responding to an unusually kooky job application, employer is pressuring us to donate to a lobbying group, and more

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

1. Responding to an unusually kooky job application

My colleagues and I are having a debate and wanted your opinion. I recently started advertising for a new position that would ultimately report to my manager, but I’m doing the bulk of the hiring. I got a completely bizarre application from a candidate today. (Note: The letter-writer sent the application along. Bizarre is practically an understatement; it’s either a horribly failed attempt to be funny or the work of someone who’s had a break with reality.)

Clearly, someone told this kid that crap like this was a good idea. My instinct is not to say anything and just dump his resume in the No pile, but some of my colleagues disagree. They think it would be funny to schedule a phone interview to see if this guy is as nutty as he seems. I think that might give him the wrong idea that a “resume” like this will get responses. If I provide any response, I think it would be an email letting him know how out of touch this approach is with what hiring managers want to see and that he should stop this nonsense immediately. We’ve agreed to put the question to you to help us decide what to do.

Don’t schedule a phone interview with someone you have no intention of hiring just to assess his nuttiness. Most people share particularly weird resumes with colleagues, but actually taking up the guy’s time for the purpose of mocking him later would be cruel. And yes, you’re right that it would signal to him that this is a reasonable approach when it’s so far from it.

I actually think what he submitted is so beyond the realm of anything remotely acceptable (we’re not talking poor resume format and using an objective; we’re talking eight full pages of a ranting narrative) that I wouldn’t even try to give him helpful feedback. He either knows he’s breaking all known resume rules and thinks he’s being delightfully subversive, or he’s troubled in a way that you as a stranger can’t help with. Either way, a standard rejection is all I’d do here.

2. How can I follow up on my manager’s mention of a possible promotion?

I had my annual review yesterday and it went great–nothing but glowing feedback from my manager for the 6th year in a row. But the possible promotion she’d mentioned in last year’s review seems to have vanished. It wasn’t included in the written evaluation or the review meeting, and I didn’t know a good way to ask about it as the meeting wrapped up. I doubt she just forgot, considering she copied and pasted several chunks of my prior review because they also applied this year. I’d like to broach the topic with my manager, just to say I’m still interested and would like to know what I can do to be a good candidate, but I’m not sure how to phrase it. Is there direct-report-speak for “I guess this year didn’t work out, but maybe next year?”

You should ask! And not in an “I guess this year didn’t work out way either.” Go to her now — as in early next week, because this gets weirder if you wait — and say this: “I really appreciated your feedback in our review meeting. Last year, you’d mentioned that a promotion might be possible soon. Is that something that we could talk about?”

3. Employer is pressuring us to donate to a lobbying group

My boss and CEO is the head of a local lobbying group for the industry our company works in. Everyone in our company was asked to donate to the lobbying group in order to help get politicians elected to make life easier for the industry. We were then directly contacted if we did not write a check for the cause by a certain date. I morally oppose writing a check because I do not donate to politicians or political groups; I donate my vote to politicians if I agree with them. Is it legal for my boss to ask us to do this and then pressure us when we did not comply immediately?

It depends on exactly what your boss is doing. Under FEC regulations, an employer cannot coerce you into making a political contribution by threatening a detrimental job action. But it’s tougher when it’s not an open threat but rather more subtle pressure. Employers can indeed encourage employees to participate in the political process (including by donating) and it’s legal for employers to simply encourage employees to vote a particular way … and obviously there’s a fine line between doing that and outright threatening someone’s job.

4. I pushed back against Boss’s Day — and it worked

Just a quick note to tell you what happened at work this week. Our manager emailed our team and said, “Tomorrow is Boss’s Day. Let’s put our heads together to figure out a gift for Mr. Director.” I replied (privately, just to the manager), “I think that some boss’s are uncomfortable with their employees ‘gifting up’ to them. I don’t know if Director is, but I think I will sit out Boss’s Day this year.”. She then sent another email to the group that said, “I’ll pick up a card tomorrow and pass around for the team to sign; let’s just do that this year.”

Wooo hooo! It was so easy!

{ 147 comments… read them below }

  1. Expendable Redshirt

    I’d love to know what a comedic failure/ seriously bizarre resume from someone who may have had a break with reality looks like.

    1. Expendable Redshirt

      Now that my pondering is over….
      Yeah, don’t respond to that. It’s just feeding the resume monster into believing such nonsense is a reasonable tactic. Plus it’s mean to bring in a failed applicant just to gain amusement from them.

      1. Newsie

        Yeah, I was imagining the letter from the applicant:
        “Dear Alison, my career counseling service told me to rework my resume. I thought it was crazy at first, but a company contacted me for an interview. When I was at the interview, though, they were asking me weird questions…”

        OP, you’re correct in your instinct!

      2. periwinkle

        Agreed, this hiring team shouldn’t stoop to the level of American Idol producers.

