we’re supposed to stay late “out of courtesy,” should I send employers a lottery ticket with my resume, and more

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

1. We’re supposed to stay late “out of courtesy” to other coworkers

I’ve been at my job six months. It’s in an industry I’ve been in for 18 years and where I’ve always worked hard, earned praise for my skills, and shown a cooperative spirit. I’ve never been reprimanded for not being a “team player” but at this job there is an unwritten rule of “you stay until everyone can leave even if you’re done with all your tasks.” An employee who’s been there a few years called it the pack mentality. She doesn’t agree with it but stays because she feels obligated. I can’t wrap my head around it. I feel like because this is a smaller team of younger employees, they’ve been indoctrinated into this mentality and it’s not healthy, but I’m new and am hesitant to make a stink about what I feel is unfair. I am not talking about not wanting to stay and help when there’s something I can truly do to get everyone out in a timely manner, I’m talking about being told to hang back because it would be obvious I’m leaving when the others aren’t.

Usually I sit there wondering what I should do, then after a few minutes of wasting time, I’ll leave. But one evening last week I was done and packing up, and I messaged my boss to ask if there was anything I could help with. She said no, but asked if I could stay maybe 10-20 minutes longer because it would be obvious if I left since the others couldn’t. I went into her office to sort of debate the request because I really needed to go home, but she got a phone call and waved me off after I motioned to her I needed to go. She didn’t mention anything the next day and I didn’t either.

I guess I feel strongly about it because I am the only one in the building who has kids and I switch places with my husband the moment I get home from work because he works nights. The sooner I can relieve him of the dad duties to rest, the better. If I’m wrong in feeling this is unfair and strange, I want to know so I can readjust my thinking.

Nope, you’re not wrong. Your coworkers should be capable of understanding that people might leave at different times depending on their workload that day. (And it’s likely they do understand that just fine, and this is solely your manager’s issue.) Plus, people are generally more cheerful about occasionally having to stay late when they’re not required to do it for no reason. This is a misuse of your time and a ridiculous practice.

I’d say this to your boss: “I can of course stay late on occasion when my workload requires it, but I have child care responsibilities at home and can’t stay late just because others aren’t ready to leave yet. So unless there’s something that specifically requires work from me — which, again, I’ll be happy to take care of — I’ll need to leave in the evening once my work for the day is done. I wanted to let you know since my sense is that might be a deviation from what others do.”

2. Should I send employers a lottery ticket with my resume?

I have been job hunting for a while now without much success. I’m looking for creative ways to get noticed by employers, and I had the idea to send my resume along with a lottery ticket and the message “Take a chance on meeting me!” My thinking is that it’s a cute way to stand out and some hiring managers might be intrigued enough to call me for an interview. Do you see any downsides to this?

Nooooo, do not do this. It’s really gimmicky, and it’ll look like you don’t trust your qualifications to merit an interview on their own (or understand why people get hired). It’s so gimmicky, in fact, that if I would have called you for an interview without the lottery ticket, this would make me hesitate to do it, both because the gimmick would raise questions about your judgment and understanding of professional norms and because I’d have qualms about reinforcing whatever thought process led to this.

The way you stand out to employers is by being a highly qualified candidate with a resume that shows a track record of achievement and writing a compelling, personalized cover letter. I know that’s frustrating — how will you stand out if other people have those things too, after all? — but that’s the only way to do it, at least if you want to screen for good employers who hire competently.

3. I’ve overheard my coworkers badmouthing my religion

I work for a small, friendly company with about 35 employees. Our office space is composed of several large, shared offices. Most people keep their doors open except for when taking calls or discussing more confidential issues. This, combined with the fact that sound really carries because of the way the offices are arranged, means that from time to time, I can hear the conversation going on in the office next to mine. I’m not bothered by this, because I can just put in headphones if it’s distracting me.

However, on two separate occasions now, I’ve overheard my coworkers discussing my religion in not-so-positive terms. It was nothing horrendous or cruel, but it was in a tone of mocking, and they were presenting things about the religion as fact that aren’t true and are common misconceptions and misunderstandings. I’m a fairly private person, and while I don’t make efforts to hide my religion, I’m also not really comfortable talking about it at work, so I don’t think most of my coworkers know about my religious preferences. I was really uncomfortable listening to them talk, so both times I just turned up my music and tried to tune it out. Is there anything I could have done differently? If I had been part of the conversation, I would have been more comfortable saying, “Hey, I’m actually a part of that religious group” to put a stop to it, but sending them an email that says, “Hey, I can hear you talking about my religion from my office and….” feels awkward and out of line.

Yeah, I wouldn’t do it in an email — that’s actually going to make it more awkward than it needs to be. Instead, if it happens again, just stick your head in the office they’re in and say, “Hey, would you mind keeping that out of the office? I belong to the group you’re talking about, and it’s pretty uncomfortable to overhear this conversation.”

Alternately, if you’d rather not share that you’re a member of the religion being discussed (which you certainly don’t need to), you could say, “You probably don’t realize that your conversation can be heard through the walls, so I wanted to give you a heads-up that it can. It’s a pretty uncomfortable conversation to overhear, and I’d appreciate it if you didn’t have it here.”

4. Employer told me I was their second choice before offering me the job

Thanks to all your advice, I have just landed myself an amazing job! It’s a huge step up both regarding responsibilities and pay and I was convinced after the second interview that I didn’t get it. In fact, they specifically told me at the end of the interview that they were looking for someone with a background in, let’s say, teapot designing, which I don’t have.

Fast forward to a couple of days ago and I get a call from the HR guy who conducted my first interview. He apologized for taking so long to get back to me and told me it was because one of the other applicants had the teapot design background they wanted and they offered the job to her. However, she was also in the running for another job with the organization so she ended up taking that one, meaning they were offering me the original position.

It doesn’t bother me at all that I wasn’t the first choice but it feels a bit icky that the HR guy told me BEFORE the offer. Since the other candidate will be working there, I’m sure I would have found out quickly anyway, but the way it went down feels weird to me and everyone I’ve told is shocked, especially since the guy who told me works in HR. And while I was really happy with the salary they offered, if it had been too low and I wanted to negotiate, I felt that him telling me I was the second choice took away my power ask for more. Is it as weird as I think or was the HR guy being entirely reasonable by telling me what was going on?

I suspect he told you in order to explain why they were offering it to you despite having said they wanted a specific background you don’t have. He didn’t need to mention it, of course, but I don’t think it’s horribly problematic that he did. (It’s definitely not shocking! — that’s an extreme reaction from the people you’ve told.)

It’s unlikely that it was a strategy to lower your negotiating power. He just shared information without fully realizing how it might land with you (and lots of candidates want more info in the hiring process). But it’s not especially outrageous, and I wouldn’t worry too much about it.

It’s an amazing job with a salary you’re happy with. That’s much more important!

5. I don’t understand why my contract is ending

I am currently a contract worker at a very big corporation, and back when I was hired they told me they wanted it to be contract-to-hire, but now, supposedly due to budget reasons, my contract is ending soon. However, the circumstances around it are baffling me.

They told me they want someone more “senior” in my role to take on very niche tasks that another former employee took on, even though I was already trained by said employee and completing these tasks. I was also told my performance was very good and not the reason they weren’t extending me. I saw a job posting for my role that has my exact job duties on it from them, and nothing suggested it would be more senior work than what I was already doing. It’s worth noting I do have senior level experience in my role (7+ years). Everyone I’ve also spoken with about it at work besides my bosses are shocked and upset I’m leaving.

It doesn’t make sense to me, honestly. Am I being let go because I was hoping for a permanent position? I asked if there was anything I could do to stay and they said no. It’s a shame, because I really liked my work and the people I worked with. Just wondering if you had any insight to why this might have happened.

It’s impossible to say from the outside without a lot more information, but it’s unlikely they’d end your contract simply because you were hoping for a permanent position. It’s possible that it really is exactly what they’re telling you — they want someone more senior than you are, which doesn’t just mean number of years of experience but also can describe things like more seasoned judgment, more nuanced ability to deal with higher-ups, etc. Or it could be that they weren’t thrilled with some aspect of your work and didn’t have the fortitude to talk to you about it — which could be because they’re wimps about giving feedback or because the issue is hard/awkward to articulate (which isn’t an excuse not to do it, but that happens).

Keep in mind this can always happen with contract-to-hire positions. The whole point of contract-to-hire is that they’re not committing to hiring you yet and can easily decide after trying things out that it’s not quite what they want, which ultimately seems to be what happened here.

{ 376 comments… read them below }

  1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    Oh, OP#2, I just want to reemphasize: Please don’t do this. It’s not cute. It’s going to turn employers off, and as Alison noted, it’s likely to discourage people who might have otherwise been interested in calling you from advancing your candidacy.

    1. Engineer Girl*

      Some people are morally opposed to lotteries. For some it’s religious and others see it as preying on the poor. You certainly won’t impress them.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I thought of the letter about making pop culture TV show references in your interview, and how that assumes a common view of (character, lotteries) that isn’t likely to actually be true.

        If you told me “Hiring me would be like buying a lottery ticket” I would pass on the chance.

        It’s a truism that the gimmicks come attached to the worst candidates–including, as Alison notes, moving yourself toward that pile based on pattern recognition if your application was otherwise neutral.

        1. boo bot*

          “If you told me ‘Hiring me would be like buying a lottery ticket’ I would pass on the chance.”

          LOL “There’s a 1 in 7,509,579 chance I’ll be your dream employee, but if that happens you may face sudden and intense media scrutiny as you’re surrounded by con artists and hangers-on while trying to figure out the biggest financial upheaval of your entire life. Sooo… interview?”

          1. boo bot*

            OTOH, a ten-buck scratch-off prize feels like a metaphor for a pretty solid employee. So, I guess it depends on which lottery you prefer?

            1. Heynonniemouse*

              I dunno. The message is still ‘you’re going to lose money on me in the long run, because that’s how lotteries work’.

        2. Antilles*

          It’s a truism that the gimmicks come attached to the worst candidates
          This is a really good point worth noting on its’ own. In my (admittedly semi-limited) experience, the candidates who rely on gimmicks or ‘eye-catching’ or whatever are always, always, *always* on from candidates who would be in the bottom half of the list if judged purely on merit. I’d even go so far as to say I’ve never seen a gimmick-based resume who was even merit-wise worthy of a 15-minute phone interview.
          So the instant I open your resume and saw a lottery ticket or a box of chocolates or whatever other gimmick, my mind immediately associates you with unqualified candidates. Not good.

          1. Dr. Pepper*

            I will add my experience in that gimmicks not only come attached to the worst candidates, but that they also come attached to the most annoying people. Like, if you thought *this* was a good idea, what other “cute”- but actually annoying- things are you going to do? People who go all in for gimmicks, well, don’t tend to have the type of personality that leads to coworker harmony. You’re That Guy before you even get in the door.

            OP2, I’m not judging you personally. I know the feeling of desperation. But that is what I would be thinking if I received a resume like that.

      2. kittymommy*

        That’s exactly what I thought of as well. I know quite a few people who have a moral opposition to gambling (mainly religious) and yeah, this might make the LW stand out, but not in the manner they hope.

      3. Snark*

        It’s not even the lottery aspect of it. It’s the cutesy bullshit aspect of it. Either it means OP thinks they’re a weak candidate and is resorting to the cheapest gimmick imaginable to try to get my attention, or OP thinks the cheapest gimmick imaginable is all they need to get my attention, and either way, you’re not getting an interview, or even an email back.

      4. Quickbeam*

        That is me…When we were interviewing, I have had applicants offer me lottery tickets and they were stunned when I refused. It’s an awkward conversation. Many people don’t understand it is an issue with strings.

        I wonder if this is one of those bad pieces of advice floating out there?

        1. Yvette*

          “I wonder if this is one of those bad pieces of advice floating out there?”
          Oh yes, I have seen articles recommending including a chocolate bar, Starbucks gift card, using a colored envelope, or kind of things to make you stand out. This is a corollary to showing gumption.

          1. TexanInExile*

            Plus I can tell you (please don’t ask me how I know) that chocolate bars and/or Elvis refrigerator magnets do not work.

          2. NotTheSameAaron*

            I recall an urban legend in which a job applicant sent an employer a box of fresh doughnuts as an incentive. The problem being that he sent it through the regular mail instead of express. When they opened up the box, what they saw instead was smashed doughnuts covered in mold. Not the best way to get hired.

        2. Artemesia*

          yeah and the message ‘take a chance on me’ is actually a pretty negative thing. Lottery odds are low — you are basically saying, ‘are you willing to gamble that I am the one in a million candidate who tries gimmicks who is going to be great on the job?’ I don’t like to feel like I am taking a chance when I hire someone — I want to be reasonably confident they are a sure thing.

    2. (Former) HR Expat*

      Agreed, and I’d also like to add that it’s possible that this wouldn’t have any effect whatsoever. In my experience, most applications are done online and in larger companies there’s a possibility that the manager/HR person isn’t based at the location where you send your resume. So they wouldn’t even see the lottery tickets.

      I’m in kind of a similar boat as you right now, but I’ve been playing around with my resume and cover letter and am starting to see results. Use Alison’s advice on resumes and cover letters and don’t discount yourself. You’ll get there.

      1. so many resumes, so little time*

        This would be true at my workplace.

        That said, a couple of years ago someone figured out who the hiring manager was for a particular job and sent their resume directly, via snail mail, along with something handmade and a “cute” note.

        They did not get an interview, and in fact caused a bit of an “oh, yuck” reaction from the hiring manager.

    3. sacados*

      Also, if I am applying for a job, “cute” is not necessarily the first impression I want a hiring manager to have of me.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          “A risky gamble almost certain to leave you poorer and with nothing to show for it!”

      1. Dr. Pepper*

        Oh I don’t know, if I was applying to be a game show host I might want to be seen as cute and fun and into lighthearted gambling jokes.

        Any other job though? No.

        1. JSPA*

          I’m guessing it might work for used car sales or Fuller-brush traveling sales (do they still exist?) or maybe even ad sales for those circulars that come to your mailbox unbidden and unwanted. “Gumption” jobs where a bit of lovable, genial flim-flam has been traditionally required / rewarded. But for most jobs, a hard no.

        2. Vicky Austin*

          If I were hiring to be a model with Betsy Johnson or a backup dancer for Gwen Stefani, then I also might want to go for a “cute” look, but I’d achieve that on my headshot and resume and dancing ability.

          1. IndoorCat*

            Now I’m laughing at the mental picture of Gwen Stefani casting her dancers based resume colors and chocolate-based bribes.

    4. Graciosa*

      I want to chime in to confirm that this would disqualify someone instantly for me.

      My profession (law) and industry (a Fortune 100 company that does government work, including defense contracting) are both subject to stringent ethical standards and conflict-of-interest rules.

      We take these very seriously, and a candidate making a joke out of something that could be perceived as a bribe (and what would you do if the ticket was a winning one?!?) would cast themselves in a very negative light.

      This would turn a simple question of interested / not interested into Something I Have to Deal With.

      And Document.

      Meaning someone is probably returning the lottery ticket with a very clear message to the (definitely unsuccessful) candidate, and documenting this in our candidate tracking system to ensure we don’t accidentally hire the person elsewhere in the company later.

      Neither the government nor the bar association have a sense of humor.

      1. Essie*

        Oh wow, I read the letter thinking it was just a pretend lottery ticket and thought it was a big no. If it’s a real one that would be even worse.

      2. YB*

        HR person here. I strongly agree with all of this. The other thing I haven’t seen anyone mention yet in the comments is that “take a chance on meeting me” is a really bad message to send a hiring manager, especially in a context that suggests their chance of finding you to be a good employee is about as likely as their chance of winning the lottery. It’s important to project confidence, and this does not.

        Candidate A: “Here are my skills, here are how they fit with the position, here’s how I can help you.”
        Candidate B: “Hiring me would be a big risk for you! I am about as likely to succeed in this job as you are to win the lottery, but hey, there’s a chance, right?”

        As a hiring manager, I’ve never been on the receiving end of this kind of gimmick, but I’ve been on the receiving end of lots of “JUST GIVE ME A CHANCE” talk. These have just about always candidates who have serious issues in how they present themselves. That’s not to say they aren’t good people or don’t have the potential to succeed at the job—just that they aren’t very effective at the game of presenting themselves. Don’t fall into that trap. Tell them why you can do the job, not that you’re someone they should take a chance on because you did something “cute”.

        1. Farrah Sahara*

          Might as well send in an Abba video of “Take a chance on me”!

