8 things that will make you look like a weirdo to hiring managers

Getting a job isn’t just about having strong qualifications. It’s also about being someone who hiring managers want to hire and work with every day. That means that they’re paying attention to how you operate and whether you understand business norms at every stage of the hiring process, from the very first contact. And there are some things that some job candidates do that function as flashing neon signs of weirdness to employers. Here are seven of them.

1. Sending flowers, candy, or other gifts to the hiring manager. Some candidates still think this is a good way to stand out, but there’s probably no faster way to make a hiring manager uncomfortable. If you’re not qualified for the job, sending a gift isn’t going to change that. And if you arequalified for the job, you’ve now made the interviewer uncomfortable by implying that you think your qualifications aren’t enough on their own, but that she might be swayed by some chocolate. It’s tacky and ineffective.

2. Showing up without an appointment and asking to meet with the hiring manager. There’s a very small number of fields where this can be normal, but in the vast, vast majority of professional fields, it’s just not done. Most hiring managers are busy. They set aside specific blocks of time for interviews – the ones who they’ve decided they want to speak with. If you show up without an invitation, you look like you’re either trying to circumvent that process or don’t understand business norms.

3. Including a line in your cover letter warning employers not to contact you unless they can meet specific conditions. Some candidates think that they’ll save themselves time or show employers that they’re serious if they include a sentence in their cover letter like, “Please do not contact me unless you are serious about hiring a driven, results-oriented sales director.” Or “Please do not contact me unless you can pay a competitive salary and benefits.” Those are reasonable things to want – but statements like those don’t just ward off employers you won’t like; they’ll ward off everyone else too. It’s just too negative and accusatory.

4. Applying for jobs from an email account that you share with your spouse. If you want to share an email account with your spouse in your personal life, that’s your call. But for your professional life, you need your own. Employers don’t want to feel like they’re corresponding with two people when they write back to you; they want to speak only with you. And email accounts are free, after all.

5 .Offering to work for free. Sometimes job candidates will offer to work for a week or a month for free, in order to prove themselves. This is a bad idea for two reasons: First, it’s illegal. Minimum wage laws require employers to pay people who do work for them (with some exceptions to this, like nonprofits). Second, bringing on new employees takes an enormous amount of time and energy for training, among other things, and the first weeks are usually a loss for the employer, because they’re investing time in getting you up to speed. Most don’t want to make that kind of investment in anyone other than the best candidate (who they expect to pay).

6. Reading your answers word for word from notes during an interview. Notes are good, and it’s great to bring notes to a job interview. But they’re just there to jog your memory, not to give you a script to read. Reading prepared answers makes it look like you can’t think on your feet – and for all we know, someone else may have written those answers for you. Interviews need to be a real conversation, not a rigidly rehearsed performance.

7. Including a photo with your resume. While there are some countries outside the U.S. where it’s normal and even expected to send a photo when applying for a job, it’s very much not the business convention here, and you’ll look out of touch with business norms if you include one. After all, unless you’re applying for a job as a model or an actor, your photo has no relevance to your ability to do the job.

8. Saying you’ll do “anything it takes” to get the job.Good employers don’t want you to do that. They don’t want you to want to do that. Remember: An employer isn’t doing you a favor by interviewing or hiring you. You’re having a conversation to try to figure out whether you’d each like to embark upon a business relationship, one that you’d both benefit from. Plus, employers (and other people) respect people who respect themselves. Signal that you’re worthy of their respect.

I originally published this at U.S. News & World Report.

{ 347 comments… read them below }

  1. Nom d' Pixel*

    This a good list, but I would like to add, don’t stalk your interviewer. I have interviewed people who have not only looked me up on LinkedIn (which is to be expected), but they have looked up my dissertation to see who was on my committee and play six degrees of separation, or have memorized my publications and the number of times they have been referenced. It is creepy. Research the company, don’t stalk the interviewer.

    1. Noah*

      Agreed, I’ve interviewed a few people who did so much research it crossed the line into creeping me out a bit. The latest one was a candidate asking about the kids hockey team I coach. It would’ve been okay if it came up organically in conversation but the whole interview was just this series of random things about me the guy found online. If you want to cyber-stalk your interviewer, that is certainly your choice, but at least learn to use the information in a way that doesn’t show you are a weirdo.

      1. Nom d' Pixel*

        Yeah, there is a difference between looking at the pictures on your desk and asking if your kid plays soccer vs bringing up that you have been digging into someone’s information.

    2. Artemesia*

      Especially in academia, but anywhere where people are known authors or leaders, it is important to read up on them. I would never interview with academics for a research or faculty position without having read their work or apply for a job with a business where the CEO is known for publishing. Heck would anyone apply to work for Alison without having reviewed her management book or this site?

      So yeah — no random highly personal stuff, but definitely do background research on the people you will meet if you can.

      1. cardiganed librarian*

        Heh, I’ve done at least that much research on guys I’ve dated (including the six degrees of dissertation committee separation!). Which is super awkward because you really can’t bring it up in that context.

        1. the gold digger*

          “I see you own a rental house on Main Street. I drove past it and it really needs some work. Are you strapped for cash or do you just not invest in long-term relationships?”

          1. Charityb*

            Hmm, creepy, overly personal, incredibly invasive with an undercurrent of snark and menace… I love it!

      2. Stephanie*

        I think that’s different because that’s publicly available stuff that’s relevant to interview prep. I could see reading Professor Smith’s papers so you get an idea of his research and don’t talk about your interest in teapot glazing when he’s the teapot heating expert.

        But yeah, bringing up someone’s youth soccer coaching hobby is kind of weird.

      3. ModernHypatia*

        My dividing line is ‘is this stuff mentioned in a professional bio/profile/etc.” – someone links to a blog from their department profile/LinkedIn profile/whatever – fair game for mentioning.

        Googling and finding someone I’m pretty sure is them, not fair game for mentioning in a noticeable way (but possibly fair game for working in some minor casual references or related topics.)

        I also go for ‘read the stuff that is readily available to me, but don’t spend more than really trivial money tracking down things someone has written’, which is partly a factor of how much advance notice you get for the interview.

    3. JC*

      I would amend this to say: if you’re going to stalk your interviewer, don’t mention it in the interview in a way that sounds creepy. Mentioning something about the interviewer’s children=creepy. Mentioning where the interviewer went to college, unless it’s also where you went to college=creepy. Randomly mentioning a laundry list of places where the interviewer used to work that you read on LinkedIn even though it has no relevance to the conversation at hand=creepy.

      I don’t think interviewers should be creeped out by seeing an interviewee looked at their LinkedIn profile, though. If anything, it would be silly for an interviewee to NOT do that if they know your name in advance. When it becomes weird is when they start rattling back to you the information they found, as if they should get a prize for knowing how to google. And when they bring up your personal life.

      1. Nom d' Pixel*

        That sums it up really well. I expect people to check LinkedIn, but I keep anything personal about me online fairly locked down. I am not in academia and haven’t published in almost 15 years, so I assume that my publications are not relevant to modern science. I have interviewed a couple people who looked into old papers, memorized how many times each of them has been referenced, and tried to find connections to any coauthors, some of whom I don’t even remember.

        First of all, that stuff is creepy, and I am glad I am not on FB or any place else where you could dig through everything. Second, the work I did as a post-doc is not relevant to your interview.

    4. INTP*

      I’m guilty of doing this to some extent – googling someone to get an idea of them, and then clicking on everything that seems interesting, and before long you know a lot of information that seems creepy to know. The difference, I think, is that I would never TELL the person that I knew that stuff – I would try to block most of it out of my mind to answer more naturally rather than act like it’s something that will help me get the job. And I certainly wouldn’t start memorizing random data points regarding the person.

      1. Long Time Reader First Time Poster*

        I’ve been guilty of gathering that info and then using it to my advantage. Like, I once saw that someone was an avid runner, so I dropped somewhere into my interview the line “You know, I was actually thinking about that on my run this morning.” Which wasn’t a lie or anything — I *did* go on a run that morning and I *did* think my interview answers during the run.

        Cheesy, maybe. Possibly even slimy. But it’s a proven fact that people like people that are like them. I’m not above using info I have in my pocket to my advantage.

        I got the job, for what it’s worth.

        1. Charityb*

          I think that’s a lot better than the vaguely mafia/style veiled threats that some people inadvertently get into with sly references to the interviewer’s home, spouse, kids, etc.

  2. Turanga Leela*

    Along with not showing up at the office, please don’t call the office and tell the employees all about yourself. We get a few (thankfully, not many) applicants who call, ask for me, and then launch into monologues about their qualifications. Sometimes they conclude with a question, but it’s usually vague or inappropriate for that stage (more “What is a typical day like at your organization?” than “Which office is this position based in?”).

    We’re in a small market, so I want to be polite to these callers, but it’s sometimes more than five minutes before I can nicely say, “I’m in the middle of something at the moment, but send in an application and we’ll be in touch.”

  3. Amber Rose*

    I see desperation a lot. Dude came in and handed me a resume and said he’d take any job, and could we please call him as soon as anything came available.

    I get times are tough but you still need to keep some composure.

    1. Mallory Janis Ian*

      I once had a candidate’s wife call me regarding his application for a tenure-track position. This was back in 2008 or 2009 when the bottom was falling out of the architecture profession, and many architects were looking to academia as a alternate career path. She started off asking me about the expected timeline, which was fine. But then she got all emotional and accusatory, as if we were stringing her husband along on purpose; then she wanted to make a pitch about his qualifications and why we should hurry up our process and make him an offer already. I was the departmental admin. My role was simply to compile the applications for the committee, not to make any decisions regarding any particular candidate. I did feel sorry for the position they were in, and I understood the desperate emotional impulse that led his wife to call, but — no. just no.

  4. The Other Dawn*

    Great list. I’d also add, be able to articulate your answers and hopefully sound as though you can string two sentences together. I guess this would fall under “be prepared.”

    I interviewed someone recently and she just came across as so ditzy and as though she had no command of the English language (it’s her first language). Seemed like she was just winging it. It was as though she was talking to her friends and not a hiring manager.

  5. AE*

    I get queasy seeing “Married with three children” or some reference to marriage. What does that mean? That they are bigoted against gays and single people? That they hope we are bigoted against them? Or does it mean the person is clueless and hopelessly old-fashioned?

    Unless the job is for a marriage counselor, I don’t see the reason for it.

    1. TheLazyB (UK)*

      I would guess the clueless one. They think employers will think they are steady and responsible. Which….. no.

      Even for marriage guidance. You shouldn’t be disclosing your marital status. It’s not relevant to your ability to support people.

    2. Nashira*

      One doesn’t need to have been in a relationship in order to provide quality relationship counseling. That’s like saying one must have kids to be a child psychologist – they aren’t the same skill sets at all.

