my boss doesn’t want me to carpool to work, asking a critical interview question, and more

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

1. My boss doesn’t want me to carpool to work anymore

So today while I was in the car with my coworker heading to work, she started explaining to me why she was no longer going to be able to carpool with me to work. It seems to be that our general manager has told her that she can’t be driving me to work anymore. Add that we are “getting too close,” whatever that may mean. Could my general manager really prohibit us from carpooling to work?

Yes. She shouldn’t — it’s a ridiculous thing for her to involve herself in unless it’s causing some work-related problem that you haven’t mentioned here — but legally she can tell you that.

Any chance that your coworker is using this as a cover story because she doesn’t want to carpool anymore and feels awkward saying something directly?

2. Asking an interview question that’s critical of the interviewer

What is the best way to ask questions in an interview that might seem adversarial or critical? For context, I am currently an intern and will be getting ready to apply for my own job as it has now been an approved FTE for the first time. This will be competitive. My experience so far in my internship has been great except that my bosses often fail to invite me to meetings I need to be in for my work, will give updates on our projects to each other but don’t include me, and will generally fail to utilize me to any great extent. I do well at my job and have received that feedback from almost everyone besides my direct supervisors. They don’t give any feedback. I have heard from others that my bosses do say nice things about me and, once, at a conference, my boss got drunk and drug me around telling everyone what a great job I was doing.

When it comes time to interview, how can I tactfully ask them how they plan to support me and include me in important conversations as I honestly feel they have failed in that regard so far? Otherwise, these are two experts in our field, are trusting and professionally courteous to each other, and are kind and patient people who seem willing to support me even if their actions don’t show that.

Well, an intern being under-utilized is a pretty common thing, so I wouldn’t assume that that’ll continue if you move into a full-time employee role.

That said, you’re right to want to probe into potential areas of concern before accepting a job. I’d say it this way: “My experience here so far has been great, which is one reason why I’m so interested in this job. One thing that’s been challenging for me is that I sometimes feel out of the loop — that I don’t always know the updates about projects I’ve been involved with or get included in conversations about them. I’m sure a lot of that just comes down to being an intern, but I wonder if you can tell me how you see that kind of thing working once the position becomes a full-time role.”

3. Hearing loss and phones at work

The question you published last month from the hard-of-hearing letter-writer reminded me of something I’ve been wondering for the past few weeks or so. I am also hard-of-hearing and am lucky enough to be in a job where the 90% of my time is spent in front of a computer as opposed to in-person meetings. My boss is aware of my hearing loss, as is HR, although so far it’s been more of a “just so you know” kind of thing.

However, there is the ever-vexing issue of phones. Phone calls are far less frequent than at my last job (where I mostly had a grin-and-bear-it stance about them), but a few times a month I’ll wind up with clients who would prefer to call rather than email, and even accommodations such as an in-the-ear headset can’t make up for the lip reading/facial clues that come from face-to-face conversation. A month or two ago, I decided to try and solve this problem by remove my phone number from my email signature. This has completely eliminated the cold calls I was receiving, and in the couple of instances where a client has asked me for my phone number it’s given me the proper time to mentally/emotionally prepare for the conversation. It’s made things so much easier for me.

I did this quietly, without talking with my boss about it, and so far, no one internally or externally seems to have noticed or commented on the lack of phone number in my signature. Still, I’m wondering if it’s a professional faux pas? And if it is, is there any polite way of saying “I’m hard-of-hearing and would prefer to settle this by email” without inconveniencing those clients who would prefer a phone conversation? I’ve been out of college and in the professional workforce for five years and have yet to really figure this one out.

I think removing your phone number from your signature was fine to do (and logical, given the context). If you worked somewhere where phone calls were a regular and expected form of communication, I’d suggest talking to your boss about it first, but it doesn’t sound like that’s the case.

I also think it would be totally fine if, when people ask to set up a call, you said, “I’m actually hard-of-hearing and phone calls can be difficult. Would email work for this?” Ideally you’d also add something like, “If you think email will be too difficult to use, we can do ___ instead.” What to fill in the blank with depends on what makes sense for you. It could be something like a relay service if you find that easier. Or if you’re willing to continue with occasional calls as long as you have advance notice (like you’ve been doing), your wording could be, “If email doesn’t seem feasible, I can make the phone work with some adjustments on my end; just let me know.” (They don’t need to know that those adjustments are just mental preparation.)

I’d also give your boss a heads-up that you’re managing things this way, so that she’s not surprised or confused if someone mentions it to her.

4. Showing an employment status change on a resume

I am a full-time, salaried employee at a small nonprofit … for the next three weeks. After that, I will be making an international move. I’m very fortunate that my employer wants to keep me in as a contracted employee — I’ll be performing similar, albeit somewhat reduced, duties and working fewer hours, but otherwise my role is theoretically going to remain more or less the same.

How do I reflect my change in employment status on my resume? Should I just lump it all under the same section and timeframe, despite my change in employment status? Or do I create a new entry as an “independent contractor” … or something else altogether? I don’t actually think I’ll be a consultant, so I’m hesitant to use that title, and I’m a little leery of the title “freelancer.” I may also be overthinking it, but any insight is welcome.

