I’m violating my job’s new tattoo policy, I’m excluded from events that male coworkers are invited to, and more

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

1. Should I get coached by the person who will soon be interviewing me?

I am in a situation where I know I will be contacted this week or next week by an HR representative for a job interview. I was able to get access to his contact information, because the application materials contained pertinent information that I was able to trace back to him.

He advertises a service where he coaches people on doing interviews. The funny idea came in my head, what if I prompted him for interview coaching before our interview, then used his ideologies on him? He made mention that he thinks it’s important to appear as though people want the job, and this would be a very clear indication of that.

Then there’s the creepy factor of it. I took the time out to look up his information, to the point where I know it’s him that will interview me. Does this assertiveness come off as resourceful, or dangerous?

I am somewhat torn, as I know the competition is pretty fierce. This actually has a chance to make me stand out as a candidate, or will get my application binned immediately for any number of complications that could arise. Would this impress you, or creep you out?

Nooo, don’t do that. There’s nothing wrong with doing a bit of research on his professional background, but intentionally using his coaching services in preparation for an interview with him will come across as disingenuous and a little weird. You don’t gain by making your interviewer uncomfortable.

(Plus, it’s probably not possible at this point anyway, since he presumably would recognize your name as someone who he’s slated to interview next week and decline to coach you because of the conflict of interest.)

2. My tattoos will violate my job’s new tattoo policy

For four years, I have worked as a phlebotomist for a large health care organization with 10+ locations and under 30 staff working at a time in a rural area. The main dress code says nothing about tattoos but recently an amendment has been added for nursing staff, allowing no visible tattoos. I’m not technically nursing staff and was not included in the email with the change. We have a staff meeting Monday and I think our boss is going to tell us that we’re included, because we’re such a small department that we usually just get tossed in wherever and that’s fine but … I have multiple smallish girly tattoos in various visible spots.

I am not a people person and I’m easily annoyed, so I wear long sleeves 80% of the time to avoid people asking about them. My job requires a lot of glove use but not the whole time I am with a patient, like while I’m on the computer or setting up and the tattoo on my finger is visible. A Band-Aid or other covering is not hygienic and impossible to accommodate.

I will happily wear long sleeves everyday to cover my arm tattoos, along with sneakers rather than cute flats to cover my foot tattoos, but the tattoo on the back of my neck not covered by my pixie hair cut, and my finger tattoo can’t be covered. (The neck tattoo is the top of a flower, about five inches long, and shows various amounts depending on the shirt.) A turtleneck is out of the question due to non-work-related PTSD effects and I just can’t wear one.

I’m not trying to be difficult; I understand that rule are rules and they get to pick the rules, but how do I go about talking to my boss about being grandfathered in for my two uncoverable tattoos, and what do I say to my coworkers who ask about them? I do on occasion go to different health centers so it’s not just going to be an overall understanding that I get to have some showing, and I can already see people throwing a fit because I think I’m special. Obviously I’ll talk to my boss in private and just stay hushed at the meeting, but what do I say? Do I get it in writing? What if they say no and to find a new job? Am I worrying too much?

I’d say this: “I’m trying to figure out how to comply with this new rule. I have a tattoo on my finger and one on the back of my neck that will be visible. Given that I had these before the new policy, would it be possible to grandfather me in, with the understanding that I won’t get any additional tattoos that would be visible while I’m working here?”

If they say no, you could look into other ways to cover the neck one (makeup or even a bandage?) but it sounds like the finger one might be impossible to cover. If they truly won’t budge on that, it really might mean you’d need to look for other work, but I think you have a good chance of getting them to okay it, given the situation.

3. I’m excluded from events that male coworkers are invited to

Recently, our company hosted a client counsel where some of our larger customers come in to participate in discussions about our product and industries, etc. The event was organized by a management team member, and part of the agenda called for a half-day golf event off-site.

I had no idea about this golf event until the day of. I am the only mid-senior level manager who was not included, and I also happen to be the only mid-senior level manager who is a woman. My direct counterpart (same title) in a different business unit was invited – and he was the golf partner of our CEO!

My direct counterpart also has three years less overall professional experience than me (we are the same age, 30, but he took three years off after college, so I have eight years versus his five years). He also has worked at our current company two years less than me, and makes a substantially larger salary! I know this is none of my business, but I can’t help but let the resentment grow. Not to mention, his output is about 30% of mine.

This is not the first time I have been excluded from these kind of networking and team building events and I am really beginning to get extremely frustrated. How do I approach this? Do I bring it up to my manager? HR?

I’d actually start with HR on this one because it’s an issue of discrimination, and HR is (or should be) trained to take that seriously. I’d say this: “I’ve noticed that I’ve regularly been excluded from networking and team-building events that the men on our team are invited to, most recently the golf outing organized by Rupert. At this point, it’s become a patternthat appears to be based on gender, and I want to make sure that it stops.”

And by the way, while it’s certainly possible that the salary disparity between you and your less experienced colleague has nothing to do with gender, it’s also possible that it does — and particularly against a backdrop where the lone woman on the team is being professionally excluded, that’s something that your company should be concerned about. So you might factor that into your overall picture of how this company treats women as well.

4. Is it normal for really unqualified candidates to apply for jobs?

I direct a mid-sized government agency. I have noticed that when I post a high-level job, such as superintendent of teapot production, I am inundated with applicants who have nothing like the experience required in the job posting. For example, the superintendent position requires a master’s in teapot science, five years of progressively responsible supervisory experience, and seven years of work in the teapot industry. I got about 40 applicants, only five to ten of whom were qualified or close to it. The other thirty were from people who, for example, have a high school diploma and since then have worked as a bank teller. They write things like, “I would be a great fit for this position because I drink tea all the time.”

My postings for these jobs clearly spell out the requirements for the position and even ask applicants to state in their cover letters how they meet the requirements. Am I doing something wrong, or is this normal in government work – or any work? I have done hiring at previous jobs and there was nothing like this level of interest from applicants who are so underqualified.

A follow-up question is: is there any point in responding to these applicants any differently than I would from a qualified applicant who did not make it to the interview stage? It’s tempting, of course, to write rather scathing replies and I wouldn’t actually do that, but should I do anything at all differently?

Yeah, it’s pretty normal. You’ll especially get it if you advertise on big job banks like Monster or Indeed (in fact, I never advertise jobs there for precisely this reason).

I wouldn’t respond to them any differently than you would to anyone else you’re rejecting. That would take you more time anyway, and this isn’t really such an outrageous act that it belongs in “scathing reply” territory. They’re just part of the masses of people who apply to everything they see in the hopes that something sticks (or who are required to apply to a certain number of jobs per week to maintain their unemployment benefits, even if there’s nothing available that they’re qualified for).

5. My manager thinks I’m late when I’m not

I am a non-exempt federal employee. Recently my boss formally announced that anyone who is not at work on time and does not follow the dress code can submit their resignation, transfer to another department, or schedule a meeting with the Employee Assistance Program.

In general, I have no problem with the work schedule or looking professional at work. However, there is no time clock, no timesheet, no objective timekeeper. Today I was in my office by 7:30, but the boss didn’t see me until maybe 7:35 — and she said I was late. I said that I was not late, since I was here on the grounds, in the building, and in my office at 7:30. The boss works in a different building and we don’t see her every morning.

I have been working for about 15 years and definitely realize the importance of arriving on time to work. I have only worked for the federal government for the past two years, and previous jobs have all had an impartial time clock or time sheet, so it was easy to properly account for work time. I really like my job and I love the people I work with (ok, the management not so much) and I get great performance reviews. So…how can you be late if time is relative? Is this a common problem in the federal government?

I have no idea if it’s a common problem in the federal government, but I can tell you that your manager is off-base if she thinks your arrival time doesn’t count until she sees you. Since she’s making a big deal of this, I’d say this to her: “I’m always here on time, but I noticed that you don’t always know that if you don’t see me. Is there a way you’d like me to log my arrival time so that you know that I’m getting here on time?”

And if she tells you that you’re late again when you weren’t, I’d say, “I was at my computer by 7:30. Is there a way for you to check the log-in time of my computer to verify that?”

You might also consider saying, “I’ve never had a problem with lateness, and I’m concerned hat you’ve thought that I’ve been late several times when I was at my desk and working by 7:30. What can I do to clear this up so that you don’t have an inaccurate picture of my punctuality?”

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 581 comments… read them below }

  1. Brett*

    #2 My workplace has a very strict tattoo policy. Despite this, we still recognize that exceptions have to be made and have a process for grandfathering in tattoos. It requires a separate application for each tattoo and can have different outcomes depending on the tattoo and its location and content. The key here is that each tattoo and person is dealt with on a case by case basis.

    Your work should be able to do the same. As long as every has a chance to make their case, that should avoid people,throwing fits. (And our tattoo policy is a public document, so I can probably even make arrangements to share it with the OP, though many public agencies will have similar policies.) The real important thing here is that the social role of tattoos have changed and a lack of flexibility is going to cost your employer competent employees and applicants; that is why case by case exceptions exist.

    1. periwinkle*

      On the other hand, patient care is a slightly different world. I used to work at a hospital in an entirely non-patient-care role; however, all employees were required to abide by policies that prohibited certain things such as hats and open-toed footwear. Employees in patient-facing roles, even those who were not nurses or other clinical staff, had an even stricter set of rules that included restrictions/prohibitions on jewelry, fake nails, scented products, etc. Visible tattoos were not allowed.

      OP#2 is not a nurse but is still directly involved in patient care, and thus may be expected to abide by the same restrictions now being imposed on the nursing staff. Still, I imagine she would be grandfathered in due to pre-existing tattoos and (presumably) a good professional reputation with the company.

      1. CMT*

        I understand policies against jewelry, fake nails, and perfumes. Those can actually be dangerous and harm people. It seems silly to include tattoos in the same restrictions. But, I recognize there are still people who think of them as taboo, and it’s a good way for me to weed out employers that wouldn’t be a good fit. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

        1. J*

          Eh, I’m ok with tattoos in almost any situation but I would feel a little weird if my doctor or nurse had them visible. Kind of like if they were wearing a graphic t-shirt or had dreadlocks or cut off jeans. I just wouldn’t trust their judgment in quite the same way.

          1. T3k*

            Eh, to each their own. If a doctor came in wearing graphic tees I’d feel almost 100% more relaxed and more comfortable talking to them.

                1. HRish Dude*

                  Or maybe it’s a good sign that he spends so much time working he doesn’t have time to figure out what good music sounds like?

            1. Cactus*

              The doctors who treat me and my husband dress pretty professionally, but the veterinarians who treat our cats have a plethora of unusual hairstyles, tattoos, and facial piercings. I don’t really mind either way.

          2. Yet Another JD*

            Seriously? You would distrust a doctor because they had dreads?
            (FTR, yes, I do have them. I cannot imago that they reflect on my professional competence in any way.)

            1. CreationEdge*

              They reflect upon your adherence to or awareness of professional conventions. People assume, wrongly or rightly, that if you can’t bother to look the part then you may not be qualified for the part.

              I personally think it’s wrong to judge a professional by their hair style, beardedness, tattoos, piercings, etc., and to discriminate in the workplace, but it’s a reality. Not having an appearance that conforms to cultural and industry expectations can definitely cost you jobs.

              I used to work with a guy that had dreads, and when he decided he wanted a career instead of just a job, one of the first things he did was cut off his dreads. We had a pretty lax dress code, but he knew that having a more professional appearance was necessary to his advancement. His abilities and qualifications didn’t change, but his new hair style did indicate he was in touch with the norms and was likely key to him getting a new customer-facing position.

              1. SL #2*

                Yep. A good friend of mine from the political world kept his dreadlocks through college, but cut them off as soon as he got a job in our state legislature. I’ve never met a more savvy political mind, and that didn’t change with or without his dreadlocks, but I can easily see him not getting the opportunities he should’ve because of his chosen hairstyle.

              2. Lisa*

                Dreadlocks are cultural for a lot of people. I believe that it is important for professional “norms” to be inclusive of these kind of cultural differences

                1. MK*

                  And for a lot of people they are just a cool hairstyle. Which could lead you to judge some people for it (those who don’t appear to have any cultural connection to it) and not others (those you might assume are wearing them for cultural reasons). Sounds like a can of worms to me.

              3. Oh no not again*

                The problem is when all “professional” hairstyles are by default European. That’s the problem, not dreads. Business hairstyle expectations are pretty racist.

                1. Afiendishingy*

                  YES. I have a friend who’s a nurse practitioner and has long dreads (to her waist). I don’t think they look unprofessional at all.

                2. Ad Astra*

                  Yeah, a lot of traditional “professional norms” are a lot tougher on people of color, or even on some white people (often Eastern or Southern European ancestry) with thicker, curlier hair. It’s not fair to expect all professionals to have straight, smooth, Anglo-Saxon hair.

                3. oldfashionedlovesong*

                  Agreed! I’m of South Asian descent and have extremely curly hair– it basically looks like a twist out but has a different texture. A lot of my African American girlfriends wear their natural hair in twists, locs, knots, etc, and we’ve all commiserated about having to straighten and/or tie back our hair for interviews, for the first few days and weeks of a new job, a new school, even for a first date, because of this perception that non-European hairstyles are almost by default unprofessional or “not well-tended”. More than once, I’ve worn my natural curls for a second date only to be greeted with rude or uneasy comments about how I look different or, oh, he “didn’t… realize I had curly hair” (the policy then is no third date!)

                  As I get older and am more and more beginning to appreciate my genotype’s contribution to my phenotype (haha), I’ve been more deliberate about wearing my curls to challenge people’s perceptions.

                4. Chinook*

                  “It’s not fair to expect all professionals to have straight, smooth, Anglo-Saxon hair.”

                  Heck, it isn’t even fair to assume that all anglo-saxons have straight, smooth hair (stupid dry climate)

                5. Honeybee*

                  Dude, I was coming to say this. I wear my hair in an afro 50% of the time because that’s literally the way it grows out of my head. It’s not a political statement. I wear braids and tiwsts sometimes, too. I’m not going to straighten my hair every day so that other people can feel more comfortable.

                6. CreationEdge*

                  I agree. There’s a lot of similar sentiment in some of the replies below. Some of our expectations of appearance in professional settings are clear (to me) examples of classism and racism. I’m glad you (and others) pointed this out.

                  I’m not a fan of any sort of “appearance”ism. I think it’s usually just a way to justify prejudices, and only rarely presents actual work issues (like jewelry in a factory or warehouse job).

              4. Chinook*

                “I used to work with a guy that had dreads, and when he decided he wanted a career instead of just a job, one of the first things he did was cut off his dreads”

                I actually noticed this with a young white guy who was work as a labourer in our office. He head dreads (which looked grungy because they were dishwater blonde) but also expressed interest in moving from manual labour to something with regular hours and a desk. The next time he came in, he had cut his hair into something more appropriate for his cultural background. I think he either noticed that he didn’t look like someone who would work in our office (which, by the way, very multicultural and multilingual) or someone gave him a few professional fashion tips.

              5. Honeybee*

                Uh…no. Locs don’t signal or reflect anything of the sort. They’re a cultural hairstyle that’s related to the way afro-textured hair grows out of the head naturally. That reflects more on people’s eurocentric expectations about what “professional” looks like than anything else. There’s nothing unprofessional about locs and it’s sad that people have to cut them off to get a “career instead of a job”. And someone preventing another person from having a customer-facing job because they have locs is just plain racism.

            2. Not the Droid You are Looking for*

              I had the same reaction.My doctor has dreads, I never once thought any less of him.

              I get so frustrated with the idea that having dreadlocks or other ‘natural’ hair styles eliminate the possibility of succeeding professionally, or calls people’s judgement into question.

              1. neverjaunty*

                Probably because “look the part” has a lot of race, gender and class expectations written into it.

                1. rando*


                  Thankfully, my law firm has moved on from this and Black lawyers can be successful without straightening our hair. I worked past midnight three days this week. I would not be happy if I had to squeeze in time to straighten my coily hair at some point!

                  Also, keep in mind that for some, dreadlocks are a part of their sincerely held religious beliefs.

                2. Ad Astra*

                  In the medical field, “looking the part” means wearing scrubs and maybe a white coat. Possibly a stethoscope. That’s really all you need to look professional at a hospital or clinic. Which is why the dreads aren’t unprofessional and the Batman T-shirt is.

                3. The Strand*

                  Good point. There was a very depressing story a few years back – I think on Jezebel – about a talk sponsored by Glamour Magazine, in which aspiring and young professionals were told that “natural” African hair was “political”.

              2. F.*

                I don’t want to offend anyone, and this is a legitimate question: How does one keep dreadlocks clean? Can you shampoo the hair?

                1. Rat in the Sugar*

                  Yes, they make dreadlock shampoo and dreads can be washed, they just can’t be brushed.

                2. eee*

                  here’s the thing–if your hair is naturally the texture to dread, or twist, or do other black natural hairstyles, you can wash it, because your hair is going to stick that way. If your hair is not the natural texture to dread, then it will wash out with products at first, and so you have to not wash your hair for a long time if you’re dreading your hair. This contributes to people’s perceptions of dreads and other natural hairstyles as inherently dirty, because you think back to blonde Meg from connecticut with her unwashable dreads and think “that hair is gross” and unfairly punish Ken from atlanta who can and does regularly wash his hair. So basically, if your hair is the correct natural texture for dreads, it’s easy to keep clean!

                3. fposte*

                  @eee–oh, God, blonde Meg. Who maybe didn’t get that “big hair mats” and “dreadlocks” weren’t the same thing.

                4. KR*

                  eee, you can absolutely wash dreads if you don’t have kinky hair! The trick is that you cannot wash them every day (but really that’s awfully unhealthy for any hair) and you cannot use soaps that condition or leave a lot of residue. Dr. Bronners Peppermint or Hemp soap is amazing for dreads and smells so so good.

                5. SerfinUSA*

                  We had a white guy in my department with stinky dreads. He mostly kept them under a baggy hat. Due to other visual cues, I think people assumed there was a religious connotation, which he didn’t discourage.
                  But it was pretty obvious he never washed them, just applied something else smelly over the top of the dirty hair aroma.
                  Anyhoo, having grown up poor and a client of neighborhood free clinics, I associate health professionals of color wearing natural hair with being taken good care of when I was sick and broke. It was comforting to know these folks were willing to do such hard work in tough areas, and to expect them to try to do ‘white’ hair in addition is stupid.

                6. Charlotte Collins*

                  I’m OK with dreads, if they’re neat and well-cared for, like any other hairstyle. However, it’s when people who clearly don’t have the right hair texture who try to do them that I get annoyed. They never look good and it strikes me as cultural appropriation. (And I love natural hairstyles – I remember that Glamour article and thinking that it didn’t really go with the mag’s normal attitude about appreciating differences.)

                  For the most part, natural blondes with fine hair especially shouldn’t wear dreads, because hair that color and texture does need to be washed and combed every day or it just looks gross. (I have a lifetime of experience with this, so I know what I’m talking about.)

                7. Susie*

                  My hair is naturally fine and straight (no natural wave at all) but it’s also frizzy and willingly tangles the second you look at it funny. I had really awesome dreads when I was in grad school and they were most definitely clean.

                  I found they tightened up faster and caused me less issues the cleaner I kept them. So no conditioners or shampoos with residue because it left silicone and other chemicals in my hair. Nobody likes buildup.

                  Unfortunately there are companies out there that profit on selling waxes to get very smooth hair to stick together and form locs. Those are the dreads that smell because washing them would take the wax out and the locs would fall apart. If your hair won’t dread naturally without the use of those products, don’t do it.

              3. Laurel Gray*

                THIS. I don’t know anyone with a “professional” job who wears dreadlocks and isn’t black so it is impossible for me to hear/read any criticisms related to locks and professionalism and not feel the racial undertones in the statements.

                1. eee*

                  right? all the people *I* know who shaved their dreads when it was time to get professional were white college students who could just shave off their hair and be free of the stigma. When I hear that dreads are “unprofessional”, I think of my black friends with natural hair who would otherwise have to a) *keep* their head shaved (because I bet corn rows, afros, and other hairstyles are “unprofessional” too) or b) relax or otherwise change the texture of their hair

                2. Serin*

                  When I see news stories about some of the regulations imposed on black women’s hair, I can’t help feeling that the rules are being written by people who believe that it’s unprofessional to be black in the first place.

                3. Natalie*

                  @ Serin, unless they’re like the first black Barbies – exactly the same as white Barbie but from a different dye lot. Sigh.

                4. J*

                  I apologize, I was absolutely thinking of only white people dreads when I made that comment. I had several friends with hippy white people dreads and I wouldn’t be OK with a doctor who sported that look.