      Agreed that marriage being listed on a resume is weird weird weird though. It just has no relevance that I can imagine…

    3. SMT*

      I remember seeing ‘married with three children’ on my Dad’s resume once – maybe it was a thing to include Back in the Day?

      1. grasshopper*

        Yeah, I think that it was supposed to be some indicator of stability or being the kind of employee who would be a nose-to-the-grindstone lifer because they are fulfilling the American Dream of kids, white picket fence and a 30 year career in the same job. Or perhaps because they are somehow more entitled to a job because they are supporting family members?

        I think it is just old-fashioned and clueless.

        1. Allison*

          Probably this. Sure, back in the 50’s and 60’s they definitely gave preference to “family men” when it came to hiring and promotions because they were breadwinners and thus needed the money more than women (who were *clearly* just in it for “pin money”) and single men who had no one to support.

          Or maybe some people just feel the need to paint the whole picture for hiring managers, under the impression that appearing “more human” instead of some faceless application will increase their chances of getting an interview.

          1. Stranger than fiction*

            You know I’ve actually seen this happen to my BF a couple jobs ago. He found out the married with kids coworkers made way more than childless single him and was even passed up for promotion by married with kid but way less qualified coworker.

            1. Ineloquent*

              Isn’t familial status one of those things that is actually illegal to discriminate against? Or is that just in housing?

              1. Hotstreak*

                It’s extremely common for companies to offer different benefits packages for married vs. single employees, unfortunately.

      2. Kelly L.*

        Yep. My dad did this too. I remember him sending out resumes in the 80s with his marital status and number of kids. I think it was outdated even then–he was probably carrying over something he’d learned in the 60s or 70s–but yeah, I think he was trying to prove he was either a good family man or needed the job because he had kids to support. His height and weight were on it too!

        1. Sara*

          I lived outside the U.S. for a couple of years, and one of the resume norms in that country (it might be regional, I’m not sure) was to include, in addition to height and weight, one’s “overall health status.” I never saw anyone list their health as anything but “excellent” – and I reviewed a lot of resumes in my job! I always wondered whether this was an accurate representation of the candidate’s health, or the thing you were supposed to put down regardless, or an attempt to circumvent potential health-related discrimination, or what.

          1. Sara*

            Oh, it was also considered normal to list your religion on your CV (even though just about everyone in the country identifies as Christian), and if you applied for a job (or high school, college, etc.) without a letter from your priest/pastor attesting to your Christian values, you probably weren’t going to get very far.

            1. OhNo*

              How bizarre! I can’t even imagine requesting, let alone reading, a letter from a priest about a candidate I wanted to hire. Were these letters pretty much rote language (X is one of my parishioners, definitely Christian, goes to church every Sunday), or did they go into specifics (X goes to the midnight mass on Christmas and donates to charity Y and always helps with our clothing drive)?

              1. Sara*

                The language was usually pretty rote; they’d state how long the person had been a member of their congregation, note that the family was well known among the congregation, and would always include the line “Wakeen has good Christian values.” It was like every pastor got a set of guidelines on writing references, and that was one of the bullet points. I only ever saw one that went into specifics that might have actually been relevant to a job search, which was a reference for a woman who supervised (on a volunteer basis) the afternoon soup kitchen at one church. With everyone else who was coming in with these pastoral references, I was all, “I get that this is the way things are done here…but also, why? Why?”

            2. I'm a Little Teapot*

              Wow, gross on both counts. What were you expected to do if you weren’t Christian or had chronic health problems – starve? (Though in the case of the latter, it’s not too different in practice here in the US unless you have highly valued skills…)

              1. Sara*

                In multiple years there, I only ever met three people (who were all related) who didn’t identify as Christian; they were self-employed business owners but I have no idea what it would have been like if that weren’t the case. Religious discrimination in general is pretty passive there (less “If you subscribe to a different religion, get out!” and more “You’re not Christian? That’s so strange. Have you thought of becoming Christian? Cause it’s pretty great. We have heaven and stuff.”), but I have no doubt that it would be a very challenging society to navigate if one was an outsider in that way.

                The health thing is just very complicated. Although there are robust anti-discrimination laws on the books with respect to health conditions, there is a lot of social stigma surrounding major chronic illnesses, and that certainly drives people to either lie about their health for employment purposes or to opt out of the formal economy all together.

    4. TNTT*

      It’s common in other countries to list things like this. It could just be that someone picked up a resume template that wasn’t US specific, or that they themselves aren’t originally from here.

      1. Kate*

        This. There are a number of countries where this is standard. They may not realize that conventions are different in the US

    5. Turanga Leela*

      I see this occasionally in professional bios and speaker introductions, and it’s not weird in that context. Definitely not normal on a resume, but I’d vote for clueless and old-fashioned rather than any of the other options.

    6. Artemesia*

      It was pretty common 35 years ago for this to be on resumes or at least I often saw it. I remember interviewing John Jones who listed his wife of 20 years Sally Smith and their 5 kids, John Jr., Elizabeth, Larold, Wakeen and Brindle. I later addressed something to John Jones and Sally Smith after he had been hired — some social thing — and he was offended because of course his wife was Mrs. John Jones. Smith was her maiden name. No idea what all that was about.

    7. Nom d' Pixel*

      I lump those people in with the ones who include head shots. I see them as clueless about how to put together a resume.

    8. Squirrel*

      Depending on the state, gay people can get married, so it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re married to a member of the other sex (although I’m assuming that isn’t true of your state). I don’t think it’s fair to assume that because a person mentions marriage that they dislike/hate gay people and/or single people. That’s a pretty farfetched inference to make about something like that. It’s definitely an out of touch thing to do regarding a resume or cover letter, but I think it’s slightly pessimistic to think the worst possible thing about someone simply because they mention they’re married.

        1. Squirrel*

          Well I used that wording because I know a ton of states are trying to fight that, so I was being a little forgiving of the language. I appreciate it being pointed out in case others aren’t aware, but no need for 10 more people to comment on that instead of actually reading what I wrote, please. :)

      1. Clever Name*

        Since SCOTUS issued a recent ruling, the right to marry has been extended to everyone. :D

    9. INTP*

      In my experience that means that they are from a country where that information is often on resumes and have not yet acclimated to American business culture norms. They might also still be in that country, using an acquaintance’s address to conceal this.

    10. AE*

      I’ve seen it in Americans with long work histories that included hiring other people. They really should have known better!

    11. FurnitureLady*

      Ugh – this. I once got a resume that had the following under the “accomplishments” section: “Father of the Year 1994-present, awarded annually by the children of the Lannister family”. Sorry – it’s not cute, it’s odd and I binned the resume.

  6. Bend & Snap*

    Don’t try to scam your way into a phone call. I had one woman who would call incessantly and get the receptionists to hunt me down by saying she was returning my call. People are going to notice if you’re trying to game the system.

    1. NickelandDime*

      And not only are you going to make someone mad, it’s a huge time suck. People complain about the time it takes to fill out applications and work on resumes and cover letters, but they don’t see games like this as a huge waste of time.

    2. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

      Seriously. I once was pulled out of a meeting to take an applicants call because they told our receptionist (never mind that we had *direct* lines with voicemail) that I had said it was urgent when I requested a call back!

      Not only was I unhappy but the candidate wasted the receptionists time and the time of everyone in the meeting who had to wait for me to take the phone call.

    3. INTP*

      We had a guy that used to do that! He would use different names to get forwarded to us after we started ignoring his calls. The receptionist would intercom us like “Roberto is on the phone again, but now his name is Robbie.” I actually had zero candidate contact in that position, but he called and asked for me after noticing that I had looked at his LinkedIn profile (I sourced candidates for recruiters to call) and started asking me about different things on my profile. Creep.

  7. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

    I want to print this, highlight #2, and then hand it to every person who tries to give me job searching advice.

    I’ll never forget job searching post-college, my mother did not seem to understand that people wanted resumes submitted electronically and showing up at an office didn’t show initiative, it just annoyed people.

    1. Audiophile*

      My mom hinted that she was going to shut off the internet, because “no one’s reading that, it’s just going into a black hole somewhere.” She said I really need to call places unsolicited and stop waiting for it to appear online, as I was missing out on opportunities.

      1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

        Yes! My mom told me I needed to spend at least two hours a day calling companies.

        I told her is I was going to just spending hours a day randomly cold calling companies that I should just get a job in telemarketing!

    2. Retail Lifer*

      This is the advice EVERYONE’S parents give them. Times have changed, mom. There’s this thing called the internet now…

      1. MashaKasha*

        Has this ever worked since “How To Win Friends And Influence People” (plus maybe 10-15 years after that book came out)?

      2. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

        Finally I had to show her the ridiculousness of online application systems…

        Why yes, I am typing the exact same information from my resume…

    3. PhoenixBurn*

      Sadly, showing up at the office if I haven’t called you for an interview is the quickest way to get to the bottom of my pile. If you’re a good candidate, I may still call you in, but it will be the last application I call…

  8. grasshopper*

    Email accounts are free. I don’t understand why people don’t just get a free account with a professional version of their name. I’ve seen candidate email addresses containing “naughty”, “69”, and “badmuthaf**” come across my desk.

    1. Sascha*

      I’ve done resume editing for friends, and some of them will have unprofessional emails, so I tell them to get a new, and they are so resistant!! Like I’m killing a part of their soul just to request a more professional email address. I’m not saying they have to give up mikesbabykitten49*, just use something else for job searching…

      *An actual email address.

      1. Kelly L.*

        I got a new one for job searching, and mine wasn’t even rude–just an obscure fantasy reference that sounded nothing like my name. Figured it would be confusing.

        1. Tau*

          Heck, I got a new e-mail address for job-searching and I already had a perfectly reasonable and professional e-mail address with my full name! I wanted that separation between private and professional.

          1. Sascha*

            I open a new email address when I buy cars, then delete it when I’m done, so I won’t be harassed by dealerships for months after.

        2. Rye-Ann*

          Yeah, my personal e-mail is not inappropriate but just seems kind of random unless I explain it (and even then it really is pretty random) so I made a new one. Plus, my personal one gets loads of spam, so I thought it would be good to start fresh.

      2. MashaKasha*

        Baby kitten will still need a new one if Mike decides to move on. Might as well be proactive!

      3. Melissa*

        I’ll never understand this. I have a personal email and a professional email, not because my personal one is somehow unprofessional per se, but it’s personal and my employer doesn’t need a window into that part of my life right from the get go!

    2. Kelly L.*

      Oh, and if you know job calls will be coming in, try to sound vaguely like an adult when you answer mystery calls. Or at least let them go to voicemail. I don’t mean you have to say a formal “Wakeen Smith’s phone, how may I help you” or anything like that. “Hello” is fine. But don’t answer it with an exasperated “WHAAAT?!?!?” Yes, this actually happened. Best I can figure, she had been arguing with someone else and thought I was them again, without noting the number.

