when an employee turns in late work, telling your interviewer “I really want this job,” and more

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

1. My employee said he didn’t know his late project was important — but he did

I manage a team of six in a small STEM firm. My employees are, by and large, fantastic. They do their work on time, at a high level, with great attitudes. I love my team and my job.

Recently, one of my employees didn’t complete a project on time. He promised the work on Tuesday, which then went to Thursday, which became Friday, then Monday. When I told him we absolutely needed it by tomorrow (Tuesday), he complained that I had never told him this was a high priority … and if he had known, of course he would have had it done on time! (I did tell him that, every time we discussed this.)

His work on other projects is great, so I have no interest in firing him or anything like that. My company is smallish, so we don’t have things like PIPs or anything like that. What tools can I use to make sure this kind of thing doesn’t happen again? Should he be disciplined somehow–and if so, how?–or trained? I don’t have to do that much criticism or discipline in this job, so I’m a bit at a loss now what I should do.

When you have a good employee who messes up once, don’t start thinking about PIPs or discipline — just talk to the person about what happened and why! So in this case, sit down with him and say, “Hey, let’s talk about what happened with the X project. It was due on the 10th and I didn’t get it from you until a week later. You mentioned that you didn’t know it was a high priority, but I literally said the words ‘high priority’ every time we talked about it. I want to make sure this doesn’t happen again, so let’s figure out where we miscommunicated. What’s your sense of what happened?”

This should be an actual discussion, where you’re genuinely interested in his feedback. Since this is an otherwise good employee, it’s possible there’s something going on that you didn’t realize (including that you really might not have been as clear as you think you were). See what he says, and talk it through. If it turns out that he really just didn’t take you seriously, then say, “Going forward, let’s agree that if I say something is high priority, I need you to tell me in advance if you think you won’t be able to make that deadline, so that we can figure out how to handle it, not wait until it’s already overdue.”

The main benefit to having this conversation is that you’ll both come out of it with a better understanding of what happened and what should happen differently in the future. But a secondary benefit is that it creates accountability — you’re demonstrating that if people let things drop like this, there’s going to be a fairly serious conversation about it, and that reinforces how you expect people to operate. (If he had a pattern of messing up, this would be a different conversation — more about the pattern and that it’s a serious concern. But that’s not the case here.)

2. Should you say “I really want this job” at the end of an interview?

I read an article today that says that at the end of the interview you should say ‘I really want this job.” The article says that it shows sincerity, courage, and humility and is always received well. That strikes me as wrong. I would think that it might undermine your ability to negotiate if you get an offer. It also seems like if you are not a very strong candidate, it could look desperate or even entitled. What do you think?

To me, “I really want this job” doesn’t show sincerity, courage, or humility. It’s not the worst thing in the world to say, but it sounds a little pushy and sometimes premature. (I’d rather have the person go home and really reflect on the conversation before deciding they want the job, not make such a major decision when in many cases it’s barely been an hour since we met.) It also puts the interviewer on the spot a bit; it’s a little awkward to respond to that statement with, “I enjoyed talking with you and will be in touch soon,” especially when you know you’re probably not going to move the person forward.

So no, it’s definitely not always received well.

That said, I don’t think it looks desperate or entitled or that it undermines your ability to negotiate. It’s just kind of an awkward thing to say. (I don’t doubt, though, that there are some interviewers who like it.

There are lots of other ways to show enthusiasm that don’t come with those downsides. For example: “I’m even more interested in this role now that I’ve learned more about it, and I’m looking forward to any next steps.” Or “I’m really interested in what I’ve heard so far, and I think this position is right in line with what I’d like my next move to be.” Or “Thanks so much for talking with me. I’m really excited about this job and hope we’ll talk again soon.”

3. My company sent a stern letter to my employee that I don’t agree with

I work for a small company as a manager. I line-manage an assistant who is sadly on sick leave following a bereavement. She was initially signed off for one month, and then sent a note for a further two weeks. In all honesty, she is not coping well and I’ve supported her as best I can, and referred her to our EAP.

I was informed today by HR that the head of our area has decided to call her in for a meeting next week to discuss her return to work. (This meeting is proposed for just four days from now, when according to her doctor she would be returning to work anyway). I do not in the slightest approve of the letter being sent. It has a downright lie (that we’re “stretched as a team” — we’re not, we have temporary cover) and it takes no consideration to her well-being. It also threatens termination. (She is in her probationary period.)

I have not been consulted on this at all, and HR had to fight to be given permission to tell me what was going on. Needless to say, I’m outraged by that. To add insult to injury, this is all happening whilst our my manager) is on holiday. I’ve told HR I would like to put in writing that I do not agree with this letter, and I am frustrated at not having been consulted. I will also state in that email that I will of course toe the party line if she calls to speak to me directly, but to prevent a conflict of interest will refer her to HR.

Is this the right thing to do? I feel fairly confident the tone of my email is professional, un-adversarial and simply sharing my opinion on the matter. However that feels … icky and wrong to me. I don’t agree with this situation and feel guilty and sick that I’m not kicking down doors and busting ass in support of my team member. It might not change anything, but at least I’d known I’d done as much as I could. Is there anything I can do to professionally fight her corner, especially as I haven’t been consulted on this at all?

It’s really odd that this happened without you being consulted. Can you talk to your area head and find out what’s going on? I’d say something like, “I’ve been working with Jane on her leave and encouraged her to take this time. We’ve have enough cover that it’s not a problem at all. The approach in this letter surprised me and isn’t in line with what I’ve been saying to her. Can you tell me more about what your concerns are?” Also, if she’s a good employee, say something like, “Jane is a good employee who I want to keep, and I don’t think we should be threatening her job.”

Do this now, so that there’s a higher chance of it being worked out before Jane contacts you. If she does, don’t do the thing you suggested about referring her to HR. You’re her manager, so that will seem weird (and really alarming). Instead, if it’s not resolved by then, say something like, “I’m trying to get more information about what’s going on and I’ll let you know as soon as I do.”

4. My coworker suggested I apply for a job that’s “intended for me”

I’m a recent grad who interned at a pretty big-name company over the summer and was lucky enough to get a job offer off the back of it. I’ve been working remotely, but I made a good impression while I was in the office, and recently, one of my coworkers emailed to say she thought a new listing for a more senior role was intended for me. It specifies that a background like mine — relatively uncommon in this industry — would be a plus, which has apparently never been included in listings for the same position in the past. She’s a good friend (definitely not trying to mess with me), and smart (so unlikely to have had a spectacular lapse in judgment), but I’m convinced she must be wrong; I’m barely out of school, and have only been working here for about six months if you count my internship.

I’m hesitant to email the person the role reports to as she suggested, because I know it would look stunningly arrogant if she’s wrong. Is there a graceful way to navigate this? And how likely is it that the listing really was posted with me in mind? Wouldn’t the manager have contacted me directly if that was the case? Help!

Why not ask the coworker who emailed you for more info? Give her a call or stop by in person and say, “I’d love to apply for this, but can you tell me more about why you think it’s intended for me? I still think of myself as relatively entry-level and this seems like a more senior role where they’d normally be looking for more experience than what I had.”

If you’re still unsure after that, since it’s an internal role you can always contact the hiring manager and say, “Jane Smith suggested I apply for this role because of my background in llama folk songs, but I wanted to touch base with you to see if you thought that made sense, or if you’re looking for someone more senior than I am.”

As for the likelihood that it was posted with you in mind … it would be unusual for them to do that without telling you they wanted you to apply. But it’s possible that your coworker meant “this job was made for you!” in the “this job is perfect for you” sense, rather than “they literally drafted this role description for you.” Is the coworker more experienced/senior? If so, I’d trust her take more than if she’s also a new grad.

5. How do I list lots of short-term temp jobs without looking like I was job-hopping?

I am currently in a job search (involuntarily) and unsure how to list multiple short-term contract positions. I was laid off at the end of May 2016 (I worked in oil and gas, and the price of oil was too low to support the project I was on) and spent the next year looking for a permanent, long-term position. In the interim, I worked several short contract positions with different temp agencies to bring in income and pay the bills. Unfortunately, unemployment insurance doesn’t always last long enough to find another job. I have listed each staffing agency on my resume so there aren’t any gaps, but then all the short-term positions make it look like I’m job-hopping, which I’m not trying to do.

To add to all of this, my most recent permanent position ended after only 3.5 months. I don’t believe it was completely my fault (lack of communication between boss and staff, conflict and office politics with a supervising coworker (I didn’t report to her), unreasonable working conditions, etc.), but how do you explain that to a potential employer without sounding petty or ridiculous? I really do want a long-term position and want to showcase to potential employers all of my skills and knowledge. I do believe I have much to offer a potential employer. I’m just not sure how to overcome the past year on my resume.

Group all the short contract and temp jobs since your layoff under one heading. Call it Contract Work, and list the most impressive details under that — but have it be all under one umbrella. You can have one bullet point (either the first or last) in that section say something like “Via Teapot Temps, Daily Llama Support, and Teapot Staffing.”

And I’d leave the permanent job of 3.5 months off your resume altogether. That’s not long enough for the gap to look really odd, and it’s not long enough for you to have had serious accomplishments that you absolutely must include. 3.5 months is short enough that I’d just remove it from your work history altogether. Sometimes that means that you’ll get questions about why you left the job before that one, but if that happens, you can say something like, “I originally left for a position that turned out to be different than what I thought I’d been hired to do, and I’ve been doing contract work since then.”

