my boss moved down the street from me, putting keywords on your resume in white font, and more

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

1. My boss moved down the street from me and is being a jerk

My boss just moved in down the street from my house. She has a new husband, who has been my neighbor for a while. We live in a rural area so not right next to each other. She is probably an acre away.

Her father-in-law, who lives with them, had an issue with my husband walking the dogs in front of their house, to the point that he threatened to shoot one of the dogs. The dogs were on a leash and not on his property. A bad interaction took place and words were spoken. Later, my husband took the initiative to make peace in the spirit of not having a feud with neighbors.

After that, my boss made it sound like it was all my husband’s fault. She even talked about it at work. Someone overheard it and told me. After that, she has been been talking to everyone at work about everything that goes on in my house. People at work know when I leave the house, when I come back, when my husband leaves and comes back, what time he walks the dog s(even though he no longer walks by their house anymore), if I yell at for whatever reason in my own house, and that about once a month, my husband has a few beers and like to be in the front yard and talks to his friends so as not to wake up the kids. Mind you, we are on about an acre and the front yard faces opposite to them.

This lady is embarrassing me by talking to others about my private life. I’m never at work because I’m a home health nurse and always on the road, so only go into the office once a week for five minutes and never hear any of this firsthand. I hate being in this situation and feel that my privacy is being invaded in the worst way and feel bullied, because to avoid problems now I can’t even walk the dogs down the street that I was accustomed to. I’m not in a position to sell and buy a new house right now and am afraid to speak up and confront her in fear of retaliation at my job. I’m a per diem nurse and they can simply stop sending me patients, but at the same time my reputation is at stake. I don’t know what to do.

Whoa. Your boss is being horrible and totally out of line. You have three choices: (1) Ignore it. You’re only in the office five minutes a week, so maybe you can decide that you don’t care if she’s sharing this sort of things with coworkers (who really can’t be that interested in what time you leave the house or what time your husband walks the dog — surely people are going to sick of hearing this?). (2) Talk to your boss. Be polite and straightforward: “Clarissa, now that we’re living on the same street, I hope we can agree to protect each other’s privacy at work. I’d rather my coworkers not hear about my comings and goings at home. Can we agree that for the purposes of work, we’ll pretend we’re not actually neighbors?” (3) Talk to someone above your boss, possibly HR, and be particularly clear about your fear of retaliation.

Which of these makes the most sense will depend on how bothered you are and your sense of how vindictive your boss is. But if you can, I really do think ignoring it might be your most effective option. I can totally see why you’re rattled to have her reporting on your movements like this, but the stuff she’s reporting is so mundane that it has to be making her look pretty terrible to other people.

2. What’s up with this job ad?

I was just wondering what your thoughts were on this job posting:

At [company], we want people who are tenacious and hungry to learn. You will work with smart, creative and passionate people to create excellent user experience and highly collaborative platforms. You will create solutions that will impact hundreds of thousands of students and companies. Be a part of [company] and join us as we shape the future of job training and job recruiting.

ARE YOU BRANDING INTERN MATERIAL?
We deal with Projectships, NOT internships, PROJECTSHIPS. If you can handle that, you’ve passed round one. You’re a professional amateur who isn’t afraid to try the crazy! You are so bright, people mistake you as the Greek God Apollo. You’re so motivated, you’re already on our FB, helping us get fans! PS: You’re not accepted into the program yet. You crush deadlines like how your ex crushed your heart. You’re OCD when it comes to details and organization. You dance like MC Hammer, smart like Zuckerburg, innovative like Jobs, tweet like RainnWilson, and party like the Kardashians. We don’t care if you’re smaller than Thumbelina or eat like Kobeyashi. We want you because you are you! If you’re offended, Shut Your Face! What does that even mean anyway? So if you are ready to throw cool events/challenges like we do, write dope blog posts, spread the word about [company] to your campus + social network, win prizes, internship/networking opportunities, earn cash, score scholarships, network with some influential people, and most importantly, go to WAR with other colleges, START APPLYING!
And just in case you didn’t get the position, we guess that happens sometimes. We tried something but it didn’t work out. We hope we’re still friends!

I think they are trying way too hard to be cool and in the process have achieved the opposite. It’s always a bad sign when an ad spends more time trying to convince you that they’re hip than talking about the actual work they need done.

Notice too how they snuck a request for free work in there. It’s pretty crappy to pressure people into promoting your business for free in the hopes they’ll get a job — sorry, projectship — out of it.

I am skeptical that anyone should want this job.

3. Putting keywords on your resume in white font

I recently heard a suggestion to type a bunch of industry “buzzwords” into your resume, but in white font. The idea is that those words would be picked up by any automated filters/software but wouldn’t look strange to a hiring manager looking at the resume. Is there any merit to this, assuming that the visible portion of your resume isn’t awful?

Nooo, don’t do that. If your resume is going into an electronic application system (and you won’t always be able to tell that it is), the formatting is going to gegt stripped out and those words are all going to appear, no longer in white, and you’re going to look like you (a) don’t trust your qualifications to stand on their own, (b) don’t trust the employer to assess your qualifications, and/or (c) are trying to game the system.

Also, the whole idea is based on the belief that you need a jumble of keywords to be seen. You don’t.

4. Can our employer require us to make up the time if we come in late or early?

I work for a small (34 employees) nonprofit organization in Colorado. Although many of us are salaried employees, we are told we have to make up time we take for doctor appointments or if we leave early or come in late, even by half an hour or hour.

I was under the impression that as salaried employees, if we work any part of a day, we are not required to make up the time.

Nope, that’s up to your employer. If you’re exempt (not just salaried, but classified as exempt according to the federal government’s definition), your employer can’t dock your pay for coming in late or leaving early, but they can dock your vacation time or require you to make the time up.

They shouldn’t do those things to exempt employees, especially if you regularly work extra hours, but they’re legally allowed to.

5. Should I explain in my cover letter that I’ve been laid off?

So I got laid off yesterday from a job where I had sort of seen it coming. They nicely told me it was absolutely no fault of my own and that all my work for the company had been fantastic, but with the reorganization of the department, my role was becoming far more junior and they wanted to rehire for that. They’re setting me up an internal recruiter to maybe find another position, but I’m more worried about applying for jobs.

I know everyone says it’s always easier to find a job when you have a job, and I have started hunting — but what do I do moving forward? Should I address this in cover letters when it’s clear I’m currently working nowhere? I was laid off as part of a reorg, so I was laid off with a lot of good friends and coworkers in one fell swoop. Should I ignore this in cover letters? I don’t want potential employers to think I was laid off because of anything I did.

Don’t get into it your cover letter; your cover letter shouldn’t be about why you left your last job, but why you’re interested in and would be great at the job you’re applying for.

Employers who want to know why you left will ask, and you can explain it then. But loads of people have been laid off, and it’s not something you need to proactively explain in your application materials.

{ 213 comments… read them below }

  1. Rana

    You dance like MC Hammer, smart like Zuckerburg, innovative like Jobs, tweet like RainnWilson, and party like the Kardashians.

    The failed parallelism here is making my heart hurt.

    1. Artemesia

      This made me cringe too. It is one thing to screw up the grammar when you are just quickly typing into blog comments like this — but when you are publishing a job announcement that someone has presumably edited? This probably marks both of us as totally uncool.

    2. Aardvark

      I interpreted as “you feel disappointment in the same way as Mark Zuckerberg”. Which may or may not be a good thing, depending on how he copes with being upset.

      1. SusanIvanova

        Well, he copes with having neighbors whose houses can see his house – some of which are old enough to count as historic – by buying them up and replacing them with new shorter ones. For someone who’s supposed to be tech savvy, he sure hasn’t heard of the Streisand effect.

