my boss keeps trying to use my car, coworker says I need a makeover, and more

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

1. My boss, who I live with, keeps trying to use my company car

When I interviewed for a position, I was told that I would be given a car and lodging while working, since I was relocating for a short while (I’m freelance). In writing, my boss said I would have “transportation” provided. When I arrived in the state and tried to rent a car and send an expense report to cover it, they said they wanted me to drive their personal car. (The car belongs to the company owner. This is a very small company with two full-time employees — me and my local boss, both of us answering to the main boss, who lives elsewhere). So fine, I used their car — but with that came all these stipulations not outlined before.

My local boss — who lives with me in this provided home, which is another can of worms — has commented several times on how I should use the car, and how I shouldn’t be using it for personal reasons. Since this local boss wasn’t part of my contract negotiations — we were hired together — I said that this was part of my contract and that it was my car, and as such I could do what I wanted with it. I have treated the car as a rental, since that is what I had originally intended to get and it was their decision for me to use their personal car.

In addition, my boss’ boss — the one who owns the car — told my local boss she could take the car “any time” that she wanted. As a result, my local boss has come to me in the past and announced she is taking my car.

Then my boss was needling so often into my car use that I had to tell her once to back off. She then started asking prying questions into my contract and got very upset about some of the intricacies, saying her contract promised that she would be paid more than me and she was worried she wasn’t getting paid enough and that somehow that was my fault. I was floored and just said that if she had an issue with her contract to talk to the main boss; it had nothing to do with me. Also, it felt kind of weird to have her commenting on my pay like that; she kept asking me how much I made while saying “I am your boss!” to intimidate me into answering. I felt pretty attacked and was pretty upset by the whole thing. What’s going on here with the boundaries? How much of this situation is out of line? I’ve been dealing with it for so long I can’t tell up from down.

Your boss is definitely out of line, but the entire thing is weird — particularly the part about you two living together, which you didn’t even get into here, and which actually seems like a bigger, weirder deal.

You sometimes see these sorts of blurred boundaries with three-person companies, but your boss in particular sounds awfully unprofessional. The fact that this whole situation is temporary is a good thing. If they try to extend it, I’d be really wary unless you’re getting extraordinarily good professional benefits out of this somehow.

Read an update to this letter here.

2. Should I tell my contact his email address is unprofessional?

I recently met someone who used to work at the same organization I did (we didn’t overlap) who is on a job search. We have some openings at my company that seemed like a good fit with his background, so I encouraged him to apply and asked him to send a copy of his resume to me.

The resume looked good, except his email address really stuck out. Instead of the usual, his email address was the title of a well-known children’s book and his initials, plus it was on an email server that seems pretty antiquated (not AOL, but close).

Do you think I should respond to him and say, hey, by the way, your email is really jarring in an otherwise professional resume? And the choice of email server makes you look a little out of touch, especially for positions that require some media savvy like the one he was applying for?

He’s much older than I am (an in, received a degree just a few years after I was born!) so it feels really weird to point something like this out, but I know if I were reviewing this resume for hiring, the email would seem weird to me.

I don’t think this is so egregious that you need to mention it. If he’s an otherwise strong candidate, hiring managers aren’t likely to reject him for having as his email address. It’s the kind of thing where they might think, “huh, that’s a little unusual,” but no reasonable hiring manager is going to be so put off by that that they take him out of the running.

The antiquated domain thing … again, no sane employer will reject him because of that, but you’re right that it can contribute to an overall impression (i.e., depending on what the domain is, it could make him not savvy about technology). I think it depends on what his field is though, as well as how well you know him. If he’s in a field where being tech-forward matters and you were close, I could see saying, “Hey, I know this is weird, but using a compuserve email address on your resume might look a little dated/behind-the-times on tech. It’s easy to set up Gmail or a personal domain if you want to do that.” But it doesn’t sound like you’re particularly close, so I’d leave it alone, especially since he hasn’t asked for feedback on his resume and it doesn’t rise to the level of “embarrassing error that must be corrected.”

3. Interviewing when you like your current job but would leave for oodles of money

I was contacted by a headhunter about a job. I was about to tell them I was not interested, I am happy with my current employer, when they told me about the compensation package. I am well paid in my current job. The new company is offering enough money that I could pay off my mortgage in the next five years (instead of 25 years)! Even if conditions are toxic, for that kind of money, I would take this job if offered.

I have a phone screen scheduled for later this week. What do I say when they ask why I’m leaving my current job? New challenges? An opportunity to work for a market leader? These answers sound so generic to me, but I can’t really say the compensation is the reason, can I? Or is there a tactful way to say that the compensation is the reason?

Don’t say the money is the reason; employers never love that, even though we do in fact work for money. Instead, say something like, “I’m happy in my current job and wasn’t actively looking, but when your recruiter contacted me about this position, I was really intrigued by the role because of ____.” (And then fill in with something that plausibly appeals to you about the work you’d be doing.)

4. My coworker keeps telling me I need a makeover

I have a coworker (I work in retail) who constantly makes comments about my hair — that I dont “style” it (I keep it in a ponytail at work so it doesn’t get in my way when I am working). I don’t wear makeup to work either, and she constantly makes comments on that, saying things like “you should put makeup on.” She even told me in a tone that was not very nice that one day she needs to take me to get a makeover. She even said a few times that I need a makeover in a way that was not polite at all. I kept quiet for now because I don’t know what to do or say, plus I don’t want to cause problems at my job. What should I do or say to her?

Your coworker is being incredibly rude. The next time she comments on your appearance, try saying, “I’m fine with my hair and makeup the way it is. Please stop commenting on it.” Then, if it continues: “I’ve asked you to stop commenting on my hair and makeup. It’s really bizarre that you keep doing it.”

5. My manager won’t tell me why I can’t get promoted

I’ve been at my company for almost 10 years now and have performed really well 90% of the time. I’m in sales and have had only one bad year, which was out of my control. I’m never the star, but I’m steadily successful and have a good reputation.

My problem is that I’ve been passed over for several promotions. I’m not the type to think that everyone above me is incompetent (there are a few bad apples) but rather that I rightly deserve to be at that level too. I’m friends with my manager, but he will just not tell me why I’m not getting promoted. He will say nothing but good things about me to my face and tell me that I’m doing a great job, etc. However, when I press him for feedback, he can’t be honest. I really like my company but I’m clearly not on the fast track. People far junior to me are already being groomed to advance ahead of me. Should I get my head out of the sand and realize that this is as far as I go here? How do I get honest feedback so I can either improve, decide to be happy where I am, or find a new job?

Yeah, your manager is doing you no favors by sugarcoating whatever’s going on. You could try saying to him, “I appreciate that you praise my work, but what would be the most helpful to me is to understand specifically what you need to see from me in order to consider me for a promotion.”

But if he’s not willing or able to give you useful feedback, then yes, you probably need to accept that this may be as far as you’ll ever go there, for whatever reason, and that you’d need to go elsewhere if you want more responsibility.

{ 626 comments… read them below }

  1. NDC*

    #4 – your coworker is indeed being incredibly rude. However, depending on the type of retail you’re working in, a certain level of grooming might be the norm – think fashion or beauty. That might be where she’s coming from on this, although it doesn’t excuse her comments, which sound to me like they rise to the level of bullying.

    However, any directives in that area must come from your manager, not your colleague, and they still need to be delivered with tact. You don’t need to put up with this sort of behavior from a peer. If you tell her to stop multiple times and she doesn’t, take it to your manager.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Agreed. I think it’s worth double-checking with OP’s manager that there aren’t grooming expectations in place (I suspect if there were, OP’s manager would have said something by now). Regardless, coworker is unspeakably rude.

      OP#4, please feel free to make heavy use of, “Please don’t discuss [X].” and “I asked you to stop talking about [X]” and “It’s inappropriate and odd that you keep bringing up [X].” and “*puzzled look* Are you really bringing [X] up, AGAIN?” and “KRRRR keep my name out your mouth.” (Ok, the last one might not be workplace appropriate, depending on the circumstances.)

      1. attie*

        *chirpy tone* “Wow, that’s the fourth time this week that you’ve obliquely called me ugly! I think that’s a new record!”

          1. NorthernSoutherner*

            If I know my mean girls, and I think I do, it probably bothers coworker that LW looks as good as she does *without* makeup.

        1. Quickbeam*

          I agree. I have very long hair which I do not dye. It’s gray. I have a co-worker who is constantly giving me a hair tips and asking me why I don’t style/cut/color my hair. I finally explained it is a remnant of my religious upbringing that brings me comfort. She never bugged me again.

          1. Not Rebee*

            Can’t decide if it bothers me more that she only backed off when you brought up religion. On the one hand, great that she knows better than to push into that territory, but on the other you shouldn’t have to bring religious preferences into it. It’s like telling a guy in a bar you have a boyfriend when you don’t because they respect another man’s claim on you more than your saying no to them based purely on preference.

    2. LouiseM*

      Totally agreed, NDC. Even if the coworker were right, it’s just rude and creates a toxic situation for OP. Personally what I would do is talk to the boss…and then, assuming she says you don’t need a makeover, shut the coworker down every time with a simple, “Actually, Cercsei said I don’t need to do that.” Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

    3. Willis*

      Eh, I don’t get the impression from the letter that the OP is falling short of any hair style/makeup requirements for her position or is otherwise poorly groomed. And if there’s issues with her not meeting some dress/makeup code, that should come from her boss. This totally sounds like a meddling, annoying co-worker who needs to mind her own business, and I wouldn’t be inclined to indulge her ideas by bringing them up to my manager.

      1. Myrin*

        Yeah, I’d guess that OP would know if she worked in a particularly fashionable or trendy boutique (as opposed to, say, a grocery store) and would’ve mentioned that.

        1. Mookie*

          She would have certainly already made the connection herself, too. Plus, it’s part and parcel of hiring and training for retail beauty, skincare, clothing boutiques — dress codes beyond the requisite uniform or tag and ‘grooming’ standards are the norm and her manager or supervisor would have clued her in. An endless and increasingly nasty supply of snipes and random asides from a colleague, particularly when those comments are not received with gratitude and effervescence, are rarely designed to be helpful.

          1. Seriously?*

            And if she was falling short of an actual grooming rule, her manager would be the one to point it out, and to do so directly rather than talking about “someday taking you for a makeover”.

      2. NDC*

        I agree, there’s no indication that a particular standard of grooming is required for OP’s role. I suggested taking the issue to a manager because the colleague is being rude/bullying, not because the OP is not sure how they are supposed to present themselves.

        1. CheeryO*

          Yeah, I get the impression that the coworker is just young and immature. Obviously it’s super rude, but I don’t think OP needs to put any emotional energy into this beyond telling her to cut it out.

          1. Blue Cupcake*

            Actually, I’ve only had older women get on my case for makeup. One even went as far as saying it’s “rude” for women not to wear makeup. It’s interesting how the ones who bug me are women who cake on their makeup.

            OP, next time you should throw the word “harassment” around because that’s what she’s doing.

            1. Anion*

              Yes, me too. I’ve never had anyone younger than me comment on my lack of makeup, but older women do it all the time.

            2. President Porpoise*

              I once had a (female) church leader require that the young women wear stockings or panty hose to avoid making the young men think impure thoughts. When I shared this requirement with my fiancé, he said “that’s going to have the opposite effect.”
              I wore fishnets the whole time I was in that congregation just to mess with this lady.

              1. many bells down*

                There’s a message board I’m on where a dude posts about once a month about how sad it is that women don’t wear pantyhose and stockings anymore. We all know what you’re doing, buddy. If you like pantyhose so much, YOU wear them. I sure am not going to.

                1. MysteryFan*

                  It’s like Truvy (Dolly Parton’s character) in Steel Magnolias says.. “I haven’t left the house without lycra on these thighs since i was 14 years old!”

                2. Someone*

                  That guy sounds awful, but pantyhose were a revelation to me about two years ago. I have terrible skin but have a feminine style, long legs and look good in short dresses and skirts. Opaque pantyhose are awesome.

          2. puzzld*

            Huhh. I got the impression that co-worker, or her sister, is involved in a MLM makeup scam. You need a make-over. I can get you one with Amgie Kay…

            1. Anion*

              Oooh, good idea! I didn’t think of that–I thought she was just a busybody–but that could very well be it!

    4. Traffic_Spiral*

      I’d say it’s more likely that the coworker has bad people skills and feels “let’s do a makeover” is just how girls and women talk to each other (hey, all the movies say so). I’d just go with “No thanks. I don’t want to wear makeup and I like my hair how it is.” If she won’t let it go, then a few “I’ve already told you I don’t want a makeover – please stop bringing it up,” would do.

      1. Luna*

        Oh I don’t think it’s bad people skills. There are plenty of women who feel very strongly that “real” women wear makeup, high heels, & skirts, and they feel superior to any women who don’t follow these rules and therefore think they are justified in criticizing them. This person is not socially awkward, she is just a jerk.

        1. ErinW*

          Agreed. I don’t often wear makeup (I put on some lipstick for my own wedding in August, and haven’t worn any since then, that’s how often) and I don’t put much care into my hair either, and I need more than both hands to count how many women in my life have tried to take me under their wing and teach me about being a woman. Some of them think they are really being helpful. Some just want to neg you. But it happens a lot.

          1. Rana*

            Yup. And it starts early. I remember blowing the mind of some popular girls in high school when they tried to offer me a “charity” make-over. They were astonished to learn that not only did I know perfectly well how to apply makeup and knew what a perm was, I had no interest in doing either.

            1. Gadget Hackwrench*

              Oh my god this. I had a co-worker once who kept pestering me to wear makeup, or grow out my hair… but above all she was absolutely RELENTLESS about my not wearing heels. (I wear plain, flat, black leather oxfords… every day. They work.) She would not LET GO of that one even after she stopped trying everything else. I don’t know if she decided to focus on one step at a time, or if that was the biggest deal for her, but it became all. about. the shoes. She kept telling me I’d feel so much better about myself and more attractive if I only just TRIED them… because apparently on her planet the only reason a woman wouldn’t play up their femininity is if they have self esteem issues apparently? I’m the IT guy. I dress like all the other IT guys. Slacks, button down, shoes meant for walking all over the kingdom come. But if she could do IT in stilettos so should I. Once I wore a pair, she swore I’d be hooked. “I’ve worn them and I really don’t care for them,” was not an acceptable answer, apparently because I hadn’t tried REAL heels (blocks are not real apparently.) Only a proper set of ankle turners would really make me feel good about myself. At one point she literally took her own heels off and backed me into a corner in my cube “try them on, just for a minute!” No I am NOT going to wear YOUR SHOES. What is WRONG with you woman? She was later fired after a series of shouting matches with management over… really nothing. She was just very bull-headed about a lot of things.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Geez. Haven’t we let go of this YET?
          I remember in the 60s trying to get my mother to wear pants. OMG, WWIII.
          Once she started wearing pants she never went back to dresses or skirts.
          I thought we were getting used to the idea that there was more to a person that their clothes. oh. no, wait. Hollywood. That’s right.

      2. Spider*

        This really does not come across as a poorly socialized woman who is cluelessly parroting movies in order to bond with her coworker. She’s deliberately insulting the LW and aggressively badgering her to change her appearance. That’s not bad people skills, that’s hostility.

    5. MLB*

      You all are way nicer than I would be. I get that’s it’s a co-worker, but somebody that rude needs to be put in her place. I would respond with “If I need your opinion I will ask for it. Stop commenting on my style as it’s none of your concern” and then walk away.

      1. Michelle*

        Agreed. I would also throw in ” Coworker, you need a people skills makeover. Shall I sign you for classes?’

      2. Ginger ale for all*

        If she doesn’t knock it off after speaking to her, I think I would be tempted to be rude and do the slow look up and down on the co-worker and say “Uh hmm” and walk away. The co-worker has been over the top rude and needs a reality check on what it is like to have someone be rude to them back. Unfortunately, you might have to speak to her several times about this.

      3. Kelsi*

        This is also a great time for Captain Awkward’s favorite response to inappropriate commentary: “Wow.” + letting the awkwardness stretch.

        It feels rude in the moment, but really, it’s just putting all your amazement at how rude THAT person was into one word.

    6. prof-lc*

      For some reason, I’m getting multi-level marketing vibes behind this makeover obsession.

      1. Allison*

        Oh yeah, that’s definitely a possibility, but you’d think she would have at least mentioned the stuff she sells at this point.

      2. PB*

        It’s possible, but I’ve encountered the “I’m going to give you a makeover!!!1!!” crap plenty of times without an MLM being involved. It doesn’t really change the advice either way; it’s inappropriate and the CW is a jerk either way. The flavor of the jerkiness might just be slightly different.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        Even if it isn’t, this works into a great comeback for OP, “No thanks, I don’t do MLMs.”

    7. AKchic*

      This sounds more like some snippy, meddling coworker who really just wants a life-sized Barbie doll to play with. She wants some semblance of control over LW4 and will get upset if LW4 accepts the makeover but doesn’t actually wear any of the product or style her hair on a daily basis the same way.
      All the coworker wants is LW4 to look better in coworker’s eyes. “Better” is subjective. I am sure LW4 looks perfectly fine and is comfortable and work appropriate. I’ve worked retail. There’s no reason why a ponytail and no makeup is unacceptable. Nobody needs to be glammed up to run a cash register or restock shelves/racks.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I had a boss on my case to color my hair. I said, “Oh I look at it once in the morning to brush it out and that’s it. It does not bother me in the least. I have no idea why it bothers you so much.”

      2. Panda Bandit*

        This. I’ve worked retail as well and many stores are absolutely filthy! I’m not getting glammed up for a job where I have to deal with cobwebs and crud.

    8. ladycrim*

      I wonder if the co-worker sells beauty products or gets a discount at her salon for bringing in new clients or something.

  2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#1, your boss is so far out of line that the line isn’t even visible anymore. But as Alison noted, this entire arrangement sounds like a recipe for boundary-crossing craziness. I’m sorry, and I hope the gig wraps up soon (and completely). :(

    1. Seriously?*

      And if it is not going to be over soon, it seems completely fair to go back to the owner and say that this situation will not work for you. If your boss is using your car too frequently, then you do not in fact have transportation.

    2. LBK*

      I find it pretty rich that the boss was railing against the OP for using the car for personal reasons but then is also doing the same thing herself? Can she not fathom that their mutual boss might have approved the OP to use the car in the same fashion she’s using it?

      But that being said, it sounds like the boss did tell both of you that the car would be available for your use…so I do think the OP is being a little possessive in calling it “my” car. If it was misrepresented to you as being for your sole use and now you’re having to share it, that isn’t your direct manager’s fault, as annoying as she’s being about the whole situation.

      1. Luna*

        Yeah, the whole situation sounds messed up but OP this is not “your” car. The company/higher boss owns the car- it belongs to them. If the owner told your direct manager that she can also use the car then she does have a right to do so and you need to either share it with her or talk to the owner about getting you a separate rental car.

        1. Someone else*

          I mean, not exactly? It sounds like OP’s contract explicitly states she’ll be provided a car, and when she arrived was told this car is the car fulfilling that. Housemate/boss’s contract apparently included no such thing. So when Big Boss decided to tell Boss she could use it whenever, she’s basically taking it out of rotation for being “the car” provided for in OP’s contract. We don’t have the exact wording of the contract, and it’s probably not worth the fight to quibble, but really, this is a bait and switch right here. Big Boss either needs to provide some sort of dedicated vehicle to the person who was promised one. Or better, OP should take this as a lesson learned on negotiating the specifics next time (assuming the contract were not already super specific) so that they ensure next time they take a job with a car, it precludes this nonsense.

          1. AKchic*

            That was kind of my take too. It sounds like the big boss promised one thing and failed to deliver, or only half-delivered. Either way – the spirit of the contract is not being met and it has become a huge hassle.

          2. Luna*

            I don’t disagree that the Big Boss is screwing both of them over- but if I own a car, and tell someone (employee, roommate, whoever) that they can use it, that doesn’t make it their car. The terms of OP’s contract are not being met because she was never given her own car from the start.

            1. LBK*

              Right, if the grandboss promised it to both of them, the OP doesn’t really have standing to say “this is mine and you can’t use it,” because it’s not actually hers.

        2. Yorick*

          I wonder if the big boss decided to let the little boss use it too, or if little boss went to them and complained about OP getting a car when she doesn’t.

    3. Kathleen_A*

      I think the OP’s immediate boss sounds like poison…but I also think it sounds as though she hasn’t been treated quite right either. I mean, assuming she is supposed to be the boss and not just a project manager or something – which may not be the case – why doesn’t she know the details about her employee’s employment? In a normal situation, wouldn’t someone’s supervisor be expected to know that stuff?

      So yes, the boss is trouble, but then again, so is the grandboss, IMO. He’s at least partly responsible for this mess.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, there are too many little secrets and half truths in this story. I doubt the company will succeed.

  3. KR*

    Number five, something about your writing just seemed so nice to me. Good job OP. Sorry your boss isn’t being straight with you.

  4. Clarice Fitzpatrick*

    LW #1, how much longer is exactly your arrangement supposed to last? This sounds like a layer cake of nightmares to run away from. None of their behavior is appropriate or should be treated as normal, even if the company is very small.

    1. Mookie*

      layer cake of nightmares

      Like one of those “sandwidge” cakes, where the icing is mayonnaise and the filling an assortment of potted meats. The further you dig in, the more morbid it becomes.

      Good luck to you, LW1. For what it’s worth, you seem to have a firm read and grasp on on the situation, both. Let your boss freak out on her own time, reserve the car for when you need it, and make sure to carve yourself out some physical and mental space to unwind every day you’re sharing house with her. Also, because you’re in an unfamiliar state (in the US?), apprise yourself of local affordable lodgings and any public transportation you might need to get there if the living quarters become unbearable, the car no longer operable or accessible, and you feel you have to end or suspend your contract or at least the part that dictates you have to live under these circumstances. Have a way out, in other words, just like you would in any situation ripe for abuse or dysfunction, and if you’ve any local contacts you trust, make them aware of your misgivings, give them your emergency contact information, check in with them regularly, and if you’ve the room in your schedule, enjoy their company away from House Boss. Again, good luck to you.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I loathe mayonnaise, had never heard of a doing this to mayonnaise and canned meat, and now have my own new nightmare. When red velvet cake goes horribly wrong….

        1. Allison*

          The only time I can eat mayo is when it’s used in lobster rolls, and even then we’re talking minimal mayo. Otherwise I hate the stuff and would be very upset if someone tried to trick me into eating it.

          1. AMPG*

            You should learn about the joys of “Connecticut style” lobster rolls, which are served warm and feature lobster tossed in melted butter instead of mayo.

        2. Anion*

          Ugh, me too. I tried to use it as conditioner once–you know, one of those “Beauty treatments at home!” things in magazines, that promised my hair would be silky-soft and shiny afterward–and had to rinse it out before I’d even finished applying it all, because the smell was making me gag so much.

          I have never eaten it outside of the occasional recipe that uses, like, a tablespoon with a whole bunch of other stuff to mask the flavor.

      2. Samata*

        I was thinking along the same lines. I was going to ask OP if an air bnb and a bus pass is something she is able to consider. It would be more considerably more enjoyable in this situation likely worth the cost of a room rental.

