how can I get out of singing on-camera, new hire sprang major time off on me, and more

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

1. I’m being required to sing on camera for work

Each year, the government-funded organization that I work for has a roadshow which the government are invited to – it’s basically an excuse to showcase why our services are required and to encourage the government to finically support us. I completely understand this. In the weeks leading up to this, we were persistently asked to record a speech in front of a camera about how fantastic it is to work for my employer. This would then be shown in a presentation. If we refused (which I did), we were pressured into holding up a piece of paper with something written on it and this would be shown in the presentation along with the videos. To make matters worse, they played awful cringey music during this presentation.

I was very unhappy that I felt pressured and forced to take part in this – I felt mortified. That was several months ago. Recently someone in their wisdom has came up with the great idea that we could sing this cringey song in our individual teams! We are a very small team and I don’t know how to get out of this. Singing in public is my worst nightmare! I was very angry when we were told we’re doing this – I’ve done psychometric tests for them but yet they still don’t seem to appreciate what type of person I am. I am introverted and just want to get on with my work and doing this makes me break out in a sweat. They want to make a video of us singing this awful song and it will be done during office hours. They’re deliberately not telling us exactly when this be apart from “it’ll be Thursday or Friday.” We’ve also been told that we can’t take annual leave, which I find very unfair. I don’t want my face or voice to be used for any promotional or marketing reason. How can I get out of this?

“I don’t sing, and I’m not comfortable appearing on camera. I’d be glad to do other things to support the project behind the scenes, though. What else would be helpful?”

If they tell you this is required, say this: “I’m really not going to sing. Is there something else you’d like me to do, off-camera?”

A reasonable employer won’t insist. Your employer, however, may not be reasonable. If that’s the case, you’ll need to decide how much you want to push this. Ultimately, they can require this as a condition of your job. Shouldn’t, but can. If it comes to that, you might just mouth the words to the song (if you’re in a group where it won’t be obvious) or go for a spoken-word rendition. You have my sympathies.

Read an update to this letter here.

2. My new hire sprang major time off on me after I’d already hired her

I recently hired an employee, “Sally.” The day after she accepted my offer and everything was settled, she sent an email to me explaining that she had two trips planned for the near future. The first one is a Wednesday – Monday trip where she intended to work remotely and only take off a half day on Monday for travel. This trip is one and a half weeks (seven working days) after she starts work. Her next trip is two weeks (10 working days) later and it is a two-week trip to Europe with her husband. She did acknowledge that the timing was poor but did not mention anything about why she didn’t say anything during the lengthy interview process. She offered to postpone her start date until after all of her travel is complete, which is quite a long time for me to wait.

What are your thoughts on how to address this with her? I’d like to make sure I communicate to her that it is not okay to spring this on me when she had ample opportunity to tell me sooner. I feel like this is an opportunity to set the standard for the employee-manager relationship at the onset of her employment.

Yeah, that’s not good. She should have brought it up as part of the offer negotiation, and if for some reason she forgot to, she should have apologized profusely, not been matter-of-fact about it.

I would say this: “I want to make sure you understand that we normally wouldn’t approve this much time off so soon after someone started, and it’s going to be pretty disruptive to our training schedule. I’m willing to try to make it work, but I wish we’d known about these dates while we were still working out the offer.” And if you don’t want her working remotely so soon after starting, address that too — “I can let you take unpaid time off for the first trip, but it won’t make sense to work remotely since you’ll still be so new.” And you should talk about what your expectations are time off going forward.

Also, has she otherwise seemed scrupulously professional and displayed good judgment? If anything else has happened that has given you pause, I’d be bracing for further issues — in which case, you’d want to be really hands-on during her first few months so that if there are additional issues, you’re able to spot them and address them quickly.

Updated to add: Commenters have asked why I didn’t think this is problematic enough to suggest rescinding the offer. I’ve gotten too many letters from people who don’t bring up planned vacations at the offer stage (and then write to me in a panic afterwards, asking what to do — it’s why I wrote this post) to think it’s necessarily a deal-breaker on its own. The fact that her trips are coming up so soon after she starts makes this way more egregious than most, but especially if she’s early career, it’s possible this is a single misstep that you can remedy. That said, if you’ve seen anything else that has alarmed you or if she’s experienced enough to know better, I agree it’s worth rethinking the offer.

3. Giving cash to an employee who’s getting married

One of my reports recently invited me to her wedding in September. As it happens I can’t go due to a work commitment but want to give them a card and some cash (registries be damned – all newly married couples need cash).

I would usually give $100-$150 if I wasn’t particularly close (friend of a friend, cousin of a partner, etc.) I presume this level is appropriate for this case. She is a good contributor and we have a good professional and personal relationship. Any issues from a management perspective?

I’d actually go with something off the registry in this case, even though it’s not your normal preference, just because it can be a little weird to give an employee cash (and can feel weird to other employees who hear about it).

4. Employer refuses to give me any documentation about their benefits

I’ve been offered a position with a prominent law firm in town. They want my answer in a week, but they were hesitant to give me that much time. I am waiting to hear back from another company (my preferred company) that would actually relocate me to my hometown, but this current offer where I am seems like a really good offer. One thing that has me very uneasy is that they told me the benefit package over the phone, but wouldn’t give me any documentation to review it. That seems strange to me. They told me that it is because they’ve been burned before and their benefits package is what makes them competitive. I wanted to talk to my financial advisor, but I have nothing to show him. I explained to him what they told me, but he said it is hard to make any firm statements without seeing something on paper.

Is this normal? Should this make me uneasy?

No, it’s not normal. They should be willing to give you at least a summary of their benefits in writing, even it it’s an informal email. It would make me uneasy too, especially if you’re making a decision about the job offer based on the benefits info.

5. Should I tell employers I’ll do any kind of job?

I am multitalented and have worked as a call center agent, a teacher, and made some volunteer graphic art work for church. I want to move to South Korea for a personal goal reason, but I can’t go there as a tourist because I don’t have enough money (I’m still depending on my father) so I need to have a job to be able to settle there and I need to do that before February 2017. I tried emailing some Korean companies asking for job opportunities of any kind in any field but I wasn’t successful, so can I actually tell them that I’m available for any kind of job? Or do I need to focus on one field?

The thing about saying “I’m available for anything” is that it’s not actually attractive to employers. It requires them to do the work of figuring out what you’d be good at and interested in, and it’s a lot less appealing than a candidate who says “I really want this specific job and here’s why I’d be great at it.” So yes, you are likely to have much better luck if you focus in on one type of work in particular and tailor your cover letter and your resume to that job.

{ 456 comments… read them below }

  1. Bigglesworth*

    To LW #3 – I have several friends that have moved to South Korea to teach English. All but one or two stayed for several years. Was it what they wanted to do the rest of their lives? Nope, but it allowed them to earn money, live cheaply, put extra cash into savings, and travel all over Asia. It might not be what you want to do, but it’s worth looking into.

    1. M_Lynn*

      I was coming here to say the same! In addition, most countries have very onerous laws regarding hiring foreign nationals, so my experience (albeit, throughout Africa) is that is nearly impossible to just apply for a regular job abroad and know that the company is willing and able to sponsor your visa to get you legally allowed to work there. Teaching English (especially since you have experience in the classroom) is one of the only “easy” ways to work abroad legally.

      1. Tina*

        I tried finding english teaching jobs but I’m Egyptian (non english speaking country) so it’s dead end.

          1. Tina*

            I thought about that too but I can’t find one because it’s not on demand in addition that my English is better than my Arabic.

        1. Marcela*

          M mom was an Arabic professor (it was her major in college, we don’t have any ancestry from any Arabic speaking country), and most of the job she did, in my own university, was to teach classical Arabic to new Muslim converts. This in a 100% Catholic country where a Muslim professor I know had to hide his religion because he worked in a Catholic university. So perhaps this is a way for you to move…

    2. Anon for this*

      Thirding this.

      For a company to hire you, they’d need to sponsor you for a work visa. There can be restrictions on the type of job they can do this for, and sometimes on minimum salary, and it involves a fair bit of paperwork. Typically, they are willing to go through the effort when you’re bringing some sort of specialized skill that they can’t get locally.

      English teaching is generally the lowest skilled job you can easily get a visa for (unless you’re doing domestic/agriculture/construction type jobs that rely heavily on immigrants and foreigners). I work in Taiwan, at a research institute that aggressively recruits from abroad, but even they can’t hire any foreign national with less than a Master’s degree, and mostly hire PhDs.

      Once you’re actually in the country, have learned some of the language, and demonstrated that you can live there, it’s possible to make connections and get hired for other types of work, but that’s much, much easier to do once you’re already established, and even then it’s still hard.

    3. Patty*

      I was thinking the same thing… None were education majors, and at least a couple moved elsewhere to do the same kind of thing, places they wanted to live..

    4. Justin*

      I also worked with EPIK. I was 21.

      Turns out, I became a TESOL professional after that, but I hadn’t assumed that would be the case. And you likely won’t have to depend on anyone after that at all (depending on other things of course, but the point is, they pay your rent and the salary is plenty to live on there).

      1. no gifts*

        Brief rundown of your options, OP:

        If you have Korean heritage you can enter South Korea on an F4 visa (similar to a green card) and legally work anywhere, not just as a teacher. Note however that your Korean would have to be VERY good to make you competitive against Koreans and few places will want to consider you until you’re already in the country.

        If you have Korean heritage but your Korean isn’t perfect, go with teaching. You will face racism in the hiring process but you will also have more freedom, legally speaking, because you won’t be dependent on your employer for your work visa.

        If you don’t have Korean heritage then as others have said, teaching English is your best bet for a work visa. To qualify for this visa you will need: a passport from an English-speaking country, a clean criminal record and the ability to pass a drug test shortly after arrival, a bachelors degree, and increasingly many employers require you to have a 120-hour TEFL certificate (which you can earn online for cheap – check groupon). Note that in South Korea one does not apply directly to schools, particularly from abroad: one goes through recruiters. Google “teach English in South Korea” and you will be inundated with recruiters looking to work with you and a wealth of information (look for the most recent info you can find, certainly from 2010 or later – rules and norms change quickly!)

        If you meet the above requirements but don’t yet have a bachelors degree and don’t mind teaching English part time someplace super rural, look into the TALK program.

        If you don’t qualify for or don’t want to get a work visa to teach English, go on a tourist visa and look for illegal tutoring jobs. This has gotten much harder than it used to be, but it still can be done. Honestly, most people I know who were able to make a go of this did at least one year on a work visa first – it takes that long to make enough connections.

        Another option is a student visa! Many Korean universities offer graduate programs partially or completely in English, and tuition is very cheap! This will also put you in contact with tons of Korean university students looking for English tutoring, which is easy money.

        Good luck! There’s a lot of negativity on the Internet but working or teaching in SK, even now, can be a great opportunity if you’re positive and open-minded.

        1. no gifts*

          One more thing: you mentioned you have teaching experience but didn’t mention if you are a licensed teacher. If you are, look for international schools – they are one of the best types of teaching job available and only hire licensed teachers.

          If you don’t have a teaching license, that classroom experience will still give you a huge leg up when applying for teaching jobs at public and private schools. Be sure to highlight it in your resume.

            1. no gifts*

              I see. In that (unless you have some extremely valuable and specialized professional skill), you probably cannot get a work visa to work in South Korea right now.

              Your best option is probably a student visa. Many graduate programs offer instruction in English, and both graduate and undergraduate tuition is very cheap. While studying at a South Korean university, get as fluent in Korean as you possibly can. Eventually, once you’re Korean is very very fluent, you can apply for an f-2 visa which will allow you to work (plus at this point you’ll be fluent in Korean and have a degree at a Korean university). Check the website korea4expats for a rundown of the requirements for different types of Korean visas.

              Good luck!

              1. no gifts*

                If you do decide to study Korean at a Korean university, Sogang University in Seoul has an excellent Korean as a Second Language program – I took their night classes while working and loved it, but they also have a full time undergrad program that would get you in the country on a student visa.

    5. Liana*

      I agree with Bigglesworth and everyone else! I’m actually moving abroad to teach English for a year and it’s a great way to open doors. South Korea in particular is known for paying English teachers extremely well. There are a couple different US-based organizations that help place teachers in South Korea and work with EPIK to coordinate training, job placement, etc. If you’re interested in going this route, I’m happy to provide the name of the organization I’m working with :)

      1. Tina*

        thank you Liana for your willingness to help me, but I’m Egyptian and living in Egypt now, so they won’t accept me.

    6. JanetInSC*

      My nephew did exactly that, and ended up as a university professor after he had taught secondary students for a couple of years. He loved it.

    7. Gene*

      One note here, if you’ve been treated for depression or most any other psychological problem, you won’t make the cut. A friend went through this a couple of years ago. When her parents got divorced when she was a preteen, she was on an SSRI for a little while to deal with it. When they got her medical records, the offer was pulled for that reason.

      1. Julia*

        Much better to not get treatment. /s
        But seriously, that is the message these screening-out processes convey. As if being depressed was dangerous or anything. Let’s keep depressed people from work they want so they can be more depressed!

    8. AGirlCalledFriday*

      I taught in Japan for a few years at an international school and came into contact with a lot of people who have taught in South Korea. Based on your feedback, I’d suggest just going there and THEN looking for jobs. Not many companies want to hire candidates from overseas – your being there will help immensely. I would take a look at smaller international schools and English schools first. These are often sponsoring foreigners. If your English is good, there might be a place for you even if you aren’t from a native English country. Not every position is a classroom one. You could also try freelance English teaching – focus on the fact that since you had to learn English you are uniquely qualified in the work that goes into it. If you speak English well, you could also look into the service industry.

      Personally, if you are interested in moving to South Korea, I would NOT do it unless you had a valuable skill. I am lucky in that I am a licensed teacher with an advanced degree. I can easily find work in such a place. If you don’t have any degrees or specializations, it’s going to be a lot harder but it can be done ONLY if you go there and meet people face to face…and it could take awhile. Which will be expensive. I’d try to get back to school and go on a student visa, or get a teaching degree, or find a job at a company that also has offices in South Korea and can potentially transfer you. I wish you the best of luck!

    9. KH*

      If you don’t want to or can’t teach English, you need to have some other skill that is in demand. There are typically lots of jobs where there is a shortage of good English speakers. Find one for which you can be reasonably competitive.

      If you can speak any Korean, that will be a huge plus. If not, at least try to learn basic conversational Korean and how to read Hangul. Very few people on the street will be able to speak or understand English; you need to be self sufficient for basic day to day tasks.

      I got my career started in Japan as a bilingual IT engineer. I didn’t have a strong IT background at all but I spoke Japanese pretty good and the company where I started was willing to train me on the IT stuff (sometimes it’s easier to train someone in a skill than it is to teach another language)

  2. neverjaunty*

    OP #4 – you do not want to work at this law firm. They are lying to you. Firms with excellent benefits packages flaunt them. It is what makes them competitive. And the idea that benefits packages are some kind of state secret that is never shared outside the law firm is complete nonsense.

    I will bet you a year’s membership in your state bar association that their benefits are awful, their management is terrible, and their ‘shut down uncomfortable questions with intimidating non sequitur’ tactics are something used over and over again when employees are unhappy about their treatment.

    Avoid, avoid, avoid.

    1. Shannon*


      They’re lawyers, you’re a lawyer, you all know the importance of getting things in writing.

      Honestly, the benefits are a part of your compensation. Their failure to disclose information about their benefits is essentially not telling you how much money you’ll be working for. You can’t know whether or not this is a good offer because you don’t have access to all the pertinent information.

      1. Joseph*

        Exactly. It’s an issue of the offer package. This is like not telling you what the salary will be or how much vacation is typical – It’s just part of your information. And frankly, given that current employees can switch firms and there’s things like Glassdoor, I don’t know how they could keep this stuff secret regardless.

        Also, if OP reads these comments, I’d love to know if they actually explained how “they’ve been burned before”. I mean, if their benefits *are* actually excellent, then how would they get burned? Honestly, the only way I can think of for them to be “burned before” is if the benefits are sufficiently awful that candidates flee in terror once they get details. But presumably they wouldn’t say that over the phone, so I’d really like to know how they claimed people knowing about Mega-Awesome Benefits got them burned.

        1. the_scientist*

          Yeah….this should be a hard pass for the OP. “Burned” by offering the most competitive benefits package? Unlikely. Much more like people quit on the spot when they realize how terrible those “amazing” benefits are.

        2. CM*

          My guess is that “burned” means the candidate turned around and gave the benefits info to a competing law firm. Large law firms do treat these things as secrets, because they’re always in an arms race with each other and they don’t want their associates to be constantly comparing their package with a package from another firm.

          That said, I agree they should give the OP the benefits in writing, because come on.

          1. Triangle Pose*

            I’ve worked at several law firms and never had benefits packages treated as a state secret. Definitely not at the offer stage, which doesn’t make ANY sense, and not even earlier in the candidacy. If you mean that law firms don’t post on their websites every detail of them benefits package – sure, they don’t do that, they just make a general statement about how the benefits package is competitive. But at every stage in the many, many law firms I’ve worked with, as soon as a candidates ask, they receive a benefits summary.

            1. OwnedByTheCat*

              I just recently started a position at a nonprofit school and was offered the benefits in my final interview. I was SO impressed. We were relocating across the country and the pay bump wasn’t huge (easily wiped out by a cross country move), but learning of the benefits helped make the decision a whole lot easier.

              I’ve also been burned by learning after the fact that, for instance, spouses can be covered but have to pay 100%, or that the deductible is crazy or… you name it. I can’t imagine accepting a job where they won’t LET you see the benefits. Red flags! Waving wildly!

              1. Wendy Darling*

                My current employer sent me a bunch of info about their benefits that turned out to be about 50% out of date (they changed their health plan offerings right before they hired me and gave me old info, and also stopped offering a bunch of stipends I was told were offered) and neglected to mention things like the 2-year vesting period on their generous 401k match. They also didn’t mention the rather high monthly fee from their HSA provider until I’d already signed up for the HSA.

                Having been here for many months now I’m chalking this up to disorganization rather than malice but it’s still quite unpleasant.

          2. neverjaunty*

            I’m not following this – associates ALWAYS are going to be comparing their benefits and salaries with the competition. That’s why sites like Above The Law continue to exist.

      2. My 2 Cents*

        EXACTLY! I started a job and they insisted they had great benefits. After insisting to see it, I finally got the information 2 months after I started (Yes, I know how stupid it was, but I had to get a job) and no retirement, terrible insurance, ONE week of vacation (this is a professional job), it was all horrible. They even had to create an employee handbook just to give me the employee handbook. Danger Will Robinson, danger!

    2. Graciosa*

      I agree wholeheartedly.

      A *LAW FIRM* is not willing to put any benefits information in writing?!?!?

      Any law firm worthy of the name could come up with appropriate disclaimer language for a benefits summary sheet of the type ALL my employers have routinely handed out with any offer. It’s the language on the bottom that states that this is only a summary, and in the event of a conflict the actual plan documents control (which they should also make available if you ask, although generally the summary sheets are enough for most practical purposes), etc.

      The summary sheet is *normal.*

      The little disclaimer on the bottom of the summary sheet is normal.

      Not providing a summary sheet shows 1) an intent to deceive, as Neverjaunty suggests, 2) overwhelming incompetence if they are unable to write a summary sheet and disclaimer, or 3) a shocking lack of confidence in the firms legal abilities (if they don’t *believe* they could produce an effective summary sheet).

      None of these explanations make this firm a place you want to work.

      If the position is as an attorney, you also want to keep in mind that lawyers are held to strict ethical standards. You need to trust (and verify!) that the law firm you work for is doing everything it should – avoiding conflicts, managing client accounts properly, behaving ethically during discovery, etc. In a firm with integrity, even junior associates can review the trust account reconciliations, for example, and the assumption is that everything is above board and open for review.

