my coworker is doing my work, what’s up with “dream jobs,” and more

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

1. What’s up with “dream jobs”?

This may be a pet peeve of mine, but it grates on my nerves when I see the term “dream job” in a letter writer’s question. I see it used so frequently — once or twice a week, maybe more — that it leaves me wondering how many of these jobs can truly be “dream jobs.” Maybe a better term would be “fantastic opportunity” or “chance to get my foot in the door of this industry/organization.”

Do you have any sense from readers as to how many of those “dream jobs” truly manifested into the unbelievable opportunity they thought it would be? Realistically, I’d bet that after they got the job they found out the boss sucked or the coworkers were unpleasant or they hadn’t anticipated how much they would hate the long commute or that there were zero opportunities for raises/promotions or any number of other factors. To me, the term “dream job” is something a young person who hasn’t spent much time in the work world would say, and it strikes me as very naïve. A job is a collection of factors, and they’d all have to be nearly perfect for me to consider it a dream job. And it’s impossible to know all those factors when you haven’t even worked at the place yet.

Totally agree. You can’t tell if something is your dream job until you’re already there and working in. There is literally zero way to tell from the outside if you’ll be happy there — you could end up hating your coworkers, your boss, the culture, all sorts of things.

Of course, what people really mean when they say “dream job” is “this is the type of work I want to do, configured exactly the way I’d create a job for myself if I could.” Or sometimes it’s company-specific — “I’ve always thought it would be amazing/prestigious/rewarding to work at this particular organization.” But either way, it can be a dangerous mindset, because when you go into a hiring process thinking “dream job,” you’re more likely to miss signs that it’s not actually a situation you’ll be happy in.

2. My coworker is doing my work, but it’s not her fault

I work on a team that is at least double the size it needs to be for the amount of work we have. Occasionally there will be busy periods, but mostly we all have quite a bit of downtime. One of my coworkers, Jane, who is extremely good at this job, put in her resignation because she was moving. My manager didn’t want to lose such a good worker, so offered for Jane to work second shift remotely from her new locale.

The gist of our job is that we all are assigned tickets from a big chunk. We all can see all of the tickets, but certain ones are assigned to us and then we “help out” when we’re finished with our assignments. Jane has been doing all of my work. I come to work in the morning and only have about one-third to one-half of the work I was expecting for the day (which was not very much to begin with). When I look to see where all of my work went, I see that Jane did it. Sometimes it’s work that isn’t due for a week or more (and I was “saving” for slow times). I am getting frustrated because now I have large sections of time with absolutely nothing to do. It’s not Jane’s fault, we’re all just trying to get our eight hours in. I’ve asked my manager for additional projects, but nothing more has been given to me. Do I risk sounding like I’m not a team player if I talk to Jane or my manager, since we are expected to help out when we’ve finished our own assignments and Jane isn’t doing anything wrong?

I’d start with Jane. Can you say something like this to her: “I’ve noticed that recently you’ve been doing a large portion of the tickets assigned to me. Often it’s work that isn’t due for a week or more and that I’m saving for slower times. I’m coming in in the mornings and finding that you already did up to half of the work I planned to do that day, which is really impacting my ability to manage my workload. So if there are tickets assigned to me, can you leave them for me? I’d really appreciate it.”

Of course, that may not work — it sounds like there’s a fundamental problem here with the staffing levels — but it’s a reasonable thing to say and it may help. More broadly, though, if your team is double the size needed for the work, I’d worry about your longer-term job security (and I’d worry that this situation with Jane may be the thing that brings the problem to light for your boss), and so it might be smart to think about whether you want to lay the groundwork for a job search too.

3. My position isn’t mentioned in a job posting for my boss

I work for as a development associate for a nonprofit. I report to the junior development director and the senior development director. The senior director was just fired and she was the one who hired me (around six months ago). The junior director is in the midst of transferring positions within the organization. I found the job posting for the junior posting and it mentions overseeing every member of my six-person department except my position. Two of those positions have been added recently (created and hired six months ago), while I believe my position has existed for quite some time. Should I be concerned that this may allude to plans to eliminate my position or that I’m going to be fired?

It’s possible that it was just an oversight, which wouldn’t be surprising given the amount of turmoil that it sounds like they have there right now, but it’s also possible that it wasn’t. The best thing you can do is to ask your boss (even though she’s in the process of moving positions). Say this: “I noticed that in the ad for your replacement, it mentions the person will manage each of the positions on our team except for mine. Do you know if there are other plans for my position?”

If they do plan to eliminate your job and haven’t told you that yet, she’s not likely to tell you just because you ask (the timing of that is usually strictly controlled). But you’ll probably learn something by asking the question and hearing her reaction. She may instantly tell you she noticed that too and was kicking herself for forgetting it in the job description, or that you’re actually going to be reporting to someone else on the team, or who knows. Or she may stammer and look nervous, which would be its own kind of information.

Read an update to this letter here.

4. I’m getting business emails from a company I don’t work for

I’ve been in the job hunt for a while now, and I’ve applied for a couple of positions at a local company. While I haven’t gotten a reply to my applications, something odd has happened a couple of times: I’ve been getting business correspondence from the people who work there. It’s never anything compromising — it seems to be back-and-forth emails about making travel plans — and I think what’s happening is that one of the parties involved has a name similar enough to mine that when someone types in the first few letters of their name, I accidentally jump ahead of them in their contacts list.

Should I jump in and tell them? Up until now, I’ve been ignoring these when they pop up because I didn’t want my first interaction with these people to be pointing out one of them making a mistake (that just screams “bad first impression”). However, it occurs to me that even though it hasn’t been anything serious yet, there’s no guarantee that it won’t be later, not to mention if these emails are getting sent to me, it’s possibly they’re not going to who they’re supposed to. Should I say something or just let them work it out on their own?

Say something! You’re not going to make a bad impression by politely alerting them that you’re receiving emails they didn’t intend for you. You will make a bad impression if you apply in the future, they search for previous correspondence with you, and a bunch of misdirected emails pop up that you never said anything about.

So: “I think you intended this for a different Jane! Wanted to alert you so that it gets to the right person.”

5. Job applications through Facebook

We are hiring for an entry-level position. It’s pretty much intended for someone’s first job — the pay is low, but the benefits are good, and it’s a foot in the door of a university that does have lots of good jobs (a lot of the better-paying jobs require that someone have worked at the university). In other words, we’re working with applicants who aren’t very experienced at job-hunting.

We posted a link/ad for the job on Facebook, and didn’t realize that Facebook makes it look as though you can apply directly through them! There is a button says “Apply Now,” and it takes people to a form that they can fill out. Facebook says it is sending on the application. We didn’t know that (the receptionist who left wasn’t checking Facebook in the last week), so I just found out today that there are people who submitted applications that way.

The job has closed, and we were about to start interviewing. I think we owe it to people who applied via Facebook to consider their applications. It might mean we would have to open the job again; I’m fairly sure the U does require that applicants use their portal for job applications. Other people on the hiring team think that the applicants were “boneheads” for not applying for a job through the proper channels.

If you posted an ad on Facebook, people were not boneheads for thinking that the “apply now” button was in fact a place where they could apply now. The people on your hiring team who think otherwise are being really unfair with that assumption; they’re bringing their own internal knowledge to it (“we only accept applications through our official job portal!”) and assuming outside candidates will know that, which they can’t.

That said, you’re not obligated to consider the applicants who came to you through Facebook; you’re never obligated to consider any particular group of candidates (as long as you’re not discriminating based on race, sex, religion, disability, etc.). It would be a courtesy to do that since they spent time applying, but you don’t have to. If you’re very happy with the candidates you already have, you could decide to stick with them. But I think you’d be doing yourselves a disservice by not at least looking through those candidates to see if there’s anyone you want to invite to apply through your portal. The difference between an okay person in the job and a great person in the job is a significant one, and I’d hate for you to overlook a potentially great candidate on principle.

{ 299 comments… read them below }

  1. Engineer Girl*

    #2 – Find another job **now**. The writing is on the wall. Your manager will do what must be done to keep Jane.
    A sure sign of an impending layoff is no work.

    1. Cambridge Comma*

      If the manager wanted Jane to do all the work, perhaps she would be assigning these tasks to Jane, but they are assigned to the OP. My guess is that Jane is afraid to have downtime when she is working from home becuase of the appearance of being at home and not actually working and so is doing OP’s tasks because there isn’t enough work to go around.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I wondered about the second shift aspect. Is it that Jane moved to Hawaii for family reasons, the firm is on the east coast, and the 6 hour time difference translates into normal work hours being like a second shift? Or is it that she moved for a job, but does her old job once she gets home in the evening? That second option doesn’t seem tenable for long.

      2. Turquoisecow*

        I’m thinking Jane has some metric of completed tasks that’s pretty much impossible to complete since there’s so little work, so she’s taking OP’s assignments as well. Since she’s working remotely, she’s held to this metric that the in-house workers are not. I wouldn’t be surprised if Jane was taking other people’s work as well.

        Either way, the situation will probably blow up soon. OP can either stay quiet and continue to not really work, or she can bring the attention to her boss and risk being let go. If she’s not the best person on the team, or has the most seniority, her position might be eliminated. In any case, the company will eventually figure out that they have too many employees.

        1. Ego Chamber*

          “I wouldn’t be surprised if Jane was taking other people’s work as well.”

          Agreeing pretty hard with this. I’m wondering how this overstaffing happened, and why it’s continued, considering all the jobs I’ve worked that were intentionally understaffed.

          Personally, I would probably take it to my manager in a “how do we solve this?” kind of tone, to find out whether maybe a lot of downtime is expected (somehow? I dunno?), or if it’s better to get out ahead of the coming layoffs. I don’t want to doubt the OP, but if this is how the roles are set up, maybe that’s on purpose.

    2. Princess Cimorene*

      2. My coworker is doing my work, but it’s not her fault

      Is Jane possibly grabbing the work because she is doing second shift remote work, so she is getting the tickets that came in later in the day that you normally wouldn’t see until morning or wouldn’t begin on until morning. It sounds to me like the timing of her shift conflicts with everyone elses and so she is seeing tickets first or unfinished tickets from the day before and doesn’t have anything else to do.

      I don’t think it means you’re being pushed out or about to be laid off as suggested above, although, with minimal amount of work spread among so many people it is possible that they could eventually do some trimming so I would definitely stay on my toes about that.

      But I think first you should just chat Jane up and see if she is grabbing that work because there isn’t anything left over when she starts her shift after you all have done everything in the morning and so she is grabbing the new tickets…

      1. Engineer Girl*

        I didn’t say pushed out. But if there isn’t enough work then a layoff **is** coming for someone. Companies work for profit and too many workers is waste.
        Considering how long it takes to find jobs these days it’s better to be ahead of the game.

        1. Cambridge Comma*

          You could well be right, but I can also imagine some jobs where there needs to be a certain capacity at peak times but many other times are slow. OP will know whether that’s the case for her.

        2. Jessen*

          Depends on the job. My job, there’s times when those of us staffed can barely keep up with the workload, and there’s times when we goof off for most of the shift due to lack of work. But the company has to keep enough people that we can manage when we get hit hard and have coverage even if someone is sick.

    3. Lil Fidget*

      It definitely seemed odd to me that, though the manager should have noticed they’re overstaffed, they went *out of their way* to hold on to an outgoing person. I suppose if it’s like the government, they may need to hold the space or risk losing it out of the budget forever, but … something seems weird about that.

      1. Hmmmmm*

        I’m assuming it is one of those industries with ebbs and flows. They keep too many people on staff to cover the times when s hits the f, but don’t really need that much coverage all the time. It seems like they could have solved their problem by allowing Jane to go part time as a contractor or consultant. They are already doing right by her by allowing her to go remote, but only giving her full time hours when the work dictates it would save time and money without losing her as a resource.

    4. Long Time Reader First Time Poster*

      I couldn’t agree more about starting an immediate job search. There’s not enough work and eventually someone will be let go. This is a screaming red flag.

  2. Engineer Girl*

    #1 – You can’t know you’re in a dream job until you’ve been at it for at least a year. Even then there are days when you want to flush it down the toilet.
    People who are applying to “dream jobs” are naive. That said, you can apply for an exciting opportunity. And some jobs really are awesome.

    1. Becky*

      What popped into my head was this lyric from Into the Woods
      “But how can you know what you want till you get what you want and you see if you like it?”

      I don’t even know what my “dream job” would be. There are things I think I would enjoy doing as a job, but I don’t actually know how I would actually like doing them as a job day in, day out.

    2. The New Wanderer*

      If you’re looking for all aspects of a job to be perfect, then you do need to spend time working in that job and experiencing the environment, coworkers, management, etc.

      But I recently applied for my “dream job”and the initial phone screen gave me more info that added to the dreamy qualities of the job. It’s described as the exact type of work I want to do, with the right level of oversight and support and flexibility, on a topic I’m fascinated by. That’s a lot closer to perfection than my other options, and if I still had my previous job I would leave it for this one. Sure, plenty of things could be true about it that would totally ruin the job for me. But to me, not having experienced the day-to-day yet (or maybe ever), that still qualifies it as a “dream job.”

      1. Engineer Girl*

        I’ve been on jobs that seemed perfect at the start. Then you get a new manager or they hire a Machiavellian jerk and all of a sudden it isn’t fun anymore.
        Conversely I found an “OK” assignment turned into one of my favorite jobs ever. They trusted me, the people were great, worked together, and together we acheived several “firsts” in the industry as well as winning awards. I had an amazing amount of responsibility and support. And it was fun to boot.
        And please note that in both examples it wasn’t about the work assignments as much as the people I worked with. You can’t tell that from a job description.

        1. Bookworm*

          Right, that’s the other issue with ‘dream jobs’ – the concept ignores the fact that jobs aren’t static.

          They can start out wonderful, and then management can change and it can go downhill. Or they can start out just OK and turn great. It depends on so many other factors that are constantly in flux.

        2. MCMonkeyBean*

          I have never thought of “dream job” and “favorite job ever” as similar things. To me a dream job can *only* be a dream job before you get it. Because once you get it, it’s not something you’re dreaming about anymore. It is a fantasy, it’s right there in the title. Something is a “dream job” if you read about it and it sounds like exactly the type of job you would create for yourself if you had the opportunity. Then once you actually have the job and interact with people you find out how much you actually like working there, which is a different thing.

