I was rejected for a job I was qualified for, a coworker in a beach cover-up, and more

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

1. I was rejected for a job I should have been interviewed for

I recently applied for a job that I knew I should at least get an interview for at a community college. I met the minimum requirements or I wouldn’t have applied for the job. When I got a letter saying I was rejected as I didn’t meet the minimum, I was shocked. I wrote back to the hiring manager, copied in the verbage in the job post underlining my qualifications, and asked her to confirm that there had not been some kind of misunderstanding of my qualifications.

Is that a viable way to approach it such a mishap?

No, you shouldn’t do that. I get that you’re being thrown off by the wording in the rejection letter saying you didn’t meet the minimum qualifications, but that’s most likely a badly worded form letter rather than an opportunity to point out “wait, yes I do.”

Since it sounds like you assumed you’d at least be interviewed: Keep in mind that meeting the minimum qualifications for a job isn’t enough to guarantee that. There could 100 applicants who all meet the basic qualifications, and they’re not going to interview all of them; instead, they’ll pick the top few most qualified — which could mean 95 qualified people aren’t getting interviews. Plus, there are of lots of other reasons you might meet the qualifications and not be interviewed — a weak cover letter, a spotty work history, a resume that isn’t particularly compelling, and lots more. More than anything, though, the thing to remember is that you’re competing against other people, and no matter how strong a candidate you are, if enough other people are stronger, you probably won’t get interviewed.

So if you get rejected, don’t assume it was a mistake that needs to be remedied. Assume that other people appeared to be stronger. Don’t try to contest the decision, since that make it seem like you don’t understand this, or that you’re pushy and difficult to work with — and either of those options will make them less likely to want to interview you in the future.

2. My office is implementing summer hours very badly

My office recently decided to implement summer hours for the first time. We would add an extra hour Monday through Thursday, and then have half days on Friday.

We were told today that these hours would begin next week. This is an issue for quite a few people in our office. Some have children and now have to revamp their childcare plans on incredibly short notice. Other employees have made commitments to outside organizations and are now going to have a difficult time meeting those commitments.

We also have other offices that will not be implementing these hours. I’m concerned that when these offices have issues, we’re still going to be expected to drop whatever we’re doing and take care of those. My boss also mentioned that sometime some hourly workers may be working overtime and some of us may have to just stay a couple hours to help out. This is not going to go over well, and essentially means that some of us (salaried exempt) will have to plan like we’re on call and be unable to do anything with these half days.

I did ask about how flexible these hours were, and the answer was not at all. I’d like to know what to say when we’re asked to stay late and cannot because we have other obligations on Fridays, and what I can do to make this easier on my employees who have made other commitments that they now cannot fulfill (I have no power to let someone leave early or adjust hours on a regular basis).

Summer hours are supposed to be a perk, not a burden. This is being implemented horribly. The lack of notice, the inflexibility, the lack of thought about people who have kids or other commitments outside of work, and the apparent lack of consulting with the people affected before announcing it — all very bad.

Your best bet is to get a group of coworkers together and push back on this as a group. Say that you appreciate the attempt to offer a perk, but this is actually making your work lives worse, not better, and explain why. Ask if the plans can be revisited, or if they can be optional rather than mandatory. Who knows if they’ll agree to take another look at this or not, but there’s strength in numbers and it’s harder to ignore a bunch of people all speaking up together than it is with push-back from just one or two people.

3. Company is asking about my “dream job” in my self-evalaution

I am staring at my employer’s self-appraisal form and I have some concerns. Background: I work for a media company that has been doing a lot of acquiring and has not been giving raises since my little cog in the wheel was acquired more than two years ago. An employee satisfaction survey last year told them we were none too pleased with that and flagged other areas of concern. Earlier this year, we were told there would be merit increases after the performance evaluation process.

Well, the process is upon us, and in response to the morale-related issues they distilled from the employee survey, there are some truly bonkers questions:
“What talents, interests, or skills do you have that we haven’t made the most of?”
“Is there anything you’d like to change about your job?”
“What’s your dream job, and what can we do to support your progress toward it?”

Why would I tell a company that hasn’t given raises in two years how they can squeeze more out of me? Why would I tell corporate what I would change about my job or what other job I want when raises are on the line here? Some of these would be valid one-on-one conversation topics with a manager, but as a part of the company-wide, HR-initiated evaluation process it seems like we’re in an impossible position here. I like my job just fine, feel I am succeeding, and I would like to be compensated with a merit increase. How do I navigate this?

Those aren’t really bonkers questions, particularly the first two! The third one, about your dream job, is one that a lot of people aren’t going to feel comfortable answering, and rightly so (if you’re an accountant and your dream job is to be a circus performer, it does you no good to let your employer know that). But the first two are reasonable things to inquire about. It’s not necessarily about squeezing more out of you; at least in many companies, it would be about giving you opportunities to grow in areas that interest you (if they make sense for the company as well). They want you and your manager discussing that as part of the evaluation process because managers should be having those conversations.

Still, though, if you don’t care to share your answers, it’s fine to go with vague answers like “Nothing comes to mind” and “No real dream job — I just want to continue progressing in the role I’m in.”

4. My coworker wears a beach cover-up as a dress

I have a coworker who often wears a bathing suit cover-up to work in the summertime. Our department does tend to be fairly casual, but we interact with the public and a few coworkers have commented on it to me. (We are on the same level and report to the same person.)

I have to assume she doesn’t know it’s a cover-up and she thinks it’s a dress. She doesn’t take criticism well and the two of us have butted heads a few times in the past. Is there a tactful way to let her know that she might want to rethink this one?

If you’re not her manager, I’d leave it alone. Her manager is the one with standing to address it. If you’re a peer, it’s really not your business — and it especially doesn’t make sense to try to take this on if you already know she doesn’t take criticism well. Someone who’s not you is being paid to address this kind of thing (true, they don’t appear to be doing it, but this isn’t yours to deal with).

5. Handling email build-up during maternity leave

I work at a tiny organization (three people total) but we do a ton on work with outside clients and venues. Almost everything is over email. I’m pregnant and planning to take about two months away from the office. My coworkers are incredibly supportive. We were already planning to hire a part-time person but now have increased their responsibilities and are divvying up my other tasks. The pregnancy has brought to the surface lots of my own fears around work and responsibilities — it’s scary to image stepping away for this long but I’m getting there. I still have some time before leave and plan to make the most of it. What I can’t wrap my head around is my email and the backlog that’s going to be waiting for me when I return. I’ll have an out-of-office up, but it’s our practice to cc each other on lots of correspondence and usually, it’s an excellent system. But the item of coming back to thousands of email is terrifying! I try to keep it under 10 unread email or less when I’m in the office. We work in the arts but our work is closely related to sales so we tend to be very responsive — an email is usually responded within the same day so email requests expire quickly.

Any ideas or tips on dealing with email backlog? Do I just hunker down and read through everything when I come back? Do I ask my coworkers to leave me off anything that’s not extremely pressing and then give a recap when I return (which would also be time consuming on both ends)? We do keep a running database on our clients but it’s no where as detailed as our email correspondence. I’m sure we’ll figure an imperfect solution out but I’d love to hear ideas for you or your readers?

Good lord, do not ask to continue being cc’d on everything while you’re away! That will be way too much email to come back to, and lots of it will be things that are already resolved and that you don’t need to review when you’re back (especially if you’re in an office where things are generally handled within a day).

People on maternity leave typically aren’t expected to read every email that was exchanged while they were gone. You don’t need to relive every single thing that happened during that time — you probably only need to know about 10% of it, if that. So yes, ask your coworkers not to cc you on anything other than extremely important things that you’ll absolutely need to be in the loop on when you return — and those should be the exception, not anything that’s happening daily. When you come back, ask for a recap of highlights — but just highlights, not the complete blow-by-blow. That’s reasonable to ask for and will probably be less time-consuming than you think. (And it will be a huge favor to yourself not to return to masses of email, and a favor to your coworkers to trust that they’ll have kept things running smoothly in your absence.)

{ 474 comments… read them below }

  1. fposte*

    On #1, I think the OP is getting wrong-footed by the fact that the rejection notice stated that she didn’t meet the minimum standards when it seems like she did. That’s frustrating, OP, but it’s likely that it was a boilerplate mixup or some confusion about the min quals rather than them misjudging your application.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Ah, I got sidetracked on the “I recently applied for a job that I knew I should at least get an interview for” piece of it. I’ll tweak the answer to address that part too (and agree that it’s likely boilerplate).

    2. Anon ATM*

      Yeah, this sounds like a generic form letter to me as well. If it helps I think I am going to be in the very same boat here really soon. I just spent two days carefully crafting my resume and cover letter to a job that I am more than qualified for only to find that once I went to apply, the company’s website forces you to re-submit everything via their very limited web form. And guess what, most of my career and work experience did not fit on their formatting. Like at all. They didn’t have either of my University degrees available on their pre-approved list of options and I couldn’t fill one in manually. So now it looks like I have two degrees in the art of generic nothingness. And this is a very specific Director level position. Based on their web form I probably look like a pretty crummy candidate. I went from being very excited about the opportunity to wondering if this place was really where I wanted to be. I could be totally off-base by just this one interaction, but If the only people they really care and think about are their tech employees, I’m happy pushing these guys to the back of my mind.

      1. nonymous*

        It’s really common for hiring managers in orgs with poor systems like this to find the candidate outside of the company’s official channels. If you’re really interested in the company, I’d recommend networking to find someone who can help your with the connections to preinterview.

        1. Just Jess*

          Totally agree. If you can get to the hiring manager or recruiter and pass an initial phone interview, then they might request that you complete their janky web application prior to the final interview for the sake of consistency.

          1. Anon ATM*

            I tried reaching out via LinkedIn. I hoped maybe I would have a connection in my network, but alas I had no one. Which is surprising since my city isn’t that big, and their company isn’t that small. All roads led back to their website job portal. LinkedIn did “forward” my profile onto the person who posted the job listing. So maybe that will get some eyes. We’ll see. Glassdoor reviews mention that most everyone gets pre-screened by a recruiter after they submit their application and then get moved on to the Hiring Manager.

    3. Jamies*

      Possible but I doubt there was any legitimate confusion by the college. In general I think job posts are more or less living documents where the actual requirements can change since employers adjust what they’ll accept based on candidate pool. I’m thinking this is likely what happened with OP especially if these types of jobs are highly sought after. They met the listed minimum and the hiring people realized that but didn’t meet the new minimum.

      1. Thankful for AAM*

        I posted this below. I was rejected for 2 jobs bc I did not meet the requirements but I knew I did. I followed up with phone calls and it was really an error. I got interviews at both places and a job at one.

        At one it was that I did not have 10 years of job experience bc one of the jobs I listed was part time so it did not add up to 10 years of full time experience.

          1. Flinty*

            I do think that depending on the type of the form you needed to fill out, if you strongly suspect that some of your experience was categorized or miscounted incorrectly, you could note that in a reply, like “thank you for the update on this position. I was surprised to learn that I did not meet the minimum qualifications of three years’ experience in Z given my experience in X and Y, but I understand that there are many factors and criteria for hiring decisions. Thank you for your consideration, and best of luck in filling the position!”

            But you definitely don’t want to write and say that you are confirming that this is all a misunderstanding, because in the vast majority of cases, the rejection is not accidental.

            1. Anon for now*

              Yep. If you are really confused about how you did not meet the minimum requirements and are likely to apply to the organization again, you can possibly e-mail them to ask (politely) what requirement you did not meet but even that seems like careful wording would be needed and would have a high chance of not getting a response.

            2. SometimesALurker*

              Flinty, I really like the phrasing you suggested! I’m going to try to remember it if I’m ever in that situation.

          2. uranus wars*

            Same thing that happened to AAM happened to me with a position at a local university. They actually ended up changing the parameters on the form overall they told me (it was X or equivalent and I had the equivalent). I ended up getting the interview and a job offer. I turned it down but that was for an entirely different reason.

          3. tusky*

            It happened to me, too. It’s probably still uncommon, and it’s not worth investing a lot of energy in, but I really don’t think it can hurt to follow up if you do so very tactfully.

      2. Allison*

        Yup. I work in talent acquisition, my job is to search for people who are (potentially) qualified for hard-to-fill jobs, and lemme tell you there is usually a slight difference between the laundry list stated in the job description and what the hiring manager “really” wants. Which is why I get irritated when I a recruiter just tosses me the JD and says “here’s what to look for,” and when I ask a question to clarify what to really look for, they send the description back to me with relevant parts highlighted. Yeah Jack, I can read, that’s not the problem here.

        And sometimes, the hiring manager decides, after seeing like 10 people, that the preferred qualifications really are requirements, and they actually want more experience than what’s listed, but the job description is never actually updated for some reason.

        It’s super unfair when the job description doesn’t match what’s actually being sought. We need to be better.

        1. RG*

          It’s good to know it’s not just me. I was very confused when I was rejected from a Ruby developer opening because I didn’t have experience with Java, the primary language of the project.

          1. irene adler*

            Yep- good to know.
            Have found it very ‘interesting’ (read ‘frustrating’) when new job requirements are created ‘on the spot’ during my interview with the hiring manager.

            Really, there does need to be more and improved communications betw. hiring manager and talent acquisition folks. In addition, someone needs to do a thorough job describing the job requirements.

        2. voluptuousfire*

          That was always the biggest bugbear when I was looking for a job when I interviewed for a role and the JD changed and they didn’t update it. Then the HMs or whomever was in charge of hiring will complain they’re not getting candidates they like because no one updated the JD. Its a vicious cycle.

        3. SpaceNovice*

          Yup, I’ve been rejected from jobs before because their “preferred” were actually required, and they wanted someone with everything. “As long as you know Java or C++ and know some object-oriented design, you’re good” became “Java, Python, JavaScript, NodeJS, Angular, React, CSS, HTML, gathering own requirements, etc”. The position is still open because those that have the real qualifications they want think the position won’t pay enough because only simple requirements are listed.

        4. Cercis*

          I was rejected for a job because I didn’t have a certain type of experience, that was never mentioned in the description or the interview. But I actually did have several years of experience doing that exact thing and had it been brought up, I could have said “oh yeah, I’ve done x, y & z”. So instead, they hired someone who didn’t actually meet the stated minimum qualifications (and still doesn’t almost 3 years later – yes I’m still just a bit bitter about it – which I know because it’s a very small field in a smallish city) simply because he had some experience in that realm (and by “some” I mean a lot less than I had).

          Of course, in that case, this was an internal candidate and they were looking for a reason to hire him over me. I’m pretty sure they specifically didn’t ask about my experience in x because then they wouldn’t have to answer any uncomfortable questions.

      3. Mid-Atlantic librarian*

        I’ve worked at a community college for 17 years, and in my area we do occasionally see HR disqualify people from a candidate pool because HR did not understand how the candidate’s experience or credentials should count against our minimum requirements. We have had some of those people get reinstated to the pool after clarifying their situation with HR (usually because the candidate took the initiative to contact HR directly about it, but sometimes because we asked). At this point HR is pretty careful not to aggressively disqualify people for positions in our area, but then our HR listens to us and we have a good relationship with them.

        That said, as others have stated, meeting the minimum qualifications is no guarantee of an interview. We only interview those who are best-qualified and provide a good cover letter and resume, which is a small percentage of our overall applicant pool.

        1. tusky*

          Just reading the comments on this thread, and based on my own experience, it does almost seem like a problem common in higher ed (at least relative to other fields). I was form rejected from a university teaching position for failing to meet the minimum degree requirements, despite meeting those requirements to a T (I have a PhD in X field; job requires PhD in X field or closely related fields–so it’s not even a matter of misunderstanding how my qualifications fit). Turns out it was a glitch in the online application system.

    4. Lindrine*

      Yeah I agree. I get a lot of applicants for a role I manage and most of them are not competitive when you look at the applicant pool as a whole.

      1. Annonymouse*


        Just meeting the minimum may not be enough, depending on your industry or position. Or there might be some preferred requirements not listed that you don’t have or didn’t know to list.

        And depending on the other candidates who applied you might be a good candidate but there could be a few amazing candidates.

    5. Smithy*

      I have never been a fed – but recently a friend of mine who is a federal employee made a note about an apication receiving a response of not meeting the minimum qualifications and she was able to push back/go to the union about this.

      While such a case is different as an internal application and a unionized work force – I just want to add that context in case the OP has seen situations where someone can challenge such a response.

      In this case, totally agree with the answer – but was wondering if the OP had seen previous situations where pushing back did actually result in a positive outcome.

      1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

        Thanks for mentioning this. I do HR for a state agency, and it’s a little different, but same idea. Often the min quals are very specific, and most candidates are not used to outlining that level of specificity in their applications, but we need it. I’ve had situations where candidates have not modified their resumes just to add that level of specificity, but have detailed it in their cover letters, for example. (Which isn’t good enough – it needs to be detailed on the resume to match up years/months.) In addition, I’ve also had things like, “worked at X company from 2012-2014” and without months, I have to assume Dec 2012 to Jan 2014, which would be one year … whereas Jan 2012-Dec 2014 would be three years. Etc.

    6. Another Person*

      If I got a rejection like this the first thing I would do is review my application materials and make sure they clearly indicate how I meet the minimum requirements. Can’t be too careful.

      1. myswtghst*

        This is a great point. If you’re going to reach out to clarify, you definitely want to make sure you didn’t shoot yourself in the foot by not including something pertinent when you submitted your application.

    7. MDB*

      In my experience (on both ends of this) in universities–particularly community and state colleges–the hiring practices do not follow the rational paths that we come to expect–and that we’re rightly reminded of here on this blog. These jobs are *extremely* hard to get, and are often posted just as a formality, because they’re required to post them–when the choice has already been made and there is no possibility that an outside, unconnected, qualified applicant is going to get very far in the process. I’d see it as a gift that they didn’t also put you through a perfunctory interview (in order to check off that box) before rejecting you.

      I know this sounds overly cynical, but I could give very specific examples of jobs which I was very qualified for in public colleges, where my candidacy went nowhere. Very, very qualified on paper—and a form rejection. This was because the jobs were union positions (this was surprising to me)–and they were required to hire someone from the union unless they could provide a very compelling reason that there was absolutely no one from the union who could do the job. Meanwhile, they’re posting the job publicly and having people apply.

      I recall this from years ago, when I worked for an org that was technically part of a university–and we had to accept resumes and conduct interviews with folks who were custodians (for a staff position which required knowledge and experience in special education) before moving on to non-union candidates. Huge waste of time for all involved. My most recent experience with this was followed by a friend who works for that college telling me that this was what happened–they had to hire someone from the union, and the public posting was not legitimate, but just fulfilling a requirement.

      I met with another friend last fall and this topic came up (the last rejection was pretty fresh). She now works for another university, has run for office before, and has held a cabinet position and run a state department. She told me that this hiring practice was so, so frustrating for good managers who wanted qualified people. When she ran the state-level dept, she described, she had to go through a WHOLE PROCESS to justify the consideration of a non-union candidate, and she was often overruled. Qualifications, fit for the dept, being the better candidate—did not matter. Totally meaningless. This was so frustrating to hear, but also sort of heartening to me as a candidate, and helped me to adjust my expectations accordingly.