{ 197 comments… read them below }

  1. Kc89*

    #1 is common but dated advice

    I think it can sometimes still work well for retail and food service. I used that line at the end of my first retail interview and it was like the lights switched on in my interviewer’s eyes and she nodded and said “let’s do it” and that was that.

    I wouldn’t use it for most interviews though.

    1. Sherm*

      Yeah, if someone said that to an interview I was conducting, it would cross my mind that the interviewee might be trying to guilt-trip me into hiring him/her. I’d say, rather, that talking the day off to go to the interview is by itself a pretty good sign that you are more than a little interested. And your interest will probably naturally come across. (If you’re bored and trying not to show it, consider whether it’s the right job for you.)

      1. MashaKasha*

        I said it once, but more along the lines of Alison’s suggestions. The interviewer talked a lot about their (new and growing) company, and seemed excited about it himself. So I thought it seemed like a good time to say, “I am really interested in what I am hearing so far, and I would like to work here”. Fifteen minutes after the interview ended, my recruiter called me to inform that I was the top candidate. Ended up working there for six years.

        It can be used, but very rarely, in my opinion. Once in a while the stars align in a way that it is not awkward to say this in an interview. All other times, I agree that there are better ways of showing interest.

    2. JamieS*

      Those were my thoughts as well. Seems like something that could potentially work well in low skill low pay jobs such as food service or retail but I don’t see it working well otherwise.

      1. Mes*

        Food service and retail jobs aren’t that much different from other jobs. Most managers are still going to see this tactic as pushy.

        1. JamieS*

          Yeah I wouldn’t say a majority of managers would like it but I maintain the likelihood of it working is higher than in other jobs.

        2. Doe-Eyed*

          I would say in general these types of managers have more broad interviewing experiences with people that have a lot less experience in the workforce, so it’s not as likely to stand out as a sore thumb as it would if, say, you were interviewing for partner at a law firm.

        3. Natalie*

          Eh, whenever this comes up here actual managers in food service and retail seem to believe that the conventions for job searching and interviewing are different in their field. And from what I can see that’s pretty accurate – resumes are way less uncommon, drop ins and phone calls are much more acceptable, etc.

          1. Koko*

            I’ve worked in a few different places and I’ve noticed that the places with the highest turnover are more likely to hire this way. They’re always short-staffed and can’t quite keep up with the employee churn, so they do prioritize getting warm bodies into uniforms quickly over finding people who will stick around (which creates a vicious cycle).

    3. KAZ2Y5*

      I have to admit that I probably said something like this at the interview for the job I have now. But in all fairness, they said something like this (about me) first. I still had to pass all the checks they did for this particular job, but as long as I passed everything the job was mine.

    4. Lars the Real Girl*

      Ugh. Yes. I work in a slightly different cultural norm area and when the point comes in the interview of “do you have any questions for us?” and they say “only one – do I get the job?” it just makes me cringe. It’s car-salesman-y and really doesn’t take into account most white-collar office norms where you just WOULD NOT hire someone on the spot.

      1. Questing*

        What does the interviewer even say to that? All I can imagine based on my own experience of interviewing candidates is me staring flatly at them and saying “I have six more candidates to interview before that decision will be taken.” And then moving them to the bottom of the list.

        1. Lars the Real Girl*

          Basically. Although I can never manage the flat – I always end up with a nervous chuckle.

        2. Antilles*

          I’m guessing the interviewer’s response probably goes one of two ways:
          1.) Flat declaration that we can’t make a decision at this point (like you said).
          2.) Awkwardly stumbling non-answer: “Uh, well, we’ll have to get back to you on that, lots of people to interview, you know how it goes, timeline, decisions, yeah”.

        3. DQ*

          When this has happened to me I 1) intentionally allow it to show on my face that they just made this awkward (so they hopefully don’t do that again) 2) chuckle and say something like “while I appreciate your enthusiasm, we have several other strong candidates and I won’t know who is the best fit for this role until I’ve talked to all of them. HR will let you know if you’ll be moving to the next step.” Smile, shake hands, the end.

          I don’t necessarily discount them, but it becomes a factor on their ‘con’ list.

        4. Someone else*

          What does the interviewer even say to that?
          “Are you under the impression we’re living in a sitcom?” said completely straight-faced.

    5. David McWilliams*

      #2 makes me wonder if the people giving this advice have ever gone on a date. “I really like you and we should be together” is something that only makes sense on a very, very small subset of first dates.

    6. Artemesia*

      Alison’s alternative scripts say the same thing but in a more tactful appropriate way. Expressing enthusiasm is important; some people are naturally a bit laid back or dour and if they don’t say one of these lines may not appear as enthusiastic about the job. I have been on committees where people say ‘We liked Fred, but he didn’t seem really that interested and Dave really seems like he would be more likely to accept the offer.’

      Don’t be Fred if you want the job — use one of Alison’s lines showing interest and enthusiasm

    7. Anastasia Beaverhausen*

      I believe you touched on an important component of this approach – a mutual interest – which is often difficult to gauge.

    8. Changed*

      My take is that you should show rather than tell, let them know that you want the job by talking about the specific things you expect to enjoy most, rather than just saying it.

      The last interview I had, the interviewer asked me what attracted me to the role, but even if she hadn’t I’d have made sure to get the answer in there anyway.

      As an example, if you express your enthusiasm for the challenge and pace of the work you’d be doing, love the idea of doing something different almost every hour of the day, and how much it means to be trusted to work independently and manage your time, you’re a) showing how well you fit in the role personality-wise, b) showing how well you know what sort of work you’re doing, and c) strongly implying that you’re not frightened off by toughh deadlines and a busy environment.

  2. Stellaaaaa*

    OP3: How long had Jane worked at the company before taking her leave? Six weeks is a lot of time to take off in one go, let alone during your probationary period. I can understand if the higher-ups feel that they hired someone who effectively never showed up to do the job. I can’t say what I would do in this situation, but I think the fact of it being her probationary period carries more weight than your letter factors in. You can fight to keep her, but she has been absent for literally half of her first 90 days so maybe don’t call in any favors on this one? This is kind of what probationary periods are for.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I keep wondering if OP is maybe in a different country/system/field? I’m honestly having a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that (1) someone wrote this letter without OP’s input; (2) it was hard for OP to get access to the contents of the letter; and (3) a new hire, who is still new enough to be on probation, has been on bereavement leave for six weeks.

      I had a similar read as you, Stellaaaaa, even with the factual inaccuracies in the letter and the strangeness of going around OP to draft/send it. My gut is that the letter is probably not the right way to communicate with the employee about concerns… but the underlying concerns could still be valid, even if the medium isn’t.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        She’s not on bereavement leave. She’s in sick leave. If she’s in the UK (and some of the language suggests she could possibly be) these are quite different things. Bereavement leave doesn’t really exist – there’s no requirement to provide it.

        If someone is on sick leave, employees will generally have a clear policy on how to handle that, how and when to communicate with an employee and how to manage their return, and it would be smart to adhere to any recommendations made by Jane’s doctor eg for a phased return. You’d normally expect line managers to handle contact, with advice from HR.

        1. Purple snowdrop*

          Yeah I think this might be a UK one. And if a close family member died when I was in a probationary period in a new job and they got rid of me as a result? I’d be going to my union.

          My probationary period has always been 6 months, and there’s always an option of extending it IME.

          1. Some sort of management consultant*

            I got very very sick during the 4th month of my 6 month probationary period and had to be off for 2 months on sick leave. At least in my country, firing someone who is sick during the probationary period is one of the one absolute no-no’s. I imagine it’s the same in the UK.

            Like it or not, the employee HAS a sick note and is officially on sick leave. I can’t see why the cause (a loss in the family) would make the rules any different.

          2. Mary*

            Probationary period of 12 months wouldn’t be that unusual in the UK: I’ve just completed a 12-month probationary period at a university. She could easily have been working there 6-10 months, which is lots of time to demonstrate you’re a good employee.

            (Plus, whilst legally you could still fire someone with relatively little cause 10 months into a 12 month probationary period, all the organisations I’ve worked for have a very strict internal policy saying that you’d need a strong paper trail showing that the employee had been made aware of problems with their performance and given clear directions about how to improve.)

            1. Alton*

              I’m in the US, but I had a 12-month probationary period at a university. There weren’t any special limitations on using leave that I knew of–I used sick and vacation days during that period with no problem, though I wasn’t out for long stretches of time. Benefits also kicked in right away.

              So it really depends on the field and the reason for the probationary period.

            2. Static*

              Essentially what happens here in the U.K. is that many companies have a bereavement policy; when my mother died I was given two weeks off with full pay. Some roles don’t offer bereavement leave at all (food service, retail etc) so if you want to take time off its unpaid and risks your job as you’d have to just call in sick.

              If you want more time off behind the bereavement period you have to call in/go off sick. For the first seven days you can self certify, any longer and a doc has to sign you off. I don’t know if theyll sign it ‘grief’, usually something like ‘depression’ even though they’re different things.

              A decent workplace with decent workers rights will allow you a couple weeks off and then any longer is considered extra and between you and your doctor. But there’s a lot of pressure to get back as in low paid insecure jobs any time off paints you as unreliable, and most can’t afford the time off.

              I wish I’d known about being able to get signed off by the doctor when my mum died. I started my compssionate leave when she went into intensive care so by the time she’d died a few days later, I’d planned the funeral for a week later and then there was a weekend, my first day back (customer service role) was three days after the funeral. I was 22 and knew no different. However, even if I had known, I couldn’t have taken sick leave off as I had ran out of sick pay due to a chronic illness/disability so had to be there for financial reasons come hell or high water.