                5. A grad student*

                  @J- I totally agree with you. People with natural dreadlocks look perfectly fine to me, and several people I know with them look more professional than I (Anglo Saxon girl) do just about always. Then there are all of the white college students who have them. I’ve never ever seen *that* look remotely in the area of professional and really have a hard time picturing it.

              4. Honeybee*

                I did my second interview for my current job with an afro deliberately because I wanted to see how people reacted. I wore a twist-out for the on-site. I refuse to straighten my hair for work and my hair is going to be natural 99% of the time on the job, so why should I pretend otherwise? I’m judging jobs by how they react. Luckily no one blinked an eye and I wear a big ol’ afro to work probably about half the time.

              5. TrainerGirl*

                And most people don’t even realize why they have those beliefs. I’ve questioned coworkers in the past for professing that they like my hair better straight than the natural curls that grow out of my head. When asked, the conversation usually veers into “well, I just think it’s more professional” territory, which is absolutely ridiculous. And then you’re left with someone who’s uncomfortably forced to examine their long-held beliefs about non-European standards. I enjoy that, but it’s not always good for your career.

                1. MashaKasha*

                  I hadn’t realized how much of a problem this was until I read a comment thread on Gawker a year or so ago. It was a shock to me that keeping natural hair like yours “more professional” requires getting a perm about every other week, people listed all sorts of straightening chemicals they had to use, said they couldn’t work out, because the sweat would un-straighten the hair… and they all said it’s either all that or have issues with advancing professionally in their careers. I didn’t know any of it and of course I think that’s a ridiculous requirement. Additionally as an Askenazi Jew, many of my family members had naturally curly hair as do many people of our ethnicity, but I don’t ever see or hear of a requirement that people of European ancestry with naturally curly hair have it chemically straightened, because “that’s more professional”; so you’re right, it is very one-sided.

            3. Maiasaura*

              I wonder if some of the resistance to dreads is race-based.

              It is my impression that on an individual with what is generally considered African-type textured hair, dreads, locs, and braids are perceived as completely professional, and are more statements of style than political statements. In contrast, virtually every individual I encounter with European-texture hair who has dreads is making a political statement, and those with braids have inevitably returned from a trip to a tropical destination.

              I live, however, in an area where Caucasians are a minority (the Upper Cretaceous, in what will one day be the state of Montana), so that may influence professional norms.

            4. Bend & Snap*

              Hmm. The head of the NICU at a world-renowned Boston hospital has dreads. He also personally and through his staff took amazing care of my premature baby for the month she spent in the NICU.

              It never occurred to me to trust him less because of his hairstyle.

              Apparently personal styling choices were supposed to trump the fact that he runs a world-class NICU as the head of Neonatology and teaches at Harvard Medical School?

            5. Chinook*

              “You would distrust a doctor because they had dreads?”

              For me, it would depend on who was wearing them. If they looked like me and had similar hair type, absolutely because it is not something that happens naturally to my hair type (my Irish/British ancestry shines through loud and clear). But, someone with naturally kinky, thick hair I wouldn’t think twice about it because it is a much more natural way to deal with that hair type and actually takes a lot less product and effort to keep it that way.

              And as someone who has a tattoo that is visible when I wear dresses but not when I wear pants, I would have an issue with not being grandfathered into a no tattoo policy unless they had a specific complaint about my tattoo (maybe a patient was once attacked by Eeeyore at a Disney park?) You can’t demand employees change permanent marks to their body after they have worked for you for years. And while it is becoming less and less likely now, how would they deal with those tattoeed against their will, for cultural reasons or for medical reasons? Also, would they have an issue with permanent make-up (which is technically more hygienic than the temporary stuff)?

            6. Dot Warner*

              I would distrust a *white* doctor who had dreads. I used to live in a college town and I associate the “white person with dreads” with college people who smoke weed and don’t bathe regularly. (Full disclosure: I’m white.)

              Black people, keep rocking those dreads! You look great and if I were your boss, I’d defend you against anybody who wants to give you static! White people, sorry, dreads just aren’t a good look for us.

              1. Ad Astra*

                I do wish my fellow white people would stop wearing dreads. Besides the fact that it’s a bad look and not a good fit for hair of that texture, it’s also cultural appropriation and that’s kind of icky.

                On black people (and anyone else who has the appropriate hair texture), I think dreadlocks can look very sophisticated. I wouldn’t put dreadlocks in the same category as, say, pink hair or facial piercings.

                1. DeeCee*

                  We have a high level person here who wears dreadlocks, and everyone adores him. He’s a great guy and extremely competent; keeps moving up the ladder. However, I think anyone should be able to wear their hair however they like. If you have course hair and want it straightened, go for it. If you have straight hair and want it curly, fine. If you want dreadlocks, braids, or a shaved head, it’s no skin off my back. I do, however, think that some hairstyles are going to impact how the wearer is perceived, just as choice of dress or other grooming will do so. Some folks won’t care, others will. We had a whole discussion here on sleeveless shirts for women in an office. Some consider it unprofessional, others don’t (realizing that it’s totally NOT okay for men who work in an office). I have mostly “normal” hair but it tends on the wavy/curly/frizzy side, and I realize that impacts how professional I look, so I go between just dealing with it as is and taking burning the heck out of it to get it to look smooth and “professional.”

                2. AnonAcademic*

                  To be fair, locs are culturally associated with Rastafari culture and you don’t have to be black to be Rastafari. You can’t necessarily know by skin color whether someone is “appropriating” or not. That requires a conversation about culture, intentions, etc.

                3. Ad Astra*

                  AnonAcademic, all of the white people I’ve personally known who have dreadlocks were upper-middle class potheads who were appropriating Rastafari culture because they liked Bob Marley. But I knew that because I knew them. You make a great point that you can’t know by skin color alone if someone is appropriating another culture.

            7. Green*

              I just want a doctor who even just pretends like they’re listening to me. I don’t care what they look like unless it’s something extremely unhealthy (i.e., I wouldn’t want to see my doctor smoking).

              1. Not So NewReader*

                I have met a few doctors that rush home and draw the drapes and light up. But then again, I have had doctors tell me about the illegal drugs they have used, also.

                1. AnonyMoose*

                  I have so many stories from my college years of LA-clubbing with doctors. Wait, not that I went out clubbing with my doctors, that I met a lot of doctors when I would go out clubbing. It’s like once they became attendees they were released back into the wild and were making up lost time from college/grad school when they were stuck studying. I don’t judge ’em for it. *shrug*

                2. Green*

                  “Illegal” drugs doesn’t inherently mean “extremely unhealthy” though. If my doctor vapes once in a while I could care less; if they’re a chain smoker or a heroin addict I’m getting more concerned.

            8. J*

              I was thinking more like the hippy white people dreads. Maybe I should have said liberty spikes or something else.

          3. Lady Bug*

            I feel the exact opposite. While I’d have no negative feelings about a doctor who dressed professionally, I’d trust the tattooed dreadlocked doc in a Batman tee more. I think it’s a combination of the fact that they are clearly confident in their skills and I feel like they would be more open to listening to all my symptoms and would be more open minded to alternative treatments if the conventional ones don’t work, since they are clearly more open minded in general.

            in fact some of the best interactions I’ve had have been with tattooed and pierced employees, they are generally relaxed and friendly.

            I do feel guilty now because when I see a really nice tattoo with precision work, I will ask where it was done. Always on the look for a great artist. I’ll have to keep myself in check OP

            1. LBK*

              Not to speak for the OP but I don’t generally mind if people ask where I got mine done, it’s the questions about what it means and why I got it that are more annoying.

              1. LBK*

                (Side note: one of them is a line of text that runs down the back of my arm so it’s half visible if I’m wearing short sleeves. You would be amazed at the number of strangers who feel it’s acceptable to lift up my sleeve so they can read the whole thing.)

                1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

                  I hate the random stranger touching! I have one on my right shoulder that is pretty vibrant, and there is nothing worse than being poked in the back by a stranger who wanted to “feel it.”

                2. Brisvegan*

                  Ewww, lifting your sleeve!

                  My tattoo is just below my clavicle and right now I am very glad no-one has ever tried to move a garment to see it all.

              2. Ad Astra*

                I also hate having to explain my tattoo to strangers and distant acquaintances. The tattoo happens to be in memory of someone who died, so if I explain that the nosy person gets all sad and uncomfortable. Had I known I was signing up for a lifetime of protecting other people’s feelings about a my loss, I would have chosen a less visible location.

              3. StudentPilot*

                I don’t mind explaining mine, but I’m not a fan of people who just….reach out and touch. I’m not an AT&T commercial.

          4. LBK*

            Can you expand on this feeling at all? Which part of having a tattoo or wearing certain clothes or having a certain hairstyle correlates to someone’s medical knowledge or capabilities? Is this based off of experiences you’ve had, or just a general cultural assumption that people with those appearances have bad judgment?

            I get that there’s the question of “professional appearance” but that’s such a vague term that frequently comes with sexist/racist/homophobic/etc undertones. In terms of the medical world it says nothing about someone’s bedside manner (which I would consider the more accurate mark of professionalism for a doctor) or, y’know, their actual ability to administer care to you.

            There’s a really frustrating double standard of people who look the part having to prove they aren’t capable and people who don’t look the part having to prove they are. How about we just start everyone with a clean slate and judge their ability based on their ability rather than anything else?

            1. Dylan*

              Professional appearance is almost certainly going to be unfair to minorities but it is a useful way to signal to employers, patients, clients, etc that you take the job seriously. Realistically you’re going to have to rely on indirect indicators like this to judge how someone does their at least sometimes.

              1. Anna*

                It’s not useful, though, if it is an assumption that turns out to be inaccurate. It’s actually lazy shorthand for “professional” and just from reading this blog we all know that how a person presents or fits the assumption of what is professional often times is horribly wrong.

                1. Dylan*

                  Being wrong and thinking a doctor is professional when he/she isn’t is orders of magnitude worse than thinking a doctor isn’t professional when he/she is.

                  Any way of gathering information on someone’s ability and professionalism is going to be indirect and imperfect.

                2. Helka*

                  Being wrong and thinking a doctor is professional when he/she isn’t is orders of magnitude worse than thinking a doctor isn’t professional when he/she is</blockquote

                  Not when you're a doctor trying to get a position.

                3. LBK*

                  I would argue the exact opposite for a doctor. Placing your medical care in someone’s trust purely because they look professional is ridiculous. You’ll be able to tell in about 30 seconds of speaking with them if they actually conduct themselves professionally or not, and that’s a much better indicator than your first visual impression. It tells you so much more than what they’re wearing could.

                4. Dylan*

                  I’m not arguing you should trust a doctor because they dress nice. Nearly every doctor dresses professionally so it doesn’t signal much when they do. Dressing outside professionally norms though makes me questions whatever they reject other professional norms. That means a lot to me.

              2. Becky*

                You said, “Professional appearance is almost certainly going to be unfair to minorities”, and I encourage you to stop there and consider the possibility that “professional appearance” has actually been deliberately defined to be unfair to minorities, especially when it comes to hair. This is not an accident, and you absolutely have the freedom to wake up tomorrow and stop subscribing to a narrow definition of what “professional appearance” looks like.

                1. Dylan*

                  I never defined what “professional appearance” is. I’m fine with tatoos and dreadlocks, and Sikh hair, etc. More realistically we should expand people’s understanding.

                  I just think its ok that we have this expectation that someone taking blood from us shouldn’t wear a old trucker hat, jeans and a “get er done” shirt.

          5. TL -*

            I had a doc with dreads. He was good – professional, competent, did his job well. (Only saw him once to rule out a potential condition in his specialty.) His dreads were as neat and well kept as my referring doctor’s crew cut.

          6. Elizabeth West*

            I do not give one rat’s patootie if my doctor or nurse or PA or phlebotomist or dental hygenist or whoever has tattoos. All I care about is if they are competent and act in a professional manner. A tattoo they might have gotten at eighteen (or younger) does not reflect who they are after they’ve run the gauntlet of nurse or doctor training. I have ink, but even when I didn’t, I still didn’t give a crap if other people did.

            I would LOVE it if my doctor were wearing a Star Wars or Avengers t-shirt. Or a tie with the TARDIS all over it. Instant geek rapport. :) Cut-off jeans are different; that’s not professional wear at any job. Though I doubt I’d care if I were dying and they called a doc in and he/she rushed off the beach to save my life.

            1. Kyrielle*

              Yep. When I met my current doctor for the first time, I liked her as a doctor. When I met her the second time, she was wearing henna from a weekend festival – I mentioned the henna was lovely and she said where she got it. I don’t go to that event, but I know about it and like that general subculture (just don’t like the rural location’s effect on my allergies), and we had a great geeky chat about it.

              Most tattoos wouldn’t trigger that response in me, but honestly, I mostly think they’re pretty or totally fail to pay attention. (I admit something really polarizing would make me uncomfortable, but it’d have to be overtly nasty.)

            2. SerfinUSA*

              I once had a temp crown pop off and my dentist’s lab guy came hustling in from a soccer game in full sports gear to do another fitting. Of course my dentist is pretty alt and has her show rottweilers in their own ‘office’ and once gave me a bottle of champagne for being a good sport about another dicey tooth issue.

          7. My Fake Name is Laura*

            Why would dreadlocks make you feel weird? Dreadlocks are one of many traditional and cultural hairstyles with a long history of importance across the African diaspora.

          8. LeighTX*

            My cousin is a doctor and is studying to become an anesthesiologist. He has a very colorful and graphic tattoo on one forearm, and I personally find it disturbing. I certainly wouldn’t want it to be the last thing I saw before I was put to sleep before surgery! I don’t know if he plans to wear long sleeves all the time, but I wish his younger self had thought twice about some of his tattoos before he got them–or at least thought about their placement.

            1. Honeybee*

              I’ve been put under twice for surgery and I certainly cannot remember what the anesthesiologist even looked like in the face, much less what was on his forearm. The “sleep” in surgery is really unconsciousness – it’s not like you can dream or even remember anything from the period of time you were under, so the tattoos would be irrelevant to the experience of the anesthesia. (Also they generally wear lab coats with long sleeves.)

              What I remember about the second anesthesiologist was him being really warm and cracking jokes to help me feel more relaxed before I went under the general anesthesia. Which was awesome.

        2. Knitting Cat Lady*

          I’d understand policies against tattoos if your work in the MRI lab. Many tattoo inks contain metal particles and those don’t react well to strong magnetic fields.

          Apparently they can get warm or swell up during a scan. No problem if you’re a patient, might be problematic if you work there every day.

          Fun fact: I used to work with particle accelerators. One of the detectors had a huge magnet. Cue coworker with steel toed boots who forgot that the magnet was on. He got to close and got the feet pulled out from under him. So he worked barefoot in the cave…

          1. Dianna*

            The part about tattoo ink containing metal is heavily dependent upon the kind of tattoo ink used – it’s not a typical reaction, and I imagine that someone trained to work around MRI equipment would be aware of that kind of reaction before choosing to work in that field.

          2. blackcat*

            I got a couple of new piercings while working as an undergraduate research assistant. I did not realize how bad of an idea this was when I’d be working in the same room as very strong, pulsing magnetic fields. Ouch. Those suckers took much longer to heal than they otherwise would have.

          3. themmases*

            When I worked in MRI research I think every single tech had tattoos. The effect really depends on the specific content of the ink. Oftrn it can be subtle enough to be noticeable but not dangerous. Also, although the magnet is always on techs typically aren’t in there for as long as patients or during sequences.

            Jewelry is a way bigger problem, or pocket stuff like pens and paperclips which can turn into projectiles. At my hospital if someone wore their steel toed boots or jewelry in the chamber they’d be reassigned until they redid their training and maybe longer. Those incidents are really dangerous and suggest that the person who brought metal around can’t handle the responsibility.

            All that said, you might be surprised by how much stuff isn’t a problem. My permanent retainer is MRI conditional up to at least 1.5 Tesla. Non ferromagnetic metals will still ruin an image though with distortion and artifact. Not sure if ink would really rate– I worked with kids.

            1. AnonAcademic*

              I have a permanent retainer (wire behind my bottom front teeth) and have been successfully scanned at 3T many times (no artifact). It all really depends on the metal!

        3. Ad Astra*

          Yeah, it seems like that tattoo restrictions are about projecting a certain image, while the other rules could reasonably affect the health, safety, or comfort of a patient. Businesses are free to make whatever dress code rules they want to, but I think restricting visible tattoos is annoyingly old-fashioned. Not everyone likes tattoos, but even the oldest, most conservative patients out there are accustomed to seeing people in public with visible tattoos.

          At this point, if someone has a problem with their doctor/nurse/phlebotomist/whatever having a tattoo, that’s their own problem. There are probably some people out there who have a problem with women wearing pants or short hair, or think a buzz cut is the only acceptable look for a man, or have whatever other ideas about how someone should look. I don’t think those preferences are worth forming a policy over.

        4. Stranger than fiction*

          I realize the social stigma has changed, but I’m wondering if there’s some paranoia about Hep C? I’ve heard you can contract it if tattoos are done in an unprofessional manner not using clean needles. I realize it’d be near impossible to pass it on while drawing someone’s blood, but could that have something to do with people’s uncomfortableness? I’m asking sincerely, obviously I don’t know all the ins and outs and have no tattoos myself.

            1. TootsNYC*

              yeah, it would be more sensible to require people to pass a Hep C test at whatever intervals are appropriate.

            2. Stranger than fiction*

              Oh yeah that’s a good point employees can be tested. And of course plenty of other people have that, my ex died from it (way way after we split) actually but he used drugs :(

          1. KR*

            Reputable tattoo shops in most states have to undergo inspections and licensing to prove that they are clean. A good tattoo artist won’t even clean the needles, he’ll just use a fresh one.

          2. Ad Astra*

            I would guess that the Hep C paranoia was one factor in the outdated social stigma about tattoos. But since tattoo shops are regulated and you can be tested for Hep C, I don’t think it’s much of an issue. The number of people with tattoos (about 1 in 5 adults, and something like 40 percent of adults under 30) far exceeds the number of people with Hep C (about 3.2 million total).

            1. AnonyMoose*

              And there is a new medication which is mindblowingly effective at ‘getting rid’ of hep c symptoms permanently. Although you feel like you have the flu for 6 months. I’d say that’s a great tradeoff.

              1. Omne*

                It also costs about $90,000 and a lot of insurance companies and government programs are refusing to pay it. It’s up to the courts now.

                1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

                  Even though $90,000 probably is less than lifetime maintenance for the average Hep-C patient. Perhaps the pharma company is charging that much for it , using this rationalization.

        5. Koko*

          It’s weird to me that a company which didn’t previously have a tattoo policy is instituting one now, when tattoos are far less taboo and far more commonplace today than ever before. Why is this institution moving in the opposite direction of public perception?

          1. Charlotte Collins*

            I was wondering the same thing! They’re very common for some generations, and it’s not like you can easily remove them. (I sometimes think that I’m the rebel for *not* having a tattoo. But needles are involved…)

          2. Tinker*

            I’ve seen this pattern in a number of things lately, body modification included. My theory is that when something becomes less taboo and more commonplace, for some people that makes it constitute more of a threat than when the taboo is solidly established. The people who are accepting are… well, they are accepting, but those people who are not accepting seem to get into a “hold the line against the hordes” attitude that persists (IMO) beyond all good sense. I’m not sure that it’s quite the same phenomenon as the extinction burst, because I think it’s not quite the same pattern of reinforcement, but it has a similar sort of feel to it.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              There are always hold-outs, people who rigidly cling to old ideas even though the old rationale has been proven wrong. We see it in the news headlines almost daily- people that will not just. let. go.

      2. Tattooed OP*

        patients are very vocal about my appearance, I’ve gotten everything from being told I should let my eyebrows get thick other ladies to I shouldn’t wear green but not once has a patient ever had a problem with my tattoos.

        1. Allison*

          This is key, right here. It seems to me that you’ve been doing your job for a while and your tattoos haven’t caused a problem, that you know of anyway. Unless the new policy was prompted by patients complaining about you, or complaining about visible tattoos at your location, my guess is management will be willing to grandfather you in here.

        2. F.*

          As long as you are clean, following patient safety protocol, can hit my vein easily, and don’t get rattled when I faint (vascular syncope), then I don’t care how many tattoos you have! Why would anyone care about your eyebrows?!

          1. Green*

            To be fair, many patients in healthcare settings are on some crazy pain drugs, are in extreme pain and have no filter, or are older/have dementia/have reduced filter. I’m sure there are lots of odd ducks and mean people, but I am sure many healthcare workers hear all kinds of crazy things (and bless them for handling it well!).