        I’m imagining this resume as resembling one of those rambling “why you should elect me” statements from fringe political candidates who invoke conspiracy theories, unique interpretations of constitutional law, and general WTFness.

        1. Alston

          I had one once that was 8 or 10 pagesof resume, listing everything this kid had done back through murder school. It was also EXTREMELY off in the way it was written

              1. So Very Anonymous

                “Why is your murder school GPA so low?” “I kept missing.” “Missing classes?” “No, just… missing.”

      3. Excel Millennial

        I admit I would be really, really curious. But I also wouldn’t want to give the candidate the impression that his resume could legitimately land him an interview. On balance, I’d probably go with the form rejection. I would be (and am) so curious, though. I want to know.

    2. Artemesia

      I have had several of those over the years. One was serious — but began with a cover page with a head shot ringed with fancy scrolling and ‘X Organizations new VP for Finance’ under it. I actually thought that one was someone’s dissertation submitted various places with various pictures e.g. a black man, a woman etc because the guy was frankly very unattractive and so it seemed like leading with a picture might not be the way to go.

      Another submitted an application on a postcard in which the information was spiraled from the center in tiny tiny print filling the card.

      There were others that left us shaking our head including a couple who when they were not selected for interviews sent long sententious rants hinting at discrimination or bone headedness on our part. (the discrimination was about age — we hired someone 55 for that position which was uniquely suited to someone looking for a second career — it wasn’t the age that caused us to discard his application it was a combination of things including a wildly inappropriate email address, his pestering the secretary every day about when he was going to be interviewed and a poor rec by someone else in the organization who had worked with him — none of which I was willing to discuss with him of course.) After the rant which I ignored he then ranted upward in the organization about the lack of courtesy in no responding to the first rant — it didn’t leave the impression he had hoped for.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger

        Unfortunately, there have been enough comments and letters here about how some managers are simply unwilling to confront or deal with difficult employees, and even let them run off the more professional ones. Your last applicant may have had that behavior reinforced by ineffective/incompetent management for many, many years.

        1. Hiding on the Internet Today

          I disagree. Someone who chooses to use an email for professional correspondence that contains obscene or other inappropriate references is not someone I need to give chances over candidates who don’t lead me to doubt their judgement within the first inch of their resume.

          A second gmail account linked to your personal account of murderBfun@hotmail will solve that issue.

        2. Engineer Girl

          It most certainly does if the email address demonstrates a lack of professional behavior/judgement. I want to hire people that I can trust.

          1. The Bimmer Guy

            Right. If I receive an application from someone whose submitted email address is sex_c_package@gmail.com, I’m going to assume that he is too boneheaded, oblivious or immature to observe even the basic professional norms, and it’ll go straight into the “no” pile. Do you really trust the judgment of someone who would send you emails under that address instead of creating a separate job-related email, especially when you have several other applicants who *didn’t* use such email addresses?

          2. The Bimmer Guy

            I agree. If someone sends me his application under the email “sex_c_package@gmail.com”, I am going to assume that he/she is too boneheaded, oblivious or immature to observe even the most basic professional norms, and it will go straight into the “no” pile.

        3. Artemesia

          A grown man with ‘sexranger’ or some other puerile email handle has raised a flag about his judgment. If this jerk had not harassed our secretary as well AND had a bad review from someone else in our organization who had worked with him in a similar role, we probably would have interviewed him because he was local and it wouldn’t have cost anything to bring him in in spite of the asinine email address. He made the final stack of 10 but did not proceed to the p hone interview round of 6 or the on site interview round of 3. His subsequent entitled rants reinforced our sense of having dodged a bullet.

    3. Turanga Leela

      I once got a cover letter in which the applicant discussed, at length, his theories about how we wouldn’t hire him because our industry was out to get him. It was disturbing.

    1. RHo

      I doubt that it’s as entertaining as people are imagining — it’s an 8-page screed it sounds like and is probably actually unpleasant in the extreme.

      1. Elizabeth West

        Agreed. We got one like that once at Exjob. The guy’s DL photo was at the top, and the rest of it was a couple pages of ranty prose that made NO sense at all. It wasn’t funny so much as pathetic and sad.

  2. ReanaZ

    …could the resume writer be from another country where long, rambling narratives are common on resumes? I was HORRIFIED the first time I saw an ex-partner’s resume/CV after I moved country (7 pages long, giant paragraph for each job, couple paragraphs of personal narrative, photo, etc.), but I’ve since learned these kinds of resumes are very common here, historically. In the past 5 years or so, the country has been moving more towards American-style resumes, dropping the paragraphs down to a few sentences, 3-4 pages more reasonable, etc.) But it used to be common here to list the reason you left each job on your CV. Not even a polite, professional interview-type reason. The REAL reason. Apparently (this was definitely before I was doing any hiring in this country, but I’ve heard it from enough sources that if people are pulling my leg, it’s been a concentrated effort) if used to be common to see detailed and horrifyingly honest descriptions of the drama that caused you to leave this job–and this wasn’t a mark against you, but considered standard.

