after I offered someone a job, her dad got on the phone with questions … and more

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

1. I offered a job to a candidate — and her dad got on the phone with questions

My coworker recently encountered this situation, and I’d love to hear how you would have handled things. My coworker, Sally, recently hired a new grad, Jane. As Sally was making the verbal offer over the phone, she asked Jane if she had any questions. Jane replied, “No, but my father does.” Then, Jane’s father took the phone and started asking Sally questions about the offer! The questions ranged from logistics about onboarding, to asking if Jane could arrive late on her first day! Sally was so taken aback that she just answered the questions, but I’m curious how you would recommend handling a situation like this. Is there any way to respectfully give the parent feedback that they are not helping their child and negatively affecting their professional reputation (before they’ve even started)?

Oh my. It can be hard to react perfectly to an incredibly weird situation while you’re in the middle of it, but ideally employers would flatly refuse these parental discussions. So ideally when Jane said her father had questions, Sally would have said, “We really only talk directly with our candidates and employees. I’d be glad to answer any question you have though, and if you’d like to take some time to talk over the offer with people close to you and then set up a call later this week to talk further, I’d be glad to do that.” Or, when Jane’s dad got on the phone, ideally Sally would have cut him off and said, “We don’t discuss employment offers with anyone but the candidate. I’d be glad to speak further with Jane directly.”

And once Jane started the job, it would be a kindness to let her know employers will expect to deal directly with her, and only talk with a parent in case of a serious emergency.

2. I spilled aftershave on myself before an interview

On the way to an interview today, I realized that I had spilled my partner’s aftershave on myself and noticeably smelled. Think grandpa’s aftershave smell as opposed to something lighter. I stopped in the restroom before the interview to wipe off as much as I could, but apparently wasn’t able to get much of the scent off.

Once I was in the interview, I realized I still smelled like grandpa (for what it’s worth, I am a feminine presenting woman). I sensed the interviewers smelled it, too, and I was distracted wondering if I should mention it or not. I was interviewing for a job that entails a lot of extended one-on-one meetings that require building relationships, and I can imagine the interviewers having concerns about hiring someone who smelled strongly. Because I was so distracted, I also rambled for a few questions. I left the interview drained and feeling unsure whether the moments when I connected with the interviewers would make up for the scent, or if I should mention in my follow up email that I usually try to go scent-free and acknowledge that I smelled in the interview? Perhaps related, I sensed the interviewers seeming alternatively engaged and tired-seeming, and I’m not sure how much of this could be a sensitivity to scent (the interviews lasted two hours total), or something else.

It’s possible that they weren’t weirded out by it and that your self-consciousness about it just made you feel that way. But I’m a big fan of just putting stuff like this out there, on the theory that (a) if they are weirded out, it’s better to give them some context and (b) it’ll give you peace of mind because you won’t be as worried about what they might be thinking. So I’d just plunge right in with, “I spilled my partner’s aftershave on myself as I was leaving the house! I’ve tried to get as much off as I can, but I apologize if there’s still a fragrance.” And honestly, this stuff can humanize you; we’ve all had those days.

3. My boss is hurt that I didn’t talk with them before deciding to resign

What’s the proper protocol on timing for telling your boss that you’re leaving? I recently gave notice at an organization that I’ve been with for several years after receiving a job offer with another company. I was ready for a new challenge and wanted a change in industry to have more career opportunities in the future. I wasn’t unhappy and miserable in the role, I just felt like that chapter had come to a close and it was time to move on.

When I gave my notice, my boss was upset that I didn’t talk to them during my decision-making process and let them know earlier that I was thinking about leaving. In my mind, that would not have been the smartest move for me because showing your hand too early can backfire if you don’t find a new job relatively quickly. If my reasons for leaving had been something they had the power to change, I might have been more inclined to have a conversation, but that wasn’t the case here.

We have a friendly working relationship but I wouldn’t describe us as friends (we don’t hang out outside of work but we do text occasionally and get lunch together about once a month). I think they’re more inclined to conflate “coworker” with “friend” than I am so that could be playing a part in their reaction.

I feel comfortable that I handled the situation professionally but have been wondering if you have any thoughts on how to handle talking with your boss about leaving before officially giving notice. It’s never fun to blindside someone when you leave but I think it just comes with the territory at work. Or am I completely off-base?

Nope, you’re perfectly right. It’s very, very normal not to give your boss a heads-up that you’re thinking about leaving until you’re ready to give notice. Otherwise you risk being pushed out earlier than you want to leave, or being taken off projects that you want to stay on, and so forth.

Managers do sometimes get upset when they realize someone has been planning to leave and didn’t talk to them about it, but that’s not a reasonable reaction. Sometimes they’re upset purely for selfish reasons — they would have preferred time to plan around your departure. But the inconvenience of people leaving with only a couple of weeks of notice is just a normal part of doing business. Other times they’re upset because they think they might have been able to solve whatever drove you to look elsewhere, if only you’d talked with them before making any decisions. And maybe they would have been! But you’re not obligated to give them that chance; you get to just decide you want to move on.

4. Can I re-use the exact same cover letter for multiple jobs?

I’ve only written a handful of cover letters in my life so far. For each one, I’ve started basically from scratch but re-used a few sentences or phrases. Basically just sort of a remix of the material and new stuff tailored to job. But is it okay to use the same cover letter for multiple job applications if they are similar positions? Like, the exact same one, just substituting the company name? I know some people apply to dozens of positions in a job search, so I figure they can’t be writing a different letter each time.

If they’re truly the same roles at very similar organizations, then maybe you could use identical cover letters without weakening the effectiveness of the letter — but typically you’re going to want to tailor them to talk about your fit with this specific role and (sometimes) this specific organization. It’s definitely tempting to re-use the same exact letter with no changes, but much of the time you’ll be sacrificing the customized details that will make a hiring manager want to talk with you.

I read a lot of cover letters, and with 95% of them, it’s clear that it’s the same letter the candidates are sending everywhere. The 5% that are clearly customized are the ones that stand out.

5. How can I explain my driver’s license suspensions for an internship?

I’m currently applying for internships for the summer and fall semesters, but I’ve run into a bit of a problem for the latest application. This position requires a valid driver’s license and a good driving record. They clearly state that someone with multiple suspensions can not drive park vehicles. My license was suspended, twice, about 5-6 years ago because my parents removed me from their insurance the first time, put me back on after my license was suspended, and then several months later removed me again. After I found out I was suspended again, I procured my own insurance.

Should I email the supervisors for this position about that issue, or should I just mention it in my cover letter?

Neither. It’s not the kind of thing that belongs in a cover letter (that’s for explaining why you’d be awesome at the position), and contacting the hiring manager before they’ve expressed interest in considering you would be premature.

Instead, if they contact you to interview, raise the question at that point, with a concise explanation like you gave here. You’re in the rare position of having a pretty good explanation that might make them waive this requirement for you. They may not — their insurance might be pretty rigid on this, for example — but it’s definitely reasonable to ask at that early stage.

{ 610 comments… read them below }

  1. Gleeze

    I felt like I was reading my own words with #3 ! I felt bad resigning knowing he would be blindsided but he also has a history of taking things super personal so I was prepared. I found out after resigning that managers were meant to be flagging people as risks, so me resigning without him having any idea reflected poorly on him. 5 more people ended up resigning within 6 weeks of me leaving so he had a lot to answer for!

    1. RUKiddingMe

      If that many people resigned in that shirt if time…and he hadn’t flagged them…that’s kind of on him.

      1. Alison

        I resigned from my job in December without talking to my boss who I mostly got along with prior to doing so (did resigning via. email cause I was anxious about doing in person). Mine was a decision based on my mental health and issues I was having and in no way financially motivated. We discussed during my last week (4 weeks notice legally required) why I was resigning as he didn’t want me to go, it went well and I am still here all these months later.

        I do say to friends and family my boss just needed a kick in the pants and now my workplace is a better environment for me.

      2. Gleeze

        Yeah this guy is not a good manager refused to take on feedback (and his manager refused to believe there was an issue) He was also kind of delusional about how much people liked working with him. But now with 6 resignations things are being taken seriously by the business. I’m just glad I was the first to go and to not have to deal with the aftermath of half the team resigning!

        1. Yvette

          I was once working for a manager that I was having a really hard time with, and was able to transition myself (with the help of friends one level up) to a different position within the same group under another manager. I used to wonder if it was me until I found out a few re-organizations later that his entire team went to HIS boss and said “Do something about him or we all quit!”

          1. Moxie

            This is my exact story. I had a terrible manager, and got moved elsewhere due to other connections in the company. I really worried it was my fault. Four months later he was demoted because everyone in my old group threatened to leave. Then they all got moved to my new group. It’s crazy how the same stories repeat themselves.

            1. Yvette

              “It’s crazy how the same stories repeat themselves.” And yet they never learn… ;)

    2. Gunney

      I was wondering if it wasn’t just because the boss was taking it personally, but that the boss didn’t know that OP had these general aspirations, like “I had no idea you enjoyed dog groomer time tables so much, maybe we could have developed you more!” or “I thought you loved it here in Dogsville, I didn’t know you were looking to move to Catsdale.”

      OP says they didn’t bring it up because it wasn’t anything the boss could change, but I wonder if they had these big picture conversations. I understand not wanting to be pushed out but I can also understand that punch in the gut of “I had no idea you were unhappy, if only you had told me maybe I could have done something about it.” Of course it’s just business but they might still feel the loss of a valuable person.

      1. MK

        Ok, but I think it’s a question of tone. A manager can be upset that someone is leaving and express regret, say they wished they knew so they could maybe do something. Or they can approach this in an accusatory fashion, as if the employee has to go through them before resigning. The first is reasonable, the second not.

        1. RUKiddingMe

          Agreed. It’s also not reasonable to get angry or to be all sad about it. It’s business and a manager has no right to drop feelingsbombs all over former employees.

        2. Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves

          I worked for a bosa who was FURIOUS I didn’t tell him I was looking so he could find a replacement. He didn’t know I had been looking for 2 years at that point and finally found a great opportunity. He said he could have helped me with his “connections.” No way in hell. He had a really bad track record of treating anyone who left terribly, including the silent treatment. Two of us left at once and it was awful.
          I did get an apology for some nasty remarks he made, but it just reinforced my decision. I was sick of being gaslit and punished when concerns of overwork were brought up. The business had recently spent a fortune on an expansion which I’m sure made it sting even more.

        3. Ama

          Although honestly, every time a boss has tried the “oh I wish I had known you were unhappy about X I would have tried to help” excuse with me, what they really mean is “oh, I didn’t listen when you asked me for help with this area multiple times because I didn’t think you’d actually leave and now I realize I should have done something.”

          1. Joielle

            THIS. Especially if an issue has come up multiple times, an employee should not have to say “I’m going to leave if this is not resolved” – that should be assumed.

          2. designbot

            I’m with you until the end there. I’ve never seen any indication that these terrible bosses eventually make the connection that people did in fact ask to have the crucial issues addressed.

          3. A Simple Narwhal

            “I didn’t care when it was just a problem for you, but I totally care now that it’s a problem for me – wait where are you going? I said I care now!”

          4. The Francher Kid

            I did go to the boss and say I’d had all I could take and he said there was nothing he could do. So what does he say when I hand in my resignation? ” You should have come to me first and told me!” Then he didn’t speak to me for my entire two-week notice.

          5. Midwest Writer

            Yeah. Last summer, some organizational changes at my last job had me concerned. I mentioned them whilst being given a promotion I didn’t really want, but was told by someone who was higher in the hierarchy but not my direct boss that there wasn’t really a way to turn it down. My boss suggested that I let him know if I was feeling overwhelmed … then immediately started changing things that had been perks for me (set work from home days suddenly had a phone conference every week at the same time, I got hints that my remote work was being seen as something the company didn’t want to allow anymore). So when, two months later, someone recruited me, I left. I could have reiterated my concerns to my boss, but he’d heard it before and didn’t think my successes in my position were enough to make super clear that I’d get to keep the perks … so I left for a job that offered them to me, no arguments.

          6. AKchic

            That has been my experience multiple times. No matter how many times I have tried to get things fixed, once in a while I’d get lip service, or the occasional half-assed attempt at change for a few weeks to appease me, but then it would go back to the way it always was. I give it one shot. If it doesn’t change, then I no longer make the same effort in staying. My salary does not buy my unwavering loyalty, merely my labor.

            My husband just learned the hard way that his loyalty for paltry retail wages was a stupid idea. Now he’s out of a job again. Perhaps he will actually take my advice (I doubt it).

          7. mellissa

            A similar thing happened to a co-worker of mine. She had been with the company for 9 years and had basically built the online portion of the company from the ground-up. She was tired of working in the same job for so long (she couldn’t be promoted any higher as she had the top spot in her area), so she asked to be moved to another area for a different challenge. The CEO told her there weren’t any other job openings. She knew this wasn’t true and applied for a job opening in the customer-service office. The CEO himself immediately rejected her application and said she wasn’t “allowed” to move from her area because they needed her there. She quit and went to a rival company (ended up getting a pay rise).
            She got a phone call from the CEO a week after she’d left, begging her to come back and giving her a list of all the available job openings in the company! Funny that :O

          8. TardyTardis

            Yeah, I had that happen at the library–as soon as I told them I was leaving (from a part time to a full time job) I was told what a wonderful worker I was, but of course no offer of a raise or anything like that. So long, bye!

      2. curmudgeon

        I know that my boss will feel blindsided, even though I have told her many times about the issues I have with my role. I feel like there are only so many times one can bring something up before one decides that no change is going to happen: The Job is the Job.

        So in my case, they are aware, just unwilling to change anything. Yet I know they will be blindsided and feel personally upset. I am dreading that conversation while simultaneously looking forward to it!

        1. LJay

          It’s like a relationship in a lot of respects, I think.

          I don’t know how many times I told my ex “I’m unhappy and if things don’t change I am going to leave,” before I finally left.

          He claimed he was blindsided when I did.

          He changed afterwards, but it was too little, too late for me.

          1. uranus wars

            This is my take on work – while it’s not always personal it is a relationship. PS: You just summed up my most recent relationship….only the final line does not apply in my case.

      3. Washi

        I agree, but ideally this would be a cue for the manager to realize that he should think about retention ahead of time and ask these big picture questions themselves every once in a while. Annual reviews are a good time to talk about an employee’s goals/trajectory and what parts of the job they most enjoy. (Yes, you may not get completely honest answers, but if the employee does want to stay, this can open the door to a conversation about improving satisfaction.)

      4. FiveWheels

        I’m close friends with my boss (in a way that breaks too many boundaries and I regret) and always told him that if I start looking to leave I will tell him.

        I recently told him I’m looking, and given the ongoing issues I doubt we’ll be friends after I’m gone. He responded by, among other things, increasing his micromanagement and removing most of my scant autonomy. His reason was that I’m leaving at some point so I can’t be trusted.

        I pointed out that except for the partners every single person in the firm would leave in an instant if the right offer came along. He seemed BAFFLED by this, like it didn’t occur to him signing a contract of employment isn’t a lifelong commitment.

      5. Dust Bunny

        Eh, sometimes bosses promise development but aren’t motivated to follow through until you leave. Old Job Many Jobs Ago kept promising me time and materials to train my supervisees to do the maintenance on Vital Piece of Machinery but something trivial always got in the way. When I gave notice, they asked who was in charge VPoM now. I don’t know. I don’t care. I tried to remedy this situation starting a year ago but none of y’all cared until I was out the door, so . . .

      6. Introvert Manager

        Hi! LW3 here. I mentioned this in another comment but part of my reticence to discuss openly with my boss was that they don’t keep confidences well and I wasn’t willing to chance it. Also, my boss can switch into salesman mode sometimes and I really wanted to avoid them thinking this was open to negotiation and pressuring me to stay when the decision was already made.

        1. Gunney

          Not keeping confidences well is a great reason to keep info close to the chest, and I think you made the right call here. Sometimes there really is no way to avoid “blindsiding” someone with news they can’t do anything about or news they should have seen coming–you know your situation best!

    3. JJ Bittenbinder

      Ooof. I resigned after 5 months in my last job, and my manager was quite surprised. That’s fine; it’s a one-off.

      Then I found out that someone I briefly overlapped with resigned last week after a similarly short time.

      It might prompt the manager to do some self-reflecting, but I kind of doubt it. She’s not as aware of her management style as she could be. (And, frankly, did not give me a single opportunity to give her feedback in my last few weeks there. I’m not sure there would have been a clear benefit to doing so, but it wasn’t even on the table.)

      1. Punk Rock PA

        Bad managers don’t always realize that it’s them. I’m a physician assistant and my soon-to-be-ex boss thinks that everyone in my position is easily replaceable. Just in the last year 4 of us have left. It’s gotten so bad that they can only get people from out of state (which is how they got me). But if you work salaried individuals 60 hours a week, make them work on their days off, don’t allow them to take PTO, refuse to respond to any emails, don’t give raises, and otherwise make it clear that your employee is not valuable, they are going to leave.

        1. designbot

          That feels like a self fulfilling prophecy. Treat employees like they’re easily replaceable and you’ll find a need to replace them often.

          1. Former Admin turned Project Manager

            At my previous company, many moons ago, I got transferred into a job when I came back from maternity leave that was open because the temp agency had essentially reached a point where they would not send people to that particular supervisor. When I quit that job 15 months later, the boss was shocked (absolutely SHOCKED!) that I and another colleague who put in her resignation within a few hours of me handing in mine were at all inclined to leave his department.

        2. AKchic

          Oh, many managers don’t *care* that it’s them. They will scapegoat and blame anyone *but* themselves. Upper management is blind to the foul odor of “Bad Supervisor” because the Bad Supervisor kisses upward and sows discord in the lower ranks (this was part of the problem in my last job).

        3. Lavender Menace

          Nobody should be treated like they are easily replaceable. But holy crap, your manager thinks *physician assistants* are easily replaceable? What la-la land is he in?

      2. Massmatt

        The lack of self-awareness is part of what makes them bad managers. Almost no one describes themselves as a bad manager, except maybe in extreme hindsight.

    4. kittymommy

      My friend just went through something similar. She resigned a few weeks ago from a local non-profit with 5 weeks notice to move out of state to take care of an aging parent. The ED crumpled up her notice and threw it down, said she was making a huge mistake and to move her parent down here (away from the other children). They also had to have a Board of Directors meeting about the resignation (she is a huge reason why the place is still functional). Her last day is today and the ED hasn’t spoken to her at all.

      He’s also the reason I stopped volunteering there after doing so for 4 years.

      1. Observer

        Well, the ED has just insured that they will NOT be getting any notice or explanations for people leaving. I hope that someone on the Board realizes this.

        It’s bad enough to argue with people about their reasons for leaving under the best of circumstances. But telling someone how to handle their parent’s care? Demanding that they make care decisions based on the organizations convenience?! That’s just beyond the pale.

    5. Tickle Me Elmo

      I didn’t even tell my boss I was quitting. He was one of the most condescending people I’ve ever met (said many of my ideas were essentially not good enough but were perfect when a male presented them) and had so many complaints over the years that all his direct reports were moved from him. I’d had enough after one year and gave HIS boss my resignation. I let HR know everything on my last day and then I moved out of the state.

    6. Introvert Manager

      I’m LW#3. One thing I realized after sending in my letter that I didn’t include was that my boss has a history of being indiscreet with information that should be held in confidence. My boss hadn’t shared any of my information that I’m aware of (partly because I’m definitely more private) but had 100% shared information about other coworkers with me that was in no way my business. You can’t ask for employees to be upfront with you if you haven’t demonstrated trustworthiness. I didn’t realize how much that affected my decision to keep quiet until I was in the middle of it. And comments my boss made about me after I resigned made it back to me so I don’t regret my decision to leave or not discuss it at all.

      1. Observer

        That makes sense. If you can’t keep your mouth shut, don’t be surprised that people don’t want to talk to you.

        1. Malthusian Optimist

          in offices, I don’t gossip and barely respond beyond a “wow” or maybe a “that’s gotta be awkward”, so I’ve always been told the best dirt and I don’t repeat it.

  2. Suzy Q

    LW1: This type of hyperparenting drives me bonkers, so much so that I might even rescind the offer on the spot and explain why. Harsh lesson? Yes. But this crap has to be stopped.

    1. sacados

      I mean, for someone who’s a brand new grad I would probably give them one pass for inexperience/ignorance.
      But definitely a) shut it down like Alison suggested, letting them know you don’t discuss things with parents; and b) let Jane know that sort of thing absolutely CAN NOT happen again.
      If I got any sort of pushback from the candidate, like “Oh no, I really can’t decide unless you talk to my dad” then that would push me more toward rescinding the offer, though.

      I mean, I’m the first to admit that when interviewing for my last job, when I got the healthcare coverage info as part of the offer, my first step was to forward it on to my parents to ask their advice on if it was a decent plan.
      But that was definitely happening offline from the convo with my hiring manager!

      1. Uncle Bob

        We’re talking about a college graduate presumably, not a kindergarten grad. If they haven’t learned by age 22ish that mom and dad cannot be there to handle all these things for them, when do we expect them to learn? Anyone want to guess how many times dad emailed professors?

        1. Works in IT

          Keep in mind though, when I was living with my parents still, *I* was aware of current business norms, but my parents were… not. I’m not saying everyone’s like me, but until I finally got a job that paid enough to let me move out, their approach to my job hunting was “you don’t have an engine, we need to force you to have initiative” and they threatened to kick me out of the house frequently if I did not do everything on the checklist of “things we need to force you to do because you won’t help yourself”. If one of those things had been “you won’t ask the right questions therefore we need to do it for you” I honestly wouldn’t have had much choice other than to let them do it because becoming homeless while starting a new job would have been… difficult until that first paycheck came in. And if I’d had the offer rescinded because of their ultimatum, they wouldn’t have had to do it in the first place if I could just motivate myself to do it so of course it’s my fault they had to force me to let them ask the questions.

          It probably is a case of person who doesn’t understand business norms. But I really feel for anyone else with controlling parents who is trying to get out from their control, because if the side effects of controlling parents are enough to make employers rescind job offers there is no way to break that cycle. Please let candidates know that will not be acceptable in the future, and see what they say, before making decisions like that!

          1. Gunney

            Yeah I can easily seeing this be the case of a pushy dad/dad who doesn’t know business norms/other Concerned Parent saying “hey put me on the phone” and the kid not knowing better or not feeling empowered to say no to their parent.

            1. valentine

              if the side effects of controlling parents are enough to make employers rescind job offers there is no way to break that cycle.
              And you may be able to help break the cycle by being an acknowledged fellow authority such parents will defer to. If you hire the person, they can now say no to their parents in order to avoid getting in trouble at work, thus creating breathing room until they can escape.

              I might even rescind the offer on the spot and explain why. Harsh lesson?
              No, because you’re punishing the candidate for the actions of someone they can’t control. You won’t have convinced the parent they were wrong and interfering and the candidate won’t have gained any power to stop them. If sheltered enough, the candidate will think you’re disrespecting their parent and that you’re the unprofessional one.

              1. blackcat

                “No, because you’re punishing the candidate for the actions of someone they can’t control.”

                This isn’t true. Jane didn’t have to hand the phone over to her dad!

                I mean, when I was 21 and getting my first real job offer, you bet I asked my parents what questions I should ask! You bet I got their help with some paperwork (life insurance and similar)! *But my employer never knew these things.* They just knew that I was going to take some time to review documents and come back with questions later. Because even in my not-quite-adult-ness, I was in control of how/when questions were asked.

                1. Yorick

                  Right – Jane didn’t have to be in the room with her dad during this conversation at all.

                2. Jessen

                  Depends on your definition of “have to”. If it was my family, I’d probably consider that I “had to” hand the phone over if I didn’t want to be out on the street that day.

                3. anonforthis

                  While Jane didn’t technically have to hand the phone over to her dad, you don’t know what consequences she might have suffered if she didn’t. A child who is still dependent on a parent for financial support isn’t in a position often to say no to the parent, especially if it’s a toxic relationship. If I was Jane my dad wanted the phone and I had said no, he would have flipped out. I would have gotten screamed at and punched.

                4. Karen from Finance

                  Yes, but your scenario and the one valentine et Al are talking about are different. You are assuming parents that are more or less reasonable, like yours. The case for OP is that the parents clearly are not reasonable, and are quite controlling.

                  In these scenarios, as has been described, often times the option for the daughter is “you do as we say or you move out” which is not much of a choice really. We don’t know that it’s this bad in the case of OP of course, but I wouldn’t assume she had that much of a choice either.

                5. PhillyRedhead

                  “Jane didn’t have to hand the phone over to her dad!”

                  You’ve never had a controlling parent. Can you step outside your bubble?

                6. blackcat

                  @Jessen, in my experience as an educator, super controlling parents (who threaten to kick their kids out) are much less common than the engulfing helicopter type who just assume their kid is incompetent.

                  I wouldn’t pull a job offer, personally. As a teacher at the high school and university levels, I view it as part of my job to tell kids/young adults that they need to handle stuff on their own. And I can understand someone who would see this as a red or yellow flag that Jane may not be able to handle the job.

                7. fposte

                  From a hiring manager standpoint, I’m neither punishing nor teaching a lesson, though. I’m just trying to hire somebody who will work out in my unit.

                  However, if somebody puts me on the phone with their dad, that’s a heads-up for me. It could mean this person doesn’t know business norms, which I’d need to think about; it could mean that their dad is going to try to insert himself into his daughter’s employment, which might well be a dealbreaker. So unfortunately if Jane didn’t choose to put her dad on the line, that’s an even bigger problem for me, because I’m not signing up for fights with an employee’s dad.

                8. Jessen

                  @blackcat My parents were both, in my experience. They defaulted to helicopter and assuming I was incompetent, but once I started developing a spine they moved to things like kicking me out. In their heads it was just a natural extension of the parental need to set limits on a kid who was clearly too immature to make her own choices.

                  @fposte I do understand, at the same time the worry for many of us coming from controlling families is that it does give parents the power to keep kids dependent. Because if dad can interfere so the kid doesn’t get a job, kid can’t get the money to move out. It feels kind of like firing an employee because their ex keeps showing up at work – it might be the best thing from a business standpoint, but there’s still something that seems off about it.

                9. Works in IT

                  @blackcat I would consider the ones who assume their kids are incompetent to also be super controlling parents. It doesn’t really matter why they’re being controlling, if the end result is that the child is unable to fully function as an autonomous person while living with them. Fear of being beaten if you don’t give your parents the phone is only one of the ways they can influence their children, there’s also “you’re not good enough so we have to help you” repeated over and over again to weaken resolve, the subtle hints that you need to see a therapist because you’re much too useless to function without therapy (when you were thinking about finding a therapist to help you cope with the controlling parents but now you won’t since they will use it against you), the occasional “we love you and we want to help you but if you keep rejecting your help we’re going to take a tough love approach and kick you out because it’s obvious you need being homeless to force you to take the initiative to get a job!”… loving controlling parents are horrible.

