can I give more feedback to someone I recently fired, having to contact multiple people when calling in sick, and more

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

1. Can I give more feedback to someone I recently fired?

I recently fired a member of my staff. She was chronically late, frequently wanted to leave early, often called out very close to her scheduled start time (this is not a job where working from home is an option and coverage at the desk is important), and – towards the end – she was very distracted and her attitude was poor. We’d had a couple meetings about these concerns and I was going to put her on a PIP before she called out again and I’d had enough, so the firing wasn’t completely a surprise, but hadn’t had as much preparation as I’d have liked.

We had something of an exit interview (over the phone – again, not the way I would have preferred to do this), and discussed why she was being fired. She wasn’t rude but it was pretty clear that she wasn’t hearing what I had to say. I really want to wait a couple weeks until she’s cooled off and email her a little feedback, not as a former manager, but just as a person who worked with her, to help her improve. All her issues aside, I really liked her and want to see her succeed, but I felt like she got in her own way a lot. I have no idea how she would take this, and I don’t want to start any drama with her, but I saw a lot of my younger self in her and just wish I could help her do better in the future.

Is this crazy? I feel like it is, but the impulse is also really strong.

Don’t do it.

While she was still working for you, you had complete standing to talk to her as much as you wanted about why this stuff was a problem. But you’re no longer in a position to do that; she no longer works for you, and it’s highly unlikely that she’s interested in having a postmortem with the person who fired her about what happened. While I totally get that you’re thinking this could be genuinely helpful to her, it’s not going to come across that way to her — it’s going be “why the hell is the person who fired me and who I no longer work for emailing me weeks later to continue to talk about what I’ve done wrong?”

2. Having to contact multiple people when calling in sick

I work in a not for profit legal center as a paralegal with approximately 20 employees. I lost my voice and had a fever Friday, so I called in sick for the first time. I felt extremely miserable and could barely move out of bed.

I called my supervisor to tell her that I wasn’t going to come in and I sent the attorney I work under a quick email telling him where some of our urgent case documents were out of courtesy seeing we had court upcoming. They were very understanding and told me to get well and we will catch up Monday.

I also volunteer to work at our free consumer clinic a few times a month doing intake for the attorneys. Our community outreach coordinator found me today and told me that I also have to contact her if I’m missing the consumer clinic. I was a little taken back because I didn’t realize calling in sick involved contacting so many people, especially when I felt miserable. Is it common in the nonprofit world to have to contact multiple people when you call in sick or is this bizarre?

This isn’t a nonprofit thing; this is a working-with-multiple-people thing. When you’re calling in sick, it’s reasonable to expect you to alert anyone who might have been depending on you to do something for/with them that day — or to ensure that someone else alerts them. However, that doesn’t mean that you have to send multiple emails or make multiple calls — send one email with everyone who needs to be alerted cc’d on it, or ask your manager to alert the consumer clinic coordinator for you.

3. My manager wants to do a performance review even though I’m resigning

I just resigned from my job and gave two weeks notice. I had a mid-year performance review coming up, but I assumed it would just be canceled because it was scheduled for after my last day of work. However, my manager asked me to reschedule the review for two days before I leave the company. Is there any reason to do a performance review two days before someone leaves the company? It’s a templated review that includes goals for the upcoming six months. Would it be rude or weird to suggest that we skip it? Since he asked me to reschedule, it seems like he really wants to go through with it.

You must have the only manager on the planet who doesn’t jump at a chance to be able to responsibly skip a time-consuming performance review.

My guess is that your manager thinks this stuff is really rigid and doesn’t realize he can simply use his judgment and decide to cancel yours. It would be perfectly reasonable for you to say something like, “Since these are intended to help employees develop and to set goals for the next six months and I will be leaving two days later, would it make sense to skip this and instead spend the time on transition items?”

4. I was let go through a temp agency with no warning

I was hired through a temporary agency as an administrative assistant for a large logistics firm. This was a new position created based on the business expanding, and I was told this would be a permanent position rather than temporary or temp to hire. For the first week, I was to shadow and be trained by an accounting assistant whose duties I would be inheriting as she returned to focusing solely on her accounts. My duties would also entail assisting an engineer and billing specialist, as well as acting as receptionist, greeting visitors, and granting access to visitors that met proper security credentials. The entire week, I was professional, punctual, interacted well with other staff, and was comfortable in my surroundings,

I did not deviate from acting completely professional such as taking smoke breaks, talking on my cell phone, accessing the internet for non-work related reasons, or chit chatting about personal things. I was energetic but not to an annoying degree. I was down to earth, pleasant, and displayed a strong professional work ethic. I felt I was even charming and other staff members received me well. Everything was going great, and I thought I fit in well with the team.

However, I received a call the Friday of my first week from the temp agency stating that the company had just sent an email asking me not to return the following Monday. The only reason given was that although they found me to be sweet and professional, doing nothing wrong, it was just not a good fit. I was in complete shock and completely devastated over this. I still am. I have spent four days racking my brain trying to figure out what I did wrong to the point it has made me physically ill. I do not know what to think about myself and now am having serious doubts regarding my own perception of myself. I have never had this issue before. Do I have any options in regards to finding out what happened and why they terminated my employment so suddenly?

Unfortunately, probably not. One of the reasons that employers use temp agencies is so that they can quickly let someone go who isn’t the right fit, without having to get into giving feedback, trying to coach the person, etc. Part of the draw is that they can easily say “hmmm, not quite the right match — can you send us someone else?”

As for what their reason might have been, there are all sorts of possibilities — feeling that you weren’t picking up things as fast as they wanted, wanting someone with more initiative, wanting someone with less initiative, wanting someone more relaxed, wanting someone more formal, wanting someone more experienced or who talked more or talked less — it’s just impossible to know. But just like you won’t enjoy every office in the world and feel like it’s the right fit for you, some offices will feel like you’re not the right fit for them. That’s part of life, it’s okay, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that you did anything wrong.

The most you could do to try to learn more would be to say to your agency, “I’m really surprised that happened. Do you have any sense of what their concerns were?” But beyond that, the best thing you can do is not to dwell on it and to move on. (If this is part of a pattern where jobs aren’t working out, you’d of course want to pay attention to that, but if this is a fluke, treat it like a fluke.)

5. Talking in an interview about projects that aren’t on my resume

I had left one or two projects off of my resume for the sake of brevity, but now recognise they demonstrate some good and valuable skills.

I have applied for a job with an interview next week. If I haven’t listed these projects on my resume, can I use them as an example at an interview if a relevant question comes up? Or can I hand over an updated resume which lists them when I get to the interview?

You can absolutely talk about projects that aren’t on your resume. No problem there.

But don’t hand them an updated copy of your resume; if they’ve prepared for your interview by going over your old resume, it’s going to be mildly irritating to be expected to look at a new one and try to spot what’s changed.

{ 246 comments… read them below }

  1. Christopher Tracy*

    Regarding OP #3 – I’m clearly still scarred from my last position with the boss from hell because I immediately thought OP’s manager is itching to do this review so he can have an opportunity to get a final dig in at OP for leaving. My last manager planned to do this when I left for a position in another division, but after I told her in no uncertain terms that if she tried to lie or wrote anything I didn’t agree with, she and I would be having a talk with HR, she backed down and cancelled my review.

    OP #4 – Something like this happened to me when I worked at Evil Law Firm, only I’d been there four weeks and the position was sold to me as a long-term temp-to-hire situation. My agency contact called me on my way home from work, however, and explained that HR told her they weren’t letting me go for performance reasons – they were having financial difficulties and needed to cut costs, so all of the temps placed through my agency were let go because we were too expensive. (They brought me back about five weeks after that though.) I cried so hard after that phone call because I needed that job after my position at another place had been cut, but I appreciated that my recruiter followed-up with a reason and promised to make finding me a new position her top priority – it softened the blow a bit.

    I know this sucks and it feels shitty, but please don’t let your sense of self-worth get tied up in this job to the point where it makes you sick thinking you’re somehow deficient. These things happen even when you’ve done everything right.

    1. Nobody*

      I didn’t get a sense from the letter as to whether OP #3 is leaving on good terms, bad terms, or somewhere in between. If the OP is leaving on bad terms (and/or the manager is resentful of her departure) perhaps the manager is planning to get in one last dig. But if the OP is on good terms with her manager, I think it could even be the opposite — that the manager was planning to give a good review and doesn’t want to miss her last opportunity to praise the OP.

      1. snuck*

        I didn’t get a sense of whether the leaving was good or bad terms either. The thought that went through my head was that the manager wants to nail down thoroughly what the performance was like while the employee was there – if there was issues that haven’t been documented then maybe the manager wants to document them (and for all we know the employee handed in notice right after getting the performance review meeting… we have literally no idea beyond the fact that it’s timed now one day after his notice, so it sounds like the employee has resigned AFTER the meeting was set). If the employee has a good track record then having that on record would be helpful too.

        1. OP#3*

          OP #3 here! I’m leaving on good terms, and we had the review scheduled before I gave notice.

          I sent him an email this morning after seeing Alison’s advice, and we had a chat about it. He thought he had to do one so I don’t “have a gap in my service history” and so he can send me off with “good feelings.” (I should mention I work for local city government in the U.S., so there is a fair amount of bureaucracy that can get confusing.) He is going to check with HR to see whether this is needed, and if not, we’re both off the hook.

          1. snuck*

            Great outcome and totally worth the chat. He probably appreciates you not putting him through it too – instead you can use the time to grab a quick coffee and have an exit interview, because with that much bureaucracy he probably has to fit one of those in too yes?

      2. Sarahnova*

        Yeah, another reason occurred to me from the one Alison suggested – that the manager is supportive and diligent and saw the final review as a way to give feedback, consolidate learning, and send the OP off positively. (And it’s not that I haven’t had bad bosses, but apparently I haven’t lost my optimism :) )

        A lot depends on the context and the manager’s previous behaviour, but as always, I think the solution is to ask explicitly what the manager has in mind.

        1. Sarahnova*

          I’ve had managers that would definitely do this. My current and last one would. They aren’t all awful.

        2. Crylo Ren*

          I’ve had post-resignation performance reviews at my last two jobs. In both cases it was as Sarahnova said – my managers wanted a final opportunity to provide feedback and show support. It was an incredibly kind thing for my managers to do and I found it really helpful to have that sense of what I did really well and what I could improve on as I moved forward to the next phases of my career.

        3. Us, Too*

          One of my managers did this years ago! I happened to give my two week’s notice for just a few days before our promotion/raise/review cycle was scheduled. Here’s what happened. And, yes, you could have knocked me over with a feather.