    3. MK

      If I am all that, why on earth am I applying for a “projectship”, instead of, I don’t know, try my hand at world domination or something?

      1. Joanna

        Exactly. And it isn’t exactly clear how a projectship would be different to a project focused internship or job ether.

      2. Jennifer

        No human beings are perfect enough for these people, apparently. Even besides the trying waaaaaaaaaaaaaay too hard to be cool, they’re making them realize they’re not good enough to work for free for them.

          1. Tyrannosaurus Regina

            Yes! That’s the image. It’s like this ad was written by Poochie the Dog.

      3. Milton Waddams

        Access to resources. Most industries have established players who can control entry into the market, in the same way that someone who wanted to dominate the world would first have to overcome all the roadblocks that the existing world powers have put in place to prevent someone from even starting.

    4. snuck

      This job HAS to be for the weirdo uni students who drive around in cut off Jeeps handing out free chocolate bars and iced coffee milks for a morning radio program. Surely. And thus it’s not a job, it’s an unpaid promo gig that is great if one day you want to be the door bitch at a not quite there club…

        1. The Cosmic Avenger

          YES. Now I’m hearing this in Aziz Ansari’s voice, and it’s even more ludicrous! XD

      1. Chickaletta

        LOL. Or like those smart ass kids who don’t have time for class because they have three jobs and are members of every conceivable club on campus. They have 500 acquaintances but no real friends.

    5. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.

      THIS is why I tell folks, generally, that I am in sales and I never mention marketing.

      Good god in heaven.

      I apologize for my people.

      1. Audiophile

        There are good marketers out there, this company did not hire a good marketer.

      2. neverjaunty

        No need. The author of this piece came across less as “I am a marketer” and a lot more as “I am so drunk right now I can barely find my keyboard.”

    6. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.

      OMG. I know these people. (I had to google to see Who or What This Was).

      I can’t say how.

      Meanwhile, their entire model has struck me as possibly exploitative. Venture capital seed, looking for more, going to Change The Way People Are Hired.

      This ad goes with all of that, doesn’t it.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.

        and P.S., that’s not an ad for a single job at a single company. That’s A New Way of Hiring new company who is trying to accumulate a lot of recent college graduates (or about to graduate college) people to match with marketing projects at many employers, with the promise of them being considered for hire.

        The reason I said “possibly exploitative” is I don’t know what the projects pay or what they employers pay to get projectees, plus:

        The idea is, if I wanted to hire a new marketing person, I’d go thru this company and have potentials work on projects first, and then decide who or if I wanted to hire anybody. The evil side of my brain calculates that if I churned through a lot of people who wanted to impress me and juiced our stuff through their own networks, I’d get a lot more out of that than actually hiring one person.

        OTOH, maybe the overall concept is a good way for new people to break in to companies and stand out. It’s not easy to break into marketing.

        1. MillersSpring

          Just google “projectships” to know the company name. Yes, seems exploitative…the hiring company devises a project, then the work is done by a bunch of candidates. Seems like a way for inexperienced candidates to acquire skills, meanwhile the hiring manager is having to deal with a circus of candidates, and work product that they may not be able to use; their time could be completely wasted.

          And this company REALLY seems desperate to get college students to become “brand ambassadors” and talk up this projectship idea on campuses.

          This is lame. My advice is to steer clear.

          1. Rachel

            But if you spend $ to go through their training tracks BEFORE you do the free “projectship,” you have a much better chance to get hired! Wooohoo! Sign me right up!

        2. Ask a Manager Post author

          We can say it! It’s Prosky. Their website says that the projects take 2-5 weeks (and between 5-15 hours each week) and pay nothing:
          https://www.prosky.co/faq

          It raises some legal issues.

          There are currently a zillion start-ups trying to “disrupt” the way hiring is done, and devising all sorts of things that they pitch to candidates and investors, but which actual employers, for the most part, don’t want. See also: video resumes.

          1. neverjaunty

            It is kind of them to make sure that my brethren on employment law will always have lawsuits to file.

          2. snuck

            So I pay a monthly fee (that’s quite high) and do free work for your clients, the results of which are nebulous and may or may not lead to a job (but gets me in front of decision makers, or experience… so no promise on being in front of decision makers actually… just experience?) and it’s all my fault what I get out of it because it depends what effort I put into it (which sounds fair, but unless they are actually tying jobs to ‘projectships’ and using the jobs as a hiring strategy… which while they like to say they are they show no evidence of…) …

            And what about the idea that employers have to pay for work done for their company? Internships (if I understand the American system) aren’t supposed to replace full time paid employees… and these aren’t even internships, they are some weird thing called ‘projectships’ which sounds just like a way of creating a new name for something to dodge the laws applying to it. If I change the name of Driving Under the Influence to “Driving Creatively” it doesn’t make it a different thing, at the end of the day you are doing work, for a company, that should be ponying up something back in either pay or kind.

            1. (Another) B

              “If I change the name of Driving Under the Influence to “Driving Creatively” it doesn’t make it a different thing”

              Great point! Hahah

          3. Jessie

            It appears that nearly all of these “projectships” are actually for Prosky themselves. It’s a bit like a free labor pyramid scheme. They convince college students to advertise them for free in order to get other students to sign up for either paid training or to also advertise for them (for free.)

            1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.

              I think but am just guessing, the reason you see that is because of a lack of supply of Projectships from real employers. I tried to see the pricing to employers but didn’t want to go so far as signing up to do so.

              As an online marketer, I fall in their target market of employers. I can conceive of projects, example: fix our Pinterest and juice it and let’s see what happens . Pinterest, for our business, is never going to be high enough priority for our inside staff or our agency to concentrate on it, ever. It’d be a nice jump off project that could work on the resume for a soon to be or recent grad, and since I don’t really care about the stakes and a bit of money thrown at it, win for everybody.

              If the projects were *paid*, I might consider pushing buttons to sign up as an employer.

              In the course of this thread, when I found out the projects are unpaid to the students, I lost interest. Not because of high moral ground but because, you get what you pay for. I’m not Vogue magazine, people are only so motivated to work for a teapot seller in NJ for free.

              Suddenly it sounds like just a giant headache on the employer end. I think there might be something to the idea of hooking up soon to be or recent college grads, eager for marketing experience on their resumes, with employers who need projects done, but for smaller places like Wakeen’s at least, I’ve no faith that unpaid remote people will be worth the time to manage it internally.

              And larger employers already have a paid/unpaid internship system with people managing it.

              So who is the employer market? The pitch is trying people on projects before you hire them. I’d have to confine myself to candidates in an X mile radius as I’m not paying to relocate a brand new hire nor delusional enough to assume that a recent grad in CA is relocating herself to NJ for this great job at Wakeen’s.

              Well I’m wrong more than I’m right. Maybe this will fill all up with Silcon types.

          4. Katie F

            Their header photo is a free stock photo available on just about every free stock photo website ever. Come on, guys – at least pay for the first thing people see.

            /marketer

          5. J.B.

            Their hits are gonna go way up because of this, and they’ll think it’s working :)

        3. designbot

          “Possibly exploitative” is an understatement—it sounds like a scam. They are not only getting people to do free work, they are getting people to pay for it under the guise of “training.”

        4. Polka Dot Bird

          I was extremely sceptical that it would be paid, and completely surprised when it turned out it was unpaid.

      1. Rafe

        HECK Nooooo. Can’t Touch This came out in 1990. Taylor Swift famously was born in 1989 — and she’s not just older than people entering college but about 4 or 5 years older than those walking down the aisle right now this month in graduation ceremonies to collect their undergraduate degrees.

