a creepy interview invitation, employer wants my resume in a spreadsheet, and more

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

1. This interview invitation feels creepy

I’m a young-ish woman. There’s a guy (slightly older than me) who works in the same building I do, but for a different employer. He seems like a nice guy and we get along fine, but he’s been showing a strong personal interest in me for several months now. The thing is, I can’t tell if he’s just being friendly or if he’s flirting with me. I’m single, but he’s married, so I’m mildly uncomfortable, but I’ve been trying to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Since last summer, he’s been strongly hinting that he might want to hire me, if he gets approval to hire a new staff member. Well, he recently got approval, I applied, and now he’s offered me an interview. What’s weird, though, is that this job involves a lot of duties that I have almost no experience with. I’m confident that I could learn how to perform those duties, but I really don’t have the experience, so it seems odd that he’s so interested in me as a candidate. But I was still trying to give him the benefit of the doubt.

But then, when I politely requested an evening interview so I wouldn’t have to miss work, he said that he’d take me out to dinner (just the two of us) and we would do the interview then. I know high-ranking positions will sometimes involve dinner interviews with company executives, but this is just an admin role.

So, now I’m really starting to wonder. Is he really just being friendly? In which case, maybe he’s interested in hiring me (even though I lack experience) because he likes my personality, work ethic, soft skills, etc.? Or is he a creep who’s flirting with me and wanting to cheat on his wife?

The job would pay a lot more than I’m making now (and I really need the money) and I don’t want to turn down the job if he really is just being friendly, but I also don’t want to accept the job and then get into a bad situation. Also, if I get into a bad situation, then I won’t financially be able to afford to quit. I really don’t know what to do with this. I’m really stressing out about this interview.

I’m sorry to say it, but it sounds like there’s a pretty good chance that this interview or “interview” isn’t motivated entirely by your professional skills. How much did this guy really know about your experience and skills before telling you he’d like to hire you? If you just work in the same building and have seen each other in passing, I’m guessing he didn’t know a ton about your actual work when he said that, which doesn’t bode well.

And the dinner interview … yes, dinner invitations happen, and you did ask for a meeting in the evening, but I would trust your gut. You’ve been uncomfortable all along, and now he wants to take you to dinner to talk about a job that you don’t think you’re a logical match for.

If you want to at least talk to him and learn more, then in response to the dinner invitation, you can try saying, “I’d prefer to interview in your office so we can focus on the job” and see how that goes over. And you can ask a lot in the interview about the needs of the role and how he sees your background fitting in with that. You can say things like, “I’m curious what made you think of me for this role. It seems like you’re looking for X and Y, which isn’t my background.”

But trust your gut.

2. Employer wants my resume in spreadsheet format

I’m job hunting and have gone back and forth with an employer via email a bit. Everything seemed pretty normal and typical with our correspondence but then today I got a request as follows: “Thank you for following up on your application. Would you please be able to transfer your resume into a Google spreadsheet and share it with me? The spreadsheet should include everything that’s in your current Word version such as positions you have held with titles, descriptions, dates, etc.”

I have been in the workforce for over 20 years and this is a first. A resume in SPREADSHEET format? I almost would have thought this was an error and she just wanted it from Word into Google Docs, but no, she is very clear she wants a spreadsheet format.

This is a high-level admin position, with (I’m assuming) a lot of applicants. Is this a test? I’m thinking that this is a test for them to see if I’m able to transfer the information in a way that is logical. I seriously can’t think of any other reason why a resume would be asked for in a spreadsheet. Mind you, it would be one thing if it were just a list of prior jobs and their dates, but she wants all the information, so it’s going to look weird.

Yes, that’s extremely odd. It’s possible that it’s a test (but if so, it’s a terrible one because without any explanation it’s going to turn off good candidates, as it has you), but it’s also possible that it’s just plain old incompetence on their part (which explains quite a bit of hiring-process strangeness).

It’s okay to ask for clarification. You could say, “To make sure I understand, is this an exercise to assess my use of Excel? If so, I can certainly do that — just want to make sure I understand the context.”

3. My coworkers say I’m too loud when I talk on the phone

I got feedback yesterday that I am bothering some of my colleagues (open floor plan, nobody has offices) because I talk loudly on the phone (which is like half of my job). And, it’s true! I do! I am excited and passionate and that manifests in volume and gesticulation that I don’t really notice I’m doing.

I feel embarrassed and deflated, but also like screw you, man. Sorry I care about my work. Put on headphones! But, mostly, I feel embarrassed and not sure what to do. Do I book a conference room for all calls I have to take, annoying and time consuming as that would be? Do I try a new headset that’s only on one ear so maybe being able to hear myself will help me be more quiet? Keep doing my thing and let people figure out their own solution if it bothers them? Ugh.

Not the latter. If your volume is bothering people, then you do have an obligation to try to control it. You’re in an open office, and having to modulate your voice is part of the deal. It’s not reasonable to expect people to wear headphones all day long instead of you trying to modulate your voice, difficult as it might be. (And I do know that it might be difficult, if you’re just naturally a louder person.) This is reason #591 why open offices suck.

Try your headset-in-one-ear-only idea and see if it helps. Try taking some calls in conferences rooms — not all of them necessarily, but doing that with even a portion of your calls will probably help things, especially calls that you know are likely to be long. And try just being more aware that there are people around you whose concentration is broken when you’re loud, and it sucks for all of you. Maybe some of this will help, maybe it won’t — but if people see you making an effort, that itself will likely be appreciated.

(And why oh why do offices put people whose jobs are 50% phone work in open floor plans around people whose jobs aren’t? It’s ridiculous.)

4. Interviewing a candidate for the same job I’m applying for

My manager asked me last month to apply for a position (essentially a career promotion) that I would be “a perfect fit” and “exceeded expectations” for. I apply and wait, coming to find out two other coworkers (within the same team) were also told that they should apply for the same position with similar encouragements as internal candidates. I accept that the position is competitive and try to keep a level head given the difficult social situation. Now, my manager invites an external candidate to interview, only inviting myself and the two other internal candidates to this private meeting. I am feeling a major conflict of interest and I am now incredibly uncomfortable at this point. How do I confront this situation as a professional?

Yeah, that’s a conflict of interest and your manager shouldn’t have put you in that position. It’s particularly odd that she’s pulling in the two other internal candidates too.

But since she has, you’ll actually help your own candidacy if you’re scrupulously objective about this candidate, because it’ll show professional maturity and an ability to put the needs of the organization first. To the best you can, go into the interview pretending that you’re not interested in the job yourself, be warm and friendly to the candidate, and try to generally assess her fit for the job and with your team. If you end up thinking she’s not especially well matched with it, that’s actually a trickier situation than if she is, because you’ll need to share your reservations without sounding like you’re biased. In that case, I’d recommend leading with, “I realize I may have bias because I’m interested in the role myself, but my biggest priority is getting the right person in the role, and while I do think Jane brings some strengths, I’m concerned about ____. That would be my feedback regardless of my own candidacy, although it’s awkward to give it as a candidate myself.”

But it’s super weird that your manager is doing this, and it would also be fine to say to her advance, “I’m wondering about having me and other internal candidates present in an interview of another candidate, and worry it could look like a conflict of interest, especially if the external candidate later learns someone in their interview was hired. Would it make sense for us to sit this out?”

5. Can I ask to be paid monthly instead of semi-monthly?

I’ve worked overseas, where once-a-month paychecks are the norm. I just accepted an offer in NYC and notice the pay will be semi-monthly. Is it poor etiquette to ask for a monthly direct deposit (for ease with bill paying and because otherwise I worry that I’ll be tempted to spend my money impulsively since I know I have another paycheck coming)? Is it even possible?

Nope, you can’t do that. New York, like many states, requires that employers pay semi-monthly. But even if that weren’t the case, you’d be asking them to do the work of a separate payroll run just for you, which isn’t practical.

{ 708 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager Post author

    I’m putting this up top so people see OP1’s update.

    When I emailed OP1 to let her know I was publishing her letter, she updated with, “I went to the interview today and he was very professional, so I’m feeling somewhat better now.”

    She knows the situation better than any of us, but I do want to say that, in my experience, there are two types of creepy guys in this context:

    1. The creepy guys who will be fairly blatant about their intentions early on — for example, leering at you in the interview, suggesting you get a drink afterwards, making an outright pass, etc.

    2. The guys who don’t do anything outright inappropriate right away, but take much more personal interest in you than they’d take if you were (a) male or (b) older. Sometimes it comes across as them just liking having a bright young woman around, and the attention can even feel flattering — they seem to be interested in your intellect and it feels like they’re treating you as an equal or even mentoring you. It’s easy, especially when you’re young, to think their interest isn’t sexual, because they don’t do anything overtly sexual for a while, or even ever. But they are responding to you as “attractive young woman,” not competent professional, and they do things they wouldn’t do if you were a man (like texting you in the evening, for example, or sharing too much about their marriage), all with plausible deniability because, again, it’s never overtly sexual. At some point, though, after this has gone on for a while, they may find an opening and make a move. Other times not — but you realize in retrospect that their attention was about your age and sex more than it was about you as a person, and that you would not have had that same relationship if they hadn’t been attracted to you, and that even though they never overtly made a move, they were using you to build up their ego/feel good about themselves as men/etc. (Lots of personal experience with this from my 20s! And I couldn’t spot it at the time, but it’s so clear to me in retrospect.)

    It’s possible this guy is more toward the #2 end of the spectrum. Or who knows, maybe he’s #1 and that’ll come out soon. Or he could be neither and this is just a perfect storm of circumstances making him look creepy … but OP1, I will say that the vast, vast majority of times in my life when something felt off in this way, it was eventually clear that it was. Maybe not in the “he groped me in the elevator” way, sometimes just in the second way I described above. But off.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago

      Please please please trust your gut on this, OP #1. Like Alison, I have lived this experience and only realized it in hindsight.

      1. Labradoodle Daddy

        And please know that *none* of this is said in judgement. Men like this do this precisely *because* you don’t have the experience to know that what he’s doing is skeevy.

      2. dawbs

        If he’s going to directly supervise you, and you’re new to the working world, please keep in mind he’s going to be your reference too.

        How would he describe you if called fir that? “Excellent and professional with great skills in excel spreadsheets” or “bright young thing, always cheerful and pleasant”.
        Both are positive references, but there’s a world of difference in them. And the one brings you right back into being pink-tracked.

        (My guy is 20 years in my past, but, bbecause i changed fields, he’s the person who can comment on my most relevant sexual years of experience in my chosen field. And im reasonably sure “bright young thing”is still the reference her defaults to for 40 year old me)

        1. dawbs

          Freudian auto correct put “sexual” in for “several”. Apparently my cigar i’s not a cigar today.

      3. AnonyNonNon

        Yes, this. Same for me. But also, I’ve had bosses who ended up making the “move” which amounted to sexual assault and I’ve had friends be outright raped in this same situation. TRUST. YOUR. GUT. If I were in your shoes, as hard as it may be financially, I would not take the job and would distance myself from the guy ASAP.

      4. VictorianCowgirl

        I have never been sorry I trusted my gut. I have been very sorry several times when I didn’t. I think most people would agree.

      5. RUKiddingMe

        I think so many of us only realize in hindsight. Like pretty much everyone else in my 20s I was idealistic and expected that The Attention was because of my awesomeness. Yeah well… OP please just *be aware* because there’s almost always *something* else, even if as Alison says he never actually does anything.

    2. Labradoodle Daddy

      Sometimes I feel like you should just make a weekly/permanent recommendation of “The Gift of Fear;” it’s surprising/depressing how often the advice in that book is applicable here :/

      1. Ms. Ann Thropy

        You beat me to that recommendation. Trust your gut, OP 1. If you’re wrong, all you’ve lost is one potential job. But if your gut is right (it is), ignoring it could landmyou in the employ of a creep. There are a lot of jobs out there that don’t require you to work for a creep.

      1. Lynne879

        The craziest part of this story is that he himself reviewed sexual harassment claims against other US representatives! How did he not realize he was being inappropriate??

        1. Gerald

          They almost always know. Someone like this knew, and was hiding in plain sight. Even if he pretends otherwise.

        2. Perpal

          Well when you express your feelings it helps you not do inappropriate things with those feelings… uhhh… I guess (I am laughing at that part in the article)

      2. CM

        That really is a great example because the Congressman RELEASED A LETTER HE WROTE to her thinking it would exonerate him, but it’s super creepy, saying she was his “partner” and talking about gazing sadly at a memorial for soldiers who shared last names with him and her and speculating about the path they may have shared together. Ugh. If that’s the stuff that he thinks is totally fine and appropriate, imagine what he said and did in private.

        1. Jennifer Juniper

          How about the forced teaming? That creep said he told her about his feelings so the “two of them” can prevent things from becoming inappropriate. Like it’s partly her fault.

          1. RUKiddingMe

            Or her responsibility? I mean seriously Dude? Why do you think it falls on her…at all…to help you keep it in your pants. Why would you think she would even want to bed your wrinkly old ass?

            “He also said he felt “invited” to express his romantic feelings to the aide…”
            —Unlikely
            “…as they shared ice cream after work,…”
            —He has zero clue that she probably felt like she *had to* go with him.
            “…he hoped that by expressing his feelings the two could prevent the situation from becoming inappropriate.”
            —Not her job description.

            UGH with guys who say stuff like ” I would hire you but I don’t want to cheat on my wife.” They say it with a straight face because it never occurs to them that the woman (women) they are saying that to *might* have her/their own thoughts about that…that screwing that guy might not be on their life agenda…like they have agency or something.

    3. Elle

      Well, I’m glad that the interview went smoothly. And I hate that we live in a world where we have to assume every overly friendly guy has bad intentions… but I agree the gut is almost always right. As someone who has fallen for the #2 type’s treachery… it can be pretty soul crushing when someone’s personal interest in you keeps them from seeing your professional abilities. And trust me, they will never see the forest through the trees no matter how hard you try. It may NEVER develop into overt sexual overtures or anything you could actually describe as inappropriate, but that doesn’t mean engaging in this kind of relationship is good for your soul.

      I think the best way to evaluate what type of guy he is for yourself is to evaluate how this relationship started. Well-intentioned married men do not strike up random conversations with young women in office park hallways, and if they do engage in polite elevator conversations they don’t develop into the kind of repeat long winded discussion you’re describing. Its just… not done. So was there some kind of event where it made sense you two got talking and he ended up taking a personal interest in your life? Or has he always been the one to initiate conversation and push for more details? Is he always the one to veer conversation into the personal or the ‘hey I’d love to get you this job’… or did you bring up your interest in a new job to him and he had some kind of lightbulb moment where he thought you might be a good fit? Basically, who is the more interested party here and why is he so interested at all?

      1. Totally Minnie

        This is a really good set of questions. OP1, I don’t want to discourage you from taking this job if it’s really what you want, but please, do consider the things Elle and the others in this thread have brought up before you make your decision. You want to make sure that your new boss’s primary interest in you is as a professional, not as a nice, young woman.

      2. JSPA

        In places where men and women talk as equals, and where age does not equal status, yes, “well-intentioned married men” do most certainly “strike up random conversations with young women in office park hallways.” It’s called networking. That young woman may be just as likely to be the older fellow’s next boss, as his next P.A. and both of them should know it.

        There are plenty of decent people in the world, and there are a wide variety of different rules. I think we’re going way overboard here to imply that this simply cannot even possibly be based on his respect for her “smoothly-take-charge-and-get-it-done attitude,” or some similar, legitimate soft skill that actually can be partially assessed in a hallway. Cis-het-men chat with and hire other cis-het-men this way, too.

        I’m not sure that “I like the cut of your jib” is a particularly good hiring tool, but there most definitely are people (mostly guys, because men still get away with more off-the-cuff hiring decisions than women do) who hire exactly that way.

        It wasn’t my first bet. And Alison and others are 100% correct that even if you are not his sexual target, he may be hiring you for “pixie dream girl” energy or “makes me feel young and idealistic” energy or whatever. But if we believe that women can be clearly competent, personable and recognizable as born leaders–at least, to the same degree as this is true of men–then we have to put this sort of hiring in the realm of possible. It’s a Zebra, not a horse–but it’s not a unicorn, either.

        1. Zillah

          In places where men and women talk as equals, and where age does not equal status, yes, “well-intentioned married men” do most certainly “strike up random conversations with young women in office park hallways.” It’s called networking. That young woman may be just as likely to be the older fellow’s next boss, as his next P.A. and both of them should know it.

          I’m really skeptical about this. Networking has a context – there are very, very few people who strike up conversations with everyone they see. For me, what you’re talking about is something that’s 1) less about a “strong personal interest” and more about some kind of common interest/experience and 2) something that’s proportional based on the situation. They don’t even work for the same company – okay, maybe she could be his next boss, but that’s not more likely than any other random stranger you might share a building with.

          Chatting with people while you’re getting coffee in the morning or eating in the company lunchroom. Talking about sports with someone you noticed wearing a scarf with your team on it isn’t weird. Being friendly with people when you’re already interacting with them isn’t weird.

          Stopping someone you don’t already know in the hallway to have an extended conversation or building a building a strong personal interest in them is really weird, and goes way past effective networking. I think we shouldn’t try to contort ourselves to interpret it in the most charitable light when that’s virtually never going to be the case.

    4. Cat Fan

      The letter writer says that he was professional during the interview, but I am so curious if he addressed the question of her lack of experience for the job he is fillng and why he was interested in her for it.

      1. Falling Diphthong

        I think this one is tough because it can be two things at once: He can be impressed that she’s bright, a quick study, and has very good people skills–it often comes up on here that people would rather hire for the soft skills and train for the hard than vice versa. And he can have a crush on her, perhaps one he is trying to ignore in the interests of his business and personal life.

        1. Femme D'Afrique

          I guess that could be true, but I do wonder how he would have found out that she has good people skills (for example) considering that he seemed to have been a nodding, casual acquaintance at best.

        2. Emily K

          A married man going out of his way to hire someone he has a crush on, even if his intention is to ignore it, is a bad, bad employment situation to be in. The way you ignore a crush isn’t by taking the relationship from “occasional elevator chats” to “working alongside each other every day, and I will also have greater power in the situation.”

          It’d be a dicey situation if he was attracted to an applicant who came in for an interview. That’s a situation that just makes me pout about how lose-lose the working world can be sometimes for young women (and others, but often especially young women), because on one hand, people shouldn’t be hiring younger/inexperienced people that they have crushes on, but it also sucks for younger/inexperienced people to miss out on opportunities because they were “too attractive” for the older person to be able to treat them fairly and appropriately, and really it comes down to the #2 typology above. That so many young women have to deal with people who are potentially valuable contacts to make in their profession will see them as “young woman” instead of “working professional,” and whether the assessment is good or bad, benefits you or hurts you, overall it just sucks that the assessment is being made on the wrong basis.

          But this isn’t even that gray area that she walked into an interview and he became interested in her. He’s actively recruiting her, and if he has any hint of inappropriate feelings for her, that’s messed up.

          1. Jennifer Juniper

            Not to mention the nasty rumors that can ruin the career and reputation of the young woman. Co-workers would more likely blame the young woman for anything that happens rather than the older man.

            1. RUKiddingMe

              Remember the movie 9 to 5? Everyone thought Dolly Parton’s character was sleeping with her boss. They hated him on principle but treated her like she had the plague, gossiped about her, froze her out, etc., etc., etc. She wasn’t even sleeping with him…that was a rumor he started. Sure that was a movie but unless it’s some kind of fictional universe or something most writing, including movie scripts are based on real life, even if a specific story is fictional in and of itself.

          2. RUKiddingMe

            “…working alongside each other every day, and I will also have greater power in the situation.”

            So much this right here.

    5. Gerald

      I do wonder if the invitation for supper is less creepy than it seems. I wouldnot want to meet with someone potentially creepy alone in an empty office after everyone is gone for the day. Meeting at a restaurant, especially if it’s nearby, and reasonably well lit (i.e. doesn’t seem romantic, maybe more of a chain). Businesses can deduct meals with others, and I knew someone who would take out anyone in my office because it worked out for him financially.

      I am not suggesting that this guy is not creepy, and I am not trying to make up excuses, but I am also someone who often meets up socially with colleagues of the opposite gender and it isn’t creepy. But I have also known people who have suggested meeting up and then behaved in such a way that I forever avoided them, so it is very much about trusting your gut and asking more questions. As a thought for the OP, I have found that the creeps don’t tend to limit themselves, so if you do get an offer then hopefully there are female colleagues of his you can talk with? And asking about your gap in skills would be critical. Even if he isn’t creepy at all, how is he going to ensure you aren’t endlessly frustrated because you aren’t experienced enough? Is this something you can quickly address with a few courses?

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

        This is a good point. I have had lunch interviews, and evening-coffee interviews. Definitely less creepy than the two of you being in an empty office! I am conflicted on OP1’s situation, because everything I’ve read in the letter and the update could be innocuous… or it could be creepy. Or it could be a combination of both (which happened to me at least once): he sees OP1 as qualified and thinks she will be an asset to his business, but he also lowkey likes the OP, which he may or may not admit to himself at this time. (This did not end super well for me. I mean, it was a job, I gained skills and experience, and used it to advance my career, but I could honestly have done without the “boss hitting on me” part – which did not happen right away – but did eventually.)

      2. Liz T

        Yeah, I think it’s safe to say that there’s a guy out there who could’ve suggested the dinner interview and it would’ve felt fine to OP–because OP already felt safe with him. But OP has already identified a pattern that makes a dinner with this guy flash HELL NO in neon lights.

        1. RUKiddingMe

          Yeah. And having a meal with colleagues regardless of gender, people you already know … is a whole other thing than a dinner interview, “just the two of us” with a guy she is at best acquaintances with.

      3. kittymommy

        Yeah, I think the initial creepiness of the dinner interview is somewhat modulated by her initial request of a evening interview. Perhaps he wanted the evening meeting in a populated place rather than a possibly empty office? I do think that the LW needs to trust her gut and if she chooses to proceed, do so with clarity.

      4. Psyche

        I was wondering the same thing. I would prefer a dinner interview where there are other people around than being alone in his office at night. Just so long as he picked a place that was more “business” than “date”. It would definitely be creepy if having the interview in the evening was his idea though.

      5. Emily K

        I see this logic, but I’m somewhat less inclined to see it in a dinner invitation for an admin role. A coffee shop or a counter-service place like Chipotle or Subway would be one thing – and maybe that’s what it was, even. You can get food there pretty cheaply, grab a free table somewhere, talk for 30-40 minutes, and be done.

        But to me “dinner” suggests a sit-down meal, which is a totally different affair. You sometimes have to wait for a table, the food is more expensive, it’s harder to split the tab if you wanted to, you’re waiting a while at the table before the food even comes out, you might be ordering appetizers and desserts that are all arriving at intervals instead of all the food coming at once, and then after you’re done eating you have to wait for the check, wait for the server to bring your credit card or change back. For most people you’re looking at a good 90 minutes from sitting down to getting up, which is a LONG interview for an admin role.

      6. Zillah

        … but I am also someone who often meets up socially with colleagues of the opposite gender and it isn’t creepy.

        I think that this is the key, though. There’s nothing wrong with spending time socially with colleagues, but they’re not colleagues – they’ve never worked for the same company or on the same project, as far as we know. That’s very different than a department-wide happy hour or grabbing dinner with someone you worked on a project with.

      7. Yorick

        She wants to interview after work and they’re in the same building. If she gets off at 5, for example, she could interview with him at like 5:15. It doesn’t have to be a much later time when offices are empty.

        Also, would the interviewee only meet with him if it were during the day? If so, why would he make a dinner interview invitation that specifies “just the two of us?”

    6. blackcat

      And in my experience, type 2 is worse. Type 1 you can flee from before you get too deep into this situation. Type 2 lets you get comfortable, make changes based on their actions, and then suddenly it’s much harder to extricate yourself.

      I have had exactly one interaction with an older dude who mentored me that left me feeling a bit unsettled that ended up being fine. He told me I reminded him of his daughter. In my experience, this is at least a yellow, maybe an orange flag. I was careful, had good boundaries, and then one day I met his daughter. She was seriously my doppelgänger. So *of course* I reminded him of his daughter. She and I became friends. We quickly realized that the stuff he did that made me slightly uncomfortable was stuff he did to her that bothered her, and she had a chat with him about how saying XYZ was infantilizing and weird now that she was an adult. And guess what? He stopped doing XYZ with her AND me! He had been unconsciously thinking blackcat is like my daughter and my daughter is my child and therefore I should treat both of them like kids. And his relationship with his daughter was good enough that she was able to tell him to knock it off in a way I couldn’t.

      But I’ve also had maybe two dozen encounters with older men who take an interest “in my career” and have ended up crossing a line. Two dozen to one.

      I will also say that some of my fellow-women in male dominated fields friends have said a great indicator of whether or not something’s not going to go well is if the older guy also does overeager recruiting/mentoring of younger men. Some people just really like to help out younger people. If that’s the case, you’ll find that their teams/mentees generally reflect the industry as a whole in terms of gender (but not necessarily in terms of race, which is a whole other kettle of fish).

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

        I will also say that some of my fellow-women in male dominated fields friends have said a great indicator of whether or not something’s not going to go well is if the older guy also does overeager recruiting/mentoring of younger men.

        This is a great point. In the one case I had a boss that was a bit off, he prided himself on hiring and mentoring young immigrants who were new to the country and had a hard time getting hired, because they had no local experience; and then had a hard time adjusting to how things are done in corporate America. I will give him credit that he did hire people of that group of both genders. But he only acted as a mentor to women. Which in the end resulted in him having a full-blown affair with one of the women, and wanting to have one with at least one more (that would be me).

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

          Want to add that, as my mentor, this guy taught me a lot of things that were wildly inappropriate for the workplace. He could not have taught me proper boundaries because he did not have proper boundaries himself. I had to unlearn a lot after I finally got out from under his wing and continued my career without him. So a guy like this would not even be a reliable mentor.

        2. always in email jail

          Agree. such a great point. There’s someone in my field who does this (will call you and chat for a long time about work-related things, will tell you you should go for such and such job, etc.) BUT he does this for young men as well. He likes to strategically place people in different companies/agencies because it benefits his role and our overall mission to have contacts all over the place.

    7. Trout 'Waver

      Alison, what do you do if your boss is a #2 and you’re a manager with young women on your team? I’m a guy, if that’s relevant.

      1. dawbs

        From my own experience I’d say:
        1- model professionalism and firm boundaries- don’t be a bystander. Even when neither person is around, be quick to say “that’s more information than we need to share” or “I don’t care that it’s a joke, that’s inappropriate for this office and my team”

        2- see if you have a fraternization policy. And make sure it’s known.

        3- make sure you have GOOD sexual harassment training (there’s a lot of crap training ot there) that covers subtle stuff and covers really well the ways to report. Knowing where to go if it escalates i’s key

        4- try to cultivate a culture where reporting isn’t tattling. (Personally, worked to tell people “hey, let’s say this crap happened and you handled it and handled it well, I still want toi know. I’ll do my best to be confidential, but if something is a problem and YOU handle it doesn’t mean all staff had the tools to handle it. So knowing let’s me watch for patterns and address things that come after”)

        1. Pippa

          (Oops, sorry for the erroneous extra L. I know having one’s name misspelled is a small annoyance, so I try not to do that!)

      2. AnonEMoose

        I would love to see a post on this question. I think it’s an important topic that deserves its own discussion (although, obviously, it’s Alison’s blog and her call). I think there are a lot of men who would like to know steps they can take to support women in positive ways, and situations like this are probably going to come up more and more.

      3. Jules the 3rd

        1) Be the opposite – focus hard on their skills, skill development and hot projects or enrichment opportunities.
        2) Build your team’s visibility with his peers / mgmt chain. Cross-functional projects, presentations / regular reporting – help your employees build relationships with mgmt who are Not Grandboss.
        3) If someone leaves / wants to leave, talk over with them what kind of reference they want you to give. Grandboss probably won’t be the reference, you will.
        4) Push back gently, by redirecting his comments to her work – when he says ‘bright / pretty young thing’, say ‘Her [Skill] is very valuable.’ and ‘What about putting her on X project so she can use / develop [Skill] ?’
        5) Push back gently, by being *boring* if he can’t stay away from her personality or appearance. Do Not Laugh at any jokes or comments. Frown, even. If the common ‘men can’t be Men anymore’ comes up, have some scripts ready for matter-of-fact delivery, like ‘Well, of course, because in a workplace, we all need to be just People’ and ‘Yeah, we sure can’t treat women different from men at *work*. It’s not like this is a [social space intended to help meet romantic partners].’ (for me, [bar], but other people, maybe [church social] or [speed dating event])
        6) If you see retaliation / attempts to move in on an employee (or one of your peers), document and take to HR / mgmt chain. Document document document. Even little things can help demonstrate a pattern.

        My experience has been that Boss can be a very effective shield against Grandboss, if Boss understands the dynamic, but #2 is a sneaky tricksy dynamic, small boundary tests over long time periods, so it helps to make yourself and your team an anti-target, someone he wants to avoid.

        I will say that it felt really good when I got my dream job with a phone interview. I really felt that my boss was focused on my skills, not my appearance. In my 20s and 30s, being a 5’10, 160lb blond sometimes overshadowed the ‘competent geek’ part.

      4. Lucille2

        I’d love to see a post from Alison on this as well. Having been in the #2 situation myself, and feeling like all the bystanders did nothing because it was my responsibility to handle, I will say please don’t just be a bystander. The good news is that you are their boss, not your boss, and can act as a buffer. When your boss starts acting in his way, you can effectively step in and steer the conversations elsewhere, or offer alternatives to his suggestions that make your staff feel more safe. At some point, you may need to be willing to address some things head on with your boss. Good luck, and thank you for recognizing this and being willing to act on it.

      5. Gerald

        I have told women (discreetly) if someone they work near is a known problem. I usually say something like “In my personal experience, I have had problems with this person as they made comments that were inappropriately personal”. Often I discovered that comments had already been made, so I didn’t prevent anything, but there is comfort in knowing it’s not personal. I did check with someone in HR and was told it was fine if I kept it factual.

    8. Epazote

      Oh, yeah, I have definitely been a victim of #2. It never turned into anything sexual, but the messed-up nature of the relationship became clear when my career advanced from a mentor-mentee relationship to peers, and he went from super kind and supportive and generous to spewing nasty put-downs and personal attacks to keep me in my place. When I wouldn’t take the bait, he’d try to suck up to me to keep himself in my good graces. It was pathetic, really.

      I wish I’d found a mentor I could have continued to have a good relationship with.

      1. Cedrus Libani

        I’ve encountered those types. Some people are fine with women (or people of color) as junior colleagues, and will happily work with them and even serve as a mentor for them. But once they step up to become a peer, or heaven forbid a superior, things are suddenly Not Fine.

        As a college student, I once worked with an older male professor. He taught me quite a lot. But one day, he was about to make a big mess of something I’d worked on. I tried to tell him so. He basically patted me on the head and refused to discuss it. So I grabbed a co-worker, a male of exactly the same age and credentials, and I offered to buy him lunch if he came with me and repeated everything I said. He agreed, and then “we” explained the situation to the professor again. The professor agreed with him, thanked him for catching the mistake, and called him a bright young man. My co-worker offered to buy *me* lunch after that…

    9. Allison

      Yep, to me guys in the second category are creepy because they slowly “creep” over your boundaries, getting closer and closer, and at a certain point you realize they’ve gotten a little too close for comfort, and now you’re in a tough spot. You don’t feel like you can say anything because they’re so nice, and they seem to have the best intentions, and haven’t made a move on you or said anything appropriate so there’s no evidence they pose a threat to you, you just feel uncomfortable with them being so close. You try to be polite about it and just hope they don’t get any closer, but things just don’t feel right and you start wondering if they’ll eventually show up at your home . . .

      1. AnonEMoose

        These guys are great at maintaining “plausible deniability” and behaving in ways that keep women just questioning enough to not complain or report or enforce boundaries.

      2. anon at the moment

        And by the time things creep far enough along that you finally do say no, the guy will complain that you’ve been leading him on. This totally worked on young me – I felt guilty and ashamed and believed that I must owe the guy, since clearly I’d been encouraging him.

        Middle-aged me knows much better, but that lesson took a loooooong time learning. I have daughters – a young adult and a teenager – and I tell them never, never, never second-guess their gut and that nobody gets to pressure them into anything. I wish all young women had someone to tell them that. It’s nice to see a chorus of it here.

    10. Jennifer

      I agree with all of this. I really hope OP 1 listens. I really want to save young women from going through what so many of us did.

      1. Michaela Westen

        If you’re cautious and he’s *not* a creeper, he’ll understand.
        A good man respects a woman’s precautions.

        1. SavannahMiranda

          Yep, this.

          A good male supervisor or hiring manager never puts you in that position in the first place, and if he observes you setting up precautions just in case, he implicitly respects them.

          Only creepers are offended that you would, *gasp*, be concerned about their creeping. It’s like Nice Guys, right? Except harder to see in a career context sometimes.

          The only kind of hiring managers who will try to chip away at healthy, professional, and proactive caution are Nice Guy hiring managers.

    11. Midwest Writer

      I hope this isn’t too far afield here, but on the topic of men who fit the second profile: I recently took a self defense class led by law enforcement. I (now in my late 30s) was telling some stories of a co-worker from a job in my early 20s, first job out of college. The comments from this man, who was easily 20 years older than I was, were borderline sexual harassment, or so I thought at the time, but I didn’t report them. Our sheriff heard my story and used a phrase I had never heard before: bumping. He said in his experience, predators (his word) “bump” their potential victims, essentially testing the waters to see how someone responds to an inflammatory or inappropriate comment. Not a new concept, but I thought the term was interesting. All of that is to say, this job could be great or the new boss has set a new boundary with OP and will then bump that boundary at some point, pushing it back a bit again.

    12. Celaena Sardothien

      OP1, please read the book The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker. It’s a book about violent crimes in America and how so many of them could have been prevented if someone had followed their gut when they felt “uneasy” or “uncomfortable” about someone else. It’s a great book and will teach you to listen to the signals your body is sending you.

      I’m not saying this guy is a violent criminal. He may just be a sleaze, or even nothing at all. But what I am saying is you felt uncomfortable around him from the start, and I don’t think you should ignore that.

      1. SavannahMiranda

        The Gift of Fear is sometimes criticized for being problematic in certain sections, which is not without merit.