          With less than a week left at my job, my boss called me in and gave me a full performance review including what my strengths were and what I could work on to improve my skills. He then went on to explain that I’d done a fantastic job, citing examples in support of that, and told me that he was giving me a substantial raise effective the last couple days of my employment.

          Then he paused and said that his superiors thought he was crazy for doing this – why give a short timer a raise and bother with a review? He said he fought for it because this is what good managers do:
          1. They tell their direct reports what is expected of them, give them feedback on how they are doing and help them learn to guide and advance their own careers.
          2. If someone does a particularly great job, it’s important to recognize that. It really wasn’t just about me and my job, but about the fact that the team needs to be able to trust that he’s a man of his word, cares about everyone, and will do the right thing for the people who perform.

          Dude. YES. THIS.

          1. Sarahnova*

            Yeah, exactly! 1) There are legit reasons, and 2) Good managers DO exist.

            I would also rather have this in conversation form than written down.

        4. DoDah*

          I guess I’ve been jaded by a series of managers who are various degrees of awful.

        5. Murphy*

          I’ve both had them and done them. It accomplishes a number of things: 1) keeps the paperwork up-to-date which is useful when I may have to give a future reference for someone; 2) allows me the opportunity to let the departing staff member know how valuable they were; and 3) allows me to give them some potential advice or insights as they move forward (things like noticing that stress makes them flustered and then it flusters the team, for example – something that was noted to me before I left my last job and was appreciated , but not a surprise). Not all bosses are evil and are trying to make people feel bad. Some genuinely want their staff to grow and develop and these conversations are one way to do that.

          1. OP#3*

            >>keeps the paperwork up-to-date which is useful when I may have to give a future reference for someone

            I hadn’t thought about that. Thank you.

        6. TootsNYC*

          I do it. I also ask HR if they can tell me anything from the exit interview.
          (“Did the employee say anything during that exit interview that, if I knew about it, would make me a better manager?”)

          And one of the times I spoke w/ HR, it actually led to something good for the team, and for me. He had a specific complaint, and HR asked if I could verify it. I did, and expanded on it, and the HR person went away saying, “Hmmm. Thank you.” And, things changed a little after that.

      3. Christopher Tracy*

        Yes, the letter is vague as to the state of the relationship between OP and the boss. I wasn’t saying that the boss was for sure trying to get in one final dig, but that’s where my mind went given a previous experience. Honestly, if praise is what the manager is after, a simple card or goodbye email extolling her virtue would suffice. A full blown review doesn’t make any sense as Alison said – OP won’t be at the company anymore for the review to really matter.

    2. MK*

      I don’t know, it could simply be a very “rules” and “procedure” oriented person, who wants the performance review to close the file, so to speak, on the semester.

        1. RW*

          At the company I work for it would be necessary for the manager to complete a performance review at some point for the exiting employee because of the way our bonus works, and the fact that people who leave get a prorated amount. managers can do this after the employee leaves, but some managers prefer to have the conversation about the score if possible.

          1. Christopher Tracy*

            Ah, the bonus thing makes sense. My company only does the bonus thing officially in March (though other divisions are free to give outside bonuses at their discretion), and I’m not sure if a departing employee would still get one given that the bonus is a retention tool. But I can see this being a thing at companies where it’s based on performance only.

          2. anydaynow*

            My first thought was the manager’s bonus was based on his employees scores and if OP has a good review he wanted that included in his number.

        2. Lily Rowan*

          Yeah, my job just announced that managers won’t get their salary increases until all of their reviews are done, and I don’t know how that would apply to someone who leaves during review season. So I can see wanting to get that one checked off, so it doesn’t bite you in the ass down the line. “Fergus, I see that you only did reviews for 4 of your five direct reports, and you can’t get a raise until the 5th one is in.” “But the fifth person quit!” “….”

        3. Lindsay J*

          This. One place I worked at we had to do this for every employee who was on payroll when the review lists were generated. If they were leaving, we were to get the review in prior to them leaving. If they quit or were fired suddenly we still had to hand in the unsigned review with a notation that the employee was not able to review or sign/contest the review as they were no longer with the company, and the review and note was put in their employee folder (as far as I know).

          Our employees didn’t get their yearly raise until their reviews were completed and the reviews were satisfactory. And we did not get our yearly raise until we had reviewed all of our employees, as an incentive to not let the process drag on forever or “forget” or be “too busy” to complete the reviews.

    3. Matt*

      For OP#3, It may be that the 6-month plan going forward is important for the person who will replace the OP. The manager may not be up to speed on the OP’s projects and intends to use the performance review for that purpose.

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        But then, wouldn’t it be more efficient and less time consuming for everyone if the manager just asked the OP to write up an email with a list of all her current projects and the various states they’re in?

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          I would still want to meet with the departing employee to review said email. I manage a population of entry-level workers that turns over about every 2 years, and, despite samples and explicit instructions, the quality of written turnover documentation is highly variable. (Actually, the worst turnover documentation I ever received was from a senior person who left abruptly after 5 years of service and gave one-sentence descriptions of most — not all — projects about 15 minutes before leaving on his last day.)

          I ask for the documentation a week in advance of departure and a meeting to answer questions after I’ve had a day to review. This really helps me avoid drops in service to the people they support.

          1. Christopher Tracy*

            That sounds reasonable (and ha! at one sentence guy), but is quite different than you taking hours to complete a full performance evaluation and then taking another half hour to hour to discuss it with the departing employee barring any of the situations listed above (e.g. your bonus depends on it). Discussing transition materials before handing these things off to a new employee (or existing ones) makes total sense.

            1. NotAnotherManager!*

              Absolutely! And I fall into the management camp of not doing a single formal performance evaluation that I don’t have to. :)

              I use my turnover meeting to express gratitude for a job well-done, too, though that’s also feedback I try to give often and closer to the time of actual performance. I hate surprises, both good and bad, in year-end review. Everyone should know where he/she stands well before then (because I should have told them).

    4. CAA*

      Or it could be that the manager has her own 6-month performance review coming up and one of the goals from her last one is to have 100% of her team’s appraisals done on time.

      1. Q*

        This could be it. I once had to do “reviews” for people who left the company in the previous year because the system would not recognize that they no longer worked there. As long as they showed up as reporting to me, I had to submit the form or it would show I had not completed my task.

    5. Kelly*

      Thank you so much for the feedback. It really helps to hear I’m not the only one this has happened to. I’ve moved on although my self esteem has taken a hit. I’m used to everyone liking me not only as a professional but also as a person. I just feel like maybe I’ve lost my charn. I know there are bigger problems in the world but this really hurt me to the core. If I had some feedback I could work on improving those aspects but I am just in the dark and it makes me almost paranoid about starting a new position fearful the same thing may happen. Thanks again for your thoughtful advice.

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        Oh – and since you weren’t there that long, the firm didn’t have enough time to get to know you personally, so, in all likelihood, it really wasn’t you.

    6. Maxwell Edison*

      Ha ha! I had the same vibe about OP #3, but then I’m so scarred from the last couple years at ToxicJob that sometimes when I get praise from clients, part of me still wonders what that really meant and when they’re going to bushwhack me.

    7. Laurie B.*

      For OP #4, I had something very similar happen to me a few years back. I was brought in to be a manager within a corporation. I hit the ground running. I was introducing myself since this is a contractor to perm position. The corporation does that with all employees. A month into the position, I thought things were going well. Out of the blue, I got the call from the agency to meet me. So, the two reps for that account met me at a coffee place. They started grilling me about what happened, did I do something wrong? etc. The client never gave an explanation to me or them. The agency instead of finding, treated me horribly. I had to call the labor board to get my final paycheck so I can fly home since it was many states away. In the end, the person that has been there for a long time, got my position. I think they used me to see if he is qualified enough. Still bugs me.

    8. Vicki*

      I’m feeling similarly about letter #3. In my case, I was laid off (this was decades ago now) and my manager’s manager insisted that he write up my review the weekend before the MOnday on which I was told I was being laid off.

      My manager already had some issues (he was a very new manager) and he’d planned an out of town weekend, so he took all of that angst and frustration and stress – ruined weekend, lost employee, forced review deadline – and poured it into a review.

      I listened politely, informed him that no, I wasn’t going to sign it, and went back to my desk to pack.

      #3 – Just politely say “No thanks”.

  2. "Computer Science"*

    OP 1, I’m glad you care about this employee. I could see the opportunity rising again if this employee asked to use you as a reference- they would have opened the gates to communication and feedback, and you could explain your reservations and feel out their growth. Ultimately, though, I feel like its an experience to tuck in your pocket for future employees.

    1. Blurgle*

      And OP1, your former employee might know very well why she was fired but is too ashamed to explain why and unable to do anything to improve. Someone with undiagnosed depression, a needy (or abusive) family member interrupting their concentration, or even a medical condition they find embarrassing to discuss isn’t going to be helped by you once again going through All The Ways They Sucked in detail. They know.

      1. One of the Sarahs*

        Totally agree with the last paragraph. I appreciate OP is coming from a good place, but it’s so much likely to be no-win. Either a scenario like Blurgle says, or if they’re just a crappy employee, it’s likely to make them defensive and angry (and in that case, the firing is feedback enough).

      2. Nedra*

        Yep. All of those issues sound pretty related to one another, which makes me think it might be something beyond her control. At an old job, we had to let an employee go for all the same reasons. I was pretty sure the reason she was calling in sick all the time was because she was pregnant, but she was young and single and never told us for sure and it was her private business so we couldn’t exactly ask.

      3. RVA Cat*

        Part of having good boundaries is that you need to let grown adults just Be Wrong and deal with their own problems. The opportunity to coach her has long since passed, anything now is just kicking her when she’s down.

      4. Anna*

        Or they could just be a person who doesn’t see what on earth they did wrong to warrant being fired.

        I’m not saying that any one of those things you listed couldn’t be the case, but you’re coming up with all sorts of scenarios with absolutely no evidence. Sometimes a bad employee is just a bad employee.

    2. Cordelia Naismith*

      Agreed. I get that OP 1 wants to help, but at this point it would just feel like rubbing salt in the wound.

    3. Murphy*

      Yeah, I agree that the intention is good and comes from a good place, but if I were the fired employee and got this call I’d be thinking “you lost the right to make me feel bad about myself when you fired me. Stop. Talking.”

      It may not be the best head space, but it’s an understandable one given the circumstances.