        1. Chinook*

          While I agree that OP 1’s situation is troublesome, I wonder if she is an an area small enough that transit and alternative accommodations are not easily available. I can think of many short term positions in Alberta where her set up wouldn’t be unthinkable.

          That being said, she needs 5o go back to bigger boss to verify that the car is for her use only and, if it isn’t, how they are tracking usage so that she isn’t being taxed for f/t access as well as not having to pay for the boss’s gas. And what happens if the boss gets a photo radar ticket or is in an accident? How will the OP prove she was not responsi me if the contract states she has full responsibility for the car when she really doesn’t. At the very least, her contract needs to be amended accordingly to cover her butt.

      3. Emilie*

        It’s called “smörgåstårte” and it’s something you can buy pre-packaged in swedish supermarkets…

        1. Just Employed Here*

          I don’t know anyone who would buy a prepackaged smörgåstårta.

          In the 80s, they were all the rage at birthday parties, christenings, and funerals. But they were always either homemade or made to order. You might even have two: one with meat and one with fish!

          Recently, I’ve seen them creep back onto the party scene, and not always in an ironic way. There’s nothing like being at a preschool event which includes breakfast, which turns out to be only coffee and a meat-based smörgåstårta… Especially when you don’t eat meat.

          1. Precisely*

            my vegetarian Swedish brother in law will make these with only Mayo and there is a vegetarian option if you can stomach it

        2. Specialk9*

          Are they good? It sounds like one of those things one does in Hawaii with Spam, because Hawaii.

  5. Mr. Cholmondley-Warner*

    #1: Get out. The company is insane if they expect you and your boss to live together. Find a new job, ASAP, because this will not get better.

    #4: She’s being extremely rude. Next time, tell her you find it insulting. Say “Carol, how would you feel if I told you you need to go on a diet?” And if she does it again, tell her to fuck off.

    1. INTP*

      Agree, get out. This company brazenly bait-and-switched both of you, you can’t trust them.

      The boss isn’t even the problem here. She’s being annoying, but not that unreasonable considering her perspective in all of this. She was offered use of the car whenever she wanted so she wanted to drive the car when she wanted. She was lied to about some aspect of her compensation package and wants to get to the bottom of that, hence the questions about your pay and being upset. It’s not your fault that the company is underpaying and lied to her, so she shouldn’t blame you – but it’s also not her fault that the company promised you a car and instead offered you a car-share with her, and you shouldn’t blame her for driving a car she was offered use of.

      The problem is the company that ripped you both off, probably intentionally. They misled you about your accommodations and transportation, and her about her pay. They promised the same car to two people. They misled you about having a boss and probably misled her about how much seniority she’d actually have over you. This is all pretty flagrantly deceptive stuff. Don’t be surprised if checks bounce or there’s a “misunderstanding” about how much you get paid at the end of your contract.

        1. TheNotoriousMCG*

          Yes, this is what I came here to say! This car situation sounds like a badly-communicated car-share plan that is common for places like opera companies that have several visiting artists in at the same time. They don’t give all of them rentals, and it’s common to have two artists share one.

      1. JB (not in Houston)*

        I disagree that the boss isn’t the problem. The boss is certainly part of the problem because she does not understand boundaries or behaving professionally. It’s fine if she’s upset about her compensation or about the use of the car, but she’s not handling it professionally with the OP.

        The OP needs to get out of there as soon as possible.

        1. Jordan*

          And make sure you’re insured to drive the car as the primary driver. Don’t ask me how I know to check on this…

        2. Anion*

          Yes, she hounded the OP about the details of her contract and then demanded better from the Big Boss, including being allowed use of the car OP was promised for her own because if OP gets a car so should she. That’s a problem. That’s not “I was promised this, too,” it’s “I think I should have everything you have, so hand it over.” That’s not cool from anyone, ever.

          1. INTP*

            She was told by the owner of the car that she could drive the car whenever she wanted, though. She didn’t just independently decide that she had a right to use the car – by verbal agreement, she had the same rights to the car as the OP. It’s not the boss’ problem that OP was promised exclusive use of a car and not granted it any more than it’s the OP’s problem that Boss was promised a higher salary and more privileges as manager and not granted it. I’m not saying the Boss has done nothing wrong and couldn’t have handled it better, I just think that she’s not the root of the problem in any sense, and they’d both be better off if they directed their annoyance with each other towards the business owner instead.

        3. INTP*

          I feel like fixating on the way that the boss is being rude or reacting in a non-ideal way is missing the forest for the trees. Even if the boss was great, this isn’t an acceptable situation. But the owner promised completely incompatible things to two different people, sold one a job without a boss and told the other she was the boss, offered both of them primary use of the same car, AND is having them live together – it would be a miracle if OP and boss *did* get along, they’ve been completely pit against each other! The real problem is this insane situation they’ve both been bait and switched into, and the business owner that misled both of them about key aspects of the job and compensation to get them to take the job, threw them into a house together and let them take issue with each other instead of her.

          OP and Boss having issues with each other is working out great for the owner. OP is annoyed with Boss for driving a car Boss was given permission to drive whenever she wanted, Boss is annoyed with OP for making an amount of money she was offered, and Owner is reaping the benefits as they’re both still doing work for the owner without the owner having to pay either of them everything she agreed to pay them to get them to take the jobs.

          OP and boss could have the perfect heart to heart, set appropriate boundaries, improve communication between them, stop blaming each other…and then they’d still be living in a house together, performing a job they didn’t fully sign up for and still aren’t getting paid what they were told they’d be paid for it. OP needs to focus on leaving this company, not her boss’ boundaries and communication skills.

      2. Seriously?*

        Well, the boss is A problem, even though big boss is the bigger problem. The local boss is being treated poorly as well, but they have decided that the best way to deal with it is to take it out on the OP, which is really not ok. The OP should not be hounded by her boss to find out her compensation or because she was promised a car in her contract while local boss was not.

      3. AKchic*

        The boss *has* a problem and is *being* a problem while trying to solve her problem.

        There are better ways to go about trying to figure out just how deep the problems go with LW and live-in boss’s contracts are. Unfortunately, live-in boss sounds like she is BEC mad at this point and is at her wit’s end and is having a hard time focusing properly and staying calm enough to go about it in a better manner.
        Do I understand, empathize and feel for her? Of course I do.
        Do I still believe she is being a problem and should calm herself a bit and do better? Yes.

        I think the both of them may have more issues with their contracts than they realize, and would probably benefit from sitting down together and going over their contracts together and recognizing that they aren’t each others’ enemy, but allies and the bigger boss may be the enemy on this one.

        1. INTP*

          I agree that they should sit down together and go over their contracts together, and uncover just how much they’ve each been lied to. I think their issues with each other might be clouding both of their abilities to clearly see just how badly the business owner has treated them in this scenario and that they’re both victims of the same crime. (Metaphorically, I’m not saying a literal crime has been committed here.) Doing this might help them understand each other’s behavior better as well and ease any BEC tensions so they can go against the business owner together.

  6. ENFP in Texas*

    #3 – I’d be very careful about jumping ship into a “sounds too good to be true” financial situation (and paying off a mortgage 20 years faster just screams “too good to be true” to me).

    You say you could put up with a toxic environment if the money was good enough, but in my unfortunate experience, being miserable for a third of the day (or more) five days a week (or more) is not worth it.

    1. LouiseM*

      Can’t agree with this more. I’ve seen people in truly desperate situations (unexpected medical bills, death in the family, etc.) take on a miserable job because the money was so much better. But I’ve also seen people seduced by the dazzle of gold when they had a perfectly comfortable situation to begin with. They had their McMansion paid off, but they were crying in their claw-foot bubblebath. My point? Do some thinking about what will really work for *you.*

      1. Allison*

        My boss and coworker keep telling me I could do what I do for an agency and make a lot more money than I do now, and then beg me not to. More money would be awesome, but in an agency I’d have to meet a whole bunch of aggressive quotas and stuff, and I’d be in direct competition with my colleagues all the time, and I just don’t need that kind of stress in my life.

        1. OP #3*

          Allison, your example is very near my industry, but this is the reverse scenario. Say a company hired a bunch of ad agency execs to staff their new marketing department. Typically when that happens, the ad exec agrees to take less pay for better hours, but they are still well paid. On the other hand, I have always been in-house, but this job would make me an equal to the former ad execs, so the salary they are offering is also equal to what they are paying the ad execs. I am concerned because I have had sane hours and I am worried that they will expect me to work ad exec hours for the money. However, I do think the work will be challenging and interesting, just exhausting.

          1. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

            OP3, do some hard thinking about what value you give “sane hours.” Really think it through – what specific activities would you NOT be able to do every day if you had to squeeze in 1-3 more working hours? Write it down in list form. Look at that list and multiple it by 5 to get a look at the weekly tradeoff for the salary. Are you willing to forego those activities every week for the extra money?

          2. Duckles*

            Keep in mind it’s really, really hard to go back to a lower salary when you want your life back. Also, less time comes with a lot of costs– cabs instead of public transport, cleaning services, child/pet care, grocery delivery, etc. that eats up a good chunk of the raise.

    2. paul*

      I’d do some research, but they didn’t actually say the situation was toxic; they just said for the money they’d consider it even if it was toxic. Which, yeah, if you tripled my salary I’d try like hell to put with toxic for a little bit. But they didn’t say anything about the company having a bad reputation or anything.

      It’s possible the job’s a promotion, it’s possible they’re underpaid in their current job, it’s possible the place is a hellhole that’s desperate, we just don’t know.

        1. my two cents*

          But, LW didn’t *know* it was a toxic workplace – just that they were willing to take a job if the money was right, even if it *happened* to be toxic.

          I clung to OldJob for a long time because I really liked the work I was doing, but I was pretty sure I was below market rate. Called by a headhunter one afternoon, interviewing by the end of the next week, and signed a new job with a 40% pay bump by the end of that month. It’s not uncommon to get a solid bump between your first tenured job and the next – it certainly doesn’t automatically indicate a problematic workplace.

      1. OP #3*

        I have a mutual friend with someone I would be working with at the new company and she says the company is great. My concern is that I currently enjoy a work/life balance that is unusual in my industry and, for the money, I am sure the new company will expect me to work a lot more hours. Again, if I have to work 60+ hours a week for 5 years, but the trade off is financial freedom, I’m willing to sign on.

        1. Bostonian*

          I can actually see where you’re coming from here. 5 years of extra work for a lifetime of improved financial security seems like a good trade off.

          I think where people are coming from is the recognition that the increased stress could have negative effects on health that are difficult to reverse/overcome. Something to keep an eye out for, maybe, if you do get offered the job and take it.

        2. Luna*

          Honestly if it was me I’d take the money. Even if you only end up staying for 2 or 3 years the extra savings you could build up would make a significant difference in financial security for the rest of your life.

          1. AMPG*

            I graduated from college in the late-90’s tech boom, and had several friends who were recruited to Microsoft straight out of school. A couple ended up making careers there, but most stayed a year or two and jumped ship. My understanding was that the actual work was long and tedious, but they were very happy to make 100K+/year and stock options at 22 years old, and that the financial security they got from just a year or two there set them up for a long time afterwards.

        3. GM*

          I’ve been in the exact same situation as you, and landed up taking the job. I was pleasantly surprised to find – and you might be too – that you may not have to work unreasonable hours at all! My new higher-paying job does involve more responsibility, and a few days of extra hours here and there, but overall nothing to complain about or regret taking it. I too had a friend who informed me it was a good place to work.

    3. LS*

      And make sure that you are actually going to get that money! My family was getting ready to move when my dad got the “oh by the way, here’s your *actual* pay rather than your potential pay!” letter. Luckily he hadn’t quit his old job and we had been planning to rent out our house rather than sell it, so it was easy enough to settle back in.

      1. Snowglobe*

        And also do some research to determine if the company is financially stable enough to continue paying that salary for three years. A company that overpays its staff that much may not be good at managing the financial side of things, and could fall apart pretty quickly.

    4. AdAgencyChick*

      Yup, and then you have “golden handcuffs” because you either don’t want to go back to your old salary to work at a job that’s kinder to you, or you try and your salary history gets in the way because employers write you off mentally because they think you won’t be interested in taking a huge pay cut. (Not an issue if you live in a jurisdiction where asking about salary history is now illegal, of course.)

      That being said, I’ve been in OP3’s situation in terms of what to tell a recruiter when you’re not actually job hunting, and when that happens, my “why are you looking?” answer is, “I’m not necessarily looking to move. You guys called me. But Fergus told me enough that I’m intrigued, and wanted to learn more.” Nobody has ever made me get more specific than “learn more about what?” when I say that (and I’ve been offered the job more than once in this situation).

      1. Smithy*

        I also have to flag the “golden handcuffs” worry.

        I used to work for a kind of nonprofit that fairly extensively overpaid people. Now this still being a nonprofit – that level of “over pay” isn’t exactly the same situation of what you’d see in the for profit sector – but it also created a class of employees that felt unable to leave. They did adjust or become used to that level of income and the prospect of a significant but market level “normal” rate was not appealing.

        I would also add they in lots of cases that level of pay – whether or not toxic – more often then not comes with a much longer work week. So instead of a 40-55 hr week, something much higher is the expected norm.

      2. Bostonian*

        Yeah, to speak to the second part of your response (and OP’s actual initial question), I think OP’s reason for interviewing doesn’t need to be as detailed/iron-clad as if OP had applied without being approached. THEY reached out to OP, so there’s more room for an attitude of “happy now, but interested in seeing what else is out there”

    5. Tim C.*

      The big unanswered question is why would a company pay so out of line? A toxic environment is one answer. There may also be unrealistic expectations. I looked into an offer where the pay was 50% higher than industry standard. Turns out you got 5 sick days and 1 week vacation time and were contracted to work a 60 hour work week. BTW – Holidays were considered part of your vacation time.
      You spend a major amount of your life at work. Don’t waste it for money.

        1. PieInTheBlueSky*

          Or perhaps OP works for the government, a school, etc., where salaries are often lower than in private industry.

      1. Not a Morning Person*

        And there are companies in some industries that pay a lot more than smaller companies. It’s not bad news to find out that there are similar roles that pay more than your current salary! It’s good news! And again, salary is not the only thing. Benefits, location, commute, life balance, and so much more. It’s one element to consider.

    6. Steve*

      You dont necessarily need a ton of extra money to pay off your house 20 years early. An extra $1500 a month could be more then enough for many people.
      For some people work is just work and dealing with toxic people is no worse then cleaning a toilet, not enjoyable but it pays the bills.

      Some people can deal with toxic people better then others. Maybe the letter writer has experience with it and doesnt take it personal.

      1. Bea*

        Just 1500 extra a month? That’s 18,000 a year and you’re not looking at taking home all that so it’s more like 25k due to taxes…that’s a huge pay bump unless previously grossly underpaid.

        You must be wealthy if you’re throwing around “just another 1500”. And idk what kind of mortgage you have where an extra 18k for 5 years pays it off 20 years early. But houses here are outrageous so I’ll accept that it would work if in a lower market maybe and had a killer interest rate.

    7. Hiring Mgr*

      All true, but certainly no harm in looking into the situation and doing an initial call

    8. Regarding Question #3*

      I’d much rather be sobbing daily as a millionaire than smiling daily as a “minimum-wage-or-less”-aire

      1. boop the first*

        Right?? Most minimum wage workers sob regularly too, but we have to do it while at work instead of taking a spa day.

      2. Specialk9*

        I’ve found that the people in my life who say things like that are profoundly lacking in empathy.

        1. bluephone*

          I have too much empathy–to the point of having a “con me with your sob story!” invisible target on my back–but if I had to miserable and poor, or miserable and rich? I’m definitely picking “and rich” every time. Because the money makes it easier to do something about the misery.

      3. J.*

        There’s an awful lot of comfortable grey area between subsistence level wages and being a millionaire.

        1. Regarding Question #3*

          Sobbing Millionaire >>> Smiling “Minimum-Wage-or-Less”-aire
          I’d much rather be a Millionaire than a “Minimum-Wage-or-Less”-aire regardless of my emotional state

          1. sin nombre*

            OK but there’s nothing in the letter or followup comments to indicate that the OP’s job (current or potential) falls into either of those categories, so this doesn’t seem particularly relevant.

      4. SarahTheEntwife*

        I find that attitude so confusing. If I’m miserable, what good is the money? I’m presumably less miserable than I would be if I had that job and it didn’t pay well, but unless it’s a “this year of hell will pay enough to retire on” situation I’d much rather be happier and poorer. If I’m making minimum wage but still happy, there must be something else going on that’s letting me get all my needs met, because otherwise I would be unhappy due to the whole not-making-enough-to-live-on thing.

    9. Aly_b*

      It might just be a different type of environment – I work in consulting and make a fair bit more than I would at a government agency, and a fair bit less than I would in-house somewhere. It works for me and I like it, but those kind of variations do exist within an industry and aren’t necessarily indicative of toxicity or unsustainability. An interview should uncover some of that, and hopefully talking to other people at the company.

      1. Alternative Person*

        Prestige can make a big difference too. Between the super fancy employer and salt of the earth rub along there’s a world of difference at same level remuneration.

    10. Lora*

      Yeah, there have been plenty of reasons where the potential employer pay was significantly above the current employer’s pay for 100% legitimate reasons:

      -Current employer paid below market for everyone and was a notorious training ground that people only took the job to get specific experience on their resume
      -Women and people of color were significantly underpaid by current employer
      -Current employer used H1B folks extensively to depress the wage market locally
      -Current employer was a small startup and potential employer was a megacorp
      -Current employer relied on competitive bid government contracts and didn’t have a ton of margin

      The other times I was offered golden handcuffs were inevitably “working here is like a waking nightmare in which you will spend a minimum of eight hours per day either suicidally depressed, uncontrollably sobbing or in a murderous rage.” They always had really good benefits too, the kind you read about and think, gee I wish my employer gave me free lunch every day… I would have traded that free lunch in a heartbeat for some effective management that wasn’t actually Circle 4.5 of the Inferno.

  7. Mad Baggins*

    OP1: “How much of this situation is out of line?”

    All of it! The living with your boss, the sharing a car between 1-?? people, the boss suddenly appearing outside of your contract, the weird boundary-crossing comments about your pay and what you do with your personal resources–all of this is out of line!

    1. LouiseM*

      Yes, THIS IS ALL CRAZY. None of this is how a functioning workplace should work. Honestly, OP, I’d say if you can even remotely afford it you should rent your own car and count the days til this is over.

      1. AJ*

        I wonder if renting a car could be written of as a tax deduction? I know W2 employees can deduct supplies they are expected to buy on their own – things required, but not supplied by the company – I’m pretty sure you don’t even need to itemize to report these expenses. (Not sure if freelancers get W2s, or 1099s? If 1099, include it in your business expenses?) Or you could probably spin it as “job hunting expenses” – you might need to itemize for this one. Rent a car, save your receipts and see your boss as little as possible. (Disclaimer – I am not an accountant/ CPA)

        1. I Coulda Been a Lawyer ;)*

          Just to scratch the surface – yes you had to itemize to claim unreimbursed work expenses, but a car to drive to work is not a work expense AND that write off is gone in 2018 for a W2 employee . The car and housing are taxable benefits whether you are W2d or 1099d. I don’t think OP knows just how horrible this nightmare is on every front.

        2. LBK*

          Deducting it on your taxes doesn’t make it free, so while it’s a perk if it’s something you have to do, the OP would still be paying a considerable amount out of pocket.

        3. Specialk9*

          The problem with a tax deduction is that you only get 1/4 (ish) of that money back.

          It’s not that you get a refund, it just reduces the amount of income that you have to pay tax on.

          And if you don’t have a lot of deductions (so just go with the standard deduction – which just got massively higher) or are low income, then that’s not really an option either.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Maybe that’s the key. If you do one weird thing, the employees will focus on that and how unreasonable it is, but if you do ALL THE WEIRD THINGS they get confused and can’t tell which to tackle, like a shark with a school of little darting fish.

        1. Tardigrade*

          Sometimes I think these places are run by an alien species who don’t understand how to human.

        2. Alternative Person*

          This is so true of my current workplace. As soon as you peel back and work on one layer of dysfunction, three more reveal themselves, then you try and explain it to someone and it becomes a tangled mess because it turns out each layer was reinforcing every other layer around it.

        3. INTP*

          And, intentionally or not, this employer has not only done so many weird things that the employees are disoriented, but has cleverly done weird things in a way that put the two employees in conflict so any sense of “this is very wrong” that they DO feel, they’re now directing towards each other instead of the employer doing weird things.

          1. Lindsay J*

            This aspect almost makes it feel like the setup of a reality TV show to me.

            Like, the being forced to live together in the house almost triggers that feeling, but not quite. But the feeling like they have to compete for resources (the car, salary) as a zero-sum game triggers that fake competition/hostility factor in my mind.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      This. Nothing about this situation is remotely in the realm of normal. At best, it may have once brushed casually up against normal in a crowd.

      1. I Love Thrawn*

        This is one of the best lines this week: “t best, it may have once brushed casually up against normal in a crowd.”

    3. Chinook*

      It depends. How remote is the work location? If it is a city, completely out of line. Smaller town or “camp” situation or remote/fly-in may make it closer to the most realistic option.

      If the latter, then your boss needs to take up her issues with the big boss (like you told her) as you have zero control over her contract. Plus, if she is an employee and you are a contractor, of course your pay is larger because you have no benefits, have to cover all the payroll taxes and have no job security.

  8. Lumen*

    4. If anyone at my workplace spoke to me like this, I’d be sorely tempted to get up and immediately perp-walk them to HR.

    1. MLB*

      Nah, she just needs to be put in her place. She keeps commenting because the LW is letting her. She needs to be told that LW’s style in none of her business and shut it down. I understand that she doesn’t want to cause awkwardness at work, but the rude co-worker is already doing that. LW needs to stand up for herself and not let her co-worker insult her constantly.

    2. CheeryO*

      It’s retail, though. Maybe things have changed in the decade since I worked those types of jobs, but OP probably just needs to be assertive and tell her to cut it the eff out.

      1. Former Retail Manager*

        I doubt things have changed that much. It was the same when I was in retail. Spending slow times with the same people over and over led to some very interesting statements/opinions/conversations. This girl seems obsessed with appearance. I had empl0yees that offered unsolicited advice to other employees regarding a myriad of subjects they really liked to discuss…most often a “hey, knock it off, seriously” would do the trick.

        1. Specialk9*

          Yeah this can be it too, on top of rudeness. Right now I really really want to talk about brewing kombucha, but it’s one of those topics of limited interest. Someone who loves for making YouTube videos on makeup application may have a hard time understanding it’s not a universal love. Knowing how to filter is a skill, and sometimes people don’t get that.

          1. Decima Dewey*

            LW#4: Barring your boss saying you have to style your hair and/or wear makeup, whether you do or not is nobody’s business but yours. BTW don’t accept any lunch invitations from that coworker, lest you find yourself the subject of a forcible makeover.

            LW#1: Find a new job ASAP, move out of the house you’re sharing with your boss, and ask about the details of what the next job is promising. Make sure that “transportation” doesn’t mean a membership in the local bike share, and that “housing” isn’t somebody’s basement.

          2. SarahTheEntwife*

            But if she were obsessed with makeup as a hobby, she could just ramble on about the newest eyeliner technique she learned or her new nails or whatever, rather than constantly asking why coworkers aren’t wearing makeup. This seems targeted rather than oblivious.