        3. BananaPants*

          I don’t care if my plebotomist is purple with green polka dots if s/he can hit a vein on the first stick with minimal discomfort.
          I go out of my way to have blood drawn at the drawing station at my OBGYN’s office because the phlebotomy technician there is just that good – I had to use the hospital lab when I was doing the bloodwork to be a milk donor, and that made me appreciate the usual guy just that much more.

          1. Rex*

            +1 — a skilled plebotomist is worth their weight in gold. Your employer is an idiot if they would consider letting a good one go over a few small tattoos.

      3. A Minion*

        I’m very curious to know why visible tattoos are prohibited in a healthcare setting. I’ve heard that policy and my husband works at a hospital and it’s the same there, but I’d like to know the reasoning behind it. Is it because tattoos are seen as unprofessional and it’s to avoid offending patients? Or is there some health reason I’m unaware of?
        I’m not asking this to be combative or to challenge the company’s right to have a tattoo policy; I’m genuinely interested to know if there’s any kind of health risk associated with tattoos that I don’t know about.

        1. Natalie*

          It’d be a stretch. You can catch certain blood borne diseases from tattoo needles if your tattooist isn’t using proper technique, but I don’t think that’s terribly common in practice (unprotected sex and IV drug use are the primary vectors.) Even for blood donation there is no waiting period unless you received your tattoo in a state that doesn’t license tattooists.

          1. Persephone Mulberry*

            And if that were the issue, then they’d have to not hire people with tattoos, not just ask them to cover up, since it’s not the tattoo that’s the risk, it’s the process of getting it. Right?

        2. alter_ego*

          I don’t think there are any actual health risks, but I think, especially in older generations where tattoos were something for criminal and delinquents, there was a strong association with disease, because tattoos are obtained through the use of needles, as are many diseases. Nevermind that tattoo shops use fresh, sterilized needles, if your mental image of receiving a tattoo is some guy in a prison yard using a sewing needle and a melted comb, then tattoos are going to feel inherently…dirty somehow.

          I, for the record, love tattoos, and don’t think they’re unprofessional at all. But I think that’s how some people perceive them.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Well, some people DO have prison tattoos, including people I know and care about, but you can get tested for diseases. If anyone asked, you can say with a big smile, “Got all my tests and all my shots!”

            1. alter_ego*

              Like I said, I have no issues at all. I was just explaining why some people react poorly to seeing them in a healthcare setting. And I think those people are wrong, for a variety of reasons (they aren’t injecting you with their blood, there isn’t actually a correlation, just because you can’t see a tattoo doesn’t mean it isn’t there).

        3. Windchime*

          I work in the IT department of a health care organization. Until very recently, all visible tattoos had to be covered here. The reasoning was that healthcare, at least here in my geographic area, is still a very conservative business and that some of our older patients may associate tattoos with dangerous people like gang members or prisoners. It seems, though, that was painting with a very broad brush–surely the lovely flower tattoo on someone’s ankle isn’t going to give an elderly lady the vapors. There are similar rules about certain types of visible piercings.

          The tattoo rule has recently been relaxed somewhat. Now it’s only offensive or graphically violent tattoos which must be covered. I’ve not seen any difference except now people are free to roll up their sleeves when it gets warm.

          1. Natalie*

            “some of our older patients may associate tattoos with dangerous people like gang members or prisoners”

            I have never understood why it’s prisoners and gang members and not *military vets*, who are easily the most common people over 60 or so that I see with tattoos. And not just hidden ones, either – the sailor with full sleeve tattoos is a trope for a reason.

              1. Natalie*

                OK, but that would explain people associating neck tattoos with prisoners or gang members, not associating all tattoos with prisoners or gang members.

            1. Anna*

              It’s also ridiculous that older people think anything about tattoos, since so many older men served in wars and came back with war tattoos. My grandfather did.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                Frederick IX of Denmark (reign 20 April 1947 – 14 January 1972) had several tats he got in the navy. If a king can walk around showing off his tats, so can we! ;)

      4. AnonyMoose*

        Interesting. I work at a very large academic health institution and we, too, are okay with tattoos as long as they’re not glaringly offensive and the person does their best to cover them up. (the finger tattoo would be fine as long as she wears gloves with patients, neck/arm tattoo ‘relatively’ covered is totally fine.) Maybe it depends on the type of organization – we’re academic, perhaps we’re more relaxed?

      5. Fifi Ocrburg*

        “am not a people person and I’m easily annoyed”
        Not being a “people person” doesn’t bother me, but I’m not sure that I really want my blood drawn by someone who is “easily annoyed”–the OP might want to look at this quality more than if her body art is showing.

    2. AcidMeFlux*

      Me, I wouldn’t look forward to being serviced/stuck with a needle by someone who “..is not a people person….(and) easily annoyed”, no matter what their personal appearance. Why on earth work at something that involves very close personal contact if you don’t like working with people?

      1. misspiggy*

        For me it depends how well somebody is able to do the bits of the job they may like less, such as adopting a warm and friendly manner so that the patient relaxes and bruising is minimised.

      2. LadyTL*

        Given the number of nurses who have mangled drawing blood from me, I would be happier with someone muttering about how they hate everyone doing it right the first time then any number of friendly nurses who end up stabbing me over and over or digging around in my arm with a needle.

        1. esra*

          YES. You can be the crustiest person in the world, covered in tattoos, and I 100% won’t care if you can draw blood properly and (mostly) painlessly.

          1. Chinook*

            “You can be the crustiest person in the world, covered in tattoos, and I 100% won’t care if you can draw blood properly and (mostly) painlessly.”

            Actually, I would think if you are covered with tattoos, then you would understand the importance of good technique when it comes to needles. Someone who doesn’t have tattoos, though, wouldn’t necessarily have that same understanding and experience.

            1. AnonyMoose*

              I hate to admit this, but it’s not even remotely the same. I have very very very painful tattoos and seeing someone with tattoos doesn’t scream ‘hey now! THIS LADY will know how to stick me properly’. Although it does say something about their personality that gives me the warms and fuzzies. :)

              (it was a nice idea though, I’ll grant you that!)

        2. A Minion*

          Dear lord, I almost passed out just reading your comment. When they start to dig, and they all inevitably do because my veins are impossible to find, I generally go pale, break out into a cold sweat, then everything goes dark. Ah, good times.

      3. Sarahnova*

        Eh, I can think of lots of people this is true for who are perfectly pleasant and professional in their jobs. The OP just said she doesn’t want to be asked about their tattoos all the time, which is 100% understandable. Taking that to mean they shouldn’t have any job involving contact with people is a bit of a stretch, no?

      4. Tattooed OP*

        Drawing 80 people a day and roughly 1/2 would ask about them just gets old on top of rude behaviors such as texting or eating while im trying to draw their blood.

        1. Tattooed OP*

          Only half of that posted- Is why I write that im easily annoyed. I bite my tongue 100% of the time and appear very pleasant to all of my patients.

        2. Michelle*

          Eating and texting?? During a blood draw? I can understand being frustrated by crap like that, then add in tattoo questions and yeah, I’d be getting annoyed quick.

          1. Creag an Tuire*

            Well, I’d probably come off as rude and aloof during a blood draw, too — it’s nothing personal, OP, I’m just squeamish!

            I’m surprised people are even allowed to -eat-, though.

        3. Dot Warner*

          OK, I admit, I’m one of the people who texts (one-handed!) during blood draws or blood donation. I hate needles but I’m fine as long as I look the other way, and my phone is convenient for that.

          Eating, though? Gross.

        4. VintageLydia USA*

          I fuss with my phone but I NEED a distraction. I mention it and tell them that’s why (I think using your phone when working directly with someone else is rude under normal circumstances but drawing blood is not normal for me :/) Before the sticking needle part and immediately afterward they have my undivided attention though.

          1. Arielle*

            I do exactly the same thing. I have a little script for it: “Please don’t think I’m being rude, but I am terrible with blood draws and I am going to distract myself with my phone.” I’ve never had anyone be less than 100% okay with it – usually they’re just happy I’m not going to pass out.

      5. Umvue*

        I have never met a phlebotomist who was a people person. (At least, not outside of the Red Cross.)

        1. VintageLydia USA*

          I was just thinking that. Everyone I had was brusque. I didn’t care. Our interactions were 5 minutes tops, unless I was getting a tone drawn for some reason. And I REALLY don’t care about attitude so long as you stick me right. Since I hate the whole process the less small talk and time wasting the better.

        2. Ad Astra*

          I have met lots of pleasant, professional phelbotomists who obviously cared about minimizing patient discomfort, but I wouldn’t guess that any one of them was a “people person.”

        3. LBK*

          The ones at my doctor’s office are awesome! One of them usually has me laughing through the entire process.

        4. Elizabeth West*

          Really? I’ve never met one who wasn’t at least nice. Maybe it’s because I’m nice to them? I’m not even sure what a people person is anymore. Someone who does their job without being a dick is good enough for me.

          1. Kyrielle*

            Almost all the ones I’ve met were nice, but they weren’t chatty. Any given one might be a people person or not; the interaction is too short to tell, generally, and they need to move on to the next patient.

            As long as they can get the job done, preferably without hurting me, and aren’t actively rude, I don’t care.

              1. Kyrielle*

                That, and most labs have lots of patients in and out. If they spend an extra 2-3 minutes chatting with each of us before or after, that’s going to cut how many patients they can handle in a day. I’m not criticizing, just saying that with the amount of communication they normally need, there’s really no call for them to be “a people person” other than for their own sake – professional, courteous, caring if someone has a serious issue with needles, those are all useful. But they’re not there to be event greeters. ;)

        5. AnonyMoose*

          Actually I have always experienced the opposite! They’re usually super duper friendly. I had one guy chat me up for 10 minutes afterwards about how much he respected my specialist for testing issues that no other provider really considers. I had another woman tell me her life story in 15 minutes (it was, like, 10 tubes – so ick). Maybe it’s me? I might just have ‘that face’.

      6. KR*

        I am not a people person and I am very easily annoyed, but I also just won the customer service employee of the month equivalent at my second job at a grocery store. All it takes is a smile, politeness and being compassionate. And valuing your time off work very highly.

        1. Lindsay J*

          Seriously, I’m not a people person. I used to joke at my old job that there was a reason that they kept me in a secured building in the middle of the night. I’m a terrible salesperson because I’m not great at naturally building rapport with people.

          However, for a 5-10 minute customer service interaction I am as pleasant and professional as I can be. I’m not going to ask for your whole life story or tell you mine, but I smile, thank the customer, listen to them, and try to help them out the best I can. And customers and my bosses usually love me for it.

      7. Koko*

        Actually, I don’t really see phlebotomists as needing a huge amount of people skills. They are with each person for like, 60 seconds, tops. Very little communication beyond, “Which arm do you prefer?” “There’s a pinch coming,” and “Apply pressure here.” They’re not with you for 15 minutes trying to build a rapport, solve problems for you, or draw information out of you.

        1. Charlotte Collins*

          Those of us who are terrified of needles appreciate a little bit of friendliness. It makes an extremely stressful situation much easier.

          1. OhNo*

            Not necessarily. I have a phobia of needles and hate blood draws, but I hate them even more when the person taking my blood tries to be friendly about it. Stop it with the “it won’t be that bad” and “just a quick pinch” and “I’ll be gentle” nonsense! It’s going to hurt, and I’m going to freak out, and nothing they say will make it any better.

            Honestly, the best blood draw I’ve ever had (which was still pretty terrible) was when I got in a yelling match with the phlebotomist. At least that time I was so angry that I refused to vomit out of sheer stubborn hatred.

            1. Charlotte Collins*

              Oh, I don’t want them to claim it won’t hurt, but I appreciate that they’re quick and have a good demeanor. I don’t want a friend – I want someone who understands that I’m going through a very stressful situation and is OK with the idea that I really, really don’t want to see what is going on. Also, that I might faint and they should be prepared for that.

    3. Evergreen*

      Agreed! I know some pretty conservative people but it’s hard to imagine too much concern being caused by a simple ring tattoo and the top of a flower on the back of the neck.

      Good luck OP!

      1. Kelly L.*

        And there’s at least some chance, I think, that it will turn out that OP isn’t covered by this rule at all.

      2. F.*

        There was a conversation in this forum just last week about getting a ring tattoo in lieu of wearing a wedding ring in the workplace. I am pretty conservative myself, but I just don’t understand the problem with the OP’s visible tattoos as described.

    4. Tattoos?!*

      There is no such thing as a girlish tattoo. Sorry, there just isn’t. Way too many people are getting tattoos…

  2. neverjaunty*

    OP #3, while I agree completely with AAM’s advice, in your shoes I’d be buffing up my resume and looking hard for work elsewhere (and, given the salary issue, likely talking to a lawyer as backup). It’s 2015. If your company still doesn’t understand that “inviting everybody but the one female manager to the golf outing” is such a blatantly discriminatory move that it’s actually a cliche, it’s doubtful that a stern talk from HR will change more than their outwardly superficial behavior.

    1. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon*

      I’m torn on this. On the one hand, it’s best for OP’s career to move on from here (and to be honest, I think any kind of complaint to HR is, as a woman, going to torpedo your career in this company – they know that they’re doing this.) On the other, OP shouldn’t be forced out of her job because of discrimination.

      I’m afraid that with something this blatant I’d be starting discussions with HR on a slightly more aggressive note than Alison suggested. If it was just pay it would be different, but to actively and obviously exclude women in this way is just… Some people at your company need to be woken up to the marvels of the 21st Century OP!

      1. neverjaunty*

        No, she shouldn’t be forced out of her job because of discrimination – but the reality is that she’s in a workplace where the dudes are completely oblivious to (or simply don’t care about) how reactionary and sexist their conduct is. And I’d lay pretty good odds that the salary difference is a result of that as well. That kind of workplace is not one where Rupert is going to smack his forehead and exclaim “Crikey! How foolish of me to assume that a woman has no interest in golf but all men do, and to overlook how my conduct has unfairly excluded the LW from valuable networking!”

        1. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon*

          I would wait and see the outcome of the HR process. I’ve known men who worked in highly sexist environments and it was almost always one/two men and the rest were always very uncomfortable with what went on but didn’t know how to speak up or change it and so didn’t.

          It’s entirely possible that with HR OP can affect some culture change (like Eeyore, I am pessimistic about this) in which case hopefully she can work towards making work life better.

          Sadly, though, I think you’re right and she’ll need to end up moving on.

          1. Nashira*

            The passive acceptance is, in some ways, almost worse than the active discrimination. It says “I value my personal comfort over what’s legally and ethically correct”. Dudes need to learn to speak up and point out that it isn’t okay to exclude Elma like this. It cannot be all Elma’s responsibility.

            1. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon*

              “Dudes need to learn to speak up”

              I think that for an awful lot, learning that is the key. We are getting better and better at teaching young women how to handle and challenge discrimination in the workplace, but at the same time we are overlooking men. Many don’t speak up I suspect more because they don’t want to look like they are stepping in for the poor helpless little woman/offering help that isn’t wanted, and so they are left without the knowledge of how to best handle the situation. If, for example, here one of the men had asked OP to partner them in the golf, OP’s company would have a very hard time stopping her joining; but OP might also have been offended (maybe rightly, but this isn’t an ideal world) that she had to be specially invited.

              1. Natalie*

                I kind of doubt the issue is that they don’t want to be patronizing or offer unwanted help. Men weren’t exactly champing at the bit to challenge sexism when patronizing, unwanted help was a cultural norm (practically an imperative).

                Also, any speaking up should happen to the partners, not the LW.

                1. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon*

                  Maybe. When I’ve invited men to consider that they could help in challenging sexism, that’s one response I’ve got – worry as to how women will respond. I think one difference may be that men are aware enough now to know what (at least blatant) sex discrimination is and that it shouldn’t happen, but still don’t know how to tackle it.

                2. Mike C.*

                  It’s something I certainly think about. I still tend to speak up, but I’m careful not to speak over or speak first in a situation like this.

                3. Natalie*

                  @ Both, I can understand that it is a real concern for some, but I have a hard time believing it’s the primary reason we end up fighting these things ourselves.

                  Mike, specifically, from what I’ve read of your comments I think you’re doing just fine, FWIW.

                4. Chinook*

                  “I kind of doubt the issue is that they don’t want to be patronizing or offer unwanted help”

                  I think it is a possibility. DH often comments that he doesn’t know how to speak up in uncomfortable situations (when not in uniform) involving women because he doesn’t want them to think he doesn’t think they are capable. Heck, I have seen him look awkward when a car salesman refuses to talk directly to me once DH has pointed out that he was just along as my driver and I was the one buying the car (at which point I left and later filed a complaint with the dealership). And he has apologized for not speaking up for me publicly because he thought I was dealing with something well enough on my own even though, if he had stepped in, the issue could have been handled sooner. And don’t even get me started at his sense of panic when there are small children careening around us while we are in a line-up and the child’s head is at his crouch height – I have just learned to stand directly in front of him because he honestly doesn’t feel he has the right to stop a child from running into him.

                5. neverjaunty*

                  Eh, I’m sure some of them, like Mike C., are just trying to be mindful of boundaries and not to ride into rescue the damsel in distress. Some of them frankly just don’t want to be bothered or don’t want to piss off their buddies.

              2. Carpe Librarium*

                A few ways te OP’s colleagues could speak up:
                – When they were notified of the event: mention it to the OP “Hey, are you going to the golf thing?”
                – If they notice that the invites were only sent to men, raise it with the organiser, “Looks like you forgot to add OP to the guest list.”
                – If they don’t realise until the event raise it with the organiser, “Where’s OP?”
                – After the event, raise it with the organiser and HR “We only invited male colleagues to this event, I’m concerned about the message this sends.”
                These are all ways of showing that the oversight has been noted and is remarkable, without placing any burden on the OP.

                1. Anna*

                  They’re also fairly non-confrontational, which is important to get traction. If someone feels like they’re being backed in to a corner or shamed, they’re more likely to dig in.

              3. TootsNYC*

                We are getting better and better at teaching young women how to handle and challenge discrimination in the workplace, but at the same time we are overlooking men.

                This is so true–and such an important point!

                In all forms of bullying and harassment, it is the bystanders who have the power. I have -been- the bystander who stopped bullying in its tracks.

                I’ve been encouraging my son to remember that he can just say, “Dude, not cool.” Or, “We should invite Marge to the golf trip.”

                It is so true that “not all men” are harassers or abusers; most men don’t even necessarily discriminate actively (they might do it from habit or thoughtlessness). So if they can give taught the tools to speak up, they’ll be powerful fellow fighters in the war.

                And modern anti-bullying workshops for schools *are* focusing on the bystanders, the audience.

          2. Miles*

            I don’t think it’s necessarily office culture so much as that one manager. That said, even if the LW decides to leave the company, I’d be looking to build a case & use that as a negotiation item for a better severance package if nothing else.

        2. Stranger than fiction*

          I think the large salary disparity is more concerning than the golf day. Maybe, just maybe, they assumed the Op had no interest in playing golf, rightly or wrongly. It does sound like Rupert and the CEO are regular golfers. However, all the Op says about Rupert’s significantly higher pay but less experience and output, is really depressing. Perhaps that will come to light in the discussion with HR and she’ll get a nice raise. But meanwhile, I’d be looking.

          1. Charlotte Collins*

            I think the exclusion is a more visible symptom of the issue and could be part of the reason for the disparity. If the OP isn’t being invited to things, she also isn’t getting all the appropriate networking or being seen by upper management. It’s possible that they might see her as “not a team player,” even if she never was included in anything.

          2. Miles*

            Salary disparity between 2 people, on its own isn’t necessarily proof of discrimination. The golf thing is evidence that the disparity is in fact a result of discrimination, especially if it’s part of a larger pattern.

            Also, raises shouldn’t come from HR without the manager’s request (unless that’s just how company policy works). It reinforces the “diversity hire” mentality, especially if the office culture is already an intolerant one.

      2. AnonyMoose*

        I would love for her to have a chat with her boss and explain how much better she is at networking (by including some metric that shows her ROI) and that she has a handicap of 2 and attends the Masters every year. Oh and that she’s old family friends with Arnold Palmer. That’d show ’em! Damn you Rupert!

    2. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

      Not to do the “I walked 10 miles to school in the snow every day” but I will anyway.

      When I started, it was ALL like that. We were ALL left out of golf outings and 3 martini lunches and all that shit. If we gave in and decided to go for more inclusive jobs we would have gone….. to the secretarial pool?

      Don’t give in. Be the change. (corny expression but fitting and it’s what we all had to do) Don’t let them win.

      (Some women chose to learn how to play golf and be like ‘hey guys, here I am”. I chose to work harder, smarter and faster and build my own networks and win. Which I did. Nowadays I’d push the visible discrimination button while doing that at the same time.)