      1. Erin*

        +10000 why should she listen to anything you have to say? You already said it by firing her. It’s just going to awkward and uncomfortable for you and her.
        To be honest if I were her all calls from you or your bussiness line would be screened and go to voicemail.

    4. Erika*

      Part of this is because in the exit interview, she essentially told me that being on her cell phone during work hours wasn’t keeping her from performing her duties. Directly after I told her it was. And have told her multiple times to leave the phone in her car while she was clocked in. *headdesk*

      I know objectively that you can’t force people to see things they don’t want to or are incapable of seeing, but I definitely wanted confirmation from Alison and the rest of you that I just needed to let this go. And I got it, so thanks guys. :)

      1. Blurgle*

        This is an even worse sign. You might think she’s being oblivious but I’ve seen this exact scenario play out; in that case it was an abusive or controlling partner texting the employee 100 times a day to keep tabs on her.

        If this is the case with your ex-employee, telling her to shut off the phone or leave it in the car would never have worked. Someone in this position is balancing the possible vague threat of losing a job at some point if they don’t comply – maybe, perhaps – against the rock-solid absolute certainty of being screamed at, intimidated, beaten, or worse if they do comply. A fist is a far greater motivator than a paycheque.

        But all of that is out of your hands. Even if I’m right you can’t make someone in that situation be a better employee, and you can’t save them. But what you can do is stifle the impulse to lecture them on their failings. If the former employee is in that situation, you could actually be doing real, long-term harm by seeking them out, going over their failings again in detail, and confirming the “it’s all your fault” monologue that abuse victims are brainwashed to believe.

        Damn, I hope I’m wrong.

    1. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

      Interesting. I read that as simply an example of what OP saw as unprofessional behavior, and assumed that OP is not a smoker…

      I am curious now if OP is a smoker, because if they are, it may be something to consider.

      1. Blurgle*

        There are a lot of places that consider any smoke break at all – unless it’s at lunch or legally mandated coffee breaks, if any – excessive.

        1. Kelly L.*

          I read the letter as, she took no smoke breaks at all, whether she smokes in general or not.

      2. Construction Safety*

        Not only the time it takes, but the after “aroma” may be offensive to some current staff.

    2. Cambridge Comma*

      The sentence structure leaves a little room for ambiguity, but I would understand from the context of the other examples that OP#4 is not a smoker.

    3. lulu*

      That’s funny, this is exactly why we let go of a temp at my old place. It was supposed to be a temp to hire. Once the owner found out she was a smoker, she was out of there. I would guess they didn’t tell her why.

        1. F.*

          In these days of higher insurance rates for smokers and many companies’ focus on employee wellness, smoking is a legitimate reason not to hire someone.

          1. BananaPants*

            There are employers who screen for nicotine and will not hire someone who smokes (or chews, or vapes, or whatever). In around half of U.S. states it’s legal to do so, so in those jurisdictions it would be legal to not hire someone due to smoking.

            Employees of my company who use nicotine in any form pay more for their health insurance premiums (rather, they can’t get the wellness discount unless they complete a cessation program provided by the company and remain nicotine-free). The same goes for insured spouses.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Same here about the insurance–and the campus is entirely smoke-free. If you need to take a cig break, you have to do it when you actually leave the premises. I suppose people could smoke in their cars, but then others would smell it, and we’re not really supposed to do that on campus either.

            1. K.*

              Yeah, I interviewed for a non-medical position at a hospital & the recruiter told me up front, before the process was underway, that smoking was verboten, period. I don’t smoke so it wasn’t an issue, but if I did I couldn’t apply.

            2. Joseph*

              Worth noting that most US hospitals nowadays have very limited areas where it’s even legal to smoke (partly for health reasons, partly due to sensitive equipment). In some hospitals, I’ve even seen that you literally need to leave the entire property to find an area where you can smoke. So if they allowed smoking and smoke breaks, they’d lose a ton of productivity since odds are it’d take you a good 10-15 minutes just to walk to an area where you can smoke.

              Plus the whole “we’re projecting a healthy image” thing – though that’s a more questionable justification given that plenty of doctors drink, fail to get sufficient exercise, and so on.

              1. Lindsay J*

                Yes, a lot of hospitals and schools I have seen have signs saying there is absolutely no smoking permitted on the property.

                1. De Minimis*

                  At my former job[health clinic] it was that way….the designated smoking area a picnic table located just past the parking area that was technically not on the property.

            1. fposte*

              If it’s policy, they’re not going to make exception for a temp. (But I didn’t read it as the OP being a smoker either.)

          2. Case of the Mondays*

            Check your state laws! In NH for one, that is illegal. You don’t have to allow the person to smoke on your property but you can’t fire them or not hire them for smoking at home.

          3. Anna*

            No, it isn’t. A legitimate reason not to hire someone is if they don’t have the experience or the skills needed for the job. Whether or not they smoke is not a legitimate reason any more than not hiring me because I have Type I diabetes is legitimate. Sure, a person can stop smoking but if we’re going on cost of insurance than your reasoning doesn’t stand.

            1. Sigrid*

              Except in jurisdictions where it is specifically illegal (such as Tennessee), most hospitals nowadays will not hire someone who uses nicotine in any form, and will fire anyone who tests positive for nicotine on a random drug screen. Legitimate? Possibly not, but widely done.

        2. lulu*

          Yeah, I was a little shocked, as I knew she smoked but had no idea they had this “policy”. Not sure if they could have asked the temp agency to screen for smokers beforehand.

        3. Temperance*

          I’m asthmatic. Working next to a smoker is hell for me. I’m still not sorry that OldJob fired the heavy smoker, perfume wearing temp because she made me and a pregnant coworker sick.

          1. NotAnotherManager!*

            I am not sensitive to scents, but perfume covering up cigarette smoke reek give me a hell of a headache. I cannot imagine how bad it must be for those who have more sensitive noses.

            (But, I didn’t get the impression OP#4 was a smoker, either. I took smoke breaks as a list of professional vices in which she did not indulge.)

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Once I quit smoking, I became more sensitive to it. Someone who obviously smoked had been in the elevator the other day and I could smell it. It might have been a visitor, but ewwww. That was a long ride up to my floor. Almost as bad as whoever who thinks one bottle of cologne clearly isn’t enough. >_<

            2. Cactus*

              I don’t know if I’m particularly sensitive to scents, but at a previous job, I also worked in close proximity to a smoker who used heavy perfume to cover it up. And she was one of the main reasons I left.

        4. Gaia*

          It seems very reasonable to me. Insurance rates are higher for smokers. Many (though not all) smokers take additional breaks throughout the day. There may be people with asthma on staff or those allergic to the smell of smoke that clings to *every* smoker.

          1. neverjaunty*

            I don’t think you want to go down the path of “insurance rates are higher for X/X get sick more” as a legitimate reason for employment decisions.

            1. Temperance*

              Arguably, smoking is a choice in a way that many other lifestyle behaviors are not.

              1. Kelly L.*

                People make the same argument about weight, though, and one could make that argument about all sorts of behaviors that aren’t socially stigmatized but do come with hazards, like tanning or extreme sports. There are all kinds of things people do that can lead to medical conditions, and none of us lives a perfectly risk-free life, and the very nature of insurance is that we’re all probably going to pay for somebody else’s illness at some point, and someone else is probably going to pay for our illness at some point. Them’s the breaks.

                1. Faith*

                  Well, it’s not illegal to refuse to hire someone because they engage in tanning, extreme sports, or other hazardous behavior. And as the cost of health insurance keeps going up, I would not be surprised at all to see more and more employers poke their nose in their employees’ lives to see which ones of them might end up costing them more. It’s one of the consequences of having your health coverage tied to your employment.

                2. Kelly L.*

                  I didn’t say it was illegal. I just don’t think it’s right.

                  (Honestly, I feel like coverage should be divorced from employment in the first place, but that’s a debate for another time.)

                3. Faith*

                  (Honestly, I feel like coverage should be divorced from employment in the first place, but that’s a debate for another time.)


                4. neverjaunty*

                  It’s also not illegal to require employees to keep a food diary and fire them if they don’t eat three servings of vegetables a day. So what?

              2. Kate M*

                Yeah, I see this argument used for people who are overweight too, and it doesn’t hold any water. Nobody makes perfect decisions regarding their health. I mean, technically, all adults should be exercising/be active for an hour every day at least, according to the most recent research. Are you going to not hire someone who doesn’t exercise, or doesn’t exercise to that amount? Drinking more than one glass of red wine per night (or like 3 times a week for women) is unhealthy. Are you going to monitor people’s drinks to see whether their health is going to cost more in insurance?

                Don’t go down the road of “someone has a behavior that causes their health to be less than 100% so for insurance reasons we aren’t going to hire them.” That said, I think smoking is gross and don’t like working with smokers and would totally understand it at like a hospital or something (because of second hand smoke and patients). But costing the company more money in insurance is not a good argument, unless you’re willing to expand that argument to any behavior you might have that is less than perfect for your health.

                1. pope suburban*

                  Hear, hear! And frankly, while I am not over the moon about that stale-cigarette smell, it’s certainly no worse than the powdery perfume with which a dizzying number of people douse themselves, and which makes my eyes water something fierce. But none of that ought to have anything to do with insurance, or someone’s ability to provide for themselves (outside of jobs that specifically require no smoke, or no scent, or what have you).

              3. Anna*

                What other “lifestyles behaviors” are not a choice? The fact they are lifestyle behaviors make them choices by their very definition.

                The point neverjaunty is making is that cost of insurance due to smoking or other things is not a reasonable argument since there are plenty of non-choice things that end up being very expensive to insurance. “We promote a healthy lifestyle” at a company that advertises sporting equipment is reasonable. “Smoking is very expensive to insurance” while employing people who have high medical costs is not a good argument. This is coming from someone who is expensive to her employer’s insurance.

              4. neverjaunty*

                If “arguably” the real issue here is the employer’s insurance costs, then whether something is a lifestyle behavior (whatever that means) is irrelevant; it costs more to insure Fergus than Wakeen, so out Fergus goes. If “arguably” we wanted to limit it to mutable behaviors because in theory the employee could make different decisions, then an employer ought to be able to look at things such as, for example, an employee’s marital status, or require them to provide a food and exercise diary (as others have pointed out below).

                If, on the other hand, insurance and costs is a thin fig leaf for moral disapproval, then maybe just own that?

                P.S.: regarding smoking, the tobacco industry has spent and continues to spend billions of dollars on doubt science and massive advertising designed to get children smoking, before their good judgment and experience gets in the way, and then get them hooked on an incredibly addictive substance. And then tries to shift all the blame for the industry’s conduct to ‘well nobody made her smoke, it was 100% an individual choice’. So I’m apt to cut smokers a little slack in that regard.