  9. Lumen*

    5. My previous job pulled this. My manager and both of the co-owners all gave me awkward, hand-wavy excuses as to why I could not get title change – not even a promotion, just a title that better described the work I was already doing. Not only did they tell me their reasons in defensive, anxious tones: all three of them gave me different explanations. Which means all three were BS. I still have no idea what their real reasons were, because I went and found a job where I was valued.

    I wouldn’t stay at your workplace long. Sounds like they’re playing games. Take your skills and move on.

    1. my two cents*

      Yep, same thing happened to me at OldJob. I was there for years, they knew I was more-timid and unlikely to jump, but in the meantime they had a cost-efficient support engineer (handling all of the calls and tickets) independent of the ‘development engineers’. I asked for a raise, they told me I “contributed differently than the (all male) development team”. They didn’t want to change my title “because it carries certainly expectations that don’t really fit the remote office”. When I finally tried asking for some non-monetary concessions, I was told I still couldn’t wear my nose ring on normal no-client-contact days, despite 90% of my work being done over the computer and/or phone and everyone in the office already knew I just flipped it out of sight most days (by then, I had since run into my coworkers and management team outside of the office while about town, or at funerals/weddings).

      They didn’t want to bump my title because it would require that they adjust my pay. The rest of it was definitely them trying to squeeze me out (I guess so they could focus on development?). I have a new job (40% more pay and vacation/holidays), and the OldJob office closed maybe 9 months later as they were “redundant” after a huge merger which is sort of icing on my petty cake.

    2. Luna*

      Yup, been there too. Loved my job & the people, but needed growth (in both pay & job responsibilities) and they always had reasons why it wasn’t possible, why I wasn’t quite the right fit for the particular opening available.

      Then I finally went and got myself a new job and they were just shocked, acted like I was abandoning them, tried to guilt-trip me into staying. Too late!

      OP, time to start applying and get a new job. Screw those people, they are taking advantage of you and they know it. Get out now.

      1. Lumen*

        I love that – when an employer is shady to you, then is shocked and butthurt when you go find another job. It really exposes the difference between “we value you” and “we rely on you”.

        1. Pomona Sprout*

          Or the difference between “we value you” and “we totally take you for granted”!

  10. DEJ*

    I often work with TV commentators who work for regional sports networks. You’d be surprised at how many have AOL addresses.

    1. London Calling*

      I have a Hotmail address that I’ve had virtually since Hotmail launched and that I use for CVs. No-one has ever said to me ‘you know what? your CV is fine but your email address is sooooo old-fashioned.’ Non-issue as far as I’m concerned.

      1. Boo*

        I’m attached to my hotmail out of nostalgia, but I have outlook/gmail addresses for when I’m job hunting.

        1. HS Teacher*

          I find gmail to be a freaking nightmare, so I stick with msn. I have a gmail because I have an android phone, but it’s not the address I give to anyone important. Searching in gmail is a huge pain in the neck for me, and I much prefer the Outlook style of e-mail.

      2. Engineer Girl*

        It’s one of those stupid discriminators, like personality tests. It’s also ageist, as older workers are more likely to have an address like that. Mainly because the younger workers were in diapers at the time those addresses were popular.
        It’s a hassle to switch email addresses. I’d question someone that did it just to appear more savvy. It’s shallow and doesn’t reflect any true knowledge.

        1. Sugarplum*

          My local Workforce Development office adviser having an email just for your job search. I have a gmail for my resume in addition to my main Yahoo address.

        2. paul*

          I’m only in my 30s, somewhat technologically competent, and have an @msn email. It works. Its’ a frigging email address.

          1. not really a lurker anymore*

            Yep. I have a Yahoo address that’s been mine for going on 15 years. It’s never been hacked. I think I’ve got a couple of newer addresses that feed into it but I couldn’t tell you what they are as I don’t remember them.

          2. Stitch*

            I’m 25, and a few years ago someone much older than me said it was cute that I had an @msn email address. Like yeah it’s not difficult to switch, but there’s still a transition period or at least having to remember what addy you routed things through. I have no reason to switch.

        3. Seriously?*

          It is easy enough to set one up and have it forwarded to the main address though. Depending on the job it could be worth it. Someone applying for IT for example would probably find it worth it.

        4. Peggy*

          It’s not a stupid discriminator or ageist. In some fields, you have to be aware of current internet norms and if you think that competency with email platforms is just about what’s “in fashion” then you don’t have your finger on the pulse of those norms. It has literally nothing to do with age. I’m seeing a lot of people here saying what a hassle it is to switch email addresses – that type of comment to me tells me that you wouldn’t last a week in my role or a role on my team. There are so many jobs out there that this wouldn’t matter, but why are people arguing about the ones where it does? This to me is equal to “what browser do you use?” If the answer is “Internet Explorer” (instead of “I’m competent with all of them”) then I’m going to have major concerns about your ability to keep up on my team. Just like an email address like is going to tell me that you don’t know enough about the internet to be a digital media strategist.

          1. Garrett*

            But most people aren’t going to be in jobs where being e-mail savvy will help you. All of my online accounts are linked to my hotmail address. Sure, I can forward them to a more “current” address and I could even change them all individually to that new address, but it just seems like a waste of time when most fields won’t care one way or another. And anyone who does (short of those specific areas) is being discriminatory because it’s a legitimate website that lots of people use. Frankly, hotmail and gmail interfaces aren’t all that different so the issue is only the name. That’s weird to me.

            Having said that, I do think it’s a very wise idea to have a separate email address for job hunting just to keep track of it and make sure you don’t miss anything.

          2. Penny Lane*

            This will really get you. For those of us not in the tech fields, we use whatever browser is on our computer (in my case, a Mac that has both Chrome and Safari). I open up whichever I happen to click on first and none of it makes a darn bit of difference to my ability to use a computer and get what I need from the internet. None! So why do I need to be “knowledgeable” about this? It’s a classic tech nerd “I care about this stuff so I think others should too.” Nope, sorry! Not interested in impressing!

            1. Peggy*

              Or it’s a required skill for the JOB I’m hiring for. I don’t get some of the comments here, it’s like everyone assumes their own experience is the only way.

              I care about things like email platforms and browsers because it’s 100% relevant to the job I do. I work in a tech field in a technical role and the work we do is done on multiple browsers using multiple email platforms. I can’t hire a person who doesn’t know how to use, or doesn’t at least understand why they need to learn how to use, multiple browsers. We have web based systems we interact with ALL DAY EVERY DAY and they’re supported on different browsers. To do my job, you have to be proficient in certain things.

              I’m not just being a tech nerd and saying “you need to care about this because it’s cool.” If you only know how to use AOL and IE, and you don’t know why that’s an issue and you don’t care to learn about other ways of doing things, then you CAN’T DO MY JOB.

              Why is that so hard to understand? This isn’t about what’s in fashion, or age discrimination, or being shallow like so many people are saying on this thread. It’s about what skills you need to do a job.

              I’m not going to apply to be a carpenter and say I only know how to use one type of screwdriver and one type of saw, and be completely indignant about it when someone says, “to do this job you have to know how to use X, Y, and Z tools.” How ridiculous does that sound? Like, “I don’t know how to use an orbital sander and frankly you’re being shallow by even asking.” Come on!

              1. Clare*

                Honest question- are there people who really don’t know how to use different browsers? Maybe this is ageist of me but I don’t think I have ever known anyone (other than my grandparents, but they don’t need to know) who wasn’t perfectly comfortable switching back and forth between IE, Chrome & Firefox. Of course we all have our own preferred browser and preferred email (I use Chrome ~90% of the time) but that doesn’t mean that I literally don’t know how to use other browsers or email platforms.

                1. Peggy*

                  Yup. My dad is in his early 60s. He got a masters degree in a technology field 35 years ago (10 or 15 years into his career), but didn’t use it for the last 25 years of his career. The guy is super smart in many areas, yet still has no idea anything other than IE exists, because he doesn’t need computers for his work, and IE does the job for checking his email address and checking sports scores. He’s not dumb, he just has no use for it in his day to day and it’s not enough of an interest for him to learn about it just to have that knowledge. I don’t begrudge him that or think he’s dumb or useless or unhireable, he just wouldn’t be qualified to do any job that required advanced internet skills! He wouldn’t last 2 minutes in my job, but he can also do a million things that I can’t do! :)

            2. Specialk9*

              It really does matter though. Explorer isn’t as safe as Chrome, for instance. Microsoft fixes bugs slowly and on a set schedule. There are security concerns about the approach to writing software. Ignorance of the details doesn’t mean it’s unimportant.

        5. Luna*

          Yeah, I used to get judgy about those types of email addresses- but now I’m actually glad when I see them because at least google doesn’t have a complete monopoly (yet). If it wasn’t such a pain to switch emails I might be tempted to switch over myself.

          1. Specialk9*

            A pain? It’s really not. You sign up, forward your mail (by searching “how to forward email from Hotmail to Gmail” or whatever email you have and then follow the pictures), and you’re done. It’s hard to be easier than that.

            1. Former Retail Manager*

              Yahoo mail user here who has been wanting to get a gmail account, just cause. Thanks for the info! I’ll do it today!

        6. Specialk9*

          It is ageist, definitely. But, I mean, AOL specifically went after the tech-phobic older crowd, as a business strategy when the internet was first going mainstream, and that was decades ago. So it’s connotations of both ‘you’re old’ and ‘you’re not tech savvy’.

          And adoption trends are real. Late adopters aren’t, as a group, known for being up on the latest thing. It’s why they’re late adopters.

          And yeah, we had AOL – those slow pixelated adventure stories were the highlight of my day! But I switched to Gmail, because it was more robust. Now they all have similar features (I think) but it really does reflect adoption trends.

        7. Snark*

          The domain isn’t terribly important, true, but I think an email used for professional business should a) be different from the one you use for personal stuff and b) conform as much as possible to the “firstname.lastname” standard.

          I’m not going to judge anybody for a .hotmail or address. It looks much worse to be sporting a “dankweedz420” or “babygurrrrrl0501” or “wherethewildthingsareFPS” account, whatever the domain, in a professional resume. Given that you can sign into multiple accounts on gmail, or have multiple accounts feed into a single mail app, there’s really no reason to use the same account for everything.

          1. many bells down*

            Yeah I’ve got 4 email addresses right now. My “regular” email, where my friends know me and most of my online accounts go, my “adult” email that I use for work and Important Adult Things, a third email for stuff I don’t want to go to my main email, and a joint account with my husband for things like bills and kids’ school stuff that we both need regular access to.

          2. mediumofballpoint*

            I mostly email folks at their work addresses, but I wonder how difficult it is to secure a professional email address these days. I haven’t any idea how many Sarah L. Smiths are out there, but I’d hazard a guess that most of the name-based permutations of that email address are already in use. It’s possible that has something to do with less professional/name-based emails.

      3. Michael P*

        Just because they don’t say anything doesn’t mean you weren’t judged. I can tell you we have definitely turn applicants away based on email addresses before

        1. Airy*

          That’s a weirdly superficial thing to base a hiring decision on. If there were something in the address that demonstrated really poor judgement (eg “”) that would be one thing, but just that the domain name looks old-school? Too much of an assumption about the candidate’s overall qualities based on a small thing.

          1. kb*

            I once had an interviewer question why I didn’t have an iPhone. We had texted about logistics stuff before the interview and it seemed like she was horrified that the messages were green (sms). It’s not even like I used a non-smart phone or something that may have made communication tough in the future– I had a Galaxy. Interviewers can definitely zero in on something very silly and decide it represents something larger about you.

            1. Kathleen_A*

              If they do, they do. If you can’t predict – and you can’t – why worry about it?

              To me, an AOL address says “This is someone who’s had email for a long time,” and it also implies someone who has been active online for a long time. Unless youth is a requirement, how is that a bad thing?

              1. Peggy*

                I’ve made a few comments already about my opinion on email domains but they’re not posting. I assume I’m in moderation for some reason. Not sure if this will ever show up.

                I’d be less concerned about (especially if it were a common name like John Brown or something) than I would about

                Not having a professional email address on your resume signifies that you’re not aware of professional norms. Your email domain DOES say something about you even if you don’t think it does. But I think most people would agree that having a name at any domain is better than having a book title or random string of words or a nickname at any domain.

                1. Kathleen_A*

                  I can definitely agree with that last sentence, at least. Thank you for the explanation.

                2. Detective Amy Santiago*

                  Anything with a link automatically goes to moderation.

                  But I agree with this completely. I will give a pass to first.last at an ‘antiquated’ domain, especially if you have a semi common name.

              2. kb*

                Yeah, I agree. I honestly would be turned off to know an interviewer was that superficial, but if someone is struggling to find employment, it may be a simple enough thing to change.

              3. Chinook*

                I feel the same way about (aol was to expensive due to long distance charges). Anyone with one of those has been on the internet see the early 90’s and were probably early adopters when Telus was rolling out dial up to different rural areas. They saw something that is still working after 20+ years of updates and see no need to switch with every fad. In my mind, that type of loyalty and experience are good things.

            2. Lora*

              Had to laugh – I’ve run into this too, and my Droid is the very fanciest one on the market with several attachments – projector which has saved my butt in multiple client presentations because inevitably their projector is borked; backup battery for long plane rides without charging; dock with wireless charging; fancy speakers and camera; mini printer and I can print wirelessly to whatever printer the client has on site. Plus Droid has developer kits for just about all their functions, and I can do all sorts of cute NFC tricks with Tasker and Arduino that Apple products don’t do. Apple has been consistently at least a few years (if not several) behind Droid. I actually associate Apple products with “has no interest in tech, just wants to listen to a very small library of music and do Instagram and Twitter on their phone”.

              1. kb*

                It’s so frustrating! It reminds me of the BBM thing where it wasn’t so much about the tech, but establishing who was in the in-group based on brand. I can’t say I chose my phone bc I am more tech-savvy than the average iphone user, like you can, but I had good reasons! The galaxy did everything I wanted and had a sturdier screen than the iPhone. One my friends ghosts all the dudes she goes out with who reveal they have non-iphones– why is this a thing??

                1. Chinook*

                  I am another non i-phone user for the same reasons. I see my tech as a tool and Apple’s tools just don’t work as smoothly with what I want necause I want something more than an entertainment device. (Which is why I miss BlackBerry with its keyboard and fully integrated communications suite)

                2. Lora*

                  Yes definitely with the sturdier hardware! Every friend who has an iPhone goes years with a cracked or even shattered screen. The Droids have had gorilla glass since 2012, people! You can have a nice screen always, even if you are clumsy like me and shove it in your pocket then drop it in the bathroom sink by accident. I’ve dropped Droids on concrete sidewalks with no harm done.

              2. HQetc*

                Ok, I know I’m late the party here, but “associate Apple products with ‘has no interest in tech, just wants to listen to a very small library of music and do Instagram and Twitter on their phone'” does not seem substantially less absurd to me than people who are shocked you don’t have an iPhone. I have an iPhone for several good reasons (privacy preferences, for instance). I use Spotify, so my phone doesn’t influence how much music I can listen to. I have a robust dev environment set up on my Mac, and it serves me very well. I did a lot of Android development for my grad work in computer science, so I’m plenty familiar with it, and I just don’t like the OS very much.
                Sorry, touchy issue because I am really tired of people seeing my Mac and assuming I’m just a silly lady who doesn’t understand them silly tech things!

          2. Seriously?*

            If there is one thing I learned from this blog it is that many superficial things can sway an interviewer’s opinion. It might not even be a conscious thing. But if they have two candidates who have basically the same qualifications, something is going to be the tie breaker.

          3. AKchic*

            I can tell you now that its not necessarily a bad thing to discriminate against. When you have a 45 year old male with the email address “puzzyeatah6969” sending you a resume to work in a women’s treatment facility, you really question his suitability.
            Or anyone trying to *work* in drug treatment when their email address is blatantly screaming drug user (examples: blazeofglory420, dankmasterflash are two that stand out). Or the ones who want to work in remote sites with (and I’m replacing a few letters to get past censors) puzzymurderer247 or bigdickdaddy.
            Sorry, but if your email address sounds like you’re trying to audition for a porno, or sounds like you’re a 13 year old in an mIRC chatroom, maybe you should get a new email address.

            1. many bells down*

              I admit that I have a huge bias against anyone who uses “69” in an email address or online handle. Unless you look like you’re about 49 years old and then it might be your birth year. Otherwise, come ON. Yes we get it, it’s sex. Ha ha. How edgy and cool.

        2. London Calling*

          My word, people really are that shallow? I wonder how many good people you’ve lost with that arbitrary rule: which, of course, applicants have no way of knowing that you have.

          1. Specialk9*

            Are you seriously asking? I mean, you can be smug, but this thread shows that yeah, it’s a thing, so if you are looking for a job, just get a professional email. You can forward it to your real email address and set it to reply from the email address someone sent the message to. (There are tutorials with pictures all over the internet.).

            It’s like makeup in job interviews. Yeah it’s problematic with gendered expectations, but I wear makeup for an interview but not normally. There are some times when pragmatism is wiser than measuring out hills to die on.

            1. London Calling*

              I have a job, thanks. One that I obtained while using a hotmail address; and interviewed wearing minimal makeup, as well. Not the first job I’ve had, either, and I used my hotmail address on the CV for those, as well.

              1. Clare*

                I also have a job and have never worn makeup to an interview. Though I do have gmail so I guess I’m safe on that front. Wasn’t there a letter on that issue (makeup at work) not too long ago? The email address discussion reminds me a lot of that- there are some people who assume that their idea of professional norms is the same as everyone else’s and they get really mad/judgmental when not everyone conforms to those norms. I mean I will totally judge someone a bit for having an inappropriate email name (drunk4life@.. or something) but not just because they happen to use hotmail or aol.

        3. Traffic_Spiral*

          Are you a company where employees are expected to have tech skills? Cause otherwise that seems sorta arbitrary.

        4. Bend & Snap*

          I work in tech and have absolutely rejected people for out-of-touch email providers. It does matter in some fields.

          However, I do have a hotmail account that I use for bills and stuff because their filing system is excellent. I love it. But that’s my dirty little secret.

          1. London Calling*

            Do you know, until I read this I had NO IDEA that there are fashions in email providers and that being with the Wrong One can brand you – or me, of course, Hotmail dinosaur that I am – as so hopelessly uncool and unworthy of employment. There was me thinking that a killer CV and a stellar work career was what mattered, silly me.

            1. Bend & Snap*

              Snark all you want. If you’re supposed to be supporting cutting-edge technology, your choices matter as part of your overall impression.

              1. Kathleen_A*

                I just don’t understand why a gmail address – which is what I have, BTW (in fact, I have three) – indicates “cutting-edge technology.” It’s a gmail account, for God’s sake. Gmail has been around for more than a decade. Deciding email address A indicates more tech-savvy than email address B has no basis in logic. At all.

                1. Dovahkiin*

                  gmail is still in beta, and is still innovating their email platform. Yahoo and Hotmail are not and have had several major data breaches.

                  If you’re applying to a company where relentless innovation and tech optimization drives growth and profit, having an ancient email address will take you out of the running. If you’re applying to a company where employees need to have up-to-date knowledge on data security, if might take you out of the running.

                  If you’re not applying to a place like that , then you’re probably fine.

                2. Garrett*

                  I’m actually using a hotmail beta version right now. They are updating the interface to be more like gmail.

                3. Trout 'Waver*


                  gmail openly scrubs your e-mail for advertising context. That’s way more concerning than data breeches, imho.

                4. Dovahkiin*

                  @Trout ‘Waver – I dig protonmail, but google labs make gmail super handy as a catchall email address

                5. Dovahkiin*

                  @LBK – touche – you’re completely right for normal, average, run of the mill individual users.
                  My mistake.

                  I run a corporate account via gmail.

                6. LBK*

                  gmail openly scrubs your e-mail for advertising context. That’s way more concerning than data breeches, imho.

                  They stopped doing this last year.

            2. Tardigrade*

              I truly get where you’re coming from, but it’s a similar judgement interviews will have about your choice of clothing. Yes, you are still the same person with the same great skill set in a pair of jeans or in a pair of slacks, but many interviewers will see the jeans as unprofessional and out-of-touch with their industry norm.

              1. kb*

                I really like this analogy. Expanding on it, having an email like is like wearing ratty jeans and a t-shirt to an interview in finance– definitely showing poor judgment. But having an email like is like wearing a notably dated suit to an interview– for most jobs it really shouldn’t be a factor, but even open-minded interviewers may knock points off for it subconsciously. And there are some jobs where the interviewers would be within reason to knock points off consciously– say, if you were applying to be the stylist for a blog about business-professional fashion.

          2. Cristina in England*

            As I replied just below to another commenter, you are probably illegally discriminating for age by doing this.

            1. Bend & Snap*

              These were all young people and it’s not my current job. You should probably get all the facts before you start accusing posters of things like age discrimination.

              1. Kathleen_A*

                Oh, for goodness’ sake. Apparently you can still get an AOL account (a thing I didn’t know, but that’s what a slap-dash Google search tells me), so…I just don’t at ALL get the connection between an AOL account and any kind of “industry standard.” Why would any industry have a standard about those letters that follow the @ sign?

                1. Bend & Snap*

                  It’s standard in my part of the industry. That’s all I can tell you. It doesn’t disqualify great candidates but it might tip iffy candidates out of the interview pool.

                  Lots of things matter in some industries and not in others. Being rude about it won’t change anything.

                2. Kathleen_A*

                  But I haven’t been rude. I would like, however, to understand the reason why – not because it will ever affect me, because it won’t, but just out of ordinary curiosity about the way the world works.

                  The way you seem to be describing it, Bend & Snap, it sounds completely arbitrary. (And if it’s not, please explain how it isn’t arbitrary – I would truly like to know.) If a gmail account indicated forward-thinkingness once, it absolutely does no longer. So for the benefit of those who this standard might affect, can’t you give any sort of reason?

                3. Bend & Snap*

                  Mm, you have though.

                  Gmail aside, google is an innovator and an envelope pusher. It also invests in early-stage tech and works with other companies on development of new technologies and serves as an incubator. Yahoo doesn’t do that. Microsoft does, but not to nearly the same degree as google. AOL is a media company (Oath).

                  It’s not so much that Gmail is the holy grail as choosing to use the services of forward-thinking tech companies.

                  Again, this is specific to my sector. It may be different elsewhere.

                4. Trout 'Waver*


                  That’s odd. To me, a gmail address tells me you’re bad at controlling your own personal information.

                5. Bend & Snap*

                  And you’re certainly entitled to your opinion.

                  To me, Yahoo indicates you don’t care about giant security breaches disclosed long after they happened. *shrug*

                6. SarahTheEntwife*

                  @bendandsnap — I assume you’re hiring in tech, so there’s probably more of a correlation for you, but I use gmail because it’s ubiquitous, not because it’s forward-thinking and envelope-pushing and whatever other techy buzzwords it’s doing. To continue to kb’s metaphor above, to me a gmail address is the plain navy suit of resumes — it’s a good safe default that’s unlikely to stand out as either good or bad.