    Anyway, probably not the case, but perhaps a “badly done resume from someone from a country with very different resume standards” is a third possible explanation here.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I think he’s local. I know the sort of thing you’re talking about but it wasn’t that; it was literally an eight-page narrative, written like a letter, and barely touched on job history and instead mainly focused on what’s wrong with the modern hiring process and HR, and why he’s awesome and considering other options. It also read like he vomited up a thesaurus.

      1. Marcela

        Also, I’d guess that by the time somebody could think I ate a thesaurus, I would know enough of the American life so my documents would not look like I vomited it =^.^=

          1. Rana

            Yes. And inexperienced writers. Both groups lack the language familiarity to understand that words that are technically synonyms can carry dramatically different connotations.

            1. Blurgle

              In a much less dramatic example than my friend below, I once proofread a friend’s cover letter in which he called a success at work ‘notorious’ instead of ‘noteworthy’ or ‘well-regarded’.

              1. Cath in Canada

                I once saw a grad student’s funding application in which they’d praised their supervisor’s “erudite shrewdness” and described their labmates as a “motley crew” in the section on why their lab was a good fit for their research. I advised the student to put “strong track record in the field” and “interdisciplinary team” instead.

        1. Op#1

          Hi – I’m the letter writer from the first question. Thanks so much for answering! I will definitely be sending a form letter rejection. As for my colleagues, yes they may have been joking. Not sure but most of them are nominally sane people so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt here.

          The whole thing was really was beyond bizarre. It even had a copyright notice at the top and bottom. I agree with Alison’s interpretation that he thought he was being clever but it just REALLY wasn’t. Either way, I don’t want to interview him, I’m having a hard enough time finding actual candidates to interview for the role so I agree there is no point wasting time on someone who is clearly not a good candidate.

          Thanks for answering my question Alison!!

          1. Jen S. 2.0

            Also, frankly, in my opinion, anyone who starts a story related to job-hunting with “I/we thought it would be funny if…” is wildly misguided.

            (Note: I feel the same way about anyone who starts the story about their child’s name with “I/we thought it would be funny if…” No good can come of that.)

          2. John Smith

            TLDR – jobseeker refuses to put up with modern conventions of lazy and rude hiring people placing job adverts then not looking at and/or responding to applications, is treated as a lunatic.

            1. Engineer Girl

              Nope. Job seeker behaves so outside the norms of professional behavior that he is rejected. Part of professional behavior is behaving graciously even when the other guy isn’t.

            2. Ask a Manager Post author

              Uh, no. This has nothing to do with “not putting up with modern hiring conventions.” It has to do with sending a weird eight-page screed about hiring processes and other oddities when what was requested was a resume and cover letter addressing his qualifications for the job.

              It’s bizarre to say something like that when you didn’t see the letter in question and when none of the descriptions of it here align with your takeaway on it.

      2. workingclass

        There’s no shortage of fruitcakes on the planet, no need to hire one of your own, or to encourage their behavior by stringing one along.

      3. MsChanandlerBong

        Reminds of when Chandler and Monica had Joey write them a letter for the adoption agency. He used the word processor’s built-in thesaurus, so instead of saying “They are warm, nice people with big hearts,” he ends up writing, “They are humid prepossessing Homo Sapiens with full-sized aortic pumps.”

    2. AnonyMiss

      I was about to say the same thing! Back home where I’m from, you’re traditionally supposed to write a full narrative of your life, beginning with “I was born on May 35, 1877, to Wakheen and Lavinia Plufferton (nee Stark), a teapot architect and homemaker, respectively. I attended ___ Elementary School for X years before successfully applying for ___ High School….” and so on. Your college coursework goes on the bottom of page 1, your work-related qualifications hit around page 2, your motivation around 3, and you wrap up with asking for the job on the bottom of 3/top of 4.

  3. Empathy

    Could we all try having some empathy for the resume sender in #1, please? I know the comments will likely be a pile on of “he must stupid to send a resume like that,” which makes me sad. Maybe he got bad advice. Maybe he’s been looking for work forever and will try anything. Maybe he has people to support.

    We don’t know what his life is like, and I’m disappointed that people are laughing at him.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I’m not seeing that in people’s responses and I don’t expect to, since people haven’t actually seen the document (and have only very limited information about it). But this wasn’t someone following bad career advice (seriously, no one would recommend this, even the usual purveyors of bad advice); this was someone deciding to jettison normal conventions and write a rambling letter that I’m pretty sure he just thought was clever.

      1. Empathy

        But you don’t know for sure that “he just thought he was clever.” My point is that we should give him the benefit of the doubt, which I’m glad you’re commenters are apparently doing.