        3. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

          This is so true. For the first year of my current position it really was my dream job, until the company decided to reclassify my job as hourly exempt. I lost most of my flexibility, I don’t have paid sick days anymore, and I’m no longer allowed to eat lunch at my desk. I love the work I do, my boss, my clients and my co-workers, but I’d leave for a salaried position in a hot minute if the opportunity presented itsef.

        4. Tuxedo Cat*

          Yeah, that was a job I had in the recent past. In a small office with a lot of overturn (nature of the work, not symptomatic of the office itself), it can happen so easily.

          My work experience has been that while there are clearly tasks that I prefer over others, the people around you make such a huge difference. A dream job can become a nightmare if you’re working for and with hellish people.

        5. Dan*

          I went to grad school with the intention of breaking into a certain industry. Upon graduation, I find a job ad in my industry that looks like it was copy/pasted from my resume. “Awesome” I think. I get a call for an interview, and get invited on site. They fly me out.

          And then… everybody I interviewed with seemed like a robot with no personality. My first thought was, “I’m *excited* to be here, and everybody else looks like they’d rather be elsewhere. This is going to suck.” Never mind that the pay sucked ass too. They strung me along for a couple of months and ultimately rejected me. Believe it or not, I was actually happy to be rejected from my “dream job”. (This was 2008 in the middle of the recession. I knew I didn’t want to take this job, but it was my first interview outside of grad school. I didn’t want to turn it down just to find out that nothing else was out there.)

        6. Pomona Sprout*

          Oh, yeah, I had the experience of having a job I thought was my “dream job” completely ruined by a change of management. It was a nightmare.

          Then there was the job that wasn’t my dream job but was pretty okay until the dept. head left and was replaced by someone with totally different priorities, etc. AND the one where my hours and job duties suddenly changed completely due to a coworker leaving and 2 of us being assigned to take over his duties. All 3 of those situations suuuuucked.

          You just never know how a job is going to turn out or how much it can change, until it happens.

        7. Cercis*

          Yeah, I had a job that was my dream job. I was so happy I willingly woke up at 6am every day. I was excited to wake up and drive to work – even though it was an hour drive mostly in bumper to bumper traffic.

          Then I got the boss from hell. It took less than a month for that job to become a nightmare. By 2 months into her reign, I struggled to get up every morning. I struggled to do the things I used to enjoy. And I gained 20 lbs that first year. I was gone before she’d been there 15 months, I was in therapy by the year mark (and needed it sooner).

      2. Mookie*

        That’s how I think of it, as well. Often it’s a “dream” in the sense that it unexpectedly hits all of your present needs, interests, and salary, rather than that it is without flaw and forevermore a superlative position you’ll never see the likes of again; labeling it that doesn’t preclude it ending up shit in the long-run — many seemingly perfect things do and nearly everyone is aware of that– but purging the word from your internal-voice lexicon isn’t always necessary. Sometimes it’s a useful exercise, approaching interviews for a job that seems perfect while armed with a very clear set of conditions you’d need met, long- and short-term, in order to accept an offer. Sure, write down all the ways in which this job matches all your current criteria if the listing were one-hundred percent accurate and without omission, but also ponder what factors or conditions could be dealbreakers, and refer to both when evaluating the company you’re applying to or interviewing with. Doing so can help mitigate against being blinded by your own enthusiasm to the extent that you miss obvious redflags.

        1. CM*

          Absolutely. The most valuable career advice I got was actually to always be thinking about what my “dream job” is and how I can position myself for it, even if it’s way off in the future. In that sense, it’s a valuable concept that helps you identify what you really want and need in a job, and what’s out there that might match. I also find that it helps me to be satisfied in my current job if I remind myself what my “dream job” priorities and values are and how this job meets them. But if you actually expect the real-life job to be 100% dreamy once you get it, or feel entitled to it because it’s your dream, that’s not realistic.

      3. Dust Bunny*

        Mine is about as close to a dream job as I’m likely to get in real life. It’s not perfect–I wish it paid quite a bit more–but I mostly like the work, my department is awesome, and my overall employer is sane and reasonable. It doesn’t look that exciting on paper, though. I can’t imagine anyone applying for it thinking it was their dream job.

      4. MillersSpring*

        I agree with this summary. If you’ve only been a Tea Server, then Teapot Painter might feel like a dream job. A few years later, Chief of Teapot Design at one of the larger teapot manufacturers would indeed be a “dream job.” And if you get it after many years of perseverance, it feels like a HUGE accomplishment. You’re here! You’ve arrived! (Of course, any job can have challenges or even politics.)

        I feel like “dream job” can be as much an aspiration as a delusion.

      5. Stranger than fiction*

        Right. In your dreams, so far it’s perfect.
        I’ve told the cautionary tale here before about my bf’s dream job. A few years ago he got hired at a software company in our area everyone was scrambling to work at. A stsrtup that’s since got its IPO and was recently purchased by verizon. But working there was hell and he quit on the spot after 7 months. Pay was soso but horrible when you factor in working 70 hours a week, getting bait and switched into working two different full time roles and having a tyrant for a boss. Just sayin. They have a lot of turnover and glass door reviews to back this up but also a busy PR team that posts positive revenue for every negative one to try and cover it up. I realize this isn’t always the case but he had no indications during interviews.

    3. CityMouse*

      I think anyone who has read this blog or done some hiring may have a slightly dirty lens on that term as well because you see it from LWs or applicants who seem too attached to a potential job and get upset when it doesn’t work out for them. “This is my dream job”. Okay?

      I also think I am also coming personally to this concept of personal fulfillment outside of work. I love my job but I get bored eventually, but unrealized trying to fill that boredom with taking on unnecessary hard tasks at work at my job wasn’t a healthy way of coping. Boredom could be a symptom of needing to find activities outside of work. Even at a “dream job”.

      1. Engineer Girl*

        You shouldn’t expect a job to tick all the boxes any more than you expect your S.O. To fulfill all your emotional needs. It just isn’t possible.
        Jobs can be boring. But you can also looknfo ways to make the job less boring, such as mastering it or even improving it. But some days are just dull!
        Fulfillment can come from volunteering, using your job money to support charitable causes, improving others on your team, etc.
        One big mistake I see is expecting the job to fulfill all your dreams. Ain’t gonna happen.

        1. CityMouse*

          Yep. I was bored after a few years at work and took in a work project that are up a lot if time and it made me unhappy. Then after that work project ended and I was back to my flexible hours I took up trumpet and jazz band again, something I had let slide since college and I found that In was no longer bored at work.

      2. Dan*

        What people learn with a little experience is that 1) Nobody can write a good job ad. There’s what the ad *says* and then there’s what they really want. Not that they’re two different things, but if you memorize every word in the ad and create this utopia in your mind, you’ve screwed up.

        2) People talk of “dream companies” or whatever. At least in my line of work, the “company” only determines benefits package, and if it’s large enough, standardized pay scales. Your business unit/department/boss/team determine what your daily life is like. I work for a top 100 company, and recently transferred departments because my boss sucked. Great company, but sucky boss? Not so great.

    4. Djuna*

      This is so true.

      I was laid off from my dream job, and considered myself lucky to ever have had the chance to do it. I went back to work at the same company a little over a year later, in a different role, and worked my way back into my dream job again. I still love it.

      I mean, like anything else, it can be nightmarish sometimes (aaaagh! flush it!), but those times are easier to recover from than in any other job I’ve had.

      I know there are people who think my job is a dream too, but they tend to have pre-conceptions about what it is, and what it isn’t. I’ve had people shadow me and go from all starry-eyed and excited to wide-eyed and tentative the more they find out about what I do all day. My favorite ever was the dude who asked me “Who tells you what to write?” and then gawped at me when I answered him with “No-one.” I think he thought I got paid to copy-paste stuff all day? I mean, if that’s his dream, that’s fine, but it would be my nightmare.

    5. TL -*

      I had a job that was pretty much a dream job. It wasn’t perfect and I wasn’t perfect (sadly) but it was an absolutely fantastic, super positive experience and it very much gave me tools for success in the future.

      1. Samata*

        This is how I feel about my job now. I worked really hard to get here and got here much more quickly that anticipated. I’m not perfect and it’s not perfect but I love writing and research and creating collateral, I enjoy data analysis and reporting, but I also enjoy presenting and working with others to help them find success in their goals.
        I work in a 2 person department but have contact with people daily – which translates nicely to almost non-existant drama but not isolation. I have a lot of autonomy but never feel unsupported if I need to reach out.

        I couldn’t write a more perfect scenario for a job – it is actually a great balance of all the things that were missing before. It’s been just over 3 years and I like it more the longer I am here. I tell people all the time I have my dream job – it’s exactly what I had been hoping for and it delivered.

    6. Lizabeth*

      I don’t think there is a “dream job” UNLESS you are working for yourself. Which I want to do but I still have to figure out what I want to do!

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        Not sure why self-employment would be exempt from the principle that dream jobs don’t exist. When you’re working for yourself, you have to deal with every aspect of it whether you like it or not — including the things like taxes, regulations, advertising, and all the other grungy minutiae.

        1. Mpls*

          +1 – working for myself is my nightmare, not my dream. I know myself well enough to know that situation just wouldn’t work.

          1. JulieBulie*

            Right. I’m sure it works great for some people, but I hate being my own boss. It’s the worst boss/employee relationship ever.

        2. Alton*

          I think a lot of work-for-yourself jobs can also be very high-pressure, which can be its own issue. If you do freelance/contract work, it can be a lot of work to find clients and do enough work to make a living. And you’re subject to any challenges that come with your field, like annual rushes/droughts, annoying customers, etc.

      2. BPT*

        I think you’re probably saying this under the idea that if you work for yourself, you always get to pick the work you want to do and you won’t ever have to answer to a bad boss, etc.

        The problem is, working for yourself means you have to do the not-fun work that can often be delegated to other people in a normal working environment. Taxes, admin work, etc. Plus, even if you’re working for yourself, you can still be a bad boss. You can miscalculate things and fail to deliver on projects. You can decide to pay yourself when the company can’t afford it. You can make the mistake of doing business with family/friends and have those go south.

        There isn’t anything that suggests that working for yourself is more of a “dream job” in general than working for other people. For me, it’s my dream to never have to work for myself.

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      To me, ‘dream’ implies that its amorphous and you don’t know a lot about it, and that’s how it’s usually used–for jobs you don’t have. ‘Dream’ also gets applied to ‘house’ and ‘vacation.’ But the last two are things over which you have more active control, if it turns out they could become reality, whereas I think people feel far more at the mercy of job listings.

      (I know someone who was able to buy her dream house after her husband hit the startup lottery, and once she was living in it it downsides became apparent. Not in the disastrous sense, but that dreams usually look better when they are safely in the realm of fantasy, and clean themselves.)

      1. Lil Fidget*

        It’s true, the very fact that something is a “dream” implies that you don’t know much about how it works in the real world. That’s exactly why prospective employees need to be clear-headed and not ridiculous about their “dream” jobs!

    8. ThatGirl*

      My last job was never what I would have called a “dream” job because it was not an industry that excited me, but the pay was reasonable, my boss and team were great, I had a LOT of schedule flexibility and pretty good benefits, and was able to work from home part time. So it settled into a pretty good job.

      My current job is closer to what I would have said a “dream” job is in that I was very excited to work for the company, the commute is short, benefits are good, etc. But so much depends on other little factors for me – my manager and team, corporate culture and perks, etc., etc. I’m not sure there is a “dream job” out there, but I’m learning a lot more about what I consider my ideal job. :)

    9. M is for Mulder*

      “Dream job” is a sliding scale. There were times in my life in which a job was a “dream job” because it would let me feed myself and afford my prescriptions.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        So true. When I was recovering from burnout, the job where I filed and shredded paperwork all day in a room by myself was utter bliss. It would not be that now.

    10. JulieBulie*

      This topic is very interesting to me. I have used the term “dream job” before. It didn’t mean that I thought it would be perfect; I knew very well that it could end up being a dud or even a nightmare. But the point was, with the information I had, it appeared to have all of the qualities I wanted in a new job. Hell, it even had good qualities that I hadn’t dared dream of.

      It turned out to be a weird, dysfunctional, mean girls mess, and the company itself went down the tubes not long after I was included in the second round of RIFs after I’d been there for just a year and a half. But I still sometimes call it my “dream job” because in spite of everything, I liked working there and I liked the work I was doing, and didn’t care that much about the stuff that sucked, until the layoff. (And even with the layoff, it was still better than the place I had left to work there, as well as my next three employers.)

      If someone says “dream job” meaning that they sincerely expect it to be dreamy, lounging around on silk cushions while an attendant brings champagne and pastries around on a cart, then yeah they’re being silly. But – and maybe I’m just assuming that everyone else thinks the way I do – I usually take “dream job” to mean “this appears to be the greatest job I can possibly imagine.” Not “omg this will be perfect and I will work there in total bliss forever and ever.”

    11. FiveWheels*

      I love my job. Hours are too long, money is too little, stress is too high, but I love the work and most of the time I get on very well with my colleagues and would still come in if I won the lottery.

      And every six months or so I plan my escape because things come to a head and I JUST CAN’T EVEN and then a week later I’m fine and can’t imagine wanting to leave. The point is, even a job you LOVE can be murder-inducing at times.

    12. Red*

      It’s funny you should say that because I was just coming here to say;
      I didn’t know this job would be my dream job until after I started working here and discovered just how happy I am.

    13. TrainerGirl*

      ITA. I was laid off last month, and managed to land a new job that I would consider a great opportunity but even though I was very excited after the interview (I’d interviewed for the job 4 years ago and wasn’t selected), I wouldn’t say it’s my “dream” job. I was lucky…I had two job offers and was able to accept the one I really wanted but I also have worked in the field before and know that there’s always some drawbacks. As long as you’re not ignoring potential red flags while chasing the “dream”, you should be fine.

    14. Amber Duncan*

      Honestly, I think it also depends on if you’re realistic in what defines a “dream job” for you. Mine, for example, is to work in a bookstore. Doesn’t have to have perfect coworkers, bosses, customers, or situations, I just want to be surrounded by books all day long, maybe get to see and meet a few authors I’ve not yet gotten to read something by.