          If you change your mind
          I’ll be first in line
          Honey I’m still free
          Take a chance on meeeee

          1. Been There, Done That*

            I thought that as soon as I saw the message upthread. You could always include the YouTube link under your email address on your resume. Might get a response like “Does your mamma know that you’re out?”

        2. Queen of Cans and Jars*

          I’ve been on the receiving end of lots of “JUST GIVE ME A CHANCE” talk.

          Yup, I just saw an application end with “If you hire me, you won’t be disappointed.” Which means I can pretty much guarantee I will absolutely be disappointed.

        3. Bee*

          My job is to find, say, new up & coming teapot designers and sell their designs to manufacturers, and as a part of this, I receive a lot of submissions from hopefuls. I find most of my clients in open submissions, so this is good for everyone! But it means I also send a lot of rejections, and I get a lot of people responding that I should just take a chance on them. Buddy, that’s what this WAS. I gave you a chance by looking at your materials! You’re not asking for a chance, you’re asking for a major commitment!

        4. Allison*

          Agreed, “JUST GIVE ME A CHANCE” is not attractive, whether you’re applying for a job or asking for a date.

        5. AKchic*

          All of this.
          The *only* time a gimmick-y thing would be appropriate is if your business card and/or resume looked like a Wonka’s Golden Ticket and you were applying to be a marketing/advertising person at a candy shop/factory. That is the only time I would ever accept a gimmick-y introduction.

      3. StressedButOkay*

        This exactly. There are so many industries that have strict guidelines on can be accepted – even if it’s not looked at like a bribe, OP might be sending them to a hiring manager who is not allowed to accept gifts of any kind. Especially from someone they’re looking at hiring!

        So just beyond not relying on gimmicks, this falls into a really bad area that would absolutely hurt OP’s chances of getting hired and possibly have someone have to report something internally.

      4. This is She*

        I *also* wondered “but what if they WON??!”

        At least here in Canada, there is (murky) precedent for the sender to be able to claim some of the winnings if the ticket paid off. As the receiver, that would make me really apprehensive, and therefore become a negative association with the candidate, not a positive one (although it woudl never have been a positive one, but you take my meaning.)

        1. Been There, Done That*

          If it won really big, the ticket recipient could resign on the spot for that island paradise so their successor would finish the hiring–thereby negating the purpose for the ticket. “Hey, you didn’t send ME a ticket, I’m hiring the one who included a coin to toss to decide!”

    5. Willis*

      Yes. Aim to be memorable for your qualifications and how well you show them what you can bring to the role. Don’t aim to be memorable for weird or outside of the box application approaches or persistent follow-up.

    6. Asenath*

      “Take a chance on meeting me” implies that there’s nothing in your resume that indicates you’d be a good candidate. If you have skills that the potential employer wants, you don’t need to say that hiring or interviewing you would be a gamble! I think that the lottery ticket is not a good approach.

    7. MusicWithRocksInIt*

      Also this implies you are sending in a paper resume so that you can put the lottery ticket in with it. I don’t think most places even accept paper resumes anymore. Unless you are trying to break into fast food or retail, apply the way they want you to apply and stick to the system.

      1. irene adler*

        And it might even mean extra work for someone- scanning in the resume into their system.
        So, no thanks to the lottery ticket and thanks for the extra work task. Not appreciated.

        1. Totally Minnie*

          We wouldn’t even bother scanning a paper resume into the system. Either you apply through our online system or you will not be considered for the job. Paper resumes go directly into the shredder.

      2. lulu*

        good point! are they asking for paper resume? because if not you’re already shooting yourself in the foot

    8. Sara without an H*

      Yes, OP#2, I’m sorry you’re having a tough job search. But if you sent me a lottery ticket with your resume, you’d go straight into my “nope” pile.

    9. rogue axolotl*

      There is a definite air of desperation attached to these kind of gimmicks–it implies that your application materials haven’t been getting you any success in themselves, and instead of revising them you’ve kind of given up on yourself as a candidate and are relying on cheap tricks to get attention. Not a good look. Of course I realize that many people probably just do this because they’ve been on the receiving end of bad career advice, but the hiring manager won’t know that.

    10. morethanasecretary*

      In a twist, my boss was once sent a box in a Tiffany-blue like color with 100 dollar bills inside. This was from someone who wanted to get his investment business.

      He was so offended he had me send it back to the person immediately and wouldn’t take her phone calls afterwards.

    11. Jadelyn*

      I literally, actually facepalmed when I read that. OP #2, I understand why you’d have that idea, simply because there’s a lot of terrible advice out there about Gumption! and Standing Out! that would have you believe this is a good idea. Speaking as someone who’s done recruiting, please, please don’t do this. First of all – are you sending paper resumes or something? Or does your state do virtual lottery tickets? Because 99% of places want you to apply online these days, so you wouldn’t even be able to include a lottery ticket unless it’s virtual, or a photo of one or something.

      And second, honestly the message isn’t a positive one. By saying “take a chance on me!” you’re saying “I’m not qualified but please give me a chance!”, because if you were fully qualified for the role it wouldn’t be “taking a chance on you” to interview you.

    12. Jennifer Juniper*

      OP2, I was literally cringing when I read your idea. No. Also, what if it was a winning lottery ticket? You’d be cheating yourself out of cash.

      1. Legal Beagle*

        Not the exact same scenario, but there is an excellent, cheesy movie from the 90s in which Nicolas Cage tips a waitress with a lottery ticket, and she wins the jackpot.

          1. Yvette*

            He didn’t actually tip her with it, if I recall he promised her half, hit it real big, and made good on his promise, much to the delight of the city/media and the anger of his wife.

            1. Nessun*

              And it’s based on a true story! The movie version is rather more…dramatic…of course, but the real life story is rather adorable. The movie does a good job of showing all the ways this could go wrong – which yeah, there are lots, the same as for sending a ticket with your resume.

    1. boo bot*

      Yup, that was my first thought, too. Never give a lottery ticket to someone if you wouldn’t genuinely be happy to see them win the jackpot.

      1. RUKidding*

        That’s why the only person I ever give a ticket to is Husband. Community property state and all…

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Years ago, I made an agreement with my Grandpop that if his number ever hits, I get $7 million. It was very specific. It came up in conversation a few times after that. I have a steel-trap memory. IT WOULD HOLD UP IN COURT.

          Maybe not. But he’s my grandpop and I have absolutely no doubt I would get something. :)

          1. Artemesia*

            Decades ago when my kids were small we visited grandparents in a state with a lottery — ours didn’t then. We bought a ticket and the kids started talking about what they would do with the money and we ended up making ground rules for when we won the lottery e.g. how much money they would get to spend as they like etc. At that time we decided if any of us won at any time, each of the 4 of us would get a 5th interest off the top and the last 5th would go into a charitable trust or if the amount of small, be given to our regular charitable interests. Still not winning, but that is still the deal if we do.

            1. RUKidding*

              I’ve been planning on the big win for so long I’ve got a spreadsheet in my head where the money’s going… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

              1. TardyTardis*

                I have a spreadsheet where I lay out all the taxes, including the special Medicare tax over $130,000 or something like that.

          2. RUKidding*

            Shortly after California got the lottery…msybe a year or so, Husband was buying milk and had a dollar change. He said he was standing there not knowing what to do with it (?) and bought a scratch off.

            We’d played that game a bit and won a few dollars, 10 here, 50 there… So he gave me tge ticket “I bought you a present” (hold up in court as MINE?) and when I scratched it I originally thought “oh $5 cool.” It was $5000.00.

            I was so excited. I was pregnant and it bought alll the baby stuff.

            32 years later and I’ve never won more than $40…a Keno ticket that sat in my wallet for a couple months until I remembered to check it. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

            1. many bells down*

              I don’t win lotteries, raffles, drawings … ever. UNLESS the prize is something I have absolutely no use for.

              My husband, on the other hand – there’s a raffle every year at his company Christmas party, and if I don’t look at or touch the tickets and let him put them in, we win something. On our honeymoon (in Vegas), we were in the casino playing penny slots and I wanted to go back to the room so he put his remaining credit all on one spin. He won $800.

              I tell him I saved up all my winning luck to get married to him lol

      2. That Girl From Quinn's House*

        This is why all the scratch tickets that are meant to be given as gifts (Happy Birthday, Merry Christmas, Mother’s Day/Father’s Day, etc.) have a low maximum jackpot compared to regular lottery tickets.

        1. Sandy*

          Er, excuse me? Quinn’s cousin, or whatever? That sounds almost certainly illegal. I will see you disbarred.

  2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#3, I would approach your coworkers and let them know you can hear them and that it makes you uncomfortable to hear folks discuss religion or religious groups at work (caveat: this doesn’t work for faith-based employers). That way you don’t have to out yourself, but you can let them know that it’s uncomfortable in a way that undercuts your organization’s effectiveness.

    If they push back or blow you off, I would get really frank that your uncomfortability is about inclusion (read: bigotry, but don’t use that word) and ensuring that the workplace is a place where everyone can “show up” with their full selves without having to worry that they’ll be attacked or looked down upon for their religious beliefs. If they double down, I’d consider escalating the complaint (which, again, should not require you to out yourself if your managers/HR are functional).

    1. Jasnah*

      The one thing I would add to that is “it makes you uncomfortable to hear folks discuss religion or religious groups at work”–this is pretty general and makes it sound like any mention of religion makes you uncomfortable. I would be more specific, that “it makes me uncomfortable to hear folks mocking religious groups” or “saying negative things about religious groups.”

      I think it would be tricky to push back on how factually accurate the coworkers were, especially without outing OP, so objecting to the mocking tone is the way to go.

      1. RUKidding*

        “…it makes me uncomfortable to hear folks mocking religious groups” or “saying negative things about religious groups.”

        I would say “specific groups” and then add “including religious groups.” I think that way it might (?) get across that it’s not ok to single out (ahem…legally protected) groups for mockery and derision.

        OP could even say something like, “substitute ‘women,’ or ‘African Americans,’ or ‘disabled’ for X religion…not ok right?”

        1. Jasnah*

          Sure, but I think it would be more effective to stick to what OP actually overheard.

          If I was chatting with a coworker and made a comment like, “You can always tell a Pastafarian because they got spaghetti sauce on their shirt!” and then a coworker came to me days later and said, “hey it makes me uncomfortable to hear folks mocking specific groups, including religious groups. You wouldn’t say that about black people, right?” I would be really confused about what that person overheard. What conversation is she talking about? Did we even mention black people? What could I possibly have said to make this person think I’m racist?

          I think it would really derail to have a larger conversation about discussing religion at work, or legally protected groups, when what OP wants to say is, “Can we not make fun of Pastafarians? Cool thanks.”

          1. Vicky Austin*

            Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t Pastafarianism a joke to begin with? Aren’t they mostly atheists mocking religon?

            1. LolNope*

              It’s an organization using a religious format to bring attention to the problematic nature of of state-funded/supported religion in a secular democracy.

              1. TardyTardis*

                Someone who was a member ran for City Council as a joke–and won. He wore the colander to the first meeting.

            2. pope suburban*

              Yes, which is why Pastafarianism is a wonderful example here, since it lets us avoid singling out any actual, non-humorous religion. Kind of like how all the coworkers here get fake names like Wakeen or Jane, and why we’re always talking about teapots. This was a fantastic way to give someone a script for the workplace without running the risk of saying something untrue/offensive to a group of people. :)

            3. Ethyl*

              Right, which is why I am pretty sure Jasnah was using that group so avoid making an *actually offensive* comment about someone’s *sincerely held* religious beliefs. You may have missed their point.

        2. Grand Mouse*

          I’m not a huge fan of “substitute ‘women’ or ‘disabled'” wording because those things aren’t interchangable and people think they can just substitute any word they want there- like ‘white people’ in a conversation about racism POC face. There’s also the very real risk that people don’t see the problem with making offensive remarks about those people either. I am LGBT, a POC, disabled, etc and I have been subjected to offensive remarks just in the background and directed at me.

          I don’t want to derail here, just say this isn’t a good tactic. I might say something like “I am uncomfortable hearing people mock religious groups”.

          1. Mary*

            Yes, I strongly agree with this. “You can’t say X about [black people/disabled people/LGBT people]” is BY NO MEANS a universally accepted principle, and it’s sort of offensive when people act like it is.

          2. Detective Amy Santiago*

            Agree with this.

            Especially if their “mocking” is actually discussing legitimate criticisms of how a religion treats a minority group they might be part of.

          3. RoadsLady*

            This, absolutely. I understand why people use the “replace with X Y Z” as a reminder of common courtesy, but it is problematic.

            And, well, “don’t mock a group” should be good enough.

        3. Lizzy May*

          Please don’t substitute one group in for another. Minorities are not interchangeable and it’s reasonable to expect adults to act with respect towards any specific group without using another as a prop.

          1. RUKiddingMe*

            Ok, my bad. I certainly didn’t mean to imply that any groups were interchangeable. I was speaking only to the idea of mocking groups, particularly legally protected groups because … hostile workplace, and decent human behavior.

            I meant only that OP might want to illustrate how mocking *any* group of people is not acceptable. She could of course say, “I heard you talking about X religion…blah, blah, blah…”

            I don’t mean that anyone should refrain from/be denied the ability to voice legitimate criticism, at all. I am speaking only to actual mocking.

      2. Traffic_Spiral*

        You can also get snarky about it. I used to work in an office with a pretty vocal anti-semite (it was in the Middle East, he was Lebanese, that sort of thing is more accepted over there). While some people tried arguing with him over it, I just got snarky and was like “can we cool it with the jew-hate?,” “yeah, yeah, we know, you hate the jews – now what do you want for lunch?”

        Basically, I acted like this was just a stupid pet peeve of his that I was sick of hearing about – which gave him less opportunity to argue back. This might work for you as well. When you overhear them, just be like “Hey, I’m trying to work here – can you stop with the ‘X’ ranting? It’s distracting.” Next time you overhear it, be like “Oi, save it for the Klan/Westboro Baptist (other extremist group that doesn’t like this religion) meeting will you? We’re in the office.” If you can reframe the focus from “Sensitive coworker who gets hurt when she overhears anything mean,” to “annoying conspiracy-theory coworkers who won’t stop loudly ranting about the one religion they don’t like,” that sometimes works.

        1. Waiting for the Sun*

          The LW said the colleagues were not making cruel comments, so lumping them in with the Klan or Westboro would be inflammatory.

          1. wittyrepartee*

            Maybe “Hey, we’re at work, can you take those comments to the Snopes message board for debunking?”

            1. Vicky Austin*

              Or the people who were making the comments can learn to stop being so insensitive and that those kind of jokes aren’t appopropriate for work.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      Or you could just point out that the “facts” they’re mocking about this religion are wrong. We’re allowed to know things about other religions even if we’re not part of them, so this doesn’t automatically out you if you don’t want to be outed. (I know a fair amount about the various Plain religions because of family history, and a bit about Catholicism because I dated an ex-priest. Tip: Ex-priests know *great* stuff about Medieval art.)

      1. Else*

        Yeah, I have done that. I’m not a member of this particular religious group that is often mocked (and in fact it is one that’s official stance is that I’m horrible for being gay), but I do have some friends and acquaintances who are, and I’ll flat out tell other people they’re wrong when they claim something I know to be false about it. “No, they don’t wear magic underpants, and yes, I’m sure my source of information is reliable.”

        1. Jasnah*

          I’m not sure this would work without the coworkers assuming that is your religion, so OP would have to be OK with that. In my experience people who mock other religions don’t usually go, “Oh they don’t wear magic underpants? Huh! I guess they are a respectable religion after all!” :/

    3. MassMatt*

      I think the focus should not be on the LW’s discomfort but rather on the fact that criticisms of religion are not appropriate at work. There is a reason that sex, religion, and politics are generally not the stuff of polite small talk, they are emotionally loaded topics that tend to divide.

      Saying something like “it makes me uncomfortable “ makes it sound as though the problem is the LW vs the discussion just not being appropriate. Making it impersonal IMO is more likely to neutralize the subject.

      1. Admin of Sys*

        Agreed – This isn’t just an issue because LW is a member of the religion and is upset by the commentary, it’s an issue because commentary mocking a religion is not okay in the workplace. (or really anywhere, but definitely not in the workplace).

        That said, it can be framed as ‘I am uncomfortable hearing about this because it’s exclusionary and exclusionary attitudes regarding religion like that are not workplace appropriate’. Sometimes a statement of ‘This is not appropriate for work’ can come across as ‘I don’t mind it, but don’t say it here’ which I think is too soft an attitude with this sort of thing.

