CFO shoots rubber bands at people, putting “MBA” after your name, and more

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

1. Our CFO is obsessed with shooting rubber bands at people

I am a CPA at a public accounting firm. There is a bunch of cubicles outside of the CFO’s office where about eight of us sit. The CFO is obsessed with shooting rubber bands at everybody. And when I say rubber band, I mean the giant ones that go over large stacks of paper. He shoots them at people’s heads and faces, he tries to shoot inanimate objects, or even papers that people are holding in their hands. It is so very annoying to be constantly dodging rubber bands whizzing through the air at high speeds. Once I even heard him say, “Hey, Hannah, put your glasses on so I can shoot a rubber band at you.”

However, he is the CFO, so everybody just plays along and pretends like they are super into it to be on his good side. Behind his back, there are massive (Anderson Cooper level) eye rolls. One time he hit someone IN THE EYE! Their eye started gushing fluid and their nose bled, BLED!! Their eye was red and half closed for the next week.

How do you tell your super annoying boss to stop doing something that he should be old enough to know not to do? We currently don’t have an HR director and even when we did, they don’t do much HR:/.

Your CFO is a child.

A rude child.

It’s outrageous that he didn’t stop after injuring someone’s eye. It’s outrageous that no one in your company thought to tell him that he needs to stop.

On the other hand, it’s also ridiculous that people are playing along with it out of fear of offending him. The people acting like this is good fun are enabling this and making it easier for him to avoid seeing how not okay it is.

Try this: “Can you stop with the rubber bands? I am not willing to risk a serious eye injury like Jane got, or worse. This is going to lead to workers comp claims or worse. Someone has already been injured. It’s distracting and it’s dangerous and I don’t want to be around it.”

If you know he’s too immature for that to work, then go over his head. If you’re small enough not to have HR, you’re probably small enough that you can talk to his boss (presumably the CEO or a second-in-command) directly. Say something similar to them.

But you’ll have more sway if you convince your coworkers to speak up with you. People might be more willing to stop playing along if you couch it in terms of being sick of living in fear of being injured and that you’re asking for their help in getting this under control.

2. Putting “MBA” after your name

I am the EA for the president and CEO, and we are in the process of searching for a national sales manager. It is my job to collect the resumes and my boss will sometimes ask my opinion on a particular applicant.

My question is, is having MBA after one’s name necessary? I understand the abbreviations such as MD, DO, even DVM and I’m sure that Ph.D. is warranted in certain circumstances, but MBA? I’ve had people sign their emails with that particular suffix, and it just seems odd. Is this something I should take seriously, especially for a sales position, or is this just advertising, or is it a combination of both? This comes across as pretentious to me as it is already on one’s resume, but in a sales position it doesn’t seem to ever be a deciding factor between two applicants.

If there is something I am not understanding, please let me know. I would hate to be missing something I should take into consideration with these applicants.

Nope, you’re not missing anything. It’s just their attempt to advertise a credential.

Mainly it signals that they’re putting way too much weight on the degree and it’s pretty eye-rolly, but some people do it. You see it with a whole bunch of different degrees and certifications when it really doesn’t need to be there, and I am mystified about why people do it (with the exception of fields where it’s truly the convention). You sometimes even see people do it with bachelors degrees, which is particularly odd.

3. Should I explain why I’ve been exhausted at work in the last month?

I recently discovered that the reason I have been absolutely exhausted at work is because I’ve been suffering from iron deficiency. It took me about a month to figure this out, because the symptoms were very similar to my depression.

The thing is, my work for that month obviously suffered. I was consistently about five to ten minutes late, and my productivity was halved. I know that this has been noted by my manager, because she’s taken to “checking in” with me throughout the day to see where I’m up to with work, and once when I was on time said it was “good to see [me] here.”

I haven’t been formally told off or even had anything explicitly said to me that I need to work faster or be more punctual, but now that I am treating my deficiency I have bounced back to my usual work ethic and feel terrible about my month of dawdling.

Should I apologize and explain, or should I just put my head down and regain my reputation through action?

Say something to your manager! It’s not about apologizing, just giving her context — because it’s useful for her to understand that what she noticed was caused by a health issue that you now have under control, rather than potentially speculating and getting it wrong (for example, thinking that you’re checked out and disengaged, or that you’ve become careless, or so forth).

You could say something like, “I wanted to let you know that I haven’t felt like myself the last month or so and have been totally exhausted. It turns out it was a medical issue that’s easily treatable, and I’ve now got it under control. I wanted to mention it in case you noticed that I seemed off, so that you have context for it.”

(I went with the vague “medical issue” because you’re not obligated to share details … but actually this is a case where there might be benefit to being specific. Explaining it was an iron deficiency may convey that it’s not anything serious that she should worry about.)

4. No one is opening my application emails

I finished my graduate program in May and just relocated to a new city. I have been here a month and sent out 10+ applications to firms that are hiring entry-level positions that I am probably qualified for (on paper anyway!). These are the all the jobs currently available in my field. However, no one seems to be even opening my emails. I have a read receipt program through my university that tracks when a sent email has been opened, and none of these have been. All of the job listings say to apply via email. Would it be too pushy to also submit a resume through their LinkedIn job listing, just so someone might see my application? Is there anything else I can be doing? Not having a job is driving me crazy and I’m not sure what else to do!

If they explicitly say they’re accepting applications through LinkedIn, you can apply through that … but it’s generally more effectively to apply directly with the company (through email or their website) if that’s an option, which it is here.

I wouldn’t trust your program that tells you none of your emails have been opened. I’ve had candidates email me with great concern to ask if their applications weren’t received since they hadn’t received a read receipt — and they’ve always been wrong. Not everyone chooses to allow their mail to send read receipts (and some people are highly annoyed by them), and some email programs don’t even give the option. You’re putting too much weight on them; they’re not fully reliable. Plus, tracking that kind of thing is a good way to lose your mind.

There are other things you should be doing to help in your job search though. If there are really only 10 openings in your field that you’re qualified for, you should be leaning very heavily on networking and building connections (and possibly thinking about whether to expand the scope of jobs you’ll apply for).

5. Sending a LinkedIn message to an HR rep about my excitement about a job opening

I recently applied for a job with a company and industry I’d be thrilled to work for/in. I applied immediately and talked about my excitement regarding the position in my cover letter.

The HR rep’s LinkedIn was connected to the job posting, but I resisted the temptation to reach out, thinking it would seem cocky or overeager. This morning, I received a connection request from the HR rep and, of course, accepted quickly. I’m wondering now whether it would be appropriate to send him a short message reiterating my interest/excitement in the position, as he was the one to initiate the connection.

You can, but there’s not a ton of point and it won’t give you any real boost. They already know that you’re interested because you applied for the job. The ball is in their court now.

{ 837 comments… read them below }

    1. Ren*

      It’s impressive, but I almost never see people do it — just like lawyers almost never use Esq. after their names.

      1. LeRainDrop*

        Exactly. Graduates of the top MBA programs would certainly know better than to put “MBA” after their signature, just like graduates of the top law schools would not put “Esq.” or “JD” after their name. By putting that title on their signature (instead of keeping it only on their resume, where it properly belongs), those candidates are signaling that either they didn’t go to a great program, they are overeager or out of touch with norms, or both.

        1. Linzava*

          I worked with someone who put “MBA candidate” after all of his emails. It was sooo eye rolly. He was a candidate through a well known for-profit online college. I often wondered if he was compensating for buying a degree, then felt super judgy and terrible until I received the next email from him, starting the whole process over again.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            I suspect he was proud of his accomplishments and did not realize that it telegraphed poorly to others. I find the titles thing tends to come with some class baggage, particularly between folks from families with more/less access to higher ed and post-grad ed.

            1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

              I agree with PCBH. Some of the eye rolling reaction seems to have a kind of classism (perhaps not the right word?) behind it. It seems that the notion that having your credentials after your name indicates that you didn’t go to the best school, or lack the class to know that it’s considered tacky to do that, is based on assumptions of particular cultural values.

              1. Andy*

                it kind of reminds me of the stories about the bouvier kennedy marriage: the kennedys (new money/politics/tackiness) showed up in formal clothes and the bouviers (old money/fullstop) in casual. There was a lot of real snipey comments about the kennedys from the bouvier side after that. New money. don’t know how to properly lord it over the plebs.

                1. SusanIvanova*

                  I had a co-worker who obviously gave her family a different impression of the dress code for her belated wedding reception (she got married just before starting, this was about a month after that) than she gave her new co-workers. We showed up dressed for a summer garden party – linen suits and flowy dresses. They showed up in their rodeo best – sharp new blue jeans, big belt buckles, fringed satin shirts. I’m from Texas – I still *have* a fringed satin shirt!

                  The only one who came off looking tacky was the co-worker. It gave everyone a very bad impression of her judgement, which, alas, she proceeded to reinforce on the job as well.

              2. Linzava*

                Nope, no classism here, I grew up poor. I’m also finally going to college in my 30s at the local community college. Also, I can’t afford rent in my community by myself. Everything I have came from my own hard work, the gentleman I spoke of also grew up with hardships, but we’re from and in the same socio-economic “class” .

                1. Coywolf*

                  It’s not unheard of that people look down on people of their same socio-economic class. Just saying.

              3. Screenwriter Mom*

                I partly disagree. Putting your credentials after your name is a kind of braggadocio–surely they can see that hardly anyone else does it, so they’re making a choice to self-aggrandize; and as with everything else in life, it’s more of a signal of insecurity and weakness than anything else. So the logical response to someone over-inflating a common degree, making themselves seem more important, is to feel that they are pumping themselves up–i.e., giving away that they went to a lesser school, have lesser credentials. (For a really good example of this, see Bill Cosby and his pompous insistence through the run of his show that his credit read “Dr. William F. Cosby, Ed.D.” or some such–when (a) an “Ed.D” does not confer the title “Dr” in any common usage and (b) it was an honorary degree to begin with. Those of us who have earned professional degrees sniffed him out as a not-so-nice dude right then.)

                It IS true that there’s a sneaky classism in understanding that if you are truly accomplished you never brag about it, deliberately understate it, etc, so that’s certainly a part of it.

                1. LemonLyman*

                  I work in academia and those with an Ed.D. can absolutely use “Dr.” in their professional moniker. Walk into any school of education and you’ll meet plenty of them (as well as those with a Ph.D. in Education). It is simply a different type of doctorate.

                2. Classroom Diva*

                  I believe you’re confused. An Ed.D. is a doctorate. You go to school, write a dissertation, the whole nine yards. It is simply a different type of doctorate (educational). And, one certainly can use the title “Dr.”, and most do.

                  I don’t have one, but I’m a teacher, and I would be really offended if I had gone on to get mine and you treated it as unworthy.

                3. Artemesia*

                  FWIW. Bill Cosby’s EdD may have been weak (I don’t know) but it was not an honorary degree; it was awarded by U Mass where I think he also got his masters. It is an earned doctorate and he wrote a dissertation. Some EdD programs are cream puffs and some are not, just as some PhD programs are laughable and others rigorous. But no EdD should be using the title Doctor socially; it is entirely appropriate in an academic setting. Same for the PhD. I have never seen anyone except Henry Kissinger who uses the title Dr. socially with a PhD who is not from a weak program.

                4. min*

                  One of the math teachers at my high school went by Dr instead of Mr. I was always amazed that someone with that level of education taught HS math, but I never thought it eye-rolley that he used the honorific. He earned it.

                5. Pandop*

                  Ed.D is a doctorate, at the university where I work they are treated the same as the other doctoral degrees (Ph.D, MD, D.Clin.Psychol, etc) and can absolutely use Dr. professionally and socially if they wish (and a lot of women, in particular, do wish to, to avoid the Miss/Ms/Mrs issue)

                  Out of nesting, replying to Min – one of my secondary scho0l teachers had a PhD and used Dr as his title. I don’t recall it ever being an issue for discussion, it was just his title.

            2. I will kill people with this cricket bat*

              Thank you for this. I always, always eye roll at colleagues who put non-relevant or necessary credentials in their email signature lines. One I worked with always went by Dr. FirstName LastName, PhD. in her email line despite having a job that 100% did not require or make use of her PhD. I always shook my head, but this perspective, that it comes with some class baggage that I was probably blind to makes so much sense.

              I try to be conscious of class bias, but apparently this one slipped past me. I’ll be more mindful in the future and less eager to judge people who do this. So thanks!

              1. all the candycorn*

                It’s not class bias if they are using their work email. Most professional workplaces have rules about what is allowed in their email signature. Someone violating by posting unnecessary and inappropriate references to their education is just as unprofessional as someone putting in Bible quotes or political statements.

                1. AKchic*

                  That is a major pet peeve of mine.

                  I’m on a military installation. The majority of signatures from military personnel that are “personalized” have bible quotes. I’m a contractor. Guess who isn’t allowed a pointed, passive-aggressive quote about separation of church and state, her “favorite” bible quote, or just something to make fun of the ridiculous? Yeah, me.
                  Some days, I’m just too grumpy for people and shenanigans.

                2. simba*

                  There is no such thing as separation of church and state:

                  Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

                3. No thank you*

                  @simba – Yes there is, just not explicitly spelled out in the constitution. A basic google will bring up plenty of info about how the concept has been integrated into case law for decades.

                4. AnonAtty*

                  I literally took a First Amendment specialty class in law school, and “separation of church and state” from a First Amendment and Constitutional Law legal expert and he would say “Separation of Church and State”. So, yes, yes there is such a thing.

              2. Duckles*

                I mean, even if it is a class marker it doesn’t mean you’re wrong for judging– this guy doesn’t know the relevant social norms and that’s a valid cause for questioning his qualification.

              3. Psyche*

                I rarely see anyone sign an e-mail with Dr. However, I have seen PhD or MD appended at the end a lot. I attribute it to working in a hospital where the two are commonly confused and the clarification can be important.

                1. AMT*

                  Yep, this is pretty much universal in hospitals. I always put my postnominals in my signature because it’s shorthand for “this is what my role is on the team.”

          2. Kathy*

            A high school friend of mine lists himself on Facebook and Linked in as: Firstname “Doc” Lastname to show that he has his PhD. I imagine it doesn’t go over well. Other friends mention it behind his back when he’s discussed, and not in a respectful tone.

            1. TechWorker*

              I know lots of PhDs that go by Doctor (not so much in person but on forms etc). I think some of the women I know do it because it basically means they get to avoid revealing their gender in lots of circumstances..

              1. Seeking Second Childhood*

                I had teachers at university who used “Doctor X” because it gave students a way to address them without saying “professor” — and they were trying not to jinx their chances for formal tenure-track professorship.

                1. VAkid*

                  All of my professors except one in college went by “doctor”.

                  I have a friend who is a Phd that works in psych at the hospital. It annoys her to no end that the MDs refer to her as Ms. X.

                2. the elephant in the room*

                  I work in the medical education field and people with PhDs are always referred to as “Doctor So-and-so.” Same when I was in college, all the professors were called, “Doctor.” Because a PhD is a doctorate degree. PhD = Doctorate of Philosophy, MD = Doctorate of Medicine.

                  Putting that on your Facebook page is obnoxious as hell, though.

                3. Dust Bunny*

                  Doctor is a level of attainment, not a profession; that’s why the type of doctor is specified in the degree. Ph.D. are *doctors* of philosophy (in whatever field). M.D.’s are *medical* doctors.

                  So, yes, Ph.D.’s are absolutely doctors, just not of medicine.

              2. RUKiddingMe*

                *When* I need to reference my PhD (raaarrreeelllyyy) I sign my name as “D.B. Cooper (not my real name) PhD.

                I never use “doctor” and have only ever been called that by students.

                Students who quickly get told to not call me doctor.

            2. KR*

              I’m not sure if your friend was in the military, but it’s very common to call medics “Docs” in the American military and to be a Doc is to be respected and a resource for all sorts of people. Many are called Doc, even if you don’t know them if you know they’re a doc you would call them “Doc Johnson” or whatever their name is.

            3. bleh*

              I knew a Doc Somebody who did this to provide a casual middle ground to use for online contacts with students, which was less formal than Dr or Doctor, but not straight to hey first-name-diminutized as they are likely to do. It was not to prove anything.

          3. Le’Veon Bell is seizing the means of production*

            FWIW, there are people who know way more about MBA programs than I do who specifically have a high regard for MBAs from University of Phoenix. It’s for-profit and not hugely well regarded generally, but I’m given to understand that their MBA program is disproportionately good, especially for the price.

          4. princess paperwork*

            I see MBA candidate on a lot of email signatures. I asked a candidate I was close to and she told me that the program (local and well-regarded) asked students to add the title to their signature as a way to advertise the program to other staff members. Apparently it works, because employee applications to the program went up.

        2. Temperance*

          Whenever I see someone with “JD” after their name, I assume that they failed the bar exam and have Feelings about it.

          1. Anon From Here*

            That’s an unfortunate assumption. There are plenty of people who get their J.D., pass the bar exam, and then choose not to practice. Depending on their licensing status (and state rules vary), they can’t/won’t use “Esq.,” but they still want people to know what they’ve accomplished.

            1. BatmansRobyn*

              I work for a company that employs both lawyers and accountants in similar functions as part of a global compliance/risk management group, and the convention within the company is to include our relevant graduate degrees as part of our signature.

              When I do volunteer legal work, I use my personal email address and everything is signed ” BatmansRobyn, Esq.” because it seems to make people feel better to see the title, or something. I used to not include it, but I would get a lot of “You’re not a REAL lawyer” from clients beforehand, presumably because I look like a seventeen year old playing dress up.

          2. Jaydee*

            Wait, what? I do it because being a licensed attorney is required for my job, but it’s a state government policy/project management job, so it wouldn’t be obvious from my job title (it’s not like “assistant attorney general” or “staff attorney” or something where obviously you’re a lawyer). Also, using Esq. is not a thing here in the Midwest like it is in other parts of the country, so this seemed like the way to go.

            1. Mpls*

              +1. I not in a JD required role, but lots of people in my role may have a professional accreditation. I don’t the accredidation that others have (because I did the law school route), so I add the JD in my signature block to indicate how I come by my expertise.

              I’ve passed the bar, pay my dues (am licensed), am just not practicing. I don’t use it on social media, though, or in my personal email, because it’s just not relevant. I only every use Esq. when I’m trying to be funny.

              1. A Tax NERD*

                This is what I do as well. I’m a licensed attorney but I work in an accounting firm and I’ve found using JD in my work signature indicates my expertise and most other attorneys in the firm also use JD or “Esq.” I of course wouldn’t use either if I worked in a law firm.

            2. Temperance*

              I’m in Philadelphia, and in other large mid-Atlantic cities, “JD” signifies that you went to law school and failed the bar.

              1. Not A Morning Person*

                I know a few people who went to law school and chose NOT to take the bar. So I’m a little confused about listing a degree as a code for failure.

                1. VAkid*

                  My ex husband did. He was already a CPA and has a sweet high level position because of his combined education (never planned to become a lawyer). He doesn’t really use JD on his signatures though…so I guess that part is different.

                2. Temperance*

                  I work in a law firm, and that’s what it signifies here. I’m not familiar with how it looks outside the industry.

              2. Public Interest Attorney*

                Interesting. I work in a big mid-Atlantic city and know a lot of practicing lawyers (although not me) who use “JD” in their signature…maybe it’s just your firm? I don’t want people to think that’s a common practice!

          3. NotAnotherManager!*

            It’s not uncommon in the DC area for people applying for jobs before they’re admitted the jurisdiction. Most lawyers do not take the DC bar, they take MD, NY, or VA and waive into DC. We have to make it very clear which attorneys are and are not barred to practice in DC to comply with their ethics laws.

            1. Temperance*

              I work with some DC-based attorneys/law clerks, and they all signal it in their signature. I assumed there was a reason for it.

        3. Smarty Boots*

          Wow, didn’t go to a great program?? Anything other than the top MBA program is…unworthy? I’d go with — don’t know what the conventions are in the field. And if that’s the case, I’d cut some slack.

          1. Rex*

            Yeah, the people on this thread are really bearing out the theory that there some classist assumptions behind the sneering at people who do this.

            1. Liet-Kinda*

              I wouldn’t assume that someone’s MBA suffix meant they went to a subpar program. I might, in all honesty, assume that they were leaning a little hard on a credential most do not emphasize because of insecurity (valid or not) about the overall impressiveness of their background and credential set. Dunno if that’s classist, but drawing attention to your bachelors’ 0r masters’ degree (especially a non-research degree like an MBA) lands as kind of a rookie move, like you don’t really know norms or are disregarding them in an attempt to be taken more seriously.

              1. Anna*

                That may be how you’d take it, but I’m with Rex on this. Most of the comments are coming from an elitist perspective about what is and isn’t worthy enough to be recognized.

                1. Linzava*

                  The issue with for-profit colleges isn’t that they’re “for the lower classes,” it’s that they prey on people in difficult situations and cost way more than a traditional college. The difference between national creditaton and state are night and day. My fiance is srattled with a quarter million dollars in student loans with a worthless masters degree from ITT Tech to show for it. The online school’s credits don’t transfer to state schools because it doesn’t meet state education standards.

                  This whole, “it’s just snobbery” assumption is dangerous because it furthers the narrative that these schools are just as good, they’re not. I’ve had to talk so many friends out of going to these schools because the information isn’t common knowledge yet.