      1. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon*

        I absolutely get this (and thank you for breaking workplace barriers!) but I also think it might be harder nowadays (would love to hear more from people on both sides) Sex discrimination has become just taboo enough that it’s no longer widespread, and thus it tends to be individuals rather than large groups who are left fighting it where it happens. Unfortunately, in OP’s scenario I just don’t think there’s any ultimate “win” for going to HR (or for leaving the status quo, obviously) If the company’s that sexist, OP will soon find she isn’t advancing her career, isn’t getting bonuses and raises and finds she can no longer network through the company. Then what? If she sues she becomes unelectable to most other employers – even if she wins. In this case, the best way for OP’s career to advance is to move on; it’s really up to OP how far she wants to take this.

        1. Oh no not again*

          This. It’s a crappy situation all around no matter what she does. Whatever decision she makes will be the right one for her.

        2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          I won’t ever disagree with an individual making the most optimal choice for themselves vs taking on something because it’s A Cause.

          The entire situation described, though, is such horseshit and so 1986, I’d operate first out of “wow was this person who set up the event clueless regarding how egregious the gender discrimination” before I pushed to look elsewhere. One clueless or a few clueless guys don’t get to control a woman’s career.

          If it was truly institutional, maybe I’d jump. (Or maybe I’d fight. :p)

          1. anon for this*

            Prior large corporate employer sponsored a mens’ softball team. No one could understand why I wasn’t perfectly happy with the opportunity to *watch* the games. Besides, someone was needed to work late on the nights when everyone else was at their game. Nope, this wasn’t the 80’s, it was 2011-14. So glad to be gone from there. Got way too burnt out trying to change things from the inside.

            1. Charlotte Collins*

              My company just bought everyone a “employee gift” of a branded polo. I don’t really consider anything branded with my employer’s logo a gift (is my ID badge a gift?). More to the point, a polo seems like a great gift if I were a man in my 50s (I am not). It made it really clear to me how much the people making decisions around her are not women and definitely nearer the end than the beginning of their careers.

              I ordered a size for a retired family member – he was pretty excited to add something to his golfwear collection.

              1. Charlotte Collins*

                To be clear, I see the OP’s story as clear, overt sexism. But I think that there are a lot of places where the people in charge don’t really “see” women or non-WASP-y people as part of the professional workforce. And that comes out sometimes in subtle ways and sometimes in really out-there offensive ways. (So, now I’m coming full circle to the tattoo/dreadlock debate from the other letter. It’s all connected.)

                1. Charlotte Collins*

                  It’s not something women around here really wear that much, unless they’re golfing, over 50, or never dress in a conventionally feminine manner. If you like polos and wear them, that’s fine. But a lot of the women were talking about how unflattering (the choice of colors was based on the area you work, and some were very… trying) they were and what a waste of money it was for the company to invest in them. It’s really more of a pattern that the management around here thinks more in terms of what they (older men) would like than what their employees might like. (On the other hand, I’m not in management, and they didn’t make me wear one, so I’ve got that going for me.)

                  They’re trying, so that’s something. But I’d rather they spent the money on, say, nicer office equipment.

                2. Judy*

                  Also, most of the time, they don’t pick a style that has both men’s and women’s sizes, so they don’t fit the women well. I don’t have any polos that are not company polos, but it’s at least a small victory when they choose a style that fits me better.

                3. Honeybee*

                  @Judy that’s what my thought was. I actually really like polo shirts, but often corporate polos come from a “unisex” design that’s really a men’s design and doesn’t fit the women correctly.

                4. Lindsay J*

                  I wear polos by my own choice sometimes, but they are women’s polos and are cut in a manner that is more flattering.

                  Men’s polos make me look boxy and terrible, no matter what the size. A couple of workplaces used polo shirts as their uniform and they were all men’s cuts, and I was always annoyed by it because there is no way I can look neat and professional in a shirt that fits me like an old sack.

        3. nofelix*

          Suing your former employer doesn’t make you unemployable. If you have a reasonable case they won’t want anyone to hear about it and will likely settle out of court.

          Of course the suit could get attention for other reasons, say if it’s a high profile company or you tell the media yourself to exert pressure on them.

          1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

            It’s a long jump to lawsuit! Lawsuit is for, IMHO, deeply engrained gender discrimination that can’t be resolved any other way.

            People are often clueless. There could be a dozen (none of them good) reasons the OP was excluded from that event. Or the other event. The underlying reason may be gender discrimination when the person who is doing the discriminating doesn’t realize it at the top of his brain. “Gwen doesn’t fit in at these events.” << said by the stereotypical male management guy in his brain, may not equal in his conscious brain "I think Gwen doesn't fit in because she is a woman. I'm all in favor of cutting out all women.", even if that is what he is actually doing.

            So start somewhere and see what happens next. Is what I think.

            1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

              *Lawsuit is for institutional gender discrimination, I mean to say. A company that will not resolve/solve it within themselves. (IMHO)

            2. neverjaunty*

              Except as OP said, this isn’t the first or only time this crap has happened, and then there’s the salary thing.

              The difference between now and 1986 is that there are companies that AREN’T like this that you can go to, instead of every damn one of them being varying degrees of “you have to work twice as hard to be thought half as good”.

              1. Charlotte Collins*

                But it is possible that HR has no idea this kind of thing is going on. And they might be very interested to know about it.

                1. Charlotte Collins*

                  And if the OP does need to file a complaint, she will be asked if she went to HR. Unfortunately, some of the burden is on her to prove that she has a grievance.

                2. neverjaunty*

                  Of course, and OP absolutely should talk to HR. I think it would be wise for OP to have a backup plan in case a report to HR doesn’t change the institutional culture overnight.

                3. Charlotte Collins*

                  I don’t think that reporting to HR would change the culture overnight, but how they respond to it would help her decide what her next steps are.

                1. Honeybee*

                  This is super messed up, BUT I’m glad the visualization exists because maybe it will shut up people who keep claiming that the gender wage gap is due to women choosing traditionally lower compensated jobs. This shows that even women who are in higher-earning positions have salary gaps – and actually the salary gap is far larger for those high-paid jobs like lawyers, CEOs, doctors, finance, etc.

          2. Stranger than fiction*

            I think some job applications specifically ask if you’ve sued a former employer, or are in the midst of litigation though.

        4. OriginalEmma*

          I think it’s harder nowadays because the discrimination has become insidious. It’s not overt slap-on-the-butt “hey toots” kind of sexism but exclusion and differential treatment, which is easier to hide and harder to fight.

          1. Ad Astra*

            Yeah, that’s the difficulty I see and hear about often. Most men don’t consider themselves sexist or discriminatory, but they still describe women as “bossy” and men as “leaders.” Or they think it’s admirable when fathers take off work to be with their kids but flaky when mothers do it. Or they call women in their department who are in their late 20s/early 30s “young lady,” which drives me insane.

            The way to end sexism in the workplace is to examine the beliefs and practices that we didn’t realize were sexist.

            1. Natalie*

              Not just men, women do it too. Patriarchy hurts everyone. :(

              There’s a study I read about recently (maybe recently published?) about how adults gender infants – their perception of an infants personality is noticeably different if they’ve been told the baby is a boy or a girl. The babies, of course, have not spontaneously switched sexes.

              1. Ad Astra*

                You’re right! It has a lot to do with how we’re taught to see men and women a certain way, and those are messages box genders receive growing up.

              1. Ad Astra*

                He’s about my dad’s age, so I sort of want to call him “old man,” but… I also want to keep my job.

                1. Ms. Piggy*

                  Our new COO calls me this. It makes me crazy. If I have to settle for an obnoxious phrase, can I pick a different one?

              2. Charlotte Collins*

                I thought “young lady” should only be used for a juvenile girl who is in trouble and related to you.

                Then again, I once had to explain to my manager that even though we were all women, it was very inappropriate for another manager to call me “dear” and “sweetie.” If she couldn’t remember my name, she didn’t need to fill that in with an endearment.

            2. Honeybee*

              There’s a really sweet, awesome guy at my office who calls me and two of my other new coworkers “young lady.” We’re all late 20s, and were all hired in the last six months. I can’t say it drives me insane but it does bother me: on the one hand I know he doesn’t “mean anything by it,” and he’s so nice and sweet, but on the other hand..really?

              1. JD*

                Have you stopped him any of these times and said, “Please, just Honeybee is fine”? As you said, he’s a sweet guy, but maybe he’s bad with names, so he calls you young lady when he can’t remember to at least still try to be polite. I’ve done similar stuff, but small offices so less names to learn(usually a lot more males than females, and I’m a lot older than I look, so my standby ended up being young pup or whippersnapper since most of the newer guys were double digits less in age). Especially since he may have been meeting a lot of people to start out and be having troubles remembering all of their names(you said you were just starting out as well, so he may have been more inclined to remember the names of people that he may be sent to for stuff)

        5. Katie the Fed*

          There’s a long way between a conversation with HR and a lawsuit though. HR might be able to fix this up – if it’s a big enough company they definitely have policies about this stuff and mandatory anti-discrimination and all of that stuff. The company might very well deal with this effectively.

          1. neverjaunty*

            There’s also a long way between a conversation with a lawyer and a lawsuit. The point of OP talking to a lawyer is to have a good sense of what her options are and what she needs to do to protect herself, if Rupert et al decide that they’re unhappy she brought their little male bonding sessions to the attention of HR.

      2. JGray*

        Agreed!! I think that Alison was spot on with her advise. Go to HR and tell them what has been occurring. Companies want to avoid lawsuits and so do most employees- none of us really want them because they take up a lot of time and money. Not that the LW couldn’t bring a lawsuit if the need arose. But I think that nowadays everyone is really quick to sue when perhaps a conversation would have been better. Ghandi said “Be the Change You Want to See in the World”. If women (and men) don’t stand up for ourselves and each other than no one will. I also think that even if the LW does ultimately decide to just leave the company she might make an impact that will make it better for the next woman in her job.

    3. CM*

      Lawyer up, OP #3! This is such a clear case of gender discrimination.
      But OK, if you don’t want to to do that, at least see it for what it is. It’s NOT “none of your business” that your male coworkers are making more for doing the same job, and that you are excluded from events. You DO have a right to be treated fairly, and to make noise about being treated fairly.

    4. LQ*

      I agree with a lot of what is said here. Which sucks. But now is the time to start reaching out and reinforcing your network, even if you don’t need it, it’s a good thing to do. If you can afford to fight the fight that’s great because not everyone can, and when the fight still needs to be fought it’s great to have people who can.

    5. JC*

      Just wanted to chime in and say that I work for an otherwise totally reasonable organization that also recently held a golf outing with our board members that was attended entirely by men. I only heard about it after the fact because a guy at my level that I’m competing for a promotion with went. There may have been women who were invited and there may have been a logical-sounding reason why the other dude was invited (e.g., he might have been working at our other office that day, which is near where the golf outing happened). And if I was invited I wouldn’t have gone because I have never played golf. But still, all I could think was, “Are you kidding me? A man I’m in competition with was invited to play golf with the board in an all-male game? In 2015?”

      1. neverjaunty*

        Right? What’s next, taking the client out to dinner at an men’s only private club and a strip bar?

        1. Stranger than fiction*

          One of my professional heroes is a woman Sales Rep I used to work with that, when all the men attended a strip club while out of town at a conference, she went right along and got lap dances with the rest of the male sales reps. She was like “nope, I’m not going to be excluded”.

          1. neverjaunty*

            While I admire her refusal to be pushed aside, it doesn’t change the fact that the point of the outing was to cater to the dudes. She shouldn’t have had to engage in a public sex act (which is what a lap dance is) to get the same networking opportunities as her male colleagues.

        2. Ros*

          No joke: I have worked a job where I was expected to do that. And I’m a woman.

          Most uncomfortable night of my LIFE, swear to god.

      2. Laurel Gray*

        Yeah this really grinds my gears. But can I ask, why wouldn’t you have gone if you were invited? You say you were up for a promotion, if anything, would it have helped to get the face time with the board members? Anyway, I wish you good luck and can you let us know if you get the promotion?

        1. JC*

          I wouldn’t have gone because I don’t golf, and it would have been more embarrassing than anything else to fail miserably at golfing in front of a bunch of avid golfers. I would have attended pretty much any event with board members if invited other than an athletic event, though. And that leads to another reason why golf events can seem so outdatedly sexist. There are certainly exceptions to this, but historically golf is something that men are more likely to routinely do and enjoy, so it seems tone-deaf to have that kind of activity be your networking event even if everyone is invited. (That said, my husband recently went golfing on a weekend with some of his colleagues, and he had to borrow clubs from a woman…)

      3. Case of the Mondays*

        This happens a lot in my field, though women are invited. Few play golf. Some feel it is still discriminatory. I don’t feel the golf outing in and of itself is discriminatory because I can learn golf just like a male associate can learn golf. Maybe the next generation will raise their boys AND their girls to know how to play golf. I do feel there are some class issues with golf too. If you are raised in a poorer family, you likely didn’t have access to a country club and golf clubs. But, many schools are now offering golf as part of gym class so it might become a more equal opportunity sport.

        Personally, I’m okay with business being conducted on the golf course so long as the women have equal opportunity to attend.

        1. neverjaunty*

          It’s definitely a class issue, and the fact that girls can learn golf too doesn’t change the fact that it’s still perceived as a gendered activity – look how many golf courses until very recently forbade women from playing at all, or (probably still) have ‘ladies’ tee times’.

        2. Honeybee*

          For me personally it’s much more about class issues (and racial ones) than gender. When I was growing up “golf course” was “symbol of a place my family can’t afford to live.” And before Tiger Woods there were no people who looked like me famous for playing golf, so I never thought of it as anything I’d be interested in. (Now I occasionally play some golf with my husband; he’s been teaching me the basics.)

      4. Not So NewReader*

        This makes my head hurt. I can’t play golf because of a back thing. I have a major problem advocating for me to be included when 1) I will never play this game well anyway and 2) why should I even have to start down this road?
        I can remember article after article that said, “learn how to play golf”. I am sorry, but if you are on the golf course you are not working, my opinion, though. One place I worked the CEO was always at the golf club. He was probably one of the most disliked CEOs I have ever worked for and no one ever admired his work ethic.

        1. yasmara*

          Right but it’s networking, bonding, and often deal-making behind the scenes. Something I’m terrible at, but is a reality in business (especially Big Business) and politics. Who is the CEO going to go to? His golf partner who he had a great time with last weekend or the woman he doesn’t know because she wasn’t invited on the golf outing?

    6. R*

      I want to pose a question to the group. Not to take away from the OP but it sparked a thought.

      I work in a mostly female dominated industry/office and feel a lot of this in my office in reverse. There is literally a “Women’s only” after-work meet up for our office. And me and two other people are the only men in the office of 25. The women are all friends and when there have been pregnancies we are not invited to office showers. Most of this has not been with clients – so I normally think of this as not work related. I often feel guilty about making a complaint because I understand the historical privilege men have had in work places. But recently, I noticed that all this year’s promotions and raises went to women in our office. And I feel like I am missing out on work opportunities because I am not invited to be friends with coworkers. It’s hard to insert yourself in spaces when the sign says “Women only”.

      1. UsedToDoSupport*

        Have you asked to be included? I’d start there, just the next time there’s a thing, ask what you can bring. And not just sodas or something easy! Put the effort out there and see what happens. (also, you won’t get a raise or promotion every year…in my 45 years of work experience that just doesn’t happen)

      2. Ad Astra*

        It sounds like it’s worth saying something, if you do so calmly, in a non-accusatory way. Something like, “Hey Jan, would it be OK if Percival and I attended the shower, too?” Or if you have the chance to bring it up in broader terms, maybe something like, “Sometimes Percival and I feel left out when you have women-only outings. Do you mind including us in outings where business might come up?”

        You still have all the societal privilege afforded to men in this country, but I agree that you’re getting the short end at work.

        1. voyager1*


          I get the feeling this is at a brokerage firm. I don’t have any advice other then fight to good fight (1st with HR).

          But I think I would polish up my resume. If you have to threaten a lawsuit and lawyer up, it might get toxic for you, but I am not saying don’t do that.

          The pay thing to me is the problem more then the golf thing.

      3. neverjaunty*

        Agree, this is massively uncool, and how sexist of them to assume that all the ladies are interested in office showers and you guys couldn’t possibly be. This is work related and you should complain. It’s absolutely true that men have had (and continue to have) privilege in the workplace, but that doesn’t mean discrimination on the basis of gender only happens to women.

      4. Biff*

        I think the larger issue here is that you are working at an office that doesn’t appear to have an issue with the fact that friendship is key to promotions and raises. It’s not that it’s female -only, that’s just a symptom of the issue. The issue is whomever is running the show promotes and encourages her friends.

      5. catsAreCool*

        As a woman, I tend to think that we can’t exclude men from things when we don’t want to be excluded from things – it’s not fair, and it could cause some backlash.

  3. Brett*

    #4 I do technical interviews for local government jobs. About 90-95% of the applicants I see are similarly totally unqualified for the tech positions they are applying for. A big factor for this is that, since these jobs are government jobs, they appear in all of the workforce listings for our state. This means that people who are currently on unemployment anywhere in our state can apply to our listings to help possibly fulfill their requirements to continue to actively seek work.

    My department, which has its own massive application separate from the two-pager used by the rest of our government, gets very few of these. It is the jobs on the general application that get tons of these unqualified low-effort applicants.

    1. College Career Counselor*

      Excellent point about applying to jobs to maintain one’s unemployment benefits. That said, in my (admittedly limited) experience, there is a subset of candidates who either don’t read the position description or if they do read it, apply while wildly unqualified. The last position I hired for, that number was around 30% of the applicants.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Sometimes, you have to. While on unemployment, I tried to confine my applications to jobs I could actually do, but I struggled some weeks to find anything. And we only had to apply to three a week. I avoided stuff like hospital cafeteria worker third shift, because I knew I couldn’t live on the pay and wouldn’t take it.

        Except toward the end, when I applied to Five Guys. I never got a call from them, but watching them work a couple of weeks ago while waiting for a burger, I realized I was glad they didn’t call me. There was no way in Hell I could keep up!

        1. Newbie*

          My mom works a seasonal job and goes on unemployment when the season ends over the winter. Last time, she was told that she had to apply for jobs in order to keep her benefits. She didn’t want another position, especially because if it was more than a temp she’d just have to quit (potentially without notice because our business is a family one and tends to start at random). She’d actually apply for jobs she knew she wasn’t qualified for so she wouldn’t have to worry about turning down interviews.

      2. Stranger than fiction*

        In addition to what everyone is saying about unemployment requirements, I’ve also noticed that when you sign up with the mentioned Monster and Indeed to receive automated emailed “job matches”, you tend to receive a lot on that list that doesn’t come anywhere near your qualifications. For example, last time I was searching I had one of the keywords as “Account Manager”, and I’d tend to get all sorts of other jobs with “manager” in the title, like Aeronautical Project Manager, something I”m wildly unqualified for. But, I wouldn’t just apply to them thinking, well, they sent it to me as a suggestion. I’m wondering if some people do though?

        1. CMT*

          Or if the application process for those jobs is too easy . . . like if the website says “Submit resume now!” or something. In that case, I think it’s totally on the employer for essentially inviting a ton of unqualified applications.

          1. Ad Astra*

            Ugh, but I love those easy applications! I don’t have a real computer at home, so LinkedIn and Indeed’s apply-from-phone features are a life saver.

  4. periwinkle*

    #4 – It’s normal. I used to work with a recruiting agency that worked primarily within three nursing specializations plus nursing managers and educators. We also recruited social workers who worked within one of those specializations (reviewing clinical records to ensure appropriate care was provided). My job included screening the resumes that were submitted for our CareerBuilder postings. We had fast-food shift leads apply for nursing management positions requiring a graduate degree and two decades of experience. Actually, we had a whole variety of people with “manager” titles who apparently just applied to anything with that key word in the position title. It was extremely common for certified nursing assistants to apply for positions requiring an RN license.

    My favorite, though, was when we advertised for an senior-level clinical social worker and received an application from a retail worker who thought he qualified as a social worker because he liked people. He was currently employed and included a tailored cover letter so it wasn’t a case of applying randomly just to keep his unemployment benefits!

    All you can do is shrug and keep looking through the resumes for qualified candidates.

    1. MK*

      I think that there is a misconception about some jobs that, basically, anyone can do them. Like people thinking that being good with kids qualifies you to work in daycare or that being friendly and outgoing means you will be great in PR.

      1. Not the Droid You are Looking for*

        ^ This.

        I used to hire for graphic designers. Everyone with access to photoshop (or by some of the “portfolio” samples I saw MS Paint) felt they were a graphic designer. It didn’t matter what we put as the required degree or experience, we would just get flooded.