      2. RUKidding*

        That’s what I was (apoarently not well) trying to say above. Talking like that about any group, mocking, deriding, etc. is not ok.

        It’s no more acceptable than if they were talking that way about women, men, Chinese, African Americans, LGBT+, Muslims, Mormons…et al. Particularly since it’s a legally protected thing.

    4. OP#3*

      Two things I guess I should have mentioned in my original letter are 1) It’s been a while since these conversations happened (at least 2 or 3 months) and 2) both of the conversations stemmed from a specific experience (a coworker interacted with people of my religious group at a conference the first time and the second time the same coworker had listened to a radio segment or podcast or something that mentioned my religious group.)

      So it feels weird for me to now go to my coworkers and be like “hey, remember that conversation you had 3 months ago about X group….?” And I don’t feel like they’re just rearing for another opportunity to mock my religion. So for those reasons, I’m just going to hold off on saying anything and hope it doesn’t happen again. Sure it was uncomfortable to overhear, but not enough so that I feel justified (or even comfortable–I’m EXTREMELY non confrontational) in bringing it up now. But, I’ll definitely be using Alison’s scripts (and some of the great points mentioned here) should I find myself in a similar situation in the future.

      1. Not Today Satan*

        I’m sorry you had to deal with that. I’m a very religious Christian, and many people don’t know (or forget that I am), because I don’t fit their image of a religious Christian–I’m very leftist, pro-LGBT, etc. So unfortunately I’ve had to listen to a lot of people trash talk my religion in front of me. If I’m comfortable with them, I’ll remind them that I’m Christian. Other times, I don’t say anything. I figure maybe mentioning my religion at a later time might adequately embarrass them for what they had said before.

        1. RUKidding*

          I really wish people would stop judging others like that. Especially when they likely dont have good intel.

          I am an atheist. I dont believe any religious dogma, from any religion. I judge harshly those who give lip service to bring X while acting completely against the tenets of their faith.

          That said, Husband is an observant and practicing Muslim. I’m the poster child for “pasty white girl” so unless people know me there’s no reason for them to even consider that their inaccurate BS about Muslims/Islam might bother me.

          Really there are *so many* reasons to judge and/or dislike someone.

          Religion? Skin color? Country of origin? Soooo lazy. At least they could *try* to find a real reason…put some effort into the ignorance/hate.

      2. JSPA*

        Thanks for the additional info. I had a caveat in the back of my head that we could be taking about people who come to spread their good news at people’s front doors, and manage to ring the bell far too early or during “nap / recreation” time on weekends. People absolutely do get to complain about broadly annoying events directed at them, even if the people involved are acting out of religious concoction and fulfilling requirements of their faith. And can probably be forgiven for speculating on “what why where how and why me.” Sounds like this isn’t at all related.

      3. so many resumes, so little time*

        I hope they never talk about it again. The person in the office next to mine (who has now left my employer) used to continually complain about the religion of relatives-by-marriage who were not of the complainer’s faith…but were of mine. Any time the complainer “had to” spend time with them because of a religious holiday or observance, there would be endless and highly detailed phone calls, before and after, about how horrible the experience was going to be or had been.

        It was horrible to overhear, and because the walls are thin, I could hear every single word, every single time. This person was protected by their boss so there was no point in complaining.

      4. Elizabeth West*

        They may not bring it up again, but if they do, now you’re ready. It was worth asking the question. It also probably helped someone reading who might have experienced the same situation.

        1. so many resumes, so little time*

          Oh, I agree, and did not intend to dismiss any of the advice given here! In my case, I knew from previous attempts to speak to the person’s boss (HR was not helpful) about her overall constant LOUDNESS, that bringing up the matter would be pointless. So I had to suffer. Even if I closed my door, I could literally hear this person through the wall!

          Our current HR department would be much more likely to take action if I made a similar complaint about anyone, even if they had a protective boss.

          At one point I hired someone who had worked for the complainer as an intern; she told me later that she was sure I would not hire her because she felt I would assume she was as bigoted as her boss.

    5. Genny*

      I don’t think you can ask people never to discuss religion or religious groups at work. There’s nothing wrong with Sam and Jane talking about their Wednesday night prayer group or Wakeen talking about his pilgrimage to Mecca. The problem is when people are proselytizing at work, being discriminatory, or being antagonistic to a religious group. LW is better served using Allison’s language than making an issue out of religious discussions more generally.

  3. Hardwood Floors*

    #2, I read the title wrong and was thinking you meant sending lottery ticket with resignation! ‘I won and I’m out of here, good luck to you’

    1. Captain Vegetable (Crunch Crunch Crunch)*

      Kirk Van Houten: So, that’s it after 20 years? So long, good luck?
      Cracker Factory Executive: I don’t recall saying “good luck.”

  4. CastIrony*

    OP#2, I’m in the same boat as you, but please, don’t do this. It’s not the way. All we can do is keep applying to jobs and follow Allison’s advice!

    1. RUKidding*

      If I received that I would be amused, not contact the applicant because… silly, and keep the ticket (just in case…).

      1. Airy*

        Perhaps one day while lounging by the infinity pool of your villa in Sorrento you would propose a toast in Bollinger to the chump who gave you that ticket.

    2. CheeseNurse*

      Agreed. Just keep going. Revamp your resume and cover letter if you’re not getting interviews. I just got an offer this week after 9 months of unemployment. It was really, really tough at times.

  5. Artemesia*

    #5 It is like breaking up — the reasons they give are never the reasons. It might be you; it might be them; bottom line is that they don’t want you. They are probably wrong and will live to regret it but nothing you can do about it.

    1. Exhausted Trope*

      Love this take on the situation! I repeat some version of this every time I get a job rejection. It helps!

    2. Jana*

      I really appreciate this comment (currently dealing with a breakup AND a fruitless job search) and it’s definitely something everyone should keep in mind.

    3. Brrrrrrrrr....*

      But – I’d want honest feedback about why I wasn’t being kept permanently. If there was something I did or didn’t do, or it was a personality thing, I’d want to know what it was. Otherwise you keep dragging the “whatever it was” from position to position when it might be something that could be corrected.

      1. MLB*

        But you’re most likely not going to get a legitimate reason, or one that brings closure…like a breakup. Sometimes you just need to accept that it’s not going to work out and move on.

      2. Fainting Goats*

        That is not going to happen probably ever, no one is going to possibly open themselves or the company up to a lawsuit or you going to HR on your boss because you disagree. You need to look back yourself and think on any issues you may have had.

        Examples I have seen in the past:
        – You disagreed about something and you feel like you won the argument, you may have just been appeased until they could let you go. Pay attention to what you are arguing and what the work outcome is. We let a argumentative guy do the work he wanted until he contract ran out (6 weeks) and we divided the work he was supposed to do so we could have it done how we wanted because we were sick of arguing with him everyone has a breaking point.
        -When they stopped adding work or teaching you new things this is a sign that they are not keeping you.
        -Someone had to check and fix your work before it went out. If it happens too much most people will stop telling you what is wrong and just do the work its quicker and your not permanent.

        1. Artemesia*

          The disagree and you won thing is brilliant. I can name several people who were just too much trouble. They often ‘won the argument’ because people were tired of it, but their stock went way down. I had a colleague whom I protected for years by strongly advocating for him when his contract came up for renewal because he genuinely made many contributions and he also stepped up in some difficult times. But many people wanted him gone as he never knew when to drop it and shut up and he was someone you could not count on not to stab you in the back — but then he finally screwed me over 2 or three times in a row. I didn’t say anything to him about it, but the next time the contract came up I just stepped back and didn’t say anything and he was not renewed. I am sure he has no idea why.

      3. Allison*

        I’m with you. I’m employed full-time right now and it’s going great, but before this I had two long-term contract jobs that were discontinued for vague reasons. Budget was cited in both cases, but I still wondered if there was something they weren’t telling me, and I would’ve appreciated some constructive feedback I could take into my next job.

        TO BE CLEAR, I accepted that I wasn’t getting a reason. I did not, and do not to this day, feel entitled to know the full reasoning behind either contract not being renewed. I am still, at the same time, kinda bummed there wasn’t better communication. These feelings are not mutually exclusive.

      4. JSPA*

        Sure, but that’s like wanting a pony for your birthday when you’re 10. For most of us, it’s not going to happen. So ask for a trip to pet the ponies instead; ask a friendly, supportive co-worker if it’s OK to check in with them in a year and find out if your replacement has been made permanent.

        If not, maybe the “temp to permanent” is a bait – and – switch. If so, ask about her skills and performance and how things are different with her there. Could be it’s a skill thing. But if they say, “don’t know, she’s pretty quiet” or “things are sort of dull without you here” that…may also be your answer. People often don’t know that they’re louder or more passive or needier or nerdier or more drama-prone or more gossipy or less communicative or “off” on the detail vs big picture requirements or on “taking initiative” than what’s wanted in that office, for that job.

    4. Jennifer*

      Unfortunately, you are right. Contract to hire means contract to hire. I went into any temp to hire role hoping for the best but being well aware of the fact that they may not hire me permanently. Sometimes it may have to do with performance but other times the reasoning is more complicated. You have to keep looking for other jobs and not get too comfortable when you are in that kind of job.

    5. LW 5*

      I’m definitely am trying to take this approach now (I’ll admit I was still feeling upset about the whole thing when I wrote in). I’m having a good response since sending out my resume, so hopefully I can just put this behind me soon!

    6. Earthwalker*

      My organization did something like this: let go some contractors in the middle of a project just when everyone was going all out on the effort. The company had planned it very poorly and had to cancel the contracts to save what was left of the budget for a Plan B approach. So we fired a bunch of really excellent people who were giving it their all, with just a few days’ notice, and just before Christmas too. I’m sure they must have left thinking, “What did I do wrong? Why won’t they tell me?” It was not about them, though. Maybe it’s not about you either, OP.

    7. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      I’ve heard that contract-to-hire is a scam in a lot of ways. Companies have no intention of hiring because it’s expensive, but they also know they won’t get people to agree to be contractors for that role (and that wage) otherwise. So they say contract-to-hire with no intention of bringing anyone on or renewing their contract, to save the company money in the long run.

      1. Quinoa*

        I’m thinking about a contract to hire position in which I had a sneaking suspicion I wasn’t going to be kept on, but no one was honest with me as to why. Until they notified the agency I was working through that, “Oh, by the way, we are not going to be hiring Quinoa,” even though their reviews of me when talking to the agency had always been very positive. In this instance, they did it because they didn’t actually want to pay for a permanent position and it was a way to make it a revolving door and get people to work really hard for them without actually bringing anyone on for real. If that’s the case, they’re not going to tell you.

      2. mrs__peel*

        I agree. I worked at a shady company once that was notorious for letting their contract employees go once they approached the one-year mark of employment. Apparently, if they kept us on for a full year, they had to pay some kind of bonus to the temp agency. Most of their employees were hired through the agency, and I’m pretty sure it was just a penny-pinching way of keeping their costs down. Of the 50 or so temp employees I started with, almost all of us were gone by one year.

        (I was one of those let go when I hit one year as a temp, even though I’d been doing very good work and getting positive feedback from my supervisors).

    8. Glitsy Gus*

      This. As much as it sucks, on your last day walk out thinking to yourself in your best Frasier voice, “they will come to rue the day they decided not to keep me… Rue the day!!!”

  6. TN INFP*

    #2 – Been there. It’s a terrible place to be. But please don’t.

    I’ve seen job searching compared to dating quite a bit – you’re trying to see if you’re a good match before making a long term commitment, things like that etc. You wouldn’t give a lottery ticket to a crush and say “take a chance on me” would you? Kind of the same thing here.

    1. Bowserkitty*

      I thought for a minute you meant you received a lottery ticket as a hiring manager!!

      And this is exactly why I’m taking a short break from work right now LOL

  7. Stormfeather*

    Letter 1: I’d so want to change “I wanted to let you know since my sense is that might be a deviation from what others do” to something like “I thought I’d mention it because the other workers seem to think they should stick around until everyone else can leave for some bizarre reason, maybe because they’re young they just don’t get how work actually works?” or something, but… yeah, it’s lucky I’m not in that spot because that’d probably not go over well. XD

    Letter 2: Even aside from all the rest, there’s a nasty whiff of bribery which isn’t (I hope!) the OP’s intent. But yeah, since the hiring manager has the chance to win money, then in that case you’re basically handing them money to try to get them to interview you which… ick.

    OP 4: think about it this way, it’s even less likely that it was meant to lower your negotiating power since the salary was just fine. I don’t think they’re likely to have to resort to underhanded tactics like this when they’re not actually lowballing you!

    1. (Former) HR Expat*

      Good point on OP2. A few years ago I had a couple employees give me $1 scratch off tickets or $5 gift cards during the holidays and I had to return them since both employees had just successfully completed PIPs. While I know that they were meant in good faith, it wouldn’t have been ethical for me to accept them. To me, the perception of a conflict of interest is a conflict of interest. I would feel the same way about OP2’s lotto tickets.

    2. Emily K*

      The problem with #1 is it’s not just “other workers” who fell this way – her boss is the one who told her she should stick around for appearances. I would leave out the “for some bizarre reason” and “they’re/[you’re] young and don’t get it” for the same reason.

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        I think that was Stormfeathers’s point – subtly calling out the boss on this ridiculous policy by implying it couldn’t possibly be her idea, it must be some crazy thing the younger employees and their lack of experience with business norms must have come up with, eh, boss?

        1. Emily K*

          But her boss directly gave her that as a reason: “I messaged my boss to ask if there was anything I could help with. She said no, but asked if I could stay maybe 10-20 minutes longer because it would be obvious if I left since the others couldn’t.”

          The boss expressed that she didn’t want her employee to leave before others could, even though there was nothing for her to do. If you say that idea is bizarre and must be the product of someone young who doesn’t get it, you’re saying that your boss happily went along with something bizarre thought up by young people who don’t get the working world, meaning she either agrees and thus also doesn’t get it, or she didn’t have enough guts to buck that expectation herself rather than pass the directive on to her report.

          I am a manager and if my employee ever told me, “I thought I’d let you know I’m doing X even though you asked me to do Y for some bizarre reason, maybe because everyone else here is young and doesn’t get it,” I would not see that as my employee suggesting Y wasn’t my idea. By telling her to do it, I implicitly endorsed it, and now Y that I endorsed is being called as bizarre and a product of not getting it.

        2. Dr. Pepper*

          That’s how I read it. “Some bizarre reason” = “YOUR wtf stupid reason”. Because it is stupid and I’m not sure how well I’d cope with that myself.

        3. Stormfeather*

          Yeah, that was the point although I’d also forgotten how directly the manager had told the employee of it. But the whole subtle calling out is why I said I’d be tempted but it’d be a bad thing to do and wouldn’t go over well.

      2. rewrlzls*

        I wonder about those who do need to stay late. Do they feel comfortable asking specific co-workers for help? If not, that should be a conversation the team should have with the manager.

        Otherwise, if I had to work late, I’d feel terrible knowing everyone is just waiting on me. I’d be rushing to get my work done, maybe even cutting corners or considering if I could come in early or skip lunch the next day in order to get everyone home. Not sure how this builds a sense of camaraderie. Seems like unless you have an ideal team (no one has outside commitments, everyone works exactly as hard as everyone else all of the time), it would breed resentment or guilt.

        1. OfOtherWorlds*

          ” Seems like unless you have an ideal team (no one has outside commitments, everyone works exactly as hard as everyone else all of the time), it would breed resentment or guilt.”

          It seems like the first half of that was the case until OP was hired. No-one had any ongoing outside of work commitments.

          1. Penny*

            I would be interested to know the times OP finishes work when staying back. Does everyone officially leave at 5, 6, 7 or later? If they are all leaving at 4.30 or 5, that’s just normal working office hours and it would not be a huge deal staying back. But if OP has to stay back to 6,7 or later, I would be concerned. This is really pushing past normal office hours every day and would make it very hard to balance outside work commitments. Can we get more elaboration on the times OP is staying back?

  8. Approval is optional*

    I tried to do this via the ‘typo’ link but it keep making my virus scanner shut down the page!

  9. Zona the Great*

    #4–I had the exact situation except my hiring manager said, “the person we really wanted to hire took a job at the high school and you were the only qualified alternative.” I find it incredible that they wouldn’t know how these remarks will land. I wish employers cared about how they came across as much as we do. I never forgot it and it tainted my image of her.