      1. DaffyDuck*

        Oh yes, many of these jobs are actually filled (in the mind of the hiring manager) before they are posted. Academia can also be very insular and clicky in some systems. I was rejected by a CC for not meeting requirements. Umm… the fact I taught this class for a decade at a 4-year college previously doesn’t count? All the instructors in that department come from mid-west schools and I came from a (top) school on the coast. I figure I was lucky to miss out on that one after learning more about the work culture after we had moved to the area ( I was following spouse). I have a job I really enjoy (not in the CC system) now.

        1. Turkletina*

          I understand your frustration, but your post comes across as incredibly condescending to folks with degrees from midwestern schools, many of which are excellent! Having gone to Stanford or MIT or wherever doesn’t necessarily make someone better suited for a job than the candidate who went to Michigan.

          1. fposte*

            Yes, that’s a strange statement. Proximity to the ocean doesn’t automatically make a graduate superior. Look at Malcolm Gladwell’s overview of where Nobel prize winners come from.

          2. myswtghst*

            As a midwesterner with a degree from a midwestern university, I didn’t read DaffyDuck’s comment that way at all. I read it more as the instructors were clique-y and preferred those with similar backgrounds to their own, so the fact that DaffyDuck came from a school on the coast was treated as a negative.

            1. Turkletina*

              Oh, fair enough! I obviously didn’t read it that way at first, but I can see how you could get that interpretation as well. I’ll stick with yours, since it’s much more generous than the one I had. :)

          3. Kate 2*

            I think they were pointing out a weird culture thing, like there is a prejudice against non-midwestern candidates. But I have seen this kind of weird regional prejudice before, so that’s my lens.

        2. CCProf*

          You should not assume that experience teaching a class at a 4-year makes you qualified for a CC job. CC faculty have specific skill sets and teaching philosophies, which you almost certainly came across as ignorant or dismissive of.

    8. Gloucesterina*

      Agreeing with fposte’s assessment of the boilerplate mixup. I recently began work in a part-time position at my university, and the HR site sent me the same exact same form letter I’ve received when my applications for other positions have been rejected.

      1. Washi*

        Yeah, when the last time I was hiring, there was no good option for “you were qualified but other people were more qualified.” I had to choose between did not meet experience requirements, did not meet education requirements, incomplete application, and a few others that were not quite the same as just “not a good fit.” I’m sure there were some candidates frustrated by our boilerplate, but ultimately you just won’t always get a good answer to why you didn’t get an interview.

  2. Marie B.*

    Re: Letter #5. Where I am from the law is very clear that persons on maternity leave are not allowed to do any work or be asked to take care of work stuff. It is a huge no-no and the company would get in big trouble, even if the person had insisted on doing it. Something to keep in mind OP, depending on what the laws are in your area. You might not be allowed to check your work email while on leave.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I don’t think she’s proposing checking in on leave; she’s proposing being cc’d on everything while she’s gone so that it’s all waiting for her when she comes back.

      1. LiberryPie*

        She isn’t actually proposing to be cc’d on everything while she’s out. She said that their current system in her workplace is to cc each other on everything. She is suggesting that during her leave they modify that and only cc her on really important emails.

        1. Turquoisecow*

          I think my concern with that would be that a) coworkers are used to copying her on everything, so they’ll continue to do so unconsciously or b) coworkers will have difficulty determining what is important enough to be copied on.

          OP, if you’re going to go this route, sit down with your coworkers and determine exactly what is important and what isn’t. Also, sometimes important things might get resolved before you return, thus rendering them unimportant retroactively. So, when you return, maybe have a coworker sit with you or be available for questions when you return, so when you see URGENT EMAIL MAJOR PROBLEM from a month ago, she can quickly say, “oh yes, we handled that, it’s no longer an issue,” before you start worrying about how to handle it.

          I went out for six weeks for surgery, expecting major email when I returned, but most of the major issues were muddled through while I was gone, and I was able to slip back into the day-to-day fairly quickly. Your job might be different, though.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Hmmm, I don’t think she is! She threw that out as one option but worried the later recap would be time-consuming, and asked if she’s just supposed to keep doing what they’re doing and “just hunker down and read through everything when I come back?”

    2. Safetykats*

      I would make sure you set an out-of-office auto-reply that specifically states who will be responsible for your duties in your absence. That should cut the number of emails down to almost very shortly. If you have an anticipated return date you can provide that as well; if not, you can simply let people know you’ll contact them when you return.

      1. I am who I am*

        I would also recommend setting the out of office to reply to every email, not just the first.

        1. Turquoisecow*

          Definitely. I tend to forget at 4:00 that I got Bob’s out of office at 9:30. I certainly would forget several weeks later, especially if I didn’t email OP very often and didn’t work in her office, so the pregnancy wasn’t on my mind.

        2. watersquirrel*

          Interestingly, our IT department won’t let us do this. Apparently, if your OOTO response goes to an email that has an OOTO response that responds to yours, and then yours is sent again – it will just keep bouncing back and forth.
          It’s really hard to come back even after a few days and receive a whole bunch of emails “following up” on their original email.

          1. Quinalla*

            I’d either have one or both of your coworkers checking your email while you are gone or have it auto-forward to them. Still set up an out of office, but that should help. And it is totally normal for folks to catch you up after maternity leave, you shouldn’t be expected to read through 1000+ emails when you get back, it shouldn’t take very long for them to catch you up on what is current and then over the first couple weeks you are back catch you up on anything hugely important that was already resolved. Coming back from maternity leave is similar to starting a new job, not the same, but there is a week or two typically of getting ramped back up into full work mode because folks have to catch you up to current, get work assigned to you again, etc.

    3. MillersSpring*

      At several companies where I’ve worked, people on leave have all email access suspended, therefore no emails can be received at all. An organization of three people sounds tiny, but maybe they can set up something.

    4. SittingDuck*

      When I went on maternity leave last summer I set an away message that basically said

      “I am on extended leave, all emails recieved at this account will be deleted. Please re-send any correspondence to {office email address}.”

      I also put into my signature a few months before I left something like
      “I will be going on extended leave {date} please send things to {office email} going forward”

      and I would respond to people who sent things to me in those last few weeks telling them to please send all things to {office email account} going forward.

      It may be an extreme way to handle it, but I set my email account to delete anything that came in after responding with the away message telling people their email would be deleted and to please resend it to the {office email account} In my office all the admins have access to the {office email account} sso we can go in and get anything that is for us, or it can be forwarded to the correct person who is handling it at that time.

      It was amazing to come back to NO emails to weed through -because i trusted my co-workers to handle anything that needed handling while i was out.

      1. Micklak*

        SittingDuck, this is genius. It might seem a little harsh but it’s the best option for all parties. Your client is immediately directed to the person who can help them, and you don’t have to follow up when you get back.

        I have recently taken a step that seems drastic to me, to have my OOTO response, say “if you need something right away, talk to blank, otherwise I look forward to working with you when I get back.” In the past I mentioned that I would only have periodic access to email, and that just made people think I would respond to their email.

        I also make sure that all my clients know I’m going to be out so I can tend to any urgent needs before I leave.

        1. Helena*

          That’s the norm in my sector (healthcare) too.

          Our maternity leave in the UK can be up to 15 months (it’s 12months leave but you can tack your annual leave onto the beginning and end), you absolutely do not want to find unactioned patient results in your inbox over a year later for obvious reasons. So the inbox is set to reject emails (with an out of office/redirect message) while you are away.

    5. A Non E. Mouse*

      OP #5, can you create rules that will dump the email into folders while you are gone?

      So if it comes from Coworker A, it would dump in folder “Coworker A”, if it comes from Coworker B, it dumps in folder “Coworker B”?

      Mine wouldn’t be by sender, it would be by topic (A, B, C, etc.). You can then allow those emails to filter to folders, leaving your inbox a little more manageable.

      I am one of those that DO need to be copied in – I frequently have to reference emails from the past, and in one case literally did pull up an email from the time I was on maternity leave (that I’d been copied on) to save the day – and this is how I handled it.

      1. CM*

        I was thinking the same thing about frequently needing older emails for reference. I would absolutely want to be CCed on everything, but I agree with the approach of archiving everything and not reading it.

      2. SpaceySteph*

        I did something similar– just dumped everything that came on my maternity leave into another folder (not using rules, went for the ol’ drag and drop method). That way if something came up that it turned out I missed the background I could go dig it out. But I don’t think anything did.
        Speaking of, my kid is 14 months, so I should probably go delete that folder….

        1. A Non E. Mouse*

          No don’t! You’ll invoke the need for it the moment you do!

          In all seriousness I dug up the email I needed *4 years* after my maternity leave. 1) It was nice to have the documentation and 2) I looked like mother effin WIZARD conjuring from the depths.

          If you have the space, keep it. ;)

          1. Letter writer #5*

            This is the original letter writer #5 – setting up some kind of filter system is a great idea. Maybe I could get set some key words and have my co-workers use those to help sort things … I think I’ll wait to keep access to most of the emails coming in so getting them into a storage system would be ideal. Thanks for all the thoughts so far!

      3. Agent Diane*

        On our system, you can set rules based on sender: you may be able to set up a redirect to send all external emails to a colleague.

    6. Office Person*

      If there are only three people in the organization (not sure if there’s a parent company), there are very few protections in almost any state. Too few people to be covered by FMLA. Even the ADA only effects employers with more than 15 employees. Even in state laws, in progressive, pregnancy friendly states, the protections are limited for that small of a company.

      1. Micklak*

        This isn’t my area of expertise, but in California if you are getting paid for you leave by the state it is a form of disability, so if you work it invalidates your claim. My old office would turn your email account off so you couldn’t send or receive anything.

  3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#4, definitely don’t say anything if this is a peer or if you’re not your coworker’s manager. You don’t want these monkeys.

    1. Kathletta*

      Exactly! There’s nothing to be gained by getting involved OP, if I were you I’d just ignore it completely

    2. Traffic_Spiral*

      Yup. The only time I have ever spoken to a coworker about a dress issue was a broken heel. The cap at the bottom had worn off, meaning that the metal screw was exposed and we had hard floors in a main part of our office. So every step she took with her right foot filled the office with the sound of metal screetching across concrete. I gave her the name of a guy who could fix it for $5.

      But an inappropriate dress? Not my problem.

      1. Anon for now*

        I once pointed out that a coworker had a giant hole in his shirt. I was friends with this coworker and knew that he would want to be made aware. The only time I have ever pointed out that someone’s clothing was inappropriate at work was when I was their supervisor.

    3. MLB*

      Agreed. At my last company we shared office space with a bunch of temps that were hired seasonally. We were business casual, but they seemed to take that to the extreme and often came into work dressed inappropriately. In fact one of them dressed in a leotard and leg warmers (think Flashdance) for Halloween, and put ON a skirt to go to lunch. We went to their manager and had him address this issue.

    4. CDM*

      I still have mild residual embarrassment twenty years later for making a light comment about a co-worker’s preschooler not wanting to get out of his pajamas that day. (it wasn’t uncommon for kids to arrive in pjs or costumes, because: preschoolers)

      Co-worker had gotten the outfit in a bag of hand-me-downs and had no clue it was pajamas. (My son had the same set)

      1. Collarbone High*

        The question reminded me of the time in kindergarten that a classmate wore a nightgown to school on Valentine’s Day. It actually was quite Valentine’s-y — red with white lace trim. I loudly pointed out that I knew it wasn’t a dress because I had the same nightgown at home. She cried.

        I don’t recommend handling this situation the way 5-year-old me did.

        1. uranus wars*

          OT but isn’t it wild how things like that stick with us. I remember saying something to a girl in 1st grade about her hair that I thought was funny but in retrospect it wasn’t cool and she cried. We were with a group of 5-6 girls at a sleepover & I don’t remember one other person who was there or even where her house was located but I remember her reaction vividly and still cringe when I think about it.

          1. Grayson*

            I once said something absolutely terrible to a person in high school trying to be funny. I cringe even now thinking of it.

          2. jo*

            I clearly remember the boy I liked in second grade telling me I laughed like a hyena. I also remember his very grave and sincere apology/retraction when I got upset. That kid totally liked me back.

            OP, if you say anything to this coworker and the two of you aren’t on really friendly terms (which you specify you are not), it will come across as unkind when I think you actually mean to be helpful. There’s nothing you can do here that will be helpful.

            Now, if this person did something really crappy to you and you actually want to do her an unkindness, then by all means go ahead. (Don’t, though.)

        2. cookie monster*

          When I was in kindergarten, I dressed as a carebear for Halloween, using my footie PJs as the base of the costume. Apparently this was majorly uncool, enough so that I still remember it…from 1985.

      2. Annon for this*

        I purchases two cute dresses for my first adult beach vacation. They were super cute and very comfortable. I realized about a year later that they were PJs.
        I got engaged in my PJs. At least I never wore them to the office.

        1. Hlyssande*

          I actually have a cover up that I sometimes wear as a dress, with a sleeved shirt or tank and leggings underneath. But it’s at least solid black knit and covers all the important stuff.

      3. Specialk9*

        Ha, I used to wonder what to call those baby outfits with the attached feet (and cute little dino claws or whatever). I asked a couple people, looked online, then called them “leisure suits”. A few months later, someone called them pajamas. Oh right! Yeah, yeah that’s what they are. :D

    5. MattKnifeNinja*

      Yeah, as long as all the bits that should be covered are covered, let it go.

      My sib works in a industry that requires conservative dress (like closed toe shoes and nylons). One rotten part job of the job is “dress code enforcement”

      Those discussions that tight leopard print spandex pants and a tube top like top doesn’t even begin to meet the minimum standards are a rat hole you don’t want to jump into. This is after the new hire got all the information on the dress code requirements.

      Let the manager tangle with this bag of porcupines.

      1. myswtghst*

        “Yeah, as long as all the bits that should be covered are covered, let it go.”

        Yes, this. It would be one thing if the cover-up didn’t meet dress code for reasons of coverage (i.e. it was see-through or super low cut or short), but as long as it’s effectively functioning as a dress, it definitely isn’t worth the fight.

        1. SpaceySteph*

          I think it would still have to be really egregious for OP to get involved though. People shouldn’t really get themselves in the habit of determining what is “too low cut” or “too short” on their coworkers. One person’s “basically a flasher” is another’s “V-neck.” Also this can trend into policing body types quickly– a large chested woman wearing a deep V will get a lot more scrutiny.

    6. Kathleen_A*

      I agree emphatically with those who are saying “This is not your problem, OP.”

      But I’d also like to point out that some beach cover-ups look *exactly* like dresses, and in fact, away from the beach or a pool, that is exactly what I would assume they are. Maybe the one the OP’s coworker is wearing one of those sheer ones that is more obviously a beach cover-up, but it could easily be true that this dress-like thing looks, you know, like a dress. Maybe she just needs to wear some sort of slip with it.

      But in any case, it’s absolutely not your problem, OP, so you are free to ignore it.

      1. uranus wars*

        I kinda had this thought. I actually wear one of 2 certain sundresses as a cover up and dress both. And I have seen some cover-ups and thought “cute dress”. Also agree to just stay out of it.

        1. Not So Recently Diagnosed*

          OP, also keep in mind that some purveyors will make dresses and bathing suit covers out of the exact materiel…and just put a liner beneath the one that’s meant to be a dress. I have a friend that this happened to, and when she informed the woman that it was a dress because it had a built in slip (yes, the woman confronted her about it), THE WOMAN REACHED OUT AND TRIED TO LIFT HER SKIRT TO CHECK. Do not be this woman. Let it be.

            1. Not So Recently Diagnosed*

              It didn’t go well. She slapped the woman’s hand away, the woman threatened to call HR because she had hit her. So the slap-ee basically said “PLEASE call HR so I can tell them I slapped your hand away because you LIFTED. MY. SKIRT.” Nothing was ever said about it again.

              1. Kathleen_A*

                Some people can get so weird about dress codes. (And I am of course referring to the skirt-grabbing woman not the dress-wearing one.) I mean, under what other circumstances would the skirt-grabbing woman think it appropriate to examine a coworker’s *undergarments*?

      2. Triplestep*

        I had a similar thought. How has the conclusion been drawn that it’s a beach cover-up? If it’s because the LW happened to see the same garment on display at a store or in a catalog *marketed* as a beach cover-up, then all the more reason to just let this go. Everyone else may see it as a dress.

        1. bookish*

          Yeah, I was wondering this too. I’ve been thinking about getting a caftan or two but I’ve been anxious to find one that looks more “dress” than “beach cover up.” I feel like a lot of it comes down to the sleeve style but either way I’d be covered the same amount. But if the outfit in question is something the OP genuinely thinks this woman believes is a dress, not a coverup, it’s probably fine? Like surely it isn’t a thigh-skimming, see-through number in that case? Anyway of course the bottom line is that the OP doesn’t need to say anything about this.

        2. TardyTardis*

          Light cotton muumuus are the bomb in summer, especially if the a/c is uncertain or nonexistent, but if I wear them at the office, I wear a slip underneath even though it makes things a bit hotter at work. At home, well…

      3. Half-Caf Latte*

        yes. Land’s end currently has an adorable cover up that I’ve ordered, and if the fabric is as substantial as it appears to be in the photos, will 100% become a casual dress. Definitely for restaurants down the shore, and errands. Probably for daytime errands around town, too.

  4. Aphrodite*

    OP #1, I too work at a community college. It is and has been for many years common for HR to receive between 50 and 150 applications for any permanent position that opens up; fewer than that happens but is rare. (I am referring to staff only.) This is because the benefits are outstanding. Supervisors usually narrow it down to around 20 for the initial round of interviews, and the interviewing committee send three finalists (and two back-up finalists) to the supervisor.

    You could been extremely well qualified and still not make it simply because of the numbers. Keep trying. Sometimes it’s just a matter of persistence.

    1. eplawyer*

      I’m worried that the OP by writing back to clear up the “misunderstanding” may have torpoedoed their chances forever. If there are that many applications why bother with the one who has already shown they don’t understand hiring norms? I would be afraid to hire this person for fear they would challenge every evaluation of their work I make, or any policy they don’t like.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        It honestly depends on the institution. Sometimes HR folks turn over quickly at community colleges and universities (and sometimes they don’t), and if the posting was listed through an online application portal, there’s a good chance the powers that be will have turned over if OP applies, again, in a few years. But I would definitely use this as a learning opportunity to not write back to clear up “misunderstandings” if this happens, again, in an analogous situation.

      2. Specialk9*

        I would put OP on a list. It comes across as really entitled to demand an interview. That’s not how this works. (And yes I’ve been rejected for jobs for not meeting the min requirements, when I hit them out of the park. Memorably, one was when I was doing that job, for that org, and my boss complained to me that he wasn’t getting good resumes. Uhhhh. But he couldn’t fix the screening software.)

    2. EmilySpinach*

      Further context: I work at a large public regional university with similarly outstanding benefits. My department has recently hired two administrative staff members. We got 142 applications for the academic-year position with F/T benefits and 98 for the FT year-round. About 3/4 of each pool met our minimum qualifications. For each position, we interviewed 10 people.

      One note for OP, though: our departments handle the hiring , and then have a (wretched!) software system that lets us tell HR why we didn’t interview a given candidate–it has dropdown options that include “did not meet minimum qualifications” and “weaker work experience compared to selected candidates”. While of course we try to be careful as possible, if you’re moving through 132 rejected candidates it would be really easy to select the wrong dropdown by accident, leading to a different letter being generated to the rejected applicant. So I can definitely see how a mixup would happen that results in the wrong boilerplate being sent out.

