my manager says that most people are too good to stay in my job for long

A reader writes:

I have been at my job for 2.5 years. A member of my team recently quit, and my manager asked me to participate in the hiring process to replace her. Since then, she has said a few things that I perceive as hurtful and insulting towards me and my job.

During the first round of interviews, she talked to me about the difficulties about the hiring process. She told me about the round in which I was hired and said there was an excellent candidate who interviewed extremely well. She opted not to hire him because “he was so great he would have been gone in six months.” She has repeated this story to me about 10 times since then. The implication is that I only got the job because the other guy was too good.

When an interview goes well, she tells me the candidate has career aspirations and won’t stick around for very long. She recently decided to hire a candidate we both liked and warned me, “She’s so good that she won’t be here very long.”

She frequently tells me that my position is entry-level and it takes a “special person” to sit there “doing the same thing” day in and day out and, as a result, most people don’t want to do it for very long.

My manager has always been on the blunt side. It’s a trait I value because I never have to worry about where I stand with her. She’s actually quite supportive in a lot of other areas and I have learned a lot from her, but these comments are negatively impacting me. My morale is extremely low. I feel ashamed of the work I do and the fact that I have been with the agency as long as I have. Is it a good idea to speak to her about this issue or should I continue to let it slide? Am I being too sensitive?

I don’t think you’re being too sensitive! Your manager is being pretty thoughtless here.

I don’t know what kind of work you do, but it’s true that there are some types of jobs that it’s hard to keep good people in — often because the work is pretty rote or repetitive and after a while it stops being a challenge, which is when many people will itch to move on to something else. But that doesn’t mean that no good people stay in those jobs; there are plenty of talented people who derive real satisfaction from that type of work or who have other reasons for liking it (for example, preferring a job that allows them to put more energy into their lives outside of work).

Since you otherwise like your manager and have a good relationship with her, I think you should talk to her about how these comments are coming across to you. I’d say it this way: “I’ve found getting a window into the hiring process really interesting, so thank you for sharing your thoughts on candidates with me. But I wanted to ask about something. You’ve mentioned a few candidates being too good to stick around very long, which of course makes me wonder about what that means about me! I’ve been here a couple of years and I enjoy my work, so it’s jarring to hear you say that good candidates won’t stay. Can you tell me more about what you mean when you say that?”

This might prompt her to clarify that she actually meant something totally inoffensive. For example, she might have been using “too good” to mean overqualified (like having a masters degree in rice sculptures when the job only requires basic level knowledge of rice sculpting, or having five years experience in rice sculpting when the job doesn’t require any). Or she might tell you that you’re unusual in being good at the job without wanting to quickly move into a different role and that she’s thrilled to have you. Or, yes, it might prompt her to say something even more insulting than she already has … but even if that happens, you’ll come out of the conversation with more insight, which is good.

So ask. The great thing about people who are both blunt and supportive is that you can usually ask most of what you’re wondering about and not get the run-around. (They might actually be my favorite kind.)

{ 129 comments… read them below }

  1. Roscoe*

    I’m guessing she isn’t meaning it in the way you are taking it. I had a job once, and they flat out told us that most people don’t stay in the position for more than 2 years. They either get promoted (if there is an opening) or leave for something else. I left just around 2 years later, but people who stayed were fine. I think maybe her wording isn’t great, but she is probably happy you are sticking around, but also wouldn’t be shocked if you looked to leave soon.

    1. OhNo*

      I was also thinking that she was trying (and kind of failing) to subtly point out that she knows you might want to leave soon.

      Although even then, the repeated conversations about the guy who didn’t get the OP’s job are pretty thoughtless. I can certainly see how having your boss repeat, “You were second choice! Second choice! If he’d said yes you wouldn’t be here!” would get irritating and uncomfortable.

    2. LBK*

      Yeah, this is how I would take it. I’ve worked in two departments now where it’s basically assumed that most people will leave in 1.5-2 years because the role just doesn’t have that much to offer – you come in, you gain experience, you make your mark, you move on. It sounds like maybe your boss is trying to find someone like you who’s happy working there longer in a role where people tend to cycle out quickly. You can usually tell from an interview if someone’s just looking for a stepping stone to their next job, so while her phrasing is kind of harsh towards you, I think what she means is that she doesn’t want someone who’s just going to get bored and leave.

    3. coffeepowerrdd*

      I agree; I think she may be fishing you for information, actually. To find out how you react to her proposing that you might leave soon (since it has happened to her so many times before, she may assume you’re going to continue this cycle). I think letting her know that you’re happy where you’re at will stop her commentary. It might also make her view you more favorably and work out better for you should you ask for a reasonable raise in your current position.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This is true, OP. Have ever countered with any reassurance? If you reassure her she might stop saying it.

        I have boss that I think VERY highly of and she said something similar. It was between me and one other person. The other person had an advanced degree in our field and that other person clearly had her eyes set on Big Shiny Job, which would probably come up in a few months. My boss was hiring for the fourth time in a short period, she desperately wanted someone who would stay put. So I got the job.

        I agree that a talk with your boss is long over due. Before you go into that talk please mull over what is bothering you here. Privately, are you happy with staying at this job indefinitely? or even for a few more years? Know what it is YOU want, set other’s running commentary to one side and just think about what you are going to do with your life.

        If you know what it is you want it’s much easier to say, “I wish you wouldn’t say that I plan on being here a few more years [or whatever time frame].”

        As an aside and just for your benefit, not for repeating to the boss, but some times we bring on our own problems. If Boss has been saying this to every employee she’s had, she may be making them feel that they should leave, so they DO!

    4. Mephyle*

      Agree with all the above, except that I’m not sure that she is trying to communicate subtle messages or questions (unless it’s unconscious) because that doesn’t go together with a person whose communication style is direct and blunt.
      Rather, it’s a person who speaks their mind without thinking of the multiple subtle messages that the recipient might read into it.

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        Exactly. Blunt people say what they mean and sometimes just don’t think about how what they say will be received.

  2. UnCivilServant*

    I also wonder if the default blunt communication style causes people to move on faster with negative adjectives for the boss.

    (As a blunt person myself, I know we often come off as rude or worse)

    1. Leatherwings*

      I’m pretty blunt and forward and I know it can come across as jarring sometimes even when I don’t mean it to be. I can see myself doing this exact sort of thing and then being mortified that it was coming across like I didn’t value OP.

    2. AMG*

      I suffer from foot-in-mouth disease and have said some of the most cringeworthy things to people that I never meant at all. She could be rude but probably isn’t if she’s supportive in all these other ways. Maybe she means that she admires your dedication when so few show true commitment to their work. You won’t know until you hear her out.