                10. Dragoning

                  Well, as was pointed out above, plenty of parents are controlling enough in job searches to threaten eviction if the grad didn’t agree. Mine certainly threatened to throw me out if I didn’t apply to the jobs they wanted me to back when I lived with them.

                  And where are these kids learning business norms from? Typically, their parents. This is well-known enough to be a recognized thing for kids of blue-collar workers starting a white-collar office environment and having no idea what “business casual is.”

                  If my parents acted like something like this was professional and normal, I’d have believed them.

                11. fposte

                  @Dragonwing–the why may matter to me as a human, but as a manager I care about whether this will continue to be a problem. It’s not about apportioning blame; it’s about predicting future behavior. It doesn’t matter whose fault it is; it matters if it interferes with work.

                12. JSPA

                  You don’t know this. You apparently had a reasonable level of autonomy in your life, at that point–or at least, a lock on your door. Some people are controlled by their parents in ways that we’d quickly label abusive, if done by an S.O. Some cultures train children to accept that level of control.

                13. elsie

                  I’m a 34 year old woman who still has phone anxiety and has to take phone calls in my car, because I got so used to my car being my ‘safe place’ from my parents snooping. They would follow me around the house listening to my phone calls, and would even grab the phone from my hands if I ever said the ‘wrong’ thing. My dad DID show up to my first job interview, because he didn’t think I would say the right things. Thankfully the boss saw what kind of situation I was in and employed me anyway. Earning my own money was the first step to escaping their control.

                  Unless you’ve lived with controlling parents, you can never really know what it’s like. I wouldn’t have “learned a lesson” if that boss hadn’t given me that initial job. My dad probably would have used it as “proof” that I’m a screw-up like he always thought.

                1. Susana

                  Also, to those worrying about a controlling or abusive parent: that’s not the employer’s problem to solve. The idea that the employer should tolerate such meddling because the job applicant might be chastised (or even punched?) is absurd. This is a person who then needs not a job, but an intervention by police or a domestic abuse shelter.
                  And no, she’s not a “child.” She over 18 and an adult. As a college grad, presumably 21 or 22.

                  As for concern that the young adult might think the employer “unprofessional” – ! Who cares? The job applicant has about as much agency there as the interns petitioning for a change in the dress code. New grads don’t get to set the standards for professionalism.

                  If there is abuse, I feel awful for the grad. But one – I think that’s a lot less likely than the scenario where the parent is helicoptering with offspring’s OK – and two, that does not obligate the wold-be employer to enable this unprofessional behavior.

                2. Karen from Finance's Work is Full of Bees

                  Yes, but things get more complicated when there’s an economic dependency.

                3. OhNo

                  We don’t know why she handed the phone over, though. Is she just unfamiliar with business norms? Has she been raised to think this was normal? Do her religious beliefs require her to defer to her father? Is he exerting financial pressure on her to make her to do things she otherwise wouldn’t?

                  Personally, I don’t think it’s fair to jump straight to punishing her for this behavior without knowing why it occurred, or at least giving her feedback and the chance to self-correct. If she’s worth offering a job to, I think she’s worth having a quick conversation to say “This is unprofessional. Don’t ever do this again.”

                  If she pushes back, or the behavior continues, then by all means, show her the door.

                4. Delphine

                  You don’t know enough about her or the situation to suggest she was “complicit.”

                5. Susana

                  Well, “complicit” sounded more judgmental than I intended. But she handed the phone. I said “complicit” to distinguish Jane from people whose parents call the employer themselves – then, there’s plausible deniability about being aware of said call. And more sympathy.

                  So .. OK, maybe her father’s overbearing. Maybe she has some religious edict that requires her to defer to him. Still NOT the employer’s problem, and not a problem to being into a professional workplace. Remember the woman who didn’t want to travel because her religion told her she had to obey her husband and he didn’t want her to travel? Same thing.

                  I feel bad for someone with overbearing parents, especially if they are grown people. But I wouldn’t want to have to deal with that problem as an employer. Don’t pull the offer – but shut this down.

                6. Eukomos

                  Someone with significant power over her was standing right next to her and demanding she follow orders, you can’t blame that entirely on her even if he didn’t wrest the phone from her unwilling hands. This is his action, don’t dump the consequences on her because you can’t get at him.

              2. Jadelyn

                @fposte That’s a stunningly cold way to look at it. I didn’t realize we were meant to completely leave our humanity and empathy at the door when we walk into work in the morning.

                1. Really?

                  No it isn’t. But hiring managers are not meant to be social workers or therapists. If you have to correct someone’s behavior before they even get in the door, that’s a problem. This is not a question of empathy or humanity, it’s no different than if any other candidate behaved inappropriately. What if dad wanted to see private company information or something? An employee who demonstrates such immaturity and lack of boundaries up front is a potential risk.

                2. Lavender Menace

                  @Really – I’m a hiring manager. Nobody we hire on my team is ever perfect, so *everybody* is going to need some behavioral correction coming into the team. The question is how open that person is to learning and growing over time. A new college grad in this situation could simply be clueless that this isn’t a standard convention, and a quick conversation might be enough to shut it down. Or I could say nothing, and risk losing a great candidate because I didn’t have the wherewithal to ask a few simple questions.

                  I also think people are forgetting how *young* 21-22 really is. A traditional college graduate at 21 has probably been in school all their life and never really worked at a professional job. They don’t know the norms. It’s a risk you take when you hire young college grads. Part of onboarding a new person is teaching them the norms of your industry and workplace.

                3. fposte

                  Can’t figure out which post of mine this is meant to refer to, but I don’t agree with your characterization that my position lacks humanity and empathy. I can understand that Jane may have a controlling parent and feel empathy for that, and I can sympathize with the inexperience that may have led to her putting her dad on the phone.

                  But that wouldn’t mean I disregard the problems that might signal in hiring her. I wouldn’t be doing the job I’m paid to do if I did, and more importantly, I’d be being unfair to other candidates and people who have to work with my hired employee if I don’t think carefully about signs of possible problems. I have responsibility to *all* of those people and sympathy for all of those people, not just the one with the sad story.

              3. Really?

                The candidate can think what they want. This will not be the last time that this infantilizing dad interferes in his daughter’s employment. I would take a pass. Do you want a responsible adult working for you or a child? The candidate has bigger issues than having an offer rescinded.

                And not negotiating your adult child’s (or any child for that matter) job offer has always been the norm, nothing new about it.

            2. Falling Diphthong

              Yeah, just as the job offerer can be so flabbergasted by the weirdness that they just roll with it, so might the job offeree.

              1. Works in IT

                Quite true. After someone is hired, they can ask everyone to please please email them not call them with job stuff when they’re at home.

                But there’s a limit to what you can do to reduce parental interference when you’re called with a job offer and the controlling parent is RIGHT THERE. Listening to you accept the job offer. Listening to you not prioritize That Thing That We Think Is Important That Is Not Your Job, and demanding to be given the phone or there will be Consequences so they can ask the question you didn’t ask.

                1. Lynn Whitehat

                  Ugh. Flashbacks to high school, with my mom breathing down my neck. And I was GOING to ask the thing! But we lived in the South, and my mom is not from the South, and one thing about the South is that you don’t call people and just demand what you want. You chit-chat for a few minutes first. Good, bad, or indifferent, that is the local culture.

                  So I’d be going through the ritual, “hi, Mrs. Johnson! Yes, it certainly has been muggy! It was very nice to see you at the Spring Fling! :-) :-) :-)” And my mom would be hovering, “you need to ask if she can give you a ride to school Friday. Ask about the ride ask about the ride askabouttheride ASKABOUTITASKABOUTIT”. I will get there! The time of the asking of the favor it not yet upon us! The ritual of the lamentation of mugginess must be completed before the asking of the favor may begin! It is the way of the people of this land, strange though their customs may be to us!

                2. Jadelyn

                  @Lynn “The ritual of the lamentation of mugginess” I just had to explain to my officemate why I started giggling uncontrollably.

                3. That Californian

                  The Lamentation of the Mugginess, frequently accompanied by the Exegesis of Comparative Mugginess in Different Locations and at Different Times of Day, is crucial. Crucial.

                4. Olivia Mansfield (formerly Mallory Janis Ian)

                  @Lynn Whitehat: Plus if you give short shrift to the ritual of the lamentation of of mugginess, Mrs. Johnson could become offended and have a most unfortunate conflict that, regrettably, prevents her from doing the favor. The favor must be cul

          2. sacados

            Exactly! I can totally imagine a situation where Jane’s gut feeling is telling her that Dad talking to the interviewer is a bad idea … but then Dad keeps insisting he’s the experienced one, he knows best until Jane is second-guessing her instinct.

            I think in a situation like that, the person should definitely be given a chance to grow.

            1. Lucy

              And that’s precisely why the hiring manager should say ‘No, Dad, we can only speak to Jane. It would be completely inappropriate for us to speak to you instead.”

              Dad will never hear it from Jane. He might hear it from LW.

              1. kittymommy

                Yes this! Not only mentioning it to the employee (in case they don’t know) but to the over-bearing parent who may need to hear it the most.

            2. fposte

              Everybody should be given the chance to grow somewhere. However, that’s not the goal of hiring; hiring is about finding somebody to do a job, and this candidate doesn’t exist in a vacuum. I wouldn’t refuse to hire somebody for this, but it would factor into their candidacy, and it might make the difference between hiring them and another applicant.

              1. Dragoning

                Well, the applicant was already being offered the job, so would it be enough for you to take it back and call them in a few days after reconsidering? Because that seems harsh, to me. If it had happened earlier in the process, sure, but it wasn’t.

                1. fposte

                  Good point–I was thinking more generally about parental involvement. Outright take it back? Probably not. Put it on pause to have another conversation with Jane about the concern this raised? Quite possibly. It depends on how the conversation goes down–basically, whether Dad easily accepts being told that I will never, ever talk to him about his daughter’s job if his daughter is able to talk to me, and whether Jane understands that this is a big misstep or if she brushes it off.

              2. RandomU...

                Exactly, one of my biggest fears is that employers are going to be the next target en masse for raising ‘kids’. First it was the HS then we made universities responsible for hand holding. I do hope I retire long before we expect employers to continue this role.

                I’m all for mentoring and helping people grow professionally. (I’m the weird person that loves having interns with all of their wackiness and ignorance of the workplace) But this situation seems more like teaching someone how to navigate life. I guess, I am of the opinion that by the time someone reaches their early 20’s and has graduated from college, they should be able to handle a phone call with their future employer. They should also be able to handle their own family.

                I’ve read the comments suggesting the family may not be ‘normal’ or controlling or whatever, but honestly, that is still for the candidate to figure out and work around, not the employer.

                1. Jadelyn

                  You’ve…never had a controlling family, have you? It’s not something you just *waves hand nebulously* “figure out” or “handle” or “work around”, especially if you’re financially dependent upon them, which a brand new grad trying to get a first job probably is. ESPECIALLY if you’re talking about someone who grew up in that environment – they’ve spent 20 years being trained into a state of learned helplessness where the controlling family member is concerned, and that conditioning is harder to break than anyone will be able to understand if they haven’t experienced it themselves.

                  I hadn’t realized empathy had gone out of fashion, but judging by some of these comments, it clearly has.

                2. Really?

                  Jadelyn is responding with fan fiction. We don’t know what candidate’s home life entails. It is unfair to accuse people of being heartless here. Not every personal problem can be solved in the workplace. Losing out on a job might make the candidate grow up. Working around people’s weaknesses is not always good for them.

                3. Zillah

                  @Really – I don’t think that discussing this through a lens of “make her grow up” makes sense, though. If the context isn’t relevant because it’s about the impact on the business, how “grown up” the candidate is shouldn’t enter the conversation. If you *are* going to bring that into the conversation, it’s not reasonable to dismiss people who bring up the issues with the broad brush strokes you’re painting as “writing fanfiction.”

                4. P peace

                  Jadelyn, it doesn’t seem it’s so much not having empathy. And it’s also not correct that these were kids that recently crossed into being adults and the parents aren’t handling it correctly. These people were often always kids who weren’t treated appropriately. And the thing in so many situations that makes ‘the conditioning’ hard to break, your words, is that people like op benefit in some ways and not in others. It is no other adults responsibility to have that mistreatment thrown in their lives. When the mistreatment by the parents, your concept, is accepted by others you end up with employers getting involved in situations that further that awful behavior via the ops family by ‘accepting’ it. If it isn’t good then you can’t tell other adults it is so that the person can get out of it. If someone was in a relationship with a person with toxic family members the advice wouldn’t be different. The toxic train that a kid carries by way of helicopter parents should end by the moment they become an adult bc empathy should exist for all not only who you relate to.

                5. Lavender Menace

                  I guess, I am of the opinion that by the time someone reaches their early 20’s and has graduated from college, they should be able to handle a phone call with their future employer.

                  Where will they have absorbed this information from?

              3. Lavender Menace

                I disagree. It depends on the role. I’m a hiring manager, and on my team, we hire both to do a job AND to give them the potential to grow and develop their career. Our needs may shift and change 2-3 years down the line; we want people who we feel have potential to grow into a variety of types of roles on our team. And moreover, when you care about your people and their development, they usually display more loyalty and affinity to the team.

          3. Akcipitrokulo

            Yeah – which is where company saying firmly that they need to speak only to the person involved and not any.third party – if they won’t take no for an answer then “I will not talk to you about this. Please put my prospective employee on the phone.” may be in order.

            Oh, and be careful to – depending on where you are, answering parents’ questions coukd be illegal and you could be *personally* liable for fines.

            1. LaurenB

              Where would answering parents’ questions be “illegal”? Ill-advised, certainly, but I’m curious what statutes made it illegal.

              1. Green great dragon

                If you give out someone’s private info to a third person, such as a parent, you may be breaching data protection laws.

                1. Susana

                  Yes, this is true with college students, too. My sibling, a professor, gets parents calling to complain about grades (!!!). And he says, first of all, grades are a reflection of students’ work, and secondly, I am not allowed to discuss the grade with anyone but the student. Privacy rules.

                2. Observer

                  In most of the situations we see here, that’s not the case, at least in the US. Neither HIPPA not FERPA apply to most employment situations. AND if the kid hands Parent the phone, no judge or jury is going to say ” you should have known that this was not true consent.”

                  While I do think that most often the employer should not rescind the offer without talking to the employee first, I also don’t think that it’s the employer’s responsibility to “protect” the kid. They also do not need to “borrow” the authority of legal requirements. It’s just a matter of how we do business.

              2. Akcipitrokulo

                What Green great dragon said. Even if she puts her dad on the phone, that may not count as explicit consent.

              3. Librarian of SHIELD

                If the person you are hiring is not a minor, their parents have no legal right to any information, and depending on state and local laws, sharing those details might not be legal. It’s one thing to call an adult employee’s parent if they become ill at work and have designated that parent as their emergency contact in the organization’s official paperwork. Talking to an adult employee/candidate’s parent about specific details regarding the job offer is an entirely different thing.

                1. fposte

                  “No legal right” isn’t the same thing as its being illegal, though, and absent FERPA (which doesn’t apply if there’s no educational institution involved, which there doesn’t seem to be) this would be perfectly fine. The closest thing would be California’s CCPA and it really isn’t even likely to be an issue under that. I think Akcipitrokulo is talking about EU/UK law, which is much stricter than anything in the U.S. In the U.S. this is not likely to land Sally in legal hot water; it’s just inadvisable.

                2. CmdrShepard4ever

                  It depends on the situation and by state law. But most federal and state laws regarding data protection (HIPPA, FERPA, FCRA) are very specific and they usually do no apply to employers, it tends to be more of a consumer issue. HIPPA applies to medical providers/insurance companies, in some instances it can apply to employers that are self insured. But normally barring any other local laws, if I tell my boss my private medical information they can share it without it being a HIPPA violation. FERPA applies to schools sharing student information, so normally employees of schools would not be covered. FCRA does regulate what companies/credit employers can use to obtain credit reports on potential candidates and how they can use that information in hiring decisions. But most financial privacy laws focus on the consumer side and what banks, credit card companies etc can do with your information.

                  There are always exceptions of course, and an employer sharing information about an employee to third parties is certainly bad policy/practice but it usually is not illegal.

                3. Akcipitrokulo

                  fposte… yes, was primarily referring to gdpr where it would be specifically illegal. Which is primarily in eu.

                  I don’t know enough about us legal systems to comment on legality there. It’s also really unlikely (technically possible though) for manager to be prosecuted, it’s slightly less unlikely that company could be fined. But that would need prospective employee to maje a complaint.

          4. LadyL

            Yeah, when I read this I just felt sorry for Jane. Her parents/dad are doing a profound disservice to her, and I view her more as a victim than the problem.

            Even if dad stepping in was Jane’s request, dad should have said no. Ideally dad would have given Jane the life skills to know she can’t have her dad ask for her, and the confidence to not want him to. Worst case scenario Jane knows all this and dad is controlling her, as you pointed out. Either way it’s sad, and I hope Jane and her dad start forming better boundaries soon.

            1. Samwise

              Me too. And we’ve had a fair number of letters on AAM from LWs who want to know how to handle parents or spouses etc who are attempting to meddle in their work life.

              I don’t think this rises to the level of “This situation is so bad that we should just retract the job offer.” She’s going to be on probation, presumably, since she’ll be a newbie. Plenty of time to decide it’s that bad, or not.

            2. SusanIvanova

              Confidence doesn’t get you far when the parent convincingly spins a “rebellious child, what can you do” story and the authority figures believe it.

          5. Minocho

            My parents did this same thing to me 20 years ago when I was just starting out. I was desperately searching for work, and my mom suggested she would help me find my initiative by charging me increasing rent. She’s an RN, I don’t think she’s had to struggle finding a job ever in her life if she wanted one – she just didn’t understand that West Michigan right after the dot com bust was a crappy place to find a software development job for someone who spent the first two years after graduation teaching English in Japan.

          6. That Girl From Quinn's House

            +1000 to Works in IT. This is exactly it.

            I had a job where I managed high school and college workers (mostly, 16-23, with a few older) and this was a really common thing among the ones who still lived at home. The employee would be diligent about showing up for their shifts, asking for time off in a reasonable fashion- and then their irrational, controlling parent would go off, “grounding” them from work, refusing to drive them (for the ones too young to have a car yet) 45 minutes before their shift starts, buying plane tickets for a mandatory family trip and only telling the kid two days in advance, dumping a younger sibling on them to babysit so they’d end up bringing the kid to work. We even had one girl in her 20s whose parents were abusive, they’d buzz the parking lot looking for her car and if they saw it, they’d come in and lecture her while she was working to the point we almost called our legal department and had them banned from the premises.

            In cases where it was obviously not the student’s fault, I’d work with them as best as I could, but eesh some of these parents.

          7. Uncle Bob

            I’d believe about controlling parents, but in the US, this has never been the business norm. not now, not when dad got his first job and not when grandpa got his, so I think “business norms” is a weak excuse for Dad here.

          8. SusanIvanova

            Just yesterday I was trading “worst college tour guide” stories with a new intern, and he says that when the helicopter parent starts saying outrageous things (like “can I (the mom) be my son’s roommate in the (all male) dorm?”) almost every time you see the student edging away as much as possible. There’s just not very far they can go when they’re still under 18, or don’t think they have choices because they can’t afford to move out.

            The intern also said that, unlike back when I was in college, the tour guides get very clear training about the FERPA law that means parents have absolutely no rights to any info unless the child approves, and that’s included in the tour (hopefully without parents around!) I am still retroactively pissed that my RA didn’t know that on the one weekend of my entire college life when the paternal DNA contributor decided to do something to look good to the divorce lawyers.

          9. pentamom

            The thing is that it was never a current business norm for parents to negotiate job offers (or otherwise involve themselves in a child’s job search process) in the past. This isn’t a matter of the parents just not knowing what’s current, it’s about them being completely wrong about how the process works, now and always. Or else, simply not caring because they insist on it being done their way.

          10. JSPA

            Could be that the hire is feckless and over-reliant on dad. But I’d hate to proceed on that assumption.

            When you live with your parents by necessity, not choice, you can’t always control them butting in. And until you have a job, you’re likely to be living with your parents by necessity. Parent-child dynamics can be as controlling and problematic for the child as for someone in an abusive partner relationship! I would therefore be loth to lay blame on the new hire.

            Luckily for all, there are a wide range of social norms that help children of controlling parents leave home once they have that all-important first, full-time job and paycheck.

            In retrospect, the hiring manager should have refused to engage with the father or read the riot act to him, but (esprit de l’escalier) that didn’t happen. Putting the hire on notice that such things are not normal and will not be further tolerated will handle fecklessness, and it will also provide useful tools for someone who’s trying to get out from under the control of controlling parents.

        2. OP 1

          @Uncle Bob This is a trend we’ve been noticing with our new grad hires lately. A growing number of them have overly controlling/helicopter parents, and when they transition into the professional world, they fail because they expect to continue to be micromanaged!

        3. Dontlikeunfairrules

          I got my first job at 14 and worked part time and/or full time (in summer) until graduating college, when I landed a full time job a week before graduating.

          Not once from the age of 14 did my parents have any involvement or conversation with my places of employment. I handled everything myself, always. I would have been horrified.

          For a father of a college grad to actually get on the phone with his kid’s potential employer is simply RIDICULOUS. I’m embarrassed for her and angry with him.

          1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego

            Lucky you. My parents are not at all controlling or abusive, but they still had a tendency to hover when I was younger. It made for some awkward moments in my first few jobs and years of college, though nothing like this.

            I’m kind of taken aback at the harshness of some of the positions here. Yes, the father should not have been on the phone. But we all know that many parents are meddling and worse, and it seems unfair to hold the candidate solely responsible. This is doubly true because the hiring manager did not tell him that she couldn’t talk directly to him! If it continues to be a pattern after this person is hired and told that in the future the parents cannot be involved, then fine, but it seems very inflexible and harsh to rescind the offer right away.

            1. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before

              I had exceptionally kind and loving parents, and they both (but especially my mom) had the tendency to hover/be overprotective. And yes, it can be quite awkward/embarrassing at times, and difficult to train them out of.

      2. EPLawyer

        Alison even says in her answer that you can suggest they talk to family members. Getting advice from family members is quite normal. Having the family members do the talking for you is … not.

        I’d have been tempted to pull the offer too. I would have been really tempted after the question of can Jane be late her first day? No she cannot. We are hiring her to be here. If her social life prevents her from being at work on time, perhaps we need to move on to another candidate. Flexibility in work schedules comes AFTER you have proved yourself capable of doing the work.

        1. LadyL

          Eh, re: asking to come in late, might depend on the job though, and how the question was framed. Particularly in retail/food service sometimes your first day is the day after the interview (or literally the moment after the interview), and sometimes you can’t clear your schedule of commitments on such short notice. Or at least I can say that’s happened to me before, where a business has expected me to start immediately and I’ve had to adjust my schedule with them a bit because I still had previous appointments and commitments. Obviously once I get a job and know my hours I schedule around work, but if you only give me a day’s notice to be available that’s difficult. Since I’m never sure I’m going to get a job I still proceed scheduling my life as if I’m free until I have a job offer.

          Never had my dad ask for me though, definitely very strange and unacceptable.

          1. Nessun

            We once had a new hire’s mom call to say “Tegan won’t be in on her start date of October 2, because she decided to extend her European holiday. She’ll start on October 9 instead, okay?” We were STUNNED. Uh, no, her start date is her start date, that’s when training with her AND the other TWELVE new hires starts, … and why are we talking to YOU about this? The mother didn’t get the problem, and neither did Tegan when we finally got hold of her.

            1. Detective Amy Santiago

              Please tell me Tegan no longer had a job when she returned from her European holiday.

            2. Works in IT

              Yeah, that shows more lack of respect for workplace dynamics. It’s POSSIBLE it could be a case of parent forced their child on a vacation then changed the dates on the tickets back, but that’s a lot less likely than the child has no sense of proper business etiquette.

              1. Susana

                That would be bizarre, but also does not matter. We are talking about an adult who accepted a job and a starting date. If she doesn’t show up when she’s supposed to on her first day – she better find work elsewhere.

                1. Works in IT

                  Agreed! My point was that while it’s still POSSIBLE that this could be a controlling parent incident, that possibility is much lower than the example in the OP.

        2. Colette

          The reason matters, though. “Can I start at 11 instead of 9 since I have a pre-booked medical appointment I need to go to?” is different from “Can I start at 11 to give me time to recover from the party the night before?” – but the question obviously should be asked by the candidate, not someone else.

        3. Bagpuss

          the coming in late fost day isn’t red flag to me. We noramlly arrangfor people to come in later on their first day, it usually makes sense to be able to deal with any urgent overnight stuff first before stating to do the induction for a new person. It’s a bit odd to have it suggested by the canidate (or their parent!) but I would read it as being someonewho has had that exprience before and is checking whether you do it that way,rhather than expecting an accommodation for their convenience. (of corus, if it was framed as “Jane needs to do x so will it be OK if she arrived late on day 1” then it would be much more of a red flag.

          1. OP 1

            The reason was “because we need to pick something up from her school before we drop her off.” Mind you, her start is also several weeks out.

            1. ContentWrangler

              Hmm, the fact that they are still in charge of dropping her off is a bad sign. Not having your own transportation gives you very little options if your parents are being controlling.

            2. Sparrow

              Are her parents going to be dropping her off and picking her up normally? If so, I’d be concerned that the dad will be making a lot of appearances in the office. Maybe I’m paranoid, but with these boundary issues, I’d be bracing myself for it. If nothing else, I think an early conversation about professional norms and expectations is definitely in order.

              1. Works in IT

                Very true. “He will be dropping me off until I get my first paycheck and can afford to buy a car/take the bus/get an Uber” is a very different response than “He will always be driving me to work”, and given his obvious lack of respect for Jane arriving in a timely fashion, the second possibility is a lot more of a red flag than the first.

                1. pleaset

                  “He will always be driving me to work”

                  Setting boundaries about a parent coming into the office is fine. But maybe this person has no other options for transport. They shouldn’t suffer in the job market for that, as long as it works reliably.

                2. Works in IT

                  My point is more that if their dependence on the parent is temporary rather than permanent, that makes it a lot easier to deal with the parent’s flakiness than a case of “this new employee is dependent on a parent who doesn’t take them getting to work on time seriously to get to work”. It’s one thing to answer “why are you late half the time?” with “I have a plan to make myself not late anymore and it will be put into place in one week”, it’s another thing entirely to say you’re just late and you can’t do anything about it.