      Firms with ethical issues are likely to conceal information and shut down questions (just like they are here, even with non-privileged information) – but that does not relieve you of your ethical duties to your clients. There are too many horror stories in the profession of attorneys who tried – and failed – to justify their actions in a disciplinary proceeding by explaining that they allowed bad things to happen because they trusted others in their firm.

      While I don’t believe that the benefits are as phenomenal as they say, my bigger concern here is that I would not trust this firm with my integrity.

    3. Artemesia*

      This. If their package makes them competitive then they WANT to showcase its details to lure you in. Hiding it has only one purpose, to prevent you from evaluating it properly. These people want to hose you. Run.

      1. Amber*

        Yup agreed! I’m also job searching and this past week I got an email from a potential employer wanting a phone screen with their HR, they asked for me phone number and salary requirements. When they said they weren’t anywhere near my salary requirements they emailed me a summary of the great benefits to try to entice me to see if it would be worth the cut in pay. In this case the pay was $17k under what I make now so it wasn’t enough but it did show me that a company who hadn’t even had an initial interview with me and was proud of their benefits was still willing to show their benefits to me. It shouldn’t be a secret.

    4. Elysian*

      I’ll swim upstream a little on this one. I had some trouble getting benefits info from my current firm before I started there, and it wasn’t a red flag. Their benefits aren’t bad, there are just so many choices that its confusing and hard to summarize (I think I had 5 or more different plans to chose from?). I ended up getting a really brief and unhelpful summary from them beforehand, and then having a several hour benefits orientation that was much more helpful after I started.

      So, that alone wouldn’t give me a lot of pause. But, OP #4, it sounds like you’re hearing a couple things that give you pause. They didn’t want to give you time to consider, and they won’t give you benefits because they’ve been “burned” before? I don’t even understand what that means. Does it mean that when people have all the information they choose to go to other, better places? Because that’s not really being “burned.” All together there are a couple things here that are weird, but I wouldn’t let the benefits stuff alone turn you away from this offer entirely.

      1. neverjaunty*

        I would. There is a huge, huge difference between giving information that is supposed to inform you but turns out to be confusing, and refusing to put an oral offer in writing with a nonsensical excuse about “getting burned”.

        TL;DR – when a lawyer won’t put something in writing, red flags a-flappin’.

        (And honestly, your firm may be good people but I’m making disapproving huffy noises at them on the explanation thing. Lawyers are supposed to be able to explain complicated things in a way others can understand!)

      2. Rmric0*

        It’s the language around why they don’t want to put the benefits down in writing that concerns me, it’s treating the OP with undue suspicion for someone they’re supposedly wooing. I mean, I could understand HR saying that there are bunch of plans to select from and finding the best fit takes a bit of work with their benefits manager, but they could still give a rough outline and tick off other benefits (vacation, PTO, daycare, flex time, remote work, discount gym membership).

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          This. Insurance might be complicated, but they should be able to provide a summary of that, and details on everything else.

      3. Sunflower*

        The other thing too – if this was the case, they should be encouraging you to reach out to HR and go over the benefits with them. My firm has an offer package they email to you and overnight you a physical copy of. I found the packet to be pretty easy to read but the HR dept very much encouraged me to reach out to them with any questions.

        1. Jadelyn*

          Exactly – in fact, if a candidate inquires about benefits, the hiring manager directs them to us and we send them the summary booklet ourselves, so that they have our contact info in case of questions. Yes, benefits can be complex sometimes, but that’s what HR is supposed to be for.

      4. Lemon Zinger*

        With big organizations, the benefits thing can indeed be difficult to explain. I work at a large university with varying options for each plan (medical, dental, vision) with additional options for FSAs, the mandatory state retirement fund, and an optional retirement fund. It’s a lot, but there should always be some kind of written document that outlines them, even vaguely.

        When I was offered my job, the hiring manager was confused when I said that I couldn’t accept a verbal offer– I needed detailed information in writing. She just doesn’t have much management experience, so she wasn’t familiar with how HR can easily supply a detailed offer letter; you only need to ask!

    5. INTP*

      Exactly. How on Earth is a benefits package supposed to make an employer competitive if they don’t show anyone what is in it? Maybe they have some unique items in the package and people have gotten their employers or other offers to match it, so they think they’ve been burned, but counter-offers are part of life. (Would they expect you to take the job without knowing the salary because past candidates had gotten their employers to match the salary offer?)

      1. Observer*

        I’m betting that if they could, they would try to get people to take an offer without knowing the salary. What better way to snooker people into agreeing to ridiculous terms. But, I suspect that someone realizes that this could open them up to some problems.

  3. Mx*

    Hi #5!

    Maybe check out a working holiday visa if you’re from a country that has an agreement? If you’re an American, there’s a working holiday visa agreement with South Korea.

    I quit my job last week to move to Australia on a working holiday visa and its going to be…something!! But an adventure!

    1. snuck*

      Welcome to Oz… off topic, but tell us where you are going to visit? :) (I’m in country WA)

    2. Apollo Warbucks*

      That’s a great suggestion or there are lots of options for teaching English out there.

    3. matcha123*

      Americans don’t participate in working holiday at all. Perhaps you meant Australian?

      1. Mx*

        I had no idea it was relatively new (looks like it started in 2007 maybe), but it was super easy. Australia issued me my visa in under 30 seconds!

    4. Tina*

      So this visa is actually a vacation and working visa that does not require a prove of employment or what, I’m from Egypt I will check this one out.

  4. snuck*


    Talk to the english schools – you are a native english speaker with a teaching qualification – they’ll snap you up.

    1. Lily in NYC*

      I was coming to post this exact advice. I made buckets of money teaching English at a cram school for wealthy kids in Asia. I didn’t have a job lined up when I arrived.

  5. Uyulala*

    #1 – If it comes down to needing to faint right before the performance, just remember that with real faints you don’t swoon onto a sofa or into someone’s arms. Your knees just tend to buckle and you go straight down. Be careful of your knees, but a good hip bruise may help discourage future such bad ideas.

    1. Dot Warner*

      Or there’s the Orphan Black trick – drink a bunch of soap from the restroom and vomit all over.

    2. Gertrude is Gertrude is Gertrude*

      My grandfather was tone deaf, (at least I think he was…) and he used to literally sing in monotone when the family sang together. Like, imagine the birthday song all on one note. I’d recommend doing that and then, like my grandfather, insisting that you were singing exactly like everyone else and you don’t hear any difference.

      1. addlady*

        Literally tone deaf? Like, when you can’t distinguish one note from another? Wow, that’s really rare.

  6. Mando Diao*

    OP2: I realize this might be easier said than done, but if I were in your shoes I’d consider just hiring someone else. Sally hasn’t even started yet (when’s her start date? A week from now? Two?) and you’re looking at a five-week lag on getting any kind of significant training done. Surely you can find someone else within that seven-week span who doesn’t raise so many red flags before her first day. Springing this on you after she’s already been hired is a huge red flag and a particularly annoying kind of dishonesty. She won’t get better once she’s grown comfortable in the office. Do you really want to manage someone who thinks that it’s okay to operate this way? She’s an adult. You don’t need to hold her hand while you help her wriggle out of her own lie, and you don’t need to feel guilty for being disappointed. Either you let her go or you let her think that she can pull this crap and get away with it before she even has any standing at the company.

    1. Engineer Girl*

      Yes. I would expect the offer to be rescinded. That’s withholding a huge piece of information.

      1. snuck*

        Thanks. This is what I was going to say.

        And by the sounds of it this isn’t a fresh out of school kiddo, it’s a married person so probably a bit older at least.

        And thus… it is setting a scene where they can kind of demand from the outset whatever they want. And that crap about saying they’d work remotely for the first holiday except for a few hours of travel? Um. NO! You don’t state that, you ask about if it’s possible… it’s about attitude.

        1. Simms*

          As a heads up people can in fact get married quite young. I got married at 20 and my husband was 19 at the time (just celebrated our 9 year anniversary too).

          1. TheSnarkyB*

            Of course that’s true, but if you’re married, there’s a good chance you’re not 20. It’s not impossible, but it’s less likely.
            Especially if this person is married and can afford a long European vacation, they’re probably both married and established, which both imply that they aren’t young enough for this to be, say, a first job.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I get letters from too many people who don’t bring up planned vacations at the offer stage and then write to me in a panic afterwards, asking what to do. This person is definitely much more egregious than most (mainly re: how soon after the start date the time off is, but also re: not asking if remote work is possible — although who knows, maybe they said in the interview that remote work was possible), but if she’s early career, I think it’s possible that she’s one of the people who are just really naive about how to handle this. I’m skeptical, which is why I told the OP to watch her closely, but without knowing more I don’t think it’s an absolutely-rescind situation. (I’ve updated the answer with this.)

          1. MK*

            I don’t see why it’s a choice between rescinding the offer and accommodating the leave. Why not just deny the leave request and let the employee decide what’s more important to them? Basically I don’t understand why the OP should try to make this work, if they normally wouldn’t give leave in this case. Or, they could accommodate one of the requests.

            1. Newby*

              That’s what I was wondering. It it is not ok, don’t approve it. It is up to the employee whether the vacation or job is more important.

            2. AD*

              Agreed. In getting hired, I’m thinking the employee had good (or better) qualifications. Is it worth throwing that out and re-starting the hiring process over this?
              Either push back against the employee taking both these days off, or give a strongly worded rebuke that this should have been disclosed during the hiring process. But rescinding the offer? Not really warranted based on this alone.

              1. Mephyle*

                A strongly-worded rebuke will have no weight, though, if she is granted everything she asks for.

          2. LBK*

            I read the offer to work remotely as an attempt to soften the blow – like, I know the timing of this isn’t ideal, but I’m willing to work on my vacation to try to make it up so it’s not as bad that I’m going to be out this soon. I agree that so early in a job it’s probably not feasible, but at least offering it as something she’s willing to do is a good sign to me, not a bad one.

    2. Tuxedo Cat*

      That was my gut reaction. A now former coworker pulled stuff like this. This was after delaying her start date for 3 months. She was never a good worker.

      Unless the new hire has such specialized skills that she cant’ be replaced, I’d recommend reconsidering.

    3. Christopher Tracy*

      She won’t get better once she’s grown comfortable in the office.

      Unfortunately, I was thinking the same thing. These don’t sound like last minute trips – she knew ahead of time she needed time off. The fact that she didn’t say anything before seems very deliberate, like she didn’t want to risk bringing up the conflict and having the OP pass on her for someone who could start sooner. I guess I get the impulse if she really needs this job, but it’s not the best way to start a business relationship by any means.

    4. Librarian of the North*

      I agree, my first reaction was she needs to be let go. Back in my retail days I would hire employees with open availability who would then put all kinds of restrictions on when they could work. I was young and never let them go but NONE of them worked out beyond a month. I know it isn’t totally the same but I think the level of dishonesty is similar.

    5. Artemesia*

      I agree that this is one to rescind. People who pull this kind of thing immediately are going to be hell to work with. If she had immediately after the hire come apologetically to the OP, acknowledged the awkwardness etc, then perhaps gingerly proceeding would be acceptable. In that case, I would be inclined to start her after the vacation. Or if she had only one thing like the Europe trip scheduled, it would be more understandable although badly handled. But to casually assume she can do all of this and state she is working remotely before she is even trained — well this is a nightmare about to unfold.

      If you can’t rescind the offer at least make it clear that this is a big deal and that she will not be working remotely; all leave is unpaid including the first trip. Remote working should never be afforded someone who has elicited as little trust as this newbie has.

      And if this hire proceeds I would have a very close rein on the probationary period with the eye towards letting her go if future behavior is consistent with her entry behavior.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I once asked for the friday of my first week in a new job off and spent most of the time waiting for HR’s approval nervously, and hoping they would understand the timing was less than ideal but it was for a family party requiring travel. That ended up not being a problem, but after then I made sure not to take time off for several months.

        This case sounds like “Sally” is going to be a nightmare to work with.

      2. Ccccccc...*

        People are taking a hard line on this one! “Didn’t mention vacation” ≠ nightmare to work with! That really feels like a stretch. In this economy, it’s perfectly understandable to be so keen for a job as to be too timid to bring up upcoming vacations. It’s not great behaviour, but exactly what I can see myself doing not because I’m dishonest but because I don’t know how to handle it well.

        Passing up on someone who may be great otherwise for a short-term issue seems really short-sighted.

        Also, pet peeve: “to spring” in the past tense = “sprang,” not “sprung,” which is the past participle (she has / had sprung). Many verbs with an “i” conjugate as such, turning into i, a, u: –> ring, rang, rung; sing, sang, sung; drink, drank, drunk, etc etc.

        /Grammar obsession

        1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

          How hard a line we would take would depend on the nature of the job and the experience level of the employee.

          If it was one of our new hires in their first or second “real” job out of college, we’d be less alarmed. We’d probably delay her start. (the nature of those jobs is that delaying start dates is usually not that big a deal). We don’t expect the new and shiny young ones to know How Things Work until we teach them.

          If we were hiring an experienced person to come in and lift an immediate burden, mmmm, causing an immediate staffing issue and being tone deaf about it isn’t what I’m paying for.

          Probably: it would be okay. Possibly: we might say, you know, this isn’t going to work out.

          It depends.

        2. Raine*

          But the thing is, I thought most places basically required 90 days on the job before you could take paid vacation time or paid sick leave. (It has been the case everywhere I worked with paid time off. Insurance also seems to be somehow tied to this, I forget how; I’ve seen an employer bend over backward to offer UNPAID leave in an emergency.) The request is so beyond the pale — and casual, without any sense of apology — that it actually makes it more, rather than less, appalling and worth rescinding if the candidate has any history in the workforce at all.

          1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

            FWIW, we aren’t overly generous with benefits and that’s not the case with us. I’m not sure we’ve had an employee who didn’t need a day or some days within the first 90.

            You may or may not have earned time, but we’ll let people borrow ahead a smidge if needed, or they take unpaid.

            It’s so common it’s routine. (And yes, back when I walked to school 10 miles uphill in the snow, I didn’t dare ask for a day in the first 90 but afaik, that’s not how things work commonly now.)

            1. Mike B.*

              Yeah, it seems more common than not for new hires in recent years to take paid vacations and the odd day off within a fairly short time. I can’t say I see it as a huge problem, as we can easily fall back on the way we had been doing things before the person arrived. (And I personally felt/feel sympathetic, having been denied a half day in my first month at a long-ago job to travel to my college reunion.)

              But these hires were (as far as I’m aware) honest about the time they would be taking, whereas this woman tried to ask forgiveness rather than permission. I don’t think I would go to the point of rescinding the offer–and I’m someone who defended Nazareth College when they did that to a terrible negotiator–but I’d certainly consider what next steps needed to be taken.

              1. AD*

                Exactly. That Nazareth situation was one where the candidate had a laundry list of requirements before accepting the position, and the requirements were not in step at all with what is generally provided to tenure-track professors at small liberal-arts colleges.
                That candidate deserved getting her offer pulled. This one, not so much.

          2. Sydney Bristow*

            I’ve never been able to take paid time off that early, but my employer had no problem with me needing unpaid days off about a month after I started. Granted, I mentioned it and the 2 other scheduled vacations at the offer stage. I was going from being a temp to a permanent employee, hence the reason I had so many vacations scheduled. I don’t think they were surprised because several of us were hired at once and all had similar amounts of vacations scheduled already.

            And actually, now that I think about it, I was able to use my “personal day,” which comes out of a different group of days than vacation does, so I was able to get paid for one of the days off before accruing vacation.

            The key though was bringing it up at the offer stage before it was finalized. Id have been so freaked out and apologetic if I hadn’t remembered to do it then. That’s what surprises me about this situation. She seems so matter of fact about it happening.

            1. Chinook*

              I had the rare occurrence of working for a company that didn’t let you take vacation time off until you had been there for a full calendar year and defended it by saying it was an industry standard (this was a warehouse supply and tobacco supply company). The irony is that they took on huge financial liability as they were still outing aside the required vacation pay so that, if you left before you were able to take time off, you were paid out in cash. I can’t imagine how they would have reacted if I had told them I had a pre-planned vacation when I started (probably rescinded the offer).

              This is also a good reason for getting benefits in writing and asking questions. I now know to ask when a)probationary periods are up and b)when benefits kick in (including PTO).

          3. Jubilance*

            I’ve worked at 4 large companies (Fortune 100) and I’ve never had a probationary period or delay in any of my benefits. Medical, dental and the ability to take take off for a good reason were all available to me from Day 1. Now with something like vacation, it was basically my manager allowing me to go negative when I needed to be out for a special circumstance, but you get my drift.

            1. Karo*

              The company I work for has you wait until the 1st of the month after you’ve been here 30 days to start receiving health benefits (so if you start February 1-February 29, you have to wait until April 1 to start getting benefits). We do let people start accruing time off immediately, but you’re not allowed to use it for 90 days. I think this type of thing is very much YMMV.

              1. Always Anon*

                Where I work, you can’t take paid time off for the first six months. Occasionally we have someone who needs time off, because they are sick, they had a honeymoon planned, or just need a day or two off because of a life event. And that is fine, but that time is always unpaid, and with the exception of a serious illness, must not exceed a week.

                To me what is the issue aside from not discussing the time off needed in the offer stage, isn’t that there is a pre-scheduled vacation it’s that there are two of them, and one of them is for two weeks. Someone taking off almost three weeks in the first couple months of a new job as if it’s completely normal, makes me wonder what their expectations would be after they have been there awhile.

            2. Sunflower*

              I think it depends on industry with insurnace- primarily higher turnover jobs I’ve seen the medical benefits delay. When I first graduated and was applying at a lot of hospitalty/F&B jobs, all of them had the 90 period.

        3. Patrick*

          While a lot of this seemed harsh to me I first glance, we are dealing with an employee who has constantly done stuff like this and to be honest I think we all wish we hadn’t hired him.

          His work is good but he is just constantly pushing little boundaries like this, and while we chalked it up to this being his first “professional” job we’re all starting to think that this is just who he is. I understand not having all the correct soft skills as an entry level employee (I sure didn’t) but his guiding principle seem to be “better to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission.” It’s also always over fairly minor things that wouldn’t be the end of the world if they were isolated incidents, but it’s important to notice when those things start adding up.

          Sorry for the long winded response, honestly just needed to vent. Ultimately Alison is dead on – I personally wouldn’t jump to rescind the offer if I could make it work, but it’s potentially a really bad sign if there are any other red flags.

          1. Ccccccc...*

            Fair enough to all the comments above (and below)! Good to hear others’ perspectives.

          2. Artemesia*

            It is easy to rescind an offer. It is hard to fire someone once they prove to be a problem. Now there is the sunk cost of the hiring cycle. Later, you have wasted time and money on training etc. I did a lot of hiring into a situation where we mostly had to live with our hiring mistakes.

        4. mazzy*

          Egregious amounts of time off are a thing though. This winter, my job let go of a woman because she did what the OP did multiple times over a year. After a while, it was obvious that work was either not the priority, or that she’d never be able to control circumstances in her personal life. During a period of excessive last minute time off, they finally let her go.

          1. Gertrude is Gertrude is Gertrude*

            Well, but why didn’t they refuse the leave at some point? I’m making assumptions that probably have nothing to do with your situation, but I find it deeply frustrating when employers (or just people in general) say, “yeah, that’s fine, go ahead” or “well, that’s tough but we’ll make it work,” then turn around and say, “Well, she should have known better.”

            I don’t mean to pick on you, mazzy–I also wonder this about the above post. Why is the decision between letting this woman take leave and rescinding her offer, which to me seems like a very extreme response. Why not just say “no, you can’t take leave so soon after starting,” and let her figure her own stuff out? I just dislike this idea that there is a code of conduct that everyone is expected to know, but no one will tell you if you screw it up.

            For some things that makes sense (OMG, dude, stop trying to murder people. I know things are different in local council elections, but you’re working for the Mafia now. We have standards.) but for others, like vacation norms, which can vary so much among offices, why not tell someone when they’re about to shoot themselves in the foot?