      1. AMG*

        And in thinking about it…one job I had involved processing mapping for 8 hours a day, for about 9 months. It takes a special person to do that day in and day out and not get sick of it. Most people can’t and fewer would. But it’s a good skill set and it doesn’t make me less valuable–it makes me more valuable. It takes patience, the ability to listen and communicate well, high attention to detail and the ability to understand many different parts of the company. That’s a good thing and maybe your job is the same way.

      2. neverjaunty*

        I’m not sure that repeatedly telling someone they’re “special” for being able to put up with a job that “good” candidates would abandon quickly is all that supportive?

        1. AMG*

          I’m not saying OP’s boss did a good job of communicating. She’s either being rude or just really bad at compliments. I just think OP should give her the benefit of the doubt first, that’s all. :)

    3. Mica*

      You’re obviously a thoughtful person because you’re commenting here, so this isn’t based on how you personally act, but sometimes I find that self-proclaimed blunt people are *actually* very rude. Being truthful and blunt doesn’t have to mean rudeness, but for certain people I think they use their “bluntness” as an excuse to be rude.

      1. Leatherwings*

        *shrug* for me it’s a personality trait that I have worked to reign in and utilize to my advantage in my professional career. As a result, I’m quite good at giving direct but kind feedback and holding people accountable. However, nobody is perfect and my tendency to say what comes to my mind results in sometimes-thoughtless things. I think this is pretty normal, and has its flaws like just about ANY personal communication style. I’m not sure it’s fair to single out blunt people here – subtle communication styles have pros and cons too.

        I think a lot of people associate blunt=rude and I don’t think it’s that at all. It’s more like blunt=doesn’t always fully consider every angle of what I’m saying.

        1. neverjaunty*

          Nobody is singling out blunt people. The issue was the boss making blunt comments, and (speaking here as a blunt person also), it is absolutely true that too many people use “I’m just blunt” as an excuse to be thoughtless and filter-less.

          1. Leatherwings*

            I just mean I don’t think it’s fair to make a bunch of comments about how bluntness is an excuse for rudeness without contextualizing it in terms of a communications style – all of which have pros and cons.

            I haven’t found that blunt=rude. Maybe sometimes rude=”I’m just really blunt”
            I don’t think that’s the same thing.

            1. Anna*

              I think you’re missing the subtle distinction neverjaunty and Mica are making. Not beating around the bush (ie bluntness) is not a bad trait, but too many people use the character trait of bluntness to say whatever rude or inappropriate thing that crosses their mind. Rude people have coopted the blunt trait to excuse their rudeness. Blunt people aren’t automatically thoughtless and rude just like not all rude comments are coming from a mean place, but we can usually identify pretty quickly the people who say rude things and excuse it as “just being honest” or “I’m just blunt” when in reality they mean, “I’m just thoughtless and rude and don’t care about your feelings.”

              1. Leatherwings*

                I think I completely understand that – Hence why I said multiple times that rude people claim to be blunt as a cover, not the other way around (i.e. bluntness=rudeness) We’re saying the same thing here.

      2. LBK*

        Eh, yes and no. I’ve known “blunt” people who fall on both sides – those who use “bluntness” or “honesty” as a free pass to be mean/rude, but also those who are able to be direct while still being constructive. The latter is much harder to do, which is probably why you don’t see it very often.

      3. Snargulfuss*

        I agree that there are people who will use bluntness as an excuse to be rude and not change their behavior, but it can also just be about communication styles. I’m very process (as opposed to relationship) oriented. When talking about projects or plans I can get totally focused on relaying information and not stop to think about things like adding softening language to an email or making small talk to begin a conversation. I realize that this can be an issue and I try to remember to focus on people, but my natural inclination is to get right to work and solving the problem. (I’m also really good at keeping discussions on track, and I admit that sometimes I’ll be intentionally blunt about it if the group is constantly getting off on tangents.)

      4. UnCivilServant*

        I am aware that I often phrase my statements poorly and directly. I make a deliberate effort to police to tone of my professional communications because I don’t want to get stuck at my current pay grade. It gets hard some times when I get random demands for what I regard as not fully public information and my first reaction is “who are you?” People also seem to get defensive when the question is instead “what is this information going to be used for?”. I’m tempted to point out the mitigating factors in the utter lack of context in the ‘request’ from people I’ve never heard of, but that doesn’t excuse my own poor phrasing. (I have literally sent that “Who are you?” e-mail in the past as a reply.)

        1. Not So NewReader*

          UGH! I always introduce myself and provide a memory trigger, “I talked with you yesterday” or “We were having a discussion about the price of oranges” or whatever.
          People are great, some will jump right in before I finish, “Oh, I remember and I have that info for you.” Others will say, “Oh, okaaaaay….” and I can hear them punching a keyboard or shuffling papers to get out their notes. But I think it is rude to assume people remember the exact thing we were talking about or to assume they would just automatically know who I am.

      5. TG*

        I’m blunt, but I take the feelings of other people into consideration when I speak. What that means is that most of my thoughts never leave my mouth.

  3. Elle*

    OP, my first thought was that perhaps your manager is saying that YOU are too good to stick around in the job? Maybe she sees potential in you and this is her (tactless) way of suggesting that you might be in a position to move up in the organization? Whether or not this is something you are interested in is obviously in your court. Maybe this is a positive!

    1. CMT*

      That’s what I think is going on. I think OP’s manager is trying to tell her that it’s time to move on.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Yeah, this sounds like it could be Nervous Nellie on a fishing expedition. She wants to know if OP will stay for a bit, but she is almost scared to ask.

  4. Jaguar*

    Rant/vent time for me.

    I don’t understand why companies wouldn’t want a more valuable employee. I was at a basically admin-style job at one place while I was entering the IT industry. Throughout my time there, I was constantly going to my manager offering ideas of how I could automate this or eliminate the need for that, which would have been invaluable at that place (everything there – in 2014 – was printed, put into folders, and stuffed away in filing cabinets). I was flatly rejected for all of it – not even any discussion took place. No, and also they were angry at me for even suggesting it. They only wanted me to do less important, less complicated work. Eventually, when I gave notice, despite the simultaneously acrimonious attitude they took and the pleading for me to stay, they involved me in the hiring of the replacement. Many excellent candidates were turned down on the basis that “they won’t stick around long enough.”

    OP, you know your employer better than I do, obviously, and it sounds like you have a good relationship with your manager. But I still view an employer that is filling roles instead of hiring people with suspicion, like they could be doing better work but aren’t.