                  Because whether or not their parent is controlling, it’s not reasonable to tolerate someone who can’t reliably make it to work on time in a job that requires people showing up on time. It’s not fair to any of the other employees.

                3. OP 1

                  @pleaset We are easily accessible by public transport (it’s actually easier to use public transport than to drive in) and provide discounted passes, so she would have other options.

                  Also we have security at all our buildings, and you can only be admitted entry with an employee ID/after checking in with security and having an employee come meet you/escort you around. I’d love to have the professional boundaries conversation with Jane, but alas, she is not my hire

                4. CanuckCat

                  Out of nesting but to @pleaset’s point, it can be a slippery slope. I had a co-worker who got a ride in every day from his dad, and used that as an excuse to come in well after everyone else had started for the day (upwards of an hour +). When management asked if he couldn’t talk to his dad about arriving earlier or find another commute option, the response he gave was “No because then I won’t get a ride.”

                5. Observer

                  They shouldn’t suffer in the job market for that, as long as it works reliably.

                  True. But RELIABLY is the key piece here – and Dad’s attitude says that this could be a problem.

                6. Observer

                  @OP1, what happened with Jane? Did she show up on time? And how has it been working out? Or did Sally rescind the offer?

                7. pleaset

                  “Dad’s attitude says that this could be a problem.”

                  Anything is possible.

                  One possibly related incident would make me keep my eyes open, but I wouldn’t draw conclusions from it.

                8. LunaLena

                  @OP1 – depending on where you live, and if the parent(s) are this controlling, I don’t think public transportation will be an option for her. A lot of people think that public transportation is only for the poor, homeless, and/or criminal, and it’s not suitable for a young woman to take by herself. I can totally picture Dad telling her “No, you’re not taking the bus, it’s too dangerous. I’ll drive you to and from work, it’s much safer that way” because I had parents who said the same things.

                  It sounds to me that Dad is extremely controlling and is trying to extend that control to every aspect of his daughter’s life, including her work. But, as someone whose dad showed up at my first full-time job unannounced to “check out this place you’re working at,” it’s up to the new hire to shut that down and assert her independence and boundaries. Maybe knowing her employment depends on it will give her the nudge she needs to do that.

              2. Samwise

                Really, how Jane gets to work is nobody’s business but Jane’s. Especially since she hasn’t started working there yet, and especially since it is not a problem yet.

                I realize the dad getting involved in this has given the employer info about Jane, but it really is not the employer’s business until it is in fact an actual problem.

                1. Observer

                  Well, it is in fact already an actual problem. Because Dad is already stepping in inappropriately, AND asking to come late. The only question is whether this is going to be an ONGOING problem.

            3. Michaela Westen

              Does this mean her parents will drive her to work every day? If so, IMHO that’s not a good sign.

        4. Blue Bunny

          While I can see an employer’s side of this…I somewhat regret being hyper-responsible as a young employee. I’m still salty about giving up second row tickets to Billy Joel & Elton John, so I could show up rested and ready for the first day of a job that turned out to be a shitshow. Today, I’d tell younger me to enjoy that concert, and deal with being exhausted for the new job.

        5. Susana

          Yeah, the late-the-first-day question really got to me. Not like father is a layer or accountant or whatever and is asking ore informed questions about benefits. (though even that is in appropriate – that’s a convo he and daughter could have privately, once she’s shown the benefits package). Can she be late – that makes me think parents are still in control f her schedule like she’s in jr. high. And I wouldn’t want someone like that as an employee. I wouldn’t rescind in this case – but f it were earlier in the process, it wold affect her candidacy.

          Some of the stories people tell here about parents are sad (I. too, was told, “when you’re 18, you’re out of the house” – and I was, though it surely was more doable then). However, none o it has anything to do with hiring. I would not want an employee who lacks maturity, certainly not at that level.

        6. Anonymeece

          Based on my experiences with my dad, honestly, that question would have been meant as a not-so-subtle jab – like, “Will she be able to come in late on her first day?” /”No, of course not, we expect our employees to be on time.” /”Did you hear that, Anonymeece? You can’t be late!” (I wasn’t planning on being, Dad…).

          This is probably more of a helicopter parent/clueless kid, but I think pulling the offer is unnecessarily harsh. One, new grads need to learn, too. Two, there are cases where the daughter KNEW this was a bad idea, but had to put dad on the phone because she was obligated to by circumstances (financial, toxic relationship, etc.)

          1. Zillah

            I think that even in non-toxic relationships, it can be hard to know how to reply in the moment for the same reason that Jane answered the father’s questions. The father clearly acted in a really controlling and inappropriate way here – I’m just saying that it doesn’t even require a worst-case-scenario situation to happen.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      Does the applicant’s lack of experience factor cut against rescinding an offer, though? I feel like her primary mistake was failing to realize that you don’t let your dad ask questions because, unlike your high school lifeguarding job, you’re a full-on adult.

      To be sure, this was way out of bounds. But I’m not sure penalizing the applicant solves the problem with the snowplow parent, especially if the applicant was the best qualified. Suzy may be able to achieve the same effect by letting the applicant know the behavior was so inappropriate that Suzy considered rescinding the offer (but not actually rescinding the offer).

      1. Yvette

        I would be concerned (and am wildly curious so UPDATE PLEASE) as to what life with Jane would be like going forward. Would there be calls from daddy requesting vacation dates for family vacations or asking why a vacation request was denied? Would daddy call to complain that poor Jane is being worked too hard? Would daddy attempt to negotiate a raise for Jane?
        That alone might make me want to rescind the offer. however in all honesty I probably would have been like Suzy, so flabbergasted, that I would have just answered the questions. I would like to think however, that I would take Jane aside later and let her know how very wrong and inappropriate that was.
        I wonder if this was some sort of misconstrued advice on Jane’s part. “Talk to your parents and others you trust and discuss questions you might want to ask” became “let your parents ask questions”.
        Does this raise the same sort of red flags as when a husband is overly involved with his wife’s employer? (The husband who resigned for his wife comes to mind.)

        1. Lance

          I’d say it’s different, in that this is a new college grad who doesn’t necessarily know better, and might’ve thought it’d be better to get her father, who’s been through this sort of thing, to handle this. That said, I definitely agree with Alison to be clear with her that this can’t happen again, because it’s not normal and not done; it would be a good lesson for the future, but I may give her a bit of a pass this time.

        2. Falling Diphthong

          I’d allow for the possibility that Dad would be like “Jane has graduated! She has a job! She is launched! My work is done!” and go chill on a golf course.

        3. Antilles

          Does this raise the same sort of red flags as when a husband is overly involved with his wife’s employer? (The husband who resigned for his wife comes to mind.)
          Not to me.
          From a purely work perspective, the former is a lot more understandable. If you’re a new grad, you might not know about conventions, so what you’re used to is school where parents getting involved is pretty standard. But a wife who’s already been around the workplace should really know better and have picked up that this isn’t normal.
          Also, a husband being overly involved with the wife’s employer immediately raises all sorts of mental thoughts about potential abuse scenarios. IIRC, that wasn’t actually the situation and OP was very firmly on the side of that that just being how their marriage works…but to an outsider, that immediately jumps to mind. Whereas Jane’s Dad comes off more as a parent wanting what’s best for their child – not saying it’s good, but it doesn’t carry those same immediate “uh oh, is this something awful behind the scenes?” mental implications.

          1. pleaset

            “all sorts of mental thoughts about potential abuse scenarios.”

            I hope you’re not saying that concern over a woman being abused should discourage you from hiring that woman.

            1. Indigo a la mode

              Antilles didn’t say anything like that – just that they would be more concerned about the possibility of abuse in a partnership scenario than a parental one.

        4. Loremipsum

          I once had an intern(graduate student) whom I found out was emailing work I had assigned them to their parent. (AND the responses were incorrect). I had to tell them that for many reasons, that wasn’t OK, and they should feel comfortable enough to ask myself or anyone on our team for help.

        5. JRose

          Does this raise the same sort of red flags as when a husband is overly involved with his wife’s employer?
          I mean, I think it depends on your frame of reference. As someone who has been abused by a parent and who is very familiar with being economically dependent on a parent you’re not really allowed to say “no” to without potentially jeopardizing your safety…yes, my mind did go there immediately. A lot of people are more used to thinking of domestic abuse in a partnership context than a parental one (esp of a young adult child) so I think a lot of people wouldn’t think of that.

          Of course, it’s entirely possible (and probably more likely) that Jane is not in an abusive situation at all and that her father is just one of the helicopter parents who don’t understand workplace norms.

      2. Detective Amy Santiago

        I’d probably be tempted to reach out to the college and be like “Sooooo you might want to address this in at least one class.”

        1. OP 1

          I want to do this with every college. We work a lot with local colleges and universities, so when I go to panels, I always mention basic work norm stuff, but there are huge knowledge gaps. One panel I was on, a student asked if it was ok to accept an offer and continue interviewing for other roles! I’m planning on working with a local school’s career center to create a workshop on transitioning to professional life for new grads.

          1. Colhane

            One panel I was on, a student asked if it was ok to accept an offer and continue interviewing for other roles!

            If this is the US, employment is at-will, and the employee is allowed to resign whenever she likes. A

            nd it is far from unheard of to receive a vastly superior offer after accepting another offer. It would be silly, in that circumstance, to bind yourself to the first offer. To be sure, you’re probably burning a bridge with the first employer. But that tradeoff may well be worth it.

            1. Yorick

              But in general, it’s bad to continue to interview for other roles after you accept an offer.

            2. OP 1

              True, but it’s one thing to wrap up interviews that are currently in progress. It’s another to continue actively job searching after accepting an offer. And even if you need to wrap up other interviews, it’s best practice to let the company making the offer aware and ask for more time to consider the offer.

          2. Anonymeece

            Oh, man. That reminds me of a kid we called in to be a college work study. He accepted the interview, then showed up and told us, “I already accepted another offer when you called, but I wanted to interview for practice.”

            Dude, no…

          3. Hiring needs a selling edge

            Do employers continue to look at other candidates after they made an offer? Yes. Of course candidates keep looking, even after starting a new job. I’m not sure this is a problem or that people just entering the labor pool should be told not to keep their options open.

            1. Southern Yankee

              Not for the job they offered the candidate. I would find that extremely unethical and have never seen it. For other jobs, sure, but why would that be relevant?

            2. Anonymeece

              No? I mean, if I offer a job to a candidate and they accept, I send out rejection letters to all the others and stop looking for that position.

            3. Massmatt

              Unless they are hiring multiple people, no they do not. Ideally we would get several good candidates applying, narrow it down to our top 2, and offer to our best one, moving on to number 2 only after #1 declines or fails reference check or whatever.

              Offering the same job to multiple people would create a mess! How do we tell #1 that sorry, we found someone better, you won’t be starting work here tomorrow after all. Companies that did this would damage their reputations drastically.

      3. fposte

        I’m not trying to solve the problem of the snowplow parent, though. I’m just trying to get somebody to work in my office. I would consider the conversation in a nuanced way and factor in Jane’s and her dad’s responses to it, but I’d want some good indications that 1) Jane was not going to need extra tutoring in work norms beyond what we can give and 2) I was never going to hear from her father again.

      4. Susana

        All true – but it is NOT employers’ responsibility to help job applicant deal with a snowplow parent. That just shifts this excessive paternalism of the adult job applicant from parent to employer.

    3. CouldntPickAUsername

      please don’t do that. This could be a case of something that the applicant doesn’t have control over or doesn’t know how to handle because of being raised by overbearing parents. This could be them trying to get out from under the thumb of overbearing parents or it could be a case of worse than just overbearing.

      1. RUKiddingMe

        That’s what I was thinking. What if the applicant was raised a la the Duggers? Someone should teach them that the world at large doesn’t rely on Daddy’s approval. HM’s responsibility? Nope. A kindness towards another human? Yup.

        1. AnonBirder

          I think if you’re hiring for internships or truly entry level jobs it can be worth giving them one chance – tell them plainly that they need to speak for themselves when it comes to work, and their parents can only be directly involved when it comes to notifying the workplace if they are incapacitated.

          If they get the message and behave appropriately, then it’s fine, and shouldn’t be held against them. If they don’t get the message, or are unable to detangle from their parents for the job, I don’t think it’s generally worth the hassle of hiring them and having to enforce boundaries for them – you’re hiring an employee, not trying to fix their upbringing.

          If a young (or not so young) employee let the employer know that they had boundary challenged parents and to not give them information or let them into the building, that’s a different matter – it says that the employee understands appropriate workplace norms and is doing their best to keep their personal life from spilling over the job.

          1. Artemesia

            This. This was a major fail on the part of the employer who took those questions from Dad. She didn’t need to rescind the offer, but she should have made it clear that she would not discuss the job with Daddy.

            1. LaurenB

              Agreed. We all agree that Jane should have been able to have resisted turning the phone over to dad, but it doesn’t speak well to Sally’s ability to think on her feet that she continued answering questions as opposed to regaining her composure and saying, “No, I’ll only speak to Jane.” I can understand spluttering for 30 seconds, but beyond that … Sally didn’t do herself any favors either.

            2. OP 1

              Tbh, I was really surprised Sally didn’t shut it down, because she’s senior in her role. But she comes from a culture where it’s not unusual for parents to be so involved, so I think she was coming at it from that angle.

              1. Penny Parker

                So, there IS a “culture where it’s not unusual for parents to be so involved” yet, most respondents here are bashing on the one person with the least power in the situation — the young applicant who is dependent upon her parents. This was a fail from Sally more than anything else! Focus on the real problem: Sally did not know how to do her job correctly while under pressure.

                1. P peace

                  There’s a culture where an over bearing parent chooses a woman for a man despite what he chooses for himself and shames, mistreats and sometimes abuses the woman the parents don’t want him to be with. Where no amount of learning language culture or religion matters to his parents? What’s your point? No comments seem to be bashing anyone. When others have to drop their shit at the door they’re going to want op to do it also.

          2. Falling Diphthong

            Yes, people make naive mistakes when they are young and starting out. And I think the assumption that all 22 year olds just KNOW this stuff is one of those “Yeah, it helps to have parents who teach you professional norms, the same way they teach you how to load a dishwasher–no, everyone doesn’t just know those things, at some point they got to learn by observation and practice.”

            (And I type this as the parent of a 23 year old who sure as heck knew not to do this.)

            1. Michaela Westen

              As the child of parents who taught me NONE of this, I second that no one is born knowing social /workplace structure and it’s good to be kind to those whose parents failed them.

        2. Susana

          Oh, I wouldn’t rescind the offer – but I’d make it clear nothing like that can happen again. Ever. And yes, being raised a la the Duggers would be awful – but not a recruiter’s problem to fix. OP1’s job is to hire a good employee. All that baggage is not promising.

          1. StaceyIzMe

            This phrasing nails it! Baggage that indicates that norms aren’t understood brings likelihood of other blind spots, which can create misunderstandings and needless drama. Companies have the right to consider fit from the perspective of emotional intelligence and compatibility, as well as with respect to skills and experience. If parents get on the phone to communicate for a young adult, something has gone vastly awry in the norms department, in my view. It wouldn’t be remiss to reconsider the offer, under those circumstances. A parent who will question the terms of hire might also want to question an unfavorable review, failure to get a coveted assignment or determination of eligibility for a raise. It’s pretty “out there” and shouldn’t be minimized or glossed over, in my view.

      2. Works in IT

        My overly controlling parent once threatened to kick me out of the house for “criticizing me trying to make you show initiative”.

        I was, literally, walking. My steps were heavier than usual because I’d just worked five days in a row at Exhausting Retail Job that I was working at to save up money so that I could get away when I found anything else. But apparently I was stomping, and I was stomping because I was resentful that initiative was being forced upon initiativeless me.

          1. WoodswomanWrites

            I think what Works in IT is saying is that they were at the mercy of their parent who controlled whether or not they had a place to live. That is no small thing with what was likely not much income working in retail. I think their point is that it’s too harsh to rescind an offer for a young adult who–contrary to lacking gumption–is doing their damnedest to get a job and support themselves to live an independent life.

              1. RUKiddingMe

                Just a tad. :) From Works in IT’s comments I get the impression that their parents figured they didn’t have/needed “gumption.”

                1. Works in IT

                  Indeed. Because of course the reason none of the jobs I’m applying for called me back for interviews must be because I wasn’t applying for them, and not because there are tons of people applying for every opening.

                  Just pointing out that the way a controlling parent’s mind works often makes absolutely no sense to those of us who are not them, but that doesn’t matter, because they are the ones with all the power in their relationship with their children.

          2. DerJungerLudendorff

            If WiIT was stomping around, they obviously weren’t pulling up their bootstraps hard enough.

      3. Detective Amy Santiago

        It’s unfortunate, but it’s not a potential employer’s responsibility to facilitate that.

        1. fposte

          Right, that’s where I’m landing. I’m not saying I would automatically kick somebody out of the applicant pool for this, but I’m not hiring therapeutically, I’m hiring for a job.

          And again, hiring is a zero-sum game. Do you really want to lose out on a job you were the top candidate for because another applicant looked needier?

      4. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss

        I’m sorry, but it’s not the employer’s problem if an applicant has an overbearing parent and “doesn’t have control”. As a college grad you may not have a ton of life experience, but you’re old enough to know better, and if you really know nothing because your parents have run your entire life, then consider it a life lesson. It’s one thing to go to your family for advice when you’re still learning, but if your parent is going to hop on the phone with a hiring manager to discuss a job offer, what else will they do once you start working there? Come with you to orientation? Call HR because someone is treating you poorly? Nothing about this is okay.

        1. Works in IT

          It’s not the employer’s problem, but there’s a huge difference between someone who expects their parents to be brought in on every work thing, and someone who knows their parents should not be brought in on every work thing but can’t do anything about it in this case because they were called, with a job offer, with parents in the room. What were they supposed to do, pretend it was a wrong number to avoid attracting attention? The latter person will likely do everything in their power to keep their parents from interfering in their job, once the inevitable parents were around when they got the job offer so they insisted on getting involved involvement is over.

          1. Susana

            Yes, but we don’t know any of this – we don’t know if job applicant was fine with her father getting on the phone (she did hand the phone to him). Nor do we know if she is indeed trying her damndest to become fully independent. She may, in fact, think her parents will fight battles for her at work as they did when she was in school. We just don’t know.
            Alison is right – wold have been better (20:20 hindsight!) to say to parent, sorry, I need to speak with the job applicant only, and shut it down. Not OP1’s problem if that causes a problem at home. But now, just have a clear conversation saying that was inappropriate and unprofessional. I know you;re new to the workplace, so we can forget it happened, but it needs to never happen again. You, not either of your parents, works here and you, and only you, are responsible for your duties here and your success here.

            1. Works in IT

              You’re right, we don’t know any of this. Which is why we should not rescind the job offer on the basis of one phone call without first trying to establish which situation it is, because someone who is aware of business norms and who couldn’t help but give over the phone should be treated a lot more differently than someone who blatantly wants her parents involved with her job.

              1. Susana

                Oh, of course don’t rescind! That would be an over-reaction. Since it’s too late to tell father nope, not talking to you, the thing to do now when Jane starts is to say, look, that’s not how we do things, and this is something that could have worked against you if you were in the interview/application phase. But I wouldn’t just let it go with no follow-up – or Jane might let this happen again, in later jobs.

            2. Penny Parker

              Is someone going to “have a conversation” with Sally to teach her how to be more professional when faced with a parent? She definitely shares some of the disapproval here. She FAILED at her job!

          2. LJay

            But if I have another candidate that is similarly qualified, and doesn’t have a red-flaggy parent interaction during the hiring process, you bet I am going to choose that one instead.

            Because you can’t tell the child who is truly mortified from the child who thinks that having their parent involved in everything is perfectly fine from one interaction. And if I can avoid the whole headache I will.

            I’m choosing the person that is going to get the job done best, not the person with the circumstances that most show they need the job.

            And if I have to deal with helicopter parents or similar that is going to negatively affect the worker’s production, my production, and probably the rest of the team’s as they get drawn into the parent drama one way or another.

          3. Zev

            1. Child abuse is far, FAR more common than anyone realizes. So yes, it is entirely likely this girl is living in an abusive situation.

            2. If so, it is also very likely that she is planning to get a job, get a car, move out, and establish incredibly strong boundaries with her parents.

            3. When the candidate — who I believe in the letter was described as a new grad — begins her start date, not only should her supervisor have that conversation about professional norms, but she should also have a conversation around, “We want you to be safe at work, you are able to block people from entry, you are able to block people from calling you, you will not suffer negative consequences from other people’s behavior, this is standard practice to keep our employees safe while they are on the premesis.” Because this IS true, and it is not giving her any sort of “special treatment” to explicitly tell her this. (Think back to the librarian whose stalker kept finding her at work after several job changes, a move out of state, AND a name change. If you supported giving that individual the benefit of the doubt, then by the same logic you ought to support this person as well).

            4. I really, truly cannot over-emphasize the fact that child abuse is far more commonplace than anyone realizes. Beyond physical or sexual abuse, there is verbal abuse, there is emotional abuse, there is manipulation, there is parentalization, there is emotional incest…. the list goes on. A parent behaving the way LW describes is a giant red flag for abuse.

            5. Let the candidate start working. If by some chance she really is just a dishrag who can’t function at Adulting, you’ll see other signs soon enough — and thats what probationary periods are for. Until those signs appear, give her the benefit of the doubt (just as you would for, say, the LW who had been the victim of an online hate campaign, or the LW who wanted to hire someone who had been on a reality TV show, or the LW who had been humiliated on a court tv type television show).

            You can say “compassion don’t feed the bulldog” and you can say “its not my job to hire a bad candidate just to help them out/ because i feel sorry for them. You thought she was a good candidate before this happened. There is a reason you made the job offer, and that reason is still valid. If she ends up not being a good fit, well, thats a risk you take in hiring and thats the cost of doing business.

            Child abuse is very, very common. Do not hold it against the victims.

            Sincerely,
            Someone who was once fired because their brother showed up at their workplace and trash talked them to their boss. (Can’t move out and stop being his punching bag if i dont have a job!)

            1. Really?

              This person is no longer a child though, and you have no idea if she was abused. More fan fiction.

              1. Zev

                Wow, that is a supremely unkind response that contributes nothing to the discussion. Maybe you need to reread the commenting rules and step off.

              2. Zev

                @Really – Actually I’ve just read through the rest of your comments on this thread and i think I’ve got your number. I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavours. Bless your heart.

    4. Gunney

      Why not tell that to the dad, not to the candidate? “We can only discuss employment matters with the person being employed. If Jacintha is going to need parental supervision at work then we will have to rescind the offer. Please put Jacintha back on the phone.” Then tell Jacintha that her parents can’t be involved. Send the threat to the person who needs to be told to back off, not the person who is still learning how to stand up for themselves.

      1. Airy

        Especially since, if the dad IS the controlling type, he thinks what he’s doing is absolutely right, so if Jane doesn’t get the job after that with no explanation otherwise it means SHE fouled the deal somehow and he needs to get on her case even harder. If he isn’t that unreasonable, being told he overstepped will also be effective (even more so – he’d be aghast) so it should still be the way to go if Sally really truly thinks it’s a deal-killer.

        1. Pommette!

          Yes, completely.
          There are two major possibilities:
          1- Jane and her parents are deeply clueless, and rescinding the offer will teach them a harsh lesson. (But explaining why the employer can only speak to Jane would be a kindness, and exposure to the working world will give her an opportunity to learn her lesson, and many others, less painfully).
          2- Jane’s father is controlling, and rescinding the offer will be interpreted as evidence of failure on her part, and could be used as an excuse for him tighten his control on her.

      2. Zipzap

        Yes! I think it’s really helpful for the parent to hear this from the hiring manager, from someone in authority, in order for the message to truly sink in. Of course you can always reiterate it to the candidate, as they need to hear it too, but you’d be doing the candidate and the parent a favor by personally telling them both that the parent’s behavior will not fly at your company, and won’t be acceptable anywhere else either.

      3. RUKiddingMe

        I like this. Of course there’s the chance the dad will get all fluffy and decide unilaterally that Jacintha isn’t accepting the offer.

        1. Not So NewReader

          Dad can’t refuse on behalf of adult child though.

          IF OP still felt like working this one through, OP could email adult child later.

          The thought goes through my mind that there is only so much we can do to help people. And we can’t fix every situation.

          At some point we have to put our foot down with overbearing parents. OR we have to get really clever about workarounds for dealing with these parents.

          The daughter made the call in her father’s presence. She handed her father the phone. Yes, the father could be making her do that that is entirely possible. But there is some willingness to go along with dad going on here. The guy had questions that he had developed. This to me reads like he has too much specific information. Then for him to ask if she can come in late, I am very close done here. I think part of the key is the nature of the questions he is asking. If the candidate grabbed the phone and started apologizing I might be able to work through that. “You need to call me back when we can talk privately. It’s okay to talk to your family later, but our conversation needs to be private. You will be given time to consider the offer, so you can call me back after you talk to your family.”

          But yeah, that question kind of ended things for me.

          1. Jessen

            If the daughter is living with parents at the time, Dad can pretty easily make it so the adult child has to either refuse the job or face homelessness. That definitely sounds like something my family would have done – they didn’t interfere with jobs so much, thankfully, but “if you’re not going to do as you’re told get out of the house” was a definite reality. Or do something like making it so I couldn’t sleep at the house (because someone would come in to yell at me) until I agreed to refuse the job.

            There’s a lot of ways a controlling family can make it so an adult child has some pretty severe consequences for not doing what the parents want. And early 20’s is very young to be able to stand up to that, especially in a world that shames you for doing it.

            1. LJay

              But none of that is in the purview of a hiring manager to fix.

              And it is the purview of the hiring manager to be concerned that – whether this is an abusive situation or not – that the parental involvement is going to be detrimental to the company to the extent that not hiring the person might be a better idea.

              Especially in this case where Dad is asking whether or not the employee can be late on the first day. Is Dad going to determine that the employee can only work at times that are okay with him, whether or not those times are what the job needs? Is he going to call and berate the employee or come in and berate the employee while she is trying to work because of something he is unhappy with at home? Is the employee going to be exhausted all the time and unable to do their job well because they’re being kept awake?

              Like, I have compassion for all of those situations. But at the same time, I’m not a social worker or a therapist, I’m a manger of a publicly held company hiring someone to do a job that I need done. And ultimately, for myself, my team, and my company, getting involved in a situation like that is generally not going to be the right decision, as much as that sucks for the person trying to get themselves out of a bad family situation.