      2. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

        Yep. I had someone apply for a clinical social work supervisor position whose only work experience was washing dogs. Very tailored cover letter that explained how challenging it is to get dogs and theirs owners to be calm. If only social work were about getting people to calm down…

        1. OriginalEmma*

          Just because we describe some people as bulldoggish doesn’t mean working with ol’ Winston will give you a boost!

      3. Allison*

        Where I work we frequently hire entry-level sales roles, and we often hire administrative positions as well, and we often get people who either don’t have any experience, or have a ton of experience doing something totally irrelevant, but are looking for work and figure jobs like those are an easy grab. Thing is, no matter what the job is, how entry-level it may be or how easy it looks, people still want to hire people who legitimately want the job and are likely to stay in that role/department for a while, not someone who will take any job they can but will likely leave in 3-6 months when they finally get a job they actually want.

        1. Anx*

          Out of curiosity, how do you assess whether or not a person wants to stay for a few months until something better comes along, or who wants to stay until they feel they aren’t growing anymore and would like to move to another position after a few years?

          Or are you pointedly looking for applicants who probably won’t have any other career aspirations in life or no other options.

          1. Lily in NYC*

            Anx, I often hire for entry-level admin roles. I get tons of applicants who are very overqualified because they are looking for a foot in the door and hope to move up to a project management role. I don’t hire those people, ever (I used to). Without fail, they start pushing for a promotion after a month or so on the job. They try to butter up the higher level people to let them work on non-admin projects instead of the work they were hired for. Even though it was made clear multiple times in the interview process that there is no way the job will lead a PM position. And then they quit in a huff after 6 months. What I look for now are people with good personalities who might not have the experience we need but who have a good attitude. They can be trained to do the work. It doesn’t mean they have no career aspirations. It just means they are at the experience level of someone who is entry level.

            1. Anx*


              For a while after school, I was very interested in doing admin work, but I never got that off the ground. I didn’t really have much experience doing it, but I did love the administrative tasks related to some of my part-time jobs. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to make a go of it, but it’s always in the back of my mind. I did think that after a five or 10 years, I might be interested in doing something else, though.

              Thank you for the insight.

            2. Windchime*

              This has been my experience in hiring over-qualified people as well. I will just be very, very cautious about ever doing it in the future. Inevitably, they will swear up and down that they want to “take a step back in my career”, but as soon as they are hired they are chomping at the bit for a promotion. The last guy started talking about applying to a management job a mere THREE WEEKS after we hired him as a software tester.

              I won’t say “never again”, but that’s kind of how I feel. Which is too bad for those people who really would be fine to take a step back in their career. I just can’t distinguish between them and the people who are lying to me in order to get their foot in the door.

          2. Allison*

            First of all, no, we’re not seeking out desperate people with no other options. We don’t want to hire people who are merely settling for sales because someone told them that’s all they can hope for at this point. The recruiter who does work on these roles (which is not me, so I can only give you so much insight) looks for people who a) have some demonstrated aptitude for sales already, and b) actually want to work in sales. If someone aspires to do something else in life, this isn’t the place for them, we want people who not only want to work in sales to pay the bills for a few months, but actually want to grow within our sales organization. So yeah, if someone’s aspirations have nothing to do with sales, we’re probably going to pass on them.

            I actually ran into this issue when I was getting into recruitment, because I wanted to work in politics, and I had to convince the guy that I wasn’t planning to jump ship the second an opportunity at the State House opened up. While it would have sucked to be denied the job because I had other ambitions, it would have been totally fair on their part. High turnover rates cost a company a lot of money, so it makes sense for s company to not want to constantly hire new people because people are only taking it as a “for now” job and leaving 6 months in.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              I commend you on this. :)

              And for anyone looking for someone with sales experience/aspirations who may be hiring for a job that is only partially sales, PLEASE don’t call it only an admin job if there are sales duties. I actively avoided sales jobs because I suck at it and hate it. Unfortunately, HellJob ended up being way more sales-oriented than I was comfortable with, in addition to the lousy working conditions.

              1. Allison*

                Reminds me of all those canvassing job with super misleading titles, and companies that try to sell them as “research” roles with some light fundraising, when really the job is 100% fundraising. And not everyone knows that “fundraising” is a fancy way to say “begging random people for donations all day.”

        2. Stranger than fiction*

          I can totally see that happening. With the Sales jobs, there are a lot of telemarketing type companies that hire anyone who walks in off the street, so to speak, so some people probably think all sales jobs are like that. For the Admin roles, a lot of people think anyone can do that, as well. They think “oh, it’s probably just filing and answering the phones and such, I can do that”.

      4. Honeybee*

        Yeah, some of my friends who are professors in English lit say they sometimes get applications – from lawyers especially, but also general members of the public – who think they can teach English literature because they like to read and/or write a lot.

    2. Kelly L.*

      Do you think he thought you wanted a “social” “worker” rather than a “social worker”? :)

    3. Green*

      The other issues are that:
      (1) Sometimes jobs list “requirements” that aren’t really requirements (I’ve been offered at least two jobs for which my experience level was significantly below the “requirements” listed)
      (2) Sometimes employers list a low-ish salary for the job, so people assume they’ll have to look for people in the next tier down of experience

      And also people just like to apply for anything that sounds like something they think they might like. And desperate people sometimes just apply for anything, whether they think they might like it or not.

  5. Cube Ninja*

    OP #2: Check out Dermablend if you aren’t already aware of it. It’s a makeup base frequently used for covering visible tattoos and it tends to be pretty resilient to daily life. It’s not *super* cheap, but to cover fingers and part of the neck, it may be an option if your employer isn’t willing to budge on the policy.

    1. Not the Droid You are Looking for*

      I love Dermablend…though I use it as my daily concealer to cover up my dark circles!

    2. Violetta*

      I’m wondering how practical this is gonna be for OP’s finger tattoo – I imagine anyone working in healthcare is probably washing/sanitizing their hands 50 times a day.

    3. Sigrid*

      As someone in health-care, I can attest it’s not going to work for the finger tattoo when she has to take gloves on and off all day, unfortunately. It also won’t stand up to the required hand washing.

    4. Tattooed OP*

      Ive tried it for the finger tattoo but it comes off with hand sanitizer or repeated hand washing and its ruined shirts because they rub on the neck one. Its not like a “neck” tattoo but more of a center of my shoulders and up…

      1. Case of the Mondays*

        Could you wear a finger cot? When I worked in a restaurant and cut my finger I had to wear one for about a month. It looked like a mini condom. Initially, it was to protect my cut just as much as it was to protect the public. As the cut healed I was able to cut the top off of it so it was just a latex sleeve around the cut part of my finger, over my bandaid.

  6. Elder Dog*

    #5 Most government jobs have very clear grievance procedures. Look into what you need to file, and start keeping documentation. I’ve seen this done in lieu of age discrimination, although there’s no telling what bee your manager has gotten in her bonnet. If you have a union rep, now would be a good time to give her a heads up.

    1. Adonday Veeah*

      Or you could just email this manager every morning when you log on. The email will have a time stamp on it. Something quick like “Checking in.”

      And yes, as a government employee, you do have some rights that other employees don’t have. Find out if you have Skelly rights.

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        That’s a great idea. And yeah, when stuff like this happens I tend to think something else is going on.

  7. Little Teapot*

    I am obviously daft but could someone explain to me what ‘grandfathering’ in relation to tattoos means? I thought it was a typo when the OP wrote it in her letter but Alison also used the phrase and has commenters. Thanks!!

    1. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon*

      I believe a grandfathering clause is where somebody who already works there breaches the rules they can effectively add an amendment to the rules so that X rule doesn’t apply to that person going forwards – but I’m happy to be corrected!

    2. MK*

      It means that, when a new rule is enforced, exceptions are made for long-standing pre-existing situations; basically that the rule applies going forward.

    3. Takver*

      It just basically means that something which was once acceptable has become forbidden or no longer done, but the people who had or did the something since before the change are still allowed to keep having or doing it. It’s not specific to tattoos, but they are a great example. A job candidate who has the same tattoos as OP wouldn’t be hired after the policy change, and a current employee who gets new tattoos would be fired, but OP may be allowed to keep her job and her tattoos because she was hired before the tattoos were forbidden, and it’s unreasonable to ask her to get rid of them.

      1. Liane*

        The term is also not limited to work-related situations. It can be used for anything where the rules/laws have changed.

        1. Oryx*

          This. I’m currently grandfathered into unlimited data on my Verizon plan. I don’t care if my iPhone 4 is considered ancient, that thing will have to be taken from my cold, dead hands.

          1. Happy Lurker*

            Me too!! Just heard they are upping our unlimited plans by $20 next month. Now I will use my phone more!

          2. Turanga Leela*

            They let me update my iPhone and keep the same plan—it’s worth looking into. (But I’m with you, they’re not taking my unlimited data away.)

          3. Goose*

            Yep, I’m grandfathered into an unlimited data plan with AT&T. But I can get the new phone every other year and still keep the unlimited plan.

        1. Mrs. Beaux Beaux*

          Ahhhhhhhhh the good old days when att offered unlimited data. Since they stopped doing this (or started charging more) , my plan was grandfathered in. Which means they still have to honor my original plan and can’t up the price either. Cue evil laugh when someone offers 20g of shared data just to save me 40 bucks….

          1. Chinook*

            “the good old days when att offered unlimited data. ”

            Unlimited data? As a Canadian I have to ask what type of sorcery you speak of and did it also come with *gasp* unlimited long distance? Were the roaming charges also included? What type of utopia is this?

            1. Mollie*

              As a Saskatchewan born Canadian, I know of this unlimited data thing. Sasktel (the phone company that held a monopoly here for years and years and years) offered unlimited data for a very reasonable price until just before all the CRTC changes came in this last round. I think there are still grandfathered plans but I switched to Telus because I wanted the unlimited Canada wide phone minutes and I only use maximum 2 GB of data a month and usually it’s less than 1GB.

              1. Chinook*

                ” Sasktel (the phone company that held a monopoly here for years and years and years) offered unlimited data for a very reasonable price until just before all the CRTC changes came in this last round.”

                You call it a monopoly but it was a sad day when Telus merged with BCTel and they started focusing on shareholders instead of customers (and I speak as a shareholder from day 1 – thank you Grandma). I would so prefer a provincial monopoly because they are the only ones who seem to care about services outside the big cities.

                1. Mollie*

                  You bring up fine points. i’m from the big city with rural relatives though and the service between sasktel and telus is pretty on par, at least in the rural areas that I go too. And regardless of what you think of it, the correct term is monopoly. They were the sole providers. I appreciate that when Shaw and Telus and other companies came into the phone business in SK, we had some choice and Sasktel had to smarten up with their dicking around

        2. Natalie*

          Etymology if you’re interested: it comes from laws that were written to prevent black people from voting. A law would be passed requiring a literacy test or something, but would exempt anyone who’s grandfather had voted before [some date when few/no black people were registered]. Somewhat of a downer, I suppose, but I like history. :)

          1. Ad Astra*

            That makes me wonder: Is the term “grandfather [someone] in” a primarily American term? Or did other English-speaking countries also have similar laws with a “grandfather” clause?

            1. IT Squirrel*

              We use the term or a variant of, although I’m not sure where it originated. The most comon use I hear is to describe older driving licences – we would say you have ‘grandfather rights’ to drive certain types of vehicles (because they were covered by the standard driving test before a certain date, and after that you had to take a separate test).

      2. Chinook*

        ” a current employee who gets new tattoos would be fired, but OP may be allowed to keep her job and her tattoos because she was hired before the tattoos were forbidden, ”

        This was the exact reason DH got tattoo #4 before he changed jobs to one with rules stating you couldn’t get more tattoos after you joined the force. Turns out the application form asked for descriptions of your first 3 tattoos but if you had 4 or more, you were just flagged as having multiple tattoos and weren’t required to list them all.

    4. Daisy Steiner*

      Interesting (?) fact: in New Zealand the public sector has made the progressive move toward the gender-neutral term ‘grandparenting’.

      1. Little Teapot*

        God bless NZ. I live in your slightly embarrassing cousin – Australia. Racism, gay marriage – you guys win!

        1. Honeybee*

          Haha, my manager is from New Zealand and we were discussing today how much more enlightened NZ is than the U.S.

      2. Elizabeth West*


        I looked at emigrating there at one point. It’s still in the back of my mind….if I wasn’t so much in love with England, I might consider it. Plus I have family considerations both here and in the UK.

        1. yasmara*

          My husband works in a non-farming aspect of the dairy industry. When the kids are out of the house, I am strongly advocating for a move to New Zealand!

    5. CM*

      I recently learned the origin of the term “grandfathered” — in the 1870s, after the 15th amendment was passed allowing African-Americans to vote, a lot of Southern states started putting into place “race-neutral” laws to disenfranchise them like poll taxes and literacy tests. These laws contained a “grandfather clause” saying that if your grandfather could vote, you could vote and would be exempt from the new requirements.

      1. Lily in NYC*

        Oh, that’s neat; I didn’t know that. This site is the best – I learn the most random stuff here.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I’ve read about those, and they figure in a subplot in (I think) the sequel to Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry regarding one of the older ladies who wants to vote. The ones where you must wait X days or be forced to look at literature, etc. before you terminate a pregnancy remind me strongly of those laws.

      3. Cleopatra Jones*

        It wasn’t a way to keep blacks from voting (that’s what literacy tests & poll taxes did), it was actually a way to allow poor white people the opportunity to vote.

        Whites who had not owned property or slaves (hence the term Redneck*) before the Civil War did not have access to education. A vast majority of them were illiterate because only the wealthy could afford access to education (this was in the days before free public education). They would not have been able to pass the literacy test that were administered to blacks. Literacy tests that were often in Latin or required a person to an understanding of classical literature or art. Also, the poverty that swept through the South after the Civil War meant that many people barely could afford to eat much less pay a poll tax.

        Grandfathering was a way to waive the literacy tests and poll taxes that had been imposed as a condition of voting.

        *Redneck was a term applied to poor southern whites during slavery because they had to work the land themselves to survive thus they would get a red neck from being in the sun all day.

  8. SL #2*

    OP #4: Totally normal. We’re likely going to be posting for a high-level director role soon, and we’re anticipating a high number of unqualified applicants. It’s just the new norm, especially with stringent unemployment benefits requirements and the economy being the way it is now. Lots of people are still looking for work, lots of people just need to say they applied somewhere in order to continue getting their benefits.

    On the flip side, I know that back when my team was looking for someone to fill my position, there were a massive number of overqualified candidates applying as well. Like, overqualified by several education levels, and my job title is not one that can be confused for anything other than entry-level.

    1. TheLazyB (UK)*

      In my previous job someone accidentally applied to be a board member, thinking they were applying for a normal 9-5 job.
      They actually got an interview, and self-selected out during that interview.
      This still boggles my mind.

    2. Xarcady*

      My state requires you to apply for 4-5 jobs a week if you are on unemployment. And if you get a job offer, you pretty much have to accept it. They make exceptions for distance–if the job is more than 30 miles from your home, you don’t have to accept. But salary to low to live off? You have to accept.

      So during weeks when there aren’t a lot of jobs in your field being posted anywhere, people apply to jobs that they know they won’t even get an interview for. It’s better than applying for something you are over-qualified for, with a salary you can’t live on, and then being forced to either take that job if offered or lose your unemployment benefits.

      1. Ad Astra*

        I used that exact strategy many times while I was waiting for an appropriate job opening to come along. I felt a little bad, but my survival is more important than the time some poor HR person wastes reading and rejecting my resume. I never bothered with cover letters, though.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        This is one reason why–they know no one is going to call them. I don’t think you’re obligated to treat them any differently from other applicants with whom you wouldn’t move forward.

        FWIW, I hate this requirement. My state is the same way, only it’s three.

    3. overeducated and underemployed*

      It is what happens when you need A job and there aren’t lot of perfect listings! Probably half the jobs I apply for, I am either “overqualified” educationally or “underqualified” experientially, because a job calling for my precise background is so very very rare, but there are lots of others I would love to do, and think I could do well. The hard part is convincing the hiring manager…..

    4. AndersonDarling*

      We had a search to replace our retiring CEO. There were unqualified applicants applying from within the company! When you list your Sr. director position, you may find out how amazingly large your co-worker’s egos are.

  9. Amber*

    #3 I’m not trying to defend them but I’d suggest before going to HR, make sure this isn’t an accident. Check things on your end first., then if you can’t find an honest mistake then go to HR. One example I could think of is my company isn’t great at keeping email groups up to date, so lets say there is an email group called TeapotManagers, maybe this is where the invite to the golf events were sent but she didn’t get it because no one realized she’s hadn’t been added to the group. Another possibility (though less likely) is that she did get the invite but it was filtered into a folder she rarely looks at in Outlook (this happens to me sometimes). Another possibility (though also not likely but still possible) is that someone has a similar name to yours and if the invites are done through email then that other person got the invite by mistake.

    It is entirely possible that it happened because she was a woman, but I’d rule out the other more normal scenarios first.

    1. neverjaunty*

      From the OP’s letter: “This is not the first time I have been excluded from these kind of networking and team building events”.

      If there is some kind of oopsie – and I don’t know why we’re bending over backward to assume such – then going to HR is a proper way to make sure these kinds of mistakes don’t happen, because they seem to be happening on the regular.

    2. Violetta*

      She’s worked there for two years longer than the guy who did get invited. I don’t think she has to give them the benefit of the doubt.

    3. Apollo Warbucks*

      I’m really struggling to think of another reason for this that doesn’t come down to sexism, but I’m drawing a blank. I’m not sure if the OP’s first point of call should be HR or if she should have a conversation with her boss to ask why she isn’t getting these invites the managers response could provide some useful information for HR to work with.

      1. Laurel Gray*

        I too am drawing a blank. OP’s letter isn’t really even missing any context to try to play devil’s advocate for the other side. I think what bothers me most about sexist workplaces is that there isn’t at least ONE guy that can and will stand up and say “Hey, did you guys invite Clara?” or make it a point to invite her himself. After all, I am sure many of these men have female spouses and would be pissed if they knew she was bringing 30% less into the household because she’s a woman.

        1. Charityb*

          I’m guessing it’s just easier to go along to get along. How many letters do we see here where someone puts up with a coworker or manager’s intolerable behavior? If people are willing to roll over when someone is bullying them or giving them a hard time, I’m not surprised they’d do the same when it’s hurting someone else, especially if they’re not close to the OP and can tell themselves that she doesn’t mind.

      2. Ad Astra*

        I would think, if you asked them about it, the men would say “Oh, well we know you don’t like to play golf, so we didn’t think you’d be interested.” That doesn’t make it not sexist, but it does establish an ostensibly (and maybe genuinely) innocent intent.

        1. Laurel Gray*

          I know women who enjoy and play golf. That reply would do nothing but add oil to the fire of foolery. I think in a work environment, inclusion should be by default. Even if Dawn dislikes golf, snowboarding, whatever – the invitation should ALWAYS be given.

          1. Natalie*

            And plenty of workplaces that have golf events invite everyone, players and non-players alike. It’s a work event, not the PGA tour. Golf is basically an excuse to day drink on an expense account.

            1. Laurel Gray*

              It was via the drinking, friendly trash talk , and learning I didn’t have to be “good” to have a good time that got me into golf. If I was in the OP’s shoes it would be hard for me to feel like this is anything but sexism.

              1. Judy*

                In my experience, most team-building golf outings are scrambles anyway. The only (non-mini) golf I’ve played was through work. As long as one person on the team knows how to play, everything’s ok.

                Golf scramble = everyone tees up, you then play off the best player’s shot.

          2. Ad Astra*

            Golf outings in particular are such a classic example of potentially sexist work situations that I’m surprised nobody in the office saw a problem with this plan.

        2. Meg Murry*

          Yes – FYI, young women (and men) of the world – don’t ever say the words “ugh, I hate golf, I’m terrible at it and it’s so boring” (even if you do feel that way) at work. I made that mistake when golf came up, and then when they were organizing a big golf outing with all the muckety-mucks, I saw that my name was already crossed off the list. When I asked the organizer about it, he said “but you just told me you hate golf last week, so I marked you as no.”

          Ooops. Lesson learned on my part. And yes, he should have asked me anyway, but I don’t really entirely blame him for marking me as a no. And it wasn’t just because I was a woman, in this case – one of the best golfers at the company was a woman, and plenty of the men had declined.

        3. Not So NewReader*

          If they always invite Dawn and Dawn always says no, what is gained here? The point is to be inclusive. The net result is the same, they have failed to include Dawn. I am picturing 2 years from now, when Dawn has said no 108 times because they golf once a week, nothing has changed. It’s still all the guys getting together and talking shop without Dawn. Only now it’s okay because she said no? ugh, ugh, ugh.