    1. CM*

      I think your story illustrates what they mean. You viewed the work they wanted you to do as less important and less complicated than the work you actually wanted to do. As a result, you left. Your manager wanted someone who would be happy to do the work that s/he had in mind for that position.

      1. Jaguar*

        I didn’t view it as less important – the company wouldn’t run if that work wasn’t completed – and I was perfectly happy to do the work. But I was offering them detailed ways in which I could improve the company (at a bargain, quite frankly) and make it more competitive and they had no interest at all. Every other company I’ve worked at, when I’ve brought up solutions to common problems, they’ve been all ears (even if they ultimately didn’t proceed with them). It’s mind-boggling to me that a company would carve out a specific hole that will never change and then attempt to fill the hole.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Eh, it really depends on context. It’s possible that the ideas were great but just not a priority for them and they would have needed to put resources into it beyond just your time (assuming you had spare time and it wouldn’t detract from other things you were working on) — like someone thinking about and giving input on the proposal, overseeing its implementation, getting buy-in from those it would affect, etc.

          1. Jaguar*

            The ideas were great. :D

            It wasn’t a matter of priorities. It was rigid adherence to familiar, antiquated ways of operating.

            My point, though, is I don’t understand the idea of disqualifying candidates on the basis of being “too good.” It seems like an admission of defeat. Candidate A is terrific and would revolutionise the way we do work here, but since we don’t want to improve anything, let’s go down the list.

            1. LBK*

              But if you’re trying to hire someone who’s just happy to do admin work for you for the next 10 years, you’re not trying to hire the revolutionary. That’s almost always a contradictory personality trait to the kind of person who’s going to happily file paperwork and answer phones and schedule meetings for the majority of their career. Sometimes you just need someone to do the boring stuff, especially when it comes to admins.

              1. Jaguar*

                I’ve worked with some terrific admins who streamlined the way their work was done, offered good suggestions for improving processes throughout the company, assumed leadership roles for new hires, and became domain experts in some pretty complicated stuff. I don’t think any role is excellence-and-improvement-proof. I think the companies that can’t grow along with its employees is one that you should, at the very least, think of as at least slightly deficient.

                1. LBK*

                  But that’s exactly what I’m saying – sometimes you don’t want someone who’s going to do all that. You want the role to be improvement-proof because it’s just not important to you to have someone who’s going to revolutionize the way things are done. You want someone who’s just going to do what they’re told and stick to their main tasks.

                2. NotAnotherManager!*

                  Not everyone wants to or prioritizes streamlining and efficiency. I could think of a number of legitimate and justifiable reasons why an organization would want to put the brakes on major change and also for not hiring someone who wanted to do those things. It just sounds like you were in a bad organizational for your skills, and it’s probably best you moved to find a better fit for you. The best candidate for the job is not always the one who is the shining star on paper and/or wants to change the world.

                3. neverjaunty*

                  I think you’re mixing up your own experience with your former employer with what’s being said here. Sometimes a company doesn’t need an admin to assume leadership roles for new hires, learn about domains, or work on new processes; they want excellence and improvement in the admin’s actual job duties.

            2. UnCivilServant*

              Ideas often sound great to the person who has them. “Revolutionizing processes” sounds like something that could have a lot of unintended consequences. Having been on the recieving end of such changes (where the unintended consequences strike), I’ve been told I’m a hidebound obstructionist. A few months later, I refrain from “I told you so”.

              1. Leatherwings*

                Yes. Or just like “That might be a good idea in the future, but right now we’re really swamped and don’t want to listen to ideas about how we have to adopt a new, more efficient system that will EVENTUALLY be more efficient but will take up time we don’t have in the short term. The system that works best for us right now is having a person do this thing.”

              2. Always Anon*

                Exactly. And often times the people making this process improvement suggestions have no idea what the consequences of the process improvement will be on other departments. Plus, often times the process that is being suggested has already been tried by the organization and it hasn’t worked.

              3. Mephyle*

                My grandma (born in the 1880s) used to resist all suggestions that she fly to visit her far-flung adult sons and daughters. “It’s so much easier in the train,” she would say. “I just sit down, and three days later I’m at my destination.” As far as I can recall, she never flew in her life.

                1. Not So NewReader*

                  My grandma was born in the 1890s. Her mother warned her to stay away from that new fangled invention called the automobile. Her mother never needed to ride in one, she did fine with horse and carriage to her last day. My grandma on the other hand lived until 1970s and HAD to use a car. Times change and needs shift. Ideas have to be refined until they work well, then the idea can be mainstreamed. My grandma’s mother’s stubbornness did not impact her life. But if my grandmother had made those same choices she would have really messed up her life.
                  (My grandmother never got on an airplane, but she was taught getting into a car was pretty radical.)

            3. Aurion*

              I think it depends.

              If you’re an admin and you were thinking up new processes to automate, minimize error, or otherwise improve admin tasks, I suspect most reasonable employers would be all ears.

              But if you’re an admin and you’re trying to think up of revolutionary new processes for R&D, or marketing, or whatever, I can see higher-ups being skeptical or downright dismissive–because oftentimes a person not working closely in that scope doesn’t have the perspective required to improve processes there. Maybe the ideas have been tried but take up too much resources, maybe Picky Customer A, B, and C really need the old school paperwork because their ERP system is archaic, or whatever. But a person not closely involved in the role wouldn’t know that. I’m not saying admins can’t think up of new processes not in their direct wheelhouse, but it’s often harder to think up of a new process not in their wheelhouse that would actually work, and harder to get buy-in from higher-ups even if they do objectively work.

              1. Leatherwings*

                I agree with you, but I think even revolutionizing admin tasks might not always be a priority. Switching to a new CRM, for example, will probably automate easy admin tasks, but it takes a lot of resources, training and executive-level support to make it happen. It’s not even necessarily a bad idea, it’s just not something every company can pick up right away.
                It often might be easier and more efficient for higher-ups to stay the course on things like this. When people are constantly “innovating” higher ups are constantly hearing about new things they have to support in addition to their current workload.

                1. Aurion*

                  True, but I think an admin thinking up new processes for admin tasks would be more likely to get someone to at least consider it, and an explanation of why it wouldn’t work (too much resources, not in the budget, etc.). Whereas an admin thinking up new processes for marketing will be much more likely to get dismissed (maybe for good reasons, maybe not) without a discussion of why not. (e.g. Jane has no idea why her Novel Idea is impossible, and she’s missing so much of the background and I don’t have the time to explain this to her because it involves sixty government regulations.)