      1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

        But…make sure your voicemail is not obnoxious…

        I got so sick of ring back tones when I was a hiring manager…remember, not everyone shares your taste in music.

        1. PhoenixBurn*

          This! And let’s not even touch the ones that were just…profane. Or vulgar. Or…or…

          1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

            I listen to a wide variety of music, but yes there were some songs that all I could think was, “what happens when your mother calls you?!?!”

    3. NJ Anon*

      And their voice mail recording! I have heard some doozies! Could you put something a little more normal sounding on until you find a job?

        1. Beancounter in Texas*

          I use YouMail, which is free caller ID based voice mail. So hubby still gets the “sorry sweetie, send me a text please” greeting, my sister gets a brief Charlie the Unicorn skit that leaves her laughing and any phone number I do not have programmed into my address book gets the plain, professional voicemail greeting.

          It’s also useful if you don’t want your ex to leave yet another vulgar message by giving him/her the ditch greeting of your choice and then IT HANGS UP. Your ex can’t leave a message! Also useful for ex-coworkers who won’t take a hint that I will not give them a reference. I highly recommend it.

      1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

        I once called someone who did the joke, “Hello…Hello?…Hello?” like you had a bad connection.

        I didn’t leave a good impression.

    4. Stranger than fiction*

      That’s what I wanted to add about number 4! Please no kooky unprofessional or just plain long and hard to type emails please.

      1. Bostonian*

        I hope you make exceptions for those of us whose email addresses are versions of our long and hard to type names.

        1. Beancounter in Texas*

          I think clever email addresses are acceptable then. A colleague of mine used “engineer who writes”, which I remembered easily and I didn’t find super unprofessional.

    5. Ad Astra*

      What are the reasons couples give to maintain a single email address in 2015? I don’t see how it can be anything other than a complete misunderstanding of Internet norms or a real lack of trust. Am I missing something?

      1. OhNo*

        I could see it being beneficial for joint things that would require an email address. Log ins for joint bank accounts, or bills that are paid jointly, or something like that. But like you said, I can’t imagine a good reason for it to be the couples’ ONLY email account.

        Whenever I’ve heard of this happening for real, it’s always been about “trust”. Same for joint facebook accounts, actually.

        1. OfficePrincess*

          I mentioned below that my parents have one. When they first set it up, my stepfather was computer illiterate and wasn’t interested, and then they just kept it that way. Neither used it professionally – both worked for the same places for 20+ years before retiring, and now it’s mostly family social chatter.

          1. Ad Astra*

            Yeah, when I receive an email from “Jim and Nancy Smith,” I assume I’m communicating with someone who’s either new to the Internet (less likely in 2015 but still possible) or old enough to be retired. I have seen couples in their 30’s who have joint Facebook profiles and it’s so puzzling.

            1. Lindsay J*

              My friend in her 20s has a joint Facebook account with her fiancé. However, in their case it’s really her facebook – he has no interest in maintaining one whatsoever. She just has his name on it so people can tag him in pictures and statuses, and because he might read her friend’s posts over her shoulder on occasion.

        2. Panda Bandit*

          I think I’ve seen the trust excuse in action. A relative of mine who abuses her husband also has a shared email address with him :/

      2. Bostonian*

        My parents have a joint email account (they have the same first initial, though, and the account comes up as first initial lastname, so some people might not notice). They got it a long, long time ago and haven’t changed ISPs, and they’ve never bothered to switch. A lot of their communication is about things that concern them both (messages from the kids) or is completely innocuous and it’s clear who the intended recipient is (church committee notices, online shopping receipts). They do each have separate, private webmail accounts, which I mainly use to communicate with them about Christmas gift ideas. My in-laws have a similar setup. None of the parties involved are particularly tech-ignorant.

        I see it most often with older couples – I think it’s not a lack of trust so much as having been together for long enough that there really just aren’t any secrets. And in these cases email is typically used for routine logistics and things, not heartfelt personal letters among friends.

        It’s similar to the switch from having a landline for the house to each person having a cell phone. I haven’t had a landline in years and anyone who wants to reach one member of my household calls that person directly, but my parents have shared a landline phone number for nearly four decades. My parents got email when it was more typically one account configured with an email client on one computer, pre-webmail, and multiple accounts on that one computer required extra setup. Those are the email habits they got into, and there hasn’t been any reason to shake things up.

        I really can’t get behind joint Facebook accounts, though. That just bugs me.

        1. manybellsdown*

          That’s why we have a joint address for just those specific things that need us both to access them. If I drop dead tomorrow I want my spouse to have access to the email account that the electric bill goes to!

          1. Bostonian*

            My spouse and I know each others’ email passwords. We generally will say “hey, can you forward X to me” when needed, but when that’s not feasible neither of us considers it a big violation of trust to just log in and search for it. When she forgot to send me her flight info but was already in the air, it was very useful to be able to log in and check what airline she was flying and which terminal I needed to pick her up at. We never had a conscious decision or big discussion about it, but it just kind of happened out of necessity as the logistics of our lives merged.

            For us it’s not a lack of trust – if anything, it’s a sign of trust that I give her the password and know that she will still respect my privacy by only using it when it’s important and not to keep tabs on the personal emails I send to my friends and family – but every relationship is different, and you can’t really tell what’s going on in someone else’s marriage from the outside.

            I think the “we share email because of trust issues” crowd sound young, immature, and drama-prone. The “we share email because our lives are really intertwined and it’s convenient” couples are generally low drama, in my experience.

            1. Eplawyer*

              The first thing I tell new clients is “change your password.” It’s not hacking if they access your account even after you split.

              And yes “momof4” does not convey the professional attitude you want in the workplace.

            2. Marcela*

              We don’t have passwords in our computers at home. This way we don’t even need passwords, which can be very an annoying business, since my husband uses LastPass to create horrid passwords, and I generate them myself and use only my brain to remember them. But yes, it’s great to be able to get some info such as a flight number, when they are not at home.

        2. Dr J*

          My parents have laptops, tablets, smartphones, etc, but their desktop is still THE computer and they have their joint email that goes into Outlook there. You’re right that it’s like the landline — it’s just how you contact “the house”.

        3. the gold digger*

          My husband’s dad asked Primo if his email was “secure.” Turns out he wanted to tell Primo that they were boycotting our wedding and they didn’t want Primo to marry me.

          My questions were

          1. Even if Primo has his own email (which he did and he does), did they really think he would not share this information with me, even if it arrived to his email address?
          2. Even if Primo had gotten the email from his mom and dad telling him that they planned to boycott the wedding and even if Primo had not shared that information with me, did they think I wouldn’t notice that they were not there?

        4. Lindsay J*

          My parents have a home joint email account. They’ve had the same ISP since 2000 or so (perhaps earlier than that) and still use the email address with the cheesy screenname I came up with when I was in middle school.

          Most communication to them is either bills which they both know about and pay jointly, or emails from family, etc.

          My mom uses a separate email for things she doesn’t want my dad to see (private “girl talk” emails, planning Christmas presents, etc).

      3. KJR*

        I’ve seen a few couples who share a Facebook page. I find it confusing…who’s commenting/posting, him or her??

      4. Squirrel*

        The most common reason I have seen mentioned is that it is a religious thing–specifically Christianity–in that Facebook or private email accounts are possible tempations (mostly for men) to have illicit affairs or secret pornography habits or something along those lines. The thought is that having a shared [whatever] account will keep the husband from straying as his wife will be able to have equal access to the account and see anything that might happen with/to it. Otherwise, as far as older couples go, Bostonian nailed it on the head.

        1. Dr J*

          “it is a religious thing–specifically Christianity”

          To be a little more specific, it may be advice that is commonly given in some Christian circles (not in mine) by some prominent Christians. I know plenty of married church-going Christian couples and it’s not a thing among them.

          I am constantly having to reset passwords and if the reset went into my partner’s account I would have to be able to get in there. I actually understand having a joint account because I tend the other way; I wouldn’t want to feel like he can’t have his own space so I would feel a little awkward logging in to his account. Plus, I’ve had to deal with a customer service inbox serviced by multiple employees and the potential for messing things up makes me nervous, so I don’t really like having more than one person opening things. But yeah, there’s no excuse to use a joint account for things like job searching which are pretty much by definition one person’s business.

      5. Paisley*

        Sometimes it’s easier for scheduling. Many christian couples do it to help avoid temptation. One partner just can’t be bothered with technology so the other handles all electronic communication.

      6. davey1983*

        My wife and I use a joint email account for the church we both go to. We got sick and tired of people sending emails for me to her and vice-versa (and this is despite the fact that our separate emails have our names in them!).

        We both keep personal emails accounts that are separate.

      7. misplacedmidwesterner*

        My husband and I got a joint email account when we got engaged a few years ago. It was good for contracts with wedding vendors. Now we use it for bills, the amazon account, things related to the kid, etc. Basically stuff that both of us should see without having one of us have to forward it. But we don’t give that one out to anyone personal, it is all doctor’s offices, billing places, and preschool mailing lists. (Okay I guess some parents can get it from the preschool mailing list, but that’s fine.)

      8. doreen*

        Everything that’s been said already-
        -have had the joint email address since 1995 or so and back then, we could only get one email address from our internet provider.
        – lots of shared bank accounts, bills etc. It would be a real pain if I needed to reset the mortgage password and the email went to his account (if I didn’t have access to it)
        – lots of communication that is to either/both of us (invitations, family news etc). The kinds of things that would be addressed to both of us even in snail mail.

        and also- my husband never checks personal email. Even though we now each have a couple of accounts separate from the original one, I still end up checking his mail. ( he only gives out the ones I have set up on Thunderbird, never his iCloud address) Not because I’m nosy, but because he would rather have me check it for any non-spam than check himself. It’s so well-known that his friends say “hi” to me instead of him. Just because it doesn’t seem to be a shared address doesn’t mean the addressee is the only person who sees it.

      9. abby*

        My husband and I have one joint email address. It’s strictly for joint accounts and nothing else. We both have personal email addresses and work email addresses. Additionally, I have a job-searching email address and a junk mail email address. No lack of trust or misunderstanding of internet norms, just compartmentalizing things.

    6. manybellsdown*

      Seriously, I have like 4 gmail addresses, and the one I use for professional communication is the one that is the boring “ABCSmith@gmail.com” address.

      69 I’ll give a pass to if it looks like they were born or graduated in 1969. Otherwise, ew. Are they 12?

      Also my spouse and I do have a joint email address, only for things that we need to both easily have access to. Bills go to that address, the Amazon account goes there, all of our Google music library is on there.

      1. College Grad 69*

        My college assigned us school email addresses — and mine has 69 after my name! I am the only one in the family to have ever gone to this college, so it’s not like the number was needed. Even if a number was needed, it didn’t have to be THAT number.

        I tried to get the college to change it, but they wouldn’t. I’ve been embarrassed every time I’ve had to use it. (And, honestly, it’s kept me from donating to them.)