      In my personal view, that’s a realistic dream job. I’ll have sucky customers once in a while, probably a boss I butt heads with once or twice, probably a coworker I don’t like but force myself to work with, and going in knowing all of that probably means that the good things I’m not expecting will make my small expectations that much better in the long run.

  3. Rich*

    OP #5–I think your hiring team needs to look through the applicants from Facebook. While not obligated to do so, the team would be really unfair and, well, crappy. If your team does not know how to use Facebook correctly, they need to reevaluate who the “boneheads” are in this situation, as they made the ad and nobody bothered to check their work.

    Just my own two cents, but amazing candidates can come from anywhere and surprise you, even if they were rather unorthodox in the traditional method of applying.

    1. Princess Cimorene*

      It’s also almost 2018, social media is a huge factor in nearly everyone’s daily lives in some way or another. It just wouldn’t seem bizarre to apply for a job through a social channel at this point in time. It just seems like another efficient way to get your posting out to people and that people can apply once they find the posting.

      Anyone who is stuck behind antiquated ideas about the validity of doing things, including hiring, via social media sounds like the bonehead.

    2. Myrin*

      Seriously, did no one on that team think to actually go to their Facebook site and check what the ad looks like to an outsider? This was a very preventable problem.

      1. Samata*

        This was my question – I am sure there was an opportunity to test or find out more information about how it works before pulling the trigger!

        But OP, since it’s too late to go back and do the due diligence I would say you should work hard to convince your colleagues to consider these applicants. If you are targeting a young, unexperienced crowd then you also have to realize that social media is going to be a big part of their lives, they saw a job ad that said “APPLY NOW” and followed instructions as far as they knew them, and even if it might seem odd to someone who has been in the workforce awhile, you say yourself these people are true entry level.

        And, in the future, I hope your hiring practices improve. If they don’t want to deal with Facebook applications they really shouldn’t use that avenue as an application tool.

        1. Ego Chamber*

          “they saw a job ad that said “APPLY NOW” and followed instructions as far as they knew them,”

          Exactly. Regardless of whether there were other instructions in the ad itself about how to apply (I’m assuming this is why some of OP’s colleagues are complaining—if there were no other application instructions, their colleagues are being extra difficult), putting a big APPLY HERE button signals that’s another acceptable way to apply.

          Example: I am looking for a job. I am on Indeed nearly every day. A lot of the jobs I apply for would be acceptable but not ideal (low pay, entry level, kind of like how OP describes the job they’re hiring for). These are jobs that I usually won’t get a call about because I’m “overqualified,” so if they have overly-complicated, fiddly instructions, but they also have an APPLY button, I just click the button. I prefer not to waste my time going through the seven circles of Taleo for something like that, even though I would be good at the work and willing to stay for years, unless I know my application will be looked at by someone besides the Taleo bots.

      2. 2 Cents*

        You often can’t see the ads Facebook runs for your own site, unless you go through Facebook’s ad manager in the backend (so you’d need a login, access, etc.).

      3. OP*

        OP here: no. The person who was responsible for doing that (and for checking Facebook messages) completely flaked.

        That’s one of the reasons I thought we were obligated to look at the apps.

    3. Mallory Janis Ian*

      But they can’t be boneheads! They’re professors, and as such are by definition precluded from ever being boneheads. /sarcasm

      1. AES*

        Nowhere does it say they’re professors. Professors likely would not be on the hiring committee for an entry-level position with mobility within the university. So if you could save the ivory-tower stereotyping that would be great. A lot of faculty ARE boneheads. But having sat on any number of non-academic-position hiring committees at my university, it’s far likelier that HR are the boneheads than that faculty are.

        1. OP*

          Um, it was the prof in the crowd who wanted to look at the Facebook applications–it was the staff who was opposed.

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Basically, this would be like posting an ad saying “Apply online!”, with a link to an online application form, and then only accepting paper resumes sent in the mail. Hey, if a company advertises a way to apply online, I’m going to use it, because I’m not fond of the dead-tree format, I only use it if it’s specifically mentioned in the ad as required or preferred.

    5. OP*

      OP here: just to be clear, there was never any intention of posting a job ad on FB–the intention was to post a link to the real job ad. On organization pages, however, things post differently from how they post on a personal page.

      Yeah, the big glitch was that the receptionist really flaked in the last week on the job–wasn’t checking in on social media of any kind at all (part of their job). There are reasons (family health issues), so not a bad person, but, well, that’s water under the bridge. (And raises a different question about what we say when we’re called as references.)

      If you do “apply” via FB, it’s clearly not a normal application–there’s a lot of stuff missing. So, I do think that they’re pretty clearly inexperienced/uninformed about job hunting because someone more experienced and better informed would have all sorts of alarms go off and then make direct contact (or go to the U jobs page). But that’s different from “boneheaded.” It’s an entry-level position; of course we’re likely to get inexperienced and uninformed people!

      1. Liz2*

        I object to someone being inexperienced or uninformed-there’s no universal online job applications. You get everywhere from “load in your resume and then type in every job that’s on the resume separately plus a paragraph about your experience and desires” to “show us your profile and basic history and then we’ll get back to you.”

        I get this was just a weird situation that you didn’t know what you didn’t know- but now you know and it’s not their lack of experience which caused them to believe by clicking an “Apply Now” and following the instructions given that they weren’t applying!

        1. Lance*

          Agreed; there are lots of job application forms and requirements out there, so depending on the contents of this one, it wouldn’t necessarily flag anything in most people’s minds. The prime exception being if the job posting specifically stated how they wanted an applicant to apply, which it doesn’t sound like was the case here.

        2. Ego Chamber*

          Also agreeing with this. (And now I’m getting paranoid about whether strangers who’ve posted a job on Indeed but weren’t aware of what the APPLY NOW button was going to send them might be judging me for being inexperienced and uniformed.)

          The thing is, I can’t really understand why Facebook would spontaneously add an APPLY NOW button to a post that linked to a job ad without someone doing that somehow—it just seems like a really weird feature, you know? And no one read the post after it posted to make sure it looked the way it was supposed to?

      2. Mike C.*

        Whoa, this isn’t cool. How exactly is it “clearly not a normal application” if someone isn’t used to applying for jobs at your org? Given the crazy sorts of hoops job hunters are expected to go through, how can you make the judgement that “it would have set off alarms” and would have lead to further investigation? Why are you expecting job hunters to make direct contact when numerous pieces have been written about how making direct contact is questionable at best and gets you disqualified at worst?

        Again, you’re using insider information that people outside the organization wouldn’t have to make judgements against them. Don’t do that. Reexamine your hiring and diversity policies and seek out advice from other groups. If you just wing it you’re taking serious risks.

        1. k.k*

          Totally agree. I’m not new to the workforce and have experience both applying and hiring. I’m also currently job hunting, and I can tell you that there is a huge variety of application processes. Looking at very similar jobs at very similar organizations, one may just want a resume and brief cover letter, and the next wants you to fill out a big form and attached writing samples, references, etc. I may do a double check if a listing is on a third party site like indeed, but if it’s directly on the company’s social media (something they should have complete control over), I assume that it is the correct process.

        2. JN*

          Exactly. I spent the past 14 months searching and applying for jobs (just accepted a new one that I’ll start mid-November). Some application platforms let me upload my resume and then pulled the information from that to populate the application form fields. Other platforms let me upload documents and then I still had to manually enter all that same information into the form fields. In other cases, there really wasn’t much if any of an “application form”, just submitting the letter, resume, and references. So there is no one standard for online applications.

      3. Tuxedo Cat*

        Without knowing what happens when someone applied via Facebook, it’s tough to say whether they’re that inexperienced. I’ve applied to companies where you can apply just using LinkedIn. With how Facebook has merged so much for people’s professional worlds, it wouldn’t be terribly surprising if people were confused.

        Facebook itself relies on Facebook profiles for their own jobs. There is very little you can add to the application and much of what you can add is optional.

      4. PizzaDog*

        I suppose. Or they just think that that’s how this company in particular posted their job ad.

        I’m sure you know what was missing from the job ad that might make it look weird to an experienced applicant – but it could also be that there wasn’t anything glaring missing.

        Missing slot for a name? Weird. Missing slot for volunteer experience? Understandable.

      5. Corey*

        What the hell? No. They trusted you as an authority on how to apply for the job because it was your own job posting and they had no reason to distrust you yet!

      6. ThursdaysGeek*

        But, they did apply, and within the time constraints of when the job was open. You have less information, but it seems like you could consider their applications, and without re-opening the job. For those that look promising, they simply* have to fill out the full application now, and if they still look promising, they’re with the rest of the group to be interviewed.

        *It may not be that simple, depending on your application and processes.

        1. OP*

          OP again. I clicked through as though I was applying, and it’s hard to describe just how lame the outcome is. It would send red flags to anyone who had applied for a lot of jobs.

          I think that’s important to understand because it means that precisely the people who are mostly likely to need additional help are least likely to get it.

          Basically, here are the sad things I have learned through this experience:

          1) The link is elsewhere in this thread, but Alison was absolutely dead-on to recommend that people think twice before using the Facebook app process–I’d be even stronger in recommending people just not use it at all.
          2) Make sure it doesn’t inadvertently get activated.
          3) Entry-level jobs get applications from people who are inexperienced at searching for jobs. D’oh. That doesn’t mean they’re stupid or hopeless (or “boneheaded”)–it means that people hiring should expect to have especially transparent processes.
          4) Even the applications submitted through the normal process had lots of people who made all the mistakes that AAM talks about (generic cover letters, cover letters that are just the full-sentence version of the resume, no mention of the specific job, misspellings). That doesn’t mean those people are bad at following directions–considering all the advice out there that says you should do those things, they probably *are* following directions. And the people with typos are probably the ones who are following the advice to apply for a hundred jobs a day.
          5) Given all that, sheesh, we should have a lot of compassion for people who apply for entry-level jobs and maybe don’t do things exactly as we want. They aren’t bad or stupid–they’re just new to the task and probably not getting great advice.
          6) So, next time we hire entry-level, we’ll try to find a way to point people toward more advice about applying. And I did (and will) push back on the “boneheaded” talk. I’m glad that people here found that talk as irritating as I did.

          1. Ramona Flowers*

            Yes it would send red flags – about the platform you used. But that doesn’t change the fact that you were using it!

          2. oranges & lemons*

            I wouldn’t say that I’ve applied for a huge number of jobs, but I think that if I encountered a particularly bad application process, I would probably just assume that the employer wasn’t great at hiring, unless I had applied for that organization before. I’ve seen some pretty nonsensical application processes before. So I wouldn’t necessarily assume that everyone who got caught by the Facebook app was really inexperienced.

          3. Elizabeth H.*

            I get what you mean here and I’m not sure why so many other people are sticking to it on principle. If I saw a job application via Facebook, I would instantly be suspicious and check out to see if there is a more legitimate way to apply to the job somehow else or even if the job actually exists. I don’t doubt that the Facebook application is super lame and sketchy. It seems like from a moral standpoint, it would be very fair to consider the Facebook applicants. But I also can understand it reflecting on someone that the lame Facebook-branded generic “application” didn’t throw up red flags.

      7. Jessie the First (or second)*

        ” just to be clear, there was never any intention of posting a job ad on FB–the intention was to post a link to the real job ad. ”

        Fine – except you *did* in fact post a job ad on FB, and this job ad *did* in fact invite applicants to apply using the FB button. The mistake was on your organization’s end, not the applicants’. You posted somewhere and included an “apply now” button, and so people used the “apply now” button. You don’t get to mess up your own job ad and then blame the applicants for your mistake (the general “you” of the university/receptionist/whoever posted and neglected the ad, not you personally). It’s really obnoxious and frankly flat-out wrong of your team to be calling applicants *who followed the directions in your own posted ad* boneheads.

        “If you do “apply” via FB, it’s clearly not a normal application–there’s a lot of stuff missing. So, I do think that they’re pretty clearly inexperienced/uninformed about job hunting ”

        To echo others here, jobs vary widely in what they require on application. I’ve had some full-on applications, and some “send a resume/link a profile and a cover letter” requests. Only people already working at your org know what your org requires. It’s not inexperience that would lead external candidates to have no idea what your org’s norms are; it is the nature of being an external candidate.

        Review them or not, as you want. But they applied on time according to the directions in the ad, and you may be missing out on a good candidate. If your goal is a warm body, don’t review their applications. If your goal is to get the best fit for the role, review them all.

        1. OP*

          OP: Um, I’m not sure why you’ve posted this with so much hostility to me? Especially since you’re making *my* argument? That we should review the applicants, and that it was our glitch?

          In the interim between sending the question to AAM and it getting posted, I had already come to the conclusion that I would base my actions on the basis of the apps. If I thought any of them had a chance, I was willing to raise heaven and earth to get them considered. None did.

          I know that there are lots of different ways of applying for jobs–but, really, if you look at what gets generated by Facebook, you’ll see what I mean (and what I think Alison meant about her concerns about FB job apps). But none of this is to blame them–it’s all in service of saying that I think it’s unreasonable to have an entry-level job and then expect no one but very experienced people would apply! (Or that you would not consider people with very little experience job-hunting.)

          The really big part of the glitch was that the receptionist wasn’t checking Facebook mail, so we didn’t even know anyone had applied–had we known that, we could have straightened some things out.

          1. Ego Chamber*

            The hostility you’re reading into Jessie’s post may have to do with the way your own posts are full of defensiveness, blame-shifting, and, frankly, the sense that you’re intentionally ignoring all of the valid points being made, since you keep reiterating your original points as if other commenters simply didn’t read what you wrote the first time.

            I’m not trying to be unkind, but the impression I have of you and how your university has handled this process is probably very different from how you intended to portray things, and I think that’s worth thinking about before attacking regular commenters for statements you’ve interpreting as hostile.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Wow, I’m not reading it that way at all. I think the OP has been remarkably gracious in the face of commenters who have been attacking her for decisions that weren’t hers and which she’s pushing back against.

              1. OP*

                Yeah, there’s a kind of irony here.

                I’m the one saying we should look at the Facebook apps (which I did), and that people who applied that way shouldn’t be characterized as boneheaded. I think that, if you have an entry-level job, you shouldn’t reject people who are behaving as though they’re applying for their first job.

                A person who read the Facebook “post” carefully would have followed the correct procedure. All of this only applied to people who didn’t read very carefully. But, my point was that you can’t expect uninformed and inexperienced people to read that carefully, and, with an entry-level job, you’ll get people like that.