I’d list it this way:

Teapots Inc., May 2015 – present (as contractor from December 2016 onward)

5. Calling a company before applying for a job

There is a company I am very interested in working for. They have several positions posted. I am interested in two of the positions. One is a higher level position that I am not 100% percent sure I qualify for, and the other is a lower level position that I know I do. Is it okay to call HR, not the hiring manager, to get a little more information about the higher level position to see how she feels about my chances?

Nooo, don’t do it. When I get inquiries like this from potential candidates, what I’m thinking is, “The way to figure out your chances is to submit the materials we requested from applicants.  Assessing the strength of your candidacy is the whole point of us asking for those things.”

So in most cases, they’re just going to tell you to apply and see. They’re not typically going to have the time (or the inclination) to get the information they’d need to assess your chances over the phone.

In this case, that means that you should skip the call and apply for the job that you think is the stronger match.

{ 121 comments… read them below }

  1. Tiny orchid*

    Re: LW 3

    Would video conferencing be easier (since you mentioned lip reading and facial cues)? I’ve noticed that it’s become more and more common to do virtual meetings via one of the web conference systems out there.

    1. Kara Zor-El*

      I mentioned this in my longer reply down below, but video conferencing is definitely becoming more and more of a thing! I’ve only encountered one or two people who were unwilling to do video in lieu of a phone call.

    2. Observer*

      I was coming to suggest the same thing. WebCams are really inexpensive. Even GOOD ones can be had ~$100

    3. ali*

      Video conferencing/video calls are difficult with a hearing loss because often times the video and sound are not in sync – which can make it actually harder than hearing by itself. It also usually diminishes the sound quality unless the user is on a headset, which blocks the mouth from view a lot of the time anyway.

    4. gsa*

      We have a new employee who is deaf in one and limited tonal hearing in the other. We work via cell phones. He was able to add ring tones to his work that he could hear his phone ring…

      Me: partial hearing loss in both ears. I tend to lean in when someone is talking to me.

  2. Graciosa*

    On 5, please don’t call.

    You would be asking the HR representative to assess your chances without seeing your application materials or – more importantly – comparing them to those of the other candidates. This saves you the work of choosing a position and actually applying, but it’s asking something impossible of HR.

    Honestly, even if you had already applied, the right thing to do would simply to wait to hear back. Calling to get an assessment of your chances would be out of line even then. It shows a lack of respect for the company’s hiring process and the people who are handling it. That probably isn’t a message you want to send.

    1. MillersSpring*

      ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^

      It’s out of line. Don’t do it. Don’t think about it. Don’t ever do it. No no no. Just apply.

      1. Javier*

        Ok. Now you applied along with other 200 candidates through their job site, wrote nice cover letter and resume is 100% aligned with the job description. How can I bring it to the recruiter’s attention?

          1. Javier*

            There must be some nice way to bring it up to attention, no? It is a bizdev/sales position and it requires to be very proactive. I believe approaching the recruiting area shows this drive… Compared to just sitting for the phone to ring.

            1. Claire*

              I’m going to be blunt, please do not take this as a personal attack. In my opinion, it does not show initiative. It shows that you think your application is the most important thing on my to do list. Which is true for you but it likely isn’t for us. If the ad states calls are welcome then by all means, feel free to inquire. However, most businesses want candidates to follow the specified application process which usually means you submit an application/resume and we call you if we are interested. I would err on the side of caution for this one.

    2. Annonymouse*

      It is (almost) NEVER A GOOD IDEA TO CALL!

      The very rare case is when something very pertinent to the employer – the online form/website is not accepting submissions, you copy/pasted the email to send the application but it’s coming back invalid – is in play.

      Any of your questions (salary range, location (like which Dallas branch as they’re miles apart), licenses/degrees required or preferred) can wait until the phone screen/interview.

      To use the dating analogy:

      Imagine you are online dating and you’ve sent a wink/kiss/nudge/poodle/message to someone to let them know you are interested.

      You then follow up with a phone call about some basic compatibility questions and ask how you compare to other prospective dates.

      It would be weird, inappropriate and highly annoying to that person. And imagine that 5-20% of the 100 people who sent winky-kissy-poodle messages did the same.

      I don’t know why people see employment as different than the above scenario but they do.
      And they shouldn’t.

      1. MsChandandlerBong*

        I’m going to use your analogy next time I have to explain this! I belong to a budgeting group on FB. People are always posting about their finances, asking for suggestions on increasing their income, etc. Every time we get a post about getting a second job/increasing your income, there is at LEAST one person who advises the OP to call or show up at the employer’s office because it shows that you really want the job. No matter how many times I (and other members) tell members not to do that, people continue to give the advice because it worked for them once and they think it’s a foolproof method.

    3. TyB*

      I’ve always wondered if it would be appropriate to apply for both positions or if that will just look desperate.

      1. MillersSpring*

        I think if you’re desperate for a job, apply for the one that you know you’re qualified. If you are just looking at your options, apply to the stretch position and if you get to interview, ask about it then.

        In many cases, the hiring manager wants candidates who are seeking a position that moves them up in their career. It means they’ll be excited about the role and the pay, and will be more likely to stay in the role for a while.