        The colleagues of the OP, OTOH, wanted to do something cruel for their own amusement. They wanted to get someone’s hopes up and laugh at them. That shows a disturbing lack of empathy. :(

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          But you saw that I read it, right? It seems very much like someone who thought he was being clever. I’d say it’s a 95% chance of that, 5% chance of something else.

          1. Empathy

            Yes, I saw that. And I don’t want to argue with you. I just feel like, even if we knew he was trying to be clever (which we don’t), we still don’t know why. Since we don’t know his motivation, I’m not going to criticize him as a person.

            Should you send in a five page rant against HR when you were asked to send in a resume? No. But we can say that without speaking badly of the person who did this. I hope the commenters continue to keep this in mind.

            1. Green

              Also, I think we should (generally) try to assume the best in everyone — letter writers, the people they write about, and the commenters. Sometimes the facts suggest that someone is acting with bad intent, but it’s always the case that we don’t know anyone’s life circumstances beyond the limited information we have — and that applies to other commenters. It seems weird to assume the worst of commenters and AAM (when there hasn’t been anything beyond curiosity indicated thus far) for not assuming the best of someone who is using a rant against hiring conventions as a resume…

              1. Empathy

                I haven’t assumed anything about AAM. I’m basing my thoughts on commenter replies on previous posts.

                1. OK

                  You must be new here.

                  The AAM commenters are some of the best internet commenters around. They tend to give people the benefit of the doubt, and Alison asks us to do that. You seem to be coming in here half-cocked, ready for a comment war. Those usually only happen when a misguided OP decides to justify their weird behavior.

        2. Green

          There’s also a chance that OP’s colleagues were just joking with a “We should seriously interview this guy!” with no actual intention to follow through. That’s not the nicest thing, but it’s reasonably likely that they were more or less just imagining hypothetically how an interview would turn out.

          Anyway, Allison also considered the possibility that he is seriously disturbed, in which case her advice was the same: further contact beyond a polite response probably wouldn’t be helpful.

          1. mander

            I really hope they were joking, because that seems wildly unprofessional and downright cruel to interview this person for their amusement.

            1. Charityb

              I think they’re joking too, because it would be a really bad idea and probably uncomfortable to actually go through with once the guy shows up. It’s kind of like how people always say that if they get a jury duty notification they will show up and tell the judge that they are a racist or act really crazy so that they get excused. Many people say they’ll do that but few if any actually do; it’s easy to joke about that when you’re not actually there in a courtroom. Similarly, I don’t think anyone would actually want to waste an hour of work interviewing someone just for fun.

              1. fposte

                Yeah, it’s the workplace version of the internet tough guy.

                The other thing for me, and this isn’t usually the corner I come from: if the guy genuinely is disturbed (which we don’t know, but it’s a legit if) and ranting for eight pages, how safe are people going to feel if he’s in a closed meeting room with them, ranting five inches from their faces and asking if he has the job?

                No matter how you interpret it, signs point to disengage.

                1. LBK

                  Yeah, as someone who’s also extremely hesitant to read signs of violent behavior into letters where others do, this is one time I have alarm bells going off. Based on Alison’s description (ranting about how wrong the world is and how he deserves better) all I can think of is the disturbing manifesto Elliot Rodgers wrote before going on a shooting spree. Far be it from me to armchair diagnose, but I wouldn’t be jumping to have this guy in my office, especially for the sole purpose of mocking him.

                2. Ask a Manager Post author

                  I genuinely think he’s attempting to be clever; I didn’t get scary/dangerous from it (although anything is possible, of course). But under no circumstances would I want the guy in the same room as me* … but then I feel that way about any stranger with a terrible sense of humor.

                  * although I suppose they could do it by phone if that were the concern, but obviously they should not do it regardless because it’s mean.

                3. Barefoot Librarian

                  “Signs point to disengage” is going to be my new “not my circus, not my monkeys” for the office. ;)

            2. Not The Droid You Are Looking For

              I remember in hiring for graphic designers, I had people who turned in work that had been clearly designed on vista print or Walgreens photo design.

              Recruitment was made because I wouldn’t give them a phone screen. My lead designer joked, “at least then you’d be able to ask them why they thought that was acceptable.”

              He is one of the nicest people on the planet, but I think sometimes when people are faced with absurdity, they make jokes.

            3. Jillociraptor

              It seemed to me more of a “Whoa, that was bonkers. I wonder what that guy’s like in real life?” and less “inviting Carrie to the prom for giggles.”

              1. fposte

                I could see musing that myself, but the OP did say “think it would be funny to”–if so, that’s for giggles. Hopefully the OP was just taking her co-workers somewhat literally and they really wouldn’t want to do that.

                (Though I did miss it was for a phone interview and not an in-person, so the safety factor isn’t nearly as significant.)