          2. Works in IT

            The daughter did NOT make the call in her father’s presence. The daughter RECEIVED the call in the father’s presence. That’s an important distinction, because from the outset the daughter had no control over whether the father knew what was going on. It’s a lot easier to keep interfering parents out of your work communications when they don’t know the work communications are happening.

            If this had happened over email, or if the parents weren’t around when she was called, this conversation could have easily gone so differently. “You’re starting on date? At time? But we want to go to school to pick up the thing at slightly earlier time on date! Did you ask if you could come in later?” (Having not asked because it’s not as big a deal as starting job) “I asked, but they say they can’t change it, sorry. At least I’m being hired!”

            1. Jessen

              That’s a good point. If it’s like most job offer calls I’m familiar with it’s not something scheduled in advance.

            2. goducks

              How do we know that the daughter didn’t make the call, that it wasn’t a scheduled call? The OP just says that Sally was making the offer verbally over the phone. Was this detail filled in by an additional comment in a thread?
              It’s pretty common to set a time to have a call with a candidate to extend a verbal offer. It’s entirely possible that the daughter knew that she was going to be on a call at that time (regardless of who dialed whom), and that she could have taken the call away from her father.

              1. Works in IT

                Job offer calls are not typically scheduled ahead of time. You might know that they will be calling you with a decision some time in the next few days, 10 am to 2 pm, but that’s not nearly precise enough to guarantee being alone when you get the call.

                1. goducks

                  I have both scheduled calls and had calls scheduled with me to present job offers. It’s pretty common, because you can get a person’s undivided attention that way. Nobody wants to get a job offer while they’re in the middle of another task that’s requiring attention, nor does anybody want to talk to someone who is trying to attend to something else.

                  It’s really pretty common.

                2. Jadelyn

                  @goducks Just because you’ve experienced it a few times, doesn’t make it common. I’ve never had a scheduled call with a prospective employer that wasn’t an interview call – certainly I’d never expect a scheduled call for a job offer.

          3. Zillah

            I… feel like there’s a lot of “in a perfect world” in how you’re looking at this. When we’re put on the spot, we don’t always react perfectly – Sally’s answering the questions is also an example of that. Grabbing the phone back is maybe something people should do, but it’s not something that everyone will have the presence of mind to do.

      4. Gladiator

        I think that’s unprofessional. It’s not our place as an employee to correct parents. Even if it is nuts. To threaten to pull a job over a few minor questions is a bit too much. Is it weird? Yes. Is it annoying? Yes. But to hold a person new to the work force responsible for her parent isn’t helpful. This is a total new experience for her and may have acted in anxiety. Mind reading what could happen isn’t helpful either. Address a behavior problem if there appears to be one.

        1. Gunney

          Agreed, I wouldn’t threaten to rescind a job offer just because the employee’s dad made a mistake. Personally I would only say something like this as “if you need [unreasonable thing like parental supervision at work] then you can’t work here”, not an actual threat to fire the individual. I don’t even know if I would take it that far, just not speak to the dad.

      5. Penny Parker

        Agreed. I see Sally more at fault here than Jane! Jane is new to the work force and dealing with an over controlling father. Sally is a hiring professional and absolutely failed at what she ought to have done.

    5. Quandong

      On the other hand, many parents out there are extremely controlling, which is another possible explanation for the father’s behaviour. I feel for the young people living at home in these situations.

    6. Lena Clare

      This makes me incredibly sad! Why not just do as Alison explains and give Jane one chance? She’ll learn the lesson anyway. You can’t blame the child for the parent’s misguided behaviour.

      It would have been better if Sally had actually been able to say that script to the father, hearing it from Sally directly. I wonder if he’d have poo-pooed the idea if Jane had told him “My new boss told me not to involve you” and then pressurised Jane, making it difficult for her.

      Also, recent grad – what’s that, like, 21 years old? 22? That’s YOUNG! I was an IDIOT with so much growing up to do then. Jane’s only had experience of schooling, not professional, norms. I’d cut her *some* slack. (But not the dad.)

      1. mamma mia

        That is giving Jane way too much benefit of the doubt in a situation where she doesn’t deserve it at all. 21 is old enough not to be this incredibly immature. And I’m unsure why everyone is assuming that the father is the overbearing one; it is just as likely that the daughter was totally fine with this or even asked the dad to “help” her in this matter. We don’t know and either way, it honestly doesn’t matter.

        However, I don’t think she’s 100% to blame here; Sally is almost equally to blame. If I were Sally, I would’ve shut this down immediately. I can’t imagine a scenario in which I would actually answer the dad’s questions??? That seems almost as batshit as Jane letting her dad get on the phone. Of course, hindsight is 20/20 but still.

        Now that Sally let this slide, I don’t think she can straight up take back the offer without coming across as hypocritical. If it were me, I would’ve told Jane, “I will not answer questions from your father and I am honestly questioning your judgment at this point. Is speaking to your parents something I can expect in the future? Because if so, we have wildly different expectations of what an adult job entails and I will have to reconsider offering you the position.” It’s chastening, sure, but it would get the point across.

        1. Librarian of SHIELD

          Maturity isn’t something that is magically conferred on a person when they reach a certain age. It’s a learned skill. Clearly “adults handle their own job searches/negotiations” isn’t a skill Jane’s parents taught her, and we’ve all heard the stories of terrible advice people have received from college career advice staff, so it doesn’t seem unreasonable to me that Jane legitimately didn’t know that this isn’t how this works. It doesn’t make her a terrible person or a terrible adult or a terrible employee if she doesn’t know a thing no one’s ever taught her.

          I think it’s worth having at least one more conversation with Jane to tell her that only she will be permitted to talk to her boss and her company about her employment, and then make the decision on whether or not to rescind the offer based on how that conversation goes.

          1. Susana

            Yes, agree it’s worth having a convo with Jane to make sure she understands. If you’re 21 and don’t get that this is wrong, however – well, you’re not ready for the work world. Sure, maturity is not automatic with age, and maybe Jane is immature. But then she doesn’t deserve the job over someone who indeed possesses that basic maturity.

          2. Jen

            Yeah, I brought my parents with me for my first car purchase and to most house hunting appointments, which I think require a similar level of adult skills. Maybe I was lucky that my job offer came while I was away at college, but I hope I wouldn’t have been tempted to have my parents speak directly to the employer.

        2. Works in IT

          I’m not assuming the father is the overbearing one. It’s true, Jane could be immature and begging her parents to get involved with her work life. But if you pull the job offer BECAUSE she let her father talk on the phone, when she had no control over when the job offer call came in, that ignores the very real possibility that Jane is actually very aware of how inappropriate this was and simply didn’t have a choice because she was very visibly called with a job offer when parents were around. And that’s not exactly the sort of thing that she could answer, on the phone, with parents listening in.

          1. mamma mia

            This doesn’t make any sense. Of course she couldn’t control when the job offer came in but she completely had control in saying, ““No, but my father does” and handing the phone over to him. I’m baffled as to why everyone is bending over backwards to defend this 21 year old ADULT. Unless he held a gun to her head or something, she had complete control over her actions. Maybe if her dad was pushy and overbearing, she could’ve taken the call in her room or outside.

            To be clear, I’m not suggesting pulling the job offer because Sally’s willingness to answer the father’s questions kind of eliminates this as a possibility. I’m just saying I would watch Jane like a hawk and if a hint of this behavior ever creeps up, I would shut it down immediately.

            1. Works in IT

              So… you would refuse to give your father the phone when he wanted it and be kicked out of your house the day you accepted an offer for a job?

              I’m not saying her parents are definitely the controlling sort, this could be a case of child with no concept of what is appropriate or not. But the job offer shouldn’t be rescinded simply because of one call, because it’s all too easy for her to be like me a couple years ago, threatened with homelessness every time she tries pushing back on her parents’ unprofessional demands, told “you won’t motivate yourself to do what you need to do so we HAVE to push you” constantly, with no nearby friends to crash on their couch for a bit. I wasn’t able to escape their influence on my life until I got a job that paid enough for rent. Then I moved out a week after I got my first paycheck and was free to ignore their “advice”.

              1. mamma mia

                I’m sorry about your personal experience; that definitely sounds rough and unfair but you’re way out of line here in thinking I’m somehow okay with Jane being homeless?? Honestly, wtf. The chance that the dad was threatening Jane with homelessness if she did not give him the phone is a minuscule possibility. And even if it were the case (and I’m fairly confident in saying its not), it’s not the employer’s problem to solve.

                Also, you keep arguing that the job offer should not be rescinded, when I have stated multiple times that I agree with that. Jane is an adult. She could have also let the call go to voicemail and call later, not in the presence of her parents. I know why you keep trying to defend her but I still don’t see her actions as justifiable and would be very wary of her.

                1. Alienor

                  Well, even if he weren’t threatening her with homelessness, there’s certainly the possibility of him making a scene. If Dad’s in the background gesturing for Jane to give him the phone, and Jane knows that shaking her head no will cause him to start escalating, it might seem like just letting him talk is the option least likely to jeopardize the offer. Dad getting involved in your career negotiations isn’t a good look, but Dad yelling at you like a child in full earshot of your future employer is an even worse one.

              2. Really?

                You don’t know that candidate would have been kicked out of the house. Assuming facts not in evidence.

                1. Zillah

                  Works in IT said:

                  I’m not saying her parents are definitely the controlling sort, this could be a case of child with no concept of what is appropriate or not.

                  They’re not assuming anything.

            2. EH

              I didn’t realize I could tell my parents no until I was 24 – and even then, I couldn’t bring myself to say a direct no to a direct order from them until I stopped living with them and had my own bank account (which was a year or so later, iirc). If her father told her in advance that he had questions and wanted to speak to Sally during the call (OP said above it was scheduled), it’s entirely likely she didn’t feel like she had the option to say no. At 21, it would not have even *occurred* to me that I had the option to say no.

              Not everyone’s home life is what you’d expect.

              1. Barb

                I would have deep empathy for anyone who didn’t realize they didn’t have to or shouldn’t involve their parents in their work life. But I would not hire them, even though I’ve hired teenagers (who, for whatever reasons, didn’t involve their parents).

                I have my own home life to deal with, outside of work. I’m not going to add the burdens of someone else’s home life to my work. That’s poor boundaries.

                I think that’s what people with abusive parents aren’t understanding in this conversation– it’s inappropriate for a boss to speculate about an employee’s personal life, and come to conclusions based on that speculation. That would involve projection and poor boundaries. It’s not healthy.

        3. Delphine

          This seems ridiculously harsh on all fronts and fairly unreasonable. If you can’t possibly stretch your mind to imagine a situation where age doesn’t define the type of relationship a person has with their parent or a scenario where you’d be flustered on a call and answer someone’s questions against your better judgement…well, there is more than one way to be “immature.”

          1. mamma mia

            As an employer, I would not care about people’s relationships with their parents; it’s not my business and Jane is trying to make it the employer’s business, which is a problem. I would be much more sympathetic to Jane if the father called the employer without Jane’s involvement but Jane was totally complicit. As for Sally answering the questions, no, personally, I could not imagine answering questions from an employee’s father because again, that’s totally unreasonable. If that makes me immature, so be it.

            1. Observer

              She’s not “trying to make it” anyone’s business.

              At this point all of the people who are saying “rescind the offer” keep saying either “She’s obviously an immature twit who can’t be trusted to behave”, “I don’t care if she’s the victim of abuse, I’m not going to take three minutes to see if we can still make this work” or “whatever the reason for this is, it OBVIOUS that there is no way to make this work.”

              None of these are true. Any one of these COULD be true, but it’s also quite possible that a straight conversation is all she needs to get her act together. Sure, if you talk to her and she pushes back, or the problem continues, rescind the offer / fire her. But ONE inappropriate call simply doesn’t give you enough information to make a decision, and refusing to put i the teeniest bit of effort for someone who otherwise looks like a good hire is . . . not great.

              1. mamma mia

                I honestly don’t know how I could’ve made it any clearer that I don’t think rescinding the offer is a good idea. It seems like you’re either reading my comments in bad faith or just not reading them at all.

    7. OrangeHat

      It’s different because Jane handed the phone over, but my workplace hires hundreds of fresh grads and part of the deal is that many have to relocate to take up their roles, and don’t get a huge say in the location of their offer. Every year we get dozens of parents calling in to tell us how unacceptable it is that we’re asking their child to move away from them – some of the candidates have definitely put them up to it or co-operated with them because they hope it’ll somehow persuade us to give them the location they want, but many more are MORTIFIED when they realise what their parent s have done. There are some crazy pushy people out there!

      1. Colhane

        Basing employees where they want to live is more likely to result in long-term retention than randomly forcing them elsewhere. Now, to be sure, that’s not always possible; but if these roles are so interchangeable (“we hire hundreds every year”) perhaps that is something you can accommodate.

        1. AnonNotmyNormalName

          You’re assuming that the kids who are mortified aren’t going to the place of their choosing – maybe they are and they specifically want to get away from their families but their parents are freaking out about it. I had controlling parents and while they never pulled crap like Jane’s father, they were controlling in all kinds of other ways that affected my life. I was almost kicked out of the house at one point and there were all kinds of repercussions to not doing things exactly the way my parents wanted. I got out as soon as I could and tried to never have to rely on them again.

          I work in Higher Ed – I get that there are more parents who are just out of control helicopter parents who have full support of their kids in doing it. But there are a surprising number that don’t fall into that boat and its better to error on the side of caution with this and assume it’s not wanted by Jane until it’s clear it is and then deal with that.

        2. Susana

          True, but not the point. If you know going in you could be relocated, then you get what you get. If you don’t want to relocate, turn down the job. But having your PARENTS call? Like they have some authority over your soon-to-be employer? Dealbreaker.

        3. OrangeHat

          We do where we can, but it’s a charity role and about sending people where they’re most needed – a lot of the locations we need to send people are places nobody particularly wants to go.

      2. mamma mia

        You’re completely right. It’s so much different when a parent calls on their own accord but Jane handing the phone over makes her just as “guilty” as her father and I am amazed that so many commenters here are expressing sympathy for her and accusing the dad of being overbearing when Jane was totally complicit. You can make up any scenario under the sun to justify what she did but she still did it. Jane is getting an adult job and should be treated like an adult. But unfortunately, it’s too late to do something about it, unless it happens again, in which case I would pounce to have a stern talking to with her.

        1. Librarian of SHIELD

          Why are you framing this in terms of “guilt” and “being complicit”? She made a mistake in a hiring phone call. She didn’t help anybody commit a crime. If she’s qualified for the job by all other measures, I don’t think this mistake is as unforgivable as you seem to think it is. It’s worth talking to her about it first to see if she gets it before pulling the offer entirely.

          1. Zillah

            Yeah, that language has stuck out to me, too. This was absolutely a mistake and something that shouldn’t have happened, but she handed her father the phone when she’d gotten a job offer – she didn’t help him bury a body.

      3. Susana

        Yeesh, if I knew for sure a new employee had “put them up to it,” I’d find someone to take their place…

    8. Susana

      Yes. In this case, I’d make a one-time exception, but would have a very stern talking-to with the job candidate. This isn’t a case of a parent calling around about internships – in which case the job/intern applicant may not know. This is a case of a job applicant HANDING the phone over to her father, apparently thinking it’s OK.

    9. Pommette!

      This type of hyperparenting drives me bonkers, too… but I would not rescind the offer.

      I often encountered this kind of parental interference while teaching undergraduate students. Sometimes it was just benign, obnoxious, “Stop it! You all need to grow out of this so that this young person can become an adult!” stuff, and easily enough addressed by setting clear and explicit boundaries. But sometimes it was a lot darker, and clearly part of a pattern of abusive behaviour on the parents’ part. For people like that, maintaining control over children is the point, and any means will do. Interfering in the hiring process works well, whether by eroding normal workplace boundaries or by preventing the child from getting a job. After all, losing a job makes it harder for the child to build up non-familial support networks or savings, and it ensures that the child only ever gets to interact with people who think that that kind of parental interference is acceptable. Ultimately, that all makes it harder for them to escape the abusive relationship.

      The most heartbreaking situation I encountered was with a student whose parents were always stepping in and intervening in ways that were humiliating for her, that undermined her own trust in herself, and that eroded her ability to develop healthy relationships with peers and mentors. It seemed innocent enough at first (“We want to talk about X’s bad grades on the mid-term”/”I can’t discuss student’s enrollment or grades with anyone but the student themselves.”), but they were unrelenting. They brought up her”failures” and financial dependency regularly, and used these to control her. That experience totally changed the way I see parental overstepping; now I can’t help but worry about abuse (even though I know that that’s not usually what’s going on).

      Which was a long-winded way of saying: please don’t rescind the offer (but do explain why passing the phone to her father was not OK)!

    10. Mediamaven

      I completely agree with you. It sounds harsh but that’s going to be a problem child starting day one. Obviously no critical thinking skills thanks to her parents.

      1. Jadelyn

        “Obviously no critical thinking skills thanks to her parents.” Wow, that’s downright heartless. Gods forbid someone find themselves backed into a metaphorical corner and make a mistake (like handing your employer over to your parent to talk to) because you don’t know what else to do or how to handle it. Clearly the only people who would make that mistake are people with “no critical thinking skills”.

        Yeesh.

          1. Observer

            No, just incomplete. The comment Jadelyn replied to WAS heartless. It was also really extreme and jumping to a lot of totally unwarranted conclusions.

    11. boo bot

      I’m surprised by how quickly people are leaping to “pull the offer,” which I feel like is generally seen around here as a drastic option, given that once someone accepts an offer, they’re counting on that job for future plans, resigning a current job (or withdrawing applications), etc.

      I feel like the jump to get rid of Jane, particularly to “teach her a lesson” is kind of infantilizing, and I know the knee-jerk response is, “well she acted like a child,” but hear me out: what would the reaction be if it had been her husband? I think we’d all be deeply concerned about the relationship, and I think Jane would need to be told very plainly that she’s got to speak on her own behalf, but I don’t think “pull the offer immediately” would be an appropriate response.

      (Also, I think it’s incredibly relevant that Sally called Jane and not the other way around – she really didn’t have control over who was with her at the time.)

      1. Massmatt

        The offer had just been made, and the newly hired employee handed the phone to her dad. What sort of plans and resignation could she have done? What, sending an email while talking to the hiring manager?

        She didn’t control who was around her, she certainly controlled who she gave the phone to!

        And yes, I would rescind a job offer to someone who had a spouse ask these questions also, barring some unusual circumstance such as a language barrier or laryngitis. This behavior is not ok, it is a harbinger of the employee not understanding how to be an adult, and teaching that is not My managerial responsibility.

        1. OP #1

          To be clarify a couple things:
          1) This was a scheduled call. So Jane did have control of who was in the room with her
          2) Sally is NOT going to pull the offer – as many ha e pointed out, Jane is a new grad, and new grads make mistakes. And this wasn’t even Jane’s mistake. Her only mistake was not standing up to her dad, which all children have difficulty doing, regardless of age
          3) I wish I’d be able to give an update, but alas, Jane is not my hire and will be working in a different building

          1. Jadelyn

            It being a scheduled call doesn’t automatically mean Jane had control of the situation. Take it from a person who was under the thumb of a controlling parent growing up, those kinds of parents are extraordinarily good at maneuvering their kids into a corner and forcing them to handle things the way the parent wants (like, for example, demanding to be in the room for that call).

            1. Really?

              Not all parents are like yours. It’s unfortunate, but hypercontrolling parent will negatively affect a person’s life.

            2. Gunney

              Point taken but if Jane is so tightly controlled that her parents are going to maneuver themselves into every work situation, then that is going to be a problem for the employer. It’s not right and I feel for Jane if that’s her situation, but Jane would need to figure out a way to deal with it so her employer doesn’t have to.

    12. Kira

      It’s fine if her dad had those questions – it’s pretty normal – but he should have told his daughter what to ask and had her ask them at least! My dad gives me suggestions for what to find out in situations like this but I would never dream of him getting within 100 miles of my employer!

    13. Observer

      Harsh lesson? Yes. But this crap has to be stopped.

      The thing is that you may not be teaching anyone anything by doing this. Even your explanation may not work.

      Now, telling the parent that you cannot talk to them, and telling the candidate that you will not talk to the parents is a good starting point. If the candidate won’t commit to not getting their parent involved, then you do need to move on, but realize that this is not about “lessons” but your operations.

      On the other hand, if you tell the candidate “Please do not ever put your parents on the phone again. This is totally inappropriate.” Possibly adding “I will speak to your parents ONCE, and ONCE ONLY to tell them that speak ONLY to our employee, and not to the parents”, then you may (or may not) teach the employee something. And, if they won’t go along with it, you should definitely rescind the offer. Again, not about lessons, but you know you’re going to have problems with this one.

    14. tink

      To me this would really only be appropriate for a young teen that isn’t driving age yet doing something like babysitting, mainly so things like travel could be coordinated. (I spent summers watching a kid from church, and my mom dropped me off in the mornings but the kid’s dad brought me home in the afternoons once he got home from work. They spoke on the phone a few times to coordinate that.)

    15. Massmatt

      I would DEFINITELY have rescinded the offer on the spot, both for the bizarre helicopter parenting and asking to come in late on the first day. This new employee sounds like she will be a nightmare to manage.

    16. AKchic

      I feel bad for the woman. I’ve had to take calls in front of my grandma before. Oh my gods… talk about disempowering. My grandma’s last job was in the early 70’s as a recess attendant so she could “keep an eye on” my elementary-aged uncles during their recess (because “ADHD wasn’t a thing back then” and they should have been diagnosed). It took my electronic salesman uncle a dozen times to explain that us using our personal cell phones wouldn’t charge HER long distance bill (any woman would not be believed). The pastor and my uncle together finally convinced her. However, me answering my phone at all was “rude” and I “wasn’t keeping an eye on” my children “properly” (apparently I was supposed to sit on them? I dunno) if I answered my phone to schedule interviews that I needed in order to work so I could get an apartment since I was homeless with three kids. She wanted me to just find a rich man to marry.
      She actually yelled at me so loudly that I had two different people rescind their interview offers on the spot. One person rescinded an apartment showing. The job market at the time was tight. Not answering your phone right away meant not getting an interview. So, I stopped coming over to help her with things during the day. I had to. I couldn’t afford to stay out of a job.

      I feel like this woman may be in the same boat. An overbearing helicopter parent who wants to make sure the daughter has “all the facts” and wants firsthand information and doesn’t recognize that he’s undermining his adult daughter and no matter what she does to protest, he’s going to run roughshod over her protestations. It would be best for a manager to flatly tell the parents “this is unacceptable behavior on *your* part. Your son/daughter is a legal adult and this job is theirs, not yours and I am not speaking to you about a job that isn’t yours. Put your son/daughter back on the phone. I will only speak to you *IF* you are listed as an emergency contact and there is an actual emergency. These antics can and will hinder your *adult* son/daughter’s career in the future and I will pretend that this didn’t happen as a favor to them.” The parents need to be put in their place by an authority that they may actually recognize, and their child isn’t an authority in their eyes.

    17. Anonandon

      Absolutely. My first thought was, “Tell Jane not to bother showing up on Monday.”

      1. Penny Parker

        My first thought — and all my later thoughts — are “Why did Sally act so unprofessional and why is Jane taking all of the heat here?”

    18. Malthusian Optimist

      yeesh about 9 years ago at the tender age of 45 I was staying at my folks for a month, bad cell coverage so used the land line for an interview, well Mr. Busy-Pants dad decided he needed to eavesdrop, not knowing to cover the mouth piece or even use the mute button. the feedback and his breathing was so bad I couldn’t understand a word, had to excuse myself to go find him and tell him to hang the F – up which I’m sure was heard on the other end.
      guess how that opportunity went.

  3. Elizabeth West

    I wish I could just use the same one. I do use elements of a master letter, but I hate busting my arse on a letter just to get a rejection a week later.

    1. Loubelou

      Like Alison said, it’s usually really obvious which means it affects your chances of being hired. I don’t see any issue with recycling the main content, but tailor it to the particular job.

      Also, it greatly increases the risk of sending the wrong cover letter to the wrong job! I’ve seen far too many “I would love to work for company X” cover letters while working for company Y.

      1. ssssssssssssssssssssssssss

        Yep – Main content with tailoring as necessary. But it also depends on the type of job. When it’s administrative assistant stuff and they’re all looking for the same things – Office, initiative, dependability, etc. – there’s no point in reinventing the wheel for each letter.

        And so very often, there was so very little to tailor in the master letter for those jobs.

      2. goducks

        I’ve received so many cover letters that name the wrong company in them! 99/100 that’s an automatic reject.

      3. Elitist Semicolon

        I was once offered a job at a school despite having accidentally not replaced the name of a competing school in the boilerplate concluding paragraph I recycled. I turned the job down for multiple reasons, but one of the biggest was that they referred to the error repeatedly during the campus interview – including a comment like, “you’re so lucky that we chose to interview you anyway.” In theory, I was indeed lucky they chose to overlook the error, but in practice, their handling of it was a gigantic sign that I would not enjoy working with them.

    2. Entry Level Marcus

      Especially when it seems like a significant portion of hiring managers don’t read or only skim through cover letters.

      I still try to write nice ones for jobs I really want, especially writing-heavy jobs, but I’ll admit it’s frustrating knowing that many won’t help at all.

      1. November Ring

        I am in the process of hiring at the moment, and have instantly rejected some applications because of a cover letter that doesn’t fit with the position that I am hiring for, and for spelling and grammatical errors.
        I don’t even read the resume, because attention to detail is very important for the position, and to me a poor cover letter shows me that this could become an issue. I may have missed out on a few great employees, but if you can’t take the time to tailor your cover letter or resume, this job (medical field) probably isn’t a great fit for you.

      2. Oxford Comma

        I can tell a boilerplate cover letter from a mile away. As Alison says, the ones that are written to the position stand out and we tend to look at those much more closely.

        We do read cover letters. You would be amazed at how many of them have typos and grammatical errors.

        There are also a significant number where it’s clear they meant to just swap out the name of the job, but never got around to doing that. That can be a one-way ticket to the no pile.

        Most of our positions require someone with an eye for detail and we get an awful lot of applicants. If you want to be considered for a job, you should take the time and effort to write a decent cover letter.

        1. Alianora

          I really think it depends on the position you’re applying for. When I was applying for admin jobs, I tried the “tailored cover letter” strategy, but it didn’t get me better results than just using the same one for each job and making slight adjustments. And since writing a new cover letter took a lot of time, it was a better use of time to apply to as many positions as possible.

          We recently hired a new lawyer at my job, and no one cared about the cover letter at all, just the resume and interview. The candidate we went with had a super short cover letter that essentially said “I am interested in applying for this position” in more formal language.

          1. Oxford Comma

            At a minimum, you want to proofread your cover letters. You certainly want to make sure you’ve got the correct company/institution name and position in the letter. Like I said, a lot of people don’t even do that.