                2. Liet-Kinda*

                  But….I mean, honestly? Most of the time, a degree isn’t actually worthy of being recognized in the way that listing it after your name implicitly requests that it be recognized. Even a PhD need not be advertised that way in most non-formally academic senarios. I have a PhD, and my signature block doesn’t include it. If most non-asshole PhDs don’t include it outside certain types of correspondence where that’s expected and necessary, I don’t see the elitism at work here.

                3. Pomona Sprout*

                  Just want to say I agree strongly sbout the elitest perspective of some of these comments. It’s actually a bit disturbing to me, as a person from what some might call a “lower class” background (neither of my parents had more than a ninth grade education) who graduated from high school, went on to attend college and earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees. I have never used M.A. in my signature, but I am damned proud of my academic acccomplisments and I don’t care who knows it, even though they might not sound impressive to some here. When you grow up without any expectation of ever attending college or anyone encouraging you in that direction whatsoever, it is a major accomplishment to even go to college, much less graduate. (Just navigating the application process without any knowledegable assistance or guidance is an accomplishment in itself for some of us.)

                  Luckily for me, I went to college before the internet, which neans there were no for-profit schools pushing subpar online degrees, which I could have been been easily taken in by. There was also lots of financial aid available in the form of grants, not loans, for people as broke as me, so I was able to finance my education at a no frills state university without going significantly into debt. People from a background like mine who want to pursue higher education nowadays are actually up against a lot more than I was back in the 70s, and that is NOT how it should be.

                  Just wanted to get that off mychest, because I think people need to realize how comments like some of the ones here above can sound to some of us. (Please note: I am NOT pointing fingers at anyone in particular. I couldn’t if I wanted to, because at this point, I have no idea who said what, just how the tone of some of the comments made me feel,)


                4. Artemesia*

                  But the people who look down on this are not including THEIR MBAs from the high powered schools; it isn’t about what is recognized as important — it is about the norm of listing your education in your signature. There are jobs where it is appropriate, but when it is not the norm, the pattern is that people who do it are overcompensating. The same is true of PhDs.

          2. NotAnotherManager!*

            Classism exists, and I am reading most of the comments more about the perception within an industry and less as personal beliefs. I work in legal (and understand finance can be similar), but, yes, many people working at big firms are classist and will only consider graduates of top-tier programs. I work for a mid-tier firm, and we’re considered “nonselective” because we will take people from top-tier school, local schools, and schools that have particularly strong programs in one of our areas of practice.

            It’s not about right or wrong, it’s about being aware that these perceptions exist in certain industries. If you want get by the initial screen, you should know their biases. I often joke that I had no idea my nationally-ranked public university wan’t “good enough” until I got to BigLaw.

        4. ThatGirl*

          One of my good friends from college went to law school, passed the bar, practiced for awhile and is now in HR. Her email address is [name] but like, it’s kind of a jokey thing. she’s proud of her degree, but she doesn’t sign her work or regular emails that way.

      2. Lisa M*

        Even if it’s common among this group, it’s still probably a small percentage of the general population right? I used to call mine out in the early years, before I had more work experience. It’s not an easy thing to do, so why not call it out?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Well, because there are lots of things people do that aren’t easy but which still don’t belong after your name. Most hard things, actually. And because it looks like you’re putting an outsized amount of weight on it for that reason.

            1. Artemesia*

              Artemesia, birthed only two vaginally but no meds

              The only time I have used ‘Dr.’ socially was when I lived in the south and would use ‘Ms’ and would get the snotty sneering ‘Well now is that ‘Miss’ or ‘Mrs.’ from creepy sexist old men who wanted to chide me for not having achieved the only valuable goal for women ‘catching a man’. I had in fact caught one and had kids, but for jerks like that I would just look them in the eye and say ‘Oh, it’s ‘Dr.’ They didn’t like that. I did.

              1. bearing*

                I gotta tell you, I am very glad to have Dr. if only as an alternative to Mrs. I don’t mind Ms. per se, and I like when there are no titles at all, but if we are going to be using titles (and especially if I am expected to address YOU with your title, like a few weeks ago when I wrote an angry and very polite letter to an archbishop), then I am going to use mine.

                I have been experimenting with using Dr. on my Twitter name recently, something I don’t do in my other social media personae. I’ve discovered that Academic Women Twitter, especially STEM Women Twitter, and also Academic POC Twitter, often displays a different opinion about the signaling power of PhD/Dr. because of the experience of marginalization. I’ll give the simplistic version of the explanation: Everyone assumes the mature white guy in the lecture room or at the conference is an authority, so of course he feels comfortable performatively insisting “don’t call me Dr.” But people who have had the experience of being mistaken for a student, a conferee’s spouse, or someone who wandered in accidentally before, use “Dr.” pointedly, to assert the status that rightfully belongs to them but that experience tells them is sometimes reflexively denied.

                I get the idea “only the insecure insist on the honorific,” but recall that some people are systematically not afforded security.

                1. Artemesia*

                  Good point. When I was early in my career I worked with an ABD; I had my PhD. It was very common for him to be introduced as Dr. Whosis and me as Ms. Whatsis.

                  I once got the last seat on standby and had to hook my ticket out of the agent’s hand as she tried to hand it to the distinguished white haired gentleman since it was Dr Whatsis and she just assumed it was he. I always used ‘doctor’ booking airline tickets back in the day.

                2. Kal*

                  I think I perceive Dr. before a name differently on twitter than in other social situations. Often people who use Dr on twitter tend to do a lot of science/academic outreach, making it accessible. And since that outreach is started on their own feeds, its not like someone walking into a situation and diverting conversation and insisting they be called doctor, its an actual useful signifier that this info isn’t just coming from some rando.

                  Emails are a grey-zone for me. Professional email accounts with either doctor or letters after the name are things I don’t notice, though if someone makes it as long as possible when it could be shorter (like fully writing out instead of the letters) or weirdly emphasized instead of regular text get an eyebrow raise from me – at that point it feels like they’re trying to show it off for status as opposed to just making it available information. Personal email accounts used for a professional type use in the particular email counts this way too. Personal email accounts used for personal reasons that list those make it more questionable – using Dr where you might otherwise Ms/Mr/Mx/etc is fine, listing out letters gets rather weird.

                  This is all coming from someone whose highest education is a BA from a family where getting to that level helped make family history, and doesn’t know any internal conventions on the use of these things. I’m really quite proud of my degree, but still don’t bring it up unless its directly relevant to the situation.

          1. Anon for this one*

            THIS. It drives me crazy when PhDs use “Doctor” socially. I mentioned this to a friend and she defended the practice, saying “but they work so hard to get that!” Well, yeah, and you work hard to become an astronaut too, but they don’t sign their Christmas cards “Astronaut Neil Armstrong.”

            I later realized that this friend’s husband, who was a PhD, used “Doctor” for EVERYTHING. He had “Dr. Fergus MacLeod” printed on his checks. Because heaven forbid the people at the cable company don’t know you have a PhD.

            – Anon Commenter, Saved Princess Peach

            1. EmilyG*

              The person I’ve known who was touchiest about this was a medieval history PhD who pointed out (correctly) that PhDs were doctors centuries before MDs were. As long as MDs insist on using Dr. socially it seems silly to me to insist that PhDs not.

              1. fposte*

                Except PhDs in the US historically *didn’t* use the doctor title because they wouldn’t *want* to be MDs or taken for being MDs. Your medieval history person is missing a few intervening centuries :-).

              2. Seeking Second Childhood*

                Not silly at all — MDs use their title socially because they are available to help in a medical emergency. When someone calls out “Is there a doctor in the house?” she isn’t looking for the PhD in computer science.

                1. Rusty Shackelford*

                  No, that’s not why they use it. When I get a wedding invitation from “Dr. and Mrs. So and So,” I don’t say “Oh, good, there will be a medical professional there in case of emergency.”

                2. Anna*

                  MDs use their title socially because they put in a lot of time, energy, and money into having that title, which means they earned the right to use that distinction. Not unlike someone with a PhD.

                3. fposte*

                  @Anna–that may be why they justify it now, but that’s not historically the reason. Most people follow the lead of other people around them when adopting a convention, so for instance even though people have worked hard for their salaries we don’t tend to use them socially or put them on our business cards. People use degrees largely because of understandings or misunderstandings about convention.

                4. Dust Bunny*

                  If somebody is asking if there is a doctor in the house, nobody in their right mind thinks they’re asking for an archaeologist. That’s a ridiculous argument against Ph.D.’s using “Dr.” socially. They did the work; they earned the use of the title if they wish.

                5. RUKiddingMe*


                  Are you saying that PhDs didn’t put time, money, and energy into getting their title?

            2. Tau*

              I told myself after I got my PhD that I wouldn’t be one of Those People and use the title everywhere. That said, I’ve found it can be pretty helpful when dealing with bureaucracy. I’m a single, young-looking woman with a speech disorder, and I feel like it’s easy for me to get dismissed or have people think they don’t have to take me seriously. Checking “Dr.” on my paperwork helps stop that from happening, especially because I’m in Germany and I think we put more value on those sorts of accreditations than the US. And it’s great for defanging any hidden assumptions people may have about people who stutter being less intelligent.

              Which is to say that I’d probably use “Dr.” especially with the cable company.

                1. JaneB*

                  I use my Dr title because its gender neutral. If there was ONE title for a female bodied person like “Mr” I might not, but I benefit from not being instantly identified as female on paperwork and lists, and I benefit a LOT from not getting into Ms/Mx/Miss/Mrs, all of which are problematic to me to some degree for my particular circumstances and psychology.

                  And heck yes I use it with the phone company, I will use whatever I can to try and get the service I pay for with them…

                2. MD*

                  I agree with JaneB. Dr., unlike Ms., Miss, and Mrs., doesn’t carry any cultural baggage over my marital status and why I did or didn’t change my last name. (I get that Ms. is technically neutral but there will still be people hung up over it.)

              1. Academic Addie*

                Same. It’s a gender-neutral title that accords me with respect men get for free. I use it at my discretion because I earned it.

                1. bleh*

                  Yep, what JaneB says. Also, the Latin origin of Doctor means teacher – nothing to do with medicine.

                2. Jenn*

                  It depends on the context though. If someone asks “is there a doctor in the house” after someone faints, for instance, a PhD should not raise their hand.

                3. Anna*

                  @Jenn A PhD wouldn’t raise their hand because (hopefully) they would understand the context of the question.

              2. Gingerblue*

                Cosigned. The bureaucracy at my grad institution became markedly more polite for the several months that I had PhD after my name in their system before leaving. (Suddenly the library, which was notorious for not checking books in when you returned them and refusing to do shelf checks for them and being nasty about how it must be your fault when you complained, was able to find things I’d returned months earlier. Miraculous!)

                1. Tau*

                  Well… they haven’t yet? But apparently my mother once got a letter from the bank asking her if she could please stop by with her doctoral diploma because they had her title down as “Frau Dr.” and needed proof that she was eligible.

                  I’m also reasonably sure it’s some sort of misdemeanour to claim a doctoral title when you don’t have a PhD, so faking it is a little risky. I remember going through the regulations for this when I moved back because they have a specific list of what university your degree needs to be from in order for you to qualify, and I wasn’t clear how it worked when my university was in the EU at the time the degree was awarded but would not be once Brexit finished. Calling yourself Doctor: serious business.

                  For what it’s worth, this is the point where I usually go “oh, Germany.”

              3. ebc710*

                I’m guilty of listing MBA after my name. I’m a young, and young-looking female in a male-dominated industry. I am often assumed to be my male boss’ assistant. Having my MBA listed in my email signature line has cut down on this (I think…or maybe I just started looking older). Anyway, I’m curious if @askamanager has another suggestion for always getting mistaken as the assistant.

            3. Liet-Kinda*

              So, I hold a PhD I generally don’t make a fuss about or call attention to. But in some situations – raking an irresponsible developer over the coals for the neighborhood association I volunteer for, as an example – it’s a cheap card to play.

            4. Psyche*

              Eh, I don’t really see why MD or PhD matters when deciding who gets to use a title socially. If that’s your title, that’s your title. Insisting on being addressed as Dr in a non-professional capacity is annoying either way. However when asked or filling out a form, use what you want.

            5. Elizanurse*

              The insane and slightly evil woman we bought our house from introduced herself to me as DOCTOR Lastname (she had a PhD in sociology) when we met to get the keys. I’ve worked with some of the world’s top neonatal surgeons for my entire career and they don’t even usually act like that. I giggled in her face.

        2. Mockingjay*

          Listing degree credentials and certifications after your name in letters and emails is common in my industry (federal contracting). We have to qualify for our roles pretty frequently (each time the contract is bid or the annual task order is issued), so you get into the mindset of justifying yourself: “my email signature block will (indirectly) remind people that I qualify to be the project manager. They can see that I have the required degree and PMP cert as stated in the contract labor category.”

          (Contracting can be a weird life. I often wonder how industries in the real world operate, lol.)

          1. Liet-Kinda*

            I was a fed contractor for a while, and while I never did it in my email sig, on the resume they used for proposals, I was definitely Liet Kinda, PhD, CWB, CEP, WTF, LOL and so on. Always looked weird.

          2. Rat in the Sugar*

            Hah, yeah, I work at a contractor for the fed as well and you better believe if I got my Master’s or my CPA it would be plastered all over my email signature–when I speak for my company I want the government folks to be aware of the qualifications I have.

            Also, as an accountant I would always put that stuff in my email signature if I was working with clients. It’s for the same reason I would put on a suit for IRS meetings when I worked at a tax office, even if the IRS agent was on the phone and couldn’t see me. The agent can’t see, but the client absolutely can, and having you on their side in a full suit with a bunch of letters after your name makes them feel confident in your skills and is very reassuring for them when they’re scared stiff by the IRS.

          3. De Minimis*

            Another federal contractor here, I’ve seen that as well. We have a lot of engineers who have the Professional Engineer certification and they add “PE” in their signatures. I’ve never really worked with engineers before so I don’t know how common it is elsewhere.

            1. Not A Morning Person*

              Using the PE certification can be very common in private industry, too, because you charge more for a professional and in some cases it’s a requirement for particular types of work.

              1. Qosanchia*

                This for sure. PE (and by some extension, EIT) are actually fiscally and legally important credentials in certain engineering contexts, so all of the engineers I work with use them in their professional signatures. Personal email, I can’t speak to, but I imagine the use falls off for most of them.

          4. Tired*

            Thirty years federal contracting on the government side. We are required to post our warrant granting us authority to bind the government and showing the limits of that authority. That’s it. I don’t read signature blocks unless I need a phone number or something. Lots of titles, etc. in a signature block comes across as braggy to me.

        3. MissDisplaced*

          I only favor calling it out if it signifies some type of license to practice. Like CPA or DO or DC or RN

      3. Glomarization, Esq.*

        Lawyers appending “Esq.” varies widely by location. I use it because I’m in the U.S. mid-Atlantic, where it’s pretty much expected. But I’ve also lived in the Pacific Northwest, where they think it’s a hilariously pretentious practice by us stuffy, buttoned-up types.

        1. Queen Anon*

          It was definitely the thing to do when I lived and worked in Las Vegas (over a decade ago). Lawyers didn’t just sign with the Esq., they also addressed every letter they sent to another attorney as Esq. This was in both the small and the large (multi-office) firms I worked for. I don’t see it where I live now, in the Midwest.

          1. Jaydee*

            I’m in the Midwest and hardly anyone in my state uses Esq. I had one colleague who used it, but he came from New York, and I assumed he brought that with him.

          2. neverjaunty*

            There’s a difference between addressing an attorney with “Esq” in a letter and putting it after your own name, though. It’s the same reason you write “Dear Ms. Obstruction” in the salutation but sign with just your name.

        2. FiveWheels*

          As a Brit I’m surprised it’s used for lawyers anywhere! Lawyer signatures are just the name but business cards and letterhead will list qualifications after the name, partly because there are several academic routes to qualifying as a solicitor or barrister.

        3. NotAnotherManager!*

          I’ve worked in East Coast law for nearly 20 years, and all official letters and pleadings include Esq. in the signature line for all attorneys. In some cases, it makes sense because there are certain documents that can included professional staff who are not attorneys (usually agency instead of court matters). In other cases, it’s just a long line of Esq. down the sign block. It is not in email signatures or on business cards, though.

        4. Renee*

          In my area, it is standard. It is also common to refer to oneself as “Attorney LastName” when calling another law office. I rarely did when I worked for a firm and was routinely assumed to be a paralegal, particularly by male attorneys. I’m in-house now, in a role that is not specifically legal but includes legal responsibilities, like compliance and contract negotiation. I have “Esq.” in my email signature because my state is touchy about attorneys interacting with non-attorneys in business deals, and it could be regarded as an ethics violation if I negotiate a transaction or contract with a non-attorney and don’t disclose that I am an attorney. It seems pretty common here to also see MBA or J.D., and always Ph.D., and it simply communicates the person’s professional credentials. I would not attach any kind of judgment to someone doing it as it’s almost universal for anything beyond a B.A. (and even that would simply imply that they were early in their career). It seems like a weird thing to judge.

      4. Erin*

        I saw colleagues through a previous job using Esq after their names and my immediate coworkers and I all had a big laugh. Don’t do that guys. ;)

    2. Greg NY*

      It’s more common than it used to be. It seems to matter where the degree is from, if it’s a top business school, it’s still considered pretty impressive, if it’s a business school way down on the list, it’s less so.

      1. ArtK*

        Especially since “MBA” could mean Harvard or Wharton, or it could mean Billy Bob’s Bait and Business School. Unless you add the school, like “MBA(Wharton)”. Even then it really doesn’t mean a lot. After all, what do you call the person who graduated last in their class from Harvard Medical School? “Doctor.”

    3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Even if it were an impressive degree, it’s a bit eye-rolly, in the same way it’s eye-rolly (imo) to put “J.D.” or “Esq.” after your name. Whenever I’ve seen people do this, it came off as a bit self-important.

      1. MD*

        I always include MD after my name for professional purposes. It’s not pretentious and eye-rolly; if you want a doctor’s note (and for our medical documentation), it needs to at least say that it’s from a healthcare professional.

          1. Smarty Boots*

            Correct. It’s convention. It does not indicate anything about the quality of the educational program, nor about the quality of the person putting those initials after their name. (I know you have not said this, Alison, but other commenters have strongly implied it.)
            Conventions on this do vary, and it’s kind of offensive that people are getting eye-rolly about it. Easy to roll your eyes if you’ve been in a field long enough to know the conventions. Or come from a socioeconomic class where you learn these things.

            1. Thor*

              Yeah, I’m kind of surprised people have this strong of an opinion about it. My reaction is hard core neutral.

          2. Aveline*

            This convention varies a lot by US region and by social class.

            There is a lot of social class and even racial or gender disdain in saying that citing accomplishments is pretentious. I have a friend who’s the first black woman to work in BigLaw in our state. She uses Esq. after her name on her legal stationary. Also on her cards. That’s not pretension, it’s pride.

            I lived in a European country with far less class division and freee education. Not only we’re credentials always listed, but if someone has two doctorates, one acknowledged that when speaking to them. You’d say something like “Doctor Doctor Smith, Esq.” if they had two doctorates and were a practicing layer.

            We need to bear this all in mind when judging people based on what they out before or after their names.

            Because their use of titles and our reaction to it does not occur in a cultural vacuum.

            We also all need to bear in mind none of this is universal or uniform within the USA and it’s also not rational.

            1. neverjaunty*

              There’s also a layer of classism about “BigLaw” being the pinnacle of legal achievement, while we’re on the subject.

              1. Aveline*

                I don’t disagree with you. I loathe the deification of BigLaw.

                I loathe how BigLaw skews the profession I. My state.

                I personally do not think the measure of a lawyer is who they work for. Or the measure of a firm is BigLaw v podunk practice.

                The reason I included that antecdote is simply to say that sometimes using these titles is an act of defiance in a system that tries to keep people out. While you and I may not think BigLaw is the pinnacle of the legal profession, a lot of old white men do and want to keep the rest of us out. When a WOC found a way in, there was a lot of pearl clutching by those men and the few whites women they’d let in.

            2. Seeking Second Childhood*

              Huh. I did a brief contract at a university hospital where several doctors were MD, PhD — and none of them introduced themselves as Doctor Doctor.

              1. Aveline*

                I said when I lived in a European country.

                And, to be clear, they didn’t introduce themselves that way. Other people did when introducing thems to me.

                As, for example, Sue introduced her boss to me and said, “This is Doctor Doctor Smith”

                It was weird and I could never quite get the order of titles right in when when repeated them v only listed a duplicate once.

                There are often different conventions as to how one I t induces oneself and how others introduce you to third parties.

                If you want to discuss this further let’s do it in the off-topic over the weekend. I didn’t put this in here to derail on the point. Just to point out that how these things are handled are far from Universal or rational

            3. Temperance*

              I’m an attorney from a lower-class background; I’m the first person on my dad’s side of the family to obtain a 4-year degree, and the second on my mom’s side. I’m the only person with an advanced degree in my entire extended family. (My grandmother’s niece is a doctor, so she wins the “most educated” prize.)

              I have learned that what was a big accomplishment to me is just normal for most middle class people, and that to fit in, I should follow their lead. I’m white, so I can “pass” a bit more easily, but my first name is a bit of a class marker.