        1. Cordelia Naismith*

          That’s so weird that they wouldn’t change it. The university I work for also assigns email addresses to students — it’s their initials (first name, middle name, last name) plus a random number — so Jane Susan Smith would be jss12345@university.edu. Our university is huge, so the numbers really are necessary.

          However, students have the option to change their email address if they want! They can change it to anything that hasn’t already been taken. They don’t even have to go through IT to do it; they can do it themselves in the same system they use to register for classes. I don’t really get the logic behind not letting you change…or just thinking for a minute and not assigning number 69 in the first place!

        2. grasshopper*

          I’m willing to bet that if you contact the alumni fundraising department and tell them that you’d be willing to donate if your email address was changed, that it will get done at lightening speed!

  9. Phyllis Alexius*

    My question is about how to talk about getting let go (fired) on a job interview. I am seeking another job at the same institute, but in a different department. I worked for my college bookstore, but never communicated with my employer that I had a learning disability. That was my mistake. I should have let her know that I had trouble catching onto things. She took it as me being lazy and I really don’t blame her for firing me. We talked about my mistakes and I never shared my concerns. Now I have a opportunity to get a student assistant job in the same field as my degree. It has been a while last November when I was let go. What are your thoughts?

    Phyllis A

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Hi Phyllis, I keep the comments here on topic, but you’re welcome to email this to me as its own question or post it on the weekly open thread (Fridays)!

    2. AE*

      You are a student and you’re looking for a part time job? If you think your learning disability is something you’ve learned to work around better, then it’s a good story about willingness to change, learn, and adapt. I once supervised someone who was open about dyslexia in a position where accuracy is important. She didn’t make more mistakes than other people, but she had worked hard at it and had special tutoring in the public schools. I think her hard work on that really gave her character. She was a hard worker in general and very reliable.

  10. KT*

    Alison, can we do a post (like the craziest intern stories post or most unprofessional things you’ve done) about the stupidest things we’ve done while job searching? I’m sure we all have doozies with how much AWFUL job search advice is out there (“call every day! Show up unannounced and DEMAND to be seen!” “At the end of the interview, ask if you got the job!” “Send a kitschy gift!”)

    1. Nom d' Pixel*

      I have seen things like that come up on the Friday open thread. They can be pretty entertaining.

    2. Allison*

      Gives me another idea, Alison should do an article aimed at friends and family of jobseekers, telling them what advice they need to stop giving.

      . . . or does this already exist?

        1. Kelly L.*

          This is what really jumped out at me:

          “When a job-searcher has good news that she wants to share, you’ll hear it.”

          THIS THIS THIS!!! I finally had to tell my mom this, during my last job search. I was getting FB messages from her multiple times a day–“Did you hear from Place yet? How about OtherPlace?” It was making me feel doubly bad–I felt bad that I hadn’t found a job in the first place, and i felt bad every time I had to tell her.

          1. Artemesia*

            Slightly off here, but I will never forget my brother’s reaction when he told my parents that he had been accepted to Stanford Law School and their response was ‘have you heard from Harvard?’ He ended up going to Harvard business school but that first ‘you aren’t good enough’ response really bugged him forever.

          2. Ad Astra*

            While I was unemployed (for no more than six months, which included Thanksgiving and Christmas) my grandma would ask me “So have you found work yet?” every time she saw me. Then when I said no, she’d ask “Oh, but you’ve met with lots of companies, right?” Well, no. I don’t know why she thought it would be better to have a million interviews and no offer instead of a million applications and only one or two interviews. And why would she think I’d gotten a job and failed to mention it on Facebook, or to her directly, or to my parents?

            (Besides, none of the job listings in the area matched my skill set, so I was blindly applying for anything with the word “communications” in it. I applied for exactly one job that was a strong fit, and that’s the job I’m working now.)

          3. Intrepid Intern*

            YES THIS. I dread any social interaction now. I had an interview just last week, and already friends are onto “well what’ve you had since then?” Well, nothing. It’s been four days.

          4. Allison*

            Not necessarily, the last couple of times I started new jobs, I kept the news on the DL until I’d started and things seemed to be going okay. I would’ve felt like an idiot if I’d told everyone, and then gotten bad news right before my start date. I’d only tell people about a new job before the start date if the new job involved moving to a new city.

      1. Anon Accountant*

        Yes! “You are sitting in front of that computer and you DON’T WANT A JOB!!”. If you did you’d be out pounding that pavement, going through the phone book finding places to apply and you’d have a job”.

      1. Artemesia*

        You have to just go right up to the boss and ask him for a job.

        And once upon a time. Bob Woodward got his job at the Post by ‘working for free’ for a couple of weeks (they then rejected him but helped him get a job at a small regional paper) and then relentless hounding the managing editor till they finally hired him. Worked out all around for them. This sort of thing apparently worked once upon a time.

  11. Allison*

    Showing up without an appointment is only (sometimes) acceptable in food service and retail, and even then, they might tell you to go home and apply online as they don’t have paper applications to fill out (Borders did this when I worked there). Going in to follow up in person after you’ve applied can work, but don’t do it during a busy period or they’ll be annoyed.

    Also, don’t say you’ll “do anything” or you’ll “do whatever it takes.” Unless they’re hiring a janitor, they don’t care if you’re willing to scrub toilets. Unless they’re hiring an office manager or admin assistant, they don’t care if you’re willing to answer phones or get coffee. And don;t say you don’t know X, Y, or Z but you’re willing to learn anything. Willingness to learn is good but no one wants to have to train a new hire on every task they’re gonna do, when they can hire someone who already knows how to do it and just needs a day or two of basic orientation to hit the ground running.

    1. alter_ego*

      for years I worked at a computer store, and one day, when I was on phones, a guy called in to ask for our fax number. I asked why he needed it, because it’s not exactly info we just give out, and he said he wanted to fax over his resume. I directed him to our website, because literally the only way to apply is by uploading your resume there. It’s a national chain, there’s no possible way to circumvent the system. Your application NEEDS to be uploaded into the system. He said “Oh, I can’t figure all that website stuff out, I’d rather just fax it”. I don’t know if this was a tactic, or what, but telling an employee at a COMPUTER STORE that you want to work at that you “can’t figure out all that website stuff out” is not a great way to show that you’ll be a valuable asset to the team. I wish that guy luck, last time I looked at retail jobs, everywhere I looked required an online application.

    2. Compost Heap for Hire!*

      I think “I’ll do whatever it takes” is a polite way of bringing up that if you’re having a bad day and want to chew out your employees as stress relief (sh*t flows downhill), that particular person is OK with you doing it to them as long as the pay is good. It’s an awkward way to bring up a harsh reality of many workplaces that isn’t otherwise addressed except in negative Glassdoor reviews and a suspiciously high turnover rate.

  12. Joline*

    Number 3 (Including a line in your cover letter warning employers not to contact you unless they can meet specific conditions) reminds me of internet dating. And for the same reasons as given in Alison’s professional world framed advice – it’s negative and accusatory. Those profiles get clicked out of and those cover letters would most likely be binned – I’m not a fan of people not reigning in their baggage/pessimism/what-have-you for at least initial contact.

    1. Moonbeam Malone*

      Oh gosh, not even an internet dating story, but in my early days on myspace I got a friend request from a guy I didn’t know with no accompanying message. When I went to his profile it read something like, “Hi, I’m SoAndSo and if you don’t like me then F*** YOU!” and continued in that tone for one loooong angry wall of text inexplicably still directed at whomever visited his page and detailing all the injustices he felt the world was dealing him and how much he hates everyone. This was accompanied by a picture of him posing in front of his wall of knives.

      If you put those negative messages in your cover letter, as though you assume the person reading it is some kind of jerk, you are being that guy. You are the guy with the knife wall.

        1. Moonbeam Malone*

          For a little more background, he was like, a 17 year old goth kid (my profile pic was a Halloween photo of me at my most Hot Topic) and it was around the time the Johnny the Homicidal Maniac comics were being reprinted (that character has at least one knife wall) so I have to admit I didn’t feel so much scared as just bemused at the terrible first impression he chose to make. (Needless to say I did not accept his request.)

    2. Windchime*

      That’s kind of what I thought, too. It’s the equivalent of those people who are all antagonistic in their ad and say things like, “Don’t bother contacting me if you’re into playing games.” Um. OK.

      1. Sarahnova*

        Or the “I have no time for drama! If you’re a drama llama I’ll cut you out of my life!” people.

        1. Pickwick the Dodo*

          Those people are ALWAYS the most drama-filled ones. People who actually dislike drama don’t need to bring it up.

          1. Joline*

            People who actually dislike it tend to just quietly avoid it. And that’s why the people going “I hate drama!” never seem to find a non-dramatic partner. Because those people are raising their eyebrows at the complaint and quietly clicking “next.”

  13. Mindy Lahiri*

    I would also add calling the recruiter or hiring manager multiple times a day without leaving a message. Always assume these individuals have caller id and will see if you have called 10 times in one afternoon. Also, please don’t mark your voicemail as a “priority message” if you’re simply returning a call to set up a phone interview…but then again I just really dislike voicemail, so that could be a me thing.

    1. Recruit-O-Rama*

      This one million times. I call them “stalker candidates” Last week a candidate called me 37 times during a one hour conference call. call, hang up, call, hang up, call hang up, etc… When I got off my call and checked my voicemail, not one message from him. When he dialed again, I answered “Good afternoon, what is your recruiting emergency today?” He just wanted to make sure I got his online application. Are you kidding me???? Yes, I got it, and it’s going int he trash. Sheesh.

  14. AnonForThis*

    I’d add

    #9 – Don’t stare down at your hands in your lap and repeat in a creepy low voice “Calm down (insert your name here)”. Seriously creepy. I thought I was being punked.

    #10 – Don’t lean onto the edge of the hiring manager’s desk and speak as if you were a dog barking.
    I kid you not. He had his hands on my desk and said everything in loud, short phrases. I could feel the air hitting my face. It could not have been more like barking unless he had actually attempted to imitate a dog.

    1. Charlotte Collins*

      So, you interviewed Brick from “The Middle” and Craig from “Parks and Recreation”?

    2. Nancie*

      I’d love to know whether #9 was a woman or a man. I mean, it’s mega creepy either way, but in the first case it leans toward pathetic-creepy and in the second there’s the potential for “serial killer”.

      1. Anon here*

        What an odd thing to say. Either way, it’s creepy. Their gender is irrelevant. And as a Canadian (Karla Homolka and Jasmine Richardson anyone?) I know that women can be serial killers too.

  15. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

    Also, don’t use words in your cover letter, resume or interview if you don’t know what the words mean or how to use them. Especially don’t use big words just because you think you should be using big words. I promise – promise – this does not make you sound smarter. Instead, it sounds stilted, bizarre, and out of touch. You are so much better off sounding like a normal person. Two examples from this week:
    “I moved here in lieu of a great place to live” (I know you mean “in search of”. But why swap those words out for other words that mean something else?)
    “It is with great zeal that I submit I credentials and deep experience for your review” (when is the last time you said “zeal” in real life? Really. I want to know.)