        But the place where I think that book proves most valuable is in the scripts. It provides unequivocal, firm scripts for dealing with stalkers, boundary violators, loan sharkers, and other predators.

        The culture seems to find it all too easy to tell people and women to ‘trust their gut.’ But then what? If you don’t know firsthand what follows on that, or you were never previously accorded the dignity of taking an unequivocal stand on something, the feeling of doing so is alien. If you don’t have a memory of strength in your body and speech to reach back to, then strong boundaries and unequivocal assertions frequently escape you in the moment of predation.

        Like Allison provides invaluable scripts so that readers can walk into a scene and imagine themselves occupying it, The Gift of Fear provides firm, no nonsense, calm, assertive scripts for ambiguous situations. I for one know I practiced them. And they made all the difference. And I’ve used them with my female friends. I don’t know how many times I’ve pulled the book down off the shelf in order to help a friend craft a text or a phone call. It’s worth it’s weight in silver for that alone.

    13. Not That Sarah

      #2 could be my husband’s boss. He’s tried to carve out new positions specifically for a few young ladies that worked for the company. They were invariably not qualified for the job, and he didn’t open the position up to other possible candidates. It absolutely stroked his ego, though my husband doesn’t think the guy would ever actually go so far as to make an overtly sexual move.

      It was so bad last year that multiple qualified male employees actually went to corporate and reported the guy and his blatant “favoritism.” As a result, there was an investigation and the positions never actually materialized. Both young ladies have since left the company. Meanwhile, husband’s boss is still in his position, and has learned to be less obvious about his favoritism, but he’s still at it. He recently promoted a young woman to a spot that, at least from the outside, doesn’t seem to make sense, angering long time employees enough that several quit. In my husband’s case though, it turned out to be an okay thing, since he moved up into her spot.

      1. Can't Think of a Name

        This sort of behavior is also so detrimental to the women being promoted. It perpetuates the idea that women only advance because of their sexual worth and not their actual abilities. Doubly so if the woman isn’t actually qualified for the job, because then she’s just being set up to fail.

    14. Artemesia

      Oh sooo true. As a young woman I often misread this and was shocked when what I thought was interest in my great brain was actually something else. On one occasion it ended up with the guy I thought I was going to do my dissertation research with — a major figure in my field at a different university from where I was studying and who had flown me to his university to meet with the research team — literally trying to tear off my blouse and groping me while giving me a lift to where I was staying. I absolutely did not see this coming. I was 30 and 3 mos pregnant at the time. The other incidents were not as blatant and the guys backed off entirely when I indicated I wasn’t interested in a personal relationship, but still — I simply didn’t read it right because they were not leering and creepy — they were just fascinated by my intellect and ideas yadda yadda.
      This guy may just enjoy having an attractive and interesting young woman in his admin role and will never cross the line, but if you do take the job, it will be important to build strong boundaries quickly. Talk about your boyfriend, whether you have one or not; mention meeting his parents and how your boss reminds you of his father who is also (whatever); refuse any invitations for a drink after work or even lunch — have plans or errands until he stops asking. It would be important to subtly but pre-emptively make it clear you are not looking for a personal relationship.

    15. Zillah

      Yes! Also, IME, there’s often a push-pull with these kinds of men – they know what they’re doing, so they know to back off and be conciliatory and pleasant and unthreatening when they’re trying to wheedle you into something.

      OP, please don’t take this job. If you do and it goes bad, though, please don’t avoid coming back because you don’t want to hear “I told you so” or something. I think most of us would agree that we just want you to be safe.

    16. facepalm

      OP, the fact that you felt the need to write in about this for advice should be your biggest indication that something is Not Right. If this were a great, genuine opportunity with a totally nice and not creepy boss, the AAM-verse would never know this had happened or that you existed at all. Please, please listen to your gut. Graveyards are full of women who had feelings that something was . . . off about a man or a situation, but they didn’t want to offend or felt like they should be nice. Not that this guy is going to jump from creepy office older man to murdering you, but you get the point. Like everyone else says, read The Gift of Fear.

    17. AwkwardTurtle

      I had a male ‘mentor’ who crossed the lines between 1. and 2. The career-focused things he would help me with was being a reference or help me reflect on where interviews went wrong. But he would also say things like “I would want to go on vacation with you only if you were single”. Or offer to do things like buy me a swimsuit. I had an inkling of creepy from him but didn’t go with my gut feeling because I was young and dumb, needed help, and thought I could keep my boundaries. Finally cut this ‘mentor’ off when my current partner called out that behavior as creepy and using his position to take advantage of me.

    18. 5 Leaf Clover

      I’m glad the interview went well, because this was a rare time I disagreed with Allison’s advice. If I were getting creepy vibes off someone I would much rather be in a public restaurant than alone in an office after hours! But it sounds like these fears were unfounded and I’m happy for OP.

    19. Anoncorporate

      YES – exactly this. I also experienced this, felt something was wrong, ignored it, and now kick myself for not allowing myself to feel genuinely uncomfortable. It’s not normal for men an entire generation older than you to fraternize with women in their 20s. In this letter alone, this man’s behavior sounds extremely out of context, as he seems to have gone out of his way to get to know you despite not working together, and not knowing about your qualifications.

    20. bluephone

      Yes to all of this. I know this potential gig is offering more money but I have a bad feeling that additional money will go to a crack-ton of therapy and/or lawsuits when this guy shows his true colors :(

    21. BusinessCat

      Regarding #2 and this situation – it can sometimes be really difficult to tell. I’ve sometimes felt vaguely uncomfortable and unsure if interest in me was purely professional or because I was a young woman and then either continued to feel that way with no change throughout the relationship (as in the vague feeling persisted but boundaries were never crossed) or felt like my early feelings proved to be unjustified. Someone else described a relationship with someone who saw her as a daughter and I think this has been more often my situation. I definitely recommend others’ points to trust your gut and Alison’s cautionary tale. However, just providing a personal counterpoint that my gut hasn’t always been foolproof. In my case, I’ve had positive mentor relationships that at times I questioned because they were so strong, but realized over time was due to a strong interest in my professional / academic work that had lots in common with the person in question, nothing sinister.

      1. BusinessCat

        Thinking more about my response and just wanting to reiterate both Alison’s point and Elle’s point above about considering the nature of this relationship. The reason one of my situation’s was okay was because upon further knowledge and personal questioning, there was a reason for the interest and it wasn’t because I was a young woman. The person involved was a strong mentor to people of all genders and it was part of his job description. The only reason I questioned it was because the professor was very enthusiastic early on and gifted me small things like pencils and tea. Again, I realized throughout the process that this generous interaction type was common for him to all students and that his enthusiasm was purely based on a genuine interest in my thesis. Really consider if yours is “above board” or based on something other than your professional qualifications.

    22. DFW

      Let’s flip this letter around and see what this also could potentially be.

      Dear Ask a Manager,
      I am a slightly older married male who works around a younger single woman. After getting to know her I really like what I see in her work ethic and how quickly she seems to catch on at least much more so than most millennial’s I come across these days. I don’t know a whole lot about her but I would like to invite her to an interview for a position I have opening up to see if she really would be a good fit, but she seems almost creeped out by me at this point. She asked if there was any way she could interview in the evening so that it didn’t interfere with her work schedule. After reading “The Gift of Fear” I figured she would be more comfortable having the interview in public and brightly lit restraint as opposed to an empty office building. Unfortunately, this seems to have put her on edge even more. This is really puzzling to me because she put in a job application and accepted the interview. It’s not like I had her bypass the application or interview process that is in place for the other candidates so I don’t see how this could be a quid pro quo thing. I asked some of my other colleagues how they would handle this, and they told me that the optics are really bad because I am an older male talking to a younger woman. Some are even suggesting that I avoid interacting with younger women to the greatest extent possible but never admit to it out right because of the optics that older men produce with younger women. I feel like that is an extreme reaction, but I see this attitude as becoming more the norm.
      Please Help

      1. Starbuck

        Yikes dude. When a woman is concerned a guy might be trying to creep on her, “try to empathize with him and imagine him in the best possible light” is not a helpful response. It’s extremely condescending. And we don’t know that there are any other candidates; I highly doubt it.

        1. RUKiddingMe

          Well there’s no way to really play “devil’s advocate because what about the poor oppressed males” bingo without doing that, so …

          Seriously imagining him in the best possible light is exactly what OP should *not* do. She’s already giving him the benefit of the doubt and he is all kinds of red flaggy.

      2. Ask a Manager Post author

        I’m honestly asking this, no snark intended: What is your goal with this comment?

        It seems like you’re trying to get the OP to question her gut. Why?

        1. DFW

          I feel like everyone should question their gut especially when it comes to judgement of other people. This is not regarding the OP specifically, but more of a general point. Many times “gut feelings” about someone can be rooted in to racial or gender stereotypes and not by behaviors and can have real consequences for those impacted by them. There seems to be such a cult following of “The Gift of Fear” here that people seem to be really overlooking this. All gut fears should be questioned before action is taken because of this issue.

          The OP has already questioned her gut as evidenced by the fact that she wrote in to you. I see nothing wrong with the OP’s gut instinct stopping and questioning all of this. You pointed out some great yellow flags in behaviors (i.e. job interview opportunities which aren’t strongly matched with OP’s background or that he seems disproportionately enthusiastic about her candidacy when he hasn’t worked directly with her) which make a lot of sense. It definitely makes sense for her to see if there are any yellow are red flags going forward. I don’t really have an issue with the OP or your advice.

          My problem is that many of the comments are going to the extreme of suggesting that he is defiantly a creeper (nothing in the letter or followup supports this level of certainty) and she should cut off all contact with him (again, an extreme reaction), or even secretly record him (He hasn’t even said anything untoward to her that we even know of, now who is being the creeper???). I strongly suspect that these visceral reactions among the commentators are stemming from the fact that it is an older married male with a younger woman. The blow back from these reactions is troubling. It is a real thing for men to avoid hiring or mentoring younger women because of those fears. I am sure many of you are thinking “Well that’s their problem”. Agreed, but thinking that certainly doesn’t solve it either.

          I think that the letter I wrote above is reasonably plausible. I also admit that we may be getting a letter from the OP in an update saying that this has gone sideways as well, but I really hope this isn’t the case.

          ~BTW I really am curious to see how you would respond to a letter like that because I have seen this dynamic play out numerous times.

          1. ....

            Yes it probably is stemming from the fact that he’s an older male in power and she is a young woman; Because historically and currently there are high levels of taking advantage from those two populations. People trust their gut and they are right. I’d rather slightly offend someone than get raped or killed. End of story.

          2. Ask a Manager Post author

            Women do not need to be encouraged to question their guts when a man appears to be creeping on them. The problem is that they question their guts far too often (and not infrequently end up harassed or assaulted as a result, or in extreme cases killed). We do not need to encourage people to come up with more flattering narratives or make excuses for men who are transgressing boundaries and setting off alarm bells. There is not an epidemic of innocent men inadvertently appearing creepy and then suffering grave injustice when women take steps to protect themselves. There is an epidemic of women being socialized to question their instincts when they shouldn’t and being hurt because of it.

            What you are doing here may be unintentional and borne out of lack of understanding, but it is not useful and has the potential to be harmful. Please listen to those of us with real lived experience in these situations, or at least stop undermining that guidance.

            1. DFW

              Umm I don’t know why you assume that I have not dealt with the same thing because I have. It’s rude to make assumptions!
              It’s not unreasonable to want to figure out what to do when there are two contradictory truths where each of them have their own set of baggage. On top of that. It’s a real stretch to suggest that OPs life is in danger. The histrionics is not a good look.

              1. Ask a Manager Post author

                What a strange characterization of my comment, as I haven’t suggested that about this OP.

                I see from your commenting history that you have a track record of inflammatory postings when issues related to gender and sexism come up, so you’ll need to leave this here.

              2. RUKiddingMe

                “Histrionics?” You mean like “hysterical women?”

                You reallllyyyy need to sit down and listen to the women here.

              3. RUKiddingMe

                Unless you are a woman who has dealt with older, creepy guys doing this kind of stuff then you haven’t dealt with it. If you are and you still take this stance, I feel really bad that you are then defending those types of guys.

            2. Not tryna be a jerk

              I’m not the commenter that you’re replying to, but with all due respect, I think they do raise a good point about perception of fear being impacted by things like racist stereotypes. Questlove wrote about the way he’s treated in elevators with lone women, and how shitty it is to be treated as a threat and see that treatment get validated over and over again as ‘trusting your gut’ – when we know perfectly well that the gut makes racist gut assumptions ALL the time. There is a long, long history of innocent men suffering because of threatened women – usually young black men and white women. I’m seeing comments in here like, “I’d rather make someone feel offended than get killed” – even though we’ve seen plenty of headlines recently about young men getting killed because of mistaken assumptions. I’ve recommended The Gift of Fear to many people, and I believe very strongly that women should trust their instincts when it comes to personal safety – and frankly, I think the guy in the original letter probably is a skeaze – but I think that commenter raised some points worth considering even if they were raised in bad faith. I don’t say these things to derail the conversation too far off into the political universe, but I do want to push back against this idea of the unmitigated, unexaminable ‘alarm bell’. The whole point of instincts – and The Gift of Fear would agree with me – is that they are very much rooted in social norms. Instincts aren’t an infallible gift, and they are deserving of inquiry and critical evaluation from time to time, which is what the OP is doing.

              1. Ask a Manager Post author

                No one is saying that instincts should never be questioned in any situation; of course instincts are fallible. But we’re not talking about something with serious repercussions to the man, like being wrongly accused of a crime or shot by a cop. We’re talking about him not getting time and attention from a woman. That’s it.

              2. Starbuck

                “There is a long, long history of innocent men suffering because of threatened women ”

                There is a much longer and far bloodier history of innocent women suffering at the hands of men of every color. Absolutely it’s outrageous when white women use their racial privilege to target men of color (or other men target them on a woman’s behalf) but let’s not lose sight of the very real, and very justifiable fear that women have for men regardless of their race.

              3. RUKiddingMe

                Here’s the thing…we aren’t talking about males being oppressed right now. We aren’t discussing racism right now. Your points of (historically) white women feeling threatened by black males is valid. A situation I might add that was created by, and perpetuated by males, white males, but males nevertheless. We are not however talking about that right now either.

                Women feel threatened by males because males as a whole are threatening. There is a long, long, long bloody history, that continues to this day of women being beaten, raped, rape used as a weapon of war, stoned to death for being the victim of a male, and murdered for the simple act of saying “no” which predated by a long, long time any racial issues in the USA.

                Any males being oppressed are not being oppressed for being male. It is always because of some intersection (ex: male+black/Muslim/immigrant, etc.). Women OTOH are targeted for being female. Full stop.

                Right now, we’re talking about women and how they are creeped on, harmed, even killed by men. All those other issues are certainly worth discussions, but they are not the current topic. Throwing all that into the mix is derailing and taking the focus off of a woman’s issue (again).

                It would be really nice if just *one freaking time* we could discuss an issue that is a woman’s issue, something that affects women in a way that it just does not affect males without a bunch of guys needing to say “wait, wait, what about…” and try to throw in a whole bunch of “but men” stuff. It would be even nicer if the males would listen and not try to give us their insight into our experiences.

              4. RUKiddingMe

                “Questlove wrote about the way he’s treated in elevators with lone women, and how shitty it is to be treated as a threat and see that treatment get validated over and over again as ‘trusting your gut’ – when we know perfectly well that the gut makes racist gut assumptions ALL the time.”

                I had this conversation about elevators with my husband just the other night.

                I explained to him that I will not get into an elevator with a lone or group of male(s) and if the elevator stops and empties leaving me alone with (a) male(s) I will get off even if it’s not my floor…even if it’s in a NYC skyscraper. Because…safety. It has nothing to do with race. I’m sure that for some people that enters into it…no doubt about it, just that for me it’s all about the fact that the immediate potential threat is male(s). I’d bet money that it’s pretty much the same for most women vis a vis elevators.

              5. Anoncorporate

                “There is a long, long history of innocent men suffering because of threatened women ”

                NOPE – men don’t suffer because of threatened women. They may get their egos slighted, but please stop pretending that this is a worse fate than what women collectively experience from men. Trying to frame women’s collective experiences with sexual harassment as misguided racism is incredibly insulting. This isn’t something women are making up in their heads, this is something we actually experience on several occasions. I’m nonwhite, and get harassed by nonwhite men very frequently on the street. The fact that they’re nonwhite doesn’t make it okay.

                Also, I read Questlove’s rant, and he basically appropriated the cause of combating racism to justify why he felt butthurt when a woman didn’t return his flirtatious advances, which were definitely unwelcome.

                1. RUKiddingMe

                  “Also, I read Questlove’s rant, and he basically appropriated the cause of combating racism to justify why he felt butthurt when a woman didn’t return his flirtatious advances, which were definitely unwelcome.”

                  Bingo.

          3. RUKiddingMe

            Maybe so many people (mostly women you’ll notice) are going to the “he sounds like a creeper” answer because we have all experienced it at some (or many) points in our lives. We know what we are looking at and giving advice based on our lived experiences.

            If you are not a woman who has experienced this, then you are in no way able to judge our reasons for our advice. You are not in your own lane. You feel like all the poor oppressed males are being unfairly targeted apparently. Maybe if all of those males who are in no way oppressed for being male knock this shit off, tell other males who are doing it to knock it off, then we could get to a point where women don’t immediately go into self-protection mode.

            Sorry (not) that someone is offended but I’d prefer to not be raped or killed and my right to not be raped or killed beats up your right to not have your feelings hurt. End of.

          4. Anoncorporate

            You sound like a troll. There is even less evidence supporting your hypothetical letter than the possibility that the OP’s interviewer is being creepy. In the end of the day, the OP has every right to determine that they are uncomfortable with the situation and protect their own boundaries. It’s not society’s job to encourage young women to pay attention to men twice their age.

            1. RUKiddingMe

              But if society doesn’t tell (young) women to ignore their instincts what will all the old (and young for that matter) creepy dudes do?

              Won’t someone think of the males for once? How dare we keep oppressing them by having our own desires!!!

      3. some white dude

        I’m a straight, older, married guy, for context. The likelihood that this situation isn’t somewhat motivated by the guy’s desire, whether conscious or unconscious, to get in OP’s pants is almost nil. His interest in her is that she is cute and young. He doesn’t know much about her work skills at all since they don’t work together, and she doesn’t have the experience necessary for the job. Whatever he is telling her or himself, he is attracted to her and that is why he is interested in her, which is problematic for a working relationship. It would be different if he knew more about her or her background was a clearer fit for the role. But even then it’s a little sketchy. And if she is getting vibes from it, it is probably because there are vibes. I’m not saying that you should never have anything to do with a colleague who is young and attractive. But I think when you are in a position of power over someone who is young and attractive, you have to be super careful that you aren’t crossing lines and that your interest and relationship is purely professional.

      4. Oranges

        You get an “F” for trying to put the fig leaf of plausible deniability back onto the situation. Not because you tried. But you tried so… transparently.

        Also serious side eye because you want the fig leaf of plausible deniability back.

    23. Anon for this

      I’m so relieved to see #2 written out so eloquently. I experienced that in a previous job in a really bad way. And since it snuck up on me, it went on for a long time. More women (and men) should be better equipped to recognize this. It’s subtle and so damaging. After my experience, it took a long time to rebuild my confidence professionally. I work with mostly men and have to be careful not to be suspicious of all men, but also to realize that I am a skilled professional, not just a pretty face.

      FWIW, I have worked with many amazing mentors and bosses who are men who treat me with full respect as a professional. I wish more men understood this nuanced side of harassment.

    24. tinyhipsterboy

      I hope he’s not in either of these categories, but it’s entirely plausible he is! OP, if you live in a one-party consent state re: recording laws, maybe consider recording 1-on-1 meetings for a while just in case. :/

    25. Panda from Wisconsin

      I’m happy OP #1 had an okay interview experience, but I hope she remains careful about the situation. Allison, your creep #2 description hit so close to home. Almost word for word, I had an older married coworker pull that crap on me when I first started my job. I had smart people in my life telling me this was all very fishy and to run far far away, but I didn’t. I craved the positive attention and ego boost, which I wasn’t getting anywhere else in my life, least of all at work. It was very messed up, and I wish I never got sucked in. Thankfully, it never had any professional repercussions for me, but it easily could have if word got out about it.

      Allison, thank you for sharing a detailed story of your experience. If it helps one young professional (OP or otherwise) avoid getting trapped in this scenario, it is worth it.

  2. neverjaunty

    OP #1, where is your information about this job opening (such as the fact that it even exists) coming from? I’m guessing it’s from Mr. Questionable. If anyone else has any input into hiring for this job – and they do, if he had to get permission for it – what are the odds that they would hire a candidate who has no experience with the required job duties instead of someone qualified for the position?

    Creeps do exactly what this guy has been doing – they seek out nice people who give others the benefit of the doubt, and push juuuust far enough over the boundary that you question your own judgment.

    1. RUKiddingMe

      Yeah I don’t think there’s anything questionable about him. He’s absolutely creeping on her. OP needs to cease all contact immediately.

    2. Woodswoman

      Spot on, this is what a predator does. OP, he’s putting on a facade, including taking advantage of your financial situation, to lure you in. Not only should you avoid dinner with him–no way is that an interview, it’s putting moves on your personally–but for your safety, you should avoid being alone with him and instead cut off all contact with him entirely.

      There are legitimate ways to learn new skills and stretch yourself so you can move into a better paid job, but this isn’t it. Listen to your instincts and avoid this guy.

      1. valentine

        you should avoid being alone with him and instead cut off all contact with him entirely
        Yes. First, cancel the interview, soon as.

      2. Michio Pa

        Agreed. OP I understand you want to be “objective” but your body is picking up on thousands of subtle signals that contribute to a general “creepiness” that you can’t put your finger on. You should count this as much as anything else.

        Plus, even if you didn’t get that warning vibe, he already has broken the 3 creepy strikes rule:
        1. flirting with you while you know he is married–this is not something gentlemen do
        2. offering you a job that has nothing to do with you or your skills–almost like he just wants to hire you for no reason
        3. responding to your schedule conflict with an offer to “take [you] out to dinner (just the two of us)”–this is not normal for the level of the role and not a normal level of intimacy for your acquaintanceship

        Even if all our fears are somehow proved wrong, and it turns out he’s just a gentle eccentric, working with this man will be just like this. You will be constantly questioning whether you can really trust him and feel safe, or if he’s just being a weirdo. Is that the kind of workplace you want to be in? Is that the kind of boss you want judging your work performance and overseeing your career every day?

        As a character from the series my namesake comes from said, “He knew what men [who were creepers] acted like, so he didn’t act like that.”

        1. Flash Bristow

          Right. I’m guessing there is no job (at least not one for which he has hiring responsibility) but once he gets your resume he has your personal details…

          I don’t *want* to say “stalker!” but – does he come over like an awkward techie who doesn’t know how to conduct these things, or like a suave charmer (or at least, would-be)? If the latter, run fast away! If the former… I’d still be rather concerned, even though it *may* be innocent, do you really want to work with him?

          I suppose you could always approach HR at that company, asking if there are any current vacancies, and see what info that gives you?

          But yeah, based on what you’ve said, I’d run a mile. And I’d be cautious about letting any personal info slip when you’re in communal spaces with him: do you have a visible ID badge with full name, for example?

          I second, third and millionth all the people saying to trust your gut.

          1. Run!

            As someone who had an experience of being stalked by an “awkward techie” kind of guy, I’d say – run in both of those cases.

      3. Zennish

        Yep. For what it’s worth, I suspect that the point of the dinner was to reinforce how friendly and generous and supportive he is… so you’d ultimately take the job, and then start getting reminded about what a break he gave you, and how much you owe him…

    3. Leela

      “Creeps do exactly what this guy has been doing – they seek out nice people who give others the benefit of the doubt, and push juuuust far enough over the boundary that you question your own judgment.”

      Yes! This person undoubtedly knows that YOU are going to know that dinners sometime happen for interviews and rely on being able to back out by going “hey, whoah, interviews just happen like this sometimes!” if ever called on it. He also likely knows what you stated before too: that you won’t be financially able to leave if you are dependant on this job (and by extension, him). I’m actually tempted to take this from “creeper” into “potential abuser” territory based on that. Please be careful and listen to your gut. While I definitely think it’s *possible* that a set of circumstances could align to create what you are reading as a problem situation loaded with redflags, the risk/benefit ratio seems way off. I’d definitely see if there’s a front desk person you can see if you just walk into the office (provided you don’t need a pass or anything to get that far) or even just call the business’ listed number which should get you there and go “hi I’m calling re: [position name] position I was discussing with [name]” because you can pass this off pretty innocently.

      1. Gazebo Slayer

        As someone who has had two Bad Bosses who took advantage of people they knew were in bad financial situations, I strongly second your point about how he is probably exploiting her inability to quit.

    4. Robert

      In the event that OP1 does want to learn more, and does as Allison suggests – insist that the interview is in office – DO NOT DO IT IN THE EVENING. After business hours might mean an empty office, which is even sketchier than a dinner. If you do choose to pursue this, do it during regular working hours. If it’s the same building, you could do in on your lunch break (but don’t tell him that it’s your lunch – you may get sucked into a lunch invitation).

      1. Dr. Glowcat Twinklepuff

        Excellent point for not being with him in the empty office!
        But I still think the best solution here is to run and hide somewhere on Saturn. Maybe even further away.
        OP, sometimes our desire to be “objective” only leads to being in denial; you can trust your instinct on this one. As a very wise man said: don’t keep your mind so open that your brain falls out!

      2. min

        That’s exactly what I was coming here to say. There’s no way I would feel safe alone with this guy in an empty office.

        OP, trust your spidey sense. There’s a reason you feel so uneasy about this.

        1. miss_chevious

          Me too! In the event that this guy is a creeper (he 100% is, by the way), I would much rather confirm that fact in a public restaurant than in his office after hours.

    5. drpuma

      “OP #1, where is your information about this job opening (such as the fact that it even exists) coming from?”

      YES, exactly this!! Did you apply for the job *through the company’s website*? If yes, someone from HR/recruiting should be the one to follow up with you. Is there even a job posted on the company’s website? If everything has been happening through this one dude, you cannot trust him. Your instincts are on point.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood

      I would NOT go to his office in the evening unless you know someone else will be working late.

      1. Michaela Westen

        Even if there’s someone else there when you get there, they might leave. Stay in public areas where there are people around.

    7. Sara without an H

      OP#1, don’t, don’t, don’t accept this job, if he’s actually in a position to offer you one. By your own assessment, you are under-qualified for the “job” (if it exists), and you couldn’t afford to leave if it turns out to be a bad fit. These factors alone are enough to justify thanking your “friend” and staying put for a while.

      If you’re really ready to move on — and it sounds as though you are — write up a current resume, line up references, and do a real job search. (Lots of information in the AAM archives will help you.) Don’t take this opening just because your “friend” seems “nice,” and you find the attention flattering.

      Why am I using all the scare quotes? Because I’ve read Gavin de Becker’s Gift of Fear, and he has a number of stories of nice young women who ignored clear signals in order to give a skeevy guy the benefit of the doubt and to avoid being rude. Whatever his intentions, this man is NOT behaving like a professional who wants to hire the best possible candidate for a job.

      OK, he’s probably not Jack the Ripper, but this isn’t how a professional manager goes about hiring, and this isn’t how a bright, capable young woman goes about building a career. So just thank him for the interview and tell him that you don’t think it’s the right fit.

      And avoid him like the plague from now on.

    1. MusicWithRocksInIt

      I feel like now is a good time to devote to some job searching. If you want to be making more money enough that you are considering this guy – start looking somewhere else where you will be safer. Trust your gut – getting the creeps is a biological function meant to keep us alive!

    1. RUKiddingMe

      I really hope OP sees how many women are telling her to stay away.

      OP we know what we’re talking about. We’ve been younger women and experienced guys like this.

      Please stay away.

      1. another Hero

        And the sense I get from the letter is that OP knows this is probably a bad situation but is just making sure/doubting herself? Trust that concern you have, OP; it’s probably finely honed.

        1. Quoth the Raven

          Another woman here agreeing you should trust your gut and run, OP. This sounds all kinds of sketchy, if not outright creepy.

        2. Kiki

          I think the OP is really hoping it’s not what she thinks because the job would be a great opportunity with more pay, which is understandable. It makes me sad that this dynamic happens so often where someone tries to take advantage of a person trying to better their career/life.

          1. valentine

            the job would be a great opportunity with more pay
            That’s what he says now. He knows where she works and a (good?) bit of her schedule, can make trouble for her at work, and his poaching her may burn the bridge with her employer. He’s shady and she can avoid being at his mercy. Escaping him would cost more than the wage increase. Killing the relationship is both the most beneficial and the least costly move.

            1. AcademiaNut

              And unfortunately, the “opportunity” you’re being offered is most likely to be his mistress, not a chance at furthering your career.

              Serial predators tend to be really good at choosing their targets. They push the boundaries a bit, and what they’re looking for is someone who overlooks it (perhaps trying to think the best of them, or maybe afraid to speak up, or maybe they want something the predator has), or who goes along with it. Then they push further. They want to get you far enough in that you can’t speak up without destroying your own career, and they’re doing it from a position of power so that you’re more likely to suffer consequences than they are.

              The odds are overwhelmingly that taking this job will either result in you having an affair with your boss (at least until he gets tired of you), or you refusing to have an affair with your boss, and getting shafted professionally.

            2. Kiki

              Right, but I can understand someone hoping their instincts are wrong because they want a better-paying job. And I’m sure there’s a little bit of fear of being wrong and finding out the job is legit, which would mean she walked away from more money. I agree that it’s probably best to walk away, but it makes me sad that it’s such a common thing for young women to have to consider in a job hunt. (I know that people across the gender and age spectra experience this as well, it just seems especially common for young women.)

              My boyfriend, early in his career, was offered a few jobs because random people he interacted with took a liking to him/ appreciated his people skills. He never had to consider, “Does this person just want to give an enthusiastic young person an opportunity or is this a sex trap?” Whereas the LW has to spend the time and energy sussing this whole situation out. How much more could women achieve if they didn’t have to spend so much time figuring out how to deal with this stuff?

              1. valentine

                The money isn’t worth the gut feeling or working for a man who pursued you and, at best, has a crush on you and, instead of distancing himself, wants you close and dependent. Is she going to be known as the rock-star admin or Fergus’s crush? This would be bad even if he weren’t married. Also, is he married or was that a lie to lure her into a false sense of safety? If married, is she going to have to interact with his wife, send her flowers, schedule their romantic getaways? How much of his personal life is he going to bang on about with the cover that it’s for work? This reminds me of Alfred Hitchcock sexually harassing Tippi Hedren whilst not a single person intervened and at least one female employee felt sorry for him. He irreparably ruined Tippi’s career.

          2. Dr. Pepper

            Yup. I’m getting a “please tell me my gut is wrong” vibe here. Which, I’m sorry to say, it’s probably bang on target.

            Creepers come in many forms, and many of them don’t really “do” anything, a least not anything concrete that you can point to and say “ah ha! this is inappropriate!” Certainly nothing you could take to HR as sexual harassment. But that doesn’t mean they can’t make you feel miserable, constantly on your guard, and/or constantly doubting yourself and your own thinking. That’s no way to live either. There’s a reason you feel uncomfortable. I’m really sorry because I can understand needing the money, but if you take this job (assuming it’s a real job and a real offer and all that part of it is aboveboard), there will be a price. That price may be enduring sexual advances by your boss, or it may be much more insidious than that. At least if he made advances you’d know where you were; that constant wondering and doubting yourself is incredibly exhausting, and will wear you down with stress over time.

        3. snowglobe

          So many (mostly younger) women tend to discount their ‘gut’ feeling in order to give the benefit of the doubt to potential creepers. That ‘gut feeling’ isn’t irrational – it’s based on lots of small pieces of information and observations that your subconscious mind recognizes as potential danger. Listen to it.

          1. Run!

            Exactly. There’s this book called “The Gift of Fear” which I believe is about this particular topic of listening to your gut feelings in situations like this.
            I haven’t read it yet (although I’ve bought it), but the reviews are good.

            1. miss_chevious

              It’s good. People have issues with the domestic violence chapter, but the rest of it is solid for helping you identify and understand the signals you are giving yourself and when to pay attention to them.

      2. Possibly Enough Detail to be Identified?

        Not just women can tell this is way off – I just read this question to my hubby and he got major heeby jeebies. The creep factor is leaping off the screen.

        1. Flash Bristow

          Quite – and I almost mentioned (though avoided for sake of derailing) that I’d say the same if it was a woman trying it on.

          Is there anyone *not* saying “run away”? It seems quite telling…

        2. Away Team Redshirt

          The OP should listen to her gut feeling that this is creepy.
          I’m a woman, and my creepy spider senses are tingling.
          My husband (decent human who manages young women and men) went, “Nope! That’s creepy.”

  3. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House

    #1, Run. Trust yourself–I’m betting everything this man is interested in sexual hijinks, not how you are as an admin. Run.

  4. Engineer Girl

    #1 – ask if you can schedule a phone interview to find out more about the job.
    It should become clear if it’s legitimate.
    My concern is that you’ll be stuck if you accept.

    1. CatCat

      Yeah, I like the phone interview approach. That will help OP screen if this job is actually on the level.

      I’m getting a very creepy vibe from the letter though. I hope OP will not meet this dude at night in his office.

    2. Quoth the Raven

      The last point is something he might actually be planning to use to his advantage, too.

      If he knows you need the money, and he knows you’d be in a position where you can’t afford to leave, that’s another red flag to add to the field of flags.

      1. Flash Bristow

        Right. As the saying goes, when you’re wearing rose-tinted spectacles, red flags just look like flags.

        Be sure you’re looking at them in the right light. There are plenty of flags to view.

    3. Gen

      Yeah I’m not sure an evening office interview is better than dinner, unless it’s a 24 hour business you risk being alone in an mostly empty building with him. At least a phone interview you’re physically separate for him, but I’m still not sure it’ll help you know if the jobs real and/or if he’s really serious about hiring you

      1. Engineer Girl

        There should be lots of very explicit details about the duties involved. Is it a new position? Where’s the funding coming from? After hours work? Why does he think she’s a good fit?
        Ask the hard questions. Always as the hard questions. The slime get offended. The legitimate get impressed.