      1. (Different) Rebecca, PhD*

        Does it at least input the candidate’s name correctly? I once got rejected for a (faculty) position as “Dear Candidate Name…” and mentally grumbled “that’s Dr. Candidate Name…”

        1. Alucius*

          I once got a rejection letter that began “Dear Dr. Vitae”…apparently because I had attached my Curriculum Vitae in the application email?..

          1. Duffman*

            Reminds me of when I was little, a saleswoman came to the door and my mom goes, “I’m busy.” The lady responded, “Hi, Miss Busy.”

            To this day, I don’t know if she was trying to be funny.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        This is a helpful insight–that the 130 form letters are slightly personalized, but it’s only allowed to be one of a small handful of pre-written reasons. (I was frustrated when my kids’ schools went to numerical codes for teacher’s comments, so my kid was a real 42 and 19–at least this system puts a slight veneer of words over the numerical code when they send it out.)

        1. Anon for now*

          My school did that. That is how I got a report card saying that I spoke Spanish very well in Earth Science and may need remedial gym. The interface for the teachers was not great.

          1. CDM*

            a friend of my husband got “Fails to wear safety glasses in class” in calculus. But it was deliberate insubordination on the part of the teacher, and friend wore safety glasses to the next class, lol.

            1. SpaceNovice*

              That was the only appropriate action to take in response to that, yes. I’ve heard of teachers doing stuff like that before just for fun.

      3. Artemesia*

        We got close to a 100 minimally qualified people for the positions I hired for. We would have 10 finalists for close scrutiny, choose 6 or so to phone screen, but no more than 10 and interview 2 or 3. (it was a national search so we were flying people in for interviews)

  5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#5, set up a super clear out-of-office message that makes clear that:
    1. You’re out of office and not available/not reading emails sent during [parental leave period].
    2. Whom to contact for specific issues/questions (e.g., “for questions regarding purchasing, please contact [Coworker & email address]”).
    3. That emails from this period will auto-archive, and you will not be reading emails sent during [parental leave period] when you return from leave. (And actually set it up to auto-archive!)

    And then definitely get yourself off of being cc’d. Folks can send you the most relevant emails and give you a summary of key developments, either in an email or in a Word .doc (and it should be high-level, not overly detailed). And then don’t worry about your near-zero inbox when you return. :)

    1. Jerry Vandesic*

      I’d suggest setting up a rule to automatically delete (or move to a folder) any email where you are cc’d. I know that tools like Outlook will let you filter based on whether your are included in the TO or the CC. Don’t bother reading any of the emails where you are cc’d.

      You might also want to delete/move any emails where you are not the sole TO recipient. In those cases, someone else could/should have dealt with it while you are away.

      Finally, you can decide what to do with the emails where you are the sole TO recipient. Those are the ones where the email is intended specifically for you, and might be worth you attention. My guess is those emails will be a small subset of the total.

      1. Mad Baggins*

        This is a good idea. If your company/IT doesn’t have a policy in place, at least you can control your own inbox with this.

      2. hbc*

        I was going to suggest the Move To Folder option. If having the emails present and searchable is useful, this is a great way to keep them but have them not get mixed in with actionable stuff. I have a colleague who does this all the time, and skims through maybe twice a week. It really helps him focus on the stuff that matters to him versus the stuff that he maybe might find useful at some point.

    2. Beatrice*

      Where I work, if you’re out on long-term FMLA/medical leave, your email is turned off. It’s chiefly designed to make sure that people who are not supposed to be working on their medical leave aren’t tempted or pressured to work, even a little bit, but it also makes sure they don’t return to an enormous email backlog. Maybe OP can suggest that?

        1. Workfromhome*

          A little off topic but I found out that even though I left my former (toxic) job 2 years ago they did not notify most people, turn off my voicemail or delete my email account. There are people who tried to get a hold of me for a LONG time after I was gone because they didn’t get any bounce back to make them think I worked somewhere else.

    3. BeeBoo*

      When my direct report when on maternity leave, we has her first two days back “email clean-up days” where she worked from home and just focused on going through the backlog of emails (we did try to not cc her on things, but she still had 400+ emails). I didn’t tell anyone else she was back from maternity leave during those two days so she could just focus on email and getting caught up. She appreciated the segway back into work, and also the understanding that her email was full!

      1. Longtime Lurker*

        This was going to be my exact recommendation. OP – work with your team now for your expectations when you come back to work (you may want to come back for half days you first week, for example) and see if you can set aside the first few days just to go through old emails. Also set up time proactively with your coworkers to get caught up on anything critical.

    4. Thlayli*

      Another option: depending on confidentiality issues or whether you also use your work email for personal stuff, you could actually give your temporary hire or one of your colleagues access to your email while you are away.

    1. The Dread Pirate Buttercup*

      Good answer. I might also say that if asking, “Hey, is there something we’re missing here?” prompts feelings of being “squeezed,” it’s maybe time to think about moving on.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        This seems like exactly the sort of “what non-money things would make you happier” that Alison would suggest asking–it’s employees’ chance to ask to work on web development or transition toward accounting, which might make them happier independent of money. (Either because it’s something they enjoy, or because it’s something they see as useful for their career development.) And the company is doing it in conjunction with money, not in lieu of–though I guess employees don’t yet know how much money we’re talking about here.

        I agree with Dread that if asking how they could make your life better on top of money feels like they are squeezing you, it might be time to look elsewhere–either you are reacting as one does to toxicity, or you are reaching BEC stage with this job and that’s potentially going to become visible and start tainting your evaluations and references. (Maybe actually getting that raise will relieve the resentment that’s had raiseless years to build, and this will be self-correcting in that way.)

        1. Micklak*

          I also think this is an opportunity to keep your eye on the ball. A self evaluation form isn’t something that the LW needs to fill out with complete honesty. They need to fill it out in the way that most benefits them. So when you get to the question about what your dream job is, don’t say I’d rather be a trapeze artist than an accountant, you say that being an accountant has opened up exciting new avenues and you want to push towards X, Y, & Z at your current company.

          Also, it’s frustrating not to get salary increases every year, but being successful at your job is the bare minimum, and might not warrant a merit increase. A merit increase happens when you add experience and skills and bring more value to your company.

          1. Specialk9*

            Inflation raises on average 3% a year. If the salary doesn’t raise with that, you’re actually getting a paycut. It’s not greedy to dislike paycuts.

  6. Poliva Ope*

    OP 4: This a case where you need to MYOB. You have no standing to address this and you will come out of it looking badly. Leave it alone. It has nothing to do with you at all.

  7. Knitting Cat Lady*

    #4: Okay, serious question: What is the difference between a dress and a beach cover up? I honestly can’t tell.

    1. Aphrodite*

      I know I have seen several that for someone on the petite side (think 5’3″) would work as a nice summer dress.

    2. Anonymosity*

      I don’t know; I’ve seen some beach cover-ups that could totally pass as casual dresses. Like you could toss them on after your sun time and go out. If it’s not see-through or too skimpy, and it doesn’t violate the dress code in any other way, I don’t see what the OP could say about it.

      1. Flinty*

        I just complimented my coworker yesterday on her top and she told me it was actually a beach cover-up! It was made of a fairly see-through material and was pretty short, but she wore it over a camisole and pants, so I really couldn’t tell.

        If multiple coworkers are commenting that the OP’s coworker is wearing a cover-up though, it might be more obvious what it is, but it sounds like the person most hurt by it is the person wearing it and being mildly gossiped about. Not sure if there’s really a good reason for OP to say anything.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        OMG it would be amazing if she’s wearing a straight-up bath robe to work.

        1. President Porpoise*

          My aunt wore one to church once to protest the fact that she had been constantly shunted to the side to take care of the toddlers while everyone else did churchy things and she never saw other adults – for like five years. My aunt is the bomb.

          1. Specialk9*

            A terry cloth robe communicated all that? I would have missed ALL of that and thought it was just a new trend! :D

      2. Knitting Cat Lady*

        I once went to see a movie in pajamas, dressing gown and a towel around my neck.

        It was ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ and I wasn’t the only one by a very wide margin.

          1. Zaphod Beeblebrox*

            Hey, you sass that hoopy Knitting Cat Lady? There’s a frood who knows where her towel is.

        1. Nanani*

          I did this several times in undergrad. Movie nights on campus, no reason to go outside because all the buildings are linked to each other, Why put on clothes?

      3. Mookie*

        Your head is a weird place, Alison.

        I was thinking neon lycra with big thigh slits, so.

        1. Runner*

          I was thinking of all these athletic-wear or sports-wear shops like Atheta and LL Bean and Land’s End that have so many cotton blend coverups of all lengths and styles. Today many of these really are just dresses, with the distinction being in how they are marketed.

          1. Nurse Ratched*

            I have a few cover-ups from Land’s End that I wear as dresses. They are made of a thick, UV-blocking material, have 3/4 sleeves, go below the knee, and have a higher neckline. I wear scrubs to work, but I could totally see them passing as professional dresses with the proper footwear and accessories. Now I’m mortified that I’ve been wearing them in public and will have to ask a few trusted friends if I look ridiculous!

            1. Crystal*

              Nurse, I have two Lands End “coverups” that I’ve worn as dresses, there’s absolutely no way anyone would know. It’s a cotton dress.

            2. Specialk9*

              I got a maxi dress that was sheer to the inner slip, which ended mid thigh. But the slip bunched to above the undies when sitting down or bending. Ah! Fortunately I did an at home test drive first. But to me that would be beachy, if it didn’t ride up.

          2. ThatGirl*

            Yeah, I would think the main difference for some is breathability/wicking so they dry quickly. Some really are just lightweight dresses.

            That said, I just got back from a cruise, and some coverups are really blatantly coverups that are partially or mostly see-through so I sincerely hope this woman is not wearing one of those.

      4. Environmental Compliance*

        The first image that popped into my head was one of those crocheted, lacy type coverups.

      5. The Southern Gothic*

        I pictured some brightly colored, Butterfly-style, knee length cotton number with fringe around the edge. And strappy sandals.

      6. ArtsNerd*

        I definitely wear my bright green terrycloth beach romper as super-casual street clothes in the summer :)

        Not to work, of course, but my sister is still horrified by it.

        1. LizB*

          I had a bright green terrycloth cover-up when I was younger that was essentially just a shift dress. If I had one in adult sizes, I’d totally wear it around on the weekends now. So comfy!

        2. Michaela Westen*

          I wear pajama pants and a man’s V-neck t-shirt to do errands in the summer.

      7. Arjay*

        Me too!!! In my head, it’s a bright blue with two patch pockets that have colorful flowers embroidered on them!

    3. Jamies*

      I don’t know that there’s an established set of standards differentiating the two and there’s a good amount of overlap but in general I think cover-ups tend to be more sheer, shorter, and looser/more flowy.

    4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Usually they’re way more sheer and shorter than a standard sundress or other (non-mini) casual dress. They’re often tunic/caftan length, not dress length, and your bathing suit is usually visible through the fabric.

    5. HannahS*

      I don’t think it’s always obvious. Usually cover-ups are more sheer, shorter, and flowy-er than an equivalent dress, They often have slits that go up nearly to the hip, because it’ll show a bathing suit instead of udnerwear. (Do I understand this? I do not.) But there are definitely (longer, opaque) beach cover ups I’d wear as a dress. I have to say, I don’t really care about the taxonomy of my clothes–if a garment is see-through, it’s not workplace appropriate whether it’s officially a cover-up or a dress. And, of course, opposite if it’s opaque and workplace-dress-shaped. But yeah, not the OP’s circus.

    6. WS*

      When I worked in quite a warm environment at a warehouse (during summer, it was freezing in winter!) I had a beach coverup and wore it as a long top, with pants or long shorts underneath. It was slightly see-through but everyone there dressed as lightly as possible to cope with the heat. There was some customer service but that area was also hot so the customers were trying to leave ASAP and nobody ever said anything. Also, it was more than some people wore!

    7. hollow exuviae*

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks this! If it violates the dress code (implied or written) it doesn’t matter if it’s a beach cover-up or a dress and should be addressed either way, by the manager. And if it’s within the dress code, well then… who cares if it’s a beach cover-up? If it’s office-appropriate, does it really matter which section of the shop it came from? I’m kind of baffled by this question.

      1. A Reader*

        I am stuck on why the OP cares, too. If OP is not the employee’s manager and the dress fits within the dress code, then I don’t think it’s a big deal. The only reason I could see maybe saying something is if the dress is unintentionally revealing. For myself, I would want to know if the outfit I wore to the office was actually giving everyone a good look at my underwear (I realize not everyone cares about that).

        1. Keep Your Eyes On The Prize*

          OP cares because the beach cover wearing co-worker is her BEC. She said that they don’t get along so there it is.

          1. Mike C.*

            Let’s all be honest and admit that this right here is the answer. It’s personal, nothing more.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          Eh. For someone you know well and like, I think you’d work yourself up to mentioning “Did you know the green matching outfit is pajamas?” For someone you don’t know, you wonder if it’s something they know and are doing deliberately, or they don’t realize that they seem to be wearing work pajamas. You can wonder the same thing about someone you find annoying.

          Stone Soup covered this, where a tired Val comes to work in her pajamas plus a blazer. (Think flannel pants and T.) When the boss asks what’s up she feigns embarrassed horror and blames the young sales clerk at the business casual section of the department store for convincing her it was business separates.

          It’s not OP’s monkeys, but noticing and wondering what someone is thinking is normal human behavior.

    8. Thlayli*

      They range from looking exactly like a dress to being practically see through or looking like a dressing gown. Given the OP things the wearer might be unaware it’s not a dress, I think it’s a safe assumption it looks more like a dress than a dressing gown. But then why would OP even care – that’s what I don’t get.

      It would satisfy my curiosity if OP explained what it is about the garment that is inappropriate for work (other than what it was originally designed for). But it doesn’t change the answer either way – MYOB.

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        Yeah, agreed. I’ve definitely seen coverups that are opaque and seem perfectly work-appropriate either as a dress or a tunic. There are also the ubiquitous smocked sundresses that can 100% go either way — it only depends what’s underneath them.

      2. kb*

        The OP may be thinking it would be kind to let the coworker know they are wearing a beach cover-up in case the don’t know? I once bought a tube top thinking it was a skirt and I did appreciate when someone pointed out I was terribly misguided.

        1. PB*

          This was my thought, too, perhaps because I have also squeezed a tube top over my hips….

        2. Mike C.*

          The same coworker that “just doesn’t take feedback well”? Come on now.

          My grandmother used to say stuff like this. It was never out of kindness.

        3. Falling Diphthong*

          I can totally see this. Women’s clothing has much more room for either creative repurposing to exhibit your daring sense of fashion, or accidentally wearing it on the wrong part of your body.

        4. Lily*

          If it goes well as a skirt, where’s the problem? And if it doesn’t, well, you probably wouldn’t want to wear a bad-looking or ill-fitting skirt to work, either.

          1. Decima Dewey*

            Recently, Uniqlo was selling a garment that, according to the sign in the store, could be either a strapless dress or a long skirt.

      3. Tuxedo Cat*

        I looked up beach coverups and your description is apt. It’s unclear whether this one is inappropriate- some of them look like dresses I wear out as regular wear.

    9. Afiendishthingy*

      I have a couple garments that I think are TECHNICALLY cover-ups but I wear them as dresses and get compliments from coworkers on them.

      1. NW Mossy*

        Ditto. I have a well-known affinity for bright prints, so I’ve definitely bought items labeled as cover-ups that I wear to the office as dresses. As long as they’re modest enough (not too short, opaque, higher neckline, etc.), it’s fine.

      2. Gerber Daisy*

        After reading all the comments, I’m almost POSITIVE that my favourite black, long sleeved, sheer tunic with side slits is a cover-up!! lol To be fair, I wear it on Casual Fridays with jeans and a black tank/camisole underneath it. I don’t plan to stop wearing it though as I love the way it looks and I get a lot of compliments on it as well.

        1. Specialk9*

          I dunno, do the sleeves kinda hang down? That sounds more like a kimono blouse. (Sudden dawning realization: Not that a beach coverup… couldn’t have… kimono sleeves. Oh no, brain exploding!)

          1. Arjay*

            That’s what I was thinking too. Either way, if anyone asked, I’d call it a kimono top.

    10. Allison*

      For one thing, I have a super hard time finding beach cover-ups that actually cover all the areas of my body I want to protect from the sun – thighs, stomach, chest, and shoulders. I have one coverup I found on ModCloth years ago that does the trick, and I’ve love to find another but man is it hard! But yes, I think it is technically a “beach dress.”

      That said, beach wear is generally not appropriate for an office environment, because it’s far too casual and for most people would not put them in a state of mind to actually work. I don’t think that’s a controversial statement. But I also know that in my early days, I made bad choices about my work wardrobe because I just didn’t have a lot to work with at the time, and I hated when coworkers would make vague, passive aggressive comments on my clothing, like they wanted to say something, but knew they couldn’t say anything directly because they didn’t have the authority to do so, so they opted to say things that would make me feel weird and second guess myself. I’ve also had older women look me up and down, then sigh, shake their heads, roll their eyes, and tsk as they walked away. I kinda hate it, and it doesn’t exactly motivate me to go on a Macy’s shopping spree for better work clothes.

      1. Mike C.*

        …and for most people would not put them in a state of mind to actually work. I don’t think that’s a controversial statement

        Doesn’t put them in a state of mind to actually work? I’ll say that’s a highly controversial statement.

        If your hypothesis is correct, how am I able to work productively from home in my pjs?

        1. Kaybee*

          Yes, this caught my eye too. I’ve done some of my best work on a laptop by a pool (without a cover-up even!) and at home in my jammies. I comply with my organization’s dress code because it’s what I agreed to when I accepted the job, but it has nothing to do with my state of mind to actually work. In general, I work better when I’m comfortable, and I’m more comfortable in loose-fitting flowy garments than in suits. Obviously my experience is just anecdata and by myself I don’t count as “most people,” but I do think the statement is a little controversial.

        2. Rana*

          Seriously. All I need to work is an awake and focused brain. What I’m wearing doesn’t enter into it, unless it’s uncomfortable enough to be distracting.

      2. General Ginger*

        I’ve also had older women look me up and down, then sigh, shake their heads, roll their eyes, and tsk as they walked away
        Wow, you worked with some real jerks.

        1. Lora*

          Word. You’d think that after a certain age people wouldn’t comment on appearance AT ALL, because 1) frankly, I’m an Old and I have more interesting things to do 2) I got wrinkles and grey hairs and NOBODY better say a GODDAM WORD about it or there will be heck to pay.

          That said, my mother used to be like this – very invested in how other people represent, as she feels it’s a sort of reflection on her somehow. She was eventually cured of it by moving away from the greater NYC metro area, to a place where fashion is less important.

          1. A. Schuyler*

            I definitely relate to your mother here, but in reverse – the way I represent myself does reflect on the people to whom I want to be presentable. I think it stems from messaging around school uniforms: “We wear this, and in the correct way, to show respect for the school and for each other”. I remember dressing up or down being pretty much the only power move available to me as a child, though I now realise that probably nobody noticed.

        1. sigh*

          Yes! I used to have a light cotton wrap dress from Landsend that was technically a beach cover up. I always got compliments when I wore it as a dress to work.

        2. Aphrodite*

          Woohoo! Thank you for the suggestion. I just checked out LE beach cover-ups and they have great summer dresses for the office. Perfect!

      3. Exhausted Trope*

        Allison, yes, that’s happened to me and dang, I hated it. Why is it always an older woman? Just tell me what you think, no need to be a jerk face!