            I may be misunderstanding the magnitude of this, though.

            1. Artemesia*

              Telling someone their paid for European trip cannot be taken and they will have to eat the loss guarantees you will have a snarling wolverine in the office, disgruntled from day one. The problem is not the trip so much as the entitled attitude. Again, not one trip but two right off the bat AND no apology or sense that any norms have been violated. The choice is to either let her do this without pay in both cases (the ‘work remotely’ is ridiculous) or rescind. There is no upside to forcing her to forego the trip.

              1. LBK*

                But she did acknowledge that it was bad timing, and I don’t see how offering to work remotely is ridiculous – if it’s a trip she had pre-planned, she’s actually going out of her way there to try to compromise by working through her vacation (which the OP clarified below was for a family wedding, so it’s not like she just decided to take off and hang out at the beach house for a week).

                Honestly, I think the only thing that’s really egregious here was her rude attitude about the process, which OP didn’t mention until her additional comment below. As the original letter stands, I think people are taking the worst possible reading of every element.

                1. Stranger than fiction*

                  I think the comments about the remote work are because usually you need to be pretty much up to speed in your role to do that. It’s hard to train remotely unless it’s a 100% remote job structured that way to begin with.

                2. LBK*

                  I agree that it’s probably not realistic, but I think the gesture is worth something and is indicative that she’s aware that this is an unusual request.

              2. Gertrude is Gertrude is Gertrude*

                Well, but there are two trips–one option is to say no to the less egregiously expensive one and allow the second. But it’s more the adversarial tone that I don’t really get–jobs are hard to come by, and for an amazing job, I would probably be willing or eager to give up a trip, despite the lost money and adventure, and more so to have both job and trip, but job unpaid during trip. I think I could get over that without becoming a snarling wolverine. And if I couldn’t, I wouldn’t take the job: I’d see any of those as a choice, not someone forcing me into anything. I’d also mention the trips up front, but obviously that’s not what happened.

                This may be my own lack of experience: I work freelance and I freely admit I lack understanding of office stuff. I guess I just don’t understand why this isn’t more of a conversation and less of a guessing game.

        5. LBK*

          Yeah, I’m with you. I’m pretty shocked at how much of a hard line people are taking with this one.

          I guess for me, the question is: if she had brought it up at the offer stage, would you not have given her an offer? To me, 5 weeks isn’t a crazy amount of additional time to wait for the right candidate unless you’re seriously understaffed/in the weeds. So if it doesn’t make any pragmatic difference, then it’s just a note about potentially questionable judgment – but there isn’t even a hard and fast rule that vacations must be brought up during the offer stage, either, as evidenced by the fact that Alison gets questions like that pretty frequently. It’s hard for me to agree that she’s broken some sort of unwritten agreement about vacation being discussed at the offer stage unless it was explicitly brought up and she lied about it.

          I think people here probably have their view of this skewed by reading those questions all the time and having Alison’s repeated “bring it up at the offer stage” answer drilled into their heads, but I really don’t think this is as commonly understood or agreed on as it may seem here. What does actually fall in line with the norm both here and in general is being matter-of-fact about time off – I don’t think that’s a ding against her either, because in normal circumstances it’s fine to just say “Hey, I’m taking this time off, let me know if it’s an issue.” And she did acknowledge that the timing wasn’t great, so it’s not like she’s completely oblivious.

          I dunno. I guess I’m just not seeing how this is such an egregious misstep.

          1. Kimberlee, Esq*

            Yeah, I tend to agree with this. Like, she obvs didn’t bring it up during the offer stage because she suspected it would cost her the job… which, obviously, it probably would have. I agree that she SHOULD have done that, but it’s very easy to see why she didn’t, especially if this wasn’t drilled into her head as a rule before this.

            1. LBK*

              Oh, I was thinking that it actually probably *wouldn’t* have cost her the job, which is why I don’t see why it’s such a big deal if she says it now versus earlier, when realistically it has the same impact. But I do also see her being justified in her fear that it *might* have cost her the job – and that is obviously a valid fear because otherwise we’d encourage people to bring it up at the beginning of the hiring process rather than at the offer stage once everything is pretty much locked in.

              1. Always Anon*

                To me this is about respect for your new employer and your new co-workers. By informing your new boss about your vacation plans after you have accepted an offer, you are backing them into a corner.

                1. LBK*

                  I don’t see how you’re backing them into a corner any more than if you told them before you accepted the offer. They still would’ve had to decide what to do – hire you and let you take the time off, hire you but reject the time off (and potentially have you decide you don’t want the job anymore) or rescind the offer.

                  In all of those scenarios, the likelihood is that you won’t have anyone working during that period unless you had a great second choice who’s available immediately. If you didn’t, wouldn’t you rather let the candidate start a month later and have a guarantee that someone you already like will be working for you, rather than gambling that you’ll be able to get an equally good replacement by then?

            2. neverjaunty*

              I admit I’m scratching my head a little on this one. “Well of course they didn’t do X, it would have cost them the job” is not really a justification when X is a good reason for an employer to say no thanks, correct? I mean, I hope we’d all be pretty disgusted by an employer that lied about a significant facet of the job “because otherwise Jane would have turned down the offer”.

              Here I think the really glaring issue is this person has TWO vacations planned right during their entry period.

              1. LBK*

                Job hunts are unpredictable, though. I don’t think it’s fair to penalize her because she likely scheduled something in advance not knowing if her job hunt would take 6 weeks or 6 months – and if she’s taking 2 weeks off to go to Europe, that could’ve easily been booked and paid for before she even started job hunting (I’m actually doing that in August and I started planning in January).

                I’m also not seeing an indication that she lied about it. Lied by omission, sure, but the OP doesn’t say that she asked if she had anything that would delay her start date and the employee said no, and then later it turned out she did. Which does bring up the question for me – why wasn’t that asked? It’s been a while since I started a new job but I’m pretty sure I’ve been asked on every application I’ve ever filled out if I had anything planned that would potentially interfere with my start date, or at the very least I had to provide my earliest available start date.

                It feels like a false equivalence to just lay a blanket statement that “it could’ve lost me the job to disclose X” is never a valid defense because not all values of X are equal, and I don’t think it’s even fair to keep that to the values of X that are legally protected. Not disclosing a vacation really does not register to me as being as horrifying an omission as your comment makes it seem.

                1. neverjaunty*

                  Yes, not all values of X are equal – which is why I specifically said “when X is a good reason for an employer to say no thanks”.

                  I think our actual point of disagreement is that you’re seeing absolutes that aren’t really being presented at all. What I’m disagreeing with is the viewpoint of ‘well of course it’s understandable not to disclose things if it costs you the job’. Sometimes that’s entirely justified and sometimes it’s not, but it isn’t a guiding moral principle.

                2. LBK*

                  Yes, I agree that it’s not an absolute. That’s exactly what I’m saying – that it’s neither always right nor always wrong to justify an omission by saying it could’ve cost you the job, but in this particular situation I think it was justified. As I said below, I think that’s where we disagree, and we aren’t going to agree on the rest of the scenario if we don’t agree on whether a 5 week delay is a good enough reason to rescind someone’s offer.

              2. LBK*

                Oh – and because I think this is probably the core of our disagreement here, I don’t think delaying your start date by 5 weeks is a good enough reason to rescind someone’s job offer (unless, as I mentioned, you are seriously understaffed and need someone yesterday). If we don’t agree on that point I don’t think we’re going to agree on the rest.

          2. pomme de terre*

            I am surprised that the vacations didn’t come up either in the interview stage or the state date discussion. The last few times I’ve gone through the job interview cycle, I’ve heard something to the effect of “What kind of start date would you have in mind?” before or at least during the offer stage, and that’s the time to bring up any big events. In my experience, people are pretty willing to acknowledge you might have scheduled something well before the job opening was even posted. I agree with you that delaying a start date even by a month is NBD for the right candidate.

            If Sally said, “I can start August 1” but what she actually meant was “I can start August 1, but will need August 8-10 off and also I’ll be out of the country during the last two weeks of September, so my for-real availability is October 1,” that was shady. It’s a lie of omission, in my opinion. Doesn’t mean Sally won’t turn out to be a great worker, but it’s a bad first impression to make and perhaps indicative of subpar communication skills.

            1. LBK*

              Agreed with all of this – although as I say that, I can also see that even if it wasn’t discussed earlier in the process, I would think that whenever the OP said “Okay, your start date will be August 1st,” that would’ve been a perfect opening to say “Actually I need x and y off, can we delay to September 1st?” The fact that she waited a full day after the offer and (presumably) start date had been finalized makes it a little sketchy, although it sounds like this was all an email exchange so it’s possible that she did reply back to the email about the start date with this information.

          3. Stranger than fiction*

            Just wanted to chime in about the offer stage. A couple of places I’ve interviewed in the past actually asked me if I had any upcoming travel planned and I really liked that because it set my mind at ease and let me know that it probably wouldn’t be the end of the world if I did and that they were probably just trying to figure the best start date and training schedule.

      3. Anon Accountant*

        Yes this sums it up well. 1 trip I’d advocate to accommodate. 2 trips sprung on you after hiring seems a little bit much.

        1. Rmric0*

          And they’re fairly long trips within a short time-frame. I’d imagine that would make on-boarding a giant hassle.

      4. Sadsack*

        Will she have even earned vacation time by the second trip? I don’t think I have had vacation available to me until after the first few months of working at a new place.

    6. Nelly*

      Unfortunately if they told her not to take the job if she wanted the holidays, and she gave up the holidays and took the job instead, you’d be dealing with someone full of resentment right from the start. So yeah, I’d just tell her to enjoy her holidays, but offer the job to the next in line.

    7. Lily in NYC*

      One thing to remember is that we have no idea how long ago this was written to Alison so it might not be feasible. But I’d be tempted!

      1. ChristinaB*

        Hi – this happened last week. She accepted the job on Wednesday evening and I got the request for the time off on Thursday and Friday, she declined the (already accepted) offer. See comments below for the full story.

        1. Lily in NYC*

          Thank you so much for coming here with the rest of the story! Sounds like it ended the best way possible for your company. I think the recruiter should have told you that she was difficult, but I guess the commission overruled common sense.

    8. Grey*

      I wouldn’t rescind the offer, but saying, “I’m sorry. We’re unable to approve your time-off request” would be simple and reasonable. Done. That way, the employee can figure out how to solve the problem she created and it’s not left to the OP to figure it out.

    9. ChristinaB*

      Hi everyone – this is OP #2 above (new hire sprung extensive vacation plans after hiring).

      This is how it went down…I contacted the recruiter and asked if she mentioned the vacation time to him and the information wasn’t relayed to me (the answer was no). He did mention that the candidate was incredibly rude and difficult to work with during the negotiation stage in the process. An example, when he told her she needed to accept the offer before 5:00 pm on the fifth business day after the offer was extended, she responded that it took him 3 weeks to extend the offer so why should she only get 5 days to respond to it.
      I then spoke with HR and asked for input/suggestions on how to handle this. The suggestion was to just tell her that I could not approve the vacation and working remotely is not an option until after 6 months of employment (which I communicated to her during the face-to-face interview). I called her and she was shocked that the vacation request(s) were not approved. Her response, “But I already paid for them.”
      When asked why she didn’t mention this during the hiring/negotiation process, her response was that she was “having a difficult time with the recruiter.” I told her that she was not following the terms of employment and if she was unwilling to meet the terms that she should sent a note declining the offer.
      A few hours later she offered to reschedule her European vacation (on her own dime) but still wanted the initial time off for a family wedding. At this point, I was working with HR to write a letter to rescind the offer. Before I got a chance to rescind it, she sent a note saying she was declining the offer because she and I “could not agree on a start date or arrangements for her pre-scheduled time off.”
      I am thankful this bubbled up before she started – I feel like I dodged a bullet!

      1. Muriel Heslop*

        Wow! Thanks for the update! I feel like you dodged a bullet, too.

        Good luck with your next candidate – I hope you find a star!

      2. Pwyll*

        This is pretty much how I would have handled it myself. I think you’re right that you dodged a bullet!

      3. neverjaunty*

        Wow! You did – and you need to have a STRONG talk with that recruiter. The candidate was rude and difficult? That recruiter deliberately tried to sell you a turkey.

      4. AnonInSC*

        Wow. Yes, you definitely dodged a bad hire. Thank goodness she showed herself so quickly.

      5. LBK*

        Huh, okay, well this adds a lot of context. I still don’t think on the surface that not mentioning the vacation earlier was as big a problem as everyone else, but if she was rude and argumentative about the whole situation, then that makes it different. I stand by my original comment based on the info that was in the letter, but given this additional info I think you’re right to rescind the offer. Although FWIW, I would be pretty annoyed if a manager told me I couldn’t go to a family wedding even if it was that soon after I started – it’s not like she chose the date of the wedding.

        1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          Yes, I agree. I sometimes worry that when we get these kind of (crappy) updates, the larger theoretical discussion gets lost. I still think there’s an interesting conversation to be had about how to handle this situation (minus the additional detail provided by the OP).

        2. 2 Cents*

          Before the additional info, I was trying to see this from the new hire’s point of view. The OP said the interview process was “lengthy.” One trip is a family wedding (can’t really reschedule that) and the other is a personal trip that may have been planned months in advance of searching for a new job. Should the new hire have mentioned it during negotiations? Yes. But I could also see her thinking that since the interview process was taking forever that it would be awhile before she ever got an offer and may have already taken the trip by the time the job offer was made.

          (With the additional info, sounds like she was really a difficult person to deal with.)

          1. Roscoe*

            That was my thing. If an interview process is dragging on for months, yet then they decide and want you to start 2 weeks later, well that is a bit of an issue that I can sympathize with for a family wedding and pre-planned trip

            1. LBK*

              Especially since it sounds like it took 3 weeks from the verbal offer to the written – if the OP was anticipating having the written offer right away, that would make the first trip a month out from her start date instead of a week. That’s a pretty notable difference. If the entire hiring process took several months, she may have been thinking she’d be well into the job by the time these trips came up (or at least more than a few weeks). Looking at it that way, it feels weird that somehow she should be the one expected to grovel and apologize for the timing of the trips if the company is the one who dragged out the time it took to get her on board – totally speaks to the power imbalance in the hiring manager/candidate relationship.

              1. Roscoe*

                Yes. I will say this is one of those things that annoys me. Employers can set their timeline and adjust it as they go with little to no regard for their candidates, but candidates are apparently supposed to put all their cards on the table before accepting a job.

                1. ChristinaB*

                  The 3-week delay was from the face-to-face interview until the verbal offer. There were some other departmental issues I was handling during this time which led to the delay. She received the verbal offer, verbally accepted and received the written offer within 2 days. She had 5 business days to formally accept the offer…which she did with a few hours to spare.

                2. Roscoe*

                  Ah. I read “lengthy interview process” differently. It doesn’t sound too bad then.

                3. LBK*

                  Thanks for clarifying, OP – doesn’t sound like she has much to go on, then. Like Roscoe, I was imagining a “lengthy process” meant months. 3 weeks from interview to offer sounds normal, if not short to me.

        3. Rusty Shackelford*

          Although FWIW, I would be pretty annoyed if a manager told me I couldn’t go to a family wedding even if it was that soon after I started – it’s not like she chose the date of the wedding.

          The fact that she didn’t choose the wedding date is irrelevant – she still gets to choose whether to go to the wedding or not. If I’d hired someone for a specific need, and that need meant they had to work the weekend of a family member’s wedding, I wouldn’t say “Oh well, not your fault, you go have fun and my need will go unmet.” (Of course, if I could be flexible and let her have the days off, I would absolutely do that.)

          1. LBK*

            Uh, wow, seriously? I mean, if it’s her third cousin twice-removed that she’s met once in her life, I might give her some side eye about requiring that weekend off. But if it were a sibling? I would quit if you told me I couldn’t go to their wedding because I had to work. Good luck covering your critical event then.

            1. Rusty Shackelford*

              That’s the whole point. If I need a critical event covered, and you absolutely cannot work that critical event, you shouldn’t even be working for me. I could not care less WHY you cannot cover my event. All I need to know is that you cannot do it, and that leaves me free to move on to the next person.

              (Also, it’s none of my business why she needs a day off. I don’t care if she’s crashing the wedding of someone she never met, or if she’s officiating at the wedding of the sister who gave her a kidney. None of that is my concern. I’m not deciding whether she gets the day off based on how important her reason is.)

              1. LBK*

                Wow. I really hope you’re not actually managing anyone if you genuinely believe that work should ever take precedence over once-in-a-lifetime events. Unless you’re the POTUS, your work can’t possibly be that important. I’m sure you’d get along great with the OP who denied an employee’s request for time off so she could go to her college graduation.

                1. Rusty Shackelford*

                  Nope. Not managing, don’t want to ever manage. But if I hire you because I need you for event X, and after you’re hired you say “Oh by the way, I need off on the day of event X, and you have to give it to me because it’s my sister’s wedding,” I’m not going to be particularly impressed.

                  Look at it this way. You need a babysitter for the summer. You hire a babysitter for the summer. On the day before he starts, he says “Oh, wait. I can’t work next week. My sister’s getting married.” Do you say “Oh, awesome, I’ll be happy to work around you?’ Or do you say “That’s really too bad, because I HAVE to have a babysitter next week, so I’m going to call my #2 choice and see if she’s available?” It doesn’t mean your babysitter is awful, it doesn’t mean you’re awful, it just means he can’t do what you hired him to do.

                  And actually, no, I thought the manager who denied her graduation request was way off base and completely wrong, but that’s not analogous to this situation is at all. This is a brand new person who knew she needed the time off but didn’t say anything until she thought it was too late for manager to say no, not someone who had paid her dues time and time again.

                  And you’re conveniently ignoring the part where I said this:

                  (Of course, if I could be flexible and let her have the days off, I would absolutely do that.)

                2. LBK*

                  I thought we were discussing a hypothetical situation where you needed someone for a specific event and they had an existing commitment. I’m confused why you’re talking about needing someone for a specific event and then mixing it with the OP’s “person just got hired” scenario – there’s no indication the OP needed her to work other than generally wanting a new person to be in the office. Your example isn’t analogous to what happened here either.

                  And you’re conveniently ignoring the part where I said this:

                  (Of course, if I could be flexible and let her have the days off, I would absolutely do that.)

                  I’m not ignoring it, I just think that there’s no reasonable measure of “if I could be flexible” unless you literally hired that person to work that event and they’d known ahead of time that it would be a completely non-negotiable element of their role, zero exceptions. Otherwise, it’s your obligation as a manager to make yourself flexible – there’s no “if” about it. If you could still run the event if the person got hit by a bus, you can figure out a way to let them attend the wedding.

              2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Hmmm, I think that’s a lot more rigid than most managers need to be, unless you are specifically hiring someone to cover Event X as a major responsibility of the job and they will not be available on those dates. Generally, though, that’s not going to be the case, and it’s smart to accommodate people’s needs to attend weddings of those close to them, etc. (or you will usually have a lot of trouble holding on to good employees!).

                1. Rusty Shackelford*

                  Yes, I’m sorry, I thought I made it clear that I was talking about a critical event that someone needed to cover, but I guess maybe I didn’t make that clear enough? But that’s a tangent. I’m really only trying to dispute the idea that, since you have no control over when your family member decides to get married, no one could possibly hold you accountable. And I really disagree with this, because if I had a once-in-a-lifetime event that I absolutely needed to attend, I would make it more of a priority than this applicant did. Instead, she expected her brand new employer to make it a priority.

                2. Stranger than fiction*

                  Yeah, if it’s that critical of an event, that would all be told upfront at the interview.

                3. LBK*

                  I really disagree. I think most people expect that a reasonable manager isn’t going to fight them on something like a wedding, because it’s generally accepted that that’s a special event and gets precedence over other priorities.