        1. OhNo

          Agreed – and press for details as well. Request an email with the benefits package information. Ask to see the employee handbook. If you ask a question that’s going to make him do some kind of research or work and require follow-up, his response will be a decent tell if he’s actually committed to hiring you or not.

          If you ask for something that requires work on his end and he deflects, or gives you a half-answer, or says anything like “we’ll figure that out once you’re on board”, drop it like a hot potato. It’s just one bad sign too many.

    4. Dr. Glowcat Twinklepuff

      The phone interview is certainly the safest, but honestly I wouldn’t want to work together with someone who’s dubious at best, even if the job itself is legit. OP says that a higher pay would be nice, but not that she’s desperate for a new job, so it’s probably better to explore other options.

  5. Aphrodite

    OP#1, I have to say this before I even read the other letters. This IS creepy–and I am convinced there is no job or at last none for you. He has designs on you, and furthermore I disagree with Alison’s advice to have an evening interview in his office. If he works in a standard office with standard hours you may find yourself alone or nearly alone with him. That seems potentially dangerous. If you do want an evening one, how about in a coffee shop with plenty of traffic and nothing but a cup of coffee so you can leave quickly. But if you think his office might work best because it’s so close for you, make it a lunchtime interview so there are other people around. I really do not like the sound of this. Not at all.

    1. Aphrodite

      And for god’s sake stop giving him the benefit of the doubt. If you must, give it to yourself and stay the hell away from him.

      1. IsbenTakesTea

        OP, we as young women are implicitly trained to “be nice” and give people the benefit of the doubt, give everyone a chance, and wait for concrete evidence that someone has ulterior motives before saying “No.” One of the best lessons you can learn is you don’t need a “good enough” reason to say “No:” your gut is the best reason. The only reason. And you don’t ever have to give anyone else the reason for your “No.”

        Good job checking in and getting a second opinion on your gut, but you already have what you need!

        1. EPLawyer

          You owe this guy nothing. Therefore, there is no requirement to give him the benefit of the doubt.

          Don’t go after further in this “process.” Just politely tell him that you have decided to stay at your current job. Which is 100% true. If he persists, repeat as necessary. Do not try to justify or explain. If he STILL persists then you might have to take some steps like vary your routine so you aren’t “bumping” into each other in the parking lot or building lobby. If necessary you have have to speak to security or even get a peace order. Those last are only if he REALLY doesn’t get a clue. Most of them do and move on to a new victim.

          1. Sunshine

            >Most of them do and move on to a new victim.

            As such; could it be worth having a casual chat with his boss or HR? I can totally understand if OP doesn’t want to open herself up to retaliation, but yes; if he’s a creeper there *will* be another victim.

            1. OhNo

              Without hard evidence, I would say no. The OP doesn’t have any credibility with the company built up, and unfortunately a lot of people would tend to deflect or minimize this sort of thing even if she did. And unfortunately, “Bob from accounting gave me a creepy vibe” isn’t very actionable feedback, even if it really should be.

      2. Detective Amy Santiago

        This this this! He’s done nothing to deserve the benefit of the doubt. In this day and age, with #metoo being talked about EVERYWHERE, there is no excuse for him not to be more aware.

    2. On a pale mouse

      This so much! Empty evening offices are creepy as heck, IMO.* Avoid.

      * Much less so if it’s your own office and you’ve worked there long enough to be comfortable, but that obviously doesn’t apply here.

    3. JSPA

      Agreed–the office is a super bad alternative. If it’s in his private office, it’s dangerous for obvious reasons. If it’s in a shared space in the building, it’s dangerous because it’ll be clear you’re interviewing for another job,–AT your job site.

      Nix on lunch in / at his office, too. People can make themselves scarce at lunchtime too, “lunchtime quickies” are a thing, and “there’s nothing you can do at midnight that you can’t do at noon.” Meet at a coffee shop or sub shop, and pick one that’s industrial / boring, not cute / alternative with comfy stuffed armchairs and couches. Nowhere you’d pick for a date. Or don’t go, if you think you’d be inappropriately swayed by the money to overrule your gut and your common sense.

    4. SongbirdT

      Ditto the no after-hours office interview sentiment. OP, if you really want to pursue this, make sure you meet with him in a place where you can easily walk away if things get sketchy. Also, read The Gift of Fear and trust yourself.

      /general rant
      And, ugh, whyyyyy does the world have to be this way? Why can’t this delightful woman just have an interesting opportunity come up that might open up avenues to learn new skills and make more money without having to do this stupid calculus about legitimacy and risk to their personal safety!?! Dudes literally never have to do this when it comes to interviews (the personal safety part).
      /end general rant

      1. RUKiddingMe

        Because women exist solely for the benefit, enjoyment, amusement, and service to males…silly girl!

        This is not likely a legit job offer. I hope OP understands that Dude is only trying to “get some.”

        Real jobs don’t include taking you out to dinner “just the two of us.” Sure dinner interviews happen for senior level people, but at basically entry level?

        Not unless Dude is planning to end the night at the No-Tell Motel.

    5. Tyche

      This!!!
      I don’t think an evening interview in his office is a good idea, but Aphrodite is right about the coffee shop: there’s a lot of people and it’s easier to disengage yourself.
      You are not forthcoming about how well you know this man, how you met him etc. If I where you I’d follow my gut, and ask myself *how* and *why* he thinks you are a good candidate, especially if he’s never worked with you.

  6. PollyQ

    OP1: You may or may not want to do this, but if I were that man’s employer, I’d be *very* interested in hearing about his “recruiting” techniques.

    1. Michio Pa

      This. I would also warn my fellow women in the office (building?) that there was someone offering dinner-date interviews and flirting with women in the building. I would want to know… and stay away.

  7. Lady Phoenix

    #3: You are sharing a space with others, which means you need to be courteous to them. How would you feel if your coworker was either gelling, playing an instrument, or otherwise disrupting YOUR call?

    And even if you are the only phone answerer, your coworkers still deserve some semblence of room level conversation, and tling them to just put on hedphones is rude.

    Open Floorans suck, but that doesn’t mean you can toss out your responsibility as the “Workplace Roommate” to your other “Roomates” (as in yall share a room).

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      Yeah, I’m surprised by the “sorry I care” remark. Moderating your voice on the phone has nothing to do with how much or how little you care about your job. I’d recommend OP try option #1, just because they won’t have to worry about volume moderation as much.

      1. anon today and tomorrow

        Agreed. It’s also strangely dismissive of the coworkers who are asking the OP to keep their voice down because they care enough about their job to need to focus.

        I realize OP is probably upset and lashing out, but people with loud voices often don’t realize how loud and distracting they can be to other people. There’s a few people I’ve worked with over the years who were loud on phone calls in a way that immediately took me out of whatever I was trying to do, and I would have to put music on full volume to drown them out (and that just hurt my ears in a different way).

        1. else

          Yeah. A co-worker of mine screamed at me and backed me into a corner after I’d asked him to keep his voice down. Apparently he felt “disrespected” because I had previously asked him to lower his voice on several occasions – weeks and months apart.

      2. Emily

        Right! I never show much emotion at all and my voice never really changes, so I’ve gotten grief about “not caring” before — so frustrating! OP, please know that a loud voice is only a quirk of personality, not a barometer of care!

      3. Micromanagered

        I read the “sorry I care” comment as an expression of OP3’s hurt feelings over the request to keep it down. I think it’s natural to feel a little hurt and defensive in a situation like this, and obviously OP3 isn’t being totally dismissive… she wrote to an advice column about it!

        With that in mind, OP3, that attitude will be very off-putting to your coworkers, no matter how good at your job you are, or how much you care. This doesn’t sound like a “haters gonna hate” situation where people are just picking on you because they’re jealous of your passion for your work. You acknowledge that you are loud on the phone, so you need to try to do something about that. If it were me, I’d thank the person/people who brought it to my attention (because it’s difficult and awkward to approach someone about something like this, but ultimately they’re doing you a favor), and ask if they’d let me know if it becomes a problem again. Then, learn to quiet down.

          1. Micromanagered

            Yes–but it’s in response to being told her volume is a distraction to others. She said “I feel embarrassed and deflated, but also like screw you, man. Sorry I care about my work.”

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          Oh, for sure! I just think it will help OP move out of their initial hurt and defensiveness if they reframe this as everyone cares about their work and wants to be successful doing it. I know it can be really difficult for folks with loud voices to moderate their volume, and some frequencies sound louder, even when they’re objectively not any louder than others. But instead of lashing out, I think it would help OP to try to work around their coworkers, because talking loudly in an open space is going to read to others as inconsiderate.

          If OP can book a private room for their calls, I think that’s the best case scenario—it doesn’t require OP to change their volume, but it also allows their coworkers to focus in the open space.

      4. ExceptionToTheRule

        I work with a couple of loud talkers, one of whom says it’s our problem to deal with. I’m sorry, if I can hear you crystal clear from 40 feet away, the problem is you and yours to work on. I stopped counting the number of times I’ve had to ask this person to please quiet down.

      5. CDenmark

        As a fellow loud talker and gesticulate-or, I think OP#3 was just in the heat of the moment when writing the letter. I never WANT or TRY to be disruptive to my coworkers. I have to work hard, every minute of every day to not be “loud.” And it’s hard. Because my version of “loud” and other people’s versions of “loud” are not the same. I’ve taken to using a single bluetooth ear piece to help keep my loudness under control and it works well.

        I think some of the other defensiveness may come from the fact that maybe the nearby coworkers KNOW OP#3 is “loud,” due to social settings they may have interacted in. My social setting persona and work persona aren’t night and day different. So if OP#3 isn’t getting eye rolls and other cues to tone it down in a social setting its probably hard to tone it down otherwise because its been acceptable in other places. I’m not saying that it should be just that its hard to separate the two.

        Also, I realize that I don’t work in an open office environment now, but I have previously. In those situations, usually the people in the cubefarm were underlings. Maybe OP#3 is still early in their career. There’s a chance to learn and improve.

        1. HEY, I'M NOT YELLING, YOU'RE MUMBLING

          “As a fellow loud talker and gesticulator, I think OP#3 was just in the heat of the moment when writing the letter. I never WANT or TRY to be disruptive to my coworkers. I have to work hard, every minute of every day to not be “loud.” And it’s hard. Because my version of “loud” and other people’s versions of “loud” are not the same.”

          You are my new hero. This is me. I have a loud voice. I talk with my hands. I am in my 50s. I have been told since I was a little kid I talk too loudly. OKAY! When someone asks me to talk more softly, it hurts my feelings. Every. Single. Time. I will occasionally say something like “This is like asking me to change my eye color. I can wear color contacts, but at the end of the day I still have blue eyes.” For us ‘loud” people, it’s not about modifying behavior, as much as you “quiet people” want to huff and puff and eyeroll and say “yes, it is.”
          Okay, then, mumbly…SPEAK UP when you talk to me! How would that make you feel? Go ahead, commenters…pile on. I have a lifetime of scars to protect me.
          Trust me, the original poster feels the same way. What you are reading is frustration and hurt feelings. And if the “loudies” caused hurt feelings to the quiet people, we’d have paragraphs about how inappropriate that is.
          Hang in there, OP3…YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!!!!

          1. Over the Hill

            You can be “not alone” and still be a problem.

            Encouraging OP to think in an US v THEM manner solves nothing.

            I speak softly. So does one of my children. It causes issues communicating with people. To give ip trying to improve relationships with people is just rude and selfish. Of all the efforts ive put into changing myself, changing my voice doesnt actually cost me anything except time and attention.

            And its always especially grating to have someone throw their age as a justification for actions and lack of change. This type of response always feels the least mature.

          2. Observer

            The OP is also not a child. At some point you need to realize that even though your feeling are legitimately hurt (I get it – I can get loud, too) reacting by putting others down and implying that the problem is REALLY that *you* are so great and everyone else is just a bunch of slackers is just not a legitimate way to deal with it.

            Being hurt is legitimate, and people should not be rolling their eyes, huffing and puffing or being all “just x, already!” But, “Sorry I care!” is not a legitimate response in most cases.

          3. OhNo

            Yeah, this is… not a great attitude to have on the subject. If you’re really getting hurt every time someone says you’re too loud, especially in a work environment, you’re ascribing way too much personal weight to a business request. Would you also be hurt if someone asked you to print your TPS reports one-sided?

            I get it, I do. I have a tendency to be too loud, which is especially problematic since I work in a library. But when people ask me to lower my voice, I realize that it’s not a judgement on who I am as a person. It’s no different than when I ask my coworker to use headphones, or move a conversation away from my cube, when I’m trying to focus.

            There are some things about who I am as a person that need to get toned down in an office environment. It’s not ideal, and sometimes it grates, but that’s just what professionalism is.

            1. The loud talker

              I’m veering off track here, but I’d wager loud talks generally KNOW they have a loud voice. Everyone in my family is loud, so I wasn’t brought up that way, and it’s been really difficult realizing that people simply find it embarrassing being associated with a loud person in a social situation. So I get that in the work context, it’s more of a “business request” as you put it. But I also felt hurt because especially for women, being loud is not considered a positive trait. I’m a lawyer who works with an entire office of litigators, and literally none of the male litigators in the office has ever been told to tone it down.

          4. Ellex

            Different situations call for different speaking volumes, so I try to cultivate an “inside” voice and an “outside” voice. I have a mild auditory processing disorder, so often it’s difficult for me to make out what people are saying when there’s a lot of ambient noise, which in turn leads to me speaking louder than needed in those situations (because I can’t hear myself). Hilariously and unfortunately, I also have very acute hearing, and in a quiet environment I can clearly hear every whisper and key click and sigh. I also find that my voice changes in heavy a/c environments (like offices). I lose volume and strength, and tend to sound a bit hoarse, so sometimes people need to ask me to speak a little louder.

            I have been asked to speak up, and to speak quieter. I have had to ask others to speak louder or quieter. Because I recognize that what I hear is not always the same as what someone else hears, and that my perception of “loud” and “quiet” is not necessarily the same as someone else’s, my feelings have never been hurt by someone requesting that I modulate my voice. I don’t know if anyone else has had their feelings hurt by my requests, but I’ve always tried to make those requests politely and without placing any blame.

            If, in 50 years, you haven’t learned how to modulate your voice for different environments, I fear you haven’t really tried – you’ve been too busy feeling hurt about something you can, indeed, change. And on that score – have you had your hearing checked? That’s how I found out that I have an auditory processing disorder and that I can still hear tones that most people can’t hear past their teens.

          5. Le Sigh

            Eh…I’m a loud talker. I work in open office. I can get loud on the phone. I get it. But also, I think the OP would do better to just treat this as a fact about themselves that they acknowledge and try to do better.

            Some people mumble. Some people are naturally fidgety. Some people inadvertently hum or tap. Some people get frustrated easy. I could go on and on, because basically every last person in the world has a list of traits that will probably annoy someone else(s). These are facts. I tend to ramble, I talk loud, and I’m overly wordy (see this post). It is what it is–these are my facts. Instead of viewing it as an attack on my core self or how much I care, it’s just something that is and I need to be cognizant of it. I have a few coworkers I ask politely to speak up when I can’t hear them, others I ask not to tap if it’s messing up my focus. I’m not attacking them or who they are or how much they care–I’m just asking them to to modulate their behaviors in a shared space.

            I mean, here’s the thing — we all have behaviors we moderate when in public or shared spaces, be it planes, trains, sidewalks, whatever. We try not to pass gas or talk loudly on the quiet car or use headphones on the metro. Because it’s just being considerate of a shared space. That’s all this is!

              1. Le Sigh

                Love that. I also know I ramble. So when I’m calling clients, I specifically type out talking points so that when I call, I can stay focused. Those little reminders are really helpful!

          6. Jules the 3rd

            I’m relatively loud and get asked to tone it down / talk less regularly. It helps me not take it personally if I start from the assumption that these are people explaining how they work differently than I do.

            People have different ways of processing sensory information. It’s not that any of these are ‘good’ or ‘bad’, it’s that our brains are all slightly different. They even process input differently at different times, like when we’re tired or hungry or thirsty. As I tell Little Jules, ‘if we were all the same, it would be boring.’ I want not to cause harm, so I listen and try to adjust.

          7. Pebbles

            This really isn’t as personal as I think you’re making it out to be. My husband can be a loud talker, which is fine if we’re a few feet away from each other in a somewhat open space. But when we’re sitting side by side in the car where it’s more enclosed, once his voice gets to a certain point I have to tell him to quiet down because it actually hurts my ear (whichever one is closest to him). His loud voice can cause me physical pain. Are you saying that he has no control over his voice and I just need to accept being in pain? Asking him to be quieter isn’t some judgment from me, it’s a request to not hurt me.

          8. Emily K

            This isn’t really like eye color. There is a yardstick for appropriate volume, and it’s whether the people you’re talking to, and as much as possible only the people you’re talking to, can hear you.

            Whether it makes sense to tell someone to speak up depends on whether others are struggling to hear what they’re saying.

            Whether it makes sense to tell someone to soften their voice depends on whether they’re disturbing people who aren’t part of the conversation.

            Thus different settings and groups call for a different volume level. Whether one is too quiet or too loud for the situation, one should modulate as needed to make sure granny can hear you in a noisy restaurant as well as to make sure you’re minimizing the disturbance to colleagues around you who need to concentrate. As Le Sigh says, that’s just part of living in society and getting along.

            LW, my best friend from high school is a loud talker and she is 3x louder on the phone, but she has learned over time to stop unconsciously increasing her volume by 300% every time she’s on the phone. One thing I know that she did was to put a post-in on her monitor that said, “indoor voice :)” so that she could have that little reminder every time she looked at it when she was on the phone – it was a lot easier for her to modulate her volume when she didn’t have to remember to do it.

          9. Thursday Next

            I’m sorry you’ve felt bad about criticism of your volume. However, asking someone to speak more quietly is most emphatically not like asking someone to change their eye color! Speech volume is a behavior, not something we’re born with. It’s a behavior that is influenced by numerous factors, sure, and if you’re in your 50s, it’s a deeply ingrained behavior, but it’s not immutable.

          10. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

            I’m sorry this has hurt you so deeply that you’ve reframed the issue as an attack on your core identity. I hope OP is able to avoid that reframing, because in many circumstances, people who ask others to speak softly are making their request because they’re experiencing significant distress from the volume. They are not trying to attack your identity, nor are they trying to attack OP’s identity or hurt OP’s feelings. I generally think it helps to assume good (or at least benign) intent, first, in order to avoid the pain you’re describing while still being able to assess whether a person’s request is reasonable. In the context of volume, requests to moderate up or down in an open-space office are presumptively reasonable, non-attacking requests.

            As you note, volume can be extremely difficult and triggering for folks (both on the receiving and delivering sides of sound). I understand that it’s not always possible to moderate your volume, but I would hope that, if asked to speak more softly or to take calls in a private space, that would be something a loud speaker would consider.

          11. Basia, also a Fed

            I am loud. I know I’m loud. I work in a huge cube farm and I try to keep it down. Yes, I have to work at it every moment that I’m in here, especially when I’m on the phone. Sometimes people ask me to be more quiet, when I’m the phone or chatting with co-workers. It never hurts my feelings, because I know they’re right. I’m the second loudest person in my office of almost 50 people. I’m not trying to pile on, but I’m wondering why your feelings are hurt when you know you’re louder than most people. The analogy with the eyes is confusing to me – how does it bother anyone in the office that you have blue eyes?

            It seems to me like you’re taking this very personally if your feelings are hurt every single time for the past 50ish years. People aren’t trying to hurt your feelings. Some of the people who ask me to keep it down like me a lot and think I’m really good at my job. They’re the people I go to lunch with and chat with at office events. In fact, I think it is easier for people who know me well and like me to ask me to quiet down because they feel more comfortable with me. As we have seen in this column, it takes a lot of courage for people to speak up about things like this. I want everyone to feel comfortable in this office environment, and if I’m doing something that most others aren’t that make it difficult for them to do their jobs, I want to know about it. And, yes, if people are mumbling, I will ask them to speak up. Doesn’t mean I like them any less and it certainly isn’t intended to hurt their feelings.

            Life is easier when I assume that people didn’t intend to hurt my feelings.

            1. Basia, also a Fed

              P.S. And this is funny, but I don’t believe I have a hearing problem. I hear everything – what people are saying when they are whispering to each other in the office, a car down the block that means someone in particular is coming. I can hear what people are saying even when others don’t even hear the talking. I keep the TV volume much lower than most people I know. So, I really have no excuse to be so loud!

        2. GlitsyGus

          Yeah, I have worked in theater for over 20 years, so it’s a really ingrained habit to project when I want to be heard or when something is important. At the same time, I wouldn’t ever ge

          My office is shifting to an open floorplan (ugh!) next year and I’m already trying to figure out how I’m going to control that impulse. It’s going to be tough at first.

      6. Someone Else

        Yes that was my biggest concern. No one is asking her to “not care” or be less enthusiastic on the phone. You can be enthusiastic at a reasonable volume. We teach toddlers this. Use your inside voice. It’s basic politeness. Does everyone at some point possibly get overly enthused and too loud? Sure. But part of being a human who interacts with other humans who are NOT on the phone is that sometimes you’ll have it pointed out that you got too loud and to cut back. It’s not a judgement of your person; it’s telling you “hey I don’t think you realize you’re practically yelling”. You’re not on stage, you don’t need to project to the back of the room. You need the person you’re actually talking to to hear you, and for most other people, they’ll probably know you’re on the phone but other than those right next to you, not really know exactly what you’re saying. That’s the goal.

        The “screw you” attitude is defensive and helps no one, including the OP.

    2. Reluctant Manager

      Considering how awkward and difficult it is for most of us to ask someone to be quiet, I bet this is really disruptive indeed. On the other hand, constantly monitoring your volume can keep you from fully paying attention on the call. We have a couple of unoccupied offices, and I regularly ask people who are loud or often on the phone to take calls in there. Before someone complains to your boss, ask your boss if there’s a geographical fix.

    3. Tisme

      Exactly.

      Plus the person on the other end of the call might also appreciate a lower volume. I know I do with even the people I love dearly, so for a work call it’s even worse to be the recipient of loudness.

      If the co-workers are also on calls, their clients / customers would probably also appreciate less noise in the background as well. Nothing worse than trying to hear someone on the phone with loud talking in the background.

      1. foolofgrace

        Yes, the people on the other end of the phone call probably don’t appreciate the loudness, either. Also, this behavior can be a first indication of hearing loss.

      2. CoveredInBees

        Yes. I was just wondering about the people on the other end of the phone call. I have relatives whom I speak with on the phone pretty regularly and have to turn the sound almost all the way down because they’re just loud (not a hearing impairment, they’ve always been loud). If I was on a work phone, I might not have that level of volume control.

    4. Cat

      I highly recommend the “earset only in one ear” approach. Most people WAY overcompensate (self included) when both ears are blocked, as if their instinct is that they’re speaking too quietly when they can’t hear THEMSELVES well.

      1. Jazz Grow

        +1. This has really helped me as well. My office also has phone rooms just off our open space team rooms for this very purpose, but even previously in open space I would just book a conference room for any scheduled calls. I can be a loud talker on the phone and removing myself whenever on the phone is a pain, yes, but it’s the respectful thing to do.

      2. hugseverycat

        Depending on your setup, you might also be able to turn up the volume of your own voice in your headset. For example most USB headsets or Plantronics headsets have the ability to send your own voice to your earpieces and you can increase or decrease the volume. So if you set your own voice louder, you may be inclined to speak more quietly.

    5. MusicWithRocksInIt

      Man, what I would love to get for Christmas is the story of one – just one – manager or boss type person who has read this blog and decided *not* to switch to open office spaces because they realized it was such a bad idea and all the problems it would cause. Tell me if you are out there decision making people! Teach us to hope again!

      1. ExceptionToTheRule

        I’m on a personal mission to convince our unit head to NOT do this. I talk about the problems. I send him articles. I think I’m going to lose regardless.

      2. TurtleIScream

        My husband’s office was considering it. I gave him links and studies I gleaned from this site, and he went into the meeting well-prepared. He pushed very, very hard against the switch and prevailed!

        1. MusicWithRocksInIt

          This should be made into a Hallmark Original Christmas Movie. And for Christmas… everyone got an office. It would be more popular than that Christmas Prince movie.

      3. else

        WHY do they even think this is a good idea anyway, if they aren’t already in such a space??? Nobody ever likes it.

        1. Emily K

          Cynical answer: Because they’re cheap/broke and you can cram more people per square foot into an open plan if you have no regard for what your employees actually functionally need to work effectively and just view them as furniture to be arranged.

          Kinder answer: There are some genuine benefits to open spaces that some employers are sincerely being dazzled by the promise of, like ease of collaboration and more collegial relationships. If one’s bosses are in this camp and not just being cheap bastards, I would suggest finding a way to incorporate open spaces without making people give up their private spaces. My current office has both and it’s actually really nice. Most of the time we work in our own offices (for senior staff) or these sort of two-desk nooks (for junior staff/interns), but sometimes if we want to do a working meeting or just get a change of scenery/be more social, there are these nice open plan areas you can pick up your laptop and move to. They’re in the parts of our office that get the most natural sunlight which those of us in interior offices really crave sometimes, and they have some comfortable couches with little coffee tables for people who want to converse, read, take notes, and stuff like that, as well as some long tall tables with power strips built in that are more ergonomic for computer work. They’ve also become the unofficial place to put treats that you want to share with the office, as they’re a neutral territory that no one team or department has claim to, and where folks who stop by to pick up some goodies and end up sticking around chatting won’t be standing right next to a private office/nook disturbing anyone who is looking for quiet.

          1. GlitsyGus

            We’re going full open plan next year (blech) with several “break out spots” like you described. I’m trying to be optimistic, but I could also see a few folks in my office deciding they want a breakout space as “theirs” and just setting up camp all day every day.

      4. Jazz Grow

        I work at a very large corporation that was once famous in the industry for everyone getting their own office. They’ve been converting more and more buildings to open space just as the research is increasingly growing that it is a detriment to productivity for most roles (I believe there are some that benefit from this arrangement; mine isn’t one of them). I am very interested to see if at some point the brakes are put on the expansion of open space.

    6. Clay on my Apron

      OP, I’m guessing the “screw you” response is just a knee-jerk response to feeling embarrassed. I’d react the same way, probably. But once you’ve had a chance to process the awkward feelings, I think you’ll see that you need to work on your tone and volume. It’s not up to everyone else to compensate.

      That said – I work in an open plan office with a remote team where people don’t think twice about having loud, disruptive conference calls. It’s horrible and really impacts on my concentration. But it’s not just one person so I think it would be difficult to get people to change.

    7. Girl Friday

      Even in a cubicle farm this can be a problem. My “neighbors” are on their phones with customers half the day and can get so loud. The cubicle walls do not help at all.

      1. Cotton Headed Ninny Muggins

        I thought OP3 was my former cube-neighbor. He is a natural loud talker, and unfortunately, our phones share a cube wall. When he sat next to me, I couldn’t make calls, because my customers could hear his customer’s information clear as a bell. Now he’s down the row and over, I can still hear him clearly, but it’s a much better. He’s a genuinely caring and nice person who loves talking to customers, but it was super disruptive everyone else who was also trying to help our customers too.

    8. BluntBunny

      This is quite aggressive. The OP is not yelling or raising their voice and is not intentionally trying to ruin people’s day. Asking to change the volume of someone’s natural voice is the same as asking to change their accent. It’s doable for very short periods with concentration but will naturally return when not concentrating. I think people need to understand that to manage their expectations and thus their frustration.

      OP somethings to try-
      Treat the conversation as confidential/private and that you wouldn’t want people to hear or imagine that you are on public transport.
      Pause before starting the next sentence and speak slowly. It can be less irritating when you can actually hear the words rather than just noise.
      Warn others before you take calls so they know you are going to be on call for the next hour and they can plan accordingly if again you aren’t able to successfully control your voice.
      If these are prescheduled calls or routine calls could you write down most of what you need to say reading it during the call can help control how loudly you are speaking.
      Could you move further from certain people, your colleagues will have varying levels of hearing and may not notice as much.

      Also to note, your colleagues have probably put up with it for awhile before they decided to speak up about it, so have tried grinning and bearing it unsuccessfully it’s now your turn to try and tone it down.

      1. Almond oil

        So what you’re saying is that everyone else that has learned to use an indoor voice should suck it up because the Op didn’t have parents who taught them to lower their tone indoors. My 4 year old is learning now that she has to talk in a lower tone inside around people and out in public and her loud carrying voice is to used outside for playing or at places like games or settings where everything is loud. Getting overly excited and using a loud voice is something most of us curbed in our formative years, OP is late to the game but needs to learn this or be the office loudmouth everyone hates. Sugar coating this is unhelpful, since Op is already thinking they are fine.

        1. KeepCalmAndWorkOn

          Settle down, brown cow. No need to take it personally. If OP3 is aware enough to write in to ask for help, AND admit to being embarrassed, then they know its something they need to work on.

          1. Lexi

            I read it more as The guy was testing the waters to see if they were right or the co-workers were. I don’t think the guy is on board that he is a problem.

        2. iambadatusernames

          This is really harsh and unhelpful. I can’t modulate my voice without a lot of concentration and it takes work. I’m not an idiot – I understand the difference between ‘indoor voice’ and ‘outdoor voice’ but don’t have the innate ability to hear myself when I cross the line between the two.

          I’m glad I have people in my life who are far kinder than you who just tap my shoulder and let me know if I’m getting loud.

          I get that OP (and me) need to work on trying to be quieter, and I do feel for people who have to deal with us. I think saying ‘Sorry I care’ is the wrong response, if you’re bothering people you need to try to modulate whatever the behavior is. However, your comment is overly insensitive to something that is a struggle for some people.

          1. HEY, I'M NOT YELLING, YOU'RE MUMBLING

            Yeah, Almond Oil, that’s showing an utter absence of empathy. Someone may be different from you. your statement is very judgmental and condescending.

        3. BluntBunny

          So in response to my comment pointing out that a lot of these replies are aggressive for something that the OP is doing unconsciously you decide to again reply aggressively and further insult the OP if your only advice is shut up I don’t think you should have bothered to comment.

          If you reread my paragraph again you will see I included things the OP could try to do in the office in order to control the volume of their voice. You will also see on the last line that I have said that their colleagues have probably tried to ignore it and so the OP should try and lower their voice.

          A lot of people who speak loudly have bad hearing so the volume they are speaking is the volume the volume they need others to speak to them at.

          I’m surprised at the amount of judgemental and condescending comments and implying that the OP is a monster for having a naturally loud voice.

          Imagine if the OP wrote in saying people complained about the way they smell and they came to the comments and all it said was well how they need to not smell and they should have learnt by now how to stop smelling we learnt this as a child. How horrible it is that the coworkers have to smell them all day and if it was them they would make fun of them behind their back. How ashamed they should be.

          This is what all of the replies to the letter are like its unhelpful and nasty and I think they should apologise.

          To the replies about accent it’s the same as in it takes an effort to do either even for a short time and it’s rare to completely change your accent just like it is rare for someone that has a naturally quiet voice to speak louder all the time and vice versa. If you were told on Friday you need to have a different accent for you job would it be reasonable to expect you to have that completed by Monday? No

          1. Traffic_Spiral

            Actually, it’s more like the stinky person was refusing to wash and use deoderant because that’s too much trouble on a daily basis, and “screw you, that’s just how I am.”

        4. Observer

          Actually, it doesn’t sound AT ALL like what BluntBunny was saying.

          It is a fact that while most people can modulate their voices the amount of effort varies WIDELY. It is also true that some people have a better ability to gauge how loud their voice is than others. This has nothing to do with how good or bad their parents were! Nor is it a moral failing! It is a fact.

          You seem to have been so busy getting outraged (because you CARE, naturally!) that you apparently didn’t read the entire comment. (I think that that’s probably easier to control that the volume of your voice for people who have that issue.) Otherwise, you would have seen that BluntBunny quite explicitly provides advice that the OP needs to work on this and practical advice on HOW.

      2. Detective Amy Santiago

        Asking to change the volume of someone’s natural voice is the same as asking to change their accent.

        1. no, it’s on the same at all
        2. people change their accents all the time

        1. Curiouser and Curiouser

          +1000 It is not the same. Almost everyone is able to at least affect the volume of their voice for a given situation. It might be a little awkward…but it’s nowhere near changing your accent.

        2. The loud talker

          Have you try to talk in a different volume of your natural voice for a prolonged amount of time (i.e. not just for a few minutes)? If you’re a naturally quiet speaker, have you try going for a day at work speaking louder? I know people find loud talking distracting (and in a social situation, usually embarrassing), but I think people don’t really think of how hard it is to do this ALL THE TIME when you’re at work. Trust me, I’ve tried. I’ve even cried over this.

          1. Work is work

            Yes, actually I have tried to talk in a different volume of my natural voice for a prolonged amount of time, i.e., all day long at work every day. I am a natural quiet talker, but for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, I turn it way up so people can hear me. It’s not at all the same as changing an accent, and while it is somewhat uncomfortable, so is wearing real pants. Fortunately, they pay for all this.

          2. Curiouser and Curiouser

            I am an exceptionally loud speaker. Yes, I tone it down at work. Yes, occasionally I get a little louder than I’d like and I notice it and I tone it down again. I try to consider the people around me when I’m interacting and behave accordingly. You’re right, it’s a little awkward, but so are a lot of things at work. My coworkers being able to do their jobs to the best of their ability should not be impeded by me.

          3. Detective Amy Santiago

            Yes, I have. I said in another comment that I have a naturally loud voice that I have learned to modulate over time.

          4. Starbuck

            Yes, it’s a normal work duty. I work with the public and as an educator, you just have to be able to do it. If people can’t hear me, I’m not doing my job. I was NOT a public speaker before starting this role but I figured it out because I had to. I am not just a quiet person- normally, I just don’t talk unless someone asks me a direct question.

          5. Basia, also a Fed

            Yes, i do try to talk at a different volume all day every day when I’m work. I am loud. Very loud. Every day I come to work and try hard all day not to be loud. Sometimes people ask me to keep it down. I respect them for asking and try harder.

            On the flip side, my husband is quiet. Very quiet. He works with clients, and I always assumed he was quiet at work. Then I once happened to be there when he was working with the public – and his voice was much louder and more assertive than his normal voice! I was shocked! No wonder he comes home exhausted every night.