        1. soon 2be former fed*

          Again…no ageism please. You notice “older” women. I’m an “older” woman who doesn’t give a fluck what you are wearing.

      4. Perse's Mom*

        I’m much more in a frame of mind to work when I’m comfortable rather than wearing ill-fitting, constrictive clothes to comply with a dress code that makes no sense given I’m not in Sales and therefore don’t see clients.

      5. TardyTardis*

        Though some managers are very frustrated when there is little or no dress code, even if no outside customers ever come into the place. Where I worked, a couple of the managers would start cracking down, and then the owner of the company would waltz through in blue jeans, button down shirt and cowboy boots, while surrounded by a small cloud of suits. That usually calmed everyone down for a few months.

    11. NaoNao*

      I think the following:

      Beach coverups are significantly less structured than dresses

      They are often sheer, or very thin material or jersey, terry cloth, or other non-professional office materials

      The prints have a playful, loud, or theme feeling (anchors, sea horses, neon pink designs)

      They are skimpy in some way (crochet inserts, very short, deep plunging v neck, super high slits on sides)

      **other, it’s hard to put your finger on it but “you know it when you see it”

    12. CurrentlyLooking*

      My swimsuit cover up is actually a dress (a little too casual/unstructured for me to wear to the office)

      1. Specialk9*

        Me too. I love short dresses – correction my hubby loves short dresses on me, but at a certain length that’s beach wear.

  8. Eliza*

    I have heard of a few workplaces that have a policy of interviewing absolutely everyone who meets the minimum qualifications. Unless it’s a field where qualified people are very hard to find, the usual outcome of those policies is that a lot of everyone’s time gets wasted interviewing people who have no realistic chance of being hired.

    1. Another Person*

      I worked for a state government agency with a policy of bringing everyone who meets the minimum qualifications in for a proctored skills test. The top five scorers get interviews.

      Usually there’s a candidate the hiring manager already has in mind for the job, but even that person has to score high enough on the test to get an interview.

  9. Stellaaaaa*

    OP4: Unless it’s see-through, it’s not a problem. There’s a lot of bad fashion out there in the world. I wear pajama tops to work sometimes. My coworker wears pajama bottoms. Today my sports bra stuck out of the neckline of my tank top. You can’t pick and choose standards in a self-identified casual workplace. If you give people the freedom to choose comfort over style, we’re gonna.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I don’t think we can say it’s not a problem. There are lots of business casual environments where pajama bottoms would not be at all okay! It’s possible that what the coworker is wearing is fine for her workplace, but it’s also fine that it’s not. Either way, though, the OP doesn’t have standing to intervene.

      1. Antilles*

        Most firms in my industry call themselves business casual (or just ‘casual’) and it actually defines a pretty specific range. The ‘casual’ doesn’t mean wear whatever you want, it means that “we don’t expect you to dress in a suit and tie”. So men wear a polo or dress shirt or a sweater, but not a t-shirt. Pants are typically somewhere in the range of khakis to dress pants, though full-length jeans are usually fine too. Shoes are typically dress shoes, though sneakers are acceptable if they aren’t beat up. (My vague understanding is that the ‘casual’ definition for women is basically equivalent, but idk).
        But it isn’t OP’s problem to solve. *If* there was some sort of close relationship/friendship, maybe OP could give a friendly heads-up that Jane’s apparel choices are causing negative commentary, but that’s about it.

        1. Perse's Mom*

          We’re ‘business casual’ as well. Jeans and sneakers are only allowed on (much more) casual Fridays.

    2. Mad Baggins*

      “You can’t pick and choose standards in a self-identified casual workplace.”
      You…absolutely can? “Casual” does not stop at “genitals covered.” It usually means your clothes are not dirty, stained, ripped, covered in inappropriate imagery like nude people/swear words, made of materials like those used for towels and bathing suits, and so on. Of course this varies by workplace (like if you work at a pool) but just because the dress code says “casual” doesn’t mean “anything goes.”

      1. Mookie*

        covered in inappropriate imagery like nude people

        God, if only someone had told the ESA Rosetta guy that.

      2. Kathletta*

        But OP cannot; it’s not her business to tell her peer to stop wearing the dress. If her manager has an issue with it, they will deal with it. I don’t know why OP is worried about this at all.

        1. myswtghst*

          Yes, this. Unless for some reason OP is 100% certain the coworker’s manager has never once seen her wear this particular outfit, and OP is also 100% certain the manager would take issue with it if OP alerted them and they did see it, there is nothing to be done here.

        2. Mad Baggins*

          True, I meant “you” as in ” a business can,” not referring to OP.

          I agree with OP that the wardrobe choice deserves some serious side-eye, but I’d roll my eyes and get back to work.

    3. Nursey Nurse*

      I think this varies by workplace. My office is business casual, but wearing pajamas to work would get me sent home to change. I think a lot of the time business casual means “you don’t have to wear a suit,” not “feel free to wear whatever you usually wear to clean the garage.”

      1. AcademiaNut*

        Even casual-casual generally draws a line somewhere and it’s usually drawn somewhere before pyjamas, bathing suits, sports bras, boxer shorts, bathrobes, nightgowns and all sorts of comfy clothing that you can wear around the house.

        I did see a student in the elevator the other day where my first reaction was “she’s wearing a baby-doll nightgown!”, but it turned out to be a ribbon laden top worn over very short, flesh coloured shorts.

      2. ThatGirl*

        My workplace is casual – most people wear jeans – but we still have standards! Which are basically: no shorts, no sleepwear, no gymwear.

        1. Nerfmobile*

          And in my (large, public, multi-national) company, our previous CEO regularly wore cargo shorts, old polo shirts, and athletic sandals. Then again, we are a tech company and except for finance/legal types, the dress code is often “yes, wear clothing”. Many people are in some form of business casual most of the time, but there is also a lot of athleisure, jeans, shorts, and sandals.

    4. Oryx*

      “ You can’t pick and choose standards in a self-identified casual workplace.“

      Of course a business can. I work in a casual office but I’m still expected to look professional. I can’t show up in overly ripped jeans and while at least half wear graphic T-shirts on a given day, they aren’t showing up in any that promote violence or hate speech.

      1. Pollygrammer*

        This makes me think of a cheeky kid scooping ice cream with a ladle–“You said I could have a spoonful! You didn’t say what spoon!”

    5. What's with today, today?*

      I work in radio, one of THE most casual industries, and that wouldn’t even fly with us.

    6. MLB*

      Sorry but no. My last company had to define VERY specific rules about what was allowed and not allowed, because people took “business casual” to an extreme. Just because you aren’t required to wear a suit and tie, or pantyhose with a dress doesn’t mean you can wear whatever you want in most places. We had a rule about no shorts. One of my team members wore a business suit that just happened to be paired with long shorts. She looked very professional, but she happened to walk past the HR department and someone reported her. My boss was forced to send her home to change even though she looked way more professional than half of the company.

      1. DArcy*

        Okay, *that* is certainly a fair point. Non-supervisory employees do not have any authority to decide that a coworker is “too casual” in a casual workplace. Only supervisors and managers get to make that call.

    7. MattKnifeNinja*

      I worked with a coworker that the beach cover up would have driving her absolutely mad.

      Because…it’s for the beach! Just like yoga pants are for yoga. Exercise clothes are for the gym.
      In her head, those clothes had a specific purpose, and none of the purposes said work.

      The job had as long as your not nude dress code, everything is far game. Every morning my coworker got her clutch her pearls with her morning coffee over people’s “interesting fashion choices.”

      It might be nothing more than that.

  10. Pam*

    In my last hiring committee for a staff position in higher ed, over 50 people met the HR screen. Over 20 met my personal screen- right degree, right experience. The other committee members also had lists of art least 20, not all of which overlapped. We interviewed 5 by phone, and then brought in two for in person interviews.

  11. Mark132*

    @LW2 it more sounds like this is for their convenience than a perk. For me a half day off on Friday isn’t all that big a deal. Now on the other hand a 9/80 schedule with every other Friday off? That’s a much better perk.

    1. NewNameForThis*

      But what you may not realize is that a lot of school/daycare schedules (+ commute) you HAVE to get done in 8 hours. There is NOTHING more maddening than hearing a Director say at 5:00, “Let’s get started on X! I’ve got nowhere to be!” Thank you for making that decision for me… I guess my 7&5 year old will take an Uber home.

      1. Doc*

        Just have your spouse take care of it! What, you don’t have someone at home taking care of everything so you can devote your life to the job? This isn’t the 1960’s?? Great Scott, I’ve done it!

        1. Allison*

          Back to my usual name, I wonder if the higher-ups all send their kids to camp all summer, and forget that not everyone does this.

          1. MattKnifeNinja*

            My one boss did that. School end June 15th. Camp started June 20th until August 12th. Last two weeks of August was with out of state grandparents.

            I don’t even want to know how much all that cost.

          2. Specialk9*

            The nanny. Or, in my company, they’re male and have a wife at home dealing with home stuff. Yes it is the 60s sometimes.

        2. Teal Green*

          My management asks why my husband can’t just do all the kid stuff. So…progress on gender equality?

    2. Runner*

      I read the letter and thought there’s one person in management who wants this and who this specifically benefits and who will always get the Friday half days off.

      1. Lindrine*

        Management usually sets their own hours in a lot of places though. I think it was one of those “Hey this sounds good in my head” things that is being implemented really poorly.

        1. finderskeepers*

          Yeah … no one is management is going to bother with the headaches of developing and implementing and enforcing such a policy just so they can take off early on Fridays.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Yup. They heard of this summer hours thing, thought it sounded like it would work for them personally, and made it mandatory for everyone. (Wherever I’ve heard of summer hours it was optional, where you just needed to not schedule meetings for Friday afternoon to accommodate the people taking advantage of it.)

        1. Specialk9*

          I’ve only heard of summer hours where everyone just goes home early on Fridays. They don’t make up the time. That’s not a perk, that’s just INflex time.

      3. Samiratou*

        My company does summer hours, but it’s entirely voluntary, and if you have a team that needs coverage until the evenings, not everyone can do them.

        This is the first year I’ve been able to even consider them, due to daycare schedules and the like. Mostly I do them sort-of informally and tend to leave early on Friday if all my stuff is done and I’m waiting on answers from people who are out for summer hours.

    3. Antilles*

      So I once applied at a company that had this sort of schedule as a permanent setting (8-5 on Mon-Thu, then 8-12 on Fri) and their rationale was as follows:
      1.) Many people already mentally check out a little early on Friday afternoons anyways, thinking about weekend plans, looking forward to the weekend. But if you come in Friday morning knowing you’re only there for 4 hours, you can stay focused on cleaning off your desk and finishing up the last few projects and be productive for the entire time.
      2.) It makes it easier for people to take weekend vacations, because the usual “oh, I’d like to leave a little early to dodge traffic” is already covered.
      3.) It leaves a specific time set for people to deal with errands, appointments, etc since they can deal with all that during their Friday afternoon off.
      That’s the theoretical rationale behind it. But based on friends who worked there, each of these reasons didn’t really work out that nicely in practice: (1) people still mentally check out a little early – the concept of “well, I don’t want to start a brand new project 30 minutes before leaving for the weekend, so I’ll just sit here” still exists, it just happens at a different time on the clock; (2) flexibility for weekend vacations could be nice, but practically speaking you usually ended up limited by “kids are at school till 3:00 anyways”, “spouse can only leave a few minutes early, not five hours early”, etc; and (3) a lot of errands can’t be scheduled precisely for Friday afternoons.
      And most importantly…a lot of those people working ‘half days’ on Friday actually ended up working on their own time Friday afternoons anyways because the other 98% of the industry is in office, so clients and teaming partners and etc still call.

      1. bonkerballs*

        I work at an office that has this schedule now. But we do it because we’re a Jewish organization and this way no matter what time of year, everyone is out of the office and home by sundown for Shabbat.

    4. myswtghst*

      Seriously. I’m honestly confused at how working longer days 80% of the time so you can get out a few hours early on Friday is a “perk”. We do summer hours in my office as a choice between taking off a couple extra days throughout the summer without using PTO, or leaving a few hours early every Friday. There is no”making up” those hours elsewhere, because one of the reasons for summer hours is to reward us for the long hours we put in the rest of the year during projects and classes and busy seasons.

      1. a1*

        You get to not be in the office during designated time. You get to start your weekend early. A lot of people in these parts go to cabins (or, when I lived elsehwere “the shore”) every weekend and being able to leave early is a huge help, even if you work one extra hour a day the rest of the week. I’m not a cabin or shore person but I see the benefit of starting the weekend early. That said, I agree with everyone else that this should be optional. If you want to, or have to, keep the same hours for kids or other scheduling reason you should be able to (or just because you don’t want to).

        1. Specialk9*

          We’re not objecting to the hours – that would be nice if free. But forcing everyone to mandatory longer hours is discriminating against families, and a whole passle of folks.

          1. a1*

            I was replying to myswtghst about why some folks find it nice to leave early on Fridays, even if you have to work extra hours elsewhere. They seemed confused on why that could be of benefit or a “perk”.

  12. It’s all good*

    #1 – for once in my life I met 100% of all requirements for a community college job. I was so excited when they called asking for supporting documents. Then crickets. Weeks later I received a “no” form letter. Later a friend told me she knows for the most part they exclusively hire from within and the post was just a formality. I was extremely disappointed to say the least. If only they let me interview…..

    1. LovecraftInDC*

      I somewhat understand why businesses have and follow policies similar to this, but I agree it’s completely frustrating. I work for a large organization with lots of roles for my skillset, so when I was looking most recently I started applying internally. For the majority of positions, I would get a simple ‘thanks no thanks’ email within a couple of days even when I met the requirements PERFECTLY.

      It really wears you down after a while, and makes you want to do dumb things like email the hiring manager directly and just ask “Is this a quick posting so you can hire somebody you already know you want, or is this legitimate?”

      Of course, when I got a promotion which I had been effectively promised, it was done using the exact same process, and I was relieved that I didn’t have to wait for them to interview a dozen external or non-seriously-considered internal candidates.

      1. Tuxedo Cat*

        Not that it makes it a great system, but one institution I’m thinking of makes it pretty clear if you read between the lines. The qualifications are setup so that you had have worked for them. Things like being very familiar with the institution’s policies and population. It’s not just like student population, it’s literally Institution X’s population.

    2. Tuxedo Cat*

      That’s been my experience with an institution in my area. Granted, I don’t know what was in the cover letters and what happened during the interviews, but I do know the hires’ experiences and I’ve seen their CVs. There have definitely been times where the institution has hired someone who is less qualified than I am.

    3. Kaybee*

      Yeah, in my civil service organization, we have to apply for our own promotions, so a lot of advertised positions aren’t truly open. By “applying for our own promotions” I don’t mean that we have to apply for a higher-ranking job (I mean, we do), but if my current position is going to be converted into a slightly higher classification to reflect my growth and readiness to take on increased responsibility, it has to be posted as an open job position that anyone could apply for. And since it’s *my current position,* if any of the applicants got the higher-ranking position, I of course would be out of a job. So even though the job is being advertised, there isn’t actually a vacant position.

      When I’ve encountered this situation, I feel bad for the applicants applying for the position, and I also feel bad for myself for having to go through a recruitment process as a reward for excelling at my job. As Tuxedo Cat noted, once you’re familiar with an entity’s bureaucracy, you can learn to read a position description and suss out whether it’s a promotion/internal hire or an actual vacancy (as Tuxedo Cat said, there are often requirements that are more specific than usual), not to mention that once your foot is in the door, you often know through the grapevine which positions at your level or a step above are truly vacant. But that’s hard for outsiders to do, unfortunately. This will vary by organization and departments within the organization, but my experience is that my leaders will reach out to exceptional applicants about future job opportunities or direct them to other job opportunities that are actually vacant to try to mitigate some of the suckiness of the situation.

      The problem is that while virtually everyone involved in the process would love for the rules to be changed, changing civil service rules is a really political process. It’s really easy for one’s words to be twisted around to make it look like they’re making the system less meritocratic. So you need several brave leaders at once (usually the head of the agency that manages HR, the administration at that level of government and in the law- or rule-making body for that level of government), and it’s really hard to gather that many leaders who are willing to make that the political hill they potentially die on.

  13. Wintermute*

    #1– They probably ticked the wrong box in their form letter generator, the one that said “doesn’t meet minimums”, as opposed to another category. That said, I disagree with AAM on this one. I think that if they explicitly SAID you don’t meet the minimums and you clearly do, if the minimums are *objective*, you can go a different way. By “objective” I mean as in “2 years experience, bachelor’s degree in electronics or a related field or equivalent work experience” if you have a bachelors in electronics and three years with the same job title, that would be objective because three is greater than two and you have the degree, if it’s a quibble about whether a degree in computer engineering is equivalent to electronics, or whether 3 years designing the inductive heaters for high-end tea kettles is equivalent to a degree that’s not objective.
    In such a case, IF their interview process is highly automated, or you uses a lot of web forms (as opposed to you just sending a resume for review) you might want to write back not asking if they meant to interview you, but saying “I was surprised to hear that I didn’t meet the minimum requirements, which the job ad said were three years experience in the teapot field, a T++ certification and Lipton LCSA certification , and I do have all of that, I wanted to make sure that everything was accounted for in my application. ” It could well be a case of automated tool failure where it thought you missed some box you didn’t, or their keyword search of a text box didn’t account for that, for instance if you wrote out “Lipton Certified Steeping Associate” as opposed to LCSA, or misspelt something,

    #3– you sound like you have a very adversarial view of your employer-employee relationship. That’s worth digging into, because your first assumption is basically “how are they going to use this to screw me?” and that’s rarely a healthy instinct when you’re talking about your workplace. Sometimes that can be a relic of the way you grew up or how you were taught to view the world– my grandfather, for instance, grew up working in a very traditional factory, and was a dyed in the wool union man. His worldview was very much “management will always abuse you have to fight back, fight everything they try to do because it’s never for your benefit.” On the other hand maybe that’s a worldview you’ve adopted based on toxic employers, either this one, or prior ones that have affected you.

    In any event, it’s not good if your first instinct is “how can they use this to hurt me?” Either you need to change your employer or your outlook, maybe both.

    1. JamieS*

      Agreed on #3. In addition, I found it telling OP thinks giving an honest answer will cause them to lose their raise. OP if you work for a reasonably functional workplace, and it sounds like there’s a good chance you do, they aren’t going to yank your raise if you say anything other than “I wouldn’t change anything because my job and work life is absolutely perfect.”

      They asked for feedback previously and seem to be responding by trying to address concerns so absent telling info not in the letter I’d recommend trusting they’ll handle the currently requested feedback in the same manner.

      1. The Dread Pirate Buttercup*

        Agreed. At my last job, we got a lot of rhetoric that sounded like it came from Google: “Feel free to ask questions! How can we make things better?” But they’d do things like schedule me 7 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Monday, 7 p.m. to 3:30 a.m. Tuesday, 12 p.m.-8 p.m. Wednesday… and write us up for hanging up on people without manager permission, when those people were masturbating at us and manifestly not interested in our client’s product…when there was no manager on duty. All very StrexCorp, and I am almost relieved at having been fired… if it weren’t for the economic insecurity.