                I didn’t ignore the valid points about why we should consider those apps–I *made* those points.

                So, a lot of people who, to be blunt, were really sloppy readers were attacking a person who was saying that people on social media tend to be sloppy readers, and that’s okay, and so we shouldn’t dismiss them.

                Meanwhile, I’m still left with the problem of what to do about the person who was supposed to be monitoring social media (who, if they had been doing their job as they had been for some time would have prevented all this) and whose failure to do their job caused us a lot of grief but was otherwise pretty good–what do I say when called for a reference?

    6. EA in CA*

      We use Facebook to increase our audience for job postings but will always write in under a heading labelled “HOW TO APPLY” instructions that we require all applications to come via our website and put the webpage address there. It is very bold and not easy to miss if you actually read the Facebook posting. We’ve found that 99% of people would apply via our website and only a very small percentage applied via FB, like 3 people out of 200.

  4. tracylord*

    5) The “boneheads” in this one are the hiring staff. Why on earth would you post a hiring ad and then blame the people who applied to it when the hiring staff were the ones who didn’t bother to research their ad in the first place? We use facebook hiring ads for entry level positions at my work, and I can confirm that they’re not rocket science!

    1. Mad Baggins*

      I agree! It seems bone-headed to me to use Facebook as a one-way platform to connect with candidates (you can advertise to them, but won’t consider their applications to you) especially since they have no way of knowing this, and it’s pretty clearly stated to the contrary with the “Apply Now” button.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        This is well put–how are candidates supposed to know that this job posting only goes one way and the Apply Now button is a trap? Especially if this is the only way the job was listed at all?

        1. OP*

          OP here again. The FB posting had a link to the real job posting.

          So, a savvy person or very careful reader *could* figure out the right thing to do. But, it seems to me that the way it was displayed would be misleading for someone not savvy about jobs (especially how to apply for jobs at a U). And, well, entry-level and savvy don’t always go together.

          1. Kyrielle*

            I use Yelp a lot. I looked for companies providing a service. There was an “ask for a quote now” button – and I assumed that if it was there, the companies had put it there. (My bad: Yelp does it whether they want it or not, apparently! Fun times!) So I got some rather irritated responses about using their web site. The ones who were polite about the mix-up or just handled it from there, I continued forward with…I was very unimpressed with the ones who were rude, even though I came to understand this was not something they were able to opt in/out of.

            I’m not entry level. If it has an “Apply Now” button then I’m likely to assume that’s a valid way of applying. *It has clearly been shown that it is by the user interface*, and I’m likely to believe it.

          2. Mike C.*

            Please stop it with the “savvy person” and “careful reader” stuff, those are highly unnecessary and disrespectful personal judgements.

            Frankly, the only group that has messed up here is your hiring team.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I mean, if the posting said “to apply, visit X link and follow the instructions there,” it’s reasonable to say a careful reader would have done that. It’s also reasonable to say that having an “apply now” button on the page would confuse people, but both can be true.

              1. Ego Chamber*

                A careful reader might see the instructions, but still not follow them. There’s a cost/benefit to each option. I’ll apply to companies on Indeed using the APPLY NOW button if I go to their hiring page and I see the name of the hiring software they use and recognize it as figurative hell.

                If I sort of want the job/would be happy with the job, but I’m not willing to spend a huge amount of my time to apply to this one low-paying, entry level job (when the software might cull me before my resume every reaches a hiring manager for being “overqualified”), then I’ll take my chances with the APPLY NOW button.

                There’s also the option to not have that button displayed, so if I see it, I expect that it’s an equally acceptable way to apply for the job.

              2. Anononon*

                The program I work for has a button on their FB page that says Apply Now. So people who are interested in the program push the button, fill out a form that still says clearly an Admissions Counselor will be in touch, and then are upset when they have to fill out an actual application. I do not blame the people who fill out the form and don’t understand it’s not an application; I blame the dumb PR company who has our program’s PR contract and thought having an Apply Now button on the Facebook page that went to a form that wasn’t actually an application was a good idea.

            2. ThatGal*

              Right? I’m not down with the assumption that “entry level and savvy don’t always go together”. Is there some level where people are always savvy? It seems borderline insulting towards entry-level candidates to me.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Jeez, y’all are being oddly hard on this letter writer. It’s pretty reasonable to assume that entry level job seekers aren’t likely to be super savvy about how job hunting works. She’s not criticizing them for that — she’s saying she understands how this happened.

                1. Mike C.*

                  When I see this:

                  So, a savvy person or very careful reader *could* figure out the right thing to do.

                  I see, “because they used the apply now button, they aren’t savvy or careful readers”. The cause of the issue here isn’t the quality or lack of experience of the candidates, it’s the fact that the instructions given weren’t actually true. There are plenty of savvy people and careful readers who frequent this blog who would be more than happy to click that button and we’re likely to see it’s use increase over time.

                2. OP*

                  OP here–yep, and there’s a difference between “not savvy about how to do this” and “boneheaded.”

                  And, yes, there was a link to the job at the U page AND the Facebook link saying Apply Now!” Sure, someone really experienced would probably know that you go to the U page, but, by definition, we’re getting a lot of inexperienced people applying for the job!

                  That is the disagreement I was having with the other people on the committee.

          3. General Ginger*

            OP, your FB ad had an “Apply Now” button. I’m not entry level, and I would look at your ad and say, oh, perfect, an easy way to apply right through FB, no need to jump through other hoops. It has nothing to do with being “savvy” or a “careful reader”: if your ad says “A” but you want the candidates to do “B”, it’s not the candidates who are being careless.

          4. Mb13*

            Look op why is it so hard for you to admit you made a mistake here. You posted a job listing with a an application button. You didn’t indicate in anyway that only application through the official platform would be considered, because if you would have then no one would have applied through Facebook.

            It’s 2017, many job listing show up on many websites (be it jobs that rhyme with shminkedIN or Shmink recruiter). If you wanted them to apply a certain way it was up to the hiring manager to specify.

            Unless one of the job requirements is to be a literal mind reader and this was a test, this application process was a mistake on your company behalf

            1. marymoocow*

              I think you’re being unfair here. The OP wants to consider those candidates. It’s her company and other members of the hiring committee that called the applicants boneheads and doesn’t want to consider them. And none of them realized until now that people could apply directly from Facebook. Surely they would have asked applicants to apply through the official platform if they realized there were other methods.

            2. a1*

              I don’t think the OP is the one that posted the job. She’s the one that wants to review and follow-up with these people. I’m not sure why she’s getting so much flack here.

            3. Sarah*

              Er, maybe because OP isn’t the one who made the mistake, and also OP actually does want to consider the Facebook applications?? I’m confused why people are jumping all over them, when the letter very clearly states that they are trying to convince the hiring committee to consider the applications.

              1. Myrin*

                Yeah, I’m really confused by the harsh responses to this OP – she comes across as very level-headed and reasonable to me.

              2. Theodoric of York*

                Is it just barely possible that some of our commenters are not careful readers? (Ducks and covers)

          5. PizzaDog*

            “Apply now” means apply now – a different call to action should have been used if the application was meant to be done elsewhere.

          6. Falling Diphthong*

            I noted downthread that I suspect the existing pool tilts toward those with a close friend or relative already working there, who told them to be sure they went through the university portal.

  5. many bells down*

    My “dream job” story: I was teaching preschool and I had heard that the in-company daycare of a large local biotech company was a fantastic place. I dreamed of working there for years. And then it so happened that there was an opening for a teacher in my preferred age group, I applied, and I got the job.

    That place was a NIGHTMARE. So many of the parents were under super high-pressure in their own jobs that they would often flatly refuse to come pick up a sick child so they wouldn’t miss any time. We weren’t allowed to deprive the children of any “sensory experiences” which led to one kid with pica eating an *entire bucket* of sidewalk chalk. That was a fun dozen diapers (that I had to change)!

    It all came to a head for me when our class had an incorrigible biter and I was told directly by my supervisor to lie to parents if they asked. This kid literally permanently scarred another child he bit his face so hard. And I was supposed to deny that we had a biter in the class if parents asked (they all KNEW. Word got AROUND.)

    So one day after my supervisor again insisted that I tell parents the biting problem was “handled”, I left a note, walked out, and dropped my badge in the parking garage. I don’t put that “dream job” on my resume.

    1. Scotty Smalls*

      I’m sorry what??? They thought lying to the parents about a biter would work? Like we’re the gonna shift blame on a new kid every time this one bit someone hard enough to get noticed? Not ok!

      1. Kyrielle*

        Well, they don’t really have to shift the blame. I get told another kid bit my kid. I don’t get told *who*. I get told my kid hit another kid…I still don’t get told who, even though in this second case, the other kid is the victim.

        Confidentiality. Or plausible deniability. Or something.

    2. Poppy Bossyboots*

      Please, PLEASE deprive my child of the “sensory experience” of eating sidewalk chalk. :o

      1. many bells down*

        Right? A “sensory experience” is putting it in your mouth. All toddlers do that. Once he’d eaten three whole sticks I was like … he’s not gonna stop, we need to take it away from him.

        Later, I got yelled at by the parent for using “too much” Desitin on the same kid’s bloody diaper rash.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          It’s just insane to me that folks can’t distinguish between “sensory experience” and Pica.

          Bloody diaper rash!?

          1. Mookie*

            Mandatory “sensory experience” for their own good and with the added possibility of risking real harm reminds me of the Candace Newmaker case. Children are treated so poorly by so many — and often under the cruel mandate of No Pain No Gain — it just makes me sick.

            1. Cleopatra Jones*

              That particular case was the basis for an episode of Law & Order, except they changed the age and sex of the child.

          2. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

            Bloody diaper rash happens when it’s diaper rash caused by yeast. It can be on the cheeks, not where one usually thinks when they think yeast infection, and it needs a prescription cream. My first kid had a mild diaper rash that turned into a bloody one overnight. I called the pediatrician in a panic and they were very “no big deal” about it. They just called in the script and it cleared up within hours.

        2. Mookie*

          They literally bootstrapped their own kid? “Suck it up, junior!”

          So, did the staff live in fear of simultaneously demanding and neglectful parents working for the company, or was some of the dysfunction also coming from inside the house?

          1. many bells down*

            Pretty much the first one, I think. Which was a bit bizarre to me, because AS the subsidized in-house daycare, we had a waiting list a mile long. Any parent who got mad enough to pull their child had 10 more hoping to get that spot.

    3. McWhadden*

      I have a lot of friends who do early childhood education and in-house daycares are almost always the WORST. From an educator’s POV. I get how it can be a great perk for parents (although there are hidden downsides there too.)

      Workplace politics seep into where they have no place whatsoever. And squabbles with kids often end up seeping into office politics, where they also have no place. Offices often use it as an excuse to be less flexible when giving parents needed time.

  6. Nonsenical*

    Number 4 – your team set up a way for people to apply through Facebook, why would anyone assume they need to apply on the portal when people follow the instructions? The only boneheads are the people that are assuming that the people applying are boneheads! Applications are cumbersome and take a while to fill out these days. If there is a way to apply on Facebook and a button that literally says apply now, it is backwards logic to blame the applicants for this. Particularly if you didn’t mention anything on the sheet itself.

    1. Jen S. 2.0*

      This. You are punishing the Facebook applicants for not having necessary information that they could not have known, and that you did not give them. It’s not their fault that they took the very logical and obvious action and it wasn’t the right one.

      (Note: it is a peeve of mine when electronics don’t come with manuals, because a bunch of engineers decided that their brilliant simplified design means the obvious action should be the right one, and it’s almost impossible to take the wrong action. This philosophy has caused me to storm to the Apple Store in a snit more than once.)

  7. designbot*

    Here to attest to exactly what Alison says about ‘dream jobs.’ Mine was when I’d been working a really demanding job that wasn’t going anywhere, and I saw an ad for a job that was looking for *exactly* my background, to do *exactly* what I wanted to be doing, for a well regarded firm, not a bad commute… basically too good to be true. And it was. The job description sounded perfect, because it was complete fiction! It was the owner’s idea of what they wanted the job to be, in some idealized future scenario. The reality was they didn’t have enough of the right type of contracts to support the job as described, had no marketing/bd plan to get contracts of that nature, and I spent most of my exactly one year there doing something completely different.

    1. Chocolate Teapot*

      Yes, I applied for a job which sound ideal and exactly what I wanted to be doing based on the job description. I was called for interview and everything seemed “off” to begin with. Also, the interviewer would be my boss, and there was something about him that seemed odd.

      Come to think of it, I don’t think I ever got a rejection from them.

      1. Artemesia*

        I interviewed for an was offered a dream job in my field where I would have been in charge of this incredible creative project and I had been recommended by the leading senior person in my field. It would have meant uprooting the family and my husband having to find a new job. It looked fabulous. There was a giant pert chart on the wall showing the milestones that had been reached and where we were going next etc etc. I just got spidey tingles; I don’t know what my subconscious somehow intuited or maybe it was just cold feet, but I turned it down. I knew the person who accepted it and he told me that when he got there it turned out the head of the foundation had his hand in the till, they had promised local teachers jobs in the project ad they had quite their jobs to accept only to be left hanging out to dry, nearly all the milestones on the pert chart were fictitious. The whole thing was a nightmare, but until I learned this I had mourned not taking the leap for this fabulous opportunity.

    2. LW #1*

      I love designbot’s comment. My contention has always been that “dream jobs” can certainly exist on paper, just never in reality. I always feel a little jealous when I hear someone say they’re applying for their dream job or that they’ve just landed the perfect job, because I’ve never felt that enthusiastic about a job, but then I remember that no such thing exists. The odds are just so extremely tiny that it will end up being as good as this idealized version they’ve created in their mind.

      1. Anna*

        I think you’re assuming that people who talk about their “dream job” don’t also know there will be days that suck and maybe the people they work with will be jerks or whatever. As was said before, in my mind “dream job” is one that when I look at the job listing and the company it matches pretty darned close to what I want to do at the company where I want to do it; not that every day I go in there will be butterflies and rainbows and nobody will fart.

        1. designbot*

          Well everyone has bad days, in any context. But the thing about the ‘dream job’ narrative is that it tends to encourage people to overlook red flags and structural challenges built in to a job. By contrast, my current job was one that I walked into having talked to my predecessor and understood a couple of specific challenges that after consideration I decided were acceptable to me. Overall I’ve had much more success, and have had no major surprises with this approach.