            So, you’re correct in that it is not easy. But lots of people do it all the time.

          6. emmelemm

            Yes, I’m a naturally very quiet-voiced person. My mom is very,very hard-of-hearing, has top of the line hearing aids, but still has trouble parsing speech. I have trained myself to speak pretty loudly and clearly (“ringing tones”, even!) when talking to my mom.

    9. Tinybutfierce

      Yuuuup.

      I work in a department of folks that are on the phone virtually all day. Up until recently, I had a floormate who was So. Loud. All. The. Time. He was clearly great at his job and had great relationships with our clients, but it was literally possible to hear every single word he said on the other side of the floor. I genuinely don’t know how those who sat near him put up with it, because it was distracting enough to me through my own one-eared headset and an earbud playing music in the other ear. He also knew how loud he was (I heard him “jokingly” admit he knew he was bothersome to some folks at least once or twice), and it did NOT endear him to others to know he was aware he was bothering others and just didn’t care to even attempt to be considerate of every other employee around him.

      1. Monsters

        We called our loudmouth “Sully” from monsters inc. when discussing our annoyance, and Sadly people from other departments on the same floor knew exactly who we were talking about. He applied for a job on another team and a worker from the other side that had transferred and was interviewing him recognized the voice and accidentally called him Sully several times and after having to tell the other interviewers why later they decided to go with another candidate.

        1. MusicWithRocksInIt

          An excellent argument for why this is important in the long run. You want to be known as “The girl who’s customer’s love her!” and not “That really loud girl in sales!”. Because people will remember the loud thing and associate it with you much easier than your great record.

    10. Curiouser and Curiouser

      I have a naturally very loud voice. I also work in an open floor plan. So I talk more quietly when I’m on the phone. It’s not natural, it’s a little awkward…but if I expect respect and consideration from my coworkers, they should expect it from me. The best way I do this is, when I’m doing anything that my coworkers can hear, I consider how it will affect them and act accordingly. It is absolutely OP’s responsibility to handle his volume. If it’s impossible for him to modulate, then yeah, he has to go through the time-consuming process of booking a conference room every time. But my hunch is, when he puts effort into it, modulation is not as touch as he thinks it is. I still have to say ‘sorry’ every now and then when I get a little louder, but a little attention goes a long way.

      1. else

        Yes! I have both a hearing difference that means that I’m much more easily bothered by loud noise than most people (it’s actually physically painful if sudden) AND a very boisterous colleague with a naturally loud booming voice. We had some conflict about this that resulted in shouting (him) and HR involvement (me). We are now doing just fine because he makes a real effort not to boom at me and he no longer thinks I was just picking on him by asking him to speak softer, which is what he apparently thought until others told also told him he was loud. The occasional lapse is much more easily dealt with when I know I don’t have to expect pain every time I am anywhere near the guy.

        1. Curiouser and Curiouser

          I have a hunch that the issue isn’t so much that OP speaks loud, it’s that they seem unwilling to try or at least put forth an effort. No one expects someone to never disrupt in an open office plan. But if you’re disrupting often…you should at least be trying to fix it.

    11. The loud talker

      As someone with a naturally loud voice, I am sympathetic to the OP. I could modulate my voice, but it’s simply not possible to do this for 8 hours a day, because it’s just not natural. It’s something that I have to keep thinking “don’t talk so loud don’t talk so loud,” but once my mind actually thinks about other things (i.e. work), my voice goes back to normal again.

      I don’t even work in an open office — I have my own office. But I’ve even been told that I was being too loud when I was sitting in my own office having a work conversation. I’m really at a loss what to do. Not to mention that everytime someone says this, I can’t help but feeling hurt.

        1. Pippa

          This is a good idea. I bet a lot of people would find a session or two with a voice coach interesting and helpful for one reason or another. I have a colleague with an extremely grating nasal accent, who is also loud, and it actually makes people avoid conversations with her. If she could just alter one of those things, she might find that her relationships with colleagues improved. (It’s not hostility toward her, but people naturally avoid unpleasant sounds, even if they’re rationally trying not to blame her.)

          And while I don’t know of anything about my own voice I want to alter, I’d be interested to hear what a professional thought. Love the voice coach idea!

      1. Traffic_Spiral

        Well, you’re hurting everyone around you with your loud voice (seriously, that shit is *not* pleasant to be around) so… sorry that occasionally the people you hurt occasionally ask you to stop doing it?

        1. CheeryO

          “The people you hurt,” really? I think we’re going too far in the other direction here. Loud talking can be distracting and annoying at times, but it’s one of those things that’s just part of working in an office. Luckily, you’re paid for the hardship of enduring loud voices.

          1. Jules the 3rd

            Wait, no: Loud voices can be painful. See the comment from ‘else’ just above you. It’s actually pretty common – different people process sensory input differently. I have a couple of people in my family who feel physical pain / headaches if they hear loud voices for very long. In addition to natural settings, being tired or thirsty, or having a stuffy nose / filled eustachian tubes can make you more sensitive to loud noises.

            Please don’t assume that people who say ‘this hurts’ are exaggerating just because it doesn’t hurt you.

          2. Traffic_Spiral

            Paid for the hardship of putting up with an obnoxious whiny foghorn? No, no I don’t think that was in the job description.

      2. Jules the 3rd

        I’ve been told to tone it down too. Some things that have been successful:
        1) Pause for a deep, belly breath regularly in a conversation (or take one when your conversation partner is talking). Relaxes the diaphragm, lowers the excitement
        2) Talking more slowly
        3) Finding an outlet, a place to be full volume once or twice a month for at least 10 – 30 minutes. For me, outdoor amphitheater where I can sing at concert volume; maybe a loud bar with friends? Or if you have kids, an indoor play space. Trying to have a conversation in one of those requires FULL volume.

      3. JustaTech

        Decibel meter on your desk? I don’t know if they’re precise enough for various speaking volumes, but if it does work it would give you visual feedback on your volume that would make it easier to try and re-train your phone voice.

        1. GlitsyGus

          A cheaper, not quite as accurate option that helps me is to just hold a piece of paper in front of your mouth, like 6 inches away or so. It not only blocks the sound a little but it also bounces it back towards you so it helps you hear what others are hearing. It’s a little weird person-to-person, but it’s really good for checking your volume on the phone.

    12. JJ

      Good luck, OP #3! Also beware other loud talkers, I’ve found when they get together to chat, the volume goes up Up UP! I worked with two who could get very loud when talking with each other, but they knew it and were chill when we were like, “hey, you’re doing it again!” I’m hoping you work in a reasonably friendly office where this can be the vibe, where you just chuckle and say whoops! Thanks for letting me know. And you move elsewhere or try to be quieter. Maybe a little note or reminder on your desk someplace to help you remember?

      And do try to remember it’s not personal! We are all loud sometimes and need a reminder.

    13. Totally Minnie

      OP3, I think it’s important that you try not to frame this as criticism of you as a human being. You’re passionate about your work, and I’m sure your coworkers realize and appreciate that about you. When they ask you to lower your voice, they’re not saying you’re a bad person or a bad employee. They’re just saying it’s hard to concentrate with a loud conversation happening nearby. It’s not about you, the human. It’s about the workload of the office as a whole.

    14. Elf

      I have to say, this letter and the responses to it make me so, so angry. I get that the OP was pretty defensive, and that that doesn’t come off super well, but I don’t think people who aren’t naturally loud have any idea what they are asking. I am a naturally loud person, and I have spent my entire life being shushed. It’s not like this is some new thing that magically appears when you show up to work, loud women are shushed from early childhood. (Note that I said women here, because loud men are rarely shushed and vocal volume expectations are deeply rooted in misogyny. )I have had my hearing tested, and it’s normal. Believe me, if my vocal volume was something I could fix just by trying hard, it would have been fixed decades ago.

      In particular, the line that people are criticizing the OP for when she says “Sorry I care about my wok,” rings really true to me. Even when I am paying a great deal of attention to not being too loud, the second I feel any enthusiasm or excitement or urgency it comes out in my voice. The only way to avoid the volume is to not be engaged in the conversation. If her job involves some form of sales or other pitching over the phone, where it is important to convey certain emotional content to be effective, it may be literally impossible for her to do a good job quietly.

      I’m not saying that this woman’s colleagues should just suck it up by any means, but I think it is naive and cruel to assume that it is something she can just fix.

      1. Jules the 3rd

        But a lot of us on here are people who are also naturally loud who have been able to adjust our volumes. We couldn’t have done that if we started from the assumption that excitement / urgency and volume are inextricably mixed.

        You’re right about the misogyny (and racism! it’s in there too!), and the natural volume settings, but we get twisted in a lot of unnatural ways when we try to fit into various social settings. People who are able to adapt will be more successful, and adaption starts with accepting that there’s a valid reason to change. ‘Sorry I care about my work’ is a defensive statement being used to avoid assessing whether there’s a valid reason, and what options might be available.

        Misogyny and racism are *not* valid reasons, but working in an open floor plan office is. OP needs to assess the options available to mitigate the issue, and she won’t do that if she’s focused on defending her position.

      2. Le Sigh

        I’m also naturally loud. I also work in an open office and have been asked to take it down a notch, but I had a ‘oh boy’ reaction to her defensiveness. I don’t disagree that it’s challenging to consistently modulate your volume. Nor is it terribly surprising the OP felt a bit hurt and embarrassed, and had some knee-jerk reactions.

        But, much like people don’t realize what they’re asking of loud talkers, loud talkers (I count myself in this) do not always realize how loud and distracting they are. The office is a shared space, so a lot of commenters (including those who testify to speaking loudly naturally and the struggle to point out) are pointing out that saying “sorry I care” is unhelpful and unfair the coworkers. An open office means you have to put up with some amount of noise, but it also means everyone has to reign in their own tendencies. Fidgeters have to not tap (and yes, this is super hard for those who are naturally fidgeters), loud talkers have to tone it down, people who need total concentration might need headphones. It might be presumptuous to assume it’s easy to modulate her voice, but it’s not cruel to point out that it’s pretty rude to not even try, and just say “SORRY I CARE” — as if her other coworkers don’t care?

    15. Kelsi

      I kind of get it–telling someone they’re too loud when they’re speaking at what is, for them, a normal and comfortable level can feel like a personal attack. It isn’t, but that can definitely be the initial emotional response.

      I work with two very loud people, one of whom is a close work friend. The first time it came up, she was in tears because she was trying to do her job well and the person who approached her was very short with her. (She also has had a history of being told she is too loud, too much, etc.) Once she was able to process through her emotions and realize that it wasn’t a judgment on her as a person, but an expression of what that person (and others) needed to be able to do THEIR job well, she was able to figure out ways of mitigating the issue. But yeah, I get how this put LW3 on the defensive.

      (My friend isn’t on the phone much, so she’s able to take her calls in a meeting room, but the other loud person in the office was moved to a cubicle away from the main area and with higher walls because he needs to be on the phone a large portion of the time.)

    16. Kate H

      I work in an open office. My department rarely makes calls. I don’t even have a phone and when my supervisor and I have conference calls with remote contacts, we do it in a conference room. We are directly next to the customer service hallway, where there are several people who make calls all day long above a normal speaking volume as well as sometimes shouting down the hallway to each other. It’s terrible. I have what are supposed to be noise-cancelling headphones but they don’t work against voices much at all. I can still hear people across the room, even if they’re speaking fairly quietly.

      They’re not asking you to change your personality; they’re asking you to modulate the volume of your voice so that they can focus on their own work.

  8. Observer

    #1 When I repeatedly hear “I was giving him the benefit of the doubt” my alarm bells start ringing. Stop giving him the benefit of the doubt.

    This gets brought up a lot here, but it’s still a good idea – read something like The Gift of Fear by Gavin DeBecker.

    1. Ash

      Regarding the idea of the “benefit of the doubt:” OP, you have so many people in your life that you trust whole heartedly, right? Like, you have met and formed relationships with many trustworthy, wonderful people who maybe have flaws, and have maybe even betrayed you, but now in a way that jeopardized your physical safety. You don’t need to work so hard to give a few people the benefit of the doubt when the majority of people you know are decent, good, and kind.

      It’s confusing because you are probably subconsciously waiting for this creep to start acting like all the good people you know – but those people were good from the beginning. It might have taken you awhile to warm to some of them, but they didn’t make you feel unsafe.

      Your intuition is right on because you have met so many normal, safe, good people that this man is registering as an outlier. This isn’t magic – it’s subconscious pattern recognition based on your years of experience. This is what the commenters and I are asking you to trust – your valid, earned knowledge about how good safe people behave.

    2. Dr. Pepper

      Agreed. When I hear that phrase repeated, it really seems like the person is trying to talk themselves out of how they truly feel. It’s one thing to give the benefit of the doubt when doing so won’t harm you in any way, it’s quite another when you’re repeatedly giving the benefit of the doubt to someone you are considering working for, or some other such situation where you will be in close proximity to them day in and day out. Personally I would be very leery of working for this man. I’ve worked with enough guys who skate on the plausible deniability edge of skeevy, and it wears on you. You start parsing everything they do- as you appear already to be doing with this guy- and frankly that’s exhausting. He may never actually “do” anything, but it sounds like you’re already putting far too much energy into analyzing his actions for you to be happy working for or with him.

      Really search your feelings. Explore your discomfort. It’s there for a reason. Your conscious mind is pushing something away and not dealing with it. What is that?

    3. DFW

      I have read it and I would pass on that book because he takes some really victim blaming stances in his book with domestic violence. The book doesn’t really differentiate between having a gut feeling that something is wrong because it is or if the feeling are stemming from something more sinister like racial or gender stereotypes. That book has almost a cult following here but it is out of date and should be regarded with extreme skepticism.

        1. Liz T

          I think most people do. The advice on this book I tend to hear is, “There’s a ton that’s helpful, but the chapter on domestic violence is terrible.”

        2. Observer

          He’s admitted that he got a lot wrong with that chapter, by the way.

          The OP is not dealing with a domestic violence issues type of situation, so it’s really not all that relevant right now.

      1. Indigo a la mode

        I read this book about a month ago for the first time. That chapter does grate on me for that reason, but it helped a little that he also is solution-oriented and puts a lot of time and money into helping battered women get out. The rest of the book is an excellent wakeup for the many, many women who put politeness over safety. No book is timeless, of course, but I found it useful and his stories fascinating.

        Your point on nefarious sources of fear is interesting. I think GvB might have addressed this somewhat when he pointed out that our intuition is always there for a reason, but our interpretations of intuitive twinges aren’t always reasonable, and that anxiety is different altogether – which is where I might classify irrational, ungrounded worries (person in headscarf, person of color, person of opposing political party, literally any man in sight).

      2. Starbuck

        If you have a more updated resource for women trying to protect themselves that you’d like to recommend I’d look forward to reading it.

        1. DFW

          I work in corrections so I understand the importance of gut instincts but I also know it is dangerous to my self or the inmates to react off of gut instinct as well. It is very challenging to balance gut feelings, threat identification, and action so much so that I feel like it is a skill that is never mastered but perfected an honed over a life time.
          I admit, there is a shortage of well written books that integrate gut instinct with actions to protect one’s self. With that being said, I still have been (with extreme reservation) recommending “The Gift of Fear” with the above caveats for anyone new entering corrections until I can find something better.
          One of my favorites that I recommend is “In Sheep’s Clothing: Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People ” by G. Simon. He is a retired correctional psychologist who has some really great advice on identifying people that could harm them and how to deal with them.
          Another good book but it is indirectly related is “Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts” By Annie Duke or any of her pod casts. It comes from a poker frame of reference she has written it so that it is widely applicable for any circumstance where a judgement has to be made in the face of incomplete information.

  9. Engineer Girl

    #2 I’ve done a spreadsheet resume. It was set up to show the lifecycle of satellite production and my experience in each category at different stages of my engineering career. It was a quick look to demonstrate my competence across all stages of production. This was for a chief engineer position that required experience across all phases of the life cycle.

    I’m not sure what you’d need for a admin position. She’s listed the major categories (date, position, company, duties) so it’s not too hard to do.

    1. Bree

      Yeah, I was thinking that even if it’s a test it’s not a particularly useful one since it doesn’t involve many of the normal ways one would use a spreadsheet.

      I know they say spreadsheet repeatedly, but I still wonder if it’s somehow a misunderstanding, IDK.

      1. Falling Diphthong

        Yeah, this is mystifying me because unless you specify what goes where, you can have 8 spreadsheets formatted 8 different ways from 8 different candidates.

        Hiring the person who does the best job at guessing which of those you find most intuitive is… not a great plan.

    2. Elle

      Interesting! Also an engineer, also have had to do this for an internal job application to show that I’d mastered every competency to get to the next grade level.
      Funny though, until you said something I never thought of it as a resume. They called it a ‘career map’ and it was set up as a timeline. It included all my past rolls (header: title, below that: location/company, below that: bullet points of work, and then below that were 2 columns: competencies & key experiences). The difference is, it also had future rolls. They wanted to see the competencies and key experiences I hoped to achieve in the next 3 rolls. And there was also a timeline across the top with degrees, professional certifications, and mentors.

      1. Matilda Jefferies

        That is actually very cool. I might do one for myself – not to submit to an employer, but it sounds like a great visual way of laying out my skills and competencies. Thanks for the idea!

    3. MusicWithRocksInIt

      I would ask if she would prefer it in a way to take advantage of excel formatting, or if she wants the exact same layout but in excel. Because this could be a challenge to make something look exactly the same, showing how well you can manipulate excel (something I’ve had to do before) or she really wants it laid out in an excel sheet so she can see how well you organize data. Either could be used to text your knowledge of excel. But this just comes from being the go-to excel sheet person for an entire company.

    4. DCGirl

      I’m a proposal manager, and you’d be astonished at the number of agencies that want narrative proposals in spreadsheet format. It seems to be because they feel that this will allow them to make apples-to-apples comparisons of the responses, which may be in play here.

      1. Smiling

        We put all of our candidates on a spreadsheets so that we can compare skills and experience, and then short list them. Many of the applicants are from foreign countries so it’s hard sometimes for the person doing the basic entries to be able to pick out some of the data (i.e. they can’t figure out which is the actual city from the address listed, or don’t understand the degree terminology). Thus, Resumes pre-formatted in Excel would be awesome, but also kinda lazy on our part.

      2. Mockingjay

        Agree with DCGirl; spreadsheet or tabular resumes make it very quick to evaluate a person’s quals against contract requirements. I’ve used contingent resumes for proposals. If I need the resume in tabular form, I provide the candidate with the required form.

        But it might just as Smiling says and they want a way to compare candidates. I think it’s a bit lazy for the company to expect candidates to do that for them.

    5. Arya Snark

      I’ve given Excel tests for hiring and would never consider asking for a resume to be transferred to this format as a means of evaluating anyone, especially for an admin position.

    6. Suzi

      I was wondering if they were adding it to a database, and Excel converts fairly easily into database format.

      1. Jacqueline

        Exactly this! I am a tech person at my company, and my first take for OP#2 was “oh boy, someone just wants to upload into a database and they’re asking you to do the work of transposing your content into the format they need to do that.” Small positive is that if this is the case, your work will probably have a longterm benefit because you may appear in future searches. But I find this frustrating because if they wanted it this way, I think it is only respectful to ask for it this way up front and not ask you to prepare two resumes for the position–and I’d take from that what you will about any clues about how well this office functions. ;)

        Wishing you the best!

  10. LGC

    So, 1: Alison didn’t say it explicitly, but my read is that yes, he is interviewing you. As a “personal assistant,” if you get my drift.

    Also, am I crazy for not being sure that the position actually exists? I mean, is that a logical thing for this situation?

    2: Between this and Tinder Boss, I’m beginning to wonder if people are just trying to get extremely late entries to Worst Boss of 2018/early entries to Worst Boss of 2019.

    The mere prospect of putting a resume in a spreadsheet (and – okay – I’ll admit mine is formatted as a table, but it’s also a Google Doc/PDF) is almost enough to make me hyperventilate. (I mean, I could do it. I would just be super upset while actually doing it because that is not what spreadsheets are for.)

    1. LGC

      So, like diving into Letter 1 a bit more…my first instinct was to tell her to run away because of the high risk that it’s a sham and the position Fergus actually created is in the back seat of his car. (I have more wordplay in mind, but I’ll leave it there.) But if the position is actually legitimate and the skills aren’t THAT much of a reach and the pay is reasonable for that sort of position…like, that makes the call a lot harder. I’d still err on the side of “no,” just because of the creep factor and whatever the pay bump would be it wouldn’t be enough to cover the likely sexual harassment. But I can see a strong argument for taking it if it’s offered (the $$$) and keeping an eye out for any misbehavior.

      1. neverjaunty

        Why do you see that as a strong argument? This isn’t a job offer – this is a position the OP knows she doesn’t have the skills for, dangled in front of her by a guy who’s been showing her personal interest for months and has used the pretext of an interview to invite her out to dinner.

        1. LGC

          I could see an argument for taking the job if that argument was HIGHLY qualified (Basically, if it seemed extremely legitimate, the skills could reasonably be learned on the job, and if she was willing to work with one eye open). Maybe not strong (and I shouldn’t have said that), but she did make it sound like the pay was a large step up.

          I was thinking about the LW that wrote in about the reach job when I wrote that. For what it’s worth, these are two VERY different situations.

          1. EPLawyer

            Even if it were legitimate (spoiler: it’s not), she would always be wondering if the boss was being nice or was hitting on her. That is way too stressful for any job no matter how much you make. It would also lead to TWPS (Toxic Work Place Syndrome) where you start to normalize the wondering all the time. It then will warp you as to the next place you go and affect your ability to be the best you can be.

            1. snowglobe

              Yes, this! Apparently she was already feeling a little bit of the creep factor before the job opened up. Imagine working for someone who awkwardly flirts and you have to constantly wonder if he’s over the line or if you should keep giving the ‘benefit of the doubt’. Exhausting.

            2. LGC

              I mean, I hedged a lot in my comments because I didn’t want to get @-ed for attacking the LW (as opposed to now, where I’m getting @-ed for suggesting she could consider looking into it – and yeah, y’all are somewhat right about that), but I agree that it’s probably not legitimate. (There were a lot of marginal jokes about Fergus that I left out

              And for what it’s worth, I literally slept on this comment thread and my opinion is that it’s worth it only if this totally isn’t what it looks like and Fergus is just handling this poorly. Which could be what’s going on. I could also become a billionaire tomorrow but I wouldn’t bet on it.

    2. JamieS

      I think the job most likely does exist but even if it does and even if he’s asking OP to apply because he legitimately thinks she’s a good fit for it he clearly wants to get in OP’s pants so she’s best to avoid the job. Otherwise she’s most definitely going to be in a work situation where her boss is consistently trying to transition their relationship to a more personal one (read: constant sexual harassment).

  11. Engineer Girl

    #5 – uh oh. You don’t have enough discipline to not spend the money? Yet you can make it last across a month when you get paid monthly?
    This is scary. You should be saving some of your paycheck for emergencies and retirement.
    You may want to take a budgeting class like Dave Ramsey.

    Or is the issue direct deposit? You can do that for bimonthly and weekly checks too. And I would also suggest that you auto allocate your check into different accounts (checking, saving, emergency, etc.)

    1. Gen

      I think OP just hoped not that having to learn a whole new system of budgeting. Living in a country where monthly pay is the standard you get used to having all your bills come out by direct debit the day after payday (paid 25th, bills 26th for example) so then you have the amount for the month left over to budget with. I’ve only worked somewhere with weekly pay once and it was a headache to work it all out because it was a very different system. I could budget with it eventually but it was wierd looking into my account and finding seemingly random amounts of money instead of the usual steadily decreasing amount I’d been used to for a decade. However I’ve worked with colleagues who went from weekly or payment on delivery to monthly and they found monthly horribly stressful for the opposite reason- they were used to a steady inflow of cash and needing to stretch one lumpsum over the month seemed like a daunting prospect.

      1. Engineer Girl

        so then you have the amount for the month left over to budget with

        Technically that’s not budgeting. You’re just making sure the bills get paid before you spend the money. Budgets are a little more proactive.

        Hard as it is, the goal is to get enough money saved up so that it doesn’t matter when/how often you get paid or when the bills come it. It takes a while to get that kind of float, but it gives a lot more freedom. The only way you’re going to do that is to scrupulously track your money.

        Caveat: I know that a lot of people are going paycheck to paycheck and it’s hard to budget. I remember many times throwing the budget spreadsheet up against the wall (pre home computer days) because the expenses were more than the income.

        1. T3k

          Yep. I get paid peanuts (having upgraded from Styrofoam peanuts) and until recently, was always paid weekly (now twice a month). It’s weird being paid like that for sure, but I’ve managed to scrape up just enough cushion that I don’t have to doublecheck my account for every bill (especially helpful when I can’t change the due dates so they’re all over the last half of the month).

        2. Kat in VA

          I went from getting paid weekly as a temp to biweekly as permanent and I actually spent MORE money when I was paid weekly. Getting paid 2x a month has forced me to be more proactive in terms of not going YEEHAW LOOKIT THIS BIG OL CHECK and thinking more toward “Yep, that looks like a bunch of cash but I have to pay X, Y, and Z before I get paid again.”

          1. Seifer

            Yes! My last job paid weekly and my current job pays biweekly. The fortunate part was that I got a huge pay increase. The unfortunate part was that I did the same thing, LOOK AT ALL THE MONIES. It took me a few months to get into the swing of it.

        3. R.D.

          Yeah, budgeting is a lot easier when you have more than enough money to cover your bills.

          If you are just scraping by, the bi-weekly paychecks can be tricky when your mortgage or rent is due on the same day each month. You have to be very careful to have enough in there when some months your paycheck will arrive the day after the due date on your biggest bill.

          Twice a month is easier. For most bills you can move your due date, paying your rent/mortgage with the first paycheck and everything else with the second. Many mortgage and property management companies will even let you pay twice a month if more than half your paycheck goes to rent/mortgage.

          It takes a lot of work to change the way you set up your personal finances and trial and error can be tricky if the error means not having enough money for groceries.

          1. Jules the 3rd

            I put the mortgage in the 1st half of the month, and car / student loan / electric / water payments in the 2nd half. They are close enough to even that it works ok, though it means I am paying electric bills about 2 weeks early.

            1. GlitsyGus

              This is what I do too, half the bills due around the 5th, half around the 18th (to help when the pay periods aren’t quite at the 15th and 30th).

              Pretty much everyone I pay monthly for something was more than happy to let me shift due dates to make this work, including my credit card company. It makes life so much easier when you’re paid bi-monthly and I highly recommend it to OP.

      2. friday anon

        This! I get my salary on a monthly basis and when I was in the US I was really weirded out by being paid weekly and having rent deducted twice a month (as well as other weekly expenses) and how would I even know how much I had for groceries.

        I gave up on it eventually and just squirreled away some fall back money in case I lost sight of my finances at some point, but I could only do that because I knew I would leave for my home country again. I’m not sure how I would have managed to deal with it longterm, because random amounts of money are…strange.

        1. TL -

          Rent is usually paid once a month in the USA – I’ve never heard of anyone paying twice a month. It’s weekly here in NZ (you can set up most/all of your bills to be paid weekly) and I loathe, loathe, loathe it.

          I have a pretty good idea of what my ‘normal’ spending habits are; my expenses are really predictable as are most people’s, I think. In my first job, for instances, I could ‘splurge’ about $200/month for entertainment or non-necessary purchases without harming my budget as long as my spending habits were normal. If I was eating out a lot or buying lots of little things, I’d need to keep an eye on my cc bill, which couldn’t go over $500/mo.

          But in general, I’ve always known rent is $X, bills are ~$Y, gas and groceries are ~$Z, and I have $W in excess money every month. And if I get a new job or income, then I work backwards from that income to figure out what my new spending habits need to be.

          1. Falling Diphthong

            This. Spouse gets paid byweekly, I get paid at random intervals. That’s income. For outgo, the mortgage and these bills are due end of the month, this weird outlier the first week, the others the second. They will be about this much money.

            This is all about being accustomed to one system and asked to change, not to one being inherently easier. (I’m surprised at the idea of just telling everyone who bills you that you pay on the 26th of the month and not some other date–in my experience I get bills about 3 weeks before they are due, not 5 weeks so that any date in the next month works.)

          2. Dust Bunny

            Weekly?? That seems like way too much time spent processing payments (even though I know it’s all computerized now).

            One of my paychecks is basically rent + car insurance + a few subscriptions (Netflix, newspapers), and the other is everything else. I know what all my set expenses are each month + how much I need to save so as long as I don’t go over what’s left, I’ll be fine.

            But the answer to this, OP5, is for you to learn to manage it. That’s not your employer’s responsibility.

            1. GlitsyGus

              I used to get paper checks weekly. It was such a PIA. I finally started just holding one check and going to the bank every other week and just pretending I was paid bi-weekly for my own sanity.

          3. caryatis

            >Rent is usually paid once a month in the USA – I’ve never heard of anyone paying twice a month.

            This is not true. I’ve spent my whole life in the US and almost every job I’ve had paid every two weeks (one was weekly). I’ve never been paid monthly.

            1. caryatis

              Wait, looks like I misunderstood. Rent is monthly, pay is biweekly. Solution: budget and live below your means. Not rocket science.

              1. EH

                Wow, that’s condescending. Read up on how the working poor live and maybe think twice before shaming folks about whom you know next to nothing.

              2. Parenthetically

                “Solution: budget and live below your means. Not rocket science.”

                Oh please do tell me how I should have budgeted and lived below my means when I was working more than full time and making $1100/month.

              3. LawBee

                It may not be rocket science but it can be – and often is – a lot harder than you have apparently ever experienced. When your means are X and your pay is X (or X-30), it is nearly impossible to get ahead. I don’t wish poverty on anyone, but try to have a little empathy.

                This comment is very much in line with the “calories in is less than calories out, it’s not hard” mindset towards weight loss, which is utterly dismissive of the various factors that go into how our bodies process food. >:[

          4. friday anon

            I was renting furnished from a lady affiliated with my organization, because I was only in the country for a limited time (and knew that). Maybe I was duped? I had no clue about housing customs at the time, I was a lot younger then.

            1. Indigo a la mode

              As long at it was an overall reasonable monthly rent (like, you weren’t paying market rate twice), splitting it across two payments a month might have be a kindness if she knew you weren’t making much money. It’s tough for a lot of people to have a big lump sum ready at the beginning of the month.

      3. Slartibartfast

        I get paid every two weeks werks, and have my bills set up so roughly half (money-wise) of my expenses ate due at the beginning of the month and half are due mid month. I pay those bills and then I know what’s left for groceries and discretionary spending until next payday. And there’s a portion of my check that goes into savings by direct deposit. I don’t even think about that as income, out of sight out of mind. It does get awkward because sometimes payday is the 7th and 21st and I have to take out a ‘loan’ from my savings so things are paid on time and repay the ‘loan’ when I get paid, but I also get two ‘extra’ paychecks a year that aren’t part of the regular budget.

        1. Kat in VA

          My husband gets paid the 7th and 22nd and we call the first check the “lean check” (mortgage comes out it) and the second check is the “fat” check (most other bills and discretionary spending). Now I get paid every other week so our finances are all out of whack. Our kids have learned to not ask for The Thing (whatever it may be) until the latter half of the month. ;)

      4. MusicWithRocksInIt

        It can be super nice to be paid monthly, so you always know the money comes in on the 15th and you can plan to pay all your bills on the 15th every month, and you can rely on that. If you are paid every other week (I’m guessing that is what they mean by bi-monthly) then it can fall on different times of the month and then you don’t have that one same day to sit down and take care of everything. However – these is so much work that goes into churning payroll out on time that I would never ever even dream of asking something like that. If you haven’t ever been involved in payroll you might not realize that, but it would seem super out of touch with business norms to even ask. This is not one of those ‘Might as well ask, what can it hurt?’ situations.

        1. Sophie before she was cool

          A lot of places are paid truly bi-monthly rather than every two weeks. I get paid on the 5th and the 20th of each month — 24 paychecks per year.

          1. Sophie before she was cool

            I guess that’s really semi-monthly rather than bi-monthly, but it’s still always at the same time of the month.

          2. Kelsi

            Yep I get paid on the 15th and the last day of the month (so there’s some variation in the second date, but it’s always the last day so my automatic payments are scheduled for the 1st of the next month).

        2. Question5

          Yup, hence why I chose to ask this blog and get some wisdom, especially as 95% of my work experience is non-US based and the expectations of normal requests can vary wildly.

        3. GlitsyGus

          I’ve had it both ways and, honestly, the once you get used to it the shifting pay days aren’t too bad.

          I do prefer 15th/30th or similar, but bi-weekly isn’t all THAT different, you just have to think “I get paid on Friday” rather than “I get paid on the 15th.”

      5. change

        I really don’t see the problem. I get paid bi-monthly but have a monthly budget. So what. Perhaps the problem is that the OP doesn’t actually HAVE a budget, he or she spends according to what they see in their bank account. If you actually have a budget, it should matter if you get paid more frequently than once a month. Less frequently, I could see problem, but MORE frequently?

        1. Parenthetically

          Just my thoughts as a person who really used to have to scrape by, if I’d gotten paid twice a month, my first paycheck would have been LESS than my mortgage payment alone. I could just make it from paycheck to paycheck when I got paid on the first of the month, but I don’t know how I would have managed getting paid twice a month, bills-wise.

          1. GlitsyGus

            That’s been my situation a lot of times. I just know I need to have $XXX from my 15th check kept aside for my rent, etc on the 1st. It isn’t hard at all, it just takes getting used to.

            Sometimes, like in Dec when my spending is higher than normal, I’ll take that reserve amount and put it in savings then transfer it back when I write the rent check, just to be safe.

        2. Question5

          Hello,

          Sorry for the poor wording of my original question–I do budget, have savings accounts and a Roth.

          While I am accepting a pay cut and I am fine with that, I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to pay for my big ticket expenses (rent mostly) when it takes up 95% of the first paycheck. Everyone’s feedback on how they handle this has been very illuminating.

          1. GlitsyGus

            I do recommend asking some of your people you pay if you could move your due date to the second half of the month. Most non-rent folks are happy to do it and it takes some of the pressure off. Good luck!