        1. Jadelyn*

          I kinda wish someone had called them on the write-ups for hanging up on that particular type of caller. “I’m sorry, are you saying that enduring sexual harassment is a part of my job, and that I must first ask for and receive permission from my manager before removing myself from a situation in which I am being sexually harassed, or else I will be disciplined for removing myself from sexual harassment without permission?” Just force them to actually answer that question in so many words.

          1. Wintermute*

            While NORMALLY protecting employees from sexually harassing customers is a legal requirement, there are some exceptions. They’re fairly narrow though (mostly government services or monopoly industries where customers have no other alternative for a utility).

            1. Jadelyn*

              I wasn’t saying that it was necessarily illegal for them to require it – I am aware that there are certain situations in which they wouldn’t be legally liable – just that it would be interesting to pose the question in very blunt terms as a way to make them think about what they’re doing and force them to say outright to an employee, “Yes, we consider sexual harassment a part of your job.”

              1. Wintermute*

                You’re absolutely right, I think a lot of business owners, terrified of losing customers, forget that they have a legal obligation to protect their employees from CUSTOMERS (as well as vendors, contractors, and the general public) and not just co-workers when it comes to sexual harassment.

                There are limits to “the customer is always right” and employees have a legal right to a safe workplace.

                The reason I mentioned the exception is that the call center work I have done HAS had rules in the employee handbook about harassing customers, but that isn’t the experience of my good friend that works for the government where they have an obligation to process your tax paperwork even if you are making lewd comments, sadly. Personally I say abuse it you lose it and if that means you can’t ever get a drivers’ license, then that’s the price you pay for deciding to harass women!

          2. The Dread Pirate Buttercup*

            Ugh, me, too, now that you mention it. I will forward that to the person who got written up, though— it’s a good question.

    2. Mary*

      Bear in mind that OP#3’s workplace has just been acquired by a larger company, and all their salaries got frozen. It’s pretty normal for employees to feel alienated from their employers in that situation, and not necessarily something the OP has to fix herself.

      1. Wintermute*

        That’s very true, but even so that attitude seems to be something that will ultimately be self-defeating. If your workplace is worthy of such suspicion that’s a sign to get out before it ends up corrupting your worldview and making it harder to get on in a functional workplace (an issue we’ve discussed many times here, how spending too long neck-deep in guano makes it so you can have a hard time knowing what’s normal or not at your next role, or the next one after that). And if they’re not, then you’ll surely be happier your whole life if you’re not always looking at it through a conspiratorial lens.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I agree on the potential for this to be self-defeating.

          Maybe the raises will improve morale for OP and everyone else, and that will be enough to turn around OP’s suspicion and resentment. But if not, OP, think about unpacking that snarl–either it’s carried over from something else to damage the present, or it’s your gut screaming at you that no 1% raise is worth it, run.

    3. Thankful for AAM*

      I agree about the job qualifications letter from OP #1. I did follow up with HR for 2 jobs and they really did think I did not meet the minimum qualifications in error.

      It happened to me 2 times but I get that mine are anecdotal and may not be typical experiences.

    4. Trout 'Waver*

      In regards to number 3, their salary got frozen for years, which means they are making less money after inflation than the previous years. Shrinking someone’s compensation is adversarial, to say the least.

      1. Lora*

        Yeah – as the survivor of multiple corporate mergers and takeovers, here’s what I would do:

        Sure! I would like to do the following!
        -Get certification XYZ [unspoken: because it would help me get a better offer at NextJob, even if it doesn’t help me in ThisJob]
        -Learn OddlySpecificSkill [which MegaCorp has, but SmallCorp didn’t have the budget for, which could put me in the running for NicheJob in the future]
        -Learn to use HideouslyExpensiveSoftware [which MegaCorp uses and SmallCorp couldn’t afford]
        -Interact more with vendors / consultants [who are best networked to tip you off about NextJob openings]

        Management may be surprised by this, if you haven’t asked for these things before, especially if they are a bit unusual for your position. But if you’re really unhappy and mergers / acquisitions are a thing in your industry, you should probably anticipate needing to change jobs in the future and position yourself well for that.

        1. Specialk9*

          Oh yeah. When your current job is looking iffy, get the certs and tool experience that set you up for another job. I see it as a trade-off, and why I’ll stick it out (sometimes) when things are uncertain.

    5. CM*

      On OP#1, I totally agree that a politely worded letter that doesn’t sound entitled, but says, “I just wanted to make sure there wasn’t a mistake in my application. I was informed that I did not meet the minimum qualifications but I do have a B.S. in biology and five years of work experience,” and reiterates interest in the job would be OK. At worst, you remain rejected; at best, they reconsider you (and I have definitely seen this happen; I have worked at companies that use screening software, and it’s possible to put in the wrong criteria for minimum qualifications).

      On OP#3, it seems like the OP’s skepticism about her job is warranted based on the lack of raises and low morale. You could consider answering the questions with things that you want: for example your “dream job” is a job where you have your current responsibilities but are compensated at market value and have a more flexible schedule.

    6. myswtghst*

      “#3– you sound like you have a very adversarial view of your employer-employee relationship. That’s worth digging into, because your first assumption is basically “how are they going to use this to screw me?” and that’s rarely a healthy instinct when you’re talking about your workplace.”

      This was my thought as well. As someone who works with HR on creating and distributing these types of surveys, then holding the business accountable for the follow up action items, I can easily see those questions stemming from a well-intentioned but poorly thought out plan to identify additional measures for rewarding/compensating employees (in addition to the promised raises and bonuses). This doesn’t mean OP#3 needs to trust blindly and give tons of input, but it could be worthwhile to spend some time thinking about the answers to those questions, so they can put the 1-sentence version on the form and talk about it in more detail with their manager.

  14. Accidental Analyst*

    OP #5 if you’re using Outlook you can use the clean up conversation function when you get back.
    Go Home > Clean Up > Clean Up Converstation
    This will move all redundant messages to your delete folder. So if there is an email chain it will delete any message that is included in another one. Eg there’s a two week back and forth on a topic, you’ll be left with potentially one message that has the whole chain in it. If people have branched off the conversation, eg added/dropped people, each separate branch will have one message with the whole branch

    1. CTT*

      When I first figured out how to use that, I swear there was a beam of light and an angel chorus. What a lifesaver.

        1. LCL*

          Wow! I’m hearing ELO’s Rollover Beethoven and feel 10 years younger! I am ready to work! This is the best Outlook tip I have ever found. Thank you very much!

    2. Workerbee*

      Oh, this is amazing. I usually have my Outlook client smaller on my screen, so that little X-mail icon in the Delete group didn’t even register with me as a THING. It is beautiful.

  15. This ain't rocket science*

    People here are kind. No. 1 sounds like one of those nightmare people who assume they deserve a job because they want it. No matter what they said about your experience in the letter, the KEY info was that YOU weren’t getting an interview and, as such, were not getting the job. To write back and underline and all of that was doing entirely too much and seems entitled.

    1. Zillah*

      Alison explicitly asks us to be kind in the commenting rules. It’s literally the first bullet point.

      Calling LWs “nightmare people” is not really in keeping with that.

        1. Jadelyn*

          No, it’s not, but “nightmare people” blows right past blunt into straight up rude.

          If you want to tell an OP that they’re being overly pushy, or that their behavior comes off as entitled and presumptuous, that’s blunt but okay – overgeneralizing and saying that are “one of those nightmare people” is over the line by far.

        2. MsFitz*

          Honesty without tact is cruelty.

          I learned that from Kristen Bell quoting her therapist. Unfortunately she did not include step-by-step instructions on how to be tactful. If anyone has resources, please share!

          1. Jennifer Thneed*

            In the immortal words of Mr. Paul Simon:

            You say you care for me /
            But there’s no tenderness /
            Beneath your honesty

    2. Nursey Nurse*

      One of the site rules is that people be kind to LWs.

      I don’t think OP 1 should contact the company, because I don’t think she’s likely to get a good outcome by doing so. However, I don’t think she’s “entitled” for being confused about the fact that the rejection letter said she didn’t meet the basic qualifications when she *actually met the basic qualifications.*

    3. Wintermute*

      I kind of agree, but you’re soft-selling it yourself a bit. Being kind is not being personally insulting. Sometimes commentators here go from kind to outright unbelievable credulity when it comes to believing a clearly unreliable narrator. Then other times they decide to pick nits and disbelieve a clearly plausible narrative. I suppose the first few comments on a post really help set a tone, as does whether the LW hits people’s personal anger triggers.

      In this case the LW does indeed come off as very arrogant, and that probably carries across to other forms of communication too. But at the same time I think even the original AAM answer missed the fact they SAID he didn’t meet the posted minimum qualifications, when he clearly did. That degree of inattention does prompt the question of whether you were misunderstood or they made a mistake. Given that clearly SOME mistake was made I think they’re not completely out of line wondering if that cost them the job, or if the mistake was immaterial.

      1. CM*

        How is OP#1 “very arrogant”? For all we know, she has a PhD and twenty years of teaching experience in the exact class she was trying to teach and was rejected for min quals. It’s equally possible that OP#1 has zero relevant experience. But from the letter, we don’t have any background so why can’t we assume that OP#1 may have a valid reason to be shocked at being rejected for that reason?

        1. Tuxedo Cat*

          Without knowing more about the letter writer and being someone who has been on the job market for awhile without offers, I can understand why she might’ve done this. Not a move I would’ve done, but I have sympathy.

          I agree with the other posters that this was probably generic language and that there were other circumstances that meant you didn’t get an interview. I experienced something like this recently. I had interviewed for a position about a year ago and was one of two candidates. My friend received the offer, no big deal. I was told she had a stronger teaching record and I come off more as a researcher (this is true), which pushed her ahead; the position had both but emphasized teaching. The department created a second position, identical to the position I interviewed for a year ago in ad and all. They still had my materials. I submitted some new ones, emphasizing my teaching and work with students. I didn’t even get an interview. While there were rumblings about an internal candidate, I learned what happened was that they didn’t think I was as invested in research. Go figure.

      2. Leslie knope*

        The first few comments absolutely do set the tone here. I’ve noticed that in many posts.

      3. Jadelyn*

        But even something like “does this person meet minimum qualifications” can be a matter of judgment, so I don’t know that we can say with certainty that a mistake was made.

        I have 4 years of HR experience, and a degree in HRM. But my experience has been operations/admin support, then systems and analysis specialization. So a posting for a benefits administrator might say they want 3 years of HR experience and a degree, and on the face of it I meet that – but because of the type of HR experience I have, they might not count that toward their minimum since I wasn’t involved in the functional area of HR they’re looking for.

        Or, they didn’t see evidence of a qualification OP met, if it wasn’t clear on their resume. If a position requires 3 years of llama-grooming experience, and OP’s resume shows 1 year working at a llama-groomer and 2 years working at a llama boarding facility where their title was llama trainer, not groomer, someone might read that and see 1 year of llama-grooming experience and 2 years of llama training, not 3 years of llama-grooming experience, so they might mark the application as not meeting the requirements. And that’s not necessarily a mistake so much as a matter of judgment, and if you’ve got a hundred applicants to go through you’re not going to depth-read every single bullet point on every single resume to see that the llama trainer also did llama grooming as part of their role.

        1. Wintermute*

          that’s why I said it is very material whether the qualifications were objectively met or subjectively met. If it’s a judgement call then that’s different than if it were an objective “x years experience” or “certificates in A and B and a batchelor’s degree in Y”

    4. Bea*

      People are trying to be constructive and give advice to others who “don’t get it”, kindness goes a long way.

      Look at the amount of reasonable OPs who will pop up and take something from the commentary because it’s well written feedback.

      It’s less of an impact on someone to say “wow, you’re a nightmare, check your arrogance, bro!” even though some of us have that kneejerk reaction. I know my initial response was a heavy eyeroll because it’s generally bad to assume you’ll get an interview anywhere. I have never applied anywhere I’m not checking off each of the boxes for in their qualification list. However things get misconstrued and what they want and who I am is often different.

      Case and point, I need a department manager for a listing I have but every single application is for service industry management or they think shift lead is the same as department management.

      I’ve had Account Managers apply too. Sigh.

      So yeah. I’m not liking the general vibe I get but more flies with honey. Rarely anyone is saying “yeah bro, you’re so right and you should push push push back!”

      1. Wintermute*

        You make some very good points. I think there’s also value in weight of numbers. It’s easy for someone to dismiss one or two commenters as “oh they’re loons” but when you start seeing dozens of posts, well, it tells you something. Especially because they wouldn’t be writing in to AAM if they weren’t open to some introspection.

  16. NowFreelance*

    #5. Ah, America, where 2 months off after a baby is considered a long time. I took 15 months off after my daughter was born (from my own business). I set up auto forward to my business partner, with an out of office reply which said I was away on maternity leave. That meant after the first email people generally stopped copying me in. When I came back, I deleted everything which had come in whilst I was off, without reading it. Then my business partner and I sat down for half a day and got me up to speed. Trust your colleagues, delete the email, schedule a catch-up meeting with them for the day you come back. It’ll be fine!

    1. Akcipitrokulo*

      Agreed – with both mine I was out of office for 9-10 months (couldn’t afford to take full year) and it really wasn’t a big deal catching up when I got back.

      1. Anon for now*

        But that is very job dependent. Some jobs you can be gone for a year and not have a backlog. Others have significant problems if you are gone for a week. The OP could very well have trouble catching up after being gone for two months regardless of what your experience was. You have different jobs.

    2. Mary*

      Not really – a long shorter break isn’t neessarily less stressful that a very long break. UK mat leaves are usually 6-12 months, very commonly around 9, and that means a total handover and someone else covering all your work. 6-8 weeks is right in the space where you can expect to hand a few things over but keep longer term projects and that’s considerably more complicated.

      I took 8 months with my first daughter and then my partner took 10 weeks: my employer hired a new me as maternity cover but my partner’s employer just decided to let her work pile up (academic with a major admin role, but it was summer so no teaching to cover.) She spent most of the next year trying to catch up on the stuff that has just been ignored over her leave. :-/

    3. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Alison asks us to not discuss politics here. It’s one of the reasons this site is a haven for many of us in a time when we are overwhelmed by the current state of things.

      I don’t think anyone was defending our maternity leave. The differences in American business norms are a frequent topic of conversation here and it’s a useless conversation because there is nothing an individual letter writer can do to change those norms so the advice they are given is designed to work within them.

      1. Thankful for AAM*

        I meant that for NewameForThis. Wish we could edit or delete comments. I don’t think that post was political or that the first post in that thread was attacking US policy.

        Just like working for a toxic employer can lead to coping skills that don’t fit in other workplaces, the US policies on mat leave, families, etc lead us to think 2 months away from work is a long time.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          Except unless people are planning to migrate to another country, US citizens have to function within the current US system. Which, yeah, has some toxic elements as a whole, but unfortunately, those won’t be solved by getting a new job.

          1. grace*

            And it comes up EVERY TIME. This is nothing new or groundbreaking and it isn’t helping a ton of people to be reminded endlessly that this is the reality they live in. If it was like once in a blue moon, fine, but it is literally every time that healthcare/mat leave/taxes/whatever comes up, so it’s not like anyone is unaware that this isn’t the way the rest of the world does it.

            1. Keep Your Eyes On The Prize*

              What I’ve learned from this site is that there is no one size fits all. A dozen people can be having the same problem but Alison sees the nuances in each one. Otherwise we wouldn’t be seeing the problem co-worker who talks all day long more than once, the chatty co-worker makes a regular appearance, now and forever.

        2. Rat in the Sugar*

          2 months away from work IS a long time! Yes, in many countries it’s common to take leave for an even longer period than that, but it doesn’t mean that 2 months isn’t also a long time to be away. That reminds me of people who tell me about northern states with below-zero weather when I complain about my Florida winters– yes, they are much colder than I am but I’m still cold!
          While I do agree that it is reasonable to take that much time off or more(by “long” I don’t at all mean “too long”!), in Europe where longer leave is the norm those companies are prepared to deal with it and may have a whole different setup in place, so I don’t think seeing the 10-15 month successful leaves of others is necessarily much reassurance to the OP.

    4. Partly Cloudy*

      When my co-worker returned from maternity leave a couple of years ago, she was So Overwhelmed by her inbox and our boss and I both advised her to “declare email bankruptcy” and delete everything over a week old without worrying about it. For older emails, the odds that someone else handled it already are extremely high, and if it’s still something pressing, whoever sent it will ask again. It’s not worth the days and days spent reading all the old emails and tracking down the outcomes when 99% of it is now irrelevant.

  17. Good, Cheap, or Soon. Pick Two.*

    LW #2, when you get the ever-so-peaceful group of coworkers together, before lighting the torches and polishing the pitchforks (to be clear, I’m not entirely opposed to this idea in your case, I’d be steamed if I got this pulled on me), could you try to get clarification on where the hell they found this little chestnut? You’ve pointed out that your organization’s other offices are not adhering to these hours and that it is going to… and this is the part that seems bonkers to me… cost the company money in the form of overtime compensation for hourly workers. Are any of the coworkers who are a mite cranky about scrambling for childcare part of accounting, perchance? Could they make management see cents on that one?

    Now, if they decide to stick to this… inventive little timeshare, would it be possible to rotate who gets stuck being on call each Friday? Seriously, it may suck but at least you’d be able to know when you’re going to have to eat the poisoned pill that is your management’s great idea. This would allow you and your coworkers to divide up the schedule and figure out childcare, etc. ahead of time. Plus, it allows people willing to cover different Fridays a chance to build capital (if the situation’s still going to suck, might as well try to find some benefit to it).

    1. Collarbone High*

      I don’t understand why the company doesn’t just make the summer schedule voluntary, if they’re going to need coverage on Friday afternoons anyway. That would let the people with childcare issues or evening commitments keep the schedule that works for them *and* avoid running up a big overtime bill and having to cancel people’s Friday afternoon plans at the last minute.

      Whatever they decide, it’s absolutely not cool to say “you *definitely* have to work an extra hour M-Th, and you *might* get Friday afternoon off.” I can’t think of a worse way to get buy-in on a new policy.

  18. Blossom*

    #2 – WTF? Aren’t summer hours supposed to mean shorter days, full stop? I’ve had a couple of jobs that did this – it meant finishing early on a Friday, with no change to Monday to Thursday. That’s why it was a perk!
    I’d be absolutely outraged at being asked to stay an hour late most days for no apparent reason, half-day Friday or not!

    1. NewHerePleaseBeNice*

      OP isn’t being ‘asked’ to stay an hour late – she’s being told to. Outrageous.

      1. Lance*

        Yeah… the very worst part of this is the apparent inflexibility regarding the change in hours. It doesn’t exactly make the so-called ‘perk’ look like an actual perk, especially with the looming threat of overtime; it sounds like management got into their heads that their staff would love a somewhat extended weekend with reduced Friday hours (or, well, reduced barring being told to stay later)… then in the same beat failed to consider all the glaring negatives in this arrangement.

        1. KRM*

          For real. We have summer hours at work–you can work your 40 hours and take a half day, or you can spread it out over 2 weeks and take a full day, whenever you want. If your department needs cover for normal business hours, people will trade taking whole days off (so you get a full day off every other week). Very flexible. And many people who can’t (due to childcare pickups, etc), don’t have to take summer hours at all. It’s basically a perk where meetings after 12 on Friday are discouraged and you are encouraged to flex your time IF YOU CAN. And if not, no big deal. Being told you HAVE to take the hours and then are also expected to cover for departments that need normal business hours filled is annoying and counterproductive.