              1. Aveline*


                I don’t know if you’ve read the book Limbo, but is talks about being the first person in the middle class and how much one has to swallow to fit in.

                I’m now no longer middle class. I’m considered affluent. I have less issues now that when I was coming up. Simply because husband and I have power and connections and a lot of those middle class people fear what we could (but wouldn’t) do if we wanted to hurt them. (We aren’t those type of people, but strangers don’t know that)

                One thing money does for you is you can opt out of some of that bs. I wish that were not true, but it is.

                When I was economically middle class, I experienced a lot of class bias and a lot of having to swallow certain things. I never fit anywhere.

                So much of what the white American middle class considers normal or common sense is not!

                The only friends I had who unerstood were all WOCs who taught me about code switching, passing culturally (which I did not), and intersectionality. Had I not had those women in my life, I would have been completely isolated but for my father in law, who is another race and had a different degree and occupation, but had much the same life experience.

                One of the things I love about this blog is I get to read posts by people who aren’t exactly like me, but who are outsiders to the system. I find them very helpful in trying to determine if I’m being overly frustrated with something or if it is simply that the system sucks.

                1. Pomona Sprout*

                  I never heard of that book until now, but I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy, Thanks for mentioning it!

            4. Tau*

              I have definitely run into Herr Professor Doktor Doktors before. It can get a mite unwieldy.

              (Also means the whole “gender-neutral” thing doesn’t work in Germany, because you still use the gendered title as well. Sigh. At least we don’t have to worry about unmarried/married distinctions, Fräulein being pretty much dead and buried these days.)

              But yeah, this is definitely cultural. I think I actually distressed my dentist by not using Dr. once – we were talking at the start of the appointment, and I mentioned I’d only recently returned to Germany because I’d been in the UK for my PhD. He went “wait a moment, you have a PhD?”, went to the computer and changed the title on my patient record. He seemed bewildered that I wasn’t using the title that I’d earned.

          3. Database Developer Dude*

            that convention being no one cares how hard you worked or what kind of effort to put in to get your credential……

          4. Genny*

            I think part of the convention is based on how common the degree is your field (along with some other prestige markers). I’m sure there was a time when having a masters in international relations was impressive and rare. Now it’s more rare not to have one. Consequently, no one signs their name “Jane Smith, MAIR” or Wakeen Hernandez, MSFS” because it’s just not that impressive anymore and would look really out of touch.

          5. Mommy MD*

            I never use MD in my personal life. But I do think there is a difference in a profession that has to be licensed and monitored by the government than a degree title.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I think it’s different when your degree is included for work purposes. For example, I identify that I’m counsel when I sign off on things (even if I don’t use “Esq.” or “JD”). I would certainly expect a doctor providing a note to clarify their degree in their signature. But I wouldn’t expect a doctor applying for a position at a hospital to include “MD” after their name in their cover letter.

          1. Traffic_Spiral*

            Yeah. If there’s a legitimate reason to include it, like a doctor’s note or a legal notification, then you add it. There are certain things that doctors and lawyers are exclusively authorized to do, so if you’re doing that, you add your authorization (doctor says “give this guy X medication or Y days off,” lawyer says legal stuff). But MBA carries no legal significance, and as such, there’s no reason to include it other than bragging.

          2. Delta Delta*

            Yep. Me too. I sign things “Delta Delta, counsel for Veronica Warblesworth” if the situation calls for it. Otherwise, I generally don’t include my Esq. notation. I’ve never included my JD notation – that would seem to suggest one slogged through law school but isn’t licensed to practice, which isn’t what I’d want to convey.

            1. Traffic_Spiral*

              Yeah, I’ve seen people include LLM if it’s meant to mean “Lawyer from abroad that knows US law as well” or “Tax expert.” “JD,” on the other hand, would imply you weren’t actually a licensed lawyer but did go to law school.

          3. schnauzerfan*

            Yes. I’ll include my MLIS when I’m sending a letter of recommendation for someone applying to Library School, or applying for a library job. Don’t think I’ve ever used it for anything else, because that would be silly.

          4. Mommy MD*

            They would include it. There are different types of physicians. MD/DO. It’s not pretentious. It’s identifying. It’s perfectly acceptable to include MD on anything professional.

          1. Not in US*

            If your in academia – it is expected that you will list all your degrees and credentials. I’m staff and I list an MBA after my name. Is it pretentious – yes, but it makes my life easier with the faculty. When I first started I was told explicitly that I needed to add it because it would make certain people treat me with a little more respect. I’m not saying this is the way it should be but it is the way it is, in my industry.

            1. Andy*

              truth. in higher ed myself and I enroll in grad classes sometimes just to get the profs to ease up on the condescension.

            2. fposte*

              Yeah, in Europe I see that a lot more, whereas if you’re not European and you’re doing it in the US, it’s going to come across oddly.

            3. Else*

              Well, all except bachelor’s degrees. I confess to wanting to snort when I see that, just because doing it is so against the norm.

            4. De Minimis*

              I worked for a non-profit that worked within academia. Several of the staff had Ph.ds [were former professors] and they often used Ph.d on their e-mail signatures, though no one there ever asked to be referred to as “Dr.”

              I suspect that might have been different if we’d been an institute of higher learning.

              When I was a kid, there were always a couple of school employees who had doctorates, and they usually went by “Dr.” I remember one principal and one counselor who went by Dr. It seemed pretty snooty to me at the time and still does.

              1. So long and thanks for all the fish*

                I had a teacher in high school who went by Dr (AP Chemistry). It didn’t seem snooty to us, possibly because of the subject he was teaching and that he wasn’t condescending.

                1. ket*

                  I think it’s important, actually, for those teachers who have doctorates in their subject to use them. Where I came from, at least, it was the only way that some of us learned that doctorates in non-medical fields existed. It was like a walking advertisement for the existence of post-college education. Why should we keep that secret knowledge allowed only to kids who already have PhDs in the family?

                2. bearing*

                  Seconding what ket said. If you are working with children, particularly in an educational setting, where those kids are expected to address you as Title Lastname, I think an academic title is totally appropriate. Especially if you belong to a minority in your field and have the chance to represent.

              1. bleh*

                Part of the its ok for MDs only is our cultural anti-intellectualism kicking in. Even if you do not subscribe to anti-intellectualism personally, we all swim in it. Using the PhD designation or Dr. in an educational setting is as snooty as using MD in a medical setting.

            1. Clumsy Ninja*

              I have the same problem. I’m so used to signing, “C. Ninja, DVM” at work that I forget and sometimes do it automatically for school field trip forms or mortgage papers.

      2. MBA RN*

        I find that in healthcare in general, there’s more emphasis on including your degrees, licenses, and credentials in your email signatures. It looks very out of place when I can’t immediately see the basic background to your expertise. It is definitely the standard in my organization to have a fairly detailed byline. I was even asked by a colleague why I didn’t include an uncommon (and not well known – the vast majority of people would not recognize it by acronym) certification I hold on my signature. She acted surprised and almost put off that I didn’t include it since it meant she assumed I didn’t have the certification. That’s an extreme response but is an example of how much the healthcare culture relies on understanding your licenses and education to provide context.

        1. Ninnoc*

          This. People in healthcare where I am want to know and I’ve been asked what my MBA is in. Different industries, different standards.

        2. DaisyGrrl*

          I think it’s common in many regulated professions. I know my father included his engineering credentials on his business cards (and presumably his email signatures), because it was important to know that he was a licensed professional engineer (there are restrictions on who can call themselves an engineer where I live).

          1. ArtK*

            I won’t roll my eyes if I see “PE” after someone’s name. As you say, it’s a professional license and very relevant.

            1. Mommy MD*

              Yes. Professional licensure is different than listing degrees. Licenses are held to a much higher, verifiable and overseen standard.

        3. Elaine*

          Agreed. I’m a medical coder and there is a running joke about having “alphabet soup” behind your name as you pick up more certifications. It’s always been standard practice to list them after your name in correspondence wherever I have worked.

          1. RJ the Newbie*

            I love that alphabet soup comment! I’ve worked in design/engineering for my entire career and this is totally the case in my industry.

          2. Red Reader*

            Yes! I put the RHIA and CPC, because they’re relevant, but my boss is continually perplexed as to why my masters degrees aren’t in my email signature. :-P

          3. fuzzbucket*

            I agree, I’m in the healthcare/coding industry and we all display everything we have after my name. I took my MBA off since I thought it looked silly but still kept my RN and all the other certs – and was told to put the MBA back. :)

        4. A Teacher*

          Agreed. Healthcare and education, it’s expected if you have an advanced degree for sure to put the MA or MS or whatever. If I just sign: A Teacher, ATC, LAT then I’m implying I’m a certified and licensed athletic trainer with only my bachelors degree. As it is, I’ve got a couple graduate degrees—so the expectation in teaching and medical field of which I’m a part of both is to sign A Teacher, MS, MA, ATC, LAT. In everyday life I don’t use my credentials but in work email, on my business card, and professionally it’s expected in both fields.

        5. Half-Caf Latte*

          Yeah. My academic healthcare org is very degree/title focused, so even on the most informal documents, like our internal department contact list, all degrees and certs are listed. Our admin has her bachelors, and her credentials are listed. We once had a student intern, who was pursuing a second bachelors degree, and no one batted an eye at her including her first degree credentials, despite them being wholly irrelevant.

        6. Miss M*

          Yep, agreed! In health and education the listing of degrees and credentials after is so common, I felt weird not listing mine after I graduated. What I still find weird are people who include inspirational quotes in their signature.

        7. Left Out*

          I worked for a “healthcare” company that was more “woo science”. They all did the alphabet soup thing to mislead people into thinking they were legit. The funniest were the ones who put PhD (in philosophy….or marketing…not…psychology or something that would make sense with what they were peddling).

          We had a list of affiliated health care providers on our website and oh my god the politics between who gets list first, second, third, etc.

        8. Ama*

          Yeah, I work in the medical research sector of the nonprofit world, and one of the professional organizations I belong to commonly list degrees after people’s names on the attendance list for our conferences, directories, etc. It’s pretty common for people with comparable positions to mine to have a PhD, MPH, MSc, or some other science related graduate degree. However, I had a pretty unconventional route to my current job and my graduate degree is actually an MFA (Fine Arts). It’s always weird when these lists include it after my name– my current employer initially wanted to list it as well and I asked them not to because I felt like I was constantly being asked to justify my qualifications (which are all based on my post-MFA career).

      3. AnonAtty*

        I find “Esq” to be harmless but “JD” to be silly and eyeroll worthy.

        I occasionally end up talking to non-US attorneys but need to know if they are admitted to the bar in the US and if there’s an ambiguity (say, someone at a law firm in the UK) what actually helps is if they include something like “NY Bar member” after their name.

        JD tells me nothing (because you can have a JD and have not been admitted to the bar) and while “Esq” implies bar membership, being specific is better.

        My favorite is this one guy who signs everything “JD PhD” after his name. Okay, great. That might kind of be relevant if we’re talking Patents, but then what I really need to know if if you’re admitted to the patent bar.

        Maybe it’s impressive to clients, but other attorneys don’t care.

          1. AnonAtty*

            JD (juris doctor) is the standard 3 year (or 4 part time) American law degree.

            Esq is short for “esquire” and, though this isn’t universal, is used for attorneys who are licensed, which means they have passed both the bar exam and the character and fitness application. It is most common for people who are admitted to the bar in the US to have JDs, but not always (in my experience, most commonly foreign attorneys who have an LLM from a US school (similar to a master’s degree for lawyers)).

            So not all JDs are Esqs (some choose not to pursue legal careers that require the bar, some fail either the exam or character and fitness) and not all Esqs have JDs.

              1. Free Now (and forever)*

                I was admitted to the bar in 1981 and that’s always been my impression of the term Esquire.

              2. Andy*

                prior to college I though Esquire was a title you could take upon yourself prior to engaging in some tubular timetravel with a bestie.

              3. AFT*

                In my position I work with attorneys throughout the country and it seems the ones who sign their emails Esq tend to be the more difficult ones to deal with.
                I’m not saying this as a blanket statement but in the small segment of ones I deal with regularly.

            1. Res Admin*

              That’s interesting. One of the women I work with has a JD and uses it on her by-line. She negotiates contracts so it always made sense to me. She is also a licensed attorney that still occasionally takes on private cases (by all accounts, she is actually a very proficient attorney)–and then she uses “Esq.”

              1. Latkas, please.*

                You can negotiate contracts without being counsel for an individual or company, so if it’s a position that requires you qualify yourself somehow in emails, then putting JD actually makes sense here (i.e. licensed attorney but I work for the state in a non-attorney capacity, so I cannot use Esq. even though my position is law-related)

            2. A Tax NERD*

              In some states it’s inappropriate or potentially unethical to use Esq. even if you’re licensed but are not practicing law so in my area of tax where there are plenty of licensed attorneys it’s much more common to see JD than Esq.

              1. Thistle*

                In the UK, Esq has no connotations that the person is legally qualified. It is used, less so these days though, to mean ‘gentleman’ where the man has no other title (title here meaning eg knighthood, baronet, duke etc and not plain Mister). It is used on formal invitations such as ceremonies, balls, possibly weddings. It is not used to address women.

          2. Temperance*

            So, in my region, adding “JD” to your signature is a sign that you didn’t pass the bar. I’m in the mid-Atlantic, and it’s considered out of touch to do so.

            1. Aveline*


              Unless you are in a corporate position that requires a JD but not a law license.

              However, I will say I once knew a dude who insisted on being called Doctor bc he had a JD. While technically a JD is a Doctorate, I don’t know of any sane person who would insist on being called that.

              (I found my JD program more difficult than the doctorate in a related field, so that’s not about accomplishment).

              The rules are totally irrational and inconsistent

              1. Genny*

                Haha, I had a professor who did that. He could be a polarizing figure, so when one of his former students obtained her JD, she demanded anyone who call him “doctor” also call her “doctor” to point out the absurdity of it.

        1. Anon From Here*

          True fact, years ago my dentist went by “D.D.S., J.D.” because she decided to pursue her law degree after she’d been dentist-ing for a while. She had her law license, but preferred “J.D.” to “Esq.” because she wanted to emphasize her academic achievement. (This was in an area of the U.S. where all of us lawyers went by “Esq.”) She wasn’t a lawyer who was also a dentist, but a dentist who happened to also be a lawyer. No lawyering clients, only dental clients.

          1. Elemeno P.*

            A dentist who also happens to be a lawyer seems like the most intimidating person to lie to about how often you floss.

            1. Anon From Here*

              She … took very detailed notes, especially when I admitted to not following instructions about my dental hygiene at home.

              1. Latkas, please.*

                My gastro became an attorney and it’s like some sort of magic, but now he can tell I’m lying when he asks about the acidic foods I’ve been eating.

          2. AnonAtty*

            See, I don’t think I would put a degree I wasn’t using in professional stuff. Why would I care if my dentist had a JD? Given how expensive a law degree is, it kind of signals that you have money to burn.

            A PhD/JD at least makes sense because they’re usually highly specialized patent attorneys (so they specialize in whatever technology they did their PhD in).

            1. A Teacher*

              Because she’s in healthcare. In healthcare the norm is to all credentials. It might be weird, but it’s kind of the expectation.

              1. Lily Rowan*

                One time I went to Student Health for something minor, and they told me I was seeing “Dr. Jones.” When I got to her office, I saw that she was Jane Jones, RN, PhD. I was more than happy to be seeing a nurse rather than a doctor, but thought calling her Dr. in that context was just bizarre.

                1. MBA RN*

                  That’s one time the norm to call a PhD “doctor” is definitely inappropriate. I work with PhD nurses and they only go by doctor in academic/non-patient care settings. They’ll sometimes joke about it with patients but are never referred to as a doctor in that arena.

                2. Someone Else*

                  I had a similar experience, someone who was a PhD in biochemistry (or something similar) and an RN. I was seeing her in her nursing capacity and she introduced herself as Doctor, and I thought that was misleading given the medical context of the appointment.

                3. Thornus67*

                  This reminds me of when talking to a friend in med school (or maybe he was in residencies by then) I would deliberately call myself a doctor in between earning my JD and getting sworn into the bar. He got quite angry about it. I found it funny. Luckily his lawyer wife never heard him?

                4. June*

                  Agree that they should have clarified her position (“You will be seeing one of our nurse practioners, Dr. Jones”), but doctorate-level medical professionals should be afforded the same respect as physicians. I personally like to introduce myself to patients as “June” but if I was doing bedside rounds with the medical team and the attending introduced the team as “Dr. Stevens, Dr. Madrid, and June (or Ms. Lastname)” it would be out-of-step and I would be rightfully annoyed.

                5. Mallory Janis Ian*

                  I see a nurse practitioner, and I just call her doctor because I don’t know what else to say. I feel a little awkward, but she hasn’t corrected me, so I guess it’s okay? I don’t know . . .

                6. DArcy*

                  The argument that nursing PhDs should be denied the same social courtesies as all other doctorate degrees because it’s “confusing” falls apart when you consider that no one makes the same arguments about pharmacy doctorates or any other non-MD doctorate in health care fields.

                  And this is something that goes well beyond social debates here; medical associations across America have been increasingly aggressive in lobbying for making this an actual law, with every single such proposals singling out nursing and ONLY nursing to be banned from the title doctor.

                  It’s very, very blatantly sexist.

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              I could see the combination working — a practicing dentist with a law degree might be very attractive to an insurance company for example.

              1. Health Insurance Nerd*

                Nope, we don’t care. As long as you have the proper credentials to performing the service for which we reimburse you it totally irrelevant what other degrees you may have.

            2. Anon From Here*

              Don’t know where you’re from, but in the area where we were, the paralegal route isn’t where you would go if you had your J.D. but didn’t have a law license. That is to say, nobody would look at “J.D. but not Esq.” and think “they must be a paralegal.”

              1. Temperance*

                I’m in Philadelphia and am connected to a few other major cities across the country through my work.

              2. Renee*

                Same here. There’s a pretty high number of JDs that are not not practicing attorneys where I am because the attorney field is saturated and there’s a lot of technology companies. Job advertisements for positions like contract manager routinely list JD as a desirable credential. I’m in a major city on the west coast. A lot of the discussion on this topic here reflects a cultural standard that is very different than the one here, where there seems to be no real stigma attached to listing degrees/credentials.

          3. Traffic_Spiral*

            Whether she’s currently practicing as a lawyer or a dentist, you definitely wouldn’t want to try and stiff her on the bill.

        2. Joielle*

          Agreed. “JD” says to me that you went to law school but didn’t pass the bar, which is not really something you’d advertise. Not that it’s horribly embarrassing or anything, but in a circumstance where you need to be a licensed attorney, you’d use “Esq,” and in any other circumstance, it doesn’t really matter whether you have a JD or not.

        3. RUKiddingMe*

          I know that guy! This whole thread had me thinking about him. He also introduces himself as “Doctor Pretentious Douchebag.”

      4. legalchef*

        Fun story: I once had an opposing counsel introduce himself to me as “John Q. Doe, Esquire.” While we in court. Where he was appearing as the attorney for the other side.

        1. Anon From Here*

          I love that month or so between getting their bar exam passage results and getting their actual licenses, where the new grads post gleefully to their social media that “now I’m an Esquire!!@!111”

          1. legalchef*

            Ha I know! Perhaps if this guy was a newbie I could have forgiven it, but he had at LEAST 25 years of practice under his belt.

        2. AdminX2*

          See in any other context that’s just an amusing Bill & Ted reference. When you actually make it a law reference, it falls flat.

        3. Aveline*

          Almost all attorneys where I practice out it after their names on cards and in signature lines. I have never heard anyone say it about themselves when introducing oneself.

          That’s just bizarre!

          I do you think one of the general rules across the US is that You can put things in writing about yourself and your qualifications, but it would be pretentious or out of touch to introduce yourself that way.

          1. Traffic_Spiral*

            I think because if it’s in writing it’s like “the information is there if you are interested in knowing it” whereas telling someone is more like shoving it in their face (and maybe obligating them to compliment you on it).

            1. DV*

              like that old joke: Q How do you know if there’s a lawyer/surgeon/fighter pilot/[insert profession of choice] in the room? A They tell you.

        4. Pamela*

          I knew an eight-year-old girl who would introduce herself as “Jane Doe, Esq.” Her dad was a lawyer. I don’t know if he knew she did that.

      5. Holly*

        Where I work it’s pretty common to put Esq. after your name (I don’t but I see it all the time with my adversaries) and I’ve never found it eye-rolly. I’m also in a major city where maybe culturally it’s just more common.

      6. Nat*

        Why are we calling an MBA a non-impressive degree? I don’t get it.
        I work in academia where we looooooove our degrees so it is really great to see what degrees folks have earned. Just curious…

        1. Traffic_Spiral*

          In Europe and parts of West Asia (like India) it is often an incredibly expensive but academically un-strenuous degree. The USA also has a few schools that do this (though obviously not all).

        2. Genny*

          In my very limited experience with people obtaining MBAs, it always seemed like it was box check to get a promotion, which made it sound like it was just a thing people did to have a piece of paper certifying their pre-existing qualifications. Someone else commented early that like 10% of people have one (or maybe 10% of people have an advanced degree?), which surprised me because I would’ve assumed that number would be a lot higher.