        1. KG

          Want an even scarier one? I was born in ’87, and I’m a tenure-track faculty member. (I know who MC Hanmer is, though!)

        2. Coco

          I was born after Can’t Touch This came out. I’d say at least half (probably more) of my graduating class knew him and that song. It’s iconic. It is possible for young people to be aware of phenomena that came before them.

        3. Whippersnapper

          Of course young adults know MC Hammer. My little sister is just entering college and she knows him. Iconic pop culture sticks around!

      2. Cath in Canada

        The youngest member of my team is 21 and had never heard of him. We made her watch the “Can’t Touch This” video on YouTube and now she thinks all “old” people are crazy :D

      3. Alienor

        Probably. When I was in college I knew who musicians from the previous generation were, because I’d heard them on my parents’ records and the oldies station. I think it’s pop-culture stuff like TV shows and commercials that younger people tend not to know, although that’s probably going to change since everything’s out there on YouTube now.

    7. Milton Waddams

      Turning nouns into verbs is standard business buzzword practice. It is tolerated because nobody who loves money wants to tell a rich executive that they are wrong. :-) It’s basically the modern equivalent of the King being too fat to button the bottom button of his waistcoat, so then all the nobles start wearing their bottom button unbuttoned to flatter the King, and then all the merchants start wearing the bottom button unbuttoned to flatter the nobles.

      I think the only new one I see here is innovat-ive, which I would normally see verbified as innovatize for people who don’t want to use innovate for some reason.

      1. Milton Waddams

        Especially interesting because all the other “ive” verbs I’ve encountered were passed through ancient French, like “arrive” or “waive”. Perhaps their marketer is a time-traveling Norman? :-)

      2. Polka Dot Bird

        I think they’re trying to be hip to the new slang – there’s a playfulness of using words in a non-standard way so I’m guessing that’s what they’re trying to do. However, like the rest of the ad, it doesn’t really work.

    8. L

      I have students who use smart as a verb meaning to think or more like…to intelligent? almost. It. hurts.

      1. MT

        It’s one of those things that starts as an ironic piece of humor that turns into a bad habit. Moral of the story: Don’t make yourself sound less intelligent on purpose. It *will* catch on and, speaking from experience, is an embarrassing and difficult habit to break.

    9. VideogamePrincess

      Man, if I smart like Zuckerburg I making millions without this awful job.

  2. Tyrannosaurus Regina

    Regarding no. 2: That’s cute that they’re using “OCD” as slang for attentive to details or whatever. >:(

    Ugh, gross. I feel bad for whoever ends up with this prestigious PROJECTSHIP.

    1. Bigglesworth

      My brother-in-law has OCD. When I see it used in this type of context, I cringe. It’s become so much a part social vocabulary that when we use it, we don’t think of it actually being a disorder anymore. :/

      1. JuniorDev

        What do you want to bet this company has no sympathy for actual disabilities, including OCD? Gross.

        1. VideogamePrincess

          People do that with ADHD too. It absolutely needs to stop. Just because occasionally you forget where you keys are does NOT mean that you have ADHD. And typically those are the people who won’t understand when you’re constantly scattered or have out-of-control emotions. :P

    2. Anon for this

      Ugh, right? I mean, my OCD doesn’t *prevent* me from working, but it sure doesn’t &%*^ing *help*.

      1. Lily Rowan

        A coworker recently blamed something on her “OCA.” When I asked what the A was for, she said, “Advantage.” Which I thought was cute, and didn’t actually imply she has OCD (which she may or may not) but just that she tends toward obsessive and compulsive.

  3. OP 2

    I kept seeing this ad, reading the first line, and skipping past it. I’m glad that I finally opened it because it kind of cracks me up. The more I think about it, the more it seems like the kind of job posting that Tom Haverford would write.

    1. Megs

      I think Tom might juuuuuust barely know better, but Jean Ralpheo would totally let it fly.

    2. eemmzz

      A little bit off topic but once we had a recruiter email someone at our office trying to interest us in a candidate to the lyrics of Ice Ice Baby. I wish I still had the email!

      1. AP

        We had someone apply and the first line of their cover letter was “Hello, is it me you’re looking for?”

    3. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.

      OMG, I love Tom Haverford and yes he absolutely would.

      Now I need to run Parks and Rec again this weekend.

    4. Sigrid

      That is the most amazingly terrible job application I have ever read. Thank you for sharing it, it really brightened my morning.

    5. Alton

      It is like something Tom Haverford would write! “Partying like the Kardashians” sounds like a qualification you’d need to work for Entertainment 720.

  4. Beth Anne

    #1 – Ugh that would annoy me so much. Like she has nothing better to do but keep tabs on you. I find it so weird that she is going into work and telling everyone when you are home and not home..it’s almost creepy. I also feel like your almost being forced to move. I really hope she gets bored of it and moves on to bothering someone else soon.

    #2 – I couldn’t even read that whole add it was full of way too much “trendy” words that made me want to barf.

    1. MK

      The “keeping tabs” thing is so over the top that I have to wonder if there isn’t some exaggeration there, especially because the OP hasn’t heard what the boss says, but has had it reported by other coworkers. I mean, does the boss actually stalk the OP and her family and then deliver minute-by-minute reports on a daily basis? Or, more probably, does she gossip about the OP and mentions these things in passing? Of course, it’s inappropriate either way, and I understand why the OP feels her privacy is violated; but when someone says “X is always talking about you”, they usually don’t mean it quite literally.

      1. Engineer Girl

        I can totally belive it. I had someone do this to me. I couldn’t understand why they would invest so much energy into keeping tabs on me. It turns out she did this to others too. She spend so much time gossiping that she had no time left for doing.
        Also note that others know when she leaves and arrives at the house etc. Those kind of details reveal that boss is indeed gossiping.

      2. Temperance

        I believe her. I grew up in a rural-ish area, where Everybody Knows Everybody, and the busybodies who live across from my in-laws (AND my in-laws, let’s be honest) totally track what time people come home and leave, if a different car is at the house, etc. It’s exhausting and annoying.

        1. Artemesia

          I once lived in an efficiency in Seattle in one of those complexes with one story places across from each other on a courtyard. The guy across from me would sit outside his door and monitor everyone’s comings and goings. As a young woman he was particularly interested in me. One day my brother dropped by and he came over knocked and said ‘you have a lot of different guys coming in, who is this guy?’ I did not know this man. The only people who had dropped by were my ex husband and my brother. He was making sure that ‘this guy’ my brother (but he assumed a boyfriend) knew what a slut I was and that I was two timing him. I did not know this asshole but he was trying to direct my life and meddle in my relationships. It isn’t just rural — it is anywhere.

          1. Anonymous for this story

            I once had an elderly neighbor who refused to be nice to me or speak to me in anything but short gruff spurts because she got it into her head that I was shacking up with my husband and that we were living in sin. I’m pretty sure she was confusing my husband for the previous tenant of our apartment who was a divorcee who had moved out when he re-married and needed a larger place. But I swear, it took me YEARS to convince her that YES we were in fact married and had been the ENTIRE TIME we lived in that apartment. Not that that should matter one iota, but I just thought that the one problem she had with me was not actually true. I would go out of my way to say “Hi” to her because I am a nice neighbor… and maybe with the added bonus of making her uncomfortable ;)

      3. MarinaZ

        Sounds like a letter from the same person who complained about HR sitting in from of their house for hours.