      2. MsCHX*

        In my last position I was in this spot. I applied for the position I wasn’t quite qualified for as I was a bit overqualified for the other.

        They changed the title of the “lesser” position and gave me some of the duties from the other job. My coworker and I started a few days apart and worked very closely together. It was a good experience for me!

  3. Canadian J*

    To OP3: I have a coworker with hearing loss, and at the bottom of their email signature, they have written “I wear hearing aid devices, and prefer to communicate by e-mail.”, in both official languages. Short & sweet!

      1. MR*

        I’m the one who wrote the other letter about being hard of hearing at work and I also struggle with the phone! I love this suggestion as well.

        Though it may be mentioned further below in the comments, I do use a “CaptionCall” phone, which is free (though you may have to show an audiogram), and captions the call as it occurs. I find it to be hit and miss, though it is most useful for getting names and numbers down. You might want to look into it and have work provide this as a reasonable accommodation.

  4. Jim*

    About the carpooling question – do you have any legal cases that support your stance that the manager can legally prohibit carpooling? Seems to me that as long as you show up to work on time an employer cannot dictate the way that you get to the office.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It’s the absence of the law that’s relevant — there’s no law prohibiting employers from giving you instructions about this kind of thing as long as it’s not based on your sex, race, religion, disability, or other protected class, as long as it doesn’t have a disparate impact by protected class, as long as it’s not in retaliation for engaging in legally protected behavior, and as long as it’s not an attempt to interfere in labor organizing. As long as it’s none of those things, your employer can tell you that you can only come to work in a red van or by helicopter if they want to. (I mean, they probably wouldn’t because that would be bizarre, but there’s no law forbidding it.)

      It’s possible that it might violate California law, since California has a higher right to privacy outside of work than other states. But aside from that, employers can indeed make requirements around this kind of thing.

      1. ExcitedAndTerrified*

        And sometimes, once you know the reasons, it kind of makes sense for an employer to do so.

        As an example, I know that the firm my father is a partner at prohibits multiple partners from riding at the same car.

        I found that out when attending the funeral of one of the firms founding partners with him as a child, and asking why even the single partners were driving themselves in the procession. Surely, I said, it made more sense for people to be able to talk and ride together so the funeral procession wasn’t so long, and they could grieve. My father explained that they couldn’t ride together, because the firm had adopted the policy of not allowing partners to share vehicles after an incident 20 or so years earlier that had nearly sunk the firm, when two partners had died in a car crash, while driving to a sporting event.

        Because of the way the firm structured its partnership, they had needed to buy out the shares from both estates simultaneously, and finding the cash to do so had led to a lot of heartbreak for the firm… bringing in an outsider as a partner who poached clients and then left to start his own firm, a cancelled expansion, and some downsizing. So now the firm’s policy was intended to prevent two partners dying simultaneously through an accident like that.

        1. the gold digger*

          Group life insurance policies can also have that requirement – that the highly-compensated employees (and hence those with the larger life insurance benefits) – cannot be on the same plane.

          I am surprised the firm did not have key man insurance – it is designed for that kind of thing, I think.

        2. Sigrid*

          My husband’s company (engineering) has a similar policy — there can be no more than two employees above a certain level in the same car or plane — and they don’t even have a tragic history as the reason. They just consider it best practice. It makes arranging transportation to conferences and job sites obnoxious, but I don’t think it’s an uncommon rule.

          That said, it doesn’t sound like a similar rule is in play for the OP. It sounds more like either her manager is throwing her weight around, her carpooling partner is using this as an excuse to get out of carpooling, or there have been rumors of favoritism and her manager is using this tack to shut them down.

        3. dragonzflame*

          It’s like the British royal family – I believe Charles and William can’t fly in the same plane for that reason.

          1. Jessesgirl72*

            Charles and William sometimes do, and obviously did when William was a child, as William and Prince George obviously travel together, but Charles doesn’t travel with his mother (car or plane) as he is first in line. When he is King someday, then he and William won’t be able to travel together.

        4. Amber*

          My company won’t go to that extent but if a large group is flying together they will intentionally split people onto different flights in case the unthinkable happens.

      2. Cynicaal Lackey*

        Hypothetical question: If the carpool resulted in a 20 minute commute, and now the OP has a 9 minute bus ride, or a 30 dollar cab ride, would he or she be entitled to be paid for her time or reimbursed for the extra expense?

      3. gsa*

        I did not smoke or drink my breakfast and I still can not wrap my head around Allison’s answer. Can my employer dictate my coming and going to work? Can they decide I can’t walk, run, cycle, swim, bus, subway, drive, fly, submarine, or teleport to work…

        Forgive me for leaving the horses, llamas, camels, ostriches, and any other ridable animal…

        1. INTP*

          In most of the United States, the answer is yes. Your employer can prohibit any sort of activity that is not specifically protected by law. That doesn’t mean they should, but they legally can. (And in this case they might have a good reason, depending on the rest of the story – not doubting OP but there might be carpooling drama OP isn’t aware of, the coworker has blamed OP for her own lateness or needing to leave early, etc.)

        2. Edith*

          It’s not that they can dictate your mode of transportation, it’s that they can reprimand or fire you for whatever reason they want. As long as their rules don’t have a disparate impact on a protected group they can be as megalomaniacal as they want.