              Four months later I was signed off for a month due to physical health issues, didn’t get paid, ended up in significant debt. Ended up bankrupt a few years later from snowballing debt and the costs of missing work due to ill health!

          1. Aunt Vixen*

            I agree that the doctor’s note reinforces the sick leave concept, but OP3 said sick leave following a bereavement – which makes me (and I haven’t read all the comments, so I don’t know if I’m the only one) likely to conclude the employee had a miscarriage. And now they’re talking about letting her go. Oof, go fight win, OP. You are a hero.

            1. Lehigh*

              It’s just as likely to be a sick leave for a grief reaction following a bereavement of a spouse, child, parent, etc.

            2. BananaPants*

              Or she could be suffering from depression or other mental health issues related to the bereavement and be on FMLA or similar leave. No reason to speculate on the nature of the bereavement.

              A coworker’s spouse died and he took about a month off beyond our 3 days of bereavement leave. His physician filled out the FMLA paperwork, so I assume there was some medical justification for it.

              1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                If she’s on probation, though, it’s highly unlikely she’s on FMLA leave (she has to be employed for a year before FMLA leave kicks in, assuming her employer has the requisite number of employees).

                But this is why I’m wondering if it’s the UK or another geography, because the expectations/norms and legal protections shift significantly based on the little I’ve picked up from our UK-based commenters.

            3. Lucy*

              This type of speculation is unnecessary. It doesn’t matter who died. Someone died. Attributing a hierarchy to grief is not necessary and is disrespectful. Everyone grieves differently.

            4. Artemesia*

              I assumed the loss of a husband or child for which 6 weeks doesn’t come close to enough time to get on your feet.

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Thanks for the additional information—this is exactly what I was hoping folks could chime in with. Whether it’s sick leave or bereavement leave probably wouldn’t make a difference in how it’s perceived/protected in the U.S. context (I’m assuming she’s been employed for less than a year), but OP’s letter sounded like it might come from a different legal context with different norms and legal protections.

        3. Akcipitrokulo*

          Also if they have been signed off work – they CANNOT come back as the company will have zero insurance for them if they are in the building.

          (I found this out after feeling well enough to come back 6 days into a week-long sick note, and HR communicated to me, through manager, in VERY strong terms I was never to do that again….)

    2. Lady Kelvin*

      We can’t assume her probationary period is only 90 days. Mine is a year and some of my colleagues’ is 3 years. I have been at my job for 10 months so I would have enough sick and vacation leave to take 6 weeks if necessary, but they wouldn’t be threatening to fire me for sure.

        1. Anna*

          I’ve had six months for one company and 90 days for another (which means that when my position was switched from one contractor to another and went into effect the day my 6 month probation ended, I essentially spent 9 months on probation due to a technicality).

    3. DD*

      Probationary periods can vary wildly though, I’ve worked at places with 3,6 & 12 months depending on the field. But let’s say it’s 6 months. I usually know by 3 months who is a good employee or just an average one. And if one who was great went on bereavement & I believed they were truly an asset and trusted that they would return once better, I would definitely vouch for them

    4. Ramona Flowers*

      I don’t think this is what probationary periods are for. They’re to see if you can do the job, not to check if you’re a robot with immortal relatives.

      1. MilkMoon (UK)*

        This (Also, lol).

        I’m very concerned about the attitude LW3’s company is taking toward this situation. If they were otherwise happy with her, why not just extend the probation to cover the amount of time she had missed, when she returns? That’s the worst my company would do. The way they’re going about it they’ll be lucky if she returns to them at all, and if she did I would hope it was just to pay her bills while she looked for an employer with an ounce of compassion and common sense.

        Many employers seem to forget that, like interviews, probationary periods work both ways.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          And honestly it’s probably more costly to replace her than support a couple of months off.

        2. SchoolStarts!*

          It’s a terrible attitude from an employer, but not the first.

          I worked for a firm with a similar attitude: Oh, you’re sick (sometimes, oh, you’re sick, again). This was seen a great inconvenience to the firm and they fired someone while on her sick leave. The local labour board told the employee she had no recourse as she had been on the job less than three years. I was her work friend and for sure I have some bias here, but she was a dedicated employee who worked hard…when she wasn’t sick. She had chronic health conditions and called out fairly often.

          They did this to another employee who told her manager, I’m better, I’m coming in Monday and the letter from HR telling her that she had been terminated was sent out too late so that it arrived at her house while she was sitting at her desk, working. Her husband called her at work to say, hey, you have a letter from work here, want me to open it? Her manager didn’t have the balls to tell her when she came in for work.

      2. The OG Anonsie*

        Seriously. This is not voluntary for her, and on top of that it’s costly to replace an employee– her own direct manager is saying this is not causing a hardship as they have arranged temporary coverage and are doing fine. The only reason to be punitive in this situation is for the sake of it.

    5. Colette*

      Bereavement shouldn’t have anything to do with a probation period. It’s not generally a voluntary thing, and depending on the relationship and the logistics, I could easily see being out for six weeks, especially if some of it is sick leave. My dad died just after I started a job. I was out for 6 days and was exhausted for at least another month, and I didn’t handle planning the funeral, dealing with the estate, or cleaning up his stuff.

      1. CubicleShroom#1004*

        I buried my father this year. The little company I work for has no bereavement days. I took a day off with no pay (Friday), buried Dad on Friday. Came in Monday to work. Boss didn’t care because work had to be done, and I need the check. I spend my weekends doing the paper work/sort and chuck stuff.

        The funeral director told me his weekends are booked because so many people get no bereavement days or at best 3.

        If you have a job with decent benefits, you are blessed.

        So I can believe it when a higher up thinks a month off for a death is too much.

        1. MashaKasha*

          Sorry about your loss.

          I had a similar experience with my father 4 years ago. Mine died at midnight Thursday night/Friday morning. He was very ill, but it happened sooner than expected, so we were not completely prepared. I was the one organizing everything. Spent all day Friday talking to the funeral home. Scheduled the funeral for Monday morning, because the funeral home could not do Saturday and the cemetery could not do Sunday, or vice versa (can’t remember, it’s been four years). Did some of the sorting/moving over the weekend. My mom called the relatives with the news and the date/time. Herded the relatives around the funeral home/cemetery Monday morning. Can’t remember whether I went to work Tuesday or Wednesday (we got three days for a parent). There was no bereavement involved, just running around and doing the paperwork. Dad had thankfully moved into a separate apartment next to Mom’s in their independent-senior apartment complex. His apartment was almost empty, except for some clothes and furniture. But we still only had 15 days to vacate it. Not as big of a hassle as it would’ve been if we had to move Mom into a smaller apartment on a 15-day deadline, but still a bit of work.

          I am so dense that, up until reading this thread, I had honestly thought that that was what the bereavement leave was for – haggling with the funeral home, packing up things, and doing the paperwork. Then we are expected to do our grieving on our own time. (I was so tired that I never got around to that part.) But now I do see that this is a lot to expect of most of us. My point is that I can completely understand someone needing several weeks to recover, rather than the 1-3 days (or no days, like in your case) they are given at work.

      2. Static*

        Well in my case it did help that I was back at work only three days after the funeral as I was pretty much feeling okay and in shock. It was actually six months later it began to affect my job when grief set in. But everyone is different.

    6. McWhadden*

      Lots of places have six months probationary period. My work does for non-management staff.

      Still a lot of time early on but the woman could have been there for at least four months, which makes it a little different.

    7. Rachael*

      Please fight for her, OP. Six weeks might seem like a lot of time, but in the long run that employee may bring the company value that they are so quick to dismiss. My Lastjob had an employee who lost one of her twins (5 year old) to a sudden and overnight illness. She was devastated and three days would have been a drop in the bucket. She took a couple of months off and came back and worked for another 8 years until we were all laid off. Excellent employee who was grateful for all the compassion that the company gave her. (granted she was not in any probationary period, but I really think that should not be a factor in huge life changes)

    8. AKchic*

      Some industries/companies have different probationary periods. When I worked in rehab, just starting out, everyone had a 90 probationary period. After 5 years, they finally realized that 90 days wasn’t enough for some of the staff. Sure, 90 days was fine for general office staff and night monitors, but for managerial staff and counselors? Nope. The PTB finally got it. They needed at least 6 months for probationary period, if not longer for some positions.

  3. LouKou*

    Are the Daily Llama Support staff people the same ones who sing the Llama Folksongs?

    ~ asking for a friend

      1. JaneB*

        Probably not, I imagine Llamasupport as more like an EAP for llamas who are tone deaf, or a helpline for a Llama herder who doesn’t know which folk song will stop his llamas laughing at his stripy hat….

  4. JamieS*

    #1 I’m wondering if you’re the type of manager who always says things are “high priority” to the point your team members can’t really tell what is actually higher priority than other work? Also, did the employee put the late project on the back burner to focus on other work or was he solely focused on the late project and was just lollygagging? If it’s an issue with competing priorities and not just him dropping the ball it might be a good idea to have regular meetings with your team members if you aren’t already doing so. That way the employee and you are both on the same page on what projects take priority which is especially helpful if there’s a situation where there’s 50 hours of work but 20 hours to complete it so decisions on what to push back need to happen.

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      See also: what you want him to do if he has too much on (eg ask for your input on priorities).

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        That wasn’t clear – I mean make sure he knows what to do if he’s overloaded.

        Also, I think when a staff member – however much they are normally a trusted team member – promises a piece of work they’re overdue on, you want to be asking where they’re up to and getting a clear status report.