        3. Lizzy

          Eh, we might not know for sure, but human nature has a funny way of creating patterns that allow us to form opinions of others. And often times, we are correct in our swift, initial assessments. The commentators might not know this candidate and have to take Alison and the LW’s word that his application was over-the-top, but we have all had experiences with this type of person — and there is good reason these types illicit negative responses.

          From my experience, this isn’t the mark of someone desperate for work, but rather someone who has an over-inflated view of himself. He might actually be a fun guy to be around, but he obviously treats hiring norms and making positive first impressions with irreverence. He could also be very qualified for the position, but he blew the chance to demonstrate it.

          I’ve known people who took bad job hunting advice out of desperation and they get tons of empathy from me; this guy doesn’t, nor does he need it. I am sure he would even find it hilarious that his application prompted a hiring manager to write to an advice column.

          1. Lindsay J

            Plus there’s just the whole question of judgement – there are plenty of people in bad situations and/or desperate for work that don’t send ranting screeds instead of resumes. Choosing to go that route shows bad judgement, and would make me question his fit for the job just because of that.

            Someone taking bad advice propogated on the internet wouldn’t make me question their judgement as much just because some of the typical advice is so pervasive (call to follow up every day because it shows that you’re enthusiastic and motivated!) that it’s hard to differentiate the good from the bad.

            1. Artemesia

              The one thing I learned for sure doing lots of hiring is that every concern you have during the hiring process e.g. the candidate talks to much, he seems to lack confidence, she is abrasive, whatever it is — that will be a negative thing you will be stuck with with them as an employee. All of our most regretted choices gave us clues during the interview process. People are who they are and they who it in the interview process most of the time.

              1. Mabel

                Interviewing and dating. If there are issues in the beginning, when people are doing their best to impress, those issues are not going to miraculously disappear later on.

                1. Mabel

                  And I’m as guilty as anyone else. Unfortunately, I just broke up with someone over issues that had come up before the second date. I was hoping it was just a weird fluke that wasn’t going to reappear, but sadly, I was wrong.

        4. Artemesia

          In some abstract world of wishing him grace okay — give him the benefit of the doubt — but in the real world of hiring, the point of the process is to gather information and this is enough information to let you know that he isn’t someone you would want to hire. People do show you who they are during the process. As I have noted elsewhere, every red flag we ignored in decades of hiring because there were compensating virtues or we were having trouble finding people, proved to be an announcement of behavior we would then be subjected to on the job. I had to work with a long winded babbling fool for a decade whom we hired in spite of his long winded baggling (well he is just nervous jada jada) because we looked at all the pluses in his resume and decided we could live with this. It was a chore.

  4. That One Lady

    I…I kind of want to read this resume now. With all the identifying information blacked out, of course.

    At least now this letter can be linked back to when people write in for resume advice. “DON’T DO THIS.”

  5. Green

    Re PAC/lobbying orgs …

    Most good companies have some strong internal policies around this to keep it both legal and ethical. Typically there’s an annual e-mail (“hey this PAC exists and is important so you should join”), a rare (annual/quarterly or less?) “action alert” from the PAC about some vote or issue that’s up that you could influence with your calls to your legislator, etc. At my company any actual solicitations/presentations/booths at employee events on the PAC must be performed by someone at the same level as you (a peer) or below; no downward solicitations for the PAC. It’s encouraged, but low pressure and has *absolutely* zero impact on your job if you don’t join. (If someone did retaliate against you for not joining the PAC, you’d get smackdown.)

    For industry groups lobbying groups (that aren’t PACs), usually the company itself is a member and certain employees have roles that encompass participation in the group, but that doesn’t involve individual donations. And you’d know if your role required it (gov’t affairs/public policy/compliance/legal-types usually).

    1. BananaPants

      For a while we got “legislative alert” emails when there were key votes for specific defense bills coming up that would significantly affect the aerospace business units in the corporation (which do a ton of defense contracting). They were pretty rare, maybe 3-4 in a year? They just stated why the company felt the bill was important and encouraged employees to contact their Representatives and Senators with a template letter generator if you wished to email. They’d have no idea if employees actually contacted politicians or not and it was about as low pressure as it can get.

  6. Blurgle

    Having dealt with an Archimedes Plutonium-level character in the past, my recommendation is to not even send a rejection.

    1. Green

      He might follow up. Repeatedly. (And a polite rejection is ideally a common courtesy that nearly all candidates should receive. If we have the chance to put in a plug for a polite standard rejection we should do it, since so few companies do this regularly.)

        1. Artemesia

          yes our perfectly polite rejection of a candidate we passed over elicited first ranting letters to me demanding an explanation for why someone so marvelous as himself was not interviewed and then when I didn’t respond to that, he sent similar letters on up to the president. This behavior of course reinforced the wisdom of our initial rejection but no one likes to be the source of discomfort for one’s higher ups even when one has behaved appropriately. Come to think of it, I might have actually responded with a bland follow up when he sent the rant to me.