          Requiring all female Asian-American employees to arrive at work on a bicycle made of antique tuba parts while everyone else gets to drive? No. Requiring it of the employee who called the ethics hotline on her boss? No. Requiring it of all employees? Sure.

          1. HardwoodFloors*

            I worked at a fortune 100 company that forbid it’s managers (including lowest level ones) from riding a motorcycle to work.

          2. MegaMoose, Esq*

            This is an important distinction: it’s not about the law saying that your job can call the cops on you or sue you if you do X outside of work. It’s about them being able to fire you or impose other professional consequences. And because the US generally allows employers to fire ou for any or no reason (aside from the limited discriminatory ones listed above), that can lead to some pretty absurd terms of employment being legal.

          3. gsa*


            I read your reply and the one above by INTP. My State is an “Employment at Will State”. I tend to forget that applies when reading uber batshit of transportation. Thanks for reminding me.


          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Because there’s no law preventing it. I suspect that you’re getting hung up on the fact that it’s absurd for them to do it, but that’s a different thing.

        3. CanadianKat*

          My reading of Allison’s answer is that there’s no law against them telling you what mode of transport to use or not to use.

          However, just because there’s no law about that, would they be able to fire you “for cause” (Canadian lingo; sorry, don’t know US equivalent) if you don’t comply? Perhaps in some circumstances (as in some of the examples already posted), where the employer may suffer serious harm, but generally?

          Same with the employer who prohibits drinking coffee (a recent question here). Sure, they can terminate any employee, with proper notice and/or payout, as long as it’s not for prohibited reasons. But if they wanted to fire you for drinking coffee instead of herbal tea, or wearing green, or carpooling, I don’t see how any judge would agree that such a transgression would warrant a “for cause” termination.

          I’m basing this on Canadian law. Is it wildly different in the US?

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            The only way “for cause” would be relevant in the U.S. would be for the purpose of collecting unemployment; it doesn’t really come up other than that.

      4. Crazy Canuck*

        A couple hours with Google convinced me that the situation is as clear as mud in Canada. You might have a case if they fired you, but I wouldn’t count on it. It would depend on how the court felt the competing interests of the employee and employer compared, plus a bunch of other factors.

        In my province though (BC), since this results with me traveling under the direction of my employer it would change my unpaid commute to paid travel time. They could still do it, but they’d have to pay me.

    2. MK*

      They don’t need to be able to legally prohibit carpooling, just to legally fire you if you don’t comply. From a practical point of view your boss cannot force you to do much of anything, but in very few cases are you protected from consequences.

      Also, as a general rule anyone is free to do anything unless there is a law against it; they don’t need a law allowing it.

    3. Girasol*

      The manager didn’t say it was to prevent the loss of two important people in one accident but that they were getting too close. If it’s not okay for a manager always to go to lunch with the same subordinate and no one else, because it smacks of favoritism, why wouldn’t it be a similar concern that the carpool buddy had a larger one-on-one share of the manager’s attention than anyone else? Not to say that there is favoritism, but I know that managers are supposed to avoid even the appearance of favoritism.

      1. TootsNYC*

        There might be something else about them getting “too close.” Maybe one of them is in Compliance and Integrity, and the other handles the petty cash.

        I had a situation in a drop-in daycare where the director and the staffer were clearly friends outside of work. The staffer got pissed off at a crying kid (he’d seriously been crying for HOURS–I was actually worried about him as not being neurotypical) and yelled at him and shoved his lunch chair with her foot. The director didn’t really do anything about it–they were more peers.

        I called the daycare head office to let them know (I was a parent w/ a kid in that daycare).

        If people turn out to be friends, they won’t necessarily call one another on misbehavior; or at least, an employer might worry about it.

        But I also wondered if the other employee was fed up w/ carpooling for some reason and that the boss, hearing about it, said, “I’ll just forbid it, and then you’re off the hook.”

        1. Observer*

          There might be something else about them getting “too close.” Maybe one of them is in Compliance and Integrity, and the other handles the petty cash.

          Did anyone think of the post about the person who let someone else do the cash reports to hide that the other person had “borrowed” money from the firm?

      2. Compassion*

        I just realized why this bothered me so much!

        “The manager didn’t say it was to prevent the loss of two important people in one accident but that they were getting too close.”

        HELLO, they are (potentially) quashing concerted action! These employees could be trying to improve working conditions and the employer could be in violation of the NLRB by prohibiting carpooling.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Employers are allowed to forbid general socializing outside of work; that doesn’t violate NLRB rules, as long as they’re not interfering with outside-of-work discussions of wages and working conditions.

          1. Christine*

            If you are interfering with or limiting outside-of-work contact doesn’t that necessarily interfere with discussions of wages and working conditions? Whose to say they weren’t using that time to discuss wages?

          2. CanadianKat*

            What?? “Employers are allowed to forbid general socializing outside of work”??

            Allison – does that mean that if they do forbid that (without giving a good reason as to why this may hurt the employer), and an employee disobeys (more than once, and after reminders), they can fire that employee without notice / pay in lieu of notice / severance?