                4. Katie the Fed*

                  I’m coming into this late, but LBK I just don’t get why an applicant/employee wouldn’t make sure to mention it ahead of time. It shows you respect the manager and the organization enough to give them plenty of notice to make other plans.

            2. Lily in NYC*

              The issue is not the time off. The issue is that she didn’t bother to mention it until after she accepted the offer. That is bad mojo.

        4. neverjaunty*

          The vacations, plural. Plus thinking working remotely was an option this early. I suspect that raised a lot more eyebrows than “I have a family wedding” would have.

          1. LBK*

            I’ve said this a few other places as well, but to me offering to work remotely was meant to be a compromise – like “I know this is early so I’m willing to try to meet you halfway by working through my time off”. I’m really baffled how people are taking that so negatively.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I think it depends on how it was said — did she just announce she’d do that or did she say “I could work remotely on those days if that would help”?

            2. Kira*

              Worst case scenario, I think it could be interpreted as fake availability. Employee tells boss, “I’m not really on vacation – because I’m available remotely – so you don’t have to dock my PTO.” Then they turn around and tell themselves that they can still enjoy the vacation and just check work later in the day/week.

              I’ve tried to stretch visits to see my family out a bit longer by suggesting working remotely. My work was a good fit for remote, and I intended to work at my computer for 8 hours and then spend the evenings/weekends with my family. In my mind, it would have allowed me to make the flights count while making sure critical work didn’t get missed. But my manager never liked the idea and insisted I use my few remaining PTO days and take a shorter trip/no trip.

          2. Beezus*

            Yeah, I can’t imagine scheduling two major travel items that closely together, for one thing. Not on purpose, for sure. And then I can’t picture adding a job hunt on top of that. And then going through a start date discussion that I presume had to take place, without mentioning my plans. Yikes.

            1. Kira*

              Agreed. This makes most sense for start date discussions. And after she brought it up, the applicant started saying that they could push back the start date? Why not say that earlier!

        5. CMT*

          I read it as paid time off being denied, but if OP had been willing to do it unpaid originally, I’d think that would still stand. (This is of course, assuming this had been the only problem with the candidate, which turned out to not be the case.)

      6. Stranger than fiction*

        Oh my word on the part about you taking three weeks to make an offer. Did they think they were the only one being interviewed? And that three weeks is normal to consider an offer? What planet is this person from.

    10. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Huh, wow. I had a very different reaction to this than everyone else (including Alison).

      It sounds like this candidate brought up the vacation one day after she should have. The appropriate moment for that conversation is during negotiations; she sent the email the day after she accepted the offer. Should she have been or acted embarrassed to have forgotten it, or chagrined to be bringing something new into the conversation? Sure (and perhaps she was; we weren’t actually told anything about her tone – except that “she did acknowledge that the timing was poor,” so she was at the very least not shrugging it off).

      The manager can still choose to whatever she wants to do in this case, but I’d hope it would be very nearly the same as what she would have done had the new hire brought it up the previous day. Would they have hired her with those scheduling requirements?

    11. Biff*

      That seems harsh to me. I do think it would make more sense to push back her start date though, and say she can start after she returns. But I’d make it very clear that there will be no vacation at all for 6 months.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I was interested to read the update, and whilst “nightmare” might be a harsh choice of words, it happens to fit with my own experience.

        When I have worked with a recruiter, they have often asked if I had holiday booked in the near future, and sometimes with a drawn out process (the interviewer goes on holiday themselves for a fortnight) it can end up that the problematic time off has been and gone!

    12. Mockingjay*

      I started a new job yesterday. I was very clear during the offer stage that I already had a long weekend booked in August for a family visit and asked if taking LWOP would be an issue, BEFORE I accepted the offer. I also reminded my new bos during onboarding.

      I also did this in my younger years. When I interviewed for my second job out of college, I explained that I would be gone for 10 days the following month for my brother’s wedding in England. Being up front was appreciated by that employer, who hired me and gave me the time off with no issue.

  7. Bee Eye LL*

    #1 – There is a corporate training video floating around the world somewhere that has me in the background NOT singing along to some silly company cheer. This is for a globally recognized brand. I was forced to stand in while they filmed this and wasn’t the only one who didn’t sing, much less mouth the words. Whoever is behind that thing needs to get over themselves and quit trying to force people into things way beyond their job duties. Good luck to you.

    1. Lily in NYC*

      I feel like I’m missing a money-making opportunity here because I am a total ham and will gladly make a fool out of myself and sing in public. I should start a freelance business offering to impersonate people on the day they need to sing at work.

      1. Muriel Heslop*

        I sing at work all the time! Nothing quiets a classroom more quickly than a teacher singing operatic versions of pop songs and showtunes. Sure, they stare at me in horror but they’re quiet.

        1. Chinook*

          That is brilliant! I could see junior high students shushing themselves as soon as you start looking like you were going to break into song because they didn’t want to hear Ms. H sing.

          1. Muriel Heslop*

            I’m more of a “Mamma Mia” person but I really get going in the spring when we read Les Miserables!

      2. moss*

        me too! I’m on newsreel somewhere singing a verse from the theme song to Gilligan’s Island when I was in college and I’ve never even seen the show. #noshame

      3. socrescentfresh*

        I’m not even sure you need to impersonate people. I’d hire you and tell the video enforcers, “well, if you just need warm bodies on camera, meet my stand-in, Lily in NYC. She’ll do a terrific job.”

  8. LadyCop*

    #1 I’m not particularly shy or introverted (but it certainly does happen) and there’s no way in hell I’d sing a doofy song…or even a good one, on camera for my job… *shudder*

    Dance or prank people on the other hand… ;)

      1. Jadelyn*

        +1 I love to sing…in my car…away from other people. I like to think I sing fairly well – lots of choir as a kid – but it’s still not something I want to share with my coworkers.

      2. SusanIvanova*

        I sing in a choir and I wouldn’t do this!

        There was one section of my company that decided to do something like this, and they tried to rope in other divisions, but my group – with our manager’s blessing – just ignored them.

    1. A Non*

      Seconding this suggestion! When I got married my employer gave me a gift card in about that amount to… I don’t remember, but it was either Macy’s or Nordstrom’s, both of which have medium to high end home goods. We used it to buy a nice knife set, and I still think kindly of that employer when I use it.

    2. snuck*

      This is a nice idea. I’m not sure about America, but in Australia a lot of the shops will offer you a discount on the items on your registry if they aren’t bought… so after our wedding I was able to buy a few of the items that weren’t gifted to us at a substantial (30-50%!) discount… that gift card could suddenly be worth a LOT more!!!

    3. AnonAnon*

      Thirding the gift card idea. We didn’t have a registry at our wedding (already had a house full of stuff!) but my wife’s work got her a gift card to a v nice store which they knew she liked and it was much appreciated.

    4. ReanaZ*

      Also was goign to chime in to suggest this! I agree cash would be weird, but flexibility is appreciated. (Although registry item + receipt does give them the option to return it for cash in the worst case.)

      When I was much younger and much poorer my boss gave me a $100 gift certificate as a Christmas present. It was a LOT of money to me at the time and if it was in cash, I would have felt SO uncomfortable about it (particularly since I know none of my other peers who had different bosses received anything more than a cookie–I was the only one who reported to this boss). I felt a little overwhelmed by the gift card, but appreciated it so much.

    5. Joseph*

      A gift card is a good idea. Though I would call out the amount – $100 to $150 is a LOT to spend on a gift for someone you’re not particularly close to*. I just got married and I don’t think anybody went over $100 except for parents, close family, and our very closest friends.

      If you really feel like you’re easily able to give that much, you should certainly do so, but I’ll definitely say that it’s almost certainly more than she’s expecting and more than many of her attendees will give.

      *Unless your circles are firmly in the upper-class and/or you live in some crazy expensive town like NYC or San Francisco, where $50 buys you like one spoon.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        Agreed! Am I off base in this? My husband and I tend to give $150 – $200 for good friends and family (and not attend weddings of folks we aren’t close to).

      2. Megs*

        I don’t think it’s necessarily unusual for a boss to give more generously if that boss is in a higher income bracket (which my bosses generally are, but clearly that’s going to vary). I’m not sure how much my husband’s boss spent on us because he gave us some fancy booze but I suspect it was firmly in or above that $100-$150 range. I would suspect the OP knows better what’s appropriate for her circumstances.

    6. Colette*

      I don’t know – there’s something odd to me about knowing exactly how much your boss spent on your gift (or, for that matter, on your coworker’s gift).

        1. Joseph*

          Well, you can have a pretty good idea since you actually scanned it in when you put it on the registry, but generally you get so many gifts that it’s hard enough just to remember who gave what without bothering to sit there and scrutinize costs.

      1. Megs*

        Eh, I don’t think this counts for weddings. We got almost entirely cash, gift cards, and registry stuff, and maybe we didn’t remember exactly what everything cost, but we had a pretty good idea.

    7. Muriel Heslop*

      One of my old bosses hates registries, so he gave us a generous gift card to one of his favorite restaurants. Great gift!

      1. PackersFan*

        I second this! When my husband and I got married a coworker of his gave us a gift card to a fancy restaurant in town. We loved it!

    8. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      My boss (at the time), who I did not invite to my wedding, gave my husband and I a very generous gift certificate to Stephen Starr restaurants (a hot restaurateur in Philadelphia). It was an incredibly kind gift — a beautiful night out, well beyond our limited means. It was one of our most memorable wedding gifts.

    9. Trig*

      Yep, this. I received an Amazon gift card from my boss’s boss (who works in the main office in another country, so no awkward cash handoff or anything, just got an email). It was unexpected, but appreciated! (We don’t do gift exchanges or anything in my office.)

      I sent a thank you card with some photos from our honeymoon, since I know she loves to travel and see other’s travel photos. We spent the gift card on some books and movies that we’d been meaning to buy, but you can get ANYTHING on Amazon these days.

  9. Nobody*

    #1 – This really sucks. I would refuse to participate, too. I hope the OP sends an update on this one.

    I guess some people just don’t understand that not everyone wants to be a model/actor. One time, my company hired a photographer to photograph real employees for some safety posters. They wanted to photograph a woman from my department (the company is predominantly white men, so they were trying to look more diverse by putting women and people of color on the posters). They didn’t even tell us in advance; the manager just said one morning, “Oh, by the way, Jane, a photographer is going to take pictures of you calibrating the spout maker today for the new safety posters.” She really didn’t want to do it, but management pressured her by saying she wasn’t a team player if she refused to let them put her on the posters, so she gave in. Luckily, nobody wanted to put me on the posters because I am ugly.

    1. Chocolate Teapot*

      The thing I have noticed about corporate photographs is that they are always out of date with people coming and going, so there is always New Colleague who wasn’t included and Old Colleague who left ages ago (and perhaps never even met New Colleague).

    2. Joseph*

      “I guess some people just don’t understand that not everyone wants to be a model/actor.”
      Related, some people *also* don’t understand that even if people are willing, not everyone SHOULD be a model/actor.

      I’m not easily embarrassed, so if my company pressured me to sing for some marketing materials or whatever, I probably would, but I’d certainly question it first. You really want me to sing? Are you sure? You do realize I’ve never taken a voice lesson in my life, right?

      1. SophieChotek*


        I can actually do some acting with a limited acting ability– give me Shakespeare or Ibsen, I’m game to learn some lines.
        Ask me to act in a company video as “my perky corporate self”…major failure! (I had to do some training videos for the company. Sigh. Fortunately I don’t think any used them.)

        Perhaps as Joseph said — being loud, enthusiastic, and out of tune is the way to go…?

        1. Trig*

          Yeah, my giant international company has people whose job it is to make internal training videos. You can tell which ones were made by them (or outsourced to an appropriate specialized contractor) and which ones were made by some monotone guy in the business ethics department.

          It’s always a delight when you retake the mandatory anti-corrupt foreign practices training and it’s been updated by the department who is actually good at those things!

    3. Case of the Mondays*

      I’m glad you wrote your point of view. When I read the OP’s letter, I thought singing was a pretty extreme request but that standing and holding a sign was a fine compromise. It never would have occurred to me that it would make someone *that* uncomfortable. While that stuff doesn’t tend to come up a lot at my day job, it does at a non-profit I’m part of. Staff are frequently photographed “in action” for promotional material, social media marketing, etc. They may be told that at time of hire, I’m not sure. Maybe I’ll bring up an “opt out” option with management. I’m sure they would do that for people with safety concerns but I think it’s just part of the culture there right now and it would be hard for someone to go against the tide.

      1. Chinook*

        “Maybe I’ll bring up an “opt out” option with management. I’m sure they would do that for people with safety concerns but I think it’s just part of the culture there right now and it would be hard for someone to go against the tide.”

        This is huge. There are people who don’t want their image out there tying themselves to a particular location or job for various reasons (doubly so if their name is attached to it). How awkward would it be to out yourself to your boss that you are hiding from an ex, your family or the mob? If there was a general “opt out” option, then that conversation becomes a lot less awkward.

        Plus, if you are going to put me in promotional pictures, I want notice so I can make sure I am having a good hair day, do my makeup without mineral powder (so I don’t shine on camera) and I wear clothing that I don’t mind seeing in the future. Unless the company is providing these things for me, I would not be pleased to be told to suddenly have my picture taken.

      2. Pam Poovey*

        Last year before the holidays, my company decided to have each department record a segment for the annual holiday party. Several departments (including mine) decided they were going to sing holiday songs with the lyrics changed to fit what our department does. I didn’t think it was a big deal – I’m game for almost anything. But I soon realized that there were a couple of people in our small department (less than 10) that REALLY didn’t want to sing. So we let them hold jingle bells and lipsinc (or just stand there). Nobody was opposed to the being-on-camera part, luckily. In another department, where there was someone who is extremely introverted and can barely look at you while passing in the hall – they let her opt out completely and just held a cutout of her face (badge picture) on a popsicle stick and bobbed it back and forth to the beat. There are other options besides singing – holding cue cards, etc. The video turned out cute, and I think most of the employees enjoyed watching it. And the person that didn’t want to sing at all actually got caught up in the moment and sang along!

    4. AW*

      the company is predominantly white men, so they were trying to look more diverse by putting women and people of color on the posters

      Because the best way to be seen as welcoming to women and people of color is to put them on the spot every time to topic of diversity comes up and make them responsible for making the company look good. I’m sure that woman definitely didn’t complain to anyone, especially other women, about this. /sarcasm

  10. BGenuine*

    I recently started a new job about a month and a half before my wedding, so I had already planned and paid for a lot of my 3 week honeymoon to Italy. When I got the job offer it was pretty much the only concern I raised. I told them of my plans and asked if it would be possible to accommodate them, but I also told them that I would be willing to shorten the trip if it worked better for their needs. Luckily they didn’t have an issue with it, though I did use up all my vacation time in one fell swoop lol. I definitely think they would have been less accommodating if I sprung it on them after being hired. This was a once in a lifetime trip for me but the job was also a huge step up so I was quite willing to find a compromise if needed. It probably also helped that I had almost 2 months to learn before I left on my trip. A week and a half notice is way too short to not have mentioned it during the hiring process! I think Alison’s advice is bang on.

  11. Jen RO*

    #1 – I don’t sing unless no one can hear me, so there is no way in hell I would do that. If they were really, really pressuring me I would do what Alison suggested and mouth the words (or sing very low). Is there anyone on your team who can/likes to sing and who could be convinced to be louder?

    1. Michelle*

      Me, too. I am here to work, not sing and nope, I’m not doing it.

      I worked for Head Start about 15 years ago and every year we had a Christmas banquet with all the counties that were managed by a regional office. They always had each county do a skit. The first time it was brought it, I told them I was glad to help with props and/or behind the scenes stuff, but not on stage. The manager tried to push but I told her that I absolutely was not going to do anything on stage and it was a hill I was willing to die on. She let it go (she said I was the best family advocate she ever had and she would rather have me there to help the families and children than quit over a skit) and I happily helped make props, costumes and do other behind the scenes stuff the 4 years I was there.

      1. LuLu*

        I’m with you. I am in my 50’s and have never been successfully forced into singing on stage or on tape and I never will. This IS a hill I will bravely give my life upon. They can fire me, they can put bamboo shoots under my fingernails, or whatever else they can come up with, but I WILL pass from this earth never having sung in public or on film. That is my solemn promise.

        That being said, if I were to be fired for refusing my 15 minutes of coerced fame, I would make it my personal mission to make sure that everyone knew about it. I would tell my story everywhere, blogs, comments sections, Facebook, Glassdoor, the local consumer action reporters, etc… Let’s see how many good candidates they get when this is common knowledge.

  12. uh*

    I would not let “Sally” work remotely 7 days after starting. . . Not too sure I would let her start at all to be honest. Did you have a second choice candidate in mind?

  13. Kate the Little Teapot*

    Lw #2 – With two trips so close, it sounds important to also make sure you review the leave policy (and also “soft” stuff like expectations around working remotely etc).

    Even as a remote company full of globe-trotters with 5 weeks of paid leave and flexible with added unpaid leave, we have had people who we had to part ways witb because they wanted to take longer trips than we could really accomodate.

    It’s important to make sure that her desires for travel match your compamy’s ethos.

  14. CayceP*

    Re: #2. I started at my current company two months before my wedding and honeymoon. During the second interview, I told the department supervisor that I would need said Friday and the following week off as I had already paid for everything. I also understood that it would be unpaid as PTO wasn’t available for the first six months. They had no problem with it and I got an offer the next day. If I had spring that on them after accepting the position, I would expect there to have been serious bad blood. From the supervisors end as well as from coworkers.

  15. DataMonkey*

    #2 – If I got the timing right then in Sally’s first six weeks (30 business days), she’ll be out for 14 of them?! That seems like way too much time to be gone during the initial settling in and training period of the job. I would also be worried the impression that Sally is making with her co-workers especially if you are short staffed and they are eager for someone to get hired to help with the work load. Will it damage her relationship with them? If her position is one where she needs to work with her coworkers closely, I can see this being really problematic.

    Instead of approving the time off – could you suggest a compromise? Pick one of the trips instead of trying to go on both. Or if no compromise can be reached, I would lean towards passing on Sally and going with your second choice (assuming that person is still available).

  16. hbc*

    OP4: These people are unbelievable. “Our benefits package is what makes us competitive, but it’s a secret.” This isn’t some complex secret that no one can guess–good benefits are pretty much universal, not some arcane or difficult to replicate combination of factors like the recipe for Coca-Cola. People want lots of time off, good health care at a low cost to the employee, and any other perks that are money or time in other forms (disability insurance, tuition reimbursement, subsidized childcare, flexible schedules, etc..)

    It’s not like another company is going to look at their benefits package and go, “Oh, we could pay 90% rather than 70% of health insurance premiums. Why didn’t we think of that?” And if it’s that good, people are talking about it anyway.

    Be prepared for benefits that sound nice but are terrible in practice, like on-site childcare that is full at 4 kids or $200 copays on all of your “covered” prescriptions.

    1. Rmric0*

      Right? And if their benefits really were the bee’s knees, how would they get burned by giving potential employees a summary?

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        I don’t understand how you could get burned by providing a written summary of benefits either. Maybe someone took it to a competing employer and got them to match it?

    2. Elsajeni*

      Also, if it’s secret, how does it make you competitive? You can’t lure better applicants with your outstanding benefits package if you’re not willing to tell them what it is.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        “Hmm… Firm A says their benefits are fantastic, and Firm B only says theirs are competitive. Guess I’ll go with Firm A.” ;-)

  17. matcha123*

    OP 5

    Are you Korean American? Were your parents Korean citizens or were you a Korean national who got American citizenship? If so, congrats! You can go to Korea on an F4 visa, aka Kyopo Visa. F4 is the best kind of visa because it gives you almost all the same rights as a local Korean. Meaning you can work in any field without visa restrictions.