        1. JamieS*

          Yeah I found it a little off OP hasn’t already had a more in-depth conversation or if he did I missed it in the letter. I think in general managers should allow employees room to manage their own workload as (opposed to micromanaging) but if an employee is constantly moving back a completion date and the manager is just going along with it instead of having a “this needs to be done yesterday” conversation that doesn’t scream high priority to me. It screams “get it done within a reasonable period of the official due date but no big rush”.

        2. azvlr*

          “. . . make sure he knows what to do if he’s overloaded.” and actually follow through if you hear that message.
          My manager tells me to speak up right away if I know I’m going to miss a deadline or if I think the latest onslaught of work coming in is too much (I’m the main person, but it can be delegated if necessary). And when I do those things, they fall on deaf ears until a deadline slips and I take the heat for it.

          1. Artemesia*

            This letter smacked of little management. If the OP cares about these deadlines then she needs to make them clear by enforcing them. If he pushed if off because of another priority then in that conversation the manager needs to be clear the procedure of dealing with conflicting priorities, the first element of which is to loop in the manager so the priorities can be re-set. And if the manager thinks she was clear about the important of the deadline, then there should already have been a serious conversation and action plan for the future.

            1. Lora*

              Yeah, since we are Monday morning quarterbacking here, probably should have had a sit down chat when the deadline was first missed:
              -whoa, what happened?
              -are you waiting on thing from other person/department?
              -where are you in the process? What parts are done and what need done yet? Can we send an interim report to let folks know what is going on?
              -are time to completion estimates way off? Did we not have a resource we thought we would have? Is a part being delivered late? Did we think that Person would assist and now they aren’t able to help?
              -when we give a new deadline let’s pad that sucker like a Sleepnumber mattress, what REALLY is the time to completion and then multiply x1.5.
              -are there any other points in the process where there might be a sticky point? (In my field, QA paperwork reviews will send a perfectly executed project down an oubliette by no fault of your own – it can just be that another department had a similar project that needs more attention.) Can we prepare for this to ensure it goes smoothly without the usual weirdness? Can you have draft/beta versions pre-recorded so that when the final version is done it moves forward quickly?
              -is there anything I can do to help? Get more people working on it, managing expectations, juggle a priority?

      1. anon for this one*

        Or if “high priority” stuff switches around frequently. Ask me about my motivation to respond to “high priority” from a certain manager, after the high priority project I worked 12hrs on/8hrs off and disrupted my entire household for, was abruptly deemed not worth completing when it was 90% done. Screw that noise. The OP doesn’t sound like that kind of manager, but it’s worth looking at how you’ve used “high priority” to communicate in the past.

        1. BananaPants*

          This is my manager. It’s demoralizing to be told to drop everything to write a document or run an analysis, only to deliver it and be publicly berated because another “high priority” task didn’t get done on time.

      2. sunny-dee*

        Or if the manager or stakeholder isn’t treating it as a high priority. I’ve had people tell me a project is SUPER IMPORTANT …. and then they don’t respond to emails or send me required info for days (sometimes until after the super important deadline). If you tell me it’s super important, but don’t act like it yourself, I am going to assume it’s not that important and work on something that seems to have more priority.

        1. Artemesia*

          My favorite is the rush rush work over the weekend to get it done in time and then it sits on the boss’s desk for a week before he even gets to it. Fool me once.

    2. KHB*

      But even if everything is a “high priority” and there’s far more work to do than there is time to do it (though I don’t think the latter is the case here, since OP1 says that “by and large” the employees do get all their work done on time), it’s reasonable to ask the employees to be proactive about looping the manager in when they know they’re going to be late. The manager should never be surprised on the day a project is due to find out it’s nowhere close to done – and won’t be done for another week. Nor, in my opinion, should the manager have to spend a lot of time and mental energy on repeatedly reminding employees of their deadlines for routine tasks, especially not in an environment where the employees have already proven themselves (mostly) capable of managing their own time and keeping track of their own deadlines.

      1. Mary*

        Sure, but that’s the point of the conversation Alison advises, isn’t it? To clarify what “high priority” actually means, and what the manager’s and the staff member’s respective responsibilities are if something isn’t going to meet the deadline.

        1. KHB*

          Yes. I’m agreeing with Alison’s advice (although I actually think the manager should ask her employees to give her advance notice if they’re going to be late on any project, not just high-priority ones – if a project has a deadline, then the default assumption should be that that deadline needs to be taken seriously). I’m disagreeing, a little bit, with JamieS’s suggestion that the manager start routinely checking in with all the employees just in case they’re confused about which project they should be prioritizing at the moment. That sounds like it would be overkill in this environment.

          A good way to frame this is as a “policy of no surprises.” If something out of the ordinary is going on – whether you’re running late on a project, someone you’re working with is giving a hard time, you’ve come up against an unexpected roadblock, or whatever else – you let the manager know right away so she’s not surprised by it blowing up in her face later. Even if you don’t think it’s a big deal (for example, because you don’t think the project is a high priority), you let her know anyway, because she might think otherwise.

          1. JamieS*

            I’m not saying to do it in case they’re confused. I’m saying doing them can help prevent this type of thing. They’re also just good practice IMO. Maybe we have different work expectations but I don’t consider a 5-10 minute meeting once every week or two overkill.

            1. KHB*

              It really, really depends on the environment. In some workplaces (including mine) that would absolutely be overkill.

              I’m currently working on a project with a three-week deadline. I know exactly what I’m doing, because I’ve done more than a hundred projects like this, and I’ve gotten every single one of them done on time to a high standard. If I were to have a five-minute weekly check-in with my boss, it would probably go something like this:

              “Are you still working on that teapot design?”
              “Is everything going OK?”
              “Are you on track to meet the deadline?”
              “Any situations I need to know about?”

              For that, I’d need to wrap up whatever I was doing, head down to my boss’s office at the appointed time, wait for him to wrap up whatever he was doing, have the meeting, head back to my office, and wait for my brain to get back into teapot-design mode – so it’s far more than a five-minute interruption in my (and my boss’s) day, for a meeting that’s not of much good to anybody.

              Rather, if I run into a problem with the project that the boss needs to know about, it’s my job to seek out him to let him know what’s going on. This works well in my case (and I suspect in OP1’s case also) because (1) I have a good understanding of what kinds of problems the boss needs to know about, (2) the boss is reasonably easy to find and talk to when I need him, and (3) situations that he needs to know about come up far less frequently than every week or two. (We also have regular check-ins to talk about how things are going in general, but they’re longer and less frequent than what you’re suggesting, so they wouldn’t work as a means of notifying him about problems on three-week projects.)

              1. JamieS*

                I’m going to take a stance that not being able to have quick check ins is unusual in more often than not. Also the “meeting’ could be the manager IMing and asking if there are any concerns with getting everything done. It doesn’t have to be an official meeting. The point is having some status update before something like this happens where OP finds out on the due date something won’t be done. Yes employees *should* loop their manager in without being asked but I don’t think I’m making a groundbreaking revelation by saying that doesn’t always happen.

                1. KHB*

                  But the question at hand isn’t what’s usual or unusual across the board; it’s what the best way forward is for OP1 and her team. And for a team of motivated employees who usually do a good job of managing their own time already, I maintain that jumping straight to weekly check-ins for everybody (or even for the employee who was late, given that they’re otherwise a good performer) is not necessarily the best approach.

                  I could see maybe giving them that option, though. Maybe something like: “When I show up on Monday morning and hear for the first time that a project that’s due that day is nowhere close to being done, that’s really serious, and it can’t happen again. I understand that sometimes life happens and you fall behind schedule, but I need to have as much advance notice as possible in cases like this so we can plan around them. Given that, would it make sense for us to schedule regular check-ins about how your projects are coming along, or would you rather I leave it up to you to come talk to me when you know you’re running late?”

                2. JamieS*

                  Given OP jumped straight to PIP I don’t think check ins are an outrageous suggestion. Also just because something hasn’t previously been a major problem doesn’t mean encountering the problem shouldn’t result in some proactive action to help prevent it in the future.

              2. Someone else*

                When situations like that arise at my company, it’s not uncommon for someone to just IM or email their supervisor sometime the day of the scheduled check-in to say “nothing to report. We can cancel today’s check-in if that’s ok with you” and unless the supervisor specifically had something they wanted to discuss, they’d probably agree to cancel the meeting. But we still have regularly scheduled check-ins because usually one or the other has something they wanted to go over.

    3. MuseumChick*

      This. I’m currently at a job where everything I my manager gives me is “high priority” and I work hard to make sure that no balls get dropped. But sometimes it happens. I’ve taking to asking my manager “Ok, where do you want this to go on my priority list? Before X, or after Y?” It’s been hugely helpful because it gets my manager to stop for a moment and really consider all the different stuff I’m working on and what needs to be done first.

      1. LQ*

        I’m like this. I have trouble with high/med/low priority stuff so I just tell people between which other priority things fall, if this is “set everything else aside”, I know that means x won’t get done, that’s fine. This thing is the thing I want done first.

        For some reason when I try to translate that back to high/med/low it just falls down with me. But organizing things by task is no problem.

      2. As Close As Breakfast*

        My boss is famous for doing this too. I’ve developed the habit of lining out whatever my work plan is for the hours, day, week or however long the new “high priority” project will take, and asking where the new project falls within those other projects. Sometimes it really is a drop-everything-this-comes-first thing. More often than not, once my boss is considering what I’m actually working on versus the new project, the new project is placed lower on the priority list. It took me a long time to work out my approach on this and find a way to do it that didn’t stress me out and that my boss was receptive to.

      3. Specialk9*

        In my family, we write a list of up to 5 household projects and prioritize them (#1, 2, 3) relative to each other, on a whiteboard. It helps us be on the same page and keep track of priorities for our (tiny) free time.