            1. Liane

              Yikes! Several years back Alison answered a letter from someone who had an employee who was threatening to cast malicious magic spells on coworkers. Perhaps Evil Spellcaster got fired for the threats (as Alison & the commenters agreed should happen) and applied at Blurgle’s company?

              Suggestion for Alison: A Legends of AAM category so newcomers can more easily find Evil Spellcaster, Plant Pooper and Duck/Quack Club when someone references it

            2. Blurgle

              (Can’t nest any further) His resume contained copious mentions of Prester John and the Wandering Jew. I don’t remember the details but there was something about how the world was being poisoned, hence (I suppose) the deceased wildlife. After the animals came screeds tucked under the windscreens of the cars in the parking lot next door (hilariously, not even our company lot – I always wondered what Canada Safeway’s head office thought of that) followed by virulent manic street preaching from the boulevard across the road.

              I learned not to poke the bear.

              1. Sigrid

                I’m really sorry you went through that, of course, but I’m also laughing really hard at my mental image of Canada Safeway execs getting to their cars and going “?????” at the screeds.

      1. I'm a Little Teapot

        Oh man, I just had to Google that. I now regret mostly missing an…interesting…era in Internet history.

        (I explained about the Time Cube guy to my younger brother a couple weeks ago.)

    2. pony tailed wonder

      I have to deal with the occasional strange patron at the library. The best way that I have found to handle the people who are ‘out of the norm’ is to be as professional and polite as possible while trying to disengage as soon as you see an opening. If you send polite rejection letters to everyone else, then that odd person gets the exact same one. You treat them almost like everyone else but with extra professionalism and a poker face.

  7. Teapot Dome

    1. I know there are privacy concerns, but are you sure you can’t share, say, an edited version of the application? (Edited to block out personal info, etc.)

    3. Another example of the (attempted) influence of a big corporation on politics. I’ll save my rant on that for another forum.

  8. Carlotta

    Eugh #2 happened to me, except when I asked about it I was told it wasn’t going to happen (not even a ‘maybe next year’) and this was after taking on the responsibilities of my old boss, who had left, for 18 months. No performance issues, no compromise.
    So after I’d grown into the role and stopped learning from it, I got a new job at the place old boss went to. I got that promotion I wanted and a bigger raise than I would have got from an internal promotion, and am in a bigger and happier team. No reason OP #2 will need to follow the same path, but you can make your own promotion, so don’t be afraid to look.

  9. Chocolate Teapot

    4. Thankfully I have never been subject to making contributions for Boss’s Day, but I would feel very resentful about having to scrape the cash together for a gift for somebody who presumably earns more than I do.

    1. RHo

      I have been subject to one of those “forced contributions” — “I’ve gotten Boss a gift from all of us, pay me $25 by Thursday” — though it was for Christmas. I 100 percent resent it even though I like and respect Boss.

    2. OK

      I am a temp employee at a school and just had to deal with this. I hate it. Everyone was told to bring something for a pot luck AND contribute 5.00.

      There was a note on the staff room white board about contributing 20.00 to the “social fund”, and they called it dues. It covers coffee and dish soap for the staff room, but I dont use any of that stuff. My lunches are entirely disposable or I bring my stuff home to wash.
      I dont know if I want to go full time there, I dont have money for made up dues and to contribute for all of it (they do birthdays too).

  10. Ruth (UK)

    4. Luckily Boss’s day doesn’t seem to be a thing in the UK (yet? Hopefully it won’t become a thing). In fact, the only place I have ever come across it being mentioned was ask-a-manager – which prompted me to specifically google it, but if not for it being talked about on here, it’s likely I would not have even heard of it. I doubt my coworkers etc know what it is as I’ve never heard it mentioned.

    1. Merry and Bright

      +1 The first time I heard of it was on one of my LinkedIn groups back before I had come across AAM. They weren’t very taken with it either :)

    2. Jen RO

      It’s not a thing in Romania either… but of course the most annoying/lazy/etc guy on my team greeted me with Happy Boss’s Day! (My only reaction was “yeah, no.” I think he got it.)

    3. Expendable Redshirt

      I’d never heard of Bosses Day before finding references to it on AAM. Societal change is in the works!

      1. Nashira

        I dunno about that. There was a post on my giant company’s intranet, asking people to brown nose theit bosses. Better than gifts but it was very wince-inducing, the way it was done.

  11. Russ

    #1 reminds me of the time my wife, who was on a committee to hire a new faculty member for her college, showed me what one person sent in. It was a 40 page manifesto espousing his non traditional views of the field of study in question. He seemed fully aware that he was way out in left field, when he admitted that his references were not what one would usually see on a college professors application. If I remember correctly they were his spiritual guide, a medicine man or healer or something like that, and someone else along those lines that I can’t remember. I think everyone got an awkward laugh out of it, but I don’t think anyone on the hiring committee seriously considered calling this guy.