    If you are not Korean, sucks for you. You must have some kind of visa to live and work in Korea. Your visa will be tied to your employer. If you quit or you are fired you will need to leave ASAP if you don’t have a work sponsor. Oh, and your workplace holding your visa makes it harder to search for jobs.

    So. You say you can do anything. Can you do it in Korean? If you are Korean American do NOT overestimate your level. There are tons of local Koreans who can speak English fluently and probably Chinese and or Japanese, too.
    Most Korean companies want to hire people who are already in Korea. I live in Japan and could not get job responses when I applied to Korean companies.

    Korean companies have to justify hiring you over a local to the government when they hire you. Moreover, the pay in Korea is terribly low. Often with long hours and service (off the books) overtime.
    Do you want to tell a Korean company you will do anything? No. You need to show why you are qualified for the job. Check and see if there are job fairs sponsored by Korean companies in your area.

      1. matcha123*

        I left out English teaching since they didn’t mention it. But you have to have a sponsor for those, too. (In Korea) Plus, cram schools in Korea are a mixed bag. Some only want bilingual Korean-Americans. Some only want white people. And some only want people who’ve graduated from well-known American private and public universities.

    1. AGirlCalledFriday*

      She isn’t a licensed teacher and also isn’t a native English speaker. Cram schools are out unless she physically goes there and can convince someone.

  18. Torrance*

    LW5: Since you mention that you’ve worked as a teacher, the best (and, realistically, the only) way for you to work in South Korea is to teach. There are public programs, such as the aforementioned EPIK, organisations like CIEE & Greenheart Travel, and independent recruiters who can find you contracts. Knowing Korean is recommended, if only for easier acclimation, but the big requirements are generally just a bachelor’s degree & a clean bill of health.

    There are several vloggers you should check out for more insight into working in Korea. Megan Bowen, at ChoNunMigookSaram, has a whole series about what it takes to get a job teaching in South Korea, along with cultural and professional advice. (She’s also a generally awesome person.) Simon & Martina at EatYourKimchi are also a valuable resource, though they’ve recently moved to Japan. You really should watch their video ‘How to Get Non-Teaching Jobs in Korea’, on their simonandmartinabonus channel.

    화이팅! I share a similar dream, though it’s fair out of my reach. I’ll be rooting for you!

  19. Anon Accountant*

    My question was “do they offer benefits at all”. Or what do they call benefits? And when they got uncomfortable that they didn’t want to put it in writing because there’s benefits listed they don’t actually offer.

    My firm did that and “got burned” when 2 people quit after realizing they’d been lied to. This law firm may allege they offer a great 401k match, lots of vacation time, dental, vision insurance but not offer it. Think carefully OP.

    The wording they used “got burned before” concerns me. That’s an odd thing to say to a reasonable request.

  20. WhiteBear*

    #2. To be fair, I’ve done this twice, once at my college job and once in my first full-time gig. In defense of those early in their careers who do this, I had not been exposed to Alison’s amazing advise on the topic (in which the time off is brought up and approved as a condition of accepting the offer), and was afraid that my offer would be pulled if I didn’t seem ‘committed enough’ or lacked a ‘flexible schedule,’ so I would wait until after they had offered the position, I had said yes, and then added my time off needs, offering to take it unpaid of course, and offering to work any popular holidays or other desirable periods for time off to make up for it.

    Though I now know its much easier to bring this up at the offer stage, I do sympathize with people new to the work world who do not yet realize this is not likely to be something that will cause an offer to be rescinded.

    1. shep*

      Yeah, I did this once as well with my first “salaried” position outside of school. I’d been in a very flexible (and, tellingly, hourly) position for three years prior, and booked a writing conference trip several months before I got the salaried position. I think I just assumed that since I’d booked so far in advance, of course my employer would be accommodating.

      They were…albeit hesitantly. And I didn’t realize until later, upon reading Alison’s advice, that the far better thing to do is include it as a condition of employment. But I was also sinking in graduate student dept and terrified of the offer being pulled.

      Shortly thereafter, though, I was offered ANOTHER [much higher-paying] position, which put my trip two weeks after my projected start date. At this point, I HAD read Alison’s advice, so I worked out the details with my employer and it ended up being just fine. I wasn’t paid for the week I was out, but I was SO happy to have finally landed in a position in which I could sustain myself that I certainly didn’t mind!

      tl;dr – I understand that it’s a misstep to not disclose pre-planned trips to a new employer, especially in the capacity OP describes, but I appreciate Alison giving the employee the benefit of the doubt.

    2. thunderbird*

      I did the same. I was still fairly new to full-time work and I was desperate to get out of the terrible job I had been at prior. All of my job searches have taken many months, so it can be difficult to plan for these changes. As Alison suggests, it is best to bring it up during the offer stage, but I didn’t know when to mention it and waited until my first week and the trip was after about 5 weeks into the position. I took unpaid time and they were accomodating.

    3. Brett*

      I had a similar issue. In my first job out of college, my offer was strongly phrased as non-negotiable in all aspects including leave (I now realize that starting pay was negotiable, and ultimately was a key to me leaving 8 years later) and I had to start within 10 days (with no relocation costs covered). Unlike the OP’s employee, I said nothing and quietly missed my grad hooding.
      But I was definitely terrified to bring up anything like time off to attend my grad ceremony after the initial “final and non-negotiable” offer.

  21. Camellia*

    #2 – what if OP is hiding from an abuser or stalker? Not necessarily something you want to share with co-irkers. Just sayin.

    1. Wut*

      What does an abuser or stalker have to do with the LW’s question? It’s about not revealing she needs time off during the interview process.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Yeah, I’m thinking Camellia must not have meant #2, unless the trip is a way to throw a stalker off the new employee’s tracks. ;-)

      2. Aurora Leigh*

        I’m guessing that was for the singing OP. A video of you that reveals your workplace could be bad in a situation like that.

    2. Camellia*

      Yes, sorry, I did mean #1. My first thought for any published photos, videos, etc. are for those who have to hid themselves to stay safe.

  22. Dani S*

    #5 — Is it important to you to work for a Korean company? You might look into working on one of the military bases. Check out USAJobs or NAF Jobs. Since you mentioned church, I also know there’s an International Christian School in Pyeongtaek (that’s near Osan Air Base, about an hour or so south of Seoul), and there may be other similar schools near the bases.

    1. no gifts*

      There are lots around Itaewon and in various suburbs of Seoul. These jobs generally require US teaching licenses which, if you have one, qualifies you for a very sweet gig – higher pay and shorter hours than you’d get at home or at another job in SK.

    2. matcha123*

      Personally, I’ve found it near impossible for non-military Americans to get jobs on base. Most of them go to people on base…

  23. Rory Gilmore's Book*

    For the wedding gift question, if you don’t want to buy off the registry, what about getting a useful gift card instead (i.e. grocery store, restaurant, etc)? I recently got married and would have loved to have gotten gift cards like that. I think it would be a good option if you know where they like to shop for food or have a favorite restaurant.

    1. Artemesia*

      I really think the registry is the way to go. These are thing the couple wants and money from a boss is just awkward. The amount also seems quite high to me for a gift from a boss unless it is to his own personal assistant or something like that.

  24. Not an IT Guy*

    #1 – Assuming this turns out to be a deal breaker and the OP loses their job for not singing, how would someone handle this in a future interview? Sure, refusing to sing when it’s not normally required does sounds like a ridiculous way to lose one’s job, but I can easily see how a hiring manager can interpret this as insubordination.

    #5 – I can see how saying you’re available for anything isn’t attractive, but I strongly feel that if you don’t say it you’re shooting yourself in the foot and closing the door on other opportunities. I was trying to get into the hospitality industry (my dream job actually) and I had an interview at a hotel. I was told before the interview started that there were two positions available: Front desk, and front desk manager. Naturally I chose the manager job because I felt that I was qualified. I later found out from the friend who recommended me for the job that the hiring manager felt I just wasn’t qualified enough, however he felt that I would have been great at the standard front desk position…but since I was going for the manager job I wasn’t going to be hired at all. Had I said that yes, I would consider any open position I could’ve gotten hired at the front desk and possibly worked my way up.

    1. Artemesia*

      I am interested in considering both options is a far cry from ‘oh dunno, I’ll do anything really.’

    2. LD*

      Your example works great when there are open positions that you are interested in, applied for and interviewed for. It sounds like you didn’t write to them and ask “do you have any jobs I can do? I’m willing to do anything.” They might not have interviewed you for either of the jobs they had open if you didn’t apply for something in that same or similar role. In the OP’s question, it sounded like asking if it was okay to write a blind letter/email and say he/she would work in any open position, please hire me. It is frustrating if you really do feel that way, but the employer doesn’t know what to do with that. Janitor? Receptionist? Sales? Greeter? Cook? Teacher? Meat cutter? Stocker? Call center? There are too many types of jobs for an employer to figure that out for the applicant who doesn’t say, “I see you have these types of jobs. These are the specific things I can do and am interested in doing for your organization that would be helpful in those jobs, experience I can offer that will be useful, etc. Do you have any openings?” That’s not the same as “I’ll take any open position.” When you’re willing to start anywhere, you still need to do some research and see who is hiring and what types of jobs they are hiring for and target those. It’s hard to stop and focus when you are eager. But it helps to slow down and see it from the employer viewpoint.

  25. Katie F*

    I feel like in the case of #2, that they probably withheld the information because they were concerned that if potential employers knew about these trips, they wouldn’t get any job offers. That doesn’t make it right, but it’s my first instinct as to what happened – she decided to just “not bring it up” until she accepted an offer, then spring it on the new employer because “once I’m hired, they’re not going to fire me right away just for this.”

    It’s an attitude that I understand, because I’ve also had to job hunt with “I need to take time off within the first four months” hanging over my head, but I’ve never hidden it from potential employers. That’s really not the way you want to start being known at your brand new job.

    Ugh, this is complicated. I sympathize with you, because that really sucks – I hate that she did this. It leaves you in a place where you have to either be the Bad Guy who refuses to give her what she wants, or set a precedent of giving in to sudden demands. Ugh.

    1. Artemesia*

      then it should have been brought up once the offer was made around start date. I know someone in a high level position who didn’t bring up the fact that he needed a week off for his wedding until the offers were in hand. He negotiated the start date for the week after the wedding; the employer would have preferred a bit earlier start, but it was negotiated as part of the final job negotiations, post offer but before all details were settled.

      1. LBK*

        To be fair, she did it the day after the offer was finalized, and it sounds like it may even have been in response to the same email exchange where the start date was discussed. She hadn’t actually started yet.

  26. Mike C.*

    What is up with managers that expect employees to perform duties so far outside of their skill sets? Singing? Dancing? Graphic design? These are all highly specialized skills that not everyone has, yet time and time again we hear about folks hire are told to drop their normal work duties to perform like monkeys as if these aren’t real skills that require real training and real tools to perform correctly.

    The mixture of disrespect for actual artists and for the day to day employees that these sorts of demands entail really irk me. Don’t be that kind of boss.

    1. Katie F*

      I feel like it has to do with a shift we’ve had from “Work is what you were hired to do” to “I pay your salary so you belong to me” mentality within the workforce. It’s related, I think, to our increasing tendency to never take time off or to be ‘connected’ 24/7. Even with 30 straight years of wage stagnation, employers seem to believe that they own their employees’ time in whatever fashion they see fit because they sign their paycheck, regardless of the burden that may put on the employee in question or if what they’re asking for is even tangenitally related to their job.

      1. Bwmn*

        Nonprofits have had a long tradition of needing to “sing for their supper”. Perhaps not always this literally, but this is hardly new.

        1. Katie F*

          Nonprofits, to be sure, but i’ve been seeing things like this increasingly popping up in for-profit organizations/businesses as well.

      2. LabTech*

        This comment was a refreshing read. The difficulty in finding employment surely also contributes to this unhealthy dynamic. In my case, it wasn’t singing/dancing so much as x4 workload increase and being pressured to travel cross-country on my own dime (for position requiring no travel at all), but same deal–same sense of entitlement of my (off the clock) time and money.

      3. Jadelyn*

        And the fun part is that at the same time, management magazines and business blogs run thinkpieces about how workers lack “loyalty” to their employers these days, and what happened to the days when you stayed with your employer rather than going for the next new opportunity that looks good? Like…y’all engineered that, guys. You can’t treat people like you own their time on and off the clock, and still be upset that they don’t feel any particular loyalty toward you anymore.

    2. Purest Green*

      I was once asked to “look into” doing video work. This was way, way outside my skill set, and when sparks literally flew after incorrectly plugging up some equipment I knew nothing about, that was the end of it. So, win…I guess?

    3. C Average*

      Nobody wants a mere team player anymore. Now you’ve got to be a UTILITY player, a human Swiss Army knife. And you’ve got to be enthusiastic about it, because employers are looking for PASSIONATE utility players. And every workplace seems to have that one person who is drunk on the Kool Aid and is genuinely enthusiastic about taking up improv, Brazilian jujitsu, paragliding, or graphic design mid-career, thus making the rest of us look bad.

      (Although, to be fair, I wouldn’t be part of the “us” in this situation. Thanks to two years of being in a sorority in college, I’m immune to public humiliation. Practicing and singing inane rush-week performances is great preparation for the kind of stuff the OP describes.

        1. Jadelyn*

          “Sinistral”? That sounds interesting, but I don’t get the reference…would love to know more!

    4. Kittymommy*

      I work in government and we just recently ended budget sessions for the next fiscal year. I cannot imagine what are elected officials would do if an organization did this. I think there would be stunned silence

    5. Artemesia*

      This seems like such a trivial thing to me. I can’t sing and I can’t act but if they were shooting something for an ad it wouldn’t bother me as long as I wasn’t soloing or something. But that is me. Obviously the OP is really squicked out by this and any reasonable employer would honor that feeling in one of their employees. Surely there are other people to do this so that one person who is really upset by it can be left off the hook.

  27. Bwmn*

    OP #1 – I’m here to actually disagree with AAM. While I don’t think that pressuring teams into singing is good, I would not recommend asking for a task off-camera, but rather ask if there’s a non-singing on-camera option. Or say “I have no singing voice and would be far more comfortable lip syncing.” Admittedly, I am a fundraiser – and during my career I have heard every version of “please don’t make me X”.

    And admittedly, a lot of these concerns are not ridiculous “please don’t make me speak about my technical legal work in my non-native tongue, because it gives me anxiety and I fear I’ll mess things up” is a totally reasonable fear. It also just happens to be that in those situations, I’d personally evaluated the English skills of the attorney, their value to the meeting in question, and my familiarity with the legal issue to step in in case there was a translation problem – and had decided I’d be willing to push on the attorney to participate. With the full approval of everyone’s boss – because as a nonprofit (or a gov’t agency) when the money is coming from elsewhere – those decisions usually get approval.

    These videos are deemed an important aspect of the agency’s ability to remain funded. Whether legit or not, I’d bet money that this perceived importance goes pretty high up the chain. And refusing to participate may easily be seen as refusing to support keeping the agency funded.

    I am not at all saying that I don’t sympathize. As a fundraiser, this idea would have me puking in the toilets. But I think that pushing back on this is just a lot different than pushing back on being in a company video. This is tied to how the doors of this agency stay open and the OP’s job is funded – the feelings behind this are inclined to be a lot more serious.

    1. Lily in NYC*

      An employee should be able to refuse to sing without receiving a guilt trip about how the future of the company depends on it. And I think it’s insulting to imply that the people providing the funding won’t do it unless there’s a song and dance involved.

      1. Bwmn*

        For nonprofits, things around these issues just are different. People are expected to be working there because they care about the cause/mission differently than in the business world and are often expected to help with fundraising efforts.

        Do I think that singing should be part of it necessarily – no. But asking to be entirely off camera and engage in no on-camera participation may easily not read that way.

        1. Mike C.*

          Who cares how it “reads”? Employees shouldn’t be asked to exchange their dignity for their boss’s incredibly dumb idea.

          1. Biff*

            I agree. If I’ve learned anything from this blog in the last year, it’s that non-profits trend towards poor boundaries and the only thing to be done is for a vat number of people to reinforce proper boundaries so that it is no longer an industry-wide practice.

        2. Jadelyn*

          To be honest, I feel like the idea that employees of a nonprofit should care so much about the mission that they’ll do pretty much anything is incredibly toxic. I may care about our mission (I do actually work at a nonprofit that’s doing work I strongly support), but I’m still here as an EMPLOYEE. I am paid to do a JOB. My feelings about the organization’s mission are an added perk, not a replacement for dignity and a healthy employment relationship with the organization that pays my salary.

        3. Observer*

          I don’t buy it the first half. I’ve spent my working life in non-profit. And, no it is NOT reasonable to expect people to sing, dance or otherwise perform. That’s not being non-cooperative or uncommitted or uncaring of the organization’s fundraising needs.

          However, I do agree that pushing back on being on camera altogether is a different, and much more problematic thing. Talking about your program and the good things about working for the organization are so normal, that making a fuss about it comes off very poorly. And, “I don’t want my face used for promotional purposes” is unlikely to garner any sympathy.

      2. Anon on Occasion*

        “And I think it’s insulting to imply that the people providing the funding won’t do it unless there’s a song and dance involved.”

        Especially since those types of videos are usually pretty cheesy and the audience is sitting there politely pretending to be interested while inwardly cringing in sympathetic embarrassment and wishing they didn’t have to see them.

        Do they really bring in a significant amount of funding? That seems so hard to believe considering how embarrassing they usually are.

        1. Bwmn*

          Personally, I’m surprised that any direct tv advertisements raise funds for nonprofits – but they do.

          1. SusanIvanova*

            It’s like spam – even if only a tiny fraction replies, it’s still making money.

    2. Mike C.*

      I don’t it’s your place to override someone’s personal belief that they don’t wish to become a dancing monkey on camera.

      Save your pushy tactics for the people you’re trying to get money from.

    3. Jane*

      You may feel this way because you are a paid fundraiser, but as a long-term employee of non-profits, I know that I am paid for my technical skills in my field. They can hire someone like you for the song and dance routine if that’s what they feel is necessary for fundraising. Sure, sometimes my passion for my work’s mission comes out, but it does so in ways that fuel my passion: spending extra time on database tweaks for a project I care deeply about, going above and beyond to connect with participants in a program. As others said, it does not mean voiding my personal boundaries.

  28. Lady Bug*

    OP #1, if you are like me and your singing sounds like cats being strangled, you should sing really loudly and enthusiastically! Louder than everyone! Hit the high notes!!!!!! They can’t fault you for being enthusiastic.

  29. Allison*

    #3, What’s with the aversion to buying off the registry? I get that all newlyweds need money, lord knows they’ve probably just dropped chunks of cash on the wedding and/or honeymoon, and many couples do want money so they can pay off their debts and buy a house someday, but if a couple has registered for a few things, it’s probably because they either don’t have these things yet or theirs are old and worn and they’d appreciate nice, new versions, and there’s nothing wrong with that. They know what they need better than you do, and since you’re an employer, it really is best to pick something off the registry and buy it.

    Really, I don’t get the whole “ugh, it’s a list of demands, how dare people force their loved ones to buy them new stuff just because they’re getting married?” attitude. They’re not “demands.” I’ll want cash when I get married, sure, but I could also see myself wanting a new vacuum or rice cooker or something, and I’m sure some people will want to go the old fashioned route for one reason or another, so I will probably register for a few things for that reason alone.

    1. Marillenbaum*

      Exactly! I don’t like giving money, but I also want to buy you a present you will actually like and use! It isn’t a terrible idea.

      1. Allison*

        Right? I get the “you should appreciate what I give you” mentality, but if you’re spending money on something for someone else, wouldn’t you want to make sure you’re spending money on something that will be useful and genuinely appreciated?

    2. Kai*

      Exactly–and to your second point, often if a couple DOESN’T have a registry, people grump about it. I had one mostly because my extended family kept hassling me to set one up.