    4. MashaKasha*

      This is a good point.

      There was a period in my current workplace when everything was a priority one, and had a due date of tomorrow. It led to people basically ignoring the due dates. I started keeping an excel spreadsheet during that time, where I logged what I had to work on every day, and what I actually did every hour. If anyone would’ve asked why I was behind on X, or why I was pushing back on Y’s due date, I could always show them the spreadsheet. (No one has asked so far, but the night is still young.)

        1. Broadcastlady*

          I like this idea, but I think it also depends on your supervisor. My boss would not like this. He would tell me the time I was spending on a spreadsheet could be better spent working.

          1. Cherith Ponsonby*

            Whereas I pushed back (gently) on my boss’s requirement to keep a tracking spreadsheet because I thought the time could be better spent working – and was told the spreadsheet was more important, and he’d rather I kept the spreadsheet and missed the deadline than vice versa! It really does depend on your boss.

      1. Lora*

        Yeah, I had this guy as a boss once. We had 100% turnover within a year (including me) and by the time I left even contractors wouldn’t work for him. Then he got fired for regulatory screw-ups which amounted to promising things that couldn’t be done by existing staff and mouthing off at his bosses who wanted to know why he would make a promise he couldn’t keep and then try to BS the FDA about it. Took them 18 months to get around to firing him.

        We all made spreadsheets and tracked hours but it didn’t actually matter. HR did an investigation demonstrating that we were indeed doing the work we were tasked with, in the priorities that we had been given – at one point, HR staff was sitting in on all our 1:1 meetings and walking him through the process of “task was done as requested”. It wasn’t really about tasks being done or priority tracking, it was about the guy having a terrible personality and zero management skills and negative values of integrity.

    5. Samiratou*

      This could be, but I read it more as “high-functioning employee got in over his head and didn’t ask for help so he’s trying to deflect.” For people who are used to being able to get stuff done on their own and on time it can be tough to figure out how to admit “I can’t do that by myself in the time I originally thought” as that feels like failure.

      Now, he should totally be owning up to that and not trying to play the “I didn’t know it was important” card, but that’s where the type of convo Alison recommends comes into play–figure out what really happened, whether it was competing priorities or he’s not good at asking for help or he needs to get better at estimating effort or, heck, maybe his dog died or something is going on outside of work that slowed him down that he didn’t really want to talk about. Could be a number of things.

    6. BananaPants*

      Exactly. If I asked my boss to prioritize my projects, he’d get angry because he thinks EVERYTHING should be my top priority. He’s constantly in firefighting mode, so whatever is hottest to him at a given time would be the priority of the moment at the time I asked.

      This is one of my group’s biggest complaints about his management style. Senior management doesn’t seem to care, unfortunately.

    7. Turquoisecow*

      Ooh, that’s a good point.

      I’ve found that often the thing people struggle with is not the work itself, but the work priorities. A manager who insists that EVERYTHING is SUPER important doesn’t help.

      If the employee has competing projects, they should be able to go to their manager and lay out their projects and ask, “what’s the priority,” and get an answer that’s not “omg all of it why isn’t it all done yesterday???!!!”

    8. a1*

      Considering this hasn’t been a problem before, I doubt this is the case. I also think it’s reading a lot into the letter. I see nothing in the letter to indicate this is the case. Things normally get completed on time, they talked each time the date was missed. If there were competing priorities they would have come up then and been reassessed.

    9. Alfonzo F.*

      Sorry I’m late here, but I am the OP…no I do NOT label things as high priority unless they are. I think the employee was lollygagging a bit, and I think I was possibly unclear about the high priority nature of the work.

      1. Annie*

        I work in STEM as well. Personally, I’ve been guilty of being late with some projects when I think that the high priority deadline is arbitrary. That is, when the boss wants a draft of the manuscript done by Monday, but I think I would make a better draft if I had more time to work on it (Thursday, for example). I write really slowly, whereas other tasks I can finish quickly and ahead of schedule. Writing the results and the methods is fine, but the Intro and Discussion I just really struggle with writing something interesting and not bone dry. I’m good about meeting “hard deadlines” like grant and conference deadlines. It’s also taken me longer to finish things when my PI and I would not see eye-to-eye about how long a particular task takes (like running a re-analysis). It’s also frustrating when a PI pushes for a manuscript draft by x date, but then lets it sit on their desk for a few months. Not sure if any of this applies to your employee.

  5. MilkMoon (UK)*

    LW3: If you want to keep Jane please do fight her corner, because if I was in her position (on bereavement/sickness leave) and I started receiving forceful & threatening communications about it I would start looking for a new employer.

    1. PersephoneUnderground*

      Seriously- “How dare she not schedule the death of her loved one and her illness better! She’s in her probationary period! She should have told them they had to wait to die until a more convenient time! She better be back by (date she’ll be back by anyway) or her job is in danger!” Wtf is even the point of that letter? There are no words for how cold that is. If you aren’t clearly in her corner, there’s nothing to make her want to stay after a letter like that- it tells her very clearly that she is not valued there and the company has androids running it, and not even very intelligent androids since if they were they’d calculate that the cost of her leave is less than the cost of replacing her. I think you should go ahead and tell her you don’t agree with it and are on her side if she calls you about it, backing up the higher-ups be d***ed. There is really no other acceptable answer if you want any chance of keeping her.

  6. Ramona Flowers*

    #3 I’d be wanting to know why you weren’t consulted and asking questions about your employer’s policy on handling such things – is this in line with it? Because it’s really weird not to have it be the person’s manager who gets in touch.

    1. JamieS*

      Agreed. Although given OP #3’s reaction of essentially passing the buck to HR I wonder if this is an office culture issue where things like this are often handled between the employee and HR so the direct manager not being contacted would be fairly normal. Of course I realize OP’s reaction is probably at least in part due to the way everything was previously handled but their reaction was still a bit of a “maybe this office has different norms” red flag to me.

      1. OP #3*

        Definitely true our office has weird norms – they come from the top. When my manager is back in, I’ll be raising this big time. I have also documented in writing that I am not happy at this having been done over my head.

        I don’t quite know what you mean by “passing the buck to HR” – the first I heard of it all was when HR had finally been given permission to inform me.

        1. Questing*

          I thunk the “passing the buck” comment was in reference to you saying that you would refer the employee to HR if she contacted you about this.

        2. hbc*

          It can look like passing the buck if you’re not willing to have a normal managerial conversation, but I totally understand your instinct here. If all you have to say is, “I don’t know why the heck they sent this letter to you, I have no insight to give you as I basically had to beg to even know of its existence,” then it seems practical to just send them straight on.

          But as someone who’s had to have a bunch of those conversations, I think there’s value in it. You have to walk a pretty fine line between insulting your company/higher ups and acknowledging the reality of the situation, but it’s helpful for your employee to know you’re on their side (however far that will get them.)

  7. Lars the Real Girl*

    #4 – Ask your own manager too! Phrase it as “hey, someone pointed out this job to me, and I’d love to know how I can work towards a senior role like that in the future” – that way, if your organization thinks you’re qualified, they can tell you to apply, or your manager can give you insight into what you can strive for.

    (I wouldn’t phrase it with your manager as “should I apply for this job” because after only 6 months it’ll come off wrong.)

  8. Comms Girl*

    #2: it worked for me, although I did not say those exact words. Basically after two rounds of interviews they were torn between three candidates with pretty much the same level of skills, and were trying to figure out which one would be the best fit for the company so they called us for a third and final interview round.

    I asked a question that had been praised in an article as “daring and oozing confidence” (YMMV on that, I know I was sceptical myself) which was if they had any concerns about my application or ability to do my job. The Director said absolutely not and mentioned what I wrote above about trying to find the best fit. I then told the Director that if I had been more and more impressed by the company, its work and its culture with every interview, that they could definitely count on me in the long-term if I was hired, and that I would do my utmost best to contribute to its growth and success. They thanked me and said they really appreciated my statement.

    Half an hour after I left, I got an offer. I took and it has been the best career decision I’ve ever made. So yeah, sometimes it might work, sometimes it might not: I guess a lot of other factors will influence that (I surely wouldn’t have said it if I had only one interview round altogether).

    1. OrganizedHRChaos*

      I am glad it worked for you! I do get the question from tume to time and one of the last times I got it (last week), I told the young lady “yes” and that I would send her a formal offer that day. I walked her out and got back to my desk a little while later and she had left a vm stating that she didnt really want the job, she was just practicing her interview skills. Not sure how I will “feel” if the question is asked again. Lol

      1. Annie Moose*

        That’s so odd, if you didn’t really want the job, you’d think that was the one question you wouldn’t ask!

      2. Frustrated Optimist*

        Did your candidate actually ask, “Can I have the job?” If so, that’s even worse than what the OP wrote about saying they really *want* the job!

        (And then to admit later that she was only using you for interview practice?? Inexcusable!)

      3. Comms Girl*

        OMG that must have been frustrating… I mean, I’m not condoning lying but at least she could have made up a story (nobody will bat an eyelash if someone tells them they got a better offer) that didn’t make her sound so silly. Wasting someone else’s time is one of the worst things you can do while job hunting :(

  9. Ruth (UK)*

    2. I know of places this would work from my past job history. I’ve done some very salesy jobs in the past, which I was awful and and hated. I’m talking literally door to door sales here. That line would have gone down great in an interview for that sort of job. When I interviewed I was advised by someone already in the job to ask the interviewer how much money he makes (‘he loves answering that’). Turned out she was right in this case (but I realise that would be inappropriate in most cases).