            We do hire admins and while we’re not expecting highly tailored letters, we expect the minimum. When we have huge pools of applicants, we can afford to be choosy and we will usually go with the applicants who have highlighted the experience/skill sets we need rather than the ones with the generic boilerplate letters.

            As others have suggested elsewhere in the comments, you can have standard paragraphs you use and adjust. Sometimes you just need to tweak a sentence or two.

            1. Alianora

              Obviously I proofread them — that’s not in question here.

              My “generic” cover letter *did* highlight skills that the job postings were looking for. It’s just that those job postings were all very similar and virtually all of them were looking for the same skillsets. The admin jobs didn’t differ much across companies, at least not in ways that you could tell from the job posting.

              1. Jennifer Thneed

                Yeah, when I’m “job” hunting (really “contract” hunting), I’m often responding to rather boilerplate job descriptions. So I’ve got my standard letter that I can tweak for different industries, including about a dozen bullet points of specific projects, of which any particular letter gets 4-5.

          2. Kira

            When I was applying to jobs cover letters were really stressing me out until a commenter either on here or Corporette told me I just had to send a decent cover letter, not an amazing one. I had a couple stock paragraphs explaining a change I made in my career, and then adjusted those for each application, but doing it that way allowed me to get out a lot of applications, and I definitely didn’t notice a decrease in or lack of responses.

        2. Elitist Semicolon

          I was reviewing applications for an office admin position once and was startled when an otherwise solid (if unremarkable) letter suddenly started talking about how much they loved beer and wanted to work for [name of] a local brewery. Talk about not taking time to tailor (or even read over) the letter…

          1. Malthusian Optimist

            excerpt from my favorite cover letter ever which did actually garner a decent reply!
            “Specific to your needs, my tenure has required developing a comfort and ease working closely with a diverse group of teammates each with an equally diverse agenda.
            My skills and experience speak directly to the requirements and duties, yet I realize I stand a snowball’s chance in a hotel swimming pool in my attempt to move from the world of art, architecture and design to that of publishing. So what the heck, let’s have some fun.
            At the moment, in my feverish brain, I am occupied in my seemingly endless duties as CEO/Creative Director of Pointless Endeavors, LLC: the umbrella holding group for Squalid Entertainment multi-media. As such, Squalid is currently engaged in producing short digital video of cattle grazing to music by (for instance) the Commodores’ “Brick House”, a phenomenological study of bovine reaction to popular music (they hate ACDC, yet like Wings, if you were ever curious).”

            while deemed not the appropriate applicant for the position/time, I was enthusiastically encouraged to approach them in the future.

    3. boo bot

      One thought that strikes me is, there are basically two elements to a cover letter: “stuff about me,” and “stuff about my interest in Company.” I know in my personal experience, the “stuff about me” part is the hardest to come up with.

      Does it make sense to write a loose template, where the “stuff about me” will stay largely the same, and the “my interest in Company” will change?

      1. wafflesfriendswork

        That’s pretty much what I do. I have a boilerplate that I start with that has all of the things I would tell everyone anyway, tweak as needed based on the posting, and then my ending paragraph is always why I’m specifically interested in the company.

        1. Snarktini

          One of the most insightful tips I’ve ever been given came from a therapist — he recommended putting the “why I’m interested in your company” paragraph first, not last! He said people want to hear about themselves first, and will pay a lot better attention after they see that. I do a lot of audience/market research professionally and that is totally true.

          1. Alianora

            Great advice. The hiring managers I’ve worked with tend to skim cover letters at first, so you want to put the most important information up front.

    4. Emily K

      There’s definitely a middle ground between writing a letter from scratch and just changing the company name!

      I use something of a template. Usually I’m applying for the same general type of work, so it’s basically like:

      – Opening sentence (I’m interested in your role)
      – Paragraph about my background in the field in general or past experiences with the company in specific (think: I’ve always been interested in competitive women’s underwater basket-weaving, so it would be rewarding to work for a basket reed company that sponsors programs for women’s teams)
      – 1-2 paragraphs about how my professional background prepared me in the specific type of work the job seems to entail (think: having worked as both a security guard and a copy editor at different times in my career and enjoyed both of them a lot, this is the first role I’ve come across that combines security guard duties with copyediting, two things I’d love to be able to combine into one role)
      – Paragraph about my approach to work (think: I’ve found I get the best results working in highly collaborative and relatively flat organizations)
      – Valediction

      Opening sentence, approach to work, and valediction don’t change much from one letter to the other. (Assuming this is a leisurely/seeing-whats-out-there job search – the “approach to work” graf might change more if I was more urgently in need of a job and less willing to filter out organizations that wouldn’t align closely with me on that.)’

      For the meat of the letter, those 2-3 paragraphs get edited for every job I apply for – for some similar jobs I might only change a sentence or two, for others I might completely rewrite them, but it’s still not “from scratch” because I still know in my mind, “this is the part in the letter where I need 2 sentences about how I want to work for Cats Cuddles R Us because I love cats and I love cuddling,” or “this is the part of the letter where I need 3-5 sentences that highlight and connect the skills in my resume to the core duties of this cat-cuddling job, especially the ones that need some translating and might not be obvious to a resume skimmer, like how tree hugging taught me a lot that I can apply to cat cuddling.”

      It’s definitely way easier to flesh out what is essentially an outline than it is to just start putting words down on a blank page!

      1. Massmatt

        Templates are the way to go for cover letters, especially if you are applying to many jobs. I recommend keeping a file of all your cover letters so you can use certain turns of phrase, anecdotes, etc easily without having to reinvent the wheel from scratch.

        If an employer gives requirements or attributes they want I make sure to address them specifically in the letter. Usually I do it in paragraph format, At times I have tried a “T format”: after the intro, list the posted requirements on the left and my qualifications for each on the right. I had good responses with both but paragraphs felt more natural to me.

        1. Elizabeth West

          I do that. I have a file with ALL my cover letters. I keep everything, lol.

  4. Heidi

    I’m cringing at the second-hand awkwardness, OP1. I also don’t think I’d have the presence of mind to be truly professional if that happened to me. I’d be full on “Oh honey, NO!” But the fantasy version of me that has poise might say, “We are hiring you, Sally, and we expect you to handle the elements of the job without having to go through your parents.” This makes me appreciate my parents more. They are nosy af, but they would have told me what questions to ask. They wouldn’t dream of asking for me.

    1. blackcat

      Yeah, this was a fail from Sally, but I honestly don’t blame her. I’ve dealt with parents enough (former high school teacher), that I could say something like this on the spot. But if you’re not expecting it? If dad is pushy, hardly letting you get a word in as he fires of questions? I can see how Sally bungled this. She was probably shocked into responding.

      I do think it’s reasonable for Jane’s new manager to pull her aside and say, “We won’t communicate with your dad any more. If you have any questions, those need to come from you. I’m sorry we didn’t address this during the phone call, but Sally was really caught off guard.”

  5. HRJ

    Can someone explain #5 to me? Is this not in the US? I don’t understand how someone got their license suspended by being removed from insurance. Lots of people drive without having insurance. Yea, you shouldn’t, and it’s illegal, but people do. It doesn’t automatically cause your license to be suspended, as far as I know.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      It varies by state, but some states do suspend your license if you’re caught driving without insurance (along with fines, etc.).

      1. HRJ

        Ah, I do know that. I read it as going off insurance caused the suspension. It makes more sense that the LW was pulled over for other stuff.

        1. dbc

          I live in California, wasn’t aware my insurance payments had lapsed, and received a notice from the DMV that my license would be suspended if insurance wasn’t reinstated in the next 10 days. So yeah, can happen just like that.

          1. HannaSpanna

            Wait, hold on, so in California, if you don’t own and insure your own car you are not allowed to have a driving licence???? So without a car you cannot rent a car or drive a friends car or your parents car when you visit at Christmas.

            1. RUKiddingMe

              No. If you own a car and don’t have insurance on it you can lose your license. You can still have a license without owning a car.

              1. HannaSpanna

                Ah, I get it.
                Every car must have insurance, and the owner of the car can lose their licence if they don’t buy it.
                But back to the question, it wasn’t the OPs car, so she wouldn’t have her licence suspended if it hadn’t been insured.

                1. RUKiddingMe

                  The only thing that makes sense to me is that she was 1) supposed to be insured on that vehicle because she was a regular driver and wasn’t, or 2) driving a vehicle that was not insured. You can own a vehicle that’s not insured. It just can’t be driven…legally.

                2. JamieS

                  I think OP owned the car but was on their parent’s insurance so they were responsible for the car being insured.

                3. TL -

                  It could have been the OP’s car. My parents paid insurance on my car for a few months after they transferred the title to me while I got quotes and sorted out being an adult. If they had stopped making payments and a cop had run my insurance (or I’d gotten into a wreck) I would have been held liable even though my car was on their policy.

                4. Seeking Second Childhood

                  I interpret it that OP bought a car but his parents added it to the family policy.
                  That is completely standard. In my family’s case, as soon as I got my own car, my mother insisted I set up my own policy in my own name. Even though she was willing&able to help pay the insurance bill when I was in-between jobs, she insisted my insurance liability stay separate.
                  (Ironically, SHE had a fender-bender in that time frame and I had none for decades.)

                5. Lora

                  Now I’m confused though – what if you have an antique car that you fix up and a couple of parts cars for fixing up the antique?

                  I had an antique car for about 10 years that I needed either “donor car” parts or OEM or custom-fabricated parts to repair. I don’t understand why I’d have to have insurance, or even register, a car that is about half an actual car and not even remotely driveable.

                6. fposte

                  @Lora–generally insurance companies will have specifics to help determine if a car is officially undriveable and therefore not subject to insurance. But if you’re pottering around with a car you could actually drive, they’re not likely to take your word for it that you’re not.

                7. Anonymeece

                  @Lora: In my state, you only must have insurance for cars that you are driving. So a hobby car you don’t drive around is fine to not have insurance for.

                  The purpose of the law is to make sure that if Person A hits Person B in a car accident, Person B is not out of luck because Person A didn’t have insurance. My friend has been hit by two uninsured drivers and it was a time-consuming process and her insurance premiums skyrocketed, even though she wasn’t at fault.

                8. pentamom

                  Lora, in my state, you can temporarily or permanently unregister any vehicle, in which case you don’t have license plates, and can’t drive it legally off your own private property. In that case, you can own the car without insurance, but it’s really obvious if you’re driving around with license plates. Or if you try to keep the license plates and a cop runs the plate for any reason and discovers the car is not currently registered, you’re in big trouble.

                1. Shad

                  Yep!
                  As another NC resident who learned to drive here, the supposition above about needing insurance even when you’re just a regular driver on someone else’s car is definitely true—when I first got my license, I had to show proof that I was covered by my parents’ insurance policy on their cars.

              2. Jake

                But I thought insurance was only required if you actually drove the car. At least in Ontario, you can stop insuring a car and just leave it in your garage and never drive it.

                It seems bonkers to me that you could get your license suspended because you’re not insured on a car you don’t even own.

                1. fposte

                  As a driver, you’re considered to be responsible for making sure the car is driveable, which includes insurance.

                  While it varies in the U.S., a lot of insurance will require a car to be in locked storage for it to be considered undriveable. What people often do with cars that are just off the road for a while is to reduce insurance to just comprehensive.

                2. SusanIvanova

                  In California, you can register your car as “planned non-operation”. If you *do* take it out on the road, you’ll get hit with fees and penalties.

            2. Antilles

              This isn’t just California, this is a fairly common practice in almost every US state. The insurance that is required varies by states, but it’s usually pretty minimal – often just liability insurance so that if you cause an at-fault accident, the person you hit doesn’t get stuck with the bill for your mistake. As for your scenarios:
              1.) If you rent a car, the agency will require you have insurance. If you don’t have your own insurance (or don’t want to have a claim hit your insurance if something happens), you can purchase temporary insurance from them for an extra fee of like $15/day or something.
              2.) Driving a friend’s car or parent’s car with permission usually means you’re covered under their insurance. This isn’t always the case (check your policy before loaning your car!), but usually is.

              1. HannaSpanna

                Ok, this is the big difference with the UK. Insurance typically only covers people named, and won’t cover anyone else (even as a one off, with permission etc.) I would have to call the insurer and add the person to the policy.
                Better (more expensive) policies can also cover the policy holder to drive other people’s cars with their permission and as liability only.
                But having an ‘any driver’ policy in the UK is rare and very expensive.
                It’s not unusual for young people to get their driving licence but not be able to afford to get insurance and therefore not drive.

        2. Moxie

          When I was a teenager a friend of mine could not afford her portion of her parents’ car insurance payments and asked to be taken off. The insurance company refused, until she provided proof that her license was suspended and she actually had to mail the actual license to the insurance company.

          1. HannaSpanna

            I don’t understand this. Taking her off insurance is one thing, but why do they need her to relinquish her licence? It stops her from being able to use it for ID or to temporarily rent another vehicle etc.
            Feel she may have been lied to by her parents.

            1. Alton

              No, I believe it. After I got my license as a teen, I *had* to be added to my mom’s insurance even though I hated driving and didn’t actually drive her car. I think the reasoning was that since I lived at the residence and they expected I might use the car, I needed to be on the policy. I think the only other way to get taken off would have been to get my own car and policy.

              1. Book Badger, Attorney-at-Claw

                Alton, same with me. When I got my license, I was added automatically to my parents’ insurance and they couldn’t get me off. This despite the fact that, until this year (I am 25), I did not have a car of my own and walked or took the bus in college & law school.

                1. londonedit

                  Wow, that’s really strange! In the UK insurance companies actually cracked down a few years ago on people adding their new-driver children to insurance policies – here, car insurance can be ridiculously expensive for new drivers under 25, so a lot of people were registering themselves with the DVLA as the legal owner of the car their child was driving, then taking out an insurance policy for it in their name and adding the child as a ‘named driver’. This works out cheaper than the 17-year-old trying to get a policy in their own right, but is also called ‘fronting’ and is insurance fraud. The person who drives the car most of the time has to be the legal owner and policyholder.

                2. TL -

                  Oh, that’s not how it works in the USA. My parents owned my car until I was a year out of uni and until then I was listed as the primary driver of ‘my’ car on their insurance. Perfectly legal and not at all frowned upon.
                  Under 25 are still more expensive, but that’s just statistics.

                3. Seeking Second Childhood

                  If I understand it right, the UK is also a lot more strict about who MIGHT drive a car — here in the US, it’s not uncommon for someone to have another drive their car. Carpooling long-distance to college is the first thing that comes to mind. My mom suggested I tell others “my insurance policy does not allow it” — which was possible but not uncommon. She was …let’s say she was more risk-averse than many people. (It’s so much nicer than “a worrier”.)

                4. Bagpuss

                  Just to clarify, Londonedit is correct that ‘fronting’ (having a policy where one person is named as the policyholder but someone else is main person using thr car) is not allowed, but it is not correct that the person who drives most of the time has to be the legal owner. You can be the policy holder for a vehicle you don’t own. However, the address you give the insurance co. as the adress where thecar is kep has to be accurate – the fronting issue can be that you have insurance as main policy holder but the car is actually being driving by you child, or it can be that you insure it from your own home address and don’t mention that it is actuallly goingto be kept outside your child’s university digs somewhere totally different.

                  But as Seking Secons Childhood says, I think the rules are much stricter here.For instnace, i am the only person covered by my insurance to drive my car. My insurance also covers me to drive other vehicles (provided I have the owner’s consent) but the cover is only 3rd party (i.e. if I drove my parent’s car and hit something, the insurance would pay for damage I caused to others, but wouldn’t pay to fix my parents car) even though my insurance is a fully comprehensive policy.

                  Driving other cars isn’t standard on UK policies – I always check and make sure I have it, as I want to be sure I could legally drive someone else’s vehicle in an emergency, but a lot of policies don’t include it. I think it used to be fairly standard.

                  For those of you in the USA saying you were required to be asded to your parents insurance, did their premiums then go u? Because here, adding a new / young driver means a prettyhefty increase in premiums, andthe excess (deductable) is higher to a young or new driver, too

                5. TL -

                  @bagpus, yup insurance goes up a lot with a young driver. Lots of parents make the kids pay for the difference or take out their policy if they want to drive. Others just budget for it.

                6. RUKiddingMe

                  Back when I hit my license in 1970….something my parents added me as a “part time driver.” Lower rates.

                  When my niece 37 years old…lived with me I had to sign something saying that even though she was a licensed driver living in my house she didn’t have *regular* access to the car and would not be a regular driver in order to not need to add her.

                7. BigGlasses

                  My husband moved UK -> US, and I stayed in the UK for a time. He had to include me, as his spouse, on his car insurance despite the fact (a) I lived on another continent, (b) I didn’t have a US driver’s license, and (c) I didn’t visit the US in all the time we lived apart. They just had a blanket rule that the spouse of a policyholder had to be insured, because it was expected that a spouse might drive the car at least on occasion.

                  As I understand it, this is because insurance is just ‘laxer’ (covers more, or whatever) than in the UK. If I HAD driven his car, I would have been to some extent insured, so they wanted me to pay for it. In the UK, on the other hand, on my policy if he had driven my car without being on the policy he would have been 100% illegally uninsured, so it would have been all our problem, therefore, the insurance believes us that he wasn’t driving it.

                8. HannaSpanna

                  That’s so interesting, here (uk) there is no expectation or rule that everyone in the household needs to be added to the insurance.
                  When I was first driving and still at home, I was the named primary driver for the beat up little fiesta, but not on the insurance at all for my Dad’s X-type Jaguar. (It took me over 10 years to finally get on that insurance and he still won’t let me drive it!)
                  And also, when I was still fairly young, my Dad added me to the insurance on my Mum’s car, but only for 2 weeks for a trip we were doing.

              2. doreen

                Insurance companies often set their prices based on everyone in the household who might drive a car they are insuring. Which sometimes means there are only two ways to get a household member off the policy – either they give up their license or you get them “excluded” from coverage by name. Which means they can never drive the car because if they do get into an accident, there’s no coverage.

                1. Rusty Shackelford

                  And yet I tried to reduce our rates by getting our resident teenager excluded from the one car she’s never going to drive, and my agent said it wouldn’t make a difference. Makes me want to become an insurance agent just so I can understand it all.

                2. ket

                  I think I got caught by this too, as my parents’ insurance company demanded money from them to cover me when I turned a certain age — but I did not have a license and lived in another state.

                3. doreen

                  If I remember correctly, you can’t exclude them from one of the multiple cars you have on the policy. It’s all or none.

              3. Colette

                That’s normal, but that’s an insurance thing – it affects your insurance coverage (i.e. if you drive the car and get into an accident, it wouldn’t be covered) but would not cause you to have your license suspended.

              4. Saberise

                I guess it depends on the insurance company. I contacted mine a year before my daughter even got her license and asked them about adding her to the insurance. I was told legally parents aren’t required to contact their insurance company just because they got a license. She would still be covered just as if I loaned my car to anyone else. However, if some reason they asked, for example if we were changing our policy or purchasing another vehicle, than we were obligated to tell them at that point.

              5. Corrvin

                Your insurance agent will ask you if there are other licensed drivers within the same household when you get the policy. If there are and you don’t want them to be covered, like on an expensive policy for a new sports car, then you list the person (say your 17 year old son) as an excluded driver.

                The drawback to this would be that if you and your son go somewhere and you become unable to drive, he is absolutely not permitted to drive that car. You would be permitted to grab some random passerby and give them permission, but you can’t give him permission because he’s excluded.

              6. Jaybeetee

                So my idiot ex-boyfriend who had previously been busted on a no-insurance charge (Canada). A few years later, we lived together, and he was listed as an “occasional driver” on a vehicle his mother legally owned (but was essentially his), because insuring himself as a primary driver would have cost a fortune (inversely, not having insurance means you only qualify for super-high-risk insurance for a few years afterwards). I called my own insurance about making him an occasional driver on *my* car – and the agent literally cancelled my policy on the spot, only reinstating it when he and I signed a statement that he wouldn’t go anywhere near my car.

                At that point, all I’d done was *ask* about adding him. But for them, just having him in the house meant that he could potentially drive my car, and they didn’t want to insure me because of that. Insurance be strict.

            2. That Girl From Quinn's House

              In some states- I think it’s Oklahoma, I was reading an article on it- everyone in the household with a driver’s license must be included on a car’s insurance policy because they have access to a car. So if you have children, roommates, part-time stepkids with licenses, they all have to be on your insurance, even if they are not allowed to drive your car.

              1. BigGlasses

                Yeah, and ‘household’ can be defined pretty broadly, like my husband having to insure me on a car I had never been within several thousand miles of — because, as his spouse, I was part of his ‘household’ :)

              2. Becky

                That’s…out there. I mean how does that work with university (on or off campus) living arrangements? I’ve lived with up to 6 people at a time most of whom had a license, none of whom had access to my vehicle… and I didn’t have access to theirs. It never even crossed my mind that they could in any way be construed as part of my “household.” (I’m not in Oklahoma and my insurance company never had an issue with it, this just boggles my mind.)

              3. LJay

                This is the same in a lot of states. It’s true in Texas and New Jersey as well I believe.

                I always wondered whether people who lived with unrelated roommates actually did it or not. Like, I’ve only ever lived by myself, with family, or with people I was in a romantic relationship with so we were always all on each other’s policies. If you live in a house with 5 other people you found on Craigslist that you may or may not be friends with, do you really list them all on your insurance?

                1. skunklet

                  it can be even stranger – my ex is from Michigan; when we were married and living in Cali (both active duty military), his Michigan insurance company REQUIRED me to get a MI license (i am not from MI) to be on the insurance policy, or else I was specifically an EXCLUDED driver. my out of state license was clean, legal, etc… (this was in the 90s, not sure if this has changed). insurance companies do some strannnnnnnnnnge things.

                2. TL -

                  You definitely don’t have to put your roommates on your insurance in Texas unless they really are frequent drivers of your car.
                  Household can be interpreted to mean “how many people are you legally and financially entangled with and living with?” Family would count. Long term partnerships would count. Roommates usually don’t.
                  Nobody I know in Texas has ever put their roommates on their insurance and nobody has ever gotten in trouble for it, up to and including roommate getting into a wreck.

            3. RUKiddingMe

              Just to note that states can issue an ID card in lieu if a DL, so the ID thing is pretty much a non-issue.

              1. Hamburke

                but it costs money – albeit, usually a small sum but it could be huge for someone struggling. If the insurance company would issue a voucher for the cost of the relinquished license, I’d probably be ok with it.

        3. Clisby

          In SC, it wouldn’t have to be for a different offense; insurance companies are required to notify the DMV if your insurance expires or is canceled. The DMV contacts you and gives you 20 days to get insured; if you don’t, they suspend your car registration & tag, and your driving privileges (at least for that car – I don’t think it means you couldn’t rent a car and pay insurance to the rental company.)

          1. Hamburke

            this makes me laugh so much! My experience with SC is there’s a lot of cars out there (or used to be, haven’t been to visit in a while) that have cardboard “tags applied for” or “farm use” in lieu of license plates.

        4. Sharkie

          Yes. I moved from my home state to a state half way across the country 18 months ago and I got a letter from the DMV in home that because my insurance policy that was registered with the state was 3 months expired my license is suspended… 6 months after I registered my car and got a license in new state. The number of hoops I had to go through to fix everything was a nightmare and my driving record might be affected. Not having insurance is no joke.

          1. LJay

            Oh god you just reminded me that this happened to me.

            Like 5 years after I moved from New Jersey to Texas, I got a notice that my Texas driver’s license was going to be suspended because my New Jersey driver’s license had been suspended because my car registration had expired (5 years before) and had not been renewed.

            Because apparently when I registered my car in Texas (a month after I moved down here) they had never informed New Jersey of that, or sent them back the old license plate like they were supposed to.

            By the time they sent the letter I didn’t even own that car anymore.

            So ultimately I had to send them a form stating that the old license plate had been lost and the approximate date I had registered the car in Texas. Pay $125? I think. And then get a letter from New Jersey stating that my New Jersey driver’s license (which I hadn’t owned in 5 years either) was free and clear so I could show that to Texas so my Texas license wouldn’t be suspended and wouldn’t risk losing my job.

            It was a pretty stressful week of dealing with phone trees and bureaucracy.

            1. Sharkie

              It’s overwhelmingly bad! It’s annoying because it took 6 weeks for Minnesota to register my car because I had it in my sole ownership for less than a year. They had to call Maryland to make sure the title was clear then they had to call my dad (the former owner of the car) to make sure he signed it over willingly. And I already sent the plates back too. It was a whole mess.

        5. LJay

          This.

          And if this was the case, my job would have no leniency because they would see it as choosing to do something wrong (driving without insurance). Whether the OP was actually choosing to do so or whether they were unaware the insurance was suspended until they were pulled over and had it checked against the database would be immaterial to them and to our insurance company.

          If it was simply administrative (the state noticed you had no insurance and suspended your license preemptively until you had insurance again) it would be different I think, because there would be no proof you were driving without insurance. Maybe you were out of state without a car, or unwell and not driving for awhile, etc. I just don’t know of any states that operate that way.

      2. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister

        In some states the insurance company will actually notify the state in the event insurance lapses. My husband’s license was almost suspended when we moved to PA and there was a snafu causing his car insurance to be canceled through a clerical error. We got a letter in the mail from the state saying his license would be suspended in 30 days unless we had our insurance company send in a verification letter attesting that he had been covered the entire time, backdated to before the insurance lapped.

        PA is a very weird state.

    2. Dino

      You can get pulled over for a broken light and then get busted when the LEO checks your insurance.

      1. RUKiddingMe

        Also if you have expired tags and aren’t wearing a seat belt. Hey..,it was 1987…I was a rebel…and broke. That little no seat belts, no tags, no insurance thing was like $500 in 1987 dollars. Plus the $200 or so it cost gor tabs. IDK what it would be today. A couple grand maybe? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

        I never, ever did any of those things again though so…

        1. Jaybeetee

          My idiot ex (see above) and his idiot family all decided that car insurance and updating plate stickers were optional for them for a few years, claiming they couldn’t afford to (which means you can’t afford to drive, and all three of these people lived and worked in an urban area with public transit). On top of that, it turned out my ex had a habit of parking illegally when he went to college, and had a pile of tickets that had never caught up with him… because he’d never renewed his stickers.

          Anyway, it hit the fan, he was pulled over for the out-of-date stickers, the cop discovered he was not insured… his license wasn’t suspended, but he was slapped with a four-figure fine, had to go to court, and was, ironically, nearly uninsurable for years after that. Magically, money suddenly appeared for Mom and Sister to get their own vehicles straightened out. But a suspended license was certainly a possible consequence of driving without insurance, and even if LW was let off once, if she was caught a second time (with awareness that it sounds like LW wasn’t aware she was uninsured), I could totally see a suspension happening.