          3. Email oldster*

            The other thing a legacy email domain may show is that the person was an early adopter. I know a few people who still have and use their email addresses because they started with them in the mid-90s and managed to get whereas if they got a gmail address, by now it would surely be

            1. Detective Amy Santiago*

              If someone has their firstlast or flastname or something similar, that is the exception for me to what domain they use.

              When people are using “hotgrrl69” or “ilovehorses” *and* an old domain, that’s a double side eye.

              1. Naptime Enthusiast*

                +1, I’ve been trying to figure out exactly what bugs me about this conversation. My AOL email address was created when I was 12 and was the same as my AIM screenname, and if it were to ever come up now I would cringe at how obviously immature it is. If people still use their email address with an older domain and it’s NOT firstlastnumbers or some combination thereof, then it puts me off. It feels like they’re stuck in their ways just because being up to date takes a little bit of work. Maybe that’s a generalization but it’s not an unfounded one.

          4. Katniss*

            Those “out of touch” people may have been early adapters who have been online for a long time, and got AOL when it first came out. What you’re saying you’re looking for is people who jump ship at the sign of anything new simply because it’s new.

            1. Kathleen_A*

              And of course the irony is that gmail isn’t new any more either. Sure, it’s newer than AOL, but it’s been around for more than a decade (since ~2004, according to Wiki), and in Internet years, that’s like a jillion years old.

            2. Dovahkiin*

              The perception in forward-thinking tech is that the person might be resistant to innovation and is an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” type.

              If you’re in an industry where innovation drives profit and growth, it’s a red flag. On one resume out of hundreds, it’s a not a good look, unless that resume is really amazing in other ways.

              Of course, not all industries are like this and for that, an old email address is probably fine.

            3. Specialk9*

              That’s a good point. There was a time when AOL was the king of the internet.

              But I remember a distinct shift, as competition sprung up, to cater to seniors who didn’t really get technology. Other providers took on the role of innovation – Yahoo, Hotmail – and then got stake and complacent and got blitzed by Gmail (and are still trying to catch up). That said, I am not an industry professional, just someone who was into the internet from the mainstream beginning.

              And yeah, I ask my early adopter dad, who’s 80, for help with tech all the time. He has always had a love for technology, and the coolest latest thing. And he doesn’t have Gmail.

          5. STG*

            I work in tech and think that’s silly. If anything, one could argue that it shows they’ve been using the internet for a looooong time. It’s not an indication of anything.

            1. Triplestep*

              They’ve been using the internet for a loooooong time, and still don’t know how to forward their email to a new email address. It’s an indication of that.

              1. STG*

                Forward their email to satisfy some person’s weird obsession with having a certain domain?

                Come on now.

                1. Triplestep*

                  Perhaps you have not read anything about how email domains are perceived by hiring managers in the real world. Perhaps you are not in your fifties and job searching. I can answer “yes” to both of those things, so think I won’t scoff at what some might consider a “weird obsession”.

                  You set email forwarding up once and then it is done. It’s something you think about for five minutes and never have to wonder about the fairness of being judged by your domain again.

          6. Jessie the First (or second)*

            “However, I do have a hotmail account that I use for bills and stuff because their filing system is excellent”

            So, you recognize that hotmail actually has a significant benefit in terms of features, but you will still trash a resume because the person uses a hotmail account?

            You don’t recognize that maybe they have a sufficiently tech-savvy reason for using it?

            Someone could be using gmail simply because it is popular, and using hotmail because of the filing system – but the hotmail user is discarded for being “out of touch”?
            Of course, someone might use hotmail because it’s the first email they ever got and they never thought about filing or interfaces or security or spam filtering, but the point is that use of any particular email system says zero about a candidate’s general level of tech competence.

            1. Bend & Snap*

              You clearly didn’t read my post where I said it wouldn’t disqualify a great candidate, but it could ax an iffy one from the candidate pool. Or the one about why Google is preferred in my particular sector of tech.

              If you don’t like gmail, don’t use it. I’m just giving perspective based on my piece of an industry.

              1. Jessie the First (or second)*

                Actually, the promise in the interview was a car, but the contract says “transportation” (OP states “In writing, my boss said I would have “transportation” provided”). So the contract does not promise a car, and I think Luna is right – this is not OP’s car. This is transportation that OP can use, but the boss can also use, and it is not exclusive to either one of them. It was a bait and switch, certainly, but it’s a bait and switch from interview to contract, not from contract to reality.

                1. Jessie the First (or second)*

                  Wow, nesting fail! Ha.

                  On to the correct nesting reply:
                  Bend & Snap, I do use gmail actually. And outlook. I’m not having a personal offended or defensive response to your post, it just looks like some real inconsistency from you in how you are judging the choice of email provider.

        5. Cristina in England*

          You are probably committing (illegal) age discrimination if you do this. Discrimination doesn’t have to be intentional, and often time other things act as proxies for discrimination. In this case, the appearance of being out of touch or having outdated tech knowledge (neither of which are proven by having a long-serving email address) are a pretty good proxy for age. Not many people under 40, or even 50 will have an AOL address.

          1. Seriously?*

            But if they are hiring for a position that requires up to date tech knowledge, then passing on candidates that do not appear to have that is not illegal even if more young people are up to date. It is only illegal if it is not essential to the position.

            1. STG*

              Saying that you can judge someone’s tech knowledge based purely off of an email address is ridiculous.

              1. Sarkypuss*

                But how else can you gauge a candidates IT savvy?
                It is almost impossible for a candidate to show IT skills and experience in a resume and inconceivable to discuss such matters in an interview.
                Snap judgements on email addresses is the only answer.

              2. Morning Glory*

                I started with an AOL account almost 20 years ago. I switched to gmail because it was inherently better for the things I wanted to use it for – the organization is better, it makes using google drive and docs better, etc.

                My mother started with an AOL account almost 20 years ago as well – with a silly name attached too. She is very uncertain about the internet and computers, and even after I set up a gmail account for her to use professionally, she went back to her AOL account because it was familiar.

                My grandmother is 20+ years older than my mother. She tries every new tech gadget and trend – she went AOL to Hotmail, and is currently using gmail but if there’s a next big thing out there, I bet she adapts before I do.

                It’s less about age than it is about adaptability and awareness of digital trends – that’s not important in all industries, but there are some where it is really really really necessary.

                1. STG*

                  Someone can be absolutely aware of trends without changing their email address every 2 years. That’s a silly conflation.

                2. LBK*

                  No one’s suggesting changing it every 2 years…but not having changed it in 20 years is potentially an indicator that you didn’t keep up with how the internet changed over time.

                3. STG*

                  Changing your email address isn’t an indication that you have kept up with the times either.

                  It really is a weird assumption. This isn’t trying to use a commodore 64 at work.

                4. Morning Glory*

                  Sure you can be aware of trends and be aware of why something is better…my mother certainly knows about gmail and why I like it better. That was not enough for her to want to leave her aol comfort zone and learn a new system. She would not be a good candidate for jobs that require her to consistently learn new tech.

                  It’s also about adaptability, and actually taking action based on that knowledge. It’s also about adherence to professional norms, which are often arbitrary and more about presenting oneself as professional, even if inconvenient.

                  Like I said, that’s not important for every job or industry.

              3. Seriously?*

                I don’t think you can make that determination based on e-mail address either. I was addressing the previous comment that said that it would be illegal to discriminate based on “the appearance of being out of touch or having outdated tech knowledge” because they are proxies for age. Sometimes those are integral to the role and therefore not illegal to take into account.

          2. sleepwakehopeandthen*

            My husband definitely has an AOL address (we are under 30), although I do make fun of him for it, occasionally. But it’s not his work/professional one because it’s something like SportsSports111 and so it’s very clearly not for work/job-seeking purposes.

        6. Penny Lane*

          The people who had AOL addresses were the *early adopters* of technology, who leaned into it way back when. When some young person says they ding/judge older people for having AOL addresses, I conclude that said young person doesn’t have critical thinking skills. There’s simply no need for most people who are using email for standard everyday correspondence to change out of AOL (or some other older legacy provider) just because some millennial thinks it’s fuddy-duddy (deliberate use of old-fashioned expression).

          1. LBK*

            Being an early adopter doesn’t mean much if you aren’t continuing to adopt. I certainly wouldn’t view an early cell phone adopter still lugging around their 5-lb Nokia brick as someone who’s always on the cutting edge of technology.

            1. Jessie the First (or second)*

              Eh, I don’t think that’s a great analogy, because although I do not use AOL, it does have some benefits and real functionality. Last I checked, unlimited inbox storage, for example, which for some people would be an actual benefit. It’s far more functional than an old brick cellphone. Some people use it because they don’t change once they get used to something, and some people use it perhaps because they’ve considered and evaluated other options and honestly like the one they have. You can’t tell by looking at the email address.

              1. LBK*

                Obviously it’s not a perfect analogy because an email system can be updated where a cell phone can’t, but my point is simply that just because you adopted an early version of something once long ago doesn’t mean you are an “early adopter”. And I’d argue that very few people who have old AOL addresses have them because they were early adopters of email but because you got one for “free” when you signed up for AOL, so most people probably have them more or less by accident.

                1. Jessie the First (or second)*

                  Yup, I’m sure for some AOL users it’s likely just apathy. But my point is that it is actually a functional tool and so having an AOL address on its own really tells you nothing.

                  Could be they like a feature or two. Could be a name issue (I absolutely loathe email addresses that contain, for example, a random string of numbers after the name. I have a common name – even when I add my middle name and experiment with various initials. I got gmail relatively early, and yet *still* got stuck with adding a couple numbers; I can see holding onto an old provider if you had an email address with just your name!). Could be apathy, or could be that you were part of the tech-illiterate crowd AOL tried to woo at some point. Because there are vastly different reasons a person could use it, seems really hard to form a real opinion about it without knowing more about the person.

        7. Bea*

          I hope you never trip into an EEOC case, they’ll rip you apart for having such wishywashy screening techniques. Especially if you’re up for age discrimination at some point.

          1. Bend & Snap*

            1) By no means did I outline the entire hiring process, so I’m not sure what you think you’re commenting on.
            2) As I’ve stated, that was in a past job. And every single applicant was between 22 and 30.
            3) I am a Gen Xer myself, and I don’t care how old someone is if they have the chops to do the job. Including understand the dynamics of the larger technology landscape.

            Nice comment though.

      4. Greg*

        I have an AOL address that I have had since I got on the internet. I access it exactly the same as I do with any other address (email client on my tablet or phone). Honestly, you will have to pry it out of my cold dead hands! I really wish I had my old EarthLink address still or a Compuserve address just for fun. Plus, I vehemently disagree with an email address domain being any indicator or tech unsaviness. Many people who are tech inclined love to hold onto some of the days of old just for fun or nostalgia.

        1. There All Is Aching*


          Also, my hotmail account name (which includes none of mine) has sparked many a compliment/intrigued conversation. One benefit of being in a creative field, I guess.

        2. Runner*

          It’s ridiculous. It’s literally saying anyone who has been around for the rise of the internet era and ecommerce is … a dinosaur.

            1. Detective Amy Santiago*

              It’s not about being an early adapter, it’s about not keeping up with the changes in tech. To me, an aol or hotmail address is on par with someone talking about their VHS collection.

              1. Meh*

                Hey! Don’t dis my VHS collection. I still got all my Disney movies on it. Well, I have a hotmail address and work in technology (well, media, but still) so there you go.

                1. Chinook*

                  This is the perfect analogy because some of the Disney movies on VHS May not have been released on DVD yet and/or are easier for a toddler to start up than a DVD. Sometimes old tech remains the most logical option until something is created that allows for the same type of usage.

              2. JB (not in Houston)*

                But that’s a ridiculous way of judging that. It has nothing to do with changes in tech. It’s more like saying I don’t keep up with tech because my blu ray player is a few years old–I still know how to use one. Hotmail and Gmail are both email accounts. That someone hasn’t jumped ship to a “newer” Gmail account proves exactly nothing about whether they keep up with changes in tech. If someone wants to know if someone keeps up with changes in tech, then they should look for something that actually shows that.

                1. TootsNYC*

                  It’s even stupider than that!

                  It’s now hard to find new movies on Blu-Ray, so if that’s your only or primary movie-watching technology, you are going to be limited.

                  But an AOL email is still very functional!

                  And as someone pointed out, some other non-gmail services have excellent features.

                2. Falling Diphthong*

                  Just checked–my hard science executive relatives have personal emails with the old email provider, because it’s easier to just not muck with those. But my tech-hopeless parents use gmail, because they filled out the form. Actually, I am quite certain that someone else, probably my brother-in-law, filled out the form for them.

                  I’m chortling all through this thread at the “tech savvy because they have a gmail address” stuff. (I have a gmail address–I, too, can fill in a user-friendly form–I think because I needed one to use something-or-other that required one. I quickly gave up using it for anything other than the g sign in where I needed that. It’s been off collecting spam unchecked for years.)

              3. Penny Lane*

                But why? What purpose is served by uprooting all your things that you use email for by migrating from AOL to gmail (or whatever)? I get it if you were hacked or whatever, but just to impress people without critical thinking skills? How inefficient.

                1. Triplestep*

                  Because age discrimination. There are enough things that point to my being over 50. Why risk it?

                  Also no uprooting is needed with automatic email forwarding, for what it’s worth.

              4. Kathleen_A*

                Please, please – I am being sincere here – can someone who expounds this viewpoint explain why a gmail account indicates that one has “kept up with changes in tech” while an AOL account does not? Gmail has been around for more than a decade, and 10 years is, like, a jillion in tech years. So how does a gmail account indicate anything other than “This person has a gmail account?”

                I’ve never had an AOL account (my first email account, lo these many years ago, was with a local company called iquest, if I remember correctly), and I have three gmail accounts, but trust me, you would be in error to assume that I have kept up with all the changes in tech.

                What makes me crazy here is that this viewpoint is, as far as I can tell, *completely* illogical. It seems to me that it has nothing to do with tech-savvyness and everything to do with the whims and whimsies of fashion.

                1. LBK*

                  To me, Gmail marks a point where having an email address became A Thing. Google was the first company to really dive into personal email as a integral part of being on the internet, with the massive (relatively) storage space provided for free recognizing that your email account was something you’d need for years to come.

                  It was also detached from another product, so you didn’t have to be an AOL customer or want to sign up for Yahoo! just to get an email address. I think that’s also part of what differentiates it – having an AOL address was more or less incidental as a result of being an AOL user, which is definitely extremely outdated technology now.

                2. Falling Diphthong*

                  I actually have a vague memory of people asking for gmail invites a decade or so ago, for the storage. So it would indicate one needed more email storage in the aughts?

                3. Turkletina*

                  @LBK. I feel the same way. For me, at least, gmail marked a point where associating your online identity with your IRL identity became common. Most people I knew had songlyric@hotmail or interestinghobby@aol addresses, but almost everyone I know with a gmail address has some version of their name in the address. Because of that association, a gmail address can be a marker of professionalism.

                  That said, I wouldn’t think less of someone for putting firstnamelastname@aol on their resume.

              1. Peachy Keen*

                My 25 year old daughter has a pretty extensive vhs collection, to go with her record collection I guess? So maybe aol email addresses will come back in style and be seen as retro and vintage in a good way? Although I got my first email address in 1994 (as a grown ass adult) and even back then I thought people with aol email addresses were a bit clueless about tech – so many of them thought aol’s rooms and such were the whole internet and didn’t know how to get out of them.

        3. smoke tree*

          But it still might be the safest option to have a generic gmail account for professional communication. If you enjoy nostalgic domain names in your free time, that’s fine, but it’s not really necessary to display that when you’re applying for a job. Maybe you enjoy wearing full Labyrinth-era Bowie cosplay in your daily life as well. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re not fashion-savvy, but you still need to put on a suit for the interview.

      5. Case of the Mondays*

        Hotmail will let you create an alias that will go straight to your hotmail inbox. You can write emails out from there too under your new alias. The only issue is if it is linked to your phone, you can receive your alias emails but if you reply from your phone it will be from the old hotmail address and not outlook. I haven’t found a way around it yet. For something where I care about my email looking professional (my hotmail one has a nickname based on my maiden name) I just move to a real computer or log in from Safari on my phone instead of the app to reply. By app, I mean the iphone mail client. I’ve never tried the outlook app on the phone. That might fix the issue.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      My kid’s drum teacher had a yahoo address, because so much of his business came from references who had him as a teacher years ago.

    3. WillyNilly*

      I have an AOL account, a personal gmail account, and my volunteer job has a gmail a handful of us manage (although mostly just myself and one other woman).
      Honestly? AOL is a supieror email. Gmail is a better whole package (drive, docs, etc) but straight email? AOL is actually better.
      I can access both from my smart phone & tablet, etc. Email snobbery is as stupid as any snobbery.
      I have also had the AOL for over 20 years and its just nice having that consistency.

      1. Garrett*

        Totally Agreed. I don’t love the gmail interface on my computer. Threads can get very annoying very quickly. I like the concept of them, but sometimes they get too convoluted.

      2. Yorick*

        I really hate that gmail organizes messages by conversation, and the last time I tried to turn off that feature it was impossible (maybe it’s possible now, I haven’t checked)

    4. Boo Bradley*

      I work in email marketing. AOL and Yahoo are notorious spam traps. People sign up for email from an org and then they move onto new email addresses and the old ones start bouncing and affecting email deliverabilty. We’ve had to add email addresses ending in and to permanent suppression lists because otherwise our deliverabilty scores tank.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        This comment reminded me of an issue we had at my old job with our domain being marked as spam because of something like this. It was a giant cluster.

        1. Yvette*

          I once had to communicate with someone who had the letters ‘porn’ appearing consecutively in their email address. My work email sent it straight to spam.

      2. Breda*

        My work email used to be hosted through Yahoo, and it was a living nightmare, not least because my contact list kept getting stolen and all my contacts were spammed by an email that faked my name. And most of the spam I get from real people is because the same thing happened to THEIR Yahoo email. So yeah, if you still use a Yahoo email, I assume you either don’t know or don’t care about their security problems. (We’ve switched to hosting though Gmail, which is a million times better for filing, conversations, and security.)

      3. Another Jennifer*

        At my company they’re blocked domains. We cannot send or receive emails from these domains. If someone attempts to put them as their email address in our job portal, they’re greeted with a pop-up letting them know that they’re not acceptable email addresses. We’re a large multi-national financial institution. The reason for the block is purely the spam/data issues.

    5. The Original K.*

      My former boss has one. He’s like, “Meh. It works.” It hasn’t hindered him professionally so he sees no reason to change it. People do tease him, though, especially his kids (they’re in their 20s).

      1. London Calling.*

        And if it works, what’s wrong with it? sometimes I think that people forget that tech isn’t the only industry around and not all of us have to prove how cutting edge and up with latest developments in it we are. And judging by some of these comments, thank goodness for that.

        1. Bend & Snap*

          I don’t understand getting offended by the experiences/opinions of others. The comments from tech folks have been labeled as such. If it doesn’t matter in other fields, then it doesn’t matter. Why get bent out of shape about it?

        2. Penny Lane*

          Frankly, it’s the tech folks who need to impress US. Not by all your “omg only the cool kids use gmail and let’s laugh at the dinosaurs using yahoo” but by making products we all want to buy bc they are so easy to use. We really don’t care what tech nerds think is cool.

          1. Kate 2*

            Well that’s a rude and nasty comment.

            The tech folks have been kindly explaining why this matters in their field, and acknowledging that it doesn’t in other fields. It’s like wearing makeup if you work in the beauty industry. It doesn’t matter elsewhere but it is important there. Why is this so hard for people to understand?

            1. Lynn Whitehat*

              Thank you. I’m really surprised this thread went off the rails the way it did. We parse every other aspect of job-applicant presentation to the third decimal point on this site — what kind of shoes? Do pants need to have the crease ironed in? Is it bad to play phone games while you wait in the lobby? What if the interviewer is late? Exactly how minutes early is appropriate to show up? What are the best fonts to write a resume in? How should you list a temp-to-perm position? And people cheerfully parse the nuances of all of them, rather than digging in their heels on WHAT DO CREASED PANTS HAVE TO DO WITH THE QUALITY OF MY WORK I’LL INTERVIEW IN BUNNY PAJAMAS IF I WANT.

              It matters in some fields. If you’re in one, plan accordingly. (And if you think setting up gmail would require migrating 25 years of AOL communications, rather than 5 minutes of setting up forwarding or 0 minutes of deciding to just live with a separate job-search email, that does not bode well for working in an industry where computer skills matter). If you’re not in one, rock on with your Compuserve address.

        3. STG*

          Not all tech folks. I’ve worked in tech for over 10 years and think it’s a ridiculous mindset to have about email addresses.

            1. Bend & Snap*

              If this is directed at me, I never claimed to be a nerd. I’m corporate. And I followed the guidelines my boss set out, for the reasons I’ve laid out.

    6. memyselfandi*

      I do not see the e-mail server one uses as an issue, and I am puzzled every time it comes up. I have 3 different e-mail accounts that I use for different purposes, and one I have had since the start of e-mail. If one is used to something, it makes sense to keep using it. And, the point made here about holding onto a simple user name makes perfect sense. I think having an odd e-mail name (such as the book title in the letter) to be more off-putting, but still not something I would unilaterally use to eliminate a candidate.

  11. Engineer Girl*

    #5 I would try again with the boss using Alison’s script. If you still can’t get an answer you may want to talk to your bosses boss. It’s a bit of a nuclear move but you may be moving on anyway.

    1. Zahra*

      Depending on the relation you have, boss’s boss may be a good answer, I think. Or whoever weighs in on promotion. And if you have other contacts in the company maybe they could give you pointers.

  12. HannahS*

    OP4, it’s kind of tragic, but one of craziest, wildest, unimaginable things women can say–to ourselves, to rude coworkers and “helpful” friends, to salespeople and corporations–is, “No, thanks. I like myself the way I am.” You think I should wear my hair styled more? Nope, I like this plain hairstyle best. You think I should wear makeup? Nope, I don’t like the way it looks or feels. You think I would look so much nicer if I would just–NOPE. I don’t want a makeover; I like the way I look.*

    While some people who offer appearance-related “help” are genuinely trying to be helpful in a misguided way (like a well-meaning elderly relative who doesn’t get that it’s really fine to wear active wear in public), some people use it as a way to insult you where they think you can’t call them on it because they’re being “nice.” It’s a power play. It’s gross. Responding to insults is hard, but all that’s likely is that she’ll be huffy and all “WELL I was just trying to HELP you” or “I was just KIDDING” (you can just shrug and go “ok” or “ok, well, I don’t want to talk about how I look”) and she might sulk a bit. So it will be uncomfortable. But I hope you decide that it’s worth it to be uncomfortable for a bit in order to ask her to stop. The truth is, you’re already uncomfortable anyway, so why not give it a go? You can do it!

    *shout-out to my brother: A few years ago, he was asked by a mutual acquaintance if she should offer me a makeover and makeup/hair lessons–you know, because I had started dating. He shut it down in disgust and firmly informed her that I look like this on purpose and wouldn’t appreciate the offer.

    1. Willis*

      All of this so much. The makeup one especially gets me – so you’re saying my regular face isn’t good enough for work/dating/whatever? Gee, thanks. I love the “I look like this on purpose” line, and good on your brother for shutting down the makeover meddler.