      6. beepboopin

        I’m in the U.S. and I get paid monthly (have been on this system since I started my career 5 years ago). I find it incredibly helpful in terms of budgeting expenses. Its also nice because I have adjusted so all my bills are paid within the first week of the month (this includes retirement, savings and credit card payments) so I know what money is left for additional expenses the rest of the month. My spouse is also paid biweekly so we have cash flow coming throughout the month. It will be a huge adjustment and mindset change when I leave this job and have to go to biweekly so I definitely feel for OPs request. But don’t mistake the anxiety for change for being fundamentally irresponsible with money. I think anyone who has to adjust to a different income flow would have a hard time adjusting (as well as it being stressful).

    2. Mystery Bookworm

      I get the sense that OP is just trying to outsource some self-discipline, which isn’t an entirely unreasonable thing to do (and can be very smart, research suggests setting up your environment to encourage good habits works a lot better than raw willpower).

      That said, he’s in the situation he’s in, so he’ll have to come up with a new system.

      OP, if you’re reading this, my family and I personally found the YouNeedABudget software really helpful, but YMMV.

      1. Cat wrangler

        I work as a temp so I get paid weekly (the norm for white collar workers in the UK is monthly but some industries also pat fortnightly). I can pay a 1/4 of my bills each week (so if my credit card bill is £200, I would pay £50 per week), exceptions being monthly commitments such as mobile phone bill or car insurance where it’s not possible to make a split payment. The alternative is to save up a portion of the monthly expenses each pay period to make one payment as it falls due. It might take a bit more planning in the first couple of months but you’ll soon get the hang of it. Plus consider creating a savings account, equivalent to three or six months salary as your own slush fund in case the job disappears – hopefully you’ll never need it but Just In Case.

        1. R.D.

          fortnightly. such a better word than semi-weekly or bi-weekly. Too bad no one in the US uses it so we all have to guess through context if the mean every other week or twice a week. /tangent

        2. R.D.

          regarding splitting payment on car insurance and phone bills – why is it not possible? They won’t split them for you, but there is nothing stopping you from sending in 2 payments a month on many bills. Estimate the first one and pay the balance on the second one.

          You do have to carefully watch your bills.

          I would double check before doing it with my mortgage or a loan, because it is highly possible that they might apply one payment to interest only, or to principal only and then show the actual payment short paid.

          You would need to carefully track you payments with other bills because frequently your first payment wouldn’t show on the current month bill, so you would have to deduct it manually. You would also need to be traking to make sure that all your payments are received and applied correctly, even if it’s not until the next payment cycle.

      2. Falling Diphthong

        It’s usually not good to be asking your work to impose the self-discipline on you. Whether that’s the boss telling their staff to intervene if they see the boss eating a donut, or the person who thought rather than process the invoices the people who needed invoices processed could come up with a color-coded system so she could see how much of the stack was overdue.

        1. Half-Caf Latte

          Falling Dipthong is right about not asking work to impose it.

          As a new manager, I had an employee cancel direct deposit, and get paper paychecks. After a few months, I got a call from payroll, employee wasn’t cashing their checks. I called employee, horrified that she hadn’t been getting paid and was too shy to speak up. Turns out they were all sitting on her dresser, she lived at home and didn’t have many expenses, and not cashing them was her way to not spend the money.

          My first thought was the OP could do something similar-ish to impose discipline but without involving work. Maybe set up a second bank account, receive direct deposits through that, and set up an auto-transfer of the monthly amount at the end of every month.

          1. SpaceySteph

            Oh man I totally did that when I was 17. I was only there temporarily the summer before I went to college so we didn’t bother to set up a direct deposit or anything so I got a check handed to me every other week. One check I forgot about, and was living at home with no expenses so wasn’t worrying about it. I found it when I was packing to leave for school a couple months later and deposited it… and then it bounced and I got fees taken out of my account because of it. I learned my lesson the hard way on that one.

        2. Mystery Bookworm

          I don’t think anyone’s disagreeing with that point! I was just responding to Engineer Girl’s suggestion that OP wasn’t able to get through the month or properly save money….I think that’s a bit of a reach. We don’t have any meaningful evidence to conclude that OP is bad at budgeting.

          I also don’t know that e-mailing Alison to ask if it would be reasonable to request monthly payments demonstrates the same lack of boundaries as a boss requesting that staff help with their diet.

          1. Engineer Girl

            The OP clearly stated they “tempted to spend my money impulsively“ if they don’t get paid monthly. They want to use their employer to control their spending.

            That doesn’t happen if you have financial discipline. Sure, we are tempted. But not to the point where we need others to be our gatekeepers.

            1. madge

              Having “discipline” (financial or otherwise) means understanding your own behavioral tendencies and using effective strategies to moderate them. Those strategies will necessarily look different for each person, and needing a stronger impediment to a particular behavior doesn’t make you any less disciplined. Requesting monthly payments is clearly not going to be a practical option, so the OP will have to look for a different strategy, but their desire to use that as a strategy doesn’t mean they lack discipline.

              1. Engineer Girl

                I would argue it does. They are looking at others to be their gatekeeper instead of finding their own strategies.

                It’s like last week’s bad boss that was ordering her team to make her be accountable on her diet.

                If you need others to make you be accountable then there are self discipline issues. We all have areas of our life like that. But at least name it so you can work it.

              2. Jules the 3rd

                I think Engineer Girl, you’re defining ‘discipline’ as ‘self discipline with each tempting choice’, while madge and I are defining ‘discipline’ as ‘the overall system of managing choices’, maybe?

                Because I am with madge on this one. Self-denial is work; discipline can totally involve understanding how much self-denial work you’re able to do and setting up structures that reduce it, including structures from employers or family.

                OP could actually set it up so that it looks monthly to her, if she can build up a 2 week cash buffer, by having her work direct deposit into one account 2x/month, then her bank automatically transfer it over to the account she looks at 1x/month. My Credit Union would do that, cost $1/month per account, so $24/year. She’s offloading the work to the bank, compensating them for the work, but building a structure that is more comfortable for her, without having to change her ‘self discipline’ choices…

            2. Mystery Bookworm

              Mmm. We may have to agree to disagree on this one. I don’t think asking about a monthly paycheck is any different than employing strategies like programs that automatically deposit a % into 401Ks or “save the change” programs at banks that automatically put money into savings, or even employees requesting that employers provide healthy snacks in the kitchen, so they don’t have to spend the whole workday looking at chips.

              Research shows that the less active willpower we have to rely on to maintain good habits, the better. So if things can be automated (and often they can!) it absolutely can be part of financial disapline to request that.

              But of course you’re free not to use those tools if you don’t want to!

      3. AES

        Was definitely about to recommend YNAB. Setting up a cushion is exactly what this person needs to work toward! OP5, if you’re reading this–it’s lifechanging!

      4. ket

        Good call on outsourcing self-discipline — and one nice way to do it is auto-deduct money for savings and move it to a “secret account” so that you never even see it and then often don’t remember that you have it to spend :) There’s a book called “I will teach you to be rich” that includes this idea among others.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood

      The separate accounts thing is a good one except that in some cities the minimum balance for free checking is really high.
      (I recommend finding a credit union.)

      But then direct deposit could go into one account — and the amount OP wants to have available for bills& daily life can be suto-transferred once a month. Hey presto, same familiar pattern to her finances.

      1. Kitryan

        This is what I do. The paychecks go in a savings account and then each month I move an amount that’s calculated to be enough (plus a smidge extra) for the monthly expenses over to checking. Advantages include being able to earn some small interest on that money while it’s in savings, being able to do all of my personal accounting for the month at once, and the fact that any overage beyond the normal monthly expenses in that savings account easily creates the basis for an emergency fund and other savings.

      2. Engineer Girl

        My credit union not only does auto deposit but it also has directed sub accounts. The pay automatically goes into each account as I direct. The minimum is $5 for each sub account. I have one named Travel, one named Property Taxes, etc.
        in some cases it acts as a gate on my spending. I don’t get to take any big vacations unless there is enough money in my Travel account, for example.

      3. ket

        Credit unions are great! There are also ways to do this with some of the online-only banks — create sub-accounts for various purposes, or create separate accounts for taxes, emergency fund, Louboutins, etc.

      4. HappySnoopy

        I was coming on to say the same thing. If you dont transfer the full amount, youre also automatically setting up savings (ie only transfer 95% of paycheck from savings to checking once a month.)

    4. Sunshine

      > You should be saving some of your paycheck for emergencies and retirement.

      Not everyone can afford to do that.

      1. anonanonanon

        Obviously not everyone can, but a high percentage of people who could save don’t. One study showed that 70% of people earning over $100K per year are living paycheck to paycheck. The more money people make, the more they spend but savings doesn’t seem to change much at all for the vast majority of people.

      2. Foreign Octopus

        Amen to that.

        I would love to put money into savings but it’s just not feasible at the moment. The second I have an emergency bill (i.e. vet), it’s a very, very bad few months.

      3. Ask a Manager Post author

        Yes, some people cannot — but many people can and still don’t. (See: sandwiches rule.) And the OP may be saving plenty, who knows. But it’s not unreasonable to have that concern when someone’s worried about having enough financial discipline when their paychecks switch to monthly.

        1. What's with Today, today?

          What is sandwiches rule? Genuine question, I googled it and got a million tips on making the ultimate sandwich. And now I’m curious AND hungry.

          1. Liz T

            It’s specific to commenting on this site, referring to a (hypothetical?) comment of “not everyone can have sandwiches you know.” Basically saying not to pooh-pooh general advice because it might not apply to literally everyone.

            1. JamieS

              IIRC it’s based on an actual post about suggestions for bringing in lunch that involved literal posts about sandwiches.

          2. Hi

            It’s in Alison’s commenting rules for this site. Basically, she says don’t aggressively shoot down someone’s suggestion because it might not work for everyone.

            For example: I ask for help because I need ideas for something I can pack for lunch that is easy and inexpensive. You might suggest sandwiches. If someone replied, “not everyone can eat sandwiches therefore your idea is stupid” then that person would be breaking the Sandwich Rule.

            1. Sunshine

              I don’t really think this applies. This is more “why can’t op just eat caviar!” And me pointing out that actually, the vast majority of people can’t afford to eat caviar. I also think quite a few people have been rather snide and aggressive toward op for their concern about suddenly moving from monthly to fortnightly paycheques. It’s a huge shift and not one I’m sure I could cope with, especially as im the sole earner in my family right now.

        2. Lehigh

          Thank you for this!

          It feels like every time basic financial advice comes up online somebody points out that some people can’t do it. Sure, there are people living hand-to-mouth, and that’s really tough. But there are a lot (a LOT, at least in the U.S.) of other people living paycheck-to-paycheck when with a little financial training they would not have to do so.

          There are a ton of budgeting and frugal living resources out there, even in as simple a form as online blogs, and I would encourage anyone who feels regularly financially pinched to seek them out. Even though not every tip applies to every person, frugal living and personal finance is often left out of education and can improve one’s life so much!

          1. Engineer Girl

            This. Finding free resources and ideas to cut expenses helps. It also gave me ideas for savings goals. These goals kept me from spending money when there appeared to be extra in the account.

            FWIW I had a savings account even when I was making minimum wage and only working part time. Sometimes you’re only saving pennies per month, but it slowly accrues.

            The most important thing was that it instilled the discipline early on so I could save more later.

        3. Sunshine

          I’m sorry but I think the reverse is true. This site skews toward managers and professionals. I.e. people who can afford to save and perhaps don’t understand the financial circumstances of lower income workers.

          The vast, vast majority of people don’t make anything like £100,000 a year. The average in the U.K. is £20-25,000 and if you’re being paid fortnightly you’re likely an hourly employee on minimum wage. This isn’t a case of ‘some people won’t be able to’ this is a case of ‘most people won’t be able to’. This is less ‘some people can’t have sandwiches’ and more ‘most people can’t afford caviar’.

        4. Question5

          For those curious/in need of more info about my saving habits: and income flow:

          Long time user of Mint.com
          Have an automatic monthly payment to an online savings account (Barclays)
          Have student loans from college
          Just finished up an advanced degree (full ride+stipend, but unable to work due to visa restrictons, so all unexpected expenses (health stuff, yay!) ate into my savings (which I still have, albeit greatly reduced, probably only 1 month in emergency savings right now)
          Switched to the nonprofit world to do my dream job and am super excited about it but with the 2x a month paycheck I didn’t know how to pay rent and then wait until the next paycheck.

          1. GlitsyGus

            It sounds like you have your head on straight. :)

            It’ll be a little adjustment, the first month or two might end up a little wonky as you get things lined up, but you’ll figure it out. There are a lot of good suggestions here throughout, I’m sure you’ll find the one that works for you. It really isn’t all that hard once you get used to it. Congrats on your new job!

    5. Elle

      I’m with you on all of this. But I also understand having some help with discipline. OP, you can just have 2 bank accounts set up and only transfer the budget into the account you *actually* have access to once a month.

      I do it a bit different, my company actually allows us to deposit into multiple bank accounts. So I have one account for bills that everything is automatically drafted from, and one account for discretionary/spending money. I never even have to look at or think about bills because the money is always there and then gone. I even put extras in there for longer term reoccurring expenses, like oil changes and the vet. That way when those expenses come up I don’t have to scramble to cover them.
      Then the discretionary fund I get to decide about that month. Maybe I want a haircut, or some new clothes, or a date night, or whatever.

      1. Baby Fishmouth

        Yeah, when I was a student (therefore quite poor), I would transfer everything I made into my savings account (except for something like $50-100), and then just transfer it back when I needed to pay bills/rent/buy something. It just caused that extra step of thinking ‘do I really neeeeed to buy this sweater’ or ‘should i buy lunch or make a sandwich’. Because I’d have to log on, transfer the money, and really see how much my savings were reducing with every small purchase.

        I should go back to that system…

        1. EventPlannerGal

          I don’t think it’s the sentiment that’s judgmental, but the “uh-oh”, “you don’t have the discipline?”, “that’s scary” stuff does seem a little much? The LW is obviously trying to plan ahead or she wouldn’t have written in!

          1. Detective Amy Santiago

            IDK, she wrote in to ask if she could request an entirely separate payroll cycle because she doesn’t trust herself not to spend impulsively. This is pretty much the equivalent of saying “no one can have donuts because I’m on a diet”.

            1. madge

              It’s more like saying “don’t put any donuts near me because I’m on a diet.” It seems more likely to me that OP just doesn’t know what is involved on the payroll end (and is thus seeking advice as to whether it’s a reasonable request).

    6. Question5

      Hi, poster here!

      I am worried but that’s just because I am an anxious person generally. I’ve got a phenomenal credits score and have never had issues with money to date. I’m taking a significant pay cut to facilitate a career change. The schedule change just took me by surprise and felt like one extra thing to worry about. I knew nothing about payroll and with direct deposit/online banking/recurring payment options floating around nowadays for consumers, I wasn’t sure if it was just a matter of asking HR to click a button/change a setting or a whole big production.

      I greatly enjoyed getting my check, paying my bills and socking away my savings the next day and not worrying about it for another 30 days. With my current pay cut and payment schedule I’ll just have to be twice as careful and try to rearrange my payment dates as best I can.

  12. Greg NY

    #5: Bimonthly or every two weeks (they are similar with subtle differences in frequency) is better than monthly. I have never heard of an organization that pays you prior to working. You get paid either immediately at the end of the pay period or at the end of the next pay period. Either way, you wait no more than two weeks for your pay from a specific time frame. Monthly would mean waiting up to four weeks. Unless fronting your pay is common in the country you worked in, you get your money sooner when you’re paid every 14 days or twice a month. Also, figure it this way: even if you got a monthly paycheck, poor spending willpower still means you will squander money because you know more is coming in another month. Financial discipline is essential no matter the frequency of pay. It is good practice to maintain a savings account with money for bill paying and other expenses, I make transfers between the accounts approximately every week, so getting paid sooner is also better for bill paying since I have bills due at all different times of the month.

    1. Robin Q

      Huh? Why would you explain that getting paid monthly isn’t a thing? The OP says it was, and also that is how I get paid now, in the US. And yes, I waited a month for my first paycheck, and yes it sucked, but it’s a real thing!

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        I think this may be unique to Greg’s experience in NY. I’m paid monthly, also—it’s very much a thing in states other than NY.

        1. Green great dragon

          That’s not how I read Greg’s comment. I read it as saying that since employers pay in arrears, shorter pay periods mean you get your pay quicker – up to 2 weeks in arrears, not up to a month in arrears.

          1. Cat

            I’ve been paid biweekly and monthly. I also prefer monthly, just because it’s “cleaner” — all of my other bills are monthly so the mental math is easier, and I’d rather have the same pay each month rather than a few months with 3 paychecks. But asking an employer to run a special, different payroll due to my preference would have me branded as an out-of-touch wackadoodle immediately.

            Whether you’re paid in advance or arrears, for someone salaried, only has a practical impact once (or I suppose also when you get a raise) — when you get your first paycheck. After that, why does it matter?

            Also… for those people talking about bills due scattered throughout the month, in many cases you can specify the monthly due date of your choice – my electricity provider, for example, has a link to set a different schedule.

          2. Kitryan

            Yeah- it’s that shorter pay periods mean the company is holding on to your earned money for less time which is a plus.

            1. Decima Dewey

              The last time I got paid monthly was my first job out of college. If they’d paid me weekly or fortnightly, the amount would have been really pathetic.

            2. R.D.

              And that first paycheck can be problematic, especially if you are coming off a period of unemployment or had large expenses for relocating. You have to work a whole month before you get paid, but need to put first and last month’s rent down. Ouch. Once you’re in it, it is easier, but the transition would be tough.

    2. Enough

      I worked for a company that hired you at a monthly rate. Pay was technically once a month but they gave you an “advance” on the 15th.

      1. Elizabeth Proctor

        Same (I was salaried exempt). Paid on the 15th for that whole month. Now I’m paid on the 28th for that whole month, which is fine since I put nearly everything aside from rent on my credit card and then pay it all off. Monthly pay is legal in MA.

      2. Family Business

        Same. I am paid monthly. I started on the 1st of a month, and was paid on the 15th of the same month, for a full month. I’m not clear on what would happen if I left and my last day was yhe 16th, but I assume I would have to pay them back for 2 weeks of pay.

    3. sacados

      Just FYI, I am overseas in a monthly pay system as well — and you are right, they don’t “front” you your pay.
      I get paid for my work in January at the end of January.
      Not sure where you are getting the “monthly = they pay you prior to working” idea from. I assure you, monthly pay is very much a thing in many countries other than the US.

      1. Michio Pa

        Agreed. Also overseas and have experienced different kinds of monthly pay. Last job I got paid for January on Jan 25, now I get paid on Feb 15.

      2. snowglobe

        I don’t think they meant “monthly=they pay you prior to working” just that *unless* that is the case, monthly means you have to wait longer to get your pay, which generally is not something most people would want.

    4. Just another Intern

      Being paid monthly doesn’t mean being paid prior to working. It means that if you start your job January 1st, your paychecks will arrive February 1st. And plenty of places pay you monthly. Where I live, being paid every 2 weeks is the exception.

      1. Eliza

        I think that’s what Greg was trying to say: that shorter pay periods are good because they mean less time between when you do the work and when you get paid for the work.

    5. Everdene

      Monthly pay works differently in different organisations, for example today is my pay day (woop!) for my work across the whole of December, both what I have already done and what I will do. I think all the OP is saying is that if your bills are monthly then it is easier to get all your salary monthly as you don’t have to think about it so much.

      1. Bagpuss

        Yes, we pay our staff monthly. They are paid on 15th of the month and that pay packet covers 1st-31st month, so it is effectively 2 weeks in advance, 2 in arrears. We have a lot of things which our accounts department have to do at the end of the month, so having payroll mid-month spreads their workload more evenly!
        It varies place to place.

        1. Anonymous Pterodactyl

          Out of curiosity, how do you handle it when someone quits mid-month, but after being paid for working a full month?

    6. TL -

      I’ve been paid semi-monthly, weekly, and monthly, and there’s not one ‘better’ system. Monthly was nice because seeing the total for the month and being able to deduct all your bills from it at once was very reassuring; a nice concrete number.
      Semi-monthly was nice because at the time it worked out to one paycheck covered bills+rent and the other was for living expenses/extras and savings.
      Weekly was fine. I just needed to remember to check to see if there was extra to go into savings after the first of the month. The extra paycheck every few months was fun, especially when I could put it all into savings, but I am more fond of having the same number every month and working off that.

      There wasn’t one better way, honestly. I personally put everything on my credit card and pay it completely off on the first of the month, so I don’t need to be bouncing in and out of my bank account. I just need to know about how much I have to spend that month and stick to it, plus I get rewards. Others do better on different systems. The system that works for you isn’t the system that works for everyone – I love my cc-based system but some people cannot handle it and do better on cash or debit cards.

      1. Jubilance

        Agreed to all of this. I think it just comes down to personal preference and knowing your money habits. Some people are not good at budgeting, or look at their account balance and think “I’ve got tons of fun money!” when really they havent paid for some bills yet. Monthly is nice to get all the bills taken care of, but some folks are not good at stretching their fun money out and get to the end of the next month on E. While it would be nice if we could choose how we got our paychecks, at the end of the day people have to work within whatever payroll system their company is using, and adjust their budgeting accordingly.

    7. Sam Sepiol

      “I have never heard of an organization that pays you prior to working”

      I’ve been paid:
      Monthly in advance
      monthly in arrears
      On the 15th, so 2 weeks in arrears 2 in advance
      On the 21st: 3 and 1
      And on the 19th which makes no sense.

      So it might be rare but it exists, albeit not in the US.

    8. Friday afternoon fever

      I have worked a full-time job in the US that paid everyone monthly upfront. Our payroll company and our main office were both based in NYC.

      Once more for the people in the back: your lived experience is not universally applicable to everyone else’s lived experiences!

      1. Friday afternoon fever

        “I have no knowledge or experience of this” =/= “this is not a thing that happens”

      2. Neely O'Hara

        I’ve had two jobs in NYC where I got paid monthly – one was a huge university in the early 2000s and the other was a small nonprofit around 2010. I could totally see the nonprofit being sketchy with payroll practices but it would surprise me if the university was. I wonder if the laws changed recently? I was super surprised to hear that it’s not legal to pay monthly in NYS.

      3. SheLooksFamiliar

        Thank you for this. I am so tired of people taking a ponderous swing at something they’ve ‘never heard of’ when, in fact, the ‘thing’ is pretty common.

    9. ChachkisGalore

      This is true – that there’s a difference btwn bi-monthly and every two weeks. Bi monthly means you get paid twice every months – on the 1st and 15th (or whatever the closest biz day is). Every two weeks – is just that, every other Friday you get a paycheck.

      Personally – I loved the every 2 weeks pay periods, because I would budget monthly based on two paychecks per month (which you’d typically get), but then a couple of times a year you would get a third paycheck within a month. It was great to get a little surprise/bonus/mad money. I think both are common in the US.

    10. Hermione

      I technically get paid prior to working – I get paid on the 20th for the current month, so it’s effectively 20 days in arrears and 10 days in advance. That said, my company (UK) is the only one I’ve heard of to do that and it catches a lot of people out if they move employers and have a much bigger gap between paydays.
      (We get paid early in December and it causes *so* many complaints from people about having to make that money stretch longer than usual til January’s payday. I use an app called Goodbudget and run my budget from the first to the last of the month, so it doesn’t affect me, luckily – i.e. I won’t start using the money I’ve been paid this week til January 1st, and in reality actually til Feb 1st as I have a month’s buffer, as YNAB recommends).

  13. TL -

    #5: I’ve been paid weekly, semi-monthly, and monthly and honestly, it just comes down setting up a system that’s realistic for how you spend your money. But your company’s system is going to be a lot harder to change than your own and there’s no one “best” way. I like monthly or semi-monthly but a lot of people prefer weekly.

    The easiest way to adjust would be to have separate accounts for bills+rent and savings and have money auto-transferred into them as soon as the paycheck comes through. Or pay all your bills on the day you get paid (I’ve always paid all my bills on the first of the month).

    1. Bagpuss

      Me too. It’s less important now with internet banking and given I have more disposable income, but when I first started working I set up 2 accounts. Pay goes into one, with all the regular bills coming out. I have a set amount transferred out to the 2nd account, and that account is the one I use for day to day spending.

      I also find it helpful to have a spreadsheet with all of my regular payments and the balance there should be in the ‘bills’ account at any stage. I build in a bit of leeway as some of my bills may vary month to month, so the regular amount I leave in the bills account is based on the higher end of the range, and anything over at the end of the month I move across to savings. My ‘regular bills’ includes , regular payments into long and short term savings, and as they go out like any other bill I on’t need to consciously put savings aside..

      I appreciate that if you are living paycheck to paycheck you may not have the luxury of putting anything into savings, but if you start to do it as soon as you have a pay rise or anything that means you can, then you never get used to having that money to spend, so you don’t really miss it,. Win-Win!

      OP – I do think that asking an employer to change your pay period to help you budget would come across poorly – quite apart from the reasons Alison gave, it isn’t your employers role to manage your personal finances, and it could be read as you having poor self management or self discipline, and both of those are skills which ware important in a lot of jobs, so you could be inadvertently undermining yourself by making the request.

    2. PhyllisB

      So true. When I started in the working world, weekly was the common thing. When the phone company decided to start paying bi-weekly you should have heard all the squawking. Same thing when they went to auto-deposit. Even the banks were telling us to opt out if we could. Of course, now these things are so normal no one blinks an eye. My daughter gets paid once a month, and at first she didn’t know how to cope, but now that she’s gotten used to it, no problem. However, they don’t do auto-deposit. She hates that. It’s just getting used to a system.

    3. ExceptionToTheRule

      I do this too. Every recurring expense comes out of one account & the other account is for everything else in life. It has really made a difference in my budgeting.

    4. JustaTech

      For years my in-laws resisted paying their employees with direct deposit (which the employees wanted) because direct deposit would only allow a minimum pay period of 2 weeks where they had been paying weekly. My in-laws were genuinely concerned that their employees (warehouse and sales) would not be able to survive one week without pay when they switched.

      Turns out that with a bit of notice, and switching in the middle of the month, everyone was fine and they got more work out of everyone because they didn’t all have to leave work at lunch on Friday to go to the bank to deposit their checks.

  14. On a pale mouse

    #2: I wonder this is some ill-advised attempt to put your info in database(ish) form. I’m thinking of all the places where you can’t just send a resume, you have to enter all your info into a seventeen page Web form so they can store it in some giant applicant database. (And my parents don’t understand why I don’t just churn out six job applications every day before breakfast.)

    I mean, it’s not going to work that way if they’re not giving you at least a template. Just wondering if that’s what they think they’re doing.

  15. I work on the Hellmouth

    OP #1: That guy is definitely creeping on you. Please run.
    When I was younger I had a few situations where I didn’t realize married guys were creeping on me. It is always super uncomfortable when realization hits. Listen to your gut, be incredibly sceptical, and definitely don’t have dinner with this jabroni.

  16. Wendie

    op#1, keep your eyes open! We’ve all heard of dinner interviews and we’ve all heard of “dinner interviews.”

  17. Elizabeth West

    OP 1:

    STOP GIVING HIM THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT.

    No. Just no. Run away. This is full-on creepy behavior. This guy is a predator. There are other jobs that pay more elsewhere–start looking for one of those so you can get the hell out of that building. And stop talking to him.

  18. Jennifer

    OP1 All my alarms are going off. Please cease contact with this man immediately. Avoid him at all costs. I know this guy. I never met him but I know him.

  19. CatCat

    #5, do you have a tendency of spending money impulsively? Is that why you’re concerned about it?

    You can set up a budget. I personally use the “You Need a Budget” app and find that has kept me on track with my money. I also think the suggestion above of paying all your bills on payday would also be another good strategy. You could also keep your discretionary spending money in cash. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.

    This is something you can learn to control! You just have to find a system that works for you. It may take a little trial and error.

    1. Sunshine

      I imagine she’s concerned because she doesn’t earn very much. My bills constitute half my paycheque. I’d have to do some serious wrangling to be able to buy food if I were paid fortnightly.

      1. Lehigh

        Well, perhaps, but the LW does say: “I worry that I’ll be tempted to spend my money impulsively,” so I think CatCat may be on the right track.

        1. Sunshine

          My perspective may be skewed by the fact that in the U.K. the only jobs that typically pay fortnightly are insecure and minimum wage. I see from other comments that that is not the case in the US!

      2. theschwa

        It seems like #5 doesn’t want to do any wrangling at all. Sometimes you have to wrangle your budget. When I did AmeriCorps, I got paid every two weeks. I created a whole schedule with which bills came out of which check. Sometimes that meant holding onto money for a couple weeks before I used it for expenses. Which is hard because nature and nurture have given me a mean impulsive shopping streak. #5 needs to learn to do some wrangling

        1. Sunshine

          Sure. I was more thinking it’s easier to budget and wrangle if you have excess to wrangle in the first place!

      3. Question5

        ^^pretty much exactly that. Thankfully its a dream job with advancement opportunities, but until then,it’ll be tight

    2. Family Business

      I also use the You Need a Budget app, and logged in to recommend it to OP5. With this app, you don’t have to have multiple accounts. When you get paid, you just allocate the funds to categories, and that’s how you know how much you have available. It was a game chager for me. If you tend to spend until your account balance is low, this will help. It allows you even to allocate money for FUTURE expenses. Every month, I put $50 in my car insurance category, then come March and September, the money is just sitting there, waiting for me to pay the 6-month premium, which saves me about $120 a year vs. paying monthly.

      YNAB for the win.

  20. Observer

    #3 – “also like screw you, man. Sorry I care about my work. Put on headphones!

    It might help to realize that you’re not the only person who cares about their work. Whatever the solution is, it starts with having a bit of respect for your coworkers, and this attitude sounds incredibly disrespectful. So start with that and go from there. As Alison points out, if people see that you are trying it will help, not with the noise but with the irritations.

    1. Lissa

      That line stood out to me too! Being lous doesn’t necessarily mean you care about your work and others being annoyed doesn’t mean they just don’t get it et . I have a natural loud voice and have to moderate it which is a bit of a pain but some things are just going to be like that…

    2. friday anon

      Yes, that was odd.

      My office mate and I have naturally loud voices. The difference is that I have learned to speak into the phone with some modulation and he is basically yelling into the headset (his hearing is fine), and I have talked to him about it multiple times, it gets better for a day and then he’s back to yelling. Drives me up the wall and one of us takes their laptop and goes elsewhere if possible when we have calls at the same time, because the people on my line can hear him yelling.

      The reason I’m saying this is: Sharing my office with him has made me realize how this comes across, so I’m even more conscious of my voice on the phone.

      1. Cat wrangler

        Working in an office also requires building relationships with your coworkers, you don’t have to be best buddies or socialise outside of work but a degree of give and take is good. If I sat next to someone who was extremely loud on the phone and told me to use headphones instead of lowering their volume to an indoor voice, well I’m going to remember that in the future. It might not feel fair but people are humans and will respond accordingly. I agree that the office layout doesn’t sound ideal, but maybe just reduce the levels a bit.

        Ironically, I had the opposite situation in a job, where I was on the phone but someone else in the office used to come in to gossip, extremely loudly. My manager asked them to leave when they saw me trying to talk on the phone with my fingers jammed in the other ear and this racket 10ft away. Had they not been a director and myself an admin, I would have told them to STFU. As it was, someone else stepped in.

          1. TheRedCoat

            Oh man, I wish I could get oneeeee. My hubby has some hearing loss and I’m constantly doing the “stop yelling” “I’m not yelling” thing.

    3. Willis

      This. Also, if your manager or your colleagues give you any piece of feedback about something you’re doing that’s annoying a large group of people, “screw you, I’m going to keep doing it because I want to,” is a pretty crappy response. Thank the person for letting you know and speak at a lower volume on the phone.

    4. (Different) Rebecca, PhD

      I don’t know, I saw it more as a knee-jerk twitch reaction to being called out. Which, so long as it’s not allowed to pervade, is natural/normal.

      1. Observer

        The thing with knee jerk reactions is that you have to step back from them and realize when they don’t apply. Here, is TOTALLY does not apply and it’s in the OP’s best interests to understand that.

      2. bonkerballs

        OP’s being called for a legitimate issue, though. They’re not being told they suck, they’re being told they are doing something disrupting to the rest of the office. That’s not something you should have a screw you reaction to. And if that knee-jerk reaction is also how she reacts to her co-workers when they bring up the issue, than OPs going to end up being known as not just the loud coworker, but the loud, rude coworker who can’t take feedback.

    5. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

      I’m kind of both on OP’s and her coworkers’ sides in this. I’d go nuts if I sat next to someone in an open area who would be loud on the phone all day. But I would also go nuts if I were on an important work call and the other person was mumbling quietly into the phone, because they’re in an open space and were told to keep it quiet. I agree with Alison that the real problem is that OP should not be in an open space at all if her job requires her being on the phone so much.

      1. Observer

        I’d be willing to bet that co-workers are not asking that the OP whisper. The OP describes their speaking style, and that alone is well above mumbling and whispering. Given that most people tend to underestimate how loud they are, it’s pretty good bet that they are LOUD.

    6. LGC

      I can get why she’s annoyed – she’s living her truth and getting stuff done, and people are complaining about it!

      But also, I agree with you that you can’t live your personal truth in an open office. I have to remind my employees constantly that they can’t hum to themselves, for example. There’s some level of tolerance you have to have – part of the reason I wear headphones constantly is because my stress levels would be through the roof otherwise. But it seems like LW3 is a bit past that.

      But also, it just sounds like a terrible setup. Which I’m saying from a converted storage room with 17 people assigned to it (me the supervisor, the team lead, 15 employees), all the equipment for them (workstations and scanners), and about 80 boxes of documents. So I know really uncomfortable work setups. If she’s in a position where she needs to make calls all day and she’s seated with people who need to focus, that’s bad planning imo.

      1. Observer

        Oh, the setup absolutely stinks! But, when you are in a bad set up, that doesn’t mean you get to say “I don’t care, I’m doing it my way”. It means that you need to make more effort. Is it fair? No. Is it smart of the bosses? Utterly not. But it’s the reality.

        When we were working on rebuilding after Sandy we were working with some City (NYC) agencies and they were pushing open office concepts all over the place. This was a major thing with Mayor Bloomberg – apparently open offices were introduced wholesale in City agencies. And no one seems to have thought about the fact that this does not work AT ALL in some environments.