            I can’t imagine this happening in Canada (my province anyway; and I’m a lawyer – though not an employment expert). I just didn’t think US laws would be so different!

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Yes, they could fire you. But it’s not a policy you typically see — just one that someone theoretically could have, just like they also theoretically could have a policy against talking to coworkers wearing purple.

      3. rudster*

        Is the manager even in the carpool? I didn’t get that impression, only that the manager doesn’t want LW and carpool buddy travelling together (i.e. they were too close with each other, not with the manager).

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          It doesn’t really matter if the manager is in the pool, though, does it? (I’m not saying that antagonistic ally; I’m just asking because I don’t see how it would change anything with respect to the manager’s alleged prohibition).

          My money’s on the coworker wanting out but trying to come up with a cover story they think won’t hurt OP’s feelings.

    4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Y’all, I saying this with my lawyer hat on. With the caveat that her responses address U.S. law, Alison is right—believe her.

      Folks are getting bogged down in the idea that an employer cannot limit or infringe on what you do outside of work. They can, and their “enforcement” mechanism is that they can fire you. For example, think of all the employers who can limit you from taking a second job, require you to refrain from sitting on boards of directors, require that you remain “on call” during unscheduled days to pick up a shift with limited notice, impose “moral codes” outside of work hours, etc., etc. Sometimes employers have good (internal) policy reasons for why they’re imposing limits, and sometimes they don’t but you have to suck it up, anyway. The only time this scenario bends is when it runs up against the NLRA (and its sister laws).

  5. MillersSpring*

    OP #2: It’s very common for interns not to be invited to meetings, even about projects you work on. The meetings may be covering high-level details or confidential aspects. Or, hey, you’re an intern, by definition you probably haven’t been there long, so maybe they forget sometimes to invite you. Let it go. Alison’s script for your interview is perfect. Being critical of how you think you’ve been treated as an intern would be a big mistake. Go in with gratitude and enthusiasm for the possibility of being hired as a full-time employee.

    1. Hellanon*

      Oh, gosh, yes. As an intern, not a full employee, there are going to be a lot of things that you are not privy to, and reasonably so; also, it’s not school, where you have an expectation of being brought in at the process level. Be enthusiastic about your opportunities, trust that your bosses will bring you in at appropriate points and as you gain more experience, expect to see those points change – but keep in mind that it’s not school, your role as an employee is different from your role as a student and most importantly, their roles as your bosses are incredibly different than your professors’ roles were. Persisting in the assumption that your personal/professional development is a key outcome for them is a huge mistake to make at the outset of your career. The success of their business unit & of the business overall is their primary goal…again, reasonably so. You can go after your own growth and development, but not by nagging at people to give it to you…

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      +1. Alison’s script is excellent and rides the line between setting expectations (a good thing) and addressing your concerns (something you don’t want to sound complainy about). Definitely keep a positive/upbeat tone when you ask the question—if your voice conveys any hint of displeasure or judginess, it will make your boss’ spidey sense tingle.

  6. INTP*

    For #5, I get the impulse, but absolutely don’t do it. It comes across very badly. You’re basically communicating that you think it should be worth the HR rep’s time to speak with you when they don’t even know if you’re a viable candidate (I’ve never posted a job where at least 75% of the applicants weren’t viable), but it’s not worth your time to put together an application when you don’t know if it’s a viable job for you. It gives an impression that you think your time is more valuable than theirs, even if it’s not meant that way. Calling in general is pointless most of the time, but if you must, submit an application first so the person you call can easily assess whether you’re worth the time to speak to and you can demonstrate that you’re genuinely interested.

    1. MK*

      The only way I think this is borderline acceptable is asking a concrete but general question like “Does the job require degree X or having an Z licence?”, but even then the answer might be ‘it depends”.

        1. KellyK*

          Yeah, I think this falls into the “pertinent to the employer” category that Anonymouse uses. If they don’t specifically ask for it, go ahead and apply. If they ask in a way that’s weird or makes no sense, it’s reasonable to ask them. For example, say it’s Teapot Process Improvement, and they ask for CMISO certification, and you can’t tell if they meant CMMI, ISO, both, some specific ISO thing related to CM, or there really is a CMISO certification you’ve never heard of. After checking Google and Acronym Finder, assuming you don’t find CMISO in a context that makes it make sense, it would probably be reasonable to ask for clarification.

    2. Graciosa*

      I would argue that submitting an application first so that the person your calling can assess it obviates the need for the call. Your application will be assessed like all the others through the normal process, and you’ll be asked to interview (or not).

      1. INTP*

        I totally agree with that, that’s why I pointed out that calling in general is usually pointless. But when you’ve invested some time in the job yourself by preparing an application, it just comes across as annoying, while it comes across as more disrespectful and presumptuous when you are calling with a battery of questions to even decide whether it’s worth your time to do the application.

    3. Annonymouse*

      At this early stage of the game it’s all about the employer.

      If/when you get a phone screen/interview you can start a dialogue, find out more particulars and see if it works for you.

      As I mentioned above its like dating. You’ve expressed you’re interested. Now you need to see if the other person is too. If you start pestering them now about things you’re not going to get anywhere except the rejection pile.