      3. steve g*

        The only explanation I could come up with is different types of jobs. At past co, anyone who formally or informally did sales (so including non sales people who did an upsell here and there) got involved in the golf things and “golf” things. They were all male for a long time because there were no female sales reps in my territory. Literally no women applied (probably because the thought of selling to curmudgeon older men, as was the industry stereotype didn’t appeal). So yeah, different types of jobs/roles would be the one criteria possible. But I guess then you’d have to look at whether the criteria is a good one. It made sense in our setting awarding the risk-takers and client facing people differently, but sure how that works in a law office though, what the criteria would be

    4. jhhj*

      The only woman on the team being left out because she is a woman is — sadly — more normal than a weird email mistake.

      1. neverjaunty*

        Yep. The OP is hearing hoofbeats and people are commenting that maybe she should be 100% to check that it’s not a zebra or an okapi before she concludes there’s a horse out there.

    5. Mike C.*

      I’m rather surprised at this advice. Do you believe the OP never considered any other possibility?

    6. Meg Murry*

      Giving OP the same advice I would give a friend in this situation, I would also advice doing due diligence (checking email filter folders and spam folders for messages from the organizer, doing a search for the the word golf in my email, etc) first to make 100% certain that it wasn’t a mistake on my part – because throwing the “they didn’t invite me because I’m a woman” at HR could have huge blowback, and you want to dot all your i’s and cross all your t’s before going there. I don’t doubt OP that there is a good chance she wasn’t invited because she is the only woman, but if I were her I’d make 100% sure I didn’t have a reason for it to be thrown back at me.

      OP, have you talked to your boss about this? Is he going to the golf outing? Am I understanding from the hierarchy that you are toward the lower end of the leadership attending the meetings? Are you and your male colleague the lowest on the totem pole, and the only 2 at that level? I wonder if originally the golf outing was only for the highest levels of management and either someone canceled or the co-workers boss invited him to attend, and your boss didn’t advocate for you to attend as well.

      And part of me wonders if the issue is an all male golf course. I don’t know that many exist anymore, but it would be worth a quick google to see if that is the problem – because I feel like “organized a company golf outing at an all male club so couldn’t invite the young female manager or any other women” is an even bigger systemic problem than leaving OP out – and doubly so if any of the guests are female!

      I’m sorry you are in this situation OP. Are there female managers in other divisions/roles? Even HR, accounting or some other group not directly rated to your job function? Or are you the highest ranking woman at the company? I’m pretty sure I would have been dusting off my resume long ago, because while I’m willing to fight for equal rights and I’ve been the only woman in the room more than once, I’m not sure I’m willing to be the guinea pig who has to fight so hard to be the trailblazer. Good for you, OP, if you are willing to fight this fight, but honestly, no one would blame you if you moved on to somewhere where you at least had some other women at your level, if not above you. Is there a professional organization in your area where you can find a mentor to help you through these situations?

      1. neverjaunty*

        Really, what are the chances that email filters and spam folders are the culprit in OP not being invited to multiple outings that the men get invited to and 2) the pay disparity?

        At this point, the boat has already been rocked.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          It’s still worth checking, because then when some numbskull in HR says, “Did you check all your email folders to make sure it didn’t go into the wrong one?” she can say, “Yes, I did. I thought it must have been an error; surely this couldn’t happen in this day and age.”

          Okay, maybe not like that, but at least she’s covered all her bases. Because if this is a systemic thing in this company, I wouldn’t want to give them one inch.

          1. neverjaunty*

            Even assuming email was the only way this stuff was communicated, nobody in management even noticed that OP wasn’t responding to the invites and wasn’t showing up at client-building events, although Rupert did? Nobody asked OP “Hey, we didn’t see you at the offsite last week”?

            I mean, sure, there’s nothing wrong with ridiculous measures to avoid them playing CYA games, but that’s different than checking on the assumption that spam filters are the actual culprit here.

          2. Meg Murry*

            Yes, that is exactly what I meant, Elizabeth.

            Don’t misinterpret me – I don’t doubt OP. I just know that if on the very very very slim chance she missed something and she says “it’s sexism!” when it was an oversight on her part, it becomes like crying wolf and it will be very difficult for her to be taken seriously the next time there is an incident. As a woman in a male dominated industry, I have seen what happens when someone mistakenly calls out sexism (for instance, a young woman asked to take notes in a meeting – not because she is a woman, but because she is the most junior) and it makes it that much harder to fight the actual old boys club sexism when you are the only woman in a room listening to very off color jokes, or descriptions of the female sales rep’s anatomy, or when a male coworker is taken to the factory visit to do the presentation on the project that a woman did 99% of the work on “because the factory workers will listen if it comes from a man, they won’t take recommendations from a woman”.

            So dot your i’s, cross your t’s, check your spam filter, voicemail and interoffice mailbox and then go to HR and/or your manager knowing that you can 100% say “nope, not in the spam filter. nope, not in my voicemail. Nope, I was never invited, period”

            Good luck OP, and I hope you either get treated equally or find yourself a new job where you are valued for your contributions, not ignored because of your anatomy.

            1. neverjaunty*

              She doesn’t have to say “It’s sexism!” She can go to HR and calmly explain that there have been X number of firm outings and team building exercises where she was not included while Rupert was, and she is concerned that this makes the company look bad because she’s the only female manager. If there’s a non-sexist explanation, like magic spam filters and sudden post-event amnesia on the part of every single senior dude at her workplace, HR can investigate that.

              Regarding the junior note-taker, it might have behooved someone to think that maybe it wasn’t the best idea to have a practice that just so happened to overlap a very traditional sexist norm and do something else, like rotating who has to take notes.

              1. Honeybee*

                Also, why does being the most junior person mean you have to take notes anyway? I’m the most junior person on my team and I don’t take notes at all the meetings I’m in. Sexism also overlaps with that in another systemic way in that the more junior people are sometimes more likely to be women, particularly in certain fields.

                1. Elizabeth West*

                  I am too, and you don’t want me to take notes. My hands cramp and I can’t keep up.

                  I used to sit in class in college and think, WHY DID I NOT LEARN SHORTHAND???

      2. Viva L*

        100% this.
        I don’t think going in and claiming an assumed reasoning {sexim} is going to help the OP here.

        I think starting with “Why wasn’t I included in this? It seems like it would be appropriate for my work and my counterparts were all included.” and listening to the explanation is a good and obvious start. Note you dont have to believe it, you just have to be open to listening to it. Then continue on to mention other events/times and ask about those. And depending on the response a “It seems I’m being excluded because…{X} What needs to happen to make sure that I and my other colleagues are not left out of these opportunities? ….”

        I’m not saying dont combat the sexism. Im saying guns blazing/assuming it’s blatant sexism is not the best approach at this point. She hasnt even asked anyone/gotten any feedback on this issue at all, and is already assuming what she’s experiencing is attributable to the fact that she’s a woman.

        For me, at this point we only have the OPs word that the other guy is making more and one sentence about being excluded from other events – but no idea how many or what the reasoning was in those cases. While I generally believe the OP, I also think that accepting their assumptions is a dangerous road, and especially with something as political as blatant sexism – dotting your “i”s and crossing your “t”s is paramount, imo. It’s the advice I would give to my nearest and dearest as well. It’s the point of advice – to back the person up and let them see there’s lots of other paths than the one they’ve taken, which in the end, can also help confirm their suspicions as well.

        1. Honeybee*

          I mean…what other more plausible explanation can there be when the only woman on the team is not invited to outings when none of her other same-level colleagues are excluded from that outing, and she is paid less?

          We always only have the OP’s word here. The idea of the advice blog is that we have to trust that the OP is giving us an accurate representation of events from her perspective. We should take her word for it that her colleague makes more money. And seriously, does it matter how many events? Plural = more than one; she shouldn’t have been excluded from any, but what are the odds that there are plausible other reasons that the OP – the only woman on the team, mind you – was excluded from at least two work events when every other person on her team was not?

          One can assume that it is blatant sexism (which I think it pretty clearly is) and still take a rational, detailed approach to this. Making that assumption doesn’t preclude you from doint that.

        2. catsAreCool*

          I like the idea of not actually saying the word “sexism” unless she has to. Just explaining what the facts are and letting HR try to explain might be enough.

    7. Barney Stinson*

      I don’t think doubt benefit needs to be given here; it’s an egregious exclusion. I still wouldn’t go to HR before I talked to the manager who is doing the excluding. Tell him you’ve observed this and don’t like it, feel excluded, is that the message he really wants to send, etc? Talk to him about the pay issues, too.

      Always talk to the offender before going to HR. I say that as an HR professional.

  10. Mirilla*

    #4 Oh boy, I have been using Monster and Indeed. Can someone point me where else I should be searching, besides Craigslist? Where do serious hiring managers post their listings?

      1. Little Teapot*

        Or check actual companies websites – my company posts jobs on our website as do many of our competitors.

    1. Kelly L.*

      I checked out some leads from Craigslist, but I got most of my best ones–and my eventual job–by looking directly at the employers’ sites themselves. I thought of places in my area that were in the right line of work, and looked at their job postings page. I don’t know if that would work for every type of job, but it did for me.

    2. Little Teapot*

      There’s also a few more retail type websites that let you make a profile and sign up for job alerts when a new job is posted. Similarly my local government department relevant to my industry also does that too (Australia based not USA).

      1. Dot Warner*

        +1. LinkedIn is a great resource! I’ve also had good luck with the employer’s own websites and professional organizations’ websites.

    3. Lily in NYC*

      We tend to get really good results from the job boards on alumni websites (we don’t use them if the job doesn’t require a degree). I have been begging my office not to post my open positions on Monster. It’s nothing but extra work – I have yet to pull one resume for further screening from there and that’s where we get the ridiculously non-qualified candidates from.

      Our postings are incredibly detailed because most of our jobs have very specific requirements. The last one I posted required a masters in urban planning and two years at a mgmt consulting firm. Yet I still got over 100 resumes through Monster from people who were cashiers, receptionists, no degree, etc..It’s like they don’t even read the description at all.

      1. Lily in NYC*

        Oops, sorry Mirilla, I misread your comment and thought you were asking better places to post open positions, not where to search. (I would keep using Indeed; it’s way better than monster).

        1. Joline*

          Arguably it’s still a helpful comment! Job boards on alumni or professional organization websites are great for job searching. My designation’s job board was a major resource during my last job search.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yeah, that’s exactly my experience.

        I use Idealist and Bridgespan (both for nonprofit jobs) and niche job boards — like if I’m hiring for a fundraiser, I’d post with the Association of Fundraising Professionals, and so forth.

    4. Ad Astra*

      I’ve had pretty decent luck with InDeed, actually. Beyond that, I would check any industry-specific job boards you know of. For me, that was always JournalismJobs.com — though I’ve heard anecdotally that some companies in the industry have stopped using that one.

      And, if there are specific companies you’re interested in, checking their website is the best way to go. I’ve never seen anything that sounded legit on my local Craigslist section, but I’ve lived in smaller cities, so it might be different in a major metro.

    5. oldfashionedlovesong*

      If your field has professional organizations, their websites usually have regularly-updated job boards.

      1. T3k*

        Ugh, not good. I’m in a field where we can work with almost any industry (practically every company needs a designer) but unfortunately the biggest professional organization for us requires a hefty membership fee to join, although most times I can get around it and look up the company and find the job myself (they just won’t let you apply through the organization).

        1. oldfashionedlovesong*

          That’s a bummer. The biggest professional organization in my field also requires a sizeable membership fee, so I haven’t been a member since I aged out of their student rate, but their job board is luckily not members-only so I can still view postings. A smaller niche org in the same field also has the same setup for their careers page. Worth looking into on the off chance orgs in Mirilla’s field work that way too.

    6. Jubilance*

      I use Indeed and LinkedIn – 95% of the postings I find there direct me to the companies’ website where the job is posted, and I apply through their system. I see very few companies that use Indeed’s submission portal, and they tend to be smaller companies.

    7. Blue_eyes*

      I’ve actually gotten two jobs from Craigslist postings, but I don’t think that’s typical. Idealist.org is great for jobs at non-profit organizations. Looking directly on companies’ websites is also a good bet (find companies that do the work you want to do and just keep checking back on their websites every few weeks). Indeed is not terrible and may at least help you identify some companies you would like to work at.

    8. Elizabeth West*

      Also, if your state career center has a job board, look there also. It’s likely the same site where you register to get unemployment. I found Exjob on that board for my state.

    9. Persephone Mulberry*

      I think Alison might be an exception to the rule when it comes to job boards – most major players around here use Indeed. Our metro newspaper job board is still pretty robust, as well.

      I used to love LinkedIn’s job board but now they just aggregate listings from all the other boards and you have to wade through oceans of crap to find the direct posts. I’d kill for a filter to show only LI postings, and a filter to weed out the volunteer gigs.

  11. Katie the Fed*


    “Recently my boss formally announced that anyone who is not at work on time and does not follow the dress code can submit their resignation, transfer to another department, or schedule a meeting with the Employee Assistance Program.”

    LOL. Or else what? What is she going to do about it?

    What you have here is a case of a manager who doesn’t want to manage. She probably got talked to by someone else who noticed there’s a tardiness problem or dress code problem or something, and instead of MANAGING she’s issuing a non-sensical, unenforceable edict. Notice she didn’t threaten to use progressive disciplinary measures.

    Personally, I’d call her bluff. She’s definitely too lazy to deal with the cumbersome government disciplinary process, which would involve documentation (which she doesn’t have), so she has nothing because you haven’t done anything wrong.

    So just come in at 7:30, and if she says something about it just calmly say “I was here at 7:30.” If she wants to have you check in with her at 7:30, she can come up with that solution. Don’t do her job for her. She’s a bad and lazy boss.

    1. Christy*

      Haha, I’m glad you had this reaction too, Katie the Fed. Oh, really, #5’s manager? I can resign, transfer, or talk to the EAP? Or else what, indeed.

      As a side note, your boss sounds like a loon, and I would actually work on transferring departments so you don’t have to deal with her.

      Oh, and if you get great performance reviews, you can definitely fight when she tries to change them in the future based on lateness–they’re required to give all sorts of warnings before lowering an evaluation.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        I’ve never heard that about performance reviews – it might differ by agency. But there’s usually an appeal process and you do have to show your work if you give someone a low performance review.

        Ugh, what a terrible boss. Agreed I would try to transfer anyway.

        1. Christy*

          Maybe it’s just the legend within NTEU (the union at my agency) but it’s my understanding that you need to be able to prove that performance has decreased, and the mid-year has to also be lower to warn the employee. (So basically, what you’re saying–show your work.)

          It doesn’t matter for me anymore anyway–with my new job I’m no longer union-eligible.

        1. OP on time for work*

          The boss suggested that we might talk with EAP “to determine the root cause of an inability to get to work on time”. I was thinking that I would grouse about what a crazy manager I had, but who knows??

          1. Katie the Fed*

            So, when you do the first step of disciplinary action – usually a verbal or written warning, you do want to include that as an option because you want to give the employee a chance to address any underlying issues.

            But your boss just seems clueless in how to deal with all of this.

            1. OP on time for work*

              One or two people have been late since the boss issued her ultimatum, but no counseling, no resignations, no transfers etc.

          2. Ad Astra*

            I mean, my ADHD does sometimes make it hard for me to get out the door on time, but I’m struggling to see how an EAP service would be able to help with that. Time management training, maybe? A referral for treatment if they suspect there’s an untreated condition like ADHD?

            Obviously this manager is being ridiculous, but I hate the idea of EAPs being used as punishment.

            1. Katie the Fed*

              EAPs are supposed to help with a whole range of issues, so if it was something like not having reliable transportation or needing childcare, theoretically they could help with that.

            2. Not So NewReader*

              It’s a scatter gun approach, to me it translates as “if you are late or not dressed correctly we are going to put you through the seven levels of hell and make you so miserable.”

              Why the sledge hammer? Why not just say to people, “Hey, we have been letting stuff slide, but let’s rope it back in and get on a better path. Please be on time and please be dressed professionally.”
              The sledge hammer method says to me, “I really don’t know how to manage people unless I threaten them. Oh, I could ask them nicely but no one ever listens to me when I ask nicely. So asking nicely won’t work for me, I am just don’t have those kinds of skills.”

    2. Mrs. Beaux Beaux*

      Former boss used to have everyone send an email simply stating ‘clock in’, ‘going to lunch’, ‘back from lunch, etc. The email is date n time stamped so she got her wish to micromanage and we got our wish to stop being abused of being late just bc we went to the bathroom sheet coming in…

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Ugh. Yeah, I was thinking of suggesting that but my loathing of this boss made me not want to make anything easier for her.

      2. Katie the Fed*

        What you COULD do is send an email to yourself, so if she attempts to take disciplinary action you have evidence showing you were on time. But she still sucks.

        1. Engineer Girl*

          I like this. If she falsely accuses you then you can bring out the emails. It will expose her antics and show she isn’t managing properly.

        2. Turanga Leela*

          I was thinking OP could take a selfie in the office every morning. Then, if she needs evidence she was there, she can produce photos of herself making duck lips and finger guns.

        3. LeRainDrop*

          A former partner in my group was a really unhappy, miserable person. She used to skip out on work so frequently, just not show up, not respond to most emails, not respond to phone calls, etc. I mean, sometimes she would just be gone for a week-plus, or if she did come in, she’d be late for meetings, calls, etc. Anyhow, the flip side of that was that she was obsessed with making (exempt) associates show face-time (though contradictorily professed that face-time was stupid). She was extremely critical if she was ever in the office and at that particular time an associate was not — just in case she might have needed them. One time when she was yelling at me for some BS or another, she claimed that on “one day” (she could not remember which day), I was allegedly not at my desk at 11:45 a.m. when she came in. Now, I have no idea why I may not have been there because she can’t even identify the day, so maybe I was in a meeting, maybe I was on a vacation day, or maybe I had simply gone to pick up lunch already. The thing was, her absolute favorite saying ever was, “PERCEPTION IS REALITY,” meaning that her perception was reality. Another time she was yelling at me and another associate about some topic and she wanted to know why we hadn’t told her such-and-such before. We said that we did during meeting on X date and Y date and we sent her two emails that said it. And she’s like, “Well, I don’t remember that, and perception is reality!” Yes, even emails were not proof to her because her perception differed. And maybe we were sending too many emails, or sending emails at a time she was busy, or some other BS. But she literally said that her perception trumped email evidence.

          1. Honeybee*

            She is super batty! There’s so much research about how perception is decidedly not reality. Our brains make stuff up all the time to help us try to make sense of the world. Or bring it in line with our expectations and desires, as it seems her brain was doing for her.

        1. Beezus*


          I had a request from one of our satellite locations to start updating a report at 7 am instead of 8:30. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not a morning person and I’m not going to be at my best coming in at 6:30 to send this report at 7. Most of the report updates happened by macro anyway, so I modified the macro to do a couple of minor tweaks I was doing manually, and then save it on a shared drive and send an email with the link. I set up the macro to run as soon as the spreadsheet was opened, and then added a scheduled task to open that spreadsheet at 6:30 am every weekday. All I have to do is leave my workstation on and locked with my email client open, and the report updates itself.

          My boss gets the report too – he thought I had suddenly started coming in at 6:30, and was really concerned when I was still staying until 5 pm. I was tempted, for just a moment, to let him keep thinking that. :)

        2. UsedToDoSupport*

          I used to work with a guy who had put timers on his desk lamp and computer to turn them on when he “got in”. He was actually “in” at least an hour later than his appliances.

          1. Mike C.*

            The best part of this is that if he’s ever caught his immediate response is, “You were fooled by some hardware store outlet timers?”

      3. Lefty*

        We had a micromanaging boss who did the same thing… all was well until our Fiber Optic line was severed in a construction job and she was offsite for the day. She insisted that none of us had shown up that day because we knew she would be out! If we’d been that organized, I’m sure we would have been more resourceful than that.

        OP- if emailing works, it might save a few headaches (while admittedly creating some new ones). With the situation above, we actually learned that our proxy badges could be used as proof of accessing the building- could that be an option if you needed to defend your arrival times at some point?

      4. Laurel Gray*

        It is amazing how people like this are promoted or hired into management positions. If I was a BigBoss I would be livid that resources like time and email are being wasted like this!

        1. Honeybee*

          I don’t understand how they have time to do any of their own work.

          Although I learned from the last thread that they don’t – they are either working around the clock or they aren’t actually doing any of their own work.

      5. Jennifer*

        The folks that come into work when supervisors aren’t here are required to send an e-mail proving that they are here. Sounds like the OP needs to do that.