    2. missc*

      In my experience, different companies interpret it in different ways. It’s a reasonably common thing in my industry, but the difference is that where I work, it’s entirely optional, unlike at OP’s workplace. If we want to leave at lunchtime on a Friday then we need to work extra hours Monday-Thursday to make up the time. We’re also not supposed to take these hours out of our lunch break – they have to be added on to the beginning and/or end of the day. There are meant to be set ways of making up the hours – for example, coming in an hour early in the morning and leaving half an hour later in the evening – but realistically each department lead works with their staff to find out the best way round for them.

      Personally, since there is a flexible approach to working hours here anyway, I’ve found that it works better for me to just come in half an hour early each day, because that way I get to leave half an hour earlier Monday-Friday and I get to enjoy more of my evening. But other people are enjoying the summer hours – the important thing is that it’s a choice and not an obligation!

    3. 2horseygirls*

      Nope. When the higher ed institution I worked for did summer hours, the choice was: work four 10-hour days, and have Friday off, or use 8 hours of vacation time each of the eight weeks summer hours were utilized. There was some flexibility (at least in my department): you could do four 10 hour days one week, and then use your vacation time in the next week if your schedule required it.

      But those were the only options, as the college was closed entirely (except for campus police) on Fridays.

    4. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Shorter days full stop puts the screws on anyone who isn’t exempt; my experience with summer hours is typically companies moving to a 9/80 or 4×10 arrangement rather than reducing their total working hours.

      1. zora*

        Not necessarily. Our company pre-acquisition used to just give us X free PTO days to use as Summer Fridays throughout the summer. As a non-exempt person, I still got paid for those hours but it was like free extra PTO.

        It would be possible to do the same with nonexempt people, offer them those extra hours as PTO if they want to take them.

        Our current system is more like the OP’s where you can leave early on Friday IF you work out your full 40 hours during the week, which I don’t like as much, honestly, but it is totally voluntary and the fact that I get those 4 hours paid as overtime (I’m in CA) softens the blow enough for me to go ahead and do it. If it was mandatory I would definitely push back, that is obnoxious.

    5. Judy (since 2010)*

      In my experience, summer hours (at several large companies) meant for exempt engineers: “whenever after lunch on a Friday you’ve got at least 40 hours in, you can leave”. It basically allowed you to ignore the core hours that you were supposed to work (9-3:30 usually). The rest of the year, you would be required to clear it with your manager to leave before the end of core hours.

    6. IddyBiddy*

      My company does this same work late/leave early Fridays in the summer, and if I participated fully it would cost me hundreds in extra childcare. So instead I’ve let my boss know which weeks I can participate (when kids are at Grandma’s!) and for the weeks I can’t stay late, I come in a little early and end up leaving at 3pm Fridays. Luckily, he’s understanding. Like Alison said, this should be a perk, not a burden!

    7. 5 Leaf Clover*

      I’ve had several jobs with summer hours (in publishing) and there were always longer hours M-Th to make up for it. But it was also always optional!

    8. Kathleen_A*

      We used to have an accrual system for our summer-hours program, but it was completely voluntary. If you wanted to participate, you could, and if you didn’t want to, you didn’t half to. Or you could do it some weeks but not do it others, if your workload didn’t allow it.

      It was also amazingly difficult to administer, which is why we no longer have to accrue the hours we take off. But I don’t think the concept of “Work an extra hour M-Th, get a half day off on Friday” is a bad one, if it’s voluntary and if you have a way to administer it fairly. We did not.

    9. ThatGirl*

      I’ve worked at two companies with summer Fridays, and both required a 40-hour compressed workweek to take advantage of that perk. While it would be fantastic to just get 3-4 free hours off, it doesn’t seem to work that way.

      (And BTW, I have also interviewed at a few places that mentioned summer hours as a perk, with a compressed 40-hr workweek, so my sample size is bigger than 2.)

      1. Specialk9*

        It’s always worked that way, free hours off, no makeup required, in the 2 orgs I had summer hours. We weren’t hourly though, and worked long hours on plenty of occasions without much reward, so it all worked out.

    10. DivineMissL*

      At my old job, our summer hours meant that we could opt to work an extra hour on Monday – Thursday, so we could leave 4 hours early on Friday – still 40 hours a week, so we didn’t lose any pay; we took turns being the Friday afternoon coverage in each department (or someone who had opted out could be coverage). My sister works at a school, and they used to shorten work hours in the summer so they worked 8-2 instead of 8-4 (working 30 hours instead of 40, for the same pay). Last year her school changed it to working regular hours Monday – Thursday but closed on Fridays, so they could close the whole building on Fridays and save energy/cooling costs. If you’re salaried and your office chooses to pay you the same for less hours, that’s great; but I think many offices still require you to work the same number of hours to get paid the same.

    11. Aitch Arr*


      We have summer hours at my employer, which means M-Th is one’s normal schedule and then we all can leave at 3 pm on Friday, if we want / if we can. No one’s salary is changed if they are exempt and non-exempt employees can work the 2 extra hours M-Th if they get approval.

      1. bonkerballs*

        Just saying, if I was non-exempt and this was how summer hours were set up, I would be pissed. Everyone else gets to cut out early, but I have to either extend two of my working days or take a pay cut? No thanks.

        1. bonkerballs*

          Also I just noticed the “if they get approval” on the end of your comment, so I’d be even more pissed because that means the assumption is just that I take a pay cut for this perk.

        2. Kathleen_A*

          Well, when my organization had the accrual system, it was all on the honor system. We didn’t have a time clock or anything – non-exempt employees would just record it themselves on their time sheet, exempt employees kept some sort of rough tally, and that was that.

          Also in our case, the office wasn’t closed because employees took every other Friday off instead of every Friday. Some employees would have the first Friday of the month, some the second, and so on. So you never had anybody left in an echoingly empty office while everybody else was out having fun (although you for sure had Fridays when there weren’t a whole lot of people around).

          But it was really difficult to keep track of and administer fairly because it was so easy for people to scam the system and also easy for honest people to not have opportunities to use their accrued summer hours. So we eventually got rid of the accrual system entirely and went to something else (we just have X number of “summer days” that we can use in full-day and half-day increments anytime you like during the summer). But all the nitpicking and scamming nearly destroyed the program, so I’m glad management found a way to save it.

          BTW, I won’t be around on Friday because I’m taking a summer day. (For real!)

        3. zora*

          I have this system (except we get up to 4 hours, not 2) and I am the nonexempt person. BUT, it is also explicit that exempt people are still expected to work their full 40 hours somehow. In my company this system doesn’t bother me because all of my exempt coworkers consistently work longer hours than I do anyway, I always get to leave at my 40 hours, My coworkers get paid more, but they have to work long days or weekends sometimes depending on workload. So, it seems like a fair trade off to me.

        4. Specialk9*

          Yeah it stinks if there’s inequity. But exempt people often have to donate free hours to the company without overtime. The 2 places I worked though, everyone was salaried not hourly.

    12. SLG*

      We have summer hours, but have to make it up during the week like OP. Luckily, 35hrs is fulltime here so we all just shorten our lunch breaks to half an hour Monday-Friday to make up the time.

  19. Zaphod Beeblebrox*

    Questions along the line of: “What talents, interests, or skills do you have that we haven’t made the most of?” irritate me.

    I may have skills etc that I use outside the workplace, but if they aren’t relevant to my job, then you don’t need to “make the most” of them – especially if you aren’t going to give me any more money.

    It smacks of “what more can we get out of you without giving anything back in return”.

    1. Blossom*

      It would have been a welcome question for me a couple of jobs ago. I’d taken the job as a sideways move, but it became apparent that the job was really narrower and more junior than I’d been led to believe. Meanwhile, other teams were taking on work which I’d have expected to be part of my role. I would have liked the chance to say “guess what, I can do X, Y and Z too, as you know from my interview – and I’d like to use them here”.

    2. Blue*

      I just left an office where this question would’ve been really welcomed by much of the staff. Our main work duty was very cyclical and very repetitive, and half the staff only did that kind of work. It meant many of them were bored as hell from doing the same things over and over and that they sat around with little to do during the down periods of the cycle.

      Being able to say, “I’m good at xyz things and would like to grow in those areas” (and having management actually listen, of course) would’ve dramatically increased job satisfaction for many. I can understand if your prior experiences create a “this is a trap” response, but it definitely isn’t a universally sinister question to ask – in fact, it can be quite good.

    3. MLB*

      Would probably be better is worded as “What job skills do you feel you have that we haven’t made the most of?”. It’s a legit question, but yes things you do outside of work shouldn’t be factor with a self evaluation.

      1. a1*

        Exactly. Why would you even think to list them? And that doesn’t mean the question is bad or BS. If I had that question – No, I would not list my podcasting or stage performing skills, but I would list public speaking, project management, client relationship management, and maybe several others that I miss doing. Maybe nothing comes of it, but maybe something does.

    4. LQ*

      But then you don’t list those. This is an opportunity to say, hey, I’m actually really good at voice acting and would like to be able to do the voice over for our elearnings if you want to. Or to go heck no, I’m not going to do vo work at work, that’s a hobby. I’m going to say that I really like doing detailed accounting because I want to shift my job into that field.

      This isn’t them demanding you make a comprehensive list of all skills so they can take them from you. This is an opportunity to push your job in the direction you want to go.

      List the things you want to do more of at work that you have talent, skill or interest in. That’s a pretty broad swath of things. They aren’t saying “you must already be professional level vo talent to list it,” eh, I would kind of like to give it a try and see if I can do something fun with it should be entirely fine to list. Interest is just stuff you want to try.

    5. CleverGirl*

      That’s not how I interpret it at all. To me it comes across as “what are you interested in doing at this job that you aren’t given opportunities to do?” I would actually love it if my company asked that question and then actually responded to my answer.

      I got hired almost 2 years ago for a job that said it would involve a lot of teapot modeling and design, but it turned out the job is currently 100% teapot building with “potential modeling and design in the future when we get this building stuff streamlined”. I am constantly trying to figure out how to work in some design and modeling work because I want to get more experience for future careers, but I’m about at the point where I think I might just have to quit and find a new job or I’m doomed to do nothing but building forever.

      There may be many people who wish they could grow and expand their current jobs and who are well skilled to do so, and I think this question would be helpful in finding out who those people are.

      1. Agnes*

        Plus, particularly your immediate manager might have limited control over how much they could pay you or the benefits package, but might be able to make your day-to-day life much better by having you work in areas you are more interested in.

    6. CBE*

      I agree. Our annual evals also have the question
      “What things could you be doing to better serve clients, but you are not currently doing them. Why?”
      I HATE THAT.
      The assumption that we know we could be doing better, choose not to, and will ‘fess up on an annual survey? That isn’t anonymous? What answers are they expecting?
      Yes, I could be better serving clients by doing X but I choose not to because I am lazy.
      I know clients would be happier if I did Y but since I only get 80 hours of PTO annually, I choose not to.

        1. Jadelyn*

          Yeah no, that’s…that’s not at all the same kind of question. And to be clear, CBE, I agree that that’s a bizarro question – if they’re trying to understand how to better support their staff, then there’s other ways to ask that, like “Is there anything you would like to be able to do for clients, but can’t due to a lack of training/support?”, but the way it’s worded is awful and squarely puts the blame on the individual rather than actually sounding like the company asking how they can remove institutional barriers to better service.

          Because the heart of the question, assuming it is what I think it is, is a good one! The people directly interacting with clients are the ones who are best placed to answer “what institutional practices interfere with your ability to offer top-tier service to our customers?” – better than any consultant ever could. Maybe the TPS report structure takes up way too much time and takes you away from directly working with customers. Maybe the current process for approving discounts and deals for long-term customers takes too long and is too inflexible. And those are things that a good company will want to know so they can see if they can fix it. But by asking it in this particular way, they’re sounding accusatory and alienating the very people who have the information they’re awkwardly trying to access.

    7. Jadelyn*

      I don’t read that question at all the way you do. We ask something similar-ish on our coaching forms, though we word it a little differently, but the intent isn’t to ask “what more can we get out of you” so much as “where are you interested in growing and advancing?” My org was able to basically build a brand new role for me because I have strengths in reporting and analysis that nobody on this team does, and I wanted to focus on those areas. So they made space for me to do so, and it turned out that the type of analysis I do was valuable enough that it developed into a whole new role on the team, and it all came out of the fact that I was given an opportunity to say “Hey, I can do a lot more with your reporting than you’re currently doing – wanna let me take a crack at it?”

      It also identifies opportunities for cross-training. If a CSR says they’re interested in the underwriting that goes into the loan decisions, maybe we can arrange for them to spend some time working directly with the underwriting team, or include them in trainings for that team from time to time.

      It’s not about “making the most of” your skills purely for the company’s additional benefit. It’s about finding ways that you can grow and develop and maybe be more satisfied with your work and your role.

    8. SarcasticFringehead*

      It’s frustrating for me specifically because I’ve been saying for literally years that my department is understaffed, and I could “make the most” of skills xyz if I didn’t have to run the department essentially alone. We have the same conversation about my workload over and over, without making any progress, and then I just copy-paste the same issues into next year’s self-evaluation.

      So I can see where OP 3’s frustration is coming from – hopefully the company means “how can we make your job more enjoyable, and by the way we’re also giving you a raise,” and not “we gave you this tiny raise, and you can show your gratitude by adding more to your workload.”

    9. smoke tree*

      Yeah, I think the phrasing and context are what make it unfortunate in this case. If you know employees are frustrated about not being compensated enough, this is a tone-deaf question to ask. If they had waited until after the pay was sorted out, and then phrased it as “What areas are you interested in further developing?” that would have been fine. As is, it just sounds like “We know we’re not paying you enough. Please tell us how we can wring more work out of you at these sub-standard wages.”

  20. Rez123*

    I’ve been #1 situation a few times. I’ve gotten a vibe that they already knew who to hire and posted the job because they had to. Also could be that out of the 200 applicants some where just more suitable and they sent a standardised letter without thinking. I wouldn’t be in contact.

    #4 some beach wear that I saw in the shop were nicer than any dresses I own. It was unclear to me if the cover up is actually innapropriate or do the people comment about it because they know it’s a cover up. Anyways, Allison in right it’s the management’s job.

    #5 my manager has instructed us that in prolonged absence you just delete your emails. They have either been handled by someone else or they will get back to you. Actually one of the higher ups have written on his email “on holiday. All emails sent during my absense will be deleted. If it’s still valid in August. Send it again”. This could be phraised a bit nicer to the away message but then you would not have to worry about email.

  21. Virginian*

    #4 – It’s possible that she doesn’t realize it’s a beach cover up. There are some beach cover ups that look pretty similar to a light dress and I can easily see the confusion. As long as she’s covering the important bits, I don’t think it’s that big of a deal.

    1. The New Wanderer*

      On #4, I’m curious to know how other people know it’s a cover up. There are some that are really light, airy, and don’t cover as well as a dress would because you’d be expected to wear a bathing suit under and not care if it shows. In which case, if she’s not wearing some kind of lining/camisole/etc, it would be inappropriate. Or the material is nylon/spandex or lace or something else really out of place.

      But quite a few are cute full coverage tunic-style tops or short dresses in cotton or blend material that would be perfectly appropriate for a casual office. If they only know because they saw it sold in a catalog or store in the cover up section, I also think it’s no big deal that she repurposed it.

  22. Akcipitrokulo*

    OP5 – also see if you can set up an email rule so that if you are in the CC field, it’s filtered to a CC folder – that means your inbox will only be things that were sent directly to you.

    CC tends (in my experience) to be the equivalent of an FYI note – you’re not meant to do anything, just to be aware of what is happening at the moment. If they only CC you in important things, and it’s filtered out so you have it there for reference only, hopefully shouldn’t be too bad!

  23. YB*

    #1, please know that I mean this kindly and have been in your position many, many, many, many times. (Did I mention “many”?) It’s so frustrating when you want a job, when you’re confident you’d be good at it, and you get rejected. It’s doubly frustrating when you receive a rejection via a form letter which includes an obvious and insulting error about your qualifications. So as someone who’s applied for a lot of jobs, I 100% understand that.

    But as Alison explains, “meets the minimum qualifications” does not mean you “should” get an interview. It means you go in a pool of which the very best few get an interview. Once you’re in that pool, what separates the “very best few” from the “other 90%”, especially if you all have the same qualifications? Sometimes, it’s that some of the candidates have really exceptional qualifications…but other times, it’s just about who presents themselves most compellingly. In my experience working in HR and doing hiring, there is a strong correlation between how well you present yourself and how well you understand the game of marketing yourself to an employer. If you believe that meeting the minimum qualifications automatically entitles you to an interview, you may have other mistaken perceptions about how hiring processes really work, which may be hindering your ability to market yourself effectively. It’s been my experience that job applicants who face this specific challenge are often inadvertently doing other things in their application materials to demonstrate that they don’t fully understand hiring norms and/or workplace norms. Please make sure that that’s not your problem.

  24. SAS*

    OP5, I’ve just gone on a long bout of personal leave and had the same concerns! My office has a couple of group email lists (eg whole office) that can get a bit much when a “congrats/happy bday/goodbye” email spirals into a reply all fest or people regularly use it to send random training opportunities/fundraising events.

    I asked admin to remove me from all the group emails. I can only hope my out of office reply will put a quick stop to external agencies cc-ing me but other than a couple of unthinking automatic ccs, surely your colleagues wouldn’t regularly cc you while you’re away? Maybe you can send out an email directly asking them not to cc you and that you will ask to be caught up on current projects when you return (if they mistakenly think cc-ing you will be helpful in keeping you up to date)

  25. PolicyChick*

    LW2 reminds me of a similar issue I saw while I was a Creative Director at an ad agency that was owned by one man. We had about 250 employees, and only C-suite and senior management made solid salaries. Over the course of 18 months, our owner built a new building for the agency. The week we moved in (and all employees were expected to MOVE THEIR OWN OFFICE) we had a little party on that Friday. Owner stood up and said, “We’ve always been very casual with our dress code, but starting this Monday, no more casual. This is a beautiful building and we should start dressing like we deserve it! So no denim, no sneakers, no blah blah.” I about had a heart attack.

    The majority of the employees did not make the money to go out and buy a whole new wardrobe over the weekend! And it didn’t matter to the C-suites, because they already dressed up. I brought it up with owner (Are you going to give my staff bonuses so they can go shopping this weekend? For this new dress code you should have mentioned months ago so people could handle it cost-wise?) He just sniffed at me and said they’d figure it out.

    UGH I hated that dude.

        1. PolicyChick*

          I hope that was sarcasm too, because there were plenty of employees who were single parents, etc. I knew what everyone earned in my group, and I also knew who had kids and deadbeat ex-spouses and elderly parents that needed help. Not to say the agency pay was sub-par, it was fine-ish, but it certainly wasn’t generous by any stretch. Also – love your username!

          1. Zaphod Beeblebrox*


            Anyway, even if they do have savings, why should they spend them over a weekend for a whole new wardrobe on a manager’s whim?

            1. PolicyChick*

              Xactly. The whole thing was bad form and tone-deaf. Also, most of the creatives were like, “Yeah, No.” Creatives will dress up (depending) for client meetings, but not everyday.

      1. Laura H*

        Ok- your comment doesn’t strike me as helpful at all.

        Regardless of how good someone’s saving plan is, buying an entire wardrobe- heck buying giant amounts of clothes in general- is a major hit to the finances. Also, it’s kinda hard to save!! There’s always expenses that try even the best savers.