    1. Artemesia

      I respect the non-traditional point of view — but you aren’t going to get hired in academia if you don’t measure up using academic standards — lots of creative thinkers get hired but they have actual references, publications etc.

  12. Anonymous 123

    I agree with AAM that helpful feedback would not be well received. I once knew someone that went on a similar bizarre rant. She was set in her ways and not interested in other’s opinions. To her, it was more important to maintain her values than be employed. Helpful feedback was just seen as trying to change her beliefs. She didn’t want to change – she wanted society to change.

    1. Excel Millennial

      I can understand this perspective — there are many ways in which I would like society to change — but I also am realistic enough to know that going on a rant about it, is not going to get me a job.

  13. BananaPants

    Re: #1 – I have a rule at work and in life: “Don’t poke the crazy.” This seems to qualify as crazy, so stay as far away as you can reasonably get. Best case scenario the applicant thinks he’s being cute and you all waste time interviewing someone you know you won’t hire. Worst case scenario, dude is a few socks short of an underwear drawer and there are safety/security implications when you reject him after an interview.

    1. Liane

      “a few socks short of an underwear drawer”
      Not come across this one before. I like it.

      And I agree with your take, and that of most other commenters.
      1 – Actually calling the applicant in for an interview would be mean and unprofessional.
      2 – This is one of the rare cases where a rejection letter/email (otherwise something companies should be encouraged to do) would be a bad idea because it is too likely to result in a deluge of annoying, possibly scary, contacts. Best Case. Remember, Alison (the only one of us who has read the resume in question), says this doesn’t read like it is from someone who is simply desperate and/or taking bad job-hunting advice.

      1. Kelly L.

        I agree with scary–I hate to pound the safety drum, but ranting manifestos often don’t lead anywhere good.

      2. pony tailed wonder

        But if you don’t respond to him with a rejection letter, he may think he is still in the running and follow up with another letter or phone call. Just treat him his rejection like everyone else’s rejection. And just because someone is crazy doesn’t automatically mean that they will be violent.

    2. Fleur

      +1. I’m genuinely surprised at the people taking this so lightly. We’ve all heard horror stories of rejected candidates being unwilling to let go and getting hostile with the hiring people. And those candidates didn’t have as many red flags on their application.

      It’s cruel to string someone along, and in this case it could be dangerous too.

      1. Blurgle

        A people who have never seen real crazy tend to think of it as either funny, exaggerated, or unreal, because that’s how TV shows it.

        Thirty years later and I’m still having the occasional nightmare; it was not funny or exaggerated or unreal.

        1. Artemesia

          I had a few experiences with students over the years like this. I was luckily only the target of a weirdo and not someone who proved dangerous. Colleagues though were subjected to harassment that might have ruined their careers (e.g. bogus charges of sexual misconduct that only escaped investigation when the letters detailed how this guy’s incubus flew into the victim’s window at night and similar cray cray. She had previously written every law firm in town a long screed about how abuse her ex fiance about to graduate from law school was. Of course people don’t want to risk hiring a new associate who brings a dangerous stalker with him. I am thrilled to hear the US campuses in some states are deciding to allow people to be armed on campus. Given the amount of mental illness and just ordinary paranoia among struggling students this is not going to end well.

    3. Excel Millennial

      Yeah, some of the subsequent posts make me reconsider whether I’d send a form rejection, even. Even that might be too dangerous. Maybe just no contact at all. That happens to plenty of normal applications, too.

  14. Macedon

    #1. Extending feedback to an applicant is a courtesy when it’s requested, but may well be perceived as superfluous or insulting when it goes unsolicited. I’d say to just send them your standardized rejection note, and consider feedback if they get back to you asking for it. At that point, you’ll know that they both want your input and consider you a person of sufficient savvy/authority to give them valuable information. You’ll be coming in from a different angle.

    Your colleagues’ suggestion is frankly immature.

    #3. Ugh. I am so sorry, OP.

    Unless you’re working in politics, employers who think they’re not out of place to “suggest” your political loyalties are sending neon-red flags.

  15. tickledpink

    I would love to see the resume that elicited the first question! Come on Alison, publish it on here for amusement purposes without any identifying details like you always do!

    1. Elsajeni

      From Alison’s description, it sounds like it’s, um, unique enough that redacting the personal information would still leave it very recognizable. I think posting it would be too likely to bring the dude here. (I also think it would just be kind of a nasty thing to do — everyone agreeing that an eight-page rant is a weird thing to send to a hiring manager is one thing, but everyone reading your personal eight-page rant and making fun of it, in specific, behind your back is another.)

      1. Winter is Coming

        I agree; I don’t think anything good could come from publishing it here, even with identifying info removed.

      2. Kyrielle

        Yes, this. I have to admit I *really* want to see it, of course; the way it’s described has me very curious.

        But I don’t think I should see it.