    4. Stephen Dedalus*

      There are whole countries that do this by the way. In Austria and perhaps other European countries, it is common to put Mag. (a lesser equivalent of a master’s) or even Dipl. Ing. (Engineering Diploma) which is something like a bachelor’s. The funniest ones are the medical doctors, whose titles go on longer than their name. Univ. Doz. Prof. Dr. Weiss. But there they have what they call ‘titelgeil’ which nicely translated is a lust for titles.

      1. Amylou*

        Definitely in Germany and Austria there is this a definite emphasis on titles (just Google the *several* cases of high-level people (like government ministers!) who were found to have plagiarised part of their PhD theses, etc.), in other countries with flatter hierarchies not so much.

        1. Julia*

          And even then, Germans love to make fun of Austria for its love of titles. “If someone doesn’t have a title, just call them Doctor anyway.”

          1. Myrin*

            Yeah, I was just thinking that Austria is the queen of this (at least you don’t generally put down your Magister or Bachelor in Germany unless there’s a concrete reason! And don’t get me started on the abomination that is “Mag. phil. Dr. phil.”, ugh! The Doktor cancels out the Magister stop it!). I’m Austria-adjacent through part of my work and I find it extremely eye-rolly, but I also recognise that that’s certainly unfair because if it’s the norm, it’s not like people are being intentionally self-important.

        2. Aveline*

          I was at a conference in Germany once, Where a British individual with an aristocratic title and a role in the British government and several PhD’s showed up to speak. I think he had also been some sort of retired legal officer as well. There was a lot of handringing By the German hosts as to how to fit in all the titles.

          Fortunately, this individual was a fluent German speaker and provided them with a card stating how to introduce him. He left out the aristocratic titles because they weren’t really relevant to why he was speaking.

          The whole incident was both amusing and an interesting insight into differing cultural norms

      2. Glomarization, Esq.*

        When I’ve worked in Canada, where I’m not yet allowed to practice law, I put “J.D.” (my U.S. law degree) on my resume and professional e-mails. In the industry where I’ve worked in Canada, oil and gas, the engineers absolutely do put their P. Eng. after their name, as do the folks with a B.Comm.

        1. ssssssssssssssssssssssss*

          P Eng, yes. Because it takes time and effort to get that designation. Years of work experience, reference letters, an exam. You better believe it that they frame that PEng certificate and put it on their walls. Because without it, they cannot stamp documents and certify that it is good to go.

          The BComm, I knew a woman who did that and I thought, well, that’s not necessary but I figured she was probably really proud of the work she put into her degree so why not? But I did think it over the top to include in her signature when she was an administrative assistant.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            I can address that last. I’ll suggest she is working as an administrative assistant but trying to move into the marketing or corporate communications department.
            Or she’s simply tired of feeling overlooked because of perceptions and assumptions.
            I can’t forget the noticeable change in treatment I experienced after I stuck my college reunion button on my cubicle wall. (Not that id say it but YES I have a degree and YES I had 10+ years of experience outside the company before they hired me… that’s why I have the title I do instead of an entry-level one. But I work in a dress-down department, I apparently “look young”..and I’m female in an engineering company. Three strikes until they saw the college details.)

          2. Anon From Here*

            I’ve seen where companies want to flog the credentials of their employees, for marketing purposes, so they have to put their degrees in their email signature blocks. Thinking charitably, maybe her office required her to use it?

      3. Ana*

        In Germany and working at an academic employer here- I add “MSc” after my name in my email signature to avoid being adressed as “Dr.”- which some might find presumptuous on my part for not preventing it by indicating my lower status in advance…. Ah, German hierarchies and “Dünkel”…

        1. Blue*

          This is an interesting perspective! I work in higher ed in the US, and in my experience, staff and faculty rarely address each other with titles, so this has largely been a non-issue for me. Because I’m on the staff side, only a couple students have ever incorrectly addressed me as “Doctor.” (I will say that my friends with “dean” titles are more likely to be called Dr. Last Name, but since most deans have PhDs, it’s a reasonable assumption.)

        2. dovidbawie*

          Ironically, I had a professor named Dr. Dunkel who was the most amazing & down-to-earth teacher I’ve ever had. Man, I miss her.

      4. Akcipitrokulo*

        UK – wouldn’t bat an eyelid at someone putting their letters after their name. It’s really not uncommon, but if it isn’t the convention where you are – probably not worth doing – BUT – if someone does, then they may not know the convention. So very meh-worthy. It doesn’t matter, and wouldn’t make me think any less of them.

      5. Knuddel Daddeldu*

        A Dipl.Ing. was a four-year university degree, comparable to a Master’s.
        Since a few years, German universities have converted to the Bachelor’s / Master’s system, with the expectation that a substantial part of the students get to work with their Bachelor’s and mostly those with academic ambitions go for a Master’s. In reality, almost all students want their Master’s.
        I had the pleasure to read quite a number of theses in engineering and medicine. In fields where a doctorate is expected (like medicine), the average rigour of the doctoral theses was fairly low (chi-sqared test for n=4, seriously?) compared to Master’s/Diploma theses in engineering or “hard” sciences like physics.

      1. Traffic_Spiral*

        Yeah. MBAs are already seen as a wanker’s degree for rich Startup Bros who aren’t smart or hardworking enough to get a tech, medical or legal education, but are sure that they can Disrupt the Paradigm or whatever. Actually bragging that you have one by name-dropping it in your signature does nothing but signal that you are definitely a douche.

        1. Sophie before she was cool*

          While I agree that it’s usually out of place to put the MBA in your email signature, this comment is weirdly condescending. I’m sure there are douche-bros with MBAs (there are douche-bros everywhere!), but there are also lots of people who worked hard for their degrees. It’s not a trivial accomplishment.

          1. Traffic_Spiral*

            “there are also lots of people who worked hard for their degrees. ”

            Well, obviously, but that doesn’t change the reputation that the degree has. And if there already is that reputation out there, it’s a good idea to avoid looking like the stereotype – which is really the opposite of what’s accomplished by putting MBA in your signature.

        2. Liza*

          I’m working on an MBA right now. It’s definitely work (not candy) and it’s disheartening to know that some people are going to disregard the degree and think it took no effort. I’m getting the degree because what I’m learning will help me be a better manager, though of course I also hope that possessing the degree will help me get job offers.

          1. Rae*

            I worked rather hard for my MBA and if someone said something like that to me it would seriously damage my relationship with them.

          2. leighanneg*

            I’m the OP for this, and I’m glad that my gut instinct was validated in that it depends on the industry. I’ve always thought that unless you’re in a field where education is important, it’s a good tool to have in your tool bag, but I’ve never seen a situation in general management or sales (I’ve been on many hiring meetings) where that was the deciding factor in choosing one candidate over another. It’s always been the field experience that trumped education.

            The for profit universities like University of Phoenix, where they are being sued for basically selling diplomas doesn’t give an MBA the cache that would warrant using it as a suffix, like MD or PhD. I remember when it USED to be impressive, but which Bachelors being the equivalent of a high school diploma now, the MBA is now the equivalent of a Bachelors.

            I’m sure you’re working hard for this degree, and I’m sure that your degree will be respected if you’re able to show that you took that education and put it to effective use, but sadly, being on the hiring end of the resume, just having it isn’t a guarantee of a job offer.

            1. Mrs. Fenris*

              I just now realized you had posted on the thread, so this is my chance to tell you I wish you hadn’t said “even” a DVM. We’re used to it, but we still don’t have to like it.

          3. Où est la bibliothèque?*

            Please don’t take that (mean, rude) comment to heart. It’s never even occurred to me that an MBA was less valuable than any other higher ed degree and definitely more practical than most.

            Maybe that attitude exists in the elite, privileged snobs of the word…but who gives a rat’s ass what somebody like that thinks?

          4. Allison*

            You’re not wrong, I work in executive search and there are hiring managers who have a strong preference for people with MBAs, and some roles I’ve worked on basically required it. I’m not say it’s right or wrong, fair or unfair, but it is important to some people, especially if you’re looking to get into strategy consulting it seems.

          5. Traffic_Spiral*

            To clarify, having an MBA on your *resume* will definitely be helpful to you in certain areas and positions. Having it in your *signature* will hurt you in a lot of other situations. It’s all about knowing where to whip it out.

        3. The Commoner*

          Wow. I find your comment to be out of line.

          Glad to know that when I mention my MBA that I’m a douche!

          But seriously, what’s your problem? Degrading others is unkind and not helpful.

            1. Aveline*

              Or is blind to their own privilege.

              There is a lot of class privilege in eye rolling about other people being proud of accomplishments and passively listing them after their names. It’s not like the person is asking everyone to address them as “Bob Ross, MBA”

              They think it’s pretentious, but for people who have to work and sacrifice, lisring the accomplishment is pride and can be an act of defiance.

              They are picturing a rich white dude bro and not a young woman raised on the Rez or a poor farm kid or a woman whose grandfather picked cotton and used segregated bathrooms.

              I wonder how many of the people eyerolling are viewing the rich white dudebro MBA as not only the default, but the only possibility.

              As someone who has several close colleagues whose entire families – even generations now dead – had to sacrifice to get them where they are, I am not going to think any one of them is pretentious if they want to list their titles before or after their names.

              The alphabet soup isn’t always pretentious, sometimes it’s pride and defiance of the system that tried to prevent the holder being there.

              All these absolutist stances say more about those holding them than the people they are directed toward.

              Recently, a black female colleague of mine was referred to as Maaam instead of her name. The presiding judge heard this and gave the lawyer who said this a dressing down. He instructed the lawyer to refer to my colleague as either “Counsel” or “Mrs. Smith.”
              He informed the offender that Counselor Smith had earned he law degree and passed the bar and so deserved the respect of being addressed by the proper title.

              Titles matter a lot less to people already in the system and secure in their place. Refusing to use or acknowledge them can often diminish those persons who come from groups traditionally locked out of having them.

              While that’s totally different from Bob the dudebro wanting to pad a resume, it needs to be acknowledged in this discussion.

              Also, the line about them being handed out like candy is deeply offensive to me because of the devaluing of professions when women and minorities enter also use this type of phrasing,

              Having professions be more open and more inclusive is a good thing. Having MBAs being too plentiful is better than them being only for rich white men.

                1. Aveline*

                  I also should have pointed out this: The one group of people that I’ve always used my titles and ensure that I was introduced properly have been the Native American groups I have worked with. They’ve always done an introduction starting with my name and my titles, then they talk about my life experience and my cultural and social connections. They always also have mentioned the work of my father-in-law he’s pretty well known in civil rights circles for the work he did for his people. So the concept of not mentioning these things or pretending that they don’t exist because it might be pretentious, The one group of people that I’ve always used my titles and ensure that I was introduced properly have been the Native American groups I have worked with. They’ve always done an introduction starting with my name and my titles, then they talk about my life experience and my cultural and social connections. They always also have mentioned the work of my late father-in-law as he’s pretty well known in civil rights circles for the work he did for his people.

                  So the concept of not mentioning these things or pretending that they don’t exist because it might be pretentious is far from universal.

                  In some American cultural groups, it would be disrespectful for people not to acknowledge.

              1. leighanneg*

                I’m sorry, but them being handed out like candy doesn’t speak to sexism or racism when WHERE you get your MBA is as much of a factor as getting it at all. As mentioned above somewhere, the for profit colleges like University of Phoenix just prey on people desperate to build a better life for themselves. I looked into UoP a few years ago and found that they had to post on their website that they were being investigated for false advertising and fraud. Does that include women and minorities? Of course it does. Does it mean that UoP is damaging the reputation of having an MBA? (sorry, don’t know how to make this a link)

                I’ve always had the mentality of Show, don’t Tell. Having an advanced degree does nothing if you can’t put what you’ve learned into effective use. There’s also the saying that you can be educated without being intelligent. If you have to tell me how brave, strong, smart, rich you are, instead of letting me see it for myself, that just shows me that you’re overcompensating. That isn’t classism, and that isn’t sour grapes of not being formally educated. If you have to tell me what you have, that lets me know you don’t know what to do with it.

                1. madge*

                  It is classist to suggest that getting a degree isn’t an achievement or isn’t hard work (which is exactly what “handing out like candy” suggests). It’s also plainly false that having a degree in itself has no value. The reality is that people in marginalized groups tend to have to show more credentials to even be given the chance to demonstrate their knowledge/skill (or to have their demonstration of skill be taken seriously).

              2. The Commoner*

                Whoever you are – thank you.

                I’ve read all your comments in this thread and feel so much gratitude for your willingness to share.

                Random comments-once I was visiting out east and a friend mentioned that you had family he had attended Yale you were seven times more likely to be accepted. That comment really threw me as it would take me (or anyone around me) to be far over and above to even get my foot in the door? And then only those institutions are held in highest regards?


            2. Seeking Second Childhood*

              Or he works at a place like my current CorporateOverlord where newly minted MBAs are out to prove themselves and often stir the procedural pot so hard that it spills and causes collateral damage.

          1. Coldfeet*

            My cynical, rude thought is that Traffic_Spiral didn’t get accepted to the MBA program they wanted. Realistically, it’s likely a media stereotype from someone who doesn’t know a lot of people with MBAs (because most of us don’t advertise it daily). Unless this person works in Silicon Valley VC (in which case point your finger at the Stanford MBA culture), they likely can’t back this up. In general, I find people are impressed when they find out I have one, but not as impressed as they are with my work experience etc. An MBA opened doors for me at the beginning, but it’s just icing on the cake now.

            1. Sarabeth*

              This is 100% true of Stanford MBA culture, which is the only place I’m particularly familiar with.

        4. Joielle*

          I don’t totally agree with this comment, although “wanker’s degree” made me laugh out loud so thanks for that :)

          I think it depends so much on the context. If you’re working at a job where you need an MBA, then by all means, it makes perfect sense for you to get one. But I definitely know some startup bros exactly like what Traffic_Spiral describes, who get an MBA and along with it, unerring certainty that they are God’s gift to the business world and the obvious next Steve Jobs or whatever. You can only listen to “it’s like Uber but for beer” “it’s like Uber but for cats” so many times before you start to blame the MBA itself…

          1. Aveline*

            Conversely, I knew an MBA who was a Holocaust survivor, know one who was interned as a Japanese American then got the degree after serving the US in the occupation of Japan, one who is the descendant of slaves, several who are members of federally recognized tribes, several immigrants…..

            Met one yesterday who fled the Taliban and was put through their program by the generosity of the local Sister house. (our local nuns are amazing)

            I really hope the people reading this stop and realize that sometimes their opinions of degrees and people are highly skewed by what’s around them. We all fall prey to universalize first our own experiences, often at the cost of others. It’s a human failing. But one thing that’s great about this blog is it allows us to get out of our own POV and see alternatives.

            If you live in San Francisco or NYC and are surrounded by dudebros and that is your only opinion of MBAs, please stop and listen to those of us who have different experiences and consider what anti-MBA prejudice (as a shortcut for anti-dudebro views), might do to those people who came from oppression or hardship and had to fight to earn their spot.

            It’s also human nature to infer ill intent in the actions of others but to see ourselves as better and our failings understandable.

            Perhaps, one’s first instinct should not be to assume putting a title after a name is pretentious. Perhaps the first instinct should be simply to note that the party has a degree. Going beyond that is the only really important if it’s a relevant to the interaction. Besides, if putting the MBA on the email is motivated by pretentious dude bro ego, it will show itself in Other ways soon enough!

            1. Aveline*

              Not that the dudbros are limited to those areas…only that a lot of those startups are in those areas….so I can see it skewing opinions

            2. AnotherKate*

              I just want to thank you for your contributions to this thread. You’ve given me a lot to think about and I especially love the comment above, where you so expertly describe people’s tendency to universalize their experiences to the detriment of what’s actually true, and where you clearly distinguish the difference between (righteously) disliking “dudebro culture” and using an entire degree as a lazy proxy for what is actually unlikable.

              As an occasional intellectual snob (who insists that “no, it couldn’t possibly also be socioeconomic because intersectionality for some reason doesn’t apply here, and also my dad was POOR!”), I’ve needed to hear a lot of stuff you’ve said today.

              1. Aveline*

                Sometimes I have to check myself from my own snobbishness. And I grew up poor and am the only person in my family or origin with any college education.

                We have to fight our own human nature and try to be better.

                It’s not something that anyone can ever stop doing. No one is ever fully woke. Some of us are just more asleep than others. And even woke people can nod off..

            3. Renee*

              Thank you. Admittedly I work in a culture where putting the degree seems to be standard, but it seems really weird to me to make assumptions based on it that go beyond “this person has this credential or degree.” It seems unnecessarily judgmental and unkind.

      2. Ninnoc*

        I worked hard for my MBA and my school definitely made it challenging. It’s considered necessary in the healthcare industry where I live too.

        1. Green Kangaroo*

          Same here. My employer also requires that I use it in my email signature. They paid for it, so I guess it’s their prerogative.

      3. Où est la bibliothèque?*

        Traffic_Spiral, Amy RR, anyone else talking about anybody’s degree with snobby contempt:

        Be better people.

        1. Traffic_Spiral*

          Pointing out that doing something is outside of professional norms and will make you look bad isn’t contempt, it’s advice. Also, I’m not saying that MBAs are bad, just that they have a bad rep, and that while they may be perfectly impressive on a resume for the right position, putting it in your signature will come off badly to most people. You can feel free to ignore that and introduce yourself as “Où est, MBA” if you like. Have a blast.

          1. Renee*

            I’m sorry. I don’t normally challenge here, but … that seems like the kind of logic that has been applied to a lot of situations to keep people out that don’t reflect the norm.

            1. Traffic_Spiral*

              Forewarned is forearmed. Once someone is no longer a child, you’re doing them no favors by keeping them ignorant of potential problems because “OMG how mean that people would think that, UwU.”

              1. Renee*

                Again, that sounds an awful lot like my mom telling me not to date someone out of my race because she just didn’t want me to deal with difficulties of having an interracial relationship.

              2. Renee*

                Again, that sounds an awful lot like my mom telling me not to date someone out of my race because she just didn’t want me to deal with difficulties of having an interracial relationship.

                And also, as many people have pointed out, it isn’t outside the professional norms in some areas, including my major city. Your statements, in contrast, would not reflect well on you.

    5. Dr. OutofTouch, PhD*

      I’m in a job where appearances and status are important, so my coworkers have to introduce me as Dr. Blah and I also have to write it for formal introductions and I find both uncomfortable. Keeping the PhD in my email signature just seems normal though. I wonder of I seem out of touch in applications. I just assumed it was reiterating a salient fact and thus unlikely to be something that really helps or hurts my application.

      1. Mrs. Fenris*

        This seems like as good a place as any to nest this comment, but…

        “*Even* DVM.”


        Sigh. I mean, I’m used to this kind of thing by now, but still.

    6. Emily*

      I have to admit, I don’t have an MBA or any other advanced degree, but I find it really off-putting whenever I see this line of complaint that amounts to, “Talking about/indicating your advanced degree is pretentious and braggy.” Those people worked hard and spent a lot of money to collect a degree, why shouldn’t they be proud of it, or why is just noting the existence of their degree in their signature “too much” pride? It just seems related to this American (and maybe elsewhere? but I can only speak to USA) culture of anti-intellectualism and mistrust of experts, like we need to knock educated people down a peg or two. The way talking about salary being taboo is convenient for management who wants to hide pay disparity, talking about/listing your advanced degrees being seen as taboo or gauche is a convenient way or supporting a culture where “my uneducated opinion is so equally valid to that of a trained expert that there’s no need for us to even differentiate which of us has training.”

      1. Justin*

        Agreed. I mean, roll your eyes internally, but it’s a real credential to have an advanced degree or a relevant certification.

        Once I get my EdD, my signature is going to say so (or I guess I’ll put Dr. in front).

      2. Amber T*

        Thank you for putting it into words – a lot of this discussion is really frustrating, especially as someone who’s considering a higher degree.

        I agree if someone is demanding to be called Doctor in every social setting or is letting it bleed over to their social life, then sure, it’s over the top. But if you have issues with someone’s titles and abbreviations in their work emails in a professional setting, I don’t think they’re the one with a problem.

      3. Archaeopteryx*

        It’s not so much about anti-intellectualism, it’s the convention that insisting on your own credentials/ impressiveness out of their usual context comes across as insecure. Bragging is never charming, no matter how impressive the thing you’re flaunting. And when you come across as bragging about something relatively common (using MBA, MFA, or whatever as part of your signature), it would look out of touch, too.

        1. Aveline*

          You see it as insecurity and bragging instead of pride and accomplishment.

          That’s you. That’s not universal.

          Yes, listening to Joe blowhard talk about his degree at a party is bragging and OTT. Having someone list MBA after a name is not. This is apples and oranges.

          You are reading into that action a motive that may not be present. Listing the degree after the name may be bragging. It might not. Who are you to decide that?

          There are equally valid motives. Explanation of ones role. Pride in an accomplishment that is a first for your family/parish/tribe. Being a WOC and being constantly treated like one isn’t qualified.

          Even the fact that you use the word “relatively common” rankles me. It is not relatively common. It may be for you and your peer group.

          Less than 10% of the US population has an advanced degree. Even if 50% of those are MBAs, having an MBA is not relatively common.

