they are not filling the positions in the hopes that the 1 left would quit. A very passive/ aggressive bizarre restructuring technique that I personal witness.

  29. Tinker*

    #1 —

    I think “what is your policy on weapons?” might, on a practical level, constitute the turbo-powered version of extensive questioning about the vacation policy in the “interview questions that paint an awkward picture of your priorities” domain. Not to say you can’t ask, if it’s important enough to you to get a favorable answer, but it’s the sort of question that might have a downside.

    1. Anna*

      Yeah, I think you’re right. It feels like an out-of-the-blue sort of question. It would be just as weird for an interviewer to ask what my position was on concealed carry weapons if my job had nothing to do with concealed carry weapons. I would be put off.

  30. AnonyMostly*

    I’m pretty sure there’s a gun packing mom when dropping of her little one at school. We do home visits, that’s when I first noticed the gun when she got up to go retrieve a picture the daughter had made. So she was home, fine. I grew up in the south in an open carry state and remembering guys walking around with them like it was an accessory. So anyway a couple days later as she walked away after drop off, I noticed her shirt kind of distorted in the back–and sure enough there it was. She does enter the building from time to time. After research of my state law, she would need permission from the school to carry while on the property…and it seems like there is is some of nonsense in the law about carry unloaded if traversing school property to access a hunting grounds near by . Yeah, one of the schools in my district has a hunting ground like right behind the school. So it must be pretty common. Also, if I noticed I’m sure other parents outside during drop off may have noticed too… but no big drama has been stirred up. I’ll assume she has permission.

  31. Amber*

    Thank you for answering my question regarding if a potential employer would contact your current employer without asking you. Very helpful!! :)

  32. Sarah*

    OP #3 – I would be concerned for a few reasons: 1) You need staff to be able to cultivate and steward donors (individuals, foundations, corporations). Someone needs to process thank you notes, make visits, plan events, enter data/donations, etc. 2) While the typical tenure of a development officer is 18-24 months, it is not a good sign that five people resigned in what is seemingly a short time. There are probably issues that caused these people to resign (i.e. CEO issues, lack of board support, difference in fundraising philosophy). 3) Having six people in a development department is pretty large (in one organization that I worked for, we had about that amount and a $10M budget). Unless there were strategic reductions in programming, I cannot imagine one person being able to manage raising all of that money.

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