    1. Chocolate lover*

      Couple years ago, I read a letter that said something similar – some version of “I am zealously interested” or “I’m vehemently interested” or something like that. Um, ok.

    2. Seal*

      Exactly. Just because you can look up synonyms in Word doesn’t mean you should use them on your resume.

      I was involved in a rather contentious board meeting awhile ago where the person I was arguing with kept trying to tell me that my point was “mute” rather then “moot”. It took everything I had to not laugh in her face.

      1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

        Oh my god – I have a wonderful employee who LOVES to use the word moot. Except she says mute. Like three times a day. And I didn’t say anything at first, and now 5 years have passed- it’s going to sound like I’ve been thinking about this for 5 years and never told her (which is totally true!). And she would want to know! A now it feels like A Thing. I know this is ridiculous. I know.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I have advice on this! I think I’m going to turn it into its own post, in fact. (Ashley, lemme know if you don’t want me to use moot/mute as the example when I do. It’s common enough that I’m figuring it’s okay, but want to give you the chance to say no.)

        2. soooo Anon*

          Oh my gosh, are you me? I have this employee… (3 years, not 5, but still.) And I DID finally point it out (twice!) but it still continues, and it feels so petty to keep bringing it up. And it drives me completely insane. Every.Single.Day. MOOT. How hard is that? M.O.O.T. mooooot.

      2. Lynn Whitehat*

        No, it’s a “moo” point. “It’s like a cow’s opinion! It just… doesn’t matter!” (Friends reference)

              1. MommaTRex*

                Oh, I think I actually like this new word! I can understand be flustered and frustrated in the same moment.

      3. Anon Accountant*

        You reminded me that on Friday’s open thread I have to post about my coworker’s “synonym” for “wring his neck”. I want to correct her sooooo badly and tell her to go Google what she’s saying but my coworkers have banned me. They enjoy too much when she gets the phrase wrong. I’ve tried gently correcting her “You know I think you meant to say ‘you could wring his neck'” and she says “No I mean …..”.

        I asked what her phrase meant. She said “Oh it’s the same as wring someone’s neck”. I’ll stop now before I derail this thread any longer.

        1. Rebecca*

          LOL I think I was in college when I figured out that the phrase was “intents and purposes.” I was so embarrassed and I still remember telling my friend and she was just as surprised as I was! So at least I wasn’t alone.

      4. Lindsay J*

        My ex did the “mute” point thing (and there were a few others as well. I think “Nip this in the butt” was one of them). It bothered me more than it probably should have.

      1. Artemesia*

        Having had a career where I really had no choice about where to live as jobs were that scarce, I definitely moved to big southern city in lieu of a great place to live.

        1. So Very Anonymous*

          Me too. Big southern city is definitely in lieu of a great place. (Actual great place, please be in search of me!)

      2. LJL*

        That’s how I got where I am now! hehehehe……

        I’ll see myself out. Don’t forget to tip your servers.

    3. Tau*

      I can imagine moving somewhere in lieu of a great place to live, but I certainly wouldn’t advertise that fact on a cover letter!

      1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

        Haha. I really do live in a great place – the kind of place people want to move to so badly that they do it for half of their former salary.

    4. Could be anyone*

      The second example actually sounds like something a non-native English speaker might write.

      1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

        Or a circus announcer?


    5. Anx*

      I suppose zeal is far less common than zealous, but I don’t think it’s that uncommon. Its placement and usage is pretty unusual that that sentence is something I don’t think I’ve ever heard, though. I think I use and hear “with zeal” at the end of the sentence. I can’t imagine using “zeal” in a cover letter.

    6. Ad Astra*

      Huh. I often hear people use “in lieu of” to mean the same thing as “in light of,” but I don’t think I’ve ever heard it used to mean “in search of.” The frustrating part is that people don’t know what they don’t know.

      1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

        I’d never heard it used that way either. But her meaning was clear in context.

  16. evilintraining*

    I just read the resume of a guy who graduated 20 years ago but still listed his high school honors and that he made Eagle Scout in his senior year. Yeah…if you could take that off your resume, that’d be great…

      1. Turanga Leela*

        I recently got a resume from an Eagle Scout! It wouldn’t make us hire him, but we were impressed, and it didn’t seem strange.

      2. BananaPants*

        Unless one works for the Boy Scouts in a professional capacity, it’s wholly irrelevant 20 years later.

      3. Anon for This*

        I know it’s common advice to keep the fact that you’re an Eagle Scout on your resume (and I think Alison might have even suggested it), but to me in hiring, if you’re out of college it doesn’t add anything at all for me, and might even take away. I mean I wouldn’t penalize someone for having it on there right after college, and I know becoming an Eagle Scout is hard work, but a lot of stuff kids do in high school is hard. Working at a grocery store 20 hours a week in high school is hard, but nobody would suggest keeping that on a resume after a few years.

        To me it’s just another holdover from the “old boys’ club” type of mentality that the ONE thing you’re allowed to keep on your resume from high school is something that’s only available to boys (keeping something from Girl Scouts on a resume would seem ridiculous), and is ostensibly not harder than a lot of other things high schoolers do or go through.

        I might be in the minority on this, but I’ve always hated the advice to keep Eagle Scout on your resume when you enter the working world.

        1. anonanonanon*

          Actually, the Girl Scouts have the Gold Award which is the equivalent of the Eagle Scout. It’s just not as well known to most people, but it’s definitely the same amount of work.

          1. OfficePrincess*

            It’s the same amount of work, but since it doesn’t have the same … weight(?) with the general population, it would probably be even less helpful.

          2. The IT Manager*

            I was a Girl Scout for a few years (many years ago) and I can’t say I have ever heard of the Gold Award so I’d guess it carries pretty much zero weight.

            1. OhNo*

              It depends on who you’re applying with. GS has both a silver award and a gold award (gold is obviously a little more work), and they include a lot of volunteering and organizing volunteers.

              So if you’re applying for a position that deals with volunteers a lot, or with an organization that encourages volunteering or that has a lot of volunteers, that kind of experience can carry some serious weight. You might have to explain what it is, though, because it’s obviously not as widely known as being an eagle scout.

          3. Steve G*

            I don’t remember the specifics but I thought the eagle scout project was something unique to Boy Scouts, and the Gold Award was just a culmination of smaller projects/badges. The eagle scout award is equivalent to managing a project you’d have at an adult job with quite a few years of experience, and 99% of the time requires planning a fundraiser, mass mailings, event planning, calling around to hardware stores to find the cheapest materials or getting stuff at cost, and organizing workers to build whatever for your project then getting it all signed off of by a committee. Pretty serious stuff for a teenager.

            1. anonanonanon*

              The Gold Award is the same thing as the eagle scout project. The goal is to find a project to benefit the community, write up a proposal on how you’ll get it done, get the proposal approved, and go through all the necessary steps to complete the project.

              It’s the same exact project.

            2. Isben Takes Tea*

              Nope, that’s what the Gold Award is, too. There isn’t the same idea of earned rank advancement in Girl Scouts, but there’s a bunch of projects and awards you have to accomplish in order to be eligible for the Gold Award. It also was only reintroduced relatively recently, so it hasn’t existed “from the beginning” like the Eagle Scout.

              The Gold Award project has the same amount of effort involved (coming from a family of competitive siblings, we did the math!).

        2. Ineloquent*

          I think it does add a rank if you go into the military, and there may be people who give it similar preference.

          1. Anon for This*

            Oh I know there are people who give it preference, and don’t doubt that for some people it would add value. I just hate that it’s a thing. I think it’s perpetuated as a “good thing to put on your resume” because so many people have said for so long that it’s a “good thing to put on your resume.” Like it’s just kind of popular thought now, without actually thinking through how it compares to other high school activities.

        3. Laura*

          Gold Award is on my CV. I am 12 years post-HS. It came up (favorably) during grad school interviews and at least one faculty interview. People who don’t know what it is seem to ignore it, people who do know what it is see it favorably and often ask about my project (which I am still proud of and love to share).

    1. Could be anyone*

      I can see it if you’re detailing your eagle scout project and list it under other experience. Some of these projects can involve a lot of areas that employers might like to see. Time management, people management, budgeting, fund raising – overall project management experience.

      1. Stephanie*

        I think it’d be kind of weird if the person was past the new grad job stage. Past that point, it seems like the candidate should have gotten all that experience in a professional capacity. I mean, I did some impressive stuff in high school, but I think it’d be really odd if I listed I was editor of my high school newspaper from over 10 years ago.

    2. Ad Astra*

      I’ve always heard that Eagle Scout is something you can keep on your resume forever. YMMV.

    3. Searching*

      I live in a place where listing “Eagle Scout” on your resume is secret code to indicate you are a member of the predominant religion in that area. Which may give you a leg up in the hiring process.

    4. Noah*

      I feel a bit bad saying this, but the immediate connotation I get with Eagle Scout is nerd. It may not be right, and it may not be true for others who read it, but that is always my immediate thought. It is not something that makes the resume go to the no pile, but it definitely colors my view of their personality before I meet them.

      1. Ad Astra*

        Most of the Eagle Scouts I knew were highly intelligent stoners in high school. But I grew up near a major state university, so “highly intelligent stoner” was an extremely prevalent descriptor.

        1. steve g*

          +1 I was in scouts in the 90s. Lots of late 60s+70s rock being played by nirvana stoner types + the trips were definitely not for nerds or wimps – we did whitewater rafting, built trails and a swing set and picnic tables and tent bases, started fire with sticks, camped in the snow, went through wilderness survival class at camp which involved sleeping outside with next to nothing….most of the “cool” people couldn’t handle some of that stuff or know how to do it

      2. Cath in Canada*

        You say that like it’s a bad thing! I don’t know anything about Eagle Scouts, but in my field (academic research science), something “nerdy” on an application would be viewed pretty positively :)

    5. steve g*

      Well if the audience knows what it means, keep it on. It involves a project that 99 percent of the time will involve a fundraiser or some sort of event + building something + negotiating material purchases for what your buying….quite impressive things for 16 or 17yos to be doing.

    6. evilintraining*

      Guess it’s a toss-up on Eagle Scout. And I do get what a big honor it is and the work involved; two of my nephews are Eagle Scouts. But this guy had that right under his high school and National Honor Society stuff. When someone is that far out of high school (1995), I’m more interested in his recent work history and associated accomplishments.

    7. misplacedmidwesterner*

      What is it with Eagle Scouts? I know otherwise completely rational guys who still carry their Eagle Scout card in their wallet, 20 years later. One guy I dated got his wallet stolen and that was the first thing he got replaced – the Eagle Scout card. To be fair, he did call and cancel credit cards first, but he got the Eagle Scout card replacement before his new driver’s license.