    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      Just to clarify, when I’ve published stuff, in the past, it’s been because they’re good models and I had the writers’ permission. This one isn’t mine to share — I assume the OP didn’t intend for me to publish it!

  16. Kristie

    #4
    I am happy for the OP!
    I’ve been at jobs and felt pressured to do stuff like that and did not enjoy it.

    My mom is a general manager at a hotel and for years the housekeepers get individual or chip in and get her group gifts for Christmas. I think it’s so wrong. She makes something like thousands in her salary and they make 8 or 10$ an hour and live paycheck to paycheck.
    I want to send her an article about how it should flow down but I’m afraid it would cause drama. She is prickly and our relationship is already a little rocky.
    But I feel bad for those housekeepers getting her a 40 or 50$ Barnes and nobles gift card!!!

    1. pony tailed wonder

      My mom once got a bosses day gift of a see through baby doll negligee set. She was in her 60’s at the time and worked in a conservative religious organization. She HATES bosses day gifts.

    2. OP #4

      I was really surprised at how easy it was to push back. A simple explanation and then saying, “I’m going to sit this one out this year”, and bam! Done! It might not be that easy at other places where there is a strong culture of getting a boss a gift. I noticed lots of the other managers had big bouquets of flowers on their desks. But for this year, it worked for me. I really encourage people to try the script about “gifting up”, next time Boss’s Day comes around.

  17. Political junkie

    I usually say, “I don’t donate to politicians or PACs because I don’t want my name to be on the list of donors. I support the work of the PAC, but I don’t want to be on the list that is poured over by the media, opposition researchers, etc.” That works for me. I’ve never had to use it with my boss, so I know that’s more difficult.

    BTW, if the boss says, “Just write a check to me and I’ll write a check to the PAC.” Um, that will get you a ticket to jail (and a few phone calls from the media!)

  18. Anon for this

    I’m kind of confused as to why question #1 was even published, to be honest. Because we can’t see the letter (and are missing a huge chunk of the question), there’s not really much to discuss here? Now people are just begging to see the letter in question. Maybe question #1 should have stayed private between Alison and the letter writer?

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      It’s something that I’ve heard come up from time to time in real life — “here’s a weird application, should we call the person and just see what they’re like because this is so strange?” — and I think it’s useful to talk about it here.

    2. JB (not in Houston)

      I think Alison’s answer was very helpful, and I don’t need to see the letter to see how the answer could apply to similar situations (based on her description of what the letter was like). The letter doesn’t have to be something for the commenters to discuss in order to be relevant or worthy of publishing.

      1. So Very Anonymous

        I’d also add that I’d prefer not to see the letter — I feel like us seeing the text and discussing it is too close to OP #1 and co. bringing the person in just to see what they’re like. The applicant also didn’t intend for the letter to be made public.

  19. TL17

    Similar to #1 – when my husband was in law school his mother really wanted him to get a summer position close to home. One day, he and I were at his house studying, when the phone rang, showing a number from his home town. He answered, and was told by the person on the phone that they were not going to hire him. The person went on to say his application was highly unprofessional, and that they planned to call our school’s career services to discuss how they could better prepare students to apply for positions. My husband was very confused and said he never applied there., and in fact, had never even heard of their firm. The person on the phone seemed relieved, and went on to describe the “application” as a hand-written greeting card that had the word “friendship” on the front. They sent a copy of it to him, and it turned out his mom did it. He emailed the person at the firm who called him and confirmed that it was a well-meaning relative, and also that he had no intention of applying to their firm.

    Long story short – maybe the nutty application didn’t even come from that person.

      1. TL17

        Yeah. She denied doing it (except it was obviously her handwriting and return address). Then it became a heap of drama.

  20. Gene

    For the solicited donations, simply reply that you’ve already made your chosen political donations. That your chosen donation is zero is no one’s business. It’s a lot like “Sorry, I already have plans for the weekend.” I don’t need to say that the plans are binge watching Red Dwarf DVDs and eating my cat’s weight in Chunky Monkey.

  21. Jill

    #3…Former political aide here….Most, if not all states have statutory limits as to how much a business can donate (if at all) to political parties – some even prohibit it entirely. Lots of business owners try to get around that by having their employees donate instead. It’s a wink-wink, nudge-nudge kind of thing so the politician can accept more donations because *technically* the money is coming from individual donors but, *on the sly*, Company Owner wins political favor because he was the one that got said individuals to donate.

    It’s legal, but it’s also a run around the law, so all the more reason to refuse to donate, especially if it’s not even a candidate that you are supporting.

    Be careful using “it’s not in my budget” as a reason. I’ve heard of some employers reimbursing their employees for this kind of thing! As long as individual names are on the donation checks, that’s all that matters to keep the donations legal. Campaign finance reports are public record, so if you don’t even want you name associated with a particular candidate, continue to decline.

  22. MommaTRex

    #1 – Do not engage. Nothing to be gained while taking a risk that something could backfire on you.

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