      1. VintageLydia*

        People grumped about my lack of baby registry for my second child, so I made one, and then no one bought me anything off it anyway! I’m sorry I saved all my stuff from my first and now all I need are things like a replacement diaper pail?? I got all gender neutral stuff the first time around on purpose because I wanted to reuse it, though I ended with a same gender second child anyway. And the thing I REALLY need and I’m surprised I didn’t get was clothes. My first was born in the fall, and this one was born in the spring. The 0-3 month stuff is still working for us but I pulled out the 6 month stuff I saved and he’s not gonna need a winter coat in August. I know boys aren’t as fun to shop for when it comes to clothes, but I told everyone that if they want to buy me stuff, that’s what to buy (plus the aforementioned diaper pail) but whatever. I can afford to buy his wardrobe. Just salty for getting crap for not making it easier to buy me/him stuff, and then not receiving anything anyway. (Not that I got nothing. I got a couple toys and a few hand crocheted blankets that I will cherish forever but I may be just a bit too pragmatic for my family otherwise, lol.)

      2. Anon for today*

        Gosh, I’m getting married soon (hopefully; no date yet) and the registry thing is a no-win situation for me.

        1) Registry
        Future spouse and I need to spend time setting it up (with a diverse price point) and picking china, only to make my Central/Eastern European heart feel super weird about the idea of giving people a list of things to buy for ‘gifts’.

        2) No Registry
        People grump, and also assume we are being ‘tacky’ by trying to use no-registry to signal cash.

        1. Chinook*

          I had the same issue with a wedding registry. DH even went as far as stating he thought it was a horrible idea because he didn’t think it was right to ask people to give us stuff. (He had never attended a wedding before his own, so I gave him some slack). I compromised by stating that we wouldn’t tell people about the registry unless they asked. The next day, his boss asked him where he was registered and DH begrudgingly admitted later that it was a good idea.

          1. Observer*

            I’m not a fan of registries, but I get that they are practical. So, my children did what you did – set them up, and then didn’t tell anyone unless they asked.

            We figured that telling someone proactively can be seen as a gift grab (and it usually is). On the other hand, if someone isn’t sure what to get AND ASKS about it, the registry is easier for everyone that giving people a list on the spot.

            1. Allison*

              I figured telling people was meant to be helpful, but I guess it *was* helpful back when everyone gave a physical gift. You usually send out save-the-dates with a wedding website, wouldn’t a link to the registry be part of that. I’m just generally a fan of making information easy to find, rather than making people have to come to me and ask for it.

              1. Observer*

                Well, I’m not so sure that this is general practice. We send invitations when we sent them. Whoever could come, came. (And, no, we didn’t enclose the cards that store so kindly sent us in our invitations.)

                1. doreen*

                  I think that depends on the specifics of your situation-I’d hate to miss my cousin’s kid’s wedding because I had already booked a vacation before I got the invitation six weeks before the wedding. And most of my family is the same way, so we tend to give lots of advance notice for everything which usually means some sort of “save the date” (although not always a printed card) way earlier than you can send the invitations.

                2. Observer*

                  @doreen Of course there are all sorts of situations where a “save the date” makes sense. But I wouldn’t say that a “save the date” to the expected invitation list is the “standard” way to do things. As for a wedding web site? That’s even less of a “thing”. I know that people do it, but it’s not a thing that people “generally” do.

        2. Artemesia*

          My daughter didn’t want a registry but I pointed out that without one, she would be getting 3 toasters from some obscure shop in Wisconsin that she would have to deal with in southern Cal. His side mostly gave checks but our side gives gifts and so she got her stainless flatware and a few other things that are just nice to have and people knew what to buy.

          My son and his wife wanted tools and they got wonderful things; our relatives were quite enthusiastic about buying routers, and drill presses and such.

          People coming to weddings want to give gifts and the registry process makes it easy for people to do this and it is especially useful for relatives who are scattered across the country and don’t know precisely what the couple could use but are reluctant to give money.

        3. Trig*

          We opted for:

          3) Explicitly say “We really don’t need anything, please don’t feel obligated. But we know some people can’t resist, so here is a small list of things that we would be thrilled to have” and then made an ‘alternative registry’ on It avoided the dreaded “go to a store and scan a bunch of crap” or “set up multiple registries on specific website”. It lets you just make a list of things and people can get them wherever. We included specific item things like some tools, a family camping tent, and one of those alarm clocks that lights up slowly before going beep to wake you up gently. We also included (and received) donations to a list of charities we support, things like ‘your art’ and ‘your preserves/jam’, and ‘no dishes, please, we have lots and I break nice things’.

          The only people who mentioned it said that they thought it was great, so I call that a win. If anyone thought it was tacky, they kept that to themselves. Pretty sure most people ignored our “don’t give us anything” instructions, and a lot just gave cash, but we didn’t end up with random stuff either.

      3. Allison*

        You can’t win. If you want cash, old fogies will think you’re being tacky, because back in the good ol’ days people were thrilled to get new sheets and toasters and stuff. If you register, people will think you’re a spoiled brat demanding nice things you don’t need, just because you’ve chosen to participate in an overpriced, outdated, heteronormative tradition. How about we let people decide what they need and not grumble about it as long as they’re being reasonable.

        1. Artemesia*

          I am not sure how any of this is heteronormative; all the gay couples whose weddings we have participated in had registries (and some of the most traditional weddings around.)

    3. Lily Rowan*

      The main reason I want to get married (aside from, you know, a life partner) is to get all new dishes! And towels! And whatever.

    4. MCL*

      As a person getting married in September whose boss may plausibly have written #3, I’m super cool with registry gifts. There is nothing on our registry that we didn’t put there on purpose. Or no gifts, heck. You’re not obligated to send me something. We’re cool. :)

  30. Maria*

    LW1, your workplace sounds so tone-deaf to company culture that I’m tempted to suggest something outlandish to explain your desire to stay off camera, like implying that you’re in Wit Sec, or having a Sleeping With The Enemy-style need to stay off the grid.

    1. Allison*

      “your workplace sounds so tone-deaf to company culture”

      I see what you did there!

    2. Petronella*

      There’s nothing “outlandish” about being in hiding from a violent or obsessive ex. It’s a sadly common situation.

  31. ChristinaB*

    Hi everyone – this is OP #2 above (new hire sprung extensive vacation plans after hiring).

    This is how it went down…I contacted the recruiter and asked if she mentioned the vacation time to him and the information wasn’t relayed to me (the answer was no). He did mention that the candidate was incredibly rude and difficult to work with during the negotiation stage in the process. An example, when he told her she needed to accept the offer before 5:00 pm on the fifth business day after the offer was extended, she responded that it took him 3 weeks to extend the offer so why should she only get 5 days to respond to it.
    I then spoke with HR and asked for input/suggestions on how to handle this. The suggestion was to just tell her that I could not approve the vacation and working remotely is not an option until after 6 months of employment (which I communicated to her during the face-to-face interview). I called her and she was shocked that the vacation request(s) were not approved. Her response, “But I already paid for them.”
    When asked why she didn’t mention this during the hiring/negotiation process, her response was that she was “having a difficult time with the recruiter.” I told her that she was not following the terms of employment and if she was unwilling to meet the terms that she should sent a note declining the offer.
    A few hours later she offered to reschedule her European vacation (on her own dime) but still wanted the initial time off for a family wedding. At this point, I was working with HR to write a letter to rescind the offer. Before I got a chance to rescind it, she sent a note saying she was declining the offer because she and I “could not agree on a start date or arrangements for her pre-scheduled time off.”
    I am thankful this bubbled up before she started – I feel like I dodged a bullet!

    1. Always Anon*

      Thanks for the update!!

      It sounds like you dodged a bullet if she was difficult to work with during the negotiation phase. And how senior was the position? Because I find 5 days to respond to an offer to be very generous. Many places offers I’ve received want an indication that I plan to accept (providing we can come to terms on salary, etc.) within 24-48 hours.

    2. Katie the Fed*

      Oooooh yeah. The attitude with the recruiter spells trouble! Glad you were able to resolve it – sounds like she’d be a total pill.

    3. C Average*

      Wow. Yep, yep, yep.

      I’m glad this worked out the way it did, and hope you have better luck with your second choice or another applicant.

      Just out of curiosity, was Sally early career, or more experienced? There’s been a lot of speculation about that in the comments.

      Do you think she learned anything from all this and would behave differently in the future?

      1. ChristinaB*

        She receive her BA in 2007 and had been working since. She has enough years of experience to know better…AND to treat people better.

    4. Jim*

      Thanks for the update, we were all curious to know how this would work out. Definitely sounds like you dodged a bullet with this person!

    5. SophieChotek*

      Thanks for update!
      (I am surprised recruiter did not share more info with you on difficulty with candidate. Is that normal –in general-for recruiters not to pass that info along?)

        1. Sadsack*

          If they get paid based on getting a position filled, they may not have incentive to be too honest with the employer or the employee.

    6. AndersonDarling*

      Wow! After reading your additional info, it’s clear that you made a good choice! I’m hoping your second best candidate is the golden one!

    7. Katie F*

      Ooooh, wow. 5 business days to consider an offer is really not a bad amount of time to me (although my last job offer involved me saying “I need to take some time to discuss the offer with my family” and calling back like half an hour later to accept it, haha), but… yeah, she’s a “my way or hte highway” type, and that doesn’t work nearly so well during the hiring process as she seems to think it does.

      I think I would have been willing to work with her on the family wedding, since it only involved a day or so off, and told her it would be on the condition that it is unpaid. The European vacation that she chose not to disclose to you, though, that’s a dealbreaker for me.

    8. moss*

      The norm in the interviews I have been on is that the recruiter asks about upcoming vacations on the screening call. I would maybe go ask your recruiter to do this in the future so you don’t have this type of surprise again. AND to fill you in on rude behavior!

      Good luck filling the position, though. You’re about to make second choice candidate a happy person!

    9. Augusta Sugarbean*

      Thanks for the update. I’m glad it was resolved (but sorry you have to try and find a new person).

      I’m wondering what do you think you would have done if she had asked for the two vacations during the negotiations? (And was polite and diplomatic about it.) Would you have tried to accommodate her? Or is your department too short staffed? You mentioned not wanting to delay her start date.

    10. Anon Accountant*

      Wow. You sure did dodge a bullet there! She’d have been a real peach to add to your team.

  32. Katie the Fed*

    #3 – I invited my boss to my wedding. He brought us a birthday card where he scratched out the “happy birthday” and wrote “Congratulations!” and then stuffed it full of $20s. It was so funny – I think he stopped at a gas station on the way but I’m not complaining! Those $20s were super handy when we wanted to go out for burgers after the wedding.

    1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Lol, I had a friend do something similar (the gas station card, not the cash). :)

  33. Always Anon*

    #2…the biggest red flag to me is that the new employee is asking for time off twice within the first 30-45 days or so. I understand forgetting or being afraid to bring up needing time off during the offer stage, especially if the employee has limited experience. But, I think it’s appropriate to reject the request for one of the two vacation requests (assuming that both are vacations not needed time off for medical reasons). And perhaps some gentle feedback indicating that you may have been able to approve both requests if they had been raised during the offer stage.

    I think this is a case where you have to make the rules clear from the get-go. Because otherwise I do find that what gets communicated is that taking time off or unilaterally opting to work from home, etc., is no big deal. I get that people have vacations planned, but what I find concerning is that there are two trips within quick succession, and that the employee has volunteered to reschedule one of them.

  34. Vacation faux pas?*

    Reading the responses to #2 has me concerned…I’m applying for jobs now and have 2 vacations planned later this year. One week in November for my honeymoon and one week in December to visit family for Christmas. I plan to mention these at the offer stage and tell the new employer I will the time unpaid, and also offer to work remotely in December if possible. I hope these trips don’t cost me an offer!

    1. Wut*

      As long as you mention them during the offer stage, you’ll be fine. Just don’t mention them after you start. A reasonable employer will work with you.

    2. Always Anon*

      You probably don’t want to work for a company that wouldn’t approve your honeymoon request!

      The Christmas vacation might be a stickier wicket, depending where you are in your career, and your industry. Where I work we would just ask you to make sure that your vacation coincided with when our office closes (as we close the week between Christmas and New Years), but I know other organizations that wouldn’t approve the request unless you had a hard to find skill set or you were very senior.

      Also keep in mind that many organizations don’t permit working remotely at all, and those that do often have a six month or one year period that you have to work in the office before you can start working remotely. I think a lot of this is very industry dependent.

      1. Vacation faux pas?*

        I work in the nonprofit space and in my experience they are all very different. I’ve worked for one where working from home was common right out of the gate and another where it was The Thing That Must Not Be Named. So we’ll see.

        I’m not very senior and don’t have a super specialized skill set. Only 5 years into my career and working in finance administration. But I specifically booked my vacations over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays in the hope that the company would be closed for some of those days already and I wouldn’t have to take too many days off.

        Ultimately I’ll understand if a company can’t allow me to take both, but I would also hate to have to cancel my honeymoon (not going home for Christmas is Not An Option in my family).

        1. VintageLydia*

          “(not going home for Christmas is Not An Option in my family)”

          I will never understand families who care more about holidays than their family members’ livelihoods. Even if you’re very religious, it’s not like the holiday loses significance because some family members can’t travel. We deal with my in-law’s temper tantrums every year but with four sets of parents (hurray divorce! /s) plus living over 200 miles away, and all those sets of parents living 30-90 minutes from each other (they all ran for the boonies as they aged–but different boonies) seeing everyone is just not possible. That terrible movie “Four Christmases?” That was my life every year for about 6 years. And my husband is senior enough in his career that so long as he has the PTO, he can take off the week of Christmas with almost no regard to the needs of the rest of company (though if there is an emergency, he has no problem logging in to handle it.)

          Unless they come up here. Which now they mostly do. It means I gotta feed and house 4 very different families who range from somewhat friendly to hostile to one another on top of my own family of 4 and… It’s still less stressful than going down there because they stop complaining.

          Sorry, this became a rant about my own family, but unless yours is bankrolling your life, they may need to get over not seeing you every holiday. If nothing else, what if you get a partner who ALSO wants to spend time with their family? If you have time off, they’ll have to be okay with you, at minimum, rotating between your families. Or do what my mom and her sister do: get together later in winter when people have less going on.

          1. Always Anon*

            This is one reason why I love my family.

            Some years not everyone can be at home over Xmas, so we have a Christmas in November or January, etc. Because it’s not the specific day that is important. It’s being all together.

          2. Elizabeth West*

            I agree–or if they get mad because you can’t come or you don’t want to because you have to work the next day, and they can’t have it on the weekend when everybody is free because OH IT HAS TO BE ON THE EXACT DAAAAAAY.

          3. Allison*

            Right, my parents want me to join them in Philly for Christmas, but they would absolutely understand if my work schedule didn’t allow for it.

            I, on the other hand, would probably have an emotional meltdown if I had to miss the family’s yearly get-together, as I’ve never spent a Christmas away from my family. Hopefully, if that ever happens, I’d have a close friend or serious boyfriend with family close by I could visit. If I had to be alone on Christmas I would be very upset.

          4. Artemesia*

            Most workplaces don’t give time off for Christmas trips and if they do, they require careful scheduling and new hires are not first in line. When my daughter married I told her ‘You now have a complicated logistics issue for holidays; you have SILs who also have in laws, you have divorced in laws, and then us — so just let us know what you want to do. We like to see you; we don’t care if it is ‘the day’ of a holiday or not. Work out what works for you two.’ The result is that for the first few years of their marriage, they were with us Christmas Eve and morning and with inlaws for Christmas dinner and afternoon.

            Now we live in the same town and so we see them every week; if they can get time off at Christmas they go see the out of town inlaws which is great — we get to see them often.

            Adult children are no longer ‘children’ who must appear on command at family events. Parents who don’t respect this are unreasonable. And to expect a job to be put in jeopardy because ‘not being home for Christmas is not an option’ is rather monstrous.

        2. Natalie*

          Woah. I know this is a little different than what you asked, but I really urge you to re-set expectations around Christmas with your family. You have the perfect excuse here – new job, couldn’t get time off. Simple as that.

          I’m coming from the position your partner would be in – my MIL has a lot of Feelings about us not living near them and not being able to be back for every holiday, and it’s difficult and unpleasant. But it would be untenable if my spouse wasn’t setting that boundary with his mom.

          1. Natalie*

            And don’t cancel your honeymoon. I’ve only been married for a month and I’m already regretting that we will have to postpone ours for a year (long story).

            1. LadyKelvin*

              Ours was 3 years after our wedding (last summer). And still not where we wanted to go because we coupled it to a work trip/wedding trip overseas. I feel like I’m still waiting for my honeymoon.

        3. Rusty Shackelford*

          But I specifically booked my vacations over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays in the hope that the company would be closed for some of those days already and I wouldn’t have to take too many days off.

          Unfortunately, you also picked the weeks that many other people will want off, in the event that your office is not closed (and while it’s not unusual for offices to close between Christmas and New Years, I don’t know of any that close for the entire week of Thanksgiving).

          (Also, it’s none of my business, but the fact that your family would prefer you cancel your own honeymoon over skipping a Christmas at home is kind of horrifying.)

          (Also also, I hope your husband is an orphan, or lives in the same town as your family, or has a family that doesn’t ever want to get together at that time, because otherwise it sounds like his needs are being ignored.)

          1. Vacation faux pas?*

            His family lives less than 20 minutes away from my family. Very easy to combine the Christmas festivities, or do one family in the morning and the other in the evening. It’s what we’ve done the whole time we’ve been together.

        4. Observer*

          You mean your family would really expect you to cancel your honeymoon so you could come home for the holidays? Wow.

      2. LD*

        Yes, and as a newer employee, OP might be the one expected to work around the holidays so other longer-term ee’s can take time off…at least during the first year or early days of a job.

      3. LD*

        Yes, and as a newer employee, OP might be the one expected to work so other longer-term ee’s can take time off…at least during the first year or early days of a job.

    3. C Average*

      If I were an employer, I’d be very accommodating of the honeymoon (because, at least if you’re optimistic, that’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing). I’d do whatever I could to make that work.

      I’d be less so of the Christmas thing, just because there are probably lots of existing employees at any given company who’d like to visit family at the holidays but know they can’t (because the period is blacked out, because other people have already asked for and gotten PTO and someone has to stay and keep the lights on, etc.) and it would probably rankle them to have some noobie waltz in and get a week off in December. If it were me, I’d tell my family instead, “I love you guys–you know I love you guys–but I have this new job and I need to demonstrate my commitment, so we are going to have to reschedule our visit.”

      I worked many years in retail, as did my sister, and we created a family tradition of celebrating Christmas in February. We’d exchange presents, eat good food, sing carols, and sometimes even get a tree. February is kind of a dud month, and it was fun to do something festive. Travel was cheap. And we got to take advantage of post-holiday sales for buying gifts. We’d often remind each other, “No one really KNOWS when Jesus was born, and he definitely seems more like a Pisces than a Capricorn.”

      1. Vacation faux pas?*

        Haha that sounds like an awesome tradition! Unfortunately, not going home for Christmas is Not An Option in my family. Like would cause a full-on meltdown, family feud if I didn’t come. If the company was only willing to approve one week off then I would end up canceling my honeymoon, and if they wouldn’t approve a week in December then I’d have to turn down the job. But every place is different, so we’ll see.

        1. AnotherAlison*

          Honestly, it sounds a little ridiculous to keep emphasizing that “not going home for Christmas is Not an Option” in your family. I am saying this, because I would see it the same way from an employer’s perspective. You are an adult. You have to manage your own responsibilities, not your parents’ expectations. I’m 38 and keeper of the only grandchildren, plus having manipulative, narc parents. Eventually, an adult child has to learn to say no.

          That said, if it’s so critical, why not postpone your job search 6 months? (Unless you are not currently employed, of course.)