    1. min*

      I once got an internal promotion that had come down to one other coworker and me. When telling me that I got the job, my manager went on and on about how difficult the choice was. All I could think was, “why are you telling me how hard it was to choose me?”

      I mean, sure tell the other woman that it was a difficult choice, but not the one you chose!

    2. Washi*

      I think your example is definitely worse than the OP’s, where it sounds like the HR guy wanted to explain the delay and something that seemed like a dealbreaker in the interview, whereas yours just sounds weirdly begrudging.

      I was the second choice for my current job, and I think sometimes that’s how you get stretch positions! In most cases, the employer will want the more experienced person, and so the fact that they turned it down gave me my chance, since with little direct experience I was clearly a more risky bet. When I was told something similar to the OP, I mainly remember thinking “phew, lucky for me the other guy turned the job down!” If the manager and HR person seemed otherwise enthusiastic in extending the offer, I don’t think it’s anything to worry about.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        I was the second choice for a job once (that I know about!), and the first choice actually took the job! It didn’t work out, so they called me like 5 months later to see if I was still interested, and I totally was. (I found out later that the toxic working environment was probably why it “didn’t work out” with the first person, but I was desperate for a job at that point.)

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Wow, they called after 5 months! When I was the second choice the first choice (more schooling) was fired within a couple of weeks. I stayed there over a decade.

          I did get a call 2 months after being passed over for a job a couple years ago. Given their setup, I wasn’t surprised at all. But I was happily employed at the time so I passed.

          1. Beaded Librarian*

            I was contacted about a month after I figured the job was filed to be asked it I was still interested. They did let me know I was second choice and the first hadn’t worked out.

            I needed a job so while I did consider if it was a red flag I took it. Been here, over all happily, for 3 1/2 years.

            Their first pick? No called no showed after less than 2 weeks then sent and email.

      2. Tehmorp*

        Seems like some people think hiring is like finding a person to marry. Sure, if they’re asking you to marry them and they say it’s because the other person turned them down and they just really need someone so they decided to settle, then definitely say no. But if they’re hiring…well, they probably really do need someone and if they settled for you, just do your best!

      3. Aggretsuko*

        Yeah, it worked out for me too when the first choice turned them down, since I’ve lasted a long time!

    3. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      I had a job say, point blank, in a meeting to everyone, “Well we didn’t think ThatGirl was going to stay with us.”

      I was already on the fence about the job and trying to plan a tactful exit when they said this, and it solidified my decision. They didn’t respect me for staying in the job that long. (I had tried to make it work because the commute was easy.)

    4. Jadelyn*

      “I wish employers cared about how they came across as much as we do.” Many employers do. The problem is, there’s literally no universal right answer when it comes to talking with candidates. Think about the letters we see here from disgruntled applicants – some are angry that the employer didn’t give them feedback, some are upset because they didn’t like the feedback. Some are upset because the employer didn’t explain why there was a delay in getting them an offer, and this person is upset because the employer did explain and they didn’t like the explanation.

      Job-seekers are always going to read way more into the conversation than recruiters and hiring managers. It’s the nature of the beast. I seem to recall Alison has posted about that specific phenomenon before, even.

      Some recruiters/managers are genuinely being careless with their words. A few are being actively cruel, because jerks abound in this world. But mostly, it’s people trying to do what they think is best, in a situation where they are never, ever going to be able to please everyone.

  10. Japananon*

    OP#1: I work in a country that really struggles with this, and I think you should take this very seriously as a sign that your workplace culture and values may not mesh with your own.

    Companies that have this practice often value appearances more than effectiveness.
    -it’s more important that you look busy than that you work effectively/well
    -low performers set the pace for work and there is no incentive to do things faster or better
    -groups are rewarded, individuals are blamed (or nobody is blamed and nothing is solved)
    -people are rewarded based on superficial things like hours put in, their cheerful attitude/serious face, going overboard whether or not it’s warranted
    -women, frequently sick people, and people with childcare responsibilities rarely get rewarded; single young men with no social lives are.
    -gossip and insider information is vital. Crucial information is siloed because it’s not clear how to get ahead and appearances are so important
    -general disorganization and lack of transparency and honesty; questioning judgment esp up the hierarchy is discouraged

    You are experienced in this industry and your country and know this isn’t common or necessary. Even if you can get some kind of “special exemption” from the stay-late rule, I worry that it will impact your success in the company in general, and you should keep an eye out for signs that this place is not for you.

    1. WS*

      Yes, I remember this from working in Japan. If you were present and asleep at your desk, that was fine; if you came in early or left early after working hard all day that was not acceptable. It was really frustrating to me until I learned to adjust to the idea of being present and bringing things I needed to do with me, but it was far more difficult for my colleague with two small children, since she couldn’t bring them!

      1. wittyrepartee*

        Oh wow, I didn’t realize that sleeping at the desk was okay. I mean… I guess it’s good that people get to nap?

        1. ChimericalOne*

          Yeah, while in America, the perception is that sleeping at work = laziness, in Japan, the general perception is that sleeping at work = someone who never leaves work, works to exhaustion, wakes up & does it all over again. (Although I wouldn’t be surprised if American values had started to bleed over in some/many workplaces, too.)

      2. Snarkastic*

        I may need to make the switch and move to Japan. I’m killer at naps!

        All joking aside, this sounds awful.

    2. Nita*

      Yes, I’m really wondering if LW1 is in a country where this is a widely accepted thing, because otherwise this seems bizarre and pointless. If it’s just company culture, it may be easier to push back than if it’s something cultural. If it’s not cultural, LW1 may be able to push back together with others who are also unhappy – I’m sure they’re out there!

    3. wittyrepartee*

      My boyfriend’s family is Japanese, I had this same reaction to the letter. “Sounds familiar…”

    4. MassMatt*

      I like your 2nd point especially. So many organizations seem to reward mediocrity yet are surprised to get mediocre results. Or are in denial and think mediocrity is excellence.

      I managed a team that was #1 in production almost every month for 2 years running and the manager of a team that was consistently at or near the bottom was awarded recognition for… lots of overtime! Hmmm, this org literally wants lower production.

  11. MassMatt*

    #1 is a weird wrinkle on the more usual “butts in seats” and “gotta stay late to show how hard you work!” nonsense. What do people do, stand around and give the last person to finish dirty looks? If it’s a desk job, and they are just surfing the internet, how would it even be clear who was finished and who is still working?

    This is an idiotic policy couched in fake “courtesy” but I would be wary of looking to break it early in your tenure there. This is the sort of thing bad managers focus on to the exclusion of actual productivity and ability. Really think on your manager and see if she is reasonable in other areas first.

    1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      Yeah, if I were the last person to finish, I’d feel MORE stressed knowing that other people were just waiting around for me to be done! It would remind me of how, when I was in high school, my mom used to stay up late with me when I was writing a paper. Not to help, just …sitting in the living room, and often falling asleep in an armchair. It made it all the more stressful because I not only felt bad for myself for having procrastinated, “I” was costing my mom a good night’s sleep too.

      1. LQ*

        Absolutely! I cannot imagine being that person everyone is waiting to finish to leave. I would feel horrible. The reason LW can’t go home to her kids is I haven’t gotten all my stuff done. The reason that Jane can’t go out on her date tonight is I haven’t gotten all of my work done fast enough. And likely, I’m drowning in work so I feel stressed out but it’s all my stuff so I can’t even ask Wakeen to help but he has to stay there at his desk reading AAM for hours while I struggle to finish everything.


        1. LQ*

          In fact one good way to tackle this stupid stupid “culture” would be to ask that everyone go home because it stresses you out one day when you have to be the last one there.

          “Hey, knowing that people might have to stay late because I’m on a deadline and there is nothing they can do to help. I’d much prefer they go home when they are done. I’ll get it done and it’ll be fine, but then I won’t have the added stress of knowing that I’m the reason people are staying late.”

          Now I’m wondering if this is a conspiratorial thing where they want the pressure of 11 people who don’t get to go home weighing down on you, making you work harder and faster…(Unlikely but this idea exhausts me…)

      2. Lizzy May*

        This was a sentiment I ran into when I worked as a bank teller. Only one teller balanced every night and when that wasn’t you the expectation was that you’d stick around anyhow just to help. I hated it when I wasn’t the balancing teller but I hated it even more when I was.
        The help was stressful because your speed was responsible for getting everyone home and having too many people counting was an easy way to end up with mistakes, making the whole process take longer. Sure, I loved having people do their part (making sure they counted their coin and made rolls when they had enough, bundled up the cash they were holding etc) but at a certain point it was my work and I did better without “help” or people staring at me willing me to work faster.

      3. Jadelyn*

        Exactly – I’d work *less* effectively, feeling like crap (yay, social anxiety!) because I imagine everyone around me resenting me for being the cause of them having to stay late. That is the opposite of conducive to getting everyone home at a decent hour.

    2. Essie*

      The letter doesn’t say they’re staying late, unless the LW supplied the title? my read was that the LW possibly wants to leave early. If this is the case then, well, it’s not so unreasonable if you can’t go home the second you run out of things to do.

      1. EPLawyer*

        Well yes it is. If you are done and there is nothing you can do to help anyone else, it’s time to go home. Not early, this is staying after hours. Which is silly. What if someone is on a huge project and working until midnight? Does everyone stay until midnight?

        You could have no plans after work because you never know when you could leave. Will it be 5 today? Or 6, or 7 or 10?

        It also leads to resentment. Why am I always here late because Fergus can’t put the Llama grooming compliance report together quickly?

        It’s not grade school where school lets out at the same time. Work done, you get to go home at the end of the day. If someone else is still working, they get to stay. If someone is always working late, then management needs to address that, not make everyone sit around twiddling their thumbs.

        1. On Fire*

          At a previous job, one of my tasks was entirely contingent on another person finishing her part. We had deadlines, because people at our other location couldn’t begin *their* part until I finished *my* part and transmitted it to them. This was a weekly task and always had to be completed by 5 p.m. Tuesday. Except that the person on the step before me usually ran late. Her record was 2 a.m. Wednesday. I had to stay there until she was finished and finally did my part then (I got home at about 3 that morning and was back by 8). The people at our other location went home long before that and came in early Wednesday to start work on their part.
          I was *livid,* because there was no reason – no excuse, even – for being that late. I was the manager on site, but my boss wouldn’t let me take any kind of corrective action. I told the late employee that missing a deadline by that much was completely unacceptable and should never happen again. She complained to my boss, claiming that I was targeting her because she was a member of (ethnicity), and my boss basically whined to me that I needed to be careful how I handled her. I don’t miss either of them!

        2. Jennifer*

          And poor Fergus. If I were him, I’d feel like I would have to rush so people could get home at a decent hour, which isn’t good when you’re working on an important project. I’d rather be alone with peace and quiet and freedom to work at my own pace.

    3. Kathleen_A*

      I can actually imagine *times* when I might need to stay late just “out of courtesy” – but those times are rare. For example, if most of my department was working on a big project and crunch time really hit – everybody running around like crazy people trying to get the last few, important bits done one evening after hours – I might decide that I should stay, just for the sake of teamwork and in case there was anything I could do to help. I might. But that would only work if I didn’t have another commitment and if it was the sort of thing that happened only rarely.

      Routinely staying late “out of courtesy” is just…well, it’s not how I want to live my life. So, OP, if your perfectly valid reasons for leaving on time aren’t acceptable to your workplace, and if that culture is just not going to change, I agree with those who are saying you might need to start looking elsewhere.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        Yeah, I’ve done the first thing a few times — hanging around while other people are working on a big deadline just in case I can help, but even that is annoying!

      2. Agent Diane*

        I’ve done this but for H&S reasons. I was a senior manager, there was only one other person in my agency in the building and someone from the cleaning crew had been odd. There was no way I was leaving a lone employee in a mostly dark building with someone acting unstable. I did make-work till the employee was ready to leave and walked out with them.

        But that’s a “I don’t want my colleague assaulted” thing, not a “so it’s not awkward” thing.

        1. brightbetween*

          This is common in industries where it’s a public or customer service business and staff is responsible for closing up and securing the building. I worked in branch libraries for years, and though not all staff was on closing schedule, there were always 2-3 people who were. We would all wait to walk out together for safety reasons.

      3. Jadelyn*

        We’ve done that once or twice – we had a couple of nightmare payrolls when we first migrated to our current vendor, and the whole team stayed late to help audit and make corrections. There wasn’t enough work to justify all 5 of us being there, but it was solidarity. We ordered in dinner on someone’s company card and provided moral support as well as just direct task support.

        But the thing is…that should be SUPER rare. It’s happened…three times, I think? In the 5 years I’ve worked here? Not every damn day.

    4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Honestly, if I were the person working late, it wouldn’t even feel as courtesy to me. It’d be a combination of being put in an awkward position of being the person everyone else needs to finish their work fast, so they can finally leave; and being distracted from my work because everyone else in the office has nothing to do, but they all have to stay. I can imagine there are a lot of social chats and other things happening that would be distracting to someone who’s actually trying to work. Of all the many variations on “butts in seats” I’ve ever seen, this might be the most bizarre one.

    5. kittymommy*

      Honestly, if I was one of those working late, I would feel uncomfortably guilty if others were waiting around for me to finish up what I’m doing. It would affect my concentration and make me rush through what I’m doing. This is a horrible policy.

    6. Sara without an H*

      Personally, I’d be mortified if I stayed late to finish something up and realized that all my co-workers had to sit around, surfing the internet or the AAM archives until I finished.

      The only thing I can suggest is that OP talk it up discreetly with co-workers and see if it’s possible to get a group together to push back on this. I strongly suspect that this is the boss’s personal insanity, not something the employees “just do.”

    7. TootsNYC*

      fake “courtesy”

      Yeah, this isn’t a case of “did you bring enough snacks for everyone”?

      I think I might start agitating for people to wrap up, starting at 4pm, and applying some “do you REALLY need to stay late for that? Can’t you finish it first thing in the morning?” pressure.

      And maybe just start announcing, “Well, I’m done, and there isn’t anything I can do to help you with your task, so I’m outta here. You have my cell if you need any info. Good luck–I hope you can get out soon,” and leave.
      Live the boundary. Lead by quiet example.

      Maybe even add, “I’m going to head out so I’m not hovering over you while you wrap up.” Name it.

  12. Leela*

    #1 This is nonsense. I’d push back for sure but more importantly, I’d be inclined to get out ASAP. This is a pretty egregious lack of judgement from whoever made this call, it’s going to tank morale, has the potential to cause resentment toward slower workers (or those who appear to be but might just have a higher/more complex workload), is a waste of your time, punishes people who get work done quickly even if they’re doing it well, and reeks of management viewing employees as people to be controlled instead of people to be supported. Get out, get out, get out, if you can. I would take this as a symptom and not its own issue, whatever caused management to think this is reasonable to ask is going to be popping up in other places even if this issue gets solved. Unless of course it really doesn’t bother you that much, but it should, and it sounds like it’s going to cause problems at home.

  13. Grand Mouse*

    Hi LW 1!

    I bet that as someone with 18 years of experience in an industry you are a desirable candidate. I would go to your boss and see her stance, and if given no clear directive leave when you need anyway. If you receive pushback, well, it is probably time to move on. With your long job history you don’t have to worry about looking like a job hopper or coming in entry level.

    I’m not telling you to leave, but just echoing Alison’s advice that this isn’t normal and pointing out you have options. Frankly I think it’s ridiculous they’re putting someone at your level up to such ridiculous, arbitrary standards. Good luck!

    1. Valegro*

      I agree. I’ve been there with my last awful job. Due to the nature of the job we would be done at really different times and some of my coworkers would spend ridiculous amounts of time on the phone with clients or doing paperwork they should have done during the day after closing. My boss thought it was good we all stayed late to collaborate (industry where this is important, but it’s not normal that you stay 1-3 hours after closing to do so). He also used us staying late as a power play to be in control and micromanage. He was a really terrible manager all together and this was just one red flag I should have seen from the beginning. In my case if I left before I was “allowed” (never officially dismissed, just had to read the room or sneak out) I got hauled into the conference room and lectured.
      Not healthy at all and if OP can push back the time is NOW. Previous employees hadn’t because they were usually 7-10 days behind on work.

    2. TootsNYC*

      You also have some influence, and if you start announcing, “There’s nothing more I can do to help you, so I’m not going to hover. Good luck–I hope you get out soon,”
      and you say to other colleagues, “Are you doing something specific to help Charlotte with her task? Why don’t you wrap up? Then she can finish up in peace, and you can have a life,” and maybe even “There’s no need for ALL of us to hang around doing nothing just because Charlotte has 15 more minutes of wrap-up,” and maybe even, “Charlotte, how much of that could you finish in the morning?”