  7. I'm not a lawyer, but ...*

    Car pooling is both common and annoying at my part time job. Work assignments are made by seniority, including whether or not you have to work longer. Some think they should get paid to sit in the locker room because their driver has to stay late; others think the people with seniority should be inconvenienced instead of their passenger who is newer. Our boss is beyond understanding but the camels back may break soon. Cooperation and cost savings are great but don’t make others “pay” for you to get to work. We have needs too.

    1. MK*

      The solution though is not to prohibit carpooling, it’s to stop bending over backwards to accommodate it. And if carpooling doesn’t work for some people, they should say so ( and especially if they are more senior, they can do so without fear of consequences), not have it prohibited.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        It doesn’t sound like there’s a blanket prohibition, although the employer is legally within their rights to forbid carpooling (which I would assume they’re doing to avoid liability if there’s an accident).

      2. KellyK*

        Yeah, I agree with that. Tell people they’re responsible for their own transportation, that overtime is by seniority, and that waiting for a ride isn’t work time, whether you work with your ride home or not.

    2. (different) Rebecca*

      “paid to sit in the locker room because their driver has to stay late” Have they never heard of bringing a good novel?

  8. Cat steals keyboard*

    #1 Don’t know your gender or sexuality but is it possible that someone has started a rumour about you two?

    1. FTW*

      It could also just be a supervisor / team member issue. Appearance of favoritism because of the carpool.

      1. Gadfly*

        Or maybe the coworker may be aiming for a promotion that would make it awkward to have that sort of appearance of favoritism?

    2. Aurora Leigh*

      My first boss was one of those people who believed if you were her friend, you couldn’t be anyone else’s friend, and if you had other friends it was a deliberate slight . . . It got so bad that even saying something like “Jane is so nice, she made the best cupcakes for us when we worked Saturday” could land Jane and the cupcake eaters in trouble. Also if two co-workers were to talk about a tv show boss didn’t watch . . .

      Well, that boss who have totally pulled something like this . . . but I hope there’s more reasonable explanations for OPs boss!

  9. JessaB*

    For the hard of hearing worker – there are some pretty good adaptive phone headsets/handset replacements for those who need them (either attaching to your hearing aid or giving you more control over the sound – whether making it deeper or higher pitched to help you understand.) If you have an audiologist ask them what’s out there. There are also very good groups out there who can help fund the equipment if you can’t afford it.

    1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      This would also be something you could ask your employer to pay for as a “reasonable accommodation” for your hearing loss, which I would expect to be covered by the ADA (though I am not a lawyer, so could be wrong).

    2. Mimmy*

      I’m a little hard of hearing myself (I’m not the OP) – I didn’t know there were headsets where you could control not just the volume but the pitch. Definitely putting in my back pocket for later!

    3. JKP*

      There are also captioned phones, so you could read the text of the conversation which would help fill in any words that were unclear. The other party wouldn’t even know you use a captioned phone. If you talk to your local Deaf/hard of hearing resource group, they could help you find the right tech for you. Or you can use 2line voice over relay, which means that when you receive/make a call, you dial the relay in as a part of a 3-way call and then you have a relay operator manually typing the conversation in real time on 1 line without interfering with the call you’re having on the 2nd line (the person you’re talking to wouldn’t even need to know that you’re using the relay. I used to work at the relay back in college and many people who were completely Deaf would make all sorts of business phone calls – even conference calls – using the relay.) All of these services are generally free, so your work wouldn’t even have to pay for accommodations, plus you could also use these services at home too, when you need to use the phone.

      1. Bananistan*

        I’ve always had a bunch of questions about how relay works, if you don’t mind answering! Is it difficult to keep up typing at the speed of the conversation? For conference calls, how do you distinguish between speakers? What if they’re using technical jargon that the relay operator doesn’t understand? Are there ever confidentiality concerns about what the relay operator can hear?

        1. Project Manager*

          I use a captioned telephone at work. No, it does not keep up with the speaker, nor does it understand accents or technical jargon. It’s still better than nothing. As for conference calls, I’m specifically prohibited from using that phone for that purpose. We have a conference captioning service for that. It doesn’t distinguish between speakers. And sometimes the transcriptionists give up on our extremely technical conversations. Still better than nothing (except when it *is* nothing bc they don’t want to try to guess how to spell what we’re talking about. I don’t blame them for not knowing our jargon, but at least write it out phonetically).

        2. Dani x*

          We have a deaf coworker and when he does conference calls the relay operator asks that you say your name before you talk. It works about 50% of the time – we usually forget some of the time. We try really hard to do it though.

        3. JKP*

          It’s been a long while since I worked at the relay, and it may also differ state to state, but this was my experience:
          1) Typing speed – Accuracy isn’t as important, so if you make an accidental typo, you just keep going, or if the mistake made it too hard to read, you just make a few xx’s and retry. The software actually didn’t allow us to backspace/delete anything, so you just keep typing as fast as you can. After a short while working there, I easily typed 120-130 wpm. Even though there is a delay between what is said and what is typed, I noticed that most of the Deaf callers were pretty adept at stalling until the full message came through, usually by starting to reply to the beginning of the statement and then adjusting as they read the rest of the statement.