            2. Megs*

              As an occasional smoker, I’d be fine with hearing *up front* that an employer doesn’t allow smoking. I understand that it can be disruptive to others and it’s not like I have some god-given right to smoke anywhere or anytime I want. But I agree that “the insurance rates are higher” is a crap argument. Insurance rates can be based on a lot of things that have absolutely nothing to do with one’s ability to do a job well, and I think it’s best just to avoid that whole quagmire.

      1. BananaPants*

        Given the amount of time the smokers at my workplace spend on their habit, I can’t blame a company for not wanting to deal with it – especially early on with a temp where they don’t really need to give a reason other than, “It’s not working out.” Our entire campus is smoke-free, including parking lots and personal vehicles in said lots. The smokers now have to walk or drive to a public sidewalk to smoke, which adds to their already time-consuming smoke breaks. The company has offered free smoking cessation programs for years and employees can’t get a discount on health insurance premiums if they admit to smoking. We only have a handful of smokers left in my building, but they’re going strong – most are exempt employees, so their breaks can’t really be policed.

        Based on the context, I do believe the OP in this case is a non-smoker.

        1. Anna*

          I question whether or not smokers actually do take more time for their breaks than not. It’s more likely that because their habit is so visible, the perception is they spend a lot of time doing it. There are probably just as many if not hundreds more minutes spent by people doing checks on Facebook or Ask a Manager. The difference is that you don’t actually see those time sinks.

    4. Allison*

      “I did not deviate from acting completely professional such as taking smoke breaks, talking on my cell phone, accessing the internet for non-work related reasons, or chit chatting about personal things”

      My takeaway was that OP #4 was not taking smoke breaks, and thus was not a smoker, unless this means OP smoked right before work, or right after, or during lunch.

        1. LQ*

          I can absolutely think of saying that as a point as a non-smoker, in jobs where others were often out smoking. (The thing that really jumps to mind for me was when I was doing cooking jobs in high school and college and 75% of the time everyone else was out back smoking and so I was the only one at the grill when orders came in. Then? I would have definitely said it as a point in my favor.)

          1. Allison*

            Yes, basically this! It’s tough to tell if OP is saying “I refrained from something I really wanted to do in the name of being professional” or “I didn’t take smoke breaks like *some* people!” but I’m assuming it’s the latter. It probably wouldn’t have crossed my mind either, but it might have if I’ve recently been at a job where lots of people did it, especially if it was frowned upon.

          2. neverjaunty*

            Yes. Lots of people in blue-collar jobs took up smoking precisely because that was the only legitimate reason for breaks.

            1. some1*

              And a lot of receptionists or people who have a “need a butt in the seat” office jobs feel like they need a reason to take a break as well.

                1. Elizabeth West*

                  I worked at a job where all the smokers would take their breaks at the same time so they could gossip. There were quite a few of us (I smoked at the time), so colleagues would often go looking for someone and nobody would be around. “Oh, must be smoke break,” they’d say. As a newbie peon, I’d be the one who got left behind and took my smoke break alone later so someone could answer our department phone.

            2. Megs*

              Since I’ve quit smoking at work, I’ve felt super defensive about taking my LEGALLY MANDATED BREAKS. *ahem*. To be fair, my current job is cool about people actually taking breaks, but I’ve absolutely worked retail or food service where the smokers were the only ones getting the breaks we were all (say it with me) LEGALLY REQUIRED TO GET. And then people blame the smokers for taking overly long breaks. I may have a bugaboo about this.

              1. KR*

                Rest assured that’s not the case in all retail jobs. No one at my store gets extra smoke breaks except the managers who are on salary and can manage their own time. I don’t think any of the managers even smoke – there was one who used to but she moved on to another job.

                1. Megs*

                  Oh for sure – anecdote not the plural of data etc etc. But it does happen. Like so many things, it comes down to culture and management.

                2. Megs*

                  And of course, some smokers abuse break times as to some non-smokers (#notallsmokers #notallnonsmokers). I just meant to say that in my prior retail and food experience in particular, some managers are inconsistent twerps about breaks.

              2. Phoebe*

                Not all states have legally mandated breaks. When I was waiting tables (years ago) sneaking out back for a cigarette was often the only way to anyone ever got to take a break on a 4-6 hour shift.

              3. Rater Z*

                One of my biggest complaints about where I work (part-time in retail) is that they require me to take breaks on the two nights I come in to work the truck and put the stuff out on the shelves. I stiffen up if I sit down for 15 minutes. Even worse is being required to take a half lunch if I am there for 5 1/2 hours. It’s a flex schedule in that we don’t know for sure when the truck will show up. It’s a two hour drive from the warehouse in the neighboring state and they don’t leave at the same time each night. I can leave when I get done, whether I’ve been there for three or four hours or it gets stretched out to seven hours. Usually, I tend to punch out for the break or lunch, then go right back to work and hope I remember to punch back in again. Breaks are paid, lunch is not. Part way thru the shift (at 10:30pm), we lock the door (for the third shift) and do everything thru a revolving window so I am able to eat while I work. I just want to get out and go home. I’m not sure if my new supervisor knows what I am doing and I’m for sure not telling her…

                1. an anon*

                  If you’re non-exempt, you should NOT be still working while clocked out for unpaid breaks. It’s illegal, and it presents a large legal liability to your employer, who will be required to pay you back wages and possibly be fined by DOL if DOL finds out. If your supervisor is competent, she will tell you on no uncertain terms that this behavior is unacceptable. You can even be fired for it. Please stop this practice.

          3. Jinx*

            My husband had the same experience in food jobs – some crappy employers don’t give any breaks except smoke breaks, so most people he worked with were smokers. I also have family members who worked in call centers where smoke breaks were common.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              I was super skinny in food service because I took my lunch break to smoke, not eat. Or I’d eat a little bit very fast so I had time to smoke. Because 1) a half hour is not very long for lunch even if you don’t smoke, and 2) I am a tobacco addict and couldn’t go a whole day without it. I can never ever be a casual smoker or even have one cig or I’d have to start all over again. *smoke-free since 2007* \0/

              1. Rater Z*

                I’m convinced that nobody ever really quits smoking. I smoked for 20 years, then stopped in late 1980. About a month after I stopped, I was talking with a guy who had been off smoking for 17 years and he said he still wanted one. I sell them where I work and I find myself still wanting to smoke after all these years. They were only 30 cents a pack when I sopped and I had six cartons sitting in the cabinet then. One carton of that brand–Marlboros) nowadays is $65 and I was only smoking around three packs a day (depending on how many cigars I smoked).

  3. FD*

    #5- You can definitely talk about this! Hiring managers know that your resume is meant to be the most important accomplishments, not everything you’ve ever done.

    Here’s one way I’ve handled this in interviews:

    “Tell me about a time you had to work with others to get a job done.”
    “Sure! When I was working at Wakeen’s Chocolates, one special project I took on was to develop a new kind of chocolate handle. In order to get this done, I…etc etc”

  4. TootsNYC*

    Re: #5, extra projects

    These are also fodder for cover letters and follow-up/thank-you letters (even if you discuss the projects in the interview, it’s smart to see if you can mention them in writing in the letter).

    also don’t dwell too much on the idea tha tyou left them out, and do NOT express any regret.
    Just treat them as though they’re, “Oh! another thing I did…” It’ll leave the impression that you have so many accomplishments and skills that you can just pull them out of your head left and right.
    Think: depth, not forgetfulness or error in judgment.

    1. Joseph*

      Honestly, I wouldn’t even state the fact that you left them out of your resume at all. It’s obvious that they aren’t listed and any hiring manager/interviewer will understand that you can only fit so much on a 1-2 page resume.

      Just wait till they toss out any question which asks for an example (“tell me about…”), then pull out Awesomely Relevant Project as your example. Since ARP isn’t on your resume, you can give them a short description of it, then answer the question…and it’s very likely that they’ll ask more follow-up questions that you can use.

      1. TootsNYC*

        “Honestly, I wouldn’t even state the fact that you left them out of your resume at all. “


        1. Terra*

          Agreed, but also be prepared to discuss why you didn’t list it if they happen to notice that it wasn’t on your resume. It doesn’t happen often but occasionally someone will ask about your reasoning for leaving it off your resume if it was such a great project.

      2. Jadelyn*

        “you can only fit so much on a 1-2 page resume.”

        …which is how we get people who send in 5+ page long monstrosities. My current record for longest resume received was ELEVEN PAGES. It included literally every job this person (senior executive-level) had ever had, down to the job they had as a dishwasher for a convent (monastery? something like that) in the 70’s. I just kept scrolling…and scrolling…and scrolling…and it didn’t end.

        Seriously, if you list every project – even only every relevant one – you’re going to either run out of space to talk about literally anything else, or you’re going to end up being the person whose resume some recruiter forwards to their HR colleagues to say “holy crap, look at this one!” – and not in a good way. Hit the critical points in the resume, hold the rest in your brain for the interview.

  5. Corporate Cynic*

    #3: Several years ago when I resigned from my job prior to entering grad school full-time, my manager encouraged me to go through with my year-end review even though it was scheduled for my last week at work. His rationale was that, if I ever chose to apply/return to the company in the future, it would be better to have a complete file.

    So that’s one possible (optimistic) explanation – then again, my manager had recommended me for grad school and fully endorsed my leaving, so I didn’t mind having the review.

    1. uh*

      #3 I could absolutely see this happening at my employer.

      Alternately, they might meet and just say goodbye/wish you luck/assure you you are eligible for rehire/get transition information even if it was still called a “review”. No “review” would actually be done.

  6. RG*

    #2: I would go ahead and make a “sick group” in your email that consists of the people you need to contact to make it easier on future sick you. Heck, I might even make a generic “sick email” template as well to make it even easier.

    1. Joseph*

      Yeah, this is the standard way to handle it.

      Maybe you call your direct manager, but then just send an email to anybody else who might need to know that you’re out: Project managers, co-workers you’re working directly with, people who you had scheduled meetings with, etc.

    2. Ama*

      Yes — also if you commonly use your phone’s email app to call out sick (which is what I do, as my computer takes ages to boot up), check and make sure all of the necessary emails are readily accessible from your phone. At my office, standard practice is to email your direct boss, cc’ing the office manager (who tracks PTO for payroll) and any coworkers in your immediate department. Nothing is worse when you are sick and just want to go back to bed then to realize there’s a new hire in one of those roles and you have to track down the exact email for manual entry.