              2. Jaguar*

                Yeah, I agree with you. I’m not really talking about employees putting their hands on everything. I’m just approaching this from the mindset of disqualifying people because they’re “too good.” You’re admitting your company or division in unequipped to employ the most talented individuals?

                1. Annie*

                  Some jobs don’t require the most talented individuals, some jobs are just work and that’s completely respectable. Everyone contributes differently in paid work and that is ok. Sometimes it’s extremely talented individuals who are doing the hiring and planning for these jobs and they might actually be doing well to match the work with someone who will be content and productive in the roll – much easier to keep good employees who feel respected :)

                2. Not So NewReader*

                  Am chuckling. Many, many places just hire a warm body. And it’s no deep dark secret. People take those jobs for [insert 100 reason here]. Employers hire these warm bodies for many reasons also.

                  Think about it though, if we consider the top 10% of workers to be the best, then that means 90% are still in need of work. And the top 10% of the workers cannot fill 100% of the jobs. So it’s not shocking if a company does not have the BEST talent.

        2. Always Anon*

          Some companies need someone in a position longer term and be okay with the fact that the position won’t change much over time. For example, a few years ago, we hired a teapot decorator. The person’s job was exclusively to decorate teapots. That person decided they didn’t want to decorate teapots, but wanted to be in charge of teapot production. The only problem being was that we already had several people who managed teapot production, and we didn’t need another person unfamiliar with how you even make a good teapot to manage the production for the entire organization.

      2. Bwmn*

        In addition to valuing work the way it is, there are also lots of jobs where the reality is that a Great Implementer is needed as opposed to a Great Innovator.

        Post graduate school I was a research assistant for a few years (a field where so many people leave after a few years but there are a handful of highly valued career research assistants), and by the time I was hired the study had been designed. The process of what was needed when and how was laid out, approved, and funded with the idea it would stick to that method. My job was to implement that to the best of my ability.

        The reality of the research assistants I worked with is that the vast majority of us where pretty fresh out of school and happy for a solid professional job that was a great resume builder. A very few people over the years did make it a career and were valued for different studies that valued that kind of experience.

        If anything I found that the hiring process for these sorts of jobs was an interesting mix of wanting someone highly capable – but who would be happy to last for 2-4 years and not leave earlier. So to me, I heard the OP’s manager’s words not so much as speaking badly about the OP but rather just the rarity of finding the personality type to stay in the position longer.

        1. themmases*

          Hi fellow research professional! I think that job is a great example… I had a long comment about it that I deleted and you explained it way better than I did.

          I can kind of see why Jaguar is annoyed about the job they mentioned because even when you are supposed to be implementing a fixed plan, there is normally judgment and room for improvement involved in how you implement it. For example few research protocols would take into account a detailed clinic schedule and someone would need to work with doctors, nurses, techs, etc. to figure out the best time to meet with subjects or the best place to talk to them. Jaguar’s story sounds like even if they said “The clinic is too loud, how about I do the legwork to reserve a consultation room” they would get told no with no discussion.

          I served on a steering committee for research coordinators in my hospital and there were tons of problems to solve and areas where we needed to use our judgment– they just weren’t in the study design or data collection. I think our retention would have been even worse without those problems. It’s rare that people are intelligent and knowledgeable enough to do something like implement a scientific protocol correctly, and also want as little input into their own work as Jaguar described.

          1. Jaguar*

            I really should have left the personal rant stuff out of it. I’m just amazed that companies (including ones I’ve worked for) would turn down people on the basis of being too good. Like, we need someone to greet visitors and answer phones but if they can also do it in French, then screw it, we’ll find someone else.

            1. Jaguar*

              This is to say nothing of the disconnect between wanting someone who will stick around and wanting someone with no ambition. The way to get people to stay, typically, is to encourage their growth and provide opportunities for their advancement. Specifically looking for someone who has no desire to grow and will stay in the job indefinitely… that’s a huge red flag, isn’t it?

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                But some jobs genuinely don’t have a path to grow in them, or another role in the organization that the person would be qualified to grow into (for example: admin for a small practice of consultants where to do the consulting work you need a specialized background).

                1. Jaguar*

                  So what’s the problem with being up-front about that? “This position doesn’t have room to grow and there aren’t avenues for professional development. However, we’re hoping to find a long-term hire for this position. Is that something that will work for you?”

                  You’re being honest about the position, you don’t have to disqualify people on the basis of being too talented, and you’re establishing a level of trust with a potential hire. I still can’t wrap my head around disqualifying people on the basis of being too talented. Sure, they might lie in order to get the job, but if you’re not going to trust the person you intend to hire, we’re right back to red flag territory.

                  That said, I’ve worked in environments like that and the opportunities for growth are there. Specialists, especially, like to hand off responsibilities of anything that gets between them and their specialist work. I’ve seen admins become all-in-one finance, payroll, graphic designers, client point-of-contact, business development, etc.

                2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  You very much should be up-front about that. But hiring managers also need to bring their own judgment to bear because many, many candidates say that they’re fine with something when in fact they’re not going to be fine with it a few months in, which is why this is complicated.

                3. CMT*

                  I’ll admit that in periods of desperation, I’ve said yes to that kind of question when it really wasn’t true. And I think the hiring managers who were asking me could tell, because I didn’t get those jobs (which is best for everyone involved).

            2. Not So NewReader*

              The people who are too good, do not stay. They say they will, then they don’t. Companies get tired of being in a perpetual state of hiring. Hiring is very expensive for one thing and for another thing it can hold back the growth of a company as all their energy goes into hiring and training.

              I could be misreading what you wrote but what you are saying is typical of what happens. “I had 10 solid ideas and no one listened.” When a person submits ideas and no one listens or they think no one is listening, usually that person leaves the company.

              What has actually happened is that the person assumes the company moves around with the grace and ease of a ballerina. In reality, the company moves around like a bull…. in a china shop. When you tell a bull to pirouette, it very seldom goes well and sometimes the bull gets ticked.

              Getting companies to change is a whole art/science unto itself.

              I have worked for over 35 years. If I am able to make some minor changes in a company I consider myself lucky. If the changes actually stick and take root, I am amazed beyond belief.

              1. Jaguar*

                Well, I’ve had a much different experience. At most companies, any improvements I’ve made to the way things work have enthusiastically been taken up by management. But it’s not really my point. My point is how short-sighted it is for companies to “down-hire,” so to speak.

                As for a position with no growth potential having high turnover… yeah, that seems about right. I don’t think an employer should expect that role to be filled long-term unless it’s paying really well. Nothing seems wrong in that equation to me.