      1. Strawmeatloaf*

        I always wonder about the makeup one. Yes a lot of people like putting it on, but there are actually some people that feel ‘betrayed’ when they see their date partner without makeup on because they don’t look exactly alike.

        Like, what face do you think you would be seeing waking up in the morning?!

        1. Lehigh*

          I rarely wear makeup and even then very little, but I think that “betrayal” thing is pretty wacky. People look different at different times – working out v. at rest, sick v. healthy, in flattering clothes v. in unflattering clothes v. naked, tanned v. untanned…what’s the difference?

          Plus, a LOT of things are different in “dressed up” mode v. first thing in the morning. Heck, what about morning breath? Surely that’s a bigger betrayal than my eyelashes being a different color.

          1. Jadelyn*

            Sailorj on youtube has some great videos that make fun of that. “Getting a man 101” and “Contouring 101” are awesome – the contouring one is where “If the men find out we can shapeshift, they’re going to tell the church” comes from, if you’ve seen that meme around. A couple of my favorite quotes of hers:

            Champagne [eyeshadow] is always a good color. A man is going to meet me and think, “Wow. A woman born with gold eyelids.” If he marries you, this needs to be reapplied before bed as well. You don’t want him to wake up in the middle of the night and realize that you were not born with golden eyelids.

            Once you pick a color [of eyeshadow], you cannot pick another one. If you change it up on them, they’ll get frightened. They’ll realize that you’ve bamboozled them.

            Scamming these poor, fragile men… the next thing you know, we’ll be doing things like wearing deodorants, and bras.

              1. Jadelyn*

                Yes! She’s my fave right now. Love the Hogwarts and Zodiac serieses, the Zodiac in particular have me dying every time I watch no matter how many times I’ve watched before. I am a Leo and she is 100% accurate.

            1. SarahTheEntwife*

              Yep. I like wearing makeup occasionally, but if anyone thinks I can change my lips like a cuttlefish so they’re red one day and purple the next, they have problems I cannot help them with.

        2. Kate 2*

          There’s a really sad Youtube video out there about this. A woman shows herself with makeup, then takes it off (this part is sped up). She then posted on screen comments she has gotten on other videos when she is without makeup, men calling her ugly, hideous, disgusting, etc. She just looks like a normal woman, like any woman without make up on! Then she puts the makeup (fairly basic – foundation, mascara, blush, eyeliner) back on. She again posts comments men have made: fake, liar, man trap, etc. This YouTuber got so many hateful comments, and she isn’t even popular!

          Men always say they like the natural look, but a lot of men have never really seen, or never seen for more than a few minutes, a woman with no makeup at all on, not even tinted moisturizer, or the remnants of yesterday’s makeup.

          There is actually a funny video about that, a song. It’s fairly well known but I can’t remember what it is called. Basically some guys sing about how a girl looks better “natural” and shouldn’t wear makeup. She takes her makeup off and all the guys do a double take, then start singing about how she should put her makeup back on. It’s meant to mock the “I like the natural look” thing guys always do.

          1. Jadelyn*

            It’s because our perception of “natural” beauty has been so thoroughly warped by advertising and media. In movies and TV shows, women wake up looking flawless with slightly tousled hair; commercials for face cleansers show a woman splashing water on a face that’s in full “regalia” to give her perfect skin, to make us expect that washing with that product will make our naked faces look that flawless too. And men, because they don’t have to do any of the behind the scenes upkeep work to get that illusion, genuinely buy into it apparently.

          2. many bells down*

            I’ve pointed this out to men so many times. I tell them to google “(Actress Name) without makeup” and then I point out all the makeup said actress is wearing in 99% of the photos that pop up. “She’s CLEARLY got eyeliner on! How do you not see it?!”

          3. zora*

            That was Amy Schumer’s sketch on her show. Search for “Girl You Don’t Need Makeup” to watch it, it’s hilarious.

        3. Annabelle*

          Yeah, but that is an equally ridiculous and sexist position. It’s the reasons some guys share those awful “this is why you take her swimming on the first date” memes.

          Also, it “betrayal” sort of implies that they were conned into thinking that what’s women naturally look like. And I mean, I really hope no one genuinely thinks women who wear makeup naturally have glittery purple eyelids or whatever.

    2. Myrin*

      Yeah, I’m like that naturally and people never know how to react to it.
      I actually see that most often with food. There’s little I find more annoying than that stupid “oh my, I shouldn’t, but maybe one little sin, hihi” when presented with anything that isn’t a salad. I’ve happily announced in the past that I love grease and eating a lot. People are always shocked but quite often many then feel visibly encouraged to take what they actually want to eat without making a fuss over every bite.

      1. AKchic*

        Oh my gods, yes. I hate that fake “oh, I don’t eat much and I absolutely love tiny salads, but maybe if I eat just a smidgen of this chocolate to appease you big eaters it won’t be too bad” act that some people put on.

        All because generations before us insisted that we had to be dainty eaters and save men money when taking us out on dates (partially) and generally low maintenance (in the eating department).
        Eat the cheeseburger. Eat the greasy food. Go for the carbs if you want them/can eat them. If you like the food and you can eat them (medically speaking, I don’t want you to risk your health due to allergies or other medical issues, of course) – then do it.
        Life just isn’t worth living if you have to eat bland cardboard your entire life because you’re holding on to silly, outdated notions about eating in public.

        1. smoke tree*

          The flip side of that, of course, is the cool chick who eats cheeseburgers and steaks and all manner of manly things, but still effortlessly remains thin and physically acceptable to men (I’m looking at you, Gilmore Girls!)

        2. Ex-Academic, Future Accountant*

          And funnily enough, it can be a way of being *high*-maintenance. Like if you’re serving soup at a family dinner and Cousin So-and-so says “that’s way too much for me, can you give me about half of that? I’ll just hand my bowl over to Cousin BigEater…” and you kind of suspect it’s a performative thing, but you can’t be sure.

          1. Quoth the Raven*

            In all fairness, I eat very little. Always have. For instance, if I order a regular hamburger from that restaurant with a star for a mascot, I will not be able to finish it without feeling physically ill because I ate too much.

            It’s got nothing to do with wanting to be cute or high maintenance or with not gaining weight. It’s just that my definition of too much food, and others’ definition of too much food, is often very different. If I tell you it’s too much, it means it is too much.

            I’ve also had a bunch of comments about it — things like “eat a little”, or “C’mon, don’t be shy!”, or “Do you dislike the food?” — and it gets just as annoying as the “just a little sin, hehe” party, which just goes to show you sometimes you can’t win.

    3. Not Australian*

      Ugh, my sister-in-law volunteered to give me a makeover once to ‘help me make more of myself’. In the interests of family harmony I went along, but I absolutely hated the whole process – and the results weren’t different enough for it to be worth the effort. I never could understand going through all that every morning; I don’t own any make-up, and all the styling my hair gets comes from one brush.

      1. DecorativeCacti*

        I love doing my makeup and curling my hair… About once a year or so. I’m too lazy for that every day. I like to sleep in the morning.

        1. sap*

          I love playing with makeup so much, but like really flamboyant stuff like gold glitter lips and a full rainbow on my eyes for weekends/nights out. I don’t wear makeup to work, because I’m with you-all that work to basically look the same as I did but with slightly more evenly colored skin? I’d rather get more sleep.

      2. Someone*

        I can relate. Tried to do a bit of make-up a few years ago. It took a few false tries, but I even managed something ok.
        My reactions:
        – natural make-up: Wait – all that work for looking basically the same?
        – make-up that makes a difference: HOLY SHIT I look like a doll!

        I make do with a very simple hair do that feels like me, and I only purchase clothing that suits me and my chosen (classic elegant feminine) style to the point I want to leave it on right then and there – that means that I’m rather well-dressed by putting on whatever while not spending very much on clothes. Especially as I only care for clothes making ME look good (not the other way around) and don’t care for fashion. I wear my clothes till they fall apart and am – to my knowledge – still regarded as “dressed well”.

        I don’t intend to change. Low-effort looks are part of my identity. This IS myself, as much as I can possibly be.

        1. many bells down*

          Haha I totally feel this. My makeup speeds were basically “some eyeliner, maybe?” and “Pennywise the Clown.” I’ve stepped up my game now to “pressed powder and if I’m feeling really fancy, tinted moisturizer.”

    4. Mookie*

      Great comment!

      I don’t know if you’re like me, LW4, but I’m a really socially awkward person, and being so can be incredibly painful, particularly because my instinct is always to mask the self-consciousness by being an amusing doormat. I’m also malicious when I want to be, and there is nothing more delightful than infecting annoying acquaintances and strangers with the full magnitude of my awkwardness, and HannahS’s scripts for doing so have always been successful for me. Tease out the weird silences. Let them own their pushy, snotty, passive-aggressive invasiveness. Don’t accept their lies at face value and make this rejection abundantly obvious. When they half-try to lazily and defensively “explain” away a remark that is clearly designed to wound, let them know, in a clear voice, how dumb they sound and look at them dead-on with firm skepticism, not meekness or affability or with a desire to make amends and let bygones be bygones. Don’t approach them with obvious distaste, but like a well-mannered stranger would when encountering someone you expect either rank stupidity or mortal danger from.

      You do not exist as a human wastebin or walking Idea Board for this colleague to flick little passing thoughts and fancies and digs and insults at.

      “I don’t care, and I don’t know why you think I would.” “You’re boring me.” Wear it like a badge of honor. This person has only one tune to play.

    5. Quoth the Raven*

      I have a lot of long, thick wavy hair that I simply wash and wear (and dye red). Anyone trying to suggest I spend time styling it daily (especially when I get compliments on how nice my hair is) is getting lectured about how I’m very comfortable with it and that I’m trying to keep grunge alive, thank you.

      1. Relly*

        What up, hair twin! I also have zero maintenance thick wavy fake-red hair and it’s the bomb.

        Occasionally I get questions like “I love your hair, how did you get it to do that?” and I have to reply “… I … brushed it? Dunno, this is what it does.”

        1. Susan*

          Somewhat hair triplet; dyed red, wavy, but unfortunately thin. My hair styling literally is get up – see what it’s done – spray it wet – finger comb – maybe push back with a hairband. It does what it does and I feel fine.

        2. many bells down*

          Hah as a curly-haired woman, I get “how do you get it to do that?” a lot. Unfortunately my answer is “It just … does that. I got it wet this morning and then I ignored it.”

        3. Quoth the Raven*

          Yeah, I hear you! “I just let it do whatever it wants to do” is my go to reply. I actually like not knowing exactly what it will do when I wake up.

          I remember a friend of mine once asked if she could straighten my hair and I humoured her. Halfway through she honestly couldn’t keep her arms up and said she completely understood why I never did it.

    6. Bagpuss*

      As you mention you have kept quiet until now, I’d start with a low-key response – “No, I don’t need a makeover or any changes to my hair or make-up. I am happy with how I look, and that I present as professional. And then move on to something work-related”

      If the co-worker persists, then I think you can be firmer. “I’ve already told you that I am not interested in changing how I appear and that I’m happy with it.. Please stop making personal comments about me.”

      And if she says she ‘only trying to be helpful’ then “Why would you think making rude comments to someone who has already asked you to stop, would be helpful?”

      1. AKchic*

        “Why would continued harassment after being told ‘no’ be considered helpful? I’m curious to know your logic on this one. Do explain.”

    7. Hear to Learn*

      I don’t remember what show it was for, but the comment stuck with me and reaffirms my right to look like me. The character responded to a comment about a makeover with “This is my face. Deal with it.”

    8. Lynca*

      As for the “I was just trying to help you,” I tend to respond back “I didn’t ask for help.” That tends to fluster people and shut it down for a while.

    9. Mr. Cholmondley-Warner*

      I think if someone makes an offer like that, you can assume the person is just being nice, and you can politely refuse. But if they don’t stop, they’re being an ass. At some point I think profanity becomes appropriate

    10. annakarina1*

      I don’t like wearing makeup and I always hated styling my hair, so I likely look very plain. But I never liked it when women or girls would pressure me to put on makeup, saying I would look pretty, when I just felt uneasy with it. And I never liked going to salons because they would make my hair look like a stiff newscaster’s bob and push their products on me. I like my appearance, and I don’t like feeling pressured to look more typically “feminine” to fit in or to be a “real woman.”

      1. Luna*

        ugh salons are the worst. Every time I go to get a haircut they always try to push me to dye my hair. I’ve never dyed it before- partly because I don’t like the idea of all the chemicals, but mostly because I know I’m too lazy to maintain it- and I always tell them I’m not interested but that doesn’t stop them from pushing every time. And I already have very light blond hair, but apparently it still needs to be even more blond (platinum, i guess?). Nothing is ever good enough to some people.

    11. Yolo*

      It’s also a great way to shut down MLM-style marketing that preys on people’s insecurities. You want to help me become more financially independent and improve my skin/wardrobe/workout routine at the same time? No thanks, I’m very satisfied with my current routine, regardless of how pimply/poorly dressed/out-of-shape you are implying that I am.

    12. gmg22*

      Have really enjoyed all these comments. If I could go back in time 10 years and have this convo again when my then-roommate asked me “So, um, why DON’T you wear any makeup?” we would have suuuuuuuch an interesting back and forth about beauty standards, embedded assumptions born of gender/class/regional pressures (then-roomie is Southern), and so on and so forth. As it was, I think I just mumbled something about how I didn’t really have the time. (Which is half-true — the real answer is that I have OTHER WAYS I PREFER to spend my time, unless it’s a special occasion and then I enjoy taking an extra five minutes to toss on some mascara and a bit of sparkly eyeliner.)

  13. Miso*

    Maybe it just shows how out of touch I am (not that old though…!), but the idea that your email domain could be “wrong” or outdated somehow seems so ridiculous to me.
    Maybe it’s also just a cultural thing – I’m not in the US and tons of people here still use the same email provider I used when I made my account 16 years ago.
    I actually don’t see that many gmail accounts. And it’s probably silly of me myself, considering I use Facebook, WhatsApp and whatnot, but I’d never use gmail – Google directly reading all my mails? No thanks.

      1. Cambridge Comma*

        I definitely don’t think people should sneer about it, or about anything, but it is often an indication of technical savvy. Much like asking a person which browser they use.

        1. bonkerballs*

          I’m not in tech so will never really come across this as a real issue, but it kind of cracks me up that gmail is seen as this indication of being tech savy. Gmail is so popular now, my 98 year old grandfather who doesn’t know how to turn a computer on has a gmail account. So many people who are basically computer illiterate visit my sister the librarian and want an email address and she sets them up with a gmail account. I imagine a gmail account actually tells you more about WHEN someone got an email account as opposed to anything actually useful.

          1. neeko*

            “I imagine a gmail account actually tells you more about WHEN someone got an email account as opposed to anything actually useful.”

            That isn’t accurate either as many people who used to have aol or hotmail accounts switched to gmail when it came out because it was a much better service.

    1. Myrin*

      It’s a cultural thing (I remember that we’re from the same place). And I’d say gmail is primarily an American thing that just never really made it over here – I’d say gmx is the closest equivalent for us.

      1. Just Employed Here*

        gmx is specifically German(-speaking?), though. The rest of (at least northern) Europe uses gmail.

        I would notice if an applicant had a hotmail-address, but it wouldn’t be a big thing. I use my yahoo address quite happily for other things, but if I were to apply for a job, I’d use my gmail.

        1. Myrin*

          Miso and I are both from Germany, which is the “here” I was referring to – I’d never speak for all of Europe regarding such things since I have absolutely no clue about that!

      2. Julia*

        This German uses gmail, and a lot of other Germans I know use it, too. We’ve all lived abroad at some point, though, which could be making us outliers.

        GMX drives me nuts, but my mother still uses it. I used to have and hotmail, but can’t log into either anymore.

      3. Emily Spinach*

        Yes, and at least early on in Germany you couldn’t even get a regular “gmail” address–for a while it was “googlemail” instead. (I thought I heard it was because google had to buy the “” domain from someone? But I don’t remember. This was like, 2008, I’m thinking.)

    2. Alison*

      Yeah I was mystified by LW2 too. I have an AOL email account because that was my first internet service provider. Admittedly it is old but I keep it because it is memorable (just nameinitialsurname) and still works fine. Had no idea this was something on which my tech-savvy might be judged.

    3. Emily Spinach*

      I’d be curious to hear from people who read lots of resumes if this is a detail that would stick out at all to them. I imagine that you’d see a wide variety of domains and eventually just stop noticing, but maybe that’s not the case.

      1. Kc89*

        For what it’s worth I have to take countless emails and dates of birth as part of my job and I’m always vaguely impressed with older people (60s+) who have a gmail account because it’s so rare past a certain age, people do notice

        1. Elle*

          See, that’s really interesting, because most of the over 60s I know have gmail addresses. I think it’s because they were working when email first became a thing, and so used their work email for everything, then by the time they decided they needed a personal email address gmail was dominant.

          1. Corrupted by Coffee*

            The last senior citizen I helped had a juno email. I have definitely noticed a trend of older people using hotmail or even Yahoo or aol email addresses. Personally, I don’t use Yahoo because their security is awful and they’ve been repeatedly hacked.

          2. sunshyne84*

            I still use Yahoo! because its annoying to make a new email and your name and every variation of your name is taken unless you add a bunch of periods and underscores and numbers. No thanks! I’m fairly young, but oh well. All my email should tell you is that I’ve been on the internet a very long time.

            1. Pomona Sprout*

              I’ve been using the same yahoo account for nearly 20 years, and I’m perfectly happy with it. Why on earth is that a problem for anyone?

              I did try gmail a long time ago and really hated it, because it wouldn’t let me organize my emsil the way I wanted to. I fail to see why it’s supposed to be somehow “cooler” or something.

          1. WillyNilly*

            If you are using the accessory features like Google Drive, or Docs, Google phone, webpage, etc, gmail is very good.
            If you are simply using email, there is no advantage other than having a trendy email address. Gmail itself is not great. And if you have a common name, your preferred address likely isn’t available.

            1. Chinook*

              You forgot Google calendars. That is the only reason I added that email account a few years ago – yahoo had nothing at that time that was as easy to integrate with different OSs.

              1. WillyNilly*

                I did not, I included “etc” on my list.

                I love my Google calendar… which I have synced to my AOL [aka my primary] email address.

          2. nonymous*

            I also find the fast search + tagging superior to filing stuff in digital folders, because it lets one sort on multiple dimensions.

          3. Jessie the First (or second)*

            I have a gmail account because I use google drive, and because it’s the email I use with my Android to download apps. But I literally never ever use the email to actually email – it’s just to access docs/sheets and apps.

          4. Millennial Lawyer*

            My mom has been pushing my grandma to get a gmail address instead of MSN because the spam filters are better and my grandma doesn’t really get the internet. So in my view I always think of “outdated” e-mail addresses as being more spam prone/lower security. I do not know if this is completely accurate, I’m not a techie.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          Both of my parents have gmail accounts, and it is so many miles away from an indication of tech savvyness. I may not be tech savvy by most measures, but I am willing to read one page of basic instructions and that works for most practical applications stumping them.

          1. Detective Right-All-The-Time*

            I don’t think anyone is saying that having a gmail account is indicative of tech savvy. But that having a netscape or aol account is probably indicative of a lack thereof, or a resistance to change/keeping up.

        3. Christmas Carol*

          People who pass judgment on the tech abilities of “older people (60s+)” should remember that Bill Gates is 62.

      2. Detective Amy Santiago*

        I definitely notice. The people I judge a little are the ones who have an email from their internet provider. If you ever change providers, you lose that address, so it seems odd to me.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          And this is why I have a yahoo address. I never use the one from my internet provider. And now I’m going to be judged for that? {sigh}

          1. Pomona Sprout*

            You and me both, Rusty. *sigh* indeed. It never occurred to me in a milion years that there was anything wrong or uncool about having a yahoo account!

            If people want to judge me for not fixing something that isn’t broken (i.e., not upending my life by changing an email address I’ve used for everything for nearly 20 years), c’est la vie. If that makes me an old fogey, you kids can get off my lawn, lol, because turnabout is fair play!

            1. Pomona Sprout*

              And by “you kids,” I didn’t mean you, Rusty, i meant anyone who wsnts to judge people like me and you for ysing yahoo!

        2. Delphine*

          This is why this is all subjective and nothing to do with “tech-savviness”. We’ll judge people who have accounts with older services and wonder why they haven’t switched to newer ones, and we’ll judge people who have emails from internet providers and may eventually have to switch to a new account.

        3. Luna*

          my parents have an email from their internet provider. they also have a gmail too. they just use each email for different things.

        4. Chinook*

          See, I am jealous of those with an internet provider email address. That means they never had to move and/or they were satisfied with the service they were getting.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            Oh, god, don’t assume I’m satisfied with AT&T just because I haven’t found any better options…

      3. Squeaky Wheel*

        I have read literally thousands of resumes, many for technical positions, and it is rarely something I notice. I only look at the email address if I cannot hit reply when I want to schedule an interview and then it is only to copy and paste it for sending purposes. If it is a particularly egregious one I might do an internal eye roll and giggle but it does not change my opinion of the applicant nor would it stop me from interviewing them.

        Former creepy (married) co-worker, who I caught looking at mail order brides during a meeting, has a hotmail address that starts with urbuddy *shudders*

        1. Samata*

          This is kinda where I laid when I was recruiting and interviewing. Some would make me laugh if I had to email the candidate manually, but I never noticed them as a factor in the resume/experience/cover letter.

      4. Peggy*

        Yes. It does stick out. AOL, Hotmail, Yahoo, or or (the accounts you get automatically when you sign up for cable/internet). All of those tell me that you don’t really know your way around the internet. In some jobs they may not matter but in some they really do.

        Alison says no sane person would reject for an email address but in my area of the tech world, would be an absolute, immediate hard pass. Not a joke. You don’t know enough about current internet norms to update your email, you won’t last 2 days in my environment. Even if you love it so much in your personal life and use it for all your chain emails and joke forwards, be aware you should have a more sensible one just for professional communication. Someone without the tech savvy/ awareness of professional email norms wouldn’t have what it takes to work in my field.

        1. a1*

          This seems a bit much. Some of us have multiple email addresses, even though apps/programs will consolidate them all. For example, I have 1) a “junk” email for when a website wants me to register, or a store wants an email I know they’ll spam, etc, 2) one for friends, 3) one for family (they send more memes and jokes than anyone and didn’t want it flooding my regular email), 4) one for other semi-important things , and so on. One of these is gmail, one is outlook, but (gasp) one is yahoo and another is comcast, and so on. And no, the gmail is not the one I’d use for resumes or job hunting because I couldn’t get anything close to my real name with it – not with periods or dashes or underscore, every combination of first, middle, last full or initials. I am not going to put something like what they automatically spit out as a suggestion on a resume. It’s not my name. But one of the older ones has my actual name and that’s what I use. Hasn’t affected me at all.

          1. Peggy*

            I have all of those types of email addresses too. I use AOL and Yahoo for signing up for sites and for coupons or mailing lists. I have a friend/family gmail, and I have a professional gmail and a professional outlook. The only one I’d ever consider putting on my resume is the one that includes my first and last name.

            The point is, put the professional one on your resume if you are applying for a job where there’s even the slightest chance that it will matter. If you’re applying to be a children’s librarian, the wind in the willows example is probably A-OK. If you’re applying to manage a team of technical project managers or as a digital marketer or a media strategist, [kid’sbook at hotmail] is going to be unprofessional and will probably mean that everyone else in the pile has more of a shot than you.