    I’ve also worked a bunch of food/kitchen jobs including 2 years full time in a fast food place and I think ‘I really want this job’ would have been received neutrally. Using the line would probably make them neither more nor less likely to hire you than they would have otherwise.

    I’m in an admin role now where my particular manager would probably quite like this line though…

    1. Mary*

      Also in the UK – I’ve said it before, and looking back I can see it was a sign the interview wasn’t going well and I was feeling desperate! When I’ve actually had a good rapport with the interviewers, there’s been something much more organic and natural to say to demonstrate my enthusiasm.

  10. hbc*

    OP2: I kind of assume someone is in front of me because they want the job on some level, so it’s less about courage or humility and more about stating the obvious. As far as sincerity, well, if you went in planning to say it no matter what you saw, it’s probably not going to sound like it comes from the bottom of your heart. It comes off more like “I would like *a* job.”

    If you want it to sound sincere, only express it when you sincerely think this is a good fit in both directions and explain why. “Based on what we’ve talked about today, I’m even more interested in this position. I like the challenge of finding new ways into an established market and the support for risk-taking.” At least that shows an understanding of what the role is, and it’s more courageous in that you could have interpreted the position wrong and undercut yourself.

  11. Julia*

    #4: My last job had apparently been created just for me, when I was a recent grad as well. And no one told me about it either.

    What happened was that I applied for a different position where they hired someone else, but the guy who became my boss saw my resume and apparently wanted me in his department. However, no one (!) ever contacted me about this, and when I called after a month to ask if my application had even arrived, they told me that it had, but they had chosen someone else. No one mentioned “my” job at all.

    Since it was a pretty high prestige workplace, I applied for the new position after seeing it on their website, which means I wrote a whole new application with tons of documents and sent it from a different country (!) and got invited to an interview.

    I only found out about this after I had been there for almost two years and close to quitting because the place suuuuuuuuuuuuuuucked. My boss never told me and often acted like he’d preferred someone else in the role, but his assistant spilled to me before she left. I was floored. What if I had never applied? Would they have contacted me? And why didn’t my boss like me when he had specifically wanted me to work for him? Did he like me better on paper?

    So anyhow, sorry for rambling, but jobs being created for new-ish grads are not completely unheard of.

    1. LQ*

      I had a job created for me and no one at work told me either. Someone completely in another area knew me and said, “Hey this sounds like it’s made for you!” Yup, turns out it was. So I don’t think it’s completely unheard of to not tell someone either.
      I would say definitely apply.

      1. Julia*

        What is it with people creating jobs for employees they want, but not telling those employees? How do they think this will work out?

        1. LQ*

          I really don’t know. At least mine was at my company so there were other people who potentially might find it and tell me. But just out in the world? I really have no idea…

        2. SusanIvanova*

          I just got a job that was created for me, and it took over a year between “if I had any openings I’d hire you” to “there’s a good chance we’ll have the job opening soon” to “please come interview”. And even then I would’ve felt weird saying “I really want this job” flat out like that :)

        3. oranges & lemons*

          My mother works for my province’s government, and apparently they often tailor a position to the person they want. Since the hiring process is supposed to be 100% fair and objective, they can’t tell the person that, but it can be fairly obvious if the job posting contains a miscellaneous set of obscure qualifications that one person happens to have.

  12. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

    No.3 The LW can also ask if the company wants to develop a reputation of kicking staff members down when they are already in a vulnerable state (bereavement/medical leave).
    No.4 Depending on your industry, such as oil and gas, short term contracts/job may be seen as normal. In mine, food and hospitality, job turnover is very high.

  13. OP #3*

    OP3 here. It wasn’t my head of the team that went around me. They are on annual leave at the moment (and have no idea about this either(!) This was coming from the very top – 5 management levels above Jane (There’s a whole separate conversation about how this company is led IMHO and that’s the root of the issue…)

    Update since I wrote to Allison is that HR has been an absolute hero and put their neck on the line to change the letter’s tone and content.

    I really like the idea of suggesting if there are concerns about her having been away for a lot of her probationary period we could simply extend it. However, she was working her through a temp agency for close to 6 months beforehand and been great so that shouldn’t be necessary. I’ll keep it up my sleeve though.

    1. Guacamole Bob*

      Glad things are looking better!

      In my organization I don’t think something exactly like this would happen because appropriate protocols are in place, but I can see a senior person getting upset about extended absences that look bad on paper. We’re a government agency and have been getting a lot of (at least somewhat deserved) flak about absenteeism, so management is very interested in stats like the number of people out on workers’ comp and other kinds of extended absences. Sometimes someone in the chain can get kind of worked up over people who are out for reasons that sound like they could be faked or exaggerated but that are actually legit.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Phew! Very happy to hear this, OP. I still have to wonder who authorized this letter and who thought it was a good idea to move forward in such a manner. It almost sounds like there is a “letter of the law” person working there, “the rules say X so therefore we must do X, no exceptions for any reason”. Unfortunately, often times there are extenuating circumstances that muddy the waters and doing X is not always an appropriate response.

      I hope you still loop your boss in because you do not want to keep going through this with your employees. I had a boss who made the mistake of telling a cohort, “You need to wrap up this thing with your father dying and get back to work.” Boss was reported and told not to do that again. Well. Boss did it again and he did it to ME. I am a shamed to say I could have cleaned his clock. But I am pleased to report, that I kept my hands in my pockets and said NOTHING. I left his office and went to HR. The fact that I did and said nothing to him put me in a great spot. I am told the chewing out he got put him in TEARS. All I could think is “How does it feel with the shoe on the other foot? Now YOUR boss reduced YOU to tears.”
      It had to come down to figuratively dropping a concrete block on his head, it is the only way he would receive and absorb the message.

      My two main points here are:
      1) Stay on this. Keep following up. Someone tells you it’s not a big deal, tell them this is the type of story that hits the internet.
      2) Why did HR step into your department without your knowledge and without checking with YOUR boss? Yes, they also stepped on your boss’ toes. Be sure to point that out to your boss. There should be standard channels something like this has to go through before it is acted upon. You are satisfied with her work, this is a huge talking point in this whole story and it needs to be said over and over.

      Thank you for taking care of this employee.

      1. Op3*

        The was the CEO who instigated and authorised all of this. He is… In short a control freak and hates it when he hasn’t made every little decesion. He hadnt “authorised” this absence so therefore can’t stand to see it happening. Knew full well I (and my boss if they were here) would stand up to him on this and deliberately cut us out of the loop

        The whole things insane and if I’m perfectly honest the tipping point for me not wanting to be here much longer.

        I’m holding out for the right role though as this one was a bit of a “frying pan into fire” situation and I can’t think risk that again.

        In the meantime, I’ll definitely be filling in my manager on all this chaos on Monday!

    3. Alton*

      I’m glad things seem to be improving.

      I think it’s great that you care about being consulted and doing right by your employee. It’s bad for you to be left out of it, and it especially sucks for your employee if she feels threatened or penalized when she was given the impression that her leave was okay and that her workplace was understanding. So I’m glad you’ve stuck to your guns.

    4. Lora*

      Glad to hear it. Although, I would be really concerned with and on high alert for further senior management shenanigans.

    5. Jen*

      I’m really glad to hear this. I left a job this year because our HR department tried to force me to take a vacation day when I called in from the hospital, where my spouse was (he had a life-threatening infection; he’s fine now thank goodness). My boss stepped in to defend me, and they ultimately reversed the decision, but the well was poisoned, and that was ultimately the straw that broke the camel’s back. My boss was very sorry to lose me – continue to stick up for your great staff member.

  14. Trout 'Waver*

    OP#4, Is it possible the hiring manager saw what your background brings and decided they want someone with a similar background but more experience? If so, I’d take it as a great compliment, even if the job posting isn’t intended for you.

  15. Trout 'Waver*

    OP#5, The oil and gas industry is volatile even when the price of oil is high. I don’t think any reasonable hiring manager in that field would hold a string of temp jobs against you right now. Good luck with your job search!

    1. Statler von Waldorf*

      As someone who has primarily worked in oil & gas for 20 years now, I can tell you that O&G has much looser standards for “job-hopping” than many other industries as well. Short term contract work is very common, and many jobs are seasonal, and that’s during the good times, which the last few years have definitely not been. I’ll second Trout ‘Waver’s opinion that no reasonable hiring manager will hold a string of temp jobs against you right now.

  16. Mary*

    OP4, I like Alison’s suggestion of contacting the person who said, “it’s made for you!” for an initial conversation. If you do decide it’s worth contacting the hiring manager for the role, could you frame it (honestly!) as “this is the kind of job I’d love to be doing in about a year’s / 18months’ time, but I assume I’d need more experience first. Would it be possible to have a chat about the experience I have now and where I might be lacking, so I know I’m on the right track?” That gives them ample opportunity to tell you if they would welcome an application from you right now.

    Also, do you match the job description? Like, if it actually says “2 years’ experience in X”, and you only have six months’, that seems like a strong sign that it’s not written for you! But if it’s vaguer (“experience in X”) and you do technically meet most of the criteria – why not try?

  17. Employment Lawyer*

    Do not say “high priority”. Remove those words from your vocabulary. They are meaningless.

    Instead, say “it is absolutely necessary that this be completed by 5:00 PM on Monday. Do you understand that deadline? Are you committed to delivering on Monday?” Those words have meaning.

    And when you check in, do not use “are things going OK?” Instead, say “please confirm when this will be complete. If you are planning to miss our agreed deadline I need to know now so i can plan.”