    2. Menacia

      I’m curious, when the coworkers report what the boss is staying to the OP about her, what is OP’s response? I think that is the key here, if you put less energy into the gossip, it will lose its steam and die down. If you keep feeding the flames by then commenting back to coworkers about boss, it will just continue on…

      1. Not So NewReader

        I am also curious about the source of the reports. Sometimes these sources can be used in positive ways, such as messages can be sent back to the boss. I am suggesting messages that are calming or neutral.

        “Gee, I am sorry to hear Boss is upset by X. I’d like us to be good neighbors. I hope we can find a path to that.” [Here you are stuffing the pipeline with boring wishes of peace and harmony. This will not feed the gossip chain. It makes you look like the bigger person.)

        “Oh, Boss is keeping track of when we leave the house? Well if she needs us for something, she can certainly call and we will help her. Rural areas, ya know? Neighbors help each other because it’s the right thing to do.” [Here you change direction on her, where it sounds like the point is she is stalking you, that turns on a dime when you say, she should call you if she needs help with something. Again, you look like the bigger person. You neutralize her “threat” by showing you are not going to react to it as a threat.]

        I hate saying this but it does work. Be seen. Be seen enjoying the company of others particularly other neighbors and other coworkers. A good way to disarm a toxic individual like this is to build solid/positive relationships with those around the both of you. This is not hard. Stop and say hi to someone. Talk about the weather. Ask how they like their new car/new roof/new dog. Talk for about 5 minutes then be on your way. Yes, this will help you. Bullies rely on isolating their target in order to have impact. So a great response is to spread out, chat with more people.

        What I like about these suggestions is it’s taking the high road. It puts you in a good place and Bully Boss is left to make her own way on her own.

        1. LJL

          I have always said “the best security system is a concerned neighbor. I’m glad to have folks watching out for me.” I have been lucky enough to have good neighbors, but I imagine that this might help to re-frame in OP’s mind.

    3. TootsNYC

      #1–one other tactic that might help you with ignoring it is this:
      Every time someone tells you what she said, say, “Wow, is that weird! Does she have nothing better to do? I wonder how much time she spends looking at our house? It’s so incredibly uncomfortable, to feel that every time I step outside my house, or yell at the kids, or have a barbecue, that I need to worry about what my boss is going to run around telling people.”
      Maybe even, “We’ve lived there for years, it’s our home, and now I feel like I’m being pressured to move–or that it would be smart, just to get away from this. And I can’t complain, because she’ll just stop scheduling patients for me.”

      Point it out. Drag this stuff right out into the open, draw everyone’s attention to it.

      Be careful, very careful, with your tone. Be wondering, puzzled, and only oh-so-very-slightly annoyed.

    4. Christopher Tracy

      #2 – I couldn’t even read that whole add it was full of way too much “trendy” words that made me want to barf.

      A lot of it wasn’t even trendy. Referencing Hammer? Using the word “dope” in place of cool? (Who even says dope anymore? Did we time warp back to 1993?)

      I bet the writer of the post raised the roof and got jiggy with it after the ad went live, too.

      1. Milton Waddams

        Early 90s is starting to get a retro-revival among college students. You can sort of predict the progression by the way that kids started using “rad” again a few years ago.

        1. (Another) B

          Ugh it’s so annoying. Kids are wearing stuff I wore as a preteen in the early 90s. Take that choker off NOW.

      2. Whippersnapper

        In fairness, outdated slang is fun. If no other evidence can be found: Macklemore yells “DOPE!” in Downtown and I (22) laugh every time at the goofiness of it. I might be a weirdo, though.

        As to MC Hammer, I’m distressed at how little faith some of the older folks on here seem to have in cultural history awareness. It’s iconic. It was on Dexter, if nothing else. I mean, I know who Frank Sinatra and the Beatles are too, even though they were before my time. Pop culture sticks around!

    5. Vicki

      I also stopped reading at the beginning of the second paragraph.

      What does it mean? It means that the pay is way below market and you’ll be expected to work your tail off.

  5. Elizabeth the Ginger

    #1, this is surely reflecting much more poorly on her at work than on you. If I were your coworker, I would not be thinking, “Ugh, OP#1 is such a terrible person for letting her husband drink beer in the yard!” I’d be thinking, “Wow, Bossperson sure is weirdly obsessed with OP#1. I’m going to keep a little distance from her…”

    1. snuck

      Yeah this is how I feel about it. It’s only a matter of time before the coworkers start thinking “OMG WHO CARES!”

      That said… if you come across it you could stop it with some well chosen phrases “How odd that she’s keeping track like this, does she do it for others too?”(to a colleague) or “Gosh! I’m surprised she is that interested – we’re pretty simple folk with simple lives!”… and if you ever hear it from her own mouth “Haha Susie-Jane, why on EARTH is this relevant to work? Anyone would think you were interested in my private life!”

      But… I fear there’s not a lot you can do about curtain twitchers – rise above her in grace and goodwill. If your colleagues raise this can you just say “Oh, I’ve heard something about this, I don’t really want to get involved, it all sounds really un related to my work, now… tell me about the new grass you’ve planted – how is it going?” and change the subject. You mightn’t stop the obsessive observation of you, but your workers are likely to hear that you don’t want a blow by blow account of it.

      And if she’s running around yabbering about you all the time at some stage the (reasonable) coworkers are going to wonder why on earth she’s being so weird, and shut her down or tune her out. She’ll lose her audience, or only be left with the popcorn brigade, which aren’t the people you want to be friends with anyway. (I live in a small town, I can totally understand and see this happening, and being a small town it will feel like it’s all around you and all over town and that everyone knows your business – think about how much you hear about others, how much gossip you share and if you are in the circles, and if you aren’t … happy dance… it will matter to the ‘real people’ about as much as their gossip matters to you – it won’t. Your reputation as a care nurse will proceed you if you are 100% kind, friendly, professional and provide quality – your clients will absolutely know that about you over anything anyone says. )

      1. Engineer Girl

        There is a lot to this. Act kindly and professionally and let her come off as the crazy one. If she’s really out to get you your kindness will drive her nuts and she’ll actually start to escalate things. At some point she’ll escalate to the point where people notice her malice.
        Alhough I would be so tempted to dress up in a blue glowing alien suit and wander around the yard on random nights.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian

          Ha. Do “The Catbird Seat” treatment, huh? Do things so crazy around the yard, but only when she’s the only one watching, that when she gossips about it at work, she looks like she has lost her damn mind.

        2. Hellanon

          My grandmother lived in an apartment complex that was apparently full of curtain twitchers and gossips. Well, either that, or she just like wielding them as a club to control peoples’ behaviour – I’m sure I wouldn’t know. In any case, my uncle & my dad decided one night that they’d had enough and, very drunk already, grabbed a bottle of whiskey, liberated my grandmother’s 3-wheeled bike, and rode around her parking lot for a good 20 minutes on the bike yelling “F%$# the neighbors!”

          Sadly my 8-year old got sent inside at some point & I have no memory of what happened next, but I’m guessing there were not a few adults in that complex who agreed with them….

    2. Caroline

      I came here to say this too. If I were your coworker, I wouldn’t think any the worse of you for this (I’d feel very bad FOR you) but I would think the boss was an absolute tool. Obviously only you know your coworkers, but if they’re halfway decent and nice people, then I really wouldn’t worry about this damaging your reputation them.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Yeah, agreed. If I were a coworker of yours, OP, I would be saying “omg, my boss is more like an invasive weed than a boss.” She would hugely discredit herself in my books.

