my boss rewrote my resume and it’s terrible, my reference said that his skills are better than mine, and more

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

1. My boss rewrote my resume — and it’s terrible

My boss is the type of person who is going to do his best to help you in your career; he’s not going to be annoyed or feel threatened that you want to leave. I know this about him, so I asked him if he felt I was ready to apply for a certain position that unfortunately we don’t have at our office but is available at one or two others in our area. He said I definitely was, and offered to help with my resume.

He gave it back to me today and while the formatting looks good, the grammar and spelling is terrible! Comma splices everywhere, inconsistent tenses, unnecessary quotation marks, and a myriad of other errors. In addition, he added an “objective” at the top of my resume (which I didn’t think was the thing to do anymore, if it ever was) as well as a “Characteristics” section, listing things like “enthusiastic” and “motivated,” when I feel like my interview and cover letter would explain those better by showing rather than telling.

However, he is also anti-cover letter, and says that if he gets 50 resumes for a position, he’s not also going to read 50 cover letters. I understand this, and I’m new to the industry so it’s possible that this is an industry norm that I am unfamiliar with, but I still think it’s weird to put “enthusiastic” as a bullet point on my resume.

I’m so torn. He knows the industry and he knows people where I’ll be applying. He fully supports my desire to apply for these jobs, particularly because the job I’m in now is a step down from what I was doing in previous positions in order to get a foot in the door at this company. Knowing all this, do I use the resume he “fixed” (once I remove the grammatical errors, of course)? Do I still send a cover letter? (I feel really great about the cover letter I wrote and am super bummed at the prospect that no one will see it!) I could use some perspective here. 

Don’t use his version, and do write a cover letter (unless you know for a fact that they’re discouraged in your field — which is rare but possible). All of the concerns you listed here about the changes he made to your resume are 100% correct — you don’t want grammatical errors, inconsistent tenses, or extraneous quotation marks, and you definitely do not want an objective, or a “characteristics” section (!?!), and you very definitely do not want to list things like “enthusiastic” on your resume. Your instincts that you should be showing, not telling, that sort of thing are exactly right.

Some people who hire are still not going good at giving job search advice, unfortunately. Your boss might be good at loads of other things, but don’t use him as a guide on this.

Read an update to this letter here.

2. My reference told a reference-checker that his own skills are better than mine

I used my coworker as a reference. When the recruiter called him, he said some nice things about me, but then he went on to tell the recruiter that he had more skills than me. Do you have any advice for how to handle when your coworker tries to poach your job opportunity?

Don’t use him as a reference again, and take comfort in the fact there’s no way that he didn’t come across as ridiculous to the reference-checker.

It’s not clear to me whether he was trying to suggest himself for the job instead (which would be a huge dick move to do on your actual reference call) or whether he was just comparing his skills to yours for the hell of it (which was also be a huge dick move).

Either way, now you know this guy is a tool and not to suggest him as a reference again.

3. How can I talk about achievements in management/leadership roles on my resume?

I’m a young manager searching for a job at a new company, and am struggling to articulate my achievements as a manager on my resume. I can articulate what I achieved in a more junior role more easily, and I can list what I was accountable for in my current role as a manger, but I’m struggling to describe specific achievements in my current role. What’s the appropriate way to describe things other people on your team accomplished with your coaching, leadership, and collaboration, but that you didn’t personally execute or exclusively own?

It feels wrong to claim “credit” for achievements where so many others did the bulk of the work to make them happen, but my entire job now is setting up structures where others can be successful, providing input at key stages that shapes the project but without micromanaging it, hiring and developing good talent, etc, and that leaves me feeling like there is nothing that I can rightly claim as my achievement. Yet I’m sure people in leadership roles still write resumes with their accomplishments!

How do managers articulate their contributions and achievements on their resumes? I’d love some examples of word choice, and some general advice on how to take an appropriate amount of credit as a leader without self-aggrandizing.

Your whole job as a manager is to get things done through other people, so when your team gets great results, you get to take some credit for that.

Of course, there are always managers whose teams get great results despite the manager rather than because of the manager, but when all is working the way it’s supposed to, the idea is that you’re helping them get those results via things like setting the right goals and strategy, giving feedback, staying engaged along the way as a resource, helping course-correct, and so forth.

That means that it’s generally legitimate to say things like “Led six-person team that achieved X.” It wouldn’t be reasonable to just say “achieved X” if you didn’t play a big role in the actual work of X — but rather that you “led,” “coordinated,” or “managed” a team that did.

4. Can I ask my interviewer why they reposted the job I’m interviewing for so soon?

I just got my first interview in a long, long time, and as you might imagine, I am really invested in making the best of my opportunity (I have already downloaded and am working through your interview guide).

I know this intership/trainee position was offered a couple months back. I applied for it, after all. The way it has popped up again (I sent a mail within 24 hours of the job being posted, got a call only hours after that, and have an interview in two days) makes me think that the previous intern either left or lost the position, and that HR is keen on hiring someone to fill the slot ASAP to make up for lost time.

Would it be a good idea to ask something along the lines of “I saw this position advertised a few months back, could you tell me anything about why it has been reposted so soon?” (hopefully followed up by asking what I could do to excel at the job) or would that be seen as prying? I had hoped it would indicate my interest in the company and the position, but I am not sure if it would seem out of line.

Well, it’s possible that the previous person is still there, and that this is an additional intern/trainee slot, so I’d word your question this way: “I noticed you posted a similar position a few months ago. Is this that same role, or do you have multiple intern/trainee positions?” If they say it’s the same one, they may give you some additional context (like that they had put the hiring on hold for some reason, or the previous hire ended up not starting), or they may not — if they don’t, I’d probably drop it at that point since it’s not clear that there’s a lot to gain by pressing for more.

It is reasonable, in general, to ask about what previous people in the position went on to do, or how long people typically stay in the position.

5. I’m in trouble for going into the women’s bathroom after-hours

I retrieved an item out of the women’s restroom after hours while no women were still working (I’m a man). I banged on the door first and had another employee stand at the door. I am bring written up for not getting a manger’s approval before entering the opposite sex’s restroom. I have never heard of such a thing to be written up for after hours. Is this a violation in any way?

It seems ridiculous to me; a single-sex bathroom is not some sacred place that’s violated by the presence of the opposite sex, when the person takes the precautions that you took (ensured no one was in there and had someone else stand at the door). If you had a reason for going in there, which it sounds like you did, I don’t see what the big deal is.

Ultimately, though, it’s really up to your employer. If they want to make this an iron-clad rule, they can. But there’s still no justification for them turning to formal discipline for a first offense, unless there’s some broader context here that I don’t know about (like that there’s been a series of complaints about you in the women’s bathroom or something). They should tell you not to do it again and leave it at that.

{ 322 comments… read them below }

  1. Tara R.*


    *eyerolls into the nth dimension* This is utterly ridiculous. Are they also going to write up anyone who absentmindedly walks into the wrong bathroom and does a double take and leaves when they see people of another gender washing their hands?

    It sounds like you work for a really rigid company, so there’s probably nothing you can do, but… Gr.

    1. Mookie*

      I do this (accidentally walking into and using, but not by accident just blinkered obliviousness, men’s bathrooms as a cis woman) at least once every three or four months, normally in public places where signage is weird or lacking specificity. Apart from some spooking people by barreling into them as I make a hasty exit (which sucks, and I apologize for) once I’ve realized my mistake, I hope I’m not hurting anyone or summoning up bad memories or making people feel unsafe. We really need to transition towards uncoded, single-occupancy washrooms as either the legal standard or an accessible alternative to communal places. The world at large does not need to know a stranger’s gender / sex alignment as they head off to take a piss or powder their nose or buy a prophylactic or whatever.

      1. nofelix*

        Single person toilets are the bomb, and not just for the reasons you mention. They’re great for disabled people, and anyone with health issues. They’re good for parents. They just rock. I get so annoyed seeing single person toilets that are still labelled male and female! If there’s nobody in there it can be whatever gender! In my office I just use whatever toilet is free and people can go hang if they have a problem with it.

        1. Irish Goodbye*

          So true. We have two identical unlabeled toilets in my office. It’s a brand new rehab and it’s nice to have somewhere where the doors shut correctly and the fixtures are all new. But the administrative assistant decided one is for men and one is for women and she enjoys correcting people if they start to go in the wrong one.

          1. Zahra*

            The temptation to systematically go in the “wrong” one would be great. In fact, if I knew that my boss was a reasonable person and found the signage symbolic at best, I’d go in the wrong single bathroom anytime I get a chance.

          2. Mike C.*

            Why are people such busybodies about who goes in which bathroom? I see people go so far as to write laws about this.

            It’s creepy, it’s weird, it’s gross and I wish people would stop being jerks about it.

          3. Aim Away From Face*

            Then “correct” her by consistently going into the “wrong” one.

            No signage? No worries, and no arbitrary rules.

          4. the gold digger*

            I was waiting in a very long line for the ladies’ room before a concert. I noticed there was a single-occupancy handicapped toilet. I walked to it and put my hand on the door. A security guard barked that I could not use that toilet.

            “Why not?” I asked.

            “Because it’s for handicapped people!”

            I looked around. Not one single handicapped person (woman, of course, because there was no line for the men’s room) waiting.

            “If there is someone who needs to use it before I do, that is fine,” I said, “but otherwise–”

            “You cannot use it!” she yelled.

            Well OK. Better to make people who have paid $60 for a concert miss the beginning of the concert rather than use your physical plant to capacity.

            1. Katie the Fed*

              I think if you’ve ever been in a wheelchair, you might feel differently. Those bathrooms are a godsend, especially because the handicapped stalls in regular bathrooms are often too small to maneuver around.

              I know to you, you’re just one person. But what about when everyone starts using that bathroom and someone in a wheelchair is unable to use it? It’s a minor inconvenience for you but a HUGE problem for someone who is mobility impaired.

              1. Mike C.*

                But the thing is, there’s a medical need to use the bathroom. If there’s someone who needs that particular bathroom then by all means, push them to the front of the line. Until that point, let others use it.

                1. the gold digger*

                  Mike, that’s how I think of it. Of course if there is someone who needs it for medical reasons, she goes first. But when there is nobody using it and there is a line, then why not?

                2. Treena*

                  That’s how I felt until I walked out of a handicapped stall and came face to face with the woman in a wheelchair patiently waiting for me to finish. I was changing clothes and chose that stall so I would have more room to maneuver. I still cringe thinking about it.

                3. Dan*

                  I’m probably going to say something non-PC here, but I’ve never felt like those facilities were there so the target market never had to wait in line, just so that they had somewhere that could accommodate them. As in, you know, mobility issues ability to hold it?

                  TBH, I’m a big guy, and find standard stalls too narrow for my, um, comfort. I’ll use them if I have to, but if the double wide is available, guess what? I’m using it, and not sorry about it.