          For my ex and his family, it just gobsmacked me how long they did get away with it. For me, I was late ONE TIME renewing my stickers in 10+ years of driving, and was pulled over and warned by a cop at 10 days overdue. I have no idea how they managed to drive with years-old stickers without getting caught.

          1. Jadelyn

            I managed it for about a year and a half once – my car needed smogged, which meant she needed some repairs, and I had no money, my fiance was laid off and looking for work…updating my registration had to take a back seat to not getting foreclosed on. (And there’s shit for public transit where I live, so not driving wasn’t an option if I wanted to be able to keep my job.) I just prayed real hard anytime I saw a cop while I was on the road, and was a little less flagrant in my speeding than usual. I just got lucky, I guess.

    3. RUKiddingMne

      It’s illegal in all 50 states. That said some states merely fine you, some fine you and make you get (and show proof of) insurance, some suspend you, some do all of that or any combination. Think of the US as 50 little countries that sometimes work together well and “the USA” as an .

      1. RUKiddingMe

        Dammit hit enter too soon.

        “The USA’” as an entity akin to the EU…if you squint.

        1. Yvette

          What about a kid that gets their driver’s license but there is no family car, so no auto insurance?

            1. calonkat

              As I understand it, the owner of the car is required to have insurance. If they give permission to another person to drive, that insurance is still in effect. I don’t believe you have to have auto insurance if you don’t have a car. I was a named driver on my mother’s cars (and contributed to the insurance premiums) when I didn’t have a car and lived with her, but had no insurance on my own until I owned my own car. Disclaimer: I don’t have anything to do with insurance other than paying for it and trying to avoid situations it would be needed.

              1. Gunney

                That’s my understanding, is that insurance is tied to the car not the human, so that’s why I don’t get Yvette’s question. A kid who gets their license but has no car therefore has no insurance…should be insured for the car that they’re driving. If they’re not driving a car then they don’t need insurance for it. If they have their own car then they need insurance for it. Either way I’m not sure how this relates to the OP’s situation.

                1. HannaSpanna

                  I still don’t understand how your licence can be suspended for just not being insured on a car (unless you were driving said car.)
                  For example, here in the UK, there are thousands of people with valid licences who do not own cars and are not named on any particular car insurance. Licences are only suspended if you commit a serious driving offense.

                2. Rebecca

                  I’m also in the UK and I don’t understand this at all. Say I’m an adult living by myself and it doesn’t make economic sense for me to own a car, but every 2 months I need to rent a car to go to visit family/for work reasons. Do I have to contact the DMV to unsuspend my license once every 2 months and then re-suspend it once the trip is complete?

                3. Sylvan

                  If you don’t own a car, you don’t have to insure a car. I’m sure Google can answer any other questions.

                4. Charlotte

                  It’s because the car is available to you to drive in the household. Say there is a family with two parents and two teenagers who have their licenses. The family owns two cars. You have to have insurance on both cars AND have all four people listed as “named insured”. If you try to take one of the people off but they still live in the house and have access to the car, they would consider that person as uninsured on those two cars.

                5. Yvette

                  My point was that, where I live anyway, you can have a DL w/out insurance. The car you are driving must be insured. It sounds to me that this person had a car (probably registered with the DMV in either parent’s name), which their parent’s took off the insurance without telling them and they were caught (unawares) driving an uninsured vehicle. That is an offense for which a DL can be suspended.
                  You can drive someone else’s insured vehicle. RUKiddingMe explained it very nicely at May 31, 2019 at 4:55 am.
                  And it relates to the situation in that people did not understand having a license = needing insurance. It really does not. However in my state anyway, people always say “driving without insurance” with “on the car” being left unsaid and understood.
                  Also, in my state anyway, they do differentiate between not having ANY insurance and not having your proof of insurance on you when stopped. One is a suspension, one is a ticket.

                6. Colette

                  As I understand, around here, a driver (including new drivers) can drive a car without being insured for it, as long as they are not a regular driver and do not live in the same household as the driver of the car. So my friend’s daughter can drive my car to the store to pick something up without being listed on my car insurance, but she cannot drive her mother’s car without being listed.

                7. CDM

                  “You have to have insurance on both cars AND have all four people listed as “named insured”. If you try to take one of the people off but they still live in the house and have access to the car, they would consider that person as uninsured on those two cars.”

                  That’s completely incorrect.

                  Not all listed drivers or all family members have to be named insureds.

                  Generally there are, at most, two named insureds who are spouses or domestic partners. The standard Personal Auto policy in the US extends liability coverage to all family members of the named insureds residing in the same household whether driving an owned insured vehicle or another vehicle. (and whether licensed or not)

                  Listing a family member on the policy as a driver is how the insurance company collects premium to cover the exposure created by that driver, which is why companies insist on listing all licensed household members as drivers. But there is still coverage for family members in the same household not listed as drivers unless the policy specifically excludes coverage for that driver by name.

            2. TL -

              It depends on the state but most states you have insurance on your car, not yourself
              So my insurance covered my car (named in the insurance), myself, and any temporary drivers. If the cops pull over someone else driving my car, my insurance is still applicable, so they wouldn’t get in trouble for driving without insurance.
              However, if they get into a wreck and the insurance company can prove they were a non-temporary driver – a family member who used my car frequently, for instance – then the insurance company can refuse coverage because that person should have been named as a driver for my car.

              1. TL -

                (some policies don’t cover temporary drivers under 25 and other weird caveats like that, but generally insurance is set up to cover someone else driving your car occasionally.)

                1. Falling Diphthong

                  We need to keep our grown kids listed on the insurance if they’re going to drive our cars when they are home.

                2. TL -

                  Ah. My parents don’t but all of us kids have established residency elsewhere and are over 25. We are covered when we drive their vehicles, which is only a few times a year.

                3. Rusty Shackelford

                  We need to keep our grown kids listed on the insurance if they’re going to drive our cars when they are home.

                  Is this in the U.S.? I don’t have to be listed on my parents’ insurance in order to be covered when I drive their cars.

                4. doreen

                  That depends on what is meant by “grown kids” and “when they are home”. A 21 year old who has permanently moved away and comes to visit her parents at Christmas is different from a 21 year old college student who returns home for Christmas break, spring break, summer vacation.

            3. Asenath

              Why would the kid be driving a car? Most do, no doubt, but owing and driving a car isn’t an essential consequence of getting a license. I got my license at 16 mainly because it was a useful thing to have, but I didn’t drive anyone’s car until I got my own years later. I wasn’t even living at home, so I certainly wasn’t driving my parents’ car after the holiday during which I got my license – I suppose I might have driven it during later holidays, but it was never necessary.

          1. RUKiddingMe

            If there’s no car then they don’t need insurance to *have* a license. However if they have a car it needs to be insured. If they are driving someone else’s car as a one (or two…) off thing then they should be covered on that person’s policy. Most policies are set up to cover a situation where for instance you lend your niece your car to run to the store. If however someone is using it on the regular then they need to be on the policy.

            It seems like OP had a vehicle on her parents’ policy and they removed said vehicle which is how she ended up with no insurance. Because if she was driving their vehicle then she should have been covered as a temporary driver…unless she was driving it regularly without being a named insured…? I’m kind of confused to be honest. My personal policy is always be insured (the 1987 incident not withstanding), never lend my car. So far, so good.

            1. Yvette

              “If there’s no car then they don’t need insurance to *have* a license. However if they have a car it needs to be insured. If they are driving someone else’s car as a one (or two…) off thing then they should be covered on that person’s policy. Most policies are set up to cover a situation where for instance you lend your niece your car to run to the store.”

              That is what I was thinking of.

          2. fposte

            Then they usually wouldn’t be on anybody’s insurance. But if they’re driving their boyfriend’s car all the time and they get into a wreck, insurance may have some questions to ask about whether they should have been on the insurance.

      2. General Ginger

        It’s not. There are 3 states that do not require car insurance. 2 of them have other insurance-like requirements: a fee for non-insured car payable to the state in VA & something like that in MS. In NH, it’s a straight up not required, though you’re liable for any damages you cause.

        1. Risha

          South Carolina had the fee (~$500 a year, IIRC) for a non-insured car option when I moved there in… 2010-ish? I remember specifically because it sounded so outlandish to me when I read it in the DMV materials. They may have since gotten rid of it, though.

    4. Liza

      I’m really confused by this as well. The post didn’t say that LW5 got caught driving without insurance and subsequently banned, just that they were taken off the insurance. Insurance and licence are two separate things. I got a licence (learners, uk) at 18 for ID purposes. Didn’t get insured until I started learning to drive at 31. Either there’s an actual suspension here that hasn’t been mentioned, or maybe some misunderstanding about licensing policy? Or maybe LW5 works in an area where you have to give up your licence if you are not presently insured, but if that’s the case surely policy would recognise that suspension in these cases as not indicative of a bad driver.

      1. HannaSpanna

        Agree.
        It seems odd that the company would care about a licence never being suspended, when licences are suspended just for ‘choosing not to drive right now’.

        1. RUKiddingMe

          They aren’t. I’ve had licenses since I was 16. Sometimes I had a car (insured!) and sometimes not in which case I didn’t pay for insurance I didn’t need and not one of the 40-ish states I’ve lived in wanted me to surrender my driving privilege simply for not buying something I didn’t need.

          1. HannaSpanna

            Which is what I thought, and why I am confused by OP’s explanation of getting her licence suspended.
            It feels like she must have been caught driving uninsured, but don’t want to think that if there is a quirky USA policy about it.

            1. RUKiddingMe

              AFAIK…there’s not. I mean we are kinda quirky over here, but car insurance is mostly straight forward in every state with very little differences IME.

            2. Lucy

              I read it that she was driving uninsured but believing she was insured so had her licence suspended. Legally speaking, it’s your responsibility to ensure you are insured for your journey.

              But most employers would be tolerant of a paperwork error years ago by a teenager acting in good faith.

              1. fposte

                Yes, I’m pretty sure that’s what happened–the OP got stopped for something and found out she wasn’t insured.

                I would be inclined to forgive this too, but if it was an insurance company rule and not an employer rule I still wouldn’t be able to hire the OP.

      2. RUKiddingMe

        I don’t know anywhere that suspends a license simply for not being named n an insurance policy. I’ve lived in over 40 states and not one of them did that. Driving without insurance…yes, possessing a driver’s license without actually driving/owning a vehicle/paying for insurance one does not need…no. I think OP was actually driving without insurance.

        1. londonedit

          It’s weird because the OP talks about ‘finding out that they were suspended again’, which makes it sound like their licence was suspended without them knowing anything about it. I’ve never heard of that happening! In the UK if you’re pulled over and found to be driving without insurance you can be fined and you’ll definitely get penalty points added to your licence. Too many points accumulated within a certain period of time (you can also get points for speeding and other minor driving offences) and your licence can be suspended, but you’d know about it! I take your point that all the states are different – I’ve always found it bizarre because here once you pass your practical and theory driving tests, you get your licence and no one can take it away from you unless you commit a major driving offence. It’s not like in the US, where your licence isn’t valid in a certain state, or you have to renew it, or whatever. We just have to send in a new photo every 10 years and update our address whenever we move, and you can do all of that online (historically by post). None of this ‘standing in line at the DMV’ that my US friends seem to have to do on a regular basis!

            1. Risha

              I don’t know. I’ve lived in Rhode Island for almost three years now, and not once have they warned me that my license, registration, or inspection were expiring or expired until months after the fact. So I can totally see it.

          1. HannaSpanna

            Totally agree. In Uk you will know you’ve been suspended – or actually disqualified or revoked.
            The DVLA (DMV) can revoke your licence if you are found to have health issues that affect your driving. The Magistrate Courts can disqualify you from driving for a set period of time (usually after dangerous driving or dui.)
            The police can do neither. They can contact the DVLA to say you are unfit to drive, but they can’t take away your licence themselves.

            1. Anne (with an “e”)

              @HannaSpanna, I believe the LW was caught driving uninsured at least twice. Driving uninsured is a major offense. If you are going to drive a vehicle on a regular basis, then you must let the insurance company know. Let’s say the family owns a 2015 SUV that everyone drives. When you get insurance for the SUV you have to list ALL of its regular drivers. However, if the parents only list themselves and not their kids, the insurance rate will be much lower. Let’s say the kid (the LW) is driving the SUV. If the LW causes an accident, the insurance company would not be liable because the kid was never listed as a regular driver. That’s why it’s such a big deal, and such a major offense.

              I hope this clarifies things. (Note, I am not an expert on insurance other than basic knowledge. )

              1. HannaSpanna

                Yes, I do understand car insurance works, which was why this letter is so confusing.
                I agree with you that it seems her parents took her off the insurance and then she drove without insurance leading to her suspension, even though that is not what OP has said. (OP phrased it as her was licence was suspended solely because her parents removed her from the insurance, not because she had broken the law.)
                If that was the case, I can imagine maybe getting caught out once if parents failed/forgot to tell you they had removed you from the insurance, but twice? Nope, not buying it. It sounds like she intentially chose to drive knowing she was without insurance, which I am not cool about.
                But don’t want to malign someone if there is a genuine explanation of why US driving licence suspensions work like suggested in the original letter.

                1. Jessen

                  I could definitely see parents taking her off once, saying “oh oops, won’t happen again”, and then doing it again. I have a lot of experience with family BS and it does take you way too long to figure it out compared to what you’d expect from outside.

                2. fposte

                  Here’s my take on what happened:

                  OP gets pulled over for a busted taillight at 19, finds out when the cops check her insurance that she’s been taken off her parents’ insurance. Her license is suspended. Parents say “Oops, so sorry, you’re back on now.” OP makes a dicey lane change at 20 and gets pulled over, only to find out she’s been taken off of her parents’ insurance again, so her license is suspended again. When it’s reinstated, she gets her own insurance.

                  It’s weird because the parents are being super-weird, or else super-punitive. Especially because they almost certainly couldn’t just lie that she was back on insurance, as she’d have to show proof of insurance for reinstatement. (One possibility is that the parents’ own insurance wasn’t getting paid and lapsed both times and they didn’t tell the OP this.)

                3. fposte

                  @fposte–actually, I have the last bit wrong–she’d need to have gotten her own insurance to get the license reinstated that second time, not the other way around.

                4. HannaSpanna

                  Ah, yes, Jessen I see your point. I wasn’t considering how dysfunctional some families can be, and would explain how the OP got caught up in it twice.

          2. Ret

            You are misinformed about how drivers licenses work in the US. There is nothing “bizarre” about it. A license issued by one state is valid in all states. No one stands in line at the DMV “on a regular basis”. No one’s license gets suspended without them knowing anything about it. The OP was found to be driving without insurance, which is considered a major offense in most states, and was informed that their license was being suspended because of it.

            1. BethDH

              Right, but when you move you generally do have to get a new license and stand in line for it. Sometimes you even have to retake the test (usually written only, at least in my experience.) Depending on the state, renewing sometimes needs to be done in person. In my state, that includes showing proof of insurance (otherwise your license is a “non-owners license,” which makes it pretty obvious if there’s something up if you also have a car you’re paying property tax on). All that, plus the recent federal changes to the licenses allowed for air travel, means I end up at the DMV for something every 18 months or so.

              1. londonedit

                Yeah, this is how I understood the system based on the experiences of a couple of my friends, who are doctors, and who moved around quite a lot for their various residencies and whatnot. Every time they moved to a different state, they would have to go to the DMV and get a new licence for that state. We don’t have anything like that here – when you move, you update your details online (previously by filling in a paper form) and they send you an updated licence in the post. We only got photo licences about 20 or so years ago – previously your driving licence was literally a piece of paper that you’d send back and forth to and from the DVLA for any address changes, disciplinary points, etc. Now it’s all done online, and you just have to update your address if you move, or your name if that changes, and update your photo every 10 years.

                1. RUKiddingMe

                  Where I live (Washington state) renewal is all online as long as your record is clean. I just did a renewal this year. Paid online and like a week later got a new license in the mail.

                  Unfortunately they are still using my 2009 photo but I don’t care about it enough to sit in line at DMV just to take a better one.

                  If I just moved here with a valid license from another state I would pay the $50 or whatever it is and they would just swap it out.

                  Most states though make you take a written test even with a valid license from elsewhere…unless that’s changed since last time I lived in a different state.

                  Kinda dumb really because other than a few red light turn, school zone speeds, and BAC questions the rules are pretty much the same.

            2. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House

              Every state I’ve moved to requires you to turn in your license and get their license in 30-60 days if you plan to reside there. And yes, your license can get suspended without you knowing–it happened to my spouse years ago. Cop wrote our address wrong. Even though she called the city vehicle office to ensure there were no tickets/fines out there, they told her no. Late on a Friday she gets a letter her license was suspended earlier because there was an unpaid fine. Even though it was the cop’s error–the address had been written wrong and even though she’d called to make sure there was no fine or ticker in her name–that too was missed. The department finally corrected the address. She went a weekend unable to drive and we fixed everything on Monday.

              1. TL -

                That is one of those requirements that is rarely enforced, though – most people take 3-6 months to switch everything over and I’ve known people who have gone upwards of a year with nothing more than a warning from a cop.

                1. RUKiddingMe

                  Yup.

                  California cop, “why haven’t you changed your license (from Nevada) yet?”

                  Me ::shrug:: “haven’t gotten around to it.”

                  Cop ::shrug:: “oh, ok.”

                2. wafflesfriendswork

                  I lived in NY for four years with a KY license–I don’t drive here, so I didn’t really use it for much and it wasn’t a big deal. I switched it over when my KY DL was expiring.

            3. Retired Accountant

              I had a situation that was unusual but not crazy…I got into a minor car wreck, police were called. and I notified my insurance company. The wreck was my fault, but little damage on either side. Months later I got a letter from the DMV stating my license would be suspended in x (can’t remember) days because I or my insurance company hadn’t filled out some form that was required that I had never heard of. I called my insurance company and they said they’d take care of it. They did, but they were late, and my license was suspended and reinstated without my being aware of it. I only found out when I moved to another state and they told e my license was suspended in another state. This actually followed me around to the next state I moved to; I had to get a letter from the original state that I didn’t hav a suspended license, even though I was surrendering a valid license from my immediate previous state of residence. It was crazy.

              Also, in some states your license can be suspended for unpaid child support.

          3. Anne (with an “e”)

            I suspect that the LW was driving a vehicle owned by their parents and they had been removed from their parents insurance. Thus, they were were driving an uninsured vehicle. (Or perhaps it was the LW’s vehicle and it was supposed to be under the parents insurance.) At any rate, it sounds to me like the LW was driving an uninsured vehicle—and got caught doing so. This’s what I bet led to a suspended license. It sounds like this happened twice. Driving uninsured is a big deal. The LW apparently drove uninsured twice. I doubt the prospective employer will be willing to overlook this. On the other hand, the LW says it was approximately 5 or 6 years ago, so maybe enough time has lapsed that it will not matter. I would be up front about it though. I would NOT try to blame the parents or the insurance company. I would admit that I was driving uninsured, that I learned my lesson, and that it was in the past.

            1. Myrin

              That was my read as well because nothing else makes sense, honestly, but that still doesn’t explain londonedit’s original confusion around “the OP talks about ‘finding out that they were suspended again’, which makes it sound like their licence was suspended without them knowing anything about it.” She couldn’t have been caught driving an uninsured vehicle without knowing anything about it, unless she had some kind of out-of-body experience during the whole process. Something strange is going on here, even if it’s only OP’s phrasing.

              1. doreen

                It is not uncommon for someone to be notified of a license suspension by mail – it’s not done on the spot when the police officer tickets you , and at least in some states your license can be suspended if you have a vehicle registered to you that has had an insurance lapse for more than X days. And if you don’t see the notice that was mailed to you ( either because it got lost in the mail or because your evil parents took it), you won’t know until you get stopped or try to renew the registration/license.

                1. Myrin

                  Aha, that makes sense!
                  I’m pretty sure it’s done differently where I’m from, which might explain why I was so confused, ha!

                2. CmdrShepard4ever

                  I had a similar situation happen once.
                  I got a speeding ticket went to court to try and fight it, I lost but was able to get the judge to give me a lower fine lets say $150. After the hearing I paid the $150 fine. I leave thinking everything is all done and settled.

                  About a year or two later I get pulled over for speeding again, and the cop informs me that my license is suspended. I’m like WTF why, cop told me it was suspended for not paying a certain fee from my previous ticket during this whole time I had a physical license that appeared to be valid. Now I have a ticket for speeding and driving on a suspended license. When I call trying to figure out what happened, I was told that I did not pay a small processing/handling fee ($25/30) that was due in addition the actual fine (that I paid) for speeding. I did not realize there was an extra fee I had to pay the first time and the cashier had not said anything. The court had sent notices I’m sure but I had moved at some point during the time frame and I never saw/received them.

                  Once I paid all the fines for tickets plus all processing/handling fees my license was given reinstated. Ultimately it was my fault and I learned my lesson to make absolutely sure everything gets paid. But I wasn’t purposely driving on a suspended license, I was just not aware it was suspended.

                3. FoxyDog

                  Yup. That happened to me (California resident). I lost my wallet and had to get all of my credit cards reissued. My car insurance was automatically billed to my credit card, so when the old card was cancelled the payment was declined and my insurance was canceled. In CA the insurance notifies DMV when that happens. I didn’t find out until I got a letter from the DMV. That was a fun time.

          4. TL -

            Every USA license is valid in all 50 states. You can get fined for not changing your license when your state residency changes (in theory), but your license is legal everywhere. Licenses generally expire every 5-10 years, depending on state and age – you can renew online if you don’t need a new picture. I’m 30 and I’ve only had to stand in line for my license at the DMV 2 or 3 times, which includes my original license and a state residency change.

          5. Dragoning

            That….definitely happened to me. They mailed me my notice that my license was suspended for not paying a fine I had already taken care of–and I got the notification nearly a week after the suspension was effective.

            And I got in on a Friday, so I had to wait until Monday to sort it out, and then they had to un-suspend me formally, so I was driving on a suspended license for…well, a while.

            1. Not the Boss

              My license was suspended for 3 years, and I didn’t know until I got added to the corporate insurance policy at work. Our insurance agent called me to tell me I was being rejected as a driver because my license was suspended. A similar situation where the fine was paid but the timing got things screwed up, and I never got the notice. Luckily, because I didn’t ever get a ticket while my license was suspended, it didn’t effect the points on my license.

          6. PhyllisB

            Oh yes, your license can be suspended without your knowledge. I found out mine was suspended when my insurance company cancelled my policy because of it.
            It was my own fault because I had a fine I forgot to pay. The insurance company reviews your record every time your policy is up for renewal and that’s when I found out. I was able to clear things up quickly, but when I questioned DMV about WHY I was not notified of the suspension, I was told it was my responsibility to make sure my license was in good standing. (Thankfully, they are more pro-active about notifying people now. Luckily, I’ve not had any more incidents, but my children have.)

            1. Lake

              Well, like you said, that was your own fault. Londonedit is assuming that it’s standard operating procedure for the DMV to suspend people’s licenses without informing them. That’s not true.

              1. WoeNo

                Ehh, can be. I had my driving privileges (learners permit) suspended as a teenager because I fainted (after donating blood!). No notice from my doctor, no notice in the mail, no notice when I scheduled my behind-the-wheel test – I only found out that I had been driving illegally when I showed up for my test appointment and couldn’t proceed.

        2. Pretzelgirl

          My guess is that OP has a car registered in their name. Once you cancel an insurance policy, the company reports that to the state. If no other insurance company is reported for insuring the vehicle, the state suspends the license. This is usually all done, over snail mail.

        3. Tasha

          I think the LW has been disingenuous about the explanation and twisted the order of events. Speaking as an insurance professional who knows the basics of the insurance laws in every US state, what seems likely is that the parents’ insurance company wouldn’t stop charging for the LW on insurance unless there was proof that the LW did not have an active license (if the LW lived in the same house).

          In response to some of the comments above, insurance follows the car in the US. Occasionally specific drivers will be excluded from coverage, in writing, but otherwise whoever is driving an insured vehicle with permission will be covered (not your neighbor who stole the car).

          1. fposte

            I was thinking the parents’ policy might actually have been going unpaid, rather than the OP being specifically removed. They just didn’t tell the OP that that’s what it was.

    5. Doctor Schmoctor

      Where I’m from, there is no legal requirement to have insurance. And most people can’t afford it, so the law will never change. If they ever try to change it, the masses will get upset and probably burn down some police stations.

        1. TL -

          New Zealand doesn’t require car insurance. People could afford it if they had to (broadly speaking). Almost nobody budgets for it, as far as I know, unless they’re very financially comfortable or particularly risk adverse.

        2. LaurenB

          This is very interesting to know.

          A bit of a tangent – There seem to be a good number of posts on AAM where someone says, “In my country (not the US), xxxxx applies / does not apply.” But they don’t actually say what the country is! Is there a reason for that? I don’t know why a poster wouldn’t just state “Here in New Zealand, we don’t have a requirement for insurance.”

            1. doreen

              I could see not posting the name of your employer or maybe even your city to remain unidentifiable. But I don’t understand why they can’t say ” In New Zealand , car insurance is not required” . I mean, the fact that I can say car insurance is required in New Jersey and is not required in New Hampshire doesn’t mean I’ve ever lived in either of those places.

            2. LaurenB

              Yes, because now that I know that they are from New Zealand, I can find them easily, since only 10 people live in the entire country. /s.

              Come on now!

            3. Gunney

              This is why I don’t post my country. I don’t want people to be able to narrow me down from details shared by my username, and also, most people here only seem to care about whether or not it’s the US.

  6. Herewego

    #5 – At least in my experience, this was an insurance thing… even with a good excuse, you wouldn’t be coverable by the park insurance, and wouldn’t get hired.

    Perhaps others can weigh in? On whether or not this is the case where they worked?

    I would say, if they say they require a perfect record, and then you apply… I think that would ultimately look poorly on you. I would definitely say it before showing up to an interview in that case, and I would still wonder why you ignored the directions. (As said, at least where I worked, we wouldn’t have been able to hire you for insurance reasons, so it’d be a waste of my time).

      1. Elf

        I posted downthread, but the LW should check how long her state’s driving record is. States don’t generally keep everything forever, and 3 years is a pretty common timeframe, so this stuff may not even be on her record anymore. Doing that research and getting a copy of her own driving record should come before any decisions about what to share.

          1. WellRed

            This stuff can be checked pretty far back, like years, but whether an employer cares to is another story.

        1. That Would be a Good Band Name

          In my state, it’s super easy to look at your driving record. It’s all online. I just had to create a profile with my driver’s license number and it shows me my entire history.