        2. Anonymousaurus Rex*

          I have a very misleading title, so I put my PhD in my signature to indicate a level of expertise in my field. Maybe I am insecure about my misleading title, but I also don’t want that to lead to my work being devalued/taken less seriously, especially as a woman.

      4. Aveline*

        It’s both anti-intellectualism and white privilege.

        These types of statements imply the opinion of someone untrained is equally valid to the trained one. It’s also erasing gender, race, and class issues in the opening up of professions.

        The whole handing degrees out like candy statements devalues the degrees that are more inclusive than presviously.

        The anti-intellectualism is also inexorably tied to the loss of white male dominance of the intellectual position. I have seen this in the political and social spheres in the USA. Don’t listen to that over-educated pretensions female/POC/foreign person over there, listen to meeeee…..

        There is a huge debate among those who study and are concerned with the state of legal profession. Some think we have too many lawyers now. Some think this is true, but is often used by people who want to keep the profession an elitist white male pursuit to justify shutting women and minorities out of law school.

        I have actually seen this. One prof I knew said that, we have too many lawyers and black men have a lower bar passage rate, ergo we should accept fewer black men into law school. She actually used the phrase “handing law degrees out like candy.”

        These types of comments don’t occur in a social vacuum. They occur in a society where MBAs used to be for white men only. Thank Goddess that’s no longer the case.

        Also, unless you want to be BigLaw or serve on SCOTUS, the quality of your law degree doesn’t matter. You pass the bar or you don’t. I know good lawyers from unaccredited schools and crap lawyers from Harvard.

        Same for MBAs. Some of those who went to “easy” programs are better st their jobs than the Harvard grads.

        1. Shananana*

          Thank you. As a female who did a executive MBA program who constantly has it minimized (including by white men who WENT TO THE SAME PROGRAM), you aren’t lying that there is a huge element of, “but you’re not what I expect to have done that so it must have been easy/dumbed down” in the MBAs are worthless if they aren’t from these 3 schools rhetoric.

          1. Aveline*

            I find these discussions so tiring.

            I’m glad I’m not the only one with an alternative take on this.

            If it helps, I happened to be married to someone who purposefully pushes back on his corporate HR when they went to restrict the candidate pool to only the top schools. He out and out told his HR rep one day that doing so minute that they would never hit their diversity goals and that he wasn’t getting the best candidates. He had to explain to them that in his organization in particular, a diversity of people is necessary to ensure a quality product. He’d rather have a diverse team with some people from schools that weren’t considered top and then to have 20 white dudes from Harvard. They didn’t get it, but they complied.

            I do not think some of these posters realize the extent to which their passively prejudicial attitudes are impacting people out there in the real world

          2. Dr. Business*

            I did my PhD at a business school, and I just wanted to say that the Exec MBA students were my absolute favorite to teach/TA for. The classes were definitely not dumbed down at my school (a top-10 b-school, which I say only for context, and not to “brag”), and the Exec students were almost universally more mature, more down-to-earth, and just plain nicer than the full time MBAs.

          3. bearing*

            “minimized, including by white men who went to the same program”

            I only recently came upon the descriptor for this particularly insidious practice: “Performative discarding of status.”

            People who do not need a status marker to give them an air of authority can feel confident that they will not damage their ability to assert their status by denigrating the value of the marker. They will, however, successfully damage the ability of other people to assert their own status by removing one of the means by which it can be asserted.

            1. Spirals*

              Oooh, this is a great phrase that sums up this entire thread.
              “I don’t need an MBA/higher ed to make me feel secure in my status, so it must not be worth that much. Therefore no one needs to have/use it.”

        2. Aveline*

          Ps when I say “quality” I mean perceived by outsiders.

          I do not think Yale makes better lawyers than Stanford who makes better than Southwestern.

          I think they all make lawyers of varying degrees.

          But if one looks at BigLaw partners and the Supes (or even their clerks), one sees only a handful of schools.

        3. Hermione*

          The connection between anti-intellectualism and the decline of white male dominance just blows my mind in a “now the world seems so much clearer” kind of way. Thank you.

      5. DreamingInPurple*

        It’s tremendously frustrating, because the people who are judgemental over including a degree in e-mail signatures don’t want you not to have the degree (because then they will view you as unqualified no matter how much experience they have), they just want you to never talk about it so that they don’t feel bad about themselves.

    7. Boredatwork*

      I have a masters and I am a CPA. I would never dream of adding CPA, MAcc to my resume. I mean gag.

      1. Database Developer Dude*

        Maybe not, Boredatwork, but I certainly hope you add the CPA there…because it’s relevant. If I were a hiring manager for an accounting position, not having the CPA there would put you on the second rung of candidates…..

    8. The Commoner*

      Where I live, it isn’t common. At the time I earned my MBA, I was the only one in my family to do so. (We’ve got a lot of family that barely graduated high school.)

      I worked hard and paid for it myself. (Well, still paying…..). It was pretty deflating to learn that because of common social practices, it’s not something to brag about. Or even to mention. Yikes.

      1. Aveline*

        Thank you. We need more of the stories so that some of the commenters who were rolling their eyes can see how they’re affecting real people. Real people who had to work to accomplish something that is handed to a lot of others

      2. Dr. Business*

        I hope you keep bragging about it (when appropriate, obvs)! Congratulations on earning your MBA!!

        I’m just a few months out of my PhD, and you’re darn right I’m using “Dr.” on everything I can. I earned that title, and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’m really hurt and pretty surprised to see such dismissive and judgmental reactions from people over something this small. Sure, some people use degrees as weapons in their personal obnoxiousness campaigns, but adding it to the end of your signature does not feel like a foray onto that battlefield to me. I’m as guilty of judging random people for little things as the next person — leggings, for example, are emphatically Not Pants — but this just feels…petty. I might raise an eyebrow at John Doe, BA (or, heaven forbid, John Doe, BS), but even then I’d probably just assume they had a good reason to include it.

        So, yeah, hate on obnoxious dude-bros all you want; they have earned it. But can’t we just value the experience of others enough to make this Not A Thing?

    9. PBH*

      I know my husband has it in his email signature but it is also a big deal to have an MBA in the field he is in. I haven’t seen it in signatures outside of that field though. Also he only lists the relevant MBA as he has two.

    10. Dance-y Reagan*

      I once saw a resume from a woman who put her MS in front of her name, instead of after. It looked like she just wanted to be called “mizz” and forgot to punctuate properly.

    11. Shay*

      Kate, it depends on the industry. In mine, it is key to faster advancement, particularly if it is earned AFTER gaining business experience (going straight from undergrad to an MBA program is a NO-NO and perceived as close to meaningless).
      But in other industries it is extremely uncommon.
      That said, putting it after your name is a signal of low self-esteem (IMO). I laugh when I see it.
      Oh, and yes, I have an MBA and it is noted on my resume (where it belongs!).

      1. Scandinavian Vacationer*

        Emails get forwarded all the time, I think it is useful for work purposes to have your signature include your title, degree and complete contact information. I don’t think including this in a cover letter warrants anything other than a display of thoroughness on the part of the applicant. Even though I have 25 years of experience in my field, I include my master’s degree and relevant certification in my email signature. It gives busy hiring managers a quick review of my credentials.
        Also, it’s been my experience that people who downplay degrees (“it’s only a piece of paper”) rarely possess those degrees.

        1. Aveline*

          Either they don’t possess the degrees or they come from a place of privilege where the degree doesn’t serve as a useful designator because they don’t know people without them.

          Either way, it’s a form of bias.

    12. Formerly Arlington*

      I would normally agree, but in some contexts, it’s a differentiator. I have been looking through copywriter resumes in search of someone who could do B2B marketing copy, and the one who had an MBA after her name was the first one I reached out to. I think if you’re in a field where people usually don’t have an MBA, it seems more impressive than a field where most people would have an MBA.

      1. Dr. Business*

        I do think this is part of the field-specific nature of this issue (which I did not know was an issue!). In my part of academia, people often come from a variety of different educational backgrounds, so I follow my signature with the two terminal degrees I have. It provides context, as well as lending some credibility.

    13. Ooh, you have an MBA?*

      Mine is [name] because I didn’t want [name] to be my email address. But, it does seem cheesy and I wince every time I share my email. I probably need to get my own domain name and use that.

    14. GreenDoor*

      In some cases it’s actually the norm. I work for a public school system and people here are really weird about their certifications. Heaven help you if someone around here has a doctorate and you fail to address them as “Dr.” Some people have an entire vegetable soup after their name. I felt pretty eye-rolly adding MBA after my name and I cringe thinking about what externals think when they get emails from me. But internally, it is expected that you list your alphabet soup. Even people with a BA or letters from a certificate program will list them. So, give applicant some grace, OP. They may be coming from a place where credentials are bizarrely important.

  1. bunniferous*

    I personally know someone who lost an eye because of an office rubber band war. This needs to stop yesterday.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Seriously, the CFO is being inane. How has no one noted the risk management problems from possibly blinding employees? Accountants don’t exist for rubberband target practice (and does the CFO seriously have so little work to do??).

      1. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

        It doens’t necessarily take many minutes of his workday to shoot enough rubber bands to me extremely annoying and also dangerous. I’m definitely against this kind of stuff in the workplace, because of safety reasons and also because you need to respect people’s wishes and only do your version of fun with other people who also consider it fun. I don’t see the “does he have so little work to do” issue, nothing indicates that shooting rubber bands is all he does and he can still be a very productive employee. Micro breaks and taking a couple of minutes to do non-work stuff are in many jobs perfectly OK and the possibility to do so can even help you get more stuff done – but of course your micro break activities can’t be something that hurts other people!

        1. WellRed*

          All the more reason they need to speak instead of playing along. LW, does he still aim at the person he injured?

        1. Chinookwind*

          NOOOOO!!! The little ones have less wind resistance and are more easily flung behind glasses. Atleast the think ones fly marginally slower and can’t fit through small spaces.

      2. RUKiddingMe*

        That was my take on it about having other work to do. If he has that little important work to do then maybe they should just … IDK … eliminate his position?

          1. NerdyKris*

            I kind of assumed because if they did make a claim, the insurance company would want to know how and why it happened. Any details would have resulted in more questions. They would be livid, rates would have gone up for the company, and that CFO would have caused direct financial damage to the company.

            Insurance companies don’t like to insure employers who are actively trying to injure employees. He might be able to cover it up given his position, but it seems a claim would have done something.

      1. Missy Whizabee*

        I do too! But, everyone in this cube area is very young- first year out of college and are willing to put up with it.

        1. Genny*

          Is this something you feel comfortable speaking to them about privately? I know when I was just out of college and trying too hard never to do anything wrong (i.e. make normal mistakes, admit to not knowing things, push back against a boss, etc.), it would’ve been really helpful to have an experienced colleague pull me aside and tell me this isn’t normal and I shouldn’t have to put up with this.

          1. Kal*

            A whole lot of this.

            The injured coworker may not even know they have a right to workers comp, and the help from it could possibly help them a lot with the medical costs. An eye injury is a huge deal – I can’t imagine many people that new to working would be in a good position to know how to go about a claim or are in a position to handle the costs of care themselves.

      2. RUKiddingMe*

        I would have. Not just for worker’s comp either. WC is for run of the mill injuries that happen in the course of ding one’s job. This is a child with a c-suite job deliberately doing a dangerous activity, targeting his subordinates who have limited power to make him stop and may even feel more than a little intimidated asking him…even nicely…to not shoot them with rubber bands. I can’t see how this isn’t assault…legally I mean. Is it a thing now where the c-suite people are ok’d to physically assault their subordinates?

      3. CM*

        Or called the police. Companies aren’t separate jurisdictions where it suddenly becomes legal to assault someone because everyone else goes along with it.

    2. Jenn*

      Especially after he already hit someone in the eye. What the heck is wrong with this guy? None of this is funny.

      1. Pomona Sprout*

        And wtf is wrong with this COMPANY for allowing this idiocy that is bound to get them sued sooner or later? For the love of little green apples, on what planet does ANYONE think this is even almost okay? Holy mother of pearl.

    3. On Fire*

      My reaction would be, loudly and in front of everyone the next time it happens, “Hey! ENOUGH with the rubber bands. It’s rude; it’s distracting; it’s dangerous. *You injured someone’s eye.* At this point, it’s abuse, and it’s assault/battery. Stop shooting people with rubber bands. And so help me if you ever shoot another one at me, you don’t want to know where it will end up.”

      The musical version of this has the coworkers applauding and cheering, and the CFO hanging his head in shame and promising to stop. The reality version has him laughing; the coworkers in embarrassed silence; and me getting written up. So you probably shouldn’t do that.

      If/when you do say something, focus on keeping your voice very low, *especially* if you’re a woman. I can do a very quiet-but-deadly tone that implies, “you have crossed me one too many times, and now you’re gonna pay.”

      And yes, definitely report this to someone higher up.

      1. Quackeen*

        The musical version of this has the coworkers applauding and cheering, and the CFO hanging his head in shame and promising to stop. The reality version has him laughing; the coworkers in embarrassed silence; and me getting written up. So you probably shouldn’t do that.

        While I like the musical version better (and that man’s name? Albert Einstein!), I’m thinking that your reality version is pretty accurate. I’m hoping OP and his/her coworkers can approach another C-level executive within the company and have the directive to stop come from the CFO’s peers or boss.

    4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Came here to say that I had three surgeries on one of my eyes, (two retina reattachments/fixes and a cataract surgery), and I cannot guarantee that I won’t strangle anyone who goes near that eye with anything like, say, a rubber band. My vision is messed up as it is, I do not need a playful coworker to help it get worse, and neither does anyone in OP’s office! This is serious stuff.

      1. Jenn*

        Yeah I have a coworker who lost an eye to a detached retina (maybe you have the same thing, he said it had something to do with genetics). You could blind anyone with his stunt but particularly people who are more vulnerable.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Yup I detached mine in 2012, and then had to have the wrinkled retina straightened out this year. It’s not super cheap, and the recovery is a pain in the arse (I had to be face down 24/7 for a week the first time, and for two days the second). And yes, I was later told that I was in a high-risk group for that.

    5. MusicWithRocksInIt*

      This is NOT the solution, but has anyone ever fired one back at the CFO? This seems especially off to me because he is only firing them at people lower than him. I can’t help but wonder if he would get really upset if he was hit by one, or if he would just escalate.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        Okay, I’m about to confess something and I’m really not proud of what I did so I don’t want people to be like “oh, Foreign Octopus, why!?” because I know it was stupid but it is relevant to this conversation.

        When I was teaching, I had a group of students of about 11-12 years old. They would not pay attention at all so I took to throwing crayons ABOVE their heads to hit the wall – not in an aggressive manner, more of an “oi, pay attention, you little rugrat”. One day, one of the students threw a crayon back at me because that was the environment I’d created. Unfortunately, said crayon got me in the eye.

        Let me tell you, when the action is reversed, you very quickly realise how annoying and irresponsible it is.

        Fire back a rubber band. Teach him a lesson like my student (inadvertently, I think – if it was on purpose, fair play to her) taught me.

        (Also, I don’t teach children any more – thank God! I quickly realised that they were not the demographic for me)

        1. blackcat*

          One time, I gestured too intensely with a pen in my hand and it few from my hand, hitting a student, tip first, square in the forehead. I was mortified and never gestured while holding a regular pen again, just in case.

        2. Dr. Pepper*

          I had a teach that threw white board erasers above students’ heads when we weren’t paying attention. Never hit anyone and at the time I thought nothing of it.

          1. Sacred Ground*

            I had a teacher in the 8th grade who was in the habit of throwing erasers at students she thought weren’t paying attention. One day she missed and hit the kid sitting behind her target full in the face. He was caught completely unaware, didn’t have even a split second to duck or dodge or turn his head or even blink. He got a clearly painful amount of chalk dust in both eyes. He didn’t complain, kind of laughed it off even. She was mortified and profuse with her apologies. Nobody complained (she was quite popular actually) but still, she NEVER threw anything again.

        3. Amber T*

          In high school, a friend and I were tossing stuff back and forth to each other and missed, so my (male) teacher started repeatedly saying “girls can’t throw! Girls can’t throw!” Even though this was a long time ago, I still didn’t like this sexist BS, and I played softball for years, so I took a hard candy a threw it at him (not so gently) and got him right in the gut. Looking back I’m horrified, but there’s still a little part of me that’s proud.

          1. I will kill people with this cricket bat*

            If you were my daughter and did that I would have given you a lecture about appropriate behaviour… and then taken you for ice cream.

      2. Free Now (and forever)*

        Or maybe have everyone shoot shoot elastic bands at the CFO at the same time. For 5 or 10 minutes. And when he’s lying on the floor battered and bleeding, high-five each other and say,”Gee, insert CFO’s name here, that was lots of fun. Now we know why you’ve been doing this all this time,”
        Well, a girl can dream, can’t she?

      3. Mickey Q*

        I would have no problem picking the rubber band off the floor, walking into his office, and blasting him in the chest at close range. They I would say something along the lines of “If I have to do this again it will be a little lower and to the left.”

        1. Pomona Sprout*

          I’d be tempted to pick up the first rubber band that came anywhere near me, cut it into little tiny pieces, and deposit them in the middle of his freaking desk without a word, completely poker-faced.

          Passive aggressive? Yes. Well deserved? Oh, hell, yes!

    6. Dr. Pepper*

      I’m wondering why he hasn’t been sued yet. Seriously? I’d probably scream at him. And likely be fired, but oh well. Actually perhaps not. Sometimes these juvenile idiot types are remarkably easy to cow with true fury. Who knows. But I’m very confident that my reaction to this would be yell something along the lines of “WTF is wrong with you?! Knock that shit off this instant!!!!” I have been told I am very intimidating when I’m truly angry.

      1. Missy Whizabee*

        I am the only one that even acts annoyed! I say things like, seriously! Or stop! Or come on! And he does not care. It’s infuriating. And people just brush it off like, oh that’s just earl:/

        1. Dr. Pepper*

          That boggles my mind. I wonder what would happen if someone legit screamed at him, like fires of hell rage screamed at him complete with death stare. Or told him to knock it off in that unnerving, deadly serious manner that is so elusive yet so effective. My temper has snapped with people who do stuff like this thinking it’s funny, but I’ve never had to deal with it in a work context. Not that I’m advocating for you do such a thing, I totally understand why you would not wish to do that.

        2. Stranger than fiction*

          What about the person who got injured?! They didn’t say/do anything? I’d cozy up to her and encourage her to file a retroactive complaint.

    7. Dr. Pepper*

      Honestly, I would probably scream at him. And perhaps be fired. I don’t take kindly to things being thrown at me, much less projectiles actually fired at me, and I’m afraid base instinct would likely kick in and the guy would get an earful. It’s actually boggling my mind slightly that everyone has just meekly accepted this is just what Bob does.

    8. lost academic*

      Escalation and joining in on the activity is not the way to demonstrate that this is dangerous and needs to stop – the chances are much higher the CFO will just double down and entirely miss the message that needs to be sent: it’s not about it being rude, though that’s true, it’s about the fact that this is plain dangerous. Eyeglasses are also no protection against something like this!

      If HR is nonexistent, is there anyone in legal anywhere who can have that conversation with him? I would guess the cost of someone losing an eye to the company would be astronomical.

      1. Observer*

        The problem is that companies without an HR department (even of 1) generally don’t have a legal department, either.

    9. Aveline*

      I’m sure all the other lawyers reading this are thinking that this is a lawsuit waiting to happen and an easy one to win.

      Not sure if it’s workers comp or a civil suit. That depends on the jurisdiction. Might be both…

      Also, this is some form of assault. In the US it would really depend upon the jurisdiction. Typical, it’s not something big city cops would care about, but in a smaller town…

      This reminds me of law school hypotheticals in which there would be easily spotted torts with a side dish of criminal charges.

    10. Phoenix Programmer*

      Nominate CFO for worst boss of year. Continuing to aim at peoples faces after already causing eye damage is extremely callous! Even most children would apologize and stop after hitting someone in the eye. To later ask staff to put on glasses so you can continue ur aiming at their face is awful.

    11. Chinookwind*

      I left a job as a school teacher over a student firing a rubber band which bounced off my glasses (which I rarely wear) and the principal deciding to suspend the kid for 1 day starting the NEXT day (meaning the kid waved at me as he went back to class).

      When I say quite, I mean storming back into my class over the lunch break (when this all happened) and packing up the classroom stuff I owned and writing out notes for whomever was replacing me. Two of my students even helped me pack when I told them what happened.

      If a couple of grade 7’s with mental and intellectual health issues can figure out that it is wrong, why can’t fully trained and intelligent adults?

      1. Chinookwind*

        I should add that that principal was a bad boss in general and I wasn’t the first nor last teacher to leave that semester, but I was the only one to do so so spectacularly.

    12. Stranger than fiction*

      I know of someone that got hurt by a nerf gun in an office and sued, believe it or not. So I can’t believe this a-hole is getting away with this like it’s no biggie!