          2. Bwmn*

            I was one of those in and out research assistants and totally know what you mean. For the hospital where I was, I know there were career research assistants where they did find ways and studies where their input (over years at that hospital as well as in research) was taken into consideration. However, the size and funding level of my study however definitely did not require that. It really did take someone able to handle the study protocol, recruit participants, coordinate between clinicians and researchers – and be ok with that.

            And outside of the “I’ll do this for x years as a career builder” – it definitely takes a unique personality and system to work. For my position (it was a longitudinal study), I know the PI was thrilled to replace me with someone who wanted to work part time and start their PhD part-time. He figured he was guaranteed at least 4 years of a research assistant who would be highly capable and also highly interested in having a job that would just be routine.

            That all being said, I think the research assistant life is something where comments like someone “being too good” are likely often said – but not in a way to intentionally disparage those who are good and happy in the job. I never heard it said directly, but I definitely heard a lot of euphemisms in talking about problem hires or candidates rejected for being perceived as too ambitious.

    2. EA*

      As I think some commenters have hinted at, there is a big distinction between someone who is an admin in the hopes of getting experience and moving into a different role, compared to an admin who wants to be an admin for the rest of her life. I think your company probably wanted the latter.

    3. stevenz*

      I’m with Jaguar on this one. A company should know the capabilities of its employees and not see them as being able to do only the job they are in. They can choose to use those skills or not, but it’s ridiculous to hire someone and no know what resources you have at your disposal. Sure, their current job may be low level, but everybody starts at a low level. If they bring other skills and want to apply them in their company, that’s a good employee, not a nuisance. When a talented person is pigeon-holed in a position that doesn’t use his abilities, or in a company that doesn’t respect them, he leaves and takes those skills to the competition. So the original employer incurs the expense of training someone for their next employer.

  5. neverjaunty*

    LW, speaking as a very blunt person myself: bluntness by itself is not a virtue. Bluntness is not an excuse to be thoughtless or to belittle others. People are perfectly capable of ‘letting you know where you stand’ without being rude and putting you down. Your boss may just be a jerk.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think bluntness is a very different thing from thoughtlessness or belittling. They don’t need to go together, and frequently don’t.

      1. Aurion*

        I agree with neverjaunty’s take though; I feel like frankness on its own isn’t a virtue. But functional adults should be able to temper their frankness with kindness and tact. On its own, being completely honest (about those jeans, about the Christmas cards no one cares about, etc.) isn’t a virtue in my book.

        I guess it comes to whether one views candidness as its own trait or not. I do, and I think complete candidness on its own–without kindness and tact–is not a virtue because it so frequently dovetails into thoughtless/belittling/rude behaviour. Six of one and half-dozen of another, I guess

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I suppose it depends on how we’re defining it, but I do think frankness and candor on their own are virtues, as long as they’re accompanied by thoughtfulness and good will.

          1. Aurion*

            Yeah, I suspect it’s just semantics and definitions. But I think reasonable people will all agree that the thoughtfulness/kindness/good will part is not optional.

          2. AD*

            Exactly. Blunt and thoughtless/rude do not go hand in hand. I’m not sure why so many people in the comments here are interpreting this situation as a referendum on bluntness. The comments made by OP’s boss are insensitive – not blunt.

          3. neverjaunty*

            I’m a little puzzled as to where I miscommunicated here, because I very explicitly said that bluntness by itself is not a virtue, and people can be blunt without being rude or insulting.

            The OP seems to be taking the boss’s “bluntness” as a whole package – that because the boss is very clear and upfront, that therefore her other nasty behavior (negative, demeaning comments about the OP and her job) are somehow intertwined with that and it’s a package deal. It isn’t. Boss is blunt and thoughtless.

        2. Sail On, Sailor*

          I work at a university where candidness is in short supply and beating around the bush is the norm. Believe me, I value candid conversations way more than trying to read between the lines of someone’s tactfulness-gone-wild.

    2. LBK*

      I think bluntness is a virtue if we consider bluntness to be the absence of discomfort when saying something to someone that they may not like. That’s a trait a lot of managers could actually use; instead, we end up with a lot of managers who are too uncomfortable to ever give direct feedback or address bad situations, or who try to do so and end up softening their language so much in the conversation that the impact of their point is completely lost.

      If we’re looking at the extremes, I’d prefer a manager who is blunt and potentially unkind because at least I know where I stand with them, rather than assuming a less blunt manager likes you and then finding out when you get fired that they actually hated you and were too afraid to ever give you feedback. That being said, naturally blunt people do need to do the work to learn softening language so they can use it where it’s appropriate, otherwise you run the risk of being so direct that your audience has an emotionally charged reaction and isn’t able to process the feedback you’re giving them.

      1. Ultraviolet*

        Just to throw my two cents in–I think bluntness more commonly means “lack of diplomacy or finesse,” and a person can be direct without being blunt. Describing people as “blunt” is (originally) a metaphor, comparing them to a blunt[ed] instrument, which isn’t as sensitive or precise as would be optimal for most purposes. The connotation is negative. It’s not a perfect synonym for forthrightness or directness, because most people will hear the negative connotation. (That said, I acknowledge that some dictionaries and thesauruses do list it as a synonym! But that doesn’t mean they’re equivalent.)

        1. Alix*

          This. And honestly, in my experience, people who self-describe as blunt, especially when they offer this unsolicited, especially if it’s how they introduce themselves, almost invariably turn out to be assholes.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I would rather deal with bluntness than deal with head in the sand. At least when a blunt person is rude you can address that. But if you are not allowed to talk about the dead elephant on the dining room table, now you have two problems, the dead elephant and other people’s fear of addressing the situation.

        I hate it when conversations go down the rabbit hole of, “Well I can’t tell Jane about X because of reasons A, B and C.” I just want to say “Stop making excuses for not doing what is necessary and start figuring how how to word the message so that it can heard and absorbed.”

  6. A Non*

    Yeah, your manager is definitely being insulting and hurtful. It’s true that many people aren’t wired in a way that lets them do repetitive work for a long period of time without losing their minds, but some are, and it’s not a referendum on intelligence or ability. I’m someone who can do tedious work without being bothered by it – I’ve never minded doing paperwork on the job. I crochet, knit, and do jigsaw puzzles for fun. I’m also in a creative, high-brain-power industry and do well at that. The idea that not having the patience for dull work is somehow a good trait is basically classist nonsense.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      It takes self-discipline to do “dull” work. But it’s the same self-discipline that we use to follow a diet. curb our credit card spending, get good rest and so on. Some people wildly underestimate the strength involved for this stuff. It takes strength.