        We’re VERY phone heavy, and even people who are NOT naturally loud were doing a lot of LOUD talking and shouting because a large percentage of our client base has marginal hearing problems and / or lousy phones, so it was hard for them to hear us if people didn’t talk loudly. Fortunately, even our CFO (who knew how to pinch a penny!) was aware of this issue and so pretty much the entire top management pushed back. But it was a fight.

  21. Alianora

    #5 I guess I don’t really see how this affects bill paying. Set up direct deposit and pretend you’re being paid monthly instead of semi-monthly. Your finances should work out the same.

    I am kind of worried that you would impulsively spend your rent money just because you’re being paid more frequently. As others have said, if this is a concern you should probably look into budgeting and maybe make it a little bit harder for you to access your funds.

    1. FD

      I think the issue the LW is concerned about is timing. From the context, I suspect they actually mean “paid every two weeks” rather than literally paid semi monthly in this case.

      So for instance, if you’re paid every two weeks, the first paycheck of the month can be as late as the 14th, with the second paycheck being on the 28th. So you essentially have to make sure you have enough of a balance to cover any bills that are going to come out throughout that period, irrespective of when your check actually falls. It requires a bit more thought in that way than monthly paychecks.

      1. Alianora

        Thanks for taking the time to reply! I see how being paid every two weeks could complicate things a bit further. But if you were being paid monthly, wouldn’t your paychecks come at the end of the month, so you’d have to have a month’s cushion to pay that month’s bills? For example, you don’t get paid for December until December 31, so you pay December’s rent/utilities/groceries using November’s paycheck.

        Splitting it up into two week segments, couldn’t you use a similar system, assuming four weeks’ pay will cover your monthly bills? (Perhaps that assumption is where things get more complicated.) Say that you’re paid on the 14th of November and then the 28th. You use those two paychecks for December’s bills. Then your next payday is December 12th, and after that the 26th, so you use those two paychecks for January’s bills. And so on, until May when you get three paychecks in a single month and have some extra to put into savings.

        I guess the other issue you could run into is if you don’t have enough in savings to cover one month when you start at the job, but it sounds like that hadn’t been an issue for OP in the past?

        (I’m mostly just writing this out to help myself understand the timing. I’ve always been paid on a semi-monthly basis so I hadn’t considered the logistics of being paid every two weeks instead.)

        1. Sunshine

          It would work if you move some direct debits. However for most people, ‘affordable’ housing is classified as 30% of your total income. In many places, obviously, it’s a lot more. Bills and transportation can easily eat up another 20% in the space of a fortnight.

          There seem to be a lot of “What’s the problem, are you horribly irresponsible or something?” responses when in reality I think OP just doesn’t have / isn’t earning a ton of money.

          1. mr. brightside

            Yeah. For instance, my rent is more than one paycheck (I’m on every-two-weeks) and it’s due at the beginning of the month. I’m lucky enough to have flex in my accounts, but if I needed paychecks to cover things immediately, I could not use that paycheck I get at the end of the month to pay the rent on the 1st in one fell swoop.

            Please don’t tell me my rent is too high compared to my income. I know that.

            1. Jules the 3rd

              ugh – that sucks, you have my sympathy. It’s true in way too many places for way too many people.

        2. Doreen

          The problem for people who get paid weekly or biweekly is due dates and pay dates lining up – for example, if the majority of your bills are due in the first half of the month .It’s no problem if you can keep a paycheck or two as a cushion – but lots of people can’t. And even for those who can, it takes a bit more thought that getting paid on the 15 and paying all your bills on the 16th.

        3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

          I’m on every two weeks now and don’t like it, and prefer semi-monthly, which I’ve had in the past. (I have also been on a more or less strict budget for the last nine years.) It is hard to budget for a month when you get paid for an incomplete month. Then twice a year, a bizarre “extra” paycheck shows up. I have learned to work with it, but it’s annoying. I just treat the two paychecks as my monthly budget, and use the “extra” ones for travel, savings, college bills (when I had kids in college), large expenses like that.

          Other than that, I have all my bills on autopay and try to sit down and track my expenses at least a couple of times a month (used to do it literally every day when money was tight).

    2. Question5

      My anxious thought process went more along the lines of:

      “Well, I’ll pay my rent with the first paycheck and use my credit card and remaining $50 to get me to the next one. But what if I get too swipe happy in those two weeks? And what if…” And so on went my anxiety spiral.

      Not rational, but I’m glad that I came here to get answers after internet research couldn’t give me a clear understanding of payroll software and procedures.

  22. Observer

    #5 – It’s not ust super poor etiquette, it’s going to make you look incredibly out of touch. You’re basically asking your boss to set up a whole separate payroll process just to accommodate you. That’s a pretty big deal. And telling your boss “I’d like you to make this big change for me, to keep me from doing something stupid” is not a really good look either. Most employers want people whoa actually can handle their money.

    By, the way, if you are in a job where you have access to money or financial propriety might be an issues, saying something like this could be a majorly career limiting move. Smart employers most definitely do NOT want employees who are likely to get into a financial hole.

    1. Michio Pa

      Agreed, think about how many friends you’ll make in HR/payroll who now have to process twice as much payroll just for one person.

      1. Micromanagered

        I work in Payroll! They won’t do it. The “pay frequency” (whether you’re paid weekly, biweekly, semi-monthly, or monthly) is set up at the company level and many things depend on it outside of what day employees receive their pay. Insurance premiums, tax withholdings, any kind of recurring earning (like a recurring expense reimbursement for using a personal cell phone for business, which some companies do) are decided by the pay frequency.

        The only possibility might be if OP5’s company has people who are paid semi-monthly and people paid monthly, but that’s pretty unusual. Even in companies where this happens, it’s not usually optional–it’s more like “the executives get a monthly salary and everyone else gets a semi-monthly check.”

        1. Ginger

          I was going to say the same thing. I work in HR and I’m also he backup payroll person. With our payroll system it may not be totally impossible but it would create a good bit of extra work. We’re paid semi-monthly so we would have to manipulate it so it skips paying one person every other pay period and then would have to manually recalculate that person’s pay and benefit deductions on the other pay period of the month. If I even suggested doing that to our payroll person she would probably poison my coffee.

          1. Question5

            Thanks! This kind of understanding of how payroll systems work has been really helpful. When it worked for me I didn’t question the system so I have this huge knowledge gap.

            I honestly wasn’t sure if it was as simple as a drop down menu change and googling didn’t clear it up. I’d hate to cause a massive inconvenience. I just didn’t want to find out how ever long down the road that it,would’ve been no big deal. Now that I see that it is, of course I’ll make it work as-is.

    2. Bigintodogs

      I hope LW can figure out a budgeting system that works for them. NYC is one of the toughest places in the US financially, so impulse spending costs you A LOT.

    3. Falling Diphthong

      “Keep me from doing something stupid.”

      I don’t think this aspect has gotten enough attention. It’s like asking your boss, or staff, to monitor your snacks and intervene if they see you with a donut, because it’s easier for you if you outsource snack discipline.

      1. Question5

        It is very interesting that you would put something in italics and quotation marks when that is not what I said.

        1. Observer

          Falling wasn’t quoting you, but me. I know you didn’t say that, but that is exactly how it is going to sound to any employer. (I used the quote marks in my comment to set off what the employer is going to be hearing in their head. I think it should also be pretty clear to anyone reading it that I was not quoting the words you used.)

    4. LQ

      I agree. But I don’t think that the OP was wrong to write in and ask. I can imagine a system where you get to specify how you want it processed and it processes that way. So many systems have a lot more flexibility in them and if the OP has never worked in payroll processing it they may not know what goes into it. It was good to ask here and get people saying how much of payroll is a manual process that requires human intervention.
      (Honestly it seems a little absurd to me that it isn’t possible and still requires so much human. It’s days and dollars, things computers are really good at. If the boxes are filled out and checked (that is the part that seems like it needs human intervention but only if your boxes are complex) why can’t the system process it through at whatever interval is requested based on the user’s preference? You’d say, hey this can only get changed with x advance notice so that it can all be budgeted and the correct funds for payment are in the correct places. But again, days, dollars, calculations are all computer processing sweet spots.)

      1. Reba

        Yes, I don’t think it’s too crazy to ask (here–i still think it would read as a bit out of touch at many jobs).

        I work at an enormous organization with different funding sources for different roles. Some roles can actually choose monthly or semi monthly pay, I think with variables like exempt and hourly status also in play. So lots of things are possible, but not at every business.

      2. Observer

        One of the reasons it’s so hard to be flexible is because there is a huge amount of stuff that’s LEGALLY required to be done, and good systems are automated. So, one person can handle a payroll for a few hundred people. Now, you want one person who want all of this done for them on a different schedule. How do you expect the system to handle that? Sure, you can design a system to let you do each person on the schedule they want, but that kind of flexibility in an automated system costs a lot.

        Here is a partial list of things that often need to be calculated in each payroll run:
        Actual pay
        Tax withholding
        Insurance withholding
        Other withholding, pre-tax, and post tax (eg medical savings plan or retirement plans)
        Employer expenses pegged to payroll (eg employer portion of FICA)

        In many cases, these amounts are figured differently depending on how often payroll is run. Also, there are a lot of payments that the employer needs to make the are tied to when payroll is run, which means that not only do all of these calculations need to be made, so do deposits and payments all over the place.

        No one in their right mind wants to do any of this manually. So you stick to the standard payroll schedule.

      3. Question5

        This thread has been very kind and insightful as to my mindset for when I wrote the question. Thanks so much for your constructive,and detailed feedback.

  23. bookartist

    LW#1 – Even if the commentariat is wrong (and I don’t think so), would you want to work for this guy given how uncomfortable he has *already* made you?

    1. Tin Cormorant

      That’s my thought. Even if he doesn’t do anything creepy during the interview itself, do you want to be second-guessing his actions every day when you work for him? Wondering if he was just holding back on doing anything until he had you working for him so you couldn’t easily get away?

  24. Just another Intern

    OP1: I had a put off vibe towards this guy just only reading your letter. Please, trust your gut, avoid to be alone with him, especially lets say, at evening in his office. Better safe than sorry. The situation is pretty shady, please be careful.
    OP3: I bet other people in your office are passionate about their job. “screw you, man” isn’t exactly the type of response who sounds professional towards a complaint that you admit has some ground.

  25. Knotty Ferret

    OP3 – I’ve been the person you can hear outside the building, and I’m usually the person with the headphones on. Discuss with your neighbors the times when you are most distracting (Jane can’t focus on critical reports that first hour of the morning, Bob needs things a bit quieter when he’s doing his complicated thing Wednesday afternoons), then you can book a conference room for just those times. It’s less hassle than every call, and demonstrates you’re thinking about your coworkers.
    Note that this is a compromise. Ideally, for your neighbors, you’d be less loud and distracting all the time.

    1. Sarah

      It’s not ok to be heard across the room unless you are soaking to everyone across the room. Your co-workers should’nt have to let you know when they need to concentrate so that you can use your bullhorn voice. It would be good to ask your desk mates to send you an IM when you are getting loud, because you are working on useing a normal tone. However it’s not ok to use your football cheering voice in the office, unless the floor is playing football.

  26. FD

    #5- Do you actually mean semi-monthly (e.g. payment on the 1st and 15th) or do you mean paid every two weeks?

    In either case, generally, your best bet is generally going to be to set your largest bill (most commonly, rent) to pull between the 1st to 5th of the month, and most other bills to pull between the 15th and 31st of the month. That helps to spread out payments a bit.

    Also, bear in mind that if you are paid every two weeks, most months will have two paychecks, but two months will have three. This means that you should do your budget based on two paychecks per month, and NOT by dividing your annual wages by 12. (I actually prefer this system myself, because it causes me to budget to a two-paycheck month, meaning I’m more likely to save the ‘extra’ paychecks. I am lucky to be able to do that, mind, but it’s worked for me in general.)

    1. Elizabeth Proctor

      My husband is paid every two weeks and those 3 check months are like Christmas come early! (Or right on time, as the past few years one has been in November or December…)

  27. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis

    Re: 5.
    I’m not sure that people aren’t being a little unkind in the assumption that she’ll frivoulously spend because the money is in her account at the “wrong” time.
    I went from monthly pay to weekly pay (and back to monthly) and it was painful during the three months it took to get the bill cycle in order – we don’t necessarily get a say on the day that Direct Debits are taken. Last time I remortgaged I was given a choice of 7th of the month or 31st of the month for payment dates. Council tax is taken on 21st (no choice), etc. etc. Month 1 of Weekly Pay was ok, because I still had the remnants of Last Month of Monthly Pay, but there was just less in the bank for when the bills came out by the time of Month 2 because of the mismatch in cycles between income and expenses and I had to use my savings to ensure I didn’t go into my overdraft. By the time of Month 3, I’d built up the required float again, and putting back into my savings.
    And I wasn’t frivoulously spending. In fact, knowing it would be harder on weekly pay, we drastically cut down on our grocery spend (£75 / week to £40 / week) and cancelled some of the “luxuries” (down to basic internet service for example).
    Sometimes it just takes a bit of time to get the billing cycles right – while I agree that it’s poor etiquette to even think of asking, I can understand where the concern comes from, and it doesn’t necessarily come from a “poor spending willpower” place.

    1. friday anon

      Also, if OP is coming from overseas, they might not actually know how payroll is processed in the US and that it’s a huge PITA for the employer.

      1. Sunshine

        This. Monthly pay is the norm in European countries. The only times I’ve been paid weekly / fortnightly was in fast food and retail.

    2. londonedit

      Yes, I agree. I get paid monthly and my rent goes out on the same date each month. So I know that I’ll have the money in my account at the end of each month, to cover my rent on the 9th of the following month. If I was paying a big chunk of money in rent once a month, but receiving two smaller pay cheques at different times, I can see how it might be more difficult to manage my budgets so that I made sure there was enough to cover that one chunk of rent money.

      1. londonedit

        I can certainly relate to the ‘Yaaaaay! Pay day! I’ll treat myself to something nice!’ impulse, so I guess the OP imagines if they’re paid twice as often, that impulse will also hit twice as often. I’ve never been paid anything other than monthly when I’ve had a salaried job (as opposed to freelancing, where you get paid whenever your clients deign to process your invoices) so I’m not sure how I’d react to having more frequent pay cheques, but maybe that’s what the OP is worrying about.

    3. Question5

      I was incredibly heartening to get to this post as I continued scrolling. Thanks for sharing your experience and outlook.

  28. Akcipitrokulo

    I’d find it hard to adjust to a non-monthly pay cycle (usually weekly or fortnightly pay indicates it’s a semi-skilled/unskilled/low paid position here and even then unusual) but guess would have to get used to it. Would not want though so understand :)

    Hope it works out!

    1. Quoth the Raven

      Where I live it’s the norm to be paid twice a week (usually on the 15th and 30th/31st or on the closest business day before those dates); “unskilled” or minimum wage jobs are the ones that usually pay weekly, and it’s not as common to be paid monthly.

      Right now I’m paid monthly on the last calendar day of the month with a delay, so to speak (for example, the payment I’ll receive on December 31st is my pay for the entirety of November), but my situation is quite rare, and it took me quite a bit to get used to it.

    2. Silence Will Fall

      My experience in the US is that pay schedules are all over the place and not necessarily indicative of the level of position.

      At my last job, salaried folks were paid semi-monthly (15th and 30th) and hourly folks were paid bi-monthly. They abruptly announced they were switching everyone to bi-monthly and you could choose to have a delay (be paid arrears) or be paid in advance (which you would have to pay back when you left).

      In my current position, everyone from the janitor to the CEO is paid bi-monthly.

      However you’re paid, changes in pay schedule are definitely a pain!

    1. Hope is hopeful

      Because – there are no options in regards to building layout to make small offices for everyone, some people actually like being in an office with people(!!) and lastly, that’s just the way it is.

      1. Sunshine

        I’ve never met someone in a focused role who enjoys being on the same floor as customer services / sales. It’s stressful and disruptive.

      2. mr. brightside

        I really enjoyed one office I had, where we had shared offices, zero cubes, zero open layouts. There are a lot of people. We also had doors we could close when we were on phone calls. Good camaraderie and also privacy/quiet.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

          We have this layout now (at least I and the rest of my team do) and it does work really nicely. Especially the “closed doors when on phone calls”.

          I had coworkers in a cube farm who somehow felt they had to have their phone on speaker during calls. If you have two of those sitting in hearing range of you, and they call each other, that’s the closest thing I have experienced to being in hell while still on Earth.

          1. mr. brightside

            I had coworkers in a cube farm who somehow felt they had to have their phone on speaker during calls.

            I had that one, too! It was amazing, we had two big cube rooms at the opposite ends of a hallway, plus smaller cube rooms along the way, and the norm in the department was to have all calls on speakerphone (none of us were given headsets). And we would often all be called in on the same calls. So you could walk down the hallway and never lose the ability to hear this call, since it would be coming out from everywhere.

            It actually wasn’t horrible, probably because we WERE all working on the same stuff.

            1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

              Yeah, that probably helped. The times it drove me insane was when the two people sat close to each other and to me, so I could hear everything both of them were saying, and then, with a two-second lag, hear it AGAIN on each other’s speaker.

              Headsets are awesome and should be given to anyone. I haven’t had one until my current job and it improved the quality of my work life so much.

    2. Falling Diphthong

      “Almost no one should have an open floor plan” is like voting to bell the cat. It’s not like one of OP’s coworkers can say “Yo management, how about giving us all offices so we can close the doors?” and management will be all “Rent a larger space? So people can concentrate and make phone calls? Sounds GREAT!”

    3. CheeryO

      Because open floor plans are cheap compared to individual offices or larger desk spaces within separate rooms.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

        I would also add a guess that, in an open floor plan, it appears to be easier to make sure that people are always working and not slacking off. I mean, if by working we mean “rapidly pounding on the keyboard entering things into something worklike”. Everyone is in everyone else’s full view all of the time, isn’t it great? /s

    4. CoveredInBees

      Because you can squish a lot more people into a smaller space that way. There’s a theory that people in creative or problem-solving work will do better at their jobs in an open plan because they’re always interacting with colleagues. I know people in a range of those types of jobs who hate it and say that the available “quiet spaces” are almost constantly in use.

      I worked for a city government that wanted to “cut costs and increase productivity” and so everyone lost any sort of walls or separation that they had, regardless of their job. I was an attorney writing appeals all day and got stuck next to the agency’s call center (10 people on the phone all day, every day including one constant shouter). Attorneys working on sensitive or confidential information had a really horrible time because they needed to be on sensitive phone calls for hours each day and they would need their (desktop) computers with them for the calls. It was a nightmare that got partially resolved when a new mayor came in and largely because the city attorneys were unionized.

      1. Jules the 3rd

        Yeah – they’re now doing studies that show it’s less productive, but it’s not gotten through the current ‘Agile! Hot Desk!’ craze.

    5. Observer

      Because most of the people who make this kind of decision don’t really understand the downsides, for a number or reasons.

      It’s one of the reasons why I get twitchy when I hear the term “best practices”. So often these are “practices” that are “best” in a vacuum, or “best” in the aggregate but never actually work well for any particular set up. (Something like best temperature for all beverages is lukewarm because that’s the average of the ideal temperature for tea, coffee and soda rather than realizing the you need multiple temperatures.)

  29. Mystery Bookworm

    I’m maybe a little more sympathetic to OP #3 than others are here, perhaps because I’ve been in a similar set-up.

    I agree that the defensive reaction needs to be reeled in, people are only asking because they can’t help being distracted. Honestly, in a non-phone job, many of us would likely find people on the phone distracting.

    That said. I have been in OP’s situation, and it can be tough to navigate issues on the phone while also trying to moderate your voice. This was particularly hard for me since there was no compromise volume that appeased the main person who took issue with the phone calls (eg, if I got quite enough that she was able to work, the other person on the line would perpetually ask me to speak up. And ultimately, I NEED these calls to do my job. And she needed me to do my job so she could do her job, ugh.)

    Things that helped:
    – blocking the calls if at all possible, to be during certain hours of the day (this doesn’t work for all positions though)
    – an easily seen post-it reminder to try and skew as quite as possible (and trying not to get defensive if other people are annoyed that ‘as possible’ isn’t zero. Remember the real enemy here is the seating plan.)
    – asking the company to move you! In the end, all the people who needed lots of phone time for their work ended up being sat together, which improved things considerably. If this is feasible, it’s really worth requesting!

    1. Copenhagen

      Yeah, I feel like some people are a bit harsh with OP#3. I think the “screw them” part is just the immediate feelings that can come, when someone tells you to change something about yourself – even if it’s related to your job.
      But, I’ve spent my whole life being told I was too loud/talked too much, so I might be projecting some of that.

      There are decibel apps that’ll tell you (with some margin of error), how loud you’re being. That might be a solution, if the OP has a work device that she’s not taking calls on. It’s a nice visual reminder and takes out the element of having to try to sort of guess how loud you’re being.

      1. Jo

        Copenhagen, I’m right there with you. Same deal. As someone who also has a loud voice, and has spent her whole life having random people remind me of it unsolicited as if I didn’t already know, it is INTENSELY annoying to constantly be trying to modulate it and keep hearing, over and over, that nothing you do is good enough. No amount of softening is adequate unless you’re literally whispering into the phone, and even then, people will still tell you that you’re “too loud.” At that point, I have definitely had feelings like the OP is expressing. It starts to feel targeted, and like the coworker in question has already decided that You’re Loud No Matter What, and when they say “keep your voice down,” what they really mean is, “I don’t like your personality and I want you to stop talking altogether.” At that point, it’s perfectly acceptable to respond with a (polite) variation of, “not my problem. Figure it out.”

        It’s important to remember that you yourself (not OP particularly, generally) probably have one or two workplace quirks or habits that Loud Coworker finds super annoying and wishes you didn’t do. They put up with yours – you can return the favor to an extent. It comes with the territory when you work with others. (This is, of course, assuming that Loud Coworker is making an effort at all, which from my experience and from the experience of others, I can say most of the time is the case.)

        I think people who don’t have loud voices don’t realize that folks with projecting voices aren’t going to magically become softspoken one day, if you just keep pointing it out enough. It’s sort of an immutable characteristic. It’s kind of like asking a natural blonde to just “try harder” to become a natural redhead. They seem to think we can just change something that is a very fundamental and somewhat static trait of who we are as people. Maybe a few exceptions have managed to pull it off, but for the most part, your voice is your voice. And expecting a loud-voiced person to literally whisper their way through their lives and constantly be worrying every single moment of the workday if they’re being too loud really isn’t a reasonable request. I’d say the opposite is true, too – I also find it equally annoying/grating when a naturally soft-spoken person is barked at to “SPEAK UP!” all the time.

        That said, the decibel app sounds great. If nothing else, if you’re still accused of being loud, you can show them it and say “really? According to this, I’m just fine.” Alison’s tips for managing this seem on point – use the conference rooms when you can, try your best to modulate with one earbud out, etc. But I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect some level of compromise from your coworkers in this vein. Loud Coworker is probably compromising on some aspect of you, too.

        1. jj

          I’m naturally loud too and had this issue at a phone heavy job. It was super embarrassing to be told constantly that something fundamental about my tone of voice was obnoxious. The only thing that worked for me was a post it in my eyeline saying BE QUIET since there was no other desks, no conference rooms, etc. I thought of it as a “church voice”, not whispering, which helped too.

        2. Guacamole Bob

          I’m convinced it’s not just volume, but there’s something about pitch or timbre or some other quality of someone’s voice that can make it carry across the room, and it’s hard for that person to do anything about it. I have a coworker who is often quite loud, but he also just has a deep voice that carries easily through our thin walls, even when he attempts to speak quietly.

          It works out fine most of the time because we have offices on my hall and he shuts his door when he’s on the phone. But it also wouldn’t be reasonable for me to expect to never hear him from a couple of doors down – for him to speak quietly all the time would require a kind of constant attention to it that isn’t really possible to sustain all day every day. The fact that it really is just the quality of his voice makes it easier for me to not get annoyed than if he were a drama seeker trying to get attention and pontificating all the time or something.

        3. HEY, I'M NOT YELLING, YOU'RE MUMBLING

          This. yes. Perfect. I’m carrying around a lot of resentment from a lifetime of people telling me to speak more softly, tone it down, use my inside voice, all that.
          It is my hope that the harshly judgmental people in this comment thread who naively think having a voice that “carries” is some kind of behavioral choice will have the scales fall from their eyes.
          If it’s not obvious by now, it should become so quickly: we have “loud” voices. We know it. We try really hard to work with it, but the constant harangue about it is so exhausting and offensive.
          In another comment, I admit to using a little hyperbole to try to make my point. Jo’s expression is accurate and more genteel.

      2. Washi

        Yeah, I’ve been on both sides of this. I had a close colleague with a super loud voice, enough that it would feel physically painful to listen to her, and she described a lot of the same feelings that OP3 has – understanding intellectually that it is a problem, but not noticing it herself, and feeling embarrassed/hurt that people are basically telling her they hate the sound of her voice. The compromise that we came to was that we had a subtle gesture we used when we needed her to speak more softly, and we would not get annoyed that she needed regular reminding. I think having a little hand gesture was nicer for her than hearing “you’re too loud” over and over.

        I also work in an open office and am often on the phone with elderly hard of hearing clients who don’t know how to turn up the volume on their phone and basically require me to shout at them. We still haven’t quite figured out what to do about that, and I feel bad for my coworkers who don’t have this problem…

        1. Observer

          also work in an open office and am often on the phone with elderly hard of hearing clients who don’t know how to turn up the volume on their phone and basically require me to shout at them. We still haven’t quite figured out what to do about that, and I feel bad for my coworkers who don’t have this problem…

          This is a good additional argument against open offices. While you may be able to make an argument that employees “should” learn to modulate their voices, you REALLY cannot say that about your clients, especially if the problem is something like hearing issues. Not even in theory.

    2. Dr. Pepper

      Yup. My voice carries- it just does without my even trying- with makes it an awesome phone voice but not so great for anyone around me when I’m on the phone. My mother is the same way and you literally have to go outside the house not to hear her end of a phone conversation, so I feel the frustration of your colleagues. So my sympathies to everyone, it’s a tough situation.

      OP3, you say you get exciting and passionate when you speak, and that IS something you can work on modulating. Vocal control is something singers and actors practice, and there’s no reason you can’t learn it as well. Practice keeping an even volume to your voice with a friend or in front of the mirror. Sometimes simply lowering the tone of your voice can help. It’s easier to ignore a lower tone than a higher tone, or at least not be so bothered. However, this is not likely to appease everyone all the time, so I second asking if you can be moved elsewhere because it’s seriously stupid that someone with a job that is a lot phone calls is in a open floor plan office. Like, really?? How could anyone *not* be disturbed, no matter the volume of your voice? Barring that, I like the idea of trying to take some calls in a conference room if possible. Even a small respite might be enough to calm your colleagues and allow them to cope better with the terrible open floor plan.

  30. Flash Bristow

    OP4, I’d read that as you’re all being compared and assessed together. Perhaps not ostensibly, but I bet there will be a lot of interest in how you all discuss together and who is strongest.

    I know personally, too, that if External Candidate is asked a specific question, and I was sitting in, I wouldn’t be able to resist joining in with “yes absolutely! Because of x, right?” and enthusiastically… One upping them..? Not deliberately, perhaps, but given the context I don’t think I could resist showing my knowledge because it would be so hard to stay quiet, especially if I was subsequently interviewed on the same topics!

    I’m pretty sure that you’ll all be assessed as a group, compared to each other, even if it’s not deliberate (hmmm…. *dubious look*) and if it’s not explicitly presented as a group interview for you all (a different problem!) then I agree, you ask to sit this one out, for the reasons Alison gives.

    After all, they won’t ask the external candidate to sit in on you and the other internals, right? So it has to be a group assessment, surely?

    Apols for the verbosity. I’m just… The more I think about this, the more it confuzzles me.

    TL:DR; if its explicitly a group interview, thats one issue. Otherwise, ask to sit it out (and in the process, you’ll hopefully discover if it was intended as a subtle group comparison after all).

    I hope that makes sense?!

    1. Falling Diphthong

      I’m anticipating the AAM letter from the external candidate who thought they were attending a panel interview, and gradually realized as people popped in with their own takes on the question that 3/4 of the panel were actually competing candidates.

    2. Slow Gin Lizz

      I wonder if the “external candidate” is a plant to see how the three candidates respond to having to interview a competitor? Wouldn’t that be hilarious?

    3. Shark Whisperer

      I had an interview once with the hiring manager and all the people that would be direct reports for the position, except one. The hiring manager told me in the interview that the one who was missing was because she had also applied for the job and had recused herself from my interview. He said it in a way like he thought it was weird that she had recused herself. It was a terrible interview and the place seemed like a house of bees.

      In summary, I totally agree that unless it is a group interview (which is weird), you should ask to sit out. But whichever way you slice it, this is a terrible hiring practice and won’t be good for anyone.

    4. bonkerballs

      Yeah, I was thinking this is supposed to be a group interview and OP misunderstood what role she was playing in the interview.

  31. NewHerePleaseBeNice

    I was asked to put my CV into an Excel spreadsheet AND a PowerPoint slide deck once, but it was a skills tests at an interview for an admin role. For Excel, they were looking for me to add data appropriately into columns (e.g. with correct headings for ‘date from’, ‘date to’, ‘title’ ‘duties’ etc) and to format it. For PowerPoint they were checking I could make slides neatly and professionally without too much text on each slide etc.

    I guess they couldn’t be bothered to produce any other dummy text for candidates to use, but I thought the CV idea was quite good, as all candidates had the data at their fingertips.

    I can’t think of any other logical reason for putting a CV in Excel!

    1. Carlie

      My first thought was the interviewer wants to do a sort-and-compare on the candidates but is asking them to do the work for it. That means it…won’t really work, because everyone will be writing different narratives into cells all willy-nilly, but I could see a poor thought process that goes “I want to compare their skills – if each person had a column and I did a sort function I could line up the skills next to each other – I could ask them to convert to cells so I only have to copy it all in together.”
      This would of course not work, but I could see asking before thinking about it.

    2. Observer

      In your case, it makes a lot of sense to do it this way. There can be NO question that they can’t use this stuff for anything but hiring, and it also means that there should be no question that you made a mistake because you didn’t understand the material you were working with.

  32. HBucket

    OP#1 – DOn’t agree to meet with the creepy guy in his office in the evening! If you want to meet with him, I think dinner would be better because you’d at least be in a public place.

    1. Lady Phoenix

      Yup. And if he tries to get tpuchy feely, you can escape through the bathroom, get the staff to help, or exit stage right to your car/uber.

      Also, don’t go into his car… ever.

  33. UKApplePie

    OP5 – I am so with you, I get paid once a month (24th) and I love it. As soon as I get paid I can pay my rent (I am supposed to pay on the 1st, but I always pay early), and most of my bills are set up to come out around the 1st. I’ve actually moved most of my direct debits so they are closer to my payday (maybe US companies don’t let you do this as much?) I save the amount I want to save each month at the start and then I know that all the money left is for meeeeeeeeeee!!!!!

    I think a lot of commenters are being unkind. If you are paid monthly you *have* to be a decent budgeter. I say this as someone who used to be paid weekly. Switching systems is hard and if you’re like me and want to take care of the necessary payments first it is so uncomfortable. Having money earmarked for something and it’s just sitting in your account waiting to pay a boring bill is sad.

    Also, if you are in the US – do you pay rent once a month or every two weeks?! I’d hate to set aside half my pay cheque to marry it up with the other half.

    1. londonedit

      Definitely – maybe it is one of those cases where you like the thing you’re used to, but as I said upthread, having to pay rent monthly but getting paid every two weeks would be difficult to get my head around! It’s not as if I’m always spending like nobody’s business, but having to remember to set aside half my rent money from each pay cheque would be annoying, and like you I’ve moved most of my direct debits to go out of my account just after pay day. So my salary goes in, all the bills come out within the first week or so, and then I know how much I have for the rest of the month. I’m sure you can also do that with a twice-monthly pay schedule, and I’m sure if you’re used to getting paid twice a month then it probably seems pretty simple to sort out, but to my mind it seems like it would be more difficult, or at least more of a hassle.

      1. Akcipitrokulo

        Yeah – it’s bills like council tax (monthly), rent (monthly), phone/broadband (monthly) etc that would really screw with my head if I weren’t paid monthly. Pay comes in last banking day of month – DDs go out 1st of month. Sorted.

      2. Akcipitrokulo

        I mean it’s not impossible – but it would be a hassle, and I like easy when it comes to finances.

        I think it may be another culture thing – like I’m in my mid-forties, have never filled in any kind of tax return, probably never will (unless I start contracting) and am more than happy with that situation!

        1. londonedit

          Tax returns have got a lot easier (if you’re a straightforward freelancer/sole trader you just need to keep track of your income and expenses, plug the totals in on the HMRC website, they tell you how much you owe and you pay online) but it’s still a pain! If you’re sensible, you save money each month to cover your tax bill, and if you’re sensible you do and pay your tax return on April 6th, but if you’re freelancing and dealing with infrequent payments, it’s tempting to a) not save as much as you should and b) leave the whole thing until January 30th :D

          1. Akcipitrokulo

            Yeah :) will have to keep that in mind if I ever do freelance/contracting!

            But I like that HR does all of that stuff so I don’t have to (unless checking shows something wrong… but every time I’ve overpaid, I’ve got the cheque from HMRC before I noticed it!)

        2. Seeking Second Childhood

          We have friends in Denmark and are totally envious of that country’s system. The government sends a tax bill. You only file tax forms if you think the bill is wrong — ie you know you have deductible expenses that they don’t have on their sheet.
          Logical and less painful for the average taxpayer.

          1. Akcipitrokulo

            Yeah, that’s like here (UK). We have PAYE (pay as you earn) and if you think there’s something wrong you can query it, but other than that… obviously self-employed have to be their own HR, but as I’m not, I don’t need to do anything.

          2. londonedit

            Yeah, in the UK you don’t even get a tax bill every year – if you’re a salaried employee, all the tax and contributions are deducted from your salary at source. So your employer gives you a pay slip that shows your gross pay, tax deducted, National Insurance deducted (that’s what pays for the NHS, state pension etc) and anything else like Student Loan deductions.

            You only do a tax return if you’re self-employed, a company director or have some other special circumstances. The vast majority of workers don’t even have to think about their taxes unless there’s a blip in the system.