  2. Greg NY*

    #3: I wouldn’t say anything, I wouldn’t draw attention to a problem that hasn’t specifically been brought up to you, especially when you now have the solution to the problem. Your action (which in this case is getting back to normal efficiency) will speak louder than words.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It’s really better to say something, since it sounds pretty obvious that her boss is concerned. Otherwise she’s leaving her boss to think that she just checked out for a month, and potentially to feel like she has cause for worry or closer monitoring. If I’m the boss, it’s going to be a relief to hear there was an explanation.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I disagree, primarily because OP’s boss has noted the decreased productivity and is actively checking in throughout the day. That’s effectively an interim step on the way to a formal conversation, and I don’t think it’s worth waiting for the boss to raise the issue.

      OP can quickly put their boss’s mind at ease, and provide really important context, right now. That lets OP control the framing instead of holding onto this slump and hoping it doesn’t come up during their annual review. Plus, I think most decent managers would appreciate the disclosure, if OP is willing. If I were OP’s boss, knowing about OP’s recent health issue (doesn’t have to be specific) provides important context that would inform how I dealt with my report’s period of decreased productivity.

      1. Nita*

        Yeah. It might be a good thing, because the boss will know the problem is being is being treated and that they don’t need to keep watching OP like a hawk, in case the poor performance continues. And personally, having dealt with a two-month health issue, I was very happy to tell my boss (and a few others I worked closely with) that I’ve figured out what it was and it’s under control. It wasn’t really affecting my performance, but I looked awful and could barely walk some days, so I’m sure people were wondering what’s up and whether it’s going to turn into something even more serious.

      2. NLMC*

        I actually did this exact thing. I disclosed a medical condition to my manager and he was very thankful and completely understanding.
        It also had many of the same symptoms of depression and I ended up having surgery to remove a benign tumor and things eventually got much better.
        I felt better myself knowing there was something going on beyond my control and by letting him know he knew it was beyond my control until I found out and was able to get it corrected.

    3. Amylou*

      In this case I would definitely be very specific that there was an iron deficiency – if you don’t say anything or keep it vague your boss could think of much worse things, like that you lost motivation for work, you just can’t handle your job anymore, were distracted maybe because you were looking to leave… in this case even if you improved your behaviour, your actions don’t speak loud enough to counter your previous behaviour. And an iron deficiency is so mild, and harmless to explain (unlike many other medical issues), and very easy to solve.

      1. MusicWithRocksInIt*

        I’m anemic, and I talk openly about having it and how I manage it, even at work. Honestly it is an easier problem to talk about because it doesn’t really involve any bodily functions and it has never lead to intrusive questions or weirdness, as it is easy enough to treat once diagnosed. I even prefer to let people I am around a lot know I have it because I occasionally get dizzy spells, especially if I’m getting a cold or have another minor issue, and that way I can explain what is happening and that it’s not a cause for concern. I say go ahead and tell them.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          That’s a really good point. I didn’t even think it, but I did something like this. I get migraine headaches, and in some cases I don’t get the visual aura ahead as a warning. And when I have an oncoming migraine, I will sometimes say completely the wrong word for what I’m trying to say — without being able to hear that I said it wrong. I’ve asked my manager & co-workers to point out when they hear me do it so I can watch for the other symptoms and decide if it’s time to medicate.

          (And now you know why I will never consider a transfer to the training department!)

      2. Le’Veon Bell is seizing the means of production*

        Yeah honestly, hearing “it was just an iron deficiency!” would be 100% reassuring to me in the manager’s position. Not to downplay anemia or anything, but when I hear “iron deficiency” I almost think of it as a nothingburger, its just so common and, in most cases, pretty straightforward to treat. It would allow me to basically completely dismiss that down month as a concern forever, in a way that I honestly am not sure I can think of another medical condition could do for me. It’s completely OP’s choice but I would very much advocate just being straightforward.

    4. Spero*

      I do agree return to normal efficiency is the most important thing, but the fact that the manager is regularly checking in is bringing it to OP. I was in this exact situation in January and the first week on iron pills made a world of difference. After 3 or 4 ‘good’ days, the next time my manager did a casual check in I shared that a routine check found some anemia and iron had made a big difference. She said something generally reassuring but I could tell she mentioned it in turn to her boss, who made an offhand reference to me getting some streak later. I don’t think I should have set up a separate meeting just to discuss, but mentioning it during a casual interaction was definitely the right choice.

        1. Free Now (and forever)*

          Well, streaking might entertain your coworkers, but probably wouldn’t increase your iron levels.

      1. Tara S.*

        It’s crazy how much a little iron pill can stop you from feeling like your body is shutting down! I was baffled for so long before my doctor told me what was up, nice to have a relatively easy fix for once!

        1. Rater Z*

          I would tell he boss about the low iron level. If nothing else, it gives context to the problem. However, it also helps the boss if they see someone else going thru thus same problem, they can then casually suggest the person check their iron level.

      2. Snoozy Susie (OP)*

        Thanks for sharing your experience, I think that’s exactly how I can approach it. It feels a bit much to set up a meeting for it, so I’ll bring it up the next time I get a chance to bring it up casually.

    5. Jenn*

      My first trimester I was tired all the time and my productiveness took a hit (I was still keeping up but not doing my normal extras). I did tell my boss what was up, but my boss is very trustworthy. Some bosses I could see not wanting tontell.

    6. The Other Dawn*

      As a manager, I disagree. If one of my team members had a really rough month, enough that their productivity was cut in half and they were consistently late, among other things, and it was noticeable enough that I was feeling as though this person needed very close monitoring (or worse), I’d want to know there was a reason for it, that it was just an anomaly. Something other than they’re just slacking off or just don’t want to be here anymore. They don’t need to give me all the gory details, but something general that tells me I don’t need to be concerned anymore and the issue is under control would be really useful. Obviously, if things got bad enough I’d ask the question, if the employee didn’t proactively give an explanation, before just putting someone on a PIP.

    7. Sue Wilson*

      Her manager has started being passive-aggressive regarding OP’s tardiness, so she doesn’t seem like the type of person who regularly confronts concerns she might have with OP. You have to address issues when you know your manager might have some feelings about it but won’t say anything directly to you.

      1. Snoozy Susie (OP)*

        That’s a really good point. That’s probably what’s feeding into my hesitance to bring it up, too, since I worry that my manager might take it as an excuse or something. But if its already obvious she has some Thoughts about it, it’s best to clear the air

    8. nonegiven*

      They should say something to keep it from turning up in their next review. If they make a mistake that would normally just get a mention, having a month long slump could lead to a PIP or a write up, if the manager has no context.

    9. Tom*

      To be honest – I disagree, Greg NY.

      A couple of years ago, due to a personal screwup and idiotic things in personal life – I had some annoying repercussions that impacted me more than I thought, and it also impacted my work performance.

      Once I realized this – I send a mail to my immediate colleagues explaining ‘stuff happened in my personal life that spilled over into work life – negatively impacting my performance. I do apologize for the extra work and trouble this may have caused you during my less than stellar performance this year’
      One colleague called me on the phone – said ‘i didn`t notice anything’ – another replied ‘dude, know this – we got your back. And my manager commented in my performance review that he appreciated that I had mentioned this myself, and apologized to the team – and nothing happened after. No negative performance review, no warnings.. All due to the fact that I had sent out that mail.

  3. Cat owner*

    My workplace has new branding guidelines which covers our email signatures. According to the guidelines we have to put our qualifications under our name (BA(Hons) MBA etc.).

    Without discussing it, everyone in my team all just quietly ignored that part. It felt too weird.

    1. spock*

      BA with honors! Good call on ignoring that, that’s honestly ridiculous. As a holder of a bachelor’s degree, no one who’s not holding your resume cares about bachelor’s degrees.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        *snork* A good example of how this is not a logical thing, but an ability to interpret the norms of your field and region and identify yourself appropriately.

    2. Legalchef*

      Our email signatures are set up by IT. Mine has “Esq” in it, but my title doesn’t specifically indicate that I’m an attorney. But those who have “attorney” in their title don’t have “Esq.”

      That seems to make sense to me, in a work situation where the “qualifications” or role won’t otherwise be evident. But it’s usually relevant to communications that I’m an attorney; it wouldn’t so much be relevant if I also had an MBA.

    3. Rae*

      Mine would say BS(not hon because I was a crappy student and barely scraped by). Or would that be too long?

        1. Liza*

          I laughed out loud at that. Sine laude, indeed!

          (For everyone who didn’t study Latin in school: “cum” means “with,” “sine” means “without.” “Laude” is “praise” or “honors,” it’s related to our word “laudable.” Now compare “magna cum laude” and “magna sine laude”…)

    4. Katelyn*

      OMG, what about the people in the company who don’t have a degree at all? I’m pretty senior in my field (not just my company), and don’t have a degree of any kind. I guess people would just feel I was protesting the requirement since I’ve been told (too many times!) that I’m “too smart not to have a degree”…

      1. Free Meerkats*

        You could do like (then Commander or Captain) Daniel V Gallery, RADM, USN did when commanding the base in Reykjavík, Iceland with his titled British associates during WWII. Noting the lists of titles they used, he started adding D.D.L.M. after his name. Someone finally asked and he said that it was the equivalent of Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath. Eventually, he was asked what it stood for and he replied, “Dan, Dan, the Lavatory Man.”

        This was related in his autobiography, “Eight Bells and All’s Well” and I’m quoting from memory.

      2. Chinookwind*

        I have had the reverse happen in two jobs where we were only allowed to put our university degree in our name if it was relevant to the field. As a result, both junior accountants and nurses with only 2 year diplomas thought I was uneducated/only a high school grad and would treat me with contempt because they didn’t realize I had more education than them (I had a B.Ed. but was an admin assistant and receptionist).

        When I was badly condescended to by one of the accountants, I went to the office manager for permission to hang my university degree on the wall behind me. She denied the request (against policy) but empathized completely.

    5. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      Good call. That would be crazy even in academia where the alphabet after a name is so important and includes things like fellowships. The convention is to include terminal degrees — meaning if you have an PhD, it is assumed you received a masters and bachelors first. The only time to include a lesser degree would be if it is unrelated to the terminal degree, like if you have a PhD in astrophysics and an MFA in photography.

  4. Greg NY*

    #1: It usually takes a lot, compared to those at lower levels, for a CFO to lose their job, because they’re not normally viewed as “replaceable”. But this conduct is egregious enough that they should be terminated. Setting a poor example, check. Injuring someone, check. Acting as though it’s funny (I mean, they told someone to put on glasses so they could shoot a rubber band at them!), even someone good at their actual job needs to be formally reprimanded and possibly let go for that.

    1. Kate*

      Yeah, the glasses thing is stupid. Does the CEO think glasses are free? Decoration? Unbreakable? All of the above?

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        It makes me wonder if he drew a lesson from the eye thing, but the wrong one. “Only shoot people in the face if they’re wearing glasses” or “only shoot women in the face if they’re wearing glasses; dudes it’s okay.”

      2. Mockingjay*

        I wear glasses and I invested a lot of money in special lenses designed for computer work. They cost waaay more than was covered by insurance. I would set the CFO straight quickly and emphatically about how my glasses are NOT a substitute for safety glasses.

        (Although I would have set him straight the first time he shot a rubber band at my head or any other part of me, regardless of eyewear.)

      3. Bye Academia*

        The glasses thing is extra stupid because they actually make your eyes less safe from something like a rubber band. They are not meant to withstand that kind of impact, so if the rubber band hits your glasses you’ll probably end up with the rubber band AND glass shards in your eye.

        Signed, a scientist who has spent her career wearing safety goggles over her glasses.

        1. lost academic*


          Tore a cornea while wearing my glasses. Since I can’t insert lenses on my eyes (and no one else can either) it took much longer to heal, too.

          On top of that, I had a friend get clipped in his glasses and they shattered in a dreadful way… it turned out they weren’t the polycarbonate lenses standard mostly in the states, they were from his home country. He nearly lost the eye and couldn’t use it for about a year.

    2. EPLawyer*

      If someone said to me, put your glasses on so I can shoot you in the face, I would say “No, I don’t want to be shot with a rubber band.” The glasses most definitely would not go on.

      This needs to be reported over his head. If he doesn’t stop, well, no one said you have to stay working there under these conditions. Start a job search.

      1. Pomona Sprout*

        I’d be screwed because I can’t read (and therefore couldn’t work) without my glasses!

        My mind is absolutely boggling over this whole thing. It’s so egregious, it’s downright bizarre.

    3. Less Bread More Taxes*

      I’m really confused as to what happened with the injury incident. Did the person go to HR? File a police report? If someone nearly took my eye out at work, I’d be going to HR for some kind of compensation. A police report would be next as that’s considered physical assault.

      1. Dr. Pepper*

        I’m curious too. If that happened to me, I would most certainly NOT be just letting it go. I’m not sure exactly what I’d do, but meekly accepting a completely unnecessary and serious injury TO MY EYE is not it. I don’t fuck around with eyes. Eye injuries can be quickly become a permanent condition.

      2. Celeste*

        When I read that letter, it screamed “personal injury lawsuit” to me. What he did was simply indefensible.

        1. boo bot*

          Also indefensible is the fact that he continues to do it even after hurting someone like that! Whiskey Tango F**K?

      3. Pomona Sprout*

        If someone nearly took my eye out at work, I’d be in a freaking lawyer’s office so fadt it would make that jackass’s head spin.

    4. Tardigrade*

      I assume anyone with the title “chief” has a greater responsibility to behave in a way that’s representative of the company, and I would think the other Cs should take this even more seriously than if a junior employee were doing it.

  5. SignalLost*

    Re #4 – I’ve always either turned off read receipts globally or refused to send one when the program prompts me. They are annoying af, and come across as you not trusting the other party to read email, at least to me. It’s especially annoying when they’re set on something that isn’t time sensitive – when I taught, for example, I would open emailed homework to make sure things were attached but not grade them for up to a week longer. It would not charm me to have a student use a read receipt to request their grade; I have other reasons for opening your email. So even aside from the technical issue, you may want to consider that a lot of people find read receipts annoying.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Yes—I find read receipts to be invasive and obnoxious. I always block them, and I suspect the same is true for people receiving OP’s applications.

      1. MusicWithRocksInIt*

        Yup. It is especially obnoxious coming from someone at a lower level than you, or someone asking for a favor. I would turn these off ASAP. I would be much less inclined to look favorably on someone that had one on an application. There is a very real possibility they are hurting your chances.

      2. Tired*

        I had an email name change that messed up both my received and sent messages. In the US federal gov, various systems don’t talk to each other and IT is a mess. I use the read message functionality to make sure that my messages reach their destination, and I asked that folks sending me things ask for a read receipt also. Five years later, the problem still happens, I give up trying to get it fixed. It’s not always nefarious reasons behind wanting a read receipt. Plus, I work with a woman who always says she doesn’t get her messages, she is massively disorganized. What do you do with somebody like that? I do not globally condemn the read receipt function.

        1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

          Those sound like really good and valid reasons to have a read receipt, and I’m sure the folks you work with understand the context for them (especially because you explicitly explain and request it). On the other hand, putting a read receipt on a non-time sensitive, non urgent matter to someone you don’t know implies that you don’t trust them to read and respond.

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Oh, I don’t deny that there are valid reasons for using read receipts. I just personally find them irksome in the same way that I find double spacing to be irksome. It’s not a big enough deal to make a fuss over it, but it’s a tiny annoying deal that happens frequently.

    2. Hello, I’d like to report my boss*

      The only time I send a read receipt is if someone’s sent a mass-email with read receipt turned on. I maliciously hope they get swamped with notifications.

      I honestly can’t think of a good use for read receipts as they’re so unreliable. If something’s that important I would follow up by phone/IM.

      1. Lance*

        ‘The only time I send a read receipt is if someone’s sent a mass-email with read receipt turned on. I maliciously hope they get swamped with notifications.’

        I consider this to be a good use of the read receipt function. They reap what they sow at that point.

      2. Tired*

        Please see my comment above. I don’t understand the animosity toward read receipts, I have no problem with them, but I read all my email promptly.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I mean… lots of people read their email promptly and still dislike read receipts.

    3. SS Express*

      Same! I hate them and almost never send them. The notifications are annoying and I find it pretty grating – if you’ve sent me an email you can just assume I’m going to read it, because I’m an adult ffs. And often I’ll open an email but not have time to read it properly or respond/action it – I don’t want someone pestering me because I haven’t responded to an email that I “received” two hours ago but didn’t actually have time to engage with yet.

    4. Foreign Octopus*

      OP4 – when I worked as a recruiter, I came across a lot of candidates who would apply using read receipts. I hated those RRs. I found then annoying AF and always, always turned them off – I was always given the option. I still looked at the CV but in my own time.

      I’d consider disabling read receipts, not only for your peace of mind but also to stop (probably) annoying those you’re sending emails to.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        I have a fair amount of sympathy for read receipts for something like a job application, because the applicant has literally no other way of knowing if the email was actually received by the intended recipient. Back in the stone age when I was first applying for jobs, I would generally send the applications FedEx (as I was sending them internationally). I could confirm that they got the mail. If you send if off by email, it goes off into the ether and if you don’t get a rejection email or an interview, you don’t know if you were rejected or the email was caught in a spam filter. Asking for confirmation of receipt in the body of the email is more work for the recipient (particularly if they’re getting hundreds of applications), and the applicant can’t re-email or phone for confirmation.

        Although if you’re accepting applications by emails, you should at least have an auto reply saying the email was received so the applicant knows this.

        1. GingerHR*

          There is a middle way – disable read receipts, but use the delivery receipts (assuming they still exist).
          That might give OP4 some peace of mind, without annoying the recipient.

        2. Angelinha*

          But email “getting caught in the ether” is not really a thing in 2018, assuming you are sending it to and from a legitimate email address. Gone are the days of sending an email and wondering whether it happened to get to the person you sent it to. It did.

          1. Emily*


            And in 99% of cases, if it didn’t make it to the recipient, a bounce notice will be delivered back to you.

            The odds of an email not going through OR bouncing back to sender are exceedingly small.

            And with job applications in particular, anyone who is having job applicants email them knows to check their spam folder/on hold messages or equivalent. If one person’s application is getting flagged by accident then it’s not going to be only that one person, it’s going to be a systemic issue that the recipient is aware of.

            Also, for those who may not have realized it – this is another good reason to follow the instructions given if they tell you to put a certain word or position number in the subject line. They almost undoubtedly have filters set up to make sure emails with certain expected subject lines don’t get marked as spam.

            1. Observer*

              And in 99% of cases, if it didn’t make it to the recipient, a bounce notice will be delivered back to you.
              The odds of an email not going through OR bouncing back to sender are exceedingly small.

              Nope. Because generally best practice for spam filters is to NOT send a bounce back. And that’s where a surprising number of legitimate emails wind up.

              1. Emily*

                I consider the Spam folder to constitute making it to the recipient – it’s in their email account, they just have to look for it – which is what I addressed in the latter half of my post. I meant specifically that the email isn’t “lost in the ether” somewhere that the recipient never actually received it.

                1. Not a Mere Device*

                  That assumes that the spam gets to the individual user’s account. Sometimes an ISP blocks an entire domain because too much spam is coming from At that point, the IT department may (should) know there’s a problem, but all I knew was that nobody was answering my emails sent from

                  Usually what happened was that I, or one of my colleagues, would get a call from someone saying “why haven’t you answered my email?” We’d say we had, and either tell them what was in the message or offer to resend (if it was long or had attachments), and hopefully someone would check in with IT, who would then try to sort things out with Comcast. (This happened every few months when I worked there; for all I know it’s still happening.)

                2. MsCende*

                  That depends on how the spam filters are set up. I still get emails I send trapped on certain systems because of the old Melissa virus (I so want to strangle whoever named that) – the filters are set up in an absolute crap way, so because my email address is, and frequently contains my name in a signature block, off it goes to the quarantine file, and my recipient never sees it (I had to spend hours with AOL tech support when it was first a problem).

                  In many cases, I can resend with a different address and leave off my full name, but that’s not always possible. It was most difficult when I was trying to send mail from the company I owned to vendors and customers!

                  The problem being, of course, not getting a receipt isn’t going to tell you what the problem is, just like getting one won’t tell you if it’s actually been read or not.

                3. Observer*

                  It may not have reached the email account. And the way a lot of filters are set up, it’s actually not so easy for someone to look for a trapped message. And even when it’s pretty simple, people won’t do that unless they get asked about it, because they aren’t routinely checking their spam boxes.

                  So, if you treat “reached a spam filter” the same as “reached the recipient” you’re likely to run into some trouble.

              2. Perse's Mom*

                Why would an email filtered to spam ever trigger a bounce back? It still got to the right person.

            2. Observer*

              I should have – I am absolutely talking about situations like this. It’s surprising how many people do NOT check their spam folders.

              But I agree – follow the instructions about subject line, etc. It definitely can help with the filter situation.

          2. moql*

            Well, the to and from legitimate email address is part of the worry. Not that the reasonable reaction is to turn On RRs, but sending out applications feels very vulnerable and I understand working that you typed the email address wrong, or it got caught in a spam filter or it went to the old hr person who doesn’t work there anymore. There’s no need to be condescending about people’s anxiety.

            1. SignalLost*

              This is why god invented copy/paste. Every application I sent in over the last ten years, if it had an email address for contacting the company, I copied and pasted it. Your idea that this is how to manage anxiety about applications is silly; someone using an RR system (OP seems to be using something different than a both-parties-viewable RR) isn’t actually confirming that their email was or was not received, so it’s useless from an anxiety standpoint. As someone with anxiety, I find Alison’s advice to submit the application and then forget about it entirely a great way to manage anxiety. Obsessively trying to track it just leads to madness – you’d spend all your time wondering whether they’d gotten it, then whether they’d read it (and why not), then why they haven’t reached out (and why not), etc.