    1. Murphy*

      Assuming I didn’t have a history of not handing things in on time, I would be very put off if my manager used language like this. If you told me to have it Tuesday, I’ll have it Tuesday unless I tell you otherwise. Forcing me to pinky swear that I’ll have it done and to keep telling you “Yes, it will still be done Tuesday” would really make me feel like I wasn’t trusted.

      1. Not That Jane*

        Completely agree. I’d feel really talked down to if anyone spoke to me like this about a work project, given that I have no history of submitting things late.

        1. KHB*

          And for people who do have a history of submitting things late, the more constructive approach would be to sit down with them and dig into the root causes of that lateness, not to jump up and down and shout “DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT A DEADLINE IS?”

          Maybe they don’t have a good sense of how much time they need to complete each part of the project, so they’re not doing a good job of organizing their time accordingly. In that case, you might help them break the project down into subtasks, figure out a timeline for each of them, and ask them to let you know if they’re falling behind on that schedule.

          Or maybe they’ve gotten into the mindset that deadlines don’t actually mean anything, since they’ve been late so many times already and the world hasn’t ended. In that case, you talk to them about the consequences of lateness, both to others (e.g., your coworkers who are responsible for the next piece of the project have to stay late and work weekends now, or the client who commissioned the project might take their business elsewhere, or whatever) and to themselves (e.g., I’m keeping track of your on-time performance, and it’s going to make up X% of your next performance review).

          1. Decima Dewey*

            Some people are like my recent ex-boss. She’d read an email saying something was due on the 23rd, think “that’s almost the end of the month”, and end up telling herself she had until the end of the month to do it.

      1. Julia*


        And then the employee can say “so do you want me to complete this before X, Y, and Z?” and you can discuss potential problems.

    2. Girasol*

      Great point. “High priority” from yesterday is superceded by “High priority” today which will fall behind “High priority” tomorrow. After awhile everything is priority one. The idea of committing to a deadline instead does indeed make good sense.

    3. Liz T*

      Obviously you have to be more specific than just those two words, but “Getting this in by Tuesday at 5 is high priority” really should do the trick.

    4. LQ*

      If my boss said “please confirm when this will be complete. If you are planning to miss our agreed deadline I need to know now so i can plan.” I would tilt my head and ask if he’d been possessed by the aliens from the pod people. Especially if this was the first time I’d missed anything and was other wise an excellent employee.

      This is fine if I’d been screwing up for the last few projects, but after my first screw up in years suddenly going all pod people? Would just be weird and sound like I was getting fire, for one error.

      Plus “If you are planning to miss our agreed deadline” isn’t actually going to get someone to say anything. Where are you at in the project? How much work do you have left? What is holding up the project? are questions that can get at a solvable problem without being designed to catch someone in a lie.

      1. Alienor*

        And “planning to miss the deadline” sounds like the employee is doing it with malice aforethought. On the rare occasions when I do miss a deadline, it’s never because I went “Eff it, I know this project’s due on Tuesday but I don’t care,” it’s because I literally ran out of time, wasn’t able to get information I needed, etc.

    5. Jesmlet*

      If my manager asked me “Do you understand that deadline?”, I would probably be incensed enough to fire back “Do you understand that you’re being a condescending douche bag?” then I’d start looking for another job. With no prior history of missing deadlines, this is just very patronizing.

      It also seems like OP never gave him a deadline, just that the employee promised it by a certain time, and once it was a couple days late, at that point OP gave him a deadline. High priority does not mean drop everything and do only this until it’s finished, especially for many of us who work on a lot of things at once. This sounds like miscommunication on OP’s end to me.

    6. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

      Good, I’ve been using hard deadlines on kids that I’m training. Whenever I say, “do it when you can”, it never gets done. But if I say, “You must finish X by 4PM because Y cannot go forward until it is done.” then the odds are that the tasks will be completed

    7. Alton*

      I think saying something like “Do you understand this deadline?” is pretty patronizing, and I would be annoyed if my boss talked to me like that.

      But I agree that a degree of specificity (like “I need this by 5 PM on Tuesday. Is that doable?”) is better than just using vaguer language that might imply there isn’t a hard deadline.

      1. Employment Lawyer*

        I don’t patronize people. You can do what works for you. But there’s a line between patronizing and failing to communicate. Assuming you’re decent about it (and assuming they are as well) there is no need to ever end up on the “no communication” side of the line.

        1. Employment Lawyer*


          The number of complaints which people have about “I failed to communicate” outweigh the number of “my boss was crystal clear and stressed about a deadline and I found the clarity overly patronizing” by about 1000:1

    8. BananaPants*

      That kind of tone would be incredibly patronizing, especially to an employee who hadn’t had issues with on-time delivery before.

    9. Cherith Ponsonby*

      I think your points are valuable but your language is a bit off, especially for people with a history of performing well.

      I’d be offended by “Do you understand that deadline?” but I could get behind “Can you commit to delivering by 5pm on Monday?” And similarly “if you are planning to miss our agreed deadline” sounds a bit passive-aggressive, like you think the employee is deliberately planning to fail; phrasing it as “if you don’t feel confident that you can meet the deadline” is much more direct, and I’d feel better about admitting it if I didn’t feel confident. (And it’s a bit heavy for frequent check-ins; I’d go with “Are you still on track to deliver by 5pm on Monday?” Simple question, makes no judgements, reiterates the deadline.)

  18. always in email jail*

    I’m guilty of thinking I was very clear about a deadline, and then looking back and realizing my language was “soft”. Most recently, I reflected back and realized I had said “I would really like to have this from you by October 25”. If MY boss said that, they’d be getting it a couple of days before if possible. However, I can’t assume everyone thinks like me, and it’s easy to understand that “I would really like to have this” is not the same as “I absolutely need this submitted to me in its final state by October 25 to ensure I’m able to meet a larger deadline”.

    1. Trout 'Waver*

      I’ve been bitten by this in the past. Most of my team’s deadlines are “nice-to-haves” rather than “must-haves”. When I have a hard deadline, I have to be explicitly clear that there is a hard deadline. That’s on me, not my team. They’re great.

    2. Anon for This*

      I’ve made that same mistake. And there are some people who I work with even when I’m clear about a deadline treat it as if it’s soft deadline rather than a hard deadline, so for those people I have to communicate what the consequences will be for the team if the work isn’t provided by the deadline (although that is only about 2-5% of all the people I work with), because some people don’t understand how their work fits into the larger picture (or they don’t care).

    3. Matilda Jefferies*

      Yes, and that’s another thing to be clear about – whether “done” means “final state with a bow on it ready to distribute,” or “ready for me to review so I can give you some feedback.”

      It might seem obvious, but I’ve had managers who have meant both. So for Manager A, I worked really hard to deliver a polished final document by the deadline she gave me. Turns out she wanted to give feedback, so I had to go back and revise what I thought was a finished doc. But, I learned from that experience! And when I went to work for Manager B, I made sure to give her a solid draft for review when she asked me for something. Then she would invariably respond with “this is fine, but it’s not actually done.”

      So finally, I learned the real lesson – always ask what the boss means when she says “done!” And to flip it around for the people who are giving instructions, always be specific about you mean as well. If a deadline means that absolutely everything must be polished and ready to go, say that – or if a deadline means several other people need to review it and there will be another round of revisions, say that. Clear communication helps everyone!

  19. SCtoDC*

    OP1-It’s concerning that this manager immediately jumps to PIP/discipline after recognizing that the employee in question usually has good work and isn’t a problem. Life happens! A missed deadline should be addressed, but in a reasonable way that doesn’t make this employee or the rest of the staff think that their job is in jeopardy over every single mistake.

    1. Trout 'Waver*

      Let’s give OP#1 the benefit of the doubt. Their first instinct was to ask for advice. Not to discipline the employee.

    2. McWhadden*

      I think she was just saying so Alison knows it’s not an option when giving advice. Just in case Alison were to suggest that.

  20. Liz T*

    Re: #2, I was once a finalist and at the end of an interview I said, “I just wanted to add: I’m interviewing selectively, but this is one of the opportunities I’m particularly excited about.” I said it calmly but sincerely, and they seemed to appreciate it–I didn’t get that job, but they hired me a few months later when they had another opening!

    So there are definitely ways to communicate interest in a professional manner. But it’s not like that was the only reason I got the job!

  21. Vic*

    For #1, I think the “high priority” excuse is just a smoke screen. What bothers me is that the employee took it upon himself to arbitrarily move the deadline of an assigned project 4 times without keeping his manager in the loop. I’ve been with my company 15 years and I have the nicest manager you could possibly imagine. But if I pulled a stunt like this, there would be lasting repercussions. I wonder if maybe the OP is coming off as a little wish-washy when giving projects and setting deadlines. Why did it take 4 missed deadlines for the same project before finally getting tough? I think you could have avoided most of your upset as well as future problems by addressing this clearly the first time it happened. I would have told him that I communicate the deadlines and that I expected to be kept informed if he thought he wasnt going to meet it so I could decide how to handle it, whether that means moving the deadline, putting someone else on the project, or taking something else off his plate so he could focus on it.

    1. McWhadden*

      OP explicitly said he did keep her in the loop about the changes. Because they spoke about it every time it was moved and was told it was high priority each time.

      1. SusanIvanova*

        Yeah, if I said “this high priority thing won’t be finished on Thursday, looks like it’ll be Friday” and the manager just confirmed that it was a high priority without mentioning any deadlines, I would be assuming we were in agreement. And it sounds like all the deadlines the employee mentioned were self-determined; the actual hard Tuesday one wasn’t mentioned until Monday.