                4. Jen S. 2.0*

                  Agree with Dan. My understanding is that, legally, handicapped facilities must be available, but they don’t have to be exclusively for use by the handicapped. I feel the people who need that specific restroom certainly should have priority for it, but that doesn’t mean that stall / room stays empty if there’s a line.

                  Also, most of the time that’s where the diaper-changing table is! That to me says that it’s for the use of many.

                5. katamia*

                  I agree. Also, how would the security guard know that the gold digger didn’t have some sort of invisible disability?

                6. Melissa*

                  Exactly my thought, katamia. Someone may have mobility/maneuverability issues that don’t require a wheelchair but still need more room in the restroom than the usually very-narrow standard stalls.

                7. jordanjay29*

                  Agreed on both counts. Handicapped does not equal “in wheelchair.” Nor does a handicapped-accessible facility mean that able persons are barred from its usage.

                  On recent job applications, I see a whole list (with the standard ‘includes but not limited to’ disclaimer) of disabilities like:
                  AIDS, and its symptoms
                  Blindness or other visual impairments
                  Cerebral palsy
                  Hearing or speech impairments
                  Heart Disease
                  Migraine Headaches
                  Multiple sclerosis
                  Muscular dystrophy
                  Orthopedic impairments
                  Complications from Pregnancy
                  Thyroid gland disorders
                  Loss of body parts

                  So if someone challenged me if I were to use a handicapped restroom, I’d ask them which disability they think I had. And educate them if they thought it was just a quad/paraplegic.

              2. Lore*

                I am always a little confused by the best practices for this in a public setting. Absolutely, if there is a person in line who needs to use the wheelchair-accessible stall, she should get priority for it. But if you’re in a situation where there is a long line, doesn’t it make sense to use it until a person in a wheelchair joins the line? If she is then given priority access to that stall, the worst-case scenario is that she’d have to wait until the person currently using it finishes–still a much shorter wait, probably, than the non-disabled people also waiting in the line. (In a situation where there is no line, I fully agree that the accessible stall should be left empty in a public space.)

                1. Zillah*

                  I’ve never had to use a wheelchair, so people with more experience can correct me if I’m wrong, but here’s my take on it:

                  The issue has nothing to do about time and waiting in line. The issue is that people who need handicapped bathrooms often have accessibility issues that are far broader than just not being able to use the normal stall. Them having to wait for a few minutes because an able-bodied person is using their restroom is a big deal, because that’s something that’s far more difficult for them, particularly in crowded places like a concert, than it is for able-bodied people.

                2. Allison*

                  Same here. I avoid using that stall if the other ones are empty, but if it’s the only one free and I’m only going to be in there for a minute or so, I’m not sure I see the harm in using it.

                  It’s the same with priority seats on the subway. I think, if the train isn’t crowded, people should sit in the non-priority seats and leave the priority seats free for people who need them, since they’re near the door for a reason. If the train is filling up, and no one needs those seats, it makes sense for people to sit there as long as they’re willing to get up when someone who needs to sit down gets on.

                3. fposte*

                  Can you explain a little more? That sounds like it is to do with time and waiting.

                  I’m another of the “handicapped priority, not handicapped exclusive” view, and I believe that’s how they’re treated in facilities planning (I think they count in overall availability statistics). From what I can see on a few disabled blogs, they’re pretty much saying the same thing–don’t choose the accessible bathroom out of sheer preference if there’s a disabled person around, but it’s okay to use it.

                  And in general, I think there’s no “no waiting” guarantee in any public bathroom. And I’m one of the people with an illness that’s most affected by waiting, so I’m not just speaking idly here.

                4. Zillah*

                  For me, a stall and a designated bathroom are different; I’d treat a stall in the way you describe, but probably not a designated bathroom in the example gold digger gave. I don’t really know why that distinction exists for me.

                5. Dan*

                  I’m with fposte, and not zillah on this one.

                  My issue with “exclusivity”, both with bathrooms and subway seats, is that I’m a big guy. I’m not that comfortable in narrow stalls and regular subway seating. I’m going to use what’s most comfortable for me if it’s available. On the subway, if I’m in a marked seat and someone needs it, then fine, federal law says I have to give it up, so I will do so willingly.

                  fposte will have to forgive me for being pedantic, but are those facilities designed for those with “disabilities” or those with “mobility issues”? I’ll fully concede that those with mobility issues are a subset of those who are disabled, but I never thought those facilities were exclusive use anyway, so it’s not like you are supposed to present your “access card” in order to use it.

                6. Tau*

                  One thing I want to point out here, particularly in the larger scope of e.g. disabled seating on buses and the like and the fact that a lot of people have said things like “of course I’ll leave if a disabled person needs it”, is that not all disabilities of that sort are visible and there’s a pretty strong tendency towards doubting invisible disabilities. So you might go “okay, I’ll sit here and if anyone comes up who needs the space I’ll leave it to them” and not realise that you’ve just put the perfectly healthy-looking 20-something woman with a chronic illness that came in after you into the awkward position of either needing to ask you to get up (i.e. outing herself as having a disability not knowing if she’ll be disbelieved, yelled at, have private medical information demanded of her, etc.) or stand when she’s not really in good condition to do so. I personally will stand rather than sit in a disabled-priority seat for that reason, and try to avoid using the accessible toilets if I can. Not saying anyone else needs to go that far, but I think it’s a good idea to remember that you really can’t look at someone and know their access needs.

                7. Viktoria*

                  To Tau’s point, I agree– but that can work the other way too. I have a chronic illness that is considered a disability under law. I am able-bodied and do not need mobility-related accommodations, so I choose the regular stalls when there is a choice. But part of my illness means sometimes needing to pee desperately and frequently! So yes, I would use the handicapped stall or restroom without hesitating for even one moment, if it’s free. Someone witnessing me exiting from it might roll their eyes and think about how selfish I was being, but they cannot see my own medical needs either. For that reason I try to refrain from judging unless it’s something really obviously egregious.

              3. Anna*

                There’s a theater in southern Oregon that has a sign on their handicap restroom. It states that people can use the restroom as long as nobody in a wheelchair or with other disabilities needs it. In other words, be considerate but don’t miss the beginning of your play that you’ve paid a lot of money to see. It was by far the most logical approach I’d ever seen and it gave permission to use the facilities as long as they weren’t keeping people who really needed it waiting for the regular bathroom.

            2. Sue Wilson*

              Well they’re probably trying to make sure they’re complying with federal law, which reserves those toilets for handicapped people. If someone who was handicapped came a minute after you did and couldn’t use the toilet, the venue is liable. This is the same for general toilets in which people want to use the bigger handicapped space.

              It sucks they don’t have adequate non-reserved toilets for the size of the venue, but otherwise most people should suck up not getting to use the handicapped ones and the venue isn’t wrong for enforcing that.

              1. Poohbear McGriddles*

                I guess they’d look at it the same as not being able to park in a parking space reserved for handicapped persons just because there were like four such spaces open and surely four of them would not arrive simultaneously while you are making a quick run into the store.
                I probably would have told the rent-a-cop that I had an intestinal problem and, if I didn’t drop the kids off at the pool pronto, they weren’t just going to be smelling weed in the cheap seats tonight.

              2. Judy*

                Federal law requires a minimum number of handicap accessible restrooms / stalls. I’ve not seen anything that requires them to be reserved. The language for parking spaces is that they are reserved.

                I default to the non-handicap accessible restroom, but I never waited at a former workplace where there are two stalls in the ladies room, one accessible and one not. I’m also going to use the ones here at my current workplace, the ladies rooms are all designated sex single handicapped restrooms, as are most of the men’s rooms.

              3. finman*

                That doesn’t fully make sense, I’m pretty sure the laws are in place just to require the availability of a handicap stall/bathroom. Also, sometimes you need to use a larger space (if you’ve ever taken a toddler/pre-schooler into a regular size stall you can understand how cramped it can be in some regular stalls).

                1. Sue Wilson*

                  What do you think availability means, if someone who needs it comes and it isn’t available because someone’s in there?

                  At any rate, the venue is allowed to put any limitation on that bathroom that they want. I don’t think most people who are disabled will care if you use it when no one’s in there (my mother absolutely will however), but getting annoyed because you can’t is an interesting perspective, imo.

                2. Dan*

                  A facility who advertises that they have “mens and womens restrooms for use by the general public” certainly isn’t advertising that those facilities are always available with no wait.

                  “Availability” means the facilities are present, nothing more, nothing less.

                3. Anna*

                  You’re conflating “available” and “only available for people with disabilities.” See Dan’s comment. Available means they have to on the premise not that the person who needs it will be able to go in whenever they want.

                4. ThursdaysGeek*

                  @Anna, but if two handicapped people need to use the restroom at the same time, one of them will have to wait.

                5. KH*

                  This whole discussion is pretty ridiculous. There are two stalls at my workplace, one handicapped-accessible and the other not. Are you people seriously suggesting that when the H stall is open and the non-H stall is in use, I have to wait for the guy in the non-H stall to finish?!

                1. Sue Wilson*

                  You right in that reserved is not the right word to use, but neither is priority. They have to be available.

                2. Anna*

                  Actually priority is the right word. You’re confused about what they mean by available. They do no have to be kept empty just in case a person with a disability needs them.

              4. Ad Astra*

                Hmm. I had always been of the opinion that it’s ok to use the handicapped stall if there’s no one around who appears to need it. In the event that someone who does need the handicapped stall shows up while I’m in there, I’ll only be a minute — that person likely won’t be waiting any longer for the handicapped stall than anyone else would wait for the standard stall. Is that wrong? I’m happy to give preference to people who actually need the extra space, but why leave a perfectly good toilet unused when there’s a line?

                1. Sue Wilson*

                  Is that wrong?

                  Many disabled people are fine with that. Others, including my mother, are definitely not.

                2. JessaB*

                  Some people cannot wait. The issue is that some handicaps make waiting an issue.

                  There are arguments both ways, as someone who needs the handicap stall I err on the side of “if you can wait, you wait. If you can’t wait you use it as fast as you can.”

                  Which means NO it’s not a changing room. I really, really, really hate them putting the kids changing table in the handicapped stall. It doesn’t belong there because that takes TIME.

                  I get that abled bodied people sometimes really, really, really have to go, and that it’s really bad to hold it because it can cause health problems so yeh if it’s open and you obviously can’t see anyone in line that’s trying to get to it, use it, but use it FAST, and look first.

                  It shouldn’t just be automatic that everyone in line uses it when they get to the front though. Those that need it because of the handicapped designation should not have to stand in line for it.

                3. Mike C.*

                  Sue, your mother’s model fails when there is only one stall and it’s a larger accessibility one. I’ve been to more than one smaller event where this was the case and by that model I would have no place to use the facilities.

                4. Kobayashi*

                  I spent a couple of years training service dogs for a program in San Diego. I have an invisible disability. I’m pretty familiar with disability issues on a broad-spectrum. Stalls for disabled persons in restrooms are made with physical access in mind because people in wheelchairs cannot access the typical narrow stalls. They are not meant to remain unused forever unless someone in a wheelchair needs them. They are available as access. If someone in a wheelchair comes in, courtesy dictates they get to use the stall next if it’s occupied. Being disabled doesn’t mean you NEVER have to wait in line. In fact, I am myself somewhat annoyed by policies that allow disabled persons to go to the head of the line (think amusement parks) for a few reasons — they are often misused (people do actually rent the wheelchairs so they can use the line), they breed resentment (by people who wonder why the person in the wheelchair who doesn’t have to stand gets to the front of the line when they have to stand and their backs and feet are hurting), and people with invisible disabilities who do have genuine issues standing or walking for long periods don’t want to use the line because people don’t believe they have a disability and they have to endure the LOOKS (and sometimes snide comments). I’d actually like to see those lines with better signage so they are clearly for anyone who has a relevant condition. As for the security guard saying “you can’t use that” – it’s ridiculous. Again, the larger restrooms are made for wheelchairs, but there are all kinds of medical conditions and disabilities, so frankly, if you have to go badly, use whatever is available. Not everyone can actually hold it, and no one wants to have an accident because they couldn’t use a restroom that was perfectly available. I’d have honestly just asked, “is this for people who have disabilities or only for people who use wheelchairs?” and then moved forward with whatever response the security guard gave. But stupid policies like that do breed resentment because it is nonsensical. The parking situation is very different. Those do fill up, and people who have mobility issues need them. They can’t just keep their car in the parking lot aisle blocking traffic waiting for one to open up or driving around and around and around hoping one opens up. Those are actually RESERVED. People without mobility issues can walk a few extra feet, no problem.

                5. Alienor*

                  That’s my opinion as well. I don’t use the handicapped stall if there’s another stall open, and I definitely wouldn’t if there were someone else in the bathroom who needed it, but if there’s a line and I’m going to be in and out quickly, then it seems strange not to. Unless it’s a restroom in a place with a large population of wheelchair users, like a senior center or a hospital or something, the odds of someone who needs the stall showing up during the 45 seconds I’m in there are pretty slim.

                6. finman*

                  Kobayashi, I recently went to Disneyland and their rules have changed (not sure about other amusement parks). I had a broken ankle (happened 3 weeks before my trip) and while I did use backdoor access on most rides (some are handicap accessible in DLR), their new policy was anything over a 20 minute wait and you had to register (on only one ride at a time) using your actual pass and picture, and could go to the front (Backdoor) of the ride after the designated wait that any other person would have waited. There were times were I used the backdoor due to ease vs going up and down stairs and actually waited longer than if I had gone through the standard ride entrance. DCA is fully ADA compliant and has no special rights.

              5. Elizabeth West*

                Which always makes me wonder–what if a wheelchair user or otherwise disabled person goes in the stall and another disabled person comes in right after? The second person will still have to wait. What would you do then?

                Serious question!

                1. JessaB*

                  Seriously, that sometimes happens, but that’s mostly because venues really do suck at accessibility. I do not use a wheelchair and if regular stalls had handicap height toilets, I could use them (my weakness is in the muscles that allow you to sit down, I’d fall down if I had to sit so low.)

                  If there was a grab bar and a tall commode, I could use a regular stall, I don’t require wheelchair WIDTH to use the facilities. But accessibility standards only require x number of wheelchair width areas. So I have to wait for one. And since I can wait I’ll let the wheelies go before me.

                  But because the laws were made when “disabled = wheelchair” instead of heck loads and loads of people do not need chairs, and hey we can make it so much easier for the elderly and infirm if every single stall had to be oh 2 inches wider and had a high commode and one rail, and there was one chair wide stall with double rails, nobody would have issues. But nope.

                  Heck if every bathroom had to have only stalls (and you could have urinals in the stalls) we wouldn’t still need gendered bathrooms and half our issues would go away about “not enough damned room for the females.” All bathroom stalls could have anyone in them and there’d be plenty of them. But that would be too easy.

                2. jordanjay29*


                  Trust me, men’s bathrooms do not need urinals in the stalls for them to be used as such. Yuck!

                  Also, your plight speaks to really bad choices on the part of building code designers, I think. I think some do try to include lower commodes for smaller people and children (especially in family friendly places like stores and restaurants), but having rails in each stall just makes sense (there are plenty of people who could use them, even normal able people get weak knees from time to time).

                  I hate to presume you have this kind of time and activism, but if you live in just one community, have you considered lobbying your local government to improve their building codes?

              6. Chinook*

                “If someone who was handicapped came a minute after you did and couldn’t use the toilet, the venue is liable.”

                But what about if the person using it is also handicapped? Would they still be liable for not having one available on demand?

                1. LabMonkey*

                  No, because it’s simply not true. Available doesn’t mean empty at all times, it means potentially there to use (rather than no accessible toilets at all).

            3. jhhj*

              My theory on accessible bathrooms:

              – no line: use something else
              – a line but no one who needs the accessible bathroom: it’s fair game, but don’t hold up the stall
              – a line, but someone who needs the accessible bathroom: let them go ahead and use it first

              This does mean that in a busy bathroom, someone who needs an accessible bathroom might have to wait. Which sucks, absolutely, but seems like the best balance of everyone’s needs. (Though I can’t speak for EVERYONE who needs an accessible stall, at least some of them agree with me.)

            4. Wren*

              I wonder if the security guard was even correct that the handicap mark was intended to be exclusionary, rather than inclusive, as in handicapped-friendly, rather than handicapped-only.

            5. Noobtastic*

              If someone tells me that I can’t use the handicapped restroom, I tell them that I NEED the handicapped accessibility accommodation. Those bars are there for people with dizzy spells, too, you know. And people with bad knees, who need help standing up. Both of these are invisible issues, that do not require a wheelchair, but absolutely are part of the whole “handicapped accessibility” spectrum.

              You can’t tell if someone is NOT handicapped, just by looking at them. There are lots and lots of invisible handicaps.

              You know, sometimes I get actually jealous of people in wheelchairs, or with oxygen tanks, and the like. Nobody gives them this sort of treatment. Other bad treatment, sure, because some people are jerks and mean. But not this holier-than-thou, pseudo-righteous treatment.


              1. jordanjay29*

                It’s not like you can ask to see their disability card or something crazy like that. Sometimes (invisible disability here) I’ve been tempted to carry around a white cane and wear sunglasses indoors just to see if people give it more thought. But I’m not cruel enough to people who are actually blind to do that.

                Having just tried to escort my father, who’s using a walker this year, through a busy store without having people run him through with their carts or cars today, I can totally sympathize with the frustrations of those with mobility problems.

        2. doreen*

          Oddly, they might be labelled due to a legal requirement. There’s currently a bill in the NYC council to require single occupancy restrooms to be gender neutral. Apparently, the building, plumbing etc codes currently require single-sex restrooms and exempt single occupancy roms only under certain conditions such as a business with fewer than 30 total employees

          1. AmyNYC*

            There are NYC Code requirements about how many toilets and sinks you need for each gender by occupancy (as in: X womens toilets per 100 people, Y mens), but as long as you reach or exceed the requirements, I’ve never heard that you can’t use single occupancy WCs to get there.

          2. Younger*

            Its currently the law in DC that all single occupancy restrooms in public establishments must be gender neutral. (Any bathroom with multiple stalls is not.)

        3. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          Some states are making it illegal to label single-holers by gender, and I think that’s fantastic. If only that would go nationwide!

          1. finman*

            I wish more places would put in at least one single stall restrooms. As a dad with a little girl, it can be uncomfortable taking her into the mens rooms, and I know some women are uncomfortable with me taking her into the womens rooms.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              You’d have more room to deal with her, too. Stalls don’t offer much in the way of space. It wouldn’t bother me, but I rarely care about such things.

              I probably wouldn’t mind a unisex bathroom like the one on Ally McBeal, but I would prefer it if the stalls were like British ones (walls to the floor, no giant crack at the door). But then I would like that anyway, so a loose toilet roll wouldn’t shoot out into the room out of my reach if I drop it and no one can see me adjusting my Spanx.

              1. Merry and Bright*

                +100 on the toilet roll thing! I guess I could cope with unisex loos just so long as there were no urinals, because the thought of having to see my male coworkers in that context would be Far Too Much Information.

                1. Noobtastic*

                  Or they could have urinal stalls.

                  You’d think the men would be in favor of a bit more privacy, anyway.

                2. jordanjay29*

                  Man here. We are. The general rule is to leave one empty between you and the next guy if there’s no dividers, and those who don’t are either creeps or have no bubble space.

            2. Blue_eyes*

              Yes! As a woman who regularly cares for a 6-year-old boy, this would make things easier. He’s getting to an age where he’s a little old to be coming with me in the women’s restroom, but depending on the location, I don’t always feel comfortable sending him alone into the men’s room.

              1. Noobtastic*

                And more and more men are taking care of young children, now, but they are still stuck in the gender-split bathrooms. It’s not right.

                I think ALL buildings should have some gender-neutral options, if not ALL gender-neutral options.

                If I had may way, all stalls would be gender-neutral/handicapped accessible.

                Also, I’d like a pony.

          2. Artemesia*

            If they include a urinal I am all for it, but it is pretty annoying to have to use a restroom where men have been peeing on the seat and floor as they tend to do. Yeah sometimes women wet the seat, but it is more common with men in single gender restrooms.

            1. Windchime*

              This is why we insisted that one of our single-toilet restrooms at OldJob be designated as a women’s restroom. There were men there who were just gross and left the restrooms a horrible mess by peeing on the seat, leaving water all over the sink and just a general mess. At least by having one of the four restrooms designated as “Women”, we had a reasonable chance of not sitting down on a peed-on seat.

        4. Winter is Coming*

          I think there is a common misconception that guys bathrooms are dirtier/”grosser” than women’s. I think one can be as bad as the other though. It would be nice if EVERYONE cleaned up after themselves!

        5. Aella*

          I was waiting for a single stall at my university, the line made up of two women, and a gentleman came up and said “Oh, is this the ladies? Where is the men’s?”

          “This is unisex,” I said, and he was completely baffled by the concept.

          As I went in, he was saying, “That’s disgusting.”

            1. Chinook*

              “I guess he and his wife had separate bathrooms at home?”

              Not unreasonable. My parents have 3 bathrooms in their house – my dad’s, my mom’s and the one for the nephews who are still learning how to aim (they are also required to clean it after they come for a visit).

              1. Michelle*

                When I was living at home, we had my parents’ bathroom, the kids’ bathroom, and the guest bathroom which kids were NOT ALLOWED to use.

            2. Marian the Librarian*

              His wife doesn’t ever need the bathroom because women don’t pee or poop, obviously.

        6. Nervous Accountant*

          I’ve always done this in public places, as long as I know it’s a single-bathroom, and not one with stalls.

        7. Ad Astra*

          I still usually go into the “right” single-occupancy bathroom because, in my experience, the single-occupancy ladies’ rooms are much cleaner than the single-occupancy men’s rooms. Of course, that might not be the case if they weren’t labeled by gender in the first place.

        8. manybellsdown*

          The employee washrooms at my job are single-person and marked “unisex” with a little graphic of a man and woman both doing the “pee dance”! It makes me giggle.

      2. Allison*

        I did it in high school all the time, a lot of people kept getting the boys’ and girls’ rooms mixed up when we moved into a new building.

      3. Arjay*

        One of my recurring, irrational fears is that some place I go to frequently (work, a restaurant, etc.) will one day switch the rest rooms and I’ll walk into the usual bathroom, but it will now be the men’s room.

        1. LCL*

          I have dreams about that, its one of the details of the showing up for finals and find out you studied the wrong thing all semester and forgot your pants kinda nightmare. Sometimes I hate my brain.

          1. Kelly L.*

            One characteristic of my dreams is that, if I’m asleep and my bladder starts sending “full” signals, no matter what my dream was previously about, it will suddenly turn into a dream about trying to find a bathroom but they’re all out of order or filthy or have volcanoes erupting in them. Then I’ll wake up, realize I need to go, and think “Oh! That’s why I was dreaming about bathrooms!”

            1. Al Lo*

              If I get a wedgie while I’m sleeping, suddenly all my dreams will be about pooping. I never have “naked in front of a crowd” dreams when I’m nervous or anything; only when my subconscious decides to add poop to whatever dream I’m already having, and the characters are still the same.

            2. Elizabeth West*

              Same here–though I usually dream I’m in the stall and can’t go. That’s my brain saying, “NOT HERE! NOT HERE!” so I’ll wake up and actually go in the loo!

            3. manybellsdown*

              I have this dream ALL THE TIME. And then I’ll spend the next 20 minutes dreaming of gigantic, mazelike bathroom facilities where none of the stalls have doors … or toilets. Or there is a toilet, but it’s in the middle of an open public place.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                Oh, I have that one and variations, I am a kid again. I am at the Girl’s Club or whatever and need to shower after using the pool. There are no curtains on the shower stalls. None. Anywhere. And there are all kinds of people walking around, for no real reason. They don’t see a problem here.

                Now the adult me could figure out a solution. But the kid me can’t figure it out and I wander and wander….. then I wake up not feeling very rested. ha! Stupid dream.

            4. Wren*

              It’s better than dreaming you got to the toilet and then wetting yourself, which is what I did as a child.

      4. Vicki*

        At LastJob we had several buildings. In most of the buildings, the mens’ room was on the left and the womens’ on the right. In one of the buildings, the orientation was flipped. If I was in that building and in a hurry, coming around the corner and Oops, U-turn!, Wrong door!

    2. Adam*

      I remember the last time I entered the women’s restroom on accident. I was an awkward teenager at a restaurant and didn’t read the sign so I just barged right on in. It was actually empty at the time so I went to the nearest stall without noticing the apparent differences from bathrooms I’m used to. I finally clued in on my goof…when my mom and sister both walked in (which honestly made it all the more embarrassing).

      Thinking quickly (or more accurately, reacting quickly), I made myself presentable, and darted out to see their faces in a bizarre mix of shock and joy. I ran for the door, muttering as I went by “Not a SINGLE word!”

      I can be slow on the uptake sometimes, but that day I learned that lesson ironclad: ALWAYS look before you enter.

      1. Artemesia*

        I did this at a truck stop one time – the door was propped open and so the ‘men’ sign was not visible and I just walked in past the urinals (I know, totally oblivious) and into a stall. And then I heard men talking and peeing and there I am. I had these goofy patterned bell bottom pants on (this was back when they were ‘in’ — decades ago) I finally said — I am in the wrong rest room, is it okay if I walk out now to give them a time to zip — one of them laughed and said he wondered when he saw the psychelic bell bottoms below the stall door.

      2. Kelly L.*

        A bar in my old town burned down. They rebuilt an almost exact replica…but reversed the position of the restrooms. A few drinks + autopilot from having been to the old building a million times = whoops.

        1. LawLady*

          That just seems like they’re trying to trip drunk patrons up
          … it’s the sortof thing I’d do.

        2. Rebecca in Dallas*

          There is a restaurant here where it is technically one big restroom. There are separate men’s and women’s doors, but the wall that would separate them is not a wall, it’s a line of sinks. The way the doors are, you don’t really notice it (you make a hard right or left to go to the toilets, there are no urinals). The first time I went to this restroom, I went over to the sinks, started washing my hands and was so alarmed when I looked up and realized it was a man washing his hands across from me! I panicked thinking I’d gone into the wrong restroom, it took me a minute to realize the set-up.

      3. SaraV*

        When I was 3, we made a stop at a rest area while on a trip. The women’s restrooms were out of order, so my dad took me into the men’s. As soon as we went in, and I saw men standing at the urinals, I said “Ohhhh noooo…”, probably thinking I’d have to pee standing up. Obviously, we went into a stall.

    3. Colette*

      I worked for one company for 12 years, and two jobs later worked for another (large) company where the bathrooms were in the opposite order (so I needed to turn left instead of right). I came close to walking into the wrong one for a couple of days.

    4. Florida*

      I was at a store recently and they were two restrooms and both had man/woman – both figures. I assumed that they were both individual restrooms. I opened the door of one and there were several stalls and a man washing his hands. I felt like I went to the wrong one, so I quickly went to the other one (I’m a woman). It was a little peculiar. The signs definitely had both people on both restrooms, but they were multi-stall restrooms. I wondered if this was a new thing I didn’t know about.

      1. Artemesia*

        It is common in Europe to combine them but the booths themselves are more private with doors to the ground; it is also common to separate them right and left but have a common wash up area and occasionally these places have fairly exposed urinals as well.

      2. LawLady*

        Yeah, my university has started doing this. Just normal bathrooms, but they’re unisex. I don’t mind at all!

          1. Kelly L.*

            My guess is it might be Victorian–rise in facilities for the public + women’s clothing that would have required one to substantially undress.

        1. Florida*

          I don’t think it would bother me if I had expected it, but my first thought was “Yikes, I’m in the wrong bathroom.”

    5. Jackie*

      I’m interested in what the object was that the OP#5 was retrieving. It sounds to me like there is far more to this story than was written in letter. I’m just trying hard to figure out what someone would need to get out of a bathroom.

        1. kevin*

          My boss had retired and had a couch in her office. On monday i came in and couch was gone so i thought she took it home with her. I was told the couch was now in closet in womens restroom and thats why I went in to get it. 2 minutes max with another person in there helping me and another guy by the door. I was told i had to get supervisor or managers approval before i could enter. They did not say anything about couch and its still where i put it.

            1. Kelly L.*

              I’ve seen restrooms that had couches on purpose–sometimes a really nice one in a swanky hotel lobby bathroom or something, but there’s also an old vinyl one in the bathroom in my current work building (I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone sitting on it–it’s mostly used as a coat-placing area). I’m guessing this one was stashed there for storage, since it sounds like there’s a big closet in there.

              1. Adam*

                When I worked retail in a department store for a brief time the women’s restroom had wicker chairs in the front part. There was a half a wall separating them from the restroom part so they weren’t really IN the bathroom. I think it was meant for nursing mothers/fatigued individuals.

              2. BananaPants*

                The Nordstrom in the mall near us has a lounge area at the entrance to the ladies’ room, with couches and chairs. I swear, every nursing mother in the area knows about Nordstrom and tells her friends – not all women are comfortable nursing in public, especially with a newborn, and it’s a comfortable and more private area to feed a baby.

            2. Jen S. 2.0*

              There is furniture in a lot of ladies’ rooms. Hotels, nice stores, and so forth often have a lounge area. (Unrelated to today’s issue, but I often see women nursing there.)

              1. DMented Kitty*

                Actually, I noticed that the cleaning supply closet is IN one of our men’s restrooms here at work – I saw it when a janitor was propping the door open with his cleaning cart to clean the men’s restroom — another door marked “SUPPLY CLOSET”. So it’s entirely possible the way the building is set up that they moved it into storage.

              2. selablad*

                A women’s bathroom at my old university had a bed in it.

                It was in a rather obscure corner of the mining engineering building, so I don’t imagine it saw particularly frequent use, but still.

        2. Blue_eyes*

          Exactly. I’ve been in some work places where there were storage cabinets in the bathroom (in a sort of hallway or anteroom leading to the bathroom). If they have a set up like that, perhaps OP needed something from the storage area and would normally ask a female coworker to get it. Or just extra TP.

      1. Poohbear McGriddles*

        I guess we are to assume he wasn’t the one that left it there in the first place. TP seems most likely.

        Sadly, there are enough perverts putting cameras in restrooms that the company may have some sort of zero tolerance for entering the opposite sex restroom in order to prevent that. Of course, reprimanding the OP pretty much says they think he might have been up to something shady, since no one would fault someone for trying to make sure there was toilet paper in the men’s room ( I mean, do you really want to be the guy in need of it when it’s not there?).

        1. Artemesia*

          I wondered if there was not a backstory like this either with the OP or with the company’s history of this kind of problem. Having someone stand outside the door etc suggests no chance of stumbling in on someone, so one wonders what the issue was. There must be more to it.

        2. Ad Astra*

          That would be a silly policy, considering the perv may be a guy who’s into guys or a woman who’s into women or a person who likes to creep on people of all varieties. Or they could ask/pay someone of the “correct” gender to place the cameras in the bathroom for them. But it’s not like no business has ever had a silly policy before.

      2. S.I. Newhouse*

        Frankly, it could be anything that could fall out of a pocket. It could be a wallet, it could be a cell phone, it could be bills of money or a driver’s license or credit cards that were loose and not kept in a wallet.

    6. Stranger than fiction*

      Agree there’s something really odd about this. In fact, just last week all the women’s restrooms here were full and I made a passing comment to my manager, and she said to just use the men’s room, she does it all the time when the others are occupied.

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        Oops, I should clarify that each restroom is a single-occupant type, not with multiple stalls or urinals.

    7. Chinook*

      As a woman who has purposefully walked into the men’s washroom, I think your employer is crazy. Under day-to-day circumstances, I can see this being an issue if it was intentional and/or repetitive. But, if you are after hours, working in a single gender environment (done this at the hall where my women’s group was meeting) or the line up for your gender’s washroom is long and the other washroom is empty (done this at concerts and plays where intermission is just about over). When I did these things, I took the exact same precautions you did.

      I agree with AAM – it is ridiculous.

  2. Adam*

    #1 While I don’t think I’d ever ask a current boss to look over my resume, I still would be very curious what he would put on it. Obviously no one knows your work and achievements 100% to the letter like you do, but the next closest should be your manager. Having him construct a resume for you in total good faith would be an interesting exercise in seeing what he considers your best qualities and contributions to the work. Even the most reflective of us might miss things about ourselves that are more plain to others. Ideally performance reviews would help with this. At my last one my boss listed a few goals I achieved over the year that I hadn’t even thought of.

    1. OP #1*

      He definitely was able to expand a bit more on my achievements than I was, which was helpful. And it was common knowledge around the office that he had “done” everyone else’s resumes as well, so I figured no harm in asking him to do mine, especially since he thought it would be great for me to apply for those jobs (when I brought it up to him, he said “go for it–like, go back to your desk right now and apply online go for it”).

      I’ve only been at this job nine months (and before y’all gasp and clutch your pearls at me wanting to leave before a year or two, it’s very common for people in this position to advance before they’ve been in the job a year), so I’ve only had one performance review so far, and while he was pleased with my work it was mostly “she learns really quickly and has successfully integrated into our office” kinda stuff.

      I’m trying really hard not to think that maybe he’s doing everyone’s resumes badly on purpose so no one leaves

      1. Graciosa*

        I really doubt that he’s sabotaging you on purpose. It’s *much* more likely that he has a blind spot about his skills in this area.

        Almost everyone thinks that they’re a better-than-average driver. Mathematically speaking, that’s not possible.

          1. JMegan*

            Probably everyone else did exactly what you did – had the boss do the review, then kept the good parts and left the rest. Then heaped praise on the boss for being so helpful with it all!

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I would agree with this. I’ve had many bosses who overestimated their writing skills!

          You’re under no obligation to use the resume as he revamped it, OP. And there’s nothing wrong with re-editing it but keeping the parts you like that he changed. It’s your resume, after all. :)

          1. OP #1*

            I am almost definitely going to end up doing this. It just makes me nervous because I figured that since he’s been in the industry so long, he’d know what they’d be looking for/what would catch their eye, and even though I still like my original formatting better than his, maybe his is better. Without the objective/characteristics (which he replaced my “skills” section with) parts or the grammar mistakes, of course!

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Well, in this case, I’d guess you’re probably looking more for content rather than formatting. What kinds of skills you should emphasize, for example. You can do that using different formats.

  3. So Very Anonymous*

    #2: I’m trying to imagine my reaction if I were making a reference call and the reference started bragging about himself in comparison to the person I was calling about. I’m pretty sure I’d ignore everything he said (because obviously he has terrible judgment) and call someone else on your list. Don’t use him as a reference again, but if I were the person on the other end of the call, I wouldn’t be thinking “Oooh, we should hire this guy instead!”

    1. Artemesia*

      So how does the OP know that is what he did? Did the hiring manager tell her? It seems both weird for him to do this but then also weird for her to know that he did.

      1. Random Lurker*

        Not OP but this happened to me very early in my career. In my case, I asked my reference what she said and she told me that she had to tell them about how she was SUCH a good mentor to me and how she helped me stay on track. I was so mortified, I withdrew from the job I was applying for and never used her again.

        Years later, I think of it less as a dick move and more that she was so self absorbed that she didn’t realize she had turned it into another opportunity to be all about her.

      2. AMT*

        If I were a hiring manager, I’d consider giving a potential hire a heads-up not to use that reference anymore.

          1. Callie*

            My dissertation advisor always made everything about him. It was exhausting dealing with someone with such a high level of narcissism.

    2. Jaydee*

      The only situation I can think of where it would make any sense for a reference to mention having more skills than the person they are a reference for is if they are being asked to comment on the quality of the person’s work and it isn’t obvious that they would have the skills or knowledge to adequately evaluate the person. But I like to think it would be fairly easy to distinguish “Oh, Wakeen is excellent at lid fit troubleshooting. And before you ask, yes I worked with him in the teapot design unit, but I was previously in the teapot lid unit before the reorg of 2012 (when lid fit issues were moved to quality control and lid design merged into teapot design). So I know a thing or two about lid fit troubleshooting.” from “You know, I actually implemented a new lid fit protocol for our whole department last year. Saved us over $10,000 a month in time and materials for life we no longer had to remake. Sorry, you had asked something about Wakeen?”

  4. RKB*

    #5 If this is a client or customer facing position and someone formally complained against you, I could see the thought process behind the disciplining. Which doesn’t mean it’s not ridiculous, but some people bend over backwards to make sure the complainant is happy.

    If it’s not… Well, it’s still ridiculous.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I was just saying to my husband, “Will the younger generation get a John Holmes reference?” and he said, “No, but they’ll Google it.”

        P.S. Possibly NSFW, depending on the Google results. So to save people that: He was an old-school porn star notorious for, uh, unusual proportions.

        1. Sarahnova*

          Ha! Thank you for, er, clearing that up. (Also, I thought Ron Jeremy was the go-to for that kind of thing?)

          1. Gene*

            Never underestimate The Hedgehog! But he’s more famous for being your average looking schlub in the business than the size of his accoutrement.

          1. Buggy Crispino*

            Totally off topic and I apologize in advance, but have you seen Ron Jeremy’s version of Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball? OH. MY. GAWD.

        2. knitchic79*

          As soon as I read this comment my husband cracked up. Then he held his hands out for reference. Lmbo, gotta love our age difference…saved me a Google search.

        3. Stranger than fiction*

          Omg, fourth grade, my friend took me into her grandma’s room where she had a magazine with him in all his glory. That was my first experience seeing, uh, one of those.

    1. JessaB*

      OMG gigglefit. Coughed water all over my laptop (I hate that I can no longer drink Pepsi, I am on a medication that makes certain stuff taste awful and it’s killed all the carbonated stuff I like, I forgot that when I couldn’t afford it, and now, back on insurance, ICK.) But giggle snork. HAH

  5. Stayin' Alive*

    In the restroom story, I wonder whether there’s an important element being left out.

    I’m a guy, and I’m trying to think of anything I might ever need to “retrieve” from a women’s restroom. I’m drawing a blank.

    I’m skeptical of this one-sided account.

              1. Sarahnova*

                I assumed a customer left something in there, and there wasn’t a female staff member around to collect it.

                But I’m used to public toilets having signs they put up saying “these toilets are currently being cleaned by a male/female member of staff”. I just can’t imagine a company reacting that weirdly here. (Oh no, a Y chromosome profaned the sacred space, and now we’l never get it clean again!)

                1. Not So NewReader*

                  I have had that happen. I left something behind in a store. The store closed and I stood outside waiting for employees to notice me.

                  My thought was that OP felt the story of why he had to walk in there was too long for our purposes here. More to the point to just say that he needed to retrieve something.

                2. Poohbear McGriddles*

                  When I was in the air force stationed in Germany, we had a cleaning lady who didn’t exactly wait until the men’s room was empty to get started cleaning. It was not unusual to be greeted with “Guten Morgen!” while taking care of business.

                3. Elizabeth West*

                  When the air freshener man comes to my work to change the little smelly thing, he knocks and yells, “IS ANYBODY IN THERE?” If you hear a man’s voice, you have time to say “Me–I’ll be out in a sec,” and he waits. Same with the cleaning people, and I’ve also seen this practice in public places like shops or restaurants.

                4. Ekaterin*

                  Elizabeth’s story above reminds me of when I studied in Egypt and lived in an all-women’s dorm. Whenever a man was going to come up to the residential floors (ex. maintenance workers), they would stand in the stairwell and shout “Man on the floor! There is a man on the floor! Man on the floor!”

            1. SCR*

              I assumed it was like a restaurant or a store, so after hours would mean no customers. So perfectly reasonable for him to enter the restroom to grab whatever it was.

            2. Apollo Warbucks*

              I would expect the phrase “after hours while no women were still working” was included to add some context that the OP wasn’t walking into the ladies room while there might be someone around who needed to use it and to explain why they went into the ladies room themselves rather than asking a female colleague to do whatever needed to be done.

            3. sunny-dee*

              That could just mean “everyone in the office had gone home.” Like, there’s a low likelihood of anyone being in there. That’s how I read it.

              1. Kelly L.*

                Yup. And likely meant to forestall our* tendency to armchair quarterback and play devil’s advocate–Well, why didn’t you get a female co-worker to…–though it seems we’re doing it all the same.

                *by which I mean the commentariat

                1. Florida*

                  I’m a woman. If a male co-worker chased me down to go retrieve something from the restroom, I would probably say, “Why didn’t you just knock on the door, announce ‘Janitor. Anyone in here?”, and get it yourself?” You just can’t make every happy no matter happy no matter what you do.

                  You are right, though, it so easy to armchair quarterback, which is helpful in some situations, but not really in this one. The real issue here isn’t whether or not he should’ve gone into the bathroom. The issue is how to deal with the manager/HR now that it’s happened.

    1. Al Lo*

      Eh, I can think of plenty of things I might have to get out of a bathroom — and as a woman, thinking about the things I’ve seen left in the washroom that might need to be collected, depending on what kind of storage/counter/etc space any given bathroom might have. Not all urgent, perhaps, but all valid. For instance — getting a cleaning supply/plunger/sponge if there wasn’t one in my bathroom. Someone called the building asking if they’d left a jacket/purse/whatever on the counter. One bathroom is out of toilet paper or paper towel, so restocking from the other. Taking down a poster (say, on a mirror or the back of a stall door) for an event that had passed.

      1. Al Lo*

        I think I’ve even worked somewhere where a fuse box was inside one of the bathrooms, so while not retrieving something, certainly a valid reason to go in, if no one of the appropriate gender was around!

      2. Marzipan*

        At one particular British railway station, some important equipment is (or, at any rate, used to be quite recently) located… in a room to the rear of the gents’ loos, accessible only by walking through them! When a female engineer attended to work on said equipment, she had to be escorted through with a coat over her head.

        1. Jen S. 2.0*

          …seriously?? You know, some women have actually seen men before and survived. Is this news?

      3. Not So NewReader*

        This is true too, some bathrooms are also supply storage areas. One business I frequent has a LARGE bathroom. Across from the toilet are kitchen cupboards loaded with all kinds of things. The bathroom is almost the size of my own kitchen roughly 12 x15.

        1. EvanMax*

          A long time ago I worked in retail for a particular video game sales chain, and at our location, the game systems were generally stored in the bathroom, due to terrible layout and absurdly low storage space of our back area (half of it was taken up by the bathroom, but then there was also a hallway that lead to an office, rather than busting down the hallway wall, and just making the backroom area larger.)

    2. Mookie*

      They’re not sanctified spaces. It’s a toilet. The employer’s reaction feels like grade-school.

      1. Artemesia*

        What if this company has had a lawsuit or incident over cameras installed in the ladies room? This sort of thing happens rather more frequently than one might imagine.

        1. Apollo Warbucks*

          Then the company should explain themselves the OP has been treated bizarrely and had no explanation. There is nothing in the letter to suggest that there was a known rule that the OP was breaking.

          1. Stranger than fiction*

            While I agree with what you’re saying about the letter, I’d like to just say that if there’s one thing companies like to keep absolutely silent about, is if there’s ever been any litigation by an employee.

        2. Ad Astra*

          Well, there’s already a law against placing cameras in bathrooms, and the business likely has a blanket law prohibiting illegal activity. A zero-tolerance policy against male employees in the ladies’ room doesn’t do much to stop female employees from placing cameras in the ladies’ room. Are they also frisking everyone before entering the bathroom? If the company’s that concerned, they can send someone in to check for cameras every day.

        3. Observer*

          That’s a fairly bizarre thing, in and of itself. But, even if that had happened, it still would not explain the company’s reaction.

    3. Merry and Bright*

      I get the possible explanations of why the OP might have gone to the women’s bathroom and they do make sense. It did confuse me on first reading though as I assumed “retrieved” meant he had actually left sonething in there and gone in to collect it.

    4. ginger ale for all*

      I don’t quite get the management’s reaction either. He took above and beyond precautions. The only thing I can think of is that something has happened in the past and management is taking a zero tolerance stand on the issue. We had a janitor just knock and shout and not wait for a reply and wouldn’t back out if he heard a reply. He was moved to a different building after having several complaints lodged against him. My boss told us that he had been given ample explanations of why he was being written up plus chances to discuss it further. I am kind of wondering why the guy wasn’t given a clearer picture of why the management took that action.

      1. blackcat*

        “The only thing I can think of is that something has happened in the past and management is taking a zero tolerance stand on the issue.”

        I think this is probably it. It still strikes me as super odd, but this is the only thing that makes sense to me.

        I wouldn’t have a problem if a male coworker *used* the women’s restroom when no women were around, particularly if the men’s room was less convenient. I am baffled by this manager’s response.

          1. JMegan*

            I went to Lilith Fair once. *Every* washroom became a women’s washroom, and the half-dozen men that were present had to wait in line like everyone else!

            1. Kelly L.*

              I worked at a women’s college for a while. Unlike some other campuses I’ve seen, that was one place where the men’s restrooms were few, far between, and often tucked away in hard-to-find spots!

              1. Anonyby*

                I spent 2.5 years in the all-women dorm at my university. There were 8 women’s bathrooms, and one tiny one for men tucked away near the lounge on the main floor. And at least the first year I was there they hadn’t renovated the bathrooms yet and the women’s bathrooms still had the urinals from when the dorm had been men-only!

                1. Chinook*

                  The men’s dorm where I hung out had classrooms and a chapel on the main floor and a hall and library in the basement. The only women’s washrooms were in the basement (one on each of the building at least. When visiting friends in the dorm area, we women would be offered to let us use their bathrooms on the floor while they stood guard but most of us women much preferred to trek down 2 or 3 floors rather than risk walking in on one of our friends and seeing a side we would prefer not to.

            2. LizB*

              I went to a volunteer-run Girl Scout day camp for many years that rented out a county park for two weeks every summer to run camp. There were a few men and boys around (dads volunteering as leaders/program staff, plus a couple of boys’ units for boys whose moms were full-time volunteers), but way more women and girls. It was standard procedure that if too many people wanted to use the women’s bathroom, a group of you went to the men’s and hollered “Are there any boys in here?” through the open doorway, and if nobody answered “yes” you just used that bathroom. Same sinks, same toilets, no problem.

            3. Allison*

              I to a gaming convention where some of the women’s rooms are turned into men’s rooms to accommodate the (supposedly) skewed gender ratio. Which I understood, but when I desperately had to go and couldn’t find a bathroom I could use, I was not a fan of the practice.

              1. Ad Astra*

                Seriously? I get that there’s a skewed gender ratio, but men’s bathrooms have shorter lines even when the gender breakdown is 50/50. You can fit more dudes into the same space thanks to urinals, and the average patron in a men’s room is faster thanks to external genitalia. (Also, the men in my life don’t seem to wash their hands after peeing as often as the women in my life do.) Aren’t gaming and sci-fi conventions trying to be more woman-friendly these days?

              2. Lee Ann*

                “but my entire job now is setting up structures where others can be successful, providing input at key stages that shapes the project but without micromanaging it, hiring and developing good talent, etc, and that leaves me feeling like there is nothing that I can rightly claim as my achievement. ”

                You just claimed them right there. Trust me, I have had managers who did *not* do those things, and I really appreciate the ones who do.

              3. Wren*

                My engineering school didn’t have a women’s washroom on every floor of one of the older buildings, the building my program had most classes in. Imagine the additional things I’d have achieved if I didn’t have to waste brain space remembering where the washrooms were ;)

            4. Lady Bug*

              My favorite thing about metal concerts, aside from the music of course, is that there is never a line for the ladies room. I’ve had to wait for my husband before the mens line is so long!

              1. Kelly L.*

                Oh, man, that just reminded me of the worst restroom line I’ve seen in recent memory–it was at Wicked. The women’s restroom line was snaking up onto a completely different floor of the theater.

                1. Elizabeth West*

                  Long ago, an ex and I took his little girl (she was three) to see the Lipizzaner horses do dressage at a local venue. During the intermission, she had to pee. The line was so long we were going to miss part of the second half. Her need was urgent. So I took her outside and she went behind a bush. We made it back in plenty of time.

                  Off-topic, but the horse show was awesome, btw. :)

          2. F.*

            When Pope John Paul II visited Iowa in 1979, I went along with busloads of others so see him. Mass was held in a cornfield, with at least 200,000 in attendance. Hundreds of porta-potties were brought in, all labeled “Men” or “Women”. While standing in a very long line for the women’s toilet with a group of nuns with whom I had traveled, we noticed that the men’s toilets had almost no line at all. Rebel that I am, I convinced the nuns, many of whom were elderly and all wearing full, black, floor-length habits, to use the men’s toilet. The only difference between the men’s and women’s was a small urinal in the corner of the men’s. I must have started something, because then all of the lines evened out as other women figured out that we weren’t going to hell for relieving ourselves in the men’s toilet!

            1. Chinook*

              ” Rebel that I am, I convinced the nuns, many of whom were elderly and all wearing full, black, floor-length habits, to use the men’s toilet.”

              I have noticed that there is something ingrained into us Catholic women because every time I go to one of women’s conferences, I have to convince the older women that it is perfectly fine to use the men’s washroom because none of them are there. Then the line remains and only the “brave” ones venture into the men’s. My goal is to teach them all that this is not brave but, instead, a good use of time.

              1. Merry and Bright*

                This is the scene they forgot to put in “Sister Act” except it was real life. Wonderful.

      2. Marzipan*

        Well, except like you say you can’t really (or, not reasonably) take a zero-tolerance approach because of a past issue without first telling people you’re taking it. Otherwise it’s all a bit double-secret probation…

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yes, it’s a set up to fail type of thing. It seems to me OP used reasonable care. He was aware there were no women in the building. The employer is not using reasonable sense, however.
          I guess employee will have to leave items in there no matter what, if there is no woman around to retrieve the item for him.

    5. Menacia*

      I worked at a very prestigious university in Boston and it was discovered that some of the maintenance men installed a video camera in the women’s bathroom near the office of the President. There was one stall that had a grate located right behind the toilet, the video camera was in there. So I don’t put anything past anyone, especially because this was about 20 years ago and video equipment is far more sophisticated and can be far less obvious. I think it suspect the OP does not write *what exactly* he was retrieving from the ladies room after hours.

      I like having two distinct bathrooms for men and women. I was at a doctor’s office just yesterday that had a unisex bathroom, and I’m sorry, but urinals are just grosser than gross, and I don’t want to see them.

      1. Myrin*

        I get what you’re saying – saying “something” instead of “specific thing” tends to sound suspicious more often than not – but in the OP’s case it really seems like there would be some kind of more elaborate story behind the retrieved item that would take a ton of explaining for strangers to really get it so he opted to simply say “item” for brevity’s sake.

        1. Cordelia Naismith*

          Agreed. In my experience, it’s the liars who go out of their way to give all kinds of specific detail. People telling the truth don’t bother.

      2. Ms. Didymus*

        I think if he was some gross creeper installing video cameras in bathrooms he wouldn’t have had a lookout (I hope!) nor would he really be surprised he was in trouble nor be writing into AMA.

          1. Artemesia*

            It doesn’t have to be him for the company to have had this sort of problem and be hyper sensitive to men in the ladies room.

      3. FiveWheels*

        If I was a man I wouldn’t want to look at disgusting urinals, and I’ve seen plenty of women’s toilets that are disgusting too. Now if we had separate rooms for those that know where to deposit their waste and those that don’t, that would be perfect!

        1. Sadsack*

          Yeah, this is ridiculous, really. And as others have mentioned, some women’s toilets are revolting. I think bad manners and poor hygiene are not gender-based.

          1. Myrin*

            In fact, in my university, it’a apparently almost solely the women’s bathrooms that are disgusting! I can confirm from my own experience that ugh, Do Not Want most of the time because what is even going on in most of the stalls but I don’t know what the men’s rooms look like. But I vividly remember seeing posters put up by maintenance/cleaning people in the women’s restroom that were basically “You’re disgusting, what is wrong with you?!” and explicitly mentioned that “somehow, the men’s bathrooms never have that problem?!”.

        2. Zillah*

          Dear AAM,

          I snuck into the women’s room at my job to plant a secret spycam, and when I was caught I pretended I was getting some toilet paper. Now they’re writing me up. Is this legal?

          Mr. Spycam

          This does not strike me as a likely draft of what the OP said. I mean, good grief.

          1. kevin*

            My boss had retired and had a couch in her office. On Monday I came in and couch was gone so i thought she took it home with her. I was told the couch was now in closet in womens restroom and thats why I went in to get it. 2 minutes max with another person in there helping me and another guy by the door. I was told i had to get supervisor or managers approval before i could enter. They did not say anything about couch and its still where i put it. As far as after hours it was 430pm and the last girl in office leaves at 3pm. THERE WAS A STORAGE ROOM IN WOMENS RESTROOM–NO SPYWARE WAS USED

            1. fposte*

              Is it possible this is just some weird way to objecting that the couch got moved back to your boss’s old office (or wherever you put it)? Maybe whoever it was that moved it to the ladies’ room in the first place got annoyed? Though it doesn’t sound like it was an authorized move anyway so they need to suck it up.

            2. Zillah*

              Sorry, kevin, I should have made it clearer – I completely get what you’re saying and wasn’t accusing you of that at all! I was just joking about how absurd I find the idea that your letter was conveniently leaving out a spycam is. (I mean. Seriously, guys?)

              1. Kevin*

                I totally understand and didn’t even think it would be published or I would have described story clearer to begin with. I won’t tell HR he is full or crap but I think they are up to something so that is why I’m asking–I won the people vote-that’s good enough

                1. Zillah*

                  Your description was fine – you captured the relevant facts very clearly, IMO. That a couple commenters took it somewhere completely outlandish isn’t your fault.

        1. Kelly L.*

          Agreed. Menacia, did you actually go in there, or did you just assume you knew what was in there? Unisex bathrooms usually just have a toilet and a sink, no urinal.

          1. fposte*

            I’ve been in women’s bathrooms with urinals, some deliberate, some leftover from conversions.

            (Then there’s also my old grad school, which converted an old all-male area of the locker room into the unisex pre-swim shower-off area and unwisely left a urinal still in there. One male friend therefore assumed it was all guys and stripped off to shower. The women who encountered him found it very, very funny.)

            1. Wren*

              yup, where I went to engineering school, there were women’s bathrooms with urinals leftover from conversion.

      4. Apollo Warbucks*

        I think that’s unfair to the OP to label him some sort of voyeur or pervert just because of a simple missing detail from the letter and Urinals are no more gross than bins for sanitary waste.

      5. Menacia*

        Crap, now I’m thinking I used a men’s room, will have to ask my husband as it looked like there was only one bathroom, but I can’t remember what it said on the door! I don’t remember any strange looks from the others sitting in the waiting room…

        My post was related to wanting to know more about the reason why this guy had to go into the women’s bathroom, not accusing him of anything nefarious. He has posted the reason, and I’m sure others were curious as well. So there…!

      6. Ask a Manager* Post author

        It is not suspect that the OP didn’t write exactly what he was retrieving from the bathroom or reasonable to imply it might have been a spy cam!


        There is nothing — nothing — in the letter that indicates that’s the case.

        Seriously, that is just not reasonable to accuse a letter-writer of. Please don’t do that to people who write in here.

        1. Menacia*

          I was not accusing the letter writer of anything, but thought it interesting he did not identify what he needed so desperately in the women’s bathroom that he had to go in after-hours, and had to have a look-out? I guess it’s the New Yorker in me, I don’t trust anyone unless I know exactly what they are doing and why! ;)

          1. fposte*

            I thought it was pretty clear that he needed a lookout because he was going into the women’s bathrooms. (And it’s cool to quietly withhold judgment or decide you’re not ready to trust, but it sucks for an OP who’s written in to have people imply he could be a sex offender; that’s a heck of a thing to say to a guest, and they really don’t need to identify all the details or mitigate our distrust.)

          2. Zillah*

            I completely agree with fposte, and I don’t think that jumping to “this OP wasn’t specific about what he was getting, so maybe he was planting spycams in the women’s bathroom” has anything to do with being a New Yorker. Many regular commenters here, including myself, are New Yorkers, and I don’t think any of us jumped to that conclusion.

          3. Ultraviolet*

            You implied that there was a high probability OP had put a camera in the women’s room. That’s unreasonable, unfair, and unkind.

            As Alison often points out, treating letter writers like this is a good way to end up with no more letter writers. Who would sign up for this kind of treatment? It makes reading the comments a lot less pleasant as well.

    6. KR*

      A woman might of left her purse or a baby bag in there. In a customer facing job, weirder things have happened.

        1. Claire (Scotland)*

          My mother forgot baby!me in a cafe one time. I was six days old and in a Moses basket. Dad went to bring the car around, Mum got her stuff together, put on her coat, picked up her bag and went out to the car.

          Dad looked at her and said “Did you forget something?”. She checked her pockets and her bag.

          “No.” She said.

          “We had a baby when we went in.” Dad pointed out.

          “Oh my GOD!” And Mum runs back into the cafe, where I was sleeping peacefully in my basket totally unaware I’d been abandoned.

          My dad told that story every birthday of mine while he was alive. (And the one about her going into labour while he was signing autographs. And the one about me stealing shampoo from Boots when I was one.)

          1. Elizabeth West*


            I almost forgot to take my kitty home from the vet that way once. I covered by saying “Oh I was just going to put this other thing out in the car before I took the carrier out there.” Whoops!

        2. DMented Kitty*

          Sad truth, there are many babies left in cars in freezing/hot weather… so yes people can forget babies.

    7. Winter is Coming*

      I’m curious as to how his presence in the women’s restroom made it to management. Did someone see him in there? Did the employee blocking the door tell them?

      1. Kelly L.*

        It could be any number of things. The door-blocker could have told, or the OP could have mentioned it in all innocence “Oh, by the way, we ran out of widgets last night and I had to go in and get one.” “YOU WENT IN THE LADIES ROOM?!??!11?”

    8. kevin*

      My boss had retired and had a couch in her office. On Monday I came in and couch was gone so i thought she took it home with her. I was told the couch was now in closet in womens restroom and thats why I went in to get it. 2 minutes max with another person in there helping me and another guy by the door. I was told i had to get supervisor or managers approval before i could enter. They did not say anything about couch and its still where i put it. As far as after hours it was 430pm and the last girl in office leaves at 3pm.

      1. Sadsack*

        Did management show you where in your company policy you needed to get approval to enter? This seems like a strange reason to write up an employee.

        1. kevin*

          they showed me a roughly written thing that did not ever say what i did was incorrect just that i could have threatened the safety of employees by entering–ha ha–

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Unless they had a prior issue with someone else and made a blanket policy, that’s completely stupid. Especially if they didn’t inform anyone of the policy.

  6. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon*

    #3 – You say that part of your job is setting up structures and providing input, among other things. Is there any mileage for you in things like “Set up XYZ structure which has allowed three people on my team to complete task B in C time less than before” or “Providing regular input and feedback on projects, including X Big Client Project worth $Y00000, which was delivered Z days early” or “Suggested changes to the hiring process which has enabled us to conduct X more interviews, widening applicant pool by Y%”?

    1. nofelix*

      The problem I always face with trying to write statements like these is finding the data to back them up. I don’t know how long things used to take before I arrived since nobody recorded it. Not to mention that every project is different. It’s really hard to quantify what I have done better than someone else when what I’m doing has not been done before.

      1. J.B.*

        Then maybe the tracking and following up should be a bullet item? What does not get tracked does not get done, at least not consistently.

  7. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*


    My best day as a manager is when I can say to myself “I’m just the facilitator here”. (I have issues, okay, I still have issues where I do too many things, when what I get paid for is to facilitate other people doing things. )

    Lookit, their accomplishments ARE your accomplishments, and their failures are yours also. If the TPS department is your responsibility and those TPS reports don’t go out on time, that’s on you. You re-mediate, fire, hire, facilitate training, make sure the fastest TPS reporter has a fan on her and grapes at all times if necessary, whatever it takes for timely reporting.

    It’s the weak manager who says “I’ll just do the damn reports myself! FFS!” (guilty as charged, hey I’m a work in progress.)

    My suggestion is to reframe your thinking about what managerial success is before you sit down to write again.

    (Side note: when your job is managing mangers, which is mine mostly now, it’s a whole ‘nother level of personal mind game to keep focused on what is actual success.)

    1. F.*

      I would think that the manager isn’t necessarily weak if they do the “damn report” themselves – once. Sometimes you just have to do what it takes to get the deliverable out on time. The weak manager is the one who does not follow up afterwards and take the necessary steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

        Ha ha, thanks for that. I’m just the worst at doing the damn TPS reports myself.

        I do try. Part of my weakness is that I like doing tasks so I have to constantly watch myself that I’m not falling into my old traps again.

        What I’ve determined is a good use of my time: doing tasks to launch new things so I can model methods, come up with best flows and then choose the right person do the work going forward. (Which is a bit of a cheaty way for me to keep my hands in pie. Who doesn’t like pie.)

        1. nofelix*

          I think that’s great. A lot of managers never even touch the tasks, and this effects their ability to plan what people should be doing. Often I have to explain to dumbfounded looks how something that sounds simple will take days because they haven’t kept up to date with the pace of things.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Darn straight! Their failure is YOUR failure. And in case of momentary confusion, a higher up will be happy to explain just how much of the failure is YOUR responsibility.
      Me:”I was on vacation.”
      Boss: “Not a reason for this Failure.”

  8. Roscoe*

    Something about #2 seems a bit weird to me. Like how did that even come up? Did the reference checker ask a question like “how would you rate her sills compared to your co-workers?” or did he just say “she is a fine coder, but I’m better”. Also, did the reference just tell the OP this, or did the reference checker go back? Both of these sound like weird options.

    1. sunny-dee*

      I had a friend who was used as a reference, and the reference checker asked if Candidate was smarter than the person sitting to Reference’s right. Of course, this was at Netscape in the 1990s, and the guy on his right was Brendan Eich who invented JavaScript, so the answer was … “eh, not really….”

    2. plain_jane*

      I once had a colleague who told me that when the person asked them what the applicant could improve on, he would say that they weren’t as strong as him on a certain piece of specialist software, but that the office didn’t require multiple experts, so that hadn’t been a challenge. Sometimes he’d mention that he was sure the person could pick it up if required.

      I always thought that was a good approach, especially as the person giving the reference is generally more senior/experienced than the applicant.

  9. OP #1 - Update*

    Unfortunately I ended up applying for the jobs before Alison answered my question. When I found out she was going to feature it, here is what I sent her:

    The job applications were the annoying kind where they have you put in all your experience…and then upload a formatted version of your resume. So, after editing for grammar, spelling, and punctuation, I ended up sending in his version of the formatted version.

    I had also meant to mention that he recommended calling HR after submitting my application to let them know I had applied. I know that this is almost NEVER recommended, and I asked him about that when he told me to do it, and he said he would be impressed…so I did it.

    The HR people were both very nice; one said they were about to offer the job to someone else, but would call me if she didn’t accept. The other said they were still interviewing, and that she would pass my info onto the hiring manager and that the hiring manager would call me for an interview this week.

    I should also note that, despite having a great cover letter and intending to send it despite my boss’s objections, there wasn’t a place to put it in either of the applications. I realize now that I could have added it to my resume file as an additional page, but, well, hindsight is 20/20 and all that.

    This all only happened last week, so I’m hoping that I’ll get at least one call this week for an interview. Fingers crossed, and thanks again Alison for confirming my instincts! I won’t be using his version of my resume anymore.