    1. Nyltiak

      What is a essentially a minor procedural infraction >5 years old probably doesn’t even show up on the OPs driving record any more, and most corporate insurers still have certain levels of what they consider acceptable risk. I was able to drive corporate vehicles even with a recent speeding ticket on my record when they ran my info. A lot of it depends on the insurer and what driving is required. Driving a work vehicle on company property with only other employees as passengers has a lower bar than driving on public roads or with non-employee passengers.

    2. Coverage Associate

      Even if it’s an insurance thing, the employer’s broker can ask the insurer to make an exception if there’s good relationships all around and a good explanation. The exception I saw was similar to OP’s situation, but the suspension was in another country before the driver/applicant came to the United States.

  7. Zombeyonce

    #1

    Is it wrong that I want to hear every story readers here have about helicopter parents interfering with their children’s jobs? The drama is delicious mainly for the schadenfreude. OP, please tell us more if Jane got hired about her dad getting in the way!

    Alison, any chance for one of those “What’s the worst case of helicopter parenting have you seen at work?” kinds of posts?

    1. anon moose, anon mouse

      I think it’s a little cruel to want to take pleasure from kids whose parents derailed their careers because they weren’t aware of workplace norms.

      1. User 483

        There can be therapy in commiserating with others about things. For one, it helps you see that you aren’t alone. And this group is usually kind and I would expect a lot of “I feel for you” and “that was horrible of your parents” sort of responses. Not anything against the letter writers themselves.

        1. valentine

          There are probably stories in the letter/update about the redheaded cousins with an uncommon surname. (Sounds like a long, old-timey title.) Search terms: helicopter, ginger, Welsh.

        2. Aleta

          Yeah, I don’t have any direct stories, but my mom has definitely TRIED to do that stuff for me and commiserating about it is nice.

        3. OhNo

          As someone whose parent tried really hard to helicopter (thank god he didn’t have the attention span for it), I’d be interested to read and share some of my personal experiences.

          Maybe we could flip the script to make it less problematic? Like “Most embarrassing things your parents have done to you at work”? Then we’d only be getting amusement from experiences that people willingly share, rather than poking fun at strangers’ most embarrassing moments.

      2. Zombeyonce

        Maybe. I fully admit to enjoying other people’s drama; that’s a big reason I read this blog!

        But I also don’t think these incidents need to derail careers. They can instead be great learning opportunities for both the employees and the parents. It’s the stories of parents getting told in spectacular fashion that what they’re doing isn’t okay that I want to hear.

        I grew up with plenty of kids with parents like this and no matter how many times the kids tried to explain to their parents that what they were doing wasn’t just unhelpful but detrimental, the parents only ever learned and stopped when another adult or peer told them so. I want stories of ridiculous parenting and justice for the children of helicopter parents.

        I realize I didn’t actually explain that in my original comment.

        1. OrangeHat

          I get it. And I have loads! In recruitment especially – I used to recruit for a teacher training programme and there was a lady who’d call me weekly to tell me that her eldest daughter’s job was terrible and she’d definitely be much happier as a teacher. Her youngest daughter was a teacher already, and SO much happier than the eldest who was being horribly mistreated.

          She used to go on at length about all of the awful stuff going on at the eldest’s workplace and how horrible her boss was – this daughter was in her early thirties and in a fairly senior position at a well know local company. Every time I’d just outline the basic structure and requirements of our programme and tell her to pass my details on to her daughter so she could get in touch for more info if she was interested. Never heard from the daughter but those calls went on for months.

      3. Tristan Callan

        Derailed seems like a bit of a strong word. Just about every parent story on here is of the “mortifying in the moment but absolutely hilarious 5 years later” variety.

    2. LaurenB

      Perhaps the proposed thread would answer this, but in everyone’s experience, which have you been more likely to encounter —

      — Parents are of low education / unfamiliar with white-collar workplace norms (hence they think it’s “helpful” to get on the phone with Jane’s new boss and inquire about the hours, insurance plan, etc., not realizing how embarrassing it is) OR
      — Parents are of high education / socioeconomic status, very familiar with white-collar workplace norms, but are so used to running the world that they see no reason they can’t ask Jane’s new boss to let her come in late the first day and have an extra week of vacation at Christmas

      1. LaDeeDa

        It has always, every single time, been parents of high socioeconomic status. In my experiences, it has almost always been the mother. Millennials are the first generation of helicopter parents, and it didn’t stop when they went to college and graduated.

        1. MatKnifeNinja

          Honestly, my dad was a factory rat, and no way in hell would he have talked to my potential employer like that.

          Every single friend/coworker/relative who couldn’t deal with life after age 20, had parents who were white collar, and were totally meddlesome. It wasn’t abusive I tell you hop you ask how high. They trained them to be helpless by not giving any basic life skills.

          The parents fought every single battle from middle school past university. So now you are 23, and thrown into the deep end trying to function as a legal adult, and panicking.

          Were my sister works, they regularly get new college graduates with parents waiting with them for job interviews. Or parents calling them out sick. Or about changing benefits.

          It’s insane.

        2. Sophie Hatter

          Can you clarify if you mean that millenials are the first generation to *have* helicopter parents, or to *be* helicopter parents? I assume you meant the former.

        3. Aleta

          Seconded, my parents are of high socioeconomic status and my mom would ABSOLUTELY do this if I let her. “But are so used to running the world that they see no reason they can’t ask Jane’s new boss to let her come in late the first day and have an extra week of vacation at Christmas” is EXACTLY my mom. My dad is more levelheaded generally (even though he has much higher workplace status), but not when it comes to stuff my mom says. She’s had no ability to contact my bosses, but she’s 10000% offered to “be the bad guy” and talk to them to try to get me days off during blackout dates for vacations I didn’t even want to go o n.

      2. Veryanon

        It’s usually the latter, in my experience. As an HR person, I’ve fielded my fair share of calls from parents of employees, and my go-to answer is always “I’m sorry, I cannot discuss the details of Junior’s employment with anyone except Junior.”
        As a parent of a young adult and a teenager myself, I now consciously make sure that I am not being That Parent. If my kids have questions about how to navigate the working world, I’m happy to offer advice, but that’s as far as it goes.

        1. Dragoning

          When I was a teen with my first job, our boss made it clear to all of us (most of the workers were teenagers, really), that we could not have our parents call her, that it was not acceptable, and she could not talk to them, if we needed to call out or something else came up.

          1. Colhane

            If the employees in question are under 18, however, I think different norms ought to apply.

            1. RandomU...

              I don’t. I had many jobs before I was 18, you know how many times my parents got involved directly with my employers… Zero. If you are old enough to legally have a job, then you are old enough to speak for yourself.

              1. sled dog mama

                The only one of my three under 18 jobs my dad ever got involved in was the one where he was my direct supervisor. I am eternally grateful to him that he hired me (at 12) to do filing for his company and taught me a lot of professional norms. I also successfully advocated for a raise at that job so I learned a lot in two hours a week for four years.
                My mother has never been involved in my jobs except the one time my car broke down and she drove me to work.

            2. That Would be a Good Band Name

              My son got his first job at 14 and I have not ever spoken to his employer (this is his second summer, so he’s just now 15). I did coach him on what to say when he needed to talk to someone about trading a shift and helped him get his new hire paperwork together, but he used his own email address for the contact info and they communicate directly with him.

            3. LJay

              Yeah, one of my jobs even had “Parent Orientations” that parents could choose to go to.

              We were pretty much the first job for most kids in the county, and hired kids as young as 14 years old. I understand it coming from parents of kids who cannot really drive or be independent at all yet. And having the orientation up-front probably helped a lot in that then the parents understood what the attendance policy was, understood when the schedule would be posted for the week and what hours their kids were allowed to work, etc, and so wouldn’t need to meddle later.

              My department was 18 and older only though, so I couldn’t really say.

              However, outside of that I wouldn’t talk to parents.

              At a different job, the parent of one of my employees would call regularly asking if we had released her daughter from work early or not, because she was concerned about the daughter “getting herself into trouble” by hanging out with boys or drinking or something like that if she wasn’t at work or at home. My standard response was the response I gave anyone who called asking when someone was working, “I’m sorry, but for safety reasons I don’t give out schedule or employment information to anyone other than the employee them self.” Mom didn’t like that, but I didn’t really care. Mom wasn’t my employee so I don’t care if she was mad or not.

        2. OrangeHat

          Same – definitely the overbearing professional parents. Especially recruiting for grad schemes, I always get the impression that they’ve been so used to stage-managing every aspect of their kid’s school and uni life and just can’t grasp that they need to let go now.
          I’ve always favoured the ‘I’m sorry, but data protection laws mean that I can’t discuss the terms of an offer of employment with anybody but the potential employee. Please tell XXX to contact me if there’s anything they want to discuss’

          That works once an offer is extended – it’s a little harder to get rid of people contacting recruiters/companies to get info about job listings on their child’s behalf. I’m actually pretty sure my mum (definitely in the lower socio-economic bracket) went to a careers fair at the university near her home when I was studying elsewhere to get information on grad schemes, but it doesn’t matter hugely because she never gave her name / did anything that would have tied her to me if I went on to apply to any of the companies she spoke to.

      3. Karen from Finance's Work is Full of Bees

        See, there’s another scenario:

        Parents are of high education / socioeconomic status, very familiar with white-collar workplace norms,

        Old money. These people are high status, well-connected, well-meaning, but are absolutely clueless about workplace norms because they haven’t set foot in an office a day in their lives. These parents may work, but it will usually be “doing business”, so they’ll know a few things, maybe about how to talk to an employee, but they have NO IDEA about everyday office life, yet they won’t stop them trying to micromanage.

        My sister and I come from this background: we’re the first generation in our family to have 9-5 jobs.

        1. Oh So Anon

          The other two variants of nominally white-collar-but-clueless-about-norms that I’m pretty familiar with is parents who are either self-employed (think lawyers who have always hung their own shingle) or academics.

          1. Academics are professionals, too

            As an academic, I find this comment… odd. And a bit insulting. We work. In a workplace. With colleagues and bosses and politics and everything else. Perhaps you’re thinking of the old “absent-minded professor” stereotype. Generally speaking though, applying a characteristic to an entire category of professionals is not a good idea.

            I suspect my self-employed, business owner partner would say the same thing. Given that he runs an company. That has an office. In a workplace. With employees and politics and everything else…

            1. Karen from Finance

              Yes, I think Oh So Anon means, by “academics”, people who work in academia who maybe have their offices in their own homes, or who don’t work in offices, or in offices of <5 people. I know what they meant, but I agree the term used was encompassing of other types of jobs as well.

      4. Anonandon

        The one time I encountered this it was very definitely a high-income / white collar type who was motivated by malice rather than any actual desire to “help.”

    3. Emarellelle

      Here is my story about the last time a parent intervened on my behalf. College royally screwed something up and I wound up only existing in the housing system, which I found out the day before classes started. (I was a junior transfer.). So I took my acceptance, my schedule, my proof of payment to every office on campus it seemed. Everyone said it was someone else’s fault. (I cried in front of so many people that day.) No one could fix it or would admit it was a college issue, not a me issue. The offices closed for the day, I call my parents to update the situation. My parents call the school the next day (without my ok) and I am summoned to the president’s office (where I had been 3 times the previous day.) Fully reinstated with my original schedule (which was a small miracle to me). I asked why my parents could get this fixed when I tried to do previous day…. I was told because when parents are paying tuition, they are the customer. “Too bad, because you just told an actual paying customer that her money isn’t as good as someone who isn’t paying but you perceive as an adult with the power.” I wasn’t mad at my parents, but at the college that refused to help until mommy and daddy called.

      1. Rusty Shackelford

        Was that before FERPA? Because now the mantra is “We don’t care if you’re paying the bills; you’re not the student so we’re not going to talk to you.”

        1. Emarellelle

          Oh no, this was the 90s. I don’t even think FERPA crossed my mind because I was so angry that it took one phone call and 10 minutes to fix what I had tried to fix for 8 hours the previous day, and also relieved that it was resolved.
          But that experience has made me understand why parents think they have to get involved. I have tried to coach my kids through situations starting at an early age so they know I have their back.

      2. LJay

        I had similar issues when I was in college. Only once or twice did I have to involve my parents, but they were able to get things sorted when I was not and that left me pissed because I was supposed to be being treated like an adult and was not.

        This was in 2004-2008.

        However, I was under the impression that you could authorize people to receive your information under FERPA (though you don’t have to). I would have definitely authorized it in those cases because I needed stuff fixed and it wasn’t getting fixed. I just resented having to do so.

    4. Half-Caf Latte

      I have a coworker who is a snowplow for her FIVE children, college juniors through married homeowner adults.

      Oh the stories….

      But if you even suggest that she’s meddling, “Oh I would never, I don’t tell them what to do, I’m just telling you what I’d like to do if I could.”

      Ooooooookay lady.

    5. Zev

      My first job out of college was in my very small hometown where everyone knew everyone. I was dependent upon family members to give me rides to work because i did not have money for a car yet and we did not have public transit. I was taking as many shifts as possible to save money to move out.

      One weekend, I traveled out of town with my boyfriend (we billed it as a pre-planned getaway; in reality we were interviewing and apartment hunting). His car broke down two states away, stranding us for several days while we waited for the mechanic to replace the cam gear.

      I called work to let them know what happened and that I would miss several days’ work. Later that day, my brother went to my workplace (he worked in the same plaza – the only business plaza in town) and told my boss that actually, I’d just decided to extend my vacation another couple of days, and had lied to him about the car trouble.

      When I finally made it home and went back to work, I was immediately fired.

      Thankfully, one of my out-of-state interviews worked out, and between my boyfriend and a small loan from my best friend, I was still able to move out of an incredibly abusive household, despite their best attempts to sabotage my every move.

      All of the possessions i left in the house – anything not fitting in two suitcases – they threw out as soon as i left. Have you ever received razor blades via US mail? I have.

      …Oh, sorry, i forgot this was supposed to be a funny story about those useless millennials and their helicopter parents.

      Unfortunately there are far more abusive parents/families than there are rich entitled helicopter parents — and the fact that so many people in this thread are unaware of / in denial about / dismissive of that fact is quite alarming.

      Sometimes, families abuse their children. Those children grow up and turn into employees. Y’all could stand to try out a little bit of compassion. Because this defensive denial is not a good look for you, and the child abuse survivors around you (and believe me, there are plenty) are not going to want to stay in your vicinity for very long, because they can tell you’re Not Safe.

      And the business case for this is: this attitude will lose you good employees. Something to think about.

      1. Ya Auntie

        Your family, your problem. It’s not up to your boss or your coworkers to act as a shield between you and your awful family.

        1. Observer

          A little bit of humanity and compassion are a good way to operate. If nothing that happens to your employee is ever your problem, nothing that ever happens to you is going to be your employee’s problem.

          In other words, you will never get really good employees who do their best work.

      2. Observer

        Oh for crying out loud!

        Your family was horrible. And your bosses were jerks for just taking your brother’s work. So, I get why you have a boatload of bitterness.

        But that has NOTHING to do with the question. No one is claiming that ALL millennials are “useless” and have “helicopter parents”. But the reality is that there ARE a lot of parents who do waaay too much helicoptering. Your terrible experiences with horrible people who were worse than useless doesn’t change that, and doesn’t justify jumping down the throats of people who are talking about that.

  8. Game of Drones

    No. 2, for future reference plain old rubbing alcohol can negate the smell of perfume or after-shave. I usually follow up with soap and water. It doesn’t destroy it completely, but it helps.

  9. Beepboop

    #2

    I once had a job, where visiting farms sometimes happened and because of scheduling reasons I ended up going to a job interview after spending the morning at a cow farm. I was really worried that they would hold it against me. I left my rubber boots outside, explained the smell and they were totally fine with it.

  10. Alice

    #1: Oh man… this is where I’m grateful for my parents. As a matter of fact my mother abhors parents who do that kind of stuff. She’s in academia and oversees entrance exams, and every year she’s baffled at the amount of young adults who show up with parents in tow.

    1. RUKiddingMe

      Mine didn’t care/weren’t interested enough to interfere. At one time the lack of concern beyond “get a job…any job” bothered me. Over the years I came to see it as a plus.

      1. AJK

        Mine were similar, but more in the “Do whatever makes you happy” sense rather than the disinterested sense. My parents weren’t particular about what I did, as long as I was doing something. The rule was “get a job, go to school or move out” after I turned 18. As it turned out, I got a job, moved out and went to school, in that order.

    2. OrangeHat

      Quite a lot of not-that-young adults seem to turn up to career fairs with parents too – fine in some cases but they can be really overbearing. I remember a woman in her mid-twenties asking me about my company’s grad scheme and I only got out the words ‘well, we’d allocate you to one of our locations across the county’ before her mum grabbed her arm and physically pulled her away going ‘Oh no, that’s not for her – she needs to be in North (Small Town), near the bus station.’

    3. some dude

      My parents were always very overprotective, and didn’t allow me to do much for myself. They always wanted to take over and do things for me. And then one day they just stopped and said “Why can’t you do this yourself?” Uh.. because you raised me like this?

      But seriously, parents who do this mean well, but they are not doing their kids any favours. I’m 41 and it’s still affecting my life every day.

      1. OhNo

        As sorry as I am that this happened to you, it’s still a relief to hear that I’m not the only one.

        Biggest example for me has always been driving. Dad wouldn’t pay for driver’s ed, wouldn’t take spend any time teaching me to drive, wouldn’t take me to get my driver’s test, wouldn’t help me get a car, wouldn’t put me on his insurance… and then spent years complaining that he had to drive me places. And of course, ever since I solved that problem by starting to take public transportation, he’s done nothing but complain about how “unsafe” public transit it, and how he’d worry less if I just let him drive me.

    4. blackcat

      I do my best to hide during freshman orientation. Sometimes I have to be in my office, though.
      The worst is when parents see me, the one woman on my floor, and decide that I must be the department admin (they are down one floor). Students tend to assume that, too, but sheepishly apologize and ask for directions when correct me. Parents, though, insist that I *must* be the one to help them.
      If I had a dollar for every dad who said “Well you’re here and I need you to help Sally/Johnny, RIGHT NOW or I’ll go get your boss” I could take an extra semester’s leave.
      The university has programming for parents during orientation to cut down on this stuff, but some parents insist their kid can’t handle advising/registration.

      1. Delta Delta

        I’d be tempted to call their bluff. “Ok, go get my boss.” Because they won’t do it. I’d give boss the heads up this happens so the boss can back you up in the event any parent actually takes the step of doing that.

        I’d also be tempted to put a jar labeled “FERPA Fund” in my desk. Any parent asking for protected information is required to contribute to my legal fund, since they’re asking you to do something potentially unlawful. But it’s friday and I’m feeling petty, so don’t really do this.

        1. blackcat

          Only once has the “No, because FERPA” failed me. A parent (during orientation) plopped the FERPA waiver down right in front of me! Unfortunately, my university hands out FERPA waivers as part of the orientation paperwork, so the parents have it handy…

          1. Samwise

            If they have the waiver, then answer their questions, as long as they’re within the purview of FERPA.

        2. Samwise

          Oh no, actually they will go get your boss. BTDT.

          I’m sympathetic to the parents at orientation, it’s hard for them! It’s easy enough to be pleasant and polite and sympathetic while saying, I’m so sorry, I really cannot help with that, but let’s see who Suzy does need to talk to. Then redirect them (I suggest saying something like, There’s probably a help # on your parents’ orientation schedule, that’s really the best place to start. Or direct them to the correct office for their question, if you know it.)

          This gets easier to do the older you get (especially when you’re older than the parents, eep!) but I did it quite successfully in my 20s. Of course I have a serious RBF, so that helps!

          1. Grapey

            They definitely do!!

            I’ve had success during these kinds of events when I point out (to the students, in front of their parents) that they do better academically if they take the initiative for things.

            Like if a parent asked about further opportunities in the XYZ program, I’d turn to the actual student and say “oh, are you interested in XYZ?”. Many kids seemed relieved that someone (even if passive aggressively) told their parents to stay in their lane.

      2. Gumby

        My school had a designated “parents leave now” time on the day freshmen arrived on campus. That was back in the dark ages but I suspect it is even more necessary now.

        My parents always told us that their job was to raise functional adults not maintain children.

    5. Jaybeetee

      I tease my mother about her “free-range” parenting style, which she corrects to “benign neglect”. She worked long hours with a long commute, plus three kids and a house to look after (and a mostly-useless husband, aka my dad – they eventually split up). She did not have time for hovering, and figured if we face-planted a few times, we’d learn our lessons. She was over-stretched and only too happy to let us run our own lives as we got old enough to do so).

      1. Grapey

        Same with my dad. He forced me to do things I didn’t want to do (learn to drive [illegally, in parking lots] at a young age, handed me an application at the grocery store and forced me to fill it in and submit it at the drop of a hat the week I turned old enough to legally work there).

        I haaaaated it as a kid, but looking back his style gave me independence at a younger age than most of my peers. He wasn’t a helicopter parent by far…(like he let me stand in the front seat of the car when I was a toddler) but he wanted to make me an adult PDQ. I appreciate it now in retrospect.

    6. Blue Bunny

      Same. My own mother recently went on a rant about helicopter parents. The exact wording is not really AAM safe, but the helicoptered child’s honeymoon night was referenced and whether the helicopter mother would be standing bedside to “stick it in”.

  11. Elf

    For # 5: this may be a nonissue. You say it was 5-6 years ago, and in many states your driving record is only for a certain period of time (in NY it’s 3 years). You may well have a clean record.

    You can certainly request a copy of your driving record from the state (it may be more or less difficult depending on where you are), and if that is clean because your record has been clean long enough, there is no reason to ever bring it up.

  12. Naomi

    #4: If the jobs are very similar, maybe. But believe me, hiring managers can spot a generic cover letter designed to work as broadly as possible, and it makes you look like you’re applying indiscriminately and don’t care about this particular job. Especially don’t copy sample cover letters found online, which are specific neither to the job nor to you as a candidate. I recently spotted two candidates using the same opening paragraph almost verbatim–they had clearly cribbed from the same generic template letter.

    Regardless of whether the hiring manager spots it, such vague cover letters just tend to not be very good. You get writing like “After reviewing your job description, it’s clear that you’re looking for a candidate that is extremely familiar with the responsibilities associated with the role, and can perform them confidently,” which is obvious to the point of meaninglessness. That sentence could apply to any job in the world, but adds no value because it tells me nothing about whether you actually understand what those responsibilities are, or how good a fit you would be for the job.

    You also want to avoid tailoring your cover letter for one type of job and then using it for all jobs. Emphasizing your customer service skills will go over great in some places, but at a company with no customer-facing positions it says “I have paid zero attention to the nature of this job.” Finally, even for similar jobs, you don’t want to be the person who accidentally sends a cover letter to Montague Industries that says “…and that’s why I think I would be a great addition to the team at Capulet Worldwide.”

    1. JJ Bittenbinder

      Yes! I’m currently on the hiring committee and I absolutely read cover letters. There were about 20% that I put it the “no” pile because they didn’t even mention the position they were applying to, nor the organization itself. There were also 3 that cited the wrong position or the wrong organization, but the vagueness was more prevalent.

      I mean, it did make narrowing the field a little easier, I guess…

  13. KatieHRCoordinator

    #1. Wow, I have never had a parent get on the phone but I have seen parents take kids to interviews and sit in the lobby waiting for them. My parents were both blue collared worked so didn’t know “business norms” when I was out of college but they never would’ve done that or I would have been so very embarrassed! I am seeing more and more parents who don’t empower their kids to handle things on their own. My kids are in 6th and 3rd grade and when something comes up, my first step is “ok, how should you handle this?” I help them with a script and then let them try. Obviously there are times you intervene as a parent but never to the extent of talking to an employer. Nothing surprises me anymore.

    1. SezU

      Yes, please always let them try to figure it out, even if it means at some point coaching them a little. We do them no favors as parents by always trying do it for them.

    2. CanuckCat

      I’ve only ever had one interview that either of my parents walked me to; my first job interview at age 15, where my mom walked me into the building where it was taking place, said ‘you’ve got this’ and then went and hung out in the coffee shop off the lobby. It was a multilevel building and I’m pretty sure if the offices I was going to hadn’t been on another floor, she wouldn’t have even gone into the lobby.

    3. ZucchiniBikini

      I mean, I have driven my 15 year old *to the location* where a job interview inaccessible by bus was to occur. I didn’t get out of the car though! What could possibly be gained from doing so?

  14. SezU

    Daaaaaad!!!! Don’t Do It!!!!!! This explains a lot though about some of our recent interns. I get that things are changing, and I have no problem changing with them (what people want from work, etc). But in no possible situation should your parent interfere in this manner with your job hunt. Ugh.

  15. CDM

    Not sure what country LW5 is in, because it doesn’t sound like the US or UK, where insurance follows the vehicle, not the driver. Unless LW meant their parents removed coverage for a vehicle registered in LW5’s name, which could result in a license suspension if the insurance company reported that to the state.

    I once switched companies mid-term and Allstate reported me to the state, and I got a letter with a court date to fight my license suspension. Supposedly the state was supposed to send me a nicer letter first asking for proof of replacement coverage. I was not pleased, especially as I was double covered for three weeks between placing the new policy and when Allstate finally canceled the old one.

    In the US, in general, insurance companies look at all violations for three years and major violations for five years when evaluating a driver’s record for commercial insurance.

    Two suspensions 5-6 years out would not necessarily disqualify a driver on a commercial policy. It would depend on how the company classifies the reason, as major or minor. DUI would be major.

    Also, how this plays out may depend on whether the employer runs motor vehicle records themselves (which is complicated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act in the US) or lets their insurance company run them. The entity that runs them is required to keep the information confidential. (The driver is required to be notified how to get a free copy of their driving record for themselves if they are denied employment due to their record.)

    If the employer runs them, they see all violations on the record. If the insurance company runs them, the employer only gets notified if the driver doesn’t meet the company’s criteria due to the record.

    We end up, as the agency, in an awkward spot between the insurance company that wasn’t supposed to tell us exactly why a license was suspended and the client who needs the employee to drive and was lied to by their employee who claims the suspension was due to unpaid parking tickets. But sometimes we get notified that a license appears to be expired, notify the employee to renew ASAP, and the insurance company doesn’t care as long as it gets fixed.

    1. Carlie

      I was at the DMV last week and heard that scenario being played out at the next window over. They were switching plates to another car, and switching insurance companies at the same time, and the old insurance had reported the cancellation before what was supposed to be the effective date. The fine was $250 on the spot, with an additional $80 per day without proof of insurance. And the kicker was that the notification of the first fine and proving insurance coverage could not be on the same day, so at least one day of additional fine was built into the system.