    1. Pollygrammer*

      What a jerk move, I’m sorry. Even the most oblivious person should realize that people might not own clothes that they don’t wear.

      1. PolicyChick*

        Really. And what cheeses me is, even if he did want a new dress code (for me I was: grumble, ridic, creatives aren’t going to do it regardless, etc) he could have said something six months prior to the move, so folks would have time to pick up pieces as they went.

    2. Tuxedo Cat*

      Ick. Besides the cost factor, people might not have time to pull together a new wardrobe over the weekend. Then what happens? They can’t work?

      1. PolicyChick*

        If I recall correctly – most of the account service people (and their support people) complied, but it was not as much of a burden because that’s the client-facing department. So most of those folks had that kind of wardrobe and just started wearing their khakis more often.
        The creative department had a mixed bag of response. Some people dressed a little nicer. One guy wore a three-piece suit every Monday (which was the day of the week we had a status meeting with upper management) for a while which was pretty funny. I turned a blind eye for my support people (admin and graphics folks) and just told them, “Dress as you can.”
        Best thing was, our Executive Creative Director (my boss, who reported to owner) started wearing the same tie everyday. Still in jeans, and sometimes a polo shirt, and sometimes flip flops, but always with that tie. Did that for several weeks. Apparently it took a while for owner to notice, and then there were some words exchanged, and after that – no more dress code for the creative department. I think by the time I left (a year later) the whole dress code thing was gone.

  26. hbc*

    #2 stinks of the local exec wanting to leave early for his lake house every Friday but not wanting to be That Guy and also not willing to reduce the work output of his group. I’d say you have a decent chance of getting a good result by pushing back. A good result being that he makes it optional, claims he’s doing it himself, and then doesn’t stay late M-Th but still bails at lunch on Fridays (often “working from home” that morning but being mysteriously unreachable.)

    Or maybe that was just a couple of selfish bosses I had.

  27. QualitativeOverQuantitative*

    I’m curious about LW1’s age and work experience. This situation is just so incredibly common that it makes me think the person must be new to the workforce. It sucks to be rejected, but the best course of action is to just move on.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      This was my thought as well. I am guessing LW1 is very young and new to the workforce. At least they have discovered this site already!

    2. Bea*

      Which also explains why meeting the bare minimum wasn’t enough to advance.

      Yeah you graduated with a degree, interned for two years in the right field, have handled llama cases for the minimum 2 years, etc. But Jane Smith has three degrees, all relevant, 5 years in experience and has been handling cases for 7 years etc. The old catch 22 of more experience winning but how do you get experience without the chance.

      It’s not only age that I wonder about, it’s “are you currently in this field and understand it’s norms?” as many folks have talked about. I’ve had many applications from outside our industry where I see why they may think they should have a chance but no,absolutely not!

  28. hbc*

    OP1, I’m going to differ a little bit and say it’s okay to take a shot at a correction in limited circumstances, but that your approach was way too strong. What you’re looking for is a way to correct a misunderstanding if there is one but not come off as if you expect that the correct information will lead straight to an interview, and also leave open the possibility that you’re the one who’s wrong. So if they said sorry, they weren’t looking for out of state candidates and you’re not, you could send something like:

    “Thank you for letting me know your decision. I appreciate getting a quick response. I’m a little confused about the location reasoning, though. My understanding is that the job is in Minneapolis, and I’m based in St. Paul, which is a standard commute for me. I just wanted to clarify that if my application materials had a mistake.

    “I understand this is likely not the only factor in your decision, though. Good luck filling the position, and I’ll keep checking for more positions at Teapots Inc since it seems like a great company.”

    1. Sarah*

      I agree that you have to have a nice approach, and to tread lightly. But I really think making contact about being rejected would only be ok if you were on an auto reject, where you received the rejection email within a few hours. Otherwise a human rejected you and most likely had a reason. In our job postings we cant put whatever we want it has to be approved by HR, so a lot of times there are necessary things that are left out that we weed through when we get the resumes, then we have a limited set of reject letters depending on what level you were rejected at.

    2. MLB*

      I disagree. I don’t think responding and questioning the decision is going to do anything other than keep the company from ever considering you in the future and frustrate you more. I equate it to a break up – you probably aren’t going to get the answer you want or need and it will only lead to more questions.

      1. fposte*

        Environmental Compliance below has a really good suggestion about how to approach it that I think has the best shot of getting useful information without stepping on toes.

        1. Nonsensical*

          Auto rejection does happen though and sometimes it can be worth following up with. THough other times they really did mean to reject you.

          1. fposte*

            Yes, and Environmental Compliance’s comment offers a good suggestion of how to allow for that possibility.

  29. KWu*

    LW5: set the expectation that you’ll declare email bankruptcy when you get back from maternity leave. If you really need the history of something, you can look it up in your email archives after it comes up.

  30. Thankful for AAM*

    #1, I have been rejected twice for interviews because they thought I did not meet the minimum requirements. In both cases I followed up with a phone call, found out the problem, corrected it, and got interviews. I got one of the jobs.

    I don’t remember one of the problems but in one, it asked for a 10 year work history, which I gave. But one of my jobs was part time so it did not add up to 10 years of FULL TIME employment so they rejected me. I just had to amend my application to show longer work history.

    1. Gabriel Conroy*

      I’ve wondered if something like that may have happened in LW #1’s case. I don’t work at a community college myself, but I understand that they tend to have a lot of (for lack of a better word) “bureaucratic” requirements, so that one may indeed meet all of the skills-related minimum qualifications for the job and yet fall short on something that seems to the applicant like a technicality.

      I’m aware of one community college that requires all full-time workers to live in the city in which it’s located. People who don’t live in the city can apply if they promise to move if hired. But while there’s a place on the application where the applicant has to state whether they live in the city already, there’s no way to indicate they’re willing to move if hired. I suspect (but don’t know) that people in that fix get “did not meet minimum requirements” letters.

      Again, I have no idea if this is Lw#1’s situation or if, as seems more likely, it’s a form-letter mishap.

    2. tusky*

      Same. In my case I received a rejection email shortly after submitting an online application, stating that I didn’t meet the minimum degree requirements (when I definitely did meet those requirements). I inquired with HR and it was determined that there was a glitch in the system. I ultimately was invited to interview. It can’t hurt to follow up, as long as it’s done politely and without coming across as entitled.

  31. Glomarization, Esq.*

    I have lost count of the number of jobs I’ve applied for where I met the minimum requirements (or hit them out of the park), but didn’t get an interview. -shrug- It’s not me; it’s them.

  32. annon*

    OP #2, my office does summer hours every year, but ours are a little different. Instead of 8-5, the majority of us work 7-4. However, the summer hours for our office are optional. If someone prefers to stay on 8-5 they can. Since other offices are not following step, maybe suggest allowing people the option to keep the regular hours to better accommodate the assistance they might need?

  33. Bookworm*

    #1: Sorry, but you just come across as entitled and obnoxious. I get it, I’ve been there. I’ve been rejected from jobs without an interview even though I hit everything the job posting says. Just a few months ago I even went through a 2 hour or so writing exercise (as a first step prior to an interview) and was rejected, which annoyed me. It happens.

    I’ve done the same a couple of times in the past and written to ask politely what was missing from my application so that I wasn’t even interviewed. The only response I can remember was the org resending the same rejection email and I think any other responses was radio silence. It hurts and it’s frustrating to see a job posting that you think you are PERFECT for but unfortunately this is a two-way street. And something else in your application may have been lacking: the cover letter, a mistake in your resume, etc.

    And you may not know it but someone in the org may know someone who knows you and there’s always the possibility something came up. To my knowledge this hasn’t happened to me but I know I had a negative story years ago about a particular candidate who was considered for an interview to replace me. To my knowledge he was not brought in, but I’m not sure how much of anecdote played a role.

    You can also think of it this way: if they can’t recognize the fit, are they really someone you want to work for? To lack that kind of judgment? Or maybe it’s the universe telling you that this job/field/etc. isn’t for you and that’s okay.

  34. Argh!*

    LW 1, I currently work in a position I’m overqualified for, and have been rejected by several employers in my recent job search. I belong to a national organization for my field, so I know who got these jobs and I don’t take it personally. In one case, the person has a higher-level degree. In the other two cases, internal candidates got the job.

    Almost all of our candidates at CurrentJob have worked at similar jobs before, or at least had a relevant internship of at least a year. Depending on the area & the kind of position, meeting the basic qualifications alone may not cut it.

    If you think you’ve been discriminated against, you’d have more reason to push back, but that would be tough to prove and would involve getting a lawyer, and then in the best case scenario being hired by people who resent you for costing them $$$ in legal fees.

  35. MCL*

    Ha, I actually have a swim cover up from Land’s End that I regularly wear to work as a tunic length shirt. It’s solid green and pretty thick cotton, and I usually wear it with jeans. I have also used it as a cover up.

  36. MicroManagered*

    OP1: I agree with Alison, unless you were rejected immediately (i.e. the application system rejected you). I have definitely seen cases where my (large educational institution) employer’s application system is misfiring on screen-out questions. Like it asks if you have 2 years of teapot design experience, wanting you to say yes, but it’s set to no so it rejects anyone saying yes.

    I’ve heard of people contacting the hiring manager in that instance and saying “I think I got auto-rejected even though I answered yes to X and Y” which actually alerted them to a problem. That’s the only time I can think of that it could be acceptable to do that.

    If you didn’t get the rejection immediately, I don’t think that’s what happened, but FWIW…

    1. HyacinthB*

      Federal govt (US) jobs you can do this if you get a notification that you were ineligible because you didn’t meet the minimum requirements. But no place else I’ve ever seen.

    2. The New Wanderer*

      I have done this – was auto-rejected (based on the lightning fast rejection email) and contacted a recruiter for the company to find out more about this. The recruiter was able to let me know that despite my having over a decade of experience doing exactly that job, they would only consider candidates with a specific degree, which was not mentioned in the job description. In my experience, obviously that specific degree isn’t necessary to do the job, but it’s their call.

      In another case I was rejected, no interview, for a similar job where I had lots of relevant experience. I saw the LinkedIn profile for the person who got it and they clearly went a completely different direction, so the job I applied to based on the description wasn’t at all the job they ended up hiring for. It happens.

  37. Roscoe*

    #2 I can accept that its being implemented badly, however, I’d really argue against getting a group to push back, unless its like 90% of people being badly affected. I suppose its fine to ask if it can be optional for individuals. But I know I’d be pissed if my office decided to give summer hours and then took it away because of a few people’s childcare plans. Hell, as a childless person, I’ve gotten screwed many times because of peoples childcare plans, but this would really piss me off. I know that isn’t the ONLY problem, but I can see that being the lead reason given for it being taken away. I really think the best bet is to just ask if it can be optional for people who don’t want it. However, if that is the case, then those people better not complain later when they see people leaving early on Fridays.

    1. Perse's Mom*

      I don’t have kids and I wouldn’t want my schedule changed with no notice and no input either.

      1. Roscoe*

        Sure, which is why I said push for it to be optional. But I don’t think pushing for it to be reversed is good

    2. Someone else*

      I don’t think threshold needs to be anywhere near 90% for what OP’s company is doing to be a terrible proposition. And if the management takes the pushback as “fine nobody do it” that’s just as bad as the short-notice “everybody do it”. A reasonable group pushback, even if it’s only something like 25% of the staff would be “we took the job based on NormalSchedule. Please allow us the choice between NormalSchedule or SummerHours.” You can even have people declare which they’re doing before it starts. In theory that should be win/win since people who want the summer hours but in current scenario might end up on call on Fridayafternoons, won’t because of the people who choose to stick with NormalHours.

  38. HyacinthB*

    I once worked at a place with mandatory summer hours. They closed the office on Friday, and you made up the hours elsewhere during the week. There was minimal flexibility with how you made up the hours, but there was no flexibility for the Friday. Ugh.
    p.s. I don’t work there anymore. They had strange ideas about a lot of things IMHO.

  39. Widgeon*

    #1- I work at a community college and in my role, a “two-year diploma” is the minimum requirement. The majority of us have master’s degrees and even a PhD. Consider the “minimum requirements” to be a shifting bar that changes based on the applicant pool, and not a hard minimum. Sorry you were rejected, but this is not uncommon at all.

  40. Heats kitchen*

    #5 I’m on maternity leave with my second child now. I plan to delete the majority of emails when I get back. I learned to love grouping by conversation with my last leave so I can look at the last email. Just make sure your out of office is setup appropriately

    1. Midlife Tattoos*

      Grouping by conversation is a great way to manage e-mail when you get upwards of 150+ a day — it’s so much easier to just read the last e-mail and scroll down if needed rather than seeing all e-mails in a conversation one-by-one. Also prevents me from jumping into a thread too soon because someone else may have already handled it.

  41. Environmental Compliance*

    OP 1- I totally get where you’re coming from, I’ve been there too, but you may have come across a little too aggressive, depending on what you emailed back. If it was a “oh no, you must be mistaken” tone, that probably didn’t go over too well with them. It does suck a lot to be rejected for something you thought you were perfect for. I had many an internship rejection just like that – I matched even the preferred qualifications to a T for a few and got a “you don’t meet the qualifications” rejection. A couple times that was just their standard form letter. A couple times there were other qualifications that weren’t in the posting that came up after the posting was already put up.

    If you *do* want to question that sort of decision, email back and politely ask if there was anything you could improve on to be more competitive in that type of position, and you may find out that they were looking for X2 when you only had X1, or it may give you an opportunity to clarify your skills based on what they email back. Or heck, maybe your resume was in a different version of Word and their program noodled it all amuck and they assumed it was your lack of ability to format documents, which may then lead to you only sending PDFs…..not from personal experience or anything.

    Asking for any pointers on how to improve yourself to better fit with the position/organization will come across more professionally than telling them they must be mistaken. If that’s the last communication they have with you, over a very, very small number of communications – you want that last email to be the utmost in professional so that when you apply again, the last thing they’ve read from you is framed in a good light rather than a negative one.

    1. fposte*

      I think this is a really useful answer. It’s allowing for the possibility of an error but also understanding that it’s quite likely it isn’t and that you’re interested in keeping the relationship open for the future.

      1. Anon Today*

        Agreed. I know if i had received a response similar to what the OP described then it would have probably burned a bridge with me.

  42. Trout 'Waver*

    This is a bit tongue-in-cheeck, but

    “What talents, interests, or skills do you have that we haven’t made the most of?”
    I am interested in making $MarketWage.

    “Is there anything you’d like to change about your job?”
    Compensation to $MarketWage.

    “What’s your dream job, and what can we do to support your progress toward it?”
    My dream job is this one but it would pay $MarketWage.

    1. Thlayli*

      I actually think OP should fill this in exactly like this. It may be tongue in cheek but it’s accurate

    2. Zennish*

      The “dream job” question is a pet peeve of mine. I always want to say something like “Official Margarita Tester at Hedonism II”.

  43. BigSigh*

    I wear beach cover ups as dress sometimes! As long as they’re not see through and are of appropriate length, why not? And even the see through short ones that I wear I wear with a tank and jeans…

  44. Not So Super-visor*

    Total confession: I also wear a swimsuit cover-up as a dress, but I doubt that anyone notices. I think it really depends on the style of the cover-up. When I bought it I was felt that it was too cute to be used for a cover-up. Mine is printed, lightweight, and not sheer; it’s also not made out of netting material but a super-light cotton material. It’s a little too short for my liking to be worn without leggings (so I wear them), and I usually wear a tank top under it b/c our air conditioning is unpredictable. I get compliments on it all the time.

    1. Canarian*

      Yes! I have a few garments that I wear as dresses/tunics or coverups interchangeably. Some are legit made to be dresses, but are light and flowy enough that they’re really easy to stuff in a beach bag and pop on over a bathing suit, some are made to be cover-ups but look just like any non-beach-appropriate dress or tunic (especially with added foundation garments and accessories. Leggings and a belt can make a world of difference.).

      For the OP: Based on the way you’ve described the cover-up-wearer, she might be drawing ire from your other coworkers for reasons that aren’t really about the appropriateness of the dress. If only coworkers are commenting on it to you – keep it to yourself. If clients/members of the public are making comments, mention that to your manager, not directly to the person in question.

  45. CleverGirl*

    OP #4: I’m dying to know how you actually know it’s a coverup and not a dress. Is there something that makes that obvious?

    1. Nanani*

      Same. If it’s just that you happen to know because you own the same one or saw it in the shops, then consider that your colleague may not have that same knowledge of how it was marketed and sold (got it as a gift, borrowed from sister, got from a thrift shop – so many possibilities) or may simply not care about clothing sale categories.

  46. LQ*

    #1 There will be many many jobs that you seem to meet the qualifications for that you don’t get interviews for, you kind of have to let being shocked about it go at some point. There is almost nothing that guarantees you an interview. And none of those things are meeting minimum qualifications.
    It generally helps to apply and move on instead of applying and hanging on.

  47. Kaz*

    So I’m dealing with a similar situation to LW #1 right now – I applied for a job that I am a very, very, very good fit for (to the point that I am reasonably sure they could not find five other candidates with my same experience in the whole city). I was offered an interview within an hour of submitting my resume, and as I was on my way to the interview, they called and cancelled, citing that one of the interview participants was called away on an emergency.

    I have called the contact person once and emailed her twice about rescheduling. She has not responded to the emails, and when I called, she seemed caught off guard – I just told her my availability that week and she asked a clarifying question, but didn’t attempt to schedule with me. It’s now been a month since the originally scheduled interview.

    Now my coworker, who has similar experience but not in this particular area, has already had his interview, and they told him they are moving to second interviews. I am concerned that they have gotten a bad word about me from someone else who works in the same small specialty, who I interacted with several years ago, despite having otherwise done very well in that position. Am I basically screwed? Is there anything to be gained from calling her again and asking for feedback?

    1. Nonsensical*

      Let it go. They will contact you if they want to move forward with your candidacy. Experience and qualification aren’t the only things when hiring and networking can play a large part in it.

  48. Naomi*

    OP #3, the problem here isn’t the questions, it’s that there’s been a breakdown of trust. Your first reaction to the questions was paranoia that the company was going to use your answers against you, and it’s worth examining why. Do your current bosses have a pattern of adversarial behavior towards employees, or are you reacting that way for another reason, such as a bad experience in a previous workplace, or a received idea that management is always out to screw the “cogs”? If your distrust is justified, you might want to move on before this place warps your sense of what’s normal; on the other hand, if it isn’t, you should wait and see what your bosses do with the survey results and see if things change for the better.

    1. Perse's Mom*

      I’m not OP, but I’d go with A. If there have been no raises in a couple of years, that’s adversarial, so this comes across as the employer asking how they can increase job satisfaction without increasing pay.

      Most of us have answers to that (I would be much happier at work if X and Y happened), but some of us know perfectly well that X and Y will never happen, so it becomes frustrating to even be asked. Which may be an issue of employer toxicity seeping into the employee, but doesn’t make it any less frustrating in the moment.

  49. C in the Hood*

    Re #5 (and I apologize if someone’s said this already): I think she noted that everyone gets cc’d because when others are cc’d, they are more likely to take action on the email as opposed to an email that gets sent only to her, which will not have immediate action. So I read her concern as seeing a billion emails that she doesn’t really need to see (because action has already been taken).
    I like the idea of setting up rules to redirect emails into certain folders, though. If you can do that it’ll really help.