  7. EA*

    I think this one really depends on what you do.

    I have heard similar things said about people who do data entry all day long (not to their face, but similar rude things behind their back/ “it takes a special/less smart kind of person to do this”. Then it might be more of an insult/blunt statement by her. If it is more of a standard entry level job (some tedious work but also projects), then it is probably more that most people don’t stay in entry level jobs that long, and that this job isn’t really designed to keep them there long term.

    I would figure out what I want (stay/look for another job/ be happy with job/ be unhappy with job) apart from your bosses opinion.

    1. UnCivilServant*

      I had a project that required interacting with our data entry group for an extended period. One thing the people who worked there said was that after a while, the brain just disconnects from the process and lets them think about other things while working. The reading and typing had become fully autonomic processes and their brains, ears and mouths were off doing other things while their eyes and hands worked.

      1. BB8*

        This happens to me too. Data Entry can be very theraputic sometimes. Just like sorting a bunch of stuff can be. I’ve always been the type of person to really enjoy *mindless* tasks (and I have a Master’s Degree).

        1. EA*

          I do like 3 hours of data entry every week, and love it. I can put on headphones and space out and find it therapeutic. When I was first assigned this, they apologized profusely about work that they thought was boring and terrible.

          1. Adam*

            Sometimes basic tasks that are clearly defined and just need to be done are the best. You have to be just attentive enough to make sure you’re not screwing up but that’s usually not too hard if your job isn’t centered around that sort of work.

          2. Lily in NYC*

            Yes! I love what many people consider to be “busy work”. So much of my EA work is mentally draining, so it’s nice to be able to “shut down” for a bit.

      2. Anna*

        I organized large charity events and helped run a volunteer organization and produced an award-winning podcast while I did data entry. My productivity was always high because the process allowed me to do a vast array of other things.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        I read an article one time that factory workers enjoy the repetition because it allows them to zone out and day dream all day.

        Clearly, this was written by someone who never worked in a factory. I thought that the writer was rude. While some people do zone out, they don’t last. Because these are the people that get into accidents or cause others to have accidents. These are also the people that let damaged product slip through the line. They won’t make it, you have to stay in the present and stay focused.

        While I can see where some people may be able to “disconnect” from their work periodically, they are connected more often than not or they would not keep their jobs.

  8. Levsha*

    Yeah, I feel like if she’s blunt she won’t mind you asking for clarification about what she means. If nothing else, it sounds like the way she sees your job is not the way you see your job (in a big picture kind of way) and getting a better sense of her perspective can only be valuable.

    The only thing I’d add to Alison’s answer is to remember not to rely tooo heavily on certain kinds external validation. Yes, your boss does your performance evaluations, but she is determining how well you got results for your company. She’s not in charge of deciding how satisfying you find your work, how you find meaning in your life, and your worth as a person. Don’t let these silly remarks loom too much over more important things.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Exactly. Ties into what I was saying before, OP. Decide how YOU feel about the job first.
      Know your own thoughts. You want to reach that point where you can say, “It suits me for [now, a while, a few years, whatever].”

  9. Sharon*

    It sounds to me like your manager is letting her insecurities show too much (i.e. she’s afraid of losing her people). It also sounds like she’s allowing that insecurity to influence her hiring decisions. Which may or may not reflect on the OP, but then we get into the tactless and inconsiderate area that the other commenters have mentioned. I don’t know if it helps you to think it shows a problem she has and not any kind of problem with you, but maybe…?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I’d go with this because it holds things in the best possible light. OP, if you want to hang on to the job, which I think you might, you can win by trying to put the situation in the most generous light possible.

      I read it as an insecure boss also. She can’t say, “do you like me as a boss, will you stay for a while?”, that would be just too weird.

  10. EJ*

    Wait, don’t most jobs have you “doing the same thing day in and day out”?!

    She seems to be saying it in a negative tone and that’s where the impact is coming from. But I don’t think it’s negative at all. Most jobs will always have you doing the same thing day in and day out, the only difference being the level of responsibility. If you truly do have a entry level position, then that’s why she’s observant to people not staying in the position long — they want to move up!

    But if you’re enjoy your job and want to stay in the position, let her know!

    My boss was the same way, until I told him I enjoy what I do. Yeah, I’d like more money and will probably leave eventually if a similar job with better pay came other.. till then I’m good!

    1. Lily in NYC*

      There’s a difference between having routine job duties and having a repetitive task, like data entry.

  11. Meg Murry*

    The other possibility is that when the boss is saying “he was so great he would have been gone in six months” or “She’s so good that she won’t be here very long” is that the boss thinks the person has a big ego or overinflated career ambitions.

    That could mean Boss thinks they won’t stick around when Boss doesn’t treat them like they are the most genius employee ever or when Boss isn’t willing to let them spend 95% of their time on “high level” work rather than the everyday tasks Boss wants them to do, or trying to make major changes to a process rather than just learn how to do the everyday tasks first before trying to shake everything up.

    It’s possible Boss is using “too good” to mean “stuck up” or “has a high opinion of herself” – not meaning “smarter and more skilled than average”.

    1. Karen K*

      It’s nice to try and make it into a positive, but I’m afraid I can’t see it that way. I think the boss is being dismissive and insulting to the OP. I would take it exactly the same way. If this person is “blunt,” then she said exactly what she meant. She picked the OP for the job because the other (“better”) candidate would not have been happy in the role, and would have left sooner rather than later.

      Don’t get me wrong – picking a job applicant because you believe that his or her skills and temperament will best match the position you are trying to fill is perfectly okay. It’s conveying to the OP that the other guy was “better” that was questionable.

      For what it’s worth, I agree with those that have said that “blunt” has negative connotations, and I’d rather someone be “direct,” i.e., not beat around the bush, but tell it like it is kindly and respectfully.

  12. Adam*

    *I think Alison addressed the issue well and I’m sure many will leave helpful feedback in the comments as well. So I wanted to address a different aspect: why people might stay for a long time in a job that they are “too good for”.

    I look at it like this. Many people enjoy routines and stability and oftentimes would rather stick to a place in their career where they know what to expect and thus can expend extra energy on other things in life, even if their career isn’t particularly amazing. Sometimes you are in a place where you just want to work, get paid, and not care about it after that. Probably at some point that will change and then you will want to move on because you’ve had your fill of your current job.