    3. Beezus*

      I think this gets more complex if you do a lot of independent and/or project work. If I called out sick today, the list of people I’d need to notify would be different than if I called out a week from today. I normally check my calendar and task list via my phone and send an email or text to my boss, my backups, and anyone I had meetings with or deliverables for. I’m responsible for notifying those people.

    4. Liz*

      I did that! I have several bosses (it’s complicated), so I have a standard email saved in my phone — I can roll over at 6 am, realise that I’m feverish or developing a migraine or whatever, and email my bosses without even waking up.

      (This was also handy when I broke my foot and was unable to form coherent sentences due to the pain.)

    5. OP #2*

      That’s a good idea :) Calling was a pain the rear because I had little to no voice

      I’m grateful to green tea with honey for soothing it and making it go away.

  7. Cambridge Comma*

    OP 1 sounds like she really needs to get it off her chest. I would suggest writing the e-mail — but not sending it.
    Alternatively, anonymise it and post it in the Friday Open Thread.

    1. TootsNYC*

      Alternatively, anonymise it and post it in the Friday Open Thread.

      That’s actually a nice idea! Someone might benefit from it.

    2. Erika*

      OP #1 here – What’s funny is that part of the email I wanted to write included a link to this blog! I’ve found it so useful over the years, and I think, ultimately, this employee’s biggest issue is her general age and immaturity. The more things my staff told me since I fired her (such as using our front desk computer to job search while she was neglecting her duties, and telling radically different stories from what I heard about why she left old positions) scream immaturity to me. And, like I said in my letter, I feel like she has so much potential that it’s just killing me to see her squandering it by behaving the way she was. I hate firing people, although obviously I do it when necessary, but I want her to be okay in the end, and I feel like not seeing her own roadblocks will keep her from achieving what she could.

      You’re right that I think I feel like I need to get this off my chest, but I simply have to deal with that in some other way.

      1. Jadelyn*

        As much as you want to…you can’t save them all. You can’t take on responsibility for other people like that. I can’t tell you how many resumes I’ve received and screened where my response was “Oh, honey, no…that’s not how you do that…” to the point that I honestly wanted to send them an email with resume advice to help their chances at other jobs, but you can’t take that on your shoulders. She is responsible for her own future. You’ve done everything you can, but you’ve got to leave it up to her.

        Besides, how would *you* feel if you got fired, and a couple weeks later you got a follow-up email from your former boss describing your failings all over again?

    3. Florida*

      This is a great suggestion. I’ve written letters and not mailed them in other situations, and it’s helpful to me.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I do this all the time, but I caution people to NOT write them in your email program. It’s too easy to slip and accidentally send them. I write them in Notepad–it doesn’t go anywhere and makes a nice little text file I can then delete later or not save at all.

        1. Grapey*

          My advice for ALL emails (whether you intend to send or not) is to put in recipients last, so no accidental sending occurs at all.

  8. Matt*

    #2: if email is an option and they don’t insist on calling, I’d go with one email to all the people who might want to know. That’s the way I do it. Years ago we had a policy that you had to call your direct supervisor – at this time I was relying on my supervisor to inform anybody else, as calling everybody I was working with and getting hold of them on the phone would really be too much …

  9. Merry and Bright*

    OP5 I’ve had similar dilemmas so I sympsthise.

    However, you have an interview lined up on the basis of your original resume so that’s great news. With these other projects up your sleeve you now have some fresh material to use for any “Tell me about a time when…” questions. It is helpful to have plenty of material to hand (you just never know) and it shows the interviewer(s) your achievements aren’t limited to those on your resume.

    Hope your interview goes really well :)

    1. TootsNYC*

      Also, you can bring those stories up yourself; you don’t have to wait for the specific query.

      Just say, “Oh, one of the projects I took on was this, and it was a great way to use and perfect my XYZ skills.”

  10. Nina*

    #4: Wow, I could have written this myself a few years ago. My first temp job was a different environment than I was used to, but I loved the job, it paid well, and it was close to home. I was happy at work for the first time in years, and told the temp agency, (along with the employer) that I was looking forward to working there longer, if they would have me. So lo and behold one Tuesday morning about two months after I started, I get a call from the agency saying the company wished to terminate the employment because you guessed it, I wasn’t a good fit. They didn’t even want me to come and collect my stuff. The agency had to get it and I collected my stuff from them.

    I was stunned at the news, and very hurt. And like you, I second-guessed every single thing I had done from the time I started. Did I wear the wrong clothes? Say the wrong thing? Had I been too eager (openly) to stay on? Who had I pissed off enough that I couldn’t even retrieve my things? The questioning went on and on.

    I contacted the agency, who in turn contacted the employer, but no explanation ever came besides “They liked you but it wasn’t a good fit”. Finally, my friends and relatives told me that I was losing my mind wondering “what if” every day and that another job would come along. And it did, and I had some really good temp gigs after that. But getting rejected like that out of the blue is a painful experience, I know.

    My advice: do not let this get you down, preying on your self-confidence and making yourself sick. It’s not worth it. If the firm returns some real feedback, cool. If not, don’t concern yourself with it. Either way, let this one go and move on. There’s another job out there that will be a good fit for you.

    Good luck. :)

    1. Sara M*

      Ditto this. I never figured out why I lost that one temp job. Never, ever figured it out.

      It might not have been me at all.

    2. MK*

      It’s always possible that they can no longer afford the temp worker but don’t want to say so; or that they are replacing you with a nepotism hire.

      1. neverjaunty*

        Exactly. Few companies will say “we can’t afford to anymore” or “we just lost our flagship client”.

    3. Merry and Bright*

      Been there too! I was working a temp assignment for a local organisation. One Friday afternoon the supervisor went through the office calendar and my tasks for the following two weeks. She even collected money from me for the office coffee club. Lo and behold, while I was on the bus home the temp agency called me to say the assignment was finished because I wasn’t a good fit.

      When I got home I realised I had my building pass, swipe card and office key which I then had to travel to return after the weekend. I did get more work from the agency though and had no more “fit” ptoblems.

    4. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

      Because we work with temp agencies quite a bit, we have rule of thumb if we decide to not proceed with a temp:

      If someone is with us less than a few weeks, we call the agency and it’s up to the agency to handle the employee.

      Once someone is with us more than a few weeks, we tell the person ourselves. My managers aren’t supposed to have to do this, but we all agree that we think it’s the right thing to do. It’s almost uniformly dreadful, but we all agree that once someone has been here a bit, settled in, made some relationships, not doing it ourselves is colder than we’re capable of being. We actually paid the last temp through the end of the week, letting her go on a Tuesday. (That’s nuts! That’s not how temp relationships are supposed to work! But, we wanted to.)

      Agencies aren’t all equal. If you’re on the employer side, screening for agencies who take care of their temps helps you sleep better at night. Give the agency good feedback to pass along to the temp, and try to do better than “not a good fit”.

      1. Pennalynn Lott*

        The more posts I read from you, the more I want to work for you and your company!

      2. Jadelyn*

        I came to my current position via a temp assignment, and we’re very much the same with our temps. I’ve temped for places that were cold and made sure you knew you were “just a temp”, but some employers – like yours and mine – remember to treat them like people and employees. It’s so good to hear my own company isn’t the only one who makes a point of doing that.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          We had temps at Exjob who came in and watched the front desk when we had our quarterly meetings. Since we had to have them for a minimum of four hours, I would compile stuff for them to do or let them have the desk while I did stuff away from it. We even had favorite temps we would request. I always made sure to be nice to them and treat them like people and not just a body at which I could shove file folders, because I did almost a whole year of temp work and I remembered how it was to feel like part of the furniture.

          One time there, LastBoss hired this really cool woman to help him with a very large task (not for the front desk, but I did work with her on the task). She was awesome and I am still in touch with her. :)

    5. mazzy*

      I had this happen after many months on a permanent job. It was strange and sad, but in retrospect, I realize it was partially because I was outgrowing the job duties too quickly (well, also because they liked to hire people to be friends with); I see the person who took my position, and I recognized their photo on linkedin because I saw them in the office for what I’m guessing was an interview, and they stayed for over five plus years in that associates level job.

      1. MoinMoin*

        That’s like the career version of High Fidelity- when the main character wants to know why all his relationships have failed and he tries to get in touch with his first girlfriend, who dumped him after a week for another guy. He finds out she ended up marrying the other guy and is ecstatic- it’s not him, it’s fate!
        I left a position I hated and found out later that the person now filling my role is someone with whom I never really got along. It wasn’t personal, they just had a really different (I would say unprofessional and lazy) work style. So the idea that the position and person and now united gives me a weird relief and makes it all the easier to mentally move on.

    6. Lia*

      I had this happen as well in one temp job when I was in college. Totally bizarre. Turned out that they did not actually have enough work to keep the numerous temps they had hired busy, so they wound up cutting about half of them and chose the victims at random. I had bad luck, that was all. I’d been there a couple of weeks at the time.

      The agency quickly placed me into another position, which wound up keeping me for the rest of the summer.

      1. Megs*

        Back when I temped, I had a few jobs stuffing binders for a large corporation headquartered in my city. We’d get hired to do this for a couple of weeks every couple of months or so when they were opening a new location. They always hired twice as many temps as needed and would gradually lay people off based on speed. First to go were always the lefties.

  11. Jeanne*

    #4, I think you had a misunderstanding from the beginning. If the position was permanent, not temp to hire, you would have filled out their paperwork and they couldn’t have called your agency to let you go. There could have been other misunderstandings. But none of this makes you a bad person or a bad worker. The threshhold for firing is very low when you’re just trying someone out.

    1. Gaara*

      That’s what I was wondering about. It sounds like the OP thinks she was hired for a permanent position (if so, I can certainly understand the shock, and I’d be outraged on her behalf). I’ve never gotten hired through a temp agency — but I take it that’s not right? If she was really hired in a temp-to-hire position, then it’s more understandable, and less likely to mean that she did anything wrong, because then she was just a temp worker whom they did not hire for a permanent position.

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        Yeah, that typically doesn’t happen, but it could be that her agency gave her incorrect information. I had one agency send me on a job that was supposed to be full-time – come to find out, it was part-time and only paid $8/hr.

      2. Lindsay J*

        I was hired for a permanent position through a staffing agency.

        It was for a hotel. It was bizarre, and I’m not sure why they did it that way. I was actually interviewed initially by an actual hotel employee, but all the paperwork I filled out was for the staffing agency, my paychecks came from the staffing agency, and my W2 came from the staffing agency. I don’t know if it was less expensive for the hotel to do this and not have to pay for workers comp insurance, unemployment, payroll processing, etc, or what. The arrangement perplexed me and cannot have been normal. But it did happen.