      What is your boss going to say? You might be able to start changing the culture a little bit.

      1. ChimericalOne*

        If other people like the current set-up, though (and they may — it may make them feel like “team players,” or they may feel gratitude that they don’t have to work alone when a project stretches late, especially if they’re young, childless, and don’t have much work experience, and/or don’t have friends outside their work friends), the OP would just make herself look clueless and maybe make people close ranks against her. A better way to chip away at this culture is to just not stay late yourself, and then, if others don’t have that peer pressure of “everyone does it this way,” they may start to gradually take advantage of that opportunity themselves. Or, they may not.
        It’s not really any skin off your back if they want to stay late, after all, and pushing others to not do so risks looking strange and intrusive.

        1. Bostonian*

          I agree. If people are staying begrudgingly, they may see that OP leaves when done and decide they can start doing it, too.

          But you are 100% correct that there are definitely people who are doing it because they want to. I worked with people like this. Even when I said, “There’s nothing you can do to help. Go home”, they still stood around talking with other employees until I (or whoever) finished because they didn’t want to look like they were abandoning us. These types are usually “martyrs” in other ways, too.

  14. cncx*

    Oooh OP3 i feel you. i had a coworker who passive aggressively dissed my religion to try to get a rise out of me. The problem was it was always just at the threshold of bad joke/harassment/snide comment so calling him out directly would have made me the jerk. Taking the high road and just pretending like i didn’t hear him actually served me well because he finally chilled out enough for us to work together. The thing is, what people don’t realize is. holding certain views is offensive whether or not one acts on them, so it has clouded my opinion of his character (e.g. he’s a bigot!) and i almost quit over it. now i just feel sorry for him for being so ignorant and close minded. We spend over half of our waking hours at work and i’m sorry you have to deal with this. Pitying him for being stupid helped me a lot.
    Because i’ve lived the religious discrimination bit in other jobs to varying degrees, my suggestion is (better safe than sorry) use their comments as a data point in terms of how much you can trust these people- e.g. if you get instructions or tasks from them verbally, always follow up in writing (“Hi jane, as discussed in the hallway we will submit the powerpoint at 3pm on wednesday) etc. Because unfortunately bigoted views don’t happen in a vaccum, if they’re a bad enough human to openly hate on a religion, they’re nasty enough to try to sabotage work too.

    1. CDM*

      Funny how respect isn’t received by religious people who demand that everyone respect them – even in their THOUGHTS – while simultaneously spewing offensive, bigoted and nasty judgments about others like a firehose.

      The advocating for illegal (in the US) workplace discrimination against others because of their beliefs doesn’t really help, either.

      1. Delphine*

        Are you suggesting that bigotry against religious people is somehow acceptable because of sweeping generalizations you’ve made about religious individuals?

        1. ChimericalOne*

          Yeah, this comment is really confusing. cncx didn’t say anything about their coworker’s religion, so I’m not sure if CDM is assuming that he’s from a “competing” religion (e.g., an evangelical Christian bad-mouthing Muslims) or if CDM is somehow suggesting the cncx is, *him/herself,* a religious bigot dissing others for “thought crimes.”

          CDM, cncx’s coworker could just as easily be an atheist. In which case, there’s no irony at all over “those religious people who mistreat other religious people of different faiths.” Also, I saw nothing in cncx’s comment about advocating for illegal discrimination. You seem to be making a lot of assumptions.

          1. CDM*

            “if you get instructions or tasks from them verbally, always follow up in writing (“Hi jane, as discussed in the hallway we will submit the powerpoint at 3pm on wednesday) etc. Because unfortunately bigoted views don’t happen in a vaccum, if they’re a bad enough human to openly hate on a religion, they’re nasty enough to try to sabotage work too.”

            Anyone who “hates” on cncx’s religion, in their opinion, is automatically a bad person who deserves to be treated unequally in the workplace because they hold different beliefs than cnyx.

            “holding certain views is offensive whether or not one acts on them”

            Thought police, right there. Meanwhile cnyx’s own speech, not thoughts:

            “he’s a bigot!”
            “i just feel sorry for him for being so ignorant and close minded”
            “Pitying him for being stupid”
            “they’re a bad enough human” “they’re nasty”

            That’s a whole lot of insults against others packed into a post where the writer is demanding that they must be respected.

            No. cnyx isn’t entitled to any more respect than they show towards others, regardless of their religious beliefs.

            There’s no irony in religious people mistreating atheists based on their beliefs? Wow. I mean, I encounter that belief from religious people a whole lot in life, but most of them aren’t brazenly offensive enough to come right out and say it.

      2. Jadelyn*

        That is…a completely separate discussion from the one being had here. What the hell?

        Yes, there are members of certain religions who are hypocritical in their definitions of discrimination. That’s not what this is about, and bringing that into the conversation is rude and derailing.

    2. MassMatt*

      Making “jokes” and comments that ride the line between acceptable and offensive is a major strategy of bigots and needs to get shut down. Bigots use “humor” to test the waters to see what they can get away with, signal for like-minded people, and have plausible deniability so they don’t face consequences for their bigotry. The “just kidding” defense is BS and needs to get called out. We cannot allow bigots to use our desire for courtesy as a tool to spew racism, sexism, etc into our lives, whether online or in the workplace.

      1. Jadelyn*

        The best tool I’ve found against that is to play dumb and force them to explain the joke. “I don’t get it…why is that funny?” Over and over. Because eventually, they’ll have to either shut up or outright say whatever bigoted thing they were trying to imply, and most people will go with the former.

    3. baloney*

      This reminds me of a funeral I attended where the pastor encouraged everyone to feel sorry for the non-religious because “they are scared, alone, and confused when confronted with death” since they do not follow [insert deity here]. It was beyond offensive, incredibly ignorant, and smug as all get out. Keep your pity, thanks.

      Religious people of all faiths have opinions on my life; because of their protections and perceived moral superiority a great deal of them I interact with believe they have every right to share said opinions with me or those around me within my earshot. Then, when someone has a less than savory opinion about their religious lifestyle choice, their panties bunch up and they claim bigotry. As Bianca del Rio would say: BALONEY.

  15. Czhorat*

    For #3, I agree that that kind of talk needs to stop. It has no place anywhere, particularly in the workplace.

    It’s fine for you to speak up, even after the fact. What they said is inappropriate enough that your workplace is better off without it, and hopefully they’ll be embarrassed enough to time it down.

    Good luck.

  16. Use their discomfort*

    #1. Not sure about AaM advice here.
    Is it a good tactic to try to debate an idiotic policy? I think LW should just leave sensibly and make the boss say out loud the ridiculous words “no, you have to stay twiddling your thumbs until everyone is done. Oh, and all the other workplaces in your 18 year career were wrong and we are right”

    1. Czhorat*

      Your boss is still your boss even if they’re being irrational. If they aren’t asking you to do something dangerous, illegal, or unethical there really isn’t the option to just ignore them.

      1. Sunshine*

        I’d class this as unethical. Asking employees to stay for no reason as a sop to other employees?

        1. Czhorat*

          Let me clarify: the boss isn’t asking the OP to violate any ethical rules, either in general or profession-specific.

          THey aren’t asking them to mislead clients, to steal, to break the law. The OP is being poorly treated, but aren’t being asked to violate their own conscience. You can’t ignore an instruction because you are being inconvenienced.

          You CAN ignore it if it threatens your safety. This doesn’t reach that level.

          1. Sunshine*

            I understand the distinction but I’d class this as more than an inconvenience. Her employer is asking her to incur extra costs and disrupt her home life, on a regular basis, for no reason. If she’s salaried she likely has fixed hours she expects to work, with reasonable flexibility. This is hugely different than asking someone to stay late to complete a task. Exploiting your workers for profit is unethical; exploiting your workers on a whim is ridiculous *and* unethical.

            1. MassMatt*

              I agree the policy is stupid, but when you “push back” against your boss you may wind up losing out on opportunities at the least, or just wind up getting fired. Op needs to tread more carefully than simply ignoring the boss and using terms like “ridiculous” and “bizarre” in a confrontation with her.

        2. PhyllisB*

          Aside from everything else, are y’all being paid OT while you wait for the others? If not, and you’re hourly, that is certainly illegal.

          1. Czhorat*

            I assumed the OP was salaried. If they are hourly they clearly need to be paid.

            This is not a good use of company resources.

      2. Sunshine*

        To re-address this point; this site is crammed with advice on how to disagree with, handle, and ultimately escalate if you have a bizarre and irrational boss. Apart from anything else keeping the computers etc running for no reason will be costing the company money. It’s so irrational that I would think higher ups / board members would want to know.

        1. Antilles*

          The argument about “computers running costs the company money” seems like a very weak one to me. In my experience, many (most?) people leave their computers running overnight anyways. So while it may be technically true, it doesn’t strike me as a particularly persuasive argument.

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            As a penny pinching cheapskate accountant, you’re right about it being weak. An extra 10-20 minutes of a dozen computers being in is insignificant.

          2. Sunshine*

            It is a weak argument. But it’s there as an “on top of everything else this is incurring a cost.” The persuasive argument should be that this is batshit crazy. If logic isn’t going to work, maybe trivialities will.

          3. Sunshine*

            Besides, the *important part* was the fact that it’s perfectly fine to object to a boss’ behaviour on the basis that it’s bizarre. Yes, the other point was weak. It was a throwaway comment.

        2. Decima Dewey*

          My library system sends out regular emails reminding us not to shut down our computers at closing, because that’s when updates are run. We’re supposed to log off instead.

      3. Use their discomfort*

        The point is to make them directly demand the stupid thing. Hopefully they will be too embarrassed. Or at least be forced to admit they are demanding something weird .

    2. Sharon*

      > “no, you have to stay twiddling your thumbs until everyone is done

      Except the boss would never say it that way. She’d just say “you’re not a team player”. :(

      1. Antilles*

        Or, as an even worse alternative, the boss wouldn’t actually say *anything* at all, but instead just mentally classify OP as “not committed to the company”, then quietly punish OP for it the next review/raise/bonus cycle.

        1. Ashloo*

          Yeah, I also think it’s unfortunate OP is the only one with kids on the team. It makes for a legitimately good excuse to counter this nonsense (I think not wanting to literally waste time is a fine excuse for anyone!), but it might also reinforce negative stereotypes about parents in the workplace.

    3. LQ*

      You are suggesting debating the policy, just not doing it in a way that’s likely to successfully change the boss’s mind. Sitting down and talking about it is a much better idea than walking out and potentially getting fired. Or at least the thing to do first. Going right to the double bird outta there is sort of like going right to quitting. That’s fine if that’s the decision but I don’t think you have to leap there.

  17. Favorita*

    OP2, “creative” and “cute” are not desirable qualities in a job application. Even if it worked, which is a BIG if, you’d basically be self-selecting to work for managers who respond to gimmicks over substance. You don’t want to work for them, or your next letter to AAM will be about some serious issues you are having with an unprofessional manager.

    If your search isn’t going well, read everything on this site about resumes and cover letters, consider reading Alison’s book(s), apply the advice to your own application materials, and keep searching. Do the work. Don’t try to be cute. Good luck!

    1. Flash Bristow*

      *applause* This is the best way of wording it that I’ve heard so far.

      OP2, if you want to stand out in a recruiter’s mind, that’s understandable, but find another way to be memorable. My dad was known for bright shirts – not mad, tasteless ones, still properly tailored and double cuff, but maybe with close, fine pink stripes. Or white with alternating but wider spaced blue then red stripes. Still formal and classy, but just a little off the wall for accountancy recruitment.

      So, find your own way to be memorable. Then, when the interviewing team are reviewing candidates, they say “Oh yes, OP2 – the guy with elephant cufflinks and tie. What did we think about him?” rather than “which one was he again?”

      And for goodness sake don’t be tacky, gimmicky – nor look like you’re offering a bribe!

      Good luck in your job search.

      1. londonedit*

        Yes to all of this! The first thing to do is make sure you have a great-looking CV and cover letter. There’s a ton of good advice here on all of that – but make sure you take a real look at the job description, and tailor your CV and cover letter to include all the points they want their successful candidate to have.

        Secondly, when you do make it to the interview stage, I’ve also had great success with wearing something that’s just a little bit more memorable than a standard interview outfit. Nothing too out there, and obviously nothing outside the norms for the industry, but for example I really like big chunky necklaces, so I’ll usually wear one of those to an interview, or for my last interview I wore a smart blazer in a bright colour. I’ve found that these things always get positive comments from interviewers as soon as I arrive, which is a great way to set up a bit of informal small talk, and – although obviously I also need to show how qualified I am in the interview – I do feel like it makes me a bit more memorable to the interviewers.

        1. Aggretsuko*

          Hah. You know what’s funny? I’m a memorable dresser but when I go to interview I dress as boring as possible. I don’t want to scare anyone off with my personality, basically.

    2. Observer*

      Your second paragraph is what I was coming to ay.

      OP, don’t just check your materials – get someone with actual hiring experience to check your materials, as well as reading everything you can on this site.

  18. The Doctor*


    This is SO ripe for abuse. The slackers can simply drag out their work (especially if they’re eligible for overtime pay) just to force others to stay.

    Get out of there ASAP.

  19. Sunshine*

    OP#3 – I have a colleague I really like and agree with on most topics. The other day he was criticising religion. i just said to him that while I’m not religious, other people might be and it was best not to antagonise other people. I doubt I changed his mind but he dropped the subject.

  20. Lynca*

    OP #1- You don’t say this but it sounds like this practice is wildly out of sync with your experiences in the industry. I would focus on bringing that part up too. If these are young employees, this job is setting them up with unrealistic views of how overtime works in your industry.

    I absolutely see where you are coming from. There is no point in staying late with no work to do just because others are. Especially when you have after hours obligations. I’m sure there are times that other employees have them too and that’s something I would bring up. Basically forcing mandatory overtime for everyone regardless of whether it’s needed makes it so no one can have plans for after work. You’ll end up driving off talent with this.

  21. ssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

    OP5: this happened to me too and I was confused and hurt by their decisions and reasons to not hire me for a long time. Their reasons didn’t make much sense – to me. I’ve come to the decision, in order to get some peace of mind and to move on, that they just didn’t think my personality was a good fit and that they also wanted someone “senior” and “executive” but really wanted to pay less than the job currently offered. I can’t argue about fit because maybe they were right but I know I’m right about the money because the “senior” person was hired for 5K less than what I had been currently earning.

    They just didn’t want *me*. And being on a contract, it was easy to just not hire me.

    The rejection also spurred me to try harder to demonstrate my administrative skills at my next two jobs where I demonstrated, indeed, I was up to the job.

    1. LW5*

      Wanting to pay the next person less did cross my mind as a reason, too. If my replacement comes in before I leave, maybe I’ll work up the nerve to ask haha.

      Thank you sharing your similar experience, though! And I appreciated Alison’s insight. I’m going to try to put my energy into what’s next instead of dwelling on what’s done.

      1. Gumption*

        Allow yourself some dwelling time – a little here and there can be healthy and can allow some insight. But yes! Soldier on and when you shine at the next job, you can say with conviction, “Their loss, current employer’s gain.” You can do it!

  22. Nervous Accountant*

    #1 – Oh good Lord, that is….I want to say childish is the first word that comes to mind. It just doesn’t make any sense to me, someone will feel bad that someone leaves early? Like I understand and appreciate the team/pack mentality but this is too much and unreasonable IMO.

    IME, my job has a hard end time outside of tax season and everyone is free to leave at closing time on the dot. No one has ever gotten in trouble or been denied promotions or told they’re not a team player b/c they follow the schedule. But nowadays, it’s tax season and I’m in a newer role and I’m learning the ropes with this. But it’s more of a…. leave when you make sure everyone on the team is taken care of..rather than leave when *I’m* done. so for me while the action is the same the mindset is a little different.

    1. EPLawyer*

      It is a different mindset. It’s one thing to pitch in and help so everyone can go home. It’s another thing to say “sit your butt in your chair until Fergus is done balancing his accounts so everyone can go home.” One is being a team player. The other is just sitting around not really doing anything to help the company.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It’s also different to expect supervisors to make sure their team is all set before leaving. Whereas someone’s who isn’t needing anything from you…just emotional support of not being the last in the office, no way!