      2. TrainerGirl*

        I got a little nervous about the job I just started on Monday. I felt so great after the interview (I’d interviewed with the team 4 years ago, and the manager remembered me) and then after I’d accepted it, I panicked a bit because I figured that I couldn’t get that lucky….I got laid off and then a week later I interview for a great job? But sometimes, I think it just works out that way. I’ve had my fair share of job issues…was laid off 3x in 13 months…but sometimes you do end up with a a good fit. It doesn’t make it a “dream” job, just a good one. My last job wasn’t a dream job, but I did get a “dream” trip out of it…I got to go to Australia on the company for 3.5 weeks. I consider it a fair trade.

  8. Wakeen's Duck Club*

    1 – Maybe some people’s idea of a ‘dream job’ is one where they sleep (and are therefore dreaming)? Just saying. :-)

    3 – Oversights like that happen more often than you’d expect. That obviously doesn’t mean _you_ have nothing to worry about, but we’re all human.

    1. JulieBulie*

      Regarding #3, I remember an “oversight” when they showed us the floor plan and seating chart for the new building we’d be moving to. A couple of us couldn’t find where we were sitting. Flustered, our boss vaguely pointed to an unlabeled section of the floor plan and said we’d be sitting with the development team.

      Yeah no, we were laid off.

  9. Mike C.*

    With reguards to the Facebook issue – I know a few folks who work on increasing diversity in the workplace and one of the main things they do is find ways to expand the traditional candidate pool. This can mean anything from going to more job fairs than just the one Stanford holds to holding job interviews on the weekend and so on. Basically shaking things up and doing what can be done to advoid inadvertent pitfalls that come from a traditional or overly ridged hiring process.

    So here’s my concern – I’m willing to bet that the distribution of people who applied through Facebook is going to be different than the distribution of the group who applied through the standard portal. I’m not saying that this is a legal thing, but it seems like the sort of thing a well established HR would be concerned about.

    I would honestly take this to whatever group in your university deals with sticky issues like these (HR? Diversity? Ethics?) and at least see if there aren’t any greater concerns going on here. It may be nothing, but if I were in your shoes I’d want to double check.

    1. Mookie*

      I’m willing to bet that the distribution of people who applied through Facebook is going to be different than the distribution of the group who applied through the standard portal. I’m not saying that this is a legal thing, but it seems like the sort of thing a well established HR would be concerned about.

      Bingo. The commentariat have discussed this before, implementing recruiting and screening philosophies that unintentionally but very systematically discriminate. Good advice in that last paragraph, Mike C.

    2. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

      This is exactly what I was going to say, Mike C.

      LW5 – I think you would be doing a disservice to your hiring practices if you didn’t consider these people. Also, I would push back HARD on the bonehead thinking

      1. Artemesia*

        This one has me shaking my head. People see your ad and they apply at the apply now button in YOUR ad and they are boneheads for not knowing they have to turn around three times, put a chewed wad of gum on their foreheads, lean against a wall on the gum and sing Camptown Races backwards. Any HR person who placed this ad and then argued people who apply through it should not be considered should be fired. Mistake and oops, we need to review these applicants and then invite those that look good to fill out the full application — incompetent but understandable, stuff happens. But to argue your mistake means they don’t get considered, not forgivable. FTMFA

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      I would guess that the applicant pool that got through tilts heavily to those with a relative or close friend already working at the university, who told them that all applications MUST go through the university online portal, whatever claims any ad might make to the contrary.

      1. Lil Fidget*

        Yeah, the kind of people who would know that a university’s hiring process was centralized and more complicated than what they saw on FB – are the insider types who already have a leg up in the process. This is exactly how inequality is perpetuated.

        1. Worker anonymous*

          I think anyone who knows anyone at any university would have a leg up, not just the ones who know someone specifically working at that university so it’s not as narrow becasue the whole idea of a facebook application is just not how universities work in my experience of academia.

    1. Princess Cimorene*

      This was going to be my question to! Perhaps you will be bumped up to Junior now? Are you experienced enough for that?

      1. Cambridge Comma*

        It’s the senior job listing, but I guess the current junior could well apply for it, leaving the junior job vacant. Or perhaps the reorganization will place the OP’s position in a different line of supervision.

    2. OP#3*

      I’m a very recent grad so I doubt it :) They’re hiring for a new Sr. Director as well as Jr. Director and the other associates and myself have been told no actual positions are changing, just the people occupying them

  10. Princess Cimorene*

    2. My coworker is doing my work, but it’s not her fault
    Is Jane possibly grabbing the work because she is doing second shift remote work, so she is getting the tickets that came in later in the day that you normally wouldn’t see until morning or wouldn’t begin on until morning. It sounds to me like the timing of her shift conflicts with everyone elses and so she is seeing tickets first or unfinished tickets from the day before and doesn’t have anything else to do.

    I don’t think it means you’re being pushed out or about to be laid off as suggested above, although, with minimal amount of work spread among so many people it is possible that they could eventually do some trimming so I would definitely stay on my toes about that.

    But I think first you should just chat Jane up and see if she is grabbing that work because there isn’t anything left over when she starts her shift after you all have done everything in the morning and so she is grabbing the new tickets…

  11. AcademiaNut*

    For #5, I’d say that this should be a lesson to HR that they need to actually *test* their job application process. When they put the ad up, having someone internal submit a fake application to see if the process works they way they’re expecting. I regard it as boneheaded to post a job ad with an “Apply Now” button attached, and to expect applicants to guess that it does not mean what it says.

    1. CoffeeLover*

      From the employer’s perspective: I agree that they shouldn’t judge the candidates for applying through Facebook when they gave them the option.

      From a candidate’s perspective: Never apply through social media if you have other options. I’ve never looked for jobs on Facebook, but Linkedin sometimes has the option to submit an application by simply sending your profile. I only do this if I’m 100% certain this is the only way to apply to the job. I always check the company’s website for the position first. I’ve only ever had to submit the Linkedin profile once. It just makes good sense. It’s better to submit a tailored resume and cover letter than a Linkedin profile that’s likely catering to a wide audience. And well Facebook… I’d rather not attach my social profile to a job application (even if they could google me)… it just seems slightly unprofessional in a way. These candidates sound inexperienced so I wouldn’t say they should know this already… but I think it’s worth saying that they did make at least a slight mistake in applying through Facebook without checking the employer’s site. Again though, the employer shouldn’t disqualify these candidates because they gave them the option.

      1. Audiophile*

        While I also look to see if the job is posted elsewhere, I’ve submitted a few applications through LinkedIn. I definitely preferred when you could up a resume and cover letter separately, but did figure out that I can combine the two and still accomplish the same thing. I’ve gotten a few interviews from LinkedIn applications.

      2. Trout 'Waver*

        When I’ve clicked the Apply Through Linked In button, it just directs to the same ATS that you get if you click on the company’s website. Except it autopopulates from your LinkedIn profile instead of from an uploaded resume.

        1. CoffeeLover*

          There’s also an option on linked in where you click apply and it just sends the linkedin profile directly to the Company. End of application. This is different from the feature you describe that populates your information into the employers application process.

        2. Anna*

          I’ve had it go both ways; a few times I was sent to their portal, other times it submits through LinkedIn.

      3. Not a Morning Person*

        That is excellent advice! But for the entry-level positions in this situation, the applicants may not have the experience or even a clue that applying on the organization’s site instead of through the Apply Now link on Facebook would not be the most appropriate or effective way to apply. They are using the method that is provided and not seeking some alternative.
        OP, please do consider those applicants!

      4. PizzaDog*

        My anecdata is the complete opposite – there were other ways to apply for the job, but I had seen the LinkedIn application first. No trouble getting the interview or the job ;)

        1. CoffeeLover*

          My work history is a bit all over the place. Depending on the job I apply to I need to include/exclude certain things on my resume. If your linked in is the same as what you would submit as a resume I think it wouldn’t matter as much. Still though, I also prefer to include a cover letter.

  12. Stellaaaaa*

    OP5: Did your team post an ad for the job with a link to the portal, or did they create a job application? From what I understand, the job application feature on Facebook just auto-fills info from your profile into a private message to the company. It sounds like someone on your team doesn’t know the difference between the ad and application features.

      1. Stellaaaaa*

        I hope Alison sees this…she (and others) responded as if the team made a typical ad when it sounds like they made a literal application. This Facebook feature only launched in February so it’s totally understandable that Alison might not know about it. It automatically generates applications and sends them to the company’s private message inbox, which apparently no one ever checked during the week that portal applications were being accepted. Even the OP is obscuring this by calling it an “ad.” But the parts about the Apply Now button and the full inbox indicate to me that they misused the application feature.

        The team are calling people “boneheads” to cover for the fact that they didn’t know the difference between the two Facebook features.

    1. OP*

      OP: What was posted was a link to the U posting. (I should have been more clear on that at the beginning.) As I understand it, the person didn’t mean (and didn’t think they had) okayed the job application portal.

      We did check with HR.

      Looking them over, none were viable. So, now we’re got three separate issues: what to do about the previous person having mentally evacuated their responsibilities during the last week, whether to contact the people who applied via FB, and, if I do (since I’m the only one who thinks we should do anything), what to tell them. I was thinking about a friendly email saying something like, “Hey, things didn’t work out with this job, and if you’re interested in working at the U, here’s the link that will keep you up-to-date on all the job openings!”

      1. Myrin*

        You got some pretty harsh comments upthread, OP, but FWIW, I do want to say that you’re coming across as very conscientious and like you’re doing and thinking all the right things!

  13. schnauzerfan*

    I’m working my dream job now. Well except for the pay… Love the work. Great work life balance. Like my co-workers. It’s been a great job for the last 20 years. The first 10 were a little rough. Steep learning curve. Took the place of a person they fired and dealt with many unpleasant lawsuits from. He’d left quite a mess. Had a boss that was great, but when she retired her replacement was a drunk who didn’t have a clue how to manage his team. But I did learn how to keep a paper trail working with him. “no sir, I have the email right here where you told me to do x and y, and also my reply where I told you that z was illegal and that I wasn’t interested in going to jail for you.
    Eventually he left and well, like I said the last 20 years have been good. Hope to be here another 10-15 years.

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      I’m a jerk who believes there’s no possible dream job. If they have to pay you to do it and you can’t leave when you want, it’s probably not a dream. Back in highschool I used to LITERALLY have a job where I petted baby bunnies and kittens all day long (I was a farm hand at an interpretive center) – and guess what, I still had to set an alarm to be there, and there were lots of days I was moaning and groaning about having to go. That cured me of thinking any job could ever be a “dream.” Now I settle for “worth what they pay me.”

      1. Alton*

        I think this is something where difference in interpretation can trip people up, because I think there’s a huge difference between seeing a “dream job” as something that has no downsides and being someone who’s enthusiastic enough about a particular job/field (and who’s well-suited to it enough) that the downsides aren’t a big deterrent. And it’s not always obvious which perspective people are coming from.

        For me, it’s a big picture thing. I don’t think that having days where you’re unenthused about going to work means the job can’t be your “dream job.” To me, having a “dream job” means either having something that’s as well-suited to your personality/lifestyle as a job can be or having aspirations where the work you want to do is important enough to you that you can deal with the negatives.

  14. CoffeeLover*

    #2 Can you work on other stuff? Such as your own side projects or online (free) courses for self improvement? I’ve been in your situation in an industry that’s notorious for overstaffing. Layoffs did happen but only when commodity prices fell and the sign for those was more than just not having enough work to go around. (Shit would hit the fan and even senior management would get laid off at that point). There was an unspoken agreement that people could (inconspicuously) work on their own stuff. I knew people that took this time to start businesses (and I mean the brick and mortar kind). My only regret from that time in my life is wasting all that free time browsing social media instead of doing something useful.

    Alison does warn that technically any work done on the employers time belongs to them. If your truly worried about that then focus on self-improvement (right now I’m learning how to build websites). You could also clear it with your manager if you feel the need saying something like, “I have some free time sometimes – would it be alright if I worked on some self- improvement during those times.” If you like your current career path that self-improvement could be something that could directly benefit the company and your career, so I’d be surprised if your manager wasn’t on board.

    For what it’s worth, I think talking to people about it is a waste of time. And could even end up costing you your job if you point too much attentiom to your lack of work. Everyone knows there’s no work to go around. Personally, I would embrace the getting paid to do nothing situation you’re in and make something of it.

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      Agree that some jobs are just like this – the manager doesn’t want to lose capacity for some future need, or the Busy Time of year is worth it to them. If OP knows they’re unlikely to be fired and is reasonably happy, I recommend using the slack time for self improvement. Or do what I did, and write a novel :)

      1. Ego Chamber*

        Protip: If you’re writing a novel at work, make sure you do it exclusively on a flashdrive (or personal Google Docs, or Evernote, etc) and don’t let a single bit of the novel touch the work hard drive, just in case you write a best seller and the employer decides to say “since you wrote during work time, we own it.” (I’m paranoid.)

  15. Junior Dev*

    I just got fired from my “dream job.” It was at a company that makes a product I like and care about and it was using my favorite tech stack.

    Turns out it was very dysfunctional and they misrepresented the software I’d be doing most of the work on–the charitable interpretation is that they hired for the project they wish they had and ran into institutional barriers when they tried to out that into practice. The uncharitable interpretation is that they knowingly lied. It was also dysfunctional in other ways, namely communication was bad, expectations were unclear, whining and being sarcastic about the project was encouraged but you couldn’t express any criticism of anyone who currently worked there or you’d be seen as causing conflict, and management was incompetent.

    Now my dream job is to work somewhere with regular one-on-ones with my boss, employee reviews that actually happen when they are supposed to, clear and consistent expectations, evaluations made based on performance rather than who is friends with who, and functional HR. I hope it’s not a pipe dream.

    1. CoffeeLover*

      It’s funny how what we want out of a job changes when reality sets in. When I graduated, I wanted a job where I could work on high-profile projects and travel. Now I realize both of those things involve a lot of stress and lack balance. Now I want a job where I can do my work and go home without getting a call at 9pm to do something “urgent”. Sometimes you need to get that “dream” job to realize it’s not a dream at all and to find out what your priorities really are. (Not true for everyone, but a few of my friends and I lament about our youthful enthusiasm :P)

      1. GG Two shoes*

        Man, that’s so true about travel and high profile projects. When I got on to my job they mentioned there would be travel, not a ton but some. I was so excited! little did I know it was to tiny Midwestern towns that sometimes meant I was spending 8 hours in a car one way. The excitement has waned a little.