        2. Delphine*

          I think you’d need to base your judgement that someone doesn’t know their way around the internet on a bit more than their chosen email service.

      5. Tardigrade*

        We’ve never declined to interview or hire someone based on an email domain, but even my 60+ boss will comment on the so-called “dated” or “unprofessional” ones. It doesn’t affect our decision about the candidate, but it is judged, and we’ll definitely mention the netzero email address when we discuss rejecting a kooky candidate.

      6. Miss Elaine e.*

        I’m a resume writer and so I read a lot of them. This thread is the first I’ve heard of the issue. I have gmail. Spouse (a programmer and thus knee deep in tech) has hotmail.
        FWIW, I’ve only mentioned to maybe, two or three, clients that their email address may be an issue. As I recall, one was something a bit raunchy. The others were people who were obviously using their employers’ (or universities’) email addresses. (For clarity: the university one I questioned as it was a graduating student and didn’t know if they would be able to retain the address after graduation.)

        1. nonegiven*

          My son is in his 40s and still uses his school email and has other emails forwarded to it. He said he has the address for life.

      7. Detective Right-All-The-Time*

        Things I notice about email addresses:
        1. Inappropriate usernames. Yes, I’ve had people apply with their bigdaddy69 email accounts before.
        2. Outdated providers. I only care if it’s a technical position, but I will definitely notice an aol or netscape domain.
        3. Joint email with your partner/spouse. This is the only one that actually sets my teeth on edge. I do not want to email Jane and Joe Smith, I only want to email the person who applied for the job.

      8. Just Another Techie*

        I don’t think I’ve ever screened a resume that wasn’t @alum(ni).(some university).edu. I do judge candidates based on the username though. Name or name+a number is standard. But is a hard pass because the whole reason universities provide lifetime forwarding addresses is to help you present a professional persona.

        1. Turkletina*

          This is very strange to me. I have degrees from two universities, and neither of them offers a lifetime forwarding address. My graduate school will forward emails received by my previous address for life (I assume this is in case someone wants to email me about a paper I wrote in grad school or something), but I cannot respond from it.

          Is this a “prestigious”-schools-only service? Do you have to pay for it? I have a lot of questions.

          1. Luna*

            Some universities do this now, I think by giving students a university gmail address. My OldJob at a university started doing this for grad students while I was there.

          2. Ex-Academic, Future Accountant*

            My undergrad school’s email service was powered by Gmail, and I can still log in there ~7 years after graduating — it’s meant to be “forever”. I have it set to forward to a different Gmail address and not keep copies, but if I wanted to I could receive email on that account, reply, etc. The school is ~fairly~ prestigious; I don’t pay anything for the email service.

            I was actually going to ask about this — would it look in any way out of touch to use an academic email from a school I graduated from years ago? (Like if it was perceived as signalling that I’m mentally stuck at that stage years later, or something.)

          3. Emily Spinach*

            I think it just depends on the school and their provider. I can still use my undergrad email address if I want, though now I just forward it to my gmail. (Data point, though, is that this is a private school, so maybe yes that’s a factor?)

    4. Mystery Bookworm*

      I think this will depend very heavily on the industry you’re in, more so than the country you’re in.

    5. Observer*

      And the other email providers DON’T read your emails? They all do the same thing (MAYBE not Microsoft now, because they are using a different business model with Outlook.) Google is just better at monetizing it.

      At least Google is better at protecting your email than Yahoo and Aol. And they are not selling your data – and that of your friends! to all comers like Facebook is.

      1. Violet Fox*

        Where I am it isn’t actually legal for email providers to read your email, interestingly enough employers cannot either without explicit permission. Because of the latter, a lot of (mostly a bit older) people use their work email address as their only email address.

        The personal private crossover is actually becoming a problem where I work since we’re looking at a dropbox for business deal that would just eat up everything in our domain, and a lot of people have dropboxes they made with email address in their domains that also contain personal files since we didn’t have anything official. We legally cannot touch the personal files, and if we have to lock down boxes due to a data breech we also legally cannot prevent people from accessing their own files. Since we have around 10k employees and we figure that at least 1k of them already have dropboxes that they are using for work (it’s academica shadow-IT is a thing), we’re in a serious bind.

        For email, I use my work one mostly for work, and I have a private one at a personal domain that people blink at, but my personal domain predates gmail by a number of years. I would guess actually (and this is probably the point in the ramble) that people using Storybook_AB@aol or similar have had the email address for a *long* time, and have not changed since changing personal email address is a serious pain, and having that sort of email address was a lot more normal way back in the day.

        1. Just Employed Here*

          There’s no need to actually change email addresses, though.

          They could just get another one (if they decide they care about this thing), redirect the incoming emails to their primary address and just make sure to *send* any job search related ones from the new, fancy-sounding one.

        2. Observer*

          If you can’t figure out how to make a second email address, then that does say something.

          There are very few email addresses that would be a deal breaker for most positions. But for a lot of them, yes, it would be a bit of a negative.

        1. Observer*

          Google adheres to the same privacy laws that everyone else does. So, where it’s illegal to read your email, they don’t. And where it’s legal to read / scan your email, EVERYONE does.

      2. Trout 'Waver*

        Of course google is selling your data. That’s how they pay for gmail.

        I’d rather my e-mail provider not also know my search history, my location, and whatever else google does.

        1. LBK*

          Any source to back this up? Some preliminary searches get me nothing that supports the idea that Google sells your Gmail data, and as of last year they don’t even scan your email for their own ads anymore.

        2. Observer*

          Actually, that’s the really interesting thing – Google uses your data to sell a lot of things, especially advertising. But they do NOT sell your data – it’s too valuable.

        3. JHunz*

          Google’s primary web business model is selling ads targeted based on the data they’ve collected about you. If they sold the data on they’d be severely undermining themselves.

    6. Knitting Cat Lady*

      I have two main email accounts. Got that when I was 18. Use it for online shopping, message boards, etc. basically the address where I don’t mind spam. My dad owns the domain. Use it for communication with friends and family, official stuff and job related/searching stuff.

      I have a gmail account for account recovery purposes and I think my old university email accounts theoretically still work.

    7. Firefly*

      I agree – I know gmail is the norm and by default ‘professional’, but I don’t think you should necessarily be okay with the complete lack of privacy you get with that email server. That doesn’t seem very professional to me (especially in business contexts).

      But maybe it’s that German paranoia about surveillance states speaking here. :-(

      1. Knitting Cat Lady*

        We’ve had two.

        And a new proposal concerning psychiatric patients in Bavaria is a huge step in that direction…

        I’d say it isn’t paranoia when they *are* out to get you.

        1. Firefly*

          I’d say it isn’t paranoia when they *are* out to get you.

          Which reminds me of that Postillon article about the crazy conspiracy theorist who believes there’s no one tracking his data.

        2. Merula*

          Sorry for the tangent, but I went looking for information about the proposal you mentioned and found an article in Das Spiegel entitled Bayern will Daten von Psychiatriepatienten über Jahre speichern. Is that what you meant?

          I can read German moderately well, but I have no idea if Das Spiegel is a reliable source.


    8. Bagpuss*

      I think it is strange to judge people on which domain they use, unless, perhaps, the job is directly related to IT.
      I certainly wouldn’t see it as any less professional to have a hotmail / aol / yahoo email address rather than a gmail one.
      However, I would see it as less professional if the address is something like ‘winnethepooh@….’ .
      So if I saw two candidates and one was (say) winniethepooh@gmail and the other was john.smith123@ aol I would see the second as far more professional.

      1. Myrin*

        Yeah, I was a bit surprised to see the domain more strongly emphasised in the answer than “the title of a well-known children’s book and his initials”, which I think is actually the bigger deal out of the two.

        1. Observer*

          I think that both are an issue. But, the first part has broader applicability, I think. Even if you are in a job where you don’t need email or any tech knowledge at all, an adult persona generally is important.

      2. GreyjoyGardens*

        I was also surprised to see people debating about the domain and not the address! To me, “” or “” beat “” hands down for professionalism. I’m not in the tech field, so there’s that, and at least it’s not obscene or ridiculous (I’d post some of the winners I’ve seen but the spam filter will eat my comment) but real names, initials, and numbers if needed is professional, and pop culture references and vulgarities are not.

    1. Mookie*

      That’s a line meant to be crossed, I think. I’d be compelled to hire them on the spot (and then steal their e-mail address?).

  14. Observer*

    I’m going to disagree with Alison a bit on the email address thing. is not going to look good, for two different reasons.

    The name part is akin to someone who uses baby talk in the office or something like that. It’s not at the level of truly inappropriate, but you don’t really want something that is so associated with you to be that childish in most fields.

    As for (or, for some types of positions, I wouldn’t care. But for many positions, I’d be looking at this and wondering about their level of tech saviness. I mean, Yahoo had every single one of their email accounts compromised! I wouldn’t not hire because of it, but it would be a negative for those positions.

      1. Observer*


        I’ve seen an email or two that would have been an automatic no if anyone had asked me. And, I can’t post them because the filter would probably eat it. But that’s pretty extreme.

        On the other hand, even if it’s not something most filters will eat, if you have to ask if it’s “safe for work” or the address is for a pre-schooler, it’s REALLY not a good look for a work related scenario. It won’t kill your candidacy, but it might dampen some enthusiasm.

      2. Lindsay J*

        Lol, I guess that for all my years on the internet I’m still pretty innocent, because my first thought on that one would be that it belonged to a Kevin or a Katie Knobsac, not that it was anything dirty.

    1. Manager Mary*

      Assuming you’re hiring for a job that uses email/technology in some way, it would be perfectly reasonable to ask in an interview why a candidate prefers that email provider over another. It would be no different than asking why someone prefers Google Docs over MS Word or whatever. They might say “oh, I use a throwaway account for job applications because so many of these places sign you up for email lists” or give some other explanation that is kind of reasonable. I wouldn’t go that route when applying for jobs, but that kind of response would be much less alarming than something like “what’s an email provider?” or “I just use whatever my kids set up for me!”

      1. StrawMeatloaf*

        “It’s a PITA to switch the many accounts connected with that email to another.” Don’t say that in an interview but it’s the reason I haven’t switched from yahoo yet.

    2. Betsys*

      I agree. I work in tech and your email address is as important as a business card is in other fields. An unprofessional email address just screams “I am clueless about email norms”. It would quite possibly get a resume tossed in the “NO” pile if we had a lot of good resumes to choose from. It would definitely start the candidate off on the wrong foot. Unless the job is related to children’s book publishing or the like, winniethepooh is OUT.

      On another note – I will proofread resumes when asked, but I won’t offer suggestions when presenting a resume to my current employer. I want my company to see the person as they present themselves, not as filtered by me.

  15. namelesscommentator*

    TIL I learned that I have surprisingly strong feelings on gmail accounts.

    An AOL account absolutely looks outdated to me. Gmail seems like the obvious “best free email provider” to me when you consider all of the integrated apps, so I question late adapters. I wouldn’t throw anyone out of the applicant pool for an AOL address, but I’d definitely note that and look for other signs of lack of tech acumen, and depending on the job, I’d ask some questions during the interview on learning computer skills/programs.

    1. namelesscommentator*

      And no matter your provider, your email should be some logical mix of your name/initials/non-controversial numbers. MAYBE a location indicator, if paired with your name.

      No matter how innocent the alternatives, they’re unprofessional. You want your name to be front and center of your email. So even though might make you look like a great person, it’s not appropriate to use for work.

      (Exemptions would be for teachers/people who have a business creating a dedicated account, like for a karate instructor or for a teacher leaving a school and giving students a longer term email address)

      1. chomps84*

        Yes, I definitely think the email you use for job hunting should be your name/initials with a few numbers if needed. It shouldn’t be a book name or your kid’s name or anything else.

    2. Engineer Girl*

      If they have an AOL addresss they would be earlier adapters, not late ones. Gmail didn’t come along until way late in the game.

      It’s a hassle to change email addresses. Sure, you could do a redirect, but it’s still a hassle.

      AOL did have a reputation for being non-tech. There were a lot of other companies for tech types which have since been absorbed.

      I do think it’s utterly arrogant to assume an older person doesn’t have tech skills. Some of us invented that tech and know it better than the younger users.

      1. Nea*

        THANK YOU! I’ll put myself; I have an AOL address because at the time it was the only address I could use cross-platform. That was a very big deal, and frankly, the opinions of other people about uncool it is has never been a compelling reason to change it everywhere. (To combine email responses, my address is just fine the way it is, thanks. I don’t need a makeover.)

        Besides, I hate to break it to folks, but apparently one of the younger companies has merged with AOL and will be changing their address to…

        1. Observer*

          Yeah, because the “other guys” are even worse. I’ll give you this – AOL has managed to not have multiple major breaches that have compromised EVERY single email address in their database, some on multiple occasions.

      2. Clewgarnet*

        Absolutely! I have an email address from my ISP that I use for job applications. It’s not a remotely prestigious domain, but I have my own name as the user, and it means I can keep it nicely separate from my three gmail addresses.

        The reason I could get my own name is because I built the email system for my ISP and was therefore the very first user created.

    3. Hermione Granger*

      I don’t think you can reasonably say that someone with an AOL account isn’t tech savvy. Maybe they’ve had the account since forever and don’t want to deal with the hassle of changing it and redirecting their mail? It just seems like a big jump to make over something so small.

      For example, I use a hotmail account that I’ve had since forever. But it in no way correlates to my level of tech savvy. I’m always on the internet, I’m comfortable working with computers, I can build simple websites, I have self-taught knowledge of certain CMS, I have skilled knowledge of programmes like InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop… In my opinion, it’s just totally unrelated.

      I could open a gmail account, but all that shows is I know how to fill out a form.

    4. Bagpuss*

      Yes, I think someone with an older account is more likely to have been an early adopter.
      They may then have chosen not to move to a new provider, but that may well be simply ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. Particularly for something like e-mail, which doesn’t really need a lot of bells and whistles.

    5. WeevilWobble*

      You are making an illegal conclusion that because someone is older they lack tech acumen. Being older is the ONLY thing an older domain likely signifies and even then not always (freakin hipsters.)

      You don’t need any special tech savvy to sign up for gmail. It doesn’t suggest anything. It’s just age discrimination and it’s illegal. Also, just a really petty and bad thing to do.

      1. Observer*

        The point is not that having a gmail account shows you can do complex things with a computer. The fact that that’s what people are focusing on actually speaks to the more fundamental problem. For YEARS Hotmail, for example, was a security mess. They got hacked numerous times, and this continued for years after MS bought them out. So, to me the fact that someone is using them for work stuff is a slight negative because of the issue of security.

        For me, today, the most toxic is Yahoo. They were not only insecure but they lied and they knowingly left people’s accounts insecure. That’s a culture that’s going to take a long time to change.

    6. AcademiaNut*

      Gmail has only been around since 2004, though. I’ve had an email address since 1991.

      And as a tech savvy person, who works in a computer related job, I dislike using the integrated Google apps, because of the level of control and information it gives to a single tech company.

    7. anna green*

      I have a hotmail account from way back, but I did create a gmail account for my job search for exactly this reason. But, I’d love to know what are considered “good” domains. Is gmail the only one that’s considered acceptable? That seems weirdly monopoly-ish, and trendy. What will be the go-to email domain in 5 years? Do I need to keep changing it? Why? And what are the bad ones? Is it just AOL? Or hotmail, yahoo? Why are those bad? Online email is mostly the same for practical purposes. Why does it make a difference? I really don’t get it.

      1. Boo Bradley*

        I commented above, but I’m in email marketing. Domains like aol, Hotmail, Juno, mindspring, etc. are all domains that a ton of people used but then abandoned. So there are a whole bunch of email addresses floating around that now bounce and affect organizations’ email deliverabilty scores. Some of the organizations I work with have added these domains to a permanent suppression list in an effort to boost their deliverabilty. I wouldn’t discriminate against someone with a hotmail address, but it’s just good to know that when a domain falls out of favor, this can be a side effect and can lead to the domain being considered “bad”.

        1. Penny Lane*

          That’s not the concern or problem of the average person choosing an email account, though. “Oh my – I should discontinue my AOL or yahoo that I’ve had for years because spammers can’t spam as well with those domains!”

          1. Boo Bradley*

            It’s not spammers, it’s legitimate organizations that you requested to receive email from. If enough people abandon the domain, the org will stop sending emails to it. So you will stop receiving emails you actually want. That’s the reason itcan be useful to update your email address to a newer, more popular domain.

            1. nonegiven*

              If I sign up for a newsletter or something this month with my AOL or hotmail address, I won’t get it? I have a gmail address, I don’t use it for email I want, just G+ and Youtube,

              1. Boo Bradley*

                It depends on the org and how they handle deliverability scores. A couple of the organizations I work with have basically blanket suppressed and family domains because they drag down the score so badly.

                Some organizations don’t give a flying fig, so they don’t suppress anything. Some organizations do email address validation to weed out good from bad emails, so they don’t have to blanket suppress.

                It depends on their savviness, their level of caring, and how much budget they have as to how they handle these things.

          2. Observer*

            The problem is not spammers. The problem is that there are surprisingly large number of filters that take the utterly lazy route of blocking ALL addresses from these domains unless they have been whitelisted.

            Personally, if my filter were doing that, I’d find another filter, though. That’s a really, really stupid thing to do.

    8. Oxford Coma*

      In my experience, the type of domain you use can drive the direction of interview questions and initial ranking in tech.

      For example, might get a tiny sliver of a leg up when applying for a webmaster job compared to

      However, any assumptions made based on that observation absolutely have to be teased out while meeting the candidate. Assuming an AOL user is a dinosaur who wants to come in and use punch cards on your server is just short-sighted.

    9. WillyNilly*

      My 72 year old dad, retired well over a decade, who calls me for tutorials on his TV remote controls uses gmail.
      I have built websites, manage several social media accounts utilizing awesome (if I do say so myself) graphics for my org, am able to comfortably integrate products, etc; I use AOL as my primary email address.

      1. Boo Bradley*

        Much the same way that an aol address does not indicate not being tech-savvy, I also don’t think it necessarily shows that someone IS tech-savvy. Ypu could have got on the Internet in the mid-90s because your kid was interested, got the aol account and then stagnated in your Internet knowledge.

      2. Namelesscommentator*

        Because it’s not only about early adapters – it’s about being current. And it has nothing to do with age, at all. But if I want someone who stays up to date with new offerings of the best tools and will suggest implementing them into our work flow, right now, good or not, google/amazon/apple tends to be the ones offering them. I would question someone not taking advantage of the best tools out there.

        And on a whole resume, email address is about the last thing I would use to estimate age (intentionally or unintentionally) so I’m very WTF on using email to draw conclusions on age. This is about behavior and skills, not DOB.

      3. LBK*

        Being an early adopter is a continuous process, though. If you consider yourself an early adopter you’d probably have adopted Gmail early, too, when it was the hot new service because it gave you a giant storage space, cleaner interface and better inbox organization. You’d have recognized that this would be the way of the future and stake out your username quickly. Plus Gmail was invite only originally and that’s like early adopter porn – your nerd cred is no better than when you can say “oh, I was on that back when it was exclusive”.

        1. Anon.*

          I was a Twitter beta tester! Deleted my account a year ago though. It’s just not what it once was.

        2. Boo Bradley*

          Yes, this is what I thought. I consider myself an early adopter because I am always signing up for the newest thing. I got a Google Plus account right away (what a waste of time), I stayed up late the night Facebook let you choose your personalized URL so I could get my name, I signed up for Vero, for crying out loud. I had a hotmail account when I first got online in 1996-ish, but I also got a Gmail account pretty early on too.

          1. LBK*

            I stayed up late the night Facebook let you choose your personalized URL so I could get my name

            Ha, I did the same thing.

    10. AlmainCanada*

      I think some of the mystique of google remains from it’s roll out. Back when it first began it was invite only and people got so many invites that they distributed. It was very elitist and clique. I actually didn’t pick one up for a decade, because I had assumed it stayed this way. : )

      That said, aol I don’t care about but I blocked the entire yahoo domain in 2001 (in my hotmail personal account). Too much spam.

    11. Fabulous*

      I also have strong feelings on Gmail, and it’s that I absolutely hate that email platform. I love the Drive and everything about it, I just REALLY hate how Gmail email works. I set up a Gmail ages ago and have problems with other people using my email address to sign up for things thinking they’re using their own email, but theirs has numbers or something. I don’t even have a common name!

      That said, I’ve had the same Hotmail email for years (don’t judge!) About 10 years back Hotmail was absorbed into and I’ve always really like how Outlook works so I’ve stuck with it. Granted, nowadays Outlook is trying to become Gmail, so who knows. Maybe I’ll eventually change it up once I get married and change my name.

      1. YetAnotherFed*

        I’ve had that same problem with a name twin using my gmail account to sign up for various things. My RL name combination is extremely uncommon so I can pretty much pinpoint the other person. I should probably send them a letter to let them know what’s happening, and that I had the account first.

    12. Anon.*

      Honestly, I don’t care what email you use. Using Geocities? Means you adopted the internet lifestyle before some of my staff were born, go you! And if I came across someone with compuserve? I’d think “wow that’s badass!”

      Knowing how to sign up for a free email account does not make you technical or tech savvy. My interview with you will determine that, not your email address.

    13. smoke tree*

      Personally, I don’t really care what domain name people have. I just don’t see what the big deal is about getting a generic email address for interviewing. The boring firstnamelastname[AT]gmail address might not speak to your soul, but it’s the email equivalent of business casual–you don’t really want your AOL address to be the first thing employers notice about you.

  16. Tau*

    #1 – so I spent almost two years living with a coworker in company-provided housing, and my jaw still dropped reading this. This situation sounds horrifyingly dysfunctional and as though all sorts of boundaries are getting crossed.

    I suggest getting out if you can… but I also suggest finding some way to get your perspectives more aligned with reality (running things past friends? Reading AAM? Fellow commenters, any suggestions?) The fact that you’re in it so deep you can’t recognise the line is no longer visible from space is worrying, especially when it comes to keeping an eye out for red flags in future jobs.

  17. Indie*

    I don’t wear makeup for the day either because it’s bad for (my particular) skin. Also? Don’t wanna. I find if I were to say ‘my makeup is fine the way it is’ you get to much chat back such as ‘you don’t wear any!’ Or ‘you dont even make an effort!’ (These types of women are so brow (ha!) beaten about makeup they truly believe it’s like leaving the house without pants.) I find saying ‘my style is fine’ or my ‘skincare routine is none of your business’ works. The latter particularly silences for some reason.

    1. attie*

      I also don’t wear makeup, and I think some people just get upset that we “get away with” not doing all this effort (not to mention spending all this money!) that they don’t really want to either but can’t imagine not doing. At some point during teenagedom there’s a phase where makeup is what all the cool kids do and you get shamed if you don’t, and then people internalize that whole “no makeup = shame” thing the same way they learn about wearing pants.
      If you openly contradict the necessity of ever thinking about what your face looks like, you get blowback because it puts that whole ingrained rule into question. I’ve definitely caught myself becoming unreasonably angry at people who just give zero fucks about doing things that I am deeply anxious about getting wrong but also hate doing, so I kind of get where it’s coming from.
      If you say you don’t want to talk about your skincare routine, that implies that actually do have a skincare routine, i.e. you do care about what your face looks like and you do buy into that whole framework. You just actually have some secret reason for not wearing makeup that is more shameful than not wearing makeup. That evokes pity, not anger, so people are more likely to leave you alone.