    By “had your fill”, I mean you’ve gotten everything you can out of this experience and are really ready for something new. I’ll illustrate by doing a pop-culture comparison. The TV franchise Power Rangers (adapted from the Japanese Super Sentai) has been airing in America for over 20 years now. I started watching the show as a kid way back when and was ensnared by it for several years (much to my dad’s chagrin). It was by no means a “great” show objectively, even by young children’s programming standards, but it was fun and exciting in a way that my little nerdy mind wasn’t being stimulated exactly like that anywhere else.

    Eventually I stopped watching the show after three or so years as I had gotten my fill of everything it had to offer. While it has had MANY iterations and variations, every season tends to follow a fairly paint-by-numbers formula to varying degrees of quality that is fairly easy to predict, and I had reached the point where I had seen enough of that specific type of show that I didn’t need any more and wasn’t enjoying it enough to justify the time on it. However, there are still plenty of people who never stopped watching the series, even though by no means is the show produced with these older viewers in mind nor has it become any more challenging than it was when I was eight. But people still get a kick out of this particular brand of fantasy and will enjoy watching even if they know full well what to expect from it from the first episode of a new season. And it’s not like Power Rangers is the only thing in their life either.

    On the other hand for me one thing I’ve never grown tired of is the Legend of Zelda video game series, which has been around for 30 years now. I’ve played every game, several times, and have a genuinely good idea of what to expect from each title despite the many changes and shake-ups that happen in each game, and though many other players have gotten bored with the series by now I can’t get enough of it and eagerly await each new title like I’m waiting for the birth of my own child.

    You never can tell why a certain person might stay in a job when by all expectations they would have long since moved on, but if it’s working for them that’s all that matters.

    *NOTE: The preceding paragraphs may have just been an excuse to vent my nerdy tendencies as I’ve been feeling especially geeky this week. My apologies for the tangents.

    1. AnotherAlison*

      I’m just thinking, of all the relevant examples, this is what Adam uses. Lol. : )

  13. DCompliance*

    The comments are thoughtless, but there is something else going on here. I am just not sure what it is. Repeating 10x she wanted to hire someone else? That is beyond bluntness. Perhaps your boss has her own insecurities about hiring people with certain qualifications. Perhaps she repeats this statement to make herself feel better.

    1. themmases*

      I agree. My old boss used to tell me a similar story about my coworker’s hiring process. The effect was not complimentary and it definitely reflected animosity towards her (in this case totally unwarranted).

      After helping hire some other people I learned that my boss didn’t want to expand our division at all, but occasionally would have to because our role was important to other leadership. Yet once it had to happen, he would also be bitter if he wasn’t the sole decision maker about the hire. He couldn’t let episode go– even 4 years later!– because he still felt the same dumb way about hiring for our division.

      The story revealed that he didn’t know what he was talking about and it’s a good thing they didn’t go with his choice, btw. He was pretty much the opposite of the boss in this letter– wanted to hire someone who would have considered themselves way overqualified and have been long gone by the time I heard the story.

    2. Lemon Zinger*

      She may feel insecure about the role itself. My boss is similar to this woman. My role involves a lot of sitting around, and my boss gets anxious about it because she knows it’s not a fulfilling or stimulating role. That said, she doesn’t make much effort to change it, so naturally I’ll be moving on after 1.5 years or so.

  14. Reader*

    I think the advice is very good but I’m also very interested to learn about rice sculpting.

    I love this blog. Every piece of it.

  15. Katie F*

    This honestly sounds more like thoughtlessness than malice to me. But I agree, speak up a bit on it (albeit nicely) and see what she says. I think you’re likely to get an apology and a “I didn’t realize how that sounded/what I was saying”.

    1. AnotherAlison*

      It seems to have one more layer than thoughtlessness, though. I’m a big foot-in-mouth person. Example: I was talking about my sister’s bachelorette party to my cousin. I mentioned one of the 27-y.o. girls said that we should go to Vegas or Cancun, and then I said that she was ridiculous because she lives with her mom and has no money. My cousin’s 26 y.o. daughter just moved back in with her (no job, new baby, no father for the baby in the picture), so I immediately felt crappy for dogging someone who was in a similar situation. I consider that being thoughtless.

      The OP’s boss just keeps saying it over and over. It’s almost Sheldon Cooper-esque, like she knows what she is saying and it’s intentional, she just doesn’t realize it would hurt someone’s feelings.

      1. Lemon Zinger*

        She’s trying to soothe herself, or trying to justify the hiring in the first place. There is more at stake here, but I don’t think OP will find out why. :/

      2. neverjaunty*

        You know what OP’s boss reminds me of? A milder version of the evil antagonist in Tangled. “I appreciate you so much! Let me constantly make little digs at you so you doubt yourself.”

  16. Boboccio*

    So if blunt and supportive are your favourite people, then duplicitous and unsupportive are the worst?

    I get that.

    1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      I think I’d call someone the opposite of blunt something more neutral, like “guarded” or “subtle,” rather than duplicitous.

      1. neverjaunty*

        Um, yeah, speaking as a blunt person here, the idea that the opposite of blunt is dishonesty and trickery is kind of ridiculous.

      2. Cookie*

        I’d say the opposite of blunt is opaque or obfuscated, because you never know where you stand with those people.

    2. Lily in NYC*

      I feel like these threads all devolved into arguing about the semantics of what it means to be blunt. Pointless.

  17. L*

    The “too good” and “overqualified” labels bug me. Say that you’d be fine with staying in an entry-level job for several years as a way to pay the bills while focusing on other parts of your life…what are you supposed to say?

    Acknowledging that you are overqualified makes it sound like you think of the job as slumming it; focusing on why you would be good in the role without mentioning that MA in rice sculpting will get you tossed from the pile because the manager assumes you will leave in 6 months.

    I guess this is half a serious question and half a complaint about the conventions of job applications. It would be easier to explain why a role is a good fit if honesty were more acceptable: “Dear Hiring Manager, while I do have an M.A., I found high-level rice sculpting to be stressful, tedious, and generally soul-sucking. I enjoy basic rice sculpting much more, and I have a great track record in producing the kinds of basic rice sculptures your clients want. Also, I love that a basic rice sculpting job would allow me to pay my bills while also leaving my work entirely at the office and enjoying my nights and weekends to the fullest…”

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Several posts on this:

    2. AnotherAlison*

      I don’t know what you are supposed to say. If I were a hiring manager, I would have a hard time taking people at face value when they say they want a lower level position. Not because I think they’re liars, but because we can’t accurately forecast what will make us happy. (See Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert).

      I’ve seen people want out of project work (my job) who want back in once they’ve moved past the burnout of the last project, and I’ve seen others who move on to a new, “easier”, routine role and make that a permanent thing. But how can I know who is who based on what they tell me in an interview? There are probably subtle signals, but I’m certainly not good enough at reading people to recognize this.