    8. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

      This was totally one of my desired criteria for boyfriends in college. Worked well for a long time! I did not, however, end up marrying an eagle scout, but I’ve never met one who was an asshole.

      1. Kelly L.*

        I had a pretty long run, in college and right after, of dating guys who’d been Eagle Scouts and just.would.never.shut.up about it. They weren’t bad guys, but it was on a “and then this one time, at band camp” level, and it always kind of felt like they looked down on anyone who hadn’t been an Eagle Scout. I must have had all the annoying ones airlifted into my town, or something. :D

  17. Kelly L.*

    “Do not contact me unless you are serious” is the equivalent of dating’s “No drama!” It might as well say “Drama here!”

    1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

      I have actually seen “Do not contact me unless you are serious” on people’s dating profiles…

  18. NJ Anon*

    I agree with all except #4. How would you know it’s an email someone shares with a spouse? I do have a separate email for job searches but it wouldn’t turn me off as a hiring manager.

    1. NickelandDime*

      Because you see things like “KenDLovesBarbieD@gmail.com.” It does seem a little unprofessional, and should only be used for personal communication.

      1. Lynn Whitehat*

        Yes! Why do people do that? I could understand it back when email addresses were hard to come by and/or expensive. But in 2015, you can have your very own, easily and for free. I run into it a lot doing volunteer work, and it’s super-weird. “Greetings, fellow committee members and some random significant others. I just wanted to make sure that everyone (who actually needs to know) is aware that we are teaching out of the Third Edition. So if you still have the Second Edition (and you are teaching), be sure to get the Third instead. And if you’re a volunteer’s spouse, please Mark Unread so that they see this. Thanks!” OK, I don’t word emails like that. But I sort of feel like I should.

        1. alter_ego*

          In my experience, with both joint facebook accounts, and email addresses, it’s because one spouse doesn’t trust the other. Nevermind that they could just have a *secret* separate email account/facebook account.

          1. some1*

            My parents have the same email, but I think it might be because it hasn’t occurred to them to have their own. They aren’t really tech-savvy.

            1. T*

              Yeah, my 70-year-old parents are the same. Of course, they also call me to order things for them on Amazon because they “don’t feel comfortable giving Amazon their credit card number”. They are super low tech in general but email is simply something you must have out of necessity these days. The things I love like how my car dealership texts me with a custom URL to see my quote before starting work, they find to be a huge nuisance.

              1. Windchime*

                My parents don’t have email. They are in their mid-seventies. They do have wifi because they have a grandson living with them who is in school, but Mom is highly suspicious of being hacked and doesn’t want “that email” in her house. Dad couldn’t care less and I don’t know if he even knows what email is.

                Mom has a cell phone but until recently would pull out a tiny little address/phone book to look up the numbers before dialing. I think someone has programmed them in for her now.

    2. Chocolate lover*

      Probably the same way you can usually tell with accounts on FB “Jenny and Tony Smith” or “Smith Family.”

    3. some1*

      Usually you can tell because it has both people’s names in the address, like suejeffsmithatgmaildotcom.

      And it’s a turn-off because employers want to communicate with you, not your spouse.

      1. Chocolate lover*

        Yes to this. The company’s relationship is directly with the candidate/employee, not their family.

    4. OfficePrincess*

      My parents share an email that is dadsnameandmomsname@outdadedemailprovider. com. It’s pretty obvious if that’s the case. (My parents are both retired so it works for them – most messages are planning the family picnic and passing around chain letters).

    5. T*

      I’ll be the first to admit that I could be out of touch with this subject because I’m single but what’s with the whole sharing an email account anyway? Occasionally I’ll see a friend and she says “I hardly ever hear from you anymore”. I don’t have the heart to say it’s because she shares an email account with her husband. Am I the only one that makes uncomfortable? And I’m not trash talking anybody or gossiping (much) but who wants to have a conversation on speakerphone when you only want to talk to one person in the room? The speakerphone conversation will always be different in content and tone. When I feel like I need to censor myself because multiple people will be reading the email, I just don’t send it.

      1. Kelly L.*

        Probably some of them are people where one of the spouses just doesn’t want to be bothered much, or where they only ever use email for stuff they both are interested in (like grandkid photos). But there is also a small religious subculture where this is recommended as a preventative against cheating. I don’t quite get it, because if someone is determined to cheat, they can always make a side email in secret. But it is a thing.

      2. some1*

        That would weird me out, too. Can you say something like, “You know I think Bob’s great, but I feel weird about the idea that someone else could read an email I send to you.”

      3. the gold digger*

        I said something to one of my college roommates, who shared an email with her husband (and they were both engineers, so it was not a tech thing, but then, he did turn out to have some issues and is now her ex-husband, so maybe it was a trust thing after all). I told her I did not feel comfortable sharing private information with her husband and would she get her own email.

        She responded cheerily, “Oh, even if you would email it to just me, I would tell him anyhow!”

        So I just stopped telling her anything I did not want her husband to know.

  19. Lunar*

    Similar to the don’t show up places and ask for a job – don’t send us an email with your resume saying that you want to work here. We don’t have any job openings available. And if we did and for some reason they weren’t posted (which they would be) – how would you know if you were qualified or if the job would interest you? I am so confused when people do this.

    1. anonanonanon*

      I wonder if people do this because some companies allow you to send a resume and generic cover letter for “future opportunities”.

      1. Lunar*

        Yeah. It is definitely not as bad as some of the other things on here, but to me it just seems a little desperate at best (kind if like “I’ll do anything to work here, I don’t care what the job is). And presumptuous at worst (like, obviously once you see my great accomplishments you will have to hire me even if there is no budget or need for it).

        1. anonanonanon*

          Oh, I definitely agree that it seems desperate. I also wonder if people are being told to do this by schools or parents. I remember being told to send in generic cover letters right after I had graduated.

        1. De Minimis*

          Sometimes these were a lifesaver the last time I was collecting unemployment. You had to have so many work search contacts a week, and sometimes you just couldn’t find anything [unemployment was around 18-20% at that time], and that’s when these really came in handy.

          1. Ad Astra*

            Yes! I would often “make contact” with companies during weeks when there were no suitable job postings. Sometimes I would just apply for a listed job that I was wholly unqualified for, but then you run the risk of being called in to interview for that job, since you’re not allowed to turn down interviews.

            1. Nashira*

              I absolutely did this. If I couldn’t find anything I qualified for, I’d do shot-in-the-dark applications just to keep my numbers up. The system is honestly designed to encourage that behavior, in the US.

              1. Ad Astra*

                I’d also get well-meaning friends who’d say “Hey, my friend Percival works at Teapot Central in your town. You should send him your resume!” I only took that advice if they had alerted Percival or during sparse weeks where I needed something to claim my benefits.

              2. Merry and Bright*

                In the UK too. You need to keep a log of all the applications and apply for a minimum number of jobs per week.

            2. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

              Aren’t you not allowed to turn down job offers either?

              I had a friend who went on a horrible interview while unemployed with a boss she would have hated working for (he made rude comments during the interview, degraded his current team, etc.). She was panicked because at the end he told her the interview went well and to expect an offer soon.

              Luckily, the offer never materialized, because she was sick over the idea she would have to take this job.

              1. Windchime*

                I think you can turn it down under certain circumstances. If you had been making $50k a year before you got laid off, I’m pretty sure they don’t expect you to take a part-time job that pays minimum wage and will earn you less than your unemployment benefits. Or if you were a programmer, they won’t make you take a job as a welder. Stuff like that.

                1. Ad Astra*

                  Yeah, I think there is some qualifying language, like you can’t turn down full-time work in a suitable field, or something like that. I turned down part-time work all the time because it would have reduced or eliminated my benefits, and none of the part-time work paid enough for that to make financial sense. I’m sure a lot of my well-meaning contacts were confused about why I kept refusing their help.

    2. Turanga Leela*

      I don’t know about this one. Having someone show up is a big imposition, whereas you can just delete the email if you don’t want to read it.

      I’ve sent my resume with a cover letter that said, basically, “If you’re considering hiring an associate, I would be really interested in working for you.” (I mean, it said other things too.) I actually got an informal interview by doing that; they didn’t have an opening, but they seemed interested in meeting me in case something came up.

      1. Lunar*

        I guess to me it is also that we are a really small organization. I can see this more with bigger companies who are regularly hiring for a specific position, but we very rarely have openings and they are one offs (which you should know if you have researched us or are looking into working here).
        I also think it depends on how it is done. I wrote this because we recently got an inquiry like this and I read it like the person was assuming that we would be interested. If they had written it like they were interested in the industry or a specific job and wanted to talk about it – or even just asked if we had openings (as opposed to applying for a job when there was no job to apply for) then it would have seemed different to me. Maybe I’m off base here though. Not sure.

        1. Stephanie*

          Yeah, to be fair, I’ve mostly seen that language on jobs websites at really big companies or earlier-stage startups. I could see that being a little odd for a small, specifically-focused org.

    3. T3k*

      Not to say this is the norm, but a girl I knew through a college club did something like this a few years ago. Her lease was running out where she lived and she had to either find a job there to continue living in that city or move up north to where her fiancee was (he was in grad school). She sent out a passionate email to a company in the area that aligned with her interests (writing children books) explaining her interest in the field and how she was really interested in that company and, despite having no current open jobs, they responded and a few interviews later, she got a job with them and is doing really well.

      1. Artemesia*

        I got the job that let to my 30 year job (after losing a job in a merger) by writing a letter to someone coming to work at the company and getting a former supervisor to do the same (he knew the person coming in). I got hired immediately for a part time post he had and within 6 weeks was full time and within two years was firmly entrenched on the ladder moving up. It was a situation where I knew the guy coming in probably did have research projects where my skills would be useful and luckily I managed to hit the ball out of the park on my first assignment and it was easy going from there.

      2. A Kate*

        Yeah, at the risk of this turning into one of those “it worked for me and thus must be universally true” kind of threads, I once got an internship by sending a generic resume and cover letter (I mean relatively generic, it was tailored to the kind of work they do) to an organization that didn’t generally have interns. They later told me they normally would have said, “Sorry, we don’t have interns. There’s no space.” It just so happens the director got my email after coming out of a meeting in which a staff member had told him she was really struggling to do a special project they were working on on top of her regular workload. Guess who was hired a few days later as an intern for that project!

        So sometimes people get lucky, and this is I think the level of “gumption” it’s still okay to show. An email that can be ignored or responded to with “Sorry, we’re not hiring right now” is pretty harmless, provided the person doesn’t contact me multiple times or otherwise pester.

    4. Stephanie*

      That one I don’t think is as bad. Plenty of companies will allow for a general cover letter and resume for future opportunities. It is a little weird if that’s not stated on the website anywhere, but I don’t think it’s as strange as some of these other things.