    2. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

      I missed that on first read, thanks.

      Yeah, that’s not a thing. If the paychecks were coming from the temp agency and not the employer, it’s still a temp job, even if it’s “temp with strong intent to hire”.

      1. Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks*

        @OP#4- First and foremost, try not to take it to personally. Unfortunately, it sounds like there was no guarantee (i.e. nothing in writing) that they would make you permanent. That being said, maybe they lost the headcount to keep you as a temp (and eventually to make you permanent). That happens a lot these days. As the others have said, you’ll find a Permanent job that will be a good fit.

    3. BRR*

      This sounds very similar to my husbands position. He is a temp because his company hires a large number of temps to do roles that are permanent positions. These positions are advertised on the company’s website and people get told at the end of the interview “btw you would be hired as a temp bye.” There’s no timeline or set of achievements to hit to be converted to full time. A year later and no end in sight. No benefits (he’s offered a terrible insurance plan at $900 a month). Unfortunately sometimes when you need a job you need a job. In my opinion this is the same as misclassifying employees as exempt or contractors.

      1. Allison*

        Similar position as well. When I was brought on to this role, I was told I’d be a contractor to start, but payrolled through a 3rd party so I’d still be on a W2 and get very basic benefits like health insurance and an unmatched 401k; so pretty much “temp-to-perm” and the hiring manager told me that if they liked me, they’d hire me full-time. Well, they kept renewing my contract, and I’ve been here for 2 years still a contractor, and after the 2 year mark I spoke up about it. I don’t mind a lack of stock options or what have you, but no vacation days at all (not even paid holidays) when everyone else on the team gets unlimited vacation (which they do use to a reasonable amount) really sucks and is starting to seem very unfair.

      2. The Alias Gloria Has Been Living Under, A.A., B.S.*

        I had this at my current job, it took a year to get hired on. Temp agency told me 3 months and “almost everyone” gets hired on at that point. Lies!

        1. Allison*

          I swear, they always say it’ll only be 3 months. It may be too late where I am now, we’ll see how things go, but if I’m ever being hired for a “temp to perm” or “contract to perm” position again, I’m going to ask “what will I need to do to become permanent?” and if they don’t have an answer, we’re going to figure out a plan, because “until we know we like you” is BS.

          1. The Alias Gloria Has Been Living Under, A.A., B.S.*

            In my case my manager liked me and wanted to hire me on, there just wasn’t an “opening” which I, to this day, do not understand. Then there was some budget cuts and all the temps were let go. I came back in a different department a few months later since I hadn’t found anything, and a few months after that I got hired on FT. Still, it ticked me off and that’s not a great way to start off an employer/employee relationship.

      3. some1*

        True, but if your husband found a better job six months into the assignment, it would look better for him to resign his temp position vs resigning a perm one. And he can label it as a temp position on his resume and not look like a job hopper.

      4. I'm a Little Teapot*

        I know a woman who was a “temp” at the same place for 10 years.

        Seriously, it pisses me off too. If temps don’t get any benefits or job security, we should at least be paid more an hour than regular employees doing the same job. Unfortunately, we’re paid *less*.

        1. The Alias Gloria Has Been Living Under, A.A., B.S.*

          I fully agree. My big complaint was that I was held to the same standards as regular employees, including attendance. In fact it looked worse for me to take time off. And when was I supposed to interview for a real job then?

        2. Lia*

          Yeah, I worked with some folks like that at a temp assignment. It was a factory that was staffed by about 90% temps. It made it a lot easier for them to contract the workforce in the off months, or so it was claimed.

        3. One of the Sarahs*

          In the UK, there are laws about this – if a person is in the same short-term or temp contract for a certain period of time (I think around 2 years), the company has to either make that person permanent or lose the position completely. I know a couple of people who’ve got put on full-time payroll this way! It’s written so they can’t chuck someone out of the post and re-hire – the law’s around the post not the person, and it’s really important, exactly because of benefits.

          1. Chinook*

            ” if a person is in the same short-term or temp contract for a certain period of time (I think around 2 years), the company has to either make that person permanent or lose the position completely. ”

            Man, I wish we had this hear. I have worked the same position for 3 years – 1 for a temp agency, 2 as an independent contractor and now for a different temp agency (which I and every other independent contractor and temp were traded to with a month’s notice, losing any time we had accrued for provincially mandated benefits, which meant no paid stat holiday last week, just an unpaid day off). My boss hear tries every year to have my position changed to a staff position and every year it gets denied. And I am not alone. There are easily a dozen people who have been here a number of years as “temps.” Luckily, our supervisors treat as employees (in the good way) even if we don’t get the same financial benefits.

      5. AK*

        I had a job like that – on the upside, they were very clear with me that I would never, ever get hired on permanently, because they just weren’t hiring anyone. They had no end date, though – the guy I shared a cubicle with had been there, as a “temp”, for two years and counting. I started thinking of it as “perma-temping,” and there are a lot of those jobs out there.

      6. BioPharma*

        I loved the last time I was a contractor! I had a terrible boss, so it made it easy to answer the “why are you looking/leaving after 4 months?” question!

    4. Merry and Bright*

      Also, some of the less scrupulous agencies try to oversell the assignment especially if the agency has trouble filling the assignment – e.g. temp-to-perm when that isn’t the intention.

    5. Elizabeth S.*

      It’s a “temperview,” with just about as much commitment to a permanent hire as any job interview has. Had plenty of those in my temping years!

  12. Enemy of the Tiny Font People*

    Alison, the change font feature on your site has not worked for either of my iPhones (different models) for a couple of months. I don’t think it’s my phone because that feature used to work fine before. So I wanted to let you know.

    1. Liane*

      There is a link right above the comment box to report tech and other issues now. :)

  13. Dangerfield*

    OP#4, maybe the boss’s son/daughter/cousin needed a temp gig or something. Don’t make yourself crazy imagining you did something wrong when there’s every chance there was just a bit of old fashioned nepotism going on.

    1. Hannah*

      This was my thought. They realized they didn’t need the temp for some reason like this, and they had the easy out available to them to just call the temp agency and say the temp wasn’t working out. They didn’t have to have a face to face conversation with the OP and probably didn’t consider that their off hand comment about “fit” would actually get back to the OP. I guess that’s the advantage of hiring a temp, from the employer’s side. I would try not to take it personally OP! I get the feeling it actually had nothing to do with you.

      1. Kelly L.*

        Yep. Or they decided they didn’t have the budget, or who knows. It’s not you, it’s them.

  14. nofelix*

    #3 – Maybe the boss wants to use the review as an opportunity for an exit interview?

    1. I'm Not Phyllis*

      This was my first thought as well. Also a good opportunity for the manager to see if there are any gaps between what they think you do and what you actually do.

  15. Merry and Bright*

    #3 I wonder if it is an office culture thing? I can think of at least 3 times in my organisation where staff have had to do their 6 month or yearly review even though it fell during their notice period. I think it is partly to make sure all the development and HR stuff is neatly tied up. I am in a UK government organisation though which does have a different set of norms from some other employers.

    1. LCL*

      Yes. HR requires it of their managers, that is part of the metrics that managers evaluations are based on. Govt job here.

  16. One of the Sarahs*

    OP #4 – I completely sympathise with you, and like everyone else says, it’s something to let go of. It’s one of the things that can happen with temping, and the flip side is if you, like I’ve done in the past, end up getting placed at a company you don’t like for whatever reason – or even just get a *feeling* about, you can do the same thing and the agency shouldn’t hold it against you.

    And I completely agree with the other commenters who are saying maybe they found they couldn’t afford the position. It’s frustrating, if this is the case, that it impacts on your self-esteem, but hiring temps includes the huge agency fees.

  17. One of the Sarahs*

    Op #4 – it could also be that having had someone in the role, they’ve realised that role isn’t exactly what they want. My partner is temping in that kind of set-up right now, where she was brought in on the basis that the organisation saw a gap they wanted to fill, but didn’t know exactly how to fill it. It’s worked out well for her, because they’ve bumped the role up a paygrade, once they saw what she was doing, but it could equally have gone the other way. It’s super-common for organisations to do this, and to think, after a week or so, that they actually want someone with book-keeping skills or whatever – and then can re-hire another temp and work it out before committing. Again, if this is the case, it’s a shame they didn’t tell you, or the agency didn’t tell you, but it happens a lot. too.

    1. LCL*

      This is what I think happened. Based on the fact it was a new role. Once you were there for a week working what they thought the job would be, they realized the job needed to be modified. You totally could have been let go for not having skills that they didn’t know they needed when they hired you.

  18. Mookie*

    re LW 5’s situation, would it be weird to bring an updated resumé / CV with the changes and additions highlighted (in bold, but easy to read text)? I did this once because the interview happened months after I’d applied and, in addition to having been given a small promotion with a tweaked title, I’d also handled new projects relevant to the job. I figured that if this happened ever again I’d e-mail the hiring manager well in advance of the interview with an offer to e-mail them the new version (and if they declined, I’d leave it at that and draw upon those changes during the discussion).

    1. Meredith*

      I’d just email the hiring manager or whoever is setting up the interview with the new version, if it’s been months since first CV submission and my title/responsibilities changed significantly. Just explain the updates and reason for them in the email. When I’m on an interview committee, I’m usually only skimming the CV the day of interview. I would be annoyed to receive only a printed update that I would then have to re-read, highlighted changes or not.

    2. TootsNYC*

      If your job really had changed, and it’s been months, I think you can bring along an updated resumé and mention that you’ve added some responsibilities, and offer it. I wouldn’t think you NEED to send it in advance; they’ve made the decision to interview you, so the new resumé isn’t going to change their minds.

      Perhaps if the change in your experience might mean you’re actually worth more money, then I would bring it along and hand it over.

      But if it hasn’t been that long, or you don’t have a huge change, don’t bring a new version of the resumé to the interview. You got the interview w/ that resumé; use a cover letter or follow-up letter to provide any written record of that.

      But handing over an updated resumé smacks more of “I didn’t do it right the first time.” And it feels disorganized. (but do bring a copy of the resumé with you!)

      And, for me, once I’ve made the decision to interview you, the resumé becomes background and reminder only. I write notes on it, but when I look at them later, the notes are what I focus on, not the resumé.

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        This. When I interviewed with my current company almost three years ago, I brought an updated resume to the interview because six months earlier, I’d been moved to a different department in Evil Law Firm and made a paralegal. I explained that to the interview panel and no one batted an eyelash.