  22. AMT*

    #5 also works well if you’re like me and have a steady full-time job, but periodically get part-time weekend/evening jobs or do freelance projects. I have a section on my resume labeled “contract and adjunct” where I put all of the stuff that would otherwise turn my main experience section into a confusing, overlapping jumble.

  23. J.B.*

    OP2: I had a boss who cited lack of asking for the job as her reason for not hiring a particular candidate (who she had already decided against). Rumor has it that she also didn’t hire a temp as permanent because the temp wore jeans to work. I wouldn’t use her as my yardstick. If you want to convey enthusiasm great, but no need to obsess over this one or to make any absolute statements.

  24. OP #4*

    LW #4 here. Thank you for all of your advice! The revelation that my coworker thought the job listing was tailored for me actually came as part of a followup conversation much like the one several of you have suggested. After she sent me the initial email letting me know about the opening, I thanked her for looking out for me but said I had assumed the role was intended for someone with more experience. That was when she said she thought it was specifically for me due to the mention of my background as a plus. She has been with the company for over 10 years now (and reports to the same person this new role would report to), so I trust that she knows what listings for this position typically look like.

    If it’s relevant, I know this post has been made because my department needs to replace someone who’s moving away; I no longer answer directly to the person this role would report to, but I worked with him during my internship, and we had a good rapport, so I don’t think it’s impossible that he might be hoping for me (or perhaps more realistically, someone like me but with more experience, as some commenters have pointed out) to take the outgoing employee’s place. I like the suggestion of framing an inquiry as “how can I work up to this” rather than “should I apply for this,” so that may be the route I take going forward!

  25. McWhadden*

    OP#4 I would apply anyway. I do understand how it can seem pushy and arrogant in some circumstances. BUT in this case you do have background and experience they specifically wanted and isn’t the norm for the industry. So, you have a perfectly justifiable reason for thinking you could be a good fit despite being there a relatively short time.

    If you don’t get it you don’t get it. However, I don’t think in these circumstances they’d hold you trying for it against you. Because, again, you have a background that matched.

    This isn’t like the typical case we see here sometimes where people are just shooting for seniority without any real reason for thinking that it’s doable.

    1. tigerlily*

      And I definitely WOULDN’T just apply anyway. OP mentions only being at the company for 6 months, and that includes her internship. If it turns out this isn’t a position made for her, wanting to change positions after only being there a few months could come off pretty poorly. Most places I’ve worked for, for example, you’re not even eligible for a internal transfer until a year has passed except for very special circumstances.

      I think OPs best bet is just what Alison says – email the hiring manager, mention that someone else said she should apply for the positions, and ask if it makes sense for her to.

    2. Lars the Real Girl*

      Ooo yea, no. “Apply anyway, what’s it going to hurt?” can be great advice for an outside role, or after you’ve been somewhere for a few years, but in this scenario with such a short tenure, it IS going to hurt her.

  26. Lady Blerd*

    OP1: I was your employee last week. My boss wanted a file, I promised to send it to him quickly but due to two other prirorities that came up, I only remembered while I was having lunch. I figured No big deal, I’d send the file as soon as I returned. He was disappointed and told me he made a promise to his boss based on my promise and said he reminded me a couple of times. What he actually did was ask if I was going to send him the file with no indication that there was now a very short deadline for said file nor that his boss was also waiting on it. On top of this what I thought he wanted based on the language of our conversation was not what he actually wanted. I could have easily generated the document he wanted and send it to him in less than five minutes had I had all of the relevant information. All this to say, if you have a hard deadline that has to be respected, make sure you are explicit about it like Alison says. It may be obvious to you but not to your employee especially if they are juggling severy projects at once and they have autonomy to set their own timelines for deliverables.

    1. Cherith Ponsonby*

      Yes to all of this. I’m in a situation where the volume of work is more than my capacity to do it (it’s a known problem) and my boss is very hands-off so I mostly set my own priorities, and now when anyone asks me to do something my first question is “when do you need it?” – with followup questions as necessary, because some people say “right now” when they mean “in two weeks’ time”, and others say “no rush, whenever you get to it” when they also mean “in two weeks’ time”.

      I missed my last hard deadline, a couple of months back. It was a ridiculously tight deadline and I nearly made myself sick trying to meet it, and in the end it only slipped by half a day and everything turned out OK, but you can bet I was emailing the project team and my boss at the end of every day letting them know where I was at and how soon I thought I’d be done. (Right now I’m emailing my boss progress reports every day, not because of that deadline, but because he’s panicking about other matters and that’s making him worry unreasonably about this project. It doesn’t take long and it helps keep me focussed, so it’s a win all around.)

      OP#1, is it possible you might not have been firm enough about the deadline? If I’d promised my deliverable on Tuesday but had had to push it back until Thursday, either my boss or one of the project leaders would have been round at my desk Wednesday morning needing to know what the problem was and how we could fix it, and if it slipped again there would have been serious consequences (not punishment, just “this is not working, how do we make it work”). If they’d said it was high-priority but hadn’t followed up, I might easily have got the impression that “high-priority” meant “it’s not going to the client for a week but the project team wants it now”, or even “the quality is important but the timing can slip”.

  27. MashaKasha*

    How not to do #2, from a recent interview I sat in. Candidate: “I am so excited about this job! I have always wanted to do ” (names something we do not do, may do in the future, but have never done in the past.)

    The unanimous feedback after she left was, “she will be absolutely crushed if she comes to work here and realizes that we do not do That Thing She Always Wanted To Do. Let’s make an offer to the other candidate.”

    1. SusanIvanova*

      I’m wondering why nobody told her right then that it was something that they may do but actually don’t. Maybe she would’ve been just as excited at the actual thing they do.

      I had that happen in the reverse case – company A bought company B, didn’t mention anything about company B or their products on their website, so all my research didn’t help. So when I said “I’ve read all about AStuff” and they said “actually, we do BStuff” – well, BStuff was even more interesting than AStuff.

  28. HRish Dude*

    #2 – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. There is no secret code word or language that gets you a job.

    1. Trillian*

      I agree. I find I’m most successful at interviews when I’m candid. Showing enthusiasm has never cost me a job offer. Tons of preparation and rehearsed answers have.

    1. Op3*

      Fairly certain I wrote that. Might have been an editors discretion edit. Also like many words might vary in different countries.

  29. AdAgencyChick*

    #1, definitely go into the conversation with an open mind. If this is an otherwise conscientious employee who hits deadlines, there’s probably something else going on and you can figure out how to eliminate future misunderstandings.

    Maybe you said the job was high priority but he was working on another item that he thought was even higher in priority. (If this is the case, when assigning new work it’s probably a good idea to remind yourself what else your employee is working on and explicitly say to him, “This goes above the XYZ project in priority but make sure you still turn in ABC on Thursday.”)

    Maybe the project would have taken night and weekend work to complete by your preferred deadline, he didn’t think that was expected of him, and you expected it of him. (If this is the case, you should say when assigning, “I know this is going to take a lot of hours on your part, and I need you to do what it takes to get it done by Tuesday.” Make such requests sparingly, of course.)

    Maybe he thought the project needed to be in a more finished state than you needed it to be. (If this is the case, when you assign you can say, “I expect you to have the framework of this done by Tuesday, but it’s okay if you haven’t ironed out some of the smaller details.”)

    Or there could be something else going on entirely — asking in a non-accusatory way, more like “let’s find out where our understanding didn’t match up,” will provide valuable information that you can then work with to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

  30. Curious Cat*

    I’m curious what others think of the advice for #5 applying in the same sense to internships…I’m in my first full-time job out of college & have a lot of great internship experiences from my 4 years in college, but when I’m ready to move out of my current full-time job, would it make sense to group the past internships under one overarching header on my resume?

  31. Just Me*

    Q. #1:
    I’ve done it. Usually, I would say it this way: “I’m very excited about the position and would like to be considered.” But one time, after the hiring manager was asking me questions focused on whether or not the position would be stimulating or satisfying enough for me (I was overqualified), I just paused a moment and then said point blank, “I really need a job.” I really did need it, too – I was desperate. I was hired and stayed there for four years.

    1. Just Me Again*

      ** I meant Q. #2.

      Also, forgot to mention that, in the famous book What Color is Your Parachute, author Richard Bolles writes that Commandment #9 (of his 10 Commandments for Interviews) is:

      At the end of the interviewing process, ask for the job: “Given all that we have discussed, can you offer me this job?”

      My copy is from 2016, btw. I don’t know if he recommended this in previous versions (it is revised and republished every year).

      1. Lars the Real Girl*

        Please don’t do this. It was discussed above too, and it may work in some* (very few) jobs, but in any sort of office or professional job, that’s just not how hiring happens. It’s the whole “gumption” thing. Yes, people write about it, yes, people give it as advice and yes, many of those people have not been job hunting in 30+ years.

        Please please please don’t do this to your hiring managers. You can make an impression without using car-salesman tactics. You will rub more people the wrong way than the one magical employer out there who will <3 it.

  32. RB*

    #2: Saying “I really want this job” is going to be a huge turn-off for me if I am on your panel. It sounds naïve and, frankly, spoiled or privileged. I really want a lot of things for myself, some of which will happen but most won’t. The ones that do or will happen for me are not going to occur because I told some stranger I wanted them. I don’t know you and I don’t care what you really really want for yourself. If I am fortunate to get to sit in on a group interview, I am thinking about the agency’s interests, not yours.

  33. Winger*

    To #4, for what it’s worth, I have applied for jobs that seem to have been “intended for me” that mentioned all kinds of secondary experience that I happen to have, and unusual skills that I possess, and I generally do not get them. Stuff like this can be a lot more illusory than you first think.

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