  50. Rezia*

    OP #3, I can feel your frustration and can sympathize with your situation.
    I do think you might think more flexibly about the questions. E.g. ““What talents, interests, or skills do you have that we haven’t made the most of?” — to me “made the most of” can include situations where you’re spending too much time doing work you hate/aren’t suited for, when you’d be better at something else. E.g. you could use that opportunity to say, “My strongest skills are in llama hair styling, which is a unique skill in our department that I know is valued by our customers. But I spend much of my day doing llama grooming instead. I would love to spend more of my time llama hair styling than grooming.”
    ““Is there anything you’d like to change about your job?” could be an opportunity to bring up things that would help you — without sounding like you’re whining and putting your raise at stake. E.g. a few years ago I used my review as an opportunity to ask to be sent to a conference where I could further hone some skills that would be useful to my department. My bosses wouldn’t have thought of it, but they agreed when I asked. I had a great time at that conference, got to do some networking, and learned some skills that both were handy for my team and could be useful for future job seeking.
    Anyway, I just wanted to throw out some ideas. You’re understandably cynical right now, but I think there is a way to use these questions to your advantage!

  51. Tears of Purple Rain*

    To OP4, I remember a coworker wearing a nightgown (for elderly / seniors) from Sears in her regular wardrobe rotation. One of her family members finally spoke to her about it, and that worked. Best to keep a sense of humour.

  52. BananaRama*

    LW1: I applied for a program manager position that stated I had to experience handling x,y,z programs for the US Air Force. I had 10 years of active duty US Air Force experience and 6 years of that in the fields they wanted and even managing the programs they listed. I was rejected for not having relevant experience. I felt like they didn’t even read my resume or glance at it. Even the recruiter was baffled because my resume seemed almost tailored to the job ad.

    These things just happen.

    I chalk it up to their loss because would I really want to work for an organization that couldn’t see a nearly one for one match resume to job description? Either they already had someone picked and the posting was a formality or there was something else going on.

  53. TotesMaGoats*

    OP5-When I was on MAT leave for 13 weeks, I asked for my direct reports to send me one email on Fridays to recap the week and not CC me on anything during the week. There was a chain in place to deal with my level issues, so life still moved on. I came about to about 1500 emails. The vast majority were junk. I got mine cleared in my first day. Plan to do that on day one. It’ll make you feel better if you can power through all that.

    If you can set up rules, so that you have folders to check by priority/person/project instead of a vast email box, that might help. turn off any RSS feeds or email alerts that you can. I had a bunch of google alerts for work related things. Turned them all off. Same for any standing events that are your calendar that you get email reminders for.

    Can you change your voicemail so that people can’t leave a message? Or that it redirects to a main number?

  54. BananaRama*

    LW5: Check your organization’s policies about maternity leave or other types of FMLA, short-/long-term disability availability. I know at my company, if you are out for disability, it is like you do not exist. You cannot receive work-related emails, you cannot bill, you cannot work, period dot. To do so violates some sort of either company policy or law or something like that and could cancel the stipulations of being out of the office or receiving the pay/credit/whatever.

  55. Blue Cupcake*

    #4 Some have commented that a cover-up can be nicer than dresses, but if the dress code IS a big deal to the company, it’s up to the supervisor/manager/HR to say something to her. A “mere” coworker saying something can be taken the wrong way. And what if cover-ups ARE allowed? MYOB is the best way to go in this case.

  56. Dr. Doll*

    Ugh, summer hours that are inflexible. We’ve had those for several years at my uni… 7 am to 6 pm Mon-Thurs, Fridays off for everyone, no exceptions without lots of petitioning to HR about serious circumstances and children don’t count. Ostensibly it’s to save money by not cooling the buildings, not having the bathrooms used, not having parking, etc. I suppose it does save some pollution from people not driving in.

    Productivity drops 30% because people: come in at 7 and dink around for 90 minutes, stop working at 4 and dink around for two hours, stop responding or initiating things on Thursday at 2 instead of Friday at 12… I hate it. Sure, it’s nice to have Friday off too, but the misery of Monday – Thursday PLUS not being able to get work done makes it not worth it.

    1. Nonsensical*

      That is more a managerial problem. If people aren’t performing or are slacking off for 3 hours, that is not a summer hour issue. That is a people dinking off issue.

    2. Teal Green*

      Ugh that does sound difficult. My childcare is 7 am to 6 pm. Even if it was next door to my workplace there’s no way I’d be able to make those hours work with childcare. My spouse can do the drop-off -or- the pick-up but not both.

  57. Andy*

    I was form-rejected by a community college a day before getting an offer to be Exec Admin for the GC of an Ivy League school. Please do not be downhearted! The rigid filters in place at some institutions miss amazing candidates regularly.

  58. NaoNao*

    We could say the one coworker is at “Beach Eating Crackers” level with the “coverup” coworker.

    I’ll see myself out.

  59. azvlr*

    #5 – Some excellent suggestions above. I want to add: When you do go back to work, be mentally prepared for “back to work anxiety”. Every time I’m out, whether it’s vacation, business travel, or illness, I’m convinced that the office is getting ready to burn to the ground for all the work I left undone. This feeling lasts for about 10 minutes after I walk in the door the first day back. I read emails and see that everyone managed without me (Okay, now I’m wondering if they are a well-oiled machine or if I’m simply dispensable.)
    Congrats on the baby!

  60. Persimmons*

    My company’s e-mail retention policy takes care of long-term out-of-office issues automatically…anything over three months old vanishes into the ether. (Yes, it’s a problem.)

  61. LadyMountaineer*

    I actually disagree with Alison on #1 — this happened to me when I applied for a lab position for a local municipality. I have a biochemistry degree and the posting asked for “a degree in the natural sciences” and I received a boilerplate rejection letter that I didn’t meet the degree requirement. So, I called HR (this was back when emails weren’t as prevalent — still really new) and asked about what fell under the “natural sciences” not in an accusatory way just in a curious way and explained that I understood that the decision was made for this posting but I wanted to understand future postings. The HR person stammered as she tried to explain how biochem was not a natural science –she gave up and moved my application forward and I got the job.

    1. Lisa Babs*

      Yes but I think your key phrase here is “not in a accusatory way just in a curious way”. LW1 did not write a curious non accusatory email back. LW didn’t innocently ask why they were not qualified.

      PLUS your situation was different in that you were told how you were not qualified and you knew you were in that way (degree). I wouldn’t be surprised if Alison would give you the same advice of correcting the perception of biochemistry is not a natural science.

      1. tusky*

        I think it’s a stretch to characterize “asking to confirm that there had not been some kind of misunderstanding” as accusatory, but of course tone is notoriously slippery in email.

        I’m also not following your argument that the LW’s situation was different–they were told they did not meet the qualifications, but knew that they did.

        1. Environmental Compliance*

          I think it was the part that the LW had copy-pasted with underlines what the qualifications were, which is a description that doesn’t come across as curious as much as accusatory/aggressive. Additionally, LadyMountaineer had been told she didn’t qualify because XYZ, whereas the LW seems to have gotten a generic “you didn’t meet the minimum”, which is less than detailed.

          1. tusky*

            Regarding the first part: yeah, I can see how that would come across accusatory. Regarding the second: that’s possible. Given the generally terse nature of LW’s letter, I assumed they just opted not to list the specific qualifications.

            1. Environmental Compliance*

              Yeah, it’s a little hard to tell for sure if it was truly a blanket statement of “doesn’t meet” or if they called it out. I assumed that if it was something called out in specific, the LW would have been more detailed in “they said I didn’t have X but I did”, but it really could be either direction.

              1. Lisa Babs*

                The LW1 said “copied in the verbiage in the job post underlining my qualifications, and asked her to confirm that there had not been some kind of misunderstanding of my qualifications.” Because of that I think it’s safe to assume it’s a blanket statement since that would be weird response for you don’t have X. You wouldn’t have to copy verbiage in the job post if it was called out. One would just easily write ” I think you missed that I do indeed have X” or “how is ____ different than having X”.

    2. sometimeswhy*

      Similar here except the requirements included coursework in statistics which I didn’t formally do in undergrad–it was so heavily integrated into my other coursework, it’d been waived–so there was nothing in my undergraduate transcripts but did extensively in grad school. I called, it was corrected, I was forwarded into the field.

      Even having had that generally positive experience, OP1 sorta made me wince. Underlining the job spec comes across as rules-lawyerly and wouldn’t incline favorably toward them.

  62. Canarian*

    For OP3 couldn’t answering with vague answers like Alison suggested (“Nothing comes to mind”) be held against the OP in the evaluation process? If the evaluation is really going to determine merit increases, giving answers that make the OP sound kind of driftless and lacking goals probably aren’t going to get them a raise. Am I missing something here?

    If I were in that situation and didn’t want to give my real circus-performer answers, I would try to come up with some generic and nominally true things to say that at least have some kind of substance to them. Surely there’s SOME job related interest you can come up with? “I really enjoy utilizing my llama shampooing skills, but would be open to trying conditioner or curl-spray.”

    1. Nanc*

      I desperately want to see the end result of your well-coiffed, expertly curled llama client!

  63. Phony user name goes here this time*

    The dream job question. Sigh. My dream job is to not work, ever. I have no ambition, I don’t want to progress in my career, I don’t want to be an inspiration, mentor, manager or Power-that-be. I want to sit at home and eat magical bon bons that are delicious yet nutritious and have zero calories. I want to read books, walk the dog, volunteer more at the library, stay up as late as I want, sleep as late as I want, the stuff that day-dreams are made of . . .

    That said, I do like the job I have. I’m very good at it. I’mextremely well paid, especially for my neck of the woods, and if I have to stay late or come in early I can take the time off later. But if I didn’t have to work, I wouldn’t.

    My vague answer to the question is always “wow, I’d really have to think on that!”

    1. Unsolicited*

      I recognize you aren’t asking for advice, but if you haven’t heard of Financial Independence/Early Retirement, it’s something you might be interested in! There are some subreddits and FI blogs that might help move you closer to reading books and eating bon-bons.

  64. Phoenix Programmer*

    #3 Rare exception where I disagree with Alice. Like the op said if this were asked during a one on one or even at the end of the performance review that would be one thing. But in the formal written part of the performance review? Who is the better performer – the one who is using all their skills on their role or the one with untapped skills? Very odd to add this to the performance evaluation.

  65. tusky*

    I’d like to add an alternate take on #1. Although one should not expect to receive an interview or any kind of response based solely on meeting the minimum requirements of a job, I think it’s always worth following up (politely and without conceit) if one thinks there is a reasonable chance that an error occurred. This depends of course on how the application was submitted–online forms can fail; conversely, if the app was emailed to a person, it’s probably not an error–and whether there are other details in the rejection letter, but it’s worth considering.

    I was rejected via form email after applying for a job online, for the stated reason that I didn’t meet the minimum listed educational requirements (when I definitely did meet those requirements). I followed up with HR, who determined that there was in fact a glitch in the online submission system, and my application was moved forward (I ended up one of two finalists for the position).

  66. Greg M.*

    OP 5: email filters. This’ll depend on your email program but talk to the people covering your stuff and be like “ok so you’re handling the replicator repairs I usually do so I’m just gonna auto forward any related emails about that to you while I’m gone” and then have them stored in a “forwarded” folder (unless you’re on gmail where they stupidly don’t let you do folders)

  67. Greg*

    Re: No #5. I have a related question about maternity-leave email etiquette: Do you think it makes sense to auto-forward the employee’s emails to someone else while she is on leave? This actually became a big issue at OldJob a few years ago. One of my employees (Jane) went on leave, and I had to make the decision as to whether her emails should be auto-forwarded or whether we should just rely on an auto-reply with the contact info for the people who would be covering her responsibilities (Mary and Sue). (FYI, Jane was an account manager for our highest-revenue product, so a very important role in the company). I asked Mary and Sue, and they did not seem especially thrilled at the idea of doubling their email loads. So I decided not to do it, figuring that if someone reached out to Jane, they could get Mary and Sue’s contact info and follow-up.

    A week after the employee got back from leave, the CEO fired me, for mostly unrelated reasons — he had forced out my boss three weeks before, so I knew I was probably not long for that place — but one of the things he cited was that not auto-forwarding her emails might have cost us business. It’s been years since this happened, and while I’ve spent plenty of time thinking about that firing (it was a pretty scarring experience), I had never really thought much about the email decision.

    So what do people think? My guess is that in the grand scheme of things, it didn’t make a huge difference, and the CEO was just looking for something to hang on me. But if I were ever faced with that decision again, I’m honestly not sure what I’d do.

    1. Happy Lurker*

      Greg – your instinct is spot on. CEO was looking for something to say, when in reality he was waiting for your team to be back in place before letting you go. Maybe CEO was cleaning house?

      You acted as a good manager taking into account your subordinates request. Honestly, regular people receive the out of office message and forward it on appropriately as per the instructions in the message.

    2. CM*

      Leaving the firing aside and focusing just on the emails — it sounds like Jane would receive emails that would need attention and were important to the company’s business. So it would have been important to come up with a plan for making sure her workload was not dropped while she was out. This could have been done through auto-forwarding to somebody else who would cover for her or leaving very clear instructions for how people could get their requests answered while Jane was out and making sure that somebody else was responsible.

  68. 5pm somewhere*

    #4 I could have written this post! My manager has told coworker not to wear a certain dress because it is too short and looks like a beach cover up. Coworker disagrees and now coworker wears it when boss is out of town. I’ve mentioned that she’s wearing “the dress” to coworker, but she continues to wear it. I guess I’m out of options unless the boss asks me directly if she’s been wearing it?

    1. Lexi*

      This is the boss’s issue with the co-worker stay out of it. You didn’t have options on this to begin with on this, it is very 4th grade hall monitor to mention it to her and to tell the boss.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      This is definitely a monkey to leave with your coworker. You can privately roll your eyes at either your coworker’s silly defiance (she appears to have other clothes, so why die on this hill?) or your manager’s not following up on his directives. But probably the lack of checking on her is not a question of her appearing in a state of deshabille before the board, or the touring earnest kindergarteners and their parents, but that it is incredibly low priority.

  69. Evil HR Person*

    To #3 – that last question is probably part of HR’s succession planning. It’s not an outrageous question per se, but without context, it can seem out of touch. They’re asking, for example, if you are an AP Clerk and you’d like to become a Controller, what can they do to help you with this? Do you need to get your Bachelor’s or Master’s degree? Do you need help with getting your CPA license? That sort of thing. For some jobs, particularly entry or mid-career, it makes perfect sense to try and suss out what it is the employee would like to move onto next. This same question would make late-career people chuckle (though it shouldn’t; there’s room for all kinds of people in succession planning). So, give it some thought: what do you see yourself doing in 10 years and what can your company do to help you get there? More training? Mentoring? Now’s the time to ask for the things that you want, since they’ve given you an opening.

  70. Leela*

    “She doesn’t take criticism well and the two of us have butted heads a few times in the past”

    There’s a decent chance that if you two of you have butted heads, your beach cover-upped coworker is going to think that’s the reason that you’re talking about how she dresses, like you’re using it to get at her because the two of you haven’t always had a smooth relationship (even if that’s not the case!)

    There’s also a layer here of many women in the workplace report co-workers or managers, male or female, treating them like dolls to be dressed up so that they’re more pleasing to other people, because that supersedes what the employee in question wants to wear if it’s technically within the bounds of the dress code (which I don’t know intimately and she might be wildly out of bounds here).

    I’d leave it alone!

  71. ShyDesign*

    OP #4 – I had a coworker who would regularly wear a swimsuit skirt, as a skirt to the office in the summer. Management did nada. I wish I could say that she didn’t know it was a swimsuit….

  72. Leave it to Beaver*

    LW #4 – Can I comment on flip flops that the whole office can hear as they flip flop down the hallway? Not sandal-y flip flops, literally rubber thongs you can buy at the drug store. My guess is still no, but damn I’d love to.

  73. Noah*

    I don’t see how #4 is anything other than a style objection. Bathing suit cover-ups ARE dresses (well, some are; others are more robes). Sure, they’re dresses that are intended for a particular purpose, but they are still dresses. It’s not appropriate for most workplaces, but this person IS wearing a dress.

    1. MsFitz*

      I wear a coverup to work. It’s a beautiful strappy linen dress, and I layer it over a form fitting too. I get compliments on it all the time, to which I excitedly reply, “It’s a one size fits all bathing suit coverup!” And while that person is trying to make sense of this madness, I add, “And I got it on sale!!!” At that point their head explodes.

      The world could use a lot less policing of female’s clothes. Starts in grade school and if you’re going the open casket route, lasts beyond death.

  74. Backroads*

    #5, please, keep only the bare minimum involvement.

    I’m a teacher, and while it seems maternity leave expectations are all over the board among teachers, in my particular situation I was instructed to pretty much leave the scope and sequence of what was to be taught. I went a few steps further and started writing lesson plans, gathering resources, etc. My maternity leave sub turned out to be a recently retired 40-year veteran teacher. She politely dismissed what I had begun preparing (possibly was inwardly laughing at my comparitvely mild teaching level and skill set) and told me to take care of myself and the baby, enjoy my time off, don’t check my email, and pretty much take my leave.

    You’re on leave!

  75. Experienced at extended OOO email*

    #5: I recently had a 2 month sabbatical and receive 100s of work emails a day in a fast-paced job in which I am copied on many emails I need to read and many emails I don’t, and many emails that get referenced months/years later. I was meaningfully caught up on email on the first day. My tips for email sanity on return (I use Outlook, don’t know if all my tips work in other mail clients)

    (1) Have a very clear Out of Office reply that says you are out, that you will not be answering email, the planned date of return to work (if known), and who should be emailed instead. The expectations within my team were very clear that I was not responsible for any email received while I was out.
    (1a) You might find it appropriate to turn on the auto-responder a day or three before you actually leave, so that new email correspondence that will last more than a day or three isn’t being handled by you, and the senders know it.
    (1b) The week before, start mentioning in all your outgoing email correspondence that you will be out starting on $DATE and any further follow up will be with $OTHERPERSON, copying $OTHERPERSON.

    (2) !!FILTERS/RULES!!
    (2a) My favorite that I haven’t seen anyone suggest: I set up a rule to send all mail not otherwise handled by my extensive filter rules received before $RETURNDATE to a special folder, so it would NOT BE IN MY INBOX.
    (2b) I created a search folder in Outlook that only showed mail received in the last 7 days before my return date (alternatively, you could set the rule in 2a to only send mail to the special folder if received prior to 7 days before your return date).
    (2c) If there are any automated emails you get (subscriptions, notifications, etc) that will never need to be referenced in the future, either turn them off or turn on email rules to send them straight to the delete bin.
    (2d) If there are any automated emails you get (subscriptions, notifications, etc) that you might need to reference someday in the future, filter them off into a folder or folders different than in (2a).

    (3) UPON YOUR RETURN: On your first day back, get a high level passdown from the coworkers covering your leave on the active hot topics/accounts/whatever. Read the emails in (2b), being ruthless about not wasting time reading the whole thread on items that are closed (but you can save them for later reference). First week: work your way through the folder in (2a) – it’s not in your Inbox, so it’s not ruining your normal Inbox workflow! First pass: archive or delete anything that is closed/no longer relevant, etc. or can be absorbed/dealt with quickly. Then go back and digest more complicated topics. I ended up with plenty of email that I never read – after a few months, I put it in my normal archive location.

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