        I did have a boss who would drive around to her employees houses to see who’s car was parked out front. She did not like her subordinates socializing with each other. If she spotted a cohort’s car in front of someone else’s house she would make that person’s work week miserable. This went on for years. The thing that struck me is that I understood that this was unhealthy behavior and the boss did NOT understand that this was unhealthy behavior. I left the job and I left that unhealthy behavior behind. Where ever she went, that unhealthy behavior would follow her.

        1. Not So NewReader

          Ugh, typos are us. Probably not a good idea to type right after a funeral.

    3. Temperance

      I’m from a pretty small town area, and honestly … the gossip would be more close to talking about how bad OP is for “letting” her husband get drunk in the front yard.

      It took a really, really long time to break out of the weird rural thought patterns.

  6. Joanna

    Re: #2, If a company treats sometimes finding things offensive like it’s a character flaw or flippantly references mental illness (see the OCD reference in the example posted), that is likely a very bad sign about their workplace culture. Expecting you to exploit your personal social networks and relationships for business purposes is also suspect, especially if like this one they want you to do it before you’re hired.

  7. OP #3

    Alison, thanks for answering a question that I realize is a little bit silly! Personally, when I heard this originally, my first though was that it was gimmicky, and I am SO not a gimmicky kind of person. But I know a lot of people worry about getting past that initial filter. I suppose the answer is what it usually is in these types of things: be a strong candidate and communicate that well and you’re more likely to stand out. I did not realize that the formatting would be completely stripped out, though! That would just be embarrassing to have a gimmick like that exposed. My industry is small enough that hiring is typically done by recommendation + interview rather than submitting a resume, so this isn’t likely to be an issue for me unless I switch industries. Still good to know, though!

    On a personal note, I’ve been reading this site for several months now (and digging through the archives in between), but this is my first time commenting and first time submitting a question. I really appreciate the practicality of the site and the helpfulness of the commenters.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Not silly! This is a technique that’s recommended a lot, and it can sound like it makes a certain sense until you realize how it can backfire.

      And I love first-time commenters! I hope it will not be your last!

      1. Troutwaxer

        Once upon a time, when some search engines would use keyword searches, this was a useful thing to do when building a website. I don’t think the strategy works anymore for websites, (search engines have changed greatly since then) and I can’t imagine it working for a resume.

    2. eemmzz

      Welcome new commenter! I’ve read the site for 6 years after typing into Google one day about my job sucking.

      I’ve had to start reading a few CVs lately and have been amazed at how many bad practises I still see advised to people who only recently entered the workforce in my area. Including: Telling not showing (e.g. I work well in a team as well as alone), massive photos of themselves, overly flashy graphical CVs with barely any substance (not useful for a software engineer CV) and so on.

    3. Basia, also a Fed

      I just wanted to note that applications are different for the federal government. If you’re applying there, make sure your resume is full of the right buzzwords or you won’t make it past the initial computer review. And make sure you’re using the exact same phrasing as the advertisement. If the ad says “a minimum of 12 months educating primary school students” and you say you have “1 year teaching elementary children,” you will be rejected. That exact phrase needs to be in your resume. It’s frustrating because we know lots of highly qualified people whom we would love to interview, but the computer has decided they don’t meet the minimum qualifications and our hands are tied.

      1. cajun2core

        I was getting ready to say exactly that. I work at a university and someone from HR recently mentioned in a training class that if one applies for a job there, one must put in the keywords in the application in order for the computer to not reject the application.

        1. Laura

          University staff here too. I’m not surprised to hear this– jobs in higher ed are so in-demand, they need to weed out people who aren’t reading the application in DETAIL and then making their resumes match up with it. It’s a pain, but ultimately worth it.

      2. L

        We found this out as my husband’s applying to federal jobs. Another graduate student, with objectively less experience and education kept getting past the first round and my husband would get the auto reject. We were thankful he shared his application suggestions because it was quite worrying, especially since my husband’s transgender and we wondered if something about his selective service registration was pinging the system!!

    4. Beth Anne

      Not a dumb question.

      I first heard this advice in a WEBINAR about looking for a job back in like 2011ish when the economy was still a little shaky. I thought that was smart to get through the filters as at the time I had done a TON of applying and was getting 0 interviews. But I never really thought about the consequences and I’m not sure that I ever actually did it.

      1. Artemesia

        Making sure these words are in the resume is not necessarily a bad idea, but doing the white print thing can lead to issues like those Alison notes. Particularly if computer screening is being done, working key words into the normal resume is probably prudent.

  8. Myrin

    I’m possibly side-eying #1’s coworkers a bit, to be honest, since they are the ones bringing the news of Weirdo Boss to OP in the first place. Now, I obviously can’t tell how the situation really unfolds – everything OP says she heard her boss does could technically be conveyed in like two conversations (a concerned coworker coming to OP to tell her what’s going on so she knows this is happening; then the same person talking to the OP again two weeks later to let her know that it’s still going on and that boss seems weirdly fixated).

    But it kind of reads to me like the coworkers basically keep OP up-to-date on boss’s shenanigans constantly and I’m not really sure that’s a good or productive thing. I mean, obviously the boss is the problem here (and I’m completely horrified and very sorry you have to deal with this, OP!) but couldn’t the coworkers just be asked to not give daily updates on what new weirdness Weirdo Boss is up to now?

    (Oh, but all of that aside, I completely agree with the other commenters who say that this reflects much more poorly on her than on you. I think all three of Alison’s possible solutions are great and could be pursued but I feel like if you can at all ignore that crap – which, again, could be helped by people not actually telling you the minutiae of it all -, that might be the best way to go about it.)

    1. TootsNYC

      It might be wise to start saying to the coworkers, “I get the impression she’s kind of hyperfocused on my home life. Can I ask you to just never tell me this kind of thing? It’s making me really self-conscious in my own home, and since I probably can’t really ask her to stop without risking her hurting me at work by not assigning me cases, the only way I can stop feeling this way is if other people don’t tell me. I don’t want to know what she says about me unless it’s work.”

    2. Not So NewReader

      Under the heading of actions speak louder than words, the fact that the coworkers relay this info indicates that they see something wrong enough here that it is worthy of commentary.
      People don’t comment on things they think are unimportant.

    3. Kms1025

      Re OP #1…I agree with Myrin. Why are these co-workers telling you that someone is gossiping about you? How is that helpful to anyone? I would “fake it till I feel it”…you just don’t care what she says or does! Because she controls whether you get work or not, you really can’t engage unless you are prepared to quit your job. She can retaliate under made up pretenses or just “slow-play” any work being assigned your way. It sucks…and your boss is a complete jerk! But you already know that. I’m so sorry, try to ignore her till she finds another victim to gossip about.

  9. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.

    #4

    I wonder what all ya’ll think of this.

    Our exempt people (under senior management level) do “make up time”. I don’t remember us specifically asking people to do that, it’s just what people do. “I have to cut out at 3 today, so I’m just going to take my lunch at the end of the day.” “I’ve got a doctor’s appointment this morning so, I’ll stay an extra hour today/throw another hour or two hours on the rest of the week.”

    That sounds county and bad, yes? But, here’s the thing: In the time I’ve been hanging out at AAM, I’ve been shocked to find that we seem to be a rare bird 4o hour a week culture. There’s no expectation, pressure or habit for hours past 40, answering emails at night or on the weekend, etc. (Managers usually check their emails Sunday night, just to have a running start for Monday morning, but nobody expects them to.)

    I think people “make up time” out of a spirit of cooperation/responsibility to their team. IDK, since everybody does it, maybe half of them are doing because they think they have to.

    It’s curious, though, that’s in the mix of what is (now that I’ve heard all of your stories for years), one of the sanest work/life balance places around*.