        1. TrainerGirl*

          That is so true! All travel is not created equal. I had a job where I traveled to small towns to do training for congressional district office staff. Got to see Buffalo in February and pass by all the confederate flags in Arkansas. But the job I was just laid off from did offer some glamorous trips…LA, Houston, Montreal and Australia. And I found out that for the most part, I don’t enjoy travel. I don’t think I’ll have to travel at all in my new position and that suits me just fine.

  16. MK*

    #5, the only way any reasonable person could think it was the candidates being boneheaded instead of your organisation is if it was stated clearly in the afternoon that they have to go through your portal in order to be considered.

    Also, if you use social media for professional purposes, it is no longer social media, but a professional tool. Not checking it amounts to not answering the office phone.

  17. Old el passé*

    I’ve always seen ‘dream job’ as convenient shorthand.
    I think the English language is missing a word for a job that ticks all your boxes in an advertisement and makes you feel hopeful. I guess the term ‘dream job’ is what I’ve landed on, it’s been interesting to discover that people imbue this term with meaning that I had never considered. My current job was my dream job, and three years later, still is, because it is aligned with and facilitates my goals, hopes and, well, dreams. It goes without saying that it’s not all sunshine and roses. Funnily enough, it’s in communications. When I realised I’d neglected to consider other meanings of the term, my inner monologue interjected: “You idiot! Did Stuart Hall teach you nothing? You don’t deserve your dream job!”

    1. CatCat*

      “I’ve always seen ‘dream job’ as convenient shorthand.”

      That’s how I see it too and how I’ve used it to describe the ticking all these various boxes. I don’t assume someone describing a “dream job” goes in with the inability to recognize red flags anymore than someone who doesn’t use the term. It’s just shorthand. Does the person who doesn’t say that and instead says, “this seems like a job that hits a lot of what I am looking for at an organization I’m very interested in” have a better ability to see red flags because they used different terminology? If you’re blind to those things (for whatever reason… naive, inexperienced, desperate) then I doubt the verbiage is going to change that.

      However, I’m not sure it really belongs in a cover letter because it doesn’t really describe anything about you and you want the longer hand details in the cover letter about why this job/org. “Working as Teapot Painter at Teapots Express is my dream job” is not helpful.

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        I think the problem is that the phrasing leads applicants to do things that aren’t in their best interest – missing red flags, or compromising way too much on salary. “Oh, but it’s my dream job! I can take a 20K cut for my dream job!” Then reality sets in and you wish you’d been clearer-headed, because most jobs are stupid and money is what keeps you warm at night. Calling it “an interesting possibility based on the application” is a better mental model to use because it keeps you focused on your own interests.

        1. CatCat*

          This is a differing interpretations thing. And more of a know thyself thing. If you’re prone to overly invest emotionally in a job opportunity and let that emotional side dominate you, neutralize all superlative language from your mind when thinking about an opportunity.

          If not dominated by the emotional side, carry on. Like, there’s no way in hell I would take a $20k pay cut even if something were a dream job in my mind initially because that kind of pay cut would uncheck an important box that made the job seem that way.

          1. Sloan Kittering*

            hehe personally I agree – a “dream job” would pay me a lot! But a lot of folks on the boards here are talking about dream jobs based on job postings – which probably don’t even include a robust description of salary and benefits. Alison’s point is usually that you can’t tell a “dream job” from a nightmare unless you’re actually working there … so it’s not necessarily a helpful phrasing to use as your job searching.

          2. oranges & lemons*

            I think it is a pretty easy trap for people to fall into though–if you invest too much into a few pieces of information early on in the process, you can start thinking “I’m never going to see another job posting as perfect as this one! I guess I can compromise on a few things.”

            I’ve seen a lot of friends do the same thing when dating–there are a few relatively superficial qualities that they invest with a lot of meaning at an early stage (“We both love to cook! We both have giant cut-outs of Steve Buscemi’s face in our living rooms! It’s meant to be!”) and then later ignore signs that they aren’t really that compatible.

    2. JulieBulie*

      Oooh, I wish I’d read this before I posted a similar thought above. Yes, “dream job” doesn’t literally mean that there are ice-cream carts (pulled by unicorns) in the hallways. Not to me, anyway. I know that it won’t be perfect and it might even end up sucking, but for the moment and with the information I have, I can’t imagine a better-sounding position and workplace. That’s the “dream job.”

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Exactly! If something in the description turns out to be a serious, work impacting lie or the work environment is crappy, it ceases to be a dream job. But until then, if everything I know about it lines up with what I want, yeah I will call that a dream job.

  18. Birch*

    These views on the term “dream job” are so interesting! Maybe it’s because I’ve been in grad school so long and mostly working temp jobs and no-qualifications-needed type jobs for money, but I always thought the point of the “dream job” was that it’s just a dream. It doesn’t exist, but it represents your idealized version of everything you’d want in a job. I thought that’s why people typically use the term early in their careers or early in the process of getting a new job–before reality kicks in, you can still kind of imagine the dream is coming true. If it’s used after someone has been there a while I would take it to mean “this current job is as close to my ideal work situation as possible” but not that it’s actually perfect or that they enjoy every moment. I figured the letter writers here used it to mean that they had initially thought it would be ideal but then realized later that it wasn’t realistic.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      That’s what I always think when I see the term. The problem is that people get married in their minds to the dream job as though it weren’t a dream, and they’re desperately trying to figure out the ritual to perform to make it be real–doing that for a ‘fantastic opportunity’ or ‘good match for my skills with a bump in pay’ is just as problematic.

    2. Editor Person*

      And if you’ve been working a while “dream job” tends to mean “the hours aren’t crazy and I can leave work at work.”

      1. TrainerGirl*

        I just started a contract position, and I LOVE the fact that I’m only expected to work 40 hours/week. I cannot work overtime without prior approval. With life the way it is right now, that was very appealing.

  19. Ruth (UK)*

    5. I think it also matters if the job ad or further info / specifications or whatever actually stated somewhere that all applications needed to be through the uni portal. (For example I’ve jobs searched through job listing websites that have an apply button but the application info on a job has actually stated they require you to follow the link to their own application portal to apply)

    If it does, I still don’t think the Facebook applicant are necessarily stupid to have missed it, but it does make it more of an error on their part, not just something they couldn’t have known. If the job ad does not say this anywhere, then the hiring team needs to accept there was no reasonable way they could have known not to apply via Facebook.

  20. Orfeo*

    5. Even if there is no way to consider them at this point, you need to contact the people who applied through facebook, if only to acknowledge their applications. Submitting an application only to have it disappear into thin air can be rough.

    1. Artemesia*

      Nope. There is never a point in which there is ‘no way’ to consider them. This is total incompetence and ignoring these applicants is outrageous.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I don’t think it’s as outrageous as other people do, apparently. If they have great candidates in the pool they’ve already been considering, it’s not outrageous to decide to stick with those. It’s not great practice and they might be doing themselves a disservice, but I can’t agree it’s an outrage.

        People do versions of this all the time — like “well, we already have six people we want to interview, so I’m going to stop going through resumes that came in after Tuesday” and so forth. I always advocate against that — because you never know if you’re overlooking a rock star if you do that — but it’s not an outrage. (And to any extent it’s an outrage, it’s because they’re doing themselves a disservice, not because candidates are owed being looked at.)

        1. AMPG*

          I also feel that it’s a sign of bad processes – you generally can tell beforehand which positions will yield a strong applicant pool, and can plan around that. My old job never put up entry-level positions for more than five business days (the closing date was always clearly listed on the posting) because we knew we’d get plenty of qualified candidates in that time frame. I don’t think much of companies that insist on listing positions on their website as open until they’re filled, when the reality is that they’ll never look at most of the applications that come in because they’ve moved on in their process.

        2. Yorick*

          I agree. Also, most university ads that I’ve seen tell you to submit an application through the online portal. Sure, maybe some people would be confused, but you’d think they’d see that and go submit it there.

  21. Foreign Octopus*

    I’ve been thinking about the term dream job a lot recently as well. Every time I see it written down in a letter I think of Alison’s rant.

  22. Bryce*

    For 5, I’m curious if they set things up assuming people would know not to apply through Facebook, made a hiring post not realizing there would be an application button at all, or if Facebook did the Clippy thing, “they say hiring here, let’s format it with my social media stuff that I’m positive they would want me to add”. In any case I think you’re “stuck” looking at the Facebook applicants now as far as honestly considering applicants goes (whether you’re legally required to consider all applicants by university rules is another matter), but that would clarify who to be annoyed with and how much.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Because we can always use a reminder of “Clippy must die”:

      I have a new computer, which is lovely in many ways, but there’s a good number of set-up ‘features’ that fall under engineers wanting to connect my refrigerator to the internet, because who wouldn’t want that?

      1. Decima Dewey*

        Me. I wouldn’t want that. Just because I bought X last week doesn’t mean I want to buy X every week.

      2. Bryce*

        My personal peeve as far as Facebook goes is their “looking for RECOMMENDATIONS” big ol’ useless banner they throw onto any post asking a question no matter how trivial. And then any response you type gets parsed as a registered business and auto-added, so if you say “there’s a mechanic just a block away from you that has an air pump for the flat tire” it’ll tag some business called There’s a Mechanic that’s halfway across the country.

        Computers: smart enough to be annoying, not smart enough to know how annoying they are. If the post had mentioned anything other than Facebook I probably wouldn’t have gone to “did they MEAN to have an apply button” as my first question, but there ya go.

  23. SusanIvanova*

    #2 I have always worked at places that used issue tracking systems, and we generally all have varying busy cycles – can’t bundle up the llama fur until it’s been shorn, after all. We had two practices that kept people from getting into LW2’s situation:

    Whoever was in a less-busy cycle always asked before taking any assigned tasks away from someone else. Even if they’re willing to let someone else take it, they still might have some incomplete work they can hand off with it, or suggestions that you might not consider on your own, or whatever.

    We also had a “task bucket” account for the things that didn’t obviously go to any particular person. Those were fair game for anyone with free time.

  24. Mookie*

    Other people on the hiring team think that the applicants were “boneheads” for not applying for a job through the proper channels.

    This is truly a lousy attitude on the part of your colleagues and a hearty lol in the direction of “proper channels,” as though job listings on Facebook is the height of genteel decorum to begin with. I’m not knocking industries that do it and are rewarded with excellent applicants, but if you’re going to harp on what is “proper” maybe know how Facebook works before using it? I’m assuming they’re going to continue doing this, and then continue scoffing at entry-level people just trying to follow directions.

    1. Stuff*

      As the entry level person just trying to follow directions, I kind of want to rip my hair out. Is this what I’m going to deal with getting a full time job out of university?

    2. LKW*

      Yeah, your colleagues kind of suck. You have to put yourself in the place of the applicant who, as an entry level candidate, doesn’t have a lot of formal job application experience, doesn’t know the organization’s norms and processes, and is using the technology that is presented to them. It would be to your benefit to look at the applicants from FB. You’re only shorting yourself in the long run.

  25. Ramona Flowers*

    #2 I would be job hunting anyway because you must be climbing the walls from boredom – too little work can be as stressful as too much.

  26. Ramona Flowers*

    #1 I think believing in the idea of dream jobs can also tip people into acts of irrational gumption, like insisting they know they are the best candidate.

    And you just do not know what a job is like from outside. I remember quitting a super cool-sounding job to go freelance because my toxic, bullying boss and ridiculous workload were making me really miserable and ill. Some people said things like: you’re brave to quit a job that lots of people would love to have. Yeah no. They might love the sound of it or the idea of it or the thought of being able to say it was their job, but they wouldn’t love the actual reality of that job.

    I actually have my dream job now. It is not based on an idea of a job, but on doing tasks I like for good people in an environment where I’m happy.

    1. motosubatsu*

      This! So very much this!

      I’m also with #1 in that I cringe whenever read the term in an AAM submission. It sort of automatically makes me thing that LW is a little naive, a little too intensely “in to” the job, or both.

    2. Kyrielle*

      Coming out of college, I had a ‘dream job’ in mind, and it involved a particular industry. I applied to one or two places in that industry, didn’t get the jobs, and was debating whether I was willing to move to an area with more such jobs when I got a completely-unrelated job. Which still used my skills, and was willing to hire me, so I took it – and told myself that in three years or so, when I’d paid my dues, I could look again in dream-industry.

      Oh, the things I learned about dream-industry from friends who went into it in those three years. I mean, not that the job I got was perfect, but…it was pretty good, I was good at it, I liked it, and there was *no way* I wanted to purse that other industry any more by the time I felt I had honestly put in an acceptable length of time with the company that did hire me.

    3. LW #1*

      Yes, I’m with Ramona, but I would also add that I need the job to have the right volume of work. Not so much that I’m working through my lunch and I’m here late every night but not so little that I have long periods of boredom and go home without a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.

  27. Akcipitrokulo*

    I’m currently in my Dream Job.

    When I interviewed, it seemed like a good place with interesting work, and manager for whom I’d be working seemed reasonable.

    I’d been here between 6-12 months when I realised I was in my Dream Job. I fit here. I’m appreciated here. The team I’m in is full of wonderful people and I’m very happy when I’m in the office (most of the time).

    No way I could have known that before I started.

  28. Akcipitrokulo*

    (Slight caveat… I do have a “dream job”… astronaut… yeah, I know it sounds far-fetched but did actually do research, paid attention to physical & age requirements and studied physics & astrophysics at uni with intention of aiming to be a Mission Specialist… so any job that involves going into space qualifies automatically!)

    1. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

      Hm. Alison, I have loved reading the interviews with posters with awesome/interesting jobs – in case you may one day have time for that again, I’d love to read an interview with Akcipitrokulo about what it’s like to be a Mission Specialist! I can’t even imagine what the day to day would be.

    2. The New Wanderer*

      Even astronauts don’t find it a dream job sometimes. They get to do and learn a lot of cool things, but if you don’t get assigned a mission, it’s a lot of desk work. Like, a lot. And it’s no secret that office politics are a Thing (read any astronaut biography/autobiography).
      Incidentally, the couple of years I spent working with astronauts on the space program was, in fact, my dream job.