      1. Kairi*

        Yeah, I submitted a few “general applications” and wound up getting a few phone calls when opportunities matching my background opened up.

        1. Sarahnova*

          Me too. I “cold contacted” a number of companies in my specialised field and garnered approaches and a few interviews.

    5. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      I don’t agree.

      Unsolicited resumes go to HR and before we had HR we would circulate them if them if the person’s resume and cover letter was interesting.

      It’s especially appropriate if you have teapot experience. We will always interview someone with teapot experience and might even make a job for them.

  20. anonanonanon*

    I’d also include advice telling applicants to not include how much they love the product the company makes. For instance, my company gets SO MANY cover letters with people talking about how much they love books, how they’ve always loved books, and their dream jobs is working with books. But at least those cover letters are one step above the cover letters who think job listings are opportunities to pitch their manuscripts.

    A friend who has worked for a couple of high profile sports TV stations says her company gets piles of cover letters focusing on how much the applicant loves sports, a specific team, watching sports, etc. A former coworker who used to work for Conde Nast said they would get cover letters from people who just wanted to meet celebrities or wear brand name clothes.

    So. Please focus on the job listing and not tangential details about the industry or company. (Also don’t be disappointed when the interviewer asks questions about the job listing and not, say, your favorite authors. AND DO NOT use your questions to ask about books and authors we don’t even publish.)

    1. T3k*

      By chance, your job postings don’t say something like “must have interest in sports/video games/mystery books” do they? I’ve come across a few job postings like that which leaves me scratching my head if I should say I am (genuinely) interested in that area in my cover letter. I ended up just including a small sentence in a page long cover letter saying something like “I do have an interest in video games, I especially admire [game they developed]” then do my closing paragraph, but it still leaves me scratching my head at it.

      1. anonanonanon*

        No, the most specific thing I’ve seen is a preference for an academic background in English, Communications, Journalism, and other related fields. Some of our listings for contract work for subject matter experts might request a specific background, but the listings pretty much focus on the general details of the job. In my experience, when you’re hiring an Asst. Editor for mystery books, whether or not they have an interest in the subject is usually not that important.

        I think the problem mostly comes from people trying to break into my industry and think talking about their love of books is the way to make them stand out. A lot of people assume working in publishing is gushing over books, when that rarely happens.

        I do think job listings that say “must have interest in sports/video games/mystery books” are a bit weird, though. Sometimes someone with an intense and genuine interest in a topic isn’t actually the best person to work on that product.

        1. Anon-167*

          “I think the problem mostly comes from people trying to break into my industry and think talking about their love of books is the way to make them stand out.”

          I’ve heard the same thing about librarianship, actually. One of the professors in my MLIS program went on a rant once about how sick the whole department was with reading personal statements about how much you like books. After they were done, you could tell by looking at the student’s faces that at least 2/3 of the people there had written personal statements exactly like that.

        2. Ad Astra*

          For some reason, people seem to think reading and sports are unusual interests. If you have a passion for designing wooden canoes, tell me that. Don’t tell me you “love to read” or “have always enjoyed sports.” That’s like saying you like pizza and your favorite color’s blue. I’m sure it’s true, but it’s not different or interesting or memorable information.

    2. Stephanie*

      My friend worked at a apparel company that’s a household name. She offered to refer me. She took a look at my cover letter and was like “Well, all the cover letters here say people have been wearing [brand] since birth and they love [brand]. Don’t say that. At least dig into the corporate website and talk about your interest in some training program or initiative discussed. That will make you stand out more than bland discussions about passion.”

      I will say, all the job postings there did talk about having passion. But it was helpful advice when applying to a company like that.

      1. anonanonanon*

        Definitely. I know HR tends to trash any cover letters that talk blandly talk about a passion for books, reading, or writing.

    3. Kairi*

      I accidentally did something like this when I applied to Converse. I did it because it said on the job website that all of the employees can wear converse to work, so I thought I’d let it be known that I wore them. Needless to say, I never got called for an interview.

    4. J.*

      Hmm, this is really interesting to me! I agree that it’s best to focus on the job listing itself, but my manager told me that one of the reasons she hired me (at a literary agency) was because I DID mention books and quantify how much I read personally in a year. She told me that it was a turn-off for her that a lot of applicants didn’t even mention books or reading, when the fact is that the position requires a lot of reading off the clock. But I imagine it might be a bit different between, say, a literary agency where it’s expected that you’ll be reading a lot (or maybe even the editorial department at a publishing house) vs. marketing or publicity? But I don’t know, I also recently went to a career panel with some high-level editors and other department directors at a huge publishing house in NYC and they also all said that what unites all of them is a love for books, and they care about that coming across in people they hire.

      But I guess what you’re saying is not to include generic statements–not necessarily to pretend you don’t like books at all or something. Is that right?

  21. HR Recruiter*

    When I saw the photo on the post I thought #1 was going to be don’t wear fake glasses to your interview. It won’t make you look smarter and interviewers don’t care if its trendy.

    1. Mephisto*

      How do you know someone’s glasses are fake, though? I have been accused in the past of wearing fake glasses, but my glasses are 100% real and I need them to see. Maybe the problem is that my frames are that “trendy” style (big lenses, thick black frames). I do think they look nice, otherwise I wouldn’t have bought them, but more than that, the lens size works really well for the type of vision problems I have, and the frames are really durable. They don’t break no matter how I abuse them (and I will regularly fall asleep in them, accidentally sit on them, and so on) and I don’t really have money to be replacing glasses all the time. I would hate to interview for a job and have my interviewer think I’m trying to think I’m too cool for school or something when I’m just wearing a legitimate medical device.

      1. HR Recruiter*

        because they don’t have lenses. Last time I checked frames didn’t do anything to help you see.

        1. Kelly L.*

          OK, that’s a new one on me. I do know people who wear fake glasses for looks, but there are plain clear lenses in them.

          I also once dated a guy whose vision was so good that I (nearsighted as hell) thought they were fake, but he did turn out to need them for certain driving situations.

      2. Merry and Bright*

        I got this last year at an interview. The HR person was walking me from the lift to the interview room and she asked me if I needed to wear the glasses for the interview or whether I would be taking them off.

        Maybe she had a weird line in small talk. Or maybe she was just weird.

      3. Coppertina*

        I wonder if someone’s glasses are fake if I can’t see any distortion in the facial outline at their temple/cheek when I look through the lens. Usually (and this can be quite marked if someone is extremely nearsighted), there’ll be a “break” between lens and cheek. But I’m not an eye doctor, so I would never dream of challenging them on their specs!

        Like T3k, I normally wear contacts but have considered wearing glasses instead to interviews. Thus far, I’ve gone with the contacts. It does seem like I’d have to be pretty borderline or the interviewer rather shallow for my eyewear to make a difference.

        1. Myrin*

          I know I’m super late to this and you probably won’t see it but !!!!! you are the very first person who I’ve ever heard talking about the “break” that has always been super obvious to me (you also explained it so well, I never know how to do it, I’d rather make a quick sketch to show people) yet seems to surprise pretty much everyone.

      4. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

        I have “hipster” glasses as my friends like to call them and because I wear my contacts 90% of the time, I too have been accused of wearing fake or fashion glasses.

    2. T3k*

      In a book I had to read for a job etiquette class, there was mention of this actually, and it basically stated that if you felt your appearance would detract from being taken seriously (which in my case happens a LOT) then wearing glasses for an interview could help. Granted, I do have prescription glasses, I just prefer my contacts, but I have been very tempted to wear them for interviews because otherwise people think I’m too young or too inexperienced (I can easily pass for a college or even high school student, ugh).

      1. Chriama*

        I’ve actually found that glasses make me look younger. I have a pretty young-looking face already, and glasses bring me down from mid/late teens to middle schooler (I’m 22). Maybe it’s the style of my frames in particular, but I honestly don’t think glasses make people look smarter or more professional. Things like appropriate makeup (no electric blue eyeshadow), jewelry (no giant hoops) and clothing (length of skirt, cut of blouse make more of a difference if you’re worried about being taken seriously / not patronized.

        1. Artemesia*

          When you get old, glasses can help obscure the terrible things that happen around your eyes.

        2. T3k*

          I forgot to mention, it’s not just my face that makes me look younger (part asian here) it’s also the fact that I’m petite and tiny so people patronize me all the time because of the combination (if I had a dollar every time someone called me cute, I wouldn’t ever need to work). And I’m a very modest person in that I only wear a slightly red lip balm for makeup, no flashy jewelry, and I make sure any blouse I wear doesn’t drop below the collar bone. I’m working on getting a suit set tailored so I can wear that to interviews (at the time, I just wore untailored dress pants with a nice blouse or dressy shirt), but I feel even that won’t be enough. Maybe I should start wearing my hair back in a ponytail for interviews as well, hmmm…

          1. Mephisto*

            My petite, young-looking Asian friend ran into this same problem when looking for work. She cut her hair into a short bob and said it did wonders for how seriously people took her.

          2. Charlotte Collins*

            As another small woman who looks younger than she is (not as young as I used to be, alas), I’d recommend wearing your hair back, but do a chignon or something similar. Ponytails can still “read” as young. Also, wedge heels are your friend. They add to your height but if you choose the right pair they won’t seem too young or frivolous. But don’t try too hard to look your age, or it will backfire and make you look like you’re playing dress up. (And I know that stinks, but that’s how things were for me in my 20s…)

            1. T3k*

              Ohh, I didn’t think of doing a bun! Will definitely look into some tutorials for that (and probably get an army of bobby pins). As for heels, I tend to wear dress boots at the moment (not ones with the pencil width heels, but the same width as the rest of the shoe).

              Yeah, I’m trying not to come off as playing dress up, but it’s hard trying to figure out when it’s too much or too little.

              1. dawbs*

                Nails in something like a French Manicure can help too.
                (Unpainted and colored are both ‘young’, nude or french tip are ‘grown up’)

                And smiling less. And ‘jewel tones’ are better for clothing choices than ‘pastel’ type colors.
                (Although I”m no longer looking young enough I have to worry about these things)

                If you can fake confidence, you’re all set :)

  22. Nanc*

    Follow the damned application directions! You may not agree with how we ask you to apply, but we’re not going to look at your stuff if you deviate. Yes, we’re that picky because we have clients who are that picky and if you don’t do it in your application process it’s a red flag to us.

    Bonus tip: in your cover letter do not list all of the things you won’t do. Our president answers the phone and signs for deliveries, you can too!

    1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

      ^ This. I can’t tell you how many times I had people complain that they never received an interview with me/my company (small city) and when I would have HR look up their application they ignored the line that said “Applications without portfolios will not be considered.”

  23. KJR*

    #6 makes me think of Jacob the Bar Mitzvah boy skit on SNL, where Seth Meyers tries to engage Jacob in conversation, and all Jacob ever does is read his answer!