    2. Pretzelgirl

      In ohio they also randomly pick people to send in the proof of insurance. My husband and I got a letter last year. We had to send in a copy of our card. I can’t remember the penalty if we didn’t. There was no reason to prompt them to do this, it was all at random. Kind of like jury duty, lol.

    3. SemiRetired

      Something that confuses me in the “good driving record” letter. Does a suspension for insurance reasons count against a “good driving record?” I would think they’d be looking for moving violations. I wouldn’t care if an applicant had parking tickets, for instance. In this case, if the applicant had a valid license and no evidence of being a bad driver, I don’t see the problem.
      It’s possible that the lack of insurance was discovered when she was pulled over for a moving violation, but she doesn’t mention it.
      As for how this could happen? It happened to my kid at about age 19. I had moved when she went off to college, but her legal address was mine and she had never reported the change. Consequently when something came up, she never received the notification because they don’t forward mail from the DMV. She was arrested when she ran a stop sign in front of the police station in a nearby town… her license had been suspended and she didn’t know it. (Yes, I did address the multiple levels of idiocy on her part at the time… but natural consequences substituted nicely for my lecture.) consequences were reinforced years later when she had to go back to get all the details of this arrest for a background check for a government job. nowadays she is even better at adulting than I am. I’m more likely to procrastinate something I see as a tedious bureaucratic task.

      1. WellRed

        It can. In a lot of cases, as in your daughter’s, it’s ridiculous. Where I live, though, the drivers involved in many deadly crashes often turn out to have had multiple licenses suspensions, a history of driving infractions, and often, a history of no insurance. Irresponsible people make it more difficult for the rest of us.

        1. Cog in the Machine

          This. In my state, it always seems that the people with the worst driving records get more chances than those with much cleaner records. There’s a reason I carry all the uninsured moterist coverage I can afford.

      2. CDM

        I’m at work now, so I checked the matrix we use for evaluating a MVR, and it shows a license suspension as a major violation, and one within 3 years would disqualify a driver. So LW would be fine by our criteria, as it’s been over three years. It doesn’t address the reason for a license suspension at all.

        In my state we do have some companies who ask for details about certain MVR reports and underwriters have discretion as to how to weight them. We have some odd criteria for an accident to be reported to the state, and a reportable accident shows up on all drivers’ records regardless of fault. Fergus rear-ends Jane at a light, pushing Jane into Wakeen and Fergus’s car needs towing – that gets reported on all three MVRs. A vehicle fire in a traffic lane is reportable, but hitting anything entirely off the road is not. An intentional hit isn’t reportable. Hitting an animal is, though insurance considers that comprehensive, not collision. So companies ask for police reports to figure out whether to “count” a reportable accident when evaluating a MVR.

        It’s possible that an underwriter would decide that a suspension for insurance reasons wasn’t concerning, it’s also possible that some insurance companies would have policies that differentiate between reasons for a suspension in making a determination.

  16. Nyltiak

    #5- It’s likely something that’s out of their control. In general, if you drive company vehicles, you’re covered under the company’s insurance policy, and that insurance policy decides what level of risk it’s willing to assume for covered employees. In my experience with such systems, minor offenses (like this) that are >5 years old would not be considered disqualifying. More recent or more serious infractions would be. It depends on the insurer, and the company might not be 100% able to predict if the insurer will cover you. Also in my experience, if they like you a lot, they’ll still hire you, pending background and other checks, including this.

  17. SigneL

    Regarding #1: When I was looking for my first job (a VERY long time ago!), my father would mention things to me that he thought were important, like “make sure you understand the benefits.” When I received an offer, I could say, “I’d like to be sure I understand the benefits.” And I was Daddy’s little girl; he was very protective of me. But that was how he made sure I knew which questions to ask.

    1. Delta Delta

      This seems totally normal. I think it’s entirely understandable that a new-ish job searcher might look to their parents for advice, and that the parents might say “be sure to ask about…” And then if the suggestion seems appropriate, the person does.

      1. SigneL

        Yes, at that time, I really didn’t know which questions to ask. But he thought it was important for me to ask the questions myself, rather than having a parental unit come along/get on the phone.

    2. LaurenB

      Advising a young job-seeker to ask about benefits (insurance, disability, 401K plans, etc) is perfectly appropriate and normal.

      Saying to a young adult, “Hey, I’ve got a lot of experience with this – why don’t you show me the health insurance / dental insurance / 401K / etc plans that your company offers, and I can give you some advice on the best one to choose for your needs” is perfectly appropriate and normal as well. After all, it’s best to max out on a 401K or at a minimum ensure you’re getting your full company match, but a lot of people don’t have parents / trusted adults to tell them that.

      This has absolutely nothing to do with the scenario being discussed here.

        1. Lana Kane

          You’re fine! I agree with Ella Vader that this is an example of what parental involvement in their child’s job search *should* look like.

        2. CanuckCat

          Don’t feel bad, LaurenB is the one overstepping. You’re sharing your perspective on what healthy parental involvement should look like, and I think that’s great (my dad did the same; for my first two or three ‘adult’ jobs, he reviewed my contracts with me because HR was his background)

      1. Ella Vader

        Yes, it does have relevance to the discussion. It shows there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about it.

  18. Book Badger, Attorney-at-Claw

    LW #4: What I do is to have one paragraph heavily tailored to the role, two paragraphs that are copy & paste with only very minor tweaking, and the same rote conclusion paragraph. I also shuffle around the ordering of the middle paragraphs depending on what aspects of my career I want to emphasize. So, for example:

    Paragraph One: I am interested in [Job] because [reasons specific to job]. Any stuff that’s job specific, like a weird relocation, goes here.

    Paragraphs Two & Three: At [Former Job A], I did W and X. At [Former Job B], I did [Y and Z]. Etc., etc. This means I’d be good at X and Z skills from the job description.

    Paragraph Four: Conclusion & sign off. This is how to contact me, thank you, blah blah blah.

    So it doesn’t have to be a totally new letter every time, but not totally copy/pasted either. And when I’ve been forced to write an entirely new letter (for example, when applying multiple times to the same company, so a rote letter will especially be noticed), I take some of that new language and add it to my standard letter. The version I used to get my current job was the best version of my letter after six months or so of job searching.

    1. Pretzelgirl

      I did the same when I was job hunting. I hate to say it, but when I was applying to 10-20 jobs a day, I simply didn’t have the time to write 10-20 unique cover letters. I would insert some new things in each cover letter pertinent to that job, but that’s it.

    2. Goose Lavel

      I would also tailor my resume for the specific role by moving bullet points appropriately up or down based upon the requirements of the position.

    3. AnOtterMouse

      I did this too. One way I automated this process was by keeping a spreadsheet of these “paragraph 2-3” paragraphs (I had 5-6 to choose from, depending on the job I was applying for) that were short descriptions or anecdotes about previous, applicable work. I spent a couple days of my job hunt JUST focused on developing and refining those paragraphs.

      I also set up my general cover letter as a mail-merge-type template, so it would be harder to screw up by sending the cover letter meant for Teapots Inc. to Coffeepots Inc.; it’s much harder to ignore [COMPANY NAME] in the middle of a paragraph than Teapots Inc. when proofreading.

    4. Confused

      This is what I do. Unless a job requests something specific in a cover letter, I don’t have time to create perfectly unique ones for each position when the roles I’m applying to are very similar. I have done personalized cover letters and it has been a waste of time that didn’t land me any interviews anyway.

    5. L.S. Cooper

      This formula is the first time any advice about cover letters has made sense to me. Thank you so much for sharing this! I know cover letters are important, but whenever I read the advice or try to look at successful cover letters, I just end up with my head spinning.

    6. MissDisplaced

      I sort of do a variation of what you do. After applying to many jobs, I basically ended up with 3 “master template” letters for the three main types of roles I apply for: Big Corporate, Nonprofit and Creative-Focused.

      You’ll still have to tailor a sentence or two, plus company names, etc., but this saves time.

  19. Brogrammer

    My read on Letter 5 was that the LW has controlling parents who removed her from their policy without telling her and let her bear the consequences. After this happened a second time, LW5 realized she couldn’t trust her parents and got her own insurance, but the damage to her driving record was done.

    1. blackcat

      Or maybe not controlling but instead hard up for money and bad at communicating.

    2. Southern Yankee

      This was my read as well – mainly because a college boyfriend of mine had a similar thing happen to him. We were going to take a weekend trip a few hours away when his parents dropped the bomb “you can’t drive, you don’t have insurance”. He had been on their policy, but they dropped him without telling him. They only felt the need to communicate prior to a trip, never mind he had been driving around town for months without insurance! Since it was 30 years ago, the automatic reporting to DMV from insurance wasn’t a thing yet, so he lucked out.

  20. LaDeeDa

    No NO No No. I have had several new grads and interns ask me to speak to their parents when they didn’t like the answer they got or didn’t know how to ask me for something. Nope. I had to let one intern go because every time he was given feedback or told he couldn’t do something or have the assignment he wanted he would call his mom and try to get his manager or me to talk to her. Parents, if you are doing this- you are parenting wrong. Stop it.

      1. LaDeeDa

        LOL! I am sure she is the kind of mom that if Little Johnny ever got in trouble it was always someone else’s fault and met with “how dare you accuse my precious boy of that!”

  21. One of the Sarahd

    Re #1. A lot of people upthread are saying “cut Jane some slack, she’s a college grad!” and I’m interested in why her having a degree makes a difference.

    If it was a 22 year old who hadn’t been to college, would that change your answer? I’m really confused why graduate seems to imply “sheltered”, when we don’t know if she was living with her dad while at college, or on the other side of the country.

    Graduate also doesn’t mean “has never had a job” – but even if it did, if it was a 22 year old who’d been working since they were 18, why would that be different?

    It’s confusing me, and I hope the people thinking this is understandable because she graduated would also cut the same slack to anyone else of the same age.

    1. Myrin

      I don’t think that’s what people mean – I’m fairly sure the emphasis is on a recent college grad typically being a pretty young person, not on the “college” part; it’s just another way of saying “Jane is obviously quite young still, cut her some slack” and doesn’t have anything to do with the particular educational background.

      1. fposte

        Right. Think of it as people saying “This is probably her first full time job.” Because that’s what they’re talking about, not the degree.

    2. Hire Fire Fancy Pants

      This. She doesn’t deserve slack. Imagine if her boss gave her some negative feedback? Would Daddy be on the phone demanding an explanation?
      I’m HR for a manufacturer. I’ve found I get more maturity out of trade school grads than the four year ones on a whole.

  22. Hire Fire Fancy Pants

    #1: I would’ve pulled the offer the moment the father took the phone. If you’re still letting your parents handle your professional business, I don’t want you in my company.

    1. Angus MacDonald, Boy Detective

      I think this is a little unfair, especially to people with extremely overbearing or abusive parents. She may literally have not had a choice in the matter. How can she gain her independence from her parents if nobody will hire her?

      1. Hire Fire Fancy Pants

        Not my problem as her employer. It may sound cruel, but I’m more worried if Daddy is that involved and/or difficult in her life, is he going to show up and shoot up my workspace the day I have to put her on a PIP.

      2. I'm Very Old

        That’s not the employer’s issue. The employer’s issue is the employee, not her parents.

      3. Grapey

        She does what kids with controlling parents have done since the dawn of time – learn to hide things. If you lose one job offer because of a controlling father you don’t tell him about any other ones.

        Find a roommate or family friend to stay with.
        Make calls to employers from Starbucks.
        Steal your birth certificate and SS card.

        That said, I find it difficult (not impossible, but difficult) to imagine that she had literally no control and is more likely deferring to a helicopter parent that is wildly out of touch with today’s norms.

  23. Linzava

    Hi OP #4,

    I have a script for just your situation.

    Boss: I wish you had told me you were looking to leave.

    You: I wasn’t really looking, but this opportunity came up and I couldn’t pass it up.

    It’s not foolproof, but it leave less room for them to push back. And then there’s always the phrase, “I have to do what’s best for my family.” I’ve used that phrase as a single woman and it’s basically my favorite conversation ender.

  24. StaceyIzMe

    It’s interesting that several of the questions today were about boundaries: parents “helicoptering” around their adult children while they apply for jobs, bosses “helicoptering” around their employees (at least in a measure) with respect to the timing of resignations, (and this one’s a stretch but-) and scent helicoptering around the hapless applicant who spilled fragrance. Boundaries, people! (And Happy Friday!)

  25. Interviewer

    OP1 – I can understand a detailed bunch of questions from a parent of a new grad about the benefits – maybe he wants to figure out if he can drop her from his coverage, while the daughter has no clue how to compare plans – but to instead ask about routine topics like training & attendance indicates such a lack of awareness of normal business practices, I feel really bad for the candidate. I would love an update on how this one works out.

    1. fposte

      The thing is, even if he has questions about benefits, *he doesn’t get to talk to the employer.* It’s not the content, it’s the inappropriateness of the non-applicant inserting himself in the application process.

      Any questions he has need to be addressed to his daughter.

    2. Clever Name

      Yeah, but that’s a conversation he needs to have with his daughter, not his daughter’s employer. It’s totally legit for a parent in this situation to say to the child, “be sure to get the benefits info in writing so we can sit down together and figure out if it makes sense for you to stay on our insurance or get your own”. It’s not appropriate for the parent to try to obtain that info directly from the employer.

    3. ENFP in Texas

      No. Dad does not talk to the employer. Dad talks to his daughter, and the daughter (the one actually getting the job) talks to the employer.

      Dad has no standing to be on the phone directly with the employer. His daughter is an adult.

  26. Terri

    #4) I’ve written dozens of cover letters and as hiring manager, have reviewed dozens of them as well.

    From a hiring perspective, you’d be surprised how many people just flat do not send one. (I work in higher ed w/ an HR system that requires an “application” (which we don’t pay much attention to) and options to upload resume, cover letter, etc. Of those that *do* include a cover letter, the generic ones (one ones with minimal mention of the role) are generally passed over unless their resume itself is steller. An impressive and passionate cover letter that is mostly or totally customized can significantly help an otherwise lackluster resume. These folks, unless they are grossly unqualified, almost always get a phone interview and move beyond to face to face.

    From a writing/job-hunting perspective, I do have a generic cover letter template that I can highly tailor to each job. I think writing, in and of itself, is intimidating to a lot of people. (That includes me, a professional writer by education and trade.) I like to do the cover letter, have a few trusted friends/family members review it, and let it sit for a couple of days before editing and submitting. Frankly, if you have a good job history, a grasp of your past employment experiences, and a decent understanding of the job opening, one could be able to make the case for qualifications in a letter.

    1. m2

      you’d be surprised how many HR people don’t send the cover letter on to hiring managers. I have had this happen to me several times at different organizations as both the hiring manager and the interviewee. Most recently (a year or so ago) I went on a round of final interviews for a VP role at a major non-profit in NY and the hiring manager/ CEO, and everyone I met with never received my cover letter from HR. The President told me that they didn’t look at many candidates because they didn’t have cover letters (my CV was unique I guess), but I think she started to realize that HR was sending along the cover letters of those who HR wanted in the role! At least that’s what they told me and it sounded like this was a frequent occurrence which HR was told to knock off. Luckily I brought copies of both my cover letter and resume. I decided not to take the job or continue with the process (they wanted me to come back for more interviews and a workshop even though this process took months and I had just been in for days of in-person interviews). After visiting and doing more digging there were major red flags (including them calling my references after I told them I wasn’t interested in the role/ the continued process and after they said in writing no references would be contacted until if/ after I received an offer). So I understand how you say many candidates don’t send cover letters, but after speaking to many friends and being a hiring manager myself I can say that HR doesn’t always send them along. So bring them with you people!

  27. Watermelon M

    Ohhh #1… I feel Jane’s pain. I remember when I was in my senior year of college, my dad wanted to talk to my director of my program to understand if I truly had job prospects with this major and if I was making the right choice for grad school (which she gave me a recommendation for.) She will NEVER let me forget the day that my dad called her and they had a nice 30 minute conversation. Thank God she and I were close and she thought it was amusing, but I will never forget and forgive my dad for that. He insists on being a part of my salary negotiations and knowing how much I make, but I have had to work hard to draw boundaries.

  28. Wantonseedstitch

    LW#3, I am a manager who had two of my long-standing reports who had previously been my peers (so we were very close and had a very warm, friendly relationship) tell me that they were leaving our organization only after accepting offers from other places. The only thing I was upset about was that I wasn’t able to find a way to make them want to stay. But the fact was that they wanted things (promotions without taking on management roles, higher salaries) that our organization wasn’t able to provide. So I wished them well and told them I’d miss them, and keep in touch with them on Facebook and at professional conferences. You didn’t do anything wrong, any more than my reports did. Your manager may be more upset with herself for not being able to keep you than she is with you for not staying, but she might be taking that out on you, which is unfair. I hope she comes to terms with it soon.

  29. wardepartment

    Once when I was running out of the house before an interview, I grabbed the orange-topped spray can from under the sink to get the static cling out of my skirt. I grabbed the can of Off instead. I apologized for my insecticidal smell during the interview and we had a good laugh. I got the job :)

    1. BadWolf

      Were you applying to be a park ranger or garden center employee, because then it seems like the perfect mistake!

    2. Nanc

      Just out of curiosity: does OFF work for static cling?
      It’s a good sign when the interviewer is understanding about silly human mistakes stuff!

  30. BadWolf

    On OP2, I think it would have been worth saying something offhand only to assure the interviewer that you weren’t planning to bath daily in perfume. But I totally understand the awkwardness of waffling between, “Do I smell? Maybe it’s just in my nose now. Is that a nose crinkle? Can they smell me?” and you don’t really decide until halfway through that it’s probably a problem and then how do you blurt out mid interview, “By the way, I don’t normally smell like this.” In hindsight, it’s easy to picture pausing, tilting your head and a breezy, “Oh boy, I think that perfume I spilled this morning might be still kind of strong. I’m so sorry for that. Very embarrassing. Anyway, back to your question on difficult scenarios.”

    Maybe in a follow up thank you note, you could add “I realized when I got in my car that the aftershave I had spilled earlier was still following me around. I apologize if it was strong in the interview!”

  31. Fiddlesticks

    I want to hear an update to #1, the overly-involved dad. I would bet a week’s salary that this is not a one-time thing, and before long Dad will be calling Sally again to discuss his precious little Jane and how the workplace just expects too much of her and doesn’t value her enough.

  32. friyay

    re #1, I had an entry-level employee who lived at home. One day, her father called to explain that Myrcella was very tired and wanted to sleep late so she would not be coming to work that day. I politely thanked him.

    The next day, when Myrcella came in, I told her that, unless she was in a coma, undergoing surgery, giving birth etc, that she was the one who needed to contact her supervisor about office absence, not her father. Myrcella was mystified and said, “But I was sleeping, how could I call?”

  33. LeisureSuitLarry

    LW #3’s former boss could be my boss. I know he takes it personally when people resign without telling him they’re looking for a new job. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does it seems to hit him a bit harder than I think is reasonable. I don’t think he’s bitter about it, although a few comments have come close to that. And he doesn’t seem to take anything out on them. There’s not immediate escort from the building or freeze out.

    I asked him about his reaction when one of my co-workers that he’d brought into the company from “didn’t know what excel was” and guided and supported said co-worker until “manager” was part of her title quit. He pretty much said that he got that people left and that it was a normal part of business, but he wanted the chance to compete. If there was something he could do to make up for what the employee thought they were missing, he wanted a chance to do it. I explained what I knew of co-worker’s situation and he agreed that he couldn’t give her what she was looking for, but was still a little hurt. For what it’s worth, she was maybe a year into her role and wanted/needed to learn from someone more senior in the same role. It is an uncommon role for our company but very common in most companies.

  34. Lana Kane

    I’d certainly be having a conversation with Jane about professional norms, but I’m actually more surprised at Sally. Jane could possibly have been taken by surprise at her dad demanding to talk to Sally, and that points to her inexperience. But Sally is presumably not inexperienced and this should not have stunned her to the point that she actually talked to Dad and answered several questions.

    1. MJ

      Yes. If daddy is involved at this early stage, he’ll be there for every performance review, every salary negotiation, etc. It does not bode well for Sally.

  35. Tim C.

    LW#3 – Look at it the other way around. Do you believe your manager would give you any notice at all if there were layoffs pending? My guess they would arrange a 2 pm Friday meeting, have you collect your things, and perp-walk you out of the building. The fact that employees give any notice is a generosity rarely returned.

  36. Brett

    LW #5
    Because this sounds like a government agency, I’m going to disagree with the advice here.

    When last job processed these types of internship applications for parks and other agencies, we pulled the applicant’s driver’s record right away before even the phone screen. Anyone who had a license suspension was disqualified right away regardless of any other qualifications and without a phone screen or interview.

    Normally there is an application form in addition to the resume and cover letter. The application form is the appropriate place to explain the suspension. If there is a question on the application about driving record, then explain your suspension on the blank tied to that question. If the question is checkbox only, but there is a page for explanations or extended answers at the end of the application, then put the explanation there with the number of the question that you are explaining.

    If there is not a question about driving record, then find the most open-ended applicable question and put your explanation into the extended answers page at the end of the application. Either way, the explanation should be somewhere in the application, not in the cover letter, resume, or other communication.

    1. MommyMD

      Great answer. And there are too many people who have not had their DL suspended to hire one who has.

  37. KayEss

    I always feel like there’s a certain amount of two groups talking past each other about different situations when discussing tailored cover letters here… when you’re just putting out feelers or looking for the next step in your career, you’re applying to only very select positions at specific places you’re very interested in, and tailoring a cover letter should be pretty easy and worthwhile for every single one. When you’re unemployed, or in a nightmare job you need to get out of NOW… you wind up having to write cover letters for a lot of jobs that you wouldn’t give a second glance under other circumstances, and which if you were to exhaustively tailor each one would mean having to pull a lot of highly specific fake enthusiasm basically out of thin air and creating a lot of work and anxiety for yourself. I truly don’t think you need to do it in that case, especially if it causes you undue stress. You’re better served in that situation by doing what you have to do to get the application out the door.

    Personally, when I was unemployed, I did tailored cover letters for jobs I felt like I was a particularly strong candidate for or that I really, REALLY wanted. The (multitude of) positions that were like, “eh, I could absolutely do this job and do it well and happily, but I have no connection to the industry/company and won’t be devastated if I don’t get a callback because I’m applying to six other similar positions today” were where I saved my time and energy and used a (still carefully crafted and personalized to my skills, not downloaded from the internet) template. If it was truly a dealbreaker for a nutritional supplements digital marketing position that I didn’t demonstrate sufficient enthusiasm for nutrition and fitness or whatever in my first contact, despite demonstrated experience in digital marketing and a portfolio showing my skills, then not getting a call about that job was probably overall a good thing (because it would have been a VERY bad fit).

    For the record, my response rate was pretty close to equal between tailored and non-tailored. I think the job I eventually was offered and accepted (and LOVE) may even have been a non-tailored one.

    1. jam

      Thank you for this comment! I think you’ve put your finger on something here that doesn’t get talked about much.

  38. Lynne879

    OP #4: My formula for writing cover letters is always having one paragraph that I keep in all of my cover letters (for me, it’s about the positive feedback I’ve gotten from my coworkers & supervisors, but for you it might be something else), one paragraph that uses the similar phrases but is tailored differently to each job (it usually relates to my work ethic or how I work well with customers), and another paragraph that’s customized to fit the job. That paragraph is usually about my interest in the company. This formula has worked for me so far, as I have gotten calls for interviews.

  39. Zillah

    I would be up front about it though. I would NOT try to blame the parents or the insurance company. I would admit that I was driving uninsured, that I learned my lesson, and that it was in the past.

    But if the OP truly didn’t realize, that would be an outright lie – and whether the OP was knowingly driving without insurance is actually a really big deal that I don’t think is made equal with a “I learned my lesson.”

  40. BTDT

    I have hired the children of helicopter parents and none are well-equipped for the workplace. After making this mistake a few times (for all the reasons listed above) , now I rescind the offer. It is unfortunate for the potential hire but I have a business to run and need to devote my time and energy to those who are mentally, emotionally, and physically able to do the job. In my experience the children of helicopter parents need way too much supervision, guidance, and growth to become even mediocre employees.

  41. s0nicfreak

    Ugh. I know it’s not the LW’s issue to deal with but that poor girl is going to have a heck of a time getting out from under her father’s thumb with him sabotaging her job prospects. My mom would pretend to be me on the phone and sabotage me… so at least things aren’t *that* hard for her.

  42. Rob D

    While there is nothing in your response with which I disagree technically , I have an issue with the overall tone. As a long-time supervisor and hiring manager, and the father of two young women relatively new to the professional workforce, I have a very different but relevant perspective.

    I agree that your applicant is an “adult” and is your primary point of contact. I also understand that you wish to maintain the relationship at a professional level; however, her father should be viewed as a relevant party, to whatever degree your applicant considers appropriate.

    I spent several years in retail car sales, and you can bet that I spent many hours on the sales floor addressing “Dad,” even though my customer was theoretically and legally a sovereign and responsible adult. This decision was considered by my customer to be squarely within his purview, and I had nothing to say about it. I’m not suggesting that there aren’t sharp differences in these scenarios, but the fact remains that your applicant is treading into new territory for her, and needs reassurance from someone she can trust without reservation. You need to understand and respect this.

    1. Observer

      There is a crucial difference here. The customer gets to decide who is going to speak for them, in whole or in part. And employee? Not so much. An employer most definitely does NOT need to respect the decision of an employee to have their parent (or spouse or sibling or spiritual guide or whatever) talk for them. The EMPLOYEE needs to understand and respect that the employer’s relationship is with THEM, not their parent or other proxy. YOU also need to “understand and respect that” or you are going to “help” your daughters totally sabotage themselves.

      Oh, and these young people are not faux “adults”. They are actual real adults who get to make adult decisions.

      PS stop treating your adult daughters like children in dress up.

  43. gawaine42

    #3 – Part of the trick here is to be careful giving a reason for leaving.

    If you’re leaving because you’re overworked, underpaid, or unappreciated, it would be nice if you had tried to address the issue with your manager first. Not necessarily in the context of “by the way, I’m leaving because…”, but in trying to fix the issue.
    For example, I’d be disappointed if someone came to me and said, “I’m going because you aren’t giving me responsibility,” since we have a culture of giving responsibilities out to anyone who seeks it. I’d be less disappointed by the stock (often untruthful) statement that an opportunity came out of the blue to move from the teapot industry to the coffee pot industry, which has always been your dream; or to move closer to your family; or cut your commute. Since those are things I can’t necessarily do anything about, I’d expect that you wouldn’t have felt obligated.

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