          1. Vacation faux pas?*

            I understand why an employer would raise an eyebrow at that. But the way I see it, my family will be around for the rest of my life. This employer won’t. I’d rather keep the peace with my family and find an employer who is accommodating.

            And yes, I’m currently unemployed due to layoffs.

            1. Always Anon*

              I would highly encourage you to look primarily at organizations that close the week between Christmas and New Year’s. They aren’t common (outside of teaching), but they are out there. I think it’s the only way that you would guaranteed to have time off at Christmas every single year. If that is of vital importance then make sure to communicate that during the interview process, so that the potential employer is clear that you will quit if your request isn’t honored.

              1. Vacation faux pas?*

                I work at nonprofits and all of the ones I’ve worked for in the past have been tied to schools and kept the school calendar, so they were closed between Christmas and New Years. I can’t tell if the companies I’m interviewing with are closed from their websites but I’ll find out in interviews. I’ll make sure my needs are crystal clear at the offer stage so I don’t cause a situation like OP #2!

              2. themmases*

                I think that’s a bit of an exaggeration. There are plenty of roles where it’s not a problem to take time around Christmas even if the organization is open. The company might be closed just Christmas day and eve, and only the other days around them are an issue. A lot of places, business slows down anyway around the holidays.

                Not every task needs to be done urgently every single day. And even if it did all you need is a congenial person to trade coverage with. My partner used to fix it with his counterpart so one of them took the days leading up to a holiday, and one took the days immediately after.

                The holidays are absolutely not routinely cancelled for most people outside of the school system. Trust me, you’d have heard.

                1. Judy*

                  There is also a reason, at least around here, where the places (YMCA, museum, nature center, science center, churches, day cares) that do “summer day camp” and “spring break day camp” also do “winter break day camp”. Most places are closed on Christmas Day, and many are closed Christmas Eve, but especially starting out, saving the 4 days of vacation (out of 10 for the year) between Christmas Day and New Years Day is hard. Having a day or two off at Christmas is much different than having the entire week.

                2. Always Anon*

                  I should probably clarify. When I talk about having Christmas off, I’m not discussing having Christmas Day off, or even the day before or after Christmas. My impression from Vacation Faux Pas’s post was that he/she would be looking for extended time off (say the week between Xmas and New Years). If I am wrong on that I hope i will be corrected.

                  However, I have yet to work for an organization where someone can take extended time off around the holiday’s every single year if the office is open. And my work wasn’t critical, but almost every place that I have worked want a minimum number of warm bodies in the office. And everyone has to take a turn at some point.


              3. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

                Eh, I’ve had that week off every year in my career. It’s just never been a thing. I don’t work in a role that needs coverage; there are lots of roles like that.

            2. Elizabeth*

              I wouldn’t raise an eyebrow. I would tell you that you’re part of a team and the team requires that you be on site & working during that time, because other members had been onsite & working when you were out of the office.

              1. Vacation faux pas?*

                I understand why some companies take that stance. I have yet to run into a company that operates that way around the holidays, but the comments here have made me realize that it’s more common than I thought. It’s good information to have as I go into these interviews and lets me know I may have to be prepared to turn down an opportunity.

                1. Artemesia*

                  I am stunned that you would rather turn down employment than be expected to work on a grown up schedule rather than a college schedule. There are 365 days in a year and most companies provide some vacation time. Why not spend vacations with family rather than Christmas?

                2. Vacation faux pas?*

                  @Artemesia I can’t reply to you directly below so hopefully you see this.

                  For me, a job is more about contributing money to the household than building a career. My SO’s job requires us to move every 2-3 years so I will never be with a certain company for long. The income threshold I need to meet is that of an entry-level position so I am ok with prioritizing family commitments and turning down places that won’t meet my specific needs. All of my family members gather in our hometown for Christmas every year, it’s the only time each year we get to see each other, and I’m not willing to miss that for what amounts to $400 in pay for that week.

                  I know that’s not the norm and some people will think I’m crazy, but that’s what I choose to prioritize. And I understand that some companies may not be ok with that, which means it’s not a good match for me. I just want to make sure I am navigating the conversation correctly.

                3. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Just to be clear, it’s not about missing $400 for one week. It’s about missing out on entire jobs that won’t give you that week off every year. That’s actually a pretty common thing, especially when you’re junior in your career.

                  If you’re willing to pay that price, that’s obviously your prerogative, but I want to make sure that you know that in most fields it would be a pretty unusual requirement to have, and not something that you’ll necessarily find easy to stick to.

                4. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

                  I don’t have a dog in this fight, being that I’m not Vacation faux pas? or her prospective manager. But I feel defensive on her behalf, so I’m going to chime in again.

                  Artemesia: Yikes! You’ve now called the schedule she wants a “college schedule” (as opposed to a “grown up schedule” twice). That seems intentionally and unnecessarily dismissive. As I’ve said on this thread, I’ve always taken that week off, and it’s never been even the slightest bit of a problem. (And it’s been ~20 years since I was in college.) Jobs and fields and industries are different.

                  Everyone: Why all the judgment, in general? So she prioritizes having that week off, and is willing to not work places that won’t allow it. Fine — she knows what she wants and is willing to compromise other things to have it. She didn’t show up here complaining that she keeps getting rejected for retail jobs or wondering why she keeps losing offers after laying out her travel plans.

                5. periwinkle*

                  FYI, you may have some luck by looking at manufacturing corporations. My employer builds stuff. Our factories are shut down for the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day so every employee gets that week off as paid vacation. This means we have fewer other paid holidays (just the really big ones + Black Friday) but that’s a good compromise.

                  Oddly enough I also had that week off as paid vacation while working at a small biotech research company. So you never know.

                6. Ife*

                  @Vacation faux pas, it is refreshing to hear someone explain that they value their personal time over career advancement for the sake of career advancement, and that they are ok with working for a paycheck rather than PASSION. It also sounds like you have a really clear vision of what you can compromise on and what you can’t. Good for you.

                7. Observer*

                  @Vitoria Nonprofit My issue is not that she is prioritizing in a way that is different than others. That’s her choice. I am a bit concerned that she doesn’t seem to realize that it’s not one week’s pay, but quite possibly a fair number of job opportunities. But what is really bothering me is that her family has some seriously out of line expectations, and she doesn’t seem to see this as an issue. She’ not just willing to lose $400, which is reasonable in her situation, but a job, which isn’t reasonable. And families with that kind of attitude cross the line all over the place.

        2. Always Anon*

          Wow! Keep in mind that even if a company approves your Christmas plans this year, that they may not in the future. So going home every single Christmas simply may not be an option, even if that was approved as an option this year.

          I go home every Christmas (although home is 5000 miles away), but, I can only do that because our office is closed the week before Xmas and New Year’s and I have awesome co-workers, who work with me on my dates. But, I’ve been with my current employer a decade, I am mid-career, and I work every other holiday during the year. I never take the work day off before any other major holiday.

          However, there have been other places I’ve worked where I haven’t had the luxury of being able to take off every single Christmas. So it may be worthwhile starting to prep your family now, that the days of you coming home every single year may be coming to a close. Not because you don’t want to come home, but because you simply won’t be able to.

          1. C Average*

            Yeah, YMMV, but I’ve never worked anyplace where anyone got to go home for the holidays every year. I can’t even imagine! I recall having conversations every year that included comments like, “Well, I’ve submitted a request for the past five years, and my persistence finally paid off! I’m going home this year.” “I’d love to go see my family this year, but there’s no way my manager would approve that. Wakeen and Jane are already going, and someone has to be here to deal with the cat photography project and sing for the new marketing video.”

            I love my family, but they know that the job pays the bills and that personal life often has to take a back seat to whatever’s going on at the office. Then again, my parents had the same attitude toward family and work. The job always came first. So I guess it’s just normal and expected for us.

            1. Vacation faux pas?*

              It’s interesting to see how different people approach this. My family is the opposite. Family comes first always, then the job. My mom’s famous phrase is, “You can find another job, but you don’t get another family.” But I agree that’s a less common approach and not all companies agree with that sentiment.

              I haven’t had a problem in the past going home for Christmas every year, but the nonprofits I worked for before were tied to the school calendar and were closed anyway. I’m hoping to get the same setup now.

              1. hbc*

                If family always comes first, then maybe they could just be sad to have missed you at Christmas and not demand that you turn down a chance to be financially solvent. I show that I love my family by not going nuclear when they fail to meet my expectations.

                “Family comes first” can be a good guide for your personal life, or you can wield it like a weapon against others. Sounds like your family is doing the latter.

                1. Megs*

                  It sounds like VFP is happy with his/her family situation and is just looking for advice about handling a non-negotiable vacation. Plenty of jobs allow time off for the holidays on a highly consistent basis – my husband and I are attorneys, and we haven’t had any trouble taking time off during that time of the year (although remote work does come up not infrequently). I think we should give VFP a break on the family stuff.

              2. Judy*

                Actually, in November, you are getting two other families. A family of two and the family your spouse grew up in.

                1. fposte*

                  Good point–Vacation’s spouse’s family isn’t likely to be on board with them always spending their one winter vacation week only with Vacation’s family, and Vacation’s spouse may have feelings on this as well.

                  Sometimes working that week is a great way to avoid splitting the baby in two.

              3. sara*

                I’m sort of mystified by this. I am lucky enough that both my spouse and I work in fields where taking time for travel at Christmas is fine (education + a professional field where things majorly slow down at the holidays and most people are out of the office), but I STILL don’t spend every Christmas with my family because, you know, I have a spouse and we split time with his family. Does it really seem reasonable/fair to you that you get to lay claim on Christmasses every year, your spouse’s family gets nothing, and you’re willing to sacrifice YOUR HONEYMOON to make that happen??? Sorry, but you need to get your priorities straight and start putting your NEW family (you and your spouse) a little higher up the priority list…

                1. Vacation faux pas?*

                  My husband-to-be’s family lives less than 20 minutes from my family. We’ve seen both of our families for Christmas every since since we’ve been together.

                  As for the honeymoon, we can postpone that if need be. It doesn’t have to happen right after the wedding. It’s mostly about spending a week together on an island disconnected from the world and we can make that happen another time. Christmas is when Christmas is, though, and both my and his siblings are making the trip to our hometown then and not at another time. And we want to see them.

              4. Trig*

                Yeah, I’m fascinated by how hostile people have been toward you!

                I wouldn’t personally sacrifice job opportunities for Christmas vacation, but I have no problem with someone else doing that. Maybe you’re ruling out what would otherwise be great jobs, but you’re entitled to your own priorities. As long as you’re making that clear to employers ahead of time, I see no problem.

                As for me, I have never had a problem taking the Christmas week off, even as a new hire in an entry-level position, and my coworkers all do the same.

                My non-education-related private sector company actually just instituted a closed period for that week during which non-operations-essential people (ie everyone but the DBAs) are required to take vacation days (which annoyed the people who preferred to work it and those who don’t like having their vacation days mandated, but that’s another topic).

                1. C Average*

                  I don’t think I’ve been particularly hostile–it sounds like VFP knows her priorities and is sticking to them, and that’s totally OK. I do think, though, that this is an unusual stance, and having worked only in places where it was VERY hard to get time off during the holidays, I’m looking at it through that lens. If anyone–particularly a new person–had insisted on always having the holidays off at any of my previous workplaces, his/her colleagues would definitely have noticed and would not have been happy about it, given that a certain number of people ask for holiday PTO and get it and a certain number have to sit in the office and keep things running. If the workplace is like some of the ones described here and shuts down and sends everyone home for the holiday, sure, it’s no big thing at all. I honestly didn’t know such places existed, to be honest! My retail roots are showing.

                2. Christopher Tracy*

                  Yeah, I’m fascinated by how hostile people have been toward you!

                  Me too. I’m reading some of these comments like, “Well, damn – she’s not telling y’all to sacrifice your careers for a family vacation. Let her live.”

                3. Crazy Canuck*

                  I’m not surprised at all. Being able to pass up on a job to prioritize family is a fairly privileged position to be in. I’d wager most of the people snarkily commenting simply do not have that option. When life has forced you to take any job you can get to avoid being homeless, it’s hard to feel empathy for someone who will refuse a job because she want’s to spend holidays with her family.

            2. Observer*

              It’s not even only that the job comes first. There have been times that the family had to come first. But there needs to be some balance and there doesn’t seem to be any here. Family feud because someone’s job won’t let them take off a particular week?

          2. Dani X*

            I have had the week between christmas and new years off every single year since I started working. But I also work in a tech company. I think there are days where noone in my group is in the office, but we also give out our phone numbers so if something urgent happens we can be called and can work from home if needed. (which I think happened once in 15 years). But it isn’t something I would count on in every company. And well my family realizes that having food and a roof over my head is very important so would be okay if I had to move things around.

            1. SusanIvanova*

              Another tech company here. Every place I’ve worked has shut down Christmas week because it’s just easier that way, and the only time they insisted on having people on-call for New Year’s Day was for the Y2K turnover.

        3. Case of the Mondays*

          Unless you have a terminally ill parent or something, you’ve got to put your foot down. You can’t deal with this nonsense the rest of your life. Few employers will let you have the week of Christmas off every year. Your parents will deal eventually. Let the melt down happen. They will eventually reconcile and if they don’t, you are better off without them. Someone who loves you doesn’t hold you hostage with unreasonable demands.

          1. Lily Rowan*

            Yeah, I know this isn’t at all the point, or the right site for all of this, but you’ve GOT to get on a more equal footing with your parents. Does your spouse-to-be not have family who might like to ever see them at Christmas? Etc. Getting married in the fall plus a new job coming up seems like just the right time to put your foot down with your family.

            Good luck.

            1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

              Well, this commenter didn’t ask for advice about her family. She’s allowed to only accept jobs that allow her to go home for Christmas every year. She’s allowed to, with her new spouse, decide that they always spend Christmas with her family. She’s allowed to agree with her parents that it’s of utmost importance that she goes; she’s also allowed to disagree, but decide that she’ll abide by her family’s culture anyway. Let’s leave her be!

        4. KellyK*

          That’s…really not okay. If your family is going to throw tantrums over your not being able to visit *because your job won’t let you,* then they’re way out of line.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            Yeah, I hope all of this “I’m not allowed to skip Christmas at home” is hyperbole, and you’re actually going because you WANT to, not because your extended family will throw a tantrum.

            1. Vacation faux pas?*

              I do want to see them, yes. It’s the only time of year the siblings and cousins get together. But there would also be many tears and begging on the part of some family members if I said I couldn’t come.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author


                It’s certainly your prerogative if you want to cater to that, but you’re talking about a very unusual requirement that will could limit your job choices significantly. Even without unusual restrictions, it’s hard enough to find a job you enjoy with coworkers you like and a manager who isn’t awful; throw in an unusual restriction, and it gets even harder. Are really willing to, say, sign up for a job you don’t particularly like 51 weeks out of the year in order to spend this one week the way you want to? (I’m not saying that will definitely happen, but you’re raising the odds of it by making this a deal-breaker.)

                I just wonder if you really realize how unusual this deal-breaker would be, and how it might impact you the rest of the year … as well as that it’s okay to prioritize your own financial well-being over a family member begging you to do something that isn’t essential and may not be in your own best interests. Family members who love you in a healthy, non-dysfunctional way will not do this to you.

                1. Vacation faux pas?*

                  Thanks for your reply. Before today I actually didn’t realize that asking for a week off at Christmas was an unusual request. I’ve worked for 3 companies in the past 5 years and they were all closed for that week (all were nonprofits that followed public school schedules). But I’m glad I know now so I can prioritize the types of places I apply to in the future.

                  I also know that my family is kinda dysfunctional and unhealthy in some of its expectations, but setting hard boundaries with them isn’t going to suddenly make them healthy (trust me, I’ve tried). It’s just going to create grief for me that I’d like to avoid. Spending Christmas with them every year is the “price of admission” for my family, and I’m willing to pay it because I love them. Dysfunctional as they may be.

                2. Observer*

                  @Vacation faux pas? The point of setting boundaries is not to make your family healthy. That’s not your job, nor is it a reasonable expectation.

                  You set boundaries to keep from getting pressured into making decisions that are harmful to you. Limiting your ability to find a job seems like a fairly steep price to pay. And, as Alison says, it increases your chances of being stuck in a not so good job. But, that’s your choice and not the worst thing I can think of.

                  But, you really need to think about how far you are willing to take that. And you need to do it now, before the waterworks start. Because it really is possible to get pressure to do a lot of really harmful stuff.

        5. Dani X*

          Depending on your field you will have a really hard time getting a job if you insist that you have to have time off on every Christmas. If only a few people can have it off the odds of you getting it off every year is very low.

        6. Jayn*

          Your family culture sounds like it may be at odds with reality, especially if you need to travel to visit (which I’m guessing you do). I understand wanting to have everyone around, but That’s not always possible for any number of reasons (work, finances, in laws also feel the same way…). Long term this sounds like it might not be sustainable.

        7. Observer*

          I’m probably echoing others here, but actually turning down a good job because your family “needs” you to come home for Christmas is a really, really bad idea. You are basically allowing your family to hold your future hostage over a total non-essential. What else are they going to demand? Are they going to expect you to plan your family around traveling to them that week? (I actually know someone who had a fight with her ILs who were angry that she wouldn’t arrange to travel to a SIL’s wedding the week after she was due to have a baby.) Is your fiance ok with you putting your career on the line? He does have SOME say here – these are decisions that affect both of you. Is he ok with putting HIS career on the line? (Or hers – the issue isn’t gender but that it’s a different person, who doesn’t have the same level of obligation that you have, such as it is.) Or are you going to have separate holidays if he has the temerity to take a job that won’t let him take of the week? What if someone gets sick?

          Bottom line? It’s time to start living your own life.

      2. Marillenbaum*

        “Jesus is a Pisces” sounds like it should be a hymn for a super hippy-dippy church.

      3. Always Anon*

        We do the Christmas in another month as well, when not everyone can come at Christmas. I have four siblings and we live all over the world, so logistically sometimes it’s not possible to all to together at Christmas.

        1. Windchime*

          Last year, my adult kids and nephews had plans for Christmas, so we celebrated two weeks early. Nobody had trouble getting the days off. We did all the normal Christmassy stuff like decorating cookies, eating turkey dinner and exchanging gifts. It was really, really nice. The only bummer about it was having to celebrate again with other parts of the family two weeks later.

      4. Katie the Fed*

        I’ve conditioned my family to getting used to seeing me the week after New Years. If I can see them over the holidays, that’s great. But I try to stay local for the holidays so that more of my employees can take the time off. I think it’s kind of dickish when all of management gets to take leave but the worker bees have to work.

    4. Artemesia*

      I think any employer would find time off for a wedding a reasonable thing even if the timing is awkward. But visiting family for Christmas is the sort of thing college students do. Many employers give Christmas time off like this based on seniority and newbies rarely get a week off for Christmas. They also don’t have spring break. To assume you can take a long Christmas holiday is not realistic in many jobs and I would be leery of a candidate who expected to do so especially a month after time off for their wedding. It is a nice to have but I sure would not assume I could do that and would make it a desired option not a condition of taking the job. You might luck out and have a job that shuts down the week between Christmas and New Year but if not, often organizations are busy at year end or have procedures for taking time off then that don’t put new hires at the top of the list.

      1. Megs*

        I wonder if this is a regional thing, because I live in the Midwest and aside from service-heavy industries, taking a week or half week to visit family around Christmas is super common for all sorts of people. The end of the fiscal year may be super busy, but the end of the calendar year is often really slow.

        1. Sadsack*

          Regional or industry-based maybe. Where I work, most people seem to take vacation around Christmastime. I work for a large corporation in the Northeast.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            Industry-based, definitely. Education is a really good industry for those who want Christmas off. :-) Retail, not so much.