    3. Graciosa*

      I really wouldn’t do this without an extraordinary change in the resume *and* a very lengthy delay between the application and interview.

      An extraordinary change would be a major promotion (not a couple projects left off the first time).

      Even a promotion would only merit a mention in the interview unless there was a pretty long passage of time (“Since my application in April, I have been promoted to Teapot Production Supervisor, and have learned a lot about Critical Skill. For example …”) is type of thing you can drop into the interview.

      Someone submitting serial resumes without a pretty big reason makes me think that they’re a bit flighty, wavering back and forth about which items to include on the document and submitting version after version in the hope that one of them will prove to be “right” without the applicant having to decide how best to apply and risk living with the consequences. In some cases this is probably not fair, but there’s no point in raising unnecessary doubts in the mind of a hiring manager.

      The right thing to do is apply for the job and then let it go.

      The resume is only there to entice the hiring manager to offer an interview. If it’s done its job and you have an interview, there’s no point in revising the resume for the same application.

      The next step in the process is to use the interview to demonstrate your own skills *and* learn enough about the opportunity to determine whether or not you even want the job. Additional projects can be useful in discussion here, but a new resume is definitely not necessary (and may be confusing, distracting, or raise doubts). Don’t do it.

  19. Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks*

    @OP#2–Absolutely contact multiple people when you are going to be out–if for no other reason than to cover all the bases. I’ll never forget a few years ago, a co-worker was reprimanded by out supervisor for not calling in when he was going to be out. The co-worker said he did call the Admin Assistant. For whatever reason, she forgot to tell the supervisor. Ever since that happened, I contact my supervisor, and two other co-workers.

  20. Kaz*

    To OP1, if you really want to help your former employee, you should combine your advice with a reference so that she can have a better chance at getting another job. Let her know that you are willing to provide a reference and hope that she gets everything back on track. Otherwise, advice alone means little at this point. She has been fired (which I assume means dismissed with cause) and now has a bad mark on her work history. Unless you are willing to help erase that mark, stay out of her way.

      1. Erika*

        OP#1 here – that’s how I ended up with her! All I got from her references was the standard, yes, she worked here, yes we would rehire. No inflection because I all I got were HR folks who didn’t work directly with her (at very large corporations) and no supervisors would speak with me. So, I took a look at everything else, took a gamble, and lost. I hate doing that to other people.

        That said, someone said above that if she uses me as a reference I should contact her with some advice, and I may keep that in mind – if I get any reference check calls for her, I may contact her and let her know exactly why I won’t be a reference for her, in the hopes that she can grow as an employee.

        1. neverjaunty*

          Your impulses are good, but seriously: LET IT GO. Your chance to help her grow as an employee was when she worked for you. Period. If she didn’t figure it out then, she’s not going to have a sudden epiphany now. And as you say, “oh, maybe if I give her a good reference she’ll get a second chance” is how you got stuck with her in the first place.

          If she reaches out to you, asking for advice, only then is she in the right frame of mind to hear what you have to say.

          1. Erika*

            No need for all caps – I was just explaining my thought process. I brought it here instead of doing it right away. I’m not a complete loon.

            Besides, I think you’ve got your wires a bit crossed – I would certainly never give her a good reference!

            1. neverjaunty*

              I’m sorry that came across as criticism; your impulse to help your former employee is wonderful and from from loon-like! It’s just that you’re still talking about offering her unasked-for advice to help her grow or fix her deficits as an employee – and good intentions notwitstanding, it’s better not to do that.

              1. Anna*

                Someone up thread had said if she reached out to request a reference (unlikely as that is) at that point Erika could decline and reasonably offer her advice, but only in that situation. I don’t think that’s nutty.

  21. badchelsie*

    Following a similar strand to #4, what if you’ve been working at a place for a year, are called into your manager’s office, told that through no fault of your own you are being let go (not due to restructuring or budget cuts), given a positive letter of reference, a few weeks’ severance and shown the door? If the job was a poor fit (which is seemingly the case in this scenario) would this be a red flag to future employers?

    1. some1*

      It shouldn’t be. I worked for a company where this happened on the regular; they laid off a Teapot Associate and said it was due to the budget, paid a severance, didn’t fight UI, and then posted a job for a Teapot Coordinator which was the same job for all intents & purposes. So everyone (usually including the employee) knew they were terminated for performance or someone didn’t like them, they were still able to go to job interviews and say they were laid off for financial reasons.

  22. Meg*

    OP#4, other possible reasons include:
    1) You look just like the boss’s long-lost love and seeing you every day was too painful.
    2) Nancy, a beloved employee of the company for many years, recently emailed her old boss to say she just moved back from Maui and were there any openings?
    3) Half the team won the lottery and quit, so they need to rehire for those jobs before coming back to figuring out the new job.
    4) The logistics company is a front for a spy ring/money-laundering scheme/etc., and you were so competent that they were afraid you’d catch on and blow their cover.

    1. neverjaunty*

      Man, I hate when #4 happens. Can’t they just drop hints, like ‘hey, don’t work so hard’ or maybe send you on vacations randomly? Spy ring/money-laundering companies have the WORST management.

  23. newlyhr*

    I used to work at a temp agency. It’s just as likely that it wasn’t about the OP or the “fit” at all–they may have decided they didn’t want to pay the temp agency fee and found someone themselves, or they may have decided they didn’t need the position after all. A lot of companies don’t want to tell the temp agency that it is about $$.

    1. Ama*

      Yeah, when I was in academia we would sometimes start a temp on a project while waiting for a student employee to be available (student hours were extremely limited in term). I also saw a few faculty department heads change their minds about how badly we “needed” a temp to do some nonessential filing once they saw how much overhead the first pay period included.

    2. some1*

      As an admin, I can totally see that they decided to hire someone themselves and didn’t tell the agency or the LW because they needed a behind in the seat if and until they were able to bring someone in on their own.

  24. Nervous Accountant*

    #4 is so painful to read, but I guess many of us have been there.

    I went through the exact same, thought it was going well, and let go out of the blue. But in my case, I guess I saw the writing on the wall (at the time, I was told I was being paranoid and didn’t trust my instinct/gut) and didn’t want to accept it. I thought I was doing all the right things–showing up on time, being polite, pleasant, professional….and after I was let go I was told I had a bad attitude. Went through the same, a period of depression esp bc this job was super important to me….

    The toll it takes on your confidence and possibly self esteem, isn’t worth it. The faster you move on, the better.

    1. Seven If You Count Bad John*

      It’s the slander that kills me–The need they feel to justify it by saying it was somehow your fault (“bad attitude”, “personality fit”, “not customer service oriented”, even fictional work errors). It actually can damage your reputation–the fourth time you get let go for “poor fit”, the temp agency is going to think there is something wrong with you and stop sending you out. Plus you can’t trust your references after that, because the agencies do talk to each other.

      I once lost out on a job from an agency because the agent checked my references and told me “someone said something negative about you and we can’t use you.” they wouldn’t tell me what the negative thing was so I couldn’t explain, and I was baffled. The fourth or fifth time this happened I finally checked around and it turned out to be the temp agency from the last job I had had before I moved. (The move was due to a long-term family medical care issue and I let them know I had to leave as soon as I knew for sure it was happening–something like 5 weeks notice.) Prior to that, this place was one of my best references and we had a great relationship.

      What they were apparently telling everyone was “She cut short her last assignment [technically true, but FFS I gave 5 weeks notice], client company doesn’t want her back [completely false], ineligible for rehire [whatever, I guess they can do that if they want]” I called my contact at the client company to find out what the problem was and they were all baffled too and offered to be a reference instead. I immediately started getting solid job offers.

  25. Jess*

    I once had a boss who, if I was going to be out sick, made me call and leave messages for the office receptionist plus my boss’s personal desk phone, her home phone, her vacation house phone, her boyfriend’s home phone, her personal and work cell phones, plus emails to her work and personal accounts and text messages to both of her cells, because she never knew which one she’d be checking first on any given day. She needed to be notified immediately because if I was going to be out she would have to call off too, since if she ever was there without me her boss might clue in that I was in fact doing both of our jobs. I had to spend 45 minutes on the phone leaving messages for her in a dozen different places every time I came down with something.

    When she was reassigned and all I had to do was notify my new boss and send a quick email to anyone who’d been expecting to meet with or get work from me that day, it was like a dream come true.

    1. Aurora Leigh*

      That’s crazy!! My old boss didn’t want anyone to go over her head for anything, she loved the power trip from controlling a bunch of high school and college students. So if I had to call in sick, it was to be to her direct line only. That didn’t work so well the time she was also out sick (which she was a lot) and everyone thought I was no call no show . . .

      1. Jess*

        Yup. A house in Vermont so she could ski on the weekends. That was one of the places I had to leave messages for her when I was sick because sometimes she’d go up for the weekend and not wander back into the office until Tuesday or Wednesday afternoon, or the urge to go up there would hit her Thursday morning and we wouldn’t see her again until Monday, and she wanted me to pretend to her boss that she was at meetings instead of blowing off work to ski. It annoyed her that I wouldn’t.

        1. ThursdaysGeek*

          Ok, so she had to be out when you were out so her boss didn’t realize she wasn’t doing anything. But sometimes she was out when you were there. Why didn’t her boss realize the same amount of work was done whether she was there or not? Or was it just that no work done at all when only she was there, was a super obvious clue for her boss.

          1. Jess*

            I think her boss must have eventually figured that out, yes, because she was eventually demoted, made part time with no staff to supervise, and basically all of her responsibilities were taken away. She left a little while after that.

    2. Ife*

      Her boyfriend’s home phone?? Why would she check the messages on his home phone? I mean, I can understand that people stay at each other’s houses and probably have “a drawer” or something, but sharing landlines seems like a totally different level, especially if she already had a cell phone.

      1. Jess*

        I never got that one either. She slept over at his place a lot so if I was sick she wanted me to leave a message on his home voicemail in addition to everywhere else, to ensure every conceivable communications device she could access no matter where she was had a message from me on it.

    3. Joseph*

      Wait, she has two cell phones, yet still needs contacted all those other places? Did she not understand how cell phones work?

      I mean, I *might* be able to justify the vacation house phone under the theory that she might have poor cell reception there, but every other item on that list falls under “seriously, just check the cell phone in your pocket”.