    *senior management is different but there’s only a couple of us in the whole company. I work wall to wall. That’s different.

    1. Jack the Treacle Eater

      I don’t understand what you mean by ‘sounds county’ (unless that’s a typo), but IF your context is accurate it doesn’t sound bad. You seem to have a situation where people are treated like adults and the company respects work / life boundaries, and in return people seem to feel happy to give back because they understand that’s the culture, not because they feel under pressure to do it.

      The only thing you have to be aware of, being senior management, is whether your assessment of the culture is askew, but if you’re concerned it shouldn’t be difficult to take soundings.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.

        Count-y, not a typo but word invention, as in “sounds like counting time, overly”. ;-)

        Yeah, at this size, there’s pretty much nothing going on that I don’t know about. I’m confident about knowing the culture people are experiencing. If we get much bigger though, I’ll probably lose pockets.

        I wonder if the saneness of a 40 hour week expectation lead to the habit of people making up time or people making up time contributed to the saneness of the 40 hour a week culture. I didn’t even realize we were an almost anomaly. We’d *never* text people on vacation. I can’t imagine the circumstance where we’d do that and then the stories I hear here.

        1. Snowglobe

          I’m not sure that your company is that much of an anomaly. Keep in mind that people post here about their awful jobs; people who are content at their workplace don’t have stories to tell. I work in a pretty large corporation that is like yours; people are encouraged to take time off when they need it, most people will “make up” time if they are out for half a day, but most people work around 40 hours per week. I’ve never been contacted when I’m on vacation.

          1. Sarah in Boston

            I’m at another 40 hour a week place. And we’re quite large (9000+ worldwide). I think I’ve gotten one text about work stuff on vacation in 16 years.

      2. the gold digger

        I don’t understand what you mean by ‘sounds county’

        I read it as “sounds country” and went back to re-read the first statements to see how they easily converted into a hit from Nashville. But nobody got out of prison, nobody got drunk, nobody’s dog died, and nobody’s heart got broken – I realized I had mis-read.

        1. Kelly L.

          I’ve suddenly had the idea to write a Game of Thrones country song. There’s certainly enough tragedy to fill it with.

    2. hbc

      My company is pretty much like yours. It might not be the same day, but we average out to about 40 hours, probably even a little less. We don’t consider non-exempt salaried to mean that you need to do All The Work (there’s always more), but we also don’t think that status is a reason to not put in a full week.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.

        Oooh.

        That’s it! “we also don’t think status is a reason to not put in a full week” <<< that's it.

        Which is not me saying that people who do otherwise in other companies re making up time are doing something wrong, it's just, that's what I believe is going on at Wakeen's.

      2. Kyrielle

        Hmmm. I think that actually makes a big difference.

        If you have exempt roles that have a specific queue of work, they may be very busy one week and not so busy the next, and time moves with the work, ebbing and flowing.

        If you have exempt roles that can *always do something more*, you’re going to get either a place that overworks them, or a place that settles around 40 hours a week and focuses (often unofficially) on time in that regard, because there _is no metric_ as to “it’s done, I can go home”.

        I always have another bug, another enhancement, another test I could do. Always. But if I don’t have a critical one, and if nothing’s behind schedule, that doesn’t mean I should go over 40 hours and try to finish more, because there will always be something behind it. But it also means that if I don’t put in at least 40 hours, I am getting less done than I reasonably could in a “full time” position. There’s no “huh, everything’s done, I’m leaving”.

        (Although there have been “the build is so broken I can’t check this in, I didn’t cause it, and it’s almost time to leave – I’m out of here; maybe tomorrow they’ll have cleaned up the contents of the source control and I can check my changes in!” moments. Those are so far rare, and I hope they stay that way.)

        1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.

          Perfect. I am so glad we are having this conversation!

          There’s always more than 40 hours of work for everybody who is exempt, it’s the nature of our business. Our 40-hour-week core value culture is a defense against what could be 60 hour or more weeks. We could be one of those places that wears people out, where you don’t get to coach your kids soccer team.

          I think that’s what driven the “make up time” mentality, everybody wanting to do their part. They DO “count their time” even though they are exempt but I think it’s about fair play. If you do less than 40 without taking PTO, you’re not pulling your weight with your team members.

          This is at odds with the normal conversations we have here about exempt jobs and them being about getting the work done and not the hours put in, isn’t it.

          (This is one of the reasons I always say Wakeen’s is the good place to work for the right people. People who need a clean To Do, where every item can be ticked by end of week and then they have a new To Do the next week, Wakeen’s is not a good place for them. People who like the challenge of triage and strategy, figuring out how to get the most important work done, efficiently, and then on to the next item of a very long queue, you’re home.)

          1. Kyrielle

            I am also betting that if all critical tasks are done, no one would side-eye one of your team members who needed to shift time between weeks – say they pulled 35/45 or 30/50 in a pair of weeks to accommodate something. It’s not that anyone _else_ is driving your people, but that they are, and they’re trying to keep up a “reasonable level of productivity” in an environment where you can’t use “got it all done!” as a metric of that.

    3. bassclefchick

      Well, even though Alison has repeatedly said there’s no such thing as a “dream job”, you know all of us secretly want to work for YOU, right?!

      I think it’s great that you have that sort of culture where everyone is on the same page. Having people make up the time isn’t a bad thing, if it’s done the way your company does. You aren’t forcing them to do it, but they truly like what they do and their teams, so they want the teams to succeed. And that’s exactly how a company should handle it. It’s the whole “treat me like an adult and I’ll act like one” scenario.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.

        Well, thank you. Wakeen’s is a good place to work for the subset of people who want the same things we do and aren’t bothered by pockets of quirkiness or the things that we don’t do really well. The larger we get, the more we try to work on the not-so-good pockets, because we realize we have to expand recruitment and retention beyond people who are happy with The Wakeen’s Way.

        Most everybody likes what they do. Idk if many people think it’s a Dream Job. I think Dream Jobs pay lots of cash and impress people at cocktail parties.

        1. cajun2core

          One place I worked before was a small company (but not a start-up) that had at most 14 people but was 7 people for most of the time I was there. Your comment, “and aren’t bothered by pockets of quirkiness ” really hit home. The entire company was one big (or not so big) pocket of quirkiness! :-)

        2. Kyrielle

          My dream job is “Powerball jackpot winner”. (Like any dream job, it would probably have annoying downsides I didn’t foresee, but I’d be willing to try to cope with them….)

          But my current job is pretty awesome, and working for you guys also sounds pretty awesome. “Pretty awesome” is not a bad setting for a job. :)

    4. Anonforthis

      I work for a clock watching company, and I would love to work someplace where I could leave a hour early on Friday and just stay an hour late on Thursday. Instead, I have to take leave, and I’m exempt and senior level.

      1. Hellanon

        A good friend of mine just retired from one of those sorts of places – bigass aerospace company, government contracts & security clearances. He had 5 weeks of “personal time” but if he wanted to leave early on a Friday he had to account for the hours elsewhere in the pay period. Now, mind you, he retired with a full pension, etc, which I won’t, but if I leave early one day and, as Wakeen says, “make it up” another, no one pays much attention. The ethos at my company is to get the work done, and, for the exempt folks, sometimes that means 60 hour weeks and sometimes it’s 30 hour weeks – it all depends on the work flow. Which I like.

        1. CAA

          Requiring exempt employees to make-up time within a pay period is a big thing in U.S. government contracting because of the way cost reimbursement contracts are written to specify a 40-hour week as standard.