  23. TheWonderGinger*

    LW 1#: Everyone else has good points and I agree the idea behind this is awful but I wanted to add on to be careful not to make it a “i have kids so I NEED to leave but they can stay because they don’t” thing, that is a sure fire way to get childless employees P.O.’d at you, ESPECIALLY when you’re the new guy. Yes, you have childcare as your motivating factor to get out of the office on time but that doesn’t make your time anymore valuable than someone who has non-childcare commitments that they need to get out of the office on time for. Hopefully you can push back as a team, and let others in the office know that it’s okay to leave on time!

    1. MLB*

      But having children is a legitimate reason to get out of work ON TIME. She’s not asking to leave early. And the only way that the childless employees should get bent out of shape is if they ask for flexibility on leaving/coming in late for reasons other than child care and are told no. And I say this as someone who doesn’t have children.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Yes, I agree with this. “I have to pick up my kids from daycare” is, to me, a person without children, a completely legitimate reason to leave at or by a certain time. It becomes a problem for me when I have an evening commitment that requires me to leave by a certain time (in my case, it’s one night a week and I’ve been doing it for many years) and I’m told no or it’s suggested that I need to stay.

        If the work isn’t finished, the kids still need to be picked up or the evening commitment still needs to be met. Yet in that case I would expect someone to finish up from home or come in early the next day. But that’s a different issue from what the OP is facing.

      2. TheWonderGinger*

        I’m not saying it isn’t valid! Everyone should be able to leave work on time if they have commitments! My point was to not to say kids aren’t a valid excuse, it was to say that getting the team to push back would be best because then it doesn’t look like you’re looking for special treatment as a parent, especially because you’re new to this office.

        I had been burned especially hard on this in OldJob so that’s why it’s something that I brought up,

        1. wittyrepartee*

          Yeah, I get this- kids being picked up is especially important, but someone with spin class who’s finished their work should be able to leave too.

        2. Washi*

          As a childless person, I wouldn’t think the OP was implying she deserves special accommodations for saying she had childcare obligations, if that was what got the boss to let her leave on time. I would judge my boss for having such a stupid policy in the first place, and would understand people pushing back on it in whatever way they could!

          I think pulling the parent card is only a problem if the parent’s accommodations are causing regular hardship on other people in the office, and this definitely doesn’t fall in that category.

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      She does NEED to leave though. Replace “I have kids” with “I have an elderly parent” or “I have a medical condition that requires having an X procedure at Y time every evening”, it does not really matter what her evening commitments are, but they do exist. The childless employees might very well have commitments of their own.

      I would get the frustration if LW tried to work shorter hours, or leave when she still has work to do, and use childcare as an excuse. But it’s after hours and she’s done with her work, her boss says there is nothing else for her to do, and she does have someplace to be!

      And I say this as someone whose children are in their 20s and who does not have any kind of time-sensitive family obligations at the moment.

      1. media monkey*

        totally agree.i have a 10 year old and my OH works from home. he is there to look after her/ manage her homework/ make sure she has eaten/ get her to bed, and is happy to do so if i need to work late because of my workload. however i would not be happy if i was sitting there for appearances sake with no pressing work to do because i actually want to spend time with her before she goes to bed! i don’t think that’s an unreasonable point of view and let’s face it, we all spend enough time at work!

      2. Not Today Satan*

        The issue is you shouldn’t need a “commitment” to leave work when your shift is done. My only “commitment” after work is getting tf out of there; doesn’t mean it’s somehow not a valid reason to leave. I think that’s what the OP is getting at–having a special, socially acceptable “excuse” to do something that shouldn’t need an excuse at all might help the person in question, but it sets a bad precedent for others.

    3. Observer*

      You mean leaving when your work is done is a special privilege!? Sorry, that’s beyond messed up.

      Also, she’s not saying that childcare commitments are more important that other commitments. She is saying that she HAS commitments. Someone else has eldercare commitments? They should leave on time, too. Someone has a cat that needs to be fed, leave on time. There is no implication otherwise. And it’s disingenuous to claim otherwise.

      1. TheWonderGinger*

        As I said in above reply, I wasn’t trying to say that leaving for childcare isn’t valid or a special privilege, but to be cautious how you bring it up in a new to you office.

      2. That Girl From Quinn's House*

        Childcare commitments are a little more important than other commitments, in that if you fail to pick up your kid from daycare or are not home to meet your child when they’re dropped off, people can literally call the police on you and charge you with abandonment or neglect.

        I of course think everyone’s time is equally valid and if there’s no reason to stay late, people should be able to leave on time even if their plans are to lay on the couch with their cat for the evening. But if you’re late to your cat, or your dinner, or your yoga class, you don’t risk being arrested the way you do if you’re late to getting your children.

        1. Observer*

          That’s true. So it’s a bit different from non-care-giving commitments. But in terms of care-giving, it’s not just that you can get arrested. In many cases, these commitments come with significant safety issues for the person being cared for. eg If you are tag teaming coverage of an elderly parent with cognitive decline, especially if they need medication on a schedule.

          Don’t get me wrong. I agree that childcare is a very significant and generally non-negotiable commitment. And people shouldn’t be shamed or bullied into not mentioning it. But it’s also important to recognize that it’s not the only issue that people face.

    4. Mockingjay*

      I never specify: “I need to leave on time/at _ because I have another obligation.”

      Avoids pointless debate about whose reason is more valid. All reasons are valid. We all have lives and commitments outside of work.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Yes, this is all that needs to be said, really. Any more details leave it open for the manager to pass judgment on what’s a good enough reason to leave work on time. Since this manager’s judgment says it’s good for people to pointlessly hang around long past end of the day to show “solidarity” or whatever, I wouldn’t put this to a judgment call at all.

    5. Nita*

      Maybe that should be “I’m a caregiver so I NEED to leave”… any kind of caregiving, whether it’s for a child, or a parent, or a pet, means you need to be physically present at home at a reasonable time.

      Not that it’s really reasonable for everyone else to sit around twiddling their thumbs at the office to make the boss happy. It’s all kinds of ridiculous and they should be pushing back against this expectation as well.

  24. Marthooh*

    Re #1 — If I had to stay late at work, struggling to reattach a faulty teapot handle, I would hate having my colleagues there, pretending to be busy but actually wishing I would just finish up already. This does not seem like a courtesy.

    1. Marthooh*

      Oh, and I would change Alison’s script a little “Of course I will stay late if necessary to finish my own work, but I wouldn’t want to feel that I was forcing my coworkers to stay with me.”

    2. Kailia*

      Honestly? I’d probably fake being done, if I could get away with it, just to avoid feeling that awful pressure of “everyone else is still here because of me.” I’d be surprised if the office’s productivity is as good as the owner/manager thinks it is.

    3. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      In fact I might be hoping that everyone else would leave so I can work alone in peace. Sometimes just knowing that other people are around can be distracting.

  25. MuseumChick*

    #2. Nope, no, naw, nooooooope. Do not do this. Many years ago I took a resume writing workshop. The woman running it told us that that basically 4 “piles” a resume will be throw into when a hiring manager is looking them over. 1) No. 2) Maybe, will review again if no one in pile 3 workout. 3) Will interview (the smallest pile) 4) This is so funny/bizarre I have to show my friends. Sending a lottery ticket will put you solidly in pile 4.

    #3. The slightly evil side of me wants to tell you that the next time you hear this to causally walk over, look them dead in the eye and say. “Wow, that really misinformed on your part.” Then just let there be an uncomfortable silence. You are under no obligation to tell these people what religious group you are a part of. But if you have a good working relationship with them you could potentially make them (rightfully) feel awkward and embarrassed by tell them the next time you hear a discussion like that.

    1. Asenath*

      #3 – I think initially this is the sort of the thing best addressed at the time – just by calling out to them that you don’t want to hear that kind of talk at work – with follow-up using other approaches only needed for a repeat offense.

      But, yeah, pointing out to the group that actually what they’re saying isn’t accurate and you know that because you’re a member of that religion is generally a very effective way to stop any similar comments from them in the future. You don’t HAVE to do the second part, especially if you strongly feel that you should keep religion out of the workplace, but it can be very effective.

  26. Cordoba*

    In the case of #4, how would that information reduce the LW’s bargaining power? Regardless of whether she knows about it or not, the actual situation is unchanged. It’s unlikely that the company would be willing to pay her more just because they didn’t share the information with her, right?

    If anything, this knowledge should have improved the LW’s bargaining position. LW just learned that the hiring manager effectively lost their first choice at the end of the hiring process. Typically this would make the employer *more* inclined to be flexible with the next hire in order to avoid losing them and having to start the recruiting process over again or go hire somebody who didn’t even make the final 2.

    In sports if a star player gets hurt the value of the next-best player on the team goes up, not down.

    1. Mrs_helm*

      I think she was reading between the lines of his comment and hearing “we aren’t that into you, but we’re offering you the job”. In that light, she felt like they would not be willing to negotiate, since she wasn’t the best.

      It’s not how hiring works, but I can understand the feeling.

    2. WoolAnon*

      I experienced something similar in my current job – I was their second choice and they hired their first pick. First pick ghosted them. So then I was immediately offered the job, at the higher pay they were offering the first pick. (I was working through a recruiter, so that might have affected the higher pay, I’m not sure.)

  27. Kaitlyn*

    LW 1: is there an expectation that the folks who are staying late out of courtesy are expected to check in with the worker bees? See if they can lend a hand, help out, complete some small task to move things along? Was there originally an expectation that folks would pitch in, but that’s gone away due to “Oh, I’m fine/I’m the only one who can do this task” dialog? Because the whole idea that no one can leave until everyone does makes sense in some contexts, like retail or restaurant work, but definitely not in an office setting. Definitely worth a conversation with the boss and seeing if you can instigate some cultural change in your job.

    1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      “[This] does makes sense in some contexts, like retail…”

      The only time I’ve regularly stayed at work until everyone was done was when I was a cashier at a craft store. I usually worked the closing shift. My store’s policy was that everyone would walk to their cars together after all closing duties were finished.

      After the store closed, cashiers had to close out their drawers (with a manager/supervisor/lead) and clean the front area. So if we finished our duties before the other departments had finished their nightly cleanup, we would scatter to help them out. (I usually helped in fabric.) If we weren’t helping in another department, we were expected to clock out and sit in the break room. If we were helping, we could stay on the clock and get paid, as well as getting out a little early.

      While it was annoying not to be able to walk to my car alone, I’m pretty sure it was a safety in numbers thing. For me it was a seasonal job, which meant it was December, quite dark, and potentially icy in the parking lot. And the store manager properly paid us for time worked, not just the hours the store was open, so helping other departments after close was paid time.

      1. Kaitlyn*

        I’ve definitely worked jobs where no-one is supposed to be left alone in the store with the cash box, for instance, and that’s played out in an “everyone stays until the last person is done” practice.

    2. rogue axolotl*

      We had this policy when I worked in housekeeping in a motel–once you’re done your rooms for the day, go see if anyone else is still working and help them. But that made sense because it actually allowed everyone to finish earlier in the long run. I would be really irritated if I was routinely asked to spend extra time at work for no good reason.

  28. Roscoe*

    For #1 I totally agree that this policy is dumb. I’d use Alison’s script, but I’d leave the child care part out of it. I’d just say why you shouldn’t have to wait around until everyone is done. But by bringing the child care in (and frankly the way you even wrote it) you are kind of reinforcing the horrible notion that because someone has kids that their time is more important than someone else’s. If you are done, you are done. If the policy is dumb, its dumb for everyone, not just for parents.

    1. londonedit*

      I agree. Framing it as ‘OP has kids so they need special dispensation to leave on time’ definitely perpetuates the notion that if someone doesn’t have kids, it’s totally fine for them to work long hours/always be the one who stays late/never get first pick of holiday dates because what else could they possibly have to occupy their time? It’s not as if they have a family…! That’s just really unhelpful.

      The point is that the situation here is ridiculous for everyone, not just for the worker who has a child or the worker who needs to feed their cat or the worker who wants to go to a Pilates class after work. A system where you can only leave on time if the boss deems your after-work commitments to be of sufficient importance isn’t going to improve morale any more than making everyone wait around until the last person finishes work.

    2. Spartan*

      There is nothing wrong with reinforcing why it’s not working for him. I prefer not to stay late because I have children etc. Every other employee has their reasons too. I am taking a class, I need the time to create a proper work life balance. Whatever it happens to be. Usually making the argument more personal makes it more effective. While I totally agree he shouldn’t have to bring it up because ideally the whole group would push back, that is not the case here. He is pushing back so he needs to make the argument the strongest he can.

  29. KP*

    No. 4: Congratulations! I agree with Alison’s comments on why an employer would feel the need to explain after saying they wanted X background qualification. But also: You’re their choice! They extended the offer to you — you’re their top candidate for this role, life happens and the hiring process often shifts in ways like this. Best of luck!

    1. Not Australian*

      There’s a great line in ‘The West Wing’ : “You were not my first choice, but you are my last choice – and the right choice.” [From memory.]

      Being second choice doesn’t automatically make one second best; look how many replacement actors have done stellar work on movies, for example, and now it’s impossible to imagine anybody else in the role.

      Just make it your own, OP; nobody will remember the other candidate six months from now.

  30. Person of Interest*

    #5 – Have you asked your supervisor whether it would make sense for you to apply to the posted position? They might say, yes, please go ahead and apply, as that would be their preferred process for potentially keeping you, or they might say no, and give you more insight as to why they are looking elsewhere.

    1. LW 5*

      I don’t think it would go over well, as I already tried to ask if there was anything I could do when I found out my contract wasn’t being renewed. And I’m feeling like I’d rather work towards finding a permanent position at this point (the posted position is also contract). I would definitely ask if I thought it made sense, so I appreciate the suggestion!

      1. Person of Interest*

        Ah, since the posted position is another contract rather than permanent, that makes sense. Best of luck in your search!

  31. nnn*

    #1 seems like it would be especially annoying when the reason why your work is taking longer than expected in the first place is you just need some f-ing peace and quiet but all the other people around are distracting

  32. Alfonzo Mango*

    For #1, what kind of roles are these? I have only worked in fields/jobs where you put in 40 hours, and that was it. People didn’t really get overtime, so it was never worked.

  33. Trout 'Waver*

    In the case of OP#4, I would argue that being the second choice candidate would strengthen their negotiating position. The company has clearly indicated that they would rather hire OP#4 than conduct another search.

    Also, I think telling them that they were the second choice is a way of communicating an explanation for the delay more than anything else.

  34. Clawfoot*

    OP #1, I feel your pain. In my last job, our hours were pretty flexible (at least on paper). So long as everyone was there for the “core hours” of 10-4 and put in their daily eight hours, you could come in and leave whenever you liked. Most people worked 9-5, a few chose to work 10-6, but me, being an early bird, preferred 8-4. And I was the only early bird. I noticed this, and actually specifically got permission from my manager to keep these hours. It was fine with her.

    So I would be leaving work for the day at least an hour, sometimes two hours before others were, and my Team Lead called me out on it during a performance review one time. I was told that it made me look like I wasn’t a “team player.” I made the point that a) our manager had specifically said it was okay, b) our company policy allowed it, and c) nobody was worried about ME thinking THEY were not “team players” when they finally rolled into the office two hours after I’d started.

    I didn’t get along with this Team Lead very well. He also really didn’t like it when people worked from home (I was once reprimanded for not answering his IM for twelve whole minutes, which obviously meant I must have been slacking off entirely). Less than a year later, I found another job.

    1. Alfonzo Mango*

      Yes, everywhere I worked has had the same core hours. My first job my boss wanted me in 9-5, though he didn’t come in until 10 or 11 some days (and still left at 5!). Now I work 7-330, which has been wonderful. But I am only paid for 40 hours, and so I only work 40 hours. If I’m there working later, it better be salary or overtime.

      1. Kailia*

        My old boss wanted us working 13-14 hour weeks, all depending on when she went home (if she stayed until 5 PM, we could leave at 5:15 PM; if she stayed until 7:30 PM, she sometimes invited us to “get out of here and go home” with her…but often looked at us and said “look at how hard you all work; remember to bill your hours! Bye!”)…and we were salaried. I made 25K my first year and then 30K for 3 more years (until I quit) for 65-70 hour work weeks (EVERY week). I was making less than $9 an hour on that salary and with those hours. So, I would say to anyone, if you’re earning a salary but routinely being expected to work more than 45-50 hours a week, do the math.