      [In your example, fast forward 6 months. . .I thought I wanted a job that allowed me to enjoy my evenings and weekends, only to find that my overbearing mother monopolizes all my free time and I would rather work more than stand up to her. . .The grass is always greener!]

  18. Dynamic Beige*

    Yes, I agree your boss is being insensitive. Some people are ambitious in their work, others are not. Sometimes, you have to take an entry-level job and it’s not what you want, it’s the first step to where you want to go. Smart managers/employers will recognise this and plan accordingly. Others get all upset and weird because someone doesn’t stick around, just when they’ve gotten up to speed and reliable. So I can see your boss’ point, if she wants a team that is reliable and doesn’t have a lot of turnover.

    If you want to move up, OP, then say something! Ask if there is a path for advancement and what the requirements are. Your boss may be happy that she can mentor you, or not. You won’t know if you don’t ask. If you’re completely happy where you are, there’s nothing wrong with that. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a job you like, that’s just a job to you. This other person wasn’t “better” than you, he was simply not as suited to the role the company needed to fill and they knew that when they interviewed him. Also, perhaps your boss was more amazed that you stuck around and haven’t left, either, when she made those comments. The whole work-at-a-company-for-45-years-and-get-a-gold-watch thing just doesn’t really happen anymore. It’s pretty much expected now that people jump jobs to move up.

  19. Kaybee*

    As a sensitive person who has long worked with blunt-and-supportive, as well as just blunt, people – to the point I’m becoming pretty blunt myself, I feel your pain. I agree with Alison’s advice to talk to her about it. Since you’ve described her as supportive, she’ll probably feel terrible about how her words have made you feel.

    What your manager is doing is teaching you how she evaluates people and asking you to participate in the evaluating process too. That’s actually a pretty big deal, and a sign that she trusts and respects you and is trying to mentor you. Learning the story of how your company hired you is rarely fun for anyone – hearing about the candidates who got away and why, etc. If it helps, try to think what the narrative would sound like if you described to your manager how you selected their company. They likely weren’t your first choice or your “dream company” either, but before the comments started – again, when your manager was trying to teach you how she evaluates candidates (which doesn’t excuse thoughtlessness) – you were happy there. That’s how most managers feel about their employees when they get good ones. Whatever happened during the hiring process, when they get someone who works out and enjoys and excels at their job, it’s a really good thing.

    Thoughtless comments aside, “entry level” is not pejorative – it’s descriptive. And there are many, many levels of “entry level” it turns out. I worked all through high school in “entry level” jobs, then went to college, graduated, and again worked in “entry level” jobs. Then went to grad school and lo and behold, when I got out, another “entry level” job – but doing things I never would have done in high school or right after undergrad. I completely understand why you might feel hurt about her saying a candidate was “too good” (which I interpreted as overqualified – which is a real concern) for your job, but – though easier said than done – try not to get hurt at things that are just descriptions.

    FWIW, when I read your description of what she said, I immediately understood why you would find those things hurtful, but my many-years-of-working-with-blunt-but-supportive-people interpretation of it was that she was signaling in her own way that if you wanted to start thinking about moving on, she would expect it and be supportive. No having to sneak interviews at 10:00 a.m. “lunch breaks,” she can be contacted as a reference, that sort thing. And continuously talking about the “entry level” bit I read as her signaling that you’ll soon hit a salary cap, which means no more raises. But, like Alison said, talking to her likely will clear a lot of this up.

    1. Bwmn*

      This is so well put. My “entry level” job out of graduate school was as a research assistant on a psychology study. My boss at one point did say that he preferred non-psychology graduates because they had no expectations of “helping people” or being psychologists – but just doing the research related tasks. The reality of the career track of “research assistant” was if I had decided that’s what I wanted to do forever, I likely would have needed a serious sit down on how to make it a proper career. It’s not that there are not career research assistants, admins, or many other jobs – but they may not necessarily have opportunities with your current employer or you may need additional experiences to get to the point of being competitive in that career sense.

      The type of research my boss did specifically would likely never need a research assistant at a level higher than where I was – so it would involve knowing who to talk to about what those higher level positions looked like and if there were any gaps in my education/experience I needed. That being said, without speaking up my boss would have likely never guessed that I would want to be a career research assistant because not too many people who go through those jobs do. So I also think you can take this moment as a time to perhaps think of what you like about your current position and what you want to see that look like in 5 years. If you include that in the conversation with your boss, that can also be a way to not just make it about her specific comments.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        Similarly, my mother has been in her position for 28 years. Her position may not be “entry level” exactly, but it’s certainly not 28 years of progressive experience. You could learn the ins and outs of the job, and all the internal institutional knowledge needed in <5 years. My mom has turned down promotions, lateral opportunities, a move that would go from hourly to salary, and even moving from a cube to an office. She has made it clear that she doesn't want to advance (first she wanted to maintain low responsibility for flexibility for the kids, and then she decided she was too old to learn anything new. . .I'm now 5 years older than she was when she started the job.)

        However, I do think if the OP has stayed in her role for 2.5 years, it's worth saying what she wants to do. Her boss could assume she's happy doing what she's doing. It's the old saw that women assume someone will ask them to step up to the next level when their boss has deemed them ready, and men just ask for the role.

  20. Chaordic One*

    OTOH, when I was an admin in HR, my supervisor made inappropriate comments along the lines of a particular applicant being too old (or homely or overweight or… ) and unlikely to be able to get hired anyplace else, so he or she would stay put for a long time and wouldn’t need regular pay raises.

  21. NicoleK*

    My take on it: your boss saw the other candidates as very ambitious. People who expect yearly promotions or they move on. Your boss was looking for something different. She wanted a person who would stay in the job for a long time. She saw that in you. She hired you. When I was a manager, I had a long term employee (16 years). Her role was alot like yours. She did the same tasks month after month. I really valued her and valued having her on my team. People tend to ooh and aah over the rockstars, I on the other hand find just as much value in the rock solid, stable employees

  22. Reb*

    I haven’t read the other comments but thought the OP might find my perspective possibly reassuring.

    I hire for jobs with a lot of fussy detailed work and I’m always worried people will get bored and frustrated and leave. I’d never tell anyone in my team that (I don’t want to encourage them to feel bored!) so your manager’s being an idiot.
    But someone in my team recently told that they like the job because they LIKE fussy detailed work. I was so relieved. If you do love your job and plan to stay, your manager may be delighted to hear that.

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