        3. Asenath

          I like the understanding I get of my overall financial situation by doing my tax forms. I did my own most of my life – it’s quite simple in my country if all your income comes from an employer. In recent years, though, I’ve treated myself to the luxury of hiring a tax person to do them. I still do all the collecting and sorting out of my tax documentation, though. I guess it makes me feel organized.

          1. Akcipitrokulo

            Oh, I don’t hire someone :) unless you’re self-employed or have another income or something, we’ve got PAYE – pay as you earn – HR does it all. I get statements, and a refund cheque if I’ve overpaid, but don’t have to do anything.

            1. Asenath

              My employer provides me with a form (I’ll spare you all the names!) stating how much I earned, how much of my money they sent to the government in the form of taxes, and all the other deductions from my pay – some of which go on my tax form, and some of which don’t. I collect tax forms from any registered charities I’ve donated to, any educational institution I’ve paid tuition to, and other things I’ve forgotten – interest from investments is one, and income from registered retirement plans or disability payments…. There are forms to fill out if you’ve got dependents, are a resident of an isolated community, have medical expenses (other than those covered by the provincial medical plan)… OK, it’s beginning to sound a bit complicated, I confess! Still, I like making sure I have all the right claims put in so I get any money I am owed back – a surprising number of young people don’t claim because they don’t earn much and think they’ve paid their taxes, and have no dependents etc to claim, so why bother? But if you claim and you’re low income, you get money back in the form of tax rebates. I’m not eligible for those, which is good, I suppose, because it means I earn too much for those programs, but it can make a big difference to the working poor. If you have two jobs, it’s up to you to fill out the income tax form for BOTH employers telling them how much money to send the government on your behalf, and that’s fairly easy to get wrong because each will assume they’re your own employer, and act accordingly unless you fill out the right form with the right amount. If you’ve overpaid taxes as a result, that’s OK, you’ll tell them when you file the return, and you’ll just lose the use of that money for some months until you claim it back. If you’ve underpaid – you get a bill from Revenue Canada, which can be a shock if you’re not used to the way things work.

              1. Akcipitrokulo

                EEEK!

                Yeah, like londonedit said above – it’s all done at source if you’re a salaried employee; it’s on your pay slip to check if you want to, but no input from you is needed.

    2. Asenath

      I’m in Canada, which is often similar to the US in these things. I usually paid rent monthly – there are other options, but they’re usually for short-term rentals. At both extremes, actually, now that I think of it – you can rent expensive furnished apartments by the day, week, month etc.; but the very poor might live in very run-down places which are also rented by the day or week. I just used to set aside most of one paycheck (biweekly, in that case) to cover rent. The next biggest bill was what we call “light & power” – I got it pro-rated over the year, so it was the same amount every month, and that came out of my second pay cheque. Months where there was a third, it always seemed to go on various expenses that didn’t come in on a regular basis. A friend of mine whose income was a bit more precarious than mine used to avoid high winter power bills by paying in small amounts in advance as she could afford to. Back to my case – smaller bills were paid as they came it (I’ve always hated automatic payment plans, and use them only when forced to so if I was short one pay period, I’d pay the bill out of the next). When I got a mortgage, there were several payment options. I chose a popular bi-weekly one that could be set up to come due just after my pay came in. Later still, I had a small secondary income that was bimonthly and not biweekly. I decided to devote that one to the monthly maintenance payments for the place I was then living in, and found I had to be extra careful to check that the timing was going to work out. It always has – the second payment comes at the end of one month and the maintenance goes out on the first of the following month (or next business day to the 1st), but I was so used to my biweekly schedule that the short space between the money coming in and going out made me nervous.

      Convenience depends on what you’re used to.

    3. Falling Diphthong

      I’m in the US and surprised that anything other than credit accounts (credit card, mortgage, car loan) can be set up to all be due on one day out of the month. Even for the credit ones it’s usually a case of 2 or 3 days over the month, and for electricity and gas it’s when the utility sends the bills. (Usually with about 3 weeks to pay, not 5, so just picking “I pay bills on the 5th no matter when they arrive” wouldn’t be an option.)

      1. londonedit

        For utilities, here in the UK if you set up a direct debit to pay for them then you don’t actually get a bill that has to be paid. The money is taken directly out of your account by the utility companies on a set day of the month. Most of the companies make this the cheapest way to buy your electricity/gas/whatever – you have a meter in your house that clocks up how much you’re using, you send your utility company a meter reading every quarter, and they calculate your monthly direct debit amount based on that.

        Even for things like my phone/broadband bill, which I pay for quarterly, I still have it set up to be done by direct debit – the company sends me an email every three months saying ‘This is what you owe for the last billing cycle, the money will be taken out of your account around the 15th of this month’.

        1. Akcipitrokulo

          Also utility use is usually estimated over the year (and DD will be adjusted the year after if you underpaid, and send you a refund if you paid too much) – this means that you’re not in a position of paying more during the winter.

    4. Kyrielle

      OP5 – maybe it would work to have the direct deposit into one account, and move over to another account? Either “direct deposit to A, move money I can spend for fun to B” or “direct deposit to A, once a month move it all over to B” whichever fels better?

      Be careful tho, that you have account types that won’t charge fees. Otherwise adding a second count has a cost, which isn’t helpful.

    5. Question5

      Rent is monthly and all other bills are monthly–but commenters here are saying I can split some bill payments so I’ll have to check that out.

      The system you described was my life for several years and I’ll miss it dearly it appears.

  34. Asenath

    # 1 – A married man who flirts is probably just looking for easy sex. Combine that with a job offer…it’s not good. And isn’t it odd that you seem to be in contact with only him, when he works for an employer and isn’t in business on his own? Where’s HR, the public listing of the job, the formal application procedure?

    # 5 – As others have said, it’s incredibly unlikely that an employer is going to offer different salary payment schedules. They generally have one that they use for everyone, and setting up another is extra work for them. It actually isn’t that hard to adjust your budget and spending to practically any pay arrangement – well, I haven’t tried doing so with anything less frequent than once a month, and I don’t actually think I was ever paid once a month. But either biweekly or twice a month is easily doable. The main trick is to assign your big payments to one particular payment, although planning always helps too. I once had a bank arrange my mortgage payment schedule so that it matched my pay schedule, and the pay went in my account and the mortgage came out, like clockwork.

    1. Question5

      Thanks! Based on the feedback given here, its the transition that will be tricky but that it is doable afterwards. Thanks for the how-to tip!

  35. Constanze

    OP3# You seem to be a nightmare to work with. I am pretty sure that your coworkers have wanted to say “screw you” for a long time.

    Do you realise that when your coworkers asked you to be more quiet, they probably have waited quietly for months (if not more) before saying something, because it is awkward to ask something like that ? Especially when they probably know that being on the phone is an important part of your job, so that would be an imposition for you ?

    It is so annoying when people don’t have the common courtesy to realise that they are not alone. The worse thing is, you seem to be pretty aware of the noise (and movements ?!) you make, but you have waited to be called out on it to start “caring”.

    It is not their responsibility to deal with your loudness ! It is up to you to respect others, their focus and their work.
    Also, headphones are not the solution to everything, and certainly not a long term one ! I have loud coworkers, and my ears hurt quickly, because I am forced to blast music quite loudly for a long time ; it is also not completely isolating, so I am still distracted by the as*holes who are loud in an open office plan ; some people also can’t concentrate with music.

    If you really cared about your job, you would make it a priority not to make it harder for your coworkers to work.

    1. Suspendersarecool

      This. I work with this guy. It is literally impossible to hear anything in the phone when he is, which has caused some professional embarrassment when I’ve had conference calls at the same time as him. It’s a total power play, trying to show everyone how important he is. And he is important! But I lost all respect for him over this. At least my supervisor moved me after I informed him I’d essentially missed two meetings because this guy wouldn’t keep his voice at a reasonable volume like everyone else in the area.

    2. Observer

      That’s really harsh. The OP definitely needs to tone it down, but they aren’t exactly a monster, either.

    3. Holiday Pie

      Yes being loud all the time, clipping your toenails at your desk, chomping on chips, and microwaving fish/burning popcorn and eating it at your desk are all things that most of us who have worked in a cube setting consider unforgivable. And at some point if it is something the offender does regularly most of us have considered stabbing them in the eye with a fork, or tripping them when they are close to the stairs but since we are afraid of jail time we settle on IM’ing the other annoyed co-workers and making fun of loud mouth, horse toes, and cookie monster. It does seem like the OP is checking to see if they are really annoying in the letter, and doesn’t quite get how annoying it is to sit next to them.

      1. ....

        I think I must be the only person on earth that genuinely doesn’t give a rip if someone microwaves fish or makes popcorn. People have to eat? Fish and popcorn are a healthy meal/snack! I work in a SMALL OPEN OFFICE where people are shoulder to shoulder literally so its close quarters. this is probably derailing but like….it might smell like food for a second who cares? Unforgivable to eat popcorn!!?

        1. Jennifer Thneed

          Microwave popcorn is pretty gross. Burned popcorn is also pretty gross, and the smells don’t dissipate.

          You may actually have less-than-average sensitivity to odors. This can be a superpower, fwiw.

  36. Red Reader

    #5: my husband used to get paid weekly, while my budget was constructed based on semimonthly paychecks. It was easier for him to transfer me his share of things based on his schedule but easier for me to get the money based on mine – so every week he would transfer his weekly amount into a shared savings and twice a month I would transfer it from the shared savings to myself. Maybe, if you’re really set on monthly sums, you could have all your checks direct deposited into an account that you don’t use much, then once a month transfer the sum total to your regular account for budgeting and allocation.

  37. 653-CXK

    OP#3: If you’ve ever watched Blazing Saddles, remember the scene (possibly NSFW for language) where the woman was speaking so softly, the audience implored her to speak up, and then she shouted what she wanted to hear – and everyone nearly fell over?

    It’s a fine line between maintaining decorum and appropriate volume? I’m naturally a quiet person and don’t talk much, but when I do, it’s very loud, especially when I’m excited; I’ve also been on the other side where someone from another department is all but shouting at the phone and headphones aren’t enough.

    In addition to Allison’s suggestions, if you have a cell phone, is there a program you can download that measures volume decibel levels? Then, you could measure your speaking volume and find your comfort level (enough to be heard, enough to keep the peace).

    1. 653-CXK

      Ugh…punctuation fail…”It’s a fine line between maintaining decorum and appropriate volume.”

  38. Lady Phoenix

    #1: Is there someone you can talk to about creeper? Like your boss, a trusting coworker, or HR?

    “This guy is asking me to do a job I am not qualified for and wants to take menout to dinner to discuss the job. I have been very uncomfortable with him atound and I think he is asking me to do something sletchy.”

    You need a “Team You” at work. This guy is a distraction, the ew creepy kimd, and you shouldn’t be forced to deal with him while ypu are trying to work. So I would start a paper trail and have someone know your predictament to either support you or, even better, keep you safe.

    1. Anonymous 5

      This!!!

      OP1, you have plenty of well-founded doubts. If anyone is going to get the “benefit” of them, it should be ***you***.

      1. Ermintrude

        “If anyone should get ‘the benefit of the doubt, it should be YOU” needs to emblazoned in the sky for dealing with potentially skeezy, shonky people.

  39. Elle

    “(And why oh why do offices put people whose jobs are 50% phone work in open floor plans around people whose jobs aren’t? It’s ridiculous.)”

    I just came here to say +100000000
    My office has 4-person cubes. They put 3 project managers (managing outsource people, btw) with 1 financial analyst who supports them. There is a 0% chance the poor financial analyst will ever, ever have even 1 minute of silence in which to work. And work blocks all music streaming services and has bad cell reception.

  40. drpuma

    OP5, opening a second checking account changed my life. My spending money is literally in a separate account from the money for my bills (which is not accessible with my debit card). Most if not all of the jobs I’ve had allow you to break your direct deposits up between multiple accounts, or you can do the transferring yourself. You’ve already demonstrated that you are an awesome budgeter, you can adapt to this too!

  41. Hamburke

    My husband used to get paid monthly – in Virginia, you can be paid monthly if you are salaried. I actually liked it – all bills were paid at once. When he switched jobs, he went to a semimonthly pay schedule. This was fine too – I called some creditors and asked to change my due date bc of the change in pay schedule – nbd. He changed jobs again and is now biweekly… It’s was harder to balance bills at first but now, I switched jobs and get paid on opposite weeks – it’s kinda nice! But does take getting used to!

  42. Detective Amy Santiago

    OP #3 – I am a naturally loud person and my voice gets louder when I am passionate about something, so I totally relate to where you’re coming from.

    But you are wrong. It is on you to modulate your voice and not disturb your colleagues. Stick a post it note on your computer or phone that says “quiet” or “softer” or something as a visual cue. Definitely switch to a headset that only has one ear covered. If there’s a coworker who sits in your line of sight that you trust, ask them to give you a hand signal when you’re being too loud.

  43. Nea

    Op #1 – add two more voices telling you to shut this guy down immediately and run from him. Mine and Arthur Conan Doyle’s. Because “Man offers weirdly high salary to young woman in bad need of money while creeping her out about how she is the only right person for the job and he TOTALLY doesn’t have anything disreputable in mind” is the plot of The Adventure of the Copper Beeches. Spoiler alert: he’s a complete creep.

    When even a dead dude is telling you from 1892 to trust your gut, please listen!

  44. Myrin

    Hi #3! I’d like to address your letter as a person with a naturally very loud voice.

    First of all, you say the feedback is specifically about your talking on the phone, so I’m wondering if you’re even someone who’s naturally loud or if this is something that really only manifests when you’re on the phone? It actually kind of sounds to me like it’s the latter since I’d be really surprised if someone with a loud voice didn’t get asked to tone it down when speaking in general first (ask me how I know!). Am I right here?

    In any case, since your coworkers specifically talked about your phone usage, you’ll need to identify what it is that makes you so loud. In fact, it looks like you’ve already done so: “I am excited and passionate and that manifests in volume and gesticulation that I don’t really notice I’m doing.” And, hm. On the one hand, there’s really nothing saying that you can’t express excitement while being calm, but on the other hand, you know, I get it. Like I said, I’m always loud, but if I get into the groove, so to speak, I become even louder. But really, that needs to be controlled. The fact that you’ve written about it means that now you do notice that you’re doing it and that means you really do need to make an effort to tone it down.

    I know how hard that kind of stuff can be – I have a weird thing with my ears where, on top of everything else, I don’t perceive of myself as nearly as loud as I’m objectively being. I can literally hurt my own ears because I’m so loud but my brain still doesn’t register that I’m basically shouting. And if something like that is the case for you, I have a strange suggestions: whisper. No, really. Apparently, when I make a concerted effort to do what feels like quiet whispering to me, it comes out as a pretty normal speaking voice. It’s uncomfortable and unnatural and you’ll probably slip halfway through because it takes so much concentration but it’s really worth it so as to not bother literally everyone around you.

    I understand why people upthread are a bit harsh with you but I believe you when you say that embarrassment and deflation are the majority of what you’re feeling right now. But I really do want to caution you against turning that embarrassment around into knee-jerk defensiveness, which is what I’m reading in your “… but also like screw you, man. Sorry I care about my work. Put on headphones!” If you find yourself thinking like that whenever you’re pondering this whole “loud voice” issue, I’d encourage you to try really hard and reroute that train of thought. I get it, but you don’t want any of that to slip into your interactions with your colleagues, who have a right to not be bothered by some yelling person on the other side of the room while trying to do their work.

    Additionally, you don’t want to conflate passion, excitement, and care with being loud. I can’t quite tell from your letter if that’s the case but from some of your words, it reads like you think that one automatically causes the other, which is absolutely not the case. One can show caring and passion through means other than volume; this can be a bit hard to wrap your head around when you’re someone who automatically becomes loud as soon as they’re excitedly involved in something, but it’s not a must and doesn’t necessarily follow. So try to steer away from anything that could come across as dismissiveness, as “well, not everyone can be as quiet as you apathetic worker drones all the time!”. Again, I don’t think that’s your intent but if you stew in these “screw you!” thoughts for too long, you can easily warp your own thinking that way (as a form of self-protection and to escape the embarrassment) and you really don’t want to go down that path.

    Like Alison, I think your proactive ideas are good ones; you’ll just need to accept that your day is going to become a little more cumbersome when implementing them but really, you do work in the vicinity of others and if the end result is that you get along better with your coworkers and they’ll have a more pleasant work experience, I think it’s totally worth it! Best wishes!

    1. Tobias Funke

      I love this comment! My partner naturally projects his voice and he is L O U D and it got to the point where neighbors actually called the landlord about his regular voice. After his initial SCREW THEM I PAY MY RENT huffing and puffing (which, many in the comments are getting far too hung up on from op, it’s human to have a reaction and many in the comments forget that we are dealing with humans), he realized that we like living here and maybe he can keep it down and not get evicted. Now when it gets excessive I just give a quick hand signal and he drops his voice. In fact, this letter could have been from him – loud and boisterous dude in an open office on the phones.

      1. Myrin

        Oh my goodness, the voice-inside-flat thing. Years ago, I used to tutor my neighbour’s daughter. We mostly did that in the kitchen but one time, we sat in the living room, which shares a wall with my own family’s living room. My mum – who I get my loudness from – was talking (like, having a normal conversation, not like, arguing or something) to my sister in our own living room and I could hear her with crystalline clarity. I was gaping at the wall and neighbour’s daugther just shrugged and went “Oh, it’s always like that!”. I was aghast, told my mum about it when I went back into our appartment, she was also aghast, and until this day, we continue to shout at each other, interrupted by shocked intervals of “Ermergerd, neighbour can hear us!!”. It’s quite the ongoing battle (and we’re very glad that insulation is apparently much better when it comes to the neigbours above us).

    2. lazuli

      As another generally-loud (especially on the phone!) person, I’ll also throw out a suggestion: If you can work on enunciating, especially making sure you’re hitting the final consonant in words, it can make your speech easier for the listener to understand, even when you’re speaking at a lower volume. And it gives you (me!) something positive/active to focus on rather than just focusing on “not being loud” — it’s always easier to work on doing something rather than on not-doing something!

    3. CDenmark

      God bless you, Myrin! You said everything I was thinking in a great way about a topic I am also familiar with. Your comment will help me to remember to keep myself in check as well! Thank you.

    4. LQ

      Agreed, I’m an also loud person. (When I was little long distance was expensive, I’ve got a REALLY good set of lungs on me from talking with friends across the swamp a mile away.)

      I think the passion thing is the most important. I work with someone who is painfully quiet. The room needs to be pin-drop quiet to hear her. But she gets passionate about things. It doesn’t manifest anything like it does in me, and it took me (far too) long to “hear” it from her. But it helps to put things in perspective. Watching her passionately argue her point is very different, but the underlying thing is the same. If you can find someone like that (and chances are VERY good you have people around you who are very passionate but in a different way) and learn from them.

      I like thinking I have a broader spectrum of ways in which to get myself across. Volume when I need it, sure. Quiet intensity when that is more warranted. Defiant resoluteness when needed. Once you see that volume is only a single tool, you can increase the size of your tool-belt significantly. Because not everything is a nail. A lot of people shut down rather than change when volume is used.

    5. BadWolf

      Another angle to think about — the phone tech being used may not be very good at averaging out the volume of voices on the other end. Enthusiasm is nice, but not when you have to jam the volume button on your phone or hold it away from your ear.

      Our office phones are currently better, but I’ve definitely been on phone meetings before where there’s that one person who booms over everyone else and I’m trying to lower and then raise the volume between speakers.

  45. School Inclusion Specialist

    #4
    I feel like this is a situation, the update will say “this was symptomatic of larger management problems”

  46. Detective Amy Santiago

    OP #2 – I love spreadsheets. I make them for fun (seriously). But this is weird.As someone who has experience with hiring, I cannot begin to fathom what kind of use a resume in spreadsheet format would be.

    1. Snickerdoodle

      I’d be super tempted to just copy and paste my resume from Word into Excel and just leave it.

  47. Hiring Mgr

    On #5, for what it’s worth, I once worked for an Israeli co as the first US employee, and everyone there was paid monthly while I was paid twice monthly. I didn’t ask them to do this, but they asked me how people here normally get paid. This was a small co with little HR/admin, etc staff..

    Not that it’s relevent in OP5’s case, but my only point is maybe the HR/payroll part of this isn’t such a big deal. As a disclaimer, I don’t know the first thing about payroll processing or what systems were used, etc.

    1. RS

      I was figuring on this being an Israeli– I used to supervise Israelis in the US and the complaints about biweekly paychecks never ended! How could they POSSIBLY be expected to manage their money this way? I realize that culturally pay is handled differently but I always thought it was a little odd… just deposit your first paycheck and ignore it until the second one comes, then??

  48. JXB

    OP#3 We have similar setup and deal with this. One co-worker wears a headset but speaks super loud on his frequent and lengthy business calls. He’s a great guy, but it’s really aggrevating for those of us around him. His manager has spoken to him, but he forgets.

    Last time I was up against a tight deadline and needed to focus and I sent him a Skype “Crunching on deadline. Could you speak more quietly?” Volume immediately dropped! He was very receptive; came and thanked me afterward. He’s naturally loud but accommodates us if we ask/remind him. I feel a lot better now that I have a way I feel I can signal him without complaining. So if you use messaging in your office – that might be a method.

    For myself, I have a little tent card with a “SHHH” cartoon and note to remember to speak quietly just under my monitor where it catches the eye. Another suggestion we’ve discussed is that there are several apps you can download to your phone that monitor noise level. Some are free but even the paid ones are cheap, $2, $5. They are often for classroom management and have colorful dashboards. You could try one of those and place your phone in clear view while you talk, getting into a routine of checking the readout. Please send an update at some point so we hear what happens! Best of luck.

    1. Snickerdoodle

      That’s awesome of your coworker!

      Earlier today, two people who sit near me weret having a very loud discussion on whether or not some joke were inappropriate and of course began telling said joke. I said “Y’ALL” without leaving my cube. The noise immediately ceased, and it’s been dead silent ever since. Lol.

  49. QuirkyPants

    #3: I know how awful it can feel to get negative feedback about something you’re doing that you don’t feel like it’s a negative, and worse, maybe something that feels like a core part of your being.

    Me? I can be very blunt/to-the-point and demanding. It’s never anything personal, for me it’s just about getting the work done. I’m actually a lovely person, friendly, chatty, generous, FUNNY, etc. outside of work deliverables. BUT at work, I have been perceived as an ass, insensitive, and many other things. Early in my career, I took the position that I’m doing this because I CARE about the project, I CARE about the best work possible, I’m just trying to be EFFICIENT, etc. etc. However, I had to learn to take that feedback differently… I was working in a group environment, I had to make sure that other people could ALSO do their best work and although I didn’t understand why people took my bluntness personally, they most certainly did and I affected their performance.

    Please take the feedback seriously but try not to take it personally. What I’ve had to learn is that in order to work well in an office environment, I had to change. I also have to work in a way that enables my colleagues to do their best work and hope they’ll do the same for me if they have an issue with me.

    P.S. I also hate open offices…. is it possible to ask to be moved to another area? Or could you suggest to HR that all folks in similar roles like yours (on the phone all the time) sit near each other? So those folks who need quiet to do their work don’t hear you as clearly?

    1. Jennifer

      Great advice. When you get negative feedback about something you actually like about yourself, your first instinct is to get defensive, which is what this OP is doing. As you said, you have to work in a way that enable others to work well.

    2. Lexi Kate

      This is great advice. Not taking things personally when I finally understood and went with it is when I feel like my career really hit a turning point for the better.

  50. Angiebaby,speciallady

    OP#5. Have your biweekly checks deposited into a savings account that is linked to your checking account. Then at the end of the month you transfer money to your checking g account. Only spend what is doing checking, will only use what is in checking.

    1. Kiki

      A lot of companies let you do direct deposit into multiple accounts by percentage. If that’s an option for OP, they should look into it. It has made my savings and budgeting strategy effective but mindless.

      1. Lehigh

        Well, if he’s been living paycheck to paycheck and getting the pay in arrears (aka, getting paid the 1st for the previous month’s work), and his semimonthly paychecks will be paid also in arrears with no extra lag (aka, getting paid half the month’s work on the 15th and then the 2nd half on the 1st of the month directly following the work), then depositing both into a separate account and pulling it all out into checking on the 1st should exactly mimic his previous paychecks. So he could live paycheck to paycheck as he has been doing, by artificially creating the lag (on the first 1/2 of his month’s pay) that he was used to.

        1. Jennifer

          Unless I’m misunderstanding you, at the start of the process he still would have to go a month without touching his pay. It would work for him going forward.

    2. Dasein9

      Yep. There are credit unions (and probably banks too) that will let you create new accounts that you can label as needed. I even set one up for my cats, so I’m saving a little bit each paycheck toward their inevitable vet bills.

  51. mr. brightside

    #1: Aside from “is this an interview or him trying to date me” (it sounds like he’s trying to date you), do you even want to work for him? Because it sounds like he might not be great to work for or with.

    #5: If you’re worried about spending it, it might help to see if you can split where your paycheck goes, so some portion of it goes to some other account so you don’t “see it” in your balance and you might feel like it’s not really there? And that way it stacks up and it’s there at the end of the month for bills/savings. You could also have enough to pay the bills go into that account and set up auto-bill-pay, so the only money you see in your other account is money that it’s okay to spend.

  52. Cat Fan

    Loud talker, I hope you’ve gotten over the embarrassment by now. Just switch to a one speaker headset, and try to maintain a lower volume. I am also a loud talker, and I have at times been asked to quiet down because I don’t realize how loud I’m getting when I’m on the phone. I’ve also had to ask others in my office to quiet down when I’m on the phone or when I’m trying to focus on something and they are being exceptionally loud. Sometimes we all just don’t realize how loud we are when we are in a conversation in person or on the phone. It isn’t a big deal and nothing to be embarrassed about. It happens all the time in my office.

  53. Delta Delta

    #3 – I want to empathize a little bit here. As I’m getting older I notice my hearing isn’t what it once was. I am also really knowledgeable about certain aspects of my field, and I know that sometimes when I get going on a topic I’m like a blabbermouth freight train. This probably leads to talking too loud. If someone tells me I’m being too loud I try to reel it in.

    Things that may work: others have suggested using one headphone so the other ear is free. This may help or it might hurt. I find if there’s background noise I try to shout over it (I’m a terrible offender of this when I’m on the phone in the car using bluetooth, but if I’m using a headphone I’m fine). Is there a way to configure your workspace to provide a little bit of a buffer? I know you mentioned it’s an open plan; I don’t know if there might be something you can put in front of yourself while you’re on an especially loud call. Also, maybe you can move desks to a different part of the office where there might be a natural buffer or where sound doesn’t travel quite as well? Last, maybe your office can get some soundproofing panels or pieces of carpet or something that might help trap some of the noise, generally. I once worked somewhere that had upholstered conference room chairs. Those chairs got replaced by hard chairs, and suddenly you could hear everything going on in that room. We figured out it was from losing the old chairs that helped to suck up some of the noise.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

      I have a related problem. My own hearing appears to be fine (I had it checked a year ago just to be sure). But my mom’s hearing is not. If I speak in a normal voice, not only does she not hear what I’m saying, she has no idea that I am saying something. She’s over at my place almost every day when I get home from work. So I developed a new habit of speaking clearly and loudly when I’m at home. Now my adult children are asking me why I yell. You can never win.

  54. Mommy MD

    Just answer this one question for yourself. Are you going to feel comfortable working daily with someone who deep down you sense is off, that you will never fully trust?

  55. WillowSunstar

    #3, is there a phone room in your office? I worked in a building with an open office, and people were supposed to use the phone rooms, which were about the size of a small closet with a light, desk, and chairs, if they had to be on the phone a lot. Then you get privacy, and also don’t have to modulate your voice. Alternatively, is there a small conference room you can use when you have to be on lengthy phone calls?

  56. Just try it

    #2 – I think the answer is a bit off here. The way it is worded would lead an employer to believe the candidate is only willing to follow instructions and put the the resume in a spreadsheet format if the reason for it is one the OP endorses. As an employer, this would be a red flag for me. I don’t want an admin who won’t complete a simple task without me explaining why I prefer it that way (and, apparently, the employee approving of the reason).

    This is a simple one: 1) Yes it’s an unusual preference for resume format. 2) It’s not a big effort, so if you want the job, just do it.

    1. Falling Diphthong

      I think this isn’t so much employees not demanding that every wrinkle come with a full justification, and more like employees wanting to know the parameters of an assignment. There are a lot of ways to put things into a spreadsheet–someone upthread mentioned doing so in such a way that on the page it would look like the word document–and “the right candidate will just always guess right” isn’t a great thing to hear from a would-be employer.

    2. nnn

      I think for the specific task of putting a resume into a spreadsheet, I’d need to know why in order to carry out the task in a way that meets their needs.

      For example, are they putting the resume in a database? If so, I might change the formatting to something that would populate a database effectively as opposed to something that scans easily on page.

      If their reason is something else…well, I’d need to know what it is, because I can’t imagine why a resume would be better as a spreadsheet than as a textual document. I’ve never encountered a situation where that would help. But if they told me what they’re trying to achieve, I can likely help them achieve it.

  57. Teapot librarian

    For #2, I wonder if the employer wants to be able to combine everyone’s resumes into a single spreadsheet and do some sorting, or if it’s to import them into a database. Not that I can figure out why either of those would be important, but they’re possibilities.

    For #4, I wonder if it’s not an interview of the external candidate by the manager and 3 internal candidates, but an interview of all four candidates by the manager.

  58. Linzava

    OP 5,
    I’m semi monthly and it’s just as important to stick with a budget as it is when your monthly. I personally do a zero dollar budget on an excel spreadsheet with my projected cost on one side and my actual cost on the other. Every dollar I save goes to savings which I pretend doesn’t exist on top of my semi monthly savings which is a specific dollar amount I track on another spreadsheet. This is where I save for tuition and salon costs(things that happen a couple times a year but are expensive).

    There’s nothing more powerful and fulfilling than being in control of my own money. I make 3 times less than my boyfriend, but I always lend him money to get through the next paycheck.

    I was a splurge spender before doing this, made platinum status at Ulta, yep. Now I rarely spend money I haven’t planned for and don’t feel an urge to spend as often.

  59. Farrah Sahara

    OP #2: I agree that this is odd, but my hunch is that they want to be able to data sort or filter the information for all applicants in an easy step.

    This way, they have an at a glance look at who has which skills, years of experience, etc that they can compare to one another.

  60. Jennifer

    As far as the spreadsheet resume goes, unless you are desperate I would give this employee a pass. Silly, redundant requests like these are annoying and to me are a sign the company isn’t run very efficiently or not adept when it comes to technology. It reminds me of employers who ask you to fill out a lengthy job application after they already have your resume and references.

    1. Gah

      THIS! But I’ve found that often times, the lengthy job applications are templates set forth by their recruiting software and HR didn’t change the settings to exclude “write out each job, what you did and the dates even though it asks for a resume.”

  61. Jennifer

    OP 5 I feel your pain. I am had at budgeting too. It’s difficult for those who aren’t spenders to understand. A budgeting app has helped me. See if one is right for you.

  62. change

    OP1: you do have other better options. Sometimes people ignore their gut because they think the opportunity is worth the risk. Look around for other opportunities and be willing to invest the time needed rather than going for this too easy, weird feeling risk. Also, realize, that giving people the benefit of the doubt makes victims of a lot of people. You aren’t obligated to give his guy anything.

  63. Dasein9

    OP #3, if you have insurance, I recommend getting a hearing check. Usually we raise our voices when we’re having trouble hearing. There may be something about the tones that come through a phone (or your particular headset) that are difficult for you to hear, causing you to overcompensate.

    It’s not just about hearing, though, it’s about listening. Your co-workers are telling you something important here and giving you an opportunity to show them you’re working with them instead of against them.

  64. Aphrodite

    OP #1, I commented late last night, above, but this morning, seeing Alison’s update, I still don’t feel good about this for you. You say that “I went to the interview today and he was very professional, so I’m feeling somewhat better now.” But . . . this may well be one of those creepy guys who knows how to take it slow before he shows his true colors. I still do not like this. Some men have a way of creeping in slowly (so to speak) and staying nice/professional. They are cautious and careful in their approach but you should realize they have intentions beyond professional. So it doesn’t really surprise me that he stayed professional in your initial interview. It does alarm me a bit that you say you are feeling “somewhat better now.” This is not a definite indication that he is a creep but it is not an indication that he is not either. He could be biding his time–and you should not let your guard down.

    Can you check his company’s website to see if the job is available? Can you figure out how he “knows” you will fit the job before the interview? Can you check with HR to see if the job is indeed open? Do these things, OP, because that one indication–that he stayed professional in your first interview–is NOT something by which you should judge this situation and this guy. You MUST exercise caution and judgement and not be taken in by a supposed massive salary increase (an adult version of “would you like some candy, little girl” if ever I heard one).

    1. Indie

      The guy who creeped the hardest on me was super professional most of the time. He made me feel very safe, and I thought he was cool, particularly in formal or daytime situations. Hell, even in a bar he was very personable. The odd and fleeting impression from the occasional office latestay was easy to ignore, and I felt like a crazy person in the morning. However when he offered me a job (Like OPs situation, he was offering it as something directly from him, as a man, rather than as a firm or saying he would pass on my details. Men don’t give jobs, companies do!) it became crazy obvious because not only did he not give a fig/understand my work but he expected me to move cities and follow him to his new company. Even in the face of my ‘no way’ he proceeded to talk to others about my upcoming move as though this was something no woman could turn down.

      Sigh. It’s no wonder women in their twenties have no credence for their own instincts. It is a straight up banana crackers way to flirt and express attraction. By trying to buy her with a (possibly fake) job.

      1. Snickerdoodle

        That’s a really good way of phrasing it; “trying to buy her with a (possibly fake) job.” It’s an in to get her closer to him so she’s around for more frequent creeping and harassment.

        I’m willing to bet the “job” doesn’t pan out because the department mysteriously suddenly doesn’t have the budget for it anymore or something.

  65. LQ

    #2 I kind of want this employer to be feeding stuff into an artificial intelligence program to select the best candidate based on the data and so they want it in data as much as possible, and then I want it to be an evil scientist, but with a really good work culture, great pay…(I think I just made this boss Hank Scorpio from the Simpsons).

    But I suspect they are just one of those people who uses spreadsheets for everything. Everything, regardless if it is the right tool or not.