          2) Conference calls – I would label each speaker by name if they gave their name at some point in the call and I could recognize their voice throughout the rest of the call. Without names, I would describe them as best as I could (older man, raspy voiced woman, etc).

          3) Technical jargon – you just type phonetically as best as you can. Presumably the caller understands the jargon, even if it’s spelled poorly. And they can always ask for clarification if they didn’t understand a specific word.

          4) Confidentiality – That was always the most important aspect of our work, drilled into us constantly. Obviously Deaf people would never use the relay if they felt that their calls were being discussed and they didn’t have privacy. So we could never discuss calls with anyone ever, even after no longer working there. I believe you would be fired immediately, but I never knew of a situation personally where an operator violated confidentiality. Even if you took the call of a coworker or boss (all the people running the relay who didn’t actually man the phones were all Deaf), you couldn’t even let on 5 minutes later that you were the one handling their call. There were also no records of the calls, the computer saved nothing. As the text scrolled up and disappeared off the top of the screen, it was lost forever, and you couldn’t scroll back in a conversation to see what was said a few minutes ago. I think the relay was also immune to subpoena (as there were no records kept) and we couldn’t be compelled to testify about anything in a call either. It’s like we don’t exist in the phone call.

          5) Other interesting info:
          Even if you’re not Deaf, the relay can be useful if you’ve lost your voice and need to call someone. I’ve used it on occasion when I’ve had laryngitis so bad I couldn’t even whisper, and I needed to call in sick to work. There are iphone apps and computer websites so you can dial into the relay and have them place a call for you.
          The operator is supposed to type everything they hear, including sounds in the background (dog barking, microwave ding) and emotions in the tone of voice (sounds angry, sounds like crying, sounds confused). In fact, we had a quota on how many emotions/background sounds we needed to include for each line of typed conversation, which was a challenge sometimes on a boring call like scheduling a doctors appointment or something (sounds polite, sounds ??? – sometimes struggled to describe a neutral tone).

      2. MillersSpring*

        My mom uses a relay phone, and most of the time it works out very well. Sometimes I have to spell words that the operator clearly isn’t typing accurately–I have to remember that the operator doesn’t know our family names, pet names, employers, etc.! My mom has used the relay phone for calling customer service lines for various reasons (computer support, bank issues, doctors’ offices) without issues.

      3. #3 OP*

        I didn’t know about captioned phones/relays (have been pretty isolated from any HoH resource groups out there, though I’m working to fix that), but they both sound like super ideal suggestions. Thank you!

        1. Tuckerman*

          You may want to look into into CapTel. It’s a captioned telephone that works differently than relay. The operator does not type, rather uses voice recognition software to caption calls, so the delay is generally very short, sometimes not noticeable.
          Good luck!

          1. ali*

            CapTel is what I use – I can understand about 60% of what I’m hearing on the phone, and the CapTel does a good enough job to fill in the rest/give me context. It still doesn’t work great if you have multiple people on speaker phone on the other end, but I do my best to avoid those situations. (I use all of Alison’s advice from her post – if I can resolve something first via email, I will. If I have to do a call, I often ask another member of my team to lead the call and I will listen in / participate as best I can)

  10. BobcatBrah*

    Regarding #5, what does everybody think about directly reaching out to HR if it’s an internal move?

    Say you’re in a large company (10k+), and HR is on the other side of the company. So yeah, obviously apply, but how about sending an email to HR saying “hey, I’m an internal applicant for such and such position”?

    1. Newish Reader*

      I wouldn’t do it then either. If being an internal candidate is important for that position, HR will screen for that in the application materials.

    2. Chocolate lover*

      What specifically do you hope to come from that? I work in a large university, and most professional positions ate managed directly by the hiring manager, HR has little to any input at all, so making such a call wouldn’t have any benefit.

    3. Recruit-o-rama*

      Speaking from my perspective as an internal recruiter, getting a call from an internal potential candidate is totally different from getting one from an external. I’ll answer any questions an internal person has about the position, any time. Many times they ask for help with resumes when internal applicants call me and I consider it part of my job to assist. If your HR department doesn’t weight you differently than an external candidate, I think they have their priorities messed up. It doesn’t necessarily mean internal applicants are automatically hired over external applicants but every internal applicant gets either an interview or a career development meeting when they apply for a position. It’s part of our retention program.

    4. Ayla K (in HR)*

      I think it’s worth checking with HR because your company may have a policy in place for internal moves. You may be able to just apply as usual but are obligated to inform HR and your manager. Or there may be a different application for internal candidates. Or there may be a different system entirely.

      Every company I’ve worked at has had some kind of policy in place for internal transfers, and they’re all different, and none of them are super obvious or well-known/talked about. Ask someone.

    5. Snowglobe*

      For an internal position, I’d start with asking my direct manager, who would have a pretty good idea of I would be a viable candidate, and would actually be a good advocate if they thought it would be a good fit. (I am fortunate to work for a company with managers that strongly value professional development of staff.)

  11. Long time listener, First time caller*

    In the ’80’s I carpooled with two people who were above me in the company and I got fired because of reviews of my carpool mate. She didn’t stick around to drive me home even after I paid her (or, even tell me what I was doing wrong to begin with) maybe one of you is in for a “transition”? Good luck, I hope they’re just trying to avoid the appearance of favoritism. Is it possible to simply ask?