        1. OP on time for work*

          I thought about sending an email when I arrive, but that violates local union policies. Since there is no time clock or anything, sending an email would be kinda like “clocking in” and therefore prohibited. So you can see why I’m in a pickle : )

    3. JGray*

      This was my reaction as well- who talks to people like that?!?. It seems really weird to say that to those that are you “managing”. Also what is going to happen if I transfer to another department- the manager of that department is going to talk to your current manager and she is going to say that you were late all the time. At my job we don’t have a time clock where people have to close in & out but we are all at work on time or within a couple of minutes. To me is seems ridiculous to nickle & dime people over a couple of minutes (think shift starts at 7:00 & you get to work at 7:01 or 7:02) especially if the environment is like my work. I don’t watch the time as closely as I should so even if I show up at 7:01 I usually make up that minute at lunchtime or when I leave. My schedule says I leave at 5pm but it is rare that I leave exactly at 5- I usually leave at 5:01 or 5:03. That said I am usually at work by 6:50 so a whole 10 minutes early so on the very few days that I am in right on time I don’t worry about because I am in early the rest of the time.

      1. Stj*

        My previous manager had an automated server job that would text her phone 5 minutes after shift start. When you arrived for work you had to disable the job within 5 minutes or you’d be chased up.

        When I got the managers job, first thing I did was delete the server job and treat everyone like grownups. To my knowledge no one has ever been late, most of my team end up starting early.

    4. AllieJ0516*

      I was thinking along similar lines, but using an IM system instead of email, if that’s even an option for the OP, we use IM as SOP at my office. When you get in, IM the boss (whether she’s at her desk or not) and say something like – “I’m in, when you get a chance, I need to review XX and YY with you, please let me know when you’d be available to meet.”

      Just an aside – it’d be nice if you were actually able to send that BEFORE Boss gets in – even if she doesn’t realize the time stamp, you’d know :-) (but that’s the internally snarky, passive-aggressive side of me coming out!)

  12. Tattooed OP*

    Thank you all for your comments- the staff meeting was pushed back to next week because my boss is ill so im still not sure if this is something that were going to be asked to abide by or not.
    Wither or not we are asked to abide by this new policy not all of my tattoos will be covered, what should I say to coworkers who get upset because an exception was made? All of the staff here with the exception of a few doctors and an X-Ray tech are all woman and they will speak up, once someone notices they all will talk.

    1. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon*

      This is trickier. Do you have a good relationship with them? If so, I would be very forthright about why an exception was created for you; indeed, you could even consider asking your boss to make an announcement at the team meeting of “Exceptions may be allowed where…” so that they can assume that’s what happened with you. If that isn’t your sort of workplace, I would be more inclined to just say that you have discussed the situation with your boss, and let them go to her if it still bothers them.

    2. Oh no not again*

      Tell them you had them before the policy went into effect. They’re completely unreasonable if they complain about that. You’re not a new hire-work didn’t have a problem with it before. If someone gave me a hard time, I’d snark ” You wanna pay for the removal? Good! Thank you so much!” Easy for me to say since I don’t have tats, but this is the kind of response I tend to give to people who complain and whine about something that really is none of their concern. This is between you and your employer.

    3. Apollo Warbucks*

      I would say something like “These are tattoos I had prior to this policy change and after talking to [bosses name] they made a concession and allowed me to keep working with them showing, as they are very subtle and not offensive and would be hard to cover.” you could also add that “but this concession wouldn’t not apply to any new tattoos that would need to be covered or I would be disciplined under the new policy”

      You said only a turtle neck would cover the tattoo on your neck, you could talk about the only clothing that would cover it completely would be to restrictive or uncomfortable to wear whilst working and there’s no need get into details about why else they are not an option for you.

      1. PontoonPirate*

        Honestly, I wouldn’t even explain that much. It can come off sounding defensive, which OP shouldn’t feel. I’d just say, “These tattoos predate the policy change and were grandfathered in.” If the OP can train herself to say it with a confident, friendly tone, I think that will be all that is necessary. If pushed further, OP can just shrug a bit and say, “I’m sure I’m not the only one with tattoos at all our clinics, but you can ask [boss] if you’re curious.”

        1. fposte*

          Agreed. This isn’t likely to be a serious interrogation but an offhand thought. Don’t treat it as something serious. (Kind of like patients talking about eyebrows.)

    4. Oryx*

      I would just explain that you had the tattoos prior to the policy going into effect and talked it over with X and were grandfathered in, or whatever term is decided on. I mean, seriously, what would your co-workers expect you to do? Go get them removed? It’s not like changing to a more natural hair color (which I’m not suggesting is okay as a policy, but it’s easier to fix or correct).

    5. Tattooed OP*

      I don’t really work closely with them because I’m in my lab all alone. I’m not included in staff meetings at this office because I’m “lab” and all of us phlebotomists are supervised by one person as a group rather then each office worrying about the specifics because it is so specialized. there are 13 offices that I travel to however I’m mostly at just one. I just feel like they’re going to throw a fit about the exception so I’m avoiding it like the plague. I’ve already been asked what my supervisor said and I just told them that she’s been out sick and I haven’t gotten a chance to talk to her- all true.
      I could just go with ” they’ve made an exception because I had these before the rule and they cant be covered” but I still think people will cause a huff, this new policy has started a lot of ” its not legal and its discrimination” drama both of which I think are immature, non valid arguments but one woman in particular now has to wear crew neck shirts because she has a tattoo above her heart area and she’s very upset.
      I’d really like to play down the drama because I don’t really care about the rule, its fine, I’ll cover them if they want me to but I just cant comply 100%.
      I’m positive that if I offered to resign my boss would say something like- no, don’t do that over silly tattoos – she’s rather relaxed but that would make for valid argument “I offered to resign teapots inc would rather keep me with my uncovered tattoos then loose me.” but then that might make me seem like a princess. im lost trying to avoid what seems like inevitable drama

      1. The IT Manager*

        DO NOT offer to resign unless you’re willing to be out of work.

        Frankly I think you’re worrying about what everyone else will think far too much. If it comes up: “I had these tattoos before the policy went into affect. I won’t get any new ones, but these are allowed since removing them is an unreasonable hardship.”

        1. The IT Manager*

          Can’t stop myself … “Affect” is totally wrong in that usage. (Right?) It should be “effect.”

          1. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

            Yup, should be “effect.” I always have to stop and think twice when using those two words to make sure I’m picking the right one. :P

      2. fposte*

        I would take the comments very, very lightly, whether they’re meant that way or not. “I guess we’ll see.” Smile, end of topic. If they have a followup comment, shrug and talk about something else. The advantage to not being really into people is that it makes perfect sense to disengage from them :-). Don’t give them so much mental real estate, and don’t lawyerly plan how to argue with them about decisions that aren’t even yours.. If they want to huff, let them huff, because it’s not your drama if you’re not listening or elsewhere or doing Sudoku. “I dunno, Jane, talk to Lucinda. Hey, are we almost out of tape? Where does it all go, amirite?”

      3. LBK*

        I’d just practice saying something like “[insert manager’s name here] approved it, I’m sure she’d be happy to talk to you about it if you have a question or an issue.” If they press you, just repeat “Well, like I said, Manager is the one who approved it, so you can ask her about it.” It’s really not your problem to play defense for your manager’s decision.

      4. JGray*

        I agree that you should try to stop worrying about other people. I know it’s hard especially when someone is very vocal about a policy being enforced against them. Which is the prerogative of that persons manager. I also think that a tattoo in the heart area is much easier to cover than the top of one on your back and the finger one. I also don’t think that patients are going to see your finger one. I don’t think that I have ever noticed anytime I have had blood drawn if the person had something on their hands other than gloves. Tattoos are so common place now nowadays that the one on your neck is probably not going to be noticed by anyone so as long as your manager has agreed to grandfather you in than I would not worry about it and if a coworker brings it up just say that your manager has approved your coverage. Might seem a little snarky but its the truth.

      5. BananaPants*

        I think you’re really overthinking this. Wait and see if the policy even applies to you before you start worrying about “what ifs”.

        In the end, if your boss is OK with grandfathering you, I’d advise you to learn to care less about what other people think.

      6. Elizabeth West*

        Why is coworker’s heart area hanging out in the first place? I assume that also includes boob area–which isn’t exactly kosher to have hanging out at work!

      7. BuildMeUp*

        Once you’re officially “grandfathered in” and have had your tattoos okayed, I would tell them that once (“I spoke to Boss and my existing tattoos were approved” or something else short and to the point), and if anyone brings it up after, don’t engage. Don’t give more explanations, don’t go into the details of your conversation with your manager (or whoever approved it), and don’t get into an argument with them, because that will just give them the “drama” they want. Just politely tell them that since they have questions, Manager would be the best person to talk to! Manager can go over the specifics of the policy with them! More questions? “I don’t know, you’d have to ask Manager about that!” And then, as fposte suggested, change the subject.

    6. LQ*

      If they bring it up to you then shrug and say, (boss) approved it, have a great afternoon. Make it such a nonevent that they can’t even care.
      If your coworkers get upset it reflects on them. If you respond professionally it will reflect well on you.

    7. KR*

      I would tell the new employees that you spoke to your supervisor and you have an arrangement worked out to be grandfathered into the policy, and if they have any concerns about it that they should talk to their supervisor. It’s not your responsibility to worry about their tattoos.

    8. Case of the Mondays*

      Let them talk about you. Who cares? You rarely work with them anyway so it’s not going to make your day to day miserable. I’d just say “I’ve worked it out with management” and leave it at that.

  13. KT*

    For #5….Maybe it’s weird, but I’ve had employers who believed that if your start time was 7:30, and you were sitting down right at 7:30, you were late. Their idea was by the time you got yourself comfortable, said your good mornings, turned on your computer, opened up programs, etc, it was 7:45 and you had lost time for the day.

    Is it possible that’s what going on here? Those employers created a long-standing impression for me, so I’m awlays 15-20 minutes early before my official start time, and I have to admit, I do kind of eye-roll at the people who show up at 8:00 on the dot.

    1. Vorthys*

      That’s just plain unreasonable of those employers. If you aren’t salaried, even the act of turning on your workstation should count as work. You don’t do it for giggles.

      I guess it’s just easier for bad managers to steal from employees (fifteen minutes a day adds up!) than act ethically.

      1. Kelly L.*

        Yup. It’s especially irksome when the “workstation” is a hideously out of date contraption that takes ten minutes to boot up. Been there, done that.

        1. neverjaunty*

          Yep. At one company I had a workstation that was so slow I started it up and walked a block to get my coffee while it chugged up to a useable state.

    2. Allison*

      This is true, at firstjob the workday started promptly at 8:30, and that means you had to already be sitting at your desk, laptop on, ready to hit the ground running at 8:29. They asked that we aim to get there around 8:15 so we’d have time to hang up our coats, put away our lunches, get coffee, turn on our computers, etc. If I only got there 5 minutes “early” I’d apologize for being late, because I was still getting there later than expected.

    3. jhhj*

      I am not giving my employer 15 minutes of time for free, thanks. If you want me to arrive at 7:30, then my start time is 7:30.

      1. Kelly L.*

        This. I’ve experienced this mindset, and it irks me to no end. If you really need me there at 7:30, actually say so. No hidden assumed start times please.

        1. jhhj*

          By arrive I mean: at the desk with coat off, but if you want me to boot the computer every morning, that’s work.

    4. Puffle*

      My friend was once reprimanded for being “late”, and it was a very similar situation to the one you describe. The official start time was 9.00, but you were expected to be at your desk, coat off, computer booted, programmes loaded, ready to go just before then. In her case, it did seem like they were being petty, because they noted in her file that she wasn’t logged in to the system until 9.01 or 9.02- obviously the Worst Employee Ever!

      I do feel like employers need to be clear when this is their expectation, and say specifically, “I expect you to get here at 8.45 and be logged on and ready at 9.00”. No one’s a mind reader.

      Another friend worked at a ski resort where staff were given bed and board. She reported in at the official start time, 7.00 am, and was told that she was “late” (they expected her there at 6.45 or 6.50). The penalty? “Late” staff weren’t given breakfast…

      1. Allison*

        Oh my word, that’s awful! How do they expect their employees to be productive if you don’t feed them??

        Some places I’ve worked encouraged people to be clocked in before their shift starts by allowing people to clock in up to 10 minutes early. And when I started my first job my dad insisted I aim to be at work at least 15 minutes before my shift started. There is something to be said for erring on the side of being early, but if you expect people to be at work a certain number of minutes before their shift, you have to tell them. With words.

        (I’m getting really tired of this whole “I’m not going to tell them, because I shouldn’t have to tell them; they should just know!” mentality)

        And seriously, 1 or 2 minutes late is hardly worth a reprimand. I get employers being hesitant to give people wiggle room, but really, I don’t think a 5 minute grace period would hurt anyone.

        1. Chinook*

          “And when I started my first job my dad insisted I aim to be at work at least 15 minutes before my shift started.”

          I was also taught this, but it meant it gave you time to remove winter weather gear and stash it and be mentally ready to work at your start time. To me, there is a world of difference between dashing in with your jacket still on at your start time and starting your computer at your start time.

      2. OP on time for work*

        I am salaried and the official “start time” is 0730. We don’t actually open for business until 0800. Still thinking that the boss has lost it.

        1. Kelly L.*

          Yeah, a boss definitely can’t just say “You’re not here until I see you” if said boss is going to only be there sporadically! It’s either really stupid or a setup. They need a way to clock in, or I guess you can start sending her emails saying “I’m here!” until it annoys the daylights out of her!

          1. The IT Manager*

            The only problem with that is that the email can only come after you have logged in which in my case can take 5-10 after you sit down or worse on the occasional days when there’s a mandatory software install/reboot first thing.

            1. Honeybee*

              The other problem I foresee is that I can send Outlook mails to my boss from my phone and it doesn’t say where I sent them from, so I could always send a mail saying “I’m here!” when I’m still sitting in my car in the parking garage.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        There is a chain near me that tells their employees they must leave their cash registers up until 11 pm, closing time. Then the cashier is to punch out at 11 pm exact. One problem, you cannot count thousands of dollars in a drawer in less than 60 seconds. Did I mention the drawers must be exact each and every time? The arguing never stops on that one.

        1. Honeybee*

          Well, the real answer is that they don’t want to pay their cashiers for the time they spend counting money and closing up shop after they turn off the registers.

    5. Ad Astra*

      I had teachers who felt that way, but never bosses. If it’s not ok to fill your coffee cup or say hi to a coworker on the clock, should you also clock out every time you go to the bathroom? Or every time you answer a text message? What about when you’re eating at your desk but not working at full speed?

      If you have a meeting or an event or something that starts at 7:30, you better be there a little bit before that. Otherwise, it’s not worth nickel and diming non-exempt employees to that extent.

      And for exempt employees? Forget about it.

      1. Elysian*

        You can’t make employees clock out (and then not pay them) for short breaks like bathroom breaks or short coffee breaks. One of the few things the US actually has a law on, thank goodness!

        1. Ad Astra*

          Exactly. So it’s silly to say “Oh, I’m not paying you to take off your coat or fill your water bottle!” Yeah, you are.

    6. Kylynara*

      My first full time job (an inbound call center) required that we be logged into our computers, with 4 programs open, and daily system changes read and looked into the phones by our start time. It easily took 20-30 minutes to do all that (the computers were seriously outdated and slow). We were not allowed to clock in more than 5 minutes before our start time and we were evaluated on how close to actual times we swiped our cards.

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        Yes, I had a similar experience – also at a call center. And we weren’t paid for the boot up / log in time, which I later found out was illegal.

        1. CMT*

          Yeah, I think there was a case about this recently (like, in the last few years). Probably in California.

    7. Stranger than fiction*

      Which is ok if you’re hourly/non-exempt, otherwise an employer can be in deep doodoo if they require you to be in your seat even a five minutes before clocking in.

  14. Melissa*

    #4- I think this could be Career Services Advice too. The counselors at my college always advised “apply up”. The theory was, if they hired from within, the company would have a lower job and your resume already. It was really saving the company time..

    1. F.*

      Saving the company time? No, no, no! As an HR Department of One, I can’t tell you how much time I waste looking at resumes from the totally unqualified or those who live on the other side of the state applying for positions for which there would obviously be no relocation. While I think the intent of requiring people on unemployment benefits to look for work is admirable, the way they are going about it is not truly effective.

      1. Kelly L.*

        Yup. I think the rules were made by people who believe too strongly in the gumption we’ve mentioned before!

      2. Anx*

        Really in short, the entire social safety net is based on an employment climate when it was less common for experienced, educated, or motivated people to be out of work or stuck in part-time work and hasn’t been updated.

        1. F.*

          There needs to be a better way to match people and appropriate jobs, but that is a conversation for another day.

      3. Honeybee*

        The people from the other side of the state may be well aware that there is no relocation and may have enough of their own personal resources to move. Or maybe they have family in your location. Or…any number of things. I know it’s common to screen people on the basis of location, but I wish people wouldn’t make this assumption.

    2. Ad Astra*

      I was taught that “two years of experience” was code for “entry level,” and applied for a lot of those positions right out of college. But my field was journalism, where almost everyone graduates with at least some career-specific experience. That idea might not hold water for history majors whose only jobs in college were waiting tables.

      And, obviously, the OP is talking about more than just fudging it a year or two. But “apply up” isn’t totally wrong on its own.

  15. Allison*

    #4, it’s absolutely normal, for a number of reasons:

    – as others said, people may be applying to satisfy a requirement for unemployment benefits
    – some people don’t read the job descriptions and fire off applications to anything that that looks remotely relevant to their interests
    – some people know that your long list of requirements is more of a wishlist, but can’t figure out which requirements are actual must-haves
    – some people are delusional and figure they don’t need to have those stupid buzzwords on their resume as long as they show spirit, drive, spunk, awesomeness, or they insist that they will learn whatever they need to very quickly
    – many people, especially recent grads, are told to apply to ALL the things, at ALL the companies, even things they’re not even remotely qualified for, because “you never know.”

    1. Terra*

      It may also be happening because:

      – During the great recession some jobs had crazy inflated requirements because they knew they could get higher level people who were out of work to fill them.
      – Some companies still inflate their requirement (5 years experience for entry level) as a sort of “test” to see who is confident enough to apply anyway/limiting the applicants by getting some to self-select out. It’s a stupid policy (in my opinion) but the result is that people have gotten used to the idea of applying anyway because the worst that can happen is they don’t hear back and they aren’t the ones who have to sort through the applicants.

      1. Honeybee*

        I have done that before, particularly for jobs that say that they want < 5 years of experience. A lot of employers are still operating on Recession Rules – they would ideally like someone with 3-5 years so they put that, but they will hire (and know they will probably have to hire) someone less experienced because of the pay or some other reason.

    2. Biff*

      “…some people know that your long list of requirements is more of a wishlist, but can’t figure out which requirements are actual must-haves.”

      I was coming here to say this — I’m helping several people with ye ol’ job search right now, and an unfortunately large part of it is sorting through/trying to understand job listings that:

      * Have 15+ skill requirements per year of experience desired. (Seriously, parsed one with probably 50 line items of desired skills for a job that wasn’t a senior position.)
      * Have skills that have no relation to each other. E.g. “We’d like a teapot quality checker who has significant skills in graphic design and dog training.”
      * Have skills that differ wildly from the desired experience (We’ve actually run into a lot of jobs that want 5+ years of experience, and have a senior title, but the actual work is very entry level. Weird.)
      * Have Titles/Descriptions that are at odds with actual work described by the posting.
      * Have expectations that applicants will have extensive experience with proprietary, new or rare software/equipment before working in the industry. (E.g. “A successful candidate will have 2+ years of experience with the ASV99XJ arm-mounted barcode scanner.”)
      * Are written by people that do not have a technical understanding of the position and therefore, write a lot of requirements that make the company look like they don’t understand the job.

      What ends up happening is that if we feel we can speak to 5-10 non-generic items on the job listing AND we have some notion of what the job likely entails, we go for it. (Sometimes we can speak to the requirements, but we can’t figure out what the job is. Not even joking.)

  16. Me*

    ” I never advertise jobs on big job banks like Monster or Indeed for precisely this reason.”

    OK, so how on earth does one find jobs?? You can’t use the newspaper anymore (in fact, my local paper’s online classifieds section links right to Monster). You can’t just troll the internet looking at random companies’ websites to see if they have any job openings. That’s just a time suck with no payoff.

    I hate monster too. for one thing, their search algorithm sucks. If I search for ‘writer’ I wind up with a lot of auto mechanics listings (!) because the description includes ‘writing estimates’ or somesuch.

    Honestly, I much preferred the newspaper. But given the reality of modern life, what is one to do??

    1. The IT Manager*

      While you can’t troll the internet looking at random companies’ websites, you can look at websites for local companies in your field, set up alerts that email you when a new job is posted with specific criteria. Targeted job searching.