      1. TootsNYC*

        I feel that “skincare” says “medical and health are important to me, not cosmetic appearance.”

      2. Kate 2*

        That’s really area dependent though. Pretty much no one where I used to live (small town in the north east) or now (big city in the northwest), wears makeup, at any age.

    2. Student*

      When people pull the makeup/makeover thing on me, I tell them point-blank I’m not there as an office decoration. I am a person. I like the way I look, and I’m not changing it to match their seasonal scarf/favorite shoes/best tie pin.

      It’s extremely dehumanizing to be treated like a decoration. Because of that dehumanizing aspect, I think it’s important to get obviously unhappy with them, and point out the shallowness and uncomfortable aspects of them focusing so much on your appearance over any other facet of your work. Like confronting racism, confronting this strain of sexism is extra important because it’s about whether the other person recognizes you as a full and equal person.

  18. Re: Question #4*

    If OP4 is in an “At-Will” US state and it’s management telling her “Get a makeover or else I’m / we’re terminating you”, instead of coworker(s) telling her “You needs a makeover”, then management is well within their legal rights to not only refuse to provide OP4 financial compensation and/or paid or unpaid time off for said makeover, but also even terminating at will and without warning beforehand for “failure and/or refusal to comply”…especially if management isn’t singling out specific “Protected Class(es)” such as age 40 or older, ethnicity / race, religion, disability / medical condition, pregnancy, etc. And combined with the fact that telling a coworker “You need a makeover” really doesn’t / won’t even constitute legal definition of “Hostile Workplace” / “Workplace Harassment”. Just something to think about, if it turns out that management (particularly those with “terminating authority”) actually likes said coworker better and values her opinion that OP4 “needs a makeover” even more than they like and value OP4…

    1. essEss*

      However, if they only tell the women that they need makeovers but don’t hold men to a high grooming style, then it is harassment based on gender.

      1. Re: Question #4*

        But if they’re specifically targeting ALL physically unattractive employees (regardless of age, gender, race, religion and other “Protected Classes” etc.), then it isn’t “Harassment” / “Hostile Workplace” nor is it “illegal” to terminate an employee solely for no other reason than for being physically unattractive (which is NOT a “Protected Class”), unless they also flat-out say “You’re unattractive because of age 40 or older and/or gender and/or ethnicity and/or religion and/or disability etc.”

        1. Jessie the First (or second)*

          This is really too difficult a situation to make blanket statements like “it’s not illegal if they do it to everyone” or “it’s not illegal if it’s based on physical attractiveness.”
          For example, how are they determining physical attractiveness? By how well your look conforms to a traditional gender role/feminine presentation (for a woman)? That could be a problem and it could run afoul of discrimination laws.

          But this is really likely all moot- the OP has heard nothing from management. It’s just a random coworker. People having opinions about how other people look or should look is, sadly, not new or novel and doesn’t indicate this will turn into an actual issue with OP’s employment.

          1. Re: Question #4*

            All the “Protected Classes” are “Objective” and not “Subjective”. For example, every employee is either under age 40, or age 40 or older. Every employee is either male or female (or even “other”, whatever that entails). Every female employee is either pregnant or non-pregnant, etc., which are all “Objective”. All employees in all “At-Will” US states can be terminated at any time for any “Subjective” reason, which may be “unfair” but is NOT “illegal”. For example, if an employee is terminated solely because (and flat-out told that) their “face is unpleasant-looking” (even if their face is actually “structurally normal” so to speak), then that in itself is considered “Subjective” and therefore isn’t “illegal” if no other reasons provided / refuse to be provided. Even if said employee is working in a non-“public-facing” position. On the other hand, if another employee with a medical condition affecting facial appearance was terminated and told same reason, then that would be “illegal”, in that it’s now in “Protected Class” territory

            1. Jessie the First (or second)*

              ….. I’m an employment lawyer, I get the concept of protected classes. Think Price Waterhouse Coopers case for an example of what I am talking about.

            2. Jessie the First (or second)*

              Though to expand, your discussion of how protected classes are objective and not subjective is not the point of my comment – my comment is that discriminating based on appearance can have actual discriminatory motives *related to gender* and THAT can be a problem.

              Discrimination is not often so blatant as “you are a women so I refuse to promote you,” but, a la Price Waterhouse v Hopkins, “you don’t act like what I think women ought to act like so I’m not promoting you” (or, to make it tangentially relevant to what you are trying to talk about, what someone *looks* like doesn’t conform to a stereotypical idea of how a woman should present herself). And so no, you can’t make a blanket statement that appearance is always going to be a legal way to discriminate because it isn’t gender-based. It absolutely can be gender based.

              1. Re: Question #4*

                It’s not “illegal” nor “gender-based” if all employees are equally singled out for being physical unattractive (as opposed to singling out only a specific gender, ethnicity / race, age 40 or older, disability / medical condition, pregnancy, etc. for being physically unattractive). Physically unattractive in itself is NOT a “Protected Class” in the same way “I don’t like the zipper on your jacket” is NOT a “Protected Class”

                1. Jessie the First (or second)*

                  I’m not saying that physical attractiveness is itself a protected class; I am saying that gender discrimination can be the actual issue, with judgments about physical attractiveness as how that discrimination manifests. (And that can be true *regardless* whether all employees are “equally singled out” or not.) I’m not sure why you keep telling me that being attractive or not is not a protected class – I am not saying it is. I’m saying something different: that a judgment about attractiveness is sometimes based on discriminatory expectations of gender presentation, which, as you must know if you have researched or worked in employment law, is a gender discrimination issue. And therefore, a blanket statement that “it’s always totally fine to hire/fire/etc based on how attractive someone looks” is highly unwise advice.

    2. Student*

      Lots of things are legal. That really misses the point. Whether it is decent/moral/reasonable, good for the business, good for the employees, matters. That matters a lot more than what’s legal.

      The legal system does not exist to cover every single possible human interaction. That’s professional conduct/manners/social conventions. The legal system exists to cover extreme situations

  19. Zaphod Beeblebrox*

    LW5 – Reminds me of the time I was good at my job, no-one else wanted to do it (or, on the few occasions someone else did do it, they cocked it up so that I was called back) – ergo, I couldn’t be promoted.

    1. Jessen*

      I was thinking this as well – it might be a case of they don’t want to promote the LW because they don’t want to replace them.

      1. Irene Adler*


        Yet another example to show that employers don’t care a whit about you. They put you where they want you for their advantage- not yours.

        Time to find another employer.

    2. AnonEMoose*

      Add me to this particular bench. It seems possible that the OP’s steadiness in the current role makes Boss reluctant to promote her because he doesn’t want to lose her contributions in the current role.

      Whether or not this is the reason, though, I’d really recommend moving on if that’s an option, OP. If you do, be prepared for them to try to throw something your way when you announce your departure, because too many companies seem to do this. If they do, consider it the equivalent of the boyfriend who alters his behavior just enough to satisfy you for the moment, and then goes back to his old behavior as soon as he feels comfortable.

    3. AMT27*

      A coworker, one of my closest work friends, just left for a new job due to this – they wanted her doing what she did so no room for growth here. Not for her anyway. So she left. The only surprising part of it is that she didn’t leave sooner honestly.

    4. Gatomon*

      Yes, that happened to me at one place. They were so devastated when I left, but I laughed allll the way to the bank (and still am)!

      I’m seeing a few other folks in my current place in this same situation though, which pisses me off. I don’t want them to leave or feel stuck where they are, but there’s nothing I can really do being a peon with no management interest.

      Meanwhile, inexperienced but enthusiastic people get promoted into other departments and cause a bunch of time waste for my department. It seems like all the other teams reach out to my group when they get stumped instead of… just trying. I wish they’d just promote the competent guys. They’d be motivated again if given a chance.

          1. LissyLou*

            #4- “I don’t need makeup to feel confident about myself.”

            “You mention making me over very frequently. What exactly is the issue you have with my face?”

            I’d just skip to this one:

            *with confused, freaked-out expression*
            “Jane, your constant obsession with my looks has become unsettling. It’s unprofessional and out of line. I’ve said before that I’m not interested. I will not say it again. Mention it one more time, and I’m filing a harassment claim with HR.”
            File that claim if she doesn’t stop. Use the term “harassment”.

    1. smoke tree*

      I actually did live with my boss for a few months and it wasn’t really a big deal for me. My boss is pretty reasonable and we had a “no work talk at home” rule. But it probably wasn’t ideal from a general workplace perspective, since it probably seemed like there was some favouritism going on. Kind of speaks to that workplace’s general lack of boundaries.

  20. Serena*

    There’s a certain degree of irony in the compensation issue: when employers want to woo a potential hire, compensation is usually the first thing they’d go to, yet as employees you’re always discouraged from saying money is a motivation.

    1. Chocolate Teapot*

      “What do you like most about your job?”

      “Getting paid.”

      It was for one of those annoying gushing internal newsletters about why the company was so brilliant despite having got rid of some good benefits.

    2. Knitting Cat Lady*

      There’s also the thing that you’re supposed to be passionate about your job. That your life’s goal should be to do your best at your job and all your fulfillment should come from your job.

      Fuck no.

      I work because I need money to live. And to do stuff I like.

      I like my job. It is intellectually challenging and interesting.

      I’d still rather spend my days crafting away…

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        The annoying gushing newsletter mentioned above had liberal applications of passion about our jobs in it too.

      2. Jadelyn*

        This, so much.

        Yes, I like my job. I’m good at it, it keeps me interested and gives me opportunities to learn new things, I’m well-regarded by my peers, I’m working for a nonprofit I genuinely admire and support.

        And I still, if I won the lottery tomorrow, would choose to spend my time on my art and writing rather than working.

        You can like a job and still not center your whole world and identity around it. Which is what a lot of those “but PASSION!” types seem to expect.

        1. Michaela Westen*

          Trying to do what they say leads to your whole life being your work, workaholism, unfulfillment, and is very unhealthy!

    3. FD*

      I think part of the reason employers don’t like to hear it is simple.

      1. Employers want employees to stick around a while. An employee who is truly only motivated by money is likely to keep looking and leave as soon as there’s a better offer. (In reality, of course, most people decide ‘this is good enough pay for the work’ and leave only if they get an offer that’s significantly better.)

      2. The reality is that although we’re all motivated by money, very few people are really only motivated by money in a job. For most of us, getting paid well will not compensate for a poor boss, bad work conditions, unreasonable expectations. As a result, saying you’re only motivated by money can reveal that you’re not really self-aware about what other factors matter in a job.

      3. In general, money motivates us to do the basics–to come to work, to show up, to put in a reasonable level of effort. Realistically, if you can continue to take the same salary for average work, and money is the only factor, it’s not logical to go above and beyond. Most people that are high performers are also driven by something on top of the money (or even hope of getting more money). This might be the pleasure of doing a difficult job well, recognition from your boss, feeling needed by your peers, etc. Since employers want high performers, not just average performers, they want to know what else motivates you.

      1. Delphine*

        Technically, we’re all solely motivated by money, though. I don’t think any one of us would continue to work any job if we weren’t getting paid. I love my job and if they decided tomorrow that I need to work for free, I would be out the door. Even when I’m volunteering, I only have the privilege of donating my time and labor because I am being paid for other labor.

        1. a1*

          But the point is, there are other things that would get us to quit, too. For example, having your job function change to something you hate or have no skills in (e.g. you were a project manager now they need you to do user support), you learn they’re doing something unethical, a toxic boss, or continual extreme overtime, and so on. So, no, money is not the only thing that matters to most people. So, I disagree that were “solely” in it for the money.

    4. INTP*

      I don’t think this is entirely unreasonable, because employees that hate their jobs and dislike their coworkers or find the environment toxic usually don’t make great employees. You don’t want to hire someone that likes nothing about the job or the company other than the money, when you could hire someone that is a good personality fit AND appreciates the money.

      I do think it’s ridiculous when employers act horrified by any mention of money motivation or there’s a silent culture that money is a bad thing to be motivated by, of course. Personally I haven’t run into this attitude very much in the private sector, which is very refreshing. I was briefly in social services and public education and the fact that I find money motivating in my work (not the ONLY motivator, I still chose a career I like, the possibility of a raise or a bonus are just very energizing and motivating to me) was like a dirty secret I carried around.

  21. Momofpeanut*

    OP1, if your contract says transportation will be provided, does it necessarily follow that it means a car for your exclusive use? If the head honcho is encouraging your boss to use the car, I would think that means Honcho doesn’t think the car is yours exclusively.

    1. oldbiddy*

      Yeah, it sounded like they both got the same crappy arrangement with the car, so local boss is not being unreasonable any more than OP is. The problem is the big boss.

  22. Boy oh boy*

    LW4, I would be suspicious that she was trying to sell you makeup or hair care from a direct marketing company like Mary Kay or Younique. They are notorious for using high pressure sales tactics (cf the recent letter where someone was bullied into buying underwear!). A so-called makeover might end up with her pressuring you to buy generally poor quality and expensive makeup. Just something to watch out for.

    1. Harper the Other One*

      Oh, boy, I hadn’t thought of this but now that you’ve mentioned it, I’d bet you’re right on the money.

      The only good thing if hat turns out to be true is most businesses have anti-soliciting policies, so you’d have a clearer reason to get management involved if she won’t let up.

    2. fposte*

      I immediately thought MLM as well. It’s actually on the slow side for an MLM–they usually push the “come to my makeover” a lot earlier–but it’s another reason not to say yes just to shut her up. If you do, you’ll be pestered for a while and possibly have your name shared with others.

  23. Enough*

    #4 – I actually had an assistant manager (female) at a clothing store tell me I needed make-up. I didn’t wear any and almost never have. And only minimal eye at that on special dates. Decided to let my co-worker do me up one day just for the shell of it. It was not over the top but not subtle by any means. I hated it and never did that again. Manager of course loved it.

  24. Fergus*

    #1 There is no how, no way, no no and no I would ever take a job where when of the benefits was housing and a boss came with it, and then a car and I could only use it when my boss wasn’t using it. I thought getting written up for feminine hygiene products in the car was the worst letter ever, but it got beaten by this one in a week. I would have left this job in a day. I would love to see a follow up because I know this situation is going to get worse, much worse.

    1. Chocolate Teapot*

      I got the impression the boss house share was a surprise and did not come up until the OP started work.

      An update on this would be good!

      1. OP1*

        Thanks for all your insight, Alison and commenters – it has been hugely helpful to get the insight of folks who aren’t in the situation so can look at it more objectively.

        Some notes: I was not told that I would be living in the same house until about 2/3 weeks prior to moving out, so I hadn’t looked at other housing yet so was kind of in a pickle. I decided to see if I could stick it out, and move if I had to. I now wish I had moved earlier, but saving on rent was a big pull. I was told the car was for my use – with absolutely no stipulations attached – and the main boss didn’t even tell he had offered it to my local boss, until local boss told me she was taking the car. LB didn’t ask, either; they just said “I’m taking the car” as if I had no say in my own transportation needs.

        We have had several difficult conversations when local gets angry that I asked the main boss about housing / car use to clarify, since MB siphons all information through LB. LB thought it was rude of me to ask MB, but I figured since MB owns the house and car that I have every right to talk to them about it.

        LB has also gone off on me many times with no warning and from my perspective no reason, saying I’m “ungrateful” for everything included in my contract, which for me really crossed a line and I’ve since shut down a bit, just trying to get through my work but not engaging anymore. It’s made things uncomfortable but at this point I have to focus on my job and not get bogged down by LB’s personal attacks (which is hard).

        It came to a head when LB told me that I was not an equal in the house and that LB was the “renter” in the situation and I was the “subletter.” This something NO ONE ever told me, and if they had, I would have stayed far, far away. I was shocked and told LB so, and said if LB had that expectation that it was their responsibility to communicate it. At that point I had only 2 weeks to go, so I’m toughing it out.

        So, it’s been hard. But I’m leaving soon, and I’ve learned a lot about sticking up for myself and protecting important boundaries. But please keep the advice / insights coming, because it’s incredibly invaluable to be reminded that I’m not the crazy one here.

        One question, though: so many boundaries have been crossed and I have been so personally affronted that while I want to leave on a not-terrible note, but not sure how / if I can. Is it my responsibility to try to smooth things over or should I just put me first at this point and gtfo? I don’t want a terrible reference but to be honest I don’t trust these folks to be fair and not project their boundary issues onto my work (which I’m proud of). Would so appreciate your insights!

        1. Chatterby*

          Since there isn’t much time left, do you think you could push for the company to put you up in a hotel for the remaining few days? Site Local Boss’s poor behavior of “going off” on you with personal attacks (which is inexcusable) and say staying in the same residence is not possible under the circumstances.
          It would clearly say that this whole set up is an untenable mess, without saying it’s an untenable mess. If they disagree, you can jump ship and gtfo.
          Your reference from Local Boss seems like a wash anyways, but you might be able to get one from Main Boss. Or keep a work sample, at least, since you don’t seem to trust either of the two.

        2. LBK*

          It came to a head when LB told me that I was not an equal in the house and that LB was the “renter” in the situation and I was the “subletter.”

          This makes absolutely no sense. Subletting from whom?

          1. OP1*

            Exactly – it’s unclear and I was too sidelined to get into the details of what exactly LB had envisioned for this set-up.

          2. Michaela Westen*

            To me it sounds like LB is just making up reasons to attack you. She may not know, either.

        3. Z*

          Wow. Good luck. I don’t really have advice but this question of yours struck me: “Is it my responsibility to try to smooth things over or should I just put me first at this point and gtfo?” It sounds like you have less than two weeks left, so I might reframe the question as “what does it mean to put myself first at this point, and what in that vein is realistically possible?” The best choice for the short term and the best choice for the long term are not always the same.

          In terms of a reference: that’s a conversation you can have with each of your bosses. In my experience, it’s worth having even if it’s uncomfortable… better to know than to wonder or to be caught by surprise later on.

  25. NYC Weez*

    OP#5 – The one thing that stands out to me is that your manager is a pal and isn’t telling you what you need to do to get promoted. Occasionally that can just be a case of them not knowing how to articulate a soft skill—I struggled to explain the difference between “managing” a project and “driving” one to an assistant that was trying to move upward, after her manager just kept saying the same thing with no additional context. My concern, given the length of time you’ve worked there, is that your manager isn’t trying at all. This makes me suspect that the decision has already been made by someone higher up and your friend can’t do anything about it, so is avoiding the topic altogether.

    If this happens to be the case, Alison’s advice still is the best approach. But just be prepared that the answer may be a personal perception that is very difficult to change, like “Bob just doesn’t think you will ever be at a senior level, so he refuses to discuss it further.”

  26. WorldsWorstHRPerson*

    For email addresses, the recruiter and hiring manager may have a laugh about aol and hotmail addresses but that alone is not going to generally eliminate a candidate off the bat. The advice to get a new email for job hunting isn’t bad, however, since it does help avoid making a bad impression.

    As for the user name, that can be a problem. A children’s book and the user’s initials is not that bad, when you get “” or “”, that is going to be a problem.

  27. Bend & Snap*

    #5 I just gave notice yesterday for his reason. My boss put me up for promotion twice and was rejected, once for budget and the second for I don’t know why. Meanwhile a colleague with half my experience got promoted above me. Fine…I’m outta here.

    It took a long time but I found a great job two rungs up the ladder from where I was.

    You should start job hunting or you’ll be forever resentful.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Yes, #5, don’t go for the sunk costs fallacy. If people below you are being promoted upward, and the bosses know you want to move up (sounds like that’s clear), it’s unlikely that more time is going to wear them down.

  28. gl*

    You’ve been there for a long time. If your boss cannot tell you why you’re not getting a promotion it’s time to move on. It’s unfair that other individuals are jumping over you and you’re not being given the constructive criticism to advance.

    I think it’s time you start to look for that promotion elsewhere. You’re personally ready for it, no one else can tell you when you’re ready for more responsibility.

    1. LKW*

      Agreed. When I was in an admin role, I had gone as far as I possibly could in that organization. I was kicking ass. My boss still took the time to give me constructive criticism because he felt that there was always room for improvement. I still use some of his advice to this day.

      A good boss will tell you how to improve your skill set. They’ll also help you grow and find ways to help you succeed. Your boss doesn’t want to do that so it’s probably time to move on.

      1. Jadelyn*

        And a good boss will also be realistic with you about when you’ve reached the limits of your growth with that company, and will support you in moving on.

  29. Argh!*

    Re: #4 I would ask my manager’s opinion on whether make-up and hair needed a do-over. If this is not one of those places where looking done-up is the norm, you could then reference Susie’s looks or even her comments (but not in detail). Also, if you work for commissions, appearance could affect income.

    Where I work we don’t have a specific dress code but there are some norms. People who work behind-the-scenes can be almost slovenly, but client-facing staff have to step it up. My “standard” is that if people can’t tell whether you work there, you’re not dressing for your role.

    1. TootsNYC*

      Also, if you work for commissions, appearance could affect income.

      This is why my daughter learned how to apply eye makeup and lipstick when she got a job as a waitress.

    2. Michaela Westen*

      This is true! A couple of times recently I’ve been in retail stores and there were people wandering around in flannel shirts and jeans, ungroomed, unmotivated – and they were the sales staff – it really sent a message.

  30. The Other Dawn*

    I’ll never understand why anyone would care about the email server someone uses. I use Hotmail and I’ve had it forever. I’m not switching just to make a potential employer think I’m cooler. I wouldn’t judge anyone based on their email server either. Now if the first part of their email address is something offensive, disgusting, whatever, that’s something for which I would mentally ding someone.

    1. London Calling.*

      + 1000. If you are someone who judges me on something like that rather than ability and work history, then bye bye, because we won’t suit each other.

    2. Nea*

      I’m not switching just to make a potential employer think I’m cooler.

      I was on contract with people who kept using “cool,” “sexy,” and other words like that to describe their software, which I was documenting. Spent every single day of that contract biting my tongue to stop from screaming “I’m sorry the cheerleaders didn’t date you in high school, but this is real world business now!”

      I’m. Not. Cool. I’m damned efficient and knowledgeable, but I’m not cool and I don’t ever want to work with people who think they’re cool again.

      1. Michaela Westen*

        I’m in my 50’s and I still have flashbacks of guys like that trying to date me. (shudder)

    3. Triplestep*

      Age discrimination is real, so not everyone has the luxury of dismissing what a potential employer might think about how tech-savvy they are.

      LW#2, it would take very little effort for your contact to set up a Gmail account and some kind of forwarding system for his AOL, Hotmail or Yahoo account. I once read that those domains reflect poorly due to the fact that the user is bombarded with entertainment and other fluff news when logging on, whereas Google is a platform, so users are though of as more tech-savvy. And I read this quite a while ago, so I suspect with all the enhancements to Google products, the disparity is even more pronounced now.

      I would tell your contact. I actually have told this to a few people I’ve known when they were job searching.