  29. Huddled over tea*

    #5 – if you paid for a job advert on Facebook but now aren’t considering any of the applicants, aren’t you literally just flushing the money for that advertising down the drain?

    1. Stellaaaaa*

      They didn’t pay for an ad though. It sounds like they actually created a fillable job application, which is a newer Facebook feature.

  30. Kitten*

    #1, I am just about to land my ‘dream job’ in the sense that I’ve been working *with* but not *for* a company for ages now and there’s finally an opening for me to join them for real. Sure, there are going to be new pressures and expectations, but I know the team, I know the product, and having access to the development team is going to make my job so much easier.

    I’m sure I’m not the only person in that boat. Many of us work with suppliers or partners as part of our day jobs, get a real feel for the company and it’s ethos, and jump at the chance to go and work there.

    I do agree that if you’re looking in from the outside you’ll never see the full picture, and that a few good people are not necessarily representative of the culture as a whole. But if your industry is small and everyone talks, you get to know which employers are the good ones (and their low attrition means you don’t see job openings too often, which is probably why people get so hung up on that one application).

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      I hate to rain on your parade, but the same caveats apply even if you have worked with them. You still don’t know what it’s like to work FOR them – even if it seems like you do. Because what you don’t know is what it’s actually like to be an employee there. Management practices, policies, culture, office politics. Be excited, sure, but don’t make the dream job mistake.

      I say this because I went from covering a possession as a freelancer to being hired to do the same job – same work, same people, same building, same desk. But once I was an employee a lot of things changed and I ended up being miserable and leaving.

      It’s sort of like how you can be attracted to someone but can’t know what it’s like to date them until you’ve dated them.

    2. Oryx*

      Eh, I made the switch from job that works with Company X to a job with Company X and the same rule applies. Suppliers are always going to put their best face forward when working with a partner but actually being on the inside may actually be a hot mess.

      I mean, in my case it ended up okay because working for Company X is awesome, but having experience working with them and their product is no guarantee.

  31. Digger James*

    I’ve always thought of a “dream job” being the one where you would IDEALLY like to work, rather than the one where you actually work.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      My dream job is to play with spreadsheets all day and work from home so I don’t have to wear pants.

      1. JulieBulie*

        I had a job like that for a short while, and…
        …brace yourself…

        Didn’t last long, though. And then I had to buy bigger pants.

      2. LW #1*

        Spreadsheets? All day? Do you know anyone who works with spreadsheets all day? It’s ok for awhile but after a number of years, one spreadsheet begins to look like the next and there are only so many ways you can find to make them fun (using “fun” loosely).

  32. I Herd the Cats*

    “….because when you go into a hiring process thinking “dream job,” you’re more likely to miss signs that it’s not actually a situation you’ll be happy in.” So true. And also, if you go into it thinking “dream job!” and reality sets in, I’d argue that the dream-job mentality sets you up for more disappointment than if you remembered that at the end of the day, it’s a job — you work and they pay you. To me “dream job” is like the career version of “The One” in relationships. It blinds you to all the possibilities of “pretty close” and “good enough.”

    1. Lil Fidget*

      This is a good metaphor! I’ve definitely seen how believing in the “the one” has been so tough on a couple of my friends , because they feel like they should be mystically perfect and never fight. The first disagreement makes them feel like this guy must not be “the one” and now they need to go find Their Soulmate. Cycle repeats …

  33. Oryx*

    A couple years ago I applied and interviewed at my “dream job” and when I didn’t get it I was devastated. But it’s a relatively close community so I’ve gotten to know the hiring manager since then as a friend and I’ve actually thanked her for not hiring me because if she had, I wouldn’t have ended up at the job I’m at now which, not a dream job per se, gives me far more satisfaction than the other position would have.

    That said, as a librarian I do keep a tongue-in-cheek running list of “dream jobs” that is really just a list of fun special libraries I would love to work at.

  34. Audiophile*

    1. I had a few “dream jobs” and then I started doing the work and they were no longer a “dream”. The companies were dysfunctional and the teams disorganized, the pay was less than market rate and certainly out of step with the COL for the area. The job I am in now isn’t perfect but is certainly a lot better than the others. When I get stressed I just think of all the bad “dream jobs” I’ve had.

    4. This has happened to me. I interviewed via phone but never met anyone face to face. It only happened a few times but they were spread out. Each time I just sent a quick message that they directed an email to me and I wasn’t the appropriate person. They were appreciative and I was taken off the email chain.

    5. I have never applied for a job through Facebook, but I know they have been marketing their job system for a while now. Regardless, unless the application instructions made it very clear not to apply via Facebook, it seems really unfair to toss out a bunch of candidates solely for that reason.

  35. GigglyPuff*

    Okay, I’m probably reading too much into it but feel like I should bring it up. For #3, you mention having “found the job posting”, you mean it’s gone public right? Because I feel like if you’d gone looking on the servers or something, I know most job search stuff where I work is restricted to managers and you’d get in trouble for looking through it, so if this was something you found that isn’t public yet, I feel like that might change the answer to don’t bring it up. (Unless of course you know your office and everyone is allowed to look at that stuff.) Again probably reading way too much into the wording.

    1. OP#3*

      Yes I found it on linkedin! I wouldn’t have gone looking on our drive, plus I probably would have just assumed it was a draft :)

  36. Bibliovore*

    Dream Job
    Over the years my “dream job” has changed. When I first became a librarian I had a long term, where do you see yourself in ten years dream job. The world has changed and that job doesn’t exist anymore. A case of be careful what you wish for.
    And as noted the unexpected job that I was just going to do for a year turned into the 15 year dream job. Great opportunities for growth, fantastic colleagues etc etc.
    My present job was many applicants dream job. I know this because mine is a very small world. It wasn’t my dream job as I was already in one. It was an opportunity to try something new and to spread my wings. The first six months were a misery. Five years in, I can say yes, this is my dream job.

  37. HistoryChick*

    I credit AAM with changing my perspective on jobs. I’ve worked for nonprofits my entire career and throughout my 20s-early 30s it was a matter of *this is my dream*, this is my calling, and, yes, this is my dream job. Until they all weren’t. And I got burnt out. And my bosses sucked. And I had no life outside of work. And now in my late 30s I finally realized that I can be happy in a job that isn’t your *dream.* Not going to lie – this was a tough transition to make because my entire identity was wrapped up in the dream of my work. And I had to do some hard work reinventing myself and who I am in the process. I’ve been at my current job for a year. It’s not my dream company or my dream job. When I accepted it I knew this but I needed to get the heck out of old dream job because it was killing me. And I thought I made a mistake taking the job for about six months. And now a year in, it’s great. I like it more every day. There is a balance I never thought possible. And I can see myself staying here for quite a while. This mindset adjustment has changed my world!

  38. Hiring Mgr*

    I think we are being too hard on the dreamers. When people say “dream job” I don’t think they mean it’s going to be utopia forever, just that from that they know it fits all their criteria for what they’re looking for at that time. By no means should anyone go into a situation with overly rose colored glasses, but there’s no reason not to be enthusiastic either.

    1. fposte*

      I think the pushback in the comments section against people who use it has gotten overly strong at times, but I think it’s worth pointing out that it’s bad plan to fall for a job before you know it. See also “dream guy.”

    2. Lil Fidget*

      To me, I mostly see it used when people are making a sacrifice – like not getting the salary they hoped for – because it’s their “dream job.” For your Dream, you make things work – that’s why it’s problematic. For people who are just using it as a short hand for “an interesting potential opportunity” there’s no issue.

    3. JulieBulie*

      It seems the problem arises when “dream job” crosses the line from “oh this really sounds perfect” to “no seriously, I will just diiiiiiiiie if I can’t have this job. Alison, do you think it would help if I tattooed the hiring manager’s name around my neck?”

  39. Jamey*

    I applied for a “dream job” a couple years ago that didn’t end up being exactly what I expected.

    Basically, I’m involved in hackerspaces as a hobby and there was a job opening for someone to manage a hackerspace full time at a science museum. It was one of those “do the thing you love but as your JOB” situations. The person leaving the job wanted me to have it, as we had met through me volunteering at his hackerspace events, etc, but I wanted to be the person to PLAN those events.

    I interviewed and it turned out that it involved a lot of teaching, including traveling to do classroom teaching in actual schools, and it was going to be a pretty significant pay cut with no real opportunities for growth. (I would have been leaving a very well paid industry for a very low paid one! At the time it would have been about half what I was making, now two years later it would be less than a QUARTER of what I’m now making.)

    I realized this after the first interview and panicked. Then they rejected me anyway – because of my hair and tattoos, something that have never come up as a problem in the industry I work in now.

    Really made me think differently about what makes something a “dream job”

  40. aebhel*

    Re: #1, honestly, my experience with people who say ‘dream job’ is that most of them mean something along the lines of ‘a full-time job that isn’t retail’.

    …then again, I entered the job market in 2008, so my perspective is probably skewed.

  41. Dream jobs don’t exist!*

    Sorry to be jaded, but the term “dream job” is asinine and trite. No such thing!

    1. LKW*

      Agreed – I hate people who are like “I love my job so much, I don’t feel like I’ve ever worked a day in my life, I’m just enjoying it so much.”

      Blargh. My mom always said “They pay you because it’s work. If it were enjoyable, you’d do it for free.”

      1. aebhel*

        I mean… I do like my job? I probably would do it for free if it weren’t for that whole ‘needing money to live’ thing. I don’t love every single aspect of it, but I don’t think there’s such a thing as a human experience that is always 100% positive.

      2. Yorick*

        Well, I think I’d keep my job if I won the lottery. I wouldn’t do it for free because my work deserves compensation.

      3. FM*

        Your mother’s snide comment is absurd: we don’t get paid for working because it’s unpleasant, but because it’s useful to someone else who has the money. The pleasantness (or lack) is orthogonal to the paycheck part. I enjoy my job intensely! I also get paid for it! Which is nice, because whether or not I enjoy my job, I still need to buy dog kibble and pay the rent. There’s no particular virtue in enjoying one’s work or not, and the bills need paying regardless of how much fun someone is having while clocked in.

  42. Squeeble*

    #1 dream jobs: I get the annoyance, but when people use this term I don’t think they literally mean “I found the job that I know for certain, from the outside, would be completely perfect for me and I would never have anything to complain about whatsoever.” Alison’s last paragraph about this is spot-on. People are usually talking about a job that hits all the right notes for them, maybe a combination of the work itself, the organization, the location, the pay, etc.

    By all means it’s smart to stay grounded and realistic when you come across those kinds of opportunities, though.

    1. AMPG*

      And also, people keep talking about how you can’t know the day-to-day workflow or the management styles you’ll be dealing with or the general office culture until you’re there, but that’s true of any job. What you do know (usually) going in is the type of work you’ll be doing and the company you’ll be working for. So people try to control the parts they know and hope the rest works out, which I think is an understandable impulse.

      1. Squeeble*

        Right–and the reverse can happen, too. Sometimes a job that looks so-so on paper can be really fulfilling and enjoyable because of all those same factors.

  43. Newbie*

    I definitely fell into the “dream job” trap at my current job. When I found this job, I was convinced it was going to be perfect. It’s a small, family run company that specializes in a really unique market doing exactly what I was interested in doing long term. It seemed ideal and I was so excited to begin working. Just to find after being in the job for a few months that everything was kind of a mess- there were hardly any policies or guidelines in place, management bounced dramatically between being extremely passive or overbearing, and a lot of my co-workers were catty and rude rather than the fun/family environment I expected. I’ve been here for over a year now and things have gotten a lot better, although it’s still far from the dream job I had envisioned when I first started working here.

  44. LKW*

    Re: Getting emails not meant for you – this has happened where sensitive data has been sent to me both internally and from external clients. When internal, I just write back and say – “Hey I think you meant to send this to – wanted to let you know .”

    When sent from an external source – I glance at the body of the email to determine if it may contain sensitive data, especially if there is an attachment. I respond back to the sender with the specific actions that I’m taking and sometimes I have to follow up with my legal or internal security to let them know. For example, once I was accidentally sent a competitor’s bid on a project. I wrote back to the client that I had been sent the material in error, I was deleting the email they sent and not reading the material, and I followed up with a quick note to legal that it happened and what I did. You always want to do this especially if it might contain contract information (hiring letter) or personally identifiable data (social security number, address, etc.).

    This will help them get the message to the right place but they’ll also see that you understand how to manage sensitive data. Don’t read the attachments not meant for you. It helps later – you don’t have to lie when someone asked if you did.

    1. starsaphire*

      Getting email not meant for me:

      This actually landed me a job interview once! I didn’t get the job (which turned out to be OK) but it’s still a super cool thing.

      At the time, I was job hunting pretty fiercely, because I HATED the job I was in. I’d been active in networking stuff with professional orgs and alma mater groups, and a woman I’d been on a committee with did that very thing: typed in my common first name and got an autofill of me instead of her co-worker. And sent me a group email with a copy of a confidential document.

      I immediately responded — just to her, not to the rest of the group — letting her know that she had sent me a sensitive doc accidentally, explaining that I had deleted the whole thread unread, and just being very polite and professional about the whole thing.

      Apparently she was impressed, because by the end of the email exchange that followed, she’d scheduled me for an onsite interview to fill an open position that they hadn’t yet started a hiring process for…

    1. LKW*

      Nope – that’s my dream job too. As far as I understand the hours are extremely flexible. It’s a small but dedicated team. Key responsibilities include a lot of media consumption like reading, TV, movies, internet; travel as deemed necessary.

  45. Amber Rose*

    Dream jobs: in my experience, they’re always missing one thing. I had one once, but for that one thing: pay. It paid minimum wage. So I couldn’t afford to keep it. But man, I loved it. My dream job to this day is still that job again with livable pay. I think a lot of the time, people do just that, let the things they liked in various positions build into an image of the perfect position, and then keep hoping for that ideal.

    Realistically, there’s always gonna be one thing. If not X then Y. But it’s not so terrible to have dreams and hopes. Life would be pretty joyless without them. As long as one is still living here in reality, I don’t think the term “dream job” is so awful.