          3. Bye Academia*

            Eh, you’d be surprised. Just this week, an email I sent to a collaborator that was part of an ongoing email thread got directed to spam and the attachments weren’t there. If he hadn’t checked his spam he would have missed it.

            That said, I am firmly anti read receipts. They are so, so annoying and I always decline them. Trust that HR goes through their spam (anyone who is running a job search and expecting to receive emails from a wide range of domains should), and if there are missing attachments they’ll contact you.

            1. SignalLost*

              Honestly, at this point, anyone who is expecting to receive an snail should be managing their junk and trash folders assiduously.

          4. Observer*

            That’s actually not necessarily true. It’s surprising how often stuff like this gets caught in the spam filter.

            But, the solution is not a READ receipt, but a DELIVERY receipt. That tells you that the email got the place it was supposed to.

          5. Leslie knope*

            This isn’t true actually! Sometimes servers crash. Even then though you can usually confirm directly if someone got your email or not…

            1. Gatomon*

              Even if a mailserver crashes, if the sending mailserver doesn’t get a response from the destination they will usually hold the mail in queue and retry after X minutes or hours. After a number of retries, they will stop attempting to deliver the message and the sender will almost always get a delivery failed message from their mailserver.

              Large email providers have multiple mailservers to avoid outages — if it’s a small company that self-hosts, they may not, but it would have to be down for several days for the sending server to time out. Otherwise the recipient will receive the message when their mailserver is back online.

    5. Gingerblue*

      Same here. I always turn them off–no one is entitled to keep tabs on when and whether I’m reading email. Why is this even a thing?

      1. Edith*

        It’s so infantilizing. It’s the email equivalent of having to have your parents initial your report card so the teacher knows you showed it to them.

          1. Edith*

            That’s certainly permitted. We are different people. For example, I think read receipts are presumptive and obnoxious, and you think it’s okay to make sweeping generalizations about people who disagree with you. Not wanting your email usage policed has nothing to do with reading your emails in a timely manner.

      2. Tired*

        It’s just another form of documentation. It doesn’t actually mean that the message was read, just that it was opened. Boy, am I in the minority here. Methinks a lot of people don’t read their email in a timely fashion.

        1. MM*

          The whole problem with read receipts in my view (and it seems a lot of people’s here) is not that the email isn’t getting opened in a timely fashion. It’s that it IS getting opened in a timely fashion, but for various reasons you won’t be writing a response immediately. There are plenty of legitimate reasons for a delay in responding, from having to let the hiring process move forward to simply prioritizing. But now the other party knows you’ve seen the thing and not responded, and is far more likely to feel entitled to press you for your response.

          The nature of email (and text messages) is that you are not entitled to an immediate reply. It is time-delayed communication. (Obviously in some work environments there can be special uses of email where people do expect immediate communication, but that’s a matter of culture and isn’t going to rely on read receipts anyway.) Sometimes if I see that someone has texted me and I can’t or don’t want to reply right away, I don’t particularly want them to have the information that I’ve seen it and chosen not to respond. All they can get out of it is 1) possible offense or anxiety, 2) actually choosing to bug me until I do respond, or 3) nothing. Seems like all downside and no upside to me.

        2. Risha*

          Nah, I always, always, always read all emails the same day, work or personal. That has nothing to do with it. The core of RR hate (which I share) is feeling like you’re being monitored.

          You wouldn’t like it if every time one of your colleagues sent you an email they would immediately come over to your desk and stand over your shoulder and watched until you opened it, would you? It’s functionally the same thing.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            I hate read receipts because every time I’ve ever gotten one, it’s been from colleagues who were hall monitor/class factotum/cruise director types in other aspects of interacting with them, too. Just people who feel entitled to monitor other people’s habits and behavior and exercise constant vigilance over petty minutiae.

    6. Amylou*

      The only reason I’ve used them is (1) when cancelling events/meetings with large number of people (with a note – please click read receipt or send a reply by email you’ve read this); (2) after many many unanswered emails to people to remind them to do sth , to check if they got my email – but that’s more last resort, and their own fault, they could’ve sent me an email any time “I received your forms, I’ll get this to you by X” instead of staying silent…

      1. Angelinha*

        The only reason I’ve used them is when my boss gets really worked up about a message we have to send out and shouts “AND SEND IT WITH READ RECEIPTS!!!” because she thinks that is a good way of suggesting importance (thankfully I don’t think she knows about the red exclamation point to signal importance). She is also the same boss who sends emails – several a week – with a subject line of literally just “IMPORTANT PLEASE READ.”

        I always feel really silly/embarrassed sending out messages with the read receipt request, especially since I’m usually sending them to people I have a good working relationship with, buuuut she’s the boss so I do what she says.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          Ugh, I had a coworker who used the red exclamation point on nearly every email she sent, because apparently every communication from her was of utmost importance. I always wanted to reply and switch the conversation over to the blue, “low importance” down-arrow, but I always managed to barely hold myself back from that level of snark.

        2. Gatomon*

          I loathe the red exclamation point… it’s almost always not as critical as the person using it thinks. It also doesn’t make it arrive any faster or float any higher in my inbox, or cause my phone to bounce up off the table and shout “YOU HAVE AN IMPORTANT EMAIL!” And there’s always that one user who uses it frequently (but never uses “low importance”….)

          I can kind of get behind the “Important please read” subject line though. I worked at a place that adopted that sort of style (I think someone who was ex-military brought it in?) and I found it useful. You’d get Please read/Action required/FYI and then : the subject of the message, and I thought it helped to have what was expected of me spelled out right there instead of buried in the body.

    7. Bagpuss*

      Yes, I only use Read receipts or delivery receipts when I need evidence that the e-mail has been received (e.g. when submitting something to court where there is a fixed filing date, or sending something where I need a paper trail to show that it has been not only sent, but received.

      I find them irritating on incoming mail and would normally only hit yes to send one if I can see that it is important, e.g. something which is highly time sensitive.

      For job applications, I think it is courteous for the employer to either set up n auto reply to acknowledge receipt,r to send a 1 line acknowledgement.
      (I’m not normally the person who job application come to, but on the occasion when I was, I had a cut-and-paste response which I sent everyone which acknowledged receipt of the application and confirmed that we would not be contacting anyone about interviews until after the closing date for applications, as that way, i thought it would let people know their applications had been receive and also give them a time line of when to expect to hear from us.

        1. Indigo a la mode*

          In my experience, 100% of read receipt requests have come from cold sales emails. I find it incredibly aggravating for these sales folks to spring unbidden into my inbox and then also prod me to acknowledge their unwanted email with a receipt. For what–so they can now consider me a “warm” lead and flood me with more unwanted correspondence? No, thanks.

    8. BRR*

      I agree with lots of people find them annoying (I’m assuming it’s a setting that generates a pop up for the receiver). I ignore them basically out of spite with the rare exception when they are appropriate. I wouldn’t be too fond of an applicant having this turned on.

    9. Jenn*

      I also find these extremely invasive. Sometimes I triage my inbox and won’t open an email until I am ready to answer it. Sometimes I open an email right away and then think about it for a day or so. The only time I am okay with them is the limited times my boss uses them (maybe twice a year) and only on really important and time sensitive stuff.

    10. OP #4*

      That’s a totally valid point! To clarify, it’s not one one that has any pop ups or anything, the recipient doesn’t get notified at all or have to do anything other than literally open the email. I guess it’s less of a read receipt and more of a general tracker. I made sure to test it on emails I sent to myself first, because of the reasons you listed.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        Hmm, that’s different then, but I think as Alison mentions that not all emails necessarily configure to the same system so it might be slipping through the cracks that way.

        I honestly think that the best thing you can do is turn off the read receipts for your own peace of mind because as soon as you get a hit, you’ll then be worrying about – but why aren’t they contacting me? I know they’ve seen my CV, etc.

        (Good luck in your job search as well)

          1. Observer*

            What you can do is set a delivery receipt – people are not as bothered by that, and that could be potentially actionable information.

      2. Liza*

        OP #4, is this that thing where you include a one-pixel image hosted on a server, and if the server reports that the image was accessed then you know the email was opened? It’s quite possible that the recipient is viewing the email in a text-only mail client (rarer these days but still possible) or that having a web-linked attached image is getting your email caught in a spam filter.

        1. RabbitRabbit*

          My institution blocks image loading from outside e-mails; you have to specifically click in the header to download images and it warns you that you better trust the sender to do that. So even tricks like this might get blocked as part of anti-spam/anti-trojan filtering.

          And count me as another one who configured their e-mail client to not automatically issue read receipts.

          1. blackcat*

            This type of thing would either 1) be disabled from appearing or 2) get sent to spam.
            My work email will 100% not load images of that sort unless I click a “Are you sure you trust this person?” button. And, no, I don’t trust strangers. So I never click it.

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        One caveat: the potential popup is a function of *the recipient’s* email system. So YOU may not see one. But the person you’re hoping to get to hire you may get one.

        I look at it this way: Is it worth annoying a potentially high percentage of resume screeners?

        It’s like a marketing document using “since” where a strict grammarian would say “because.” No one who uses since&because interchangeably will be annoyed by “because” in this context. But people who insist “since” is a time referent and ONLY a time referent will be annoyed by misuse. So changing one word eliminates the chance of annoying a potential customer.

        So by turning off read-receipt, you eliminate the chance of annoying someone who may hold the key to your dream job. Just look at how many people on this list react negatively to it…that’s the chance you’re taking if you leave it on.

      4. Scion*

        This seems much worse. You’re monitoring their internet usage without their consent? That’s super sketchy.

        1. EmilyG*

          Yes, that would be very invasive and set off a bad impression, particularly in the case of a job application. I work in IT and it would seem malicious enough to be an instant dealbreaker.

          Also, I wouldn’t like any form of a read receipt in applications anyway. It would signal to me “This is a candidate who is going to call me on the phone and tell me they’re the best candidate and be a big impatient PITA.”

          1. Holly*

            OP’s letter says the tracking is through a program from her university, so potentially it’s a default program on OP’s university e-mail or they have advisors encouraging their students to use it. So it’s not OP’s fault necessarily!

            1. Observer*

              Not OP’s fault at all, I would say.

              But still a bad idea. *ESPECIALLY* if it’s using one of those “invisible graphic” things. Because THAT really is invasive. It’s explicitly designed to get around people’s decision to not send RRs.

      5. Observer*

        I know that that’s what is supposed to happen. But in Outlook, you can set the program to not send read receipts. Period. So, if you sent me an email and I had that setting you would not see if / when I opened the email.

      6. LurkieLoo*

        I’ve used those types of programs before. I use Thunderbird as my email client and it blocks them. I’ve found that they are fairly accurate for POSITIVE results (meaning the email was actually opened), but has a large rate of false negatives. i.e. I’ve received responses to emails the program claims was never opened.

        The best the program can do is tell you if the pixel has been pinged, but there are are a lot of reasons for it to NOT get pinged and only one for it to get pinged. Of course, you always have the possibility that it was pinged and then accidentally deleted or pinged and opened briefly, but not read, etc.

      7. Izzy*

        …honestly, that kind of sounds worse? I find read receipts generally kind of annoying but you can always just reject them. A “general tracker”, though – can people even opt out of that? I just have a very strong negative reaction to the idea that some random person emailing me wants to “track” what I’m doing with their email.

        I do get how nervewracking the application process can be! And employers who don’t respond to applications is one of my biggest hates in that process, so I get why you want to know what’s happening. But other people have pointed out that the tracker may be detected even if it’s supposed to be invisible, which could come across quite strangely or just get your application filtered out. You’ll be better off if you try to stop focusing so much on the progress of these applications and start finding somewhere more productive to channel that energy.

    11. Elizabeth*

      Is using a read receipt for submitting homework really that bad? I hate submitting homework by email because you never know if it’s gonna end up in spam or you sent it to the wrong email address. Would just sending a quick acknowledgement that it ended up where it was supposed to really be that much of a nuisance?

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        Depends on how many students the teacher has.

        I only have one or two that I give homework to so I always send them a quick message saying “thanks, I will look at this soon and get back to you” but if I had to do that for 20+ students, count me out, and count me annoyed at the students who request it.

        Teachers will ask if they don’t have the homework and then you can also point to the email you sent.

      2. SignalLost*

        As a teacher, I also learned to religiously check my spam and junk (students have literally rendered my primary email account effectively unusable, starting with the jerk who blocked my emails rather than withdrawing from class, leading to a month where I could not email anyone on a Microsoft email account at all) and since I was assigning 30-40 students homework … yes, they are that bad. The failure rate of email is low enough that if you send the email it’ll go through, and a smart instructor will check other boxes. If you have an instructor you’re concerned about, maybe don’t treat them like a naughty child, maybe actually approach them about the issue.

      3. Claire (Scotland)*

        As a teacher I can say they absolutely are that bad, and if my students try using them I very quickly teach them that they shouldn’t. I have a HUGE amount of work to do as it is, don’t make more for me, please.

        You should know what email address you are supposed to be sending stuff to. If it ends up in spam, the teacher will find it there when they ask you why you didn’t submit, you tell them you emailed it, and they check.

    12. Emily*

      Yep – the default setting on most email clients is to notify you when you open the email, “So-and-so has requested a read receipt. Send?” And most people hit “no” because there’s an immediate implication that someone wants to use this information against you – to PROVE you read their email and didn’t even respond or take action on it! It seems to imply that the sender thinks they have a right to insert themselves into your inbox management processes.

      Other types of read indicators rely on a tiny 1×1 pixel image being loaded, thus letting the server know that someone opened the email in order for the image file to have been requested. But these will notoriously undercount/fail to report opens in corporate environments and I think Gmail as well, where images are not displayed by default in emails from unknown senders and the user has to go out of their way to click something to load images. If you read email in that kind of environment you don’t bother to show images on 99% of the emails you get with images suppressed because they rarely contain any information – they’re just header bars or logos (or tracking pixels).

      1. Bea*

        This pixel thing is interesting.

        Yep, our emails block all images unless we choose to view them. I’ll never switch that on unless it’s s news letter format. Otherwise I just get to view the logos and such, which is only nice if I’m printing or saving the email for a reason.

    13. Emelle*

      My FIL used read receipts on personal email back in the early 2000s. Including chain forwards. I just stopped opening email from him. (He asked my husband why I didn’t open it, and husband told him it was creepy that he knew that and that the read receipts were messing up my inbox. Not sure which part he believed, but he stopped.)

    14. AnotherJill*

      If a resume is attached to the email (as it should be), a read receipt also doesn’t tell you that the recipient actually looked at your resume, just that they received the email.

      They may also have an email program that allows rules to be set up to dispatch the email to a folder until they are ready to deal with all of them, and that would not count as a read at the start either.

      A read receipt doesn’t really tell you anything here. And although I really hate it when someone says “are you sure you read the instructions carefully”, I have to ask that, because it seems to me to be rally unusual that that many companies want resumes emailed, rather than having an application portal.

      1. SignalLost*

        Eh, depending on OP’s industry, I can see it. A lot of smaller companies and non-profits don’t use an application portal. If there are only ten jobs in OP’s area that she qualifies for, I’d assume it’s a pretty niche industry, and that almost invariably means smaller companies. (If it’s that OP is a llama wrangler and hasn’t yet considered whether that translates to an alpaca wrangler or a llama groomer, that’s different.)

  6. Poppyseed*

    #4 It’s only been a few weeks so try to be patient – they may collect all the responses to open at once. And, well, I know I always refuse read receipts and am deeply irritated when asked to send one (especially on emails that need to be forwarded to multiple people so my opening them means basically nothing). I would turn it off!

    1. kodachrome*

      Agreed, I always find it really strange when people request a read receipt. I always say no, just on principle. The read receipts are never for anything urgent, and if it was urgent, you can just ask people to acknowledge receipt in your email, or put something in the subject line. I dunno, the whole thing just seems pushy and overbearing. Most people will respond to your email in a timely manner anyway, and you can follow up with people who don’t.

      1. Emily*

        I think almost all of the read receipts I’ve ever been asked for have been attached to cold sales emails. And it’s always the same people who do the annoying thing like replying back to their own email several times to push it to the top of your inbox, but they write each time in a tone like they’re just carrying on a conversation and obviously you’re interested but you’ve just been too busy to respond yet. The ones where the pitch is all, “we’re so great! I know you’re dying to learn more about our award winning products that we developed right here in Austin Texas in our family business. I want to ask you a bunch of time-consuming leading questions that will help me craft a better sales pitch for this product which is important to me to sell. would you prefer to schedule that call for Wednesday, or Thursday?” I.e., it’s all about *their* company, why *they’re* awesome, what *they* need, what I can do for *them,* focuses too much on making the sale and not enough on figuring out if I’m even the right buyer first.

    2. Phedre*

      I also always refuse read receipts. I once had a salesperson send me a cold email with a read receipt. Like, dude, I don’t know you, I’m not going to buy your product, and I didn’t ask you to email me so why the hell would you request a read receipt? It’s annoying when colleagues request them, so when a random stranger who got my contact info by purchasing an email list that isn’t even accurate (she wanted to sell me something related to software development when I work in nonprofit fundraising), it’s extra irritating.

      1. NYWeasel*

        Read receipts are a pet peeve at work. I *always* refuse the response when I get one, and I would be less interested in a candidate that used one for a job application. IME, they provide no real assurance that your message was read/understood, especially as you are prompted to respond before you’ve read anything, and from a CYA standpoint, I never see them on critical emails. It’s always these weirdly unimportant emails like “Teapot style guide uploaded to server”. (The teams that need to reference the style guide already know to look on the server first, and for the rest of us, we aren’t responsible for knowing the style guide). It also gives you zero information if attachments came through or if they could be opened properly by the recipient.

        From a job application standpoint, we’re hiring because we need help doing something. You want to make the impression that you are going to reduce our burden, but to me, a read receipt is a pointless extra step that you’re now asking me to take. I’ll still look at your resume, but it’s never a point in your favor.

        1. OP #4*

          These all totally make sense. To clarify, it’s not one one that has any pop ups or anything, the recipient doesn’t get notified at all or have to do anything other than literally open the email. I guess it’s less of a read receipt and more of a general tracker. I made sure to test it on emails I sent to myself first, but it’s totally plausible these firms blocl read receipts and that’s why I’m not seeing they’ve been opened.

          1. RabbitRabbit*

            If it’s the sort that loads an image, the place where I work blocks automatic image-loading in e-mails from outside our e-mail domain as part of an anti-spam/anti-trojan initiative. You have to specifically go and pick a “load images in this e-mail” / “yes I trust this sender and definitely want to see their images (which are probably some weird background stationery or something)” option.

          2. anna*

            Yeah, my email account blocks these by default, assuming they’re spam. So not only is it causing people to be annoyed if their email program works differently from yours, but also, it may be filtering out your applications so that they’re never read.

          3. Observer*

            From what you say, it sounds like one of those trackers that use an effectively invisible graphic.

            Please do NOT do this. It really is unethical, because it is absolutely designed to circumvent people’s explicit decisions. Stop and think about that – why do you (or your college) think that it’s ok to sneak information from people, not just without affirmative consent, but against their explicit wishes?

          4. Turtle Candle*

            Yeah, as others have said, if this is an invisible graphic…. many, many orgs and companies block those outright org-wide.

  7. Engineer Girl*

    #2 – could this be cultural? I know that in some countries the degree earned is part of the title. In other countries it is just a part of the resume.
    For example, in some countries the term “engineer” is regulated and means you have a degree in engineering. It is a big deal to the point that people use it as a title. In other countries it is less regulated (like the US). Anyone can call themselves an engineer even if they don’t have an engineering degree. No one uses it as a title.
    Someone from the US would see the use of “engineer” as ostentatious. Someone from the other country would see the lack of the title as disrespectful.

    1. Engineer Girl*

      Before this goes off track – I’m not referring to professional engineers which are regulated by their respective states.
      In case people didn’t know – you can’t adverise your services to the general public as an engineer unless you are a professional engineer.

      1. only acting normal*

        You can in a lot of countries. UK for one. Plumbers, electricians, car mechanics etc all frequently have the job title ‘engineer’ here. (Basically think anyone you call to come fix something that’s broken.) They’re highly skilled trades, but they’re decidedly not engineers.
        It does mildly-to-severely annoy the actual engineers I know, but if necessary they use ‘chartered engineer’ as a clarification… maybe even put CEng after their name ;).

        1. Engineer Girl*

          Actually, most countries prohibit it. Even in the US is is a illegal to use the title of “engineer” in the name of your company without the PE certification. The certification is regulated by state

          People call themselves engineers but they can only work for a company. When they go out and transact with the public they have to be certified (or have a certified person sign off on their work).

          1. ArtK*

            Is that federal law or state-by-state? I know lots of people who practice engineering in California without a PE. A friend moved from CA to FL and now he has to get his PE to continue in his job.

            1. Ben Thair*

              In florida, engineers are regulated by the Florida Board of Professional Engineers and the rule that says you cannot practice without a license is Chapter 471 of the Florida statutes under professional regulations

            2. nonegiven*

              My son was a senior software developer at a company not based in CA, his next job was senior software engineer at a company based in CA, his job now is senior software developer at a company based in another country.