          For example, if an exempt employee costs $2000 per week, but only works 70 hours during a 2-week pay period, his employer can only bill the government 7/8 of the $4000 cost for that person’s labor despite having paid his full salary as required by FLSA. If the same employee works 90 hours during the next pay period, the contractor can only bill the government their actual cost of $4000 because the exempt employee doesn’t get overtime for the extra 10 hours. For the employee everything is fine. He got paid his full salary and worked an average of 40 hours per week over the two pay periods. For the employer, things are bad because he incurred costs of $8000 and can only bill $7500 to the government.

          There is no way for the employer to recoup the loss from the first pay period, so the normal practice of government contractors is to require the employee to use PTO for that 10 hours (the cost of benefits, including PTO, is wrapped into the employee’s hourly rate so the employer recoups that amount over time) and only allow make-up time within the same pay period.

    5. Jennifer

      My company has us all technically exempt except we never, ever work overtime. My coworkers are “making up time” alllll the time when they leave early. However, we are also 40 hours a week, period (one coworker has been yelled at if she e-mails anyone a few minutes before her official start time).

    6. Not So NewReader

      Count-y or clock watching involves going down to keeping track of minutes. Sounds like Wakeen’s has a realistic perspective of getting to the correct hours required. And it sounds like it is a self-reporting system, which probably means you are getting more work out of people and not less. People tend to be pretty conscious when left to their own devices.

      If a boss lets me go when I need to, my make up time is probably more than what I actually owe. One day my boss let me go because my dog was sick/injured. Will I pay her back a few times over for that one? you betcha. For her part, she was very happy to hear the dog was successfully treated. She gets additional points for follow-up sincerity.

    7. periwinkle

      We do this, too. I had to stay a couple hours late to get a deliverable out the door because I’d be spending the next week working offsite. To compensate, I took off a couple hours early when I had no meetings or pressing work one afternoon. Our manager insists that salaried employees aim for 40 hours a week and encouraged us to move our actual office time around as needed to compensate for coming in late, staying late, unexpected weekend work, and so forth. My manager and a co-worker often check/respond to email while on vacation, but that’s personality rather than expectation. The rest of us don’t and the only expectation is that we share any particularly awesome vacation photos.

      This might be more of a departmental or divisional cultural thing, but I don’t hear much work-life balance complaining from colleagues in other parts of the company. We may be a ludicrously bureaucratic and vertical organization with a painfully slow hiring process, but we get the work-life balance bit right!

    8. catsAreCool

      I’m exempt, and I make up time too, but I haven’t been asked to do that. My company is also a 40 hours a week place.

  10. B

    #1 I would also say to be gracious and when the coworkers tell you react with a shrug of the shoulders. Play it off as it doesn’t have any difference to you. The more you ignore it or play it off as something that seems odd and uninteresting the more they will not want to be bothered. For many gossip, especially this type of ridiculousness, is no longer interesting when it’s not bothering the person.

  11. GreenTeaPot

    OP No. 2, run! Any organization posting that ridiculous – and poorly written – help wanted ad is trying too hard.

  12. MsChanandlerBong

    I’m trying–and failing–to imagine myself writing a “dope blog post.”

    1. Artemesia

      And see I am an old lady, out of touch by decades, and ‘dope’ was slang back when I was still with it — so it is feeling very old fashioned to me. Maybe they are looking for ‘rock stars’ too? (I actually passed some fast food place the other day that had a sign in the window ‘hiring rock stars’) That is all so 1980s. Personally I write a ‘dope blog’.

      1. fposte

        Yeah, any slang or references that I am au courant with are the bluntest of cutting edges. But maybe that’s their secret approach–they’re looking to make the 50+ jobseekers feel current?

  13. nep

    (I’m so tired of the use of ‘dope’ as an adjective — ugh.)
    #2 — Cringe. How lame and obnoxious.

    1. Jack the treacle eater

      I thought dope was what you painted on the fabric of aircraft wings to tension it. Or am I out of date…?

      ;-)

      1. Dr. Doll

        I thought it meant a person was a bit stupid. …errrm, what DOES it mean, here?

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            Ah, let me explain to you the slang of years past!

            It’s different when it’s a noun than when it’s a verb! “A dope” = stupid person. “A dope 8-track player” = a cool 8-track player.

            Dated example intentionally chosen.

            1. neverjaunty

              You mean an adjective, I think? (Also I am old enough to remember when “dope” was a generic term for “illegal narcotics”. SO HIP.)

              1. Artemesia

                My mother was scandalized when we referred to marijuana as ‘dope’ because to her that was heroin. (of course that is why we casually referred to it that way in her presence, to get a rise out of her)

                1. L

                  Yup. Reading a music memoir at like seventeen and wondering why everyone was killing themselves with marijuana.

              2. So Very Anonymous

                “Dope” as a verb is what sportsy people do to, er, chemically enhance performance?

        1. Not So NewReader

          I thought they wanted a drug blog. Clearly, I am just not cool enough for this company.

        1. Yetanotherjennifer

          Or stringed instrument pegs. I have a tube of peg dope in my violin case.

  14. literateliz

    I am so glad that the very first comment was about the parallelism fail in #2, Jesus Christ. Since that has been remarked upon, I will pull out my favorite part of the ad:

    We don’t care if you’re smaller than Thumbelina or eat like Kobeyashi. We want you because you are you! If you’re offended, Shut Your Face! What does that even mean anyway?

    This is… This is the perfect convergence of grammatical, coolness, and narrative failure. Most (ok, not all) of the references in the previous sentence were kind of culturally relevant. Kind of. But why would I be smaller than Thumbelina? Why would the company care if I’m small? Why are we referencing fairy tale characters anyway? Who cares if I eat like Kobayashi? Are they implying that they provide an unlimited supply of food? Luckily, they want me because I’m me. Too bad I FIND THAT OFFENSIVE!!!!!!!!!! (?) The caps on “Shut Your Face” like it’s some kind of hip new catchphrase… I just can’t even.

    They also managed to misspell Kobayashi (probably not a big deal, all things considered) and Zuckerberg (uh, a pretty big deal if you work for the kind of VC-funded garbage company that this one clearly is. DRINK THE FRIGGIN’ KOOL-AID, LEARN TO SPELL YOUR IDOLS’ NAMES).

    Phew. Now I feel better.

    1. literateliz

      Oh, and it goes without saying that “Shut up if you’re offended!” is a bad sentiment. But it was said so hilariously poorly, and inserted for absolutely no reason right after they said something kind of complimentary (we want you for you!), that all that actually overshadowed its badness. Amazing.

    2. blink

      I sort of wondered if it might have been made by a random generator of some kind, but I would think you could structure the grammar better if you did that.

    3. Lizabeth

      Shut your face is better than “shut your pie hole”…which I consider fighting words.

    4. fposte

      Yeah, the caps on Shut Your Face made me think it was supposed to be a reference–the only one I could think of was “Shaddup You Face,” which Wikipedia says is from 1980, though. However, given the datedness of the rest of the stuff and the accuracy level, it could still be what they were invoking.

    5. Not So NewReader

      “So Harold. I want you to write this employment ad that conveys we are a cool, hip company. We KNOW the times and what is going on out there. Get that across to the reader. I think you should fill the ad with as many cool, hip phrases as you can think of, that would be good.”

      Reality is that their ad is more of a people filter than most employment ads. People will self-select OUT of this one.

    6. SusanIvanova

      I’m so out of whatever it is, the only Kobayashi I know of is Star Trek’s Kobayashi Maru.