        I’m salaried at a different job in a whole ‘nother industry, and I don’t work more than 40-45 hours a week. I get my work done and I go home. If they don’t like it, see ya later bye. :)

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Your boss reminds me of a boss I had many years ago, who tried introducing strict hours for our team of 4-5 people (out of the department of 50-60). We were flexible, with most of us coming in at 9-9:30, and he all of a sudden wanted everybody there at 8:30 on the dot. We all had cell phones, pagers, laptops, and were reachable at any time (and needed to be on call 24/7 as part of our job descriptions) but no, he needed us at our desks. I had a family situation at the time where my husband could not drive following a hip surgery and I was the only one who could drop the kids off, at two different places, and so was unable to make it to work by 8:30, and the boss reluctantly agreed to let me come in at 8:45, until my husband was good to drive again.

        The strict-hour policy died a quiet death a few months later, because the boss himself strolled in at 9:30-10 every morning (and still left at 5) and so was unable to enforce his own policy.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Either way is bad, tbh. If everyone else comes in at 7:00, and one person cannot get to work until 8:30 because they have to drop the kids off and the daycare opens at 8:00, and everyone else gives this person the stinkeye for not being there at 7, that’s just as bad.

      2. LQ*

        Wasn’t there just a letter this week about the exact opposite? I don’t think the problem is a culture of later being better or earlier being better. I think the problem is in a culture of being SEEN “working”

        1. Clawfoot*

          Yes, I think that’s exactly it — the appearance of work is more important than the actual work. It’s also likely the reason why my TL didn’t like people working from home. If he couldn’t see you working, you obviously weren’t!

          I’m so glad I got out of that place.

      3. The New Wanderer*

        It’s a lose-lose work culture. Showing up early is better but if you leave after your 8 hours/work completed, you’re leaving early which looks bad. So you should be staying late, which is better unless you started later in the morning, you slacker.

    2. rogue axolotl*

      I had the exact same arrangement in one of my internships–I liked to work 8-4 because otherwise with my commute by time I got home I’d pretty much have to go to bed. Most of my coworkers routinely came in between 10 and 12. Fortunately in my case, my boss was the one other person who came in at 8, so she knew I was always there on time. Otherwise it could have been an issue because in a 500-person building, I think there were only ever maybe 5 people starting at that time.

  35. Doodle*

    OP #4, yeah that was klutzy! Why not just say the process took longer than we expected but we are really eager to have you join us. (You might or might not have found out about the other candidate getting the offer first.)

    But, you have the job, so I’d be happy with the result! My first fulltime academic job I didn’t even get interviewed on the first round. They didn’t even request my dossier. (= hard no) Six months later, the search failed, and I got an interview because a friend from my grad program worked there, said to the committee chair Take a look at Doodle, she is perfect for this job; they were desperate, they flew me out for an interview, a week later I had an offer. Great job — it was a three-year position, they offered me an extension after that. Once you are there, no one will care or even remember that you were number two.

    1. OP 4*

      Yes, I was thrilled to even be the second choice since it’s such a great job. It’s interesting to see how different people would interpret being told that – it definitely didn’t occur to me that it put me in a stronger position!

      I guess it’s also a lot to do with context. The same HR guy who offered me the job also stood me up for my first phone interview and didn’t get back to me until 5 days later with the excuse that he had a dentist appointment, so that definitely coloured my perception. When everyone started telling me it was weird that he gave me so much information about the process I then started wondering whether he wasn’t supposed to and if I would have reacted differently if I hadn’t known, but actually it made no difference to me.

      1. Observer*

        Well, he doesn’t sound like the best HR person on the world, and he apparently tends to overshare a bit.

    2. always in email jail*

      #4 I agree it wasn’t the best judgement call, but I can totally see myself doing this! I would have probably shared that info as a way to apologize for the hiring process taking so long, to communicate that it normally would have been much faster, in case you saw the amount of time it took to receive an offer as a red flag. I assume that’s what they were thinking.

  36. Lady Phoenix*

    Lw1’s letter reminds me off that clueless boss that just couldn’t comprehend why his employees were leaving ON TIME to go home to their families and such. AThis boss was surprised people have LIVES outside of work! OoO

    And the shredding off the writer was most fantastic.

  37. Crystal*

    #4 – I was second choice when hired by my current employer (a fact they couldn’t hide because of reasons that are irrelevant here) and it’s worked out just fine – I’m still here many years later, I’ve been promoted multiple times, and I’ve won every employee service distinction. Don’t let this throw you off if it’s a job and salary that are right for you!

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I was second choice too, at my previous job. Not even an hour after the interview, I was told by my recruiter, “Their #1 choice has taken a counteroffer, and you are now number 1”. Stayed there six years, made good progress in my career, made a few good friends and many work connections, then the person who’d initially hired me at that job, but was no longer working there, started his own company and hired me and a few others. I’ve been at this new place for close to six years. So, I’m still benefitting today from having been someone’s second choice twelve years ago.

      Because it’s a small world, a few years ago, I got to meet the guy who was the first choice, and we had a nice chat. He is also doing well. I thanked him for having taken that counteroffer.

    2. Spartan*

      I had a boss where I was her second choice for every promotion she gave me. Everytime I applied to move up as the company grew she would either promote someone else (and then end up promoting me within 6 months as well because the person promoted had seniority but not the ability) or she would open the job to the outside world and spend 3 months interviewing to end up coming back to me and saying well I guess you are the best person after all. This happened 5 times in 8 years. It was the oddest thing.

  38. Lady Phoenix*

    This is the equivalent of bribing your OKCupid date to marry/sleep with you during the first date: Creepy, Gross, and so wildly out of norms that thebother party goes running over the hills and faraway. Not to mention they are likely to warn people about you too, which could blackball you from your field.

    You need to refine your searches, spruce up your resume and cover letter, possibly take some night courses/online courses for some big skills you might be missing that all the jobs want, and just realize this stuff does take time

  39. AvonLady Barksdale*

    OP #1, this happened to me a few times. I worked with a woman who was sllllooowwww, not because she wasn’t good at her job but because she preferred slower processes (things like printing out spreadsheets and inputting data from the paper) and she had a lot of things to do during her day. She often stayed late, which worked for her because her husband worked late too and he would pick her up so they could commute home together. My boss, at several points, got huffy with me for leaving on time and demanded that I stay to “help” my colleague. My work was always done before I left my office. Sometimes I worked later than 6pm, but I never left before finishing.

    My colleague didn’t need help. I went into her office a few times to ask her. She gave me a weird look and said, “No, that’s insane, go home.” Boss insisted I stay. After a couple of these incidences, I threw up my hands. My colleague flat out told my boss that he was being ridiculous and to let me go home. So my point is, perhaps instead of asking your boss if you can help, maybe try asking your co-workers. They might tell you they’re fine and to go home. And if they do need help, at least you’re not twiddling your thumbs.

    However, besides all that, it’s an absolutely ridiculous “policy”, culture or no. Some people work best later in the day. Some work best in the morning. I hit about 5:30pm and my productivity is shot. My aforementioned colleague got going after 3pm. Sometimes people have to adjust this if they work in a place where flex time isn’t a thing, but it shouldn’t be a group problem unless it’s a group project.

  40. Lady Phoenix*

    Not to mention that the mockers tend to have the spine of a jellyfish.

    The moment you criticize THEIR religion, they suddenly go up in arms and whine about being “attacked” and “oppressed”.

    Oh, and follars to donuts that their religikn is one of the most widely practices.

  41. Avocado Toast*

    OP #1, I swear we must’ve worked together! Haha. I went through this at OldJob and man, it was possibly the biggest factor in me leaving. I don’t have kids, but my boss couldn’t stand when parents left at 5 to pick up their kids even when there was actually no urgent need for them to stay late. We were ingrained with the sense of “team” and that if one person was in over their heads, we all should be. He would also say super condescendingly “Now we have a deadline this week so you might actually need to stay late” and look pointedly at me. I wanted to be like “Dude, have I ever not met a deadline? I don’t have a problem with doing the work, I have a problem with being here late when there is no reason to be!” Ugh.

  42. UtOh!*

    OP #1 I absolutely hate it when this type of working environment is decreed. What it means is that those who are efficient workers who can get their work done within an 8 hour (or scheduled time) are at the mercy of those who can’t seem to manage the same (due to time management or other factors). Even if someone needs assistance, they can ask for it during the day. I have trained one of the managers out of asking me for something at 4:30 (shamed her humorously) since that’s when I leave (I also get in about an hour earlier than she does). If it’s a true emergency, I will stay, but there is really nothing about my job that lends itself to me staying and twiddling my thumbs. I am salaried, so I don’t get overtime, but that does not mean I don’t work extremely hard when I’m here (and from home when needed). I would be livid if I *had* to stay for the sake of “how it might look” if I left on time! You should absolutely have a sit down with your boss and explain the situation. It’s too bad this was not brought up during your interview or soon after you were hired.

  43. Kailia*

    OP #1 – I had sort of this job once. It was in law. We weren’t “allowed” to leave until the boss went home. Boss would get passive aggressive and sometimes flat out aggressive if someone said they had to leave on time or, basically, any time before she left. She would complain about them behind their back and screw someone else, e.g., “I was going to finish the brief on Smith vs. Miller but since Joe decided to go home and I can’t ask him questions, I’ll work on your non-critical, undeadlined case instead. Pull the file and come into my office [at 6:30 PM].” We were all salaried, so no overtime, and we were all pulling 13-14 hour days (at a very small firm where we were happy to pull long hours for mediations, depositions, or trials, but this “policy” was a routine, every-day thing). We couldn’t make plans with family or friends, and, trust me, I had a lot of angry people when I had made plans then cancelled an hour before because “I can’t leave work.” (P.S. we weren’t even allowed to leave the office to get lunch, in case Boss “had questions”.)

    I’d say if your boss pushes back on you for wanting/needing to leave on time, seriously consider finding a new job. Because this kind of culture tends to avalanche and it can crush you.

    1. wittyrepartee*

      On the last week of work, it would have been great to get a cardboard cutout of yourself and seat it at your desk when you left.

  44. Phony Genius*

    OP 1: This may require group pushback, since it was described as “pack mentality.”

    OP 2: If this is a government job, they may look at it as bribery, which would create legal trouble for yourself.

  45. boop the first*

    The transparency makes it extra annoying! Wow. I understand the pressure, though. I feel a little like this at my workplace, even though I think I’m the only one. It’s important to me to be done working by the time my official stop time arrives, but that never happens, because boss doesn’t ever account for cleanup time.
    I try to manage my own time so that I finish on the dot, but my coworker doesn’t, so I’m left to do all of the cleaning myself while he scrambles. Then the boss will usually throw a small request that pushes me ten minutes over. If I thought I was being paid for this time (I’m hourly), it wouldn’t be as annoying.
    But boss also has an annoying habit of waiting until we are moving out the door to have a briefing about next morning tasks, when I’m already 15 minutes past end of shift. I either hover awkwardly near the door to wait for what might be useful information, or I dash out quietly and feel rude/troublesome for ghosting.
    On one hand, this all seems reasonable and part of being properly social and supportive, which is why I put up with it. On the other hand, I’m already made to work more hours/week than originally agreed upon, and all of these (I’m assuming) unpaid 10/15/30 minute chunks add up very quickly which is labour I could be putting toward more meaningful work. Also, when I miss my bus, that’s another 30 minutes of standing around that I didn’t volunteer for.
    If you just ghosted, would anyone notice?

    1. EPLawyer*

      If my boss did this, I would make a point of punching back in then waiting for the lecture. Because YES you should be paid for this time. He knows it. But doesn’t want to have his overtime costs soar. So he waits for you to punch out, then starts in.

    2. Fergus*

      reasonable and part of being properly social and supportive..it’s a job it is to make money, not to be anything but that…if not getting paid then as an hourly then not working..once you clock out time is yours if not you need to get bus or clock back in…

    3. Nerdy Library Clerk*

      I’m pretty sure hourly people are legally required to be paid for all hours worked. You need to clock back in to do the small requests or other work tasks. Or otherwise make sure you’re being paid for your time.

    1. HarveyW*

      I am so lucky I work someplace where they shoo you out if you are there late. They don’t want to pay OT or give comp time!

  46. Lanon*

    #1 This is the kind of office that selects out people who aren’t young and single due to “not fitting with office culture”

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*


      And the pushback I’m seeing in the comments to the idea of OP even mentioning that she has kids that she is responsible for taking care of, plays right into that mindset.

      1. Kailia*

        But I get that, though. The issue isn’t that OP has kids and must leave on time. The issue is that there are set working hours, OP’s work is done, and she should reasonably be able to leave on time. Bringing kids into it not only muddies the water but gives the impression that it’s only an issue because OP has kids, i.e., without kids, OP wouldn’t have an issue with the policy. And…it gives an opening for a boss to say, “It’s not my job to manage your personal life. These are the work expectations. Work out your childcare or go somewhere else.” (I’m not advocating for that; I know managers who would go there in a heartbeat, though.)

        From a coworker’s perspective… I don’t have kids, but two of my equal counterparts at work do, and they totally get “away” with stuff that I don’t. I’m told to be in at least 4 days a week, while it’s okay if they’re only in for 3, because they have “family stuff” going on. I’m expected to pick up weekend admissions events but them having kid stuff going on is an automatically accepted excuse. I’m routinely told, “What else do you have going on? Pick it up.” It’s not as bad as it sounds written out, but it gets frustrating when I’m basically flat out told, “Be here more because you can’t possibly have other stuff at home to worry about.” So OP mentioning her kids during the discussion could end up in a situation where OP gets to go home on time, while everyone else without kids is still expected to stay late. Instant resentment.

        1. The New Wanderer*

          That’s such bad management, I’m sorry. Honestly it does sound as bad written out as it must be to live it. Because I’m guessing from the way that it’s explained why you have to take on extra or undesired work, that if you had obligations like an exercise class or other standing appointment, you wouldn’t be given the same leeway because it’s not kiiiiiids. And the thing is, your kind of situation is one where they’re going to end up selecting out the people without kids/family obligations, because they’ll be the first to get fed up enough to find other jobs where they’re not penalized for not having family obligations.

  47. HarveyW*

    I once had a boss that thought “face time” (long before smart phones) was important. If he was in the office, we were expected to stay. Except he was in his office studying and researching for his doctoral program while we were left twiddling our thumbs. When he left and we got a new boss, I made it clear (nicely) up front that I thought if routine work couldn’t get done during scheduled hours then there was an issue. He agreed and we were usually out at a decent hour.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      So, boss stayed late, but was doing personal stuff on company time? Was the company paying overtime to all the employees forced to say because he was there? If so, that is theft.

    2. Kailia*

      My boss did that, and she was the owner. There were nights I knew she was jerking around doing personal stuff, while I had cancelled family plans or Friday night plans because her silent policy was “if I’m here, you’re here” (and we almost were never allowed to leave at the same time she would, so we would literally all wait 10-15 minutes after she left, and then silently agree to leave all at once…no one EVER talked about it), and I was, so, so livid. Then she started dropping comments like, “You’re here 12 hours but are only billing 7. What’s going on?” Uh…I work hard for 7 hours, take some breaks throughout the day, and then work on personal projects until you go home. #salariedandmaking30K So maddening (except I check the website every now and then and sadly cackle at the revolving door of my replacements that she can’t keep…I think she’s gone through 8 in five years).

  48. Oryx*

    For once I disagree with Alison, at least as far as the script for #1. Using OP1’s kids as a reason for why they have to leave on time perpetuates the notion that families and parents get perks the rest of us don’t. The staff as a whole should push back on this, not just OP1 and not just because they have kids,

    1. Someone Else*

      I hear what you’re saying but I also think people giving factual reasons why this policy is bananas can be good? So, OP1 says she has time-sensitive family obligations after work (whether she explicitly mentions the kids or not). OP1’s coworker who she mentioned would push back with some other obligation. Etc. They get critical mass of other people with other things.
      Really, I think OP1 and anyone in her office should be leaving “fairness” completely out of the discussion. The problem with this policy is not “fairness” it’s that it’s completely illogical and inefficient. Also are all of these employees exempt? Literally everyone? That seems…improbable? If they’re not, then all this staying extra is stupid overtime of people doing nothing. That said, I don’t have high hopes that a person who would come up with this policy is necessarily receptive to reason and logic, but I’d give them the benefit of the doubt that at least STARTING with facts might get them to realize this policy is idiotic.

    2. Observer*

      Could we stop perpetuating the notion that “leaving on time when your work is done” is a SPECIAL PRIVILEGE? And that when someone mentions kids that’s a dismissal of any other legitimate reason?

      Both of these ideas are ridiculous and toxic. And the latter is simply NOT based in fact – it’s based in bigotry.