              1. Engineer Girl*

                That’s a job title for working within a company. He can’t advertise himself as an engineer for hire to the general public.

          2. anna*

            Can you cite a United States law that makes it “illegal to use the title of ‘engineer’ in the name of your company without a PE certification”? Because I’ve looked and can’t find one. U.S. First Amendment law is pretty robust about this sort of thing. It would be fraud to tell a potential customer, “I have a PE certification,” if you don’t have one. But I’ve been unable to find a federal law matching the description you provided.

            1. Engineer Girl*

              As stated above, there is no federal law because it is regulated at the state level. That’s true for a lot of certifications.

              Look at state level laws. Usually the state attorney general handles complaints.

            2. Traffic_Spiral*

              1st Amendment doesn’t cover fraud – and holding yourself out professionally as a certified expert when you aren’t = fraud. Calling yourself an engineer when you aren’t is like calling yourself a doctor or lawyer when you aren’t. If you’re taking money for that as opposed to bragging in a bar, you’s in trouble. Also in an engineering situation, probably a potential manslaughter case waiting to happen.

        2. doreen*

          I think Engineer Girl is referring to courtesy titles or honorifics, not job titles. In the US, we refer to Dr. Smith or Professor Jones and an attorney ,engineer or architect is Ms. Brown. In some countries she would be Attorney/Engineer/Architect Brown.

          1. iglwif*

            Yup. My stepdad, who has a doctoral degree in electrical engineering, is Romanian and used to work in Germany, and he was “Ing. Firstname Lastname” until he got the doctorate and is now “Dr. Ing. Firstname Lastname”. This doesn’t translate well to English but is standard in German!

    2. Traffic_Spiral*

      I think the basic rule is that you include the title if it’s actually a legal qualification. So even in the states, people will include the engineering professional title in the signature of a work email, because it’s relevant to know that what’s being said comes from someone legally qualified to say it. An MBA holds no legal or professional qualification rank, and as such is irrelevant to day-to-day communications.

      1. Ophelia*

        Exactly, I have a relative who has a master’s degree in a social science field, and is also a CPA. Her email signature includes the CPA qualification (it is relevant to her job), but not her MA.

  8. What’s in a name*

    Regarding #1, it’s weird, but I’ve seen this, too. I’m not a fan.

    But! I have a version of my email signature that includes my MS, and when I finish my doctorate, I’ll switch that in. I rarely use it, as I view it as the email equivalent of responding, “That’s Dr. So and So, and actually…” to someone who is either over explaining a relevant topic or (more often) getting it completely wrong. In short, completely non-productive and sitting somewhere on the border between passive-aggressive and aggressive-aggressive (and runs really heavy risks of making you look like a jerk.)

    Other situations I use them and see post-nominals used in emails are typically more highly formal, academic introductions or a sign off on the type of recommendation that ends up being legally or politically relevant. The idea of using it either socially* or in a job application setting seems weird. Presumably the MBA’s on the resume.

    * My sister tells me that things can be slightly different in commonwealth countries in this regard.

    1. Teapot PR consultant*

      Yes, if you have a PhD in say Australia you would be expected to call yourself Dr (whatever).

      1. Darren*

        I live in Australia, and have a PhD. I can count the number of times I’ve introduced myself as Dr on the fingers of one hand, and that includes both personally as well as professionally.

        I’ve only ever pulled it out to slap down someone that was flaunting their degree like a jerk as well as being very very wrong.

        1. Drop Bear*

          Outside of formal university (or similar) functions/meetings I’ve never met any PhD in Australia who used Dr when they introduced themselves, and I work in an industry where a lot of people have a PhD, and I have a number of family members who have one. It would be seen as completely pretentious (‘what a wanker’, comes to mind as a probably thought/comment from others), so while I’m sure some do it, it is absolutely not an *expectation*. I’ve found since I moved here that Australians are by and large quite informal about things like this compared to people in other places I’ve lived (various countries in Europe).

    2. Zoe Karvounopsina*

      My boss deals with doctors, and has a doctorate in education (this in the UK, so doctors are doctors by courtesy, the degree is Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery) and after multiple people got extremely snotty with her, I started answering her phone as “Dr Jane Llama’s phone” and referring to her as “Dr Llama” when they asked, which is more formal than our office norms, but made the point.

    3. Overeducated*

      I think it really depends on context. In the context where I grew up people with PhDs who insisted on being called “Dr” were made fun of as pretentious and “not real doctors,” so I would never ever ask to be called that…but in my workplace, the convention is that you put it a PhD in your email signature as though it were a professional certification. It’s not passive-aggressive, it’s custom – and since I deal a lot with researchers outside my office, it honestly seems to make a difference in them taking me seriously vs. assuming I’m an intern or paper pusher and treating me accordingly.

      1. I woke up like this*

        I absolutely have PhD in my work email title. I’m a 30-something-woman and a tenure-track professor, and I tire of being referred to as “Mrs. I Woke Up like This.” (I also get the strong urge to call up local businesses that send mail to our house addressed to “Mr. and Mrs. Husbands’ Last Name” and insist they change their information. First, we do not have the same last name, and second, come on now people! It’s 2018. I am not Mrs. His Last Name. I am Dr. My Last Name. I never do make those calls, but I fantasize about doing so for days.)

        Long story short, there can be legit professional (and even social) reasons for people with PhD’s to insist on the Dr. title, especially people (esp women, particularly women of color) whose expertise/authority is routinely dismissed.

        1. I woke up like this*

          I tell students they can call me Professor Last Name, Dr. Last Name, or my First Name. Just not Mrs.

          1. blackcat*

            Currently ABD. I tell my students that “Hey you” is better than “Mrs.” for female instructors. They think I’m joking. I tell them no, I am not. And that I respond to a variety of things, including Black, Ms. Cat, and, frequently “Help.”

            Anything, anything is better than Mrs! At worst, you will give an undeserved title to a woman with a masters degree.

          2. SignalLost*

            I spend a lot of time telling students not to call me professor because I don’t have a doctorate. It weirds me out. What’s the academic version of stolen valor?

            1. blackcat*

              I tell mine that Dr is inappropriate because I don’t have a doctorate. But some are uncomfortable with FirstName (my stated preference) or even Ms. Lastname and default to “Professor.” I do not fight that battle, largely because it comes from international students trying to treat me with the appropriate respect.

            2. Database Developer Dude*

              Except do you have to have a doctorate to be called a professor if you’re employed by the university as an instructor for a course?

          3. Why Me*

            I once, while in college, was walking with some classmates who mentioned that someone was only there to get her “M R S” degree.

            I was puzzling out whether I had misunderstood the available degrees at our school until I finally asked, and someone explained it did NOT refer to Master of Religious Studies.

      2. What's in a name?*

        Switching it mid-conversation was actually the part I was considering passive-aggressive. I’d consider it normal to have an external and an internal signature with different levels of formality (and possibly different elements, nobody inside the organization cares what my address is, since we all have the same one, for example).

  9. AnonymousNurse*

    RE #2: I come from a field where the more letters after your name, the better (I’m a registered nurse). I distinctly remember a situation in nursing school where I got marked down for not putting my professor’s letters in the correct order on the paper. Another nurse I worked with had pretty much the whole alphabet after her name listed on her email signature, but only 8 of those letters mattered to her job at that point. Personally, I use the only two letters that really matter and that I need to use (RN) and add the other letters as appropriate to the situation/job. So honestly, if it doesn’t add anything or convey a necessary title, it just seems like overkill.

    1. Robin Sparkles*

      Yup I am not a nurse but work in healthcare and the more credentials the better. I resisted for a few certifications I have (think similar to a six sigma black belt) and was dinged by my manager for not having that in my signature. I think healthcare is different- every place I worked they expected you to list every single credential.

  10. MD (MD, MBA)*

    It seems to me like it’s pretty normal (not pretentious or eye-rolly) to put “MD, MBA” if you’re an MD, MBA, or to generally list Masters degrees after MD if you have any. It’s getting more common, but it’s still a relatively unusual combination. Then again, I’m sure plenty of people would love to accuse us doctors of being pretentious.

    1. Cat wrangler*

      I always thought that you listed the highest degree you held after your name but only in professional circumstances so if I wrote a note to the refuse collection team, I wouldn’t put ‘Cat Wrangler, BA (Hons)’.

      I’ve seen people sign themselves ‘Name BA, MA’ but that’s kind of superfluous as you have to have a bachelor degree of whatever designation before you can attain a masters but each to their own.

    2. hbc*

      The question is, is it useful? If you’re giving me medical advice, I don’t give a darn about your MBA. It’s pretty much as impressive and irrelevant as your black belt in karate or that you’re a licensed plumber.

      I’ll maybe grant you the very narrow case that you’re promoting your practice based on both degrees, but still, I’d rather have you make your case in paragraphs rather than initials.

      1. MD*

        PhDs are also not useful for medical advice, but nobody questions it when physicians list “MD, PhD” (and it’s expected that you’ll list both if you have both).

      1. nonegiven*

        Why wouldn’t it be MBA, RN if you were a nurse manager and just RN if you weren’t a manager? Or MSN, RN if you have a masters in nursing instead of business?

    3. pleaset*

      OP1 “How do you tell your super annoying boss….”

      In plain, non-judgemental, non-dramatic language. Matter-of-fact with a “please” on the front: “Please stop doing that, we’ve seen it can be dangerous.” or “Please stop doing that, it’s distracting to me.”

      So many people need to practice speaking up. Do it in lower-stakes environments first, and practice. Over time with stuff like this it’ll be easier to do even with bosses or other sitations that seem fraught.

      The scripts AAM offer for each question like this are good, but I think it would be useful for her to write about this more generally: how to speak up.

      1. RUKiddingMe*

        I think it’s really difficult/intimidating for the rank and file to say something to someone in the c-suite. Even to someone as juvenile as this. i mean he’s the CFO…doesn’t he have more important ways to spend his (presumably expensive) time?

    4. Eye Rolly McPolly*

      Agreed!! I also think its pretty normal and not eye-rolly esp for doctors who have worked really hard for that degree. I do think it’s silly if a signature reads “BA…”

  11. Beto*

    #1. Would it be inappropriate to record the CFO while telling him to stop that childish, dangerous behavior and blast him on social media if he retaliates? It may even serve as evidence in an unemployment benefit dispute.

      1. Où est la bibliothèque?*

        If he told me to put on my glasses so he could shoot a rubber band at me, I would do it…and I would openly film him on my phone. And probably go “oww, my eye!” if he still shot me.

        I don’t think “inappropriate” is relevant in this situation.

        1. Le’Veon Bell is seizing the means of production*

          I mean, I think the first step is actually confronting the behavior and telling him you find it unacceptable. After that… I mean, openly recording him doing it is a fairly hostile act that might fetch you some retaliation, but I’d be pressed to call it an inappropriate next step, all things considered.

    1. Nea*

      Inappropriate to blast him on social media or record him, yes.

      Filing a workman’s comp for the injury of almost having your eye put out by an employer, however…

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      It would be tempting to suggest he make & post his OWN video though… because that could solve the problem in a way to give you cocktail party conversation for the rest of your life.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Okay, I like this. “John, we all chipped in to buy you a go pro so you can record your rubber band assaults and post them on this YouTube channel we’ve set up for you…”

    3. MLB*

      Yes it would be, however I don’t care who this dude is, I would say something and tell him to knock it off. In a professional way of course :-)

    4. NerdyKris*

      That’s kind of jumping to the scorched earth option before even trying any of the previous steps. And if they don’t want to complain to the CEO or make a workman’s comp claim because they fear for their job, blasting him on social media really isn’t a better option, and might make the normal avenues of addressing it impossible.

      1. Database Developer Dude*

        I’m absolutely gobsmacked. The CFO is SHOOTING RUBBER BANDS AT PEOPLE! Why are we hesitating before the scorched earth options?? In what universe is being assaulted at work by a boss okay????????

        1. Elsajeni*

          I mean, what’s your desired outcome? Blasting the CFO on social media is probably a pretty good way to get him publicly recognized as an asshole. It may or may not be an effective way to get him to change his behavior; some people will be successfully shamed by a public call-out, some people will double down. It’s definitely not an effective way to keep your job while also changing his behavior — you might be protected from retaliation for reporting him to HR or filing a worker’s comp claim, but you are almost certainly not protected from being fired for secretly filming someone in your office and then posting online about what a jerk they are, even if they are objectively a huge jerk.

  12. Tau*

    #3 – many sympathies! I had issues with iron deficiency this summer, although I knew what was happening from the start and it was pretty obvious to everyone that something was wrong from the fact that my stamina abruptly went to zero. My boss was hugely sympathetic, and had a lot of patience with me even when I ended up off sick for a while and then needing a few weeks to get up to speed even after treatment.

    I think it can be easy to be too hard on yourself for these things, but tbh the reaction of most reasonable people to hearing that you have had health problems that affected your work quality is “oh no! I’m so sorry to hear that! I glad you’re doing better now!” and check any resulting performance problems off as unlikely to recur.

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      I hope you’re doing better now, Tau!

      And from a layman’s perspective, how does iron deficiency affect work performance? Does it make your more tired? More distracted?

      I don’t actually know anything about it.

      1. ElspethGC*

        It varies, but generally it makes you tired, weak, dizzy and short of breath. It can range from being a bit more tired than usual after climbing a flight of stairs to not being able to get out of bed for a week.

        I was dipping in and out of anaemia for about six months and never realised until I got turned away from blood donation and sent to the doctor. I now try to keep on top of my iron intake (I don’t eat much meat) but I don’t think I’d notice right away if I became anaemic again.

        On the other hand, my mum was anaemic and couldn’t do anything for about six weeks until the iron supplements kicked in. She had been pushing herself at work and once the school holidays started, she crashed bigtime. In bed eighteen hours a day. Getting up to do the ironing would wipe her out for the rest of the day, even if she sat down every five minutes. There was no way she would have been able to go to work.

      2. Jaydee*

        Yes and yes. It makes you physically tired – kind of like when you’re under the weather and everything just feels harder to do than usual. But it can also make it harder to focus, it can mess with your memory, make you think slower. I can get by on a much lower dose of ADHD meds now that I’m not also anemic.

      3. Tau*

        Much, thankfully! Iron infusions are magic. :)

        Like others have said, the symptoms vary. In my case, the loss of stamina was the most marked – I couldn’t do anything remotely physically strenuous anymore, including climbing stairs at a reasonable pace (I’d need to stop and catch my breath after ten steps or so) or cycling on flat ground. I was also generally sleeping badly and feeling exhausted all the time. The effects on concentration were not quite as dramatic in comparison, but I definitely had a lot of trouble keeping focused on work and was a lot more distractible than usual, I think more than the sleep troubles accounted for.

      4. Tara S.*

        Have you ever had the flu and experienced your body being devoid of energy? Like, it was physically hard to get out of bed? That’s what it was like for me, except every night.

  13. Yay*

    I’ll be honest, I wish it was more acceptable to do things like put degrees – of any sort! – after our names, in that I wish we lived in a culture where we could just… all be happy with our accomplishments and have lots of self-esteem? The reality though is that people focused on showing off credentials tend to have some negative personality traits, so here we are.

    1. Yay*

      For the record, I’m not saying someone can’t just not realize how it comes across, or some fields do it, whatever… more so.. you know the type.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I get what you’re saying. Listing a credential where it’s not required or warranted is definitely a sign in most cases.

        Back when Microsoft certifications were popular, we had a few new hires who listed every certification they had (to the tune of 5-10) in their email signature. We quickly learned that a person who did it would most likely turn out to be a pompous ass who would do no work and sit around spouting buzzwords all day. At least, their email signoff could serve as a warning!

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I think it’s a close cousin of “I am the most qualified applicant for this job” being a giveaway that this resume is going to be for one of the less-qualified applicants for the job. If you’ve failed to pick up that people at your level, in your field and geographic area, don’t put their degrees in their signatures, it makes you look clueless.

    3. Scion*

      I think if you have a lot of self-esteem, wouldn’t you not need to show off your accomplishments via email?

      1. Yay*

        That’s my point, that it’s not necessarily about showing off, but being proud of our accomplishments.

  14. Greg M.*

    #1 honestly he’s extremely lucky the person wtih the injury didn’t call the police. I might have, especially after the behaviour didn’t stop. Like that is assault and that’s a significant injury.

    1. Nita*

      I’d have totally done that. Since this clearly hasn’t been shut down internally, either by talking to the boss or by HR… I just wouldn’t bother waiting around for something to change. If a stranger on the street did this, it would be assault, and I doubt that it’s somehow “not” an assault just because the victim knows the assailant, and they happen to be the boss.

  15. Zaphod Beeblebrox*

    I’m not normally a fan of litigation at the drop of a hat, but the person with the eye injury should have sued that rubber band right up his ass.

    1. Dr. Pepper*

      I agree. This is the kind of BS that litigation is supposed to resolve since nobody else apparently has the spine or the power to tell him to knock it off.

    2. irene adler*

      Not disagreeing.
      I have to wonder if there’s a fear about having to find another job that holds victims back from doing this. Not everyone can easily find employment.

      1. nonegiven*

        Why did you leave your last job?

        I was fired for filing a police report for assault and battery and suing for medical expenses and punitive damages when the COO nearly put my eye out by shooting a rubber band at me.


        1. Pomona Sprout*

          Exactly. Plus, a successful lawsuit should mean a chunk of cash that would take off at least some of the pressure to find a new job right away. (And I would only file suit after being told by a lawyer that I had a strong case.)

          I think people are often too reluctant to at least consult a lawyer about things like this. The worst thing that can happen is the lawyer may tell you that you don’t have a case. If you decide not to move forward, the person or entity you were considering suing will never even know unless you were stupid enough to blab it around.

  16. fatherofmine*

    LW4: your read-receipt program may actually be undermining your applications.

    Read-receipt technology, especially “web beacons” (cf wikipedia), tend to make inbound emails look “spammy” to spam filters, something you definitely do NOT want when cold-emailing an organization from an outside email address. In other words, there’s a chance your emails are going to spam BECAUSE of the use of this tech. So I second Alison’s exhortation to ignore it, or better yet, turn it off!

    1. El Esteban*

      I hadn’t thought of this, but it’s a good point. I never send read receipts myself, and look down on those who use them. When and if I read someone’s email is my business.

    2. OP #4*

      I hadn’t thought of that! The program isn’t one that has any pop ups or anything, the recipient doesn’t get notified at all or have to do anything other than literally open the email. I guess it’s less of a read receipt and more of a general tracker. I made sure to test it on emails I sent to myself first. But regardless, it’s also totally possible you’re exactly right!

      1. Welsh Lamb*

        Those typically work by embedding a tiny invisible image e.g. a transparent pixel, in the email, and alert you if that image file gets loaded. They are typically used by marketers, phishers as spammers, and thus many systems are configured to ignore them. Which, yes, makes you look like a spammer and means they are wholly unreliable.

        Stop using this system. It’s not helping you, and it could be hurting,

      2. Bea*

        You’re sending them to sensitive servers that intentionally filter out these kind of things. They either automatically strip the script or they get put in the junk mail. I check my bulk mail box daily but most professionals do not.

      3. Observer*

        The fact that it’s not a standard read receipt makes it WORSE. Spam filters don’t generally filter emails with standard RR, although a LOT of people turn them off. But most good ones DO filter emails with this kind of technology. They mimic spam and that’s how the filter treats them.

      4. Psyche*

        Even if the recipient doesn’t see anything, their email server does. And their spam filters are likely different than yours so sending it to yourself is not a great test for whether it will go to spam.

      5. Feldspar*

        If I found that a tracking pixel had been added to a job application email, without an explanation that there is one and that you couldn’t remove it, I would immediately remove the sender from consideration. I would also contact the recruiting team to notify them that this was attempted. Seriously consider turning this off if you can.

  17. HR Expat*

    OP5- I’ll be honest, I really don’t like it when job applicants connect with me on LinkedIn. Maybe I’m curmudgeonly and I probably won’t explain it well, but it feels like they’re trying to get a leg up on the job. As Alison said, I know you’re interested because you applied, and trying to connect with me before I’ve actually even met you screams of the bad kind of gumption to me. Another pet peeve are people who try to connect with me because they see I work in HR and assume I will know status of eevery job they’ve already applied for in the whole company. Even jobs in other countries or divisions.

    1. CaitlinM*

      The recruiter connected with OP first on LinkedIn, though. I still wouldn’t send a message, but that part seems…odd.

      1. HR Expat*

        I totally missed that! Yeah, that’s a bit weird. I misread and thought that the OP was reaching out first, which would also be weird.

  18. Kate*

    There are one or two people in my company who have read receipts turned on. In most corporate accounts, it’s not automatic (i.e. it won’t just send a read receipt when they open it without them knowing). Instead it’s a huge pop up that informs the recipient that the sender wants a read receipt. I find them so annoying that I always hit Deny. I also worry that if the recipient doesn’t get a read receipt, they’ll chase me far sooner for a response.
    Honestly, it’s a massive annoyance and affects what I think of the colleagues who send them. Whether that’s a fair assessment is debatable, but you should consider turning them off. If the people who are assessing your applications are similar to me, you may be making a negative first impression before they’ve even opened your cover letter.