  24. SandrineSmiles (France)*

    I had another one held against me once: don’t agree too much with your interviewer !

    As bizarre as it may seem, once upon a time I had an interview with a rather nice company and on paper, everything was “perfect” , as in everything aligned (my views, theirs, and other things). I will admit that I may have been a little over-enthusiastic but I can genuinely say I was in complete agreement with everything I was hearing.

    When the rejection came, I was told that was one of the reasons I didn’t get the job. Apparently, agreement like what I’d shown seemed “suspicious” …

    Oh well!

    1. Stranger than fiction*

      Well, they were just weirdos! How dare you be enthusiastic about working there

  25. Retail Lifer*

    It won’t make you look like a weirdo, but have a clue what the general pay range is for similar positions. Like, don’t ask for $35,000 for a part-time retail job that only requires a high school education and minimal experience. I get these applications All. The. Time.

    1. Beancounter in Texas*

      I once saw an app from a man with a spotty employment history – a few months here, a few months there, often with a break of a few months in between – for a security guard position. I think the pay was around $35,000 and this man asked for $50,000. What was he thinking?!

      1. Laufey*

        If it weren’t for the fact that you’re (I assume) in Texas, I would say I know that person, and it’s because he has an over-inflated sense of his own importance and incredibly overrates his skills and knowledge. My version of that guy, after turning down a full-time security guard job (citing its too low wages), is currently a part-time pizza delivery guy.

    2. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

      I used to hire recent college grads…I would literally laugh out loud at the salary expectations. We paid slightly above market rate and these requests would be $10k – $20k higher.

      Often in speaking with these prospective employees the range they had in their heads was from either a (1) professor or (2) parent…

  26. Brienne of Teapots*

    Here’s one to never, ever, ever do. Don’t trawl LinkedIn for people who work at the company you want to work for, then overnight them an empty coffee cup along with your resume and a cover letter asking if you can buy them a cup of coffee and talk about what you can offer their company. (Especially don’t do it to multiple people in the same office, with the same exact cover letter, over the course of several days.)

    1. JMegan*

      What? People do that? I mean, I assume your office was the recipient of these coffee-cup-o-grams, but who is giving advice like that?

      1. Brienne of Teapots*

        I personally received one (and then my colleague did two days later). I googled it to find out if it was a thing and found a couple of really dubious career advice sites suggesting something very similar (as well as this person’s name in my LinkedIn “who viewed your profile” list). Thankfully, the sender of the cup didn’t do the other thing it suggested, which was to watch the package tracking and call the recipient as soon as you see that they signed for the package. I might have given them an earful if they had.

      1. Brienne of Teapots*

        Seriously, I have absolutely no say in hiring decisions for my company, but if you’re gonna try to bribe me, send me something useful — don’t try to bribe me with trash.

    2. Stranger than fiction*

      Omg that reminds me of the guy that printed his resume on a chocolate bar wrapper and got the job, I think it was in marketing

  27. OfficePrincess*

    Alison already established that you shouldn’t just show up uninvited looking for a job, but should you decide to ignore that advice, for the love of all that is holy, don’t cuss out the person who tells you that you need to go online and fill out an application. We aren’t really set up for visitors and there are safety concerns that we have to consider, so we aren’t letting you in without a good reason. For scheduled interviews, someone has already set aside a block of time to escort you everywhere. There’s no way we’re going to have someone stop what they’re doing to tell you about a job that requires following directions when you’ve clearly shown that is not a strength you have.

    1. De Minimis*

      I had something sort of like that happen once, at Borders. This guy kept asking about his application, and asked point blank if we were hiring, and I finally told him that we weren’t, and he said “Aw F___!”

  28. Stranger than fiction*

    Thank you for mentioning number 5. My BF still brags about how he worked for free right out of school in like 1990 and while he would never do it himself now, he’s advised my daughter to and I keep saying No, you can’t do that.

  29. KJR*

    I’ve got one to add — make sure the spelling of your last name matches on the resume and the cover letter!

  30. Justin*

    Ahhh…the married couple shared email account.

    At my last contracting assignment we hired a woman who had been out of work for quite a long time. She was pretty slow with technology and not great at learning new things on her own, so I had an idea why she was out of work for so long. Then the whole team gets laid off and she contacts me via LinkedIn asking to use me as a reference, so I give her my email address and phone number. She had some good qualities, and was a nice person and a punctual, professional worker, so I am OK recommending her for some roles. Then I start getting emails from “Rick.” I’m thinking, who the heck is Rick? Then I realize it’s rickandamy@email.com, a shared email account for her and her husband. How out of touch can you be in a technology based role? She might be out there looking for awhile.

  31. AE*

    If we can make topic requests, how about things that make you look like a weirdo to your coworkers? Or things that get on coworkers’ nerves?

    I can’t stand coughing or throat clearing. I’ve known a couple of people who do this as a nervous tic or something, with no apparent interest in treating it or controlling it. By the end of the day I want to smack them.

    And people who talk to themselves while they work. If they really must do that, their boss should move them to their own office, with soundproofing. They don’t belong in cubeville.

    And long fingernails on men. ICK!

    And nobody should ever boil cabbage in a shared kitchen. Ever!

      1. AE*

        Of course they don’t. But they should accept the possibility that they will be called a weirdo behind their backs.

    1. Wanna-Alp*

      I think you need to get a better perspective of the balance between the imposition it is on others to meet your needs/preferences in an office environment (and those of your co-workers), compared to how much imposition it is on you to meet the needs/preferences of your co-workers.

      The boiled cabbage one is pretty obvious: the imposition on the individual that they pick something else for their lunch is relatively low compared to the pervasive nasty smell that will affect everyone within whiffing distance, so it should be the cabbage-lover who makes the compromise here.

      But the long fingernails – even if you did find long fingernails on men to be an unsually severe imposition on your visual space, how would that come even close to the imposition that you would have your male co-workers modify and maintain their body parts to a shape that they didn’t want?

      As for the talker, hmm, it depends. If it’s constant talking, then they are likely to be causing a significant imposition to everyone in the vicinity, then a move to a soundproof office, or alongside other talkers, is a good idea. But if it’s only very occasional, and you really need that silence to be 100%, then some high quality headphones for you would seem a better solution.

      As for the coughing, it’s certainly the case that any kind of noise is definitely an imposition on your auditory space. But it might be a significant imposition on them to remove that noise. It might not: it might be as something as simple as a dish of water to humidify the area near them. But you might actually be suggesting substantial unnecessary medical treatment, and if you wore decent earbuds/headphones that would fix the problem with far less of an imposition.

      To illustrate: me, I’m a cougher/throat clearer. Probably once every 3 minutes or so. I don’t do it by choice (any more than you can refrain from coughing or blowing your nose when coming down with a cold). I do it because my nasal system produces gloop as its usual order of business, and it needs clearing, and I have gloop that is a bit thicker than the average person’s, and my throat is a bit more sensitive than the average person’s (touch-sensivity issues). It’s not a nervous tic or a habit (as was demonstrated when I got a very weird cold where the gloop production stopped, and hey presto, the coughing stopped). You’re probably thinking “oh there’s something medically wrong and you need to be fixed and therefore the obligation is on you” but you’re not understanding that this is how my body works normally, and to “fix” it might require something along the lines of surgery for my sinus cavity, or surgery/medication to blunt my nerves in my throat area, which would be dangerous for other reasons, or medication which would result in my having a dry mouth and goodness knows what other side-effects. Any one of these is a huge imposition, and you really need to understand this. It’s not just a matter of “simply stop coughing”. Not to mention it is a HUGE imposition for me, to have to put up with a co-worker who feels like they want to smack me at the end of each day; it makes for a very hostile office environment. Unfortunately I know that from personal experience.

      To emphasise, please don’t read this as thinking that I’m telling you to put on headphones and stop complaining. What I am trying to say is that you need some more understanding about where the other person is coming from, and this should inform any polite office conversation about how to make the office environment nicer for everyone. Sometimes it’s you who would be better to make the compromise, even if it’s ostensibly the other person causing the problem.

      1. AE*

        I think long fingernails on a man, especially if he really focuses on them, is weird. I have a right to consider a man weird if he does weird things. Where I live, men have short nails. When I see one with long nails I find it icky.

        The others are beyond weird – they’re distracting.

        So perhaps there could be two lists — weirdos on the job, and distracting people on the job.

      2. AE*

        I have asked the people who constantly cough or throat clear if they have seen a doctor. There are definitely people who do NOT have a medical issue, but are OCD or something.

        And no, I don’t have to be understanding if I find it distracting. They should be put where they can’t bother people. How understanding would it be to put a cougher/throat-clearer in cubeville next to someone with ADHD or who has to use the phone a lot?

  32. Compost Heap for Hire!*

    #5: ” Most don’t want to make that kind of investment in anyone other than the best candidate (who they expect to pay).”

    Every company thinks that it is the best and deserves the best employees. However out of any 100 applicants, there can only be 1 who is the best; what are the other 99 supposed to do?

    Offering to work for a significant pay cut (though you are right that free is illegal), is one of the few ways that seems to even open up the discussion when after a few cycles of collecting 100 applicants and having the Best (understandably and inevitably) go with a job somewhere else with better pay or a healthier workplace culture.

    I mean, without it, it seems like the next step is usually having HR throw up their hands and say “the position has been discontinued”. :-)

  33. J*

    I had a coworker “Anne” at my last contracting assignment who wanted to use me as a reference (my assignment ended because they laid everyone off!) and then I start getting emails from “Rick” and I go “Who the hell is Rick?” but when I open it the email is from rickandanne@provider.net. Oh ok, that’s actually you Anne. Yeah her skills were pretty out of date and she was unemployed for a long time before her last job. She’ll be searching for awhile.

  34. Librarosaurus*

    I know this is popular advice on this blog, but I actually find thank you cards super weird. I’m even a little weirded out by thank you emails, but less so. It’s just so not done where I am and in my field, I guess. To me it does make someone stand-out, but in kind of a “where are they from?” sort of way…

    …maybe that’s just me.

    Regardless, I’d rather have the card than the edible arrangement I got once. Delicious. But weird. And it made me feel super guilty for not offering them a job…which was perhaps the point. It didn’t change my mind, but still. It didn’t really make me want to interview them again the next posting I had.

      1. Heatherbrarian*

        I’m assuming Librarosaurus is a librarian? I am also a librarian and I always send an e-mail post-interview. I’m not usually the point of contact with applicants when I help to hire, so I don’t know how many other candidates in the field do so, but I would find a thoughtful thank-you to be a nice touch and indicative of a particularly high level of attentiveness/interest/professionalism. (But then again I’m always surprised at how many people apply for professional positions in a library who don’t even bother to write a cover letter – even people who have the right education and professional experience and should really know better (versus the applicants one always gets who are seemingly just spamming every opening within a 50-mile radius).)

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