    #4: I somehow ended up on a non-profit email list for business discussion a little while ago. It was all very strange, because I can’t think of any reason they should have my work email. Anyways, I had been ignoring it, and then they hired a woman with my first name (very different last name) and I ended up flooded with emails that should have gone to her welcoming her to the company. It was then twice as awkward to clear everything up. Also I wonder if those people re-sent their emails or if that poor woman felt completely ignored.

    Hilariously, I wasn’t getting any emails from one of my coworkers because, we figured out, she’d been sending them all to an Amber from another company. Who must have been very confused the whole time.

    Anyways, trust the word of experience here: the faster you politely explain what’s going on, the easier and less awkward it is for everyone.

  46. bookish*

    Gosh, question #1 seems awfully cynical!

    Sure, you can’t know an opening will be a great fit for you at a great place to work until you’ve actually worked there. But it’s called a “dream job,” not a “perfection in the light of hard reality after some experience and reflection” job. You can dream of working somewhere and find that it isn’t actually a great fit in the long run.

    Getting to the point, my job is in the exact field I wanted to go into and specifically studied and trained to go into, in the area I wanted to live. I’m an artist so I feel incredibly lucky to have this job. The pay isn’t fantastic (though it is about the average pay for my field) and the commute can be less than ideal. But you know what? I’d still call this my dream job. I have the exact job I wanted, the workplace keeps me busy but stays chill, people are friendly, I’ve got steady work with benefits, I live near my family and where I grew up. I wonder if not understanding the concept of a dream job means not… having a dream job? Or thinking the dream job is unattainable? I definitely get what LW1 is saying, but it sure seems bleak.

  47. Grey*

    The phrase “Dream Job” sounds like it should have “Barbie” in front of it.

    Get hired, then you can move on to the Dreamhouse and Dream Car.

  48. Rusty Shackelford*

    I really don’t understand all the hate for the idea of a “dream job.” Don’t you have *something* you aspire to? Something you daydream about? A dream car/house/vacation/wardrobe? Why is it so awful to say “this is the job I would really like to have?”

    1. Perse's Mom*

      Because in some (many?) cases, it ignores reality. We see lots of letters here where people ignore sometimes massive red flags because it’s “a dream job,” and while it’s great to have high hopes for a job, those hopes should be founded in reality. If your actual dream is to work in X industry even if it means you get paid next to nothing and are constantly on the verge of starving, well… you do you.

      But for most people, the ‘dream’ is to work in X industry and get paid a living wage (or probably well over that, given ‘dream’) and have good coworkers (definition will vary) and a good boss (definition will vary), etc etc. When the reality is you’re exceedingly lucky to have ALL of those things at one time, and it can be very hard for someone to walk into a job expecting all of that and then have… crap raises, or their great boss replaced with someone incompetent two months in, etc.

      Then again, I’m the sort of person who would rather be pleasantly surprised by things being better than expected than have my hopes slowly deflated.

    2. Aurion*

      Because in life, things usually have downsides, and the concept of “dream job” utterly ignores said downside. Sure, I daydream about a nice big house–but the daydream ignores the fact that houses require a ton of maintenance. I daydream about being a superhero with Wolverine healing powers, but powers like that require a lot of calories and I’d probably spend the entire day eating just to keep up with my metabolism. Et cetera ad nauseum.

      If you want to keep the dream job in the realm of daydreams, by all means, keep doing that. But a lot of times we see the concept of “dream job” tossed around like it’s this perfect company doing perfect work with perfect pay and benefits and perfect colleagues and perfect bosses and gee golly, if I could just get my foot in the door my life would be made. But outsiders have no idea if it’s really that rosy, or if it is, maybe that dream boss up and leaves to her dream job and you get a nightmare boss to replace her.

      As something to aspire to, great–but when idealism and reality collide, it’s rarely reality that backs down. When you’re hanging your livelihood on something, it’s better to look at it with a critical, clear eye than the rose-tinted glasses of dreams.

  49. EmilyAnn*

    I used the term “dream location” last night in a text and had to think about it a little. It’s not about the job, it’s abut where it’s located and the logistical support it comes with.

  50. JC*

    #4, this happened to me a few years ago too, for a job I applied for and ultimately ended up being hired for. There was someone else in the group who had the same first name as me, and I ended up popping up when she meant to email the other same-name person.

    I learned when I started that my boss is notoriously bad with email, and that others had to go into her Outlook (with her permission!) and delete their personal email addresses from her contact list after they were hired so she would stop accidentally sending buisness emails to their personal accounts.

  51. Mimmy*

    #1 – Dream Job

    YES!!! I’ve gotten into this mindset myself, both with employment and school. I don’t necessarily call it “dream job” or “dream program”, but it feels like “omgggg!! This is the perfect opportunity for Reasons A, B, and C!!!” only to be brought back down to earth because it isn’t the amazing opportunity I thought it’d be.

    I don’t know that it’s necessarily an age thing though, at least not for me. I’m 44, and I still find myself falling back into the “dream job” mindset – it happened with my current job and I’m still hoping for that “dream” opportunity even though I know intellectually that this is pretty much impossible.

    I haven’t read all the comments yet, but I wonder if Alison or the commenters have any suggestions on how to break that mindset.

  52. Blue Dog*

    My 26 year old son graduated from a major university, but with a degree in the arts. For two or three years, he kicked around doing Power Points and making internet ads — all at a rate that was less than a high school kid would charge to babysit. He had two or three jobs — all working 15 hours a week — just to try to make ends meet. It was a horrible, degrading time.

    Despite this, he kept ramming his head into the walls with interviews. He is a very different kind of guy — art student, still likes comic books and board games, lives in a world of rainbows and marshmallows.

    Out of the blue, he got a call to work for a company that makes board games. Full time. Full benefits. Great salary. Wednesday is “beta-testing day” where they play board games to make sure they work right. He is a mile from the beach and his commute is against traffic.

    I used to think the concept of a “dream job” was bullshit. Not anymore.

    1. Anna*

      Oh, man. In my circle of friends an art student that likes comic books and board games is not a “different kind of guy,” it’s standard operating procedure. :)

  53. SaltyAnon*

    A couple years ago I was aggressively pursuing my “dream job”. It was a dream job in the sense that (a) the company is essentially in the Ivy League of employers, and the brand recognition from working there has long-term value in my field, and (b) people build high-level skills there significantly faster than at most other jobs.

    I knew while pursuing it that I would probably dislike the work environment and not stay more than a few years, but that it would be worth it for the future opportunities. I did in fact get the job, and I mostly hate it. While I love the work I do, as expected, the place is full of difficult and toxic personalities who will gleefully throw others under the bus to make themselves look better. Still, the job has taken me from “a person who can do these processes” to a real problem-solver. I am job searching now, and I have more prospects than ever before. The brand recognition and scope of work are absolutely valuable in my job search.

    I don’t regret it, and although it wasn’t dreamy in the sense of being happy and fulfilled there, it gave me a real boost on my long term career path.

  54. Jan Levinson*

    #1 – I’m young, and I totally agree with you. My definition of “dream job” is something outrageous (getting paid to eat food, playing a sport professionally, being a movie start, etc.) I always doubt when I see the phrase “dream job” on here that it is, in fact, a dream job; they are more than likely ordinary jobs with perhaps extraordinary companies (still not a dream job in my opinion).

  55. Kms1025*

    OP #5 – I apologize if this has already been mentioned as I haven’t had time to read all comments yet. When using Facebook for employment ads, you can setup an auto-reply thanking the applicant for their interest and asking them to call (or email) your office to further discuss the job opportunity and proceed with the application process. It’s nice to follow up directly to the Facebook application, but if you setup the auto-reply you build in another way for the serious applicant to follow up with you.

  56. Seeker*

    #2 – I would encourage you to not say anything to Jane. You stated it is expected that others on the team will “help out” on other tickets when they’re done with their own so it’s not something Jane just decided to do on her own and I’m not sure you have proper standing to request her to change the team’s established workflow. (And, if Jane suddenly stopped pitching-in she might be questioned as to why she’s suddenly not “helping out” with other tickets as expected which is compounded by the fact she’s a remote worker who may feel her online activity is even more important for performance measurements given her lack of a physical presence.)

    From a customer/client perspective, I’d hate the idea that my ticket has to sit there unresolved when someone is available and capable of taking care of it. You didn’t state these are situations where Jane isn’t as skilled at handling them which is generating problems for you and the client, or that there’s confusion on workflow when someone takes over someone else’s tickets. Saving some of these tickets for when you have free time seems far less important (from a client perspective) than just getting them resolved as soon as is feasible by the team even if the due date is a week or more away. It’s providing good service!

    The problem isn’t Jane. The problem is you have more people than work. Since you’re unhappy with that, I’d either use the downtime to expand my skills or look for other work (or both), but I’d leave Jane out of it.

  57. Julia*

    Re #1: I think this term comes from all the hype around job-hunting.
    I’ve done a lot of job-hunting in the past and there were always companies trying to do the hard sell: “DREAM JOB with top company! Everything you ever wanted!…” etc.
    There were always agencies that said they were recruiting for dream jobs. I never figured out how they stayed in business because they didn’t seem to actually do anything. They would have me in for an interview and skills tests and promise me interviews for great jobs with high pay, etc. – and then nothing would happen. If I called to follow-up, still nothing. I still remember one in the 1990’s – A nasty old woman, smoking in her office :o met with me and said she’d set up interviews. When I called back, she wouldn’t take my calls. Then months later I came home to a message from her “call me back ASAP! I have an interview for you!” and then when I called she wouldn’t talk to me. She did that three times, a few months apart. I think she just wanted to do emotional abuse.
    The ads/postings for these agencies are easy to spot because of the very hard sell and no company name included.
    Agency or not, it seemed like the harder the sell on the DREAM JOB, the worse the company was.
    The point I’m trying to make here is, bad companies use this term to manipulate inexperienced job hunters and this may be why job hunters use this term.

  58. LadyKelvin*

    For me, my dream job is not a particular job but a topic. I’m in an academic-adjacent job where I work for a university doing research but I’m not faculty or have anything to do with the education side of things (and I don’t have to worry about funding, I’m in a permanent position). In my field we are trained on a set of techniques that can then be applied to a variety of species, and basically you get a job doing the techniques and they tell you what species you work on. My dream job is working on the same species/type of species that I spent 6 years doing research on for my masters/phd but is not one of the more common species to work on in general. Thus when I landed my current job where I knew I’d be doing research on my species it was my dream job because I get to continue doing work that I am interested in. Turns out the great team, location, and exotic travel destinations are bonuses.

  59. Nicole*

    For # 2, this vaguely reminds me of this software place I worked at for like 8 months. I was brought in following a previous round of layoffs though. I had very little work but was trained on some of the admin duties in the case my coworker was out (I was customer support and she was admin/exec support). My boss said that he wanted us to be trained on each other’s jobs. Well, I had very little work to do and there was little incentive to give me extra work. If you are speaking up about the downtime and not getting anything new, I’d start looking around for work. Just to be on the safe sid3e.

  60. Anna*

    The whole conversation about dream jobs reminds me of my graduate Social Psychology class where I had to read a book on the Social Psychology of laughter. I still have not forgiven the jerk who did the research on that. There are some things I don’t think we need to pull the curtain back on.

  61. Not a Fergus*

    Social media manager here. There is absolutely an option to remove that Apply Now button from your job-related posts before posting from a Page. I feel that because that step was missed, you are obligated to accept the applications. Whether you offer them an interview is something else entirely.

    1. Princess Cimorene*

      ha, too bad we can’t boost a post to the top so that it is read first! There are a group of boneheads at the OPs office who should be told about themselves.

  62. dawbs*

    My ‘dream job’ is with my current employer–I applied here for many (more than 10) years to get an in here.
    But…it’s not my perfect job. It’s that my dream work in a very niche field, and there is ONE local place to work in this field that’s close to where I live (and where my family lives and where my spouse is employed)–I worked tangential to this field for these years, with an 80 mile commute each way, and kept watching for the opening I have.
    It’s kinda like wanting to work for Major League Baseball and living in Toronto–you either want to work for the Blue Jays or you want to move to another city.

    And the position isn’t perfect. Nor is the organization, or the pay or…a lot of other things.
    But, realistically, I either need to move, resign myself to absurd commutes, or change fields
    Hence my ‘dream’

  63. ZucchiniBikini*

    Dream job is not really a concept I believe in. “Job with excellent remuneration and conditions”, yes. “Job with a lovely workplace environment and great colleagues”, yes. “Job with engaging and worthwhile work”, yes. I have had all of those at various times – although, and this is important, never at the SAME time (well, my best-ever job was both #2 and #3 of these, but sadly was not well-paid).

    What I do believe in, though, is “The job that I want / need at this moment in my life or career”. It is absolutely true that there will be jobs that are such a good fit for you that they are leagues ahead of alternative jobs, because the things that are most important to you right then (career development, great flexibility, supportive environment, sense of purpose in your work) are their strong suits. Some of these things you can tell from the outside – pay, conditions, status of the organisation, their mission / vision, sometimes even the nature of the work. But some of it, you just don’t know til you get there.

  64. Former Computer Professional*

    I’m late as usual, but I wanted to add my take on “Dream Job.” I thought my previous job was my Dream Job. It was with a group that I’d wanted to work with for almost 20 years, doing a very specific type of work that I had some experience with, but seemed like it would offer me a chance to grow further.

    Because I was so enamored with the idea of getting this job, I missed every single red flag that this was not going to work out. They gave me an hour long phone interview with the core team (five people). They asked some questions that were outside of my field, but they said they were more concerned about how I’d tackle learning than my actual knowledge of these areas.

    They flew me in for an in-person and spent the whole time telling me, “The job is yours! We want to convince you to come work for us!” I was so thrilled I didn’t pay close attention.

    Very long story short, when I started the job, it unraveled very quickly. I was fired before the end of my ‘probation period.’

    Ten years later and I’m still kicking myself. But now I have a job I love, so it’s a win in the end.

  65. Newlywed*

    #4…my email is 1 character off from the email of an actress who is now in a tv show and has had minor roles in some movies. I frequently get cc’d on all sorts of stuff from BIG MOVIE CORP THAT YOU’VE HEARD OF and it’s pretty fun to see the threads. I always say “hey! I think you meant this for X2, this is X1 :)” I kinda wanted to weigh in when the casting team was trying to decide if Actor Y was “hot or not”…answer is yes, he is ;)

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