  15. Lady Kelvin

    What I would be concerned about if I were OP #1 is that if she is tracking and broadcasting when you are home and when you leave, she is leaving you open to robbery because now everyone knows when you aren’t home. That might be another way of approaching your boss. “I would appreciate if you would stop discussing when I leave for work and come home every day, I’m worried that the wrong person might hear you and take advantage of the information to break into my home.” Then you have a legitimate concern that she really can’t argue with.

    1. Key to the West

      This was my thought as well! I’d sure as hell not like anyone knowing what time I usually leave in the morning, especially if I lived in a rural area where presumably a burglar could break in around the back of the house unseen.

      1. fposte

        Could be just my small-town smallish office thing, but everybody in my office and everybody’s neighbors have a pretty decent idea of when everybody else leaves their home already.

        1. Temperance

          I’m guessing that Bosslady is more gossiping about her or her husband going out at night.

        2. Anonz

          I worked in a place with some gossips like this and moved on as fast as possible. The invasion of privacy is being underestimated JMO. I’m also rural and theft is a very real possibility, it happens more frequently than people who live in the ‘burbs know. In a small town just picking up your prescriptions has lead to break in’s, having new appliances delivered etc… Also it’s incredibly toxic behavior to have to live with day in, day out.

          Dunno if it’s possible but some artfully planted screening materials may go a long way, blocking her view?

          It’s one thing to notice if your neighbors are home or not and have a general feel for their schedules, but the level of detail here is disturbing. I dealt with it by remarking to co-workers “WOW! If she gossips that much about me, wonder what she’s saying about you?” and would walk away. The result was less personal info was shared over-all by everyone. Sad but people like this don’t change and over-sharing just eggs them on. Confronting the boss, as the OP mentioned has some serious downsides.

          While it’s being painted as a raging case of gossiping, call it what it is, it’s stalking. Because of the previous incident it’s escalated and carrying over from home into work. This is actually pretty serious stuff and in a place with limited job opportunities a real problem for the OP. It’s not like a larger city where it’s easy to just find other employment.

          Because I left a similar situation and live in a small town, I do have to be blandly polite and just keep reiterating that moving on was fantastic, new job is fantastic, no details just happy-happy! I now have the reputation as being stand-offish but it was worth it. Leaving was the only option to remove myself and any information from the equation to stop the feeding frenzy. It does drive them crazy there is nothing to latch onto tho…turns out the rumor mill works both ways. Go figure!

  16. Temperance

    LW #1: I grew up in a fairly rural area, too (although not as isolated), so I’m familiar with the culture. I live in a much more suburban area now, and I get itchy when we visit my in-laws and I see the lineup of Gladys Kravitz hands in the windows up and down the street. I feel like half of the conversations that Booth’s grandparents have are about how so-and-so had a different car in front of their house or how they went somewhere at 10:00 at night. I hate it.

    I think you need to confront her. You don’t have to be a jerk, but be direct. People like her are small-minded and passive-aggressive. Calling them on their BS will make them squirm. “Hey Barb, it’s come to my attention that you have been gossiping about how I live/monitoring the comings and goings at my house. Can you tell me why I have been such a prevalent topic of conversation?”

    Or you can fight fire with fire, and start monitoring *her* comings and goings. “Oh, it’s so interesting that Barb mentioned that she saw me going to X, because she has been out all night with Billy Bob the past few nights. I think they were AT A BAR.” Something to that effect. Sure, it’s not exactly taking the high road, but the high road doesn’t always work with people like her. She feels powerful by sharing gossip.

    1. Anonz

      + 1000
      I’ve done this as well if someone tried to dip their toe back into the gossip pool with me!

    2. Little Missy

      I just wanted to say that I LOVE your username. and that you refer to your spouse as “Booth.” That show is so neat. That is all. Carry on!

  17. JTM

    Re: #1 – I would go to HR with this immediately. Your boss (a) has a personal problem with you, and (b) is bringing that problem into the workplace. You want HR to document this before your boss has the opportunity to damage your career (through negative evaluations, reductions in patients/hours, unfair disciplinary actions, etc.). HR is more likely to take you seriously if you bring this up proactively now rather than defensively later, because they hear “my manager is biased” all the time from employees after an adverse employment action is taken. Also, if you complain to HR, any subsequent action against you by your boss is more likely to be seen as retaliation.

    I wouldn’t talk to your boss about this directly, because she has already shown that she is both unreasonable and hostile to you. You have no idea how she will react to confrontation, and even if the discussion seems to go well she could continue undermining you behind your back. I would only talk with her about this with an HR representative present.

    (OP’s letter doesn’t say whether she belongs to a union, so my assumption is that she doesn’t. If she is a union member, she should take her concerns to her union representative.)

    1. MissDisplaced

      I don’t know… It’s kind of hard to tell the level of escalation needed here. It’s possible that if OP does report it to HR, there may be retaliation.
      I would lean more towards deflating the gossip first, via any mentions that place boss squarely in a bad light:
      “Really, BossX seems overly interested in my boring old home life.”
      “Oh, I’ve heard about this and I can’t think why she finds my home life so interesting.”

      At this point, it’s reflecting badly on Boss.

  18. SG

    LW5 here!

    Thank you so much for the advice Alison- I really appreciate it! I thought that might be the answer, but I wanted to make sure before I started applying placing. I’m also coming from an industry that is having a lot of financial issues so I think (hopefully) prospective employers will understand. It’s just my first time being laid off, so it’s a little hard to tell what to do.

  19. cajun2core

    Question number 2 (#2), the one about the job ad. I actually get it. I see what they are trying to do but they are trying too hard. As someone who is very confident in his abilities and also someone who is stuck in environment that rewards not showing initiative, I really do get this ad. Where I work, the people who come to work, go to their desk/office, do their job as described, blindly follow instructions, and do nothing more are the ones that are rewarded. Anyone who questions anything, proposes anything new, or takes any kind of *reasonable* chance (which by definition, may sometimes lead to undesirable results) is punished.

    To me, this place sounds like a wonderful and energetic place to work instead of being dull and dreary place to work. Yes, they went *way* over the top on it and there are much better ways of getting their point across.

    I just read the other comments and for the reasons stated, I would not want to work for *that* company. However, I would like to work for a company with that kind of energy.

    For any Babylon 5 fans out there, I would love to work for Edgars Industries after Garibaldi took over. In fact, I would have probably been one of the people he put on the Board of Directors.

  20. Jessie

    #2: I’ve heard of this “branding intern” thing and, from what I’ve heard, it’s not actually a real job. It’s free social media awareness for the company that they get you to do under the guise of job training that will make you marketable to recruiters.

  21. Dangerously Cheezy

    I am so glad that #5 came around when it did. My husband was laid off from his job of 3 years on Friday and I am in the process of helping him put together a cover letter and resume for job searching on Monday.

    It was so tempting to put in a note saying that he was laid off, it is just so terrifying to think that he may automatically get screened out of potential employment because someone will make the assumption that because he is no longer working that he was fired rather than laid off due to overstaffing.

  22. Christy

    Regarding #2 – After a horrible experience as a door-to-door canvasser one summer in college, I made it a personal rule to never apply for a job posting that uses multiple exclamation points. It’s served me well, and I would recommend it to any recent graduate!

  23. stevenz

    #2. It’s not only a bad job ad, it’s offensive. They are identifying their “market” is people who will like the ad, rather than having qualifications for a professional job. I wouldn’t hire them because they’re a bit too into themselves for my sake. Reality is, once you’re past the awesomely cool recruitment process there’s a job you have to do and it can be A very uncool reality of metrics, evaluations, and other such bureaucratic necessities. Not incidentally, the ad says *nothing* about what the job actually does. I’d hate to see the cover letters people are writing for this one.

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