        2. Doreen*

          It’s common where I live , too and even at every place I’ve worked but that doesn’t mean everyone who wants to gets to take that week or so off. Most businesses don’t close for the whole time , and therefore they need to be staffed. Sonetimes there’s enough staff willing to work so that everyone who wants time off can have it – but more frequently people who want the time off end up worming. Different employers use different methods to decide who gets it, but I’ve never worked anywhere where someone who was hired four months ago had a real chance to get that week.

  35. Roscoe*

    #1 I think they are being a bit excessive with this, but you also seem to be taking it extremely personally. I think you are justified in being annoyed that you are required to do these things on camera. (Unless it really is a THING THAT MUST BE DONE). But you seem to be very aggressive about this. I think Alison’s wording of asking how else you can contribute without being on camera. But if its something that they have decided that everyone is doing, you may just have to go along.

    For #2 I think its a highly circumstantial thing on how I’d handle it. Did your interview process take an especially long time? Was it expedited because you needed someone NOW? Did you recruit her or did she apply? Those are a couple of things that matter. Also, not that I’m saying she was right in how she handled it, but I can also understand it. Maybe she thought that you would not have hired her if she told you this earlier.

    1. Jadelyn*

      I think you may underestimate just how horrifying the idea of performing on camera is to some people. The idea of being forced to make a fool of myself singing some dopey song on camera is enough to make me literally sick to my stomach. I would break down in tears if told that I was going to be forced to participate, and honestly I’d rather lose my job, because I am an introvert with severe social anxiety and being made to do something like that is not just “annoying”, it’s TORTURE to me. It’s not aggressiveness, tbh, it’s desperation to avoid doing something that has the potential to be utterly awful – and if you have any kind of anxiety on top of being introverted and/or shy, it has the potential to haunt you for literally years (trust me, I am still haunted by intrusive thoughts about embarrassing things I did a decade ago).

      1. Jayn*

        Honestly, this video sounds like something I’d find painful to simply watch, let alone participate in. And I have no issues with singing for an audience, just a low tolerance for dopey songs.

  36. Mental Health Day*

    #1 SINGING
    Oh boy, the stuff of nightmares. Yeah, I’d flat out refuse. I remember a few years ago, when everyone was making those Harlem Shake video abominations, watching a number of these made by various companies and wondering how many people in the video were participating under duress. I could swear in one of them, I saw a young lady mouth the words “Help Me!” towards the camera.

    OP, how would you have reacted to this PTO request if the candidate had told you upfront about it? Would you have denied the PTO or rescinded the offer? Whatever the answer to that question is, is what you should do here. I’m not in that person’s head, but it seems pretty clear to me (an email the very next day) that the candidate deliberately withheld this piece of information. Granted, she may be naïve, and may have followed some very very bad advice from her husband, friends, relatives. However, I think if you just let this pass, you are essentially rewarding her dishonesty. Rewarded behaviors are repeated behaviors. Plus, you can fully expect that your other direct reports will notice this and will remember it. Depending on the particular dynamics on your team, I think you are running a real risk of damaging morale among your current reports as well if you just let this go.

  37. Cookie*

    Wasn’t OP1 given three choices? She didn’t want to speak on camera, didn’t want to hold a sign and now doesn’t want to sing.

    I find stuff like this silly but lots of jobs have crap like this and constantly whining and being negative isn’t going to go well for OP.

    1. EddieSherbert*

      I think you have a point, but I also think this video person is taking the wrong approach… I do video for my work and, quite frankly, if someone felt so strongly about it, I wouldn’t put them in a video. They’re not going to look happy, natural, or comfortable, and they will probably have a less than stellar video.

      I try to keep a big group of volunteers “queued” for video… but if someone gives me a firm “no,” I’m not going to push it, for that reason.

    2. Kyrielle*

      She didn’t want to hold up a sign but she DID do it. The “speak on camera” vs “hold a sign” was months ago, the singing is a new video with no alternate option named yet.

  38. Employment Lawyer*

    2. My new hire sprang major time off on me after I’d already hired her

    Were it me I would start by finding out what happened: deception, idiocy, etc. Any warning signs and she’s gone.

    Even without warning signs I would still do a “soft” pull of the offer. You don’t need to completely reject that employee, but you should interview and consider other candidates for the next month. This is smart since she’s unreliable, and also because there’s no reason to have her on payroll or liability until she returns (if she ever does.)

    If you find someone equally qualified who doesn’t have those issues, you can hire them instead. If not, you can hire this one when she gets back.

  39. AndersonDarling*

    #1 We had a similar on camera requirement and it was a huge coincidence that half the staff got the flu on filming day. So a re-filming day was scheduled, and lo and behold, that the same staff had a relapse of the flu.
    The message was received. :)

  40. EddieSherbert*

    OP #1 – I’m so sorry. Seriously. I am “the video person” for my office and I am ALSO incredibly shy on camera. I do not ask anyone to do anything I wouldn’t do, I have myself star in or narrate videos just as much as everyone else, and I only bring people in on a volunteer basis (and I make a point of approaching our more outgoing teammates to ask about volunteering).

    So it can be better, but I’m sorry it’s not!

  41. Tina*

    okay, I can’t focus on one field simply because I want the fastest job opportunity that could get me there and I don’t know which field would lead me to the fastest opportunity, I am Egyptian and teaching english in korea is not going to be allowed for me. I forgot to mention that there are no job ads from these companies that’s why I’m just emailing to find out what kind of job opportunities they have since I’m interested in them. this thing so confusing for me.

    1. fposte*

      The thing is, focusing on all fields is going to be *slower*. That’s true in the best of circumstances, but it’s especially true when you combine it with the fact that you’re trying to get hired in a market that has limitations on what foreign workers can do without sponsorship. There are no job ads because they’re not hiring foreigners.

      I don’t think what you’re looking to do is impossible, but I think you’re not realizing how difficult it is. Most countries don’t want employers to hire internationally and make it very difficult to do–there’s no automatic opportunity to work in the country you wish. You need to find the exception, either because you have a talent that’s unusual in that country or because there’s some kind of program that allows for (usually time-limited) work. For instance, if you don’t think your English is good enough for teaching there is there a language that you could teach? Can you find an ad for that? Can you contact a recruiter looking for English teachers to ask about possibilities for you to teach French, or Arabic, or whatever you might be able to teach?

      People with more specifically South Korean experience may have more informed advice here, but what I’d do is see if you can find any information about programs, exchanges, etc. by Googling fiercely and by contacting any South Korean organizations near you–embassies, churches, social organizations–to see if anyone has information or even would be interested in mentoring you for the process. A human connection can achieve things that an email from afar cannot.

      Good luck to you–I hope you find a way.

      1. BRR*

        Piggy backing off of fposte, certain industries will be more likely to hire from other countries. I don’t know what they are but I would start there.

      2. no gifts*

        Other than foreign language teachers and factory workers, South Korea is particularly reluctant to hire foreigners compared to many western countries. If you don’t want to or can’t go the university student route and Egypt doesn’t have a working holiday agreement with South Korea, then this simply is not going to happen for you in a couple of months.

        Your best bet in making this a long term goal would be to become qualified in something that South Korea needs: people I’ve met in South Korea in that category would include doctors, high-level engineers specializing in things like computer chips or wind turbines, corporate executives, or diplomats. It is not easy to move to a foreign country without skills that country wants.

        I also cannot recommend moving on a tourist visa and hunting for work that way if you are not a native speaker of English. The types of jobs open to you would be very limited and, frankly, I would be afraid you’d end up trafficked as a sex slave (this often happens to southeast Asian women who move to SK on tourist visas to look for work, even those with a high level of English fluency)

        If student or working holiday visas are not options for you, then you shouldn’t move to South Korea at this time.

    2. Cookie*

      Have you tried the Egyptian embassy in South Korea? I am sure it’s complex to get those types of jobs.

      Why so desperate to go to South Korea? The desperate part is going to turn off employers (I say this as someone who is pretty desperate in a much easier geographical situation) and given the enormous change in cultures the employer will be wondering

    3. AcademiaNut*

      To be blunt, I don’t think randomly sending your resume to companies in Korea will get you a job at all, let alone fast.

      The best options to be able to live in Korea are

      1) English teacher (requires a passport from an English speaking country, American accent preferred) or, possibly, teaching in another desired language (Japanese might be good, for example).

      2) Highly skilled, specialized jobs that deliberately recruit foreigners (need to already be qualified in such a job)

      3) to be already in Korea and reasonably fluent in Korean, and building up connections, and apply from there (like if you moved to Korea because you were married to a primary visa holder)

      4) to go as a student (need to be accepted to a program and, generally, prove that you have enough money to support yourself for the duration of the program without working illegally)

      5) Be working for an international company and be posted to Korea for their own business purposes (I do know people posted to Korea from Europe).

      6) be married to a Korean citizen, or someone who already has a work visa. This would be easiest for a woman from South-East Asia interested in being a mail-order bride, but she would be expected to be a housewife-mother-elder care provider, not have her own earning power.

      The other option if you’re female, which I don’t know much about, would be to go on a domestic service type visa, the kind that would typically be held by Thai or Philippino nationals, working as a nanny or in elder care. Or, if you’re male, in construction, if you’re already skilled in that.

      But in general, a random Korean company that hires mostly Koreans is not going to be interested in hiring foreigners, or sponsoring them for work visas.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        I’m not sure how intent you are on Korea (vs other East Asian countries), but Taiwan has another option, in the form of scholarships to learn Chinese. They pay enough to cover living expenses, and if you pass the exam at the end of a year of full time study, there’s an option to continue the scholarship to a bachelor or Master’s degree (depending on prior education) at a local university. I know several people who have been through this program, some of whom stayed on afterwards.

  42. INTP*

    #1: I seem to be in the minority on this, but if they aren’t trying to make you do a solo or anything, I’d personally just go along with it, stand in the back of the crowd, lip sync, and try not to attract attention to my displeasure with the whole ridiculous spectacle. Not that you SHOULD have to appear in any sort of video, let alone a singing one, but the company seems to already be digging in their heels about not letting anyone out of the video (not telling you when it will be, not letting anyone take annual leave – I don’t think they’d be taking those measures if they planned to let anyone who asked nicely stay out of it). I think you need to decide that it’s a hill worth dying on before you push back about it, because I don’t think it will go very smoothly. Especially if you’re already an introvert on a militantly extroverted team, meaning that you (unfortunately and unfairly) need to work extra hard to convince everyone that you’re a team player.

    1. Roscoe*

      I’m with you here. I think there are stupid things that companies make people do. If this is a thing the decided needs to happen, its probably best to just go along with it

  43. Maxwell Edison*

    OP #1 – my sympathies. I can’t sing and, while I’m not technically ugly, I am one of the least photogenic people in the world and hate being in front of a camera. This sounds like a nightmare.

  44. Mae*

    Hold on a sec. Am I missing something, or am I alone in not understanding the problem in post 2? Is it strictly the timing of the trip? I’ve been at my current job a bit under a year. When I accepted the OFFER, I told them I had a trip planned overseas (10 days, 8 business days) for months, and they were fine with it. It was 6-7 weeks into my start date. I would never in my right mind, ever, mention something like that in an interview. It’s jumping the gun for starters. Also, interviews are not the time to negotiate. I don’t think the employee is at fault.

    1. PackersFan*

      You’re missing something. Unlike what you did, and what is generally accepted, the new employee didn’t mention her trips during the negotiations. She mentioned them after she had already accepted the offer. As in the day after she had accepted the offer told the OP she would need time off immediately after starting. The OP has posted a timeline and update above.

      1. Mae*

        Whoa. Just went back and read. What a difference missing a word makes. Thanks for clarifying!

    2. Roscoe*

      I lean more toward your side. However I think where people have the problem is that they feel that she didn’t give them all of the information they needed to make their decision. So that if they didn’t want to hire someone going on 2 trips in their first month, that should have been their right. I more agree with you that its jumping the gun (and potentially making you a less desirable candidate) to bring it up

    3. BRR*

      The appropriate time to bring it up is when an offer has been extended but you haven’t accepted/worked out any details yet. So the problem is not bringing it up at all but bringing it up after accepting the job and asking for so much time off. It could also be an issue that she offered to work remotely depending on if the company allows it, if her position can be done remotely, and if she knows enough of her duties to work remotely.

      But overall it reflects poorly because it sounds like “I accept the offer *day later* oh btw I’m going to work remotely these days and take off these days all withing my first two months” instead of “I’m really excited to join the team. I’ve had two trips planned for a while. Does it work to take off these days?”

  45. Elizabeth West*

    I was thinking of the spoken word thing Alison suggested for #1 and pictured the OP doing a full-on, exaggerated impersonation of William Shatner’s talk-singing version of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.”

    “PICTURE yourself….in a BOAT…..on a RIVER…..”

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      Which is perfect because it ensures they’ll never pressure you to do it again.

    2. LCL*

      Great choice. And yet, since you are talking a group performance, I can’t get “The Time Warp” out of my head. Thanks for the earworm today!

  46. Bride to be*

    OP #3. Please give cash or a check.


    Someone getting married who is paying for the entire wedding herself and needs the cash to live

    1. Biff*

      Ehrm. If you need wedding gifts so that you can buy groceries after hosting the wedding, you can’t afford your wedding. Gifts are wonderful, but not required, and planning should take that into account.

    2. ScarletInTheLibrary*

      Pretty much my thoughts. When we got married, we had all the household things we needed/wanted in an apartment. We opted not to do the registery because it would be filled with crap we didn’t need (and couldn’t eat). I also don’t like the show that is produced when opening presents. People whined, but we got cash as we wanted (to be saved for the down payment of a house).

      Oh and our wedding cost maybe $500 since we got married at the justice of the peace’s office. It’s not like we spent $100,000 on a wedding.

  47. T*

    #2: Add to the end of each of your interviews: “How much notice do you need to give to your current employer? Do you have any travel plans that might occur immediately after starting with us if you were offered the job?” Or something similar.

  48. Little Love*

    I am endlessly amazed by people who DEMAND time off rather than request time off, especially at the holidays. When I worked in retail, I volunteered to work holidays so people with small children at home could spent time with their children. The idea that an adult HAS to be home at Christmas is just weird and I came from a VERY close family that LOVED Christmas. They just accepted I was an adult, I needed my job and traveling in the winter can be a horror where I live.
    I still see young workers especially just announce they are taking time off. Amazingly, they usually get it, even if the boss gripes.
    Then again, I married young, never had a honeymoon, and can’t afford three-week European vacations so none of this came up. Plus I have always like my jobs and felt a sense of responsibility towards them.

  49. jaxon*

    #1 needs to mouth the words as awkwardly as possibly, preferably while wearing a really horrified expression. I think the organizers will quickly give her leave.

    It really boggles my mind that LOTS of people still think forcing others to do this kind of thing at work is appropriate.

  50. SingSingSing*

    #1 – how cringe worthy is this song? Is it like “stupid pop song” or something inappropriate for the workplace?

  51. Elexis*

    Re: Working in Korea

    This may have been said before, but under no circumstances go into South Korea with a tourist visa and try to teach English under the table (figuratively, not literally)!

    I lived in Korea several years ago, and at that time, this was one of the things that if you are caught (and sting operations were held to catch the unwary), authorities will put you on the next flight home, no questions asked.

    I can’t say enough about the country, absolutely loved living there, but make sure you’re doing it right.

    Now, if you have a teaching certificate, there are also international schools in South Korea, which also may be worth looking into?

    1. no gifts*

      It’s risky, but it can be done. Usually most successfully by people who were previously there on legit work visas and thus already have connections. It’s not a great idea for a newbie, and certainly not for this OP, who is not a native speaker of English.

  52. BTW*

    #1 – I have an anxiety disorder and this would not fly with me. I’m not sure if this OP suffers too (actual diagnosis, not just nervousness or personality traits) but I wouldn’t be afraid to speak up about it. I really hate employers that force people to do ridiculous things like this. No one enjoys it.

    #2 – Very distasteful on the new employees part. I understand she didn’t want to lose an offer based on vacation but it’s just a huge no-no in my eyes. DH and I are going on a cross-country road trip for almost 3 weeks at the end of the summer and neither of us have even bothered to look for new jobs that might start ahead of those dates. Although my current schedule is flexible, I even booked it off 6 months in advance so that my manager would have more than enough time to figure out who would cover me in my absence.
    I find now that most employers ask during the interview process if you have any time off scheduled. I’m honest about it if they do ask. Maybe that might be something you will include in your future process?
    At last job, I told them before the offer that I was going away for my sisters wedding 2 months later and 4 months after that would be taking 2 weeks off for my own wedding. It wasn’t an issue and I still go hired but no way would I ever expect almost 3 weeks of leave within my first 2 months of work. I don’t know. I’d be put off by it and would be tempted to rescind the offer. I also think it’s in extremely poor taste thay she couldn’t even have a face to face with you about it. If she was great, work it out. If there are other qualified candidates that were just as good, move on.

  53. Anxa*


    I’ve had to sing in an interview once. And not for an arts position. I did not get the job. I have noticed that my interviewers seem to be getting less gimmicky. I hope this trend continues!

    I have found that some people cannot wrap their heads around not finding singing fun. I hate it, and when people hear this, you’d think I’d said I kick puppies or something. One coworker asked me why I don’t want to feel happy when I declined singing at an event.

  54. NicoleK*

    #2. A new hire came on board in mid November. A few days after she started, she tells me she needs the week of Thanksgiving and Christmas off. I was not pleased. I did inform her that time to inform me of her vacation plans was when she accepted the offer. At the time, she was a year and a half into her professional career. She was a good worker but left before the six month mark. Sometimes things start off on the wrong note and it goes downhill from there.

  55. ScarletInTheLibrary*

    I’m siding with OP3 on this one. Maybe it’s because a lot people I know (including myself) have gotten married in the last five years. Many had a bunch of stuff they had on there on a whim or because of silly store requirements. One friend was berated because she didn’t have enough stuff in certain categories on her list. They suggested she bring friends to assist (or rather bloat the list). Said friend still has PTDS from that popular home store years later. She ended up putting “high-end” towels on the list, though she already had the towels she and husband wanted on the first go around with the scanner. If one saw their registry without context, one would get the impression at they needed a lot of towels.

    I can’t think of a single friend or family member who did not have a glitch (ranging from having to put a lot of crap on there to have a registry to not knowing who to thank) when it came to the registry.

    The point is that cash is flexible and does not expiration date (unlike a lot of gift cards). It can be pooled together for something the bride and groom actually wanted. At my library, we donated cash to a coworker instead individual gifts or getting something from their registry (which she moaned about being bloated with crap that they have since sold or put in storage). They used it on a on-the-whim scuba rental during their honeymoon. They said that was the most memorable gift.

  56. Kevin McFadzean*

    I am OP#1 and I wanted to update you all. Thank you everyone for your comments – it’s great to hear from people who are completely objective and quite surprised how many other people have been in the same position. Also it’s amusing to see that the comments have referred to me as a “she” instead of a “he” but that’s besides the point. OK the singing fiasco happened yesterday. The rest of the 6 members of the team were all giddy and excited about it which made me feel even more awkward. I stood at the back and mimed – the song was 500 miles from The Proclaimers but they had changed the words slightly (apparently). I’m Scottish and I hate that song! The video has been emailed to everyone in our office (around 30 people) and someone commented to me that it was obvious that I didn’t want to be there. I’ve not seen it because I don’t want to relive it.

    I contacted Unison, my trade union a few days ago and they replied with this earlier today: “The employer does not have the right to force you to sing…and you should inform them that you do not wish to be included but rather assist with other aspects of the event. I understand you may feel uncomfortable having that conversation but as you have stated, this does not form part of your contract.”

    I’ll leave it for now and not make a scene but if they ever try and force me to do something in future that makes me uncomfortable I’ll pull out the Unison card out of my sleeve!

    Thanks again.

  57. Suzi D.*

    OP #3 – one of my bosses gave me cash for our wedding, but he gave it in a card signed from the whole group (he despises asking people for money). It was the perfect compromise.

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