  12. Kara Zor-El*

    OP #3 – I am hard of hearing to the point where I can’t talk on the phone at all. I need the lip reading and visual cues to communicate. I don’t have a phone on my desk, and I don’t have a phone number on my business cards or in my email signature. I actually rely on video conferencing – webex,, Skype, Google hangout… they all support video nowadays. When someone asks to have a phone call (usually vendors who want to sell me something), this is what I say: “I’m happy to talk, but I’m hard of hearing and rely on lipreading. Can we do this via video? I can set up a webex if needed.” I felt awkward at first, but you know what? Nobody has ever had an issue with this, even for job interviews. And when video isn’t possible, I’ve even done gchat or email as a replacement. My advice to you is not to be afraid of matter-of-factly asking for the accommodations you need. And as Alison said, give your boss a heads up that this is how you’re handling it. Good luck!

    1. #3 OP*

      Thank you so much! Reading about your experiences is really helpful, and I’m definitely going to look into video conferencing as an option–my phone interactions really are so infrequent that I’m not sure if they’ll go for a webcam for me, but it’s definitely worth asking.

    2. ali*

      I have had such issues with video calls because I do hear enough that the delay in the video to the sound actually makes it harder to me.

      I use the tips Alison gives, and only once have I come across a customer who is not willing to discuss via email or IM (and it turns out that customer was a problem for many more reasons than just that). If I absolutely have to do a phone call, I have the option of CapTel, which fills in the blanks of what I’m missing well enough, or I have a coworker sit in on the call with me.

      I don’t list my phone number in my email signature, but it is in the company directory. My voice mail message says that I am hearing impaired and to please speak slowly and clearly when leaving a message (no one does) and that I would prefer to be emailed and give my email address (no one does). If someone does leave a message I can’t understand, I’ll forward it to a coworker to listen to it for me.

      As you might have guessed, my coworkers are awesome and completely understand and accommodate my hearing loss.

  13. Nanani*

    LW4: I have been though a similar career change – GOOD LUCK!

    I went the “new entry as contractor” route, but I actually am a freelancer, with my last in-house job before moving countries and going freelance being the first of several clients.

    On my resume, I have them listed as “Teapot Coordinator, Teapots and Associates, 2010-2014” for the full-time job, and then I have a “Teapot Coordinator, Freelance, 2014-present” section where Teapots and Associates is listed a client, along with Teapots International, Teapot House, and Teapot Solutions.
    I have a one-line explanation of the kind of work I do for each client, and I think it’s clear that the work content was similar but my job status changed.

    Hope that helps, as a point of data.

    1. The Wall of Creativity*

      This is the way to go. Don’t take Alison’s approach. As a contractor, you set up your own company. Don’t hide it! Be proud!

      1. MillersSpring*

        Actually, a lot of contractors don’t “set up their own company.” They’re often employed by a third-party resource/employment firm. A company could have dozens or hundreds of contractors employed this way. “Contractor” does not mean a freelancer available to take work from multiple clients.

  14. Whats In A Name*

    #1: This happened at my previous job. 2 women carpooled together and VP asked them to stop.

    If you all aren’t sharing confidential information or letting it bleed into your workday I am not sure why she is requesting it and I think she really shouldn’t.

    BUT – Is the person you carpool with in a management position (not necessarily yours) or looking to move up and Big Boss could have suggested “Hey, if you are looking to move up/have people respect you/appear to be a strong leader you might have too do X,Y and Z.” X could be stop carpooling because down the road it could play a role in perceived favoritism?

  15. Pudding*

    For 4, I don’t see why a disitinction needs to be made on a resume, to me this is something you clarify in your cover letter or, even better, in an interview. If your duties are essentially the same then it seems like a waste of space to clarify the details of your employment status since your status is not related to your qualifications or duties of the job – it reminds me of a woman that showed her 1 year mat leave in her employement dates even though it was a mid-employment break… what ever happened to a resume being a concise summary of your qualifications? The simpler the better I say!

  16. rudster*

    Assuming it’s not just a cover story by the carpool partner, I wonder if carpool boss sees it as an availability issue. Perhaps the boss needs carpool LW to work late/overtime but has been reluctant to bring it up since LW doesn’t have any independent way to get home on days she carpools. Otherwise, it does seem very weird unless key employees are involved.

    Re. Intern LW – If it’s an unpaid internship, the law pretty much requires that the intern not perform any work which the company would pay someone to do.

  17. Mark in Cali*

    #4 – These conventions always seem to work on an actual resume, but when 90% of the time you are filling out an online application, how do you express the same role as a contractor and the FTE. I think in the past I’ve just listed the exact set of accomplishment and duties twice with the exact same title but with a different employer and dates.

  18. NonProfit Nancy*

    #5, apologies if this has been mentioned above, but my advice is that, if you think you’re a decent fit (~60% of the requirements) for the higher level job, I’d aim for that one. They can recommend you for the lower level one after reviewing your resume – but in my experience it doesn’t go the other way. I’ve told this story here before, but I saw someone passed over for a high level job because the hiring manager saw they’d also applied for a much-lower-level job (like coordinator) and it really hurt their perception of the candidate.

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