      1. Oryx*

        That’s my point though, it’s being treated as a special privilege in this context — which I disagree with but using kids in this way reinforces that idea.

        1. Observer*

          No, it is NOT being treated as a special privilege. Just because the boss is a jerk and the culture is toxic, the OP is NOT asking for any special treatment nor are they implying it.

          Let’s not reinforce the idea that asking to REASONABLE treatment is akin to asking for special privileges. EVEN when someone gives a reason for why the abuse is especially problematic.

    3. Jennifer*

      Leaving on time isn’t a “perk.” She’s asking to do something that she has every right to do. I want to leave on time on Friday to meet my husband for dinner. Does that mean I have a perk that single people don’t? No. It means I want to leave when it’s time to leave. If you have a dog and need to leave to pick him up from doggie daycare or to let him out to pee, are you getting a perk non-pet owners don’t get? No. Everyone has stuff going on outside of work whether you have kids or not.

    4. VintageLydia*

      The kids thing is actually really pertinent, though. Or at least, it explains why she really feels the need to push back on it when the other employees felt like they didn’t have that right. Care taking (whether it’s kids, parents, pets, who or whatever) isn’t a responsibility that can be pushed back a few hours because someone else isn’t finished with their day’s work.

      All the other employees have the right to push back on this, and *should* push back on this. But it’s *imperative* for the OP to do so because her after work responsibilities CAN’T be pushed back, especially since staying unnecessarily late means her spouse’s job is in jeopardy because they can’t get to work on time.

      Leaving on time isn’t a perk. It just isn’t. And it’s not the OP’s fault that her coworkers are too lily-livered to do something about it before now.

      1. Observer*

        Care taking (whether it’s kids, parents, pets, who or whatever) isn’t a responsibility that can be pushed back a few hours because someone else isn’t finished with their day’s work.

        Seriously! Until actual robots can take over people’s work, you really don’t want your entire workforce to be human robots. You may think that you’re going to get better work out of a workforce made completely of people without any outside commitments or people who blow of hard commitments like care taking. But it really doesn’t work that way.

      2. Jennifer*

        I get your point but I disagree. Sometimes people who complain about parents getting extra “perks” really are people who never ask for the same “perks.”

        I don’t have kids but that doesn’t mean that the things I have going on in my life aren’t important. I ask to leave early because of family commitments, illnesses, vacations, etc. I don’t mind when I see parents leaving on time, or sometimes even leaving early, because I’m usually right behind them.

        1. VintageLydia*

          I’m not sure where we disagree? Her coworkers had ample opportunity to ask to leave on time, but didn’t, even though it should be a no-brainer that staying late for literally no reason is outrageous. OP NEEDS to leave on time. The kids are the reason and she shouldn’t need to hide that, but neither should someone’s fitness class, or need to finish homework for an online course, or to be on time for a date with their cat on the couch. But the coworkers didn’t, and now she will have to spend her “I’m a parent” capital and have others like some people in these comments complaining about her looking for “special privileges” in order to leave when they’re done with work.

    5. NewWorkingMama*

      I think the point is that leaving on time isn’t a perk. But also if I had this issue, the reason I need to leave is because of my kid, I’m not going to pretend that’s not the reason or try to hide it. If it’s an environment where that’s a problem, I want to know now to start looking. People have kids. Kids have needs. It’s nothing to be ashamed about. It’s the same as people have pets, pets have needs or people have elderly parents who have needs. And at the end of the day, I’m worried about me and my life. My reason for needing to leave is because of my kid. I’m not concerned with why coworkers want to leave or whether people think those reasons are more or less valid than leaving for family obligations. I’m down for coworkers without kids leaving when they’re done too, but if the compelling reason for me to leave is to get my kid…then that’s the reason I’m going to give. I’ve left off-sites 30 minutes before other people because the daycare was closing, if I felt like my team resented that, I think I’d be looking for a new team.

    6. Kailia*

      I agree. The whole staff could have absolutely nothing going after work, ever, except going home, sitting on the couch, writing fanfic, and watching bad reality TV – and that entire staff is as “entitled” (I don’t like that word in this context but it’s the best one I can think of) to getting off work on time as an entire staff full of parents. What I have or don’t have going on at home, ADA and FMLA issues notwithstanding, should make no bearing on how much time I am forced to put into my job.

  49. Someone Else*

    To #2 or anyone else pondering “creative ways to get noticed”, remove this item from your To Do list permanently. Being right for the job will get you noticed. Having a resume and cover letter that indicate how well you’d match the job will get you noticed.”Creative ways” are all gimmicks and as Alison notes, you don’t want gimmicks. You want to genuinely appear to be a potential good fit.

  50. 4Sina*

    We only have a finite amount of minutes in this life, and it’s insane to me that a butts-in-seats mentality even is a thing that human beings not only enforce in a workplace but employees don’t push back on (I know for a myriad of reasons, and I will spare you my rant on late-stage capitalism). LW1, however, just made me viscerally uncomfortable. Your work is not your pack, your family, your homebase, etc. This manager needs to go pound sand – sincerest best wishes on standing up and being able to leave work once your work is done for the day.

  51. Jennifer*

    Re: Lottery ticket – I feel your pain. Job hunting for an extended period is so frustrating. It just feels like all of your resumes are going into some deep abyss and no one is even looking at them. I understand being desperate enough to try something like this.

    I hope you take the advice and use this site to spruce up your resume and cover letter instead of going the lottery route. Best wishes!

  52. Shocked*

    One (of the many) thing I don’t understand about LW#1 and many comments here is the idea that you have a discrete set of tasks to do in a day and that you can actually finish these tasks in 8 hours. I thought jobs like this were a myth!

    I’m a consultant to many large corporations and in my jobs and in my clients’ jobs, there is never a “finish line.” There is always more to do. More emails to go through, more slides or other deliverable to prepare, more things to do. Everyone I know just prioritizes what must get done first, second, third, etc and does what they can in the time they have. This is also why people may leave at 4 or 5 or 6pm, but still sign on in the night for 1-3 hours catching up or doing more work.

    1. londonedit*

      For me, it’s not so much ‘I have a finite set of tasks that I will complete in 8 hours and then go home’, but I’m fortunate that my job doesn’t often require me to work late. Yes, I could sit at my desk for 12 hours a day and always find things to do, but I’m a salaried employee and my working hours are 9-5:30, so there’s no point staying late if I don’t have to as I’m not getting paid for that time. I organise my working day so that the things I’m doing wrap up or reach a natural break point by 5:30. I have deadlines at various stages for each of my projects, and as long as I hit those deadlines, my time is my own to manage as I see fit. I keep an eye on the things I need to do right now/today/this week/this month, so my work sort of rolls along.

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I have no idea. My job is not structured like that. But I trust both OP and OP’s boss that hers is.

    3. Elspeth*

      Actually, there are many jobs like this – although you may not finish all the tasks, you still leave on time because the work gets rolled over to the next day.

      1. londonedit*

        That’s exactly it. My next deadline for Project A might be Friday, the next one for Project B might be next Wednesday, and the next one for Project C might be at the end of February. So all the time I’m juggling tasks for each project that are chipping away towards meeting those deadlines – they’re not things that all fit neatly into an 8-hour day, but they’re also not things that I need to stay at work until 9pm to accomplish. As long as I’ve sent the emails I need to send that day, responded to the queries I needed to respond to that day, and generally pushed things along with each project to a reasonable degree, I can leave on time and add anything I didn’t manage to get done to the next day’s to-do list. As long as I’m keeping on top of that to-do list on an ongoing basis, and hitting all of my deadlines as and when they arrive, I don’t need to stay late.

    4. MissDisplaced*

      Well, yes of course the workload never truly stops flat.
      But you should be able to find a decent stopping point at around the 8-hour mark on “most” days.
      Of course, it doesn’t always work out that way! I say “most” in just that sense, because there are always busy times, project mishaps, and sometimes just pushing through something until you finish it because you want to.

      But if you’re regularly clocking 12 hours on “most” days and not 8, I’d say something isn’t right.
      Sadly, that has become more of the norm with downsizing and companies that use a low-headcount-more-profit mentality.

    5. Jennifer*

      Exactly. It’s more about reaching a good stopping point for the day as opposed to being “finished.” Whatever that means. It seems that would make more sense in a restaurant, retail or factory job.

    6. Half-Caf Latte*

      so, a bit tangential, but I was reminded by this of an article about how the accent and dialect in Philadelphia is changing rapidly.

      One of the hallmarks of the Philadelphia dialect, according to this article, is the use of the “completive done”. People elsewhere typically think it means “I’m [temporarily] done with my homework,” but in Philly, we say it to mean I’ve finished all of today’s homework.

      Apparently it’s also a Philly thing to say “I’m done my breakfast,” and the rest of the country wouldn’t say that.

    7. bonkerballs*

      I agree. I have never worked at a job where I have ever had a moment where I was “done.” As soon as one project is over, there’s another. If that project’s over, there’s another. And another. And another. And another.

  53. Observer*

    #2 I’m curious about your thinking here. Why would you think that a busy hiring manager would be interested in spending the time to meet with someone just on the off chance that you MIGHT work out? That’s really what you are saying. And it makes you look clueless at best and disrespectful of the hiring manager’s time, at worst.

    Also, you’re not getting traction and that stinks – I think I would be pulling my hair out at this point. But it looks like your jumping to “creative gimmicks” instead of looking for possible reasons why you are not getting calls going the regular route. That’s really backwards. The odds that your materials are perfect and your background and experience are a perfect match for most of the jobs you’ve applied for is small – small enough that it is the OBVIOUS first place to look. That kind of thinking – failing to look at the basics, isn’t really good for long term job prospects, so that’s something to think about.

  54. aoinoue*

    LW #5 – It may honestly be because they didn’t get approval for the permanent headcount, and needed to keep that contingent contract in place but aren’t able to keep you due to tenure or other co-employment concerns (many companies have very strict length-of-contract limits to avoid owing you benefits you’d get as an employee). So, it may actually have nothing to do with you at all, and all just butt-covering by HR. Hope you find something better.

  55. Johanna*

    The only place where #1 makes sense to me would be safety, making sure no one was left there by themself. And even then they’ve gone way out there.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      This was a topic on LinkedIn today. Hustle culture worships workaholism and how it is becoming especially prevalent among younger workers. While it’s always existed in some industries (medical interns, coding), it’s not real. It’s like a ‘fake busy’ performative life.
      I don’t get it. Work is called work for a reason, it is not sole purpose of your life. Nor do I get hanging out at work unless I need to be there TO work… but then again I’m a true GenX slacker.

      1. Lady Phoenix*

        That is because these conpanies PREY on young whippersnappers—who are fresh out of college with little to no work experience outside of retail and fast food.

        So these companies can install their toxic practices into the new employees and they won’t notice a thing because… well… no one told them.

        I blame it partially on the schools and universities for no installing actual workplace classes.

    2. rogue axolotl*

      My guess is this manager is taking the idea of fairness to an extreme that doesn’t benefit anybody. I think she needs to trust that her employees are adults and are able to understand that sometimes you have to stay later than your coworkers. If they don’t understand that, and they’re early in their careers, she’s not doing them any favours by setting this expectation. And ultimately this creates a workplace culture that weeds out people with childcare or other commitments, as well as more experienced employees who realize this policy is a waste of everyone’s time.

  56. MissDisplaced*

    #1 Nowadays, I would definitely just leave when I was done and face the consequences of not being courteous, but years ago I would’ve found it much harder. I am curious though, did you ask about this when you were interviewing there? Did you ask what a typical day was like? It seems like if the culture is like this it should have come up.

    And if you are job searching, how on earth do you suss out cultural things like staying late?
    Because I’ve also gotten the bait and switch on this aspect of the workplace, where “staying late on occasion to finish a critical project,” becomes staying until 7 or 8 pm EVERY day. And I did ask about overtime levels and typical hours in the interview.

    #5 I’m sorry you were a victim of Contract Employee Bingo. You never really know the reasons for not renewing, but I’ve generally found that it has to do more with budgets than with the actual employee, unless said employee was really bad or subpar or something. Some companies just continue to keep hiring contract or temporary employees over and over again, and some are barred from hiring the temps directly without paying a large fee to the agency that supplied them (a fact which is hidden from the poor temps & contractors). At my ex-job we had a lady who had been a temp/contractor for 5 years! I once did two contract assignments back-to-back, but we were required to take off 3 weeks between stints. It is for all these reasons that I avoid these jobs now, unless I’m absolutely desperate for work, or want to gain experience in a particular industry. I hope you at least got some experience out of your time, and I suppose you are free to apply for the opening (did they encourage you to apply?)

  57. Mockingdragon*

    I had a job where they wanted everyone to leave together, but the rationale was safety. We were an all-female office in a sketchy office park that used to be a garage bay, and there had been incidents of creepers in the past. Even then, people started leaving in pairs if others were still finishing up, and eventually the policy just fell by the wayside because nobody wanted to hang around.

  58. Awkward Catholic*

    I’m Catholic, but very liberal in my views. However, it was the religion I was raised in and is important to my culture. I live in The Buckle of the Bible Belt where I get to hear gems like: “Catholics are pagans because they pray to the saints!” and “Catholics are cannibals because they receive The Body of Christ.” And other such annoyances…the worst is when the Baptists try to “convert” me or tell me I should “come to church with them.” Ugh.

  59. Anonandon*

    Lottery Ticket – Please don’t use gimmicks when you apply for jobs. Back when I was working in recruitment for a well-known convenience store chain in the Philly area, I had someone send me a cover letter on a (used) wrapper from one of our breakfast sandwiches. It was greasy and it smelled bad. Ick. The least they could have done is gotten a clean wrapper. Unfortunately that letter went right in the trash.

    Stay late LW – I used to work for a manager like that. She was a control freak who liked to keep everyone under her eye at all times and told the rest of us we needed to stay if someone needed to work late. I finally just told her “my work is done for the day and Jane doesn’t need my help, so I am leaving at my regular time.” She didn’t like that and I ended up leaving that job shortly thereafter.

    Religion – If there’s an HR department, you might want to reach out to them just to let them know that these kinds of conversations are happening. They will address it.

    1. OfOtherWorlds*

      “Back when I was working in recruitment for a well-known convenience store chain in the Philly area, I had someone send me a cover letter on a (used) wrapper from one of our breakfast sandwiches.”

      I literally laughed out loud at that one. Yes, I’m not surprised it was stinky after taking the time to get to you via snail-mail! I imagine you dousing the trash in febreeze after tossing the letter and anything in contact with it.

    2. Half-Caf Latte*

      OMG. I’m in tears at my desk. My coworkers are dreaming up pop-up resumes out of sizzli boxes, or wrapped around the inside of an iced-tea bottle. Dead.

    3. Half-Caf Latte*

      Just needed to share that I told spouse about this last night. They immediately pointed out that this chain’s logo/mascot is a goose, and it’s good you were not sent a goose, whether living or not.

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

    #5 Are you contracted through an agent/agency. Will the business need to pay a placement fee if they hire you within a certain amount of time after your contract ends? That could be the budget reason — they just don’t want to pay a fee. But if they also are saying “more senior” etc. it could be that they have someone in-house in mind for the position already but policy requires them to post the job and interview.

  61. AMT*

    My only response to #1 is that work culture in the U.S. has become an absolute flaming hellscape. What kind of cult-like attitude have we fostered around employment that a group of otherwise sane people all agreed that staying at work late with no work to do is a desirable situation? I know this is on one end of an extreme, but it’s not an uncommon situation. If there’s one thing that AAM has taught me, it’s that a lot of people have been indoctrinated into believing that working when there’s work to do, and going home when there isn’t work to do, is somehow a mortal sin. Ugh. Just…ugh.

  62. Blinded by the Gaslight*

    #4 I can think of no good reason to tell a candidate they were the second choice. What exactly are they supposed to do with that information? It’s totally deflating. Sure, you got the job, but then you have to live with knowing that you only got the job because the First Choice wasn’t available. My worst experience with this was on a job where I had been working really hard, but just couldn’t get any social purchase, I always felt barely tolerated. Then at a group office lunch, two years into working there, my boss casually drops into the conversation that they’d actually had someone else in mind for my job, but that person dropped out at the last minute, and they were just “too lazy” to do another search and “settled for our second choice.” Suddenly, the past two years of frostiness made a lot more sense, and my morale tanked.

    If you’re planning to tell someone they’re your second choice, you better be prepared to treat them like your FIRST choice.

  63. Slippy*

    #5 – They are probably fishing for someone cheaper. That is not a knock against you; just business reality these days.

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