  31. Glomarization, Esq.*

    OP#2: An “antiquated” e-mail address can also indicate an early adopter of e-mail technology, someone who’s actually pretty savvy about it all. Plus, the longer a person stayed with their original e-mail address, the more data they would have to move to migrate to a new set-up. And anyway, these “old” domains have upgraded so that users can read their mail on tablets and smartphones, not just Windows 3.1 machines dialled in on a 14.4 modem.

    Just because someone has an e-mail address from a provider that pre-dates you doesn’t mean that they’re out of touch. I’d think long and hard before telling someone who’s twice or maybe three times my age that they’re doing something unprofessionally.

    1. Nea*

      Back in the day of the free AOL CD and drop-handset-in-cradle modems, you could read the same AOL email account on a PC, Mac, palm pilot, and browser. Compuserv users could but dream of that kind of universal access.

    2. Triplestep*

      Wow. I already commented above, but the tone of this comment is so needlessly nasty, I had to chime in!

      No data migration would be needed for LW#2’s contact to set up a Gmail account and some kind of forwarding system. His regular email is web-based and he would get to keep all his saved emails, contacts, etc.

      “Early adopters” in the traditional sense are typically people who change with the times. Since age discrimination is very much A Thing, it’s actually a kindness to tell people who might be impacted by it that they could be unwittingly raising a red flag, no matter how minor.

      And for the record, I am 54.

      1. Oxford Coma*

        Agreed, Triplestep. By Esq.’s logic, someone driving a restored Model T is an early adopter who Tesla’s R&D department should snap up right the hell now.

        1. Sarkypuss*

          Yes, someone who drives a restored Model-t is clearly a great fit for almost any car related job.

      2. Glomarization, Esq.*

        Sorry to offend. I simply think it’s problematic and wanders toward ageist to assume that someone’s not professional or tech savvy just because they have an “antiquated” e-mail address. I also think that it would be rude for the letter writer to tell their acquaintance to change their e-mail address because it looks unprofessional, because I’m sure the acquaintance is perfectly aware how to manage themself in the job market and workplace.

    3. Jadelyn*

      I genuinely don’t understand the insistence that someone on an antiquated email provider is an early-adopter and therefore they must be tech-savvy. If they were an early adopter of tech in the 90’s, that’s cool, but if they haven’t changed the tech they’re using since then, that’s not someone I’d call tech-savvy, regardless of how quickly they jumped on the email train 20+ years ago. I had an AOL email account when I was 12, and if that was still the account I was using, that wouldn’t indicate tech-savvy so much as “doesn’t update with the times”.

      Which is not to say I’d really look down on someone for having an AOL email still. It’s still perfectly legit. Not everyone *needs* to be seen as super tech-savvy (and at this point, with the ubiquity of google services, I don’t think having a gmail account is necessarily a mark of being tech-savvy anyway). But because I am human, and human brains make snap judgments and assign patterns to things, my immediate reflexive thought upon seeing a resume with an AOL email address on it would be a raised eyebrow and “huh”, and I’d mentally picture someone older and less caught-up on current tech.

      Plus it’s been a few years since I worked retail, but the store I worked at made us ask people for their email addresses during checkout, and I definitely noticed patterns in who gave which types of email addresses. It got to a point where I could guess fairly accurately which email provider someone would have before I asked them. So this is…not necessarily based in complete fabrication.

      1. bossy*

        This is such a bizarre perspective to me. Why would I switch to a new email account when Microsoft/Outlook have upgraded Hotmail *for me*? And BTW google recognizes those old email accounts too – I don’t need to use a gmail account. You think gmail indicates “keeps up with current tech” whereas it looks to me like “switches platforms for the sake of switching platforms” which is NOT an indicator of savvy.

        (I implement enterprise wide software for a living, so not a luddite. But nice to know so many people are judging me based on something so stupid)

      2. Ex-Academic, Future Accountant*

        I give my hotmail address from high school during checkout, because I don’t want to receive those emails on the Gmail account I use for most things. Plus, “interestinghobby123” is easier to spell than “FirstMiddleLastname”…

      3. nonegiven*

        I’m sure not giving a store my main email address. You get the one the rest of the spam goes to.

  32. Ms. Mad Scientist*

    One of our vendors has an AOL email address. I want to tell him “Dude, you run a company. You should have an email with your domain name.”

    1. Observer*

      Yeah, but that is a bit different. I tend to side eye any business address that’s not at or some reasonable variant. It’s not that hard or expensive to do, and it’s just basic marketing 101. It also helps signal that this is a business account.

      1. Lindsay J*

        Same here.

        Random people? Use whatever you want.

        Run a business? If you haven’t bothered to spring for a custom domain it makes me wonder a bit how serious about your business you are, what other things you are skimping on, and how your other IT and security practices look.

      2. Jadelyn*

        For tiny businesses – single-person artists or freelancers – I can understand [business name] rather than having one’s own domain. A domain and webhosting isn’t necessarily where I’d prioritize putting money when you’re that small-scale. But yeah, at a certain size, you start wondering what’s going on.

  33. Workerbee*


    Your question and the advice are timely. I’ve got documented above-and-beyond work needed to get to the next level, and my reviews are always great, yet my boss either:

    -Promotes favorites without extra pay (they made no secret of that) because he wants to have a certain level beneath him in the org chart, or
    -Likes to look outside the company to bring in people for the next level. They get the title, an office, the golden child status. (This sounds bitter, but it’s also known behavior on his part; his new hire remains the golden child until he hires someone else.)

    So now he’s got his surfeit of levels and his newest hire; I feel like I may just have to leave to work elsewhere just to be able to come back in at the level I’ve worked for, so I’m job-searching, albeit sluggishly since despite all that, I do like it here. And sure, I’d like more compensation, but the title would mean a lot in my industry.

    I pressed him for what it would take to progress here, and he came back with a vague, “You need to show more vision. And delegation.”

    The following week I presented him with a visionary plan that includes delegation about a key function I manage that will affect the entire company. He seemed surprised and asked for time to think about it. We shall see.

  34. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

    What a GREAT set of letters today, Alison! They’re all really interesting and have good grounds for discussion.

    #1. I would get out of this mess as quickly as you can. It’s going nowhere good, and in fact given that it sounds like you and your local boss were given very different understandings of your working relationship, I would be concerned about how it all wraps up in the end. I’m hearing bees. Lots of bees. They’re in your office AND YOUR HOUSE.

    #2. If the position he’s going for is one that specifically requires media savvy (social media?) I might say something. Not so much about the domain name — as others have pointed out, that can be simply an early-adopter thing. But for the name portion, if he’s supposed to know how to curate communications with the public, then I’d expect him to have some kind of a handle on what public-facing communication ought to look like, and that means it shouldn’t look like FrozenSingalongStorybook_JJ. It wouldn’t be enough to take an otherwise strong resume entirely out of the running unless the prospective employer is a bit bananas, but it would definitely be a mark against him, I’d think.

    #3. Look this gift horse in the mouth. Look it hard in the mouth, count its teeth, measure them, ask for the last time they were floated, and check its hooves for good measure. Alison’s script for what you name is great, and if you’re not able to find a way that this much higher-paying job would be more challenging (in an interesting way!) than the one you’re leaving, consider that a red flag for something not adding up.

    #4. It didn’t jump out to me at first, but the moment someone above mentioned the possibility that your coworker is trying to pull an MLM on the side, that turned into a shining beacon of a possible explanation here. OP, your coworker is being rude as hell, and I would feel very little compunction against calling her out the next time she pulls it. Something like, “Wow, you’ve said this a bunch of times. Why are you so invested in how I look?” or “Stop commenting on how I look. That’s incredibly rude.”

    5. Something I’ve had good luck with in the past is approaching it as “Let’s draw a roadmap to a promotion for me. What metrics would you like to see me hit? Obviously something about my current performance is not where it needs to be — what can I do to improve?”

    If nothing else, it can put your manager in a spot where they have to be really obvious about wriggling out of it without giving you a proper answer.

    To be terribly honest, I think you’re going to have to treat this as one of those times when you can only move up by moving out.

    1. fposte*

      I actually think that for #4 saying “I don’t buy MLM products” could be a useful response; if she wasn’t selling, she’s going to be taken aback to realize that she seems like she is, and if she is, that lays it out in the open.

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        Ooh, that’s a very good point. Or just asking “Hey, are you trying to sell me something?” Since a lot of MLM people will heartily deny that they’re involved an MLM scheme.

    2. No makeup!*

      #4–I have mainly been bullied by family members on the make-up front, and had to endure make-overs both times. I hated both of them and transferred some of the hate to those family members. I don’t wear make-up and get more compliments on my hair when I don’t have time to brush it. In general, I find people get used to how you look and most don’t figure out if you are or are not wearing make-up. Those who do are looking for any vulnerability to attack you. Their rudeness does not mean you can be rude back, or somehow you become the bad guy. However, I find staring and wondering why it is important to them works sometimes. Indifference to them is your right

  35. foolofgrace*

    OP #3: Once upon a time, I was offered a job that paid almost twice what my current job paid and offered remote work option sometimes. I agonized over whether to accept — “there must be something wrong because this is too good to be true” — for all of half an hour before accepting. It turned out to be one of the best jobs I ever had. Unfortunately, the contract ended and was not renewed, but it was a great gig I really enjoyed for 18 months. (Had I known there was a limit on my time there I would have saved more money but I still don’t regret my decision.) Just wanted to share that sometimes it can work out.

  36. GreyjoyGardens*

    LW #5 – If junior workers are set to leapfrog over you for a promotion, *and* your boss is vague/hems and haws about why you aren’t being promoted and what you need to do about it – that’s a sign that you should start looking for a new job. Sometimes the reasons for not promoting you are illegal but they won’t come out and say it for this reason (you’re a woman, a visible minority, gender non-conforming, working class background, etc.). Surprisingly often IME you’re in a job that’s hard to fill or hard to do well and you’re too needed where you are to be promoted.

    Either way, dust off that resume, email those contacts, and start searching. You deserve better.

  37. Hal*


    Just hand them a copy of Housman’s “Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries” and tell them people do all kinds of great things for money.

    These, in the days when heaven was falling,
    The hour when earth’s foundations fled,
    Followed their mercenary calling
    And took their wages and are dead.

    Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
    They stood, and the earth’s foundations stay;
    What God abandoned, these defended,
    And saved the sum of things for pay.

  38. Tobias Funke*

    I had a boss who called me ugly, frumpy, and mousy every day. My hair was wrong. My makeup was wrong. My clothes were wrong. (Most of my clothes were from our store!)

    It really started to grate on me and I definitely internalized it. Please stand up for yourself in this situation. I did not and I truly despised going to work after awhile. There is only so much one can hear that their appearance offends others’ delicate sensibilities.

    Also this chick only paid me $8.50 and I was “management” so I’m unsure how she thought I was going to improve.

  39. RVA Cat*

    When unprofessional email addresses come up like in #2, I always think of the sheriff back in the mid-2000s who used her personal email address “MissBuns”….!

  40. Goya de la Mancha*

    oiy emails….I don’t get what is so hard about those! It’s not like you have to pay for them anymore! I wouldn’t worry so much about the “antiquated” server though.

    Create a separate account people. Make it “professional” and use it only for “professional” communications. I get that you can’t be bothered to keep track of TWO (oh the horrors!) email accounts, but addresses lie joeswoman @ or pimpdadee @ are just NOT ok to put on a resume or serious inquiry.

    And yes, those are both emails that I have seen come across my desk in the last year, along with fishpoop999…

  41. Hiring Mgr*

    I’ve interviewed and hired many people over the years and I honesty can’t recall even noticing their email addresses. Maybe this is something that HR pays attention to, but at least in my experience doesn’t seem relevant.

  42. Jubilance*

    #5 – one of my mentors gave a group of us (she was speaking at an event) that has stuck with me – “If you ask for something, if you make it known that you want a promotion, a specific role, etc, and you continue to get denied with no feedback, you have reached your limit at that place. They may not say the words “we won’t promote you”, but their actions are saying it, and you need to listen”.

    And so I pass that advice to you OP. Who knows why your manager won’t give you feedback – they may not want to tell you that the higher ups think your haircut is stupid, or that you don’t play golf with the right people. Maybe your manager friend is selfish and wants to keep you in role because you make them look good. Who knows. You can’t control others but you CAN control your reaction to other people’s behavior. You now know that you won’t be promoted there, and other people junior to you are being groomed to one day be your boss. Do you like the job enough to be ok with never advancing? If not, then it’s time to dust off the resume, update your LinkedIn and start looking. Best of luck!

  43. E.R*

    #5 Sales is a weird thing. There’s often a culture around it about “superstars” and “you just don’t have what it takes” that overlooks the hard work, skills, intelligence and luck that goes into it, just like any other job. Not to mention that some peoples[‘ sales styles are valued differently at differently organizations. I left a company that treated me as the “you just don’t have what it takes” one (despite consistently good numbers) and ended up being the “superstar” elsewhere. You have to find a culture that values what you have to offer.

  44. Dovahkiin*

    #2 – I work in tech and an aol/hotmail/yahoo/netzero address would take you out of the running if your resume was just ok. If your resume was amazing, it would still raise a very small flag. UNLESS you worked at aol/hotmail, etc and that was on your resume.

    It says you don’t care much about email/data security and are behind the times.

    I work in a sector of tech where data security is a huge deal. It might (maybe) be less of a big deal if you worked for a content company or some kind of physical b2c product.

      1. Workerbee*

        My question as well!

        “Email security” is a bit…well, I’m no longer surprised by Yet Another Company revealing that they’ve been hacked.

        1. Lindsay J*

          I’ll plug Proton mail, but it may make me (and other people using it) like a paranoid wackadoo or something , so who knows.

      2. Observer* is pretty good. MS has really gotten serious about security over the last few years. And while the consumer product is probably not their biggest focus in this respect, the fact that their platforms have FISMA certification and can be used in HIPAA compliant situations means that their overall security profile is good.

        1. Goya de la Mancha*

          lol that’s funny. I don’t follow the info, but I saw an one the other day and thought to myself “who uses Outlook anymore?!” Which I’m sure there are PLENTY…it’s just not something I see on a frequent basis around here.

        2. Michaela Westen*

          Hmm, I never knew there are options in email security. Not sure if I need it since 80% of what I receive is newsletters and the rest, receipts for online shopping and such.
          Now I come to think of it I hardly ever send emails anymore and when I do, it’s usually just a note to a relative. My friends and I mostly use FB and texts to communicate these days.
          Still, good to know it’s there if I need it. :)

      3. Betsys*

        I use and highly recommend “lifetime email’ – you can host your mail there or use it as a forwarder (mail to your is delivered wherever you like – so mail can go to ) was bought by cluemail/fastmail, another excellent company. You may find a better choice of names available there, and you can still use whatever location you like as your mail storage.

        With I’ve had the same email address since, hm, roughly 1992.

  45. CMDRBNA*

    If I gave someone a resume because I wanted them to pass it on to a hiring manager, and a detail jumped out at them as problematic or potentially problematic, I would be thrilled to get that feedback so I could fix it.

  46. Lou Dog*

    LW #5 – I hear ya! I’ve been with my company for over 5 years. I was recently passed over for promotion for a newly created manager position, despite being told for years that I was my boss’s #2. We had a sit-down, it was perfectly cordial. I explained that I was open to feedback and asked what skills might need improving. I was told, my skills were great. I asked what I should work on to be considered for such promotions in the future and was told that I did great work and that everyone appreciated the work I had done. That the newly-promoted manager had different skills from me that lent itself to the position. Despite several more questions designed to figure out what skills I lacked, my boss refused to tell me.

    So, I’m due to leave. Of course, I’ve kept everything extremely cordial. I have no real animosity about the situation, except there’s a certain amount of mistrust with my boss. Not that she doesn’t have my back or is bad, but that she’s just not good at conflict or confrontation and she’ll avoid it whenever possible. I’m actually looking to change careers, so, at the moment, I’m actually comfortable with my mid-level job without the added responsibility. And since I’ll have to take a pay cut should I change careers, I’ll hold on to this one and the added $$$ until it’s time to go.

  47. Tricksy Hobbit*

    OP 1: Honestly, I would just suck it up and get a rental and not ask the company to pay for it (if you can afford it). At this point, it’s not worth it. It sounds like the grand boss is cheap, cheap, cheap. It’s weird that you are sharing living space with your boss, and now a car. Ick!

  48. Chatterby*

    #1, If the LW is a freelancer and the boss is not, it’s entirely possible her hourly rate is higher than her boss’s. However, it’s not a true picture of who’s making more, since the LW doesn’t get any benefits, must buy her own insurance, and pay an extra 14% or so in taxes (if she’s in the US) on top of the regular income taxes the boss pays.
    Is the boss also a freelancer, which would be weird and a possible misclassification, or was the shared housing situation originally intended to be temporary while the boss found a permanent residence locally? Or are they working on a remote project, so they’re stuck together since renting one apartment and making them share is cheaper than two, or paying for a long-term hotel?
    The freelancer needs to go to the grand boss and say the situation isn’t working. Either the boss needs her own rental, or the LW does, or the boss needs a taxi/Uber allowance added to her benefit’s package. They also really need separate living accommodations and for the boss to stop badgering the LW. It’s unlikely such a small company would give the LW all of that, but she can at least bargain down to the boss backing off about wages and leaving the car alone.

  49. LissyLou*

    #1- Oh no, this is not cool. First, making y’all live together is icky, but since that’s the situation, I’d set some boundaries.

    Next time she brings up work off the clock (that you aren’t comfortable with), try, “Jane, let’s save this conversation for working hours. At home, I need to relax and focus on other things. Thanks for understanding.”
    If she continues with “But I’m your boss!”, remind her that she is your boss during working hours, but that does not extend to life at home. And, stop talking with her about your contract or other personal details she may be asking about. I know it’s hard to shut someone down, but she’s behaving inappropriately, and using her position to bully you, and that’s not ok. My favorite line to shut this down (at home) is, “I’m not in the mood to discuss it”. Repeat as necessary. At work, “I’m not comfortable sharing those details.” If she persists, “I’ve said before that I’m very uncomfortable when you ask me personal details. Can I ask why you continue to do so, and why you want to know my private information?”

    It sounds as though big boss is fine with the shared car, so there might not be much you can do there. Did you hear (or read an email) big boss say that Jane could use your car? If not, I’d clarify with him. If her constant use really is a problem (and she does have permission to use the car), maybe say “Big boss, Jane’s constant use of the provided car has become an issue because (actual valid reasons). DON’T let yourself sound petty, petulant, or stingy. Point out that you’d be happy to share with Jane when you aren’t using it, but you feel as though she’s violating your agreement by denying you reasonable access (assuming that’s true).

  50. gmg22*

    Re the replies to No. 2: I’m increasingly curious about these comments so laser-focused on the minutiae of email providers, framed as “well, not having Gmail tells me you don’t care about your data security,” because they totally fail to take into account another area where pretty much everyone’s data has been put at risk: social media. Wouldn’t, say, ANYONE WITH A FACEBOOK ACCOUNT be suspect by these standards? Or would you make them email you screenshots of their privacy settings before they can get a phone interview? Others have noted that until quite recently, Gmail crawled the content of our emails to target us with ads based on it. So clearly Google’s views on the importance of privacy are … perhaps a bit compartmentalized. And the company has had issues like any other — there’s a report this week that a number of third-party Android apps used via Google Play have been collecting locational data on the CHILDREN who use them. Yep. So I kinda want to be like, spare me the “oh, Google, what an amazing forward-thinking company” stuff. Yes, I would compare their service very favorably to, say, Yahoo’s. They’re BIGGER, and yes, they innovate. But they’re not immune to the same problems plaguing the rest of the industry.

    Corollary question on the topic of what comes in the first, personalized half of your email address (which I think is a more legit concern): Same should go for social media, yes? Like if your otherwise solid job candidate has a Twitter handle like @GryffindorsSword or @luvucutie69 or whatever? That’s a ding too, right?

    1. Boo Bradley*

      If they’re using their social handle for business reasons or to build up their own brand or whatever, then yes, they ought to have some version of their business name or actual name. If they just use Twitter or Instagram for fun and it’s not tied to them professionally? Do whatever you want. The same way they could still use for their personal, private use.

  51. HS Teacher*

    It’s not unusual to have an “antiquated” email address. For me, mine is an msn address, but it’s my first and last name. Anyone who would judge me based on my domain is not someone I’d want to work it. It’s hard to get your name as an e-mail address nowadays; I’ve had mine since the late 90s or so.

    1. a1*

      It’s SO hard to get your name as an email address. Even many, many years ago when I got a gmail address I couldn’t get anything close to my name – no combination of full names or initials or dots/dahses/underscores worked. I even added in my confirmation name, and nope. I just could not get my name. And unfortunately, the things gmail kept suggesting often had “BS” in the name somewhere, followed by like 8 numbers. No way do I want “BS” (it does make some sort of sense when you look at my full name, but not good for a username, regardless) and 8+ numbers in my name. So no gmail for resumes/job search for me. I do have a gmail account, for family stuff, with a total joke name. For jobs/resumes I use ones of these “antiquated” or service provider domains since I can use my actual name.

  52. Leesha*

    OP #4, this has unfortunately happened to me. I used to work retail also, and I’m the kind of person who wears minimal makeup, if any, and simple, practical hairstyles. So yeah, I got those “you need makeup” comments a lot.

    If you feel like it, maybe respond with a “Thanks, but I’m comfortable with my face the way it is.”

    If your coworker is this hung-up on makeovers and such, chances are she’s not very comfortable with her own appearance. So, telling her you’re secure in how you look is bound to make her squirm a little without sounding rude.

  53. Stranger than fiction*

    #3, just please be cautious. An offer of that much money sounds too good to be true and just might be. A friend of mine was lured away from his ok paying job a couple years ago for a huge step up in pay. He was even shown a fake document of their current funding situation, and it looked like they had a decent runway (it was a startup) and fake contingent interest for a government contract. He quit his job and found out his first day there that they frequently miss payroll and after confirming with a few others , and even the guy he replaced, he quit after the first week and luckily was able to get his old job back. That place still never paid him for the week he worked, or the following two weeks he was promised for Christmas/holiday shut down pay, or his sign on bonus. Went to employment court with a stack of documentation but somehow the owner got away with it (he’d done it to so many people) by producing yet another fake document that was a page from a page of an employee handbook which my friend had never received. Anyway, hopefully that’s not the case, but when you said about paying off your mortgage, my antennae went up.

  54. NotTheHomageYouThinkItIs*

    I knew a grad student whose email and social media handle – which they used to communicate with faculty – was a phrase popular in porn titles to describe the state of certain genitals. I never said a word.

  55. ThatAspie*

    #1 Wow, yeah, that is pretty messed up. It would be one thing if your boss was your mom and it was a family business, but since it’s not like that, none of what you are describing even makes sense. As for the car…wow. I can’t even.
    #2 I don’t think that you should make a big deal out of an email address having a kiddie book title in it and being on an old-timer server. Perhaps they set it up (or had it set up for them) when they were a kid. Yes, you say this person is older than you, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that email was not a thing when they were a kid. Or maybe this person has kids and just couldn’t think of another thing to make into an email address, or just really loves that book still, who knows.
    #4 Wow, the person who is telling you these things is such a Mertle Edmonds. What a jerk. Probably was a spoiled brat as a kid. Bullies suck!

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