  66. JustAClarifier

    Op#3: I know it can be embarrassing to get told this, but I just want to address the headphones comment.

    It takes a Lot for people to finally bring up something like this; I’d be willing to bet that they have repeatedly tried the headphones thing but that the sound is coming through the headphones.

    I speak from experience as someone who works down the floor from a person who speaks so loudly that it cuts through my noise cancelling headphones; they are also so loud that when people are trying to speak to me in my office, I can’t hear what they are saying, and vice versa. In this case, I suspect he has a hearing issue and doesn’t realize that he is as loud as he is.

    If it has come to the point where they said something, please don’t be angry with your colleagues and instead recognize that they have probably attempted to solve this on their own before speaking up about it, and that they might be feeling as awkward and embarrassed as you are.

    1. Cat Fan

      This is true. Just yesterday I was on a call and there were people in the cubicle next to me having a conversation. They were not talking very loud but because I was on a call I was having trouble understanding the person speaking competing with their voices. I kept turning up the volume on my headset, but then the speaker was too loud and in between his words I was hearing their words so it was just constant voices running together in my head. I had to finally asked the people in the cubicle to please lower their voices just because I was on a call.

      1. JustAClarifier

        I’ve been in the same situation. Cubicles are definitely not conducive to a non-intrusive work environment.

  67. Monthly Pay

    Hmm, I work in New York for a major employer (private university) and I get paid monthly! Unlike the poster I wish I got paid twice a month. In my previous role at the same university I got paid semi-monthly.

    1. J.

      Your employer is probably breaking the law. New York State Department of Labor requires office workers to be paid at least twice a month. (Click the link at my name for reference.)

    2. J.

      (Although as a higher ed caveat, if you’re a graduate worker or otherwise getting a “stipend” or “fellowship” instead of a salary or wages, then I think monthly is permitted. You may want to talk to your colleagues or your supervisor about it?)

  68. Paid monthly

    In reference to Alison’s comment for OP #5, I work for a really large institution in New York City and all non-union administrators get paid monthly, so I’m wondering if the labor law doesn’t just apply to certain job classifications. I can’t imagine that we’re getting away with breaking a law, but maybe they did file for exemption at some point.

    By no means am I suggesting that OP #5 should ask for a change in payroll, because it will never happen. I definitely can sympathize. It was a rough transition when I went from getting paid on the 15 and 30th/31st to getting paid on the 1st. It was certainly easier to pay bills on the monthly pay cycle but all of a sudden it felt like I just had a ton of money left for whatever, which wasn’t true because it did have to last me all month. I started keeping careful track of spending, etc, and it works way better than I thought. Still the anxiety was there at the beginning.

    1. CoveredInBees

      If the “institution” is government, then there might be a carveout in the law about state or municipal employees. Otherwise, I’d try to talk to someone in payroll because I wouldn’t assume that they are in compliance with the law or even know it exists. I used to work in enforcement of labor laws for state and federal agencies and definitely saw people who were clueless and being at a big company didn’t necessarily make a difference.

      Also the NYS AG’s labor division has a number you can call to ask questions or report things, if you feel that is necessary. You leave your question and contact info, and someone will get back to you.

  69. OpenOffice

    OP3, my cubemate is really loud on calls, and facilitates conference calls pretty often. She often will go other places like into an empty office or conference room which I appreciate. I can still hear her through a closed door, but it’s easier to tune out.

    When she does the calls from her desk (not often, I think multiple people have given her feedback on her volume) I cannot focus. Headphones blasting music does not help. My effort trying to concentrate goes up like 50% but my productivity goes way down. In addition to just the volume, I also get distracted because I am angry, because I perceive her actions as rude and inconsiderate. I never take calls at my desk when I know I’ll be speaking for more than 2-3 minutes total and that is the basic unspoken etiquette of our floor.

    Also, I am passionate about MY work, and one reason I get frustrated when my productivity falls is that it makes me a less effective employee.

    I wanted to give a look at the other side of this, and why ‘screw you, man I am passionate’ is not really a fair response to people who respected you enough to give you this feedback directly in a difficult conversation, and want to co-exist in your working space.

  70. SheLooksFamiliar

    OP 1, I’m echoing what others have said – listen to your inner voice. I’m glad your interview went smoothly and you feel better, but your inner voice was telling you something you need to know.

    I’ve ignored mine, even when it was screaming at me to pay attention – but LOGIC! REASON! BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT! – and have always been sorry. Please keep us posted!

  71. Snickerdoodle

    OP#1: Ohhh boy. We’ve all met THOSE creeps, and you need to drop the phrase “benefit of a doubt” immediately because it is keeping you from admitting that you know the guy’s behavior is inappropriate and dealing with it accordingly. You’ve already said the guy’s behavior makes you uncomfortable; why even bother with the rest of it? That’s enough.

    Remember that episode of Sex and the City where Carrie was writing for Vogue and had a mentor called Julian who was super friendly and paternal until one day he called her in and there he was standing in his underwear? That. That’s the TL;DR version of my whole comment here.

    We all have MANY stories of guys exactly like the guy from OP#1, and roundabout none of the stories ends with “It was all just a misunderstanding!” It’s never a misunderstanding. You feel uncomfortable for a reason (insert pitch for The Gift of Fear here). If something feels off, don’t shake it off; pay attention to why it feels off.

    I remember the first time an older (and of course married) guy started creeping on me. It was somebody I saw on the bus to and from work every day, and he and I struck up a friendship. When our schedules changed and we wouldn’t see each other anymore, we exchanged contact information. He gave me a weird email address and explained that it was his spam email because his wife was really jealous and didn’t want him to have any female friends. These days I would spot that “Oh it’s my WIFE who’s the problem” crap for what it is immediately, but back then I just frowned, shrugged, and went with it. We soon lost touch, and a couple of years later, I got an email from that guy addressed to me and about twenty other girls saying he was pretty sure we’d had cyber sex back in the day and to hit him up. Gross.

    I got a lot better at recognizing weird behavior after that, and then at cutting those people off before they started, but that doesn’t stop them from trying. Most recently, I had to file a complaint about a creepy guy on my vanpool. He started off by inviting me to lunch or book fair and forwarding me information about job postings within our company, phrasing everything very professionally and offering to rearrange his schedule if need be (see the pattern here?). I declined each time, and he emailed me about a couple of other tangentially work-related topics. I didn’t respond, and he escalated to visiting me at my cube (despite me never having told him where I sit in a huge office building where we work in different divisions on different floors), trying to invite himself to events in my personal life, etc. When I declined or didn’t respond to any of that, he suddenly started talking nonstop on vanpool every day about sexual assault cases in the media in a very dismissive, victim-blaming way, heavily implying that saying no doesn’t matter (I’d already said no to him several times!), saying that the victims were probably lying (telling me that he’d tell everyone I lied about whatever he eventually did to me), etc. I documented the hell out of everything, reported it to my supervisors, and he was told in no uncertain terms to never contact me again.

    OP#1, you could easily be in my shoes or vice versa. This guy does not want you working for him. He wants you nearby so he can ogle you and torment you and get away with it because you’re too nice to tell him off and because he has a paper thin veneer of plausible deniability. Manipulative people ALWAYS rules-lawyer like that; “Well, I didn’t TECHNICALLY do anything wrong; you’re too sensitive!” Etc. It’s ridiculous and needs to stop. He’s grooming you to put up with increasingly inappropriate behavior, and don’t be surprised if he tries to pin it on you when it finally blows up (it will). Cut this guy out immediately and send a heads up to HR.

  72. nnn

    As someone who sounds rude on the phone unless I emote and am unable to emote quietly, and also can’t focus on my work when other people are on the phone, I have nothing but sympathy for everyone involved in #3.

    (I don’t have any practical advice though, sorry :( )

  73. Michaela Westen

    #1, I’m glad the interview wasn’t too creepy. I was going to warn you not to go to his office after hours when there would probably not be anyone else around. It could have been dangerous.
    IMHO it would be better not to take this job if he’ll be your supervisor or reporting manager. I second Alison’s trust your gut.
    If you want to take the job anyway, you could try telling him, “I’m interested in this job because it’s a move up and I would learn new skills. I want to be clear I am not interested in a personal relationship with you.” and see if he pulls the offer, or get upset, or… try not to be alone with him when you do this.

    1. Jules the 3rd

      meh, creepy guys are really good at ‘oh of course I didn’t mean a personal relationship’ and then pushing it later. I have never found that my statements made much difference to them, except as tools for them to modify tactics. Not engaging was the only effective response.

    2. Michaela Westen

      I’ve found confronting like I describe often makes them go away.
      Sometimes they bluster and act hurt (and I can tell they’re acting) first, but it does make them go away.
      As I mentioned upthread, a good man would respect precautions and boundaries.
      However, if he *does* say he’s not interested in a personal relationship and continues to push for one, she can tell him again in front of witnesses, keep records, and escalate to HR.
      Make sure they have a decent HR, OP!

  74. Klaaraa

    For number 3, I definitely agree with everyone that you should be considerate of the People affected by your being loud on the phone. That said, keeping sight of that “should” and keeping track of how loud you are being at any given moment do not come easy to everyone (based on personality and/or neurotype) and it is entirely appropriate to struggle with that and need to practice. But being able to modulate volume even when passionate is a very important skill because sometimes People who hate loud speech will be People who have power over you, and also because apparently being loud to toddlers results in loud children which is undesirable. One Thing that was helpful to myself in learning to be more Aware of how loud I speak, is a plastic device called a whisperphone, meant for language learners and children with speech disabilities to practice articulation. Which probably looks too silly to wear at work but you could maybe use one to practice talking quieter during phone conversations at home/on your own time…

  75. Bookworm

    #1: As Alison says, trust your gut. I’m glad the interview went well BUT it’s okay to still feel hesitant for any reason. I’ve accepted jobs based solely on one interview (they weren’t creepy luckily for me) only to wish I really hadn’t OR that it had been a multi-round process so I could have maybe gotten a better impression.

    I’ve also had a similar situation to what Alison outlined in her top comment: I worked with a guy who veered into inappropriate (maybe, maybe not because I wasn’t there and there were other factors and I was right out of college and NOT adept at these things). When I left he asked me, repeatedly to go to dinner as a “thank you.” Initially I brushed it off, didn’t have time (I also didn’t want to go) but he kept pushing. He eventually asked my then-roommate (we worked a the same place) to come too and she said, “Sure!” because I hadn’t said anything to her because of our schedules.

    To this day I don’t think I would have feared for my safety, but he definitely would not get it. He might have thought I was more open to it because we had a decent working relationship otherwise (I tended to stay out of the drama because I didn’t really care for any of the parties involved and the department valued me) but in retrospect I’m glad this had been one of those situation where it’s unlikely I’ll ever see him again, let alone interact with him for my career. It’s not always like this, though, so if you still feel hesitant later, that is totally okay.

  76. Matilda Jefferies

    OP5, any change like that can be a bit daunting. I found it stressful to go from being paid on the 1st and 15th, to biweekly, just because it was different than what I was used to. But it’s important to know that any pay schedule is workable, whether it’s biweekly, semi-monthly, monthly, or something else. Sometimes it takes some adjustment when you’re changing to a new system, but you can definitely do it. Alison and others are correct that the adjustment has to come from you, though – there’s no way you can ask your employer for a pay schedule that’s different from everybody else’s.

    You’re getting lots of great advice for financial systems here, so I’m going to recommend a resource for change management – check out “Better Than Before” by Gretchen Rubin. It’s a great way to analyze how you personally respond to change, and how to use that info to build habits that will help you make whatever changes you need. Good luck!

  77. MLB

    #1 – even after reading the update, trust your instincts moving forward. If he’s giving you the creeps, there’s good reason for it. In my last job, I worked with mostly men, and became good friends with several of them. There were a few (who I was not friends with, just work civil) who were touchy feely and gave me the creeps. One of them ended up getting fired for being inappropriate. I never reported them, but I removed myself from their presence ASAP each and every time.
    #3 – I understand your frustration, but you need to lower your voice down to be courteous to your co-workers. You all have to share the space, and if you’re keeping others from doing their work and concentrating, you need to make an effort to fix it.
    #5 – as Alison said, you can’t control how often you get paid. You need to figure out the best way for you to pay your bills and spend your money within the limits of your paycheck. I’ve been paid weekly, bi-weekly and twice a month in my career. If you’re concerned that you’ll spend too much money based on the way your company pays you, you need to reevaluate your method of tracking your spending. I use a spreadsheet. It’s tedious to set up, but it keeps me from spending more than I’ll have in a given month. Find what works best for you. Don’t use your paycheck frequency as an excuse to over spend.

  78. Matilda Jefferies

    OP4, that’s really unusual – and yes, definitely a conflict of interest to have the candidates interviewing each other! Did your manager explain her reasoning to you?

  79. Zillah

    After the blow up yesterday, it’s really nice to have a letter like #1 that we’re in pretty unanimous agreement about!

    OP, trust your gut.

  80. Not my real name

    I have a coworker with a voice for radio. We have cubes, but the walls are just fabric. His is diagonal to mine, so he is literally shouting directly at my left ear from 2 feet away. When he got that desk, I had to move to get any work done. I find conference rooms or work from home.

    Now we are moving offices to a fully open office plan. I had a nightmare about it last night. A literal nightmare where I woke up with pounding heart. I am now job searching, but I’m afraid that avoiding an open office may be impossible.

    I have a medical condition that makes it impossible for me to concentrate in chaos like that. In fact, my doctor asked me if there was anyway I could work elsewhere. I will probably try to negotiate near full time WFH, but that will stall my career.

    So OP5, your “screw them, put on headphones” attitude only works if you are literally the most important peraon there. In which case, it’s on you to find new office space.

  81. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

    We don’t know — and even the OP doesn’t know — if this guy is going to harass her.

    What’s so insidious for women’s careers is that the damage is already being done, even if he never does.

    Even if his dinner interview invitation was innocent (and it sounds like it went well and the OP wasn’t uncomfortable), even if he doesn’t have active designs on the OP, even if the role is a good one and the OP will be successful in it — he’s already devaluing her as a professional and treating her instead as a prop.

    Unless there’s much more to the story (and of course there could be! We don’t have all the details), he’s approaching the OP, showing “strong personal interest” and recruiting her for a role that she’s not qualified for, based on… what? Her appearance? Her demeanor in the elevator? I’m sure the OP is poised, sharp, and socially skilled… but that shouldn’t be piquing a stranger’s professional interest to this extent.

  82. Mr. Bob Dobalina

    OP#3: I agree with everyone that has said it is up to the OP to modulate his voice. I talk a little loudly–not extreme, but louder than average I sit in an open area, so I am very aware that I may be disturbing my neighbors on phone calls. I admit, I sometimes forgot to modulate, as it does take focus and constant awareness. But I know that it is my responsibility, so I try.

    As for the open office space issue: Beyond the stupid trend aspect, employers do this for cost reasons and for higher seating capacity. They want to cram as many people in an office space as possible, and with small desks in an open space, that can be a lot of people for minimal investment. Many office spaces are rented, so the smaller space you can get away with, the cheaper the rent.

    My current employer has a small “phone room” on each floor, which the cubicle villagers are supposed to use for longer phone calls, but no one uses them for that because of the inconvenience! And conference rooms are in high demand for actual meetings and have very limited availability. I look at this way: My employer chose to seat me in an open area regardless of the nature of my job and how much phone time is involved. So I will make reasonable efforts to not disturb my neighbors, but I can’t go to another room every time I’m on the phone–it would be totally inefficient.

    I have gone through multiple major office location moves that involved interior new construction and space planning. Every time, it has been a CIRCUS driven by office politics and rife with poor decision making about seating matters.

    1. Lucille2

      “Beyond the stupid trend aspect, employers do this for cost reasons and for higher seating capacity. ”

      Yes, 1000x this! Employers always tout their reason for going open office is collaboration. But it’s so obviously cost. The distractions it creates far outweigh the collaboration benefits in most cases. I’ve had all the same drama you’ve mentioned in multiple companies in multiple office spaces. The reality is we just have to accept it for what it is and figure out how to make the best of it. We all need to develop a heightened level of self-awareness. I may not be the loud talker, but I do eat lunch at my desk often. I have to be mindful about the smells of my reheated lunch or be open to someone kindly asking me to knock it off.

  83. MindOverMoneyChick

    #5- With clients in this situation I often advise automating as much as possible. Set up you payments so that about half of your fixed expenses are paid the day after your first paycheck and the other half the day after your second. Automate whatever you can and make an appointment with yourself to pay whatever cant’ be automated the after payday. Also automatically have some money transferred to a saving account after each paycheck. Then what’s left is yours to spend!

    Another tip – to make monthly spending clearer for those tempted to overspend I have people use debit cards instead of credit cards. It makes a huge difference. But if you are really wedded to a credit card for daily spending, make sure you pay it off in full the same month you make the charges. Most credit cards have a grace period that doesn’t require you to do this. Your bill will typically be due the month after you make the charges. but do it anyway just pay a bit earlier than require. It makes a big difference in getting clarity around your spending.

  84. Peter the Bubblehead

    OP #4 and the other three candidates walk into the conference room.
    Sitting on the table are four wood shields and four short swords.
    Manager says surviving contender gets the job, let the battle begin!

    That’s what I’m picturing in my mind.

  85. Sunflower

    I sit next to a woman who seems to suffer from a condition where if she stops talking, she’ll die. Adding to that, her volume switch is set to 11 at all times. Her manager doesn’t care, and repeated requests for her to quiet down have resulted in mocking.

    I cannot possibly overstate how little sympathy I have for OP#3. If your coworkers are saying you are too loud, there is literally no other solution than STOP BEING LOUD.

    1. London Calling

      I used to sit next to department of three of those – I swear they’d sit there thinking of something, ANYTHING to talk about so they didn’t have to listen to their own thoughts. My stress levels dropped about 75% when they were moved.

      1. Ermintrude

        They sound like the alien race Douglas Adams described that were telepathic, so they started talking inanely all the time to cover up their thoughts

  86. Aphrodite

    OP #5, if you are worried about having more month than money do yourself a favor and set out a strict budget. Break that monthly pay down into weeks and allot yourself $xx per week. That works, but if you want more this will really work:

    Once your pay is deposited into your checking account, leave in there only the amount you need to pay your rent or mortgage and any bills with checks or your banks bill payer program. Move over to savings what you have determined to save.

    Then remove the rest of it, in cash. This last point is important because what you are going to do is channel your inner great-grandmother and split it into envelopes labeled for food, gas, household items, pet expenses, entertainment, etc. Using cash will really force you to own your choices, and having money set aside for categories means you deliberately make choices. Once you are out of cash in that envelope, you are out for the month. Still, you can move money from one to the other, which will likely be necessary until you get a real feel for this.

    I think you will be surprised by how conscious you become of your spending and saving choices when you don’t pull out your debit card but use cash. There’s no better teaching tool than this one.

  87. Lucille2

    #3 – I work in the same kind of environment and have a coworker who talks loudly on the phone. In his defense, he just has a loud voice which projects in the open office environment. I like this coworker, but it’s very disruptive. Here’s the thing, I have client phone calls regularly too. It’s not just a matter of putting on my headphones to drown him out. My clients can overhear him in the background since our desks are near each other. I know this because I was on the phone with my husband while he was on a client call, and my husband asked if that was Fergus. Me: “Yes. You can hear that?” Him: “Yeah. That dude’s loud.”

    It’s a terrible environment for the nature of our work, but it’s something we have little control over. Yes, we can find conference rooms, but like you, it’s not always convenient or available. Especially on days when the conference calls are back to back. The feedback is tough to hear, but working in an open office is like having roommates. We all have to figure out a way to coexist in the best way possible. Do your best and your coworkers will, for the most part, realize you’re making an effort and appreciate that.

  88. willow

    #3 – I am a naturally quiet talker. When I am at work, I have to make a conscious effort to speak at an appropriate volume, and with clarity and enunciation. If you are naturally loud, you can make the same effort.

  89. JLH

    #3- It is a kindness and necessity to try to modulate your speaking voice for multiple reasons in the office. As a fellow loud talker from youth (one of my many nicknames as the baby in my family was ‘Foghorn’), I get that it’s not intentional and it’s somewhat disheartening because you’re not TRYING to be loud. But it doesn’t really matter- because you are and it’s impacting other people.

    Have you ever been on the phone and someone came running up trying to get your attention either about the call you’re on or something entirely? One of my BIGGEST pet peeves- it’s almost impossible to hear or give focus to those conversations at the same time. A loud talker provides the same encumbrance without the ability to shoo or bring attention to it face-to-face.

    I also want to bring up that I learned I have severe asymmetrical sensioneural hearing loss and began wearing a hearing aid two years ago at the age of 26. I say this because you could potentially be an unassuming loud talker due to hearing deficits- perhaps unlikely, but possible. If you’ve ever felt remotely impacted in some way, it’s worth getting it checked out. I will say it’s very disheartening to continue to lose hearing at a young age like I am, but finding out and getting implements has made a marked difference in my hearing and ability to modulate my own voice.

  90. Lisa

    Putting this in a top-level comment so people see. New York’s pay frequency law, Section 191, has an exception for “persons employed in a bona fide executive, administrative, or professional capacity who
    earn in excess of $900 per week”. Link is attached to my name.

  91. My own story

    While I have been lucky enough not to ever have a work situation like OP#1’s, I also want to include a +1 for trusting your gut.

    When I was first job searching out of college, there was one interview that I went on where I thought the job was perfect. 15 – 20 min commute from my parents home where I lived and planned on living for the foreseeable future at the time, in the field that I studied in school, and the owner/boss seemed like someone who I could get along with. It was an entry level role and I really did feel like my skills would qualify for the job (none of that out of college with 5 years experience BS). This guy was in the “young-ish” category, maybe around 30 years of age, and we both laughed a lot during the interview.

    The guy was completely professional throughout the whole interview but SOMETHING was telling me that this wasn’t the job for me. Despite all of those positive things I felt about the position, when the guy left me a message on my cell phone a few days later, my gut said “You don’t want this job, keep looking. Don’t call him back” and I didn’t. I still wonder what would have happened if I did call him back. (The voice mail didn’t say that I had the job, just to call him back)

  92. LawBee

    re #2 – I have a friend who used to write ALL of her work correspondence in Excel. It was the weirdest thing. She said it was because she had the program open all the time anyway but all her little workarounds took so much more time than opening up Word and using it for its intended purpose would have been. (She also stapled things by putting one hand on top of the stapler and bashing it with the heel of her other hand and not connecting that to the bruising she had later, so she had some odd habits all around.)

    re #5 – time to learn envelope budgeting. It doesn’t have to be actual envelopes, just use some kind of budgeting software (I like YNAB) and set aside half of every bill from every paycheck. Whatever is left over is what you have to spend. Once you get used to that, you can move to different budgeting styles to start working towards financial goals.

  93. Gabby

    Hi OP#1! I would have to side with those who are advising you to stay away. I am pretty paranoid by nature and I don’t really like taking risks. That being said, if this were happening to me and there was even a slight doubt in my mind I would just automatically assume that it is not safe. This kind of stuff (on a smaller scale) has happened to me before and I’ve been wrong and it isn’t actually creepy, but I have no regrets – better safe than sorry!

  94. AnotherKate

    #1: I’ve found that people whose behavior is scrupulously appropriate rarely need the benefit of the doubt.

    Trust your gut NOW, while the stakes are still low. Right now he’s just a guy who gives you pause; if he becomes your boss, you’ll be in a position to face much steeper consequences if you need to walk away or call him out.

  95. Remote Worker and Dog Lover

    OP #1, thanks for the update. I totally agree with Allison’s advice. This sounds inappropriate and I would not not to work for this person.

    OP #3, I feel this so hard! At my last job, I had basically my own office area. A big part of my job was answering the phone. My coworkers and I did a trial where I was in the same room with some of them and it was AWFUL. Both because I am loud and also because no one could process their own thoughts with so much chatter going on all the time. I’ve tried to be quieter on the phone (different headset, thinking of making my voice softer as I am speaking, etc). Really, the only thing that had worked for me is getting in a private space where I won’t disturb anyone with my volume.

  96. OP #1

    I’m OP #1. I’m completely touched and blown away by the number of comments this has received so quickly! I’ve read them all and I’m very grateful.

    To answer a few of your questions . . .

    I’m in my early-thirties but most people think I look like I’m in my early-mid twenties. Most people would probably say that I look pretty, but I prefer it when they say that I’m intelligent. He looks like he’s in his late thirties or early forties.

    I met him early last summer when he moved into the building. It was two or three months later when he said that he would like to hire an admin assistant, if he could get approval for the position. He suggested that he might be interested in hiring me and I suggested that I might be interested in the position. At this point, nothing felt even remotely inappropriate. I work in a very wide-open reception area, so he would’ve seen me at work–presumably doing a good job. And any personal questions that he asked me at that time were very general/casual questions. And, at this point, I didn’t have any details on the specific job duties.

    So, immediately after that conversation, I sent him my resume. At that point, there was no reason not to.

    Immediately after that, he became a lot more interested in me. At first, I wasn’t too surprised. I’m highly-educated and highly-skilled and I’m actually overqualified for the job I’m in, so it’s not uncommon for people to be impressed with me from a professional perspective. But then it was like we were sharing this special secret about this potential job (which we were because I didn’t want my boss to know). And then he started to take a stronger personal interest in me.

    When he finally got approval for the funding for the position, he emailed me the job ad. However, the job was also posted publicly. So, the job itself is absolutely legitimate. But when I saw the job duties, it really didn’t strike me as a fit for my skillset. I’m confident that I could learn those skills, but I don’t currently have them. At that point, he already had my resume, so I threw together a cover letter and sent that with my resume as my official job application. But, at this point, I was starting to feel unsure.

    In terms of the interview, interviewing during the day would’ve been nearly impossible because my boss would’ve undoubtedly found out. In terms of keeping the hiring process confidential from my boss, an off-site evening interview was ideal, but I was thinking more along the lines of a coffee shop. Dinner felt like it was crossing a line, especially when he said that he would “buy me dinner.”

    I was also surprised to find that he was conducting the interviews alone. He works for a large multinational company, but he’s currently the only employee in this geographic area. Still, I expected one or two other people to participate in the interview via video link or conference call. So, I initially thought, “Okay, if I’m not qualified for this job, then the other interviewers won’t hire me anyway.” (Note that he didn’t actually say the phrase “just the two of us” but, at that point, I knew he was conducting the interview alone.)

    I went to the interview anyway because I knew I would be in a public place on a busy street and I was fully prepared to get up and walk out if necessary.

    He was very professional during the interview itself and he seemed to be legitimately assessing my skills, but you’re right that it’s hard to know if that was just an act. During the interview, what he said that he needs in an assistant is actually a lot more in line with my skills than what was in the job ad. So, okay, then maybe it makes sense why he’d want to hire me? And it’s not the first time I’ve seen a job ad that doesn’t match the job duties.

    But, back on the creepy flipside, I don’t think he’s interviewed anyone else. With my current position in the building, I would almost certainly know if someone had come into the building for an interview.

    He said that he won’t make any decisions until January, so I have some time to think about all this.

    You’re right to say that I’m really hoping that it’s legit but I’m afraid that it’s not. And I definitely wanted to get Alison’s and your opinions on it.

    You’re all saying to follow my gut, but my gut is still thinking. What I’m wondering . . . just wondering . . . is if his original intentions were legitimate, but then he found himself attracted to me, and now he’s trying to rein that in and make a point of being professional? I don’t know. For what it’s worth, even if he was single, I’d have no interest in dating him because he’s simply not my type.

    1. Ermintrude

      I think that maybe this isn’t ‘full of bees’ but there are definitely bees involved. It also seems like he’s trying to hustle you in through a side-door to the job.

    2. Indie

      Your gut is unsure about whether he likes you personally or professionally and that’s a common gut limbo. Usually this is because the truth is that it’s both. Rarely is a man so enamoured by a woman’s appearance that he is willing to hire a moron; rarer still is a man enamoured by a moron or unprofessional or unintelligent woman.

      My guess would be that he wants an assistant who is pleasing to him as a companion just as much as he wants a competent professional. This may or may not involve his trying his hand at escalating the relationship, but at a minimum I would expect the ‘personal interest’ in you to continue in the same format, as well as his not really understanding that ‘buying you dinner’ is always going to be a bit alarming as well as definitely more fun for him than you.

      If it were me I would refuse because I really hate those guys who expect both a professional job done and an office wife performance on top of that.

    3. Anonymous 5

      Well…I am very glad that things haven’t already gone off the creepy rails, but I still don’t like the sound of this. I don’t know whether it would be worth it to contact their HR (or what you’d even say/ask if you did) to get some better clarity on things. But even if the position itself is above-board, the way he’s going about things doesn’t entirely seem to be. It doesn’t matter how legitimate his intentions might originally have been: if he’s having to “rein it in and make a point of being professional” because of a sudden (?) case of the feels, then he’s not operating solely on the legitimate intentions. And if that’s true, it doesn’t matter whether you’d have any interest in him romantically: if he’s making professional offers based on romantic attraction to you, then there are still plenty of really unpleasant ways that this could play out. If you can’t trust him to be looking at this from a purely professional standpoint, then how on earth can you trust him to handle things professionally when you make clear to him that you aren’t going to provide him with a romantic relationship?

      I’m with Indie below on not being willing to have two jobs (i.e. my real job and an “office wife” job), and so I personally hope you’ll take that polished resume and start sending it to other jobs so that you can have the career moves without having to wonder if someone is trying to pull the moves on you. Lots of good wishes!

      1. OP #1

        Thanks, all!

        I am applying for other jobs; it’s just a tight job market. And it’s disappointing that what initially seemed like a good opportunity is turning out potentially badly.

        I think I’ll probably err on the side of turning this job down, but right now I’m just letting the thoughts percolate in my head. And I’m curious to see how this thing will play out. He may realize himself that this is a bad idea and not offer me the job. Or I could get offered a different job in the meantime. Or maybe something could happen that makes me feel more comfortable with this job, but I’m starting to doubt that.

        I really don’t know him well enough to know if he’s a #2-type predator/abuser or not, but even if he isn’t, this situation feels awkward at best.

        I could call their HR, but I don’t really know what I would say. The biggest thing I’d want to know is why HR and/or this guy’s supervisor isn’t involved in the hiring process, but I don’t really know how to ask that.

        1. Observer

          It’s so common to second guess the “it’s weird” stuff. There are a lot of good reasons for this, but most of those reasons are “good” in the sense that it is quite clear to see how these factor lead to this result. But, they are actually not reasons based in fact and reality.

          Lots of luck on the job hunt. It’s frustrating! But so long as you’re job isn’t abusive, you’re in a good position to be choosy about what you take.

        2. Fuddy Dudd

          I still really, firmly believe there’s a sketchy element to this. He should not be the sole hiring arbiter here, especially if his company is as large as you say it is.
          If it’s a “large, multinational” company, I don’t buy that no one else would be involved in the interview process at all. I’ve worked at large companies, I’ve worked at small companies. I’ve always, ALWAYS had at least one interview with multiple people present at once, or multiple interviews with different people at each step.
          Just… trust your gut here. Be careful. This just seems off, and it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re in mortal danger or anything, but I’d bet dollars to donuts that this guy has a somewhat inappropriate interest in you (not to diminish your very real qualifications!) and that’s what’s driving this persistence of his.

    4. Justin

      I still don’t really know why he tries to poach the admin of another tenant in the building, which it seems like he he was trying to do when he mentioned that he needed an admin to you. That seems off to me.

  97. S

    #2: I once worked for someone who did everything he possibly could in Excel. It was kind of a running joke in the office, actually. He even laughed at himself about it! Even he wouldn’t ASK for a resume in Excel format, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he wished he could!

    Instead of thinking in terms of transforming your resume into a spreadsheet (with formulas, column headers, etc.), try thinking in terms of typing your resume into a spreadsheet. So, instead of typing your skills into a document, type those skills into an Excel cell. And instead of using Word’s features (like columns, margins, indentation, etc.) to line everything up, line everything up by adjusting the width and size of the Excel cells. That’s the kind of thing my boss would do. He would essentially use Excel to create something that looked like a Word document.

  98. Safely Retired

    Trivial point about #2… the request was for it to be changed to Google Sheets, not Excel.

    Would you please be able to transfer your resume into a Google spreadsheet and share it with me?

    Which wouldn’t be much of “an exercise to assess my use of Excel“.

  99. Question5

    OP for #5 here!

    The wealth of personal financial advice from the commenters has been truly appreciated, as well as the helpful explanations of how payroll works in the US!

    It was really fascinating to see how different people interpreted my gender and how it seemed to shape their feedback.

    As Ask a Manager was not a personal finance blog, I asked a question related to the employer side of the situation. While I have benefitted from previous payment systems that matched my personality and budgeting style, I did not and do not expect my employer to be responsible for how I spend my money. As a still fairly young professional (with near zero experience in the US) I’m still working on fixing my blindspots about office procedures and such, and so I arrived to this corner of the internet.

    I accepted a position that I knew would be a pay cut but didn’t know until way down in the process that the pay schedule changed. I had to quickly locate housing (still don’t know how I found a roomshare in NYC in a week and a half) and unfortunately the rent is 40% of my salary (ideal budgeting calls for a max of 30%) and I signed the lease before I was aware of the pay schedule, as I didn’t know to expect anything else.

    Hence, with the vast majority of my “first” paycheck going to rent I didn’t understand how I was supposed to make it to the second paycheck in terms of food and the like. Everyone’s feedback has helped me brainstorm how to do just that.

    Without all that helpful advice, the only course of action I could come up with was my original question. Before I upended a system that worked well for me for 6 years I thought to come to this blog and get some wisdom and asking my new employer screamed bad idea. I am grateful I did come here and now I know so much more about US payroll than I ever thought I would!

    1. Observer

      Coming here to ask was a good move. From where you sit I can see why it’s a reasonable request, but you’d never get the chance to explain any of that. That’s one of the useful things about sites like this – it gives people a chance to ask questions in a safe space. Because even if someone here thinks you are stupid or whatever (not that you are), it’s not going to affect your job. But if your BOSS thinks you’re clueless, it doesn’t matter how smart you really are, it’s going to have a negative effect.

  100. Justin

    One thing that gives me pause is that she applied for the job knowing that she’s not qualified and knowing that he’s already sort of a line-stepper. Makes me wonder if she’s starting to get drawn in by this guy already.

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