      1. Jess*

        But if I only left a message on her cell and she checked her house phone’s messages first and her cell second, then she would get my sick voicemail in her second batch of messages instead of her first! Doesn’t that sound terrible? For some reason this infuriated her when it happened and she considered it irresponsible of me: “If you’d just left messages for me on ALL of my phones, I could have found out you were sick five minutes earlier than I did. There is no excuse for this. You know I can’t come to work if you’re not there and it’s your responsibility to make sure I find out as early as possible that you’re not feeling well.”

        Her boss must have thought it was so weird that she always called out on days I did too.

        1. LQ*

          Wait, she’d call in sick if you weren’t going to be there? What?! What the what? I don’t even…

    4. OP #2*

      Jeez. I would have reaped the consequences if that were me, because I couldn’t talk without it hurting like hell.

  26. Bend & Snap*

    #1 oh my god salt in the wound.

    I had to sit in on a firing a few years ago and the manager gave a lot of “feedback” to the point that the employee was in tears. Honestly, even if it’s well intentioned, it’s best to make a clean break and let the ex employee manage her own professional development.

    I once got fired out of nowhere (“you haven’t been performing” after a good review…news to me) and a week later I got an email about how sorry they were they they had to eliminate my position…it was confusing and I definitely, definitely didn’t want to hear from them again.

    Anyway. Just another vote for don’t do it.

    1. Erika*

      OP#1 here, and that was part of my concern. I guarantee that I’m coming from a well-intentioned place, but I know that if someone isn’t ready to hear something with a generous heart, it’ll make them dig their heels in even more, and the last thing I want is to make this girl think I’m out to get her. I also think she’s a bit delusional about her work habits and I hate watching people have radically differing ideas of reality. To be fair, she never received a positive review – we had several conversations prior to her firing about her various issues.

      All that said, part of the reason I wrote in was to get confirmation that this was a bad idea (and, received!). I’ve come down on hanging onto what happened and, if she tries to use me as a reference, contacting her with some information about why that’s a bad idea.

    2. Erika*

      I’d like to add that I’m sorry that happened to you – I got laid off from a position once (we’re eliminating your position, etc) after being told that my job was safe only a week before…and then saw them advertising the same position online a week after that. Very confusing and disheartening. On the other hand, that was nearly a decade ago, and I can see now why they may have chosen to fire me, as I wasn’t exactly a stellar employee there. That said, the way they chose to handle it was very confusing.

      1. Kelly Kelly*

        I was once fired a the next month after winning employee of the month. The company was slowly going downhill and folded soon after, due to poor management and oversight of managers. Mine was personal though. My boss knew from us talking that I wanted to paint my entire house inside and offered her husband up. I didn’t hire him so she made me in the first rounds to go.

  27. Viktoria*

    #3 reminds me of how I resigned from my previous job. It was a remote/exclusively-travel position and so I had to resign over the phone. As it happened I had a scheduled call with my boss to do a performance review, and I just did it then. I did it at the beginning of the call, and my boss was very surprised… as I recall, we went ahead and did the review conversation anyway, based off a form we had both already filled out. It was still valuable to get feedback, although a lot of it went like “I’d like to see you doing more of XYZ… but I guess that doesn’t apply anymore, so…moving on…”

    I’m assuming my boss didn’t really know how to handle the situation and just figured he’d go ahead because why not. In retrospect maybe that wasn’t the best time to do it, and I should have asked for another call prior to the scheduled review call? He may have been less surprised in that case. In any event, I hope that I made up for any awkwardness by offering a long notice period and trying to be as helpful as possible during my notice.

  28. HRish Dude*

    OP1 – Even if you’re heart’s in a good place, this is not a good idea.

    Getting fired and then continuing to get emails from the person who fired you about the things they did wrong might seem to your former employee like harassment or grave-dancing, even if it isn’t intended to be.

    1. Erika*

      Exactly why I posted it here, so you guys could all shoot me down. :)

      No, really. I know it’s probably not a good idea. As I mentioned in a comment above, part of what spurred this on for me was discovering just how not-seriously she was taking her position since I fired her, and that’s been difficult for me to deal with. I really liked her on a personal level, but I feel like she needs to mature a bit and have a better sense of self-reflection before she’s going to succeed. I guess it just makes me sad to know there’s nothing I can do there, and my fixer instincts went into overdrive.

      1. HRish Dude*

        Well, the fact that you decided to bounce it off people before doing it is a good sign in your favor.

        I think sometimes it seriously just takes maturing, but sometimes even if someone seems to have all of the tools, they don’t care enough to actually want to succeed in what they do.

  29. FairyGetStuffDone*

    To OP#4…I completely sympathize and I have been there. I spent two years a floating temp for several staffing agencies. Unfortunately, as AAM stated companies like to use temp agencies for this exact purpose. I’m convinced that sometimes they don’t even know what they are looking for in a temp, temp to hire, or even a direct hire. They just start a rotation until someone feels like the right fit. But, that sucks for everyone else who works their tail off trying to prove themselves. I had more weeks or even a month with a company just to get that phone call. I was pretty lucky for the most part that the recruiters recognized the nature of the game and would try to find out what feedback they could and then I would learn from it and move on. That didn’t lesson that phone call that I would come to dread. I actually loved the assignments where there was an expected time table. I went in, rocked the position, did everything I could for the company and then moved on when the assignment was complete. I learned everything I could and met some really great people along the way. In a way, it was a blessing because I now have an amazing network in the area that spans multiple business sectors and a variety of industries. Some of them have turned out to be my greatest champions and references.

    I had one that was a religious organization and it was different from my own beliefs. At the outset, I cautioned that I would put all of my efforts into doing a great job and would do all I could to learn about the customs and practices of “the teapot religion” so that I wouldn’t accidentally offend anyone. They reassured me that I wasn’t the only “Fork believer” and that as long as I was a self-starter, jumped in and took command of my position and did a great job no one would care. I did exactly that, and was careful to never even discuss my own personal beliefs. Two weeks in to the assignment, I got the phone call. The feedback was that I was too much of a “fork believer” and that I had too much initiative. I didn’t behave as a woman of the “teapot faith” and that I needed to be more laidback in my role and wait for direction. It was truly a “what!!” kind of moment and heartbreaking, because the team I was working with was fantastic. Ultimately, it was for the best because two weeks later I got a call to interview for a “real” job that wasn’t associated with a staffing agency and have been here ever since.

    Hang in there!! Keep applying for other jobs, don’t just rely on the staffing agencies. If you find you seem to be just a commodity to one and they don’t seem to have your back, try another one. But, above all, keep going. Keep applying directly to positions and you will get there.

    1. JustALurker*

      Also think of this as your time to check out companies. I have temped at places where I was so glad that I would only be there a short time.

      I have even called my agency to state I would not be going back to an assignment (once was because of safety issues and the other the job was completely different from what we were told.) Also, I liked temping because if I did a good job some companies would invite me back and sometimes I declined. I was a student at the time and I loved the freedom of being able to just say “no” or “not this week”.

  30. Valancy*

    OP #4 It could be something completely ridiculous. When I worked as an admin at a large company we had the worst trouble finding suitable temps for our team, which I didn’t understand for the longest time, because the job wasn’t particularly involved. Then one week we had a really lovely woman come in from our temp agency, who was actually motivated and eager to do the job. An older woman on the team who had been with the company for years and years was prickly to any newbie, and she took a ridiculous amount of offence to something completely innocent this woman said to her (I can’t even remember what she said, that’s how small it was, something like she asked her if she could have a second to write something down before the older woman continued her explanation of how to do something), and called up our boss and said that if the new woman was staying, she was quitting on the spot. The new temp was let go immediately, and I realised why we couldn’t keep any temps.

    I’m mentioning this just to say that it’s probably absolutely nothing you did wrong, offices can be merciless to temps, and I suspect you’re better off.

  31. Kathryn*

    Regarding #4 – I have had a fair amount of experience with temp agencies, and found that I frequently *could* get very frank feedback, or recommendations ahead of time, from some of them. So for example, one recruiter was explicit about me not being too extroverted at one law firm. They wanted someone to be quiet, sit in the cubicle, and work, so I made a mental note to do that when I started. This was just for temp work, so it wasn’t a big deal for me.

    For feedback after the fact, I once had a pretty poor interview with the HR rep at a firm, and when I discussed it later with my recruiter, she leveled with me and just said, “he’s an ass.” Now mind you, it was this firm, not me, who was the client, but I had established a level of trust with this recruiter such that she felt safe telling me this.

    The temp agency/recruiter wants you to work, so it’s to their advantage to be as upfront as possible to any potential challenges you might encounter, or areas of improvement in your own performance. Some agencies are better than others about this; in my experience, it is the small shops, rather than the large corporate chains, that have a higher level of professionalism and that will go into more detail about job assignments. The big companies seem to rubber-stamp you.

    While I agree with Alison that ultimately it’s best to let it go and not dwell on it, if you have an established relationship with this temp agency, that is, if you’ve worked on a few assignments and proven your “worth,” I would counsel you to see if you could get more information out of them. And, for any future assignments, I would proactively try to get information on the company you are going to, things like, the culture, the preferences of the boss, etc.

    And one possibility Alison didn’t mention was that it might not have had *anything* to do with you at all. Maybe they hired the boss’ niece instead, you know? Maybe the position was eliminated but the contact at the firm didn’t want to say that to the temp agency for some reason.

    1. Kathryn*

      Another possibility–this sucks, but stranger things have happened–your temp agency might have found it to be advantageous to pull you from that job. Maybe they had another candidate that they thought would work out just as well at that company, but who was, generally speaking, harder to place, whereas your skill sets or temperament were transferable to a wide variety of places, so they just pulled the plug on you, thinking they could easily put you somewhere else. It’s nefarious, but like I said, stranger things have happened.

  32. Van Wilder*

    #4 – FWIW, I read that women tend to really internalize failure and think “I’m just not cut out for this”, rather than just thinking “ok, this didn’t go well. I have to improve on this.” I definitely do this. Don’t let this weird thing ruin your confidence. You may never know what happened but if it’s an isolated incident, there’s no need to doubt yourself.
    (I’m assuming you’re a woman because your feedback included “sweet”, ugh.)

  33. Audiophile*

    My last company tried to institute this policy. It was my fault. I had attempted to call a supervisor the night before I was going to be out and when I didn’t reach them I left a voicemail. I went about my day on my day out, until I got a call from someone higher up, who said it was no longer acceptable to leave voicemails. They tried to rewrite the policy and say you had to keep calling until you reached someone, it didn’t work.

    If I’m truly sick, I’m not going to call around until I get a supervisor on the phone.

    So glad I can text my current supervisor(s).

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