    2. Allison*

      Alison doesn’t post her jobs on those big boards, that doesn’t mean that no one posts there! Although Monster and CareerBuilder are falling out of favor with many companies because they suck and they’re extremely expensive.

      Keep in mind that companies do want to make their jobs visible, it’s not like they’re purposely hiding their jobs to mess with you or make your life difficult. The fact is, it costs money to post jobs to most of these websites, so companies need to be strategic and post where they expect to get the most bang for their buck.

      LinkedIn is more popular with employers nowadays, as is Glassdoor. I’m actually under the impression that Indeed is a job post aggregator so it shows jobs that aren’t posted directly to the website. There are also a lot of industry-specific websites, but since I don’t know what industry you work in I don’t know where to refer you.

      1. Laurel Gray*

        I love GlassDoor. You can “follow” a company and get alerts to new job postings and reviews, and you have a specific company’s open jobs, reviews, salary info and even interview info right at your finger tips.

      2. Me*

        Maybe I’ll update my linkedin. I’m nervous about it as altho I’ve blocked my direct manager I’m sure there’s someone at the company who might notice me looking for jobs.

        Part of the problem is this area doesn’t have a whole lot besides nursing and truck driving. NYC and Philly are 2+ hours away, and unless i can work remotely that’s impractical. And they’re both too big for trolling company websites.

        The other part is that I”m an editor, which doesn’t seem to really have an ‘industry job board’ as such, not one that doesn’t require a fee anyway, which I can’t afford. It’s also a term used extremely broadly (I get IT jobs showing up in searches) and is often paired w/ the requirement of an advanced degree (for, let’s say, a medical journal). I’m awesome at it, tho I say it myself, but can’t get in the door at such places. I tried a freelance website (forget the name) that’s sort of an editing Uber but there were a lot of ppl wanting their senior essay edited for $25 and junk like that. Too much chaff to weed thru for the wheat.

        But I’ll try Glassdoor. Any other suggestions welcome.

        1. EmmBee*

          LinkedIn job searching isn’t visible — so no one will see that you’re looking at or applying to jobs on there. Don’t worry!

    3. IT Kat*

      Just going to through in my recommendation for LinkedIN and Glassdoor.

      Also, I know others have mentioned it, but there are a TON of industry-specific job boards out there. For instance, I’m in IT and dice.com is huge for me, I’ve gotten jobs from there. Just google job boards.

      1. Turanga Leela*

        Other people must know how to use LinkedIn better than I do, because it keeps suggesting that I apply for jobs as a surgeon and a nuclear physicist. I am, to put it mildly, not qualified for these jobs.

        1. Biff*

          I found that linked in likes to get hooked on your first couple of skills. The more you list though, the more it ‘learns’ to give you more defined stuff. Try adding some skills that reflect postings that you LIKE. E.g.

          The ideal dreamy job posted in NeverLiveThereAgainCity says:

          Teapot Design Research and Development
          Teapot Design Focus Groups
          Teapot Materials and Supply Chain
          Teapot Recycling.

          Your skills right now say:

          Teapot Design
          Teapot Recycling

          So you add what you think you have from that job listing:

          Teapot Research
          Teapot Materials
          Teapot Development

          I found after I did this a couple of times I got much more tailored results.

    4. OriginalEmma*

      I’d stopped using Monster because it just seemed to be spammed by the Navy and Air Force (who love public health, apparently, which is great but not what I’m looking for!).

    5. Natalie*

      There’s also external recruiters (staffing agencies). There a quite probably industry specific ones in your area. There’s pluses and minuses to working with a recruiter, but a big one for me is that I am goddamned busy and that always gets in the way of an active job search.

    6. BananaPants*

      My husband got his current job by making a list of companies that hire in his field in our area using Indeed, then set up job alerts for positions in our area and checked daily on LinkedIn by searching for the job title and a certain geographic radius of home (due to low pay for entry level, he wasn’t willing to commute terribly far). He actually found the job posting on LinkedIn, then applied through the employer’s website.

      Monster and Career Builder seem to be full of scams, MLMs, and military recruiters.

    7. CMT*

      90% of my job searching has been looking at random company websites, and it’s been pretty successful for me.

    8. Stan*

      Also, don’t forget to check the websites for professional/union groups in your field. When I was job searching a couple of years ago, I found the state chapter websites of two national professional groups to be invaluable resources. The national sites also usually had job postings, but there were may more posted at the regional/state level.

    9. Honeybee*

      I actually did troll the Internet looking at companies’ websites to see if they had openings, and that’s how I found my current job. But I didn’t do it randomly – I specifically looked at large employers in the specific field I wanted to enter.

      I also used Indeed and LinkedIn and found some promising leads from there (although LinkedIn will try to upsell you by telling you how many people applied to the same job you’re looking at; you can pay for their premium account to supposedly see the credentials of everyone else who applied and where you stand in the pack).

  17. Allison*

    #1, This may need to be a “take things as they come”/”cross that bridge when you get there” situation. Personally, I think you should be grandfathered in if the rule does in fact apply to you, and I think any reasonable manager will be able to come up with a solution that doesn’t involve you quitting or getting tattoos removed, but you don’t actually know if that’s even necessary yet! Wait until you’re told that the rule applies to you first, then if needed, talk to your manager to figure out a solution. If you’re really worried and you can’t wait until then, approach management now and ask if you’re going to be included under that rule, and then start the conversation of being grandfathered.

  18. LQ*

    Something I haven’t seen mentioned is that if these are internal applicants they might be doing it to show they are interested in moving up.
    Yes, this is apparently a thing that some people genuinely believe. I know several people who work at the same government agency that I do who apply for every job that is above their pay grade. They think this shows people at higher levels that they are very interested in moving up and getting promoted so they keep doing it. Nothing seems to convince them otherwise. I’m not sure if this is just my agency but I’ve heard whiffs of it elsewhere. (I think this might be more prevalent in environments where people believe that being around and asking long enough means you’ll get promoted, or worse, where that is true. They are the same people who get crabby when someone comes in and gets promoted before them even if they acknowledge the other person is more skilled.)

  19. Anx*


    I’m another one who thinks the unemployment benefits situation may be at play here. I was on UI a few years ago, and there were times when a week would go by without anything posted. I’d apply to out of state jobs I was qualified for, but I can imagine many just apply up.

    It’s also tough to know where you stand. Maybe I’m just completely incompetent for most entry level work, but after years of applying for jobs I thought I’d qualify for, and being unable to move my targets lower, I’ve wondered if maybe I’m not being ambitious enough. Some people have even told me I wouldn’t want to do X, assuming it was beneath me. When you’re unemployed, nothing feels beneath you (or at least, that’s how I feel). I guess people wondered why I’d want to say in some jobs, but to be honest, many of the menial jobs I was applying to were full-time with benefits and paid better than the more prestigious jobs that were all contingent work.

    A long job search makes it really difficult to know what you should be applying for when you don’t hear back from jobs that you think you were well qualified for.

    1. Allison*

      I understand that when you’re looking, any job that pays well and offers full benefits looks good and nothing feels beneath you. I understand that when you finally land a job, any job, you’re happy to have that job, because you’ll finally get some money coming in again. And while no employer has a crystal ball and no one can possibly know for sure how hiring you will play out, the unfortunate truth is that every manager who’s worked with low-level/menial/entry-level/admin/sales folks has hired someone with more experience than they were hoping for; usually someone with a ton of experience in another career path who really did just want any job they could get, who was happy with the job for a few months, only to eventually get restless in the position and start reaching for a promotion, or trying to get transferred, asking for more responsibilities outside of what someone in that role typically does, or start pushing for a raise because they have all that experience and they really do deserve more. Again, no one is saying that you, specifically, will definitely do this, but it’s such a common occurrence that overqualified candidates are, by and large, considered risky by most employers.

      It used to be that a low level position within a company could be a launch pad to any department in the company. This isn’t really the case anymore, and employers are careful not to hire someone who may try to use a low-level job for that purpose.

      1. Anx*

        This was part of my problem!

        I couldn’t understand why someone wouldn’t want to give me a chance, because if I ever did want to move into another position I could move up within the company after a few years. Now I realize that promoting from within isn’t nearly as common as I had thought it was.

        I feel as though I’m not at all overqualified for these positions; in fact I’m under-qualified for them. But I have just enough education and an interesting enough work history (in part-time jobs) that I don’t think people took me seriously for those. I don’t know how I would be considered a flight risk; I don’t feel like I have anymore options than anyone else. And I feel like I’m much more passionate about some of these jobs than most of their applicants. But yes, there are several fields. I’m really bad at picking one thing to devote my career, too, but that’s a whole other issue. Though, I tend to be very dedicated once I’m in a position. I guess now I have to try to look for stretch positions instead.

        1. Allison*

          You don’t have options now, that doesn’t mean you’ll never have options; the concern is that something may change in a few months and a job you actually want will open up.

          It’s like dating someone when you know you’re not their type, you’re just the only person who wants to be with them right now, yeah you know you’re in for a couple months of happiness, but it’s only human to wonder what’ll happen when someone more obviously “their type” comes along and shows interest. You don’t want someone to settle for you, you want someone who can’t imagine being with anyone else.

          Also, promoting from within is still done, the issue is that companies don’t often have people make lateral moves anymore. If you’re an admin, you’re on the admin “track,” and you can go from entry-level office manager to an executive assistant or someone who manages the admin staff, but you can’t really expect to go from being an admin to being an accountant, or marketing executive, project manager, etc. At least not at a big company. Maybe it’s still sort of possible at a smaller organization where people tend to wear many hats.

  20. HR Interview OP*

    Thank you for your answer to #1.

    I wanted to mention I unexpectedly had my interview expedited to last week, instead of this week. I did not use the information to get coached. I realized that HR was more of a screen to get me to communicate with the hiring manager, and that even if getting coached did show initiative, it wasn’t likely to make any impression on the manager who would make the hiring decision.

    I felt like contacting him would also compromise my chances, since it would be a conflict of interest (like you detailed as well). Thank you for validating my decision and answering my question.

    1. Clever Name*

      That’s good to hear. There is so much information out there about doing unique things to “stand out from the pack”. Unfortunately, as Alison advocates, the best way to stand out is also boring and sometimes hard (being a qualified candidate with a solid resume and good cover letter), and that just doesn’t translate into a particularly “clickable” article headline. Best of luck!

      1. HR Interview Employee*

        Felt like I should update, though this is two weeks late at this point: I got the job, and it’s a great one.
        I am starting in a few hours from now. Thank you for your input as well as Alice.

  21. Employment Lawyer*

    Re 3. I’m excluded from events that male coworkers are invited to

    These are tricky. You should talk to a lawyer before you talk to HR, because there are a lot of ways that you can be penalized for working with HR. As they say, if HR did their job, retaliation lawsuits wouldn’t exist… but they do. Cover your behind properly; talk to a lawyer first.

  22. Office Drone #845*

    Questions about yesterdays post . . . is a fake spider really that scary? Yes, I understand freaking out or if you have a phobia, having a panic attack, but it’s almost Halloween, there are fake spiders and other icky things everywhere. THat wasn’t even a prank – it was a mildly scary joke. I’d even call it festive!

    1. Kelly L.*

      Hey–these threads get so busy that we try to stay on topic here; you might want to post your comment in that thread! I know some people still check in on posts a few days old.

  23. Rebecca*

    #3 – a similar situation happened at my first job, about a year before I escaped. I was given a list of activities, and tasked with making up fun certificates for first and second place finishers for fishing, skeet shooting, things like that. When I asked about when it would be, and commented about how much fun it it would be, I was told it was for the male non-exempt and male management personnel only. Turns out one of the VP’s belonged to a hunting club, and thought this would be a great team building activity, but for men only. Complaining to the male HR VP would have been pointless. To make things worse, I was non-exempt, so if I missed work during their 3 day fun fest, I would have lost pay and been assessed attendance points. It was so unfair. And yes, when they came back, so much talking and laughter among the men talking about the funny things that happened and there was a lot of back slapping. I resent that to this day.

    1. CMT*

      Wow! Obviously people who do this don’t have a problem with the actual discrimination aspect of their behavior, but aren’t they worried about how it looks?!

  24. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    #5 – Dinner table story #184 – I was working as a computer analyst – and realized I had forgotten to do something. I called the production control analyst on the phone – walked him through the change. This was at 10 pm.

    The next morning – I told his boss (who had a problem with the bottle) that his guy helped me, saved my bacon, etc. and he had a puzzled look on his face.

    I later find out – he had taken disciplinary action against the employee – FOR BEING AWOL AT 10 PM!. I told the guy – I’ll go to bat for you, this isn’t right. He said “no – I’ll handle it in my own way.”

    Well – it turned out that the boss used to drive through the parking lot – and if someone’s car wasn’t there, he’d assume the guy or gal took off. That night, the night of the absentee report – the employee had had his wife drop him off for work so there was no car in the lot.

    Anyway – the guy tells me “don’t worry, I’ll handle it in my own way.”

    He did. Two nights later.

    He had friends on the local police force. When the boss did his nightly “rat patrol run”, the local police stopped him. They had noticed erratic driving. And smelled liquor on his breath. And placed him under arrest for DUI. And took him to the police station.

    IN THE COMPANY’S PARKING LOT – with security cameras running!!!!!! He got his!

    Advisory to all managers who engage in “supervisory actions” like this. Such behaviors may come back to bite you.

  25. Terra*

    #3 – Depending on how your conversation with HR goes you can also file an Equal Pay and Compensation complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. It won’t win you any friends but complaints like this generally forbid retaliation so it would likely prevent them from firing you (if you’re concerned that’s a possibility) until the complaint is resolved and it may prevent them from saying certain negative things about you as a reference (again, if you’re worried about the possibility).

  26. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    #4 – yes. It is not unusual.

    Back in 1990 I was out of work. I have taken note that AAM advises – “Do not listen to your parents” regarding a job search. Even at my advanced age, I do not advise younger people on job searches – other than to ensure your resume is “spiffy” and not dull, and also have “multiple irons in the fire”. I have one acquaintance who would apply for a job, wait, get rejected, apply for another. When I was out of work, I had 20 applications out there at any given time.

    That being said – my father would say “why not apply for this one” – an ad in the Boston Globe. BECAUSE – I don’t even know what they’re referring to in that ad. It would be a waste.

    Fast forward – I get a job. We have an opening for, let’s say, a teapot manufacturer. We put an ad in the Boston Globe.

    We received 400 responses. I would guess around 300 were “gumption” applications – people just answered the ad putting in a request to be interviewed ANYWAY, and company policy required that we file every application and reply. Four of us spent three days doing that, we replied by postcard to the people who were just applying to apply, and we got the stack down to 30, then down to 15 before we started calling people in.

    We interviewed four — one was an undocumented alien, so we had three – hired one, eventually hired the second one too, the third one found another job and cut off the application process before we could get her in for a second interview.

    On the other hand, I can empathize with “gumption applicants”. Some are desperate. They may figure that their application will stand out and we’ll bring them in based on their spirit – OR -we may have another opening that fits their skills set (rare in that environment). BUT – I think we have to respect those individuals, professionally just the same.

  27. Cynical Lackey*

    A lot of people see tattoos, especially on the hands and neck as signs of a low-life criminal. I understand why the hospital does not want to portray that image to those people. i wouldn’t blame them if they decided to go with someone who better suits their image. Perhaps they can transfer OP#2 to the loading dock, the kitchen, the supply room or someplace patients do not have to look at her and wonder if she is affiliated with a gang or not

    1. CMT*

      I love having tattoos, because it’s an automatic way to avoid close-minded people who think that way.

      1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        CMT – that’s OK, but it may also be an automatic way to avoid moving up in the professional world.

        A parallel situation = the “Goth Look” may be trendy, and fashionable in some circles, but if you want a professional position where you’re customer-facing — it may get in your way.

      1. Cynical Lackey*

        Yes it is someone who is trained to safely draw blood and/or do the prescribed tests on that blood.

        1. Natalie*

          So you do know that it’s a comparatively skilled position to a loading dock.

          6/10 trolling, could have used more spelling errors and random capitalization.

    2. fposte*

      I live in the small-town heartland and even our ancient farmers seem to deal with phlebotomists with tattoos without suspecting gang infiltration of their blood draw. Who are these “lot of people”?

    3. LBK*

      I have to assume you’re from a sheltered suburb with this attitude – there’s no way you’d be able to function in a city if you thought everyone with a tattoo was a low-life gang member criminal. You’re surrounded by them on a daily basis.

  28. Student*

    #5 – This brings me back to a boss I had several years ago.

    One day, I was talking to the boss about something completely unrelated. He casually brings up my chronic absenteeism. Says he never sees me in the lab, I must be his worst employee (note: has no complaint about me failing to do any actual job tasks, and has been assigning me lab tasks for years, and I’ve been updating him on the status of lab tasks, in detail, for years). I look at him like he’s grown a pair of antlers. I was young. My immediate reaction was, “Wait, what? I haven’t seen YOU in the lab for over 2 years! I come in at 7:30 AM and leave at 4:30 PM every day, just like I have for ages. I sent you an email about it when I changed my schedule a couple years ago because of an ongoing scheduling conflict on the lab equipment.”

    Boss’s reply: “Oh. I check the lab at ~6 PM every day on my way to my car, and you’re never there, so I just assumed you never spent any time in the lab.” Me: “For the last two years? And you didn’t say anything?” Him: “Well, yeah.”

    So I started staying from 7:30 AM to 4:30 PM, then dropping by the lab at about 5:55 PM until after the boss passed by. I don’t recommend that solution unless you have no personal life whatsoever.

  29. ThursdaysGeek*

    The link on #3, about ‘has nothing to do with gender’ doesn’t appear to still have an article linked. Or perhaps my work has it blocked. All I get is some related article links.

    I was interested in reasons other than gender for why the less experienced male coworker was getting more pay for poorer quality work and at the same level. If he bargained better initially, that is often still related to gender. If he came from a better paying job initially, that also can still be related to gender.

    1. fposte*

      Looks like if you have an ad blocker in action the article doesn’t show–I just tried it with and without to test.

  30. HRish Dude*

    My favorite underqualified applicants where the people who applied to be L&D nurses with no RN licensure, no nursing training and only shipping and receiving level experience. It took me a long time to figure out that they didn’t quite get that the “Labor and Delivery” going on in that unit wasn’t the kind that they were looking for.

    Mind you, these were in-person applicants, not online where they were blanket applying to every position.

  31. Blight*

    #5: I used to think that being at work and ready to work at the scheduled time was ‘on time’…

    When I started my first out of college job this is how I rolled. I timed my morning so that I would arrive at work at 8:58 and I’d be punched in and on my computer at 9:00. I thought I was punctual but my boss thought differently. In my workplace you are expected to be 15 minutes early and being on time is limited to 5 minutes BEFORE our shift starts. If we are not in that door by 8:55 the boss considers us late.

    At first I thought he was the biggest (insert offence of choice) but then I realized that I was spending my first 5-10 minutes at my desk just getting going rather than working or I’d need to run to the bathroom or fill up my water bottle or chat with Cathy… I then cleaned up my act and realized how annoying my coworkers were when they came in right on the dot and then had to make me wait to get something from them.

    I would really talk to your manager and ask what is considered late to her, she may be like my boss and expect you in at least 5 minutes before you start or is possibly even confused about your actual start time..

    1. OP on time for work*

      Yeah I get paid by the hour and the “tour of duty” starts at 0730. We don’t officially open for business until 0800 so the first half-hour is just getting settled and prep time.

  32. Anonymous Educator*

    Er… I have mixed feelings about #4, having been on both sides of hiring. On the one hand, sifting through many résumés to get just the ones that are even remotely relevant is an annoying task. On the other hand, I can’t discount that several of the jobs I’ve gotten in the past are ones I wasn’t technically qualified for, including my first non-teaching job (and by “not technically qualified for,” I mean not in any way, apart from having a college degree). In fact, when I got a call from my future boss about the position (two months after applying), I’d even forgotten that I’d applied to the position (thinking to myself, “Did I even apply for this job? What is this?”). And yet I got the job and did well in it.

    I realize that’s more the exception than the rule (hiring an unqualified-on-paper applicant and it working out well for both the employer and the employee), it does happen occasionally.

  33. Alanis*

    Well, the new Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, has a tattoo and there have been a fair few articles about it. There are quite a few pictures of it floating around. He’s 42 and I think that, as time goes on, you’ll find more world leaders with tattoos because they are so normal among younger people.

  34. Stella Maris*

    I would be zero percent surprised if LW 4 was advertising for librarian jobs. “I like to read, I could be a librarian” is very common.

  35. brownblack*

    It’s sad that Alison would suggest someone laboriously apply makeup or wear a bandage to cover a visible tattoo because her office abruptly changed its policies on visible tattoos. I guess there’s no better solution.

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