    1. J.B.*

      If they have that type of system, it is entirely possible that all the hiring managers will see is what is entered into the text boxes. I wouldn’t worry about it and move on. If you get to the interview stage you can present yourself then. Good luck!

      1. finman*

        If there is no spot to specifically upload a cover letter, it most likely means they don’t want one. Which also means they don’t want it as the first page of your resume. Companies that want/expect a cover letter will be specific about it in the job application/website in my experience.

    2. Quirk*

      Cover letters are, I think, perhaps somewhat industry and location specific, and it’s important to understand how it works in your field and local area. This is in general true of Alison’s advice – it’s likely quite widely applicable, and will be trustworthy in fields she has personal experience of, but there are places in which following it may get you bitten by local differences and it’s important to be aware of that.

      In the UK tech sector, submitting a cover letter in any case except that of applying to a company that doesn’t have a role open to apply for would be slightly weird. Not precisely a red flag by itself, but an indication of trying too hard, which suggests possible desperation, which suggests a need to look harder for red flags. Most of the cover letters I’ve seen came attached to highly unsuitable CVs.

      In my limited experience the US tech sector is similar, but I’d be interested in hearing from someone who’s used to hiring in it.

      If the application process doesn’t have space for a cover letter, I certainly wouldn’t attach one to the resume, and I would view it as a possible indicator that cover letters are not required locally in your field. The lack of a place for a cover letter suggests they don’t expect one, after all.

      1. OP #1*

        Yes, I agree with everything you’re saying, and in the end I’m fine with not using a cover letter if people would look askance at me for it, which I suppose they would if I had to shoehorn it into my application somehow. I did get hired at my current position with a cover letter, though, so who knows. It’s out of my hands now!

        1. Quirk*

          Well, I’ve ended up extending an offer to someone with multiple spelling and grammatical errors on their CV, because the content was impressive and they aced the interview. I would still generally recommend spell-checking your CV. It’s possible to be hired despite having a suboptimal approach, and that’s why I think it is worth paying attention to hiring managers’ actual habits when you get a chance.

          You now have evidence of three separate companies not being fans of cover letters: your own boss, and the two places you applied. At this point I would start being quite cautious as to when you choose to deploy one. And talk to other people in your industry about it, the more data you have the better.

      2. Sunshine*

        Would like to second that cover letters (and how they affect the hiring process) can be industry/location specific. I’ve assisted in the recruiting process several times (at three separate companies – for similar type roles at each and in a very large metro area). The volume of applicants was staggering. I’m talking 300-500 + applicants for each role (granted a large percentage were of the random, clearly didn’t read the ad types). It was impossible to read cover letters for the initial sweep through of the applications. That being said, cover letters were definitely read further along in the process.

        My point is – try to know your industry/region norms. I do think there are certain situations where including more info on your resume might be a good idea, rather than relying on your cover letter as a way to make up for any info not included on resume.

    3. Mimmy*

      I saw upthread that you found some of his rewrites helpful, e.g. expanded on your accomplishments. If you haven’t already, I suggest incorporating whatever edits you found helpful into your existing resume.

      Good luck with your search!

      1. OP #1*

        Yup, this I’ve done (and removed many grammatical errors in the process…). I’m just so, so bummed that what I thought was going to be a great thing turned out to be so incredibly disappointing and, frankly, almost useless. Live and learn!

    4. S.I. Newhouse*

      Let me say that I think it’s great that you have a boss that is so supportive of your careers. That’s a very rare thing.
      That said, I think you’re smart not to use his version of the resume, and to continue to use your cover letter when you can. (How would he ever find out which version you sent, anyway?) Good luck in your job search!

      1. OP #1*

        Thank you! This is the first time I’ve had a boss who I trust enough to be able to say “I’ve been feeling restless in my current role and want to do something more; do you think I’m ready?” I hope this holds true throughout the industry and that he isn’t an outlier in this regard.

  10. KR*

    The woman’s bathroom one just seems weird. We have signs that go in the doorway that say that the bathroom is being cleaned and no one seems to have a problem with it or our all-male maintenance crew. In fact, if you really have to go and they are in there cleaning they’re more than willing to leave the bathroom and continue their cleaning when you’re done which is really nice considering they can’t do anything else while they wait.

  11. Ms. Didymus*

    #5 This seems like a huge overreaction unless there is something I am really missing here. You went in after taking precautions to ensure no women were in there. You had someone stand at the door to ensure no woman walked in and was surprised to find you there. So unless what you went in to retrieve did not belong to you (and this would be an issue no matter which restroom you were going into!) I really can’t see the issue.

    But some people really have single-minded focus on the “no men in the women’s and no women in the men’s” bathroom stuff. They don’t let common sense come into equation.

    1. kevin*

      My boss had retired and had a couch in her office. On Monday I came in and couch was gone so i thought she took it home with her. I was told the couch was now in closet in womens restroom and thats why I went in to get it. 2 minutes max with another person in there helping me and another guy by the door. I was told i had to get supervisor or managers approval before i could enter. They did not say anything about couch and its still where i put it. As far as after hours it was 430pm and the last girl in office leaves at 3pm. I called HR myself and told them what happened.

  12. The Bimmer Guy*

    #2 — What a jerk. I’m going to guess that your reference didn’t tell you that he tried to stab you in the back, and that you instead heard this from your reference checker. And if the reference-checker actually told you that, then he / she must not have taken that person seriously, like Alison said. No one with any kind of professional decorum would ever do such a thing.

    #5 — That is ridiculous. Incidents like that tend to accumulate and cause skilled, talented employees to jump ship. Was that the decision of a single person, or is your workplace culture really that strict and rigid?

  13. Eric*

    #5 I wonder who actually complained. If it was after hours, and you made sure no one was in there by announcing yourself (the same way janitorial staff of opposite genders do when going into clean) I do not see what the problem is.

  14. Tagg*

    Re: #5… what happens when (/when,/ not /if/) they have a transgender employee? Or a gender non-conforming employee? How will they know when to unleash the outrage? *eye roll*

  15. KimPossible*

    LW #5, do you work in my office? We are dealing with this situation right now. We have two single stall bathrooms (the kind that are sometimes gender neutral, with a toilet and sink behind a locked door), one designated for women and the other for men. There is often a line for the women’s bathroom so some of us will use the men’s room if it’s empty. However, when my supervisor (a male) used the women’s bathroom so he could get out of the office in time to catch his train, someone filed a complaint. It’s ridiculous.

    1. Full of stories*

      My office is finally changing these to gender neutral but there is some serious push back and I just don’t get it. My office is even in an old house. It would be like having someone over your house and saying oh, the men use the first floor bathroom and the women use the second floor one. There is only one toilet on each floor. The whole emotional reaction to it is so bizarre to me.

    2. finman*

      I did work in an office that due to population statistics, the women’s room was removed from the 3rd floor (only about 5% of employees on that floor were women) in order to make room for a “kitchen” and copy room. So all women had to go to the womens room on the 2nd floor.

    3. DMented Kitty*

      If the bathrooms were labeled as gender-neutral, no one should complain. Same if there is no label on it, I’m going to assume it’s gender neutral. I’d wonder how one stall suddenly became designated as “female only”, and the other one “males only” (unless one has a urinal and the other only has a stall).

      Frankly, I found that I’m not that touchy with restroom gender designation – I went to an art exhibit held in a very small building, and it had one multi-stall bathroom. Men/women just fell in one line, walked into an empty stall and did their business all at the same time without batting an eyelash.

  16. Melissa J*


    Oh man, bathroom stories related to this at both my current job and last job.

    I used to work at a large family clothing store known for its fleece and flip flops. This was also located in one of the most liberal areas of a very liberal state – just for background. About 2 years ago, my store remodeled to their new design which had single stalls for the bathrooms, but they were labeled Mens and Womens. The *only* difference besides size for the bathrooms was the addition of the little sanitary trash by the toilet for women. I know this because I cleaned those bathrooms a lot (by far women were the worst). There were many times when we would use the men’s bathroom because the women’s bathroom was full. The majority of the workers were women and the majority of the customers were also women. Plus it was cleaner.

    Then, I got my current job and I’m the only woman here. There are 2 bathrooms, a Mens and a Womens. Being the only woman here, it’s basically *my* bathroom. There wasn’t an issue of anyone using the womens bathroom until a few months in when someone returned from workman’s comp/sick time. Suddenly my bathroom is being used. Every night. Not just to grab the supplies that are stored, because I had been leaving out a stash every night, but to actually use it. There are fewer men on 2nd shift than on 1st shift, so there shouldn’t have been a problem. It got even weirder when I locked the bathroom and it was still being used. Whoever was using it was actually breaking into to use the bathroom. No, it was not for supplies because my roll of toilet paper would be empty and left instead of being thrown away. We ended up having to fix the door so it couldn’t be forced open. Then when that guy got moved to first shift, I haven’t had any problems. I even leave the door open sometimes and still no problems. (The men in the office use my bathroom mainly for filling their water bottles )

    It wasn’t my decision to keep the guys out of that bathroom. The plant manager and floor foreman both agreed that the guys should not being using it. They leave it a mess and don’t respect the room. Their bathroom is absolutely disgusting and the manager and foreman don’t want the guys doing that to mine. It was definitely a paradigm shift for me because originally I felt that if I’m not around, I don’t really have a problem. But when the bosses say the guys can’t use it and someone is breaking into it, it becomes a matter of respect.

    So my 2 cents. Generally, not an issue for me. But I also think that bathrooms should probably single stalls and unisex at this point. Actually re:#5, I think it’s ridiculous he got written up for that.

  17. EmilyG*

    Re: #3, I had a similar problem a while back. I had a manager job and wanted to move on/up, but my resume sounded so wimpy and pointless and I was really frustrated with it.

    I actually ended up working with a FOAF who is a career counselor. The main things we did: (a) we scrapped my old resume and started from scratch, for the first time in 10+ years, making my old jobs sound better and relating them better to what I knew about my career trajectory *now*, and (b) he gave me list of resume verbs with a MANAGEMENT subsection (coordinated, delegated, hired, initiated, reviewed, scheduled, strengthened, etc.) and I used that to brainstorm a whole new series of bullet points about my then-current job.

    All of a sudden my wimpy, diffident, “what *do* I actually do??” resume sounded really strong and authoritative, because I could write about what my team achieved showing how I *influenced* the outcome–instead of feeling like I was claiming credit for hands-on work I didn’t do, or waffling about what I actually did all day. Landed a dream job soon after! I’m so lucky I took on that process and was ready when I saw the job listing.

    Here’s a similar list of verbs to jog your imagination:

  18. Nicolette*

    #3 Can you give specific examples of how your team improved since you took it over? Those would be accomplishments you could take some credit for.

Comments are closed.