urgent bathroom runs, applying for too many jobs, and more

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

1. Explaining urgent bathroom runs post-cancer

I had advanced colon cancer a few years ago with aggressive treatment–surgery, radiation, chemo. I’m lucky to be alive and I’ve been pretty upfront about my experience.

My problem is that all this treatment resulted in some problems which are embarrassing in the workplace. I now have occasional bouts of IBS-like diarrhea, which comes on with little warning. I also have problems with — how can I say this? — pretty awful flatulence. It doesn’t happen often and I try to get away and stay away from people when it does, but I can’t always and I am sure people notice.

I am now at a new job and wondering if I should explain my occasional swift departures in the middle of a conversation. It does not happen often but it does happen enough that it’s noticeable. Folks here know about my cancer.

I think this is totally up to you and what you’re comfortable with. Personally, I think I’d probably find peace of mind in just telling people what’s up so that I don’t have to wonder about what they might be thinking. You don’t need to be super explicit about it, but would just say to a couple of people you have particular rapport with, “A side effect of my surgery is that I occasionally may have to quickly dash to the bathroom. If I run off while we’re talking, it’s not you.” I’d figure/hope that would be enough information for them to also put two and two together about the flatulence too.

Congratulations on beating cancer!

2. Should we put windows in our office doors?

We’re designing a new office area for our small business, and trying to find out if we need to put windows in each office (door) for one-on-one meetings. We’re trying to balance privacy with accountability. Are there any guidelines to follow?

That’s really up to you; there’s no one best practice. But I’d recommend not using “we can see you at all times” as the way to have accountability. Accountability should really come from managing people well, paying attention to their productivity and their results, and hiring professional adults who aren’t going to abuse the privacy of an office.

3. Temp agency won’t get back to me

Currently I am seeking employment and am using an agency that initially sent me to interviews for temporary or temp to perm positions. We have a professional relationship and have shared a few laughs, so the relationship isn’t adversarial. Every week I email her my availability. My calls are not returned. For the past two months, I’ve heard absolutely nothing, even though there have been positions posted on their website and job boards for positions I am qualified for.

What is the most polite email I could send to this agent to (1) assist me, or (2) TELL me she isn’t going to? I’d like to call her on her rude and unprofessional behavior, but I need her assistance. The “no answer means no” new communications style is just rude and lazy.

It’s rude, but it’s also really common with temp agencies, which are dealing with large volumes of applicants. What this person has conveyed to you is that she’s only going to get in touch with you if she has a position to talk to you about; otherwise, assume you won’t hear from her. It’s going to be better for your quality of life to simply accept that, since there’s really nothing you can do to force her to operate differently.

That said, the fact that they originally sent you on interviews and have since stopped may be significant. Is it possible that something about those interviews made them not want to keep sending you out? A good agency would give you feedback if that were the case, but not all do; some just stop calling. On the other hand, it’s also possible that you didn’t do anything wrong and after failing to place you a few times, they just turned to newer candidates.

4. Am I applying for too many jobs at this employer?

I have a feeling the answer to my question might be “if you have to ask, it’s too many,” but am hoping otherwise. I’m looking for staff positions in academia in a college town. I currently work at a private university, but for financial, reputation, and commute reasons, I would​ love to work at a very distinguished university that’s also in my city. It’s a huge employer and often promotes from within, meaning that getting a foot in the door is difficult.

I’ve been applying to singular jobs at this distinguished university since last May, but am unsure how many jobs I should be able to apply to and how quickly. Since last May, I’ve applied to nine individual positions at this university, all jobs I would be qualified to do, and have had phone interviews for two of those positions. Is this too many? Not enough? Knowing that these jobs all feed through any number of HR personnel, I don’t know whether I should apply to anything that interests me, or only the top 5%, or somewhere in between. Do I cap it at some arbitrary number of applications per month? I feel like I’m way overthinking this, but I have a horror scenario of being blacklisted by their HR department for applying to too many jobs.

You should be fine, as long as everything you’re applying for is a strong fit for your experience and you’re not applying for jobs that are wildly different. But make sure you’re really being discriminating about that; don’t let your zeal to work there prompt you to apply for everything you’re remotely qualified for.

When this becomes a problem is when (a) you’re applying to lots of really different things, which makes you look unfocused (since hiring managers want to hire someone who wants this particular job, not just any job they can get, or (b) when you’re doing it at a smaller organization (which is going to have fewer jobs advertised anyway). At a large employer, it’s much less likely to be an issue.

Read an update to this letter here.

5. Can my employer revoke my bonus after a direct deposit into my bank account?

Can my employer revoke my bonuses after they’re deposited into my account if I put in my notice soon after? This will really help me figure out notice timing!

They shouldn’t — once earned, that money is yours — but it is possible for an employer to revoke a direct deposit (within a limited period of time — I believe it’s five days, but you’d want to verify that with your bank) and take that money back. Generally they can only do this to correct mistakes (such as if they accidentally overpaid you); they couldn’t do it to, say, recover money for property of theirs that you took on your way out the door. But theoretically, an unscrupulous company could say that the bonus was a mistaken payment, and then you’d have a mess on your hands.

If you want to be really safe, wait until a couple of weeks have gone by, or transfer most of the money in that account to an account at a different bank.

{ 194 comments… read them below }

  1. Artemesia*

    If I were worried about the bonus, I’d close the account before giving notice.

    I had a friend who was overpaid and immediately notified the institution and sent a check — and then they took the amount out of the account i.e. she paid back twice. Bounced her checks all over town which cost huge fees.

    If you have direct deposit and fear that an organization might behave like this, then close the account and put the money in a different bank so that the organization doesn’t have access to your money.

    1. Mike C.*

      So is there no way to revoke the employer’s permission to change the amount of funds, nor other incentives for the employer not to do so in an unreasonable manner?

      Even on my most cynical days I’ve never heard of this happening, but I’m really curious how this all works if it’s not too much of a derail. Can you tell the bank that you’ve cut your employer off or are they obligated to reverse anything sent their way?

      This isn’t something I’ve considered until now, but I just wonder how exposed someone is to a payroll manager that’s gone nuts. I imagine banks don’t want to deal with this sort of mess, so they must play some moderating influence…

      1. CreationEdge*

        Most direct deposit authorization forms have a clause stipulating that funds can be withdrawn from the same account if they were direct deposited in error.

        If you cease authorization of direct deposit, that clause should also be void from then on out. However, it will likely still be in effect for even the last deposit after the termination of direct deposit. The authorization form may have details.

        Basically, if you don’t want this to happen, don’t use direct deposit.

          1. Colette*

            That would be quite difficult – I assume they don’t get to choose where the money goes, it goes back to the account it came from. And people tend to be vocal when their pay disappears.

          2. NotASalesperson*

            A version of this actually happened at my former employer. The payroll system was so fucked up that people actually had trouble figuring out that something was wrong.

          3. Ask a Manager* Post author

            They can only clawback the amount that was deposited — they can’t take back smaller amounts — so you’d presumably notice something like that.

        1. Lindrine*

          Many of us no longer have much choice about direct deposit. I don’t even get paper pay stubs anymore, I have to log into an online HR portal and download them.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            Exactly; both mine and my husband’s employers have implemented mandatory direct deposit within the past few years. They gave plenty of noticed to the unbanked that they would have to change that, and now anyone who works at either place has to get paid via direct deposit.

            1. Kelly L.*

              Yup. Here, you have to either have direct deposit or else they can load your pay onto one of those reloadable debit cards, but you can’t get a paper check after your first one.

        2. BananaPants*

          Many employers now require direct deposit. My husband’s employer does, but there’s an alternative of having paychecks deposited onto a payroll debit card which has hefty fees for using ATMs, getting statements, replacing cards, or inactivity.

        3. Ad Astra*

          It might be more reasonable to say “If you want to eliminate the possibility of this happening, don’t use direct deposit.” It’s not as if having money taken from your account is a natural and expected consequence of using direct deposit; it’s just not technically impossible.

        4. Purrsephone*

          Once, when I was overpaid, I was required to write the college a check for the same amount they deposited. They apparently could not, or perhaps would not, withdraw it.

      2. Chriama*

        The thing is, if the employer says”‘we made a typo and deposited too much money to this account” the bank has no way to prove or refute that claim. It’s fraud protection for the depositing party as well — say a disgruntled payroll employee tried to give themselves an unsanctioned bonus? The recipient of the deposit needs to work things out directly with the depositor, the bank doesn’t want to play mediator or referee or judge whose claim has more merit.

      3. Dawbs*

        I used to work for a .com that was in the midst of bankruptcy.

        Repeatedly, they would pay everyone, people would verify the money was there, then they would reverse all the direct deposits. (I believe they were bouncing in some way)

        I refused to get direct deposit (heresy, I was considered a bit of a luddite), but I think payroll laws were easier to enforce with paper checks-I dutifully drive and deposited my paper every week, while my co-workers bounced rent checks.

    2. Anonymous- OP#5*

      I appreciate the feedback so far about the bonuses!
      I’m thinking some more info might help clarify…the bonuses in question are an annual bonus and a quarterly bonus that’s commission-based. I’ve put the time and work in, so I’m not trying to sneak anything by them. I hope it isn’t coming across that way.
      You guys are saying they’d be able to pull the money out if it were a mistake, would they have to prove that it’s a mistake? How would they get around that?
      All in all, I don’t believe they’d pull the bonuses, but I’ve read things on here saying that they have the right to not give bonuses if you put in your notice and I’m hoping to avoid that situation after working so hard all this time.
      Has anyone heard of this happening?

      1. nofelix*

        You haven’t actually ‘earned’ the bonuses unless you have a contract saying X bonus will be paid if you do Y. Bonuses given for good work are to encourage you to keep doing good work in the future. If you’re leaving, there is no chance of them getting further good work from you and so some employers may nix your bonus. Others won’t because they feel it’s unfair or will lower morale.

        But the issue of whether your employer would like to rescind the bonus is different from whether your bank will allow them to after it has been deposited in your account. Your bank can tell you more.

      2. Not Gloria, A.A., B.S.*

        I think a mistake would be more like they gave you two bonuses instead of one. I had a friend who once had an extra $40K in her bank account that her employer overpaid her by. She knew not to spend it but they made her write a personal check for it because they couldn’t be bothered to figure out how to reverse it. They didn’t even realize the money was missing until she said something. Anyway, THAT was a mistake that they could have taken back. I would think that if you had a bonus and then gave notice right after, there’s not much they could do by then. Plus they’d have to fix all sorts of tax stuff, probably easier just to let you keep it.

        1. Lionness*

          I have had, for four months, way too much money in my HSA because my employer mistakenly moved the decimal on the deposit they contribute. They cannot figure out how to reverse this.

        2. Lionness*

          Added on to my last comment:

          My employer is awesome though and because of the tax implications of this they’ve offered me a tax accountant and audit protection in case the IRS has fits over their error.

          1. BenAdminGeek*

            IANAL- But, probably not much they can do to reverse it easily. Legally it’s your money once they give it, which is one of the difficult things with HSAs- mistakes can’t be corrected easily even if both parties want it done. The IRS recently issued guidance on how employers can make corrections; however, it’s technically only if the person was never eligible or the employer exceeded the annual amount allowed by law.

            However! If there is clear documentary evidence that there was a mistake made, there is an allowance for them to request that the financial institution return the amount, with the correction putting both parties in the same position as if the error had not occurred. Everything done needs to be super well-documented for the IRS, of course. Not necessarily helpful, but good luck!

              1. BenAdminGeek*

                I can also help with World of Warcraft and Star Wars, if anyone has work-related issues for them…

      3. AnotherHRPro*

        If you work for a decent sized company, they probably have a policy statement or compensation guide/procedure available to employees that explains the terms of your annual bonus and commission bonus payments. This should explain eligibility as well as how the awards are determined. For example, it would say something about if you need to be an active employee as of the date of payment and how they calculate the bonuses. If they have something like this, read through the documents. Unless your company has a history of being shady with such things, I wouldn’t worry too much about this as long as the comp program indicates that you would be eligible for the payment as long as you are still active as of the payment date with no repayment requirements for a certain period of time (due to separation or notice).

        1. Op#5*

          Unfortunately, it’s relatively new (<10 yrs), super disorganized company. No HR. I did sign an agreement and a handbook of policies, but nothing says anything regarding this situation. The whole reason I'm leaving is because they're showing signs of financial instability and are cutting hours (and people) like crazy, so I want to get out before it affects me. They do give bonuses on the same days every time, so I at least would not be at their mercy timing-wise.

      4. Chriama*

        They can’t take away the commission bonus. All you have to show is other employees receiving a commission bonus at the same time and they’d be trying to take away money earned for work already done. The annual bonus is a little iffy but if they’re organized enough to have multiple bonus schemes they’re organized enough to have a procedure that details how bonuses are paid out when an employee leaves. Odds are the bonus is prorated based on when you left the company and the bonus schedule. At my company bonuses are paid out 3 months after the end of the fiscal year. If you leave halfway through the fiscal year, you get a portion of it. If you leave after the fiscal year is over but before it’s paid out, you get everything.

        1. ThursdaysGeek*

          And I worked at a company where if you left before the bonuses were paid out, you got nothing. I don’t know if you’d get anything if bonuses came when you’d given notice — they’d probably just delay paying the bonuses until you were gone, since they weren’t on a defined schedule. They were quarterly, but they’d happen anytime from a week to a month plus after the end of the quarter. People who wanted a bonus made sure they got it before giving notice.

      5. E.R*

        I once had an employer get around paying me a bonus by letting me go when i gave notice. It was an earned bonus based on sales performance that year (not a general sense of “good work” or retention) so it felt particularly sneaky. In that case, I wasn’t eligible for the bonus since I’d been let go, and because I wasnt working the day they were paid (which was about two days out from the day I gave notice, but I would have been working for 3 weeks after that point if they honoured my notice) But once the money is in your account, it takes a lot more effort on their part to revoke it. If you’re worried, I would definitely close down or move your account. Most employers, in my experience, are much better than this though.

        1. Justcourt*

          What a great way to boost morale and possible encourage people to leave with no notice once they are paid.

      6. Stranger than fiction*

        If it’s commission based or like a performance bonus, then they’d have to be pretty shady to take it back or not pay it to you, because you already earned it. If it’s just a bonus that everyone gets for them to show their appreciation, I could see them not wanting to pay it, like the letter we had here a couple weeks ago where the husband worked 11 months of the year and then gave notice and the company did not give him his bonus. I thought that was kind of shady too, but several people here commented that sometimes companies think of that type of bonus as a pre-incentive to keep you happy/staying there rather than a thank you for what you did all year.

    3. Chriama*

      I mentioned reading this exact situation on reddit in one of the short answer threads last week! The tl;dr is someone gave notice and the company withdrew the bonus from direct deposit that had been deposited a couple days prior. They eventually got the money back after months of lititgation. So the basic answer is ‘yes, it’s possible’. One thing to note is that withdrawing the money or closing the account won’t protect you. The company has to give a reason for reversing a withdrawal, but if they say the amount was deposited in error the bank has no way to contradict them and they’re not going to eat the loss so you’ll have to. They’ll overdraw your account, reopen closed accounts, you name it. So the best course of action is to wait a week or so after the bonus has been given and then give notice. If they try to reverse the direct deposit you’ll still have to get a lawyer involved, but it’s easier to prove this money is for work already done if they try to withdraw it a whole week later.

      Bottom line though: what kind of company is this? Most large companies are pretty even handed in giving out bonuses. If it’s already been paid out they’re not likely to take it back. Is this a small business or do you have other reasons to believe they’d be unscrupulous?

      1. Op#5*

        It’s a relatively small company, less than 500 employees and has been around for about 10 years but expanded super fast in the last few years under a new structure so there aren’t policies in place for pretty much anything.

    4. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      I worked in a place once where the bonuses were paid out on a certain Friday in March. Management suspected that a lot of people were going to be giving their two-week notice on the following Monday so they planned to delay bonus payments – and if you gave your notice = NO BONUS.

      I had a job offer that was not going to take effect for three weeks. The following Friday I picked up my bonus check (I do not use direct deposit for a variety of reasons) – CASHED IT – then went to the office and gave my notice.

    5. joy2b*

      I would not expect closing an account to prevent a claw back or other account corrections. However, having a 0 balance on an account is likely to cause a clawback to create some painful fees. As a precaution, I’d treat any money that might be clawed back as though it was a pending check, not a cash deposit.

      If you have any questions on the time limit on clawbacks, I’d suggest walking in and asking one of the desk representatives. The employees will be the best expert on their policies.

    6. Vicki*

      Moving the money to another account or to savings, yes.

      But closing your checking account seems like a very extreme (and inconvenient) thing to do.

  2. Dan*


    Transferring the money out won’t do a darn bit of good; the bank will let your account go negative after the employer reverses it, and then send you to collection when you don’t pay.

    Closing the account is the way to go.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Except that some banks (*cough*BankOfAmerica*cough*) will reopen an account when there is any activity, no matter what you tell them. I was not surprised, because they often act as if they believe that banking regulations don’t apply to them. And considering how lax enforcement is with respect to them and the other megabanks, they are correct.

      The regulations state that direct deposits can be reversed within 5 days, even though that’s often disregarded. Link to follow.

      1. Victoria*

        It’s perfectly legal to reopen the account, not against banking regulations at all. It’s to prevent people from opening an account, writing a bunch of checks, then closing or abandoning the account before the checks clear. It’s called “paper hanging”.

        I’d wait a week or two after the direct deposit before putting in notice. I’d also make sure I had every scrap of paperwork stating that the deposit was legit, so you can go after them if they take it back.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Sorry, the regulations thing was in reference to reversing direct deposits, my link to that information is still in moderation. Federal Reserve regulations only allow 5 days to reverse a direct deposit, but BoA does not care, according to many credible anecdotes I’ve found on the internet.

  3. Josh S*

    OP #2: I only have two words to encourage you to include some small amount of visibility into offices:

    Quack quack.

    1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

      The CEO of my company can worry a little too much, but that is literally the reason there’s no door in the building that doesn’t either have a glass window or glass side panels. (We built from scratch, so we were able to make those choices.)

      You’d have to duck club in very very small closets at Wakeen’s.

      1. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon*

        “You’d have to duck club in very very small closets at Wakeen’s.”

        I love that this sounds like a very bizarre advertising slogan.

        “Wakeen’s teapots: for those polite moments after the duck club”

      2. Annie Moose*

        Ack ack ack, I’m now thinking of what parts of my building the duck club could meet in.

        The fancy telepresence conference room doesn’t have windows, so that’s a possibility. I think there’s at least one other conference room on each floor without windows… there’s the CIO’s office too. There’s maintenance rooms of some kind, but you have to badge in to them and I doubt most of us have access. The janitor’s closet is probably unlocked though.

        I guess technically the fifth floor is empty most of the time (it’s basically a big, fancy conference room), so if you wanted to really live life on the edge, there’s that.

        “Best” of all, the conference rooms in this building all have lockable doors (our old building did not)!

    2. Researcher*

      The organisation I work for relocated in September last year to a more open plan environment, nobody has offices anymore, only the CEO, but the plan was for him too not to have one, but he obviously found it hard to fire a few people so I guess that was one of the reasons why he ended up getting a private office.

      But in our old location, persons that had private office rooms, most had glass panes which were frosted in the vertical centre of the panel, meaning you could see the feet and ankles of persons in the room, but you couldn’t see the faces of people unless you put your head down to look underneath. That way, if people were practicing duck club in there, well everyone would see the trousers around the ankles, and the underwear and stilettos on the floor. Or if they both got their whole person onto the desk, well yes you wouldn’t see the trousers around the ankles, but if someone say an assistant of the staff member who is assigned to the private office thought that nobody was in there, so then opened the door to put something in there, well………….. and don’t anybody ask, they’ll lock the door, yes they could lock the door, but an assistant might have keys, and so does HR, and I reiterate, people could look under the frosting and then will know what is going on in there.

      1. Queen Anne of Cleves*

        Um… I was thinking the same thing as nofelix. You sound like you have some experience with this….just saying. :)

        1. Researcher*

          LOL!! Not me, but about 5-7 years ago, the CIO and a female employee were caught in the boardroom after hours, but they just kept going after somebody walked in on them. And yes, everybody knew very soon about that, the female left shortly after, not sure if she resigned or was fired for performance issues, and almost 2 years ago the CIO was fired, and people are still talking about that incident whenever he comes up.

          The glass panes which weren’t frosted 100% floor to ceiling were useful when we were trying ascertain who was in there, we could tell by the feet/shoes sometimes who was in the office. I think that is all that is needed for conversation privacy, and of course, decent soundproofing, some rooms are not soundproof at all, and if people talk loud, people who sit around that room can hear everything word for word. And the frosted vertical centre of the pane, well that would come in handy if someone was getting fired and they got emotional.

          Floor to ceiling privacy can be recipe for duck club, and to be honest, I have not engaged in duck club, but when I saw the frosted vertical centre, after I while I thought “that must be so nobody will *#$% in there” :)

        1. BenAdminGeek*

          The network security folks at OldOldJob had that- when there were attacks on the network, they would frost the windows so you couldn’t see in while they dealt with it. The network guys also enjoyed frosting the windows when tours would go by, just for fun.

        2. Cath in Canada*

          The last flight I took was on one of the new Dreamliners, and they had this feature on all the windows. It was awesome – you could reduce a lot of the glare without having to completely close the window shade, so you could still see out.

      2. Stranger than fiction*

        I may have mentioned this here before, but I was told that we have glass doors on every office here because years ago, salespeople and their assistants were caught getting it on (ducking). I do agree with what Alison said, but the glass would be nice if there’s no other window to the outside in the office. That way it wouldn’t feel so enclosed.

    3. Artemesia*

      If I were building offices I would have glass side panels by the doors; I have seen too many people spend their days on video games to be naive about the glories of the totally private office. And for professions that require close contact with clients like psychotherapy, it is also a protective factor.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        That’s what ours have. I’d love to have an office where I don’t have to listen to people talk on the phone. Only managers/supervisors have offices, though, and our sales rep. He’s almost never in there so other sales folks use it occasionally, and he lets me use it when I have a private meeting, like my review. Most of the offices also have blinds on the side window.

        After that post, I tried to think of places in my office where you could have, er, duck club activities, and there really isn’t anyplace unless you stayed SUPER late.

        1. Ama*

          That’s what we have, too, (ours don’t have blinds, and are largely there to let daylight into the hallway) and totally independent of any misbehavior what I like about them is that in our office culture, a closed door *usually* means “do not disturb” but our big boss in particular sometimes has her door closed when interruptions are okay – she just finished a call and hasn’t got up from her desk to reopen the door, for example. Having the window means if we need to speak with her we can check and see if she’s actually talking to someone (in person or on the phone) and come back later without interrupting.

    4. AndersonDarling*

      Coming to say the same thing. Before my time, there was a duck problem and when they remodeled they made the offices glass. They are foggy glass, so they give some privacy, but you can tell if..well…occupants are vertical or horizontal.

          1. Doriana Gray*

            Oh it is, Prismatic Professional! My ex told me he’d ducked in the broom closet with one of his coworkers. And when I was little and my mom brought me to work one Saturday morning, her boss and her boss’s boss were ducking in her boss’s office – we could hear the banging of her desk against the wall and intermittent moans of pleasure.

    5. Green*

      I prefer real door offices, so that I can take my shoes off and curl up with a blanket because offices are really damn cold.

    6. Cautionary tail*

      I designed office space before autocorrecting ducks came into existence and I ALWAYS put windows in doors. In my workplace there were allegations of harassment behind closed doors so to protect everyone at a minimum I put ~4″ wide by 15″ tall windows in office and a 3-1/2 foot x 3-1/2 foot window next to it. Another factor was that people in offices got the outside windows so all the workers were in the dark all day long. By having this expanse of glass, natural light could penetrate into the building. It made for a much happier workplace.

      1. Annie Moose*

        Natural light really does make a difference. A year and a half ago, the IT department moved from a building nicknamed “The Bunker” where there was very little natural light at all (the conference rooms were all on the outside walls, making it even worse) to this beautiful new building with huge windows and all the conference rooms in the middle. It’s just so much more cheerful, especially in winter!

        Plus, the new building is on the river, so sometimes we take impromptu breaks to watch the boats go by. :)

      2. author*

        None of the offices have natural light. These are actually my office and our partners’ offices. we were thinking of the windows in the doors to avoid being accused of anything in a closed door meeting. I agree with hiring mature adults, I’m just trying to be smart.

  4. I Heart Oregon*

    #3- a) maybe you are qualified for the jobs that you see, but not a good personality or company culture fit?
    b) why don’t you stop by and have an honest conversation and ask for feedback as to why they haven’t contacted you? It’s possible that after you went on those interviews, maybe they figured out you overestimated your skills, or are doing something that’s a turn off during them.
    c) don’t go into talk to and and assume you know why they haven’t called-i.e.I’m guessing you’re not calling because because I’m an older candidate, etc. That will put their defenses up quickly, since you can’t assume know everything that is going on behind the scenes. Also, keep in mind that when agencies tell someone that they won’t be able to help them, a lot of people are very adversarial about it-they won’t take the polite feedback as intended. They have the mindset that an agency is a service rather than an employer. If you mention that you would really just like honesty and are nice rather than accusatory, you will probably get a more honest response.
    d) sign up with multiple agencies and pursue jobs on your own. Never put your eggs in one basket.

      1. Doriana Gray*

        #3- a) maybe you are qualified for the jobs that you see, but not a good personality or company culture fit?

        This is a good point. The recruiters at these agencies have worked with these companies in the past and, presumably, have a good handle on the type of person that would be a good fit in the role and company. Applicants have no way of knowing whether they’d be a culture fit from the outside, so while you may think the jobs you’re applying for are perfect matches for you (and they may indeed fall in line with your previous work experience), there’s so much more than being able to perform the job function that determines whether or not someone’s going to be a good fit in any particular position.

    1. Stranger than fiction*

      Yes, and D especially. I’ve found some of these temp agencies to be very flakey and just like Alison said, they’re hot one minute and then move on to other candidates. One thing that did occur to me, though, is that some of these places have a lot of turnover and I’m wondering if your rep is just no longer there, and now they’re just understaffed and/or disorganized and haven’t realized you’re still hanging out there.

      1. Doriana Gray*

        This happened to me too at at least two staffing agencies (though one staffing rep was nice enough to warn me that she was leaving, and I was employed at that point anyway). These places tend to burn through recruiters, so OP may have to go back to the agency she worked with and make sure they have her information and an active recruiter assigned to her.

    2. Justcourt*

      I mistook no. 3 for no. 4 when I first read this. I couldn’t figure out why you would suggest the LW go to the university to ask why they weren’t hiring her.

    3. JAN*

      Thank you all for your insights and suggestions. Oddly, the agent called me yesterday. Rather bizarre, but I’ll take it! :-).

    4. M-C*

      Also OP3, are you -applying- for these jobs when you see them posted? I talk to my temp agency daily, to formally remind them that I’m available (their rule). But I still call them up specifically when I see a job go by that’d be a good fit. They deal with hundreds of people, they can’t possibly keep everyone’s varied skill sets at the forefront of their mind at all times. And if there is a reason why they are no longer sending you out on interviews, you need to gently encourage them to let you know why.

  5. Jools*

    #4 – I work at a large, reasonably distinguished university. Hiring is completely decentralized. HR receives applications, passes all of them on to the department that’s hiring, and then is hands off until it comes time to make an offer. I’ve been on the hiring end of things, and when I receive an application I have no idea if this is the first resume this particular candidate has sent to the university or the 142nd – my boss and I are judging it solely on whether it seems like a reasonable fit for our opening. I can’t speak for other universities, obviously, but at least for mine apply away, no one will notice until you have multiple applications in for the same department.

    1. newreader*

      I also work for a university and the hiring process is very similar in that the hiring manager doesn’t know how many times an applicant has applied or for which positions. The process is also very structured. For example, if a candidate’s resume doesn’t list all of the required qualifications noted in the job posting, the candidate is automatically eliminated. So a candidate can be close to those requirements (3 years experience instead of 4 years), but there is no flexibility for keeping the candidate in the pool. That flexibility comes in with the additioanl deirable skills noted in the posting.

      We also tend to hire from within when possible. Internal candidates are more of a known quantity and generally have a shorter learning curve. We even have a person that used to work here, left to go elsewhere and then spent several years applying for jobs on ca ours attempting to work here again.

      As Alison recommended, I would encourage the LW to keep applying for jobs that she is qualified for. You never know when the right position will come along.

      1. HigherEd*

        I agree with the post above – keep applying for jobs you are qualified for. I’ve been in higher ed for the last six years, and was applying for jobs at another college for the last three years. I was finally hired there five months ago. My new employer also likes hiring from within. One of the people I work with now also applied for my job – she was pretty hostile during my first month on the job. I have a higher degree than she does, plus more experience, so I was definitely more qualified.

        1. OP #4*

          That’s really reassuring! I figure, I only need ONE job, so I’ll keep applying and see where it goes…

          I’m sorry you’re dealing with a hostile co-worker. Has she since calmed down?

      2. nofelix*

        “So a candidate can be close to those requirements (3 years experience instead of 4 years), but there is no flexibility for keeping the candidate in the pool. ”

        Wow that is extremely rigid. Which ninny-noggins came up with that one?

        1. Agnes*

          Goal for rigid requirements is usually to prevent, “Well, that black candidate is super-qualified, but I think I’d rather hire my marginally-qualified frat brother.” But once you’ve been around these requirements for awhile, you learn to write the job ad vaguely enough that any qualified people can fit.

        2. College Career Counselor*

          It’s to cut down on the number of applications that need to be reviewed by a human being (either an HR recruiter or the hiring manager, or a search committee). IME, the search committee chair can go through the applications that didn’t make the initial cut-off and decide whether or not to put someone through for further review. That may or may not happen, depending on how many applications made the cut and how good a fit they appear to be for the position. From a search committee/hr perspective, if you’ve got 10 applications that absolutely meet the stated qualifications, you’re just adding more work for yourself and your committee if you bring in an 11th (or more) that didn’t QUITE meet the requirements. (Although I agree that the listed requirements may be somewhat arbitrary, or not fully reflect what the applicant needs to be able to do)

      3. insert pun here*

        Yep — when I worked at Distinguished University, at least for entry level positions, if you didn’t have all the “required skills/experience” then you were rejected. This may be why OP is getting a lot of rejections. But universities tend to be pretty decentralized, so while an HR person might know you’re applying a lot, the hiring manager probably won’t have any clue whatsoever. Keep trying!

    2. Kelly L.*

      Yup. Same here. In fact, they’ll distribute your application to different departments even if you only applied to one, and the interviewer has no way of knowing if you applied to them specifically or if you were just in the pool. I applied to one department and got calls from, IIRC, four. The first one confused the heck out of me! :D

    3. OP #4*

      That’s what I figure is going on for this university as well, and the jobs I’m applying for are very similar in scope, but are across different departments/colleges within the larger university. I think I really just needed the reassurance that I wasn’t shooting myself in the foot if I have 2-3 applications going on at the same time at the same place.

      1. Texas HR Pro*

        OP #4: I also work at a large, decentralized university, and I can assure you that our process is that you have to apply for each job posting separately, so only the HR staff or hiring manager for that job will see your application. We don’t know how many times you’ve applied to other jobs.

        That said, since our job postings are all formatted a certain way, it’s much easier to review resumes that are tailored to our posting’s language, especially for entry-level or administrative positions. If our job posting asks for bachelor’s degree plus three years of experience, you should structure your resume to be crystal-clear that you have three years experience. Write months and years for work dates instead of just years. One successful applicant even put a bullet point list in his cover letter, listing what we asked for and showed how he met those qualifications. It kind of feels like you’re “dumbing-down” your materials, but it makes it very easy for the hiring manager to see that you’re qualified.

        Best of luck!

      2. Ama*

        Agreeing with everyone else about how decentralized university hiring is. I would note that when my old university was hiring for the kind of general admin position that attracted a lot of “just want my foot in the door” applicants, we always appreciated the applicants who bothered to adjust their cover letter to make some reference to why our department’s specific functions were either of interest to them or closely aligned with their skills in their cover letter so we knew they’d looked at our listing specifically. I know some university systems make it hard to submit unique cover letters but if there is a way to do that and you aren’t doing it already, give it a shot.

    4. Tsalmoth*

      +1. I’m a manager at a smallish reasonably distinguished university, and I see all applications directly. When I worked a larger distinguished university, managers could choose to have HR filter for them, or get the applications themselves. Most that I knew preferred the latter.

    5. Sharkey*

      The only caveat to this is that sometimes hiring committees may include others in the department or even those in closely related departments. In such circumstances, you could potentially end up having your application materials reviewed by the same person more than once. For that matter, there are some areas in a university where it can be difficult for an outsider to understand the organizational structure to even know if they’re applying to the same group.

      I think more than worrying about how much is too much, you should follow Alison’s advice about making sure that the jobs are a good fit for you and that your job search is focused on a field/area and not just applying for anything that comes along. That way even if someone sees your application materials multiple times it will “make sense” as to why you’re applying.

  6. Chocolate Teapot*

    2. Just thinking about the doors in former companies, one boss had a solid wooden door which she kept open unless she was in a meeting, then it was closed. Another boss had a clear glass door with ageometric pattern over the middle third. Again, he kept it open unless he needed a private conversation/meeting.

    1. Hornswoggler*

      Pointless cultural sideshoot: In the old colleges of Oxford and Cambridge (UK), the students’ rooms have an inner door and an outer door. The outer door is known as the ‘oak’. If someone doesn’t mind being disturbed, they leave the oak open or at least ajar, but close the inner door. If they are busy or do not wish to be disturbed for any reason, they close both doors. Having both doors closed is known as ‘sporting the oak’.

        1. Anon-for-now*

          Do you remember which story it was? I have an odd soft spot for creepy stories set in English universities. (Hyper-specific, I know!)

  7. Alison Read*

    #1. I feel your pain. Crohn’s here. I am sorry I can’t help socially but not sure how connected you are in some tips to deal with the odor.

    I’ve had a few resections so what little is left ensures it’s pretty rank. You say the flatulance is only occasional, is it predictable enough that you’d consider taking an internal deodorizer? If I take Devrom each time I eat, the gas no longer strips paint. I find the capsules are much more effective than the wafers.

    Also, there are actually charcoal underwear! Plus I swear by poo pourie in the washroom (I’m scent sensitive and it doesn’t kill my head – I use scent #2.). The flatulance can be awful, some times so bad my car still bore the odor the next day. I’ve since learned to use unscented febreeze when I’m not taking the Devrom capsules.

    1. Elizabeth*

      I feel your pain too! I had rectal cancer 14 years ago and although I’m glad I beat cancer, the after effects are awful and not what I expected. I too have to leave a meeting or discussion without warning,and I don’t feel the need to explain. Both my boss and HR know about my condition. Did you know you are covered under the ADA?

      1. Elizabeth*

        And you should talk to your doctor about taking immodium or lomotil. Both slow your gut down. Also, a real heavy duty fiber supplement daily helps, but some make gas worse, you’d have to experiment.

        1. newlyhr*

          Hi I am the person who asked about #1. I did not know about the things you’ve both suggested and I am going to check them out! I occasionally have to run meetings or do presentations to large groups and that’s when I get really worried–so I have taken to fasting for at least 12 hours before I do one of those and so far I haven’t had a problem. My stomach might growl, but trust me it’s better for everyone to listen to that than put up with what else could happen if I didn’t.

          Thank you for the help. It’s hard to discuss “bathroom” stuff but I am going to do what Alison suggested. I am new to HR and so maybe this discussion will help me help others. I am also going to talk to my boss about it.

          1. BTownGirl*

            Keep in mind that we’re all human and I would be shocked if you were the only one in your office who has has some kind of “bathroom stuff” issue! Here’s the breakdown in my office: I’m super-sensitive to certain foods, two of my coworkers have IBS, another one is dealing with pregnancy gassiness and I also have a friend outside of work with Chron’s. Remember, sh*t happens (to absolutely everyone, literally) and the important part is that you’re healthy! Good luck :)

          2. Elizabeth*

            Do you have follow up appointments with your colorectal surgeon? Because part of what they do is help people deal with these issues. My surgeon retired and I wasn’t seeing anyone, but then my primary care doctor suggested I see a colorectal surgeon again, I went to see the doctor who replaced my original surgeon and she’s been great. It was also easier to talk to her than my previous doctor, who was male. I am determined to leave no stone unturned to help manage this condition…because the alternative for me would be a colostomy.

    2. ExceptionToTheRule*

      Another sympathetic ear here. Diverticulitis lead to a colon resection a few years ago and.. well, yeah, when the road is shorter, things definitely change.

      I’m sure you’re doctor recommended a fiber supplement, but if not make sure you’re taking something to add bulk. I’m on dicyclomine for something else and it tends to help with the frequency of the flatulence but it certainly doesn’t make it any less embarrassing. I’m headed off to google these Devrom capsules, so thanks Alison Read for that idea!

    3. HannahMarshmann*

      Offering some compassion and sympathy here too, OP #1. My issue was rectal fistulas which have left me with some very nasty scars and awful side effects similar to yours. I second the charcoal pads in the underwear. I use the ones that have adhesive on them- just stick them in your undies, no need to buy special underwear.

      FYI to those who don’t know first hand about these types of digestive issues, the warning on the Pepto bottle about telling your doctor if you have diarrhea for more than three days is very serious advice. That’s what lead to my problem and six subsequent surgeries.

    4. Collarbone High*

      Fellow haver of multiple resections here.

      Immodium has been a big help for me; also, if you no longer have the lower portion of your small intestine, ask your doctor about a bile acid sequestrant. They’re designed to lower cholesterol, but have the side effect of soaking up intestinal bile before it goes into your colon. (In an intact digestive tract, this is done by that lower portion.) Bile irritates your colon and causes diarrhea. I’ve had good luck with Welchol (it’s a prescription drug).

      1. Alma*

        I used Colestid after gallbladder surgery. It comes in a horse pill, or packet of powder that I’d have in yogurt or applesauce in the morning. However – the instructions about timing other meds before and after you take it are very important. I found I needed to switch from extended release versions to the regular version, or the Colestid would “eliminate” the pill with the bile.

        Good luck. (I’m thinking I had better speak to my Dr about going back on it. There is a generic version, works exactly how same way. )

  8. CharlieCakes*


    I also work for a large, leading university. My resume went to HR and even when the hiring manager requested me by name and reference number, my resume/application was hard to track down. HR may sometimes not have their ish together at these large places (at least that’s how it was at my employer several years ago; they’re better now).

    When I was on the hiring side, it was HR that was keeping potential interviewees from us. The hiring manager ended up requesting all resumes regardless and we made the decision who was best fit for an interview (again several years ago; now better).

    Unless you are applying to 9 jobs in the same department/unit that has the same HR rep, no one will notice.

    How is your resume? Cover letter? Two phone interviews is good, but are your two most important documents stellar? It’s hard to stand out in a place that often hire/promote from within. I know I stink at phone interviews, so practice interviewing if you feel they could have gone better.

    1. OP #4*

      From what I understand, this place has a really attentive HR department, so I’m not overly worried about being kept from jobs for which I would be reasonably qualified.

      I am fairly confident in my materials – I got some feedback from a friend who used to work in HR in academia and so feel like I’m okay. The first phone interview I felt I did really well in, but ultimately took myself out of the running once it became clear that they were looking for someone to work with an overly micro-managing assistant dean and I decided that it wasn’t something I wanted to pursue. The second interview was so-so. The interviewer’s phrasing choices kept throwing me off and I wasn’t altogether surprised when I wasn’t moved to the next round.

      Of the remaining positions I have applied to, 2 are still open. I did a bit of internet research (read: stalking LinkedIn) on the remaining 5 and discovered that all of the rest of the positions were filled internally. It feels like it’s just a numbers game at this point, and I am in a position to be able to stay in my current job comfortably and wait it out, I think.

      Thanks for the feedback!

  9. KWu*

    #2 something to consider is that there may be employees who are uncomfortable having completely closed off 1:1 meetings, esp if it’s between different genders. You want soundproof-ness to be an option so leaving the door open might not work well. So, less HR checking up on people, but more helping those who might feel vulnerable without some windows in to the room.

    1. Yetanotherjennifer*

      I agree. Also it’s a lot easier to add a window cover than to cut a hole in a door. And I think windows promote openness even when they’re covered.

    2. Jascha*

      This is how I read the question – not as “accountability” meaning keeping an eye on employees, but “accountability” meaning that no employee is ever put in the situation of being alone with someone else in an invisible area. Personally, I don’t think windows in doors should excessively impact privacy; after all, you’re not asking people to turn their computer monitors to face the windows and walking from door to door checking on what you see. In my opinion, employee comfort and safety (both in terms of “what could happen” and simpler stuff like not opening the door into someone’s face by accident) is worth the trade-off of having them – but I recognize that not everyone will feel the same.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        I’m very surprised at the discussion about privacy at the office. We have solid doors….and floor-to-ceiling windows make up the rest of the hallway wall. This was done specifically so sunlight can be “shared” across the hall from outside offices to inside offices, but obviously there is no privacy in one’s office this way, although a few of the larger corner offices have enough length that the side wall of the adjoining office gives them some areas that would be difficult to see from the hallway without pressing your face up to the glass to look in sideways. (Smaller corner offices have a wall of windows next door on one side instead of a second office.)

        1. Lucky*

          I think this is the most important reason to have windows – office-dwellers lucky enough to have access to natural light need to share the light-wealth with the cube-dwellers. My position means I need the sound privacy of an office, but I always keep the blinds open.

    3. Liza*

      I came to the comments to say exactly this! Windows can help keep rumors from starting and make people more comfortable about having the door closed. And people who need privacy (for example, a new mother who needs to express breast milk) can cover the windows.

    4. Bostonian*

      Yes. And if your organization is going to have people with a strong power differential meeting one on one regularly, this becomes especially important. I have a couple of friends who’ve recently gotten faculty jobs and we’ve all talked about how it’s better for them to just have the policy of leaving the door open during meetings with students, regardless of the combination of genders. I’m a female grad student and regularly meet with my two much older male advisors who have complete control over whether I graduate on time behind closed doors that are basically soundproof. It’s been totally fine in my case because my advisors are decent human beings and have never once said anything to make me feel remotely unsafe, but it’s occurred to me several times that it could all too easily be otherwise.

      I’ve seen blinds, glass frosted in various patterns, small windows, etc. to give some balance of light transfer and openness with privacy and blocking distractions. If you’re designing an office from scratch, creating a layout where offices don’t open onto busy hallways can also help with people not minding the windows – a lot of faculty offices in my building are basically in suites off the major hallway where there’s an admin in the open part of the suite surrounded by three or four private faculty offices. That makes it easier for people to keep doors open and makes windows more tolerable.

      1. ProfConsultant*

        I was an adjunct professor briefly before leaving academia, and I distinctly remember the first time I had a female student tell me she had something she wanted to talk to me privately about… I told her to come in and close the door, but 60 seconds later she was crying (upset due to grades and stress) and I was wishing I’d told her to leave it all the way open.

      2. Chinook*

        “I’ve seen blinds, glass frosted in various patterns, small windows, etc. to give some balance of light transfer and openness with privacy and blocking distractions.”

        I worked in a “right to light” office that had internal glass walls everywhere with no frosting for about two weeks. Then some of the female employees complained because they had tables as desks and noticed that, if they wore a skirt and sat at their “desk,” you could see up their skirt (especially noticeable from across the room) if they didn’t sit with their ankles crossed. Soon after, frosting was added to all glass walls between ankle and waist height.

    5. Vicki*

      I’ve worked at two companies that had offices with doors. Both had windows next to the doors to allow in a bit of light from the hallway.

      At one, the windows were translucent – they let in light but you couldn’t just stand in the hallway and look in.
      At the other, the windows were transparent – people put up blinds, posters, sheets of cardboard, etc.

      Recommendation – translucent (not transparent) windows work well. Transparent windows – people think they’re being spied on and don’t like it.

  10. Jessica*

    At my old workplace, everyone who had windows in their office doors covered them with posters or curtains, I think because they found it distracting to see people walking by or because they didn’t want to feel on display all the time. Nobody did that for the meeting rooms, but presumably that was because the meeting rooms felt like communal property so no one person felt authorized to modify them.

    1. Mallory Janis Ian*

      That’s what I’ve noticed at places I’ve worked, as well. Both in my previous university department and my current one, all the professors’ offices have glass panes either in the door or as a side panel. Nobody leaves the glass unmodified; they use curtains, our they plaster paper in the window, or most commonly they put up a cartoon strip or a clever saying or a pithy quote that obscures the entire window.

    2. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Oh, and one guy, after a building renovation, was placed in an office with all glass walls. He was the lab tech in the student computer lab, and they wanted him to have an office and also be available to students. Not surprisingly, he absolutely hated the glass fishbowl, so he got a roll of four-foot-wide plotter paper and papered the walls to get some privacy.

      1. Nikki*

        I’m a children’s librarian and my office is a fishbowl in the middle of the children’s department. It can be a nightmare- I can’t cover the windows entirely because it’s a beautiful building and would ruin the aesthetic, so I have kids who’ll stand next to my desk and stare and patrons love to just walk in to ask me questions when I’m working… I’m used to it, so it’s not much of an annoyance anymore, but I hate that people feel they can demand of my time just because my walls happen to be glass when there’s a reference desk in the line of sight.

        1. Helena*

          Perhaps you could use the plotter paper technique on the outside of your glass walls, and put out some markers for the kids to draw on it? Then it goes from ruining the aesthetic to charming additional functionality, and you can take the paper down if necessary.

    3. BethRA*

      That’s what’s happened in our offices – all the offices on the perimeter of the building have picture windows, and side lights next to the doors, and pretty much everyone has them covered in some way for privacy.

    4. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Yeah, our offices have solid doors and glass walls, but the standard installation includes an opaque film across the bottom 2/3 of the glass. The light is shared (offices are internal, cubes are external) but the offices are private.

    5. AMT*

      This sounds like a situation where frosted glass would work. My office and the other ones in my hallway have panels of frosted/textured glass next to the door. It’s not transparent enough that I feel like people are watching me, but it’s nice that people can glance over and see if someone’s in their office.

    6. Stranger than fiction*

      Not only do I have a glass door but also one whole wall of glass and another window next to the door, it’s like working in a terrarium…and were not allowed to cover with posters or anything and our monitors have to face the window. But my boss sits in the office directly behind me and doesn’t give a rats ass if I’m on the internet here and there as long as I’m getting my work done. The only time I have to worry is on the rare occasion one of the uppers comes by.

  11. Merry and Bright*

    #2 This isn’t really to do with accountability but I usually prefer office doors with windows. You can tell at a glance if the room is free. It can also stop you hitting someone behind the door when you open or close it. This has been an issue at a few offices I’ve worked in and was recently raised as a safety concern in my current workplace. People complain about getting bashed by the bathroom door because you can’t be seen.

    1. Jen RO*

      Exactly! The conference rooms in my company are partly frosted, so you can see that there is someone inside, but you don’t see everything (and it creates a sense of privacy for the people inside as well).

    2. nofelix*

      Yes, it is good practice to use ‘vision panels’ for this reason. Integral blinds can be added if privacy is a concern, which it may be for HR meetings for instance.

      I’d suggest the OP considers what the rooms will be used for in more detail. Privacy isn’t normally necessary in an office, and being able to see where other members of your team are helps collaboration and ad hoc communication rather than having to rely on emails and meetings.

      1. blackcat*

        I have known a bunch of women who find a fully private office (or a place with windows that are easily covered up) to be a HUGE help when they come back to work from maternity leave. Not all women can work while pumping, but some can.

        1. Jane*

          I also came here to post that windowless doors were a godsend when I needed to pump. The policy was/is that the doors stay open unless you need privacy for some reason (to take medication, change into workout clothes before leaving, handle a delicate call with a client, whatever) and no one really abuses this as far as I can tell. Doors are open 99.9% of the time, and honestly, I think knowing everyone has the *ability* to have privacy when needed/wanted makes us all more willing to step into each others’ offices when we need to collaborate.

    3. Hlyssande*

      Yeah, this is what I was going to say. The office doors don’t have windows here, but they do have a floor to ceiling window right next to the door. It’s much easier to see at a glance if the boss is in today or out when his door is closed – if the light’s on, he’s in the office. That’s really helpful to me, especially when he’s not always signed into our chat program and doesn’t necessarily have his calendar updated for everything all the time.

  12. SCR*

    #4 I’m wondering the same thing sort of but in a different way. I’m hoping to leave where I live in the Middle East and have been applying to an agency that I really want to work at that has multiple locations all over the world. I’m really location agnostic, just not wanting to live here anymore, so have applied for the same job in 4 different locations. And I had applied here a year or two ago when I was looking previously. If they have different internal recruiters than they may not even know? Or is that bad?

    More frustratingly though, I got called about the job at the London location but they’re not offering sponsorship so we did not continue with the interview process. But I have not gotten any bites in the cities I’ve applied to in the US though, including my hometown. Sigh.

    I feel your pain though OP, it’s hard out there. I have been specific in my cover letters about how much I want to work at this specific place and how I’m looking to move for the right opportunity so if you’re doing something similar I’m sure it’s fine.

    1. Jo*

      SCR, I feel your pain. What I’ve found is that it can be REALLY hard to get places back home even to look at my resume while I’m currently living/working abroad. I keep doing the same thing as you – emphasizing how I’m ready to return home and will be back at certain future date, blah blah blah – but haven’t had any luck yet.

      It’s really frustrating, especially since the only interview I’ve gotten (via Skype) in six months of applying was just canceled the day before it was supposed to take place as they decided to move forward with a candidate (who was presumably on-the-spot and therefore less hassle than someone currently living on the other side of the planet.

      I’m in the same boat as you and OP in that I also keep applying to the same places that are either 1.) places I really want to work, or 2.) organizations with a more international focus that are less likely to be put off by interviewing someone long-distance via Skype rather than in person, so I’m a little worried about being blacklisted due to too many applications, so it’s good to know that that’s not *necessarily* the case.

      Best of luck to both of you!

      1. SCR*

        Thanks, and internet hugs to you.

        I’ve done about 15 phone / Skype interviews since mid-December so it’s going okay so far, but I’ve applied to maybe 100 jobs over the US and the EU. I’m lucky that I have a job in digital consulting and project management that is needed basically all over the world and there are a million agencies. But I’ve still been rejected a couple times for lack of sponsorship opportunities, people looking to hire locally after all, timing constraints, and other such things.

        I do find that the companies I’m applying to in huge cities that are also international are much more likely to hit me up. Partially because of what you’ve noted but also because they value that international experience and likely do work with offshore teams or will need to travel internationally or whatever. I’ve also found a bit more success hitting up any and all contacts I have and trying to get referred.

        You only need one job though! So if you can get at least one someone to take a chance and commit to hiring you then that’s all you need. Then comes the fun part of likely paying your own relo :). Good luck!

    2. OP #4*

      Oh ugh, I’m sorry you’re dealing with this! I’ve been moderately frustrated with my job search (as I’ve obviously applied elsewhere as well) but I can’t imaging trying to navigate an international search. Sending good job search vibes your way!

  13. Felix*

    #2 I prefer small windows on doors for a couple of reasons:
    – you can have closed door meetings for conversation privacy but staff members can feel safe. After I experienced an assault in my personal life, I had a very difficult time being alone with only men in a room at work and elsewhere. After time spent working through this in therapy I’m fine now, but there was a period of about a year where I would have pretty serious anxiety when with people in rooms without windows. Sadly, I think this may be fairly common.
    – I worked in an office where the wall beside the door had a window about a foot wide and the same length as the door. Each window had a blind so people could self select how much privacy/exposure they wanted. This seemed to work really well!

    In summary, I’d advocate for a window of some sort with a mini blind.

    1. Umvue*

      Yes, I thought the same thing about windows and assault/harassment — that some people (past victims, people who fear their bosses) will probably feel better if you put a window in, so it’s worth considering. In fact that’s how I initially interpreted what the writer was asking.

      I love those long windows, but I think a blind is a good idea. When I was breastfeeding I used to pump at work, and a big floor-length window would have been an obstacle if I didn’t have a blind.

      1. Hornswoggler*

        In UK schools, small rooms where teachers and pupils meet on a one-to-one or small group basis always have windows – the example I have most often come across is music practice-rooms where one-to-one lessons take place and in which pupils can easily secrete themselves at break time for innocent and not-so-innocent reasons. The dual reason to have the windows is to protect the pupils from molestation and the teachers from unfair accusation.

  14. Nelly*

    4. I’ve worked with temp agencies. If there was a complaint, or even the tiniest whisper of discontent from a client, we just never called again. With hundreds or thousands of employees, it was easy to treat people as disposable, plus it was easier to ghost them than deal with any drama.

  15. JP*

    #1, I didn’t have cancer, but I have similar potty issues. If it impacts someone else, I apologize and say I’ve got GI issues. I don’t go into any further detail, it hasn’t been necessary.

  16. Lindrine*

    OP #2, we have glass in our office and meeting room doors. However, they are frosted in the middle and can be written on with a special type of dry erase marker. I like them because there is some privacy but people can peek over the edge to check if a meeting is over, etc. I think they are a nice compromise.

    1. Hlyssande*

      Our meeting rooms have floor to ceiling windows and glass doors and are frosted the same way – and are fantastic for dry erase markers. No white board needed!

  17. Katie the Fed*

    #3 – the agency isn’t there to help you. They’re there to help their corporate customers. If you haven’t gotten calls or interviews in two months, you need to move on to a different agency or apply for jobs directly. This relationship has run its course.

    1. Liz T*

      How quickly should staffing agencies be getting you work, or at least interviews? It’s been a month for me—which I know included the holidays, but they talked SUCH a big game at the beginning. They keep emailing me job descriptions asking me what I think, but I haven’t had so much as an interview.

      1. I Heart Oregon*

        If they are emailing you job descriptions, that means they are submitting your resume to their clients, and when an interview will happen is 100% up to the client. The staffing agency can’t force them to interview anyone or conduct interviews at a certain time.

  18. Bekx*

    OP #1 – My dad had colon cancer 23 years ago and they removed half of his colon. He had the same problems as you and his doctor told him to try drinking a glass of red wine every night. I don’t know if this would help you, or if you are interested in doing this, but I figured I’d share the tidbit in case it does help someone. My cousin does this too (we have Lynch Syndrome in the family so most of my family gets colon cancer at some point) and it helped him.

  19. Ruthie*

    #1: Would pelvic floor physical therapy help? I’m not familiar with the side effects of colon cancer treatment, so feel free to ignore this suggestion. I suggest PT only because I had pretty much the same problem after giving birth (especially with the flatulence) thanks to an extreme tear. I did PT for a couple of months, and wa-la! I have control again. Until I finished PT, I remember casually sitting down in meetings when I felt gas come on and staying seated until it passed. In the few social settings when I couldn’t prevent the gas, I would shrug and apologize, “Sorry! One of the many lovely side effects of birth.” Good luck!

    1. newlyhr*

      OP #1: I don’t know. that’s a good suggestion. I am going to see my doctor soon and will ask about that. Oh, and can I put a plug in for paying better attention to those vague symptoms–bloating, nausea, changes in bowel habits? I was a little too “dainty” to talk to my doctor frankly about some of my vague symptoms, or to do the fecal occult blood test he was always trying to get me to do, and it wound up almost killing me. Colon cancer can happen at any age.

      1. fposte*

        Meant well, I’m sure, but the commenting policy requests that commenters not correct one another’s spelling, grammar, etc.

      2. Ruthie*

        This is the first time I’ve put together that the written violá and the spoken wa-la are the same! Mind. Blown.

      3. Charity*

        I’m going to save this comment in a word file just so that I don’t have to learn how to make the little squiggle on top of the “a”.

  20. Ash (the other one)*

    As a pumping mom, I’m so thankful the only windows in my office from the hallway are high up so people can’t see in (they’re there for light transfer). I vote no windows…

    1. Mallory Janis Ian*

      As evidenced by the fact that everyone I’ve seen with a window into their office has plastered over it with paper, I think most other people vote ‘no’, too.

    2. AnonInSC*

      Been there, done that. Yes – no window to the hall made it possible for me to work through pumping.
      Though it was interesting that day the widow washers came down the outside wall of the building!

    3. BananaPants*

      Our mother’s room is an interior office (no windows) with a solid door, like every office door in the building. If there was a window in the door or next to the door, I would have covered it with contact paper for privacy. No way would I pump if there was a possibility of exposure to coworkers – no one needed to see me being a human cow!

      1. Ash (the other one)*

        We have a mother’s room too, but it makes things so much easier to be able to just close my door and pump at my desk. I can keep all of my supplies in my desk drawer and it saves me a lot of time not having to set up the pump every time.

    4. MashaKasha*

      Came here to say something similar. Not a pumping mom, but I like to hike and many group hikes occur immediately after work. I am SO tired of changing in work bathroom stalls. In current job, there was a short period of time that I had an offce; but the office came with a big old window in one of its walls and no way to cover it up, so it was back to the bathroom stall for me.

    5. dawbs*

      I must be one of the exceptions–because I liked the window on my office door–for the reasons other folks get into, that I wasn’t ‘out of sight’ completely behind solid doors, with students, most of the time.

      When I was nursing, I papered over the window–but I accordion-folded it before I hung it up.
      I used a bulldog clip to clip it into the ‘folded into a tiny stack’ position most of the time, and took off the clip, so it ‘pulled the shade’ for pumping or changing (or to have a panic cry in my office or to block out light because of migraines)

  21. LQ*

    #2 I have an entirely separate vote for windows. If there are windows to the outside world where the offices are then having windows, or at least frosted panels or such can allow at least a little semblance of light in. And if the windows to the outside world are where the cube land is then letting a little semblance of light into the offices can be good too. Basically I’m pro-light transfer. Even if it is second hand.

    1. Ash (the other one)*

      These windows can be high up though and not invade privacy — that’s what I have in my office. There are small windows at the top of my interior wall by the ceiling. If you were really tall, yea you could look in, but you would have to try to…

      1. LQ*

        Yeah they could be high up. Or long not see throughable frosted panels still let in a lot of light, whatever works for the office. But light can be a huge thing.

    2. AnotherHRPro*

      Our offices have glass walls and (oddly) wooden doors without a window. This allows for light transfer into the center of our buildings. It was odd getting used to it at first, but now it seems normal to essentially work in a fishbowl.

  22. Weekday Warrior*

    #2 – there’s a refuge and prospect theory in design that makes it pretty clear that our optimum space would resemble a cave with a view over the savannah. :). So windows are fine as long as there is still sufficient “cover”. Cubicles where people can walk behind and observe you – definitely against nature! Ditto fishbowl offices.

  23. AnnonaMomma*

    About the office doors – I recently worked for a company where all the office doors has large glass panels – basically the entire door minus about a 2 inch trim of wood. This made for a pretty and bright office. BUT, there were also about 3 employees recently back from maternity leave who then had to figure out how to cover the doors while breastfeeding since the office was small and did not have a specific pumping room set up. It caused a lot of extra work for women to have to find posters or just tape a bunch of papers to their doors to get a bit of privacy. Something to think about as you space plan and not something most might consider.

  24. Stella Maris*

    Please consider windows in the doors or adjacent to them. With blinds are OK, if needed (as others have said, for breast-pumping etc.) but I would freak out if made to attend meetings in windowless rooms. Lots of people have low-level (or not-so-low-level) claustrophobia or issues with windowless rooms.

  25. Elle*

    #2–think about nursing mothers. All the women in our office have to cover their door windows with paper when they come back from leave to pump. So if you do Windows, consider frosted ones at least.

  26. Purrsephone*

    Regarding #4, I wanted to share that based on my personal experience of the community college at which I work plus shared information from someone in the know at the local version of the University of California, many of the staff/management jobs advertised in academia are already taken before they advertise. At this particular UC–and I have no reason to doubt it is the same at the other campuses throughout the state–approximately 80 percent of them fall into this “taken” mode. Unfortunately, you cannot tell the 80 percent from the 20 percent and just have to keep applying to ones for which you are qualified.

    One way to get your foot in the door at the UC is to find out what temporary employment agency supplies their personnel on the as needed basis. Here, you can specify that you are interested in those jobs. Getting in one of those means you may well end up being the person for whom the permanent job is created down the road! Also, I notice that this UC campus places ads on CL in the part-time admin section. So that might be worth a look too.

    At the community college at which I work this can also be effective but to a smaller degree. While they often do know who they are going to hire, sometimes having a temp job and supervisor you can list on your application can help. A friend of mine, who worked for me for a year as a temp in the front office, was finally hired by another department (with a real job) but it was far from the only job she had applied for.

    Academia takes time to get in. Fortunately, the application process, at least where I know knowledge, is online so once you have done your online application it stays there. Less work in the future.

    Good luck on this one. Keep trying. Don’t get discouraged too badly.

  27. Employment Lawyer*

    2. Should we put windows in our office doors?
    Yes. Always. It gives you maximum flexibility.

    You can shut the door to get some privacy, but people can look in and see if you are in the office/alone/talking on the phone/in a meeting/etc.

    And if you simply put shades on the door they can be drawn for full privacy.

    If you want a higher level of base privacy, apply one of the 3M films for a frosted look (the more frost, the greater privacy;) they all allow for a bit of visibility. You can see people generally but not details.

  28. Agile Phalanges*

    Re #2 (Windows in offices)

    It’s moot at my current company where all THREE of us who work in the office just have an open plan. But at my last company, managers had offices, and the doors were solid wood (great for soundproof-ness), but there were large windows in the actual wall, with miniblinds on the inside. The majority of the time, most folks kept their door open and you could just walk in whenever you needed to. But even when the door was shut, the blinds were usually open, so you could easily see if the person inside was on the phone, busy with someone else in their office, concentrating hard, or possibly open to a knock at the door if they didn’t look super engrossed (though with the open-door policy, if the door was shut, I usually waited).

    Or if you felt you needed to interrupt with an urgent matter, you could at least gesture through the window, and they could wave you in or gesture that you should wait a minute, preserving confidentiality while they told the person on the call they needed a minute or whatever. In the rare instance that they wanted more privacy, they could close the blinds, though even then, if you saw the other person go in or come out, you still knew who they were meeting with, though I guess the closed blinds could help prevent lip-reading, or at least preserve dignity if someone was crying or upset or whatever. Seems like a good solution to me. A window, either in the door or wall, with blinds that can be closed for privacy when needed.

  29. Suffusion*

    #4: My personal experience in academic hiring at a large public university was a bit different than others here. A central HR unit receives all applications, vets them for meeting minimum requirements and then passes the remaining resumes off to the hiring manager/committee to handle the rest of the process. However, HR absolutely passes on information like other positions being applied for. I’ve seen the scoresheet for my own hiring and the final choice came down to the two of us. The other candidate had applied for fifteen other positions and multiple people on the hiring committee expressed concern that this person was only looking to get their foot in the door and would leave soon after.

  30. Kobayashi*

    #1 I sympathize. I have a much more minor problem (no cancer, thank goodness). However, I do have a LOT of gas, and I have no idea why. I’ve tried diet issues, I’ve tried speaking to my doctor, etc. Mine don’t strip paint off walls, thankfully, but they can be noticeable. Once in a while they sneak up on me when I’m walking, and that’s the worse. One little “peep” comes out and I’m doing butt clenches and working those muscles! One day an employee from another location was having lunch with our team and apparently let out a little “toot” – saw two of my coworkers laughing about it behind the woman’s back, and I felt terrible (both for her and for me, wondering if that’s ever happened to me). So, I offer you absolutely no useful advice (I wish I could), but know there are folks out here who sympathize! And having to fast for 12 hours — ouch!

  31. amp2140*

    #2 a thought about windows:

    My father really hates that he has no windows to he office (he has ones to the outside of the building). He says he feels uncomfortable if a false accusation of sexual harassment comes in, he has no ability to say someone could witness what happened. Now he keeps the door open for those conversations.

  32. Cassie*

    #4: our university has a central job application website, but the hiring process is decentralized – the hiring manager/HR staff for each department or large office handles their own hiring. So staff from one department wouldn’t be able to see that you had also applied to X other departments. I guess the central HR staff could see this, but they aren’t involved in the hiring process at all so it doesn’t make a difference.

    I was doing a first review of applications a little while ago, and one application seemed like I had seen it before. I went back and checked – yep, that person had applied to a few openings in our department over the past 2 years. And every time, I had not short-listed her because although she had admin experience, her cover letter was fairly generic and I never got any feeling of “why” she would be a good fit for the position. The positions she was applying to were fairly different, but she just kept uploading the same cover letter and resume. I started to feel bad for her!

  33. Ronny*

    I have hired a bunch of people in academia. Our system used a web form that only myself and the hiring committee could see. You could have applied for 100 jobs at my university and I would not know.

  34. Professor Ronny*

    #2. My university puts windows in the doors for all new buildings. The faculty